Home / TV Review: Supernatural – “Family Remains”

TV Review: Supernatural – “Family Remains”

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When tragedy strikes, when all is lost and lives are shattered, all that’s left are the pieces and the survivors. The family remains.

Ah, the double meaning title. Two families remain together, but they remain apart. So, why not put to them to the test through a horrific nightmare with a creep factor that we haven’t seen since season one?

On one side are the Carters, getting a new start in the country with a new house after a recent tragedy. Mom and dad aren’t on the same page, and their two kids are having issues over all the changes. Each one won’t listen to the other. Sound familiar? Yep, the Winchester brothers. Dean is not recovering well from his return from Hell and Sam is growing weary of humoring him, but neither will talk about it.

As the chilling mystery unfolds, we learn that despite the differences, these family members are still devoted to one another. They are willing to do what it takes to survive. The ending isn’t happy though, for both the Carters and the Winchesters are wise enough to admit they’re not okay. Healing is a long, arduous process. Watching this episode is arduous at times too, but overall, it’s entertaining and we’re thrilled to see the show back.

So What Happened?

First, the scorecard. Jeremy Carver is the writer (yes, my love for him is still strong), Phil Sgriccia is the director (plenty of blind love for him too), and the guest actors are Helen Slater (aka Supergirl) and David Newsom (a HITG from every TV show out there). Throw in Jared and Jensen, and the episode has many strengths.

After a teaser where some derelict in his own house meets a bloody end, “Family Remains” picks up one month later after “Heaven and Hell.” An exhausted Sam is stretched out in the back seat of the Impala (and looking pretty doing it), while Dean is researching the next case. Sam protests that they’ve been going non-stop for the last month and they won’t talk about what Dean confessed. Dean ignores him, for there’s a ghost in Nebraska that needs their attention.

With that, the picture is clear of how fractured the brothers’ relationship is at this time. Sam is not only tired of the excessive hunting, but tired of humoring Dean’s saving people obsession. Oh Sammy, how easily you forget two years ago. Dean won’t listen, for taking cases is the only thing right now from preventing him from imploding. It’s post-traumatic stress with a capital P.

Enter the broken Carter family, arriving at their new house with moving van and Uncle Ted in tow, choosing to ignore the fake asbestos warning from the fake inspectors. They move in and by nightfall the children, Danny and Kate, find that something is living in the walls in delightfully creepy ways. Yes, Jeremy Carver somehow managed to work in the licked hand urban legend, and now Eric Kripke can finally cross that one off the list.

The kids say there’s a ghost in the house and then Sam and Dean arrive, announcing there’s a ghost in the house. Still, this isn’t enough for the parents and Uncle Ted. They need more. So, the family dog has to go and prove the point. That’s crossing a line! Horror tales usually don’t spare disturbing aspects, and I can take the gruesome murders of people, but the dog? No fair!

The pet’s demise proves to be necessary though to unravel the clues that this is not an ordinary ghost. Another clue? The girl crosses the salt line and attacks Dean with the knife. Definitely not a ghost. Sam arrives from his off-camera search of the attic and becomes the hero with a mere flashlight. Why didn’t we get a scary and disgusting attic scene from Sam? That’s a missed opportunity.

Then the episode goes too far. It’s bad enough I’m still upset over the dog, now they sabotage the Impala? They take out the tires? Noooooo! We learned from “Tall Tales” that’ll bend the rims. He who harms the Impala and the family pet must deal with the poisoned laptop of the overprotective blogger. Animals and classic muscle cars are hereby sacred! Don’t do that again.

Anyway (deep breath), Danny goes missing, the weapons are stolen, so Dean and Ted crawl through the walls while Sam and Brian (the dad) search the outside. Considering we didn’t see Sam’s end of the search, that pretty much seals the fate for ol' Ted. As much as I held my breath when Dean goes down the hole alone (and getting grossed out by all the dead animals), we all know the first rule of horror. He who stays behind gets the knife through the throat. The girl coming out of nowhere and delivering the deadly strike on Ted is a pretty awesome shot. Bravo, Phil Sgriccia!

Oh no, more missed potential. While holed up in the shed, what’s supposed to be a powerful family scene ends up a head scratcher. First there’s the reveal about the dead son Andy. Sam doesn’t ask about it when he’s reading the diary of the girl who killed herself in that house? You know, when they were talking about Andy right in front of him? Dean finds out later from Brian the family has been torn apart by Andy’s death. I have no problem with Dean’s heart to heart with Brian, but Sam’s indifference is perplexing.

My heart did break when guilt ridden Dean tells the family of Ted’s demise, but that moment fizzles. Where’s Sam taking Dean aside and getting him to talk about it? Where’s Sam’s expression of sympathy to the family? Where’s the drama? Anytime a scene leaves me asking such questions, I’ve obviously missed the intended impact.

Sam tells Dean what’s in the diary and eww, ick. Dean explains it best, the murdered man from the teaser is dad/granddad. The new theory is the feral child of the dead daughter is living in the walls, the family remains of the most dysfunctional relations since “The Benders.”

Remember that dumbwaiter? Remember the bad smells in the kitchen? Suddenly everything clicks. Dean climbs down the long dark shaft to rescue Danny and I’m holding my breath again. Sam, well, he’s on rope detail. Remember the good ol' days, when both of them went down the hole? “No Exit” anyone? Sorry, I’ll stop nitpicking.

Dean rescues Danny in the dank basement and now it's time for the twist — there’s a brother! There’s two feral children. The boy attacks Dean, Danny runs, and thank heavens Sam got together his mad rope-making skills in time. He’s a regular MacGyver. Sam pulls Danny up (since Brian is apparently unable to do such things on his own), Dean struggles in a dark scene that I can’t make out while the feral girl is attacking mom and Kate in the shed. Dean finds his gun and shoots the boy shortly before Sam arrives. Way to provide backup there, Sammy!

The girls still have their issue in the shed, but dad takes care of business, taking out freaky girl. The shot of her dead in the weeds is fantastic, and this is why Phil Sgriccia is awesome. That’s the perfect chilling impression to go to commercial with. Thanks guys, I’m all creeped out now!

I set aside doubts, because the heart-churning farewell between the Winchesters and the Carters gets to me. Everyone is still broken. My serenity quickly dissipates though with the final scene. The big reveal in front of the Impala that Dean enjoyed torturing in Hell isn’t all that surprising. Dean explains it best; after all the bad things that happened to him, after all that anger over his losses and misfortunes, he had to dish it out. He couldn’t take it anymore. That’s understandable and some great character development.

So why did I hate the final scene so much? Easy, because these scenes of woe have turned the show into “The Impala Confessionals.” I go back to “The Magnificent Seven,” where a frustrated Sam has enough of Dean’s crap and tells him so. How about “Bloodlust?” “Everybody Loves A Clown?” What happened to the Sam who would force Dean to look at himself and dare him to pull it together? Dean’s reveal would have been best served earlier in the episode, like when Dean is broken up over losing Ted. The last scene should have involved an intense brotherly exchange like at the end of “Red Sky At Morning.” Dean’s sad confessions and Sam's stunned looks is getting tiresome. Dean’s being a pussy and Sam’s become some very pretty wallpaper.

Okay, I feel better now. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the episode overall, but the slip-ups in character are hard to fathom. It’s something I can suck up though for I’m eager for what’s coming next.

Character Issues

The characterizations of both Sam and Dean continue to evolve, fascinating yet perplexing. In continuation with the role reversal that’s played out at times this season, Dean has many of the hang-ups Sam had in season two. He must save as many people as he possibly can in order to achieve redemption. The only difference is it’s for what he’s done, rather than Sam’s worry of what he’d become. Of course, he learns he can’t save everyone, a la Sam in “Playthings,” and his efforts aren’t doing much for that deep hole inside. I think Dean’s behavior is a decent portrayal of PTSD and as usual Jensen is awesome showing it.

As for Sam, it wasn’t until I dug deeper into this review that I realized Jeremy Carver wrote him much like he did in “Long Distance Call.” When I reviewed that episode, I said Sam was written out of character. His distance and quiet complacency with Dean was way off from past behavior. Seeing it again here, I’m trying to rationalize why Mr. Carver is deliberately showing Sam this way.

Sam’s emotional detachment has me wondering if they’re going somewhere with it or if it’s just one writer’s preference. Sam didn’t try to bond or even talk with any of the family members, which is something he usually does easily. Is the point to show how tired and burned out he is? I couldn’t tell for sure, but I’d believe that. Aside from the one time Sam tried to keep Dean in check, calling him out on the tough guy talk with Ted, I wonder why Sam has become so numb that he’s unable to connect with his brother anymore. I get that characters change and empathetic listener Sammy has long been gone, not to mention that Dean’s death really affected him, but I still need a better explanation. Normally I’ve been able to connect the dots through tiny hints and clues, but with this episode, I got nothing. I’m patient though, for there’s plenty more to come and I truly believe a payoff is somewhere down the road.

Other Stray Thoughts

The plot isn’t the most complex and the storyline is a little flimsy (feral children taught themselves literacy while being raised isolated in a dark basement and eating live rats?) but the pacing is great and maintains captivating suspense throughout. The dark scenes behind the wall and basement are particularly nerve-wracking, and I spent most of the time on the edge of my seat. It’s good to see a frightening episode like that again.

Impalas are big, but the back seat is still not comfy enough for someone who’s 6’ 4”. Plus, does Sam know what Dean did back there?

Ted calls Dean Fonzie? Shouldn’t he be wearing the leather jacket then? Someone in wardrobe messed up.

There’s some good stuff in the great lines department. “Geez, rent Juno, get over it.” “Like Scooby-Doo?” “Dog, it’s what’s for dinner.”

Dean reluctantly going down the hole. “Please don’t let anybody grab my leg.” You think Jeremy Carver watched a ton of cheesy horror flicks in preparation for this script?

My overall grade, a B+. I give it higher marks because despite the nitpicks, I liked the overall feel of the episode. Coming up next week, Barry Bostwick! I love him. Also, it’s the best episode title in television history.

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About Alice Jester

  • TeamPadalecki- After watching last night’s episode, now I really think “Family Remains” was off. The brothers’ behavior in this episode and last night’s is very inconsistent. Having said that, I loved “Criss Angel…” and my review will be clarifying why. Unfortunately, it means my grade for “Family Remains” has dropped several notches.

  • TeamPadalecki

    Hi Alice,

    I really thought you nitpicked this episode to death — until I watched the new one last night. I was not happy with the episode. There is no consistency here ! The brothers finally open up about the last four months apart and now it seems we have taken two steps back. Why ? The brothers are not hunting together — they seem to be going in different directions. NOW Sam is off with Ruby going it alone again. What the hell ? He was toying with the idea when talking it out with Dean – why not just come out and tell him that Ruby dropped by. I thought they were through with the secrets. To be honest, the last two episodes didn’t show the boys as much. If this is the plan, this would be a good time to let Jensen direct an episode which has been his dream. He said that they are always in the shot so it would be hard. Well, he seems to be on in the shot a lot — more so than Jared. What’s with Jared — in one scene it looked like he just rolled out of bed or had a very long night. What’s going on here ??? I am so confused and frustrated. I cannot wait to see your review for this episode to see if you agree. ~TeamPadalecki

  • Rachelly

    I truly hope for a coming payoff and am glad that the idea of it is compelling for others/the occurance of which (when it does happen) makes for some very satisfied viewers.

    This viewer needs bits of payoff along the way, not just at the end or even half way through a season. Connecting with the characters as the season unfolds is essential for my enjoyment, to get a sense of the brothers’ devotion to each other throughout the season also a must. Eleven episodes in, I am coming up empty in regard to Sam’s character and the brothers’ relationship having any mutual depth. Without these tid bits all along, I am getting discouraged.

    If the focus was on the brothers as a team, I think it would be different. The brothers as a unit, inseparable (as the brothers used to be) drew me to the show. This year, the emotional separation of the two for half a season is too long in my opinion. I miss the boys standing as one.

    I am too devoted to the show to give up as well. I fell in love with the Winchester Brothers in season one and will see them through to the end no matter what. I hope the hope in a payoff is rewarded. I so appreciate your enthusiasm and willingness to wait for it. Maybe I need a little of your anticipation to rub off on me. It might help me keep on keeping on.

  • I’m with Lana, I’ve invested too much time and study in this show to bail now. Plus, I remember my West Wing days when we had so much frustration over where the characters were going. When it all ended, I said goodbye to my show extremely satisfied. I’ve learned patience with network television, and a lot can happen in a season and a half.

    Everyone has excellent points about Sam and the brotherly relationship though. The episode was disappointing in some regards (character development), but still entertaining. I still see a payoff coming.

  • kim

    Alice, I really wish I were as patient as you apparently are.

  • Rachelly

    I liked your review, Alice. It was thoughtful and detailed. And I so appreciate that you read our comments and respond! You are a real treat! It feels so great to be heard and interacted with!

    Back to the eppy and the season….

    I agree Dean has serious issues from his time in hell and he is attempting to redeem himself, though I don’t think saving people from the MOTW will ever make him feel redemed.(poor guy) I feel badly for him and wonder how he will be able to overcome what has happened. The writers have a big job ahead of them.

    I agree that Sam was way too silent in Family Remains, not connecting with the family, not getting into any of the “action” really. This whole season Sam seems MIA to me. I so miss him. If it is deliberate by the writers, I think they are going a bit too long and too far with it. I feel disconnected to the character. If Sam is despairing, withdrawing, whatever, I want to know it to empathize with him. I can’t read him at all, really, leaving me to guess what he is thinking, feeling. I like how we see what Dean is feeling so we are drawn to “feel” for his character and would like the writers to draw us into Sam that way too.

    And the brothers relationship is over strained this season, too. I like a bit of drama, but I don’t see much to hold onto here in terms of the brotherliness. I used to watch old eppys just to enjoy the brotherly goodness tucked in each one. This season, I haven’t rewatched much of anything. The boys just don’t connect. I miss Dean being Sam’s big brother…whether it is protecting him (Benders)”You hurt my brother I will kill you…I will kill you all”-(Man was he amazing when he said that!), or watching out for him- “As long as I’m around, nothing bad is gonna happen to you” (I could have kissed him in that scene!), or counseling Sam -Bloody Mary: “It wasn’t your fault” speech in the car (Amazing again!), or whatever, JA shines as Sam’s big brother, yet he seems MIA this season. Sure he’s going through PTSD, but I can’t see Dean ever losing his devotion to Sam..yet we aren’t seeing it! I agree with many, that having Dean have an important role outside of being Sam’s brother is essential to make him an intersting character, but why does one have to exclude the other? Can’t Dean have lots of story lines, awesome story lines and still be devoted to Sam? Showing that he cares about his brother? Maybe Dean still does, it just isn’t showing and that’s the point. It isn’t showing. I miss that. If this is the writers’ choice, it is very sad to me.

    I saw Sam’s care of Dean in the beginning, almost taking on the big brother role to help Dean through what he is feeling, thinking, dealing with and I enjoyed that for a bit, but now it is obvious Sam can’t help Dean and he’s given up trying (I am guessing that is why Sam says absolutely nothing when Dean shares his deepest pain) and the distance between them is no longer “entertaining” it is beyond frustrating.

    I miss two brothers, saving people, hunting things as a family…interacting meaningfully, caring, living for each other and willing to die for each other. It seems like each and ever eppy is focuses on one brother or the other in separate story lines. Dean and the angels/Sam and Ruby-which is very flat at this point to me. The brothers are on different tracks and to me, the thing that brought me to the show was the brothers…together. Can’t they both be focused on, sharing in a story line?

    If this rift, this flattening of Sam’s character to the point of being wallpaper is actually part of the writers’ plan as you suggested, then I think they are/have made a grievous mistake. Many were drawn to this show for the “brothers”-both, together, looking out for each other. To dissolve that or not focus on that (especially in light of JA and JP’s awesome relationship which could be easily capitalized on in the show) is to throw away the show’s greatest asset.

    I wish I could remain as hopeful as you are about there being a purpose in how they are doing Sam’s character and the brothers’ relationship. Being half way through the season, I feel it is way too late to continue to be so for me.

  • As long time Supernatural fans sort of disappointed in this episode, I tend to agree with your review. Sam was just sort of window dressing with blank looks during most of the episode and Dean played the hero trying desperately to do something to redeem himself in his own eyes… I hope the Dean self abuse goes somewhere. But I am worried about the Sam & Dean dynamic — where’s the witty banter? We may have gone too far down the rabbit hole… but we’ll still be watching. The episode had its moments, but we’ll hope the next few eps are better.

  • Reem

    Wonderful review, thank you. 🙂

  • Lana

    WOW. The Dean bashing is getting really repetitive on this sites comments.

    Well I liked this episode besides the fact that it was so dark. Like, actually dark. Couldn’t see anything on my screen. And there quite a bit of plot holes and to!Me it was fairly predictable. Still, better then the rest of the junk I saw on TV this week. Heh.

    //In the past this would have been brotherly teasing…watch closer, Sam’s reaction is more anger, not his usual bitch face that is so often attributable to brotherly teasing. Dean shakes it off and gives a grin as the usual older brother getting a ‘dig’ into his younger brother but I’m left with the impression that Sam was not amused.//

    I agree with this. Which I think shows that the writers aren’t just making Sam an emotionless shell and not characterizing him, but actually working subtly in it. I really don’t need it yelled at me all the time when a character is evolving, and Jared does great in subtle, so perhaps that’s why I’ve seen him grow ever since season one. It’s odd because even though Sam always had the more obsession with getting revenge on for his girlfriend, I still never saw him becoming the John type. This season I am seeing a lot of John in him, which is really interesting and I look forward to seeing where it goes for him.

    Even though I find the small lack of Sam (since IMO people exaggerate his existence on the show a little, or sometimes quite a bit) a little depressing, I don’t think writers are intentionally doing it because they hate Sam/Jared like some think, since I’m not them and really can’t make those assumptions. 😉

    I am just happy I am bi-Bro, and love both the boys plus loved the storyline ever since season one. This show only has another season and a half, so I’m think I’ll be sticking around to see where it goes. I’ve waited too long to see what the hell is up with the YED, not about to bail now. 😀

  • Rachel

    I agree with your assessment, except I feel more vitriol towards the writers for their portrayal of Sam.

    You wanted to know why Sam didn’t respond? Because the writer’s aren’t letting him. It’s that simple. They’re putting no words in his mouth, so he says nothing. Didn’t you do Sera’s latest interview, you know, the one where she says Sam’s story writes itself? Well, this is what a character’s story looks like when it writes itself, rather than the writers writing it. It looks like nothing is going on with Sam because there is nothing going on with Sam. Oh, no wait, I’m sorry. I’m lying. Don’t you know? Sam’s story is totally being told in the BACKSTORY. You know, the one where he has no lines and the scene is focused on every other character but him, yeah, that’s when Sam’s story takes place.

    Sam has no involvement in the mytharc anymore – that storyline was handed to Dean and it’s now purely about Lilith and the seals and Saint Dean’s Big Role. Sam has no involvement with any family history – that storyline was handed to Dean this season. All of the issues about saving people and hunting things that Sam used to have? Gone, handed to Dean. Discussing feelings and having an emotional arc? That was handed to Dean way back in season 2, when apparently Sam became an only child and only Dean had a relationship with their father and only Dean grieved for him. Sam doesn’t have a storyline anymore. Sam doesn’t have emotions. Most of the time, Sam doesn’t even have freaking lines or worse, he’s not even in an episode. I mean, they did an ENTIRE EPISODE about the Winchester family, and didn’t include Sam! He was nothing but the plot point for the entire family, and the worst part is that he doesn’t even get to react to any of it. The deed was done TO HIM, and he’s the only one who gets to have not a single thing to say about it.

    This whole season has just pissed me off. I didn’t start watching this show for one of the only two leads to get turned into wallpaper or worse, shoved in a dark corner where you can’t even see the pattern. I definitely didn’t start watching because I wanted to see the Dean Show, which is just about all that exists now. Dean, Angels, the Imapala and people in peril each week is all that there is. There is no Sam. There is no Sam mytharc, there is no Sam emotional arc, there are no spoilers about Sam, there is no serious discussion about Sam with definitive talk of plot from any of the writers or from Kripke (because one doesn’t exist). I mean, even all of the promos, then & now’s, and director’s cuts feature Dean exclusively So I don’t really even know what I’m watching for anymore. I certainly don’t want to see anymore of Dean, and that’s unfortunately all I’m getting.

    This show is just about dead to me. If there is no movement with Sam and he continues to be crapped on as a character in the next few episode, then I quit. At the very least, I vow never to watch another Eric Kripke show again.

  • Karmyn

    Hi Alice, thanks for another great review. I thought this episode was pretty average. I didn’t find it particularly scary. Although the concept was interesting, the execution was pretty clumsy I thought. But I still had fun watching it cos I’d missed our boys!

    Few (probably unoriginal) points to make – I didn’t mind the content of Dean’s confession though I know a lot of fans are freaking out over Dean enjoying his role as torturer. I thought that made sense given how he has described his experiences in hell. PTSD is a serious condition and trauma responses are often very complex, extreme and chronic. If the show is going to present Dean as a traumatised survivor, then I think they need to follow through on this by showing the severity of his suffering.

    But… the scene felt very repetitive to me especially following Heaven and Hell. I would have liked this reveal to have come about in a more intesting plot-driven way like the episodes you mentioned (e.g., ELAC).

    Other things: invisible Sam – I so do not approve. Sam is very off – I could say more but you’ve said it better. He had too little interaction with the guest stars and did not have much action either. He might as well have stayed asleep in the back seat of the Impala! This episode kind of reminded me of No Exit – when Jo seemed to replace Sam as Dean’s partner.

    Lots of people have groaned about the feral but literate kids – I also agree. This is way too huge a plot point to let slide. Also, I found it hard to suspend my disbelief when they raided the arsenal. I can understand slashing the tires – but taking the weapons was just a little too convenient. How did they know there were weapons in the trunk, how did they clear the trunk so quickly and why didn’t we see more of them using said arsenal against our heroes instead of just discarding them?

    And WTH Sammy! You hear your brother fighting the MOTW – get the hell down that dumbwaiter quicksmart and help him!

    Plus I don’t buy for a second that Sam and Dean would go into a hunt without a weapon on their person. I’ve seen Mystery Spot – Dean doesn’t even go to breakfast unarmed! And Jeremy Carver should have remembered that because he wrote MS!

    Anyway, enough gripes, I still love the Show and our boys. Even when the show doesn’t quite hit the mark – I’d still rather watch it then anything else on television.

    I agree witn your grade – Show can do better.

  • elle2

    I agree with you on this one, something is off but I’m willing to wait as I believe there is something coming.

    The opener with the boys shows there is distance between them and while Sam is humoring Dean and trying to be patient me thinks he is growing tired of not only humoring Dean but also in that he’s getting tired of being ‘younger brother’ listening and following ‘older brother’ and we got a clue on that not too much further into the episode. [Sam has changed greatly and I don’t think we’ve seen all of that as he truly adjusts to playing younger brother to older brother again. Four months was a long time to him as well.]

    The boys’ inspection of the kitchen upon arrival showed the first real ‘chink’ in their relationship. Sam tells Dean that what’s covered up must be a dumbwaiter, these old houses all had them. Dean shoots back, “Know it all”. To which Sam uncharacteristically all but snarls back at him, “What did you say?” In the past this would have been brotherly teasing…watch closer, Sam’s reaction is more anger, not his usual bitch face that is so often attributable to brotherly teasing. Dean shakes it off and gives a grin as the usual older brother getting a ‘dig’ into his younger brother but I’m left with the impression that Sam was not amused.

    The ending once again was great but a bit tiresome as we’ve been here many times and while Jensen is brilliant in these scenes, I’m a bit tired that Jared isn’t given a bit more to work with and ends up showing a “put out” Sam with his reactions. I don’t blame Jared, I believe it is deliberate on the part of the writers and directors as I think more rending of the brothers’ relationship is not far down the line. So with that said, I’ll let it pass as again, I think a pay off is not too far ahead.

    Like you, I’m wondering about the heavyhandedness of Dean having all the action here, it’s as if there was a rush to put a lot of Dean focus into this episode so that while it’s standalone, it’s meant to drive Dean’s PTSD quickly forward. Well, it worked to that degree but I found myself noting the scenes were Sam seemed forgotten or nonexistent. I would have like to have seen something, the attic and the outdoor search by Sam and the father seemed forgotten, a writer’s contrivance to give Dean the focus.

    Jeremy Carver is one of my fave writers and Phil Sgriccia is absolutely brilliant as a director and did a superb job with the script, unfortunately the script left Sam out, a lot.

    I do believe that was deliberate as normally JC writes both brothers equally and gives Jared plenty of material to expand upon (MS and AVSC). I agree, Alice, I think this was purposeful. Still, it left me giving this just an OK for an episode because despite the set up for things to come and some additional reveals of where Dean’s ‘head’ is at currently, I felt Sam was sidelined and didn’t need to be.

    While greatly reminiscent of Benders (and fun to ‘throwback’ to one of their S1 episodes) I do feel Sam could have had more to do, in Benders he had some good scenes in the cage as well as a great action sequence at the end that shows it can be broken up well when the brothers are separated, so I think this just tried to do too much.

    I’m not a fan of gore and scary so I properly hugged my kitty (he’s still not talking to me) and watched through my fingers. I saw the demise of ‘red shirt’ Uncle Ted a mile away — not just because I’m a spoilerphobe either — but it was brilliantly shot and even though I knew it was coming, I still freaked out [probably why kitty is not talking to me still]

    I’m eager for next week and I know we’re gonna get some more Sammy stuff next week (as well as the week after ) and that’s totally ’cause I’m a spoilerphobe and will speak no more of it.

    See you next week.

  • Chris

    I have to agree with the previous poster: I think both brothers are tired and worn out. They aren’t really up for the hunt, not emotionally and not physically and it shows, they make mistakes and seem on the edge throughout the episode. Sam didn’t seem unfeeling to me. He took a step back and allowed his brother to take from this hunt what he needed to and just hovered in the background, ready to step in if needed.

    Also, it was my impression that Sam didn’t ask about Andy’s death because he didn’t want to intrude on an onbviously very personal conversation between the Brian and Susan. Dean caught Brian alone later and it was easier then to ask about it.

    I agree though that they should stop to tag the ‘confessionals’ to the end of an episode, it becomes repetitive.

  • Hurrah! They’re back!
    I liked the creepy and strangely literate wallkids with their Crunchy Rat Surprise snacks and highly evolved car-robbing skills ( I have trouble breaking into mine and it has all the security features of a wet paper bag. Not enough roadkill in my diet, obviously … )
    I know Dean’s all Post Traumatic and all but he’s starting to remind me of that character in Cold Comfort Farm who spends all her time lying face-down in the furrows telling anyone who’ll listen that she’s an empty husk and her life is worthless, and I’ve had enough of the now traditional 3 minute misery monologue on the Impala at the end of each show. I miss the old Titties and Beer Dean!
    Still, even Emo Dean and Wallpaper Sam are better than nowt so roll on next week!

  • Anya

    Hey, Alice!

    Loved your review as always. Sam as MacGyver? A shoutout to Jared playing Young MacGyver perhaps? Like you, most of the episode had me covering my ears (how I cope with scary scenes), but the ending left me cold. I almost always love the way Jensen plays a scene, but that last one was just off. One line in particular bugged me: “…I did it for the sheer pleasure.” Jeremy Carver (a writer whose episodes I generally favor) probably couldn’t think of the right phrase? Now that you mentioned it, I wish that confession went somewhere in the middle, a la “Everybody Loves a Clown.” I did love the “Please nobody grab my leg” line – had me giggling, in spite of myself. There *were* several missed opportunities with Sam, as you pointed out, especially with that attic. They could have amped up the terror (like in Nightshifter, when both boys got some screen time during their “hunt.”) I’m really hoping that Sam’s lack of empathy is going to pay off. I still have every confidence that Kripke will deliver the goods. Can’t wait until Thursday!

  • Yes, I generally agree with this review so much! It’s a better episode than many other shows are capable of producing… and yet, for Supernatural, it’s sub-par. And the last scene… *sighs* It’s just a repetition of the last scene of the previous episode, and sure, it would have made sense after all this time since last episode… except for those of us who’ve watched it over and over again during the break, and all. ahem. Which, on top of the probability that both Jensen and Jared were running tired at the time (promotions, anybody?), might account why the emotional impact wasn’t what it should have been.

    Yes, very much yes about the review. I will be tuning in next week to see them all do better.
    and… hopefully not really leave us hanging.

  • Tigershire

    Hey Alice,
    I get where you are going with your review, but with regards to Sam, my feeling is (and you say it yourself in this review) is that he’s at the end of his rope with Dean. He just doesn’t know what to do. He tried so hard to save Dean from going to Hell and in the end couldn’t. Then he tried to get Dean out of Hell, and couldn’t. And he is trying to make the best of the demon blood in him only to get told that God and the Angels want him to stop saving people. And then he tries to help Dean get over the trauma of being in Hell, and can’t. Dean won’t let him. And just to add a bit of icing to this lovely cake, after coming to grips that Dean was well and truly gone and he couldn’t save him, he opts to use his power even though he told Dean he wouldn’t. Dean comes back and the first thing Sam does is lie to his brother. So he has guilt topping all of this off.

    I think that his shut off behavior (coupled with being really tired – how many nights have they been sleeping in the Impala for that month?) is right on par. Sam is so tired and so at a loss for what to do that he’s starting not to do anything. It’ seems like right now every time Sam tries to do something he gets his hand smacked, so he’s not putting it out anymore.

    Just my take on it. Grin

  • Brenda

    You did a good job of capturing this one. Overall I loved the scary MOW feel but thought the characters of both Dean and Sam felt way off. Even taking into consideration all of the angst and PTSD.