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This episode was not what I expected. From the preview last week, I thought we’d be seeing a bit more about how Sam spent the last year. I know, I know...the CW’s promos aren’t usually the most reliable source. In fact, they usually make no sense to me at all. But as a person who enjoys sweet ignorance going into a new episode, I didn’t read any press releases or spoilers. So an episode I expected to be about Sam’s year off ended up being more of a monster of the week story. Not a bad thing, just different than what I expected.

To be honest, I was ok with a week off from the Kevin Tran story, and the writers have a great way of anticipating the need for these little breaks. It was also nice to see Sam and Dean on a good old fashioned hunt. When is the last time we saw them on a job that didn’t determine the fate of the world? It’s been a while!

While this episode might not have been chock full of flashbacks like I expected, it was very much about Sam. I’m not ignorant to the clear parallels between the story and Sam’s feelings about hunting. His heart isn’t in it anymore. When Sam looks at Dean, he sees a great hunter, someone who loves the job, couldn’t imagine doing anything else and couldn’t imagine doing it without Sam. When we learn about Brick Holmes, we hear a very similar story. His wife/mother puts it perfectly when she describes him; “married to the game, a difficult life.” But after 1,000 years of sacrifices and being the best athlete there is he gives it all up because he can’t imagine doing it without his wife. There is a lot of pressure put on Sam to be Dean’s partner in life and on the job. (And no, I don’t mean wincest!) He’s always been his brother’s keeper, there to ensure that Dean doesn’t bottle up his emotions, that he never loses his humanity. And Dean has done the same for him. Yet we find Sam trying to convince Dean that he’d be better off without him. That way, Dean could go on slashing and cutting with no one to answer to. Is it just me, or does this conversation sound more like Sam trying to convince himself that his brother would be okay without him?

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I don’t blame Sam for wanting a normal life. He’s had this desire as long as we’ve known him. So it doesn’t surprise me that after a year away from hunting he’s hesitant to jump back in. Especially after seeing a glimpse of his normal life. He’s got a dog, a sweet girlfriend and all the sunshine he could possibly want. (I loved the contrast between the flashback and the rest of the episode. Maybe a little obvious, but our mind remembers things the way we want it to.) What I’m still a bit fuzzy on is where it all changed for Sam. Remember his time hunting down Lilith after Dean went to Hell? He was on the warpath and out for blood. Nothing could have stood in the way of him getting justice for Dean. And if I remember correctly, he even attempted his own deal to get Dean back. But from the sounds of it, he didn’t even try to look for Dean this time. Why do you think that is? A couple weeks ago I suggested that it may have been Bobby’s speech about just letting go when it’s your time. Maybe Sam took that message to heart? Let’s face it, he has to be exhausted. The Winchesters' lives are a constant battle, and maybe Sam thought they’d finally pulled the short straw. What do you think? What changed for Sam that made him so willing to just give it all up?

Sam’s new attitude has me worried for Dean. He isn’t taking his brother seriously and he needs to. Sam may be conflicted about leaving Dean and giving up hunting, but it would take something nasty to stop him now. Dean isn’t ready to be hunting on his own. In past seasons I think he could have done it, but now he’s in Purgatory-torture-mode, and there is no one left to keep him grounded besides Sam. The Winchesters are low on allies these days, besides Garth of course. Poor little guy wouldn’t last long around Dean. Dean’s only other real friend at this point is Benny. I’m still on the fence about him. I like his character and I’m anxious to know more about him, but whether he’s a good influence on Dean has yet to be determined. What do you think? Could Dean do the job on his own and still hold on to his humanity? Any thoughts on Benny?

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As I mentioned earlier, I really liked the parallels to Sam’s inner turmoil represented in this monster of the week episode. But did it strike anyone as odd that we never actually met the god Cacao? The episode focused on a deal Brick Holmes made with him but he never showed up during the episode. Unless he was possessing Randa, which I’m still a little unclear on. I thought back to similar episodes that focused on deals and if memory serves me right we pretty much always meet the god, angel, demon that made the original deal. Can anyone think of a time that we didn’t? I don’t think this is really a problem as much as an observation.

I liked the general premise of the episode; the idea that this man’s organs carried on without him and required the same sacrifice that he did when he was alive was interesting. It felt somewhat reminiscent of the haunted kidney episode of yore. Although, I think this episode was more successfully executed. I also liked the mother/wife twist, even if I sort of saw it coming. I really felt for Betsy and it seemed like Sam and Dean did too. She was blinded by love and it made it easier for her to overlook the less-than-ideal things about him. Sounds like a couple of brothers we know. (Again, no wincest intended!)

What did you guys think? Did you like the episode? Were you expecting more Sam flashbacks? Were you anxious to learn more about Kevin and the tablets?

As usual there were some other random thoughts and quotes worth mentioning!
  • First of all I have to say what a lovely job Mr. Ackles did directing. Although I’ve come to expect nothing less at this point.
  • I laughed out loud at Paul Hayes running at the beginning of the episode. The way he locked eyes with the other runner was too good.
  • It was funny that Dean didn’t even realize he was at a farmer’s market. I was watching with my sister and she brought up a good question. Do they still need to worry about the additives Dick Roman put into the food? Any thoughts?
  • Dean: “I bought a translation app” Sam: “You bought an app?
  • Sam: “I gave it away, didn’t I?”

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  • Dean: “Things are coming together. You and me, it’s all good.” Oh Dean, you’re in denial.
  • Dean: “This last year has given me a new perspective.”
  • Sam: “Maybe you’re at your best not having to explain yourself to somebody.”
  • Why do they always have to eat the heart?!
  • Dean: “You smell that?” Cue Dean’s smug look.

Comments  

fanotheboyz
# fanotheboyz 2012-10-18 17:36
Maybe we DID meet the MOTW. Maybe it was the wife/mother of Brick. She had a funny look on her face when they left her. Not sure I trust that she isn't the god/monster. Just a thought. Great review. Maybe some answers in 2 weeks. Looks to be a bust next week, but I'll watch just in case they surprise me.
sofia
# sofia 2012-10-19 07:54
My sister and I were actually thinking that Brick's mother/wife had a sinister look on her face at the end of the episode. You never know!
Kaesekuchen
# Kaesekuchen 2012-10-18 18:10
I really like how you picked up completely different things from this episode than I did, it’s interesting to see people perceive things in such a different way. :)
Just a small tip though: If you say “No Wincest”, it’s the same as saying “no homo”. It makes it painfully clear that you were considering it. But maybe that is the intention of including that phrase here, since the focus was completely on Sam&Dean?
sofia
# sofia 2012-10-19 07:56
I say "no Wincest" because sometimes I think anytime you talk about Sam and Dean in the context of their brotherly relationship/lo ve for each other it can be misconstrued. Just want to be sure people know I'm talking about them as brothers!
Kaesekuchen
# Kaesekuchen 2012-10-20 06:43
Well OK if you're that paranoid about it, I can understand. It's just that normally if you were to read this article without Wincest (and here I mean the sexual part of it, not the brotherly bond part) on the brain, you wouldn't think about it at all, so by bringing the term up yourself, you draw special attention to it. :) I guess it all depends on the target audience in the end.
percysowner
# percysowner 2012-10-19 09:25
I'm not the author so I can't give you her exact reasons, but just a couple of days ago in TV Guide there was an article entitled "Is the Wincest dead" where the author conflated the brotherly bond and the love between Sam and Dean as being Wincest. She either didn't understand the term or she really thought that anyone who loves the bond sees Sam and Dean as being involved. It caused quite an uproar with some people saying the brotherly love was simply brotherly and some declaring that this is why Cas is better because it isn't a sick relationship and others saying anyone who reads or ships Wincest should have their kids removed by the state because their kids are not safe from sickos like them. It was quite a dustup.With that climate declaring No Wincest may be a way to make it clear that the brotherly bond means BROTHERLY period.
Beverly
# Beverly 2012-10-18 18:16
I have read that people find Sam impersonal or unemotional this season - there was a moment at the very end that really got to me. It was right after the flashback where he was smiling in the car. Then he glanced at Dean and looked away. To me it looked like it was all he could do not to break down crying at that moment. Like he knew that he could never explain to Dean the sense of peace he had found with Amelia for a short time. That is what I left this episode thinking about.

Can't wait for the rest of the season. I am prepared to be patient and enjoy the ride without allowing Season 7 to diminish my pleasure. People keep saying that by episode 3 this season should be better if Carver was going to make significant changes or that the actors were detached from shooting. However this was the 1st episode they shot after a break. I don't know about everyone else but it takes me a while to get back into the swing of things at work after a week off and they take months off during the off season. They came back with a new boss and there were probably feelings of uncertainty there. They knew him as a writer but what that did not mean they knew what to expect with him as the show runner. Change always takes a while to adapt to that is why many people are uncomfortable with it. To judge this episode harshly because of the 1st two is unjust for that reason alone. It was the 1st one shot with the new hierarchy in place.
sofia
# sofia 2012-10-19 08:03
I like the positive attitude, Beverly! I'm all about watching and taking joy in the good stuff instead of coming in with expectations.

I also really enjoyed that little memory of Sam's. It's the first time we've seen him look that happy in a while.
Linsmith
# Linsmith 2012-10-19 19:00
I agree Sofia. It was good to see him smile and sad to see the tears he was trying to hold back.
Bamboo24
# Bamboo24 2012-10-19 09:32
Quote:
I have read that people find Sam impersonal or unemotional this season - there was a moment at the very end that really got to me. It was right after the flashback where he was smiling in the car. Then he glanced at Dean and looked away. To me it looked like it was all he could do not to break down crying at that moment. Like he knew that he could never explain to Dean the sense of peace he had found with Amelia for a short time. That is what I left this episode thinking about.
Yes, he had tears in his eyes and everything!

Quote:
Change always takes a while to adapt to that is why many people are uncomfortable with it.
Agreed.
eilf
# eilf 2012-10-19 10:10
It is always so moving when he does that :'(
Bamboo24
# Bamboo24 2012-10-18 18:18
Thank you for noticing and writing about the parallel between the story of Brick and Betsy and Sam and Dean's story. It's definitely something I picked up on, too. I agree with you - this episode was very much about Sam, even if we didn't get many flashbacks - and that was a good thing.
kaylee
# kaylee 2012-10-18 19:06
Quote:
Dean: “Things are coming together. You and me, it’s all good.” Oh Dean, you’re in denial.
Oh man, yes, THIS. That just sums up the whole season so far for me.

I have to say, I'm actually loving the tenor of the brotherly conflict that's been introduced this season, if only because it's so different from what we've had before: less high-strung, teenage angst, and more just two people who've genuinely grown in very different ways in their time apart. It's something that I think everyone can relate to, and it's heart-wrenching to watch because they're both just so convinced of their positions -- Dean, that Sam's just in denial about his 'true calling' and that he'll snap back into hunter mode eventually (like he himself did immediately after his stint with Lisa), and Sam, that a 'normal life' really is what he wants. The conflict's great because, for once, I kinda want them both to get what they want -- I want Sam to have his chance at a normal life, and I want Dean to have his hunter life with his brother always by his side.

I'm biased, but I really feel for Dean, in particular. Having Sam around DOES help Dean keep his humanity, but more than that, Sam leaving at this point would seem like such a huge betrayal to Dean and rejection of everything he stands for that I could see him easily turning into that embittered, hardened, 2014 version of himself.

[Random side-note, but is anyone else watching Revolution thinking that Miles is, exactly, an older Dean?]

As for Sam, I did think that this episode was going to be heavily flashback-based , and I could see hardcore Sam fans feeling really frustrated with his lack of development. It feels like the writers are really struggling to make his story interesting, although we can always hope that there will be more later.

We're only three episodes in, but so far what we've been given has ranged from comical (Sam being ridiculously panicked/schizo because he hit a dog -- sorry, I found it funny) to overly sappy in tonight's flashback. I get that it was supposed to represent a 'moment' -- a normal birthday that he'd never had, but I didn't FEEL anything from it, and I get the feeling I was supposed to. Maybe if they'd flashed back to other, more typical, childhood birthdays as a comparison? And what, are we expected to believe that he didn't have any decent birthdays while he was in college? Or that he never felt truly happy with Jess? Because that storyline sustained a couple season's worth of material.

What I really wanted to see in Sam's flashbacks (which I'm still holding out for), is some sense of transition. I'd like to see some indication of his struggle to adapt to a 'normal' life, and if there was no struggle, then we need to understand WHY. Why (if) he was able to accept Dean's 'death' so readily and decide that saving people was no longer his responsibility.

Maybe he did just decide to 'let go', as Sophia said, after Bobby died, or maybe Dean's right and he's in denial with some bizarre form of PTSD. Either way, it could be an interesting story, and I wish they'd explore it more than just showing us a 30-second happytimes flashback. Again, I'm assuming we'll get there at some point in the future, but in the meantime I'm struggling to stay interested in Sam's half of the story.

There's a lot of pressure on the Sam storyline, in fact, because not only do the writers need to make it convincing that Sam dropped everything to have a chance at a normal life, but by the end of the season (I'm assuming here), they also have to give Sam a convincing reason to get his hunter-mojo back and reject the normal life, otherwise potential future seasons are going to be a bit bizarrely placed with the brothers still estranged.

I honestly have no clue how the writers are going to handle it, but I'm looking forward to finding out (and hoping to not be bitterly disappointed :-*).
eilf
# eilf 2012-10-18 19:19
Kaylee, I just watched it for the second time and it has grown on me a lot - I have to agree with a lot of what you said up there. I was so busy waiting for the flashback stuff that I couldn't really enjoy it the last time. It is actually pretty funny and entertaining and Jensen did a really nice job directing - I liked the way the letters faded over each other.

With Sam's storyline, which worries me too, I noticed something There's a beat in the conversation with the wife about why her husband killed himself and she said it was because he was on his own and couldn't face it.

That looked like a note about how Dean couldn't work alone but I am wondering if maybe Sam decided that there wasn't much point going on alone and also found a bridge? If that was the point at which he hit the dog that would make sense why he was so freaked at the vet's office wouldn't it? And also why he didn't want the dog - it became a new tie to the world.

Then he found Amelia and a new reason to live, even if she isn't the right one for him really.
kaylee
# kaylee 2012-10-19 06:12
Quote:
That looked like a note about how Dean couldn't work alone but I am wondering if maybe Sam decided that there wasn't much point going on alone and also found a bridge? If that was the point at which he hit the dog that would make sense why he was so freaked at the vet's office wouldn't it? And also why he didn't want the dog - it became a new tie to the world.
I love this idea! It’s really hard for me to imagine Sam being so far gone that he’d actually consider suicide, but I think you’re right that it’s not outside the realm of possibilities, and absolutely agree that Sam must have been reacting to something deeper than just injuring a dog in that moment at the vet’s.

That’s the thing though — I wish they would SHOW a bit of that. Again, I’m hoping eventually for transition — maybe some flashes of Sam after Dean disappeared, but before Amelia. But we have time.
eilf
# eilf 2012-10-19 10:18
Yes the more I think about it the better it ties in - if he thought he was going to join Dean then there wouldn't be any need to search for him, initially. And then if he got new ties to life, it would sort of become a habit to wait a bit longer etc. And a situation where someone does something nice for you and doesn't get killed for it would be a bit of an eye-opener for Sam. The whole situation might leave a person in a state of sort of zen calm, then when Dean reappears it wouldn't be quite such a guilt trip. But he would have a reason to feel guilty about Kevin.

Now Dean is no longer 'dead' so Sam can look at his own life and see what it means. But I think he is mostly just waking up from the dream life and looking at reality again
etheldred
# etheldred 2012-10-18 19:33
I agree that the flashback this time was overly sappy in its atmosphere, though I think the callback to Dean's dream about Lisa was deliberate (and that, in turn, was not dissimilar to the montage of Dean's memories of Lisa in Mannequin). I think for Winchesters "normal" has some of the qualities of a daydream even when it is something they are actually experiencing. Also, I thought the moment wasn't pure happy; Sam seemed to have an edge of panic when first Amelia, then Riot vanished, and he was alone on the bridge. That Sam would have issues about people disappearing on him makes a lot of sense. And it also makes the birthday cake thing make more sense to me. It wasn't Sam who said he'd never seen a birthday cake, it was Amelia, who said it because he looked so poleaxed. I think he looked poleaxed not because he'd never had a good birthday with Dean or Jess, but because he'd just had a panic at the apparent vanishing, and then he turned the corner and it turned out to be a good thing he had, not another loss, and he reacted to that with happy astonishment. Both the vet's office flashback in 8.1 and this one I thought showed a Sam who was still reacting to larger trauma rather than showing the normal reactions to his immediate circumstances.
st50
# st50 2012-10-18 20:09
Good points. I also noticed that it wasn't Sam who commented on the cake, but Amelia. Sam was too relieved that she was still there to speak, imho.
Lindab30
# Lindab30 2012-10-18 20:19
You said exactly what I have been thinking, thank you.
Raebear
# Raebear 2012-10-18 20:25
YES. you put this perfectly. YES. In fact parallel with a stray injured dog needing to be loved back to health and Sam needing same. So yes, Sam was I think just so overjoyed that they were okay!
kaylee
# kaylee 2012-10-19 06:13
Quote:
Also, I thought the moment wasn't pure happy; Sam seemed to have an edge of panic when first Amelia, then Riot vanished, and he was alone on the bridge. That Sam would have issues about people disappearing on him makes a lot of sense…. Both the vet's office flashback in 8.1 and this one I thought showed a Sam who was still reacting to larger trauma rather than showing the normal reactions to his immediate circumstances.
Really great point, thank you! This actually makes me a lot more satisfied with the flashback tidbit, because if Sam is so traumatized by losing both Dean and Bobby at once (not to mention Cas and Kevin also disappearing) that he goes into an immediate panic when Amelia disappears for all of 30 seconds on a bright, sunny day, then there really could be an interesting story there that’s just only barely starting to be teased out.

I guess it goes back to what Carver’s said in interviews (paraphrasing here): that things aren’t always what they seem. We’ve gotten the nice, washed-out, daydream-qualit y flashback, but you’re absolutely right that we’ve already been given lots of hints that there’s something deeper lurking with Sam, and hopefully they’ll delve into that properly in future flashbacks. I was hoping for some of that in this ep, but I suppose I can be patient if I have to. ;)

The question is,
(1) whether Sam was genuinely able to find some sense of peace and security through Amelia, eventually (as, in present-time, he does seem pretty centered), and

(2) if that’s the case, is he going to be able to give it all up again and return to the hunter’s life?

What do you think? Is it a mask, or is he genuinely happy with the normal life?
lala2
# lala2 2012-10-18 20:56
I would say the FB had no emotional impact on you b/c we know next to nothing about Sam and Amelia. We're not invested in their relationship or this random picnic she threw for him.

And if you're like me, you find it hard to believe that Sam thinks of Amelia as the only time he's had normal when he had 3.5 years of college and 2.5 years w/Jessica. Just because he learned that demons were always following him or set him up w/Jessica doesn't, or shouldn't, negate or dimish the time they shared.

Plus, it was just one lousy FB w/no set up, weird lighting, and an eerie quality. I hated the FB b/c it did absolutely nothing to set up Sam's story or to advance the plot. I get it. Sam hates hunting. Next. Let's move the plot along now.
kaylee
# kaylee 2012-10-19 06:54
Quote:
And if you're like me, you find it hard to believe that Sam thinks of Amelia as the only time he's had normal when he had 3.5 years of college and 2.5 years w/Jessica. Just because he learned that demons were always following him or set him up w/Jessica doesn't, or shouldn't, negate or dimish the time they shared.
I think it goes a bit deeper than Jess vs Amelia. I’m just trying to work through the differences for myself here, because it’s something I’ve been thinking about as well…

First, we have Sam in college. This has a more rebellious feel for me — he ran away from ‘the family business’, but his dad and brother were still out there, and I think in the back of his mind he always knew that he’d escaped from something he SHOULD be doing, that was WORTH doing. He’d been indoctrinated into that belief since he was a baby, after all, rebellious streak or not.

And I’m sure he did love Jess and buried the hunter mindset as deep as possible to have a normal college life, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that he knew his dad and brother were still out there, risking their lives. Not something you can forget about entirely. I’m trying to remember at what point it was that Sam switched into full-on acceptance mode, where he was like, ‘We’re hunters. We’ll always be hunters. That’s just our place in the world.’ And he didn’t seem resigned about it, just accepting.

And now we have the end of season 7, practically every ally Sam had has disappeared or died, and etheldred and eilf and others have spoken to the fact that the very brief flashbacks we’ve had so far point to signs of a much deeper trauma or grieving process. (e.g., his easy panic over the thought of the dog dying and over Amelia disappearing when there was absolutely no sense of threat.)

The sense that I’m getting with Sam post-s7 is not that he ‘gave up’ on Dean or the hunter life, but that he initially went through this trauma/grieving period and that, somehow, life with Amelia eventually convinced him that he doesn’t have to be burdened by the hunter life, that he doesn’t have to feel responsible for saving everyone all the time, that he’s allowed to have a normal life, which is a quality that I don’t feel he ever really accepted for himself when he was in college.

And maybe it was an all-or-nothing thing for Sam — that he couldn’t balance only saving some of the people and having half a normal life, and so had to hang it up entirely.

I don’t know though, and again, I’m hoping some sense of this transition will be made explicit eventually.
lala2
# lala2 2012-10-19 09:29
Hi Kaylee! I've often wondered if Sam was even planning to tell his family he had gotten married or if he was going to invite them to his graduation and wedding. I honestly don't think he had any plans on ever contacting his father or Dean.

In the Pilot, he seemed completely removed from his family, and I certainly never got the impression that he was overly concerned with them or worried that they were out there dying. When Sam walked out to go to college, I think he really walked away from his family. I know he spoke to Dean for two years but then stopped all contact, and that was actually supposed to be FOUR years of no contact! So, IMO, all signs point to Sam having a relatively normal college experience and life until Dean returned.

Here, Sam walked away knowing Crowley had taken Kevin, that some Leviathan were still about, that Castiel and Dean mysteriously disappeared, and that evil acts were still occurring. It's not clear to me why Sam left yet. I have no idea as I feel we've only gotten the bare bones of the story. There may be more to come; there may not be. I have no idea.

In any event, I think Sam had normal in college. Sam seemed to become more entrenched in the life after Jessca died so I think it would be harder for him to ignore the danger now than back then!
etheldred
# etheldred 2012-10-19 09:41
I agree that Sam might never have initiated contact with John and Dean after Stanford, but I don't think that's because Sam himself was walking away from his family by choosing Stanford. Sam said in the Pilot tht he was just going to college; it was John who had told him to stay gone if he walked out the door. The idea that Sam's choice to go to college had to be a severing of his connection with family didn't come from Sam, or from Dean. It came from John, though I think neither Sam nor Dean was objective enough at that point to dissociate themselves from John's POV, even though Sam's identification with it took the form of defiance and Dean's of compliance.

There's also the fact that we know from Skin that Sam didn't feel that he truly fit in at college. I think part of the reason that things may have felt more authentic to Sam with Amelia is that in 7.3 he had finally worked through most of his issues of feeling like a freak, and wouldn't feel that he was putting up a front, that normal didn't really belong to him.

And you have to remember that current Sam is operating on what he now knows about his college years: that his best friend was a demon, that his meeting Jess was arranged by demonic machinations deliberately to lead to her death, that it was all a part of a plan. I don't think that means that Sam devalues what he had with Jess; we saw how important that was to him in s5 and again in s6. But I can absolutely see why he doesn't currently think of that period as a normal life that he had.
lala2
# lala2 2012-10-19 18:13
I don't disagree that Sam was just going to college. I never had a problem w/Sam going to college. One of the reasons I hate DSOTM is b/c the writers made Sam apologize for going to college and "running away." He wasn't running away. He was going to school and trying to live his own life! There's nothing wrong w/that.

I also think that on some level Dean does view Sam going to college as "abandoning" him or "severing" the family ties. That's why DSOTM ticked me off and was a crap episode. Sam is entitled to have happy thoughts w/o Dean.

I do think that Sam is very much like John in some ways, and once he cut ties, he cut them. But I also think he has changed since the Pilot.

And I have a problem w/Sam's college life or time w/Jessica now being viewed as tainted simply b/c he learned FIVE years after the fact that demons were around him. Amelia could be a demon for all he knows. To me, it would make more sense if we learned Jessica was a demon. I could see that tainting or coloring his view of his time in college, but she wasn't. She was a normal girl who fell in love w/him. I'm not sure why he would suddenly look on that time as "bad."

Anyway, that's all JMO.
etheldred
# etheldred 2012-10-19 18:22
I didn't say he looked on it as bad, or tainted, or unhappy. We saw in 6.22 that Jess is still an image of happiness for him. I just think that he doesn't now look on it as a normal life, a life lived on his own terms and not shaped for him by supernatural forces.

He didn't tell Dean that he'd never been happy before, just that he'd never had true normal before (and, as I said in my earlier post, I think that also has to do with the greater peace he's made with himself since when he was a kid; his choices are no longer shaped by rebellion against John, and he doesn't have the uneasy sense that he's really a freak who doesn't belong that he confessed he had at Stanford).

As for DSotM, that was Dean's POV. Dean was in a bad place then, and couldn't really empathize with Sam's POV. I don't think we were meant to judge Sam for what he saw in heaven (and it was in PoNR that he apologized and said that he'd been wrong every time he left; Sam's perspective at that point, with Dean about to say Yes partly because he'd lost faith in Sam, probably wasn't the most objective, either).
percysowner
# percysowner 2012-10-19 10:15
Quote:
I honestly don't think he had any plans on ever contacting his father or Dean.
How the HECK was he supposed to contact them. John was the main contact into the hunting world and John had said never darken my door again. We know FOR A FACT that John and Dean went around the country using assumed names. Sam couldn't know where they were or even who to look for. The P.O. Boxes were in John's name so he could censor any mail sent there. We also know for a fact that Dean changed his phone number at least once before he came into contact with Sam. In Phantom Traveler Dean wondered how Jerry got his number because it was new from six months ago. He obviously didn't get the number after hooking up with Sam because he wouldn't have had to tell Sam that the number was new, he would have told Sam I bought a new phone here's the number. Finally, at some point after Sam's leaving John had so pissed off the one family friend that Sam might have felt close enough to call, Bobby, that he had shot at John. The basic backstory of John was that he ticked off every hunter he ever worked with. Calling John or Dean would have taken monumental effort when Sam was at Stanford and the fact that it would have taken effort means that Dean didn't work at stayingin contact with Sam either.

From what we have seen of John I totally believe that I would have believed that I could never call him for any reason. So, if I were Sam, I would also believe that John would tell his hunting contacts to never pass on a message to him or Dean because Sam was out of the family. Fandom puts so much grief on Dean's question "would you have picked up?" Assuming it really was two years since they had talked, why wouldn't Sam? Dean had a DIFFERENT number! Sam's being psychic never went to the point knowing who was on the other line of the phone and Dean didn't sneak into Sam's house, grab his phone and program his new number into Sam's phone calling it Dean. If Sam really didn't contact them for four years, as Kripke really intended, then he is even more innocent. He tells John he's going to school. John tells him if he goes to stay gone. Sam goes to school and neither John nor Dean ever contact Sam again, although John (and NOT Dean) does do the creepy stalker bit. If the four year comment had been included then Dean simply took Sam's leaving as not wanting to be "bothered" by his family just because. If it was two years we have no idea why Sam said don't bother me. It could have been bad timing. Dean could have called and been demanding that Sam come back and join the hunt and the family again. One line and many, many fans jump to the conclusion that Dean was right, and Sam never got a chance to answer the question, and that Sam never wanted contact with his family. If Sam didn't want contact with Dean he would have stuck to his "no" about going with Dean to look for a father that had abandoned him.

Sorry for the rant but I am so sick of hearing how Sam was so mean to Dean when Dean wasn't being especially nice to Sam when Sam was at Stanford either. Dean did pick John's side in that fight and the consequences were estrangement from Sam.
lala2
# lala2 2012-10-19 18:06
There was Bobby, Pastor Jim, and Caleb. I'm sure they could have reached John/Dean for Sam if Sam wanted.

Look, I'm not even saying Sam was mean to Dean. I'm simply saying that I often wonder if Sam would have contacted them for his wedding or his graduation. That's all. The impression I got at the time was that he wouldn't have done so. To me, it didn't seem like Sam had any intention of re-connecting with his family.

But just b/c I say that doesn't mean I also don't feel the same way about Dean/John. If John hadn't disappeared, I'm not sure if Dean would have ever reached out to Sam. I guess we'll never know.

My main point was Sam did have normal while in college and seemed to have every intention of maintaining his normal after college. That's all.

I like Sam. I'm not bashing him. I'm just stating my opinion on S1 Sam.
sofia
# sofia 2012-10-19 08:12
I don't think they wanted us to think this was the only time Sam had ever been happy. I think he has hardened a lot over the course of the series and came to accept the fact that he could never be normal. So while I agree that we know nothing about Sam and Amelia, I didn't need that to understand why he was happy.

But I do agree that we need some more plot progression on his story!
sofia
# sofia 2012-10-19 08:08
Kaylee, I also find myself enjoying the brotherly conflict and I agree that there has to be some big thing that happens that will make Sam stay a hunter. My head has been spinning going through the options.

I am watching Revolution and I notice a lot of similarities between Miles and Dean. It's Kripke's voice for sure!
percysowner
# percysowner 2012-10-19 09:48
Quote:
I'm biased, but I really feel for Dean, in particular. Having Sam around DOES help Dean keep his humanity, but more than that, Sam leaving at this point would seem like such a huge betrayal to Dean and rejection of everything he stands for that I could see him easily turning into that embittered, hardened, 2014 version of himself.
But this shouldn't be Sam's JOB. What if Sam were dying? What if he were physically incapable of hunting as opposed to not wanting to? If Dean goes off the rails without Sam then that is on him. Just like Sam going off the rails without Dean when he got with Ruby was on him. And Sam wanting something different from Dean is just that Sam wanting something different. It's not a rejection of Dean. Sam pretty well stated that. It's Dean who can't see that.

Quote:
It feels like the writers are really struggling to make his story interesting, although we can always hope that there will be more later.
Well, it would help if they didn't decide to assign Sam's flashbacks to some of the weaker writers on staff AND if they decided to devote more than a few minutes to them.
shamangrrl
# shamangrrl 2012-10-18 20:00
Script-wise, this one didn't work for me at all. I found the MOTW to be - weak. I found the tone to be completely different from the first two episodes, and that was jarring. Actually, I found the initial setup in the organic market to be more in-tone with the first two episodes, which made the rest of the episode feel that much more out-of-place.

JA's direction was great, and I enjoyed seeing both Sam and Dean use their brains and work and solve a case without some Marty Stu handing them all the answers. Hopefully that will continue throughout the season.
SueL
# SueL 2012-10-18 23:49
I must say I was soooo happy to see the almost old Dean and Sam kind of episode. They seemed so much more like we all have come to love and enjoy. Granted there are some rough spots but they are still getting over their 1 year apart. I just felt they were a little more comfortable then they were the first episode.

I too was expecting more of Sam's back story but I am okay with the pace of the show right now. We have 22-23 episodes to get it all so we should not expect all the answers right away. I think Jeremy is doing a great job and am axious to see where he and the writers take this season.

I loved the spot with Jensen's dad Alan. It would have been awesome to watch that scene being shot live. That last look that Alan gave Jensen was hilarious.

Personally, I am in no hurry to get back to the Kevin/Demon tablet stuff yet. I like the good old one-up hunts the boys go on and the interaction between them. I too think Dean is in denial in the thoughts that Sam will go "normal" once they find Kevin and the tablet. But then, he has already tried the "normal" and found out himself that in that line of lifestyle it just does not work. They will still be putting those people in danger. Just because they may want the normal life doesn't mean the monsters out there will let them have it. Look at the djinn finding Dean after a year. Sam should really consider this scenario also happening to anyone he tries to have a normal life with. So I think Dean is just thinking of how it went for him and assuming it would be the same for Sam.

On that thought, if they were not together to have each others backs, what are the chances either one of them would make it very long before their luck runs out. How many times has one had to come to the aid of the other right before things went south? This last episode was a perfect example of that. If Sam had not been there to help Dean at the last minute, Dean would have been toast. I think episode 5 is going to put some meat into this when Sam gets to meet Benny finally.

As for Sam not looking for Dean that entire year, I have to wonder where he would have even started. Everyone they ever used for info was gone. He had no idea where Dean went or if he was even alive so it bothers me that everyone seems so down on Sam for not even trying to find Dean. Hopefully we will get a little more insight on this as they continue to give us the flashbacks and maybe the boys will get into more discussions on their year away from each other. I just love their little winbro moments at the end of the episodes.
Ismira
# Ismira 2012-10-19 07:13
The flashback first annoyed me with its lighting, and the second time I watched the episode, it somehow managed to make me smile. Now I kind of like it a lot.
It feels to me like Sam is romanticizing his "normal" life- you know, literal storybook love that makes the sun shine better, the birds sing louder- that kind of stuff. Contrasted against Dean's dark, grim year in Purgatory, it's really clever to use the lighting.
Sam's definition of "normal" used to be what he had with Jessica at Stanford, but he's learned by now that that was not normal. He didn't meet Jess by coincidence, he was manipulated the whole time by Brady, and that time he ran away to Stanford, he was basically looking for "normal."
This time, though, just when he's reached his lowest- Dean gone, Bobby gone, Cas gone- normal whacks him over the head. It looks to me like "normal" and Amelia found him, he didn't go looking for them, and that makes it very different from before IMHO.
I understand why he wants to quit, but of course I don't want him to. :-) That wouldn't be Supernatural.
Loving that Baby is back, that shot of her in front of the mansion was really eye-catching. (Good job, Jensen!)

Oh- did anyone think it was weird that Sam first says, in the Impala conversation at the end, "I want that," regarding his normal life, and then corrects it immediately to "I had that." ? If he could go back to Amelia whenever he wanted, it seems a strange thing to say. "I want that" would have sufficed. Considering he'd no idea about Dean being alive until he reached the cabin, and therefore did not leave to be with Dean, why did he give up his normal life and come to Rufus's?
There better be good answers :)
sofia
# sofia 2012-10-19 08:18
I've been wondering the same thing. In the first shot of Sam leaving Amelia's house she is awake and aware that he's leaving. It looks like she expected it too. I really want to know why!
Sylvie
# Sylvie 2012-10-19 08:25
Thanks for the great review Sofia, you bring a new perspective to it. I didn't care for the overall story on first viewing. I think I was waiting for the flashbacks and Sam's year so that I wasn't paying it that much attention. I've rewatched it since, and although it won't make repeat viewing in the future, I did appreciate it more for the subtleties. I had not picked up on the parallel between Sam & Brick the first time round, so yes it makes more sense now. And there were some funny bits. Mr. Ackles Sr. getting grouchy with Dean was a very nice touch. I laughed when he said: "What was I supposed to do, take him out back and shoot him?" LOL. Dean gives him one of his priceless looks before Sam intervenes.

Jensen's directing was superb. The jogger at the beginning and when Sam & Dean are reading the letters to Betsy were two of my favourite shots. It can't be easy to direct and be in so many shots at the same time. Even Clint Eastwood doesn't play in his own movies anymore, he said it was a difficult thing to do. Maybe when SPN is over (cringe) Jensen will do a Ben Affleck and become a director, he sure is good at it. Although I would miss seeing that pretty face. Okaaay, getting off topic, sorry.

Next weeks episode looks to be interesting. Just saw an early preview and I had my first laugh. The kids called Sam & Dean Starsky & Hutch. Ha. :D
CelticGirl
# CelticGirl 2012-10-19 15:11
Please see my theory at the end of Sophia's review. Sam knew where Dean was and made a deal to get him out. His sacrifice: leave hunting forever.
CelticGirl
# CelticGirl 2012-10-19 16:07
So what do you think of the theory that Sam knew all along where Dean was.. Makes sense that he wasn't that surprised when he saw Dean in Ep1 and that he didn't look for him. Instead he had made arrangements (deals) to get him out.
In this Ep I saw the FB as Sam trying to envision a happy a life with Amelia and without Dean. The sad look after the FB was because he doesn't want to leave hunting or Dean, but has to because of the "deal" and Amelia & Riot are all he'll have left. Out of left field? Probably.
eilf
# eilf 2012-10-19 19:39
To be honest, and I don't want to say you are wrong - because we all really have no idea where all this is going and you have as much chance of being right as anyone :D - but if there is one life lesson I think Sam and Dean have learned very, very completely - it is not to make deals with demons...

If Sam HAS done that I am going to be very disappointed in him and I may have to write him directly and tell him so - maybe with a flowchart.
E
# E 2012-10-20 21:36
I agree CelticGirl! I have posted this same basic idea on other threads only I think that the deal Sam made would have been for his life or even his soul once again. My pet theory is that he is working with the Alpha Vamp, and has pledged to give up his soul in exchange for getting Dean out of purgatory (via Benny). The Alpha Vamp did have an unhealthy interest in Soulless Sam, calling him "my perfect weapon." I know that Dean is in a really intense friendship with Benny right now, but I wonder how on board he would be to find out that his little brother had promised to turn himself into a soulless vamp?

In some ways I don't think Sam has ever recovered from failing to save Dean at the end of season 3. I think that this failure has shaped many of the (admittedly bad) decisions he made in season 4 and fueled his devotion to the hunt. Sacrificing yourself for your family seems to be a Winchester trademark: Mary saved John, John Saved Dean, Dean saved Sam. I think Sam feels its his obligation as a Winchester to save a family member too and Dean is the only one left. Now it appears that he has failed to save Dean from Purgatory as well. I wouldn't be a bit surprised to find that Sam has made some kind of deal for Dean; that he would consider it as being expected of him as a Winchester.
percysowner
# percysowner 2012-10-20 21:52
Oh, I hope not his soul! I love Soulless!Sam, but once is enough. Plus hopefully Sam FINALLY learned the lesson of not selling his soul to anybody. His life, I could buy since I don't think Sam really values his life that greatly. It would also explain his coolness to Dean. If he knows he is going to die, he wants Dean to be okay on his own. If Dean leaves him or hates him that's fine as long as Dean doesn't mourn him too much.
LEAH D
# LEAH D 2012-10-20 22:00
That is so sad.
cd28
# cd28 2012-10-20 22:12
I don't think Sam sold his soul. I haven't ruled out a deal of some kind, but Sam knows if he sold his soul for Dean, Dean would just sell his soul to get it back once he found out. It's a vicious cycle.

But I like the idea of there being some kind of deal between Sam and the Alpha Vamp, and that maybe the Alpha Vamp sent Benny in to get Dean.
Amy
# Amy 2012-10-19 15:35
I'm wondering something. When Sam hit the dog.....what if hitting the dog saved his life? I mean...remember when Bobbys house burned down and they thought bobby might be dead? Dean said if Bobby was dead, he would strap Sam in and drive them off a cliff or someting.

So...what if Sam was fully intending to drive off a cliff or something....an d then the dog ran out in front of the Impala. Sam swerves but hits it. Thus the dog saved his life. Why he is so easily convinced to keep the dog. There is guilt...hgot hurt because of him and he owes the dog. But its also a lifeline.
Gwen
# Gwen 2012-10-21 05:10
I was wondering this too when Sam talked to Dean about whether Brick had hoped that he'd burn to nothing when he crashed his car. It made me wonder if Sam possibly had tried to do the same thing, if he had wanted to “burn to nothing" in the immediate aftermath of Dean's disappearance.
dinkwerks
# dinkwerks 2012-10-19 16:31
Anybody missing the music from the show?
ThisOldBag58
# ThisOldBag58 2012-10-19 16:43
I love coming here to read the reviews and comments!  I find the different viewpoints quite educational.  
I know that season 1 and especially the pilot are often referenced but I always try to remember this is a TV series and I am pretty certain even Kripke would  change some things if he could.  A book writer gets to re-write as the story unfolds, but TV doesn't have that luxury so there will always be an inconsistency or two.
What I find fascinating about the last 2 years, unlike the first 5, is that the deleted scenes have more meat on them.  And, if J2 interviews are referenced, there have already been some meaty brotherly discussions that have been cut.
I recall being uninterested in the cut scenes of most of the first 5 seasons as they were just the fat.  Lately I've noticed that they seem to be cutting the humanity and leaving the fat.  There are several scenes in 8.03 that could have been eliminated without losing the story, thus giving us a bit more to chew on. 
This is the job of a cutter, to trim the fat and keep the lean.  Someone needs to redefine the edible portions.  Just my opinion.
As for Sam's story, there is certainly more to it and I am enjoying the ride so far.  Who was that person in the shadows in episode 1?  Why did he choose to come back to the cabin at just the right time?  Why was he so sure that Dean was Dean?
But, if last season taught me anything, it was a reminder that this is television and plot lines are dropped and sometimes there is not the resolution I expected.  I must keep an open mind and follow the story that someone else is telling, even if I don't like where it is going.
The great part so far this season is Dean is back.  I had grown so tired of wussy Dean.  And, this series is so compelling because they are believably fallible humans, despite the surroundings.  When one is down, another is up and they still have difficulty walking in each other's shoes.
Either way, if it's a great episode or a dud, I still enjoy the candy and the amazing talents that come together to make something This Old Bag can get completely involved in.
galen
# galen 2012-10-19 17:24
I am agreeing with what Amy wrote. Sam has had some catastrophic event that occurred during the time Dean was missing and assumed dead by Sam. It may have been severe depression to the point of attemped suicide. There could also have been an event that occurred between Amelia and Sam that affected there relationship and has caused this sadness - like loss of a baby??? That could explain the seemingly distance between Sam and Amelia as he left during the night. It would also shed light on his sort of numb reaction to Dean and some of his statements such as I want the life, I had the life, and also I want my life to mean something. Just another crazy theory to throw out there. Regardless, I am loving this season as it has me very involved and invested.
E
# E 2012-10-20 21:39
What if Amelia is or was pregnant?
cd28
# cd28 2012-10-20 22:15
Maybe Riot is pregnant! (Sorry, just cycling back to "it all comes back to the dog" :oops: ).
Daphne
# Daphne 2012-10-19 19:40
I just got a thought. It's just a random, crazy thought, but we like speculating on this site, so I'm just going to throw it out there. We can pretty much all agree that something must have happened to Sam that made him stop Hunting and decide not to look for Dean -an emotional breakdown, depression, whatever. But what if Amelia is the cause? What if she's actually a supernatural creature? She could be the one messing with his mind and 'domesticating' him, influencing him to stay tame. Maybe that's why all the flashbacks look so dreamy, because that's how she made him see the world, to give him the feeling he didn't need anything else, to make him 'forget' about Dean.

Because what did Sam mean when he said 'there was a girl, and then there wasn't'? Did he find out she wasn't who he thought she was? Is that why he left her?

Does anybody agree how strange it is that he woke up to a girl that same morning, but he just went off with Dean, just leaving her like that? Without calling her or anything? Something is not normal. Something is up. And I really wanna know what it is.
E
# E 2012-10-20 21:51
Nice! I was speculating on this idea as well. Maybe its Cas's giant plot hole of a wife from season 7? She could be an angel or a demon or anything really, and maybe she was sent to watch over Cas and keep him sidelined and now she has a new meat suit and she's watching over Sam and keeping HIM sidelined? It would be a great way to kill two birds with one stone; show that Sam has something relevant going on with him in this story arc, and fixing a terrible blunder in last season's story arc.