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Rewatch S8: 8x14 Trial and Error

Rewatch time! Because things don't get done around here unless I do them...

Now we get to the plot of the back-half of the season. It's time for the Trial-arc to kick in. Surprisingly, just for a 9 episode arc.

We get Kevin working himself to illness. Kid's going to get scurvy if he eats only hotdogs. He's worked so hard that his brain is bleeding out his nose. Listen folks, I think some people need a manual on the Care and Feeding of Your Prophet.

Dean's room!! I love the way he decorates with weapons (says the girl who spent 7 years with a crossbow over her bed.)

Sam: "Wow. Not bad."
Dean: "Not bad? I haven't had my own room...ever! I am making this awesome. I've got my kickass vinyl. I've got this killer mattress. Memory foam. It remembers me. And it's clean too! There's no funky smell. There's no creepy motel stains..."
*Sam throws wrapper at garbage and misses, then shrugs*
Dean: "...Really?!!"
Sam: "Sorry"

- I like how much this says about Dean. The fact that he's thrilled to have a mattress designed to "remember" him - because he'll be sleeping on it more than once. The fact that all these years, he's hated the smell and creepy stains in the cheap motels. The fact that he owns vinyl?!!? Or are they new purchases? Owning vinyl whilst living out of a car doesn't make much sense - but Dean could have picked some up over the years and kept them at various storage units, just as collectors items. Or, seeing the record-player at the Bunker, he could have gone out recently and tracked down all his favourites.

Also, putting the picture of his mom by the lamp.... the thing with bedrooms are that they're a reflection of your personality. Good ones are anyway. It's why I don't actually like those design shows that make bedrooms look like hotel rooms - yes, it's nice - but I prefer my bedroom to feel like *I* live in it. And Supernatural is a show where we've actually been deprived of seeing some of the boys personalities because of the way they live... in shows like Teen Wolf, and White Collar, etc... we see the characters living spaces and how they decorate tells us a lot about them.

And that all being said, I also love the fact that Dean has a Tommy gun about two feet from his headboard. :P

Sam: "You made these?"
Dean: "We have a real kitchen now!"
Sam: "I know, I just didn't think you knew what a kitchen was."
Dean: "I'm nesting, okay- EAT!"... "ah, yeah?"
Sam: "Wow"
Dean: "You're welcome!"

- We always knew that between the two of them, it was actually Dean who was more of a homebody. This whole opening takes me back to John's words in 1x21, when he tells the boys that this life is never what he wanted for them - that he wants Sam to go to school, and he wants "Dean to have a home."
- On a more pedantic note - I guess Sam's forgotten that Dean lived with Lisa and Ben for a whole year. Or, maybe he knows, but just assumed that Lisa did all the kitchen stuff.

I love Sam turning back for the burger after Kevin calls and they have to leave. It says a lot about how good Dean's cooking really is, since Sam isn't actually the hardcore burger lover between them.

Dean: "Okay, I'm going to feel dirty saying this, but you might want a salad... and a shower."
Kevin: "I know, and I've been getting headaches and nosebleed, and I think I may have had a small stroke. But it was worth it!"
Sam: "What was worth it?"
Kevin: "I figured out how to close the gates of hell."
Dean: "Ha! Come here you smelling son of a bitch."
*HUG TIME*

- I love the way Dean actually lifts Kevin off the ground... and then I also love how he pulls away, because Kevin really is rank.
- Also, guys, LOOK AFTER YOUR PROPHET!

Sam: "Trials like Law and Order?"
Kevin: "More like Hercules..."

- Oh Sam, you are never going to successfully use your law knowledge. Also, you never actually went to law school... and the only evidence we have indicates you were thinking of becoming a tax lawyer, and I highly doubt that's applicable in this situation.

Sam: "Kevin, buddy, you gotta slow down."
Kevin: "What?"
Sam: "Get some shut-eye, take a day off, open a window."
Kevin: "No, you said nuking hell - that's how I get out, that's how I go home!"
Sam: "Right, but you can't live like this."
Kevin: "You think I want to? I hate it here! I can't leave because every demon on the planet wants to peel my face off. I can't talk to anyone except for you guys, or Garth when he swings by, or my mom - and when she calls all she does is cry. I just... I need this to be over."
Sam: "I know, I do. But trust me on this - this whole saving the world thing? It's a marathon, not a sprint. You gotta take better care of yourself."

- Yay Sam! I love the metaphor of the marathon vs. sprint. That's spot on. Also, I like Kevin and Sam bonding a bit. They're both characters who are trying to escape the world that they've been thrust into against their will - and both are really doomed never to succeed in that escape. So, you know, it's nice they have each other?

Dean: "I got you a present. The blue ones are for the headaches, the green ones are for pep. Don't OD."
Kevin: "Thanks?"
Sam: "You sure about that?"
Dean: "Sam, we are on the 1 yard line, it is time to play through the pain."

- Oh guys, you really have to have a conferance and hammer down your parenting strategy. You're sending mixed signals to your kid!
- Also, part of me wonders if Dean declaring that it's time to play through the pain contributes to Sam...well... doing just that as the season progresses from here.
- Also, how do people who don't know sports metaphors understand this show? Holy crap. American football isn't even that widely known outside of North America, as far as I know.

Off to Shoshone...

And we meet Ellie! I like her. Also, again, it's nice to have someone who isn't white and doesn't have english as a first language.

Ellie: "Ever worked a farm before?"
Dean: "Definitely!"
Sam: "We're quick learners."

- Technically, Dean HAS worked a farm before - but we don't find that out until S9. :P

Husband dude kind of looks like Zach Galifinakis.

Dean *to the horse*: "I hate you."
- Don't say that to the horse! Poor horse! I hope the horse knows Jensen is acting.

Sam: "So what are we thinking?"
Dean: "Deal wise? Well, Ellie's the help so that rules her out."

- Oh Dean, never rule out the help.

So, I actually forget who all made deals in this episode. But I know that technically only those who made deals should be able to hear the hounds... but I think they kind of do away with that part of the mythology in this episode.

Sam: "Are you okay Mrs. Cassity?"
Mrs. Cassity: "I'm fine."
Sam: "Are you sure?"
Mrs. Cassity: "I really am and I know I shouldn't be, because I loved Carl. I think. I just can't remember why."
Sam: "What do you mean?"
Mrs. Casssity: "I mean Carl grew up around here. We went to school together and he was always mooning over me, but I never - I used to make fun of him."
Sam: "When did you two get together?"
Mrs. Cassity: "Valentines day, 2003, we were at this party..."

- So, basically, Mrs. Cassity has been roofied for the past 10 years. Yeaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhh... that is really not okay.

Dean: "Do we have any graveyard dirt."
Sam: "We should, why?"
Dean: "Yarrow?"
Sam: "Yeah - no! Dean, no! We're not summing a crossroads demon!"
[...]
Sam: "except when Crowley finds out we're dialing up hell, he won't send one hell hound, he'll send a hundred! It's suicide!"
[...]
Dean: "And you want to scope them out?"
Sam: "I want to kill a Hell Hound and not die. How about you?"

- And here's where Sam starts realizing that his brother has a death wish... where did this particular death wish come from? From the same place it did in S2/S3. Dean actually listened to the warning Kevin read to them about not fearing death or torture and realized that he needed to do the trials in order to protect Sam. It's not just about that, I don't think though, I think Dean knows that it was HIS idea to shut-the-gates, that Sam wanted out of hunting - GOT out of hunting - and Dean dragged him back in again, guilt-tripped him about it... but Dean's not a complete bastard. He knows Sam wants a life, hell, Dean wants a life FOR Sam... so, yeah, Dean will take the bullet, because he knows he's the more committed hunter between the two of them. But we'll get to why that is in a second...

Dean: "Impressed?"
Ellie: "I do like a man who can handle his meat."

- Dean really just gets flustered when people hit on him.

Cassity sister: "It was back in the crappy house, when Daddy invited that traveling salesmen to the house. What was his name?"
Old man Cassity: "Kenny?"
All Cassitys: "Cro....crowe....ly?"

- I love Sam's face while they're sounding out Crowley's name.

Kevin: "The dire creatures can be seen only by the damned or through an object scorched with holy fire."
...
Dean: "We could use a window!"
Kevin: "Or glasses"

- Haha, thank goodness they have Kevin, or Dean would be holding up a window :P
- Also, this is a brilliant way to get the Winchesters into glasses.

And we see Kevin reaching for the pep pills instead of getting sleep like Sam told him to.

Ellie: "So, I think you're really hot. Do you want to go to my room and have sex?"
Dean: "What?"
Ellie: "Hi, sorry, I don't usually do this..."

- Hehe, she comes on to people the same way I do! I'm only capable of being straightforward.

Dean: "Hey, Ellie, raincheck"
Ellie: "This is one night only, sorry."

- And there's our biggest clue.

And then Sam's in the woods hunting a hell hound without the proper weapon... and fails, unsurprisingly.

Cassity sister: "I didn't sell my damn soul."
Sam: "Well somebody did! And the sooner that idiot owns up, the sooner the rest of them can go."

- But Margie was just killed? Wouldn't they just assume it was her and that they missed their second chance? (Note from the future: This is explained in the cut scene.)

Old man Cassity: "No way, no way, you can't do this. You can't-"
Dean: "Yes, I can. You want to know why? It's 'cause it's what I do, and, buddy, I'm the best. You see, I gut old yeller out there, and maybe, just maybe, you walk away - I don't, you're meat. So sit down and shut-up, and put these on."

- I love Dean when he declares that he's the best, 'cause he is!

Sam: "...they're on lock-down and you need backup!"
Dean: "No, I don't."
Sam: "Yes, you do."
Dean: "No, I need you to be safe, okay, Sam. That's what I need."
Sam: "What? When am I- when are *we* ever safe?"
Dean: "This is different"
Sam: "How?"
Dean: "Because of the three trials crap. God's little obstacle course. We've been down this road before man, with yellow-eyes, Lucifer, Dick friggin' Roman, we both know how this ends. One of us dies... or worse."

- I do like how Dean's figured out the pattern. Also, I like how he adds the "or worse" - because there HAS been things worse then death, or...worse and INCLUDED in death.

Sam: "So what? You just up and decided it's going to be you?"
Dean: "I'm a grunt, Sam. You're not, you've always been the brains of this operation."
Sam: "Dean-"

- Dean calling himself a grunt in comparison to Sam, really speaks to Dean's self-esteem issues...which I don't think have been given that much attention since S2/S3. Also, it really reminds me of my best friend who has such a huge inferiority complex when it comes to his younger brother, who he believes is more handsome and talented than he is. Really, it's just that their talents lie in different areas. His brother is a music prodigy, and my best friend is a language prodigy... both of them have perfect pitch and an amazing ear for sound, they just channeled that gift into two different fields. I think it's the same with Sam and Dean - they're both VERY intelligent, which is one of the reasons I love the show, but Dean channels his intelligence into practical matters, and Sam channels his into more academic matters... and because of the value society puts on academic-intelligence over practical-intelligence (example: Professors are seen as more intelligent than mechanics), Dean assumes this means that Sam is smarter than him.

Dean: "And you told me yourself, that you see a way out. You see a light at the end of this ugly ass tunnel. I don't. I'll tell you what I do know - is that I'm going to die with a gun in my hand. That's what I have waiting for me. That's all I have waiting for me. I want you to get out. I want you to have a life. Become a men of letters, whatever. You, with a wife and kids and grand kids, living until you're fat and bald and chugging viagra - that is my perfect ending and it's the only one that I'm going to get. So I'm going to do these trials and I'm going to do them alone. End of story. So, I'm going to go out there and you're going to stay here. If a land shark comes knocking, you call me. If you try to follow me, I'm going to put a bullet in your damn leg."
- This speech of Dean's breaks my heart for so many reasons. The main one is that we know, we KNOW that Dean actually does want a home and a family and all the same stuff that Sam wants - the problem is that Dean been a soldier since he was five years old, and the one time he tried to get out of hunting, he couldn't fit back into society, not really... it didn't help that he was also completely miserable because his brother was dead. It's the heartbreak of a lot of heroes - in so much as the act of saving the world, changes them in such a way that they're no longer able to enjoy the world they saved. They end up saving it for other people, but not themselves. That's exactly what Dean is doing here. He knows that Sam CAN get out and CAN live a normal life, he's done it twice in his life already.
- So, Dean's happy ending, what he fights for, is actually a happy ending for SAM. All Dean knows is how to fight, how to be a soldier, how to be a weapon... and he knows it's eventually going to kill him for good, and he's made peace with that. It DOES make sense for him to do the trials, because he's not robbing Sam of the future that Sam wants, and Dean keeps pulling him away from... instead he's giving it to him. Dean does the trials, and even if they kill him, if he succeeds, then Sam gets to retire like he wants.
- I also find it heartbreaking that Dean wants Sam to get married and have kids... because, yeah, I kind of see that never happening, the way this show is going.

I love Sam's glasses - they're a similar to style to what I wear.

Ellie listening to Touch Myself is great. I don't actually know if that is what the song is called, but it's awesome song choice for the scene. And of course, we find out that Ellie's the one on the hook.

Ellie: "I did it for my mom, Dean. What would you do for your mom?"
- Oh, low blow. Dean has already done a deal for his brother - and whether he realized it was a stupid move or not since then, he's still exhibiting the same behaviour AS WE SPEAK.

But Crowley didn't tell Ellie about the ten year limit. That's kind of bad salesmanship there - Crowley's usually a bit more open about what he's doing... a BIT more.

Freaky Dean is freaky.

He should make that goofer dust circle big enough for her to sit down in... though, I guess he's not planning to take THAT long.

The hell hound is really cool, I think. And really well done for a VFX team that had no experience animating animals.

And Sam guts the hell-hound... and it is cool and disgusting. And I think Dean knows - knows right away that Sam's on hook for the trials now.

Ellie: "You need to go to the hospital"
Dean: "Nah, I've had worse"
Sam: "Yeah, he's had worse"

- Um, I think the time that you had worse is the time that you DIED. :P Okay, that's probably not true - Sam and Dean have been around long enough that they probably know exactly what wounds they need to go to the hospital for.

But they actually save Ellie! That's a first...well, SECOND, for the Winchesters... but I think if hex bags worked, they would have used them when Dean had his deal. Or did they not know about hex bags then? Was that a S4 introduction? I'd consult my notes, but I'm lazy.

Sam: "Even if she can dodge Crowley, as soon as Ellie dies, her soul is earmarked for hell."
Dean: "Not if we shut it down first."

- So, this is interesting, because I debated what "shutting the gates of hell" meant - and I always assumed it just meant that DEMONS would be trapped in hell. Not that humans souls wouldn't go there anymore.
- Also, this means that when Dean decides that closing the gates of hell isn't worth Sam's life - that means that he's dooming Ellie to her fate.

Dean: "It doesn't matter. We'll track down another hell hound and I'll kill it."
Sam: "No."
Dean: "Sam, I didn't pass the test."
Sam: "But I did, and I'm doing the rest of them."
Dean: "My ass you are!"
Sam: "Closing the gates, it's a suicide mission for you."
Dean: "Sam-"
Sam: "I want to shut Hell too, okay, but I want to survive it. I want to live and so should you. You have friends up here. Family. And hell, you even got your own room now. You were right, okay? I see light at the end of this tunnel, and I'm sorry you don't, I am, but it's there, and if you come with me, I could take you to it."
Dean: "Sam, be smart."
Sam: "I am smart... and so are you! You're not a grunt, Dean. You're a genius. When it comes to lore- You're the best damn hunter I have ever seen. Better than me, better than Dad. I believe in you, Dean, so please, please, believe in me too."

- Yay for Sam! I love the fact that Sam actually says this to Dean. I think Dean needs to hear it... and also some fanfiction writers out there need to hear it...and also possibly some writers in the writers room. :P I think there's a tendency, because Dean's the comic relief in the show, to think that means that he has to be stupid, but it's just not the case. I've already been on my rant about how Dean and Sam are of equal intelligence, but they just applie it differently, so I won't repeat myself. But yeah... so glad that someone actually said this to Dean's face.
- Sam, of course, stays in his place as resident optimist to counter Dean's pessimism. It's an aspect of their relationship that I've always enjoyed.
- Also, here we get Sam's speech about how he doesn't think Dean should do the trials because there's a greater chance that he'll die if he's expecting/willing to die... and Sam isn't expecting/willing to die.... right now. That, we'll see, changes at some point. When? I'm not sure... maybe it's a slow realization as Sam gets sicker. I know Sam eventually says it's because he wants to not let Dean down again, and if he has to die to do that, then that's the way it is... I think it's a combination of the two. I think Sam might realize, in the upcoming episodes, that he's not going to survive, that the trials are going to kill him - and he has the option to admit it to Dean and stop the trials, but he's worried about letting Dean down, and possibly also not knowing if he CAN stop, if that's even allowed. But, I guess I'm getting ahead of myself here.
- There could also factor into this, the fact that Sam asked Dean to believe in him - and Dean DOES - so now Sam's under added pressure not to let Dean down, because it took some arguing for Dean to be willing to trust Sam with this. Which, you know, doesn't necessarily help Sam's issues with feeling not-trusted. Another contributing factor to him deciding that it's better to prove himself to Dean then to live.
- I do think it's distressing to Sam to find out that Dean expects to die hunting, that he doesn't see a happy ending for himself. I think it smacks of Dean's demon deal to Sam, which is something Sam doesn't want to live through again. It's fine for Dean to hunt until he dies, if that's what he WANTS, but it's another thing all together for him to do it just because he can't see a way to anything better.

Sam says the spell and then the arm glowy thing happens. It's an enochian spell, and the only other time we've see that it was powered by a soul - so I think that's the same thing that's happening here. The spell, which must be a powerful one, is being powered by Sam's already horribly damaged soul.

CUT SCENE
Sam tossing the old man in side after Margo died... oh man... okay, so Sam tells Dean about how Margo is dead, and Dean gets mad because they missed their chance, and then they hear the hell hound howl and realize that it's not done yet. THIS EXPLAINS WHY THEY STUCK AROUND. I think they should have figured out a way to leave this scene in somehow.


Yay! Complete!

As always, I welcome your comments!

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Comments

( 10 comments — Leave a comment )
painangrrfear
Jan. 3rd, 2014 01:59 am (UTC)
I do so enjoy reading your commentaries. I agree whole-heartedly with your assessment of Dean's intelligence! He is brilliant, as is Sam, but their strengths are in different areas. Complementary areas, really, which is what makes them such a formidable team of hunters.

That Dean has been a soldier almost his entire life and therefore can't really fit in to 'peacetime' society is spot on, too.

Happy new year!
hells_half_acre
Jan. 3rd, 2014 02:33 am (UTC)
Happy New Year to you as well! :)

And yes, there's a reason why Dean and Sam are such a formidable team, and it's because they balance each other so well. :)

I'm glad you enjoy my commentaries!
borgmama1of5
Jan. 3rd, 2014 03:25 am (UTC)
...the act of saving the world, changes them in such a way that they're no longer able to enjoy the world they saved.

I think you've encapsulated the true tragedy of Sam and Dean in that sentence, and it breaks my heart.

And that interaction of Dean saying he's a grunt and Sam telling him he's a genius is the summary of the messed-up state Dean has been in since day 1 and why they are necessary for each other's survival. And why I cared so much about this show--I wanted to see Dean realize his worth with Sam's help.

I use past tense because after the mid-season episode I don't believe I will ever get what I want to see--emotional growth--the story seems stuck on keeping Dean as beat down as possible. Which makes me feel distant from my passion now.

Edited at 2014-01-03 03:31 am (UTC)
hells_half_acre
Jan. 3rd, 2014 03:36 am (UTC)
Yeah, I can understand that. We started to have Dean grow out of his self-esteem problems in S3, only to have them redouble after the hell-trauma, and they've never really addressed them since. It can get frustrating after so many years of not having that part of his character addressed or changed. Dean's kind of become the whipping boy of the show, in a way.

So, yeah, I completely understand where you're coming from there!
borgmama1of5
Jan. 3rd, 2014 06:16 am (UTC)
Dean's kind of become the whipping boy of the show

Sadly, that phrase describes where the show has failed me. And I get the whole 'it's not my show, it's Carver's and the writers and if I don't like what they are giving me, then stop watching.

But because I am the kind of person that HAS to finish what she started, I won't quit watching...I just don't care as much anymore.

Which makes me very sad...and I will do my best not to spoil other peoples' love.
hells_half_acre
Jan. 3rd, 2014 06:35 am (UTC)
I understand.

I lose interest in shows frequently (SPN's an aberration in the trend), so I'm not the sort of person who has to finish what I start...

That being said, I can admit that I prefer thinking of S1-S5 (perhaps minus the last shot of Sam) as a complete series, and S6 onwards as a different show.
supernutjapan
Jan. 3rd, 2014 06:12 am (UTC)
As you know I've just finished reviewing Season 1 and half of Season 2 - I'm doing my review of Crossroad Blues this week - AND I just read through all of Mark's reviews of Season 1 (awesome!!) so Season 8's sacrificial tendencies of both Sam and Dean remind me so much of these early seasons.

At the end of Season 1, it is Sam (and John) who are all for sacrificing their lives for revenge, and Dean that reminds Sam that Dean loves him and needs him. Then at the beginning of Season 2 we have Sam trying to convince Dean that he was worth John's sacrifice.

At the beginning of season 8, we have Dean willing to sacrifice himself and Sam telling him that Sam needed him and that it was not worth getting killed over - that they could make it through alive (which kind of reminds me of Sam's words to dad in that car-crash scene at the end of Season 1...) and at the end of Season 8 the roles are reversed and it is Dean that reminds Sam of the same fact.

*note on the hex bags... as far as I remember, the first they are introduced is by Ruby in Season 4 I believe, when they were hiding from both demons and angels. She could have given them the bags in Season 3... but we can imagine why she didn't.

We always knew that between the two of them, it was actually Dean who was more of a homebody.
The fact that all these years, he's hated the smell and creepy stains in the cheap motels.


This and your reference to John's speech - So true! There is a little bit of this in Simon Said too, where Dean is complaining of having to eat something he had to warm up in a minimart(?). The fact that John knew this and felt for Dean... is so heart-wrenching.

So, Dean's happy ending, what he fights for, is actually a happy ending for SAM.

exactly...which Dean wants to come after he dies since he would rather Sam stayed with him until then... It's almost like he's saying, "I'm going to do these trials and die so you can go and live a long normal life."

Haha, thank goodness they have Kevin, or Dean would be holding up a window :P25r30wi




Edited at 2014-01-03 06:13 am (UTC)
hells_half_acre
Jan. 3rd, 2014 06:41 am (UTC)
Definitely the sacrificial tendencies are a merry-go-round that the Winchesters haven't been able to get off of yet! :P

And thanks for the note about the hex bags- I had a feeling that was the case. And I do think you're right about that.. that it's a S4 introduction, because in S3 the demons NEEDED Dean to go to hell.

Glad you enjoyed the review ;)
liliaeth
Jan. 3rd, 2014 10:53 am (UTC)
I think it's the same with Sam and Dean - they're both VERY intelligent, which is one of the reasons I love the show, but Dean channels his intelligence into practical matters, and Sam channels his into more academic matters... and because of the value society puts on academic-intelligence over practical-intelligence (example: Professors are seen as more intelligent than mechanics), Dean assumes this means that Sam is smarter than him.

Hell just look at what Dean's managed to do with the Impala, after the s1 finale, even Bobby thought it was scrap. And somehow Dean still managed to fix it...
hells_half_acre
Jan. 3rd, 2014 05:06 pm (UTC)
Exactly.
( 10 comments — Leave a comment )