Season 7 Episode 4

Defending Your Life

Aired Thursday 9:00 PM Oct 14, 2011 on The CW
out of 10
User Rating
490 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

The Egyptian god Osiris wreaks a bloody trail of deaths as he tries and executes anyone guilty of past mistakes. Sam is forced to defend his brother when Osiris targets Dean for his guilt over all the things he's believed he's done in his life... and calls Jo as a witness.


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  • Dynamic Duo

    One of he greatest aspects of supernatural is the dynamic duo Sam and Dean but sometimes they aren't a dynamic duo but completely out of sync. I feel that as the show continues Sam figures out how to deal with the supernatural world more and more and Dean just freaks out more and more. I liked it better when they both were level headed and beat the bad guys with their epic skills. As episodes go this one was decent, but definitely not my favorite.moreless

    Another amazing episode this season is awesome
  • Poor Dean :'(

    8.5 VERY well said!

    What a heart wrenching ep!! Dean already carries the weight of the world on his shoulders doing a job that is full of heartache, regret, & pain & then to throw Jo in his face!!??? WOW. Yeah, yeah, he lied to Sam about killing the grown-up monster from Sam's past, but the guilt Dean feels is his own self punishment & not true or necessary. I just wish he could see that what he does sucks, & is difficult, but completely necessary! I just wanna hold him & tell him he is truly a great man, brother, & hero. <3moreless
  • One of the things I love about this show is that it not only makes me laugh, cry and scream, it also makes me think.

    This is one of those episodes that really sparks a lot of thought and discussion, in particular about guilt, and the psychology of Sam and Dean.

    Some had questioned why Dean was put on trial rather than Sam—Sam himself says he is the one who should be tried. But actually the episode's treatment makes perfect sense. Osiris later explains it's not about how guilty they are, but rather about how guilty they feel. And it's perfectly in character for Dean to feel guilty—as Bobby points out when he says "Who does that sound like?" Dean has always taken the weight of the world on his shoulders, and has always been very forgiving of everyone but himself. John injected steroids into this natural disposition by burdening him with responsibilities too heavy for his young shoulders, and then not forgiving him when he fails to bear them to his father's satisfaction—as we saw in Something Wicked.

    Sam, on the other hand, was not made responsible for others from a young age, and not taken to task for failing to live up to those responsibilities, and is more forgiving of himself. As he says he felt very crappy about his wrongdoings for a long time—and this is evident through season 5. I know some people feel he never gave a satisfactory apology speech, but I recently read an explanation by a male fan about how this was all done in Winchesterese Guyspeak, and how it would've been out of character for them to do it with a big emotional talk. Guys in general and Winchesters in particular speak in actions rather than words. So Sam will say in Bloody Mary "You're my brother and I would die for you" rather than "You're my brother and I love you." By the same token, at the end of Sympathy for the Devil, Sam says (in response to Dean saying you chose a demon over your own brother) "I would do anything to take it back" and "What can I do?" rather than "I feel horrible about how much I hurt you." He's expressing his deep regret and his desire to make amends in actions rather than words. And in any case, Dean absolutely does not want to hear the words. Sam tries to apologize several times in the episode, and Dean keeps shutting him down. This is very much in character for Dean, and was established from the Pilot when Sam tries to apologize for what he said about their mother on the bridge, and Dean cuts him off with "No chick flick moments." He also does it at the end of Asylum, saying "I'm not in a caring-and-sharing kind of mood." They also apologize wordlessly at the end of Tall Tales, when Sam says "Dean…" and Dean says "Yeah. Me too." So a big flowery heart-to-heart about how sorry Sam is and how hurt Dean was would have been completely out of character. But the apology did most definitely happen if you're attuned to the Winchesterese Guyspeak subtext, and the proof of this is given by Dean himself who at the end says: "I know how sorry you are, I do." Dean heard the Winchesterese Guyspeak subtext loud and clear.

    Anyway, Sam feels guilty and responsible through season 5 and in the end he dooms himself to an eternity of hellish torture by no less than Satan himself to set right his wrongs. He threw himself into the Pit to save the world. There can be no greater redemption. So as Sam explains at the end of Defending Your Life, after 180 years of being Lucifer's punching bag, and emerging with a permanently scarred mind, he feels like he has paid his debt.

    Dean of course did also spend 40 years in Hell, but the circumstances were different. Rather than being where he redeemed himself, it is where they broke him and coerced him into committing torture himself, and breaking the first seal. His stint down under started the apocalypse, whereas Sam's ended it. So for Dean, his tour in Hell must feel like another thing he has to feel guilty about—as evidenced by his tearful confessions in Heaven and Hell and Family Remains—rather than suffering for his sins so as to clear his slate.

    I loved how Jensen played the trial. He is so brilliant at playing one thing on the surface, while letting you glimpse what is really going on underneath. In this case, while he's trying to convince Osiris that he doesn't have guilt in his heart, you can plainly see how guilty he feels. It was also great to see Sam acting as a lawyer. For six years we have known that this was his dream, and only now do we actually get to see him playing the part. It was heartbreaking that Dean would rather condemn himself to death than let Sam find out he killed Amy. And that Dean is still carrying so much guilt in his heart he could only be saved by a ram's horn.

  • Dean faces off against Osiris.

    Whether or not this Leviathan plot pans out in the end, I have to say that I enjoy seeing the Winchester's looking into cases that don't involve the end of the world. It's been awhile since there was a plot that didn't somehow relate to the myth-arc. There should always be at least somestand-alone plots.

    This episode sort of connected to other stuff that the show has been doing the last few episodes, but at the same time, it was a fun and semi-dark look into Dean's tendency to internalize all of his guilt. And his guilt is pretty high after killing Sam's old friend Amy. I didn't think that the show would pursue this plot beyond last week's episode, but it's making for an interesting plot.

    The whole idea of Osiris is that he puts guilty feeling people on trial for misdeeds they did in the past. He decides whether or not the person is killed based on how much guilt the individual feels. If they feel guilty, they're killed by the spirits of the people they screwed over. Dean ends up on Osiris' chopping block, leaving Sam and Bobby to figure out how to free him.

    The format of the episode allows for the return of a familiar face: Jo. Jo died with her mother back in Season 5, but Osiris claims that Dean's guilt over her death makes him eligible to be put to death. What follows is an odd thriller/courtroom case where Sam acts as Dean's lawyer in defending him from Osiris. There was a funny line where Sam says he learned some of his law moves on The Good Wife.

    The episode suffers most from the same old stuff: Dean and Sam don't trust each other. Yes, we get it. Yet, for some reason, the writers seem intent on driving it into our skulls. Also, it doesn't help that the show has Sam and Dean lying and hiding things all the time. The show needs to just have Sam and Dean be open with one another so the show can stop falling into the same old trap. However, the show was on point tonight, focusing on a stand-alone case that was enjoyable enough.moreless
Faran Tahir

Faran Tahir


Guest Star

Julian Christopher

Julian Christopher


Guest Star

Emilie Ullerup

Emilie Ullerup


Guest Star

Alona Tal

Alona Tal

Jo Harvelle

Recurring Role

Jim Beaver

Jim Beaver

Bobby Singer

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (8)

    • Sam: Some kind of ghost?
      Dean: With a license? License to kill.
      Sam: Seriously?

    • Sam: All right, congrats on your sobriety. I'll go find out where Jane's is.
      Dean: I--I gave up AA for Lent.
      Sam: We're not Catholic.
      Dean: Always with the details.

    • Warren: You believe me? Who the hell are you?
      Sam: We kind of... specialize in crazy.

    • Mia: You may want to slow your roll there.
      Dean: The more I drink, the better I tip.
      Mia: Yeah, well I'm off in an hour. So don't pass out on me.
      Dean: Well, then I think I'll switch to beer.
      Mia: Good choice.

    • Dean: Uh, Sam, you're not a lawyer.
      Sam: I was pre-law.
      Dean: Yeah, "pre."

    • Osiris: I can make it very simple. Three witnesses.
      Sam: Objection!
      Osiris: Grounds?
      Sam: Witness is being called without prior notice.
      Dean: Good one.
      Sam: I saw it on The Good Wife.

    • Bobby: Near as I can figure, it ought to put him down for a couple of centuries at least. It's worked a few times since the pharaohs were big.
      Sam: So it's temporary.
      Bobby: Long temporary. I say we slap that Band-Aid on and leave finding a cure to some hunter in a space suit.

    • Jo: He was right about one thing.
      Dean: What, your massive crush on me?
      Jo: Shut up. You carry all kinds of crap you don't have to, Dean. It kind of gets clearer when you're dead
      Dean: Well, in that case, you should be able to see that I am 90%... crap. I get rid of that, what then?
      Jo: You really want to die not knowing?

  • NOTES (1)

    • International Airdate:
      Canada: October 19, 2011 on SPACE
      Australia: October 24, 2011 on ELEVEN
      Norway: January 27, 2012 on FEM
      UK: August 22, 2012 on Sky LIVING HD
      Finland: March 2, 2014 on Sub

  • ALLUSIONS (10)

    • Title:
      Referencing the 1991 movie starring Albert Brooks as a man who dies and must show that he can overcome his fears and insecurities. If he fails, he will be reincarnated and sent back to Earth to try again.

    • Dean: License to kill.
      Referencing the tagline of the James Bond novels and movies. James Bond's "00" ranking is often referred to as a "license to kill." In fact, the concept is mostly fictional. One of the Bond movies is named License to Kill (1989).

    • Sam: Could be Christine-like.
      Referencing the 1983 novel of the same name by Stephen King, featuring a demonic red-and-white 1958 Plymouth Fury which is possessed by the spirit of its first owner, Roland D. LeBay, slowly takes control of an outcast teenage boy, Arnie Cunningham. It was adapted into a movie later in 1983.

    • Sam: Now that we got a decent bead on Ghost Rider, let's go.
      Referencing the Marvel comic book character, originally Johnny Blaze, who makes a deal with the Devil and is transformed into a blazing skull-headed motorcycle who rides a flaming motorcycle and can project blasts of hellfire. Several characters have become Ghost Rider throughout the years, and a movie adaptation was produced in 2007.

    • Dean: He causes so much misery that some Rottweiler goes Cujo on him from beyond the grave?
      Referencing the fictional fictional dog in the horror story of the same name by Stephen King. This vicious, rabid Saint Bernard kills characters by mauling them in the book and the 1983 movie adaptation.

    • Dean: I'd rather talk about your Bukowski schtick at the bar.
      Referencing author Henry Charles Bukowski, who wrote extensively about alcohol and spent years in Los Angeles drinking. The movie Barfly (1987) is a semi-autographical portrayal of Bukowski's life. Previous episodes have established that Dean is a reader of Bukowski's works.

    • Sam: I saw that on The Good Wife.
      Referencing the CBS legal drama that focuses on a wife who must return to work as a litigator and start over from the bottom after her husband is jailed after a sex & corruption scandal.

    • Dean: This whole thing's like a friggin' episode of Pee-wee's Playhouse.
      Referencing the children's TV series (1986-1990) starring Paul Reubens as the title character. The surreal Playhouse, set in Puppetland, featured talking appliances and furniture, puppets, and live individuals, all interacting with Pee-wee as he typically dealt with some kind of situation that allowed the teaching of a moral/ethical lesson for children viewers.

    • Dean: Enough Ally McBealing.
      Referencing the TV series Ally McBeal (1997-2002), which focused on the life of a young lawyer, Ally McBeal (Calista Flockhart) at the law firm of Cage & Fish.

    • Dean: By the way... I mean, I get why Judge Judy put me on trial.
      Referencing Judge Judith Sheindlin, an outspoken family court judge who became famous enough that she was asked to preside over a syndicated reality TV court program, Judge Judy. Judge Judy presides over a small claims court with a $5,000 rewards limit, and is famed for her gruff manner and her refusal to tolerate fools lightly.