Using the foundations both "LARP and the Real Girl" and "As Time Goes By" built, "Everybody Hates Hitler," adds another layer to being the willing hero and that of legacy: that of knowledge and power. "LARP and the Real Girl" showed us why moving from reluctant to willing hero could be satisfying and fulfilling, and "As Time Goes By" demonstrated that doing it for family is reward in and of itself. Here we learn that knowledge is empowering and taking action is freeing.
"Knowledge is power, isn't it?" the leader of the Thule Society, Eckhart, asks Aaron, the lone descendant of the Judah Initiative. He has taken the scroll from the Golem's mouth and is stunned to find that Aaron has not taken possession of it. It is his lack of knowledge that gives Eckhart the upper hand---momentarily. Without knowledge, Aaron cannot "yifalchunbee" as his Golem has begged him to do. Knowledge played a pivotal role in "As Time Goes By," but it is here, in "Everybody Hates Hitler" that we learn what to do with it. We learn to "yifalchunbee. " translated "to take charge." It is in taking charge that we can do something about our circumstances, a situation, and in Sam and Dean's case, set their own destinies rather than being trapped into those set out for them.
Throughout the series we have seen victims countless times killed and scarred by their brush with the supernatural. They have been powerless to it, overwhelmed by its existence and its effects on their lives. Up until that moment, these victims drifted, unaware of the other world running parallel to their own. They did not know about the various supernatural threats lurking outside their door, waiting to snatch their lives or their normalcy away. Many don't survive these encounters, but those that do have a choice now that they have experienced it---have gained knowledge about it.
Most that hunters help end up going back to a normal life---with a bit more awareness that there is more out there. They don't take up the fight nor do they pursue other supernatural beings that could potentially harm them. One encounter was more than enough, and while they may never be innocent of its existence as they were prior, they have chosen not to pursue it so to potentially avoid ever experiencing it again. It is understandable. After all surviving once might have been a fluke and courting that type of danger again is asking for too much trouble.
But others are not satisfied with this response. Others have no choice but to act upon their newly gained knowledge. It is not unlike opening Pandora's box or eating the forbidden fruit in the Garden. What has been learned cannot be unlearned and to ignore the existence of the supernatural world is folly to those that choose to act. These people choose, as the Golem begged Aaron to do, to take charge. They become hunters---or in Henry Winchester's case, Men of Letters. They choose to accept the supernatural---and to do something about it.
It becomes simple: either take action, take charge, or let the supernatural take charge of you.
John Winchester took charge after Mary's death, finding out everything he could about what killed her and what else was out there. He felt he had no choice after what had happened. Bobby became a hunter after his wife was possessed, learning everything he could to prevent anyone else from having to endure what he had. Gordon Walker's family is attacked and turned by vampires, and he becomes obsessed with killing them. They had all been caught unaware, and each in their own way had decided to try and prevent that from happening ever again.
In "Everybody Hates Hitler, it is Aaron that is getting his first introduction to the supernatural. As the grandson of one of the rabbis in the Judah Initiative, it is up to him now to stop the Thule Society out to destroy the Jewish people. He has inherited the task---and he has also inherited the Golem, created in the Vitsyebsk Ghetto during WWII. Up until this moment, he had taken it as mere story, fiction, a coping mechanism for his grandfather. He says, "My grandfather's adventures, the Initiative, the Golem, the war "“ they were the stories that he told me when I was a kid. I thought it was make-believe. So did my parents "“ you know, fantasies to help him cope with all the horrible stuff he'd seen, but every once in a while, crazy old Grandpa Bass would come back by on one of his trips, hand me a $20 savings bond, and say, "one day, you'll inherit the mantle." "
Now, however, Aaron must make a choice as all the others have before him. Does he stand aside despite his new knowledge or does he take charge---does he "yifalchunbee?"
Those that take charge do so for many reasons. It is to take vengeance over lost loved ones. It is to stop others from enduring the same fate. Some do it for the sheer adventure, as Eliot Ness did. Others still do it because they were raised into it, as the Campbell and Harvelle families did. Some do it to do something bigger than themselves, to understand the supernatural world around them.
Whatever the reason those that take charge have taken the knowledge they gained and turned it into action.
Aaron spends the episode avoiding doing so. He is frustrated with the Golem, unable to control him or understand what it is demanding from him. The Golem is his inheritance, and the book that could tell him what he needs to know about it has been rolled into joints long ago. At the time he had no idea that it was a real being, that it wasn't some messed up story. Without that knowledge he is powerless to take action, to take charge of the situation at hand.
Aaron's story isn't just about him, however. It is as much about the Winchesters as it is about him. They, too, have a decision to make about new knowledge gained. They have their own inheritance to come to terms with. Do they take action or do they walk away from it? How could this knew knowledge empower them? Could it be the break Sam thinks it is?
Hunting throughout the series has been seen as the Winchester destiny. Both brothers have felt trapped by it at various intervals. They have felt it was their only option, their only choice. Due to the destinies thrust upon them surrounding the now failed Apocalypse, it was seen as a trap from which they could not escape. They had no choice but to deal with it and to remain involved within the supernatural world. They hadn't chosen to be hunters---they had inherited that, too. It was something their father did, something their father had raised them to be, and any deviation from that course was either frowned upon or forbidden. To walk away was seen as weakness, shirking of responsibility, and more.
But, it is in "Torn and Frayed," that we see Sam and Dean each recommit to the life, to hunting, and to each other as a brotherly hunting unit. No one is forcing them here, no one is holding a gun to their heads telling them that they must. Each brother has a choice to make. Dean has already decided to be in the fight, to continue hunting. His is more a commitment to his brother, and by cutting ties with Benny, he does this. Sam, on the other hand, has to choose now or never what he will do. Does he keep hunting or does he give it up for a chance at a normal life with Amelia? He chooses to stay with Dean, committing to the hunt, committing to his brother, and committing to taking action---to taking charge.
Hunting is taking action, and we have seen it be used to the Winchester's advantage in the past. It is hunting that allows them to smash the shackles of their own destinies. They learn of ways to thwart the plan the angels have set out. They aren't unaware of their world, nor are they willing to just take it. They gained the knowledge necessary to stop the Apocalypse and then they took action. It is that taking action that has allowed them to set their own destinies. It is now finally coming to fruition. Now they can finally use their knowledge to do whatever they wish---no hard and fast destinies looming for them---only those that they choose.
We see this story translated through Aaron's own transformation. He is frustrated and freaked out by this encounter with the supernatural. He expresses his frustration about the Golem, fighting with it, struggling to come to grips with both its existence and what to do with it. The easy answer, of course, is to allow Sam and Dean to find a way to destroy it. No Golem, no need to be involved with anything supernatural, and a return to a normal and quiet life. But destroying the Golem does not erase the knowledge gained. Aaron would still know about the Thule Society---about the supernatural world out there. Nothing can change that for him now.
The only thing he can do is decide what route he will take. Does he take action or not?
As the episode progresses, and he follows Sam and Dean's lead to piece the puzzle that his grandfather put together, Aaron starts to change his view subtly. He starts to see value in what used to be crazy stories and myths. It empowers him. He begins to slowly realize that while he might not have asked for this to happen, he can now do something about it. He does not have to be a victim, nor does he have to stand on the sidelines.
After Aaron overhears Sam and Dean's discussion on what to do about the Golem, how to destroy it if necessary, he becomes incensed. He states angrily, "Look, he may be a pain in the ass, but he's my responsibility," showing that he is starting to see the value in it. He is seeing it not simply as something dumped on him, something he doesn't understand, but as his. He is choosing to take action about it.
Aaron still has more to learn, however, as he still does not know how to control the Golem. He doesn't know how to take charge of it. It isn't until Eckhart and his group track him and the brothers down that he learns the truth. In his arrogance, Eckhart gives Aaron the tools. As he believes none will survive this encounter it does not matter if he tells Aaron the truth about the Golem. So, he takes the scroll from it and tells him that he should write his name on it. It will allow him to "yifalchunbee."
It is in that moment that Eckhart has sealed his fate. He has given Aaron the final push he needed. Aaron is intimidated and shocked at their arrival, but as Sam and Dean distract Eckhart, he seizes the moment to take action. He is no trained fighter, nor is he skilled in weaponry, but he knows an opportunity when he sees it. Taking a broken table leg, he takes his chances and strikes Eckhart in the head, giving the Winchesters the chance to shoot the other Nazis in the room---and Eckhart himself.
All but one that escapes---and those that are hidden out in the world.
Aaron now has another choice to make. Does he surrender his inoperative Golem to the Winchesters or does he continue his grandfather's work? He states to the brothers, "He left me something important. Something that only I can do." As he writes his name on the scroll underneath his grandfather's, Aaron takes action in word and in deed. He puts the scroll back and the Golem again resumes action, again asking him to "yifalchunbee," confusing Aaron. Hadn't he done so? The Golem confirms and Aaron fully accepts his legacy, his choice to become the sole member of the Judah Initiative.
It is not unlike the Winchesters themselves. They may have spent their entire lives struggling against the life, hunting, and the supernatural world, but the fact remains: they know of its existence; they know the truth. They know what is out there, they know what has to be done---and much like Aaron, they know that they have to take action---they have to take charge. The difference for them now is that they have chosen to do so of their own free will, of their own making.
This may be their legacy, but it doesn't have to be their inescapable destiny. They don't have to do this because of their father. They don't have to do it out of an obligation to anyone. Sam and Dean have chosen to take action for the best of reasons: this time they have chosen to take action for themselves.
It is by taking charge here through taking action that the Winchesters have set themselves free.
Hal Linden appears briefly as a memorable Rabbi Bass. Known best as Barney Miller, he brings his great skill to the character. Linden makes us take to Rabbi Bass right away with his tenacious performance. He is defiant and no nonsense, yet eccentric. Linden makes Rabbi Bass memorable and powerful on screen just by sheer presence. He gives the character a richness. Underneath the drive and the race against the clock, Linden shows that Rabbi Bass is also funny and endearing. His best line is delivered in Hebrew, making us laugh at the stuck up librarian as he quips, "I hope they pay you good to keep that bug up your ass." Even in the end, as he is killed, Linden makes sure we see just how defiant Rabbi Bass was.
Bernhard Forcher gives Eckhart such sheer arrogance that we can't help but love to hate him. He plays every inch the Nazi---utilizing the known cliches while making them fresh and interesting. Forcher makes Eckhart intimidating and sinister just by his screen presence. The sneer on his face makes it all come together, making him the big villain here. We don't have to sympathize with him on any level. By being a Nazi, we can openly despise this baddie, and Forcher seems to have fun with that aspect of the role. He brings a imperious air to the character, making Eckhart larger than life. No line sums up his egotistical nature more than when he says pridefully, "Invented... those experiments, thank you." As engaging as it is to watch him taunt and indulge in this persona, we can't help but cheer when the Winchesters shoot him, ending his threat.
John De Santis plays the inhuman Golem with such humanity we can't help but empathize with him. Despite his large and imposing size, he seems to be a gentle giant---only violent when pushed to anger or facing a grave threat. De Santis makes the Golem an example of a good supernatural being. He is formed from clay, meant as a weapon for war, but he is oh so much more. De Santis shows us that the Golem lives by a code of honor, underlined by his delivery of the line, "It's not my place to guide the rabbi, to teach the teacher! It's not my place!" He may not think it his place to teach the teacher, but through his example it is exactly what he does. De Santis puts this into his performance, in his body language, and his actions. We can hear it in his rumbling voice. It is this skill that makes us care for his character so much.
Adam Rose makes us underestimate Aaron throughout. He may not have the knowledge about his Golem due to his youthful indiscretions of the past, and he may not understand what it means to take charge for much of it, but we know due to his tailing Dean that he is trying. Rose shows this in his subtle performance, setting up Ackles for a comedic moment. Once the truth has been revealed, Rose shows us how frustrated Aaron is with the situation---and how green he is to the supernatural. Rose is funny and likeable as Aaron, making it easy to cheer for him. He plays off well against De Santis, setting them up to be a great duo. He shows that Aaron can be tenacious and determined in both scenes where he stands up first to Sam and Dean and then to Eckhart later on. Rose's Aaron may not have been trained to be a warrior, but he convinces us in the end that he has what it takes to become one.
Jensen Ackles presents Dean as both skeptic and quintessential hunter. While Sam is awed by the Men of Letters Bunker, it is Dean that takes time to warm up to it. He figures that since the society died out in 1958---and was secret---and says,"Which means that they made crap up and wore fezzes and sashes and swung around scimitars." Ackles pulls on Dean's boyish side to express his joy about the water pressure in the shower, showing that the elder Winchester is warming up slowly. We get to see a comical side to Dean as he has an awkward moment with Aaron, flustered and clumsy as he tries to get out of it. Ackles plays this angle further when he encounters the Golem for the first time, realizing that he is outmatched quickly. That doesn't mean Dean's hard edge isn't lurking underneath it all. As they face down the Thule and discuss what to do about the Golem, Dean has no hesitation in telling Aaron firmly, "Believe me, if we need the right, we will take it." He shows it even more when they face Eckhart, Dean not flinching in the moment to tell him off with his usual attitude. Ackles puts all of Dean's pride and fondness into his voice as he asks Sam at the end, "So, uh, what? Aaron's a J.I., and... you're a Man of Letters now? Is that it?" Dean is always best when proud of his little brother, and Ackles knows just how to present it with grace here.
Jared Padalecki brought many facets to Sam in this episode. He showed the awe and excitement upon seeing the Men of Letter's library with sheer facial expression. In that moment, Padalecki makes Sam look like a little boy full of wonder. In that wonder, we can see the spark of joy ignite, as it settles over Sam that this is truly theirs. He shows Sam's drive well in choosing the case and pursuing it---and Sam's curiosity about the Golem. Padalecki also shows Sam's steel when facing down Eckhart. Although he is disarmed, his presence is still dominating. He doesn't have to rely on his obvious size to do it. Instead, Padalecki puts a hard edge into his voice and a cold expression on his face to communicate that Sam is still dangerous. In his interactions with Ackles' Dean, we see Sam's subtle amusement and hear a rich fondness in the timbre of his voice, especially on the line, "Are you gonna take off the dead-guy robe?"
Best Lines of the Week:
Dean: Our dad wanted us to have a solid career to fall back on just in case this "hunter" thing didn't work out.
Sam: You gonna take off the dead guy robe?
Dean: You mean, how do we "Oh No!" Mr Bill over there?
Aaron: Yeah, keep walking. You Chia-Pet.
Sam: How about you screw yourself, Nazi bastard?
Kevin has discovered the way to close the gates of Hell---but judging by God's obstacle course He doesn't seem to make it easy, now does He?