"If it keeps on raining, levee’s going to break."
Aside from being a cool lyric in the Led Zeppelin tune “When The Levee Breaks,” it also serves as a perfect metaphor for this week's episode (as well as it’s title). Sam and Dean's now busted relationship is a long time coming. Just like rising flood waters the sour feelings between these two have been slowly building to the point where the weakening bond that binds them together couldn’t hold anymore.
This episode cannot be taken at face value. It’s an intricate and complex script with elements that take on a different meaning upon multiple viewings. In other words, Sera Gamble is challenging us to think. What she’s created is nothing short of remarkable. Thanks to her and Robert Singer’s gift for bringing out the most intense emotion in the episodes he directs, I'm an emotional wreck.
When I watched Thursday night, I didn't get everything until the third viewing. The first time left me in a complete daze and the second time got me too teary. Looking back at Sam and Dean's growing issues this season though, I’m not surprised by the outcome either. This heart-crushing story is very painful to watch, but it’s also a fascinating development for their characters that’s likely to lead to a darker path. The fact that Sam and Dean’s falling out ended up being so explosive is exactly why I’m always hooked by this show. I’m still blown away by what happens next.
From Sam's Perspective
In four seasons, there has never been a more detailed and revealing look into Sam's head and man, am I blown away. This is the episode the Sam fans have been dying for! We actually see what makes him tick and somehow it makes his actions seem more practical. It also makes him far more sympathetic. The hallucinations are clearly manifestations of what’s going through Sam's mind and reflect his long-lingering desires. These particular people from his past surface just to ask the hard questions he's constantly asking himself and help reconcile his inner conflicts.
Alastair represents the fear inside Sam. Fear of demons, his fear of his destiny, his fear of what happened to Dean happening to him. That and the torture scene is a pretty cool mindfuck. In facing his younger self (it’s really cool to finally have Colin Ford and Jared in a scene together), Sam has a chance to examine his regrets and lament over how things didn't go the way he planned. It’s a powerful way to show his still lingering guilt over Jessica and broken promises to himself, the latter being a continuation from “After School Special.” That scene ends sadly, for it results in Sam ultimately accepting that he's a demon inside and can't run from that. Plus, Colin Ford is really sinister with yellow eyes.