Did you ever watch an episode that was amazing-well written, suspense filled, and overwhelmingly cool, that you absolutely hated? To say that I had mixed emotions about this episode is stating it mildly.
The Road So Far is longer than usual and very complicated. They want to make sure you know what werewolves are: they are particularly nasty on Supernatural. They also want to make sure that we know that Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) died before and lived to tell the tale and that the reapers aren’t going to let them come back again. My favorite part is the montage of ways that they have died.
It’s a cabin in the woods, appropriate for scary stories, and a good place to find werewolves. Sam and Dean are having a knock down drag out fight with two werewolves who look like they would be unsavory sorts even if they weren’t werebeasts. They don’t look like wolves or wolfmen, just men with fangs and claws. Two victims are hanging by their wrists. Snacks for later, since werewolves eat human hearts. In the melee, Sam loses his gun and one of the werewolves picks it up and shoots him in a horrifyingly realistic scene. Shot with his own silver bullets. The only sliver of hope is that he is shot well below the heart. Dean ganks the werewolf before Sam hits the ground.
We flashback to the boys in the bunker, researching. Sam finds the werewolf case and talks Dean into pursuing it. This pattern this season is actually sort of useful. They tell us immediately if anything in the main plot line has advanced or if it’s going to be a standalone episode.
Flash forward to the cabin. Dean finds a rusty old first aid kit and removes the bullet from Sam. I’m not sure if that’s the best thing to do, but if they’re going to be moving him around it’s probably necessary. Dean sterilizes the instrument with flame first, and keeps the bullet as a memento. Sam nods to him to cut down the victims, and goes about bandaging his own wound. I should expect no less from people who sew up their own cuts. The first thing Michelle (Erin Way) says is an “I told you so” — there were monsters and the husband, Corbin (Blair Penner) admits that she was right. She asks Dean why they could just change when they wanted and not have to wait for night. He replies that they are likely pure-bloods and can change when they like. On the show, pure-bloods are werewolves that are very close in generation to the original alpha or were born werewolves. They have control over the change and full cognizance. Regular werewolves change in their sleep and have amnesia about their activities.
Dean notices that Michelle’s wrists are infected and that she needs something on them. Michelle asks Corbin how he’s doing because of something that happened yesterday. He says it was just a couple of scratches. Dang, he must be infected.
No phone, no cell phone service. Dean wants to go for help but the campers don’t want to be left alone with Sam because there are more werewolves. Sam struggles to his feet and they leave for the car, hoping to find a cell signal.
Flashback again to the hunt: Sam and Dean are dressed as FBI agents, looking for the missing campers, and coming up dry. The friendly helpful barmaid (Suki Kaiser) directs them to some tax write-off cabins. On the way out they pass a guy who looks like a logger, or maybe a sequoia in a beard. Really guys, can’t you see it’s a trap? The blonde barmaid even looks like an older version of the lead character on Bitten.
Forward to Dean, Sam, Corbin and wife. They find a visitor center. Michelle looks very ill, probably from sepsis. Sam is not doing well either. Corbin suggests that they leave Sam behind. He pisses Dean off, who shoves him. Sam says he is right, but Dean says that they will make a litter and carry him. He goes outside to cut down branches and you can see that he is just panicking. While he is working on that, Corbin, the most ungrateful wretch on the face of the planet, suffocates Sam with his bare hands. He tells Sam that Dean won’t leave without Sam, and they can’t survive without him. While he’s doing it, Sam (and the audience) can see the bite mark on Corbin’s arm. This makes it worse since we know his sorry self is already toast, since there’s no cure for lycanthropy and he’s been lying about being bit.
Dean is devastated. I am devastated. Dean wants to stay and kill the werewolves, but Corbin pleads for his help. Because he is a hero and because there is tiny little very sick Erin Way to save, Dean goes with them. He promises to come back for Sam. Sob. Of course I am yelling at the screen because SAM IS NOT DEAD. DON’T LEAVE HIM! I don’t care if you can’t find a pulse and he won’t wake up, he is NOT DEAD. Maybe he’s even faking it so Dean will save the other two, but he’s NOT DEAD.
Dean, Michelle and Corbin find the road but not the Impala. While they are walking, Michelle asks Corbin what happened to Sam because she is suspicious. He says he did what he had to to save them. Dean flags down a cop (Toby Levins) and tries to hand the couple off to him and go off to the car and back to Sam. One wonders if he is going to try some magical intervention for Sam. The cop is jerk number two that we encounter in this episode. He wants Dean to stay, so Dean hits him and gets tasered for it. Dean wakes up in the hospital with a very nice woman doctor (Eileen Pedde) who says he has broken ribs and a concussion.
The cop interviews the couple. Hubby is lying through his teeth and Michelle is obviously horrified and distraught by it. She climbs out of her hospital bed, dragging her IV, to tell Dean that she is sorry about Sam. Dean breaks into the hospital medicine cabinet. She follows him. He wants to talk to a scary death machine and needs barbiturates.
The scene changes and they slowly pan over Sam’s body. I have hope because there’s more blood than there was before. Sam wakes up with a gasp. SEE! I told you he was NOT DEAD.
Which makes it really unfortunate that Dean is doing something foolish to save him. He takes a mountain of assorted pills and tells Michelle to go for the doc and get her to bring him back if she can. Meanwhile Sam is struggling to get around and the blonde barmaid and bouncer werewolves have gotten to the visitor center.
The doctor is trying to save Dean. Michelle gets pressed into service as a nurse. Hubby is in the bathroom going werewolf.
Dean sees Billie (Lisa Berry), the reaper with the lovely voice. He begs for Sam’s life and offers his. She tells him Sam is not dead, but Dean will be. She holds out her hand and says the empty is waiting, since she promised to throw them into the void. She also calls Sam the big W-does that mean Dean is the little W? A shot of adrenaline to the heart and Dean is back.
Gut-shot, smothered Sam takes out the werewolves, one at a time, and takes their car keys.
Dean tells Michelle that Sam is not dead. He asks for a car. Jerk cop ties him up and demands the doctor sedate him. She sensibly refuses. They leave him alone with Michelle, who cuts him free.
Sam drives to the Impala, tries to call Dean to warn him about Corbin, and gets cut off.
Unfortunately the good doctor encounters the hubby, who has just turned. He kills her and the jerk cop, who I have to say I was not sorry to see die. He advances on his wife. His intention is not to kill her but to bite her and turn her so they can be werewolves together. Dean gets in between them but is getting the worst of it when Sam suddenly appears and shoots the werewolf.
Sam gets the surgery and blood that he needs. Dean talks to Michelle while he is waiting. He tells her Sam had gone into shock, which is why they thought he was dead. He tells her all sort of platitudes about surviving and going on that he doesn’t believe himself. She doesn’t buy them either.
They leave the hospital and Sam asks what Dean did when he thought he was dead. Dean doesn’t tell him and insists he knew he wasn’t dead.
Thoughts: Why worry so much about Sam? He’s indestructible. He’s not just a moose, he’s a bull moose. He’s Teddy Roosevelt reading a speech after just being shot in the chest. He’s Leonardo DiCaprio in The Revenant. Two units of blood lost, a bullet wound, choked to death, a fall down the stairs…still takes out two werewolves, drives (somehow I think that would be hard), takes out the third werewolf. Which was really needed, because Dean had no silver weapons. And I have to point out, he remembered where they parked the Impala.
Dean HAS to quit doing stupid things when Sam dies. He wasn’t even dead this time, only mostly dead. It’s not entirely his fault. The jerk cop kept him from getting back to Sam. But it was risky, and it turned out, unnecessary.
Billie the Reaper is full of it. She keeps acting like she hates them — told Dean he was going to die when he didn’t — but once again, gave them a piece of information that while it may not have been necessary to save them, was at least a great kindness. I think she has a totally different agenda than she lets on.
So why would I hate what was so obviously a top notch episode? It’s obvious. They killed Sam. And let Dean suffer about it for most of the episode. This is the Dean I love best, though. For almost the whole episode, we see the sweeter, more caring Dean, even when he’s punching out cops.
Corbin, the husband, also displayed a willingness to go too far to rescue Michelle. The difference is that he was willing to go too far in hurting others; Dean only sacrifices himself. Let’s hope that the wolf was already influencing him when he tried to kill Sam.
Erin Way did a wonderful job. I know her character was a plot device. Without her, Corbin wouldn’t have tried to kill Sam, Dean might not have left Sam, and Dean wouldn’t have had someone to assist him in his plans or to talk to, seeing as how Sam was mostly dead. But she made the most of it. It was a very nuanced performance, letting us know how disappointed she was with what her husband did while still loving him. I would like to see her again. She’s on Colony now, so maybe we won’t. I could see her being a hunter, even though she didn’t kill anything and she’s probably 98 pounds soaking wet. This is how most hunters get started, by having their lives destroyed by something supernatural. She also stubbornly insists that the monsters are real, and that Sam and Dean saved them. She looks reality in the face.
I also like that the victims were more involved than usual. Victim management often causes them problems. Dean never once considered that they could have killed Sam. He’s too trusting of people that aren’t monsters.
You may have heard that Rob Benedict is coming back as Chuck in episode 20 of this season. Chuck the Prophet is thought to be God by many fans. I don’t think so; he has that omniscient thing going on, but where is his omnipotence? Omnipresence? On the night “Red Meat” aired, Jensen Ackles was live on Facebook and there was a viewing party with Rob Benedict in attendance. Very cool.
Next week they are looking for Joshua’s horn and the devil is in heaven. I can’t wait.
Supernatural airs on Wednesdays at 9pm, 8c on the CW.