This week’s “Repo Man” is a fantastic episode which crystallizes the overarching theme of the season and kicks the final arc into high gear. Written by the always amazing Ben Edlund, “Repo Man” is classic Supernatural: dark, taut and layered with nuances on where Sam and Dean are emotionally. Their emotional states are critical knowledge. To take down the Leviathans, each brother will have to face his worst enemy: himself.
At the end of last season, Sam opened up his memories of his time in hell. But he did not process the memories enough to integrate them into his psyche and take away their power to hurt him. Indeed, we don’t really know if Sam can—Castiel was convinced the damage was too extreme. Yet Sam survived the taking down of the wall and he survived taking back his hell memories. The question this season is: Can he survive his own repression of not only his pain, but his fear of what it means being Lucifer’s chosen one?
Fittingly, Sam’s unconscious uses Lucifer to symbolize his damage. In “Hello Cruel World, “ Dean tried to convince Sam the Lucifer he sees and hears is not real, but Sam is not able to banish completely his doubts. We’ve seen him pressing on his scar, most notably in “Death’s Door” when Bobby was dying. In “Repo Man,” we get a glimpse of what exactly he’s been trying to repress this season. Sam doesn’t just fear the pain of remembering torture. He fears the part of himself that liked being powerful.
Edlund illuminates Sam’s fears by setting up a parallel story with Jeffrey, the man the boys exorcized four years earlier during a serial killing spree. The killings have started again and Sam and Dean come back to town to tie up loose ends. Sam’s own loose end, Lucifer, is a constant presence for Sam, though he’s able to hide the hallucinations from Dean. Sam’s presented his ability to carry on despite his damage as a good thing. Intellectually, he knows Lucifer is his mind’s representation of painful memories, and Sam thinks keeping them together means he can keep a handle on them.