After last week’s silly “Man’s Best Friend With Benefits,” I hoped Supernatural would return to form tonight. I was a little leery, as “Remember the Titans” is not only another stand-alone episode, but one that involves gods. The show’s track record with gods is not good (see “Hammer of the Gods”). Sadly, the episode did end up a disappointment, though more for the damage to the season’s arc than the legend of the gods.
The portrayal of the Greek gods Zeus, Prometheus, and Artemis was handled adequately, drawing on the legend of Prometheus stealing fire for mankind and getting cursed by Zeus to die every day with an eagle eating his entrails. The conceit of his son inheriting the curse apparently by accident was a stretch, but one that I could roll with. The writers are allowed dramatic license to make the parallel to the Winchesters. However, it is that connection to the trials arc that failed for me.
Sam has been hiding—or thinks he’s been hiding—his tuberculosis or something with similar symptoms from Dean. But he’s scared. And watching the price Prometheus pays for saving mankind from darkness apparently opens his eyes to the likelihood he won’t survive the trials. He confesses his doubts to Dean, who prays for help to Castiel and it all should be very moving.
But I spent the episode just astonished at what was playing out. I could not believe Sam and Dean would bring Prometheus, his girlfriend and his son TO THE BUNKER. They were supposed to throw the key in and lock it away forever because the secrets inside are so dangerous in the wrong hands. Instead, they not only bring these people in, Dean then tells them all about the Men of Letters which is a—wait for it—secret society.
I don’t know what Dean’s interpretation of secret is, but it sure isn’t the Men of Letters’ interpretation. They managed to keep the bunker secret from even hunters, but I guess Prometheus’s civilian former girlfriend can keep a secret better than hunters can. And goodness knows there’s no reason for the boys to worry about Artemis tracking them down, since they know her so well she would never rat them out or break under torture. Oh wait.
The whole Men of Letters story line just took a serious hit, as Sam and Dean don’t appear to understand why they need to keep their legacy a secret. I was worried they would tell Garth about it; I had no idea bragging to random women they get involved with on a case would be on the blocks. First Dean fails the first trial, then both Sam and Dean fail at being Men of Letters. The Winchesters are on some kind of roll, but it sure isn’t as recharged hunters with agency. And Dean is looking very far from the genius and top hunter Sam described.
And though I can see what writer Loflin was aiming for when he had Sam lose hope from watching Prometheus, Sam’s really just at the same place Dean was in “Trial and Error.” They’ve always paid a huge price for saving the world. Sam’s damage from jumping into the pit easily equals if not exceeds the pain Prometheus suffered for stealing fire. The odds and the possible price the boys face should not be any surprise to Sam.
What was a surprise and a twist on the story was Sam feeling hope about escaping fate and that he felt he could teach Dean to hope. That lasted one whole episode. Now we’re back to Dean trying to take care of Sam instead of Sam teaching Dean hope. I don’t think the story justified Sam’s letting go of hope so easily. He’s faced Lucifer already—if he had hope in “Trial and Error,” I don’t know why Zeus made him lose it.
The end scene was a patented Supernatural tug on the heartstrings, with Dean praying to Cas to watch over Sam, now that he knows Sam doesn’t really believe what he said in “Trial and Error.” And Jensen Ackles nails those scenes. He did it beautifully. But why would Dean pray to Castiel for help when he’s suspicious Cas is being controlled by angels and was made to kill Samandriel? Surely the boys need to clear that up before exposing their “secret” hide out and vulnerabilities to Castiel?
The angel is truly a friend, but if he’s being mind controlled, he’s hardly safe. Has that part of the story really slipped Dean’s mind? Dean has been suspicious something is off about Castiel since Cas returned from Purgatory, but you would never know that from this episode. I haven’t minded Dean calling Castiel when he’s out visiting Kevin, because Cas already knows where Kevin is. But calling Cas to the bunker in order to ask for help for Sam while Dean knows there is something off about Cas feels like a move Dean would not make—if he’s actually in hunter mode. I’d really like to see that genius hunter Sam described, rather than this Dean who last week had no idea what a familiar was and this week babbled all his secrets to a civilian.
I hope the Men of Letters story picks up, but it will be very difficult to take Sam and Dean seriously as protectors of the legacy after this. What a way to deflate the momentum gained since the show came back from hiatus.