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TV Guide Blog - Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things: Chilling, Thrilling
TV Guide Blog - Children Shouldn't Play with Dead Things - Season 2 Episode 4

Posted on TV Guide on October 20, 2006

This episode was just FULL OUT FANTASTIC! Jensen completely ROCKED and continues to BEAUTIFULLY unveil Dean's various layers from episode to episode. There wasn't a single moment that didn't ring true and that didn't hit me dead on in the heart. This episode was so RICH in metaphor and emotion, I mean even the demon fit into a metaphor. And the ending, I used up a box of kleenex watching Dean lay his raw emotions out, expressing the worst kind of survivor's guilt, blaming himself for their father's death, wishing he had stayed dead and even confronting Sam with how he had wanted to know how Dean felt and that now that he did, he asked him the killer line "So tell me? What could you possibly say to me to make that all right?" I was just floored! Jensen just was WONDERFUL! There isn't a word I could come up with that hasn't already been said about how he has handled Dean's struggle. Season 2 has been evolving into a tour de force for both Jared and Jensen, but in my view, Jensen has totally embraced this new evolution of Dean with complete and utter authenticity. So much so I feel every bit a part of the journey and would anything to bring him out of the dark tunnel he's in.

There was so much metaphor in this episode and so much meaning. As Dean kept repeating "What's dead, should stay dead" and "What's gone should stay gone", at first I thought he was maybe foreshadowing a return of John in connection with the whispered words and that it was manifesting itself in those statements, but the ending totally didn't disappoint that it was himself Dean was really referring, that he should have stayed dead, that he wasn't meant live. So much a parallel to the episode FAITH last season where Dean hated the idea that someone had died so he could live. This latest sacrifice all the more agonizing because it was their father who sacrificed himself so that Dean could live. A choice that as a father, probably felt completely logical in John's mind, but he hadn't considered the ramifications of what doing that would do to Dean. I was pleased to see this 2+2=4 being revealed. In an earlier blog, I thought how could Sam or especially Dean not have made the connection and this episode confirmed that they had, but just weren't admitting it to each other. I also loved that Dean apologized for taking their father away from Sam too. I mean, no one would have blamed him for that, least of all, Sam because it wasn't him who had taken their father away, yet it is so like Dean to shoulder that responsibility.

Using a zombie as the demon in this episode was also a perfect choice as a metaphor for Dean's torment about staying dead. It's about a person being brought back who didn't want to be brought back, Angela even said that she didn't ask to be brought back, a clear connection to Dean's admission at the end about staying dead that coming back wasn't natural or meant to be. Dean's outburst to Angela's grieving father was also a perfect metaphor because Dean believed it was the father who brought back the daughter and that it was selfish of him to do that. It was like Dean was lashing out at him what he wished he could have said to his own father.

I loved that Sam wanted to leave their father's dogtags at their mom's grave. There was a bit of irony in that moment because here was Sam, who in the pilot scoffed at their dad's crusade to avenge their mom's death and that if it weren't for pictures, he wouldn't even know what she looked like and here he was at her gravesite, leaving a momento of their father's with her. It was a really moving moment. Jared was just great at making that feel sincere and real. There was nothing about it that felt wrong or inappropriate. Then the flipside of that was Dean who remembered their mom, defended her to Sam in the Pilot and yet he couldn't go near the grave. Then the little glimpse to a gravestone that had "Loving Father" on it which made him grimace a bit.

The Sam/Dean role flips were really apparent here. Sam, though always the sympathetic one, was especially that way in the episode and Dean, contrary to that, was exceedingly cold, callous, uncaring. So much so in some scenes that it gave me a chill. No longer was there the vulnerability and comfort he often showed to the victims in Season 1 like to Haley in Wendigo, telling her that brother might still be alive and especially to the kids, Lucas (Dead in the Water) and Michael (Something Wicked). In this episode, even when you heard the sympathetic words like when he told Angela's dad in their meeting about feeling that those who have gone feel like they are "still around, sense their presence" felt more foreboding than comforting and not just from the supernatural point of view. Dean seemed almost clinical about the demon hunting; find something, figure out what monster it is, and finish the job which ideally meant killing it. Sam's confrontation with Dean about losing him like he had lost mom, dad, and Jess was poignant and desperate. It was also painful because despite Dean telling him he heard him, you felt like he wasn't on some level. It was painful to see his non-reaction when Sam was telling him he didn't want to lose him, that keeping all that anger pent up was killing him. It barely got a cursory response, like he really didn't care. Even Dean's jokes felt empty, didn't even seem funny at all, without the usual lightness that telling him gives him, that sarcastic lilt in his voice was gone.

It was just an AWESOME episode. Jensen played the cold-heartedness and the agonized pain at the end to heart-wrenching effect. I felt for him losing his moral compass as well his desperation to understand how to deal with the enormous guilt of knowing that their father died for him, so that he could live. He never felt worthy of that kind of sacrifice. This, on top of knowing the whispered secret, is almost already too much of a burden for one man to shoulder, even a man as noble and heroic as Dean Winchester who had borne the weight of responsibility for keeping his family together way too young and now carries even more, not only for what we already know, but for the yet to be known burden that his father left him about Sam and the other children like him before he died.

Man, I have to tell you, Season 2 just continues to get better and better. Every episode is better than the last and not only continues to keep me yearning for more information and on pins and needles week after week, but they are excellently constructed and performed so that you believe you are a part of the Winchester family. I don't know how I'm going to survive another week before next week's Simon Said.

Thanks for listening as always. Feedback always welcome, of course and likely other "revelations" will come to mind as I view the episode many more times over the weekend.