Supernatural "Torn and Frayed" Review: We Need to Talk About Cas

By MaryAnn Sleasman

Jan 17, 2013

Supernatural S08E10: “Torn and Frayed”

After the obligatory “Our story so far...,” which was set to Bob Seger’s “Katmandu,” we jumped right back into the unfortunate plight of the most adorable angel in the garrison, Samandriel—or as Dean likes to call him, “Alfie.” Samandriel and Crowley were having the worst sleepover ever and since Crowley routinely breaks every toy that's handed to him, Alfie wasn’t looking so hot. Uggggh my precious baby angel!

On the other side of the country, Benny was doing the creeper thing, hanging around a playground in a dark coat and dark sunglasses. He was running low on fresh blood snack paks and sounding a mite strung out when he called Dean for a refill. Unfortunately for Benny, Dean was busy trying to make up with Sam—or at least get Sam to stop being a pissy, pissy princess—while Sammykins, who was having none of that making up B.S., got himself some booty from boring Amelia. SO BORING. But hey, Jared Padalecki took his shirt off, so if nothing else, my shallow needs have been fulfilled. Savor it; there’s like a one-shirtless-scene-per-season quota on this show.

Oh and Castiel? The real star of this episode? He was flitting about, healing babies, probably chillin’ with those bees he loves so much, just minding his own business before KILLING MY PRECIOUS BABY ANGEL. I won’t hold it against him, though, because he was basically possessed or mind-controlled or something. Idk. Naomi is the rudest. Besides, Castiel doesn’t need us to angst over Alfie. When he inevitably gets to the bottom of Naomi’s manipulation, I’m sure he’ll get his guilt trip booked all by himself. It’s the Winchester way. It’s the gloriously irrational woe of Wangst.

Naomi, however, picked the wrong angel to go all puppetmaster on, and the faults in her system have already begun to short-circuit. Her planted suggestions, though successful in the short term, set off alarms in Castiel’s angel brain from almost the very beginning. Witnessing Samandriel’s torment at Crowley’s hands further stripped away the facade of normalcy, complete with post traumatic WTF flashbacks of Naomi sticking angel antennas in places where angel antennas probably don’t belong. No, not the butt.

I don’t believe that Naomi’s system can be sustained in the long run, not when it comes to the poster angel for Team Free Will. Castiel knows that something isn’t right and by the end of “Torn and Frayed,” Dean and Sam were suspicious as well, having renewed their codependency vows and cut off contact with everyone not named Dean or Sam. They are hopeless in that regard. However, it was certainly a relief that Sam made the decision to stay with Dean on his own. I thought for sure that once Castiel had recruited him to Samandriel’s rescue par-tay that the mission would end up preventing a Sam who was ready to commit to Amelia from making their deadline, thus adding more wangst to the OMG DEAN IS SUCH AN ASSBUTT fire and I’m really, truly ready for something to put that fire out (as well as its equally irritating counterpart, the OMG SAM IS SUCH AN ASSBUTT inferno.)

There’s tons of room to argue that just because Sam didn’t go back to Amelia doesn’t mean that he’s not going to be a completely whiny, wangsty sack of sadness for the foreseeable future. Sure. But this is the guy who put a gag on Satan in the middle of the apocalypse-- it’s hard to make him do anything that he really, REALLY doesn’t want to do. Dean is the one who tends to be motivated by obligation, being the “good soldier” and all. But Dean also made some tough calls for the sake of his relationship with Sam, first by encouraging him to return to Amelia, then by cutting ties with Benny for good (for now). Given Benny’s clearly unwell tone, his recent fall from the wagon, and the fact that he actually SAID, “I’m not doing so well,” I’m not entirely sure that was the best decision to make. My spidey sense sure was tingling. However questionable it was though, it was essential for regaining Sam’s trust...unless he was ready to let Sam chop his purgatory BFF’s head off, and frankly, none of us are ready for that just yet.

Supernatural’s return served to streamline the overall story of this season by closing—however temporarily—some of the less immediate plots and therby freeing up time and resources to focus on the larger issues that have driven the season since the beginning. It was a good call, given the show’s recently developed habit of biting off more than it can chew, particularly in the second half of the season. In my opinion, this overload has routinely led to rushed, less-than-satisfying conclusions: Sam’s hell trauma, the Leviathan, Eve, the Campbells. It doesn’t have to be that way and it hasn’t always been that way! Supernatural is perfectly capable of telling a complete, coherent, and exciting story across a single season while maintaining just enough ambiguity to set the stage for the future, in the event that the CW stalwart finds itself renewed yet again. (I’m already biting my nails!)

As it stands, heading into the second half of Season 8, the stories which demand our utmost attention are:

1. The tablets—Kevin is still working on the demon tablet. Crowley recently discovered that there’s an angel tablet out there somewhere because of course there is.

2. Naomi and Castiel and her complete disrespect for personal space and free will.

3. Sam and Dean and their ISSUES—which sounds vague, I know. Vague enough to spark concern that they’ve become supporting characters in their own series. But not really. At its core, Supernatural has always been about Sam and Dean and their issues. The monsters and demons are just a bonus.

With Dean and Sam reuniting to save the world (again), however reluctantly, the two individuals and the two stories that have done the most to drive them apart this season have been placed on the back burner. I’m sure we’ll see Benny and Amelia, or at least Benny, again in the future, but they’ve been removed from our immediate concern for the time being and that’s okay. It’s time to eliminate the distractions and focus. There will be time for wangsty squabbling after Apocalypse Version 3.0. No, 2.0. No, 3— Actually, I’ve lost count.


CASE NOTES

– Smart Winchester Sighting: Dean Edition. When Castiel went to Dean for help locating Samandriel, Dean immediately busted out the laptop and, after hiding his porn stash (“YOU SAW NOTHING”), hit the books. Um. Keyboard. I liked the nod toward Dean possessing decent research skills. Dean’s hunted solo lots of times, which means he’d have to have at least comparable research skills to his brother, but Sam traditionally ends up with the “booksmart” reputation.

– “Your mom’s so hot. Seriously, you mom is so sexy...” I wonder how many takes were required to get through that with a straight face?

– “Our ninth abandoned factory. Ain’t that America?” Come to Pittsburgh! We've turned ours into shopping malls... though I’m not sure that’s much better. I mean, when you get into the whole well-paying-manufacturing-jobs-replaced-with-low-paying-service-jobs... yeah, okay, I’ll shut up. ‘MURCA.

– “STOW YOUR CRAP.” Oh Castiel, I love when you wear the bossy pants.

– Winchester Mommy Issues: Dude, Dean was really not okay with Kevin sending his mom away because his tablet crap was “more important.” Waaaaaangst!

– Don’t worry, Deano. I’ve fallen asleep cradling a beer bottle as well. No shame! (Okay, maybe a little shame.)

– Samandriel kept saying “THEY are controlling us,” not “she.” So... do you think Naomi is really as bad as she looked in this episode? Is she part of a system? Is she possibly fighting the system from within? Was she justified in ordering Samandriel’s death? If so, then why the need to pin it on Cas and suggest that it was self-defence?

– Wasn’t the whole point of angels that they didn’t have free will? So, essentially, weren’t they always being controlled to an extent? Until they overrode their own programming? I mean, we’ve certainly never seen them so blatantly manipulated in the past, but Crowley seemed to think the programming came from God, while Castiel’s meltdown seemed to point the finger at Naomi. What are your current theories?


What'd you think of Supernatural's return?

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  • abdulay31 Jan 23, 2013

    Happy Supernatural is back, The episode was solid as it conclude temporarily the sub plots of Amelia who has so far contributed nothing to the show and Benny. I will like to see more of the Castiel story arc explored in the future episodes as he is a character that adds more depth to the show and it was sad seeing him being controlled by Naomi. The Tablet stuff is still random filler unlike last seasons Leviathan arc and the writers have to put more into it to make it phenomenal.I thought this season was to return to the earlier serialized pattern of Monster of The Week which makes the show so good instead of focusing on the side stories.

  • germanpsychlady Jan 22, 2013

    When I'm seeing him, I have always that song in my head "Miiiister Crooowley...what went down in your heeeaaad". but that has nothing to do with the story, I guess.

    Glad Amelia's gone (hope she is gone for good), such a boring and pointless storyline (what was her purpose again???). Keeping my fingers crossed Benny will be back soon (and that he won't get killed, because I'm pretty sure he will drink from the vein again). Loved Dean as always (Jensen Ackles' facial impressions are priceless!), found Sam boring and pathetic as always.

    Happy Supernatural is back!

  • Shauny89 Jan 21, 2013

    the 'THEY' reference will be to Metraton and Ni I reckon, they have mentioned Metraton and he is one of seven recognised archangels. Why shouldn't he be called up from the benches now the other three loyalist's are down and out and Heaven has been ravaged of its Angel hierarchy.

  • mekare06 Jan 21, 2013

    remember when it was hard killing one demon?..... good times......

  • abdulay31 Jan 23, 2013

    yep, the show has turn demons into nobodies which is a shame considering they are the main villains on the show

  • LittleLostPup Jan 21, 2013

    Aside from everything else I would just like to point out... am I the only one that sees this theme of Sam looking for love as his ultimate want, and Dean looking for friendship? Like when they tangled with that Siren and Dean's biggest want in the world was a best friend / brother, not a woman? Also, he looked pretty torn up about cutting ties with Benny, I don't think it was a good move. I get why it happened, that Sam gave up Amelia and he cut ties with Benny to "move" on, but we all know its gonna go in a bad direction and poor Dean is probably gonna end up having to kill his buddy.

  • danharr Jan 20, 2013

    Some reason why Benny can't just eat vamps? I'm sure more than one hunter would gladly leave him alone under those circumstances. Just when I thought Heaven would give us another dose of incompetence. Whoops there's an angle tablet to hunt glad Amelia is gone hopefully for good this time.

  • Aesandil Jan 20, 2013

    Sam used to be my favorite, but it's been a while since he's had any decent writing (and I'm not sure that soulless Sam counts, technically). But this season it's been all truly horrible. Whining, moaning, bitching, self-righteous, blind to the obvious. Hard to stand. I never came so close to loathing the character. The stuff with Amelia was more painful than ever (is that even possible at this point?) I do hope that she is gone for good, but this entire so called subplot has left me in a state of dismay.

    On the other hand, Dean's been (mostly) on the good track. There is growth. Although sometimes I feel like he's being too much of an obvious jerk (towards the burned guy, towards Kevin), and it doesn't seem to be fitting in all too well. Shouldn't that part of his personality be somewhat subdued by now? Never fully gone, but not as loose or random as it occasionally is. Smells of incosistency to me. And the treatment of Benny at the end of the episode - ugh. So all these strong beliefs and sticking to doing the right thing this season amount to that? Turning his back on someone who needed his assistance, cutting all ties? Cheap "drama" for the sake of drama.

    Uncovering an angel's factory settings by (literally) drilling into the brain of its human vessel... what the hell? As others have already stated, dumb doesn't even begin to describe that concept. I could understand some proper demon torture, reaching the angel's soul/essence and causing pain through less mortal means.
    And I dearly hope that they aren't going to take the route of "good vampire not able to resist his true nature, eventually turning bad... blah blah blah". Yawn. That would be so awfully horrible, but I'm afraid it's gonna happen.

    I did find the episode to be ok-ish in the end. Castiel always makes things much better, there was a good appearance by Kevin (even though they used a cheap excuse to avoid bringing Garth in), demon action was alright, and the whole Heaven/Hell storyline still has the potential of reaching intriguing heights.

  • AkiraHideyo Jan 21, 2013

    I fully agree. Sam's a real pain now and I'm getting bored. Luckily Castiel, Dean and Crowley is holding the fort to the show.

  • Kaylin21 Jan 19, 2013

    Really glad Sam didnt turn up at the house at 7!!!! She was so awful. That whole storyline was brutal. Let's get back to what we love about the show - Sam and Dean together.

  • KayWatkins Jan 19, 2013

    At this point I'm just glad the Amelia story is on the back burner. Not only was it EXTREMELY boring, it made Sam so friggn WHINY! Ugh!

  • Sal_Doomhammer Jan 18, 2013

    So Sam gets locked up with Lucy, and Dean moves on with his life. Then Dean goes to Purgatory, and Sam moves on, and Dean acts like a whiny Jefferson-Starship? I don't get it.

  • BarbKas Jan 21, 2013

    check your facts before you talk & rewatch ep1 of season 6, dean went to lisa only because he promised to sam & he was a psychological mess most of the time he was there + he continue to search for a way to get sam out no matter what. sam, after dean disappeared, move on & did'nt lift a finger to find dean actually left him to rot in purgatory so dean has every right to be pished of with him because the abandonment was the cherry on the cake of betrayings from sam's part, remember ruby & sam almost chocking dean?

  • trans8010 Jan 27, 2013

    You check your facts. Dean had said if there was one person he wanted to settle down with and have a normal life it would be with Lisa, and Sam knew that from the dream root episode where Sam in Deans' head saw a fantasy about Lisa and how happy she was now that they were a family. Despite what happened to him after the Apocalypse he wanted Dean to be happy and not worry about his fate, just let it be. However Sam could not know just how obsessive Dean could be with every chance he had he tried to ressurect him. Sam made his peace but Dean couldnt as he felt it should have been Sam with the normal life wife, kids the whole shibang. As for purgatory let's go back awhile. S4 Dean's in hell and Sam has continued on with the hunt solo, when Dean returns there is no fighting! Dean knew if there was anyway the pact he made with the crossroads demon was broken Sam would take his place in the pit. They had a tearful reunion, Sam understood Dean's absence and although depressed found a way of moving on. Now when Dean was sent to purgatory Sam had no idea he was still alive for all he knew he was dead, and he decided once and for there would be no more death, after all he lost Jess, his parents, Dean twice, and of course his surrogate father Bobby. Sam had wanted out for so long and now he found his way. So he settled down with Ameilia. He never expected Dean to return or if he had he would have just assumed the two would find each other because they always do. Dean arguing over Sam's betrayal was out of line because how could Sam have known where Dean was or if he was coming back, even if Dean's logic was sound there was no 100% certainty that Dean could return from where he was. At this point with season 8 the boys need to stop bickering because their arguments are tiring and simply childish, they need to stow their crap once and for all, but Dean has to instigate crap further. Oh Sam isnt off the hook either his deal with Martin stalking Benny was illogical and just plain stupid! A fragile man just released from the mental hospital has no business stalking Vamps. It was partly Sam's fault Benny killed Martin. Once again one of those wonderful plot points from season 8.

  • rabbani1200 Jan 22, 2013

    not to be pedantic, i could be wrong... but i kinda remember that when castiel and dean vanished ....sam didnt know that they were in purgatory...he believed they were dead. and i think he only found out were dean was when he himself actually told him...so dean cant be pissed about that.

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