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There’s No Place Like Home – Or Supernatural!

January 29, 2015
WB/The CW

WB/The CW

There are a few different kinds of Supernatural episodes (yes, I’ve studied this Show so long I can now identify them). There are episodes where I’m bouncing up and down throughout, or screaming NOOOOOO!!! at my television set, or using up so many tissues that the living room looks like an alien landscape. There are (a very few) episodes where I get to the end and go, meh, that was okay (and a very very few where I say nope, that didn’t happen – canon erase!)

Then there are the episodes where I’m engaged the entire time, wondering what will happen next, watching the boys and trying to figure out what’s going on in their very handsome heads – but I’m relatively quiet. Okay, maybe I grabbed the arm of my chair a few times or asked my television “What now??”, but mostly I just watched, engulfed in the experience. This episode was like that. (It helped that there was one cohesive story line instead of the jumping around that we sometimes get). I didn’t reach for the tissues until that last scene, Charlie and Dean battered and fragile, and Sam standing there like the rock I’ve always known him to be.

Charlie: “There’s one thing that you have that he didn’t.”

Dean immediately looks to Sam, and I think, yes. That makes all the difference.

“You’re a Winchester,” Charlie says, and I feel my eyes start to water. That means something – it always has. Charlie knows it. We know it.

Sam’s face takes on that determination that is always there, even if it’s sometimes buried deep or Show denies me the frames to actually see it. He asks Dean if he’s okay, and miracle of miracles, Dean answers honestly that he isn’t. But Sam doesn’t falter.

“You can do this. We can do this.”

That’s when I lost it. Dean looks at Sam almost pleadingly, wanting to believe his brother, but stricken with guilt and clearly afraid.

Cap lemondropspice

Cap lemondropspice

His determination to fight off the effects of the mark, that he’s been clinging to throughout the episode, has been shaken by how much he lost it with Dark!Charlie (and how much Good!Charlie felt every blow). He looks at Sam, who he has always seen as the little brother who needs his protection, and I think he sees the tremendous strength there. It’s a strength that Sam has always had, that I wish we were privy to seeing more often and more explicitly, but I know it’s there. I think, now, Dean does too.

That ending scene made me go back and re-consider the entire episode, and what I found was a slow and subtle progression of the brothers coming to the point we finally see at the end. Let’s just say my reconsideration required a few more tissues. And when it comes to Supernatural, that’s not a bad thing.

I’ve been waiting for Sam and Dean to be fighting on the same side again, and despite the fact that the plot split them up for some of the episode, nevertheless they were on the same side here. At the beginning of the episode, after Dean got a smack-down from Charlie and her thighs of doom, he immediately screamed for ‘Sam!’, which will never not make me warm all over.

My twitter feed: Charlie had Dean Winchester between her legs… #ThatsPrettyNaughty…

The comic moments blended seamlessly into the more serious ones, especially Dean’s health food kick in an attempt to keep the mark at bay. At first, I watched those scenes and giggled. Dean eating egg white omelets and green health shakes and kale on his sandwiches – who would have expected that?

Kale, Dean? Really?

Kale, Dean? Really?

I love that he’s cooking for Sam, and relished the glimpse of the brothers at home in the bunker. (The episode title ‘There’s No Place Like Home’ plays over a shot of Sam in the bunker, which just felt so right). I loved the Misha Collins shout out with kale, and Dean’s disgusted reaction to it even as he gamely shoved it down his throat.

Thinking about it more deeply, there’s so much more to all those comic moments. Dean has always been the brother who salivates over cheeseburgers, while Sam orders a salad and tries to be healthy. When Dean decides he’s going to fight the mark, he looks for a way to be strong, to stay true to himself – he tries to be more like Sam. If that doesn’t say something about how much Dean respects his brother, and how far he’s come in recognizing Sam’s strength, I don’t know what would. The entire episode is about Dean struggling to hold onto his “good” side – he sees Sam as the man to aspire to be. A strong man. A good man. The best man, in Dean’s eyes. Those moments become powerful when viewed with that lens, and my chuckles become a little more watery.

This was one of those episodes when both Sam and Dean said a lot without saying much of anything. Again and again, the camera focuses on Sam as he watches his brother carefully, assessing. Is Dean okay? Should he intervene? You can see him struggle to decide how much he should allow Dean his autonomy, his space to deal with this problem and work it out, and how much he should be the protective brother who swoops in. It’s a familiar dynamic to anyone who’s loved someone struggling with addiction or some other psychological challenge, and it hurts to watch. At the same time, it’s inspiring. I want Sam to care, but I also want him to struggle with that decision. It’s a difficult one, and Robbie Thompson’s writing and Jared Padalecki’s acting bring that out, subtly.

Edit, lemondropspice

Edit, lemondropspice

We don’t get to see any canon confirmation, but I wonder how much of Sam’s patience with his brother and his conviction that they’ll get through this is colored by his own experience with addiction. I wish they’d talk about it explicitly, but maybe that’s just not something Sam Winchester would do. Still, I can’t help but think that he’s constantly comparing his demon-blood addiction, with its craving and painful withdrawal, to what Dean is going through. Jared is conveying as much as he possibly can without dialogue that goes there explicitly, and for the most part, it works.

Jensen Ackles does a similar thing with Dean. The character (and the actor) can say so much without a single word, and this episode took full advantage of that. I loved the scene where Dark!Charlie insults Sam, calling him the albatross around Dean’s neck, and Dean looks so confused and then so distressed – he reaches over to touch Sam’s arm as if to reassure him before he takes on Charlie. It was such a Jensen thing to do – something I’ve seen him do many times at conventions, always checking to be sure Jared is doing okay after something weird has happened. Jensen has said recently that they really are Dean and Sam, and it seemed that way in that scene, real life meshing with the show.

Ackles did a fabulous job conveying Dean’s struggle to not give in to his dark side. You can feel Dean’s agony as he fights the mark, hands shaking like an addict in withdrawal.

xxxxx 10.11 no shakes dean

You can see the guilt on his face when he catches his reflection in the bar mirror, as he tries not to drink. And later, when he’s given in to the pull of the mark and nearly beaten both sides of Charlie to death, it’s even more palpable. It broke my heart, seeing Dean so full of guilt and self-hatred.

Charlie: “I forgive you, Dean.”

Dean: “Yeah well, I don’t.”

Me: “Oh, my heart!”

Gif by yaelstiel

Gif by yaelstiel

There are plenty of moments that just worked well and evoked early season SPN – Dean yelling “sonofabitch” every time Charlie messed with his baby (And hearing Dean call her ‘Baby’? Oh yeah. Never gonna get tired of that).

I always appreciate the boys’ aliases, and this time was no exception. Collins and Gabriel? Like many people probably did, at first my mind went to Misha and Richard Speight – then it hit me. Brilliant! Genesis….Cain…. oh Show, I do so love you.

There were also some great lines. Charlie: “You hit like a girl…who never learned to hit.” I loved that line. It started out like a misogynistic slur and then turned itself completely around.

And apparently Bob Singer got to be in the episode too, as part of Dean’s struggle to deal with the mark, this time through self-help tapes (Never thought I’d see that in the Impala!) “The key to quieting your mind, is minding your quiet…” I wonder if Singer has ever passed on that pearl of wisdom in the middle of directing. Hmm.

And speaking of great lines? “Let’s get to work,” was close enough to “We’ve got work to do” that it set off more tears. The boys standing there together, determined, did my heart good. Yes, they have a lot of work to do, but I have a hard time believing that when Winchesters put their mind to something, they won’t eventually succeed. Fingers crossed.

There were some moments when I worried that the parallels that Show was drawing between Charlie and Dean were in danger of becoming too heavy handed. I love that Show uses parallels often and well, but I’m hypervigilant for anvils at this point. I wasn’t spoiled for the fact that Charlie’s personality had been split, so I enjoyed the reveal tremendously. My mind immediately went to the classic Star Trek episode ‘The Enemy Within’, and I wondered if SPN could pull this off anywhere near as brilliantly. (Btw, I love that Robbie tweeted that they considered that as a title and then tagged in Supernatural fan William Shatner. Fandoms colliding!)

“You know what I learned about being dark? It sets you free,” Charlie says seductively as she tries to lure Dean to the dark side. You can see how tempted he is, and that entire scene was so charged that it gave me goosebumps. Charlie and Dean both checking out the bartender reminded me that while dark is scary, it’s also often damn hot too.

And speaking of hot… the scene where Dean nearly loses it on the guy they’re trying to get information out of was pretty damn nice.

Dean: “Talk, you son of a bitch!”

Me: “Hey, will somebody bring me a cold drink?”

I mean, look at his FACE! And that suit he’s wearing is absolutely straining as he leans in, and….yeah.

xxxxx 10.11 dean ass2

I loved Sam’s nervous glances at Dean throughout that scene, as he tries to decide how far to let Dean go.

Sam got a chance to be naughty (and hot) too.

Sam to Good!Charlie: “How about you guide me through the process, and then I’m the bad one…”

Umm, sure, Sam. Where’s that cold drink??

Of course, Sam also got to be tied up, which reminded me of early SPN and therefore made me happy. Yes, I want to see Sam have some self efficacy and save the day, but in the meantime, tied up Sam is a trope that’s sort of welcome in its familiarity. Much like the gorgeousness of Sam’s hair.

Cap by WeLoveSPN

Cap by WeLoveSPN

The parallels are broadly drawn, but in the end I think they work. The message ends up being that we all have a dark side, and we need to fight some of our darker impulses, but at the same time we’re not whole without it. If you try to get rid of what you consider “bad,” you risk limiting your good side too. It’s that elusive balance that we all strive for – that Charlie eventually is able to find.

The theme of this episode built on Castiel’s line about there being “a little monster in all of us”, which is an ongoing struggle for all the characters this season. The idea of being able to choose how much darkness you accept and how much you try to contain or get rid of underlies much of Season 10 so far. The theme of forgiveness also echoes throughout this episode and this season – it’s what Sam and Dean struggled with so much in past seasons, their ability to truly forgive themselves and each other. I wonder if that’s where we’re headed, to some true forgiveness. God, I hope so! They both deserve it.

The parallels also foregrounded some of the challenges facing the Winchesters for the rest of this season.

“Kiddo’s gonna have trouble dealing with the fact she killed someone,” Dean says, and we know he’s talking about himself too. I’m assuming Sam can relate too, after the implication that he crossed some lines in his attempt to cure Dean from being a demon.

“For us to win, I had to unleash my true darkness,” Charlie tells them, and I wonder if that’s where we’re headed with Dean. *shivers*

I’m gonna hope that mortally wounding yourself as a way to bring your dark side to you and integrate the two halves isn’t foreshadowing to what Dean will eventually have to do.

I confess to not being familiar enough with Rocket and Groot for that line to hit me, but apparently self sacrifice figures large, which makes me nervous all over again. Oh, boys.

I know some people wondered if one of the side effects of the mark of Cain is extreme gullibility, since Dean did seem to lose his ability to figure out when Dark!Charlie was obviously lying to him, but I put that down to his own subconscious awareness of the parallel between his dark side and Charlie’s. He wants to believe that their dark sides can be contained, not given in to. And that blinds him repeatedly to what the rest of us know Charlie is going to do.

I can’t end this without talking about Charlie, and Felicia Day’s portrayal of her. I love the character, and that hasn’t changed. She’s a fascinating character in her own right, and she gets the Winchesters like few others do.

xxxxx 10.11 charlie

“Dudes. Dudes. Secrets are bad.”

If only they would listen.

Felicia did a fabulous job of portraying both Charlies, and making both sympathetic characters in their own way. It would be tempting to exaggerate the split, but instead, Day and Thompson let us see that there’s strength in both sides, that’s it’s the balance between our dark and light that allows us to be whole. Jung would approve.

I was sad to hear that a scene between Charlie and Sam was cut, both because I always want to hear more of what’s going on in Sam’s head and because I’m dying to know what happened in Oz between Charlie and Dorothy! Damn that 42 minute constraint!

I’ll leave you with a few more things I liked.

Sam and Castiel touching base by phone on what seems like a daily basis to talk about Dean and how much they worry about him, aww.

Dean going on and on about how much he likes Jacuzzis and bubbles, which left me with some fascinating visuals…

The VFX team working their magic like always, without going over the top.

Felicia Day tweeting “I love this Rocket and Groot line so much, someone needs to make a fanfic picture of that.” Go fandom.

Robbie Thompson tweeting “BROMENT! I love, love, love writing these scenes”

And I love seeing them. I also love that he gave voice to my own thoughts at the end.

Robbie Thompson: “Wait– no bro-hug?!?! Boooooo”

Boo indeed. But I think we’re headed there, and damn, that feels good.

–Lynn
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38 Comments leave one →
  1. January 29, 2015 8:32 pm

    The self sacrifice from “Groot” (tall guy, ha, ha) has already happened in season 5, so I think there’s no need to be nervous. Also, you need to watch Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s full of the kind of meta-references that make SPN so much fun.

    When you talk about Dean’s “own subconscious awareness of the parallel between his dark side and Charlie’s. He wants to believe that their dark sides can be contained, not given in to. And that blinds him repeatedly to what the rest of us know Charlie is going to do” it makes me think about the Frodo/Gollum parallel in LOTR. Frodo kept wanting to believe that Gollum could give up the ring and be free of it. And Dean, as we know, is the one who always makes the LOTR references.

    • spnfans permalink
      January 31, 2015 4:54 pm

      I clearly need to watch Guardians of the Galaxy! That’s a chilling LOTR comparison, but not necessarily off base….oh, Dean. *chews fingernails*

  2. January 29, 2015 8:35 pm

    Great review as always, but…

    Let’s talk about that preview, shall we? Like you said, I though this season’s theme was “the monster within” and that seems to be holding true. Clearly, however, fanfiction is a secondary theme. So far this season we’ve had Demon!Dean, all of episode 200, a murder mystery a la Clue, Dark!Charlie, and next week we get Deaged!Dean. At this rate, the season finale will be the boys enjoying sexy times at the Grand Canyon while Tom Welling and Michael Rosenbaum from Smallville watch.

    As for the episode, I loved it even though the preview looked horrible. There is some strange inverse relationship between utter terribleness of the concept as shown in the preview and the awesomeness of the actual episode. Yes, the anvils were coming down Hunteri Heroici style occasionally, but the overall episode strength far outweighed the punch to the face subtlety of the Charlie-Dean parallel.

    Dean really seemed to fall back towards the struggling that we saw in Mothers Little Helper, and I love that continuity. The addiction angles, the shakes, the constant self-doubt – it is really being done in that tragically beautiful way only this show – and these actors – can pull off.

    I’m not sure if it is gullibility affecting Dean, or suggestibility. (Splitting hairs, I know.) But if he’s supposed to be a perfect killing machine – his new Daddy’s blunt little instrument, if you will – following orders blindly could very likely be a part of that. This could, however, work to Sam’s advantage.

    Speaking of Sam, I’m also bothered by the fact that Sam’s reactions are often off-camera. At least the plot holes are filled in – we know he talked to Charlie, we know he’s been in contact with Cas, he’s obviously on much better terms with Dean – but I want to see the Sammy melodrama. I’m evil that way. I want to see the breakdown and/or the scary smart Sam moment that is going to track down Cain.

    I’m also a bit concerned that Cain – the Winchester ancestor – had a different outcome with his brother. Does self-sacrificing/occasionally suicidal Sam fall of the sword for Dean’s redemption? The Blade has to be involved in removing the mark… but there’s a lot of ways that could go.

    But any issues I had at all were magically wiped clean as soon as that “we” moment happened at the end. That alone is worth my rewatch this weekend.

    • spnfans permalink
      January 31, 2015 4:57 pm

      Haha yes, I think I tweeted about how much SPN is fanfic-come-to-canon when I saw next week’s preview, but I’m okay with that🙂

      I’d love to see more Sam, as would many fans – it’s frustrating that his conversation with Charlie got cut, when it might have given us more glimpse into what he’s thinking and feeling. I too worry about the Cain parallel and where that will leave Sam and Dean, but for the most part it’s a good worry, keeping me invested in the ongoing story arc. I’ll cling to the ‘we’ moments til then…

  3. Monica permalink
    January 29, 2015 8:40 pm

    I have been waiting for a good bro-hug for what seems like eons! Also, I need a good slow-mo gif of Sam’s hair going all lovely swirly. I hope someone’s on that!

    Great review, as usual! I hadn’t made the connection of Genesis to Cain. Brilliant!

    • spnfans permalink
      January 31, 2015 4:58 pm

      See my next post on HousCon for more on waiting for a bro hug🙂 And if you find that Sam hair gif, send it my way. I feel like it must be on Tumblr…

  4. Laura in Denver permalink
    January 29, 2015 8:41 pm

    Such a detailed and insightful review, thanks again Lynn! I am amazed at how the writers develop the stories so carefully and deliberately. So many fans/viewers of shows today want a quick resolution, everything wrapped up in 42 minutes. It’s nice to be allowed to digest the story and plot in you own time, to draw your own conclusions and inferences. It’s like their invitation for you go along on the adventure and see if you can figure out the final destination. I enjoy re-watching episodes and discovering things I missed the first time or making connections to previous seasons that I over looked.

    • spnfans permalink
      January 31, 2015 4:58 pm

      That’s very much the way Kripke talked about the Show, so it must be doing something right after all these years🙂

  5. January 29, 2015 9:17 pm

    Yes. This. Thanks. Love!

  6. January 29, 2015 11:16 pm

    Isn’t it a good thing that we’re all different?🙂 I tought the episode was a big mess and I barely wanted to watch through it, which is really rare for me when it comes to Spn. For myself I really can’t stand Charlie. She’s too perfect at everything so she comes off as Mary Sue rather than a real character. She also kinda takes over all of the episodes that she’s in so the Winchesters are sidecharacters in their own story and I’m in it to watch the Winchesters’ story, not Charlie’s story. There were no consequences for her after killing two persons so the ep gave no real character progression for her. Dean was made to feel ultra guilty for having hurt Charlie but Charlie didn’t really show any guilt for having hurt Dean. I also question the fact that Charlie without any particular fighting experience could take on MoC Dean who has been trained to fight his entire life.

    This is definitely not an episode I’ll rewatch. But as I said, it’s a good thing we’re all different🙂

    • January 30, 2015 2:00 am

      Interesting take on Charlie! I know there are people who see her that way, but I don’t see her as “perfect” at all. In fact, quite the opposite – she is as messed up as they come in my opinion. With the exception of the hacker/computer genius thing (which is how she was introduced to the show, so it fits the context) she does *not* have it together. She’s completely alienated – she maintains no relationships outside of the Winchesters. Even her ‘normal’ life in LARP and the Real Girl was based on roleplaying, so while she had a community, it is implied that she didn’t *really* have connections there. I like that she’s good at what she does (in fact, I love that they have a woman who’s the smartest one in the room), but really, she’s an antisocial loner – she just happens to be funny. (Tangient Alert!: I think people tend to assume funny people have tons of friends and that they are handling things great, but in reality they just are funny and trying to cope with just how incredibly sucky life can be. And Charlie’s life includes monsters, dead parents, cross-dimensional travel, foster care, and a life of utter chaos. At least she has her sense of humor.)

      As for not dealing with killing people, it was implied that she basically was recovering and unconscious for two days. So, it might not have hit her yet that she killed them. But it was also stated outright that she fought in a war in Oz, so Integrated!Charlie might’ve killed before. Dark!Charlie certainly had. And since time passes differently in Oz (sort of like Sam’s 100+ years in Hell) her war experience could be the equivalent of a decade of fighting. So, Dark!Charlie really could’ve had the moves there. Plus I think Dean would hesitate and pull punches with her, especially when he just thought it was regular Charlie. By the end when he was practically punching the mirror, he did beat her unconscious.

      But I agree with you – we all have our different likes and dislikes with the show!

      • January 30, 2015 12:09 pm

        I love smart and competent female characters, it’ just that for me Charlie isn’t one of them. The reason she comes of as such a Mary Sue for me is because she’s an expert shot without having used a gun before, everyone falls for her, both males and females (there are more girls checking her out than Sam and Dean when she’s around). Despite being people who find it hard to trust others the Winchesters immedeately trust Charlie and confide in her things they hardly confide to eachother/Cas. I don’t think she is funny, and what’s more is I don’t think in normal circumstances she’d be the kind of person Dean would like either. He’s not particularily fond of Garth who has the same goofy personality. She has a familiarity with the Winchesters that she hasn’t really earned. Kevin who was translating the tablet for them had to stay in Garth’s boat instead of the super safe bunker but after having met Charlie just two times they invite her into the bunker. Dean couldn’t believe that it was the real Charlie beating up the guy because he knows her so well, but he doesn’t really know her at all because he has only met her 4 times. I don’t think they succeed in showing her as smart so they always have to tell us how smart she is, and they often dumb down Sam and Dean in the process.

        She said time passes diferently in Oz, but she said it in response to the guy being younger than what you’d think. That means time moves slower in Oz than in our world so she’d have been fighting much less than a year, not more. Besides 10 years of fighting is still nothing compared to 30 odd years of training and another 10 years of torturing in hell. She shouldn’t have stood a chance aganst Dean.

        I also think she (and Garth too for that matter) trivialises hunting. Hunting used to be a hard profession, you got into it because you lost someone and you either died early or became an alcoholic trying to cope. Now suddenly you can goof around while hunting, kill vampires and ghosts by reading apps and books and then complain about hunting not being magical enough. If any other character had said something that stupid Dean would have told them off, but no one says anything but praise to Charlie.

        I think it could be interesting if someone other than Robbie Thompson wrote an episode with her because I think the problem is he’s too smitten with his own character so he can’t bear to write her in a situation where she’s in the wrong or has a learning curve (I mean she was introduced as someone so special leviathans couldn’t copy her, but they could copy the Winchesters). It’s not realistic to be so good at everything and loved by everyone as Charlie is. It seems to me Thompson is much more enarmoured by his own creation than the leads of the show and I think it’s a problem when our writers spend more time and energy on a back story for a side character than he does on the heroes of the show.

      • January 30, 2015 9:50 pm

        Okay, I’m going to admit right now that I had (perhaps willfully) forgotten about that scene at the gun range. Yep, that’s annoying. Point for you!😉

        To your point about Garth trivializing hunting, one of the things I’ll give the show here is that Garth *did* get turned, his goofy style clearly did not work out long term.

      • February 3, 2015 9:58 pm

        this reply is for L, just like to point out a few things. Charlie has been on her own since she was 12 and she has some criminal tendencies so how do you know that in all that time she hasn’t learned to fire a gun?
        also nobody questions it when Dean attracts all and sundry to him; why so for Charlie especially since she is sooo the lesbian version of Dean?
        Thirdly, they do know how better than just meeting four times. they’re in her LARPING group and clearly correspond frequently as is implied in the episode where she eventually leaves for Oz. she’s a friend.
        As for Garth, they love Garth – they’ve said so many times. they were only angry with him when he was trying to be Bobby – and that’s because they were still grieving for Bobby.

    • spnfans permalink
      January 31, 2015 5:06 pm

      I love that as fans we can allow each other that diversity – it’s familiar to me from academia, where we at least try to keep that as our mantra. I’m not sure realistic is what SPN is ever going for, not for Charlie or any of the recurring characters, but I see what you’re saying. And I’m always greedy for more screen time for Sam and Dean, but in this case the parallels worked for me to move the brothers’ story forward, even if we didn’t see much detail on how it moved Charlie’s. Perhaps part of the problem is that damned 42 minutes, so we never get to really see all that we need to in order to understand the characters’ reactions to each other. Clearly we need four hour SPN episodes🙂

    • February 3, 2015 9:33 pm

      its funny you should say that because to me Charlie and Dean are like the same person in different genders. she’s sparkles like Dean says but in my humble opinion she enhances rather than takes over. maybe if Sam and Dean were less charismatic characters but since they are equally charismatic or more so, it seems to me more synergy than eclipse….

  7. January 30, 2015 12:16 am

    My first time here and love the review, Thanks Lynn!
    So many insightful thoughts in your review I appreciated them, I agree with Laura, and I enjoyed reading what BL added very much as well…🙂
    my only additional thoughts were that…
    I just saw the episode “Slumber Party” to and it ends with Dean asking Sam if he thinks they’ll see Charlie again and Sam replies yes, theres “No place like home” I LOVED that that, that was remembered and used🙂 also you mentioned Sams hair… and in “The Hunter Games” Jared’s hair was wet and combed back in one scene… that looked AWESOME I thought and he should wear it that way more often🙂

    • Laura in Denver permalink
      January 31, 2015 4:07 pm

      Hope you enjoy the site! I forgot about Sam’s comment in “Slumber Party” nice catch! Now I have to go re-watch both episodes!

    • spnfans permalink
      January 31, 2015 5:08 pm

      Oooh yes, you’re right! I missed that nice bit of continuity from Slumber Party (and jeez, I was on set during the filming of that episode, you’d think I’d remember better!) Also, agreed about Sam’s hair. I mentioned it in my review of ‘The Hunter Games’ in fact🙂 Hey, Sam’s hair is important!

  8. sylvia37 permalink
    January 30, 2015 4:34 am

    I enjoy reading your reviews because of your enthusiasm, even when I don’t agree with everything you say. I did enjoy the episode for a lot of the reasons you stated and I appreciate that you pointed out that you wished they had left in the conversation between Charlie and Sam. It seemed to me that Sam would have a lot to say that could have been relevant to the situation, having been soulless and knowing what it’s like to have yourself divided, but as usual, for some reason, tptb decided that any insight Sam may have had was irrelevant to the story they wanted to tell. I hope, in a way, that some of the parallels had to do with Sam having to accept his own “badness” and go against what he might normally do to save Dean. Not that I want Sam to be bad, but I do want him to have something to do with what’s going on beside being a wonderful, supportive brother. I love him like that, don’t get me wrong, but as pretty as he is, I actually want to know what’s going on INSIDE that beautiful head. You make comments about Jared being able to convey so much without dialogue, and it’s a good thing, because otherwise, he would be some mighty pretty wallpaper.

    Other thoughts: I know everyone thinks that Dean reached out consolingly to Sam when DC made her mean comments, but my impression was that he was reaching out to tell him to put his weapon away, because it’s a gesture he’s used before and he immediately put his gun away. It might have been both, but that’s my take. I don’t see Dean making that gesture because he thought Sam got his feelings hurt. I’ve never seen Dean actually react at all like that. I did enjoy Dean trying to be healthier and I do see it as his silent way of trying to emulate Sam because he knows his brother has had his own struggles and admires his strength. I’m also really enjoying Dean being honest about how he’s doing and showing some vulnerability. Both of these guys think they always have to be strong and it usually makes things so much worse. I like seeing them lean on each other for support.

    Thanks for your insight.

    • January 30, 2015 11:03 pm

      I also read Dean’s reach over to Sam as “hold your weapon.” I agree – I don’t see Dean suddenly getting touchy-feely in a non-imminent death situation.

    • January 31, 2015 5:28 am

      Me too. I also understood it as a “hold your weapon” kind of touch. I still loved it, because to me it says Dean usually communicates like that with Sam, and Sam knows exactly what Dean means, and he does as Dean says. He puts down the weapon, because despite it all, he trusts Dean. Took me back sooo long ago to S1, when John was posessed by Azazel and was trying to get Sam to turn on Dean, who was holding the colt against him, and Sam said no, and he stood by Dean’s side. Unsure himself, but trusting Dean’s judgement.

    • spnfans permalink
      January 31, 2015 5:12 pm

      Yes, I agree totally, I’m hungry for more insight into Sam’s (very pretty) head – and I like the idea that he was going through a progression of his own, coming to terms with knowing he has to accept some of his own latent darkness in order to save his brother. That fits with Charlie’s taunts, actually.

      But hey, don’t mess with my touch feely interpretation of Dean reaching out to Sam! LOL. It might have been both, true, but we have seen Dean use touch to comfort Sam many times in the past, especially in early seasons. Not usually from emotional ‘danger’, true, but still…I think I’ll cling to the ‘it was both’ interpretation. Or it was me watching too many con vids🙂

    • February 3, 2015 9:30 pm

      I think that you’re wrong about the hand thing because Dean didn’t have to tell Sam to holster his weapon. Sam just did it when Dean did. I think that what we saw there is progress. usually when there is wedge driving being done by malevolent third parties, the standard reaction is to look at each other and go ‘oh really? so that’s what you really think?’ then pretend it never happened. but in this case, Dean turns and puts his hand briefly on Sam as if to say ‘you know that’s a load of bullshit right?’ because of how its been in the past and everything that they went through in season 9 and then Sam saying he lied about not bringing Dean back and the struggle they’ve been going through to just get through this situation and the unwavering support that Sam has shown. It was in the backdrop of all that that it makes sense that Dean wouldn’t want the possibility of this wedge driver bringing even the slightest doubt to Sam’s mind that he might have maybe told Charlie one time that Sam was an albatross around his neck – especially since at the time they don’t even know that there are two Charlies. or should I say Celeste’s? It makes sense in the context of how far they have come.

  9. Stefania (@s_verasani) permalink
    January 30, 2015 7:45 am

    “It’s a familiar dynamic to anyone who’s loved someone struggling with addiction or some other psychological challenge, and it hurts to watch. ” As a mother of a young woman struggling with anxiety and depression I can cope a lot with this.

    About the ep the only thing that I have to say is that I loved every single second of it, talked to me in so many ways. Oh, and I want a bro-hug so so so much.

    • spnfans permalink
      January 31, 2015 5:13 pm

      I think that’s probably the best compliment an episode can get, that it ‘talked to you in so many ways.’ I hear you. And I think alot of us are familiar with that dynamic, which is a difficult one to go through. *hugs*

      Now where’s that bro hug, Show??

  10. NixHaw permalink
    January 30, 2015 11:43 am

    “When Dean decides he’s going to fight the mark, he looks for a way to be strong, to stay true to himself – he tries to be more like Sam.”

    What was that lyric in A Single Man Tear? “Wish I could be as strong as Sam…”

    This show *sob*

    • January 31, 2015 5:35 am

      That song got ringing in my head too while watching this episode. Just too perfect.

    • spnfans permalink
      January 31, 2015 5:14 pm

      OMG I think you’re right!! And that episode was, of course, also written by Robbie Thompson! Damn, I love continuity🙂

  11. Andi Byassee permalink
    January 30, 2015 1:28 pm

    I love that you mentioned “The Enemy Within” in your review of this wonderful episode! I wasn’t spoiled about the split either, but as soon as I realized what was going on, that Start Trek episode burst into my mind. It was one of my all-time original Trek favorites when I first saw it as a teenager (first run–yes, I’m that old), and the idea that without our darker side, we are too weak to be effective made a big impression. I love Felicia Day’s Charlie, and I thought the parallels worked well on the whole. The acting was maybe even more incredible than usual (if that’s possible). The nuances! The shaking hand, the reach-out, the facial expressions! That shot at the end angled up at Dean’s face killed me dead. And one thought that stood out to me at the end–I even tweeted about it–was that in what other show ever could you introduce the idea of Oz and the Wizard as reality and, for that hour (42 minutes) at least, have the audience buy into it enough to make the characters’ emotional journeys ring completely true?
    Also: Genesis! “And I could easily fall from grace…”

    • spnfans permalink
      January 31, 2015 5:15 pm

      I know, right?? So many things to love in one episode and in one Show. I feel lucky that this is the show I fell for🙂 I”m glad I wasn’t the only one who immediately thought of that Star Trek episode – it is, after all, the gold standard!

  12. Tina permalink
    January 30, 2015 9:55 pm

    I wish I saw the show the way you do and the brothers relationship but after last season it was something I left behind. . I think Dean respecting his brother is a hard sell after last year but I understand that our pov’s come from a different place.

    This episode seems to either be liked/loved or not liked very much judging from the reaction I have seen.

    • spnfans permalink
      January 31, 2015 5:16 pm

      I can understand that totally – last season was excruciating, and I think we as fans have to recover from that just as the characters do. And it ain’t easy! It also works differently for everyone, and for some of us, there’s no coming back from that much hurt. I wish Show would make it easier! *hugs*

  13. January 31, 2015 11:06 am

    You know, I was craving for your review cause I was here, with this knot in my throat that I couldn’t speak out loud. I spent the entire episode at the edge of my chair (pillow, actually) wondering when Dean was gonna lose it. I began sheding tears when Sam comes out of the house with Good!Charlie in his arms, badly injured, and he calls for Dean to stop, but he doesn’t even have to say it. He only says “Dean” and Dean turns around and sees what he’s doing to her and he lets go, backs off, disgusted with himself and scared of what he’s done… and I just can’t… next thing I know, Charlie is whole again, and I find myself wondering if it’s really necessary to have Dean beat me up that way to earn a comforting hug from Sam, and again… I just can’t…and then there comes that final scene and it’s not Dean but me the one who loses it.
    You say something about how Sam’s understanding of Dean’s struggle probably comes from his own addiction experience, and how it would be good for them to talk about it, and I have to confess I sort of sketched some fanfiction piece on this whole Mark thing where Sam actually acknowledges to Dean that he was wrong to shut him out on Ruby and the demon blood in the first place, and how things could have come out entirely differently had he been honest with him, and he tells Dean how proud he is that Dean is not making the same mistake. I guess we all know it but we all need to hear it, so, if canon doesn’t say it, we do -Marie would approve ;)-.
    And right now, I am watching S5 Point of no Return and I realize he’s always been there, the Sam we all love to see, the rock that you called him. When Dean was weak enough to be ready to give in to Michael, Sam stepped in, he took over the fight, protected Dean from himself and trusted that, when the time came, he would do the right thing, and Dean did. Sam’s had a couple shortcomings after that -I don’t wanna remember- but I think he’s always been there. When Dean really needs him to be, he’s there. And that makes me happy. Charlie’s right. Dean has something Cain didn’t have. He has Sam. And that makes all the difference in the world.

    On a lighter stance, I liked the reference to The Lake House when Russell Wellington asks his assistant to send his dry-cleaning there. No one has mentioned that, am I the only one who picked it up? Or wasn’t it there and I’m just delusional? Anything is possible at this point!

    Thank you, for letting me get all these emotions out of my system. Read you next…

    • spnfans permalink
      January 31, 2015 5:19 pm

      I think “I just can’t” is the phrase repeated most often by SPN fandom, because, seriously!! I’m with you on all those emotional points – yes, Dean has Sam. And I truly believe that’s going to be enough (though of course it won’t be easy, far from it!) I love that it seems like that’s where we’re headed. And in the meantime, as you rightly point out, there’s fanfic!

      I think you might be the only one who picked that up, yes! Kudos🙂

  14. February 2, 2015 2:24 am

    Excellent as always. When I was watching it, I was thinking about how Dean was acting like Sam to get himself on track. I thought that was so adorable. I am excited to see how the rest of the season shapes up.

  15. February 3, 2015 9:18 pm

    Just got around to watching this episode and I agree with what you said, it was one where you just want everyone to shush and watch!
    Rocket and Groot! my absolutely favourite description of Sam and Dean so far and so very apt. Rocket is obnoxious and short and talkative and reckless and brave and Groot is tall and tall and tall, doesn’t have much to say except ‘I am Groot’ yet is the voice of reason of their dynamic duo. I was like dayyuuuum girl! you nailed it. Someone should absolutely do an entire fanfiction with that theme – just started reading some of those and I have to say one writer to another (s) y’alll have some brilliant imaginations.
    The things that struck me about this episode were that since Dean decided to go on the veggie diet, then its automatic that Sam would do it with him. there is such an easy assumed ‘we’ in everything they did in this episode. I loved Sam’s gentle teasing; 12 step program? and then Dean gives three things and Sam says. ‘that’s three steps’. We haven’t seen easiness like this and ‘the two of us’ness since like season 8. and the whole if you have to deal with it, WE have to deal with it. they’re almost taking each other for granted again! its so wonderful.
    Love Charlie always and forever but I don’t think that Dean was just being ‘easily taken in’ by her. He’s just used to dealing with Charlie as opposed to Dark!Charlie so he takes some time to adjust to her new dynamic. I love that they were interested in hitting on the same chick. however, I notice Dean isn’t hitting on waitresses these days – is it part of the diet or is he just not feelin’ it?

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