Dean seeks out Death to help get Sam’s soul back. Death tells Dean he will help Sam if Dean will agree to act as Death for 24 hours. Meanwhile, Sam decides he doesn’t want his soul back and asks Balthazar for a protective spell to keep his soul out of his body. Balthazar tells Sam he needs the blood of his father for the spell to work and since John Winchester is dead, Sam decides Bobby is the next best thing. Mike Rohl directed the episode written by Sera Gamble & Robert Singer.
So, despite my never-ending attempts to avoid spoilerage (what? it’s a word), I never seem to be able to also avoid the episode titles prior to the actual viewing. I was lamenting a smidge about how much I missed the classic Led Zeppelin-inspired titles of shows, but this week’s piqued my interest because it wasn’t music, movie, or TV related. It’s a reference to an old story—one you’d tell someone to illustrate irony. Kinda like The Boy Who Cried Wolf.
Appointment in Samarra, the story, is basically about a person who does everything they can to avoid Death, only to end up meeting him (Death) in Samarra—where he was meant to all along. They’ve made countless movies on this very premise. So, with that in mind, and having seen the previews last week, I sat down to watch wondering two things:
1) Would Death’s ominous warning to Dean last season, that he can’t be cheated, come into play?
2) Would Sam spend the episode trying to avoid his fate (being re-souled, so to speak) only to end up with it in the end?
As usual, our Show never ceases to find new and interesting ways to surprise me while at the same time confirming thing I already believed. Dean’s sacrificial nature, for example. He has illustrated multiple times over that he’s willing to give up everything personally important to him—love, security, freedom, his life—if it meant protecting Sam, saving Sam. Tonight’s episode is no exception.
The lengths Dean is voluntarily willing to go to for even the chance to save his brother—his brother, the one still trapped in Hell—had me watching almost this entire episode with my hand over my heart. On top of that, the subject matter that this episode dealt with—the natural order of things—had me hurting in a very real way. Show-related, it’s an angst-ridden thought. Real life-related…it can suck my breath from my lungs.
Not only did this episode illustrate Dean’s willingness to sacrifice himself for his brother, but it also touched upon his continued insistence that he knows best when it comes to Sam. As the older brother, and with this particular family dynamic, he’s been put into the position of parent rather than just a sibling and he’s never really been able to let that go. There are multiple levels one could argue here.
For example, Dean’s a domineering presence who seems to be unwilling to allow Sam to decide for himself and/or trust that Sam’s decisions about his own life are to be respected is one route you could go. Sam spoke emphatically on more than one occasion that this was his life. His soul. His body. It should be his decision as to what happened to him and his soul—not Dean’s. And if the guy had any sort of moral compass, I would have to agree with him.
But the bottom line is he doesn’t.
And that was illustrated tonight as well. Sam says he knows what he wants, self-preservation being rather high on that list, and he will do whatever it takes to get what he wants. Whether that’s infiltrating a vampire’s nest by way of his brother, or killing a father figure to complete a spell. It doesn’t matter to HollowSam right now.
And that’s why what Sam wanted for his own soul and his own body was disregarded by his brother, his father figure—and me.
A few parts of this episode were hard for me to watch—but not because of the gross factor. This was a rather ick-free episode. And it was, in my opinion, wonderfully acted and staged as yet another section of what’s becoming a 22-piece jigsaw puzzle. I really think I’m only going to truly appreciate this story in retrospect. Living through its agonizing play-by-play is like Chinese water torture.
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