The Super Sleepy Dispatch

Recap and Review of Supernatural 10:17 “The Inside Man”

By P.S. Griffin

Andrew Dabb’s “The Inside Man” was a welcome respite from the numerous monster of the week episodes which have become tedious by this point in the season.  It wasn’t perfect by any means, however it hit some nice character beats, moved the various plotlines along, and gave us a much needed glimpse of demonic thingamaDean. In that vein, Dean’s solo behavior was reminiscent of the supernatural Dean we saw earlier in the season in “Reichenbach”.

The episode was also structured as a bookend to Adam Glass’ “Mother’s Little Helper”, episode 9:17, to highlight the way in which characters and relationships have changed over the past year.

In “Mother’s Little Helper” the Winchesters were separated because Dean was being adversely affected by the Mark of Cain, causing him to skip hunting with his brother in order to drink and angst. He ends up at a bar with Crowley who refers to himself as Dean’s mistress because Dean isn’t being honest with Moose.  Of course in “The Inside Man”, Sam is the one lying and betraying Dean with Dean’s pet angel Castiel, and Dean and Crowley have drinks like two old friends and talk to each other seemingly with complete honesty.  

The teaser is a flash forward to the next day showing Bobby in heaven where Sam contacts him.  Bobby is reading Tori Spelling’s autobiography and listening to Kenny Rogers’ “The Gambler”, references to previous Bobby canon from “You Can’t Handle the Truth” and “Weekend at Bobby’s” respectively.  Kudos to Dabb for doing his homework for this episode.  Oh!… and Bobby has work to do!

After the title sequence we cut to the bunker.  Sam wakes up suddenly because Dean is screaming for him.  His screams are reminiscent of when Dean called for his brother from Hell (“No Rest for the Wicked”). We all know that Dean went to Hell in the season 3 finale because he sold his soul to bring Sam back to life.

This time Sam is able to come to Dean.  Sam runs down a long hallway to Dean’s room with gun drawn.  Dean is dreaming his greatest hits of Mark kills and torture (Abaddon and Metatron) with Cain narrating his supposed prophecy: Dean’s story ends with killing Sam. Dean is visibly distressed at the thought.  Sam looks concerned and loving; he leaves when Dean quiets down.

This short scene succinctly and elegantly reinforces the brothers’ respective worst case scenarios: Dean being forced to kill Sam and Sam not being able to save his brother from Hell. It’s a rather subtle anvil, but in tandem with the hints tying Sam’s emotional behavior this season to “Mystery Spot” in Dabb’s “Reichenbach” (discussed in my review of that episode), we have ample clues to form some key conclusions about season 10 Sam and to understand his raw desperation.

It’s obvious that Sam will go off the rails emotionally which will lead to poor decisions with dangerous consequences.  We also understand that his response results from his own feelings of inadequacy and failure in regards to the brothers’ history, as well as from a sincere desire to save Dean from his fate. This reminder of Sam’s previous behavior tells us that his path this season will also be ill advised, that he will be the cause of the brothers’ division and that nothing or no one will be able to deter him until it’s too late. 

Bravo Dabb you are simply money when you craft a story that uses subtle allusions to the Winchesters’ history to convey character arcs and plot direction.  The term “anvil” doesn’t do Dabb’s writing justice in this instance.

The next day Sam quickly gets off the phone as Dean comes into the room.  When Sam asks how he slept, Dean replies,  “Like a drunk baby.” The lie slides easily off of his tongue and his body language conveys a happy-go-lucky Dean. This is a clue that the absolutely fabulous Dean may be hiding more than bad dreams with his good to go veneer.

Of course Dean is ready for a hunt. I suspect that he has a powerful hankering for some sanctioned violence right about now. However, Sam informs him that it’s quiet except for a kitsune working a truck stop in Boise that another hunter named Rudy is hunting.  Ahem… that would be a pair of kitsune Mr. Dabb per the world building in “Adventures in Babysitting”.

Dean is happy enough to chill with Sam for the day; however, Sam apparently has plans and makes up a ridiculous lie about a Kafkaesque French movie about a mime/cockroach.  Sorry Dean, but it’s not one of those nudie French flicks. I am not sure what it says about Sam and his viewing habits that Dean actually buys the lie.

Dean tells Sammy, “I trust you. Make good choices,” as his brother departs for an overnight stay in Wichita. Ouch. Now that’s a proper anvil and it works on two levels because it’s totally a Dean thing to say.

Dean immediately messes with Sam’s room against express orders and double checks with Rudy to see if he needs help with his hunt.  Of course Dean may also be checking up on Sam’s story.

When Rudy asks how it’s hanging, Dean replies that he’s “fan-damn-tastic.”  Enough said.

He looks in the mirror and at his Marked forearm before he answers.  The veneer is starting to thin, and now that Sammy’s away Dean’s inner demon perhaps feels like he can play and be more “himself”.  Yes I am still clinging to the idea that Dean really wasn’t cured per se, rather he was humanized by the human blood like Crowley.

Meanwhile, Sam hooks up with Castiel and his yellow pimpmobile.  Cas is surprised to see that Dean is absent and looks very serious and concerned when Sam tells him that Dean is worse, and reminds him that “We’ve gone through every other option possible…” This convinces Cas to help, and although he does insist on driving, Sam is clearly in the driver’s seat.

Oh Lord this is one of those episodes that jumps all over the place because they’ve been dragging their heels on everyone’s storylines.  Now we’re in Crowley’s topside digs which would be Hell on Earth I guess, especially with Mommy dearest in residence, she who is currently naked and covering her body in magical symbols painted using someone’s blood.

Crowley walks in and is horrified to see her naked.  She covers up and covers the fact that she’s doing magic by claiming that she’s primping for her young, dumb and firm boyfriend. Crowley runs out quickly after admonishing her to put on some clothes. It’s sad to see that he’s almost been beaten down by her obstinate and manipulative ways. He can’t muster the energy to correct her when she says “Fergus”.

When he leaves she looks in her goodie box. Amongst her magical paraphernalia is a curved blade with a devil’s trap on the hilt. That knife doesn’t look like a mother’s love to me.

So Cas and the other Winchester arrive at the playground with the angelic transport sigil drawn in the sandbox.  There’s only one visible guard who refuses Castiel’s request for transit. There’s a pause for an angel transfer.  Sam isn’t blinded or killed because he’s the vessel for a powerful archangel I guess, or maybe it’s that brave new world post-Metatron.

We can see who has come down to speak in person to Cas by the body language of both angels. Hannah clearly has affection for Castiel, however she is not letting those overrule her common sense. She won’t let Castiel see Metatron because he won’t tell them anything without his freedom and granting Metatron freedom is too high a price to pay for information about the Mark of Cain. 

She notes that both Sam and Cas are “desperate”, a callback to “Reichenbach” when Hannah was desperate enough to fix Castiel to free Metatron.  Castiel stopped her then by saying, “I have seen what… I’ve made deals born of desperation, and they always end in blood and tears… always.”  I guess the shoe is on the other foot now…

Of course this was back when Castiel’s storyline mirrored that of Dean; when he said things like “It’s my life, and it’s my choice. And I don’t want this,” because he didn’t want Hannah to become reckless or selfish or immoral through her desire to fix him. How many times has Dean told Sam what he wants. It’s Dean’s life and Dean’s choice too.  

Clearly Sam’s storyline is the dark mirror for Hannah’s; she listened to Castiel,  looked outside her own selfish needs and chose well.  Obviously Sam won’t choose well because he’s desperate, he’s being ruled by his emotions, and his hubris won’t allow him to see the error in his ways until it’s a cosmic disaster.

Apparently these mirrors and anvils are too subtle because not even Castiel realizes the similarities in the storylines or that Dean has the same rights and choices.  He doesn’t even realize that he was once in Hannah’s position. Sam’s vision and insight are completely obscured by his needs and wants.

Hannah tells Cas that she’s sorry.  Cas is outraged and hurt. Sam pulls him away because they are in no shape to fight Hannah and the three additional angels that have shown up.  He has a Plan B.

We know Sam doesn’t care about what Dean wants because he’s beyond desperate to fix Dean, and because his storyline is pretty clear.  He will rush into disaster through a series of choices born out of desperation.  Just like Dean did in “I Think I’m Going to Like it Here” and every subsequent episode until “Holy Terror” when Kevin Tran’s  death and Gadreel’s betrayal knocked the lying right out of him. 

And Sam is capable of being far more stubborn and block-headed than Dean.  We saw Dean struggle with his choice to lie to Sam throughout the first half of season 9.  Dean had little illusion that the good doesn’t come with a lot of bad and fully acknowledged that he crossed a line between the brothers.

Sam’s characteristic hubris seems to prevent him from questioning his actions and choices until it’s too late… again.  Sam is going to cross so many lines in the sand and leave death in his wake because of the outcomes of his actions.

Jump around! Jump around! Jump around!

Jump up, jump up and get down!

Jump! Jump! Jump! Jump! (Hook from House of Pain’s aptly titled “Jump Around”).

So we’re back to Rowena who is working on a dutiful employee of Hell to find out the whereabouts of the MOL bunker that the Winchesters call home.  Wonder why?  She wants those Grand Coven magical artifacts that the Men of Letters stole I reckon. Being the Queen Mum is awesome.  I want the crystal pronto.  She’s delighted to be given the location within a ten mile radius.

Dean has hit his local watering hole for whiskey and the ironically named “Herve Villechaize”, the biggest plate of nachos that I ever did see.  Great… now I really want nachos.  Anyhow it’s obvious that Dean is a regular which implies that he’s been sneaking in a lot of “me time” whenever he’s in Kansas.

Some young college boys, or “Abercrombie rejects” as Dean calls them, are playing pool for moolah. The leader is a douche and suddenly being the alpha dick has a bigger allure for Dean than the nachos. This is clearly lean, mean Dean and he’s itching for some karmic male bonding and probably a fight.

Dean musses his hair, changes his happy-go-lucky mask to that of a drunken bonehead and proceeds to prove he’s the biggest predator in the bar.  He scores about 300$, including an expensive watch which was a gift from daddy just to be a jerk, off of the hapless baby sharks who whine but don’t bite.  Dean 2.0 is in the house baby!  He even manages to make fun of his propensity to shed that single tear of man pain.  

Dean hits the john and washes his face.  When he looks in the mirror he is startled to see those familiar black peepers staring back.  It doesn’t startle me however because I have been waiting for HIM since “Soul Survivor”.  This scene effectively demonstrates how easily Dean wears masks to hide his true self.  Of course that mean pool shark behavior was exactly the kind of thing demonic Dean used to do. 

I do think that Dean thought he was more in control than he is, or he hadn’t consciously realized that the human blood was losing its potency over his mien. He clearly knows he’s wearing his good ole boy good time face for Sam when really he still has some healthy doses of cold-hearted,  ruthless and “demonic” running in his veins.

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