Supernatural season 8 episode 5 review: Blood Brother

Review Caroline Preece 1 Nov 2012 - 19:16

Could season 8 be one of the best seasons of Supernatural ever? Here's Caroline's review of another strong episode...

After last week’s big, risky experiment, Supernatural departs again from the status quo in this episode, separating the brothers for their own personal adventures while delving deeper into their respective years off. Dean’s new purgatory friend, Benny, lures him into helping out on a revenge mission, leaving Sam to have watercolour memories of his year of normalcy.

The former storyline is obviously the more interesting, and we at last get some information about Dean’s connection to Benny. Fans have been commenting on how different Sam and Dean have been acting towards each other this season, and we know it has to have something to do with the older brother’s experiences in purgatory. Benny and Castiel feed into this and, while we’re still waiting for answers as far as our favourite angel is concerned, it’s useful to have one of them back in the real world. His revenge scheme was interesting enough, and it was different to see Dean keeping secrets from Sam for purely selfish reasons.

We’ve spent so many years watching them fight to stay together, dropping their own happiness to resolutely stay on the road, that I’m not so sure this frosty new dynamic is a bad thing. I’ve said in previous weeks that anything the show does differently is welcome after the slightly stale and repetitive Supernatural of late, and this is one of the things I’m enjoying most from this season. Sam’s flashbacks, for example, were wonderfully mundane and dull, really showing how happy he was not to have some higher calling hanging over him for once. His whole storyline this year wouldn’t work if we didn’t understand his motivations for leaving the business, and getting the old season one Sam back is a great way to do it.

I’m still not entirely sure how Amelia is going to fit into the show once her story catches up to real time, however, but most long-time fans of the show know not to get too attached to the brothers’ girlfriends. If anything, they’re more in love with the lives they stumbled into than they are with each other, and the two of them on the road with a case doesn’t seem like enough anymore. Dean saving Benny in present day is mirrored by Benny saving Castiel in purgatory, and the episode’s title suggests that the two share a connection from these experiences that could almost be as strong as Dean’s tattered and weathered affection for his real brother.

I’m a little worried about the new rules of purgatory, which seem to state that anyone can get in and out with a human or sub-human in tow. Does this mean the writers can summon up past beasties whenever they want? It definitely means that, if Castiel is still alive in purgatory, they can go in and get him without much trouble. Sure, the place is crawling with big bads that can smell a human a mile off, but Dean and Benny managed to get through the door. Speaking of, Benny is becoming a great new addition to the show, and his ambiguous nature suggests that he could eventually become one of the good guys.

Bobby’s departure last year has left room for a gruff, bearded, older man to help the boys out, of course, and the slow introduction of the character up to this point could just have laid the groundwork for future involvement. They’ve have to win over Sam before that can happen, though, as he doesn’t look too pleased with the situation in the episode’s final moments.

Overall, this is another winner from what might be the strongest season of Supernatural in a while, and some brave ideas and confident execution have really helped the show get out of its rut. Garth’s back next week, as they investigate a vengeful ghost.

Read Caroline's review of the last episode, Bitten, here.

Supernatural seasons 1-7 are now available on DVD and Blu-ray.

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