Um…Wow. That's a Valentine’s Day Sam and Dean will never forget.
If you're going to ruin a Hallmark holiday with one of those pesky four horsemen crashing the celebration, I can't think of a better person to take on the task than Ben Edlund. After all, he doesn't just ruin a holiday. He obliterates it. In this case, he deals a major setback to all three of our heroes. Sure they won the battle, but were left heaping piles of mush in the end. You know, the angst filled episode that pretty much harms all our psyches and keeps us coming back for more.
This episode is classic Edlund. For one, it must be gross. The show didn't beat around the bush as two star crossed and literally sexually starved lovers brought a new meaning to the cliché "eat you alive" before we even saw the title sequence. I won’t even mention the guy who overdosed on twinkies and the carnage at Biggersons. Second, the supporting characters are usually very quirky. That quota is easily filled by Cupid, or a pasty white middle aged naked man loaded with joy, love, and too many female hormones. Third, the plot usually builds slowly only to careen way out control by the end. Check, check, and check.
Once I fought to keep down my dinner from that opening scene, the first clue that something's wrong comes quickly. Dean has no desire to whore around on Valentine's Day. That worries Sam. The second clue happens next scene when Sam can vividly hear the heartbeat and smell the blood of a demon that happens to walk by. I don’t think he could always do that. The third clue isn’t far behind either, for not only does Dean not want his burger but Castiel does. A theory is formed thanks to Enochian symbols Sam finds on the hearts of the cannibal victims. One quick call to Castiel (and funny arrival) is all they need. Cupid has gone rogue. It’s interesting how Castiel, a fallen angel, talks of a cupid, or cherub third class, with such belittlement. Angels are truly an arrogant bunch.
Castiel traps said Cupid, who’s nothing but pure marshmallow inside. He’s a softie that uses bear hugs as handshakes and joyfully follows his orders setting up people for love before moving on. When harshly accused of killing people by Dean and Castiel, this cherub reacts the way any oversensitive angel would. He cries. Yep, a little boy in a pasty white naked middle aged man. Cupid does manage to innocently drop one bombshell though. Orders from above had a cherub fix up John and Mary Winchester. Top priority. Dean and Sam had to be born. So the meeting of the two bloodlines was not accidental. Dean doesn’t take this news well, the big clue being when he punches Cupid. Sam and Castiel stand stunned in the background, seeing the absurdity of punching a sweet harmless cherub. Dean won't talk about it though. No, something isn’t right.
The deaths get weirder (shuddering over twinkie guy) and pretty soon it’s clear this goes beyond Cupid. They’re proven right when Sam corners the mystery demon in the alley because his scent in now unbearable. Sam cuts him with Ruby’s knife before the demon runs off and uh oh, the blood triggers something. Sam is losing control. Oh, and the briefcase said demon left behind holds a human soul. Castiel, now in full burger chomping form thanks to his vessel Jimmy (how many burgers did Misha have to eat filming this?) concludes Famine is in town. As in the Horseman. By the time this is discovered it’s woefully too late. People are dying from their hunger for either food, drink, sex or greed. Castiel is too focused on food and Sam is coming apart at the seams. Yet Dean isn’t hungry for anything. More coming on that. Sam in fact is so aware of his unbearable starvation for demon blood that he has Dean lock him down before they leave to go after Famine. Sam also hears the overwhelming sound of blood pumping constantly. An interesting homage to Poe maybe? Sam is handcuffed to the sink and Castiel moves a giant chest in front of the bathroom door. That should hold him, right? If you think so, you so don't watch this show.
So, who is this Famine anyway? He's a weak, frail old man on a respirator in a wheelchair. One very creepy weak, frail old man on a respirator in a wheelchair. Satan's minions, aka lower class demons, are his caretakers and Famine’s “black steed” is nothing more than a black Escalade. It seems wherever this guy goes, his hunger oozes from him and other people latch onto it. So what a better place to do some damage than at a Biggerson's All You Can Eat restaurant? (Nice season three continuity). That biting twist of irony is also trademark for an Edlund script. A swarm of locusts in stretch pants indeed.
Castiel, whose plan is to go in and cut off the finger holding the Horsemen's ring, ala War in "Good God Y'all", is easily thwarted by a tray of raw hamburger. Oh gross! That leaves Dean, who while not overcome by Famine's effect physically is a prime target to have his head messed with. Just like War messing with Sam GGYA, Famine makes Dean see the ugly truth about himself. He is only going through the motions. He's not hungry because he's dead inside. Sadly, Dean accepts this truth and is emotionally crushed.
That would be enough for me to crumble in a weeping heap for our hero but no, it gets worse. You see, while Dean and Cas are on their misadventure, two horribly stupid demons free a out-of-his-freaking- mind-by-this-time Sam. They obviously forgot this is the dude that took out the almighty Lilith, because Sam overpowers the one male demon, tackles in lightening quick fashion the female demon, slits her throat and gets his snack. Just when we thought this couldn’t get any more shocking, the male demon tries to get Sam off his cohort, only to get flung across the room by a now amped up Sam. With bloody face and crazy eyes, Sam delivers THE most chilling line of the season. “Wait your turn.” Whoa Sammy!
Sam, floating on a major high, arrives just in time to help a shaken Dean, except Dean gets even far more shaken watching Sam. Famine offers the blood of all the demons in the room to Sam, saying he won’t die from too much because he’s the exception to the rule. Sam resists the offer. How does he? The way I see it, Sam doesn’t just crave the blood. He craves the power too. He came there more itching to use his power than get blood. Dean watches in horror as Sam stretches out his hand and takes out five demons at once. When Sam does this of course, he looks like he’s savoring it, like a junkie getting a major fix. This is the first time than Dean has ever seen Sam’s powers in full force and it’s every bit as jarring as he could imagine. Probably worse. A helpless and horrified Dean watches as Sam goes for Famine next. You see, Famine just ate those souls that Sam exorcised, so Sam takes out the hungry old man by killing the demons that he just ingested. The spell is broken, but the personal damage has already been done.
No, Mr. Edlund isn’t done with us yet, even though we’re feeling around on the floor to find our dropped jaws. The trio is back at Bobby’s. Castiel and Dean somberly stand outside the panic room listening to the gut wrenching screams of a detoxing Sam locked inside. Castel tries to assure Dean that’s not Sam, but Dean is already too unnerved and broken. He goes for air and appropriately next to the Impala has his meltdown. All he can do is tearfully look at the sky and admit he needs help. “Please?”
Now That I’m a Quivering Mess…
I thought I had a lot to absorb last week! I’ll just go point by point.
Is Dean really dead inside? Yes, and no. Sure, last season the point was constantly made that Dean left a little part of himself back in Hell. Plus, judging by his speech at the end of “Sam Interrupted” such behavior of “burying it” certainly kills someone’s spirit after a while. But Dean’s reaction to seeing Sam? His meltdown at the end? That is not a man too far gone. There is plenty of hope for him. The question is who’s going to pull him out of it? That I suppose is what the rest of the season is for.
John and Mary were brought together by a cupid? So much for that destiny playing out crap. I really do wonder who gave that order. Maybe that’s a sign that there’s hope after all for avoiding the Lucifer/Michael showdown. Or maybe not.
Oh Sammy. You see, this gets interesting. Sure, he got a taste of demon blood again, but he also got a taste of its power. He took out a horseman (or at least disabled him). What makes us think he won’t be tempted to use that power again to take out Lucifer or another horseman? Will he finally admit to Dean and himself that he doesn’t need to demon blood to channel that power? He could also pull back, fearing that he again betrayed Dean’s trust. He looked ashamed in admitting he needed to be locked down. The possibilities are huge.
“My Bloody Valentine” felt like a season four episode. I’ve been trying to put my finger on what’s been missing in season five and I got a partial answer here. Sam and Dean have spent a huge amount of time not doing much except fretting over their destinies. Sam hasn’t used his powers all season and I see now that played a big role in amping up season four. His saga is far less interesting when he spends more than half a season trying to avoid that dark and powerful side. Ditto for Dean “going through the motions.” Where’s that defiant leader, that take charge kind of guy? Also, a watered down Castiel isn’t helping either. He too made up a big part of season four and has done little this season. I seriously hope that this episode becomes a turning point that sets this season back on the epic course that season four followed.
Since I gave last week’s episode an A+, this one would by default then have to be an A++. Ben Edlund at the 100th Episode party promised some epic things to come for the rest of the season. I’m dying to see how they top this.