There was a lot of awesome stuff in this episode. Sam was finally acting in character again, being caring and concerned about Dean. Purgatory is always kickass. Crowley is still the best bad guy ever. Cas is Cas again, and we even got to see his wings. I'm even more in love with Tiger Mom, she has the best arsenal of supersoakers, demon bombs, bucket traps and turkey basters. And last but not least, AMANDA TAPPING!
But Sam "leaving Dean for dead for a girl" isn't just a storyline I don't like. For me, as well as being an assassination of Sam's character, it's a betrayal of what this show stands for. Supernatural is about brothers who would die for each other, not brothers who would leave each other for dead. That relationship is the heart and soul of the show. It is not just Sam who is out of character, it is the whole show. So for me, Sam leaving Dean for dead taints the whole show.
ETA: Just saw this excellent question on twitter from Carina MacKenzie, TV critic at zap2it.com: "I'm confused. If Dean didn't see Cas die why didn't he look for a way to get him out like Sam was supposed to look for a way to get Dean out?" I'm really not liking this theme of leaving brothers/friends for dead in season 8.
I was enjoying this episode just fine, I was happy and relieved I was enjoying it, until the bigger picture reared its ugly head. You see, I knew showrunners Jeremy Carver and Robert Singer had said that basically they would level the playing field between Sam and Dean, that Sam could no longer be condemned for not looking for Dean once how Dean escaped from Purgatory comes to light.
Singer said: Dean "is keeping a secret about how he got out, and who he got out withAnd the fact that he's being judgemental of him is probably not all that fair to Sam, given what Dean's not saying."
And Carver said: "Right now, Dean is piling on Sam somewhat. So what happens as these brothers start to discover more of what they've done in the past year, and might those tables turn, in terms of who has to answer for what? I think everybody will get their licks in. No one's going to be a beaten dog for too long."
But now, we know how Dean got out of Purgatory, and he was his usual heroic self. So what is Dean supposed to have done that's so bad? He trusted a vampire? They have both trusted or worked with supernatural beings on many occasions. He briefly kept Benny a secret? They have both kept secrets on many occasions.
And the showrunners think this is comparable to Sam "leaving Dean for dead for a girl?" I thought the only thing comparable to that would be Dean leaving Cas for dead in Purgatory. But what they think is comparable is ridiculous. Do they seriously think Dean befriending Benny magically makes it all better than Sam left Dean for dead? Do they have no clue how seriously bad it is to leave your brother for dead? Do they not care how much it vilifies Sam's character or how much it damages the brothers' bond? And if they don't, then I've lost all faith in them, and stopped hoping Sam's arc will have any kind of resolution I can live with.
Some say, it's not bad writing, eventually Carver's big plan will be revealed. Due to what the showrunners have been saying in interviews, it doesn't sound like there's a reveal. They say it's a "straightforward, what you see is what you get, human story." But even if there is a reveal, it's bad writing either way. If so many of us feel like it is bad writing and have lost faith it's leading up to something that will make it all right, then that's not good writing. Even those who are still enjoying the show, they say they're just ignoring it, or they're fanwanking all kinds of rationalizations and theories to make Sam's arc bearable, or they're just waiting it out. I have yet to see anyone say they love Sam's arc.
I did a comparison with the Soulless!Sam arc. In the first two episodes, I was wondering "what's up with Sam?" In episode 3, we saw Sam act uncharacteristically cold and amoral while paying off a prostitute, and I knew for sure there was something wrong with Sam. In episode 6, thanks to the Truth Goddess and Castiel, we find out he came back from the Cage without his soul. In 6 episodes, we already had the answer, and before then, we knew there would be an answer. In episode 11, Sam gets his soul back, and all is right with the world. Happy hugs all around! Quickly knowing there would be a reveal and a resolution, and not dragging it out before we got that reveal and resolution, allowed me to just enjoy the ride. And it was a really interesting ride, and not a boring soap opera, like Sam's time with Amelia.
But in this case, I quickly lost hope there would be a reveal or a resolution. There will be nothing like the lack of a soul to justify Sam's actions. In seven episodes, we have gotten nothing but Sam saying "I found something I never had before" in the first episode, and the quick throwaway line to Amelia "My world imploded and I ran" in the sixth. In this episode, there was absolutely nothing, even though it had been dragged out into the open at the end of the last episode. That's it. Next to no forward movement in seven episodes. And the brothers seem to have put it behind them, so for all I know, that's all there is to it.
I can't afford to waste the emotional energy waiting and worrying all season in hopes of a reason that may well never come. And it's ruining otherwise awesome episodes like this one for me anyway. So a friend will let me know if there is a resolution, and I'll catch up then. It pains me, Supernatural is the only TV show that has ever meant more to me than a TV show, but there's no point in watching a TV show that just upsets and frustrates you, no matter how much it means to you.