Supernatural 9.13 Review: “The Purge”

the purge

Season Nine of Supernatural has been a little strange. The first eleven or so episodes were about Dean keeping a secret from Sam, while the two brothers simultaneously tried to get a handle on the angel situation. Cas has popped in and out at random intervals. It was a wholly different, wholly serialized show that most everyone recognized playing the same notes over and over again (with varying degrees of success, of course; Season Five is so much better than Season Seven that it’s almost comical). But now? Since “Sharp Teeth”? It’s something different.

We open cold, spectating a professional hot dog eating contest (is there an amateur tour for eating? A farm league, perhaps?). A very large man named Wayne and a very skinny man named Jim are competing for the thousand dollar check. Wayne wins, but Jim accuses him of stuffing a hot dog down his pocket (Wayne’s response: “Hate to break it to you, pal; that’s no hot dog!”).  Wayne is then murdered; all the fat is sucked off his body and his organs are just a pulpy mess. A tiny nitpick: Wayne being a cheater wasn’t relevant to the plot at all. It seemed like to me that that little tidbit of information was to make the audience feel less sympathetic when he was sucked dry. Dude cheated at a hot dog eating contest; he didn’t bomb the UK. Feeling sympathy for him is okay.

Before they get on the case, however, there’s a nice scene that really exemplifies the difference in this show the past two episodes. Sam and Dean go at it a little bit, with Sam refusing to back off his comments even in the face of a clearly hurting Dean, who has begun drinking and staying up all not again. One cannot help but feel, though, that Dean’s actions are more about making Sam feel bad than actual pain. After this, the two brothers manage to keep it together long enough to get to Stillwater, Minnesota, where the weird fat-sucking case takes place. Not long after they arrive, another person is murdered, a woman this time. This particular person was trying to get fit for her wedding, and is attacked by whatever creature murdered poor Wayne.

Tangent: the woman went from a 180.4 pounds to 76 pounds. The police have her weight listed at 165, which Dean immediately shoots down, making some weird crack about “fat women” always lying about their weight, and soon after says the only thing this victim and Wayne have in common is “too many eclairs.” Now, call me a liberal, but this seems really douchey. The woman was attractive and relatively fit, and was obviously killing herself to get into shape and better herself. And her whole existence was boiled down to a really off-color joke. It made me angry.

ANYWAYS: Dean and Sam find that the only thing the two victims have in common is a weird suction mark on the back of Wayne’s neck and one on the woman’s back as well. This leads them to Canyon Valley, a weight loss center/spa thing. Sam and Dean get jobs as a personal trainer and a lunch lady, respectively. Undercover, they discover that Maritza, one of the owners of Canyon Valley is a Pishtako, a Peruvian monster than sucks the fat from unsuspecting victims. This particular Pishtako is sucking fat, but isn’t killing people; she only sucks a little bit of fat to satisfy herself, while also helping people lose weight. The bad guy turns out to be her brother, Alonso, who hasn’t been able to control himself like his sister. Alonso kills his sisters husband, and nearly kills Sam before Dean kills him.

This “case-of-the-week” was a solid, and fun. There was palpable tension between the two Winchesters, and it made the usually smooth chemistry between Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles much more torrid. But, honestly, that was all secondary; because once again, for the second episode in a row, we got an episode-ending conversation where Sam doesn’t let Dean off the hook. Dean believes, still, that he did the right thing; if he could, he’d “do it all over again.” And there in lies the problem. Sam tells him that he didn’t save Sam for Sam; he saved Sam for himself. Dean scoffs at this. He says that “if the situation were reversed, you’d do the same for me.”

But Sam wouldn’t. Sam says he wouldn’t. Sam would never take away his brothers agency like that, not for his own sake. Sam would never take away someones personal freedom, their choices, because his whole life he’s had his choices taken away from him. He had to be a hunter, he had to help look for his father, he had to let Lucifer posses him, to destroy him forever and ever. Never ever has Sam had a choice of his own; he wouldn’t deny his brother that freedom. He loves him too much.

[Photo via Diyah Pera/The CW — © 2014 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved]

Hunter Bishop is a graduate of Georgia State University and a writer with over five years of professional experience. He has written on a variety of subjects, including sports, politics, and entertainment media. When he isn’t writing, he’s usually making some sort of catastrophic mistake involving his personal life.
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  • Ginger

    I could not disagree more with you on poor Sam. Just last season he had the choice to walk away from hunting and go to Amelia. He chose to stay with Dean and hunt. He had a choice to complete the trials. He chose Dean instead. Sam has a long history of running away from his problems dating back to the Pilot, and always comes back to Dean; again, in the Pilot where he says “We have work to do.” In fact, every single time we have seen Dean out of Sam’s life, Sam has fell completely apart.
    Sam said he would not do the same for Dean (your point about agency), but is that the problem, or is the problem that he has repeatedly failed in his attempts to do so? In Road Trip, Sam said he understood that it was not in Dean to let Sam die. Is he mad about the lying then? He did not say that. What he did was invalid Dean’s entire life; in fact, every story since this show began, by claiming that Dean was only a hero because he was selfish. Mary made a deal with the YED to save John’s life. That deal was made out of love, but according to Sam’s logic, Mary was selfish. Of course, if she had not, then Sam would not have been born and he would not have had all of the horrible life experiences he has had because of Dean’s selfishness.
    Nope, don’t agree with you at all.

  • Maha

    He loves him too much- you’re making it sound as if Dean doesn’t.

    Here’s the problem.

    Both the brothers’ concept of love differs vastly.

    Where Sam believes love means respecting the person’s wishes enough to give them agency over their own actions, (and thus not stepping in to save Dean if he had been in Sam’s place) Dean believes love is protecting a person from any sort of harm, fighting tooth and nail for him, even if it means any sort of sacrifice. Which is why he’d do it again, because he loves Sam so much.

    Also: “One cannot help but feel, though, that Dean’s actions are more about making Sam feel bad than actual pain.”

    I severely doubt that. It may be about annoying Sam, but not more than his pain. Dean was drinking a lot in First Born as well, and Sam was no where around back then. Dean’s self worth issues are coming in play again, and he’s becoming reckless and a danger to himself as he does in such conditions. (mark of Cain)

    Have to give kudos to the writers and the actors. Their conversations are being handled well- I am one of those fans who understand both the characters’ point of view, and am impressed by how well their conflict is being written.
    And Jensen and Jared must be having a great time exercising their acting chops on tough scenes. Even though my heart is crushed by the end of their conversations, I’m fascinated by their acting. Well done guys.

  • K Smith

    “Sam would never take away someones personal freedom, their choices, because his whole life he’s had his choices taken away from him. He had to be a hunter, he had to help look for his father, he had to let Lucifer posses him, to destroy him forever and ever. Never ever has Sam had a choice of his own; he wouldn’t deny his brother that freedom. He loves him too much.”

    This is sarcasm, right?

    Please tell me this is sarcasm because I’ve seen some reviews that come close to saying this and I am left wondering what show those people are watching and when did Sam become a brainless puppet in their version.

    I had a problem with the ending scene because Sam wasn’t really being honest and because this scene is implying Dean is the only one with issues and Dean is the only one who needs to change.

    Sam is not innocent in the issues between the brothers and Sam needs to look inward to see his role in the problems. He can’t just blame Dean. Sam has been sending mixed signals for years now, does he want normal or not, does he want to hunt or not, does he want to be with Dean or not, his place in Dean’s life. I think the season 8 season finale sent more mixed signals with regard to the “angel” and “vampire” issue and Dean’s relationship with Sam versus Dean’s relationship with his friends. Sam seems to keep pushing and pulling. Sam has issues he needs to work on, just like Dean does. It’s not just Dean to blame. Until BOTH brothers are honest and change, there is no relationship.

    I don’t think Sam was right that Dean does more harm than good, nor was he right that Dean only sacrifices when Dean is the one that doesn’t hurt:
    Dean has done way more good than harm over the years and has saved a lot of people, for Sam to say otherwise to Dean seemed to me that Sam was just trying to hurt Dean in any way he could.

    I also don’t think Sam was right that Dean only sacrifices when Dean is the one who doesn’t get hurt. Dean has sacrificed a lot over the years for Sam and Sam himself has acknowledged that. Even just a few episodes ago, we saw Dean’s sacrificing, and Sam acknowledged that sacrifice. So, Sam telling Dean that he only sacrifices when Dean doesn’t get hurt is wrong and again, I think Sam is trying to twist the dagger to hurt Dean.

    I don’t agree that the driving force as to why Dean saved Sam was because Dean didn’t want to be alone. We have both seen and been told over the past 9 seasons that Dean has been told since he was 4 years old that Dean’s role was to protect Sam. Not wanting to be alone may be a part of it, but I don’t see it as the primary reason. So, to focus on just this one part, I think doesn’t address the real issue.