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I look back at this episode in the context of some of the earlier seasons, Season 1 and Bloody Mary specifically and realize that of the two Winchesters Sam is far more closed off, far more likely to keep his own counsel, afraid what others will think of him. Is that because he resented his life, is that because he’s so like John his stubbornness rules his thoughts and actions, is that because he resented Dean seemingly playing peacemaker between John and Sam which would alternately allow him to have some cover from John’s ire while at the same time implying that he needed protection…oh, the list could go on. I don’t know but Sam is a study in contrasts, he wants Dean to open up about his inward fears while keeping his own locked tightly away. He wants Dean to trust him and understand his motivations while not being willing to express them openly, rather have them found out through slips of the tongue or because an angel ‘told on him.’ How can Sam expect to be given trust when he doesn’t first offer it?
I feel very badly for Sam, he’s so confused, so hurt and so very lost. And it’s only the fourth episode.
Monster Movie:
I might just have a thing for shapeshifters since Skin, Nightshifter and now Monster Movie all land on my favorite episode list (granted that list is fairly long but…). I’m not a fan of the black and white genre, nor monster movies in general but I adored this episode. I love that the sets looked like sets, at times, that the secondary and tertiary characters were a bit outlandish (the girl with the really large soda and the slurping from the drinking from the beer stein – too much fun.)
Jaime was adorable, fresh, funny, full of life perfect for Dean who was reveling in his second chance and shaking off the darkness of not only his time in hell but his last month or so back on earth learning about angels and Lucifer and Sam’s abilities. It’s a sweet gentle episode in the midst of a dark and ever darkening series of episodes and allows Dean a chance to show his vulnerability as he opens up (somewhat) to Jaime about his near death experience and belief in second chances and allows Sam some breathing room as well as he watches his brother, quite amusedly, take pleasure in a giant pretzel and even finds humor in seeing the latest Raiders movie despite his brother suffering in hell. An unusual juxtaposition of humor and horror that just highlights the fact that these boys do indeed lead strange, very strange lives.
Yellow Fever:
This remains one of my least favorite for the season. While a fearful Dean with a protective Sam is something I love (fangirl I am) and the humor of a yorkie posing as a hell hound, hallucinations of Sam going evil, and Dean finally unlocking the secrets of hell are gems there is a lot that is jarringly out of focus here. I never wondered that Dean was a dick so that argument has no place here and I give Jensen huge kudos for willingly going so far with that scream (I’ve been led to believe there’s more to be seen on the gag reel but I’m not peeking at any clips that have been posted here or there to be found, I’ll wait until my DVDs arrive…a little over a week to go as I write this – probably less by the time you actually read it) *another editing note, yep, the scream is longer, kudos again to Jensen for so willingly making himself a fool to sell the scene, and give us some fun*
What leaves me with a sense of ‘eh’ for this episode is that what awoke the ghost and started all this. I’ve watched it several times and still don’t get what jumpstarted the whole thing. Did someone go into the mill and start vandalizing it? How is it that after twenty years those papers and pictures were all still intact and not moldered away and/or shredded by rats etc for nest material? Not sure they had to make the back story so far in the past, two years, two months, I don’t know. Also, while Dean had his fears or ghostsickness I find it truly difficult to believe he was afraid of his guns, really? Sam going dark, going back to hell make a lot of sense, the unease of the teenagers and fear of driving above the speed limit make sense in the realm of anxiety but being afraid his gun would go off? Over the top.
The final bit that gets me on this episode is the whole timing aspect. I like the idea of having a ticking clock to add suspense but this one cut a bit too close. I’ve expanded on that several times in other articles so I’ll only go to say that each time they’ve done it (notably I Know What You Did Last Summer, flashbacks, and The Rapture, it only succeeded in confusing the timeline and or deflating the suspense. Of all the episodes the newest writing duo produced this season this was their weakest, they got better I give them great credit and it’s no Bugs but still, I’ll pass on it more then I’ll stop on it.
It’s The Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester:
I wish this had been a bit tighter. The scenes with Castiel and Uriel and Sam and Dean were excellent, as well as Castiel and Uriel. I liked the cracks in Dean’s façade and Uriel’s reveal to Sam that Dean knew more about hell then he was letting on. I liked the ending with Dean and Castiel – although I agree with Alice, Dean’s and Castiel’s scene should have come first and then Uriel and Sam’s…more ominous, more portent.
The monologue from the witch was too over the top for me and the whole dramatic scene of Sam and Dean getting choked and writhing on the floor was a bit forced and too lengthy. Drop something heavy on them and trap them would have worked a bit better for me. I’m nitpicking, I know, but that scene always bothers me. However, what really makes up for it is Sam being forced to use his powers, something he avoided in Metamorphosis but could not escape here. His awareness that he was stuck came through at the same time as his determination to live, to defeat the evil that is Samhain. Dean’s stunned, horrified and saddened expression as he watched his ‘little brother’ defeat an evil presence was a beautiful bit of foreshadowing for later. Contrast that look to Dean’s shocked expression in The Rapture when he sees Sam drink a demon’s blood and then flinches as he thinks Sam is turning his ‘powers’ against his own brother…sad all the way around, ‘tis sad.


# 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-)