It’s very hard to defend that I watch this show for the deep emotional impact it has on me when the previews show Sam in shorts and a tank top…and those arms…and the pretty…and…what was I saying again? Wait. Right. Deep emotional impact. This week’s episode had it. Plus humor. And a cool monster. And nods to past episodes. But mostly? The PadaArms. I’m not gonna lie. Until the last five minutes, it was all about the PadaArms.
1. It’s a Beautiful HuntCave Morning
Any scene in the HuntCave is a welcome one. I love learning more about the place, and seeing the detail that the set designers put into it. This week? It was all about the kitchen with it’s adorable olde timey-time fridges. Dean drinks there, alone, in both the opening and closing scenes, and somehow the starkness works for the painful revelations around the dinner table. It’s heartbreaking to see Dean feeling so alienated from Sam, not sleeping, trying to drown his sorrows in alcohol to the point where he doesn’t even avoid research. Even the thought of him taking a “whore’s bath” doesn’t help the melancholy.
2. Honesty . . . Is Such a Lonely Word
The theme of this aptly double-entendre titled episode is honesty. When it matters and when it doesn’t. A vic lying about her weight? Dean telling a server he’s 29? Even Dean telling Sam he can’t question a female fitness trainer because he’s “Sam weird” around girls? Not a big deal. Other stuff? Massive. Crushing. In the opening scene, Sam asks Dean if he is still upset about what he said after Garth. Dean scoffs. “Oh, about that we’re not supposed to be brothers? Don’t flatter yourself. I don’t break that easy.” Sam’s just being honest, but Dean is lying through his perfect teeth. Of course he does. No one can break Dean faster than Sam.
3. Gypsies, Tramps and Leaves
The first victim we see is a 316 pound competitive eater who is mysteriously liposuctioned to death. Sam and Dean go to question his slender arch-nemesis, Slim Jim, who gorges on lettuce to stretch his stomach before a competition. “Yet another reason to stay away from salads,” Dean mutters, grossed out. As if he needed a reason.
Anyway, the world’s most glorious/horrible wedding photo ever reveals that Slim Jim is married to Mala, who is Romanichal (aka: a gypsy). Mala has made a Putsi charm with the first vic’s hair and a “bag full of weird”. Interestingly? Not a curse. It was for good luck. She was in love with him, and, as Dean says, the cushion with which he did his pushin’. “Wayne used to call me his Princess Jasmine,” she says, and Dean smiles a little, fondly. His voice may be gravelly, but Dean’s heart? All velvet.
4. Monster of the Week
(Author’s note: My husband proposed calling this section “Lipo-ltergeist” or “ChubbyCabra” or “Puts the Die in Diet”. Can Cain come back and silence his horrible puns?)
Not everyone loves the Monster of the Week episodes, especially when we’re smack in the middle of so much angsty angst, so if you’re going to have one, make it a scary or gross one, please. This one? Mostly the latter. This creature takes all the fat you’ve got, showing you can, in fact, be too thin. The connecting thread of the vics is the weird suction marks they all have on their bodies. Turns out? Some happy, healthy living people have them, too. And they were obtained at the Canyon Valley Wellness Spa. Dean and Sam decide to go undercover and are hired by the founders, husband and wife team Maritza and Larry.
Dean tries to convince the couple that he and Sam and the new Hanz and Franz, adorably failing, and ends up the handsomest man ever to wear a hairnet. And Sam? Sam is going to better, less clothes wearing places.
6. Sam Zenchester
Bare feet. Strong calves. Rippling biceps. That damned PadaHair on an exposed shoulder. The only thing I hated about the scene where Sam taught Ashtanga yoga was its brevity. There ain’t nothin’…NOTHING…wrong with Sam’s cover in this episode, even though he is about as talented a yogi as the bear. He walks around as the students perform downward facing dog and sees they all have the suction marks. Most unrealistic part of the episode? That Sam Winchester would lay his hand on your bare back and you wouldn’t pass out completely.
Come on. Look at those DIMPLES! It can’t be only me.
7. All Kinds of Win-Jokes
This episode was a treat for us long time viewers. Dean mentions the movie “Rudy” (as he did in Season Eight’s “Goodbye Stranger”). We hear “Nice shorts.” (as we did in Season Four’s “After School Special”). We remember Dean’s old lady love, poor sad Lisa, as Sam says, “You’re not the only one who’s ever dated someone bendy.” And, of course, there is a hilarious Dean scene involving pudding (as there was in Season Five’s “Sam, Interrupted” ). Dean, it turns out, is unknowingly serving roofied salted caramel pudding to the guests. He indulges in it himself, because it’s the “Best of both worlds. Salty and sweet.” And all of us ever PMSd ladies shout, “RIGHT?!?!” And speaking of Dean and food…
8. Dean Dies…Wait. NO! I mean…Dean Dines
One of the best things about the ep? Seeing Dean’s twisted relationship with food. When the town Sheriff mentions eating your pain, I swear she was looking at Dean. It’s all hilarious. His disgust at the sight of tofu pancakes. Passing out after the poisoned pudding and muttering, “Sweet potatoes!”
And, in one of the funniest scenes in recent memory, Dean eating a powdered donut, completely covering his face in sugar.
Not only is it adorable to watch how much he enjoys his treat (and how chagrined Sam is as he tries to get him to wipe his face) it’s also a visual reminder of how childlike Dean is and always will be. Which plays into the final, emotional scene beautifully. Funny thought? Dean mentions that they are dealing with a “Thinner” situation, of course referring to the Stephen King/Richard Bachman novel. Which is about a cursed, killer pie. Dean’s nightmare.
9. Brotherly Love
So, get this? Maritza is the monster. She confesses to Dean that she is a Pishtaco. “A fish taco?” Dean asks, confused. Nope. It’s not a delicious dish, it’s a Peruvian Fat Sucker. A parasite. And kitchen worker Alonso, her brother, is one too. Alonso is the one who has been eating more than his fill and killing people, and his competitive eating streak now includes the chef and Maritza’s husband Larry himself. Maritza, who does not kill and tries to live “a better way” is devastated. She tells the boys how to kill Alonso, leading to an eerie and tense basement battle. (Props to the lighting department for this one!)
Sam looks down and out, but then Dean ends up killing Alonso by (grossly) cutting off his…lipo-sucker? (Never mind, Bill Nye, I know it’s a proboscis. Lipo-sucker is funnier.) Dean wants to waste Maritza too, but Sam stops him by asking how he would feel if someone had killed him while he was possessed by Gadreel, and Dean reluctantly agrees to let her go back to Peru. Maritza asks Sam what he told the cops. “The usual. Psycho killer on the loose. They usually buy it.” Don’t they just. She tells him, heartbroken, “I lost my whole family today.” Another one of Dean’s nightmares, that is slowly coming true.
10. The Famous Final Scene
(Moment of silence for Kevin Tran before we discuss. Sob.)
Back in the HuntCave, as in the beginning. Dean wants to talk it out. He says that saving Sam was the right thing and he’d do it again. “That’s the problem,” Sam says. Sam doesn’t want Dean to be his savior any more. He sees all that has gone wrong since his angelic resurrection and wants to know the upside of him being alive. “You kidding me?” Dean asks. “You and me. Fighting the good fight together.” You saved me for yourself, Sam counters, so you wouldn’t have to be alone. You would have done the same, Dean says. “No, Dean,” Sam replies quietly. “I wouldn’t. Same circumstances. I wouldn’t.” This honesty–the heaviest and most devastating of the episode–emotionally slaughters Dean where he stands.
I have a lot of thoughts about this controversial scene, that is currently wreaking havoc with the fandom. My bottom line is this: the one thing that Sam consistently wanted in Season Eight was independence. To figure out where he belonged in the world, and to walk his path alone. Sam has always been an extension of Dean, and, now that he is a man, he is desperate to find who he is unto himself. I believe he is angry that Dean still treats him like a kid. That Dean lives in the past, and will always think of him as someone to protect. Choose for. In telling Dean he wouldn’t have saved him, I don’t believe, in any way, he is saying he doesn’t love Dean anymore. That Dean isn’t the most important person in his life. What he is saying is that he needs Dean to see him as a man, rather than just his snot-nosed kid brother. That he would have respected Dean’s wants as an independent entity, and let him make his choice (something Sam would not have done when he was young and didn’t have the experience he has now.) Does Sam really believe that? I think he does. Will Sam do so if presented with the choice? I don’t think he will. But I think, and it scares me to admit it, that we’re going to get the chance to see exactly what Sam would do in the face of Dean dying before this season’s out.
We’ll have a mini-hiatus to ponder the whole mess, I guess. I’m going to console myself by learning a very abbreviated version of Ashanta yoga. I have a video I plan to watch, over and over, until I get it just right. See you in a few weeks, when we discuss the upcoming episode, “Captives”.