This review contains spoilers.
Sam has been receiving mysterious texts pointing to a town where several women have disappeared. And as Sam and Dean have no leads to pursue regarding the Mother of All, they decide to investigate. Once in town, it becomes clear that Sam has been here before when he was working with Samuel.
This is the set for what’s arguably one of the best episodes this season.
The telling of the story using Sam’s memories works really well. The flashbacks being in black and white is enough to get the point across that we are seeing past events, but the extra flourish of the skipping frames add to the unsettling atmosphere of Sam being uncomfortable with the memories and, more importantly, not liking who he was without a soul.
Jared Padalecki easily takes centre stage this episode and it’s his performance that adds the gravitas to both good and dark side Sam, truly showing them as separate characters. It’s to his credit as an actor that, even six years into the series, he can still shine in the role.
Knowing that Mitch Pileggi was in this episode, I had assumed that this would have been where Dean caught up with Grandpa Campbell. So, I was pleasantly surprised when this wasn’t the case. This episode also reminded viewers that, despite Samuel’s exit, he really wasn’t a bad guy, and seeing his reaction to some of soulless Sam’s behaviour almost makes you feel sorry him and the situation he is now. Yes, he brought it upon himself, but the road to hell is paved with good intentions and even though the series has him pegged as a bad guy, I still imagine he is out there somewhere hunting monsters and saving people.
While this is very much Sam’s episode, Dean’s reactions to the tales of Sam’s previous visit to the town are great and add some much needed humour in what could have been a very dark episode.
The reveal of the villain of the piece was an interesting one. I like the idea of things being out of sorts, even by Supernatural‘s standards.
The Winchesters facing unknown threats worked well, based on what we know of spiders, but Roy the spider did come across as someone or something with their personality still intact. Yes, I do imagine he would be very much angry at Sam and revenge would be an obvious course of action. But as he was intelligent enough to still use a mobile phone and reason with his wife, it didn’t seem logical that a good man would suddenly come up with the plan and start killing innocents for revenge.
Now, I freely admit, we didn’t get to see much of the life of Roy the spider and it wouldn’t be a huge leap to suggest he had been driven insane by what had happened to him. But, as monsters go, it just didn’t seem that he truly was evil.
Of course, just to spin it on its head, perhaps Roy’s real motives were to get Sam back, knowing that Sam would kill him before Roy lost control completely and turned the woman he loved, his wife, into a human milkshake. As today is Valentine’s Day, I’m quite happy to go with that theory.
All of this is a big distraction from the main event and what this week’s episode has been all about. Sam’s memories of Hell are behind a wall in his mind and he was told not to scratch at that wall, and almost straight away, Sam starts scratching. Knowing this made watching this episode all the more exciting, waiting as each flashback risked his sanity. And with Sam now back to being the good version, knowing he was putting himself in danger he still chose willingly to do so to help people.
And now the wall has come tumbling down. Maybe.
The end of the episode we see what we are meant to assume is the collapse of the wall. Part of me hopes it is, but most of me is expecting that this is an ‘almost’ situation. The wall has been shaken, but it’s still up. Move on. Next case.
You may consider it cynical of me to think like that, but consider this: we have heard from Castiel, Crowley and even Death himself that Sam’s corrupted soul would destroy him. So, if this is the wall falling down and Sam survives, takes two aspirin and gets lots of rest, it does cheapen the whole affair. Whereas, if this is a warning of just how bad it could get, it allows the show to move on with integrity.
An interesting thought did occur to me because of this episode. I think it’s safe to assume that, at some point very soon, the brothers are going to come face to face with Samuel, and theorizing that Sam’s wall is still up, would Samuel be able to put him at risk by simply reminding him of events past? Death by holiday snaps?
In all seriousness, this led to another thought that Mitch Pileggi as Samuel is great in the series, and whilst I wouldn’t want to see him working with Sam and Dean every week, it’s good to see him every now and then.
So, knowing how Dean feels about him, what would Samuel have to do to square things between them? Something like saving Sam’s life?
Read our review of episode 12, Like A Virgin, here.
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