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This was a mytharc as well as a standalone as well as a deepening of characters episode, Sera Gamble didn’t mess around here. We see so much more of Bobby’s home and get more insight into his past, as well as what he likes to do on weekends, if there was any question Bobby was going to have a big part to play this season this episode took care of that. We don’t often see the boys questioning what they’ve done in the past and what it has cost not only them but others, there’s been little moments here and there, Devil’s Trap, WIAWSNB, Hunted and some other times but usually they move on. This season we see not only these past failures, if you will, but the more immediate devastation of Pamela who not only is blinded but then killed for her willingness to help. There are also such reflective moments – brief that they may be – that the boys are very much aware of how hard their lives are and how much they fight to keep what they have, it’s not a throwaway line in Wishful Thinking when Dean says they have to fight for everything they have; they do.
This is an episode I enjoy with a bowl of popcorn, it’s a feature movie packed into 42 minutes and at the end I’m just as breathless with anticipation for what is to come next.
In The Beginning
Mary was a hunter, Sam was named after his grandfather, Dean after his grandmother (and thus begins a season of ‘make fun of Dean moments – I’m not complaining) John was sweet, Dean is the reason the Impala has been in the family all along…and she was there at the very beginning of the family’s tragedy, Ruby takes Sam away in the middle of the night *boo, hiss* Castiel is still a very suspicious character but his conflict is already beginning to show. Jeremy Carver writes and Steve Boyum directs…settle in ‘cause we’re about to learn something, a whole lot of something.
We the fans have known for over a year that baby Sam had blood dripped in his mouth; In the Beginning is when Dean learns. Demon blood apparently is better than Ovaltine, I don’t think I’ve ever had Ovaltine so I don’t know if it’s better – course, I’ve never had demon’s blood so…
We knew in The Pilot, and were reminded in Route 666, that Sam never told Jessica about hunting. That means for years he lied to Jessica. It takes a special kind of strength to lie that well, for Jessica never suspected – if she had she’d have found that curved weapon thingy Sam packed into his bag in The Pilot but she was genuinely innocent, lucky girl – until the whole pinned to the ceiling lit up in flames part.
Now, In The Beginning, we learn where Sam gets his good lying from, Mary. Tigershire was/is right, Sam is so very much like Mary it’s scary. She wants out, he wants out, she lies to John, he lies to Jessica…is it any wonder that it’s Sam’s words echoing Mary’s sentiments when he wonders in The Pilot: â€œYou think Mom would have wanted this for us?” Nope, In The Beginning we learn that it was the absolute worst thing she could imagine. No wonder Dean choked up. Just remember how he was at the end of Something Wicked when Sam wished he could have the kind of innocence that had just been stolen from Michael thanks to the shtriga, Dean wished Sam could have that kind of innocence but it was already long gone, now nearly four years later he learns that his mom never wanted her boys to have this life; talk about pain.
We see young John untouched by the war he fought in, friendly to a stranger in need, making poor judgments about vehicle purchases – thank you, Dean Van Halen – Mary likes strawberry shakes, John likes chocolate, Mary fights -- well, like a hunter and Daniel Elkins apparently makes that trek from Colorado to Kansas to the home of the now dead Campbells and retrieves his Colt…did he know of John Winchester after that? Is that how he and John started a friendship?
In The Beginning fills in many blanks that I know I’ve wanted Dean to know about ever since All Hell Breaks Loose I, so for that I say thank you. I also have to say it’s an excellent episode. I know a lot of people didn’t like it claiming Sam was shortchanged by only having 30 some seconds at the beginning but I say it worked so very well precisely because Sam wasn’t there and yet he was.
In The Beginning points out that Azazel had an endgame, until now we’ve been led to believe that endgame is Sam leading some demon army, turns out it really was so much more than that, and now thanks to Lucifer Rising we know what. 
In The Beginning fleshes out the characters of John and Mary by going back in time and showing how two very different lives came together, that Sam fell in love with Jessica is not so odd seeing how Mary loved John. 
In The Beginning reminds us that all roads lead to the same destiny, we still don’t know what that destiny is…Mary wanted out of hunting, but ‘fate’ forced her back in. Dean was sent back to learn the truth of his family but did his returning have anything to do with starting the whole mess in the first place? Now knowing that some angels were on the side of bringing on the breaking of the seals and having Lucifer rise we can wonder that the very orders given to Castiel to send Dean back were simply to ensure that Azazel met up with Mary…the whole time travel thing gives me a headache, as much fun as it is when used sparingly, so no wonder Kripke says one must be careful with the mytharc or it all collapses in on itself, true, very true. I loved In the Beginning but what came throughout the rest of the season was even more spectacular.
A lot of people didn’t like this episode, at least on some of the fandom threads. Perhaps it’s because the parallels between Sam and Jack were so ‘in your face.’ I don’t know. It’s amazing to me how people gripe that Sam’s arc/storyline is so subtle and yet still gripe when the themes are absolutely smacking one in the face. *shrugs* I don’t get it. Suffice it to say, I thought this episode was excellent. 
Sure there are some nagging little threads, and if it weren’t for the several other conversations in this episode not to mention how well it was dealt with throughout the rest of the season I would have been p***ed about that interruption of the phone call and the hunt right at the crux of Sam and Dean’s first fight/discussion. Since we got two additional moments between the bros I’m more than over that. I’ll always wonder if Jack’s wife was/is really pregnant or was she using that as a ploy in the hopes of saving her life. Too bad she didn’t know what the danger truly was, if it was a ploy that is. If it’s real…there’s another rugaru out there. â€“ That really does sound made up.


# Randal 2009-09-07 10:12
Ovaltine isn't all that good, even my kids won't drink it, and they love A Christmas Story.

As for the subtlety/blindi ng light of Sam's storyline, given their life of encountering monsters and spirits and whatnot that are hungry for 'something' (blood, revenge, human flesh, etc) or troubled, the odds are decent that they're going to encounter something that could be considered obvious as the Rougaru, and I think it was handled without a heavy hand, helped by deft acting.

Re: Yellow Fever. I can live with the 'oh shit, my gun!' (he WAS afraid of the fourth floor, after all, heh) but given that the husband had *killed* in a rage, I would imagine that those drawings would've have been destroyed/found and removed in the aftermath, not exist years down the line.

Grace In A Bottle (should that be trademarked?) didn't bother me as it's not as if there isn't a tradition of magical containers. I'm with you on the Pamela Barnes thing. Something that monumental is discovered through a 'lay on my Freudian couch' session?

And one thing that might be 'whatever' to most, but bugs the hell out of me is the choice of song for the Anna/Dean Let's Get It On: instead of Bad Company's version of Ready For Love, they should have used the original Mott the Hoople version. The instrumentation is a bit more melancholy, and Mick Ralphs' vocal is far more sad and longing than the rock god style of Paul Rodgers. I think the sentiment of the scene and the impending near-death would have been better served. But I'm probably more of a classic rock geek than the average viewer. :-)
# elle2 2009-09-07 16:58
Hi, Randal,

Great comments on the first 'almost' half of the season! Yellow Fever had a lot of holes but I give the new duo some credit for rising as the season went along, After School Special was an improvement and Jumpt the Shark really was quite excellent...sur prised the heck out of me they could do that so well.

As for your classic rock comments, admittedly (many times I've admitted) I'm not that in tune so I'm not able to appreciate fully your comments, however your analysis is excellent. The scene was a bit deeper than that song evoked so I'll be taking your word for it.

Great thoughts!
# Randal 2009-09-08 06:56
Thanks! Despite the holes, I loved Yellow Fever (another example of an episode that, if not perfect, still has something to offer. How many shows can say that?) but the others you mentioned are stellar. Jump the Shark played perfectly with the subject; even simple stuff like "Cousin Oliver's" helped deflate the inevitable 'oh shit' vibe of the unknown family member and the actors knocked it out of the park. The viewer him/herself could feel thrown for a serious loop along with the actors.
# elle 2009-09-08 13:47
Great examination of the first "half"! Those first ten episodes had me reeling and frankly, it was a relief to have a bit of a break. Yellow Fever, ah, I can't help but like that episode, gapping holes and all. I recently re-watched this one with my mom who was asking about said holes, I told her to just ignore them and enjoy the funny stuff. Plus, let's not forget - Eye of the Tiger! Perhaps that is what endears this episode to me so much.

I, like you, cannot fathom why there is such sniping about Sam's lack of focus/developme nt this season. Metamorphosis was pretty clear. This is one of my lower ranked episodes of the season simply because the ick factor was too much for me. Blood and gore is all well and good but there is something especially disturbing about the idea of consuming human flesh. Maybe that's just me. I loved how they handled the reveal - the Dean and Sam confrontation, it was well done in my humble opinion.

Wishful Thinking - ah, another classic. That Teddy Bear Suicide kills me each and every time - no matter how many times I watch it. As does the speech in the Impala to Wes(ley) about how humans are meant to be miserable. And of course, "Kneel before Todd!" All around great episode - laughs, emotion and character advancements.

IKWYDLS/H&H - I enjoyed these episodes, plain and simple. I didn't mind Anna, and I didn't even mind that she and Dean had some comfort nooky. The grace in a bottle - okay, that was little hokey but at the end of episode 10 - the big reveal about Dean in Hell totally eclipsed any flaws and made this a fantastic episode.

Off to read part 2 now! 8-)