Supernatural season 8 episode 10 review: Torn and Frayed

Review Caroline Preece 18 Jan 2013 - 07:45

Supernatural returns from the mid-season break with an episode that ties up a number of loose ends...

This review contains spoilers.

8.10 Torn and Frayed

Supernatural might have been away for a few weeks, but this first episode back picks up right where we left off. Sam and Dean are still passive-aggressively hissing at each other over their problems with Benny and Amelia respectively, but they’ll have to put away their differences (or as Cas puts it, “stow your crap”) if they want to keep captured angel Alfie from spilling the beans to Crowley. We learn that someone is controlling the angels, and that there’s a tablet that can close the gates of heaven.

After an improved start to season eight, Supernatural has returned with an episode that’s more interesting than exciting, but one that serves to tie up several loose ends that have been bogging the show down. The whole thing was a bit of a downer, frankly, with frequent scenes of torture sprinkled across the hour, only interrupted by the difficult soul-searching being done by all three regulars. Dean wants to stay loyal to Benny but is conflicted about his anti-demon stance, Sam is seriously considering giving up his brother and his job in order to be with Amelia, and Castiel is still having his strings pulled by Amanda Tapping.

Starting with the mission of the week, Alfie (aka Samandriel) has been captured by Crowley and his crack tram of dastardly villains, and he’s not having the greatest time. Via a series of trial and error spikes driven into his brain, they soon discover that they can access the angel’s factory settings, and Alfie ends up revealing secrets about his race that even he didn’t know he held in his noggin. As torture episodes go, it might not be 24, but it’s a pretty grim and unpleasant watch considering Supernatural lives on The CW. When Sam and Dean eventually rescue him, however, the joy is short-lived before Castiel is ordered to kill him.

It’s still unclear what Amanda Tapping’s character has in store for our favourite third wheel, but it doesn’t look like we can expect anything good. One thing we did learn about her this week is that she seems to have the best interests of the angels at heart, but if we’ve learnt anything from this show it’s that this isn’t always a good thing. He’s definitely not in his right mind, as the murder of Samandriel didn’t strike me as just following orders; it was more forceful than that. He also zones out to the screams in Crowley’s lair, remembering a rather disturbing session in the heavenly head office in which a drill gets far too close to his eyes. Add that to the ominous bleeding from said eyes, and we’ve got trouble.

Sam and Dean, meanwhile, show off their tragically destructive co-dependence to its full capacity this week. As we saw before the Christmas break, Amelia has blasted her way back into Sam’s life after he received a fake text from her and went on stalker mode. For those viewers who haven’t warmed to the character (as with any girl who dares to get involved with a Winchester), she does her best to solidify all negative opinion when she decides to sleep with Sam not ten minutes after they come face to face. Doesn’t she have a husband? Anyways, she gives Sam an ultimatum – be at the motel at a certain time and they can be together.

A phrase used a couple of times during the episode is ‘two feet in or two feet out’. Sam has been living a kind of double life since the beginning of the season and neither Dean nor Amelia has had his full attention. Who does he choose? Come on, who do you think? It might be sadder had viewers been given any reason to root for the relationship, but really the emotional impact comes from the sad acceptance on the brothers’ faces in that final scene. They might have accepted that this is it for them, but it doesn’t mean that they’re happy about it.

Dean also loses out, of course, as he dumps Benny in his hour of need so as to treat his brother with the same loyalty that he has shown. Is this the end of Benny’s time on the show? Given how popular he has been with fans, I really doubt it, but maybe it’s time for the show to focus on the central relationship again. The trust and mutual respect has died, and a season of Supernatural without the brotherly bond is one that could get old really fast.

Read Caroline's review of the previous episode, Citizen Fang, here.

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