Home / TV Recap: Supernatural – “Metamorphosis”

TV Recap: Supernatural – “Metamorphosis”

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Sammy! There you are. It’s so good to see you and your damaged, angsty self. I missed you, buddy. As much as I loved “In The Beginning”, I found myself this week getting nostalgic, pulling out episodes like “Born Under A Bad Sign” and “Bedtime Stories” so I remembered what Sam’s pretty face looked like. Oh, and his tortured soul.

Speaking of those episodes, both were written by the writer of this week’s installment, “Metamorphosis.” Cathryn Humphris is one of the best writers on the team when it comes to exposing vulnerable, deeply disturbed Sam and again she knocked it out of the park with the issues this week.

The episode as a whole was decent, although Monster of the Week (MOTW) episodes like this usually produce scattered results. Jack, a Rugaru in waiting, wasn’t horrible like the MOTWs in “Everybody Loves A Clown” or “Long Distance Call”, but he didn’t compare with the great ones from “Provenance” or “A Very Supernatural Christmas” either. Jack’s standing is right down the middle as his decline proved to serve the perfect parallel for Sam’s deterioration.

Sam and Ruby Sitting In A Tree…

I want a devil’s trap made of chains like that on my ceiling. It makes for a great conversation piece at parties. Sam interrogates a demon in a warehouse with a vicious demeanor while Ruby watches in delight. There’s nothing like a sexy, tall man with some half-bred demon abilities to get you off, eh, Ruby? The demon easily pisses off Sam by not answering his question (where’s Lilith?) and taunting him with comments like “slutting around with some demon,” and “things you and this demon bitch do in the dark.” Could he be hinting something there? Sam and Ruby… oh I better stop, there’s plenty more story to focus on.

Sam stretches out his arm and doesn’t need to close his eyes this time in forcing the guy to barf up black smoke. This is way scarier than the first time for the close-up of Sam’s crazy eyes while he sends this demon back to Hell is chilling. I instantly ask myself, “Did Kim Manners direct this episode?” I find out later during the credits roll that indeed he did.

When Sam’s done he’s seething, fighting to control all that hatred and anger, giving us the clue that each time he does this it takes its toll on his inner darkness. A satisfied Ruby looks at him very turned on and they are so getting a room. But wait, the camera moves behind Sam and zooms in on the profile of one very disturbed Dean. Uh oh! Birds of the Apocalypse and I’d say the doom is warranted this time.

Back to Sam, who’s feeling pretty good because not only did he save the guy but he mastered his demon-choking technique sans headache. The good feeling is short lived when Sam, Ruby, and victim turn to see a dark figure enter in the shape of Dean Winchester. Not good. “So, anything you want to tell me, Sam?” There’s a crack in his voice, so Sam’s little show obviously shook him up. Sam reacts like a teenager that’s been caught breaking curfew and tries to explain. Oh, good luck with that!

Dean demands to know who the chick is. Come on Dean, you know it's Ruby. He embraces this touching reunion by slamming Ruby against the wall and pulling the demon-killing knife on her. Geez, has this become the standard Winchester welcome or what? Sam jumps in and wrestles the knife away, but not before Dean throws him against a wall too. Ruby does some wall slamming of her own and gets Dean in a chokehold. There we go! This is the tough, mean Ruby we grew to love last season. Genevieve’s performance was more convincing this week.

After a few seconds of a pissed off stare down between the three, Sam convinces Ruby to take the now demon free man to the hospital and I’m wondering if he found the notion of being dropped on the floor and witnessing an explosive Winchester family fight more bizarre than being possessed by a demon. Ruby takes the guy to the hospital, Dean leaves very angry, and poor Sam is left standing alone wondering how he’s going to get out of this mess. Not easily, that’s for sure.

That’s a way to kick off an episode! I thought they would start with the freak of the week like they normally do. I like the change.

“If I didn’t know you, I would want to hunt you”

Back at the Willow Tree and Sam’s reading a book, alone. Dean enters in a snit and starts packing his things. Yep, still mad. Sam, walking on pins and needles, comes over to talk and Dean whips around and clocks him right in the jaw! Sam recovers and then Dean does it again! He’s not mad, he’s livid. Sam takes it like a man and Dean goes off on him for his inhuman behavior. “I’m just exorcising demons,” Sam defends.

“With your mind!”

Dean’s got you there, Sammy. He wants to know what else Sam can do. Sam says nothing, what he does only works with demons. Dean rightfully doesn’t believe him.

Sam makes his pitch that what he’s doing is saving lives because he isn’t killing the victim. He’s saved more people in five months than they usually do in a year. Dean isn’t convinced it’s a good idea, probably because it’s Ruby’s. “It’s gonna get darker, and darker, and God knows where it ends.”

Sam replies, “I’m not going to let it go too far,” and Dean responds by whacking a lamp across the room. Wrong answer!

This part is where my jaw hit the floor. Dean, complete with steely glare and tough guy stance that he usually reserves for the worst of the monsters he faces tells Sam, “If I didn’t know you, I would want to hunt you.” That causes the tears to pool in Sam’s eyes. Mine too.

Sam defends, “You were gone, I was here. I had to keep on fighting without you. And what I’m doing, it works.”

Dean’s got a better argument. “Then why’d you lie about it to me? Why did an angel tell me to stop you?” Sam’s weepy eyes go to panic. “That means that God doesn’t want you doing this. So you just going to stand there and tell me everything is all good?” Dean’s got tears in his eyes now too, and Sam’s despondent now. Me too, and this week’s TiVo pause for a meltdown happens only seven minutes in.

Somehow Sam manages to answer the phone, even though his voice is so broken he barely gets the words out. He takes down the info, and we’re onto the freak of the week. I’m not going to focus much on Jack for while his story fit the monster MO this show does so well, there are too many other emotional elements of greater importance. In summary, Jack can’t eat enough and his bones are changing.

The Impala zooms to Carthage, Missouri and here’s another great moment for brothers to share info. This episode is a character development dream! Dean tells Sam about his trip back in time, revealing Mary was a hunter who could kick ass and how hopeful and full of life she and John were until that night of horror. Sam doesn’t get the whole tragedy. “Our whole family murdered and for what, so Yellow Eyes could get in my nursery and bleed in my mouth?” Dean gets that puzzled “wait a second” reaction, hinting he never mentioned that to Sam. Then he says it. “I never said anything about demon blood.” Busted! Sam admits he’s known about it for a year. He apologizes, but it’s way too late for that. Dean’s offended and lets him know in a biting way. Sam wants to explain, but backs off. At least Dean can’t punch him right now.

“He’s got something evil inside of him”

Jack gorges on raw meat and Sam and Dean watch, just to work in the ick requirement. After all, this is a horror show. New motel room and there’s Travis, the ill fated hunter for the week. Why does almost every hunter that runs into Sam and Dean end up dead? I wouldn’t be calling them for a favor, thus making Travis the stupidest hunter ever. We learn the monster is a Rugaru, starting to turn in some sort of metamorphosis. There’s the dual meaning for the title. Travis killed Jack’s dad and didn’t realize until it was too late he had a kid.

From here on out, it’s parallels galore. “They feed once, they’re a monster forever.” Hmm, unleash dark powers and… Jack’s in a bar, looks in the mirror, and even though the reflection is normal, his eyes see a monster inside. This is important for later. Sam wants to save this guy because there’s hope that even though he’s starting to turn, he may never take the final step. Hmm, unleashing dark powers inside doesn’t mean… As Travis points out though, “It’s pure base instinct…You think he can stop himself because he’s nice?” Whoa, who exactly are they talking about here? Sam refuses to kill Jack unless he does something to get killed for.

Here it is. Despite all the explosive stuff we’ve gotten so far, this is not only my favorite scene of the episode, but one of my favorites of the series. We FINALLY learn why Sam has been acting so deceptive. It starts with another discussion in the Impala and Dean doesn’t like the plan. He wants to be sure Sam can kill Jack when push comes to shove and passes another one of his heavy handed comments in the process. “Nice dude but he’s got something evil inside of him, something in his blood. Maybe you can relate.” Sam in a fit of anger demands Dean stop the car, now. Dean pulls the car off to the side, Sam gets out and starts going off on Dean. The brothers airing grievances in front of the Impala. It feels so right.

“You want to know why I’ve been lying to you Dean? Because of crap like this. The way you talk to me, the way you look at me like I’m a freak. Or even worse, like I’m an idiot, like I don’t know the difference between right and wrong.” Dean comes back with his “strolling a dark road” stuff, thus making Sam madder. “You have no idea what I’m going through, none!” Dean demands to be enlightened. Okay Dean, just remember, you asked.

“I’ve got demon blood in me Dean! This disease pumping through my veins and I can’t ever rip it out and scrub it clean. I’m a whole new level of freak!” The close-up on Sam’s face on that last line is incredible. Jared deserves tons of praise, for Sam’s venting of the long building frustration over his misfortune is astonishing. We feel every bit of it and the close up on Dean’s shocked face poignantly reflects the heartbreak. Sam finishes, “And I’m just trying to take this curse and make something good out of it (heart wrenching beat), because I have to.” Awesome stuff. That shut Dean up and he’s willing to talk to the freak. The other freak. I told you about the parallels!

Winchesters and Flamethrowers

They find Jack, he thinks they’re nuts and sends them away. He runs off and ends up stalking a chick, and this sets up the one funny moment of this emotionally heavy episode. Sam and Dean barge in with flamethrowers into this woman’s apartment only to find Jack talked himself out of the attack. “We’re here to save you, I guess.” Dean’s words are of little comfort as she threatens to call the police. They scram quick.

Let’s burn through the next chunk of this. Freak goes home, Travis is there and is ready to kill him and his wife because she’s pregnant. Freak gets angry, breaks free and Travis becomes his first human feast. They go for mega gross out factor, which satisfies those who expect nothing less from this show. Jack unties the wife who runs for her life. Sam and Dean arrive, see mostly eaten Travis, and then Dean is knocked out on the coffee table, Sam on the floor. This happens right after a sorrowful Sam says, “I guess you were right about Jack” to Dean. Yeah, great time to find that out.

Sam wakes up in the closet and talks to very bloody freak through the door. “We’ll have a little brainstorming session.” Ha! I love that line. I’ve been in business too long where I’ve learned that’s code for “we have no freaking idea what to do.” Sam talks to Jack while picking the lock on the closet door. Oh come on Sam, open it with your mind.

Next is a gross shot of Jack eating Dean’s blood, but that’s par for the course. Sam pleads to Jack’s humanity and how can your heart not bleed for poor Sammy? “You got this dark pit inside you, I know, believe me I know, but that doesn’t mean you have to fall into it. You don’t have to be a monster… It doesn’t matter what you are, but what you do. It’s your choice.” Jack doesn’t listen and Sam emerges out of the closet just in time to save Dean with the flamethrower. I said this before with "The Kids Are Alright." Sam Winchester, flamethrower, me, thud, floor. Sam’s beside himself over the kill and the sad puppy dog eyes prove it.

It’s another Impala scene! Three in one episode. Usually there’s at most two. Sam stares off into space looking like he’s going to bust out crying any minute. Dean tries to apologize and admits the psychic thing scares the crap out of him, but Sam doesn’t want to talk about it. He’ll never get Dean to understand. “It’s just something I’ve got to deal with.” Dean declares he won’t have to alone, but Sam doesn’t find comfort from Dean’s assurances anymore. Sam looks at the reflection of himself in the window, and ding ding ding, we get that parallel to Jack in the bar earlier. It’s his normal reflection, but he sees a monster.

Sam has his epiphany. He’s playing with fire and he’s not using his powers anymore. Dean’s relieved and thanks him, but Sam doesn’t appreciate his gratitude. “Don’t thank me. I’m not doing this for you. Or for the angels. This is my choice.” I guess French-fried Rugaru changed his mind. Whose taking bets that now that Sam’s unleashed that monster, he can’t make such choices voluntarily? His freak days are far from done.

As for a grade, MOTW B-, Sam and Dean scenes, A+. Go ahead and try to calculate how that comes out overall, but I’m putting heavy weighting on the brothers. Next week is “Monster Movie”, the all black and white novelty from Ben Edlund. I have clips from that episode to share in the next article (plus a surprise one). We need a humorous break after the heaviness of the first four episodes.

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About Alice Jester

  • Tigershire

    I very much agree with you. If it were that easy for Sam to stop using his powers, well the show should end with this episode.

    Steven King said it best in his book on writing – “Kill your darlings.”

    And Kripke has done that in spades. I don’t expect this season to be any different. Grin.

  • Elle

    Another excellent review!
    Can I just say, this was the most disgusting episode, in my opinion, to date. Pretty much any scene with Jack had me wincing, cringing and eye-covering. Moving on…
    You are so right in your grade of the Sam/Dean scenes as A+, Alice. The Dean and Sam confrontation was exactly what I wanted and I felt Dead was totally justified in his anger (even the punches). Jensen, once again in a suberb acting job, conveyed piss off and overwhelming sadness in that low, grave tone that was heartbreaking. The range of emotions – man, episodes should be rated for their ew-factor and tissue requirement. [sidenote related to the hotel scene – even though Misha Collins wasn’t in this episode (tragedy, if you ask me, he should be in EVERY episode), Dean called him “Cas” – ah! I loved that part. ] I breathed a huge sigh of relief when, finally, ALL the Winchester secrets (at least between the boys) had been revealed. The secret keeping was making me anxious.

    I do agree that Ruby 2.0 was better (though I still miss KC) however, it irked me a little bit that Dean didn’t figure out who she was right off the bat. Also, I loved how Dean’s absolute rage lead to flinging Sam off him and nailing Ruby against the wall – awesome! That’s the Dean we know and love!

    On that note – I loved the entire “long-pig” exchange, including the pleased look Dean got on his face everytime he worked it into a sentence. I’d bet the bloopers for the “rescue” scene in the apartment are great too.

    Looking forward to your treats for next weeks episode. I have a feeling I know what your special surprise might be (but I’ll keep that to myself).

  • Tigershire

    Not all the Winchester secrets have been revealed. Dean still hasn’t told Sam about his nightmares of Hell.

  • cassi

    Great review Alice!
    I loved this episode because it was my usual dose of SPN Monster of the Week combined with amazing brother moments!!!! And Jack was really one gross and cool monster! Loved his scenes! The food scenes were also amazing, the close-up of his mouth was so disgusting, Kim Manners you’re a genius! I loved the little bloodstream flashes he used to emphasize the evil inside Jack!

    The brother moments were fantastic as always! The episode feeled like the first SPN episode that dealt with the brothers relationship using Sam-Dean discussions since NRFTW.

  • Tigershire – Good point about Dean not telling Sam about his flashbacks, but I’m sure he doesn’t know what it means yet. I wonder when they get worse (notice how I said when) if he’ll share that with Sam. He didn’t when he was getting the hallucinations in NRFTW, but then again, he might be learning from Sam that lies aren’t the best thing.

    Elle – yeah, I could have said something about the “long pig”, but I’ll admit, cannibalism is one of those topics I turn away from with sour stomach. This one was pretty gross, but I think last year’s “Malleus Maleficarum” was worse.

    I also agree, need more Castiel. I get why he wouldn’t be in this one though, for he gave the brothers room to work things out. I can’t wait to see what happens when Sam and Castiel cross paths.

    Cassi – You’re so right! How did I miss the blood pumping thing? That’s another great example of the parallels. What’s happening to Jack is happening to Sam too. Thanks for mentioning that.

  • Tigershire

    Alice – I agree that Dean doesn’t know yet what they mean (although he knows what they are as referenced by Castiel – “what were you dreaming of?”) but I don’t think either of them get much figured out until the 11th hour (which is what makes good television, right?)

    Actually that brought me to an interesting thought. Have you noticed that, so far, Dean only dreams of Hell right before Cas shows up?

  • vichi

    Alice, great as always! I was focused on the brothers and Jack’s story was for me more as a parallel for Sam’s story, because after all, in this episode, Sam is the one who got metamophosised (I don’t know if the word exist, I think I just made it up:).
    Funny thing, I too saw again BUABS and Bedtime stories, and with me the fried who is staying at me for a couple of weeks. She got converted to SPN and now, every night she watch one or two episodes of SPN:)

    the title and the action of the episod made me think about Franz Kafka’s novel “The Metamorphosis”, his only novel I liked:) Did you notice that at some point the license plate was the original one, from season one? I read somewhere that they reused a scene from an early episode and that’s why the plate was back. I was glad to see it again:)

  • Liz

    Great review. And I totally agree, Jared deserves tons of praise for this episode. He was absolutely fantastic!! And it was SO good to see Sam back.