Supernatural's first monster of the week story wasn't the best offering seeing as we got a great start this season so far from the last two installments. Directed by Jensen Ackles in his third romp behind the camera the story followed a string of murders where the hearts are ripped out of the chests of recipients of organs from a football player named Brick (a possible reference to Tennessee William's Cat on the Hot Tin Roof?). Brick is actually one of Sam's sports idols and they go to meet his mother, Eleanor, who says that Brick was merely 100% dedicated to the sport but the brothers can see that she's lying. The brothers look deeper into the murders after searching Brick's house and finding Eleanor's clothes in Brick's bedroom closet permit further investigation. In the mix is a woman named Rana, who visits Eleanor following the Winchester visit to her and she says that she has Brick's heart and that she needs to keep the sacrifices going to keep his legacy alive. The brothers find out that one of the victims they got to, an ex-cop, was mumbling in the dead Mayan language and that even the ritual of sacrifice of tearing the heart out of the chest was a Mayan tradition as well. With more digging after finding multiple old timey sports paraphernalia in Brick's basement including letters to a woman named "Betsy" the brothers find out that Brick was indeed four different athletes throughout the years: a boxer, a baseball player, a track runner, and finally a football player. It turns out that Eleanor was the Betsy from the letters and she tells the brothers that the heart is the key to getting rid of the rest of the corrupted organ donors as Brick always said. The story behind her and Brick and how them being in love changed him and how she eventually had to become his mother to maintain his cover was saddening. Apparently Brick was almost 1,000 years old and had made a deal with a Mayan high priest to stay forever young and warrior-like and offered two hearts a year as a sacrifice to the God of Harvest (CaCau I think is how it's spelled). The brothers go to the strip club where Randa works and are attacked by other organ donors. The dialogue was kind of clunky in this episode, especially when one of them throws Sam across the room and says, "I'm the guy in Phoenix you're looking for." One, how did he know Sam's search history, and even if he did how did he know that he was looking for him in Phoenix when he's in town in Boulder Colorado. The episode was from the writers' of Season One's worst episode, besides Bugs, Route 666 so it's no surprise that this episode was a little lacking. But Dean stabbing Randa in the heart and the red that spills out of her was pretty cool effects-wise anyway. Sam's flashbacks were a nice touch too even if they aren't as enticing and "What happened?" as Dean's are since Cass's fate will be revealed throughout those, but the episode was a way to get the brothers back out on the road and hunting things. The fact that Sam wants to go back to having a normal life after this year really returns him to the Season 1 self that he was completely happy away from the life that Dean now so clings to after having spent a whole year in Purgatory fighting wall to wall with beasts from every corner of Hell. Not nearly as great as Ackles' first turn behind the camera, Season 6's "Weekend at Bobby's" remains one of my overall favorite episodes to this day, as well as Season 7's one with Keely from Firefly were much better. But the quality of the episode was not Ackles' fault he did all he could with a lackluster teleplay and while I always appreciate Supernatural broadening its mythos into older civilizations and older gods the plot was badly handled from a writing perspective but hopefully this isn't a bump in the rest of Season 8 to come.
You know last week? You know how I loved how it was really using its mythology to create some awesome episodes? Well, this week succeeded in doing one thing: the exact opposite.
The first filler of the season has arrived, as I (*sigh*) knew it was going to. Once again, the brothers have that conversation where they justify forgetting about the main season's arc for a while, not to each other but to us: the audience. One thing I will say for this episode is that this is probably the only season post 3 where this actually washes.
Just look at the history
Season 1 was reliant on filler episodes, and it worked.
Season 2's reliance on fillers also works because they don't have a clue how to track down Azazel.
Season 3's... didn't work as well. It felt like everytime the brothers were not focused on saving Dean was just ridiculous.
Seasons 4 and 5 barley worked at all. The end was nigh. The brothers are the only ones who can stop it. And they go off hunting ghosts.
Season 6 kind of worked, mainly because that season just has about ten plots going on at once.
Season 7s didn't. I mean, an army of Leviathans are unleashed upon the world. And the brothers do nothing!!!
But, I suppose this year there is no massive thing for them to be dealing with. Which probably means that we'll be getting a few of these fillers. I'm cool with this, I suppose, as long as they're good!
So. Was this episode good?
It was very well written, I'll give it that. Kudos to them for finding new things to do. I had no blooming idea what was going on 30 minutes in, and it was actually really clever! It might have been a filler episode, but at least they put a lot of effort into it! To be fair to Supernatural though, they always put a lot of effort into their fillers. Some are great, some are okay... only a small few end up being bad. In fact, my original score was 7.5, but after writing this paragraph I'm going to up it to an 8. It really was a good story.... I guess my judgement is a little bit clouded as I just love Supernatural when it sticks to an overriding arc and mythology.
That is not to say we didn't get a little bit more of the arc. This week, it focused on Sam's story. And I've read several reviews on this that agree with me: it just doesn't make any sense.
Let's look at Sammy
He was born into a life he never wanted. A life of a revenge driven father. He finally got old enough to get out, and so got out. Then, his girlfriend is horribly murdered, and he goes on a mad rampage of revenge. He finally sees the demon behind it all die, but at a cost. His father is killed and his brother sells his soul to save him. By season 3, he didn't want that normal life. Too much had happened to him, and he was obsessed with saving Dean. When he eventually failed, there is a sense that he went completely crazy, dedicating himself to killing demons so badly he becomes addicted to demon blood. This eventually leads to him unknowingly setting Lucifer free, and the horrible events of season 5. Until, finally, he sacrifices his soul to save the world, shutting himself in a box with Lucifer and his very pissed brother. He gets out, but without a soul, and goes and does some very bad things with his resurrected grandfather. When he finally gets his soul back, he is driven mad with guilt over the things he's done and cannot remember. When that memory comes back to him, he starts having visions of Lucifer, who drives him to the point of insanity. When he's cured of that, he looses Bobby and Cas, his two closest friends, and finally his brother, trapped in purgatory.
And after all that.... he's back to season 1 Sam?
Maybe I can imagine that after all that he just wants out. I could probably understand that. But that doesn't seem to be how the writers are painting it, which is what the problem is. Not once in this episode did Sam say to Dean, "Hey! I was trapped in a box with the Devil for 100 years! I think I've earned myself a retirement!" Instead, this conversation could have taken place in season 1. "Dean, we want different things. I want a normal life." No, Sam, you don't. You gave that up years ago, and no way, after everything, would you just slide back into College.
I know there is probably more to come here, and Jeremy Carver has said we wouldn't like Sam's attitude at first but it will make sense later... but I hate it when a show backtracks, or deliberately forgets important character development for its plot to make sense. Can I believe Sam has simply had enough? Yes. Can I believe that Sam just wants a normal life? No.
So, overall. A very good premise, an average episode, and a strange character development. Roll on next week.
Heartache was a perfect and heart wrenching episode of Supernatural. I really enjoyed watching because the story was awesome, the character development was great and there was some funny humor. I liked that an Ancient Mayan God was involved with what was happening and learning of the deal made. I loved seeing Sam conflicted about trying to live a normal life and it was interesting to see how Dean reacted. The ending was awesome and really hit the nail of Sam's feelings and desires on the head. I look forward to watching what happens next!!!!!!!!!
On the positive side, the Mayan God plot was really well put together. It looked like it might be just a case of people being haunted by transplanted body parts, but interesting new info kept being added that went off in different directions, so I couldn't see where it was going. When the resolution came, all the pieces fit perfectly together, but I had not been able to predict how they would fit together. So that part I liked.
What I'm not liking is Sam bailing on Dean when he went to Purgatory, and now talking about bailing on him again now that he's back. Though I'm pretty sure there's more to this story, nonetheless, it's not fun to watch. And I watch tv because it's fun.
I would be more worried if Sam had looked for Dean and then given up. But seeing as Sam didn't even look for Dean, there's just no way they could justify that. Therefore there has to be another explanation. But I don't want to wait for that explanation, and worry the whole time not knowing if there really will be a good explanation, especially since I can't imagine an explanation that would make a good enough payoff to make it worthwhile for me to sit through Sam acting like a total douchebag, and ruining the heart and soul of the show, the dynamic between the brothers I watch it for.
I gave the example of the series Chuck in a previous review. They were constantly breaking up the band. They would eventually put the band back together, but I'm watching for the band. So the fact it was broken up half the time impeded my enjoyment of the show.
I'm watching Supernatural for the band, aka Team Free Will. And if they`re going to break up Team Free Will, and especially mess with the brothers, then there better be a damn good reason for it, not just because the writers enjoy messing with the viewers, but because they're giving the viewers something they can enjoy.
When it was Soulless Sam, there was a payoff from the start. Soulless Sam was interesting. It was fascinating and entertaining to see what Sam would be like without his soul, to wonder how they would get his soul back, and know the whole while there would be a great reunion when they did, and even more interesting issues to deal with seeing as his soul was damaged. (Nonetheless, some fans stopped watching at the beginning of season 6 because they didn't like the way Sam was being written and didn't want to wait to see if there was a good reason. It didn't help Sera was a brand new showrunner at that point, so there wasn't a relationship of trust.)
But I can't see any payoff here. We've already done the apple-pie-life story with Dean and Lisa, we thoroughly explored the conflicts between hunting and domestic life, and it was interesting the first time, but I have no desire to see that story again. Another possibility is something supernatural happened to Sam, a Jedi mind trick or something, but that better be a damn good story and happen quickly. Suspense is good, except when you're waiting to find out if a beloved character really is dead and/or a douchebag. Casfans have been dealing with that since season 6, and I have never seen a single one say they enjoy it. All the contrary.
At least Amelia was more likable this time, the little we saw of her. When they introduced her bitching at Sam when he was clearly upset he had accidentally hit a dog, I was actually wondering if they were deliberately writing her to be unlikable or if they really are that clueless about how to write a likable female character. First you write her as Yoko breaking up the band, then you write her as a bitch telling Sam he's a bad person when he's visibly upset, and when Sam was running around on a bridge yelling "Amelia!" I was afraid they would add damsel in distress and Sam would have to dive in the water to save her. Thankfully they didn't, and she was actually nice this time.
But I just don't see what active, constructive role Amelia can play (rather than just a passive role as Sam's girlfriend.) When I had first heard she was a doctor, I thought okay, hunters get injured often, she'll be useful. But now it turns out she's a vet, so unless they need to treat a werewolf, that doesn't seem helpful. Although Lisa didn't have a role in the supernatural plot per se, she did have an essential role in the story of whether or not a hunter can have a home and family. But like I said, I've already seen that story and have no desire for a repeat. Also, Lisa didn't bitch at Dean when he was upset. She was strong and caring.
So I just can' t see anything to like in this storyline. I've never graded an episode below a 9 because I can always find lots of stuff to like. But in this case I don't see why I should have to sit through a storyline I can't like just because they might give me a good reason for it later.
If it turns out there's such an awesome reason it makes up for everything, I'll happily give it a 10. But I can't see it right now.
wow another fantastic episode have to say this sorry sammy you will not be getting out of hunting did you know that you can have a life and be a hunter guess he doesn't realize it yet can't wait for more loved it
Well we did get an episode that veered from the big story arcs that the later seasons have gone on. This hearkened back to early seasons and was partly enjoyable because of that. It was interesting following Sam and Dean as they figured out what was going on. I've always enjoyed that aspect of the show and when it was a new monster each week there was more of that going on. I don't believe that there was a "real" mythos to the story tonight but even the concocted one by the writers was decent. I didn't go any higher than 8 for my rating because even though it was good there just seemed to be something lacking that I can't figure out, maybe it was a relatively low level of action. I am wondering though with Sam's reflections on his year living a "normal" life whether or not we are seeing a subplot through the season to bring the series to an end next year. I have really enjoyed this show since it started but all good things must come to an end. Even running for this long it continues to come up with good ideas for each episode and I will miss it if it ends.