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Family Matters: “Demons bone you every time.”

A Supernatural Blog - Season 6 Episode 7

"A family is but too often a commonwealth of malignants." - Alexander Pope

"Other things may change us, but we start and end with the family." - Anthony Brandt

"The most powerful ties are the ones to the people who gave us birth ... it hardly seems to matter how many years have passed, how many betrayals there may have been, how much misery in the family We remain connected, even against our wills." -Anthony Brandt

Sorry about being so behind. Life has been crazy, more crazy than usual so I'm terribly behind, but I hope to catch up and that I'll still be able to bring some food for thought to the table. I have been faithfully watching and continuing to enjoy what I've been seeing.

Season 6 is turning into a very thought provoking and provocative one. What could have been a throwaway season or even a disappointing one, a let down from the climax of Season 5, at least from my perspective, has been far from it. There has been so much put out there, fresh mythology to sink one's speculative teeth into as well as new and creative obstacles, that I have been thoroughly enjoying the ride so far. I love that comments to my previous blogs have shed light on angles I missed which is what happened with this episode.

The episode, You Can't Handle the Truth, completely fooled me. I was berating Dean for his behavior against Sam and yet Laughter's Melody pointed out something that was totally on the mark as the opening of this ep revealed. While I viewed Dean's beating of Sam as brutal and seemingly uncalled for in You Can't Handle the Truth (I still think that some it also came from the pain of being lied to and maybe even frustration that Sam isn't acting like the Sam he knows and loves ), my dear friend and fanfic colleague saw something very logical: Dean subduing Sam to get the truth from him, that Dean had to knock Sam out because he wasn't sure that he could trust Sam to be subjected to questioning willingly. And as we saw, Castiel bore the truth out of Sam as brutally as he did with Aaron. It's here that we learn that Sam is without a soul. She was right and I totally missed it. Dean is acting more like a hunter suspecting something wrong with a human host as much as he is a very worried brother. Though the anger is surely directed at Sam as well, hard to think that it doesn't play, I can now see how practical Dean's actions were too. Still, have to admit, watching Dean beat up his brother hurts, just as much as watching them fight in Sex and Violence in Season 4 hurt only this time, Sam didn't fight back just like Dean didn't fight back in Born Under a Bad Sign when Sam wailed on him while possessed by Meg.

A sobering if not shocking revelation, Sam not having a soul explains a lot about his behavior. The value of a soul has resonated through the last 3 seasons especially, but the concept of the importance of a soul has always been there, if for no other reason than through the demons they hunt; demons and spirits that are either without souls or with tortured ones, it's been a part of the family business all their lives. Of course, then there are their first hand experiences with bargained souls, John sacrificing his soul for Dean's life, Dean sacrificing his soul for Sam's, Bobby bargaining his soul to Crowley to help the boys and now Sam's soul currently being held hostage by Crowley so the boys will do his bidding. To quote Billy Joel, it's all about soul for the Winchesters. It seems somehow fitting that once again, they are battling for Sam's soul, seemingly coming full circle back to him in Season 6.

Sorry, I got sidetracked. So, my friend was right, Dean essentially subdues Sam to get the truth, a truth that is not exactly what he bargained for. I think he would have preferred to have learned that Sam was possessed by Lucifer than learning Sam has no soul. I think it would have made it easier for Dean to then feel what he was feeling (betrayal, distrust, maybe even blame for breaking up his relationship with Lisa too), maybe even hoping that he could have a legit reason to kill the imposter that he felt was inhabiting the meat suit of his brother, but Sam, without a soul, as hard as the idea was to wrap his mind around, was still Sam, at least, in every other way that should have mattered; his memories, his likes and dislikes as Sam pointed out, but Sam without a soul isn't the Sam Dean knows and loves. Even Cas can't answer Dean's question about whether Sam is Sam:

"So is he even still Sam?"

"Well, you pose an interesting philosophical question."

And it is interesting because the soul has so much meaning and so much is derived on whether not having a soul makes you evil or not. If it's that black and white then Sam must be evil, a monster like the ones they used to hunt yet it's not that simple. In some ways, not feeling anything does make some choices easier like giving up you brother to a vamp, but does it automatically mean you are evil? Choice is the operative word, free will. Can Sam, without a soul, still choose to be a human being, to not become a random killer without a soul which presumably guides a person to do good or evil? So far, it seems that Sam is barely treading that fine line. Yes, he let Dean get bitten by a vamp, but he also hasn't massacred anyone in his way either. Even Sam has said he's not some psycho, but trusting that declaration, that's a completely different thing. Can anyone trust someone without a soul? Interesting philosophical question indeed.

In Dean's heart, Sam is more than just the sum of the parts Sam pointed out as if it was a laundry list of his qualities as opposed to the content of his character. No, Sam without his soul, is not the Sam that Dean carried out of the fire of their home the day their mother died, not the Sam who would call Dean on making snap judgments about killing something assuming it's evil because it fit a monster profile, not the Sam who loves his brother and who would watch his brother's back. No, this soulless version had already proven to Dean that he's not the same Sam because he had stood by and let a vampire bite him. His Sam would never have done that. The soul counted. Sam may not be a demon, but he isn't truly whole or human either. It was unsettling to hear the alpha vamp talk about Sam's soullessness:

“You smell cold. You have no soul. What an oddity. Do you feel how empty you are? What is it like to have no soul?”

Then eerily threatens:

“Boy with no soul. I’ve got big plans for you. It’s amazing how that pesky little soul gets in the way, but not for you. You will be the perfect animal.”

As I've said before, Sam has already fully admitted as to what makes hunting easier for him, that what makes him a better hunter now is because he can't feel anything, guilt, remorse, regret, emotions that would make him hesitate to get the job done even when it involved sacrificing his own brother. As I mentioned before too he spoke of a similar ease when he was on the demon blood, that drinking it gave him a power that allowed him to defeat more demons and save more human lives. He spoke then of how good that had felt, if more grudgingly at that time. He was fooling himself then, now, he's just making the most of lacking those controls and since he can't care, he doesn't bother to analyze why.

The other revelation was about family. From day one, Supernatural has been about family, its beauty as well as its dysfunctions, in this case, it was about how blood does not a family make and sometimes you can't trust family either. It also threads the pursuit of the alphas of every monster that have been hunted in the past, that even demons have origins. Again, the alpha vamp giving perspective on this as well:

“We all have our mothers. Even me.”

In a way, Samuel is Dean and Sam's alpha from their mom's side so could he be Crowley's bitch because he is acting in yet another secretive way that is either connected in some way to the alpha collecting or motivated by another kind of familial responsibility other than preventing Crowley's threat of sending Sam back to Hell? Dean has every right to distrust Samuel and even though, of everyone, you'd think Dean would value family and loyalty to it the most and he does, but he doesn't trust blindly just because someone claims to be family. Sam's comment reflected that:

"Just you saying that you don't trust family..."

Dean was like that with Adam. With him, Dean even wanted to preserve the kind of family life Adam grew up knowing, not bring him into a family he didn't even know and whose lifestyle wasn't normal. He also felt their father purposely left Adam out of the hunting life for that very reason.

Dean also qualifies that family may not mean the same to Samuel as it does to them and it's a good point. It's in this moment that Dean realizes that Sam has no instinct, that Sam can't tell the difference between what's important or not and that from then on Dean would call the shots, that Sam could go with him or with Samuel, giving Sam a choice.

Dean calls Sam on not being able to feel the same distrust for Samuel:

“Dude’s hiding something. I can feel it. And if you weren’t Robo-Sam, you’d feel it too.”

It makes sense. Sam feels nothing other than what the pursuit of the hunt will give him and likely is using Samuel as well to achieve that goal as evidenced by his confrontation with Samuel after Dean is bitten. Samuel seems caught by surprise by Sam's actions.

Then there's Crowley. I'm thrilled we have more Crowley and more specifically, more Mark Sheppard. Mark is excellent as he delivers Crowley's quips and threats. That delightful accent and husky tone in his voice makes you laugh as much as it makes you feel disdain. I LOVE the idea that Crowley is the latest Big Bad of the show and that he is the King of Hell. His mission to find and have dominion over Purgatory is interesting. A demon trying to achieve Donald Trump status in Hell and its many levels almost seems normal.

“Location, location, location. I’m a developer. Purgatory is vast, underutilized and Hell-adjacent. And I want it.

I mean, advancement in the demon world, it takes someone with the stones to think outside of the proverbial demon box and Crowley certainly isn't lacking in ambition and arrogance. It also seems fitting that he would let Sam out and be smart enough to keep his soul captive, not only because it's the perfect bargaining chip, but that he would also know what a handicap it would be for Sam to do his bidding with a soul, that he would be a better hunter without it. It also makes me wonder about Sam's statement back in Weekend at Bobby's about letting Crowley get his bones. A deal is a deal? Hmmm...Could there be more to that statement despite Crowley's indignation about not needing Sam's help? Could Sam have let him have his bones for a reason? One wonders. Crowley is harder to stop now that he has his bones. I also wonder why Purgatory is so important to Crowley. The alpha vamp hinted that all creatures of his kind end up there, those without souls like maybe Sam. What does collecting alphas give to Crowley in order to get Purgatory?

My favorite moment of the episode is watching Dean take back his power. He's no longer letting "seniority" or a perceived notion that just because Samuel is their grandfather, he's the de-facto leader. Samuel's mistake with the alpha vamp was proof of that and Dean makes sure Samuel knows it:

“You get a shot, you take it. It’s not gonna kill him, but dude’ll move a lot slower without any knee caps And if we make it through this, you, me and Sam are having on hell of a family meeting.”

He also confronts Samuel about his motivations:

“What’s so important that you’re the King of Hell’s cabana boy? What’d he offer you? Girls? Money? Hair?”

Sam's accusation was a lot more colorful:

“You’re Crowley’s bitch.”

It makes Samuel's protestations towards Sam's actions hypocritical. Mitch Pileggi is amazing! He plays Samuel's conflict so well and you find yourself wondering what side he's on. The evidence seems to point that Samuel has no choice just as, at the moment, neither does Sam and Dean. You can't help, but wonder, though, if Samuel has other motivations.

"I got my reasons."

For a fleeting second, I wondered if Mary's soul might be in play, after all, she made a deal for the 10 years of normal she got to have with John. She couldn't have escaped going to Hell just like anyone else who makes a deal. It would make sense for a father to want to rescue his daughter's soul. Also, Crowley must have someone on the inside in Heaven because how does a demon bring down a soul from there? Being a King in Hell notwithstanding. Does being that, alone, give you THAT much mojo?

What I loved at the end of that confrontation with Crowley is seeing Dean stopping Sam from killing Samuel despite his distrust. Samuel pulled the family card and Dean saw something that didn't instill trust, but something undefinable that we may learn about later. Dean has instincts and I'd trust those any day. I hope he saw something meaningful.

Sidenote: I was sad to see Corin Nemec go, but not Christian. He bugged me and lo and behold he was one of Crowley's henchmen. No surprise really. The whole gang, except for Gwen, was working for Crowley. Maybe Christian will be back?

The big question that hovers over everything is what Dean asked of Sam:

"Do you even want your soul back?"

Sam says he does, but if not having a soul robs you of feeling anything, then how is Dean supposed to believe him? Sam keeps lying to him, keeps saying things that he knows Dean needs to hear, maybe even saying things just to keep Dean from being more questioning and yet you don't know if he means it or not. Does Sam really want his soul back? Is it any wonder that Dean can't trust this Sam? I can't find a way to either. I'm sure more will be revealed as the season progresses. There is likely more disappointment to come.

Great episode! Enjoyed the tension and the revelations, but am still feeling fearful of what's to come. Nothing good can come from having a demon as your boss.

Onto All Dogs go to Heaven. Thanks for reading, comments welcome as always and forgive any mistakes I might have missed. I'm catching up as well as am writing all this on my iPhone so things might be a bit hurried. Hope I get my jist across though.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.

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Thank you so much or the kind mention! *blushes* I didn't immediately occur to me either that there was a practical reason for Dean taking Sam down. The first time I watched the scene, I was too shocked to notice that part of it, lol. But when I went back to watch it again, I realized that Dean, just before he knocks Sam down, actually looks thoughtful. Reluctant, but thoughtful...almost like he's thinking, "I can't trust him, can I? I have to catch him off-guard."

I think it would have made it easier for Dean to then feel what he was feeling (betrayal, distrust, maybe even blame for breaking up his relationship with Lisa too), maybe even hoping that he could have a legit reason to kill the imposter that he felt was inhabiting the meat suit of his brother.

I agree! I think in a way he really was hoping that it wasn't Sam, especially considering what Sam had done.

Dean also qualifies that family may not mean the same to Samuel as it does to them and it's a good point. It's in this moment that Dean realizes that Sam has no instinct, that Sam can't tell the difference between what's important or not and that from then on Dean would call the shots, that Sam could go with him or with Samuel, giving Sam a choice.

I really liked that moment too. It really said how good Dean's own instincts are, and it makes the contrast of Sam's lack of instinct even more stark. And I loved your point about what Dean said about family. I think Sam has a different version of family too. Sam has always assumed that family, to Dean, means blood. But I think that, to Dean, family means someone who's always there for you. Samuel may be their blood, but he hasn't been there.

Also, Crowley must have someone on the inside in Heaven because how does a demon bring down a soul from there?

Ooh, that's a great point! I hadn't thought about that, but it makes so much sense!

A great blog as always! I'm sorry it took me so long to comment on it. School has been holding me prisoner, lol. :)


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