"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.
– 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"?
AIRED ON 5/25/2016
Season 11 : Episode 23