Supernatural "The Purge" Review: Hunger Games

By MaryAnn Sleasman

Feb 05, 2014

Supernatural S09E13: "The Purge"


"The Purge" was poised to be goofy and gross, but silly me, I didn't consider soul-crushingly sad as an option even though this is Supernatural and I really should know better by now. The epic sadness behind "The Purge" came in on the tail end of some brutal honesty regarding the state of the Winchester brotherhood. Season Fine really loves its brutal honesty. 

But first: silliness, sexiness, and some strange happenings at the ol' Canyon Valley Spa. We haven't seen Sam and Dean take on full-blown, immersive undercover work—complete with working a boring and occasionally demeaning nine-to-five in the name of all-access sleuthing—in some time, and that aspect of "The Purge" didn't disappoint. Sam in clingy workout attire, Dean in a hairnet: What more could one ask for? (Um, IDK, maybe another sweaty topless chin-up session a la that time Soulless Sam showed off for one of his numerous hooker hook-ups?)


Unnnnnfortunately for all the shallow people in the audience (HELLO, FRIENDS) Bendy Sam's screen time didn't extend much further than what we saw in the promo. That's okay, we'll always have that time Jared Padalecki went to Brazil. Lunchlady Dean was a good time, though. Any time Dean puts down the whiskey and cornflakes long enough to steal pudding from spa patrons and make out with a bag of sweet potatoes is a good time. 


Another trend that Season Fine appears to love so well is its humane monsters. This was the second episode in a row to feature flesh-eaters or fat-suckers who were determined to coexist peacefully with humans, and even hunters. This is also the second episode in a row to feature those peace-loving monsters getting completely screwed over by the malcontents within their ranks. Maritza took her approach to living with humans one step further than what we've seen in the past. Not only did Maritza work to avoid harming humans, she devised a system where she and others like her could actively help humans. She needed to eat fat to survive. Chunky monkey humans wanted to lose weight with minimal sweating and without spending all their time at the gym. Dude, if I could just go to a schmancy spa, eat roofied pudding all week, stare at Sam Winchester doing a downward facing dog at least once a day, and then come back like eight dress sizes smaller, I'd be all over that. It was a perfect match. 

Except for Alonso, Maritza's grumpy brother, who got himself demoted to eating the jarred fat when he got greedy and almost killed a spa patron by sucking out too much fat. Resentful of Maritza's stance on humans and apparently starving out of his mind, Alonzo opted to go on a fat-sucking murder spree in the next town over because that wasn't a terrible plan or anything. And then he ate Maritza's hunky husband just to hit home the message that being a friendly monster on Supernatural never ends well. 


Like, when all was said and done and Maritza's innocence couldn't be made more clear, Dean wanted to waste her anyway because she was a monster and it's not like Sam and Dean have ever let a goodie-two-shoes monster go before or, gee, it's not like Dean ever spent half a season being BFFs with a kindly Cajun vampire named Benny. That never happened, right? 

Shut up, Dean. 

And shut up, Sam. 


Except not really, because as much as it sucked to hear Sam say that if the tables were turned during the trials he wouldn't have tried to save Dean, it was a thing that needed to be said. It was also a thing that Dean needed to hear, because he just wasn't understanding why Sam was so upset over the Gadreel incident, and I was starting to feel really bad for him (I mean, I still do, but he just seemed so helpless and confused before). It was also a thing that we needed to hear because, okay, full-disclosure, I'm one of those obnoxious people who never shuts up about how Twilight and 50 Shades are NOT healthy pictures of romance and Supernatural has gradually landed in that same realm except with sibling relations, where in one camp we have a group who believes that the Winchesters are the most amazing and positive brotherly relationship on TV because they just love each other SO. MUCH, and then there are the buzzkills like me who are routinely horrified by what the writers seem to think "love" means, which results in sitting around and wondering if maybe they just don't realize how messed up the Winchesters' relationship comes off? They're professionals, they can't possibly lack that much self-awareness... can they?

No. No they cannot, and the payoff-in-progress is so delicious. 


Everything that Sam said was true. Now, the way he said it is a source of contention, and I won't argue that the bluntness was hurtful and that Dean didn't proceed to get blackout drunk on every bottle of booze in the Batcave, including the sacramental wine meant only for spells and stuff, but Sam wasn't wrong, and based on what we've seen in the last few seasons, Sam isn't a hypocrite. When Dean was lost in Purgatory and thought to be dead, Sam let him stay dead. When we first dove into the trials storyline, Dean was totally aboard the let's-slam-the-door-on-hell train until he realized he wouldn't be the one making the great and noble sacrifice required to lock the door. That's not a new pattern for Dean: He sold his soul to bring Sam back from the dead, he was willing to be Michael's vessel if it would stop the Apocalypse (but he wasn't willing to let Lucifer wear Sam), if he'd been more mobile after the smackdown at Stull Cemetery, Dean would have jumped into the cage with Sam, and when Sam was soulless, Dean risked his life to meet with Death and make a deal for Sam's return. This is all very heroic and selfless, but it's also pretty damn sad and indicative of the damage that the hunting life has inflicted on Dean. There's a reason "Bad Boys" aired when it did, both in terms of which season and when in that season. It confirmed what a lot of us long suspected regarding what exactly makes Dean tick, and it set the stage for all of this (for once) timely man-angst to come spilling out. 

When Sam and Dean's messed up relationship is written poorly, without addressing the legitimate concerns that outsiders have (such as Lisa and Bobby, but also viewers), it's frustrating to watch. The repetitive cycle of sacrifice-resentment-more sacrifice-more resentment looks more like a pattern of lazy writing and spent ideas than a pattern of damaging behavior brought about by unavoidable traumas and an emotionally fraught upbringing. When Dean and Sam are written well, and Supernatural manages to be honest about the realities of being Dean and Sam, their relationship is one of the most fascinating sibling relationships on TV. 



NOTES

– What is it with Dean and pudding?

– I question the taste of making Bendy Lisa jokes considering how horrible the circumstances of her exile were. 

– "Doug's a dick, you deserve better." Someone, somewhere, immediately started penning a slashy three-way fic where Dean and Sam screw Lady-cop stupid. Mark my words. 

– Sam had a fanny pack. That is all. 

– And now that my heart has been ripped out and stomped on, I'll see you all back here on February 25, when Supernatural returns from a wee hiatus with 100 percent more... Snookie? Plz no.


What did you think of "The Purge"?


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  • alcalde Mar 21, 2014

    It seems to me that Sam has a mental health problem and is suicidal. Dean did the right thing and Sam resents him for it for some reason. They need to lock Sam up in that haunted asylum from way back when until he stops wanting to die. And then they both need to work on their incestuous feelings they seem to have for one another. :-)

    Every season since season 4 and Dean going to hell has followed the same pattern - some big crisis, then some MacGuffin needs to be found and while they're waiting for it they have several filler cookie-cutter episodes that don't really mean anything. Then three episodes before the season finale they suddenly remember they're supposed to be doing something. :-( It was like that way back when Dean sold his soul - with Dean saying there was nothing they could do about it so let's just hunt, etc. Three episodes before the end of the season they suddenly decided to try to save him. Now Crowley is walking around under the ocean or something. If this were the Vampire Diaries this entire season's plot line would have been resolved before episode 12. :-( Are viewers even going to remember the rival angel gangs? By my count at least 6 of the last 13 episodes have been filler. Either they're not going to resolve this heaven thing by the end of this season or it's all going to be condensed into the last three episodes yet again. :-(

  • ukeishiro Feb 21, 2014

    Well I don't really liked this episode. The case wasn't good, the demon/parasite not interesting.
    And I'm also very tired with the crappy relationship. I don't know why they are angry at each other, why they don't understand each other. But couldn't they seat for once and explain them self once and for all !!!!

  • jjkrock Feb 22, 2014

    I agree with you that the "distance" between the brothers (and what feels like hostility sometimes -- mostly from Sam) is sad and very hard to watch. I miss those times when they were fighting the good fight together and not battling each other. Hopefully this will be resolved soon.

  • jjkrock Feb 17, 2014

    In Devil May Care, Ezekiel/Gadreel told Dean “I am in Sam's head. Everything he knows, I know. And I know that what you did, you did out of love.”
    That sounds like Sam understood why Dean did what he did and he didn’t think it was selfish – at least not at that time. Was Ezekiel/Gadreel lying, or has Sam changed his mind since then? Or maybe the mark of Cain really is behind Sam’s latest verbal attack. Thoughts?

  • jencoco Feb 13, 2014

    If I remember correctly, Sam saved Dean in " Faith" , killing an innocent man in the process.

  • jjkrock Feb 14, 2014

    If I remember correctly, Sam saved Dean in " Faith" , killing an innocent man in the process.

    You're right. He also tricked Dean into going to the faith healer in the first place. He told Dean he was taking him to a "specialist"...
    Good thing Sam never lies about something like that :)



  • xxSupernaturallover Feb 15, 2014

    Exactly.
    People are pissed at Dean for tricking Sam, but Sam basically did the same thing in Season one soooo....

  • jjkrock Feb 15, 2014

    People are pissed at Dean for tricking Sam, but Sam basically did the same thing in Season one soooo....

    You're absolutely right, but I don't think Sam is the same person he was back then. I think something is broken in him. Remember in season 3 Time is on My Side – Sam was willing to use evil Doc Benton’s immortality formula to save Dean from going to hell, even though it would have meant periodically killing innocent people to harvest replacement organs. It was Dean who refused to consider that plan. I think whatever is “broken” in Sam happened after season 3. Back then, Sam told Dean “there’s nothing I wouldn’t do for you” and that he would do whatever it took to save him. I think he meant it because his actions at the time supported that. We are clearly not looking at the same Sam we had in seasons 1 – 3. Maybe hell or the trials broke him – I honestly don’t know…

    In contrast, Dean (who has been through hell, purgatory, and numerous other traumas) has never lost focus on what is important to him. Sam always comes first. Always. I think that says a lot about Dean’s strength of character and the depth of his love for Sam.

  • coolhandkate Feb 10, 2014

    I think Sam's less angry about Dean tricking him into letting Gadreel possess him than he's angry Dean talked him out of closing the gates of hell.

    When they were in the church, Sam understood the mission and its price. But Dean (as Sam said) did not want to be alone. They could have changed/saved the world and Sam would have gotten (even via death) what he wanted: to be clean. Moreover, Sam seems to have always understood the cost to a bigger picture: He was ready to kill John in season 1 but Dean was not; he made Dean promise not the resurrect him from the cage with Lucifer; he did not look for Dean when he disappeared to purgatory. (Trying to save Dean from Hell, I think, is a different situation.)

    Then when you layer in Gadreel's possession over Sam's difficulties over the series--not feeling like a good person or even human, being possessed by the devil, losing his soul (and therefore no longer himself) and struggling with reality and memories of the pit--orchestrated this time by Dean--it does feel like a considerate betrayal.

    Early in the series, they would compare the boys often to John. Dean was more dedicated but Sam, like John, would make that hard choice with regards to family when it came to the mission.

    All of the above to boil down that I don't think Sam was cruel or out of line. It's true that a lot of Dean's driving motivation is so that he does not have to be alone (hell, the series started with Dean springing Sam from college after John left him). I'm glad that it's been said out loud for the first time in nine years so Dean can start moving forward.




  • jjkrock Feb 08, 2014

    Sam (and Dean) should both realize that the situation would be much worse if Sam had been “allowed” to close Hell and die:

      1. Kevin Tran would still be dead. Metatron wanted Kevin dead because killing the prophet, eliminating all future prophets, and gathering the remaining tablets to himself was part of his plan. It was very close to the top of his to-do list. Gadreel/Sam was a convenient way to get close to Kevin, but even without Gadreel/Sam, Metatron would have gotten to Kevin anyway, and Dean would not have been able to stop it. Kevin is not warded against angels and rarely leaves the bunker (which is also not warded against angels), so he would have been relatively easy for Metatron to find -- especially since Metatron already knew that the Winchesters were keeping Kevin close to them. Dean feels responsible for Kevin's death, but he is not to blame (and neither is Sam) -- not really. Metatron is the only one responsible and he would absolutely have found another a way to kill Kevin.

      2. Castiel would be dead. Gadreel/Sam helped Dean find Castiel just as the reaper had killed him, and Gadreel was able to bring Castiel back to life. Bartholomew and the other angel factions would still have hunted Castiel down and killed him, but without Gadreel he would have stayed dead.

      3. Crowley would be human or dead. Either way, he would no longer be useful. Hopefully, closing the hell gates would have sucked Abbadon into hell with the rest of the demons. But she is a knight and very powerful. If anyone could figure a way out of hell it would be her. And without Crowley’s help, even if Dean had found Cain on his own he would not be able to access the only weapon that can kill her (which happens to be at the bottom of the sea). That means Abbadon would be able to run rampant, with no Crowley to balance/challenge her power and no weapon that can kill her.

      4. The angel civil war would still be happening on Earth, and Dean would be left alone (without Castiel, Sam or Kevin) to fight it. Not a good scenario.

      So I appreciate both sides of the Sam/Dean angel possession debate, but we should all realize that Sam’s death would have had much further reaching consequences and it’s likely a good thing that Dean saved him.

  • ark1317 Feb 09, 2014

    I don't know about Metatron, who knows if the angels would have behaved differently if the gates of hell were closed?
    Also, I think that giving Abaddon that much credit is pushing it. I mean that the Hell tablets are instruction from God, and Hell was closed before so I don't think that as much as she is powerful that she could really escape.

  • jjkrock Feb 10, 2014

    I don't know about Metatron, who knows if the angels would have behaved differently if the gates of hell were closed?

    The angel civil war started in season 5/6 when Michael got locked in the cage with Lucifer. It continued in heaven and has now spilled to Earth because all the angels have been kicked out of heaven. It never had anything to do with demons or hell -- it has always been about control of heaven. Why would we expect the angels to behave differently if hell had been closed?

    And as far as Abbadon's power -- we still don't know the full extent of her capabilities. We know that the demon knife doesn't work on her (although holy water and devils traps seem to) and we've been told that there's only one weapon that can kill her. If we know about rogue coyote reapers who can smuggle souls between Earth, purgatory, hell and heaven (so we've been told), then presumably so does Abbadon. We also know that on Supernatural, there's always a way around the apparent rules, so I don't think it's unreasonable to consider the possibility that she might be able to slip out of a tablet-locked hell if she wanted to.

    My point is that Sam is in this place where he thinks not closing the hell gates (and not dying) did more harm than good. I respectfully disagree. I think a dead Sam would be much worse. And the show writers never explored the potential outcomes of a demon tablet-locked hell. I don't think a locked hell is an entirely positive thing. Where do evil people go after death if hell is locked and they can't go there? What about innocent souls that are trapped in hell (like Bobby was and like John Winchester was) -- is there no way to free them?

  • ark1317 Feb 11, 2014

    You're right about the angels, I just thought that without the purpose of being opposite to demons, maybe they would have done some soul-searching XD

    Of course you may be right about Abaddon. Not knowing when hell has being closed the first time doesn't help: Abaddon was traveling to the future, but the others knights were killed when hell was still open?

    I've always thought that closing hell only meant demons couldn't get out, but souls always could. I'm with you about Bobby, but John made a deal with Azazel, so he should have been in hell.

  • ark1317 Feb 13, 2014

    @jjkrock I guess demons make deals with the soul who don't belong in hell?

  • jjkrock Feb 11, 2014

    I'm with you about Bobby, but John made a deal with Azazel, so he should have been in hell.

    You may be right about John Winchester. He did make a demon deal, so he technically belonged in hell. But he was also supposed to be the "righteous man" to shed blood in hell and open the first seal, so couldn't that mean he didn't really belong in hell -- can he be righteous and damned at the same time?

  • jannel Feb 08, 2014

    Very,very good points made.

  • xxSupernaturallover Feb 07, 2014

    I noticed many of you forgotten(and sorry for all my comments on this thread...) that in Season 1, when Dean was ready to die and was going to die, Sam saved him. I know the situation is a bit different but Dean was prepared for his fate. Now that Dean saved Sam when he was ready to die, he gets hated on? you 'chuckleheads.'

  • ark1317 Feb 09, 2014

    But in the meantime they sacrificed themselves saving the other one countless time. I don't think you can compare season 1 Sam with season 9 Sam

  • Panther927 Feb 07, 2014

    I just wish that once sam is the one that saves dean,why is it that in every episode sam is in danger and dean swoops in to save him???I also love that this season sam and dean are actually facing their trouble and being honest about it.But its really frustrating that dean still thinks he is doing the right thing,he just doesnt get it!!! And where the hell is cas???

  • randomjean Feb 07, 2014

    i feel embarrassed ogling on Sam's body when i know hes married and is a dad. On a lighter note, i totally would love to have a SHORT visit from a fat sucker. Free lipo, why not?

  • hopitopia Feb 07, 2014

    The fact that I get both Dean and Sam's arguments in this episode proves my point about this being an effing great show, it's breaking my heart right now, and that says something about the longevity that these guys have instilled in the fanbase. I will still wait to see what happens. Again.

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