Supernatural meta, reviews & fic recs

SPN 9.01: I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here

Dean sits at Sam's bedside

There was a lot going on in the Season 9 premiere, and from a structural standpoint, I think that Carver did a good job with this episode. He was telling two related stories. One was Castiel getting a taste of what it is to be human and learning that his fellow angels were out to get him. The other was Dean trying to save Sam while dealing with angels who were looking for Cas. I’m guessing that about halfway through the ep, Cas actually calls Dean and explains to him that he wants to help but he’s lost his grace and it will take him some time to get to him. The two stories were nicely balanced in a back and forth narrative form.

Cas is injured

“It hurts.”

I actually liked the way that Carver handled Castiel’s human experiences. Far too often, Cas is used as comedic fodder, and I appreciate that Carver didn’t choose to present “awkward” Cas. I’m sure that other writers will do that in upcoming episodes for those who like the “fish out of water” comedy. Instead, Carver had Castiel experience being human through pain and thirst. First, Cas was hurt when he was nearly run down by a truck and then another angel, Hael, hits him with a board. In both cases, he bled and felt pain. His reactions were 100% Castiel. It was as though he was seeing humans differently as he observed, “It hurts” while looking at his bleeding hand. The driver of the truck gives him a ride and insists on giving him money early on. He tells Cas that it’s best not to get dehydrated. Toward the end of the episode at a laundromat, Cas looks between his bloody trench coat in the washing machine and food in a vending machine. We see him leave in stolen clothes and chugging a bottle of water. It’s times like these that Carver reminds me of why we used to think he was one of the better writers on Supernatural.

I found those “human” moments far more interesting than his interactions with Hael who showed him just how angry many of Castiel’s fellow angels are at him. We’re reminded that vessels don’t necessarily have the strength to hold an angel’s grace when Hael reveals that she intends to take Castiel’s vessel because it is strong. Cas manages to kill her and get away.

I think it’s interesting that Cas can still hear “angel radio” even though he has lost his grace. That was convenient, but I guess Anna could too. So, he heard Dean’s prayer for help, but he couldn’t respond other than to make a phone call. It really hit home just alone Dean was at that point. He knew that Cas couldn’t cure Sam, but Dean needed him as a friend and to help him figure out a way save Sam. He needed the support. I’m talking about the kind of support he used to get from Bobby. This is maybe the first time that Dean has really been alone. Maybe he felt a little of what Sam felt when he and Cas were sucked into purgatory with Dick Roman.

Dean prays for help

Unfortunately, Dean’s prayer was heard by all the douchebag angels as well as Cas and Ezekiel who comes to help. Dean wards the hospital room and goes to fight the angels looking for Cas while Ezekiel tries to help Sam. Ezekiel was weakened by the fall however and can’t cure Sam either.

Now it’s interesting what’s going on in Sam’s head while all this is going on in the conscious world. I guess this is a third story that’s going on inside Sam’s head. There’s Dean, who it becomes quickly apparent, is really a part of Sam who wants to fight to live. Then, a Bobby arrives who represents the part of Sam that wants to rest and he argues that Sam should let go. Bobby transports Sam away from Dean, and he argues that Sam has done enough. He’s saved the world. “What you call dying, I call leaving a legacy,” Bobby says. True enough, but what about Dean? If I have a real issue with this episode, it’s that inside his head, Sam never once considers Dean who is alive and needs him. I call bullshit. Sam “I’m not going to leave my brother out there alone” Winchester not giving Dean a moment’s thought? Is Carver on crack?

The Dean in Sam’s head reappears and kills Bobby, which suggests that the part of Sam that wants to live is stronger than the part that wants to give in and die. He argues that Sam needs to fight, but Sam says no that this is what he wants. I think, as Bobby said, that Sam is too exhausted and beat down to fight. He wants to rest. He goes into a house where he meets Death who complements Sam on how he’s lived his life. Sam is surprised, but comforted by the thought. He thinks that it is his time to die, but he asks Death to promise that there’s no way he can be brought back, no deals, nothing to get him out, and no one will get hurt. Death does. And that’s when Dean reappears.

Sam asks Death for assurances

Ezekiel has explained to Dean that he could possess Sam and heal them both, but Sam will never agree to the offer unless Dean makes it. So, Ezekiel takes Dean into Sam’s head to interrupt the tete a tete with Death. Dean implores Sam to fight and stay with him , “There ain’t no me, if there ain’t no you.” Sam agrees to live, and Ezekiel appears and possesses Sam.

Dean convinces Sam to live

We next see Dean walking outside with Sam, but it’s Ezekiel who is conscious. He tells Dean that Sam can’t know he’s inside him or Sam could eject him. If that happens, Sam would die. Dean is visibly upset by the news that he has to keep the deal a secret from Sam. He knows after all how these kind of secrets come back to bite him on the ass, but he tells Ezekiel that he won’t tell Sam until Sam is stronger. Now, I don’t know about anyone else, but I’m really uncomfortable at this point because it is in Ezekiel’s best interest for Sam to never know, isn’t it? I mean, Sam was born to be an angel vessel, clearly strong enough to hold Ezekiel indefinitely, so although Ezekiel says that he’ll leave when Sam is he’s strong enough, how is it in Ezekiel’s best interest to ever leave? Could he continually erase Sam’s memory to prevent that? Of course, an alternative would be to possess Dean who is also strong enough to be an angel vessel. I wonder if that will come into play at some point either with Ezekiel or another angel.

This is another violation of Sam’s agency, and a theme that has run throughout the series. From the moment Azazel gave Sam demon blood right through to Dean again agreeing to keep Sam in the dark about the possession deal, Sam has been denied the ability to make consensual decisions about his own life. Clearly, Dean knows the implication of what he’s done. You can see it on his face. He didn’t intend to keep it a secret, but he’s going to because he can’t risk Sam rejecting the angel’s help and choosing to die instead.

The problem with Dean selling his soul for Sam in S2 is that he never really paid the cost for that. Sam did. Yes, yes, he went to Hell and faced torture, but it was Sam who was left alone and fell prey to Ruby’s manipulations in the midst of his grief. He was made to be the “bad guy” by many fans and Dean while Dean was the righteous man who made the “right” judgment calls. So I wonder if S9 is the moment when Dean becomes the one to make the wrong call. Will he finally see that Sam does have the right to make decisions about his own life however “wrong” Dean might think that decision is?

The episode ends with the boys in the Impala where Sam awakens. Dean says that he’s been out for a day. Sam is confused but accepts what Dean tells him. Dean is, as usual, carrying a weight of guilt, and says, “I meant what I said at the church. You’re capable of anything, Sam, and hell if I wasn’t right. I knew you’d pull through.”

Sam replies, “Good, cause we got work to do.”

While it feels right to see them back in the Impala as a team again, we’re left waiting for the other shoe to drop. How long will it be before the truth comes out and how will Sam handle it?

Thoughts?

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6 responses

  1. nancy

    Thank you. I loved this episode, but the whole Sam not thinking about leaving Dean behind pissed me off. Sam took on the Hell memories in order to not leave Dean alone, but NOW he is ready to leave Dean alone? Carver did the same crap last season, with Sam not looking for Dean.

    This man wrote ‘Mystery Spot’. He should have some idea of Sam’s feelings about his big brother. Did he forget them?????

    October 9, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    • As Ash48 pointed out at LJ though, we do have to take into account where Sam’s head was at the end of S8. He believed that he wasn’t of use to Dean. If anything all he did was hurt Dean and let him down. That didn’t magically disappear when they hugged in the church. Sam was beaten down and exhausted, literally dying. The more I think about it, the more sense it makes actually. The problem is for me anyway, there was a lot in that episode and I’m making connections the more I read what other fans have written on it.

      October 9, 2013 at 3:11 pm

  2. t

    I thought Dean representing Sam’s will to live sort of covered that? The part of him that wanted to stay with Dean takes his shape? And Bobby is someone he loved who died, so he takes the afterlife role.

    October 10, 2013 at 4:21 am

  3. Pingback: Top Five Favorite Supernatural Characters | geek to tv

  4. Pingback: Spoiler Crossroads: Jeremy Carver’s Got the “Feels” and SPN Mythology Keeps Growing | The Collective

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