Supernatural meta, reviews & fic recs

SPN 9.12: Sharp Teeth review

Sam and Dean

Don’t be fooled they aren’t “together” together.

I’ve done all the household tasks I could think of to avoid writing this review. I’ve even considered not doing it at all, but I already screen-capped it. So, let’s get the surface stuff out of the way. “Sharp Teeth” is the second season eight episode written by Adam Glass, and like many of Glass’ MOTW episodes, it stars Hero Dean and his sidekick Constipated Sam in which Dean runs around killing monsters who have gotten the drop on his inept brother.

Seeing a John Doe on the police wire that Sam and Dean each recognized as Garth, they ended up in his hospital room where Sam noticed the mark of Cain on Dean’s arm and Dean surprisingly enough revealed what it was while Garth escaped through the bathroom window. The two agree to work the case together – after, surprise, Sam caught Dean in a lie (we knew that truth thing wouldn’t last) – and then go their separate ways. They found Garth at an apartment with a female werewolf who Garth married after becoming one himself.

Robbie Thompson was the writer who made werewolves all “gray area” like vampires, and Glass managed to get a little new werewolf mythology into the mix by making some of them live in packs and worship a Norse wolf god. Sam took all of it in stride as though he hasn’t considered that he unnecessarily put a bullet in his lover’s heart in season two. Maybe he’s forgotten or maybe he’s just numb. I mean, he didn’t seem particularly concerned that Dean had Cain’s mark either. He’s been through a lot.

Garth and Dean

 To be honest, Sam and Dean’s behavior has become inexplicable to me half the time. Here we have Dean who let Kate go free in “Bitten,” went to bat for Benny, vouched for him repeatedly, and estranged Sam over his vamp friend, but he became Mr. Skeptical when Garth told him that his wife’s family was okay. “Love and a family – who cares where that comes from?” Garth says. Garth admitted that he had been skeptical too: “I kept waiting for the other shoe to drop, but when it didn’t, I had to accept the truth.”

Dean has gone back and forth on this issue way too many times for his disbelief to have a reason other than his “gut” as he told Sam about Amy back in “The Mentalists.” Of course, he was right about there being killer werewolves because Glass wrote this episode. Sam, however, got Dean to investigate further before going serial killer on the whole pack because that’s what Sam does, did – he even had to remind Dean that they weren’t in season one – “I’m just saying, it wouldn’t be the first time we came across a friendly monster.”

werewolf family dinner

The themes of revenge and family are front and center in “Sharp Teeth.” Garth’s father-in-law, Reverend Jim revealed that his wife was killed by hunters but looking at his baby girl, Bess, he realized that revenge was the wrong path. “The road to revenge is a dark and lonely one, which you never get off. And that hole in the pit of your stomach, you never fill it – ever,” he told Dean who was just like, “Hey, no, I get it.” As it turns out, Garth’s stepmother-in law is out for revenge because her brother was killed by a hunter. It makes her revert to the old ways of worshipping Fenis the wolf god and vowing to rule over humans. So, the whole family thing is making my head hurt – maybe because we’re being beaten over the head with it. Reverend Jim was right not to follow the path of revenge because he and his daughter and Garth got to live, but his revenge-driven wife and both of her brothers got offed by Hero Dean – while Damsel Sam is tied up. Well, at least he wasn’t unconscious.

damsel sam

 Later as Dean was leaving, Garth wanted to come along and hunt with him to help put things right for abandoning Kevin. Dean stopped him and indicated that revenge was the wrong path for Garth. “Who cares where happiness comes from,” Dean said, echoing Garth’s words from earlier. Dean won’t take his own advice here just as he didn’t take his own when he told Charlie to let go of her mother.

When Garth tried to take the blame for Kevin’s death, Dean said, “Kevin is on me.” Garth pointed out that there was plenty of blame to go around then. That reflects back on Dean giving Sam a hard time for bailing on Kevin while he was in purgatory. Garth didn’t intend it as a rebuke, but I hope that Dean heard it as one anyway.

Dean thinks

 Dean drove Sam back to the old Dodge Charger [correct me if I’m wrong] he’d been driving, but Dean couldn’t just let Sam drive away. Instead, he almost apologized. I think. He admitted that he was messed up the night he “split” as Sam put it: “Hell, maybe, I still am, I don’t know, but, uh, I know I took a piece of you in the process, and for that … Somebody changed the playbook, man, you know? It’s like what’s right is wrong, and what’s wrong is more wrong, and …I just know that when we road together …” Maybe Dean’s inability to finish a sentence is supposed to reflect the state of his thoughts. In this case, Sam finished for him: “We split the crappiness.” Dean agreed and Sam agreed – to what? I don’t know. They don’t finish their sentences anymore.

Dean:  Yeah, so …
Sam: Okay.
Dean: Okay

I assume they’ve just agreed to work together again.

Sam Winchester

Sam: But something’s broken here, Dean.
Dean: I’m not saying that it’s not., I just think we need to put a couple double-Us on the board, and we can get past all this.
Sam: I don’t think so. No, I, I wish, but … we don’t see things the same way anymore – our roles in this whole thing. Back in that church, talking me out of boarding up hell? Or, or tricking me into letting Gadreel possess me? I can’t trust you, not like I thought I could, not the way I should be able to.

Whoa, wait, what? Is Sam putting Dean talking him out of finishing the trials in the same category as tricking him into accepting Gadreel’s possession and then gaslighting him for months? Really? Look, I still don’t know how Dean went from agreeing to treat Sam as an adult and let him become Lucifer’s vessel and jump into the pit in “Swan Song,” to the over-vigilant, hyper-controlling character we’ve gotten recently. As early as “Scarecrow,” Dean was self-aware enough to see that he was treating Sam like a kid, and he was trying even then to let Sam make his own decisions. Nonetheless, Dean wasn’t being deceptive when he talked Sam out of completing the trials. He believed Sam would be okay. Whether it was the right or wrong thing to do isn’t the issue. He didn’t make Sam stop or lie to him. Sam in this scene is being as unreasonable as Dean was in blaming Sam for being soulless.

 Sam Winchester

Dean: Okay, look, whatever happened, we are family, okay?
Sam: You say that like it’s some kind of cure-all, like it can change the fact that everything that has ever gone wrong between us has been because we’re family.
Dean: So what, we’re not family now?
Sam: I’m saying, you want to work? Let’s work. If you want to be brothers … Those are my terms.

I hardly know what to say here except that this dialogue sounds like a repudiation of “they chose family” of the first five seasons and what Sam and Dean meant to one another, and to be honest, I didn’t have the feeling that the actors were buying into it either. The whole scene lacked the emotional weight that we all know they can bring. I have to wonder if Jensen saw this script and called that meeting with Carver and the writers.

Whatever the case, the idea that they can just stop being brothers is ridiculous. That’s not how the heart or mind works – unless, of course, they don’t love each other, and I think the case can be made for that. Dean’s lack of respect for Sam’s boundaries doesn’t express love, and Sam? How do you put a gun in Dean’s mouth other than say “you’re not my brother”? They don’t seem to like each other and given their behavior over course of seasons eight and nine so far, they aren’t particularly likeable.

If Carver’s goal was to make me not care about these characters and their relationship, he’s doing a bang up job. Supernatural was built on the relationship between Sam and Dean and driven by the chemistry between the lead actors. Neither of those things are present anymore. Add to that that the show isn’t scary anymore in large part because there are no monster – everything is a “gray area” – and what’s left?

the Impala

There were some really nice night shots of the Impala.

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6 responses

  1. Grean

    I guess you have to know I didn’t like this episode. I thought Sam would have left when Dean lied earlier in the episode to try to get rid of him. He trying to stick to his own best instinct and stay away from his loved one. I don’t know why Sam would even consider getting in the car with Dean. As for Dean he should have turned and left at the family dig. They aren’t brothers anymore, I have no brother feels for them. I do know I won’t be watching next week. Their scenes together are painful and from the promos from next week they seem forced. Granted I will miss some great Sam skin but its not worth the pitiful excuse for the relationship I watched this show for. I would normally tide myself over with some good Sam and Dean fic but even that has been ruined for me.

    January 29, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    • You don’t know how many fans I’ve heard say they are through, and that it’s ruined fanfic for them too. That’s really sad and completely understandable. I feel like a journalist covering a tragic slow motion train wreck.

      January 29, 2014 at 7:59 pm

  2. Percysowner

    I didn’t like this one either. I’m not a big Garth fan and I’ve disliked more Adam Glass episodes than I have liked.

    First, I think the writers haven’t had a grasp on how to write dialog for Sam and AG is really not good at it. That said, I think that Sam is not being hypocritical about stopping the trials. He wanted out of hunting. Then Dean finds out about the trials and talks Sam into it’s their responsibility to do them, so Sam trusts Dean. He doesn’t want to die doing them. Eventually his illness makes him realize that he probably will die, but he can’t stop. First Sam is very goal oriented. He sets goals (finding what killed Jess, trying to save Dean in season 3, trying to save people using his powers, trying to stop Lilith, trying to stop the Apocalypse) and he goes all out. He doesn’t get distracted and doesn’t go off track. Plus, he also knows that if he give up the trials, Dean will go look for a Hell Hound and do them himself. So Sam is in for a penny in for a pound and prepares himself to die saving the world. Again. Then at the last minute Dean changes his mind. Sam is prepared to make the needed Sacrifice to close Hell. He got talked into it by God (and by Dean which is kind of the same for Sam) and he is going to finish the job properly. So Dean pulls the “you’ll die” card, but Sam is committed to the cause. Not suicidal, necessarily, because that implies he wants to die, but willing to die just like any warrior in a battle to save his country. He even explains to Dean that he has to do it because he can’t let Dean down again, something Dean has been hitting him over the head with all season. So Dean starts to talk Sam down. He doesn’t say he’s sorry he made Sam feel that way. He tells Sam that Sam misunderstood that nothing is more important to Sam. Basically he goes into who are you going to believe me or your lying ears. So he convinces Sam (who does want to live) that he, Dean, believes in Sam, trusts Sam, respects Sam. And Sam does what Dean says is the “right” thing and ends the trials, even though in his soul, he thinks the trials are worth finishing.

    All that would be fine, except Sam’s dying anyway and Dean turns around and ignores Sam’s willingness to accept that he is dying and that Sam isn’t going to stick around and become something supernatural. Dean KNOWS Sam doesn’t want to be possessed by any angel. He knows Sam wants and needs honesty and to be trusted by Dean and Dean overrides all of that. So when Sam finds out that Dean basically decided that Dean got to give away Sam’s body whenever Dean thinks it’s a good idea. It means (to Sam) that everything, EVERYTHING that Dean said in the church was a lie. Dean doesn’t trust him, Dean doesn’t respect him, Dean doesn’t even need Sam to be totally Sam, any old Gad or Ezekiel will do. Sam was talked out of finishing the trials because he wasn’t totally suicidal and because Dean told him that Sam had misunderstood all those jibes that Dean through at him all season. Dean thought he was worthwhile and useful. And now Sam finds out that he quit the trials because Dean lied.

    True story. My Dad was in WWII. He wasn’t in the fighting, but was stationed in Japan after the Japanese had surrendered. His squad’s mission was finding groups of Japanese soldiers who were holed up and hiding prepared to defend their country to the death. The weren’t any more suicidal than any other soldier, but they were committed to the cause. When they found these groups they told them the war was over, but many of them didn’t believe it. Many of them refused to surrender unless they saw the report of Japan’s surrender reported in the newspaper. Since the squad didn’t know how many of these groups they would find, so they didn’t know how many newspapers they would need, they brought a printing press and whenever the Japanese soldiers demanded to see the newspaper reports they printed a newspaper and gave the (false) copy to the soldiers. The soldiers would then surrender and lives were saved. This is great because it was true, the war was over. But if it hadn’t been true and those Japanese soldiers discovered that they stopped fighting for their country based on a lie, I’m sure they would have been appalled and ashamed of surrendering and they would have said “you made me quit fighting for my country” and they would have been right. Dean didn’t lie to Sam at the church, but his actions later were the acts of a man who didn’t believe what he told Sam. Sam would never have quit the trials if Dean had said, “Hey if you’re ever close to dying, I won’t care if it’s your time, I’ll do what I want and ignore what you want”. So I don’t think Sam blaming Dean for stopping the trials is as far off as you do.

    January 29, 2014 at 11:17 pm

    • I think you are probably right, and my issue is that what Glass had Sam say wasn’t actually what Sam meant. I think that Glass doesn’t understand Sam and doesn’t care to tbh. He was told what Sam needed to communicate, but he is inept at writing it. Sam is a thoughtful, articulate person, and that isn’t how Glass writes him. Sam is also a skilled hunter, but Glass consistently writes him as the damsel in distress who has to be saved by Dean.

      Seriously, the longer the series drags on, the more I wish it had ended with “Swan Song” when the characters were written consistently and loved each other. Now … meh, I ain’t feeling the love. I mean, they are together because it makes things less crappy? Really?

      January 30, 2014 at 6:38 am

  3. Well… now I don’t even know if I should write a review since I think you said what I’m going to. (except Dean meant “Put some W’s up on the board” not “double-U” lol)

    My remix of this episode… I need to figure out a way to soothe wounds.

    January 30, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    • Yes, it was too early in the morning when I wrote this for no mistakes, but it’s Ws since it’s plural and not possessive.

      Well, this episode got Adam Glass a lot of attention, just not the kind he was looking for, I’d say.

      January 31, 2014 at 5:06 am

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