Sam and Dean try to go on vacation, but it turns out to be a real bitch. Do you see what I did there? (My apologies. Next time I’ll leave the puns to Gabriel.) “Paper Moon” is Season Ten’s first MoW (that’s Monster of the Week to you newbies) episode, and…well? Gotta admit, it felt a little slow. Any episode airing after the brief but exciting thrill ride that was Demon Dean was bound to be a bit of a let down for me, but even this one had a few broments worth smiling wistfully about.
1. Lake. Big Lake.
The Winchesters. In sunglasses. The beloved green cooler between them. Next to a sign that says “No Hunting”. Oh, how I’ve missed you, low-key brotherly bonding moments. Our boys are taking a little of what Dean refers to as “we time”, and I am loving the return of their sibling banter. Dean starts off with the question we all want the answer to. “You been kicked, bit, scratched, stabbed, possessed, killed. And you sprain your friggin’ elbow?” Sam tries to defend himself and Dean sasses him. “What? That sling come with a slice of cry baby pie on the side?” Sam smiles, and I do too, even though he STILL DIDN’T ANSWER THE DAMNED QUESTION!
Of course, relaxing isn’t exactly a practiced skill in Dean Winchester’s wheelhouse. He suspects there is a local job. A mere milk run. He and Sam can be in and out. “Right. Because that happens…never,” snarks Sam. And though he’s right, both brothers are itching to check it out, not because it’s the smart thing to do, but because it keeps them from having to talk about how they spent their summers.
2. I Love a Man in Uniform
I have missed the days of Winchesters in disguise! We haven’t seen the boys dressed up as anything but Feds in a good long time, and damn if they don’t make the most handsome game wardens ever. After bluffing their way through an explanation of animal attacks that includes Bitcoin and the president (Thanks, Obama!) the boys interrogate the local drunk and find out there is a heart munching she-wolf on the loose who is apparently eating her way through the “Sons of Anarchy” (ha!) “Guess she likes bad boys,” Sam muses. “Wait ‘til she gets a load of us,” Dean replies, and, though I’m not proud to admit it, my swooning may have become audible.
3. You Say You Want an Evolution
Guess who’s back? Back again? Katie’s back! That loose end. That’s right, Kate the werewolf from Season Eight’s extremely polarizing episode “Bitten” has returned, and it appears she’s up to no good. The boys tie her up and dress her down, calling her on her promise to lie down and be a good dog. “I guess things change,” she says, Being…this.” She speaks of evolving and we are reminded of what Dean almost became and how it completely changed who he was. How a reasonable, kind person can easily become a monster. Dean seems ready to instantly shoot Kate, but Sam stops him, worried, telling him he’s not ready for that. Does some of Demon Dean’s cold-hearted killer still live within his beloved brother? And will killing Kate feed the Mark of Cain and begin to change him back?
4. Back in Baby’s Arms
Okay, who else was overjoyed just to see Dean driving the Impala again? I’m not sure I will ever get over that “It’s just a car, Sam” thing (shudder).
I know that others have piloted the most important automobile in the alternaverse but somehow she never looks right without Dean behind the wheel. If Sam is Dean’s soulmate, Baby is his true love, and their chemistry is better than the couples in most chick flicks. Jensen Ackles has said that when the show is over (puts fingers in ears—la la la la I’m not listening…) what he really wants is to take the car home as a keepsake. I hope the producers honor that wish because there is no one else more suited to be in that driver’s seat.
5. “Oh, you were a demon? Oh, I didn’t realize that.”
Of course, Kate escapes and the boys pursue her. As they drive, Dean tries to initiate a conversation with Sam about Lester the Loser, and the fact that Sam caused his death. Sam admits to “bending a few rules” to find Dean and reminds Dean that he, in fact stabbed Lester. Dean blames being a demon, causing Sam’s snappish retort. Dean won’t let it go, asking about “…Lester and the others”. Sam replies, too defensively and too quickly, that there weren’t any others. “Okay. Either way,” Dean says, trying to keep his voice neutral. Wait a minute. “Others?” Oh, Sammy. What did you do? Maybe Dean’s right. Maybe both of you need take an unpaid leave of absence.
6. And the Anvils? They Be Droppin’.
Okay. Before I explain what I mean by that, please allow me a little gratuitous armed and dangerous Winchester posting
There. I feel better now. Also? You’re welcome. Anyway, apparently Kate prefers chicken over human but the sister she turned? Tasha? Likes the long pig. And she looks pretty terrifying at the dinner table.
And thus the great falling of the storyline anvils begins. Sam and Dean almost shoot Tasha in the woods, but Kate intervenes because a sister is worth taking a bullet for (Thud!)
The boys take Kate to a diner to talk over some “coffee and bear hearts” (man, I really missed you, sassy Dean!) and she says she only turned Tasha because Tasha was dying. (Thud.) That she “did the unthinkable” to save her because she was too close to her to let her go. (Thud!) She knew they would never be able to fit normally into society but she didn’t care. “We had each other and that felt like enough.” (Thud!) Kate tells them Tasha is her little sister—that she made this mess and she has to fix it—the Tasha only killed people because of what Kate did to her. (Thud!) She believes Tasha, no matter who she is or how dark her actions have become, can be saved. (Thud!) Dean tells her no. “You don’t ever come back from that. Not ever.” (THUD!) Later we see Sam looking at framed photos of a happy Kate and Tasha and hear Tasha say she hated being a weak human and now she thinks she is better and smarter and stronger and awesome and I just want to take some massive amounts of ibuprofen from all of the anvils being dropped on my head. Writing is tricky business, and drawing parallels is an effective way to “show not tell” in a story. This felt a little heavy-handed, though. We got it with the comparisons. Sometimes a little goes a long way.
7. “There were others.”
Dean lies to Kate, telling her there is a cure for the condition and gets her to take them to Tasha’s hiding place. Kate sleeps in car as they drive, with Sam in backseat (Huh? Sam is six foot eleventy. Teeny Kate couldn’t nap in the back? Weird. She must have called shotgun. And then had to clarify what she meant by that. Anyway…) When Sam is assured Kate is out, he confesses that he lied to Dean. Other beings did suffer his dark side. He didn’t kill any humans, but he punched a few hunters the wrong way. Mostly he saved the worst for the bad guys. “But you gotta understand something, Dean,” he says, upset. “I watched you die. And I carried you…I carried your…corpse…into your room and I put your dead body…on your bed…and then you just…” It is horrible to imagine that scene we’ll never see—how Sam cleaned and cared for Dean, put him in the car and took him back to the only home he’d ever really known. Dean understands. Says he hoped the note would fill in the blanks, but concedes it was no comfort. He is embarrassed, he says, about the note, about Crowley, about everything. And about never saying thank you to Sam for saving him. “You don’t ever have to say that,” Sam tells him quietly. “Not to me.” It is a lovely moment that is totally sold by the amazing chemistry of Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, chemistry that only continues to grow as they enter a new decade of working together. How lucky are we to have Sam and Dean in such capable hands?
8. Only He Gets to Call Me That
The boys find Tasha. They leave a betrayed and devastated Kate chained to the Impala and go after her. It turns out? Tasha is bitchy in more ways than one! And she is not alone.
As Tasha’s goons hold Dean at gunpoint she taunts Sam, calling him Sammy and Paul Bunyan, and referring to the boys as Mary Kate and Ashley. When one of her pups growls at Dean, Sam shouts at him protectively, and ends up pinned to the bed by a girl and not in a fun way.
Tasha, it seems, loves the disease just as much as Demon Dean did, and she doesn’t ever want to go back. She tells her minions to take Sam and Dean away and rip their hearts out, and to save one for her in a, natch, doggy bag. Unfortunately for her, Kate does what Sam and Dean never could. She plunges a silver knife into her sibling’s heart and lets go.
9. Action Figures
Did you think our guys would go down that easy? Of course you didn’t. Though Tasha’s “minor leaguers” are majorly threatening with their barks, they are totally unable to land their bites. Sam dispatches first his and then, when Dean is almost overpowered, Dean’s as well. Dean is now human, as is evidenced by the way he squeezes Sam’s shoulder and asks him if he is okay, and also by the way a monster can now totally overtake him in a fight when they were so recently a joke to him. You’ve gotta wonder how that feels for Dean, and if he will crave the return of that power. And if he does, will the MoC provide just the path he needs to get to it?
10. Do the Right Thing
In the end, Sam admits that maybe both of them do need a break from the job, especially, as Sam says to Dean, tellingly correcting himself, “with everything we…everything you went through.” Sam asks Dean if he wants to talk about being a demon, and much like his trip to Hell in the past, Dean does not. He doesn’t want to “stew in his own crap”, he wants to do his penance. “I’m just trying to do the right thing,” he tells Sam, “‘Cause I am so sick and tired of doing the wrong one.”
The next episode, “Fan Fiction” airing November 11, is the series’ 200th, an accomplishment most television shows never even come close to achieving. Let’s all raise a bottle to the last 199, and brace ourselves for the next, in which Supernatural meets High School Musical. See you then.