I’m a fan of monster of the week episodes when they’re done right. Paper Moon was done right. Without the distractions of Crowley and Castiel, we were treated to an episode all about the brothers. If anvils were falling this week, it’s because they were meant to, and I welcomed each and every thud.
I enjoyed watching the brothers reconnect over the course of five conversations; their tentative brotherly teasing, attempts at digging deeper without a fight, moments of honesty as they admitted they weren’t in a good place. There were many great moments, but my favorite is Sam’s profound statement that Dean does not ever have to thank him for anything. I love how it was staged, Sam in the back with Dean in the front, almost a mirror image from Devil’s Trap when Sam, looking in the rear view mirror at the grievously injured Dean tells John that killing the demon isn’t more important than anything.
Sam is so rarely afforded the opportunity to tell us what’s going on inside his head, so this admission – one I never doubted – was a joy to hear. Watching Jared deliver the line made me think that he too was overjoyed for his character to be given such an open moment. It’s the Winchester way of saying, I love you. We’ve seen it before in the classic episode A Very Supernatural Christmas. The final scene when Sam asks Dean if he wants to watch the game, well, it is Sam’s way of saying, I love you, brother. Dean’s response: Absolutely, in other words, love you back. This is Winchester speak, and the brothers know it well. This is what Jared and Jensen meant when they said the brothers would talk about things without really talking about it.
Each of the five conversations built on the previous, and at the end, much was out in the open, although much is still to come. Set design, blocking and simple props assisted along the way, and thankfully there were no annoying interruptions just when things were getting good.
The use of the sunglasses was a simple but effective way of showing the uncertainty between the brothers. They begin reconnecting with a little teasing banter about Sam’s injury from Dean, followed by Sam being concerned whether Dean is all right – a nice reversal since it’s usually Sam with something wrong, visions, demon blood addiction, no soul, deteriorating because of the trials and so on. Here, and likely as long as the MoC is an issue, it will be Sam watching out for Dean. So far, Dean isn’t balking at Sam’s concern. In a moment of stark honesty, Dean removes his sunglasses and tells Sam he needs this hunt. Sam agrees, but only if Dean agrees to tell him the first moment things go sideways.
The third conversation is one the brothers have had before as they question what they’re doing as hunters. It’s good when the brothers question their work and relate it back to themselves. Here Sam confronts Dean about his lie to Kate and Dean admits that while he recognizes that the girls, in essence, mirror him and Sam, that’s not necessarily a good thing. Dean even admits that for all Sam has done for him thus far, he still has the Mark. It’s foreshadowing of what the producers have said will continue into the season. It’s Metamorphosis and Sam drinking demon blood; it’s Nightmare and Simon Said and Bloodlust all wrapped up in this episode. Those episodes worked because the brothers struggled with what they were doing, rather than simply acting and damning the consequences. To Sam’s credit, before this moment, in the diner with Kate, when he hears Dean lie about the cure, he holds his peace and backs Dean’s play. To Dean’s credit, when Sam confronts him on it and they have this conversation, Dean backs down and agrees to Sam’s idea of nuancing the play, which leads to the fourth conversation.
Here is where the brothers get real with each other. While Sam was seated in the back as a way to keep a close eye on Kate – it was also the perfect way to give the brothers space, in the confines of the Impala, to open up completely. Sam shares in fairly graphic detail (for men) Dean’s death and its aftermath, and Dean admits to the absolute embarrassment of having become the very thing he despised. He then realizes he never even said thank you to Sam for saving him, and we get the best possible response from Sam as he emotionally and with absolute conviction tells Dean that he does not ever need to say that to him. In that one statement Sam told Dean that there never has been, nor will there ever be, anything that could ever make Sam leave Dean, not ever; it’s Sam’s opportunity to say to Dean, in that simple statement, what Dean was given the opportunity to say to Sam in Sacrifice.
Their final talk was powerful, even as it left many things open, but the brothers are being honest with each other, even as both are currently lost. Sam admits he’s not sure Dean should be hunting, and Dean agrees that he isn’t sure he should be either. Dean goes further to say that while he’s not sure he should be hunting, he is just trying to do the right thing after so long of doing the wrong thing. It’s a plea for help, and understanding.
This was a great segue back to hunting things, saving people, the family business. The brothers are at a great place right now, and I hope that come what may, MoC, Sam’s deeds while looking for Dean, Cole, having finished his demon research, and whatever else is in store this season, that the foundation laid here is built upon going forward.
Next up, the 200th episode; I’m both excited and anxious, so until then, thanks for reading, Elle2