Supernatural 8.16 Review: Of Gods and Winchesters

Clarissa February 27, 2013 37

SupernaturalLet’s pretend that last week’s Supernatural didn’t necessarily happen because the show did a complete 180 this week and delivered up an episode that was both poignant and well done (as opposed to last week which, while not atrocious, felt quite flat to me).

The Ultimate Punishment

The episode opened with the death of a man who mysteriously awoke – alive – again the next morning. In the Men of Letters bunker, Sam was continuing to cough up blood and try to hide this fact from his brother. To distract him, he offered up a potential zombie case.

But the case wasn’t quite so cut and dry. It turns out that the “zombie” was a man named Shane who had no real memory of who he was. All he knew was that he died and came back to life each day. As the boys tried to piece together his real identity, they were shocked when a strange woman appeared in Shane’s room later that night. Shane didn’t recognize her, which seemed to wound her, but she then disappeared without a trace. Later, another woman (Hayley) stopped by, this one claiming to be the mother to Shane’s son, Oliver.

Hayley seems pretty accepting of Shane’s tendency to die, but it turns out that her son suffered from the same affliction. When Sam deduced that Shane was actually Prometheus, the brothers brought their new allies to the MoL bunker to research a way to get in touch with Zeus. They discovered a ritual that could trap and kill him, but Zeus wasn’t interested in negotiating with the puny humans. Hayley released him from his trap in hopes that he would cure her son, but it turns out that his hatred for Prometheus over the fact that he gave fire to humans was eternal and he would rather see Oliver – and Prometheus, by extension – suffer.

The woman from the motel room – Artemis – stopped by and was prepared to kill the Winchesters while her father continued to torture Prometheus, but Sam baited her and convinced her that Prometheus truly loved her and that she needed to do the right thing here. Evidently she believed that too because she agreed to kill her father. Unfortunately, Zeus used Prometheus as a shield for Artemis’ arrow and then Prometheus sacrificed himself so that Zeus could be killed.  In the end, Dean and Hayley burned Prometheus’ body while Sam watched over Oliver.

Tackling the Gods

Of course, any discussion of “Remember the Titans” will inevitably bring up comparisons to that season 5 episode “Hammer of the Gods”, which also brought the Winchesters together with a group of mythical gods. I don’t have the disdain for that episode that many Supernatural fans do because I did enjoy the scenes between Lucifer and Gabriel, but I’ll admit that those gods, while occasionally humorous, were more one-dimensional caricatures. I thought this week’s episode was a far better tackling of the subject of mythical gods than the previous one, which is quite interesting when you consider the fact that Dan Loflin wrote this episode and co-wrote “Hammer of the Gods”.

SupernaturalI think my most enjoyable aspects of “Remember the Titans” were the guest stars, who I thought were quite effective in their roles. I enjoyed the fact that Hayley was rather accepting of Prometheus’ situation rather than being hysterical and took her exposure to the supernatural side of life in stride. I guess watching your son die and come back to life each day will make you eager to accept any explanation, but I understood her actions…even her misguided choice to free Zeus because of her love for her son. I also enjoyed the little nods to Prometheus, including his time on the mountain, the bird that was eating his organ while he was dead on the road and the “toga” he made out of a sheet. Supernatural can do subtly quite effectively and all of the clues to Prometheus’ tale were well done.

Sins of the Father

Of course, perhaps I connected with this story better than last week’s story because there were many parallels between the guest stars and our main characters. Suffering for the choices of your father was a “curse” bestowed upon Oliver and one that Dean and Sam have had to suffer from their entire lives. In the same vein, Oliver’s quiet admission to Sam at the end that he would rather stay at his father’s funeral rather than go get an ice cream sundae is a terrible choice that both Sam and Dean have made numerous times. Don’t we see then constantly accepting responsibility rather than having a “normal” life? The weight of the world was on that child’s shoulders and he seemed to have aged in such a short period of time. Was that what Dean, in particular, was like when he was young? Silently accepting responsibility beyond his years? What a terrible fate for such a young child.

The conversation between Prometheus and Sam in the graveyard also stuck with me. “You pretty much saved the whole world” Sam told Prometheus after telling him that he had gifted humans with fire. “Yeah, I guess,” Prometheus admitted. “But none of that means anything unless I can save my son.” Isn’t that a sentiment that the Winchesters share? That saving the world is great, but saving your family is the most important thing. And don’t get me started on Artemis turning against her father in order to do what was right, an action committed by characters like Castiel. There were a lot of themes in this episode, including love, family, revenge, heroism and sacrifice that have been with Supernatural since the beginning.

Concluded on next page…

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  • Nothing Changes

    So much for Sam’s shiny fancy speech.

    So much for Sam taking Dean to the light. Looks like its back on Dean to save Sam and worry about Sam and be there to prop Sam up. Wasn’t Sam’s reason for doing the trials to show Dean there a light at the end of the tunnel? Sounds like its all on Dean’s shoulders now.

    So much for Dean being the genius at lore. More lip service since he apparently even needs every basic thing explain to him. Dean seriously needs all that explained to him, despite having read Homer?

    Why am I not surprised we’re back to super special suffering Sam saves the world while Dean stands around and looks pretty. Dean can’t even savethe day in a regular hunt. Suffering Sam gets to do that too.

  • jrwt

    Sometimes I wish Kripke had ended this show when he left. I miss the show that had true guest characters that the writers found a way for us to care about in the short amount of time that an hour series gives you. These last few episodes are filled with characters that I could care less about. So what if a Greek God has to die everyday as punishment. So what if the kid inherits his fathers’ curse. For a God his father proved to be so weak that he couldn’t stand up to Zeus, he had to let Artemis do it for him. So the daughter kills the father for this guy who goes off and has a kid with a mortal. This has nothing to do with the brothers story.

    I also miss music; the great rock that use to define the state of mind of the brothers. I miss smart, handsome, sexy Dean who seems to have been replaced by an idiot with bad hair. Wasn’t it Sam two episodes ago that told Dean he was “a genius”. Where is that guy? Now Sam is having to teach him everything. And what’s up with taking these random strangers to the “batcave” when other Hunters haven’t even been there. Where have all the good stories gone. The drama of this show was in the stories, not just of the brothers but of the people they saved, everyday people who were up against things they didn’t understand. I’m surprised you thought that the Gods in “Hammer of the Gods” were one dimensional compared to these people. At least I understood their motivation. There was absolutely zero reason why these people were doing anything. And we all knew that it would take another God to defeat Zeus just like it took Lucifer to take all the other Gods out. What fun is that? Who really cares about this kid, he’s the son of a God, he’s not a normal human child and never will want an “ice cream”; come on Sam. But what really pisses me off is Sam. Now after telling Dean that he’s basic not up to the task of the trials, now you start whining about being afraid that you might die. Duh, Dean tried to tell your stupid ass just that. Now he’s got to start praying again. I just want to pull my hair out.

    • Peter J

      Other than sneering and getting killed (or in Kali’s case, taking off her blouse and being rushed out of a room never to be mentioned again), I never understood the purpose of the pagan gods. I got the feeling they were there to make us believe Lucifer was frightening, and not a big wet blanket.

      I don’t think the Supernatural you described has been around since season 4. Everything since has been a mixed bag, mostly due to a complete inability to write for Sam.

      Dean’s written as dim because the show treats viewers as dim. This shows up when you have terrible writers, as they’ve had the last few weeks. Many other episodes this season have had Dean in a smarter light.

    • kaystiel

      Sounds like a case of ‘hatewatching’ to me.

    • Mary

      Yes!! I miss the music so much! Bring back Kripke!

      • http://www.tvovermind.com Clarissa

        The music has nothing to do with Kripke’s presence or absence. The issue is the fact that the cost of producing the show has increased over the years. They have to give raises to Jared and Jensen as time goes by and they have to pay for other recurring or regular actors (like Misha). The show costs more to produce but chances are the studio isn’t actually giving them a larger budget. So they cut corners where they have to. In other words, they probably can’t afford all of those rock songs that they used to pack in the episodes. Which is a shame, obviously, but it’s really a question of numbers, not of the showrunner.

        • Mary

          I just meant that Kripke always made music the focus (well, one of the focuses) of the show and music is powerful. I think, budget or not, if Kripke was still around, he would continue to make music an important part of each episode instead of using it as a way to cut monetary corners.

  • tens1822

    I actually enjoyed this epi. I think there was intentional parallels between circumstances and choices the guest characters had to face, with circumstances and self realizations the boys have and continue to face. I think Sam wants to believe he’ll make it thru the trials, but the full reality of the situation has finally hit him and has him scared. Whereas Dean knows something is wrong with Sam and is extremely worried and scared for his brother. Both are feeling a bit helpless right now. I think they’ll find that Winchester determination again and get thru it.

  • Peter J

    I would say Dean’s reaction with the prayer was about far more than just feeling like he and Sam are all alone. I would say Dean just feels alone. He hasn’t been close to Sam in a long time, and knows Sam has to keep secrets from him. I think we saw again with his prayer that he simply can’t feel truly happy without Cas, without a healthy Cas. The despair on his face when he realized Cas wasn’t going to arrive was a very personal loss, not just another notch in the Sam’n'Dean belt of woe.

    Apparently Jensen Ackles rewrote some of that last scene. No wonder it was so powerful.

    • Volta

      “Apparently Jensen Ackles rewrote some of that last scene. No wonder it was so powerful.”

      Did he? Where did you hear that? If JA did rework that – I say… thank you!

      It was hands down the best scene of the episode, and very moving. Jensen can knock those emotional scenes out of the park every damn time.

  • Thomas

    One thing I wonder about it how the show’s budget has affected their music rights. I mean, some of those classic rock songs aren’t the cheapest things in the world to play on TV.

  • Kim

    I am suprised by this review, I hated this episode. I didnt care about any of the characters, the kid was creepy and Sam is now getting wimpy about the trials. Give me a break!! Why is Dean getting dumber each episode? I dont get it!! I much prefered last week episode to the garbage that air yesterday. I am so looking forward to March 20th, finally getting back to the demon and angel tablets. I am happy to see Meg is back. I always wondered what happened to Meg after Crowley finally captured her.

    • http://www.tvovermind.com Clarissa

      Reviews are a person’s opinion. I don’t purport to speak for everyone. Lots of people out there enjoyed the episode from what I can see. And, of course, some people didn’t. That’s fine. The show can never please everyone. I liked the characters and enjoyed the parallels to Sam and Dean’s own experiences. And I don’t think Dean is getting dumber. I think Dean is incredibly smart. It’s always been a theme that Dean is not necessarily as “well-read”, if you will, as Sam. There’s been many times over the years that Sam has explained history or lore to Dean. But Dean’s still very smart. He doesn’t need to know all of this trivia to be intelligent. His battle strategies are always very clever, for example (like how he killed Eve). That’s very smart, so what does it matter if he didn’t know the whole tale of Prometheus? That’s why Wikipedia exists.

      • adder574

        There is a difference between not knowing obscure trivia and not knowing basic hunting 101 stuff that anyone who is supposed to be a genius at lore should know.

        Dean read The Odyssey but he doesn’t know who Homer is? He needs to be told what a familiar is? It seems like this has been the pattern since the MoL’s stuff was introduced that Sam is literally the brains and the smart capable hunter and Dean is just the dumb muscle who needs the simplest things explained to him.

        There are ways to get things across to the audience. They could have Dean give the exposition at times instead of lately all going to Sam while Dean stands around and makes goofy faces.

        House for 100+ episodes had to find ways to explain extremely medical facts and disases to a mostly lay public but they found ways to to it instead of making it look like one of the doctors didn’t know something any doctor should know.

        Surely SN can come up with a different way rather than Dean standing around acting like he was the lobotomized instead of Cas.

        • http://www.tvovermind.com Clarissa

          I’ll admit that it was strange that Dean didn’t know what a familar was, but how you define “hunting 101″ can be up in the air. Even Bobby, who was skilled at lore, didn’t know anything about dragons. Should Dean have known about the gods when that’s not necessarily something hunters come up against? Is that hunting 101? I don’t think not knowing some of these details makes Dean seem lobotomized though. I think the issue IS exposition and that just seems to go to Sam most of the time. Frankly, I think Dean has it easier in that regard because exposition can be so awkward sometimes. I don’t find it to be that big of an issue because I think Dean’s strengths are pretty clear otherwise.

          • adder574

            I define hunting 101 as basics like what a familiar is, or keeping knowledge that they’ve read in the past.

            Dean’s read the Odyssey and he made the Sisyphus reference about pushing the bolder up the hill. He’s known about Gods but lately it seems like Dean has zero brain cells to rub together when it comes to everything about lore.

            As for Dean’s strengths, I’m not really seeing them lately. Dean needs the basics of everything explained to him, his famous gut instincts seems to have been given over to Sam. Dean was wrong about James and now Sam just intuits that Artemis is in love with Prometheus while Dean just stands there.

            Dean, who took out about 6 or 8 gorilla wolves all by himself in purgatory can’t hold onto a knife to take out one hell hound. He had to be saved by Sam. The show even made it a point of having Benny say Dean lost a step.

            Sam doing the trials I thought was about building Dean’s self worth because Sam was going to take him to the light. Now, its all about Dean thinking he’s failed Sam because Sam’s once again suffering more than anyone in the universe. This is the exact same mind set Dean was in when he made the deal. How is any of this helping Dean’s self esteem. He just thinks he messed up again.

            All I know is that Dean came out of purgatory a strong, confident independent person who knew his place in the world. He seemed secure in his friendship with Cas and Benny. Now a half season later, he’s back the the universe revolves around Sam and I don’t matter mind set of season 1 and 2 that lead to Dean making the deal.

            So if they have smart capable Dean hidden somewhere I hope he comes out to play soon because Im getting discouraged that Dean’s role will never be more than Sam’s bodyguard/nursemaid. Until Sam decides hes tired of it and we go down Dead Horse Lane and Dean has to learn to let go.

        • http://www.tvovermind.com Clarissa

          Adder, in response to your comment below (because I can’t hit the reply button), I think you might be overlooking the fact that some people simply forget things. I took several Greek mythology courses in university and read plays like The Illiad and the Odyssey and I still went to Wikipedia to look up the full story of Prometheus before this episode to remind myself of the details. Yes, the familiar thing last week was stupid, but this week Dean had a vague recollection of what a Titan was and what Prometheus did. Maybe Sam simply has a better member for the details of trivia. This doesn’t make Dean stupid. People forget things. He rarely forgets the things that are actually important.

          And as for Sam needing to “save” Dean from the hellhound…did you ever consider that there might be a reason Dean found it particularly difficult to face a hellhound over the things he faced in Purgatory? It could very well have to be the fact that these are the creatures that dragged him to his death back in season 3. It could have been a mental thing for him where he froze because of his past associations with these creatures. This is not uncommon. Dean is incredibly strong (physically, mentally and emotionally), but that doesn’t mean he’s unaffected, particularly by his past.

          And Dean is not messed up right now. What I got from the prayer at the end is that he doesn’t think he’s “failed” Sam, but that he’s worried for his brother. The speech was about how Sam now has a responsibility that he wanted to take. That has nothing to do with failing. It was pure circumstance. Dean is worried *for* his brother and he’s scared that they might be alone in this, but he doesn’t have low self-esteem because Sam is finding the situation difficult.

          And Dean didn’t really come out of Purgatory as a strong, confident person. He had PTSD and he was a bit traumatized. Yes, he absolutely was more dedicated to hunting than he had been last season, but he was still the same Dean (at least he didn’t have the emotional scars like when he came out of Hell). Purgatory wasn’t a motivational camp, it was torturous. Frankly, I think it had less of an emotional impact on him than Hell did but it very obviously made him a more skilled hunter. And he’s not only caring about Sam – it was clear that he missed Castiel and was worried about his friend in the prayer.

          • adder574

            What PTSD. Dean had a bit of trouble adjusting when he got topside but he got that fully under control by the middle of the 2nd episode and that disappeared completely. After that purgatory was pretty much mostly about Benny and Cas. His PTSD actually disappeared into the black hole of Dean plots never to be seen or heard from again.

            Pugatory making Dean a more skilled hunter was once again a tell not show like Dean’s a genius at lore but had needed everything explained. If he’s a more skilled hunter why is he suddenly so ineffective. The Genius at lore, literally just stood there making goofy faces while Sam figured everything out. Plus they made it a point to have Benny say he lost all that.

            As for the trials one question I would love someone to ask TPTB is why they felt the need to make such a divisive storyline. Absolutely nothing on screen should have prevented the writers from having both brothers complete the trials. I’d like to know why they picked Sam and only Sam.

            That doesn’t suggest a two lead show to me. It suggests one lead and his support system.

            We’ll have to agree to disagree about purgatory because even Jensen talked about how Dean came back with clarity and sense of purpose and thats the way Jensen played Dean. Sure he had a bit of an edge but he knew what he wanted and he didn’t take crap from anyone and it was nice to see him defend Benny over Sam.

            Then all that character growth went out the window. Dean’s loyalty has always been my favorite trait but he abandoned a friend in need because Sam had a temper tantrum, Dean’s back to season 1 protect Sammy at the cost over everything and everyone, including himself mindset. It’s like the writers decided to ignore 8 years of Dean’s character growth.

            As for Dean not being messed up, I thought that was the reason for the trial going to Sam because Dean was being suicidally reckless and didn’t care if he lived or died and Sam taking charge was supposed to be about showing Dean he could come out of this unscathed. Because Dean didn’t think his live was worth anything. That sounds messed up to me.

            Now the reason Sam said made Dean unfit is Sam’s exact same mindset. But in Dean its unhealty and Sam needs to take charge but in Sam its aw poor Sammy, he was just naive. Dean said the exact same thing but Sam didn’t listen and now its all about Dean propping Sam nand helping hims survive. The writers seriously need to get on the same page, and talk to each other. Because right now Sam’s speech seems like more emotional manipulation because Sam wanted to play hero.

            As for Dean not feeling guilty. This is Dean. He feels guilty about everything, so when Sam starts getting worse, its reasonalbe to say that Dean can and will start to feel guilty that he killed the hell hound. He’s already started with the “this was supposed to be one me/”

            If I didn’t know better I’d say they were setting Dean up to make some kind of deal again so that he dies instead of Sam, but that might actually make Dean important to the story and apparently thats against the rules.

            To be honest, I’m not sure what the point of Dean’s character is anymore. Sam is 30 years old and he neither needs nor wants a hand holder/nursemaid. We’ve already had multiple storylines about Dean needing to learn Sam is a big boy. Sam resents Dean being a protective older brother to the point it causes him to prefer the company of a demon. Even with Cas seems there to support and worry about Cas.

            Without using the word Sam or support or worry, what’s Dean’s role on the show?

            Crickets…

  • ladymarzipan

    I loved the episode. Greek mythology has always been a favourite of mine, and I always love to see gods other than the exclusive monotheist deity of Christianity, Judaism and Islam referenced.

    There were some really powerful moments for Sam, and I like the idea that Dean knows that not everything is fine, but rather than confronting Sam about it and making things harder for him (because if Sam knows that Dean knows he’ll just feel worse), and rather than shouldering everything himself as he has in the past – he reaches out to Cas.

    It’s so great to see Dean have a friend – because sure he feels responsible for Cas and his well-being, but we can clearly see here that Dean also trusts Cas with his own thoughts and troubles, so it’s a lot more give-and-take than he’s had with previous relationships. [Even with Benny Dean was typically the one who had to be there for him].

    The prayer at the end was beautiful and poignant, and I hope an indicator to the depth of underlying feelings (whether romantic in nature or not) that Dean has for Cas.

    Awesome episode.

  • Christine

    That was the “Madison” character from Season 2 “Heart” that played the kid’s mom right? Maybe that is why I liked her right away and didn’t feel that the show needed to make her “more” for me to care about her. I agree with several of your comments including the poor writing for the Amelia character in the past, though I never disliked her. I think that females that aren’t just fluff require extra care to not catch the ire of the fan base. Overall, I really enjoyed this episode though I did not understand why Dean shut down Sam during the car conversation. I.M.H.O. he could have exploited that to find out what was up with Sam. Don’t know what I am doing for the next three weeks though……damn.

    • http://www.tvovermind.com Clarissa

      Hi Christine – I went to the actress’ IMDB page to check and it actually wasn’t the same actress. The woman from last night only has “Remember the Titans” listed as a Supernatural episode. But she did seem very familiar (and a bit like a few of the actresses who have appeared on this show in the past). I also connected with her quite well and liked her guest spot. Do you watch Bones, though? She just appeared a few weeks ago as Brennan’s mother on that show. Maybe that’s why she seemed familiar?

      I think he could have exploited that opportunity, but I think Dean is also quite worried about Sam. Right now the most important thing for Dean seems to be propping Sam up so that *he* doesn’t treat the trials as a suicide mission. I really liked the fact that Dean doesn’t seem angry about the secrecy and is more concerned than anything else. I think that bodes well for their relationship.

      But the next episode looks great! I can’t wait to see it either :)

  • Sasha

    Dean keeps dropping IQ points all over the place. If this goes on, he will be barely literate and unable to tie his own shoes in two episodes, tops. Seriously, he doesn`t know ANY lore anymore and has to have every little thing explained to him like an extremely dumb kid. Meanwhile Sam knows everything about everything and saves the day with it. So he has the mytharc AND the filler episodes.

    And apart from a brain, Dean is also missing a spine. Last week Sam demands trust and blames Dean for his “failure” to trust Sam wholeheartedly. While lying.

    Now Dean has actually figured out he is lying (his last brain cell fired up, I guess) but lets it slide. Because he is unable to stand up for himself in this relationship. He will make no waves so Sam feels strong and in his right at all times. Noone is gonna treat with you respect in a relationship if you`re that much of a doormat.

    They are not equals, Sam truly controls that relationship 100 %.

    • Peter J

      I don’t think Dean would gain anything by confronting Sam at the moment. He knew there would be consequences. He is trying to believe Sam can handle those consequences. Saying, “I told you so,” won’t help Sam or help Dean.

      • http://www.tvovermind.com Clarissa

        I think that’s a great point. I don’t think it’s a matter of Sam “lying” as in deliberately keeping a secret (like, for example, he did with Ruby in season 4). I think it’s that he’s trying to protect Dean and he’s worried. There was nothing to be gained by confronting Sam in this case. Dean let him know at the beginning of the episode that he knows something is up and is going to give Sam a chance to come to him. I really like the fact that this doesn’t seem like an area of conflict like so many secrets have been in the past. This just feels like a situation of concern and love. I think it’s a good route the writers have taken. I don’t think it makes Dean stupid not to demand answers from Sam – I think it makes him smart to realize that Sam needs to come to him when he’s ready to deal with it.

        • adder574

          But yet when Dean didn’t tell Sam about Benny, Sam used that as his justification as to why Benny must die on sight.

          Lying by omission is still a lie. If Sam’s got a deteriorating physical condition Dean needs to know especially if he’s relying on Sam to have his back. Sam didn’t tell Dean about his lucifer hallucinations and that almost cost them the mission of helping Cas put the souls back because Sam failed to get the blood.

          What if they’re hunting in a vamp nest and Sam gets a nose bleed. There is nothing sweet or protective about it when it has the potential to endanger the very person your trying to protect.

          • http://www.tvovermind.com Clarissa

            First of all, I don’t agree with Sam’s reaction to Benny, even if I slightly understood it from his POV. I thought it was irrational and probably more about jealousy than anything else. It was an unfortunate reaction and created needless conflict and I said that from the very beginning.

            Second, Dean is not upset about Sam right now, he is worried. Should Sam tell Dean about this? Absolutely. Because then Dean can hopefully help him and they can both figure out a way for him to survive. Does that mean I don’t understand why Sam is choosing to keep it to himself? I do understand.

            Frankly, I’m happy that Dean has an inkling of what’s going on and this isn’t actually creating tension between them. Dean will find out in time, either because Sam will tell him or because he’ll find out on his own. And he’s trying to keep it from his brother because he’s worried Dean may try to take on the trials himself (possibly leaving them in the same position – if doing so is even possible) and because he doesn’t want Dean to worry. Should he tell him? Yes. Given what we know about the brothers (BOTH of them), are Sam’s actions unusual? No. Dean didn’t even want to tell Sam that he sold his soul for him in the beginning and he only had one year to live. That clearly didn’t last long because Sam suspected the truth and pushed him and Dean didn’t deny it.

            Look, it’s obvious from all of your responses that you either don’t like Sam or simply prefer Dean more. That’s fine, you’re welcome to like or dislike whatever character you want, but it’s clear that we’re not going to see eye-to-eye on this. I think both boys have their flaws and their strengths and I call them out when I see them. You don’t have to feel the same way, so we’ll have to agree to disagree.

          • Dee

            I see what you are saying with, “If Sam’s got a deteriorating physical condition Dean needs to know especially if he’s relying on Sam to have his back.” It’s not clear to me, though, that Sam’s condition is deteriorating. I mean, he had that odd bout of relatively mild bleeding (for Supernatural) in the beginning, but didn’t appear to have any others. He was also fit enough to dig up the grave with Prometheus.

            Dean knows there’s something going on because of Sam’s actions (because, really, odd bouts of bleeding are bound to weird out even Sam, whether or not they’re getting worse). I suspect Dean’s concern is enough to keep him from taking on really dangerous hunts with Sam, like the vamps you suggested.

            The fact that observation is enough for Dean for now, keeps this issue from feeling like a rehash of older seasons’ conflicts to me. It shows Dean has a level of trust that Sam will tell him when he can, and a maturity to keep a watchful eye and do what he can behind the scenes, like praying to Cas instead of trying to take over the trials. It’s just a different perspective, but I hope it might make you feel better about the show’s current direction.

        • Dee

          About Sam not deliberately keeping a secret, but trying to protect Dean: I thought that last week too, and that Sam had a window of time where he could fess up before Dean would think Sam had been lying. I kind of expected that “window of time” to be up this week. It wasn’t, for me! That is, I still got the impression that Sam was feeling bad, but OK enough that his not saying anything still fell under the “I’m good enough to go on; I will protect Dean from worrying too much by keeping quiet” umbrella. Plus, Dean knows something’s up, and I like how he’s handling it.

          I am glad about those things. I mean, I like them both. I want them to protect each other. I want them to cooperate to get stuff done. I like it when they’re fighting [for] something, and the dramatic tension comes more from that external source. It’s much better than the show getting the drama from setting them up to distrust each other and fight, as happened earlier this season. OK, as I said in another comment below, I wish they’d let Dean be a little smarter or have a little better memory, but if my choice is the current situation or the poorly, poorly written Amelia driving a wedge between the brothers? No contest. I’m so much happier with the show now than earlier this season.

  • Dot

    Thanks for the interesting write-up! I agree, this was much better than last week. Not as strong as it could be, but I enjoyed all the one shot characters, Zeus was a stand-out, and the way the story tied back into the ongoing themes of the season.

    As I commented earlier, I was worried we’d get a somewhat tired retread of “Sam keeping secrets/nosebleeds/something wrong with Sam while Dean worries over him” but 8.16 fulfilled my hope that it wouldn’t play out exactly the same way and could be used to advance the characters. While yes, Dean is worrying over Sam, SPN isn’t dragging out the secret for the sake of ~drama. I liked that Dean instinctively knew, and Sam’s reasons for not telling him aren’t shame or any dark reason to hide it, he just doesn’t want Dean to worry. The trials are going this way for a good reason and while Dean’s not happy about it, I think he’s believing in Sam’s light at the end of the tunnel concept but he is very worried about Sam.

    That last scene was beautifully filmed and written and acted. It’s clear Dean’s worried about both Sam and Castiel, that he misses Castiel, and Dean is opening up and reaching out to him. Sam and Dean can’t do this alone, and Dean’s feeling overwhelmed, he needs his friend, and not just for the practical reason that Cas has powers. Dean’s putting his belief in both Sam and Cas now, despite the worries, which is a nice note to follow from last week’s Dean only being able to trust himself.

  • kaystiel

    Last night was a good solid episode,I did wonder about Sam and Dean taking people to the Batcave without blindfolds on! The only iffy bit was Sam guessing (right) that Artemis was in love with Prometheus when she’s a virgin Goddess, but one of the things I love about Supernatural is their fresh take on mythology (such as the Djinn) who’s to say a Goddess can’t change over the centeries, after all, she changed enough to be able to stand up to her father,

    And Jensen’s performance in the end was just sublime, I’m glad to know he helped work on the dialogue (and that the writers listen to the actors, who would know Sam and Dean better than anyone) just as Misha and Jensen worked on the scene where Dean hands Emmanuel/Cas back his trenchcoat last season, much more powerful without words.

    (And PS, I really enjoyed Hammer of the Gods) thanks for the review!

  • Dee

    Like the review, and I liked the episode too. I choked up at the end, at Dean’s prayer. I agree with the review and various commenters that it shows character growth for Dean, being afraid for Sam without being angry at the “secrets”, reaching out to Cas instead of suffering in silence or wanting to take over the trials. I liked it so much!

    There were one or two glitches for me, though… one was the awkward pause from the rest of the group when Dean was excited about being a legacy. I feel like I’m being dense, especially since Clarissa said in the review that she liked the scene, but… What was up with the awkward pause? It felt like the way one would treat an overly excited child. Struck me as almost disrespectful, at least on Sam’s part. No? The other was the mother who, on the one hand, could accept the death and revival of both her son and her ex-lover, but thought that the idea of a curse was too weird.

    On the “Is Dean losing brain cells” question, I think what would have helped (and with any luck they’ll do this in the future) is for Dean to fill in parts that he knows/remembers as part of the exposition, and then have Sam fill in details. That would strike me as more reasonable than Sam seeming to need to explain everything, and would make Dean look like a reasonably bright adult that, as someone pointed out, just doesn’t remember everything.

    Sam still being sick… I saw someone suggest last week, on a different site, that maybe the trials were affecting Sam not because he was performing them, but because of the demon blood. It makes sense to me, because it seems more reasonable for God to make the trials themselves harder as they go along, than to try to physically incapacitate the person doing the trials. I mean, if Sam had been physically hurt – scratched by the hound or whatever – that would be one thing, but sans any other explanation, it’s “Thank you for playing our game; as your reward you will now get mysterious bouts of bleeding.” Suggesting the pain was a result of something else having to do with Sam made sense to me as a possible plot line. Thoughts?

  • Stephanie

    Oh, stop complaining the lot of you. I am betting 80% of those who say they’d rather had the show end at Season 5 would have probably whine about how the ending left something to be desired. I swear, sometimes fans can ask for too much. This is Season bloody 8. Be glad that it still remains interesting as it is. 8 years on a show can be extremely taxing, and yet the level of acting has only increased.

    From Season 6 now, the story arcs had a small amount of filler episodes, usually 10-16, and this is what happens now. The side actors have other projects as well, they can’t possibly put Crowley or Naomi or even Castiel anymore than they do now.

    And please, this show stopped being JUST ABOUT Sam and Dean ever since Season 4. This show is now about the brothers AND their interaction with other people, not just themselves.

    I believe it was a solid episode. Much better than last week’s.

    Thank you for the review, I found it thorough and enjoyable. Please, refrain from listening to haters. Sometimes they don’t know when to stop. Every opinion with opposite objection and justified evidence is always welcomed. Wanking through every small detail is annoying.

  • mrs astor

    Clarissa is right. You will find fault with Sam no matter what. Like you wouldn’t jump for joy if Dean was the one doing the trials and getting sick.

  • mrs astor

    That was to Adder574.

  • stuntdemon#3

    Just ’cause Dean is worried about Sam and praying to Cas doesn’t mean that Sam isn’t going to lead his brother into the light after all in the episode Dean did say he and Sam were legacies. That right there sounds more hopeful to me ’cause Dean is accepting their true Winchester destiny as Men of Letters and not puppets of heaven.

  • stuntdemon#3

    All you fans complaining that Dean is written smart in one episode and dumb in the next are forgetting that Sam has a better memory for the lore because John sent him to the library to research. Dean has read on some of these subjects and he is smart but books aren’t his first love, his instincts and leadership skills are still dead on. Why can’t the brothers go back and forth on these hunts, sometimes Sam comes up with the answer and sometimes Dean come up with the answer? I even read a complaint above that no hunter has been at the Men of Letters but they brought, Hayley, Oliver and Prometheus there. But Larry Ganem said the place was warded against all evil so that was the safest place for them to go. Garth has his own place and and he’s busy on his own hunts and he’s the only hunter still close to them. Eventually maybe the Winchesters will be able to reestablish the Men of Letters and Garth might work out of the HQ. But first they’re trying to survive these trials so they can close the freaking gates to hell. For folks who claim they like the show you all are sure quick to find fault and slow to consider that your own opinions might be a tad harsh or even a little wrong.