Firstly though, after the drunk-fest that was last week's Quick Reaction, some of you will be sad that this week I am completely sober. Hopefully, I'm still entertaining! I've still only watched the episode once though, so memory might not be perfect, but I will try.
Let's get right down to it...
Was the first death first or was it Sam and Rowena? I can't remember. I'll just talk about the first death - super awesome flashback 1973 look. Super horrible and depressing way to accidentally get your whole family killed, just because you wanted to take out your anger on a basement wall.
Sam and Rowena at the diner... so, the terms? Rowena will help Sam if Sam kills Crowley. Uh, seeing as how Sam's wanted to kill Crowley since he met him, I'm pretty sure that won't be a hardship for him emotionally... it might be hard to do PHYSICALLY, seeing as how it's the one thing Sam has consistently failed to do even though he's had plenty of opportunity.
Rowena claims though, that she can't read the Book of the Damned without this magic codex thingy. The codex thingy is somewhere in the Men of Letters bunker...dun dun dun. Now, I'm thinking that Rowena might not actually NEED the codex to read the book, but instead might need it to become super duper powerful or something... who knows, it's hard to tell where Rowena is lying and where she is telling the truth.
Dean, meanwhile, is slaughtering a vampire trailer park in Tulsa.
I loved the scene where Sam runs up to find all the monsters dead. I know it works on the level of it being a bit scary that Dean is getting bloodlusty again, but it also works on the comedy level of Sam being like "why did you wait so that I could get in on this bloodbath action! You could have SAVED ME ONE!"
I also loved Dean's line of how he hates how Sam looks at him like he's a "diseased killer puppy" - because that really is how Sam looks at him. Sam loves puppies, and diseased killer puppies make him sad.
I also loved Dean's line about how he just wants to go home, shower, and fall asleep watching Speed 2: Cruise Control... and then he does it! I just love it, because it's the kind of line that tells us more about Dean's day - like the fact that before he went off to kill vampires, he downloaded Speed 2: Cruise Control and thought "I'm going to watch this when I get home. That'll be nice." Man, he's adorable.
Meanwhile, while Dean's asleep, Sam is listening to meeting minutes from 1956. All about how Magnus (aka Cuthbert) built a hex box for the codex that was protected by such powerful magic that it killed whoever tried to open it - much to the dismay of the Men of Letters who did not know he had done that.
I actually really love the Werther reference. I studied German lit for a time, and there was nothing me or my friends hated more than whiney Young Werther and his so many emotions that drove him to suicide. Seriously, it's a romance book through and through, so if you ever want to read something that romanticizes emotional instability and suicide, I highly recommend it. I don't know if it's true or not, but I have a fact in my head that suicides actually went up when Goethe published the story. Yikers.
So, Sam calls Rowena to ask for a spell that might break the hex. Rowena rattles off a spell, then tries to offer to help, but Sam shuts her down - I knew right then that the spell wasn't going to work, because a)Rowena just rattled off a spell without knowing the severity of the curse, and b)nothing ever works out for Sam.
Sam really jumps the gun on the "this house must be abandoned" thing. You gotta wait at least ten minutes before you assume that. Still, I love the result of it - the fact that he gets a gun aimed at his genitals through the mail slot. (...hehehe...or should I say male-slot. :P)
He goes back to the car to regroup only to have SURPRISE!DEAN join him. Awww... surprise!Dean is my favourite.
Also, Sam has totally stolen yet another car. Listen, boys, maybe MAYBE you should buy a second car... eventually the Sheriff for whatever county Lebanon KS is in is going to figure out who keeps stealing ALL OF THE CARS. I mean, how many people even live in Lebanon, KS? How long does it take Sam to walk into town from the bunker? Now, before anyone says anything, YES, I've thought of the possibility that they have stolen cars from other cities and driven them home to the Bunker and just continue to use them - but if that were the case, they would have cleaned out the cars...but nope, there's still shit in there from whoever the previous owner was! Sam would have totally cleaned that out if he planned to hold onto it, or use it more than once, or not return it eventually or have it found by police somewhere (which is totally will be in this episode, since he left it out in front of the house.)
Dean thinks Sammy is taking a job on his own in order to teach Dean a lesson in not taking jobs on his own... which, is good for Sam, given that what he's REALLY doing is making shady deals behind his brother's back in a desperate attempt to save him. Thankfully, Dean also tells Sam all the research on the house, that Sam seems to have FAILED TO DO. I mean, really? You're going to go to an address without googling it first to see if it's funky? How many years have you been in this business, Sam?
Anywho, since Sam's been made, it's Dean who goes to the door this time. We have also found out that the old woman who lives there is the same teenager girl that saw her entire family commit suicide after she touched the box. Wow, that sucks.
I love the character Dean puts on to talk to her - how he acts all super uneasy about the gun, and all innocent-like - once again, adorable.
Sam, meanwhile, sneaks in the back and down the stairs to the basement. Solid plan, guys. Of course, Lisa(? Lucy?) puts it together eventually and realizes that Sam's down there and freaks the f*ck out - as well she should. Sam is all distracted by the yelling that the spell does indeed fizzle out before he completes it, but like a doofus, he tries the door anyway, thus unleashing the curse... now, mind you, I'm being really hard on Sam here, we know that the spell never would have worked in the first place - so, for all we know, he DID do it correctly and it wasn't his fault.
The curse thing immediately goes up and infects Dean and the woman... and at first were not even sure if it's got Sam or not, or, like the girl, it missed him and struck other people. Buuuuuut, nope... the woman immediately starts seeing the ghosts of her dead loved ones, and they eventually drive her to kill herself... and then she seems to immediately come back as a ghost in order to goad Sam into doing the same.
This episode is pretty messed up, guys - because it's very much like depression, where it manifests all the voices in your head that want you to kill yourself and it lays out reasonable arguments. I mean, they're not exactly wrong about the problems, it's the solution that is the lie. That's the painful part though, the fact that Sam is HAVING these thoughts... he has to be having them in order for the curse to pray on them (or at least, that's what I'm assuming) - so Sam is under no delusions about how he's going down a dark path, how this woman really is the first innocent victim in his quest to save Dean...how he has in the past done the exact same thing to "save" Dean (ie: he bled that nurse dry in 4x22) and he KNOWS he knows that this is the vicious cycle that his brother and he are constantly locked in, but still, he can't NOT try, he can't NOT bend those rules even though he knows they're wrong.
I also love it when she refers to Dean as "your dimmer brother" - I don't know the exact quote, so the words that come before it might undo my interpretation - but I loved how "dimmer" could refer to intelligence (untrue and Sam knows it) OR light... as in, Dean is dimmer, because age and life have made him not shine like he used to. It's a kind of cheesy interpretation, now that I see it written out, and like I said, the words before might completely undo it and make it clear that it's strickly refering to intelligence - but for a brief moment I really loved how it could have two meanings.
That all being said, the ghost was far too quick, and I don't think this attempt was every going to work - nope, the curse got a whole lot more clever and I totally fell for it right along with Sam.
I believed that Rowena had indeed tracked him down - hoping to get her hands on the codex first, wanting to use Sam to open the door, so that she could abscond with the prize and not owe a dead-man anything.
Meanwhile, Dean is tripping balls in the living room. I love how Dean's fight with the curse was so intense and so all consuming - probably because of the Mark, rather than for any other reason... the curse had to go full-out for Dean... making it seem as though he were transported to Purgatory.
It was really cool to see Purgatory, and even cooler to see Benny! I like Benny.
And, anyone who knows me knows that I LOVE LOVE LOVE episodes where there is a character that is the manifestation of another character's subconscious and they ALL KNOW IT. In this case of course, it's a twisted/ill version of Dean's subconsious that has one goal and one goal only - get Dean to kill himself. I like to call that part of my own subconscious Paul. He wears a suit and sometimes on sunny days when I'm happy and waiting for a light to change, he'll just pop in to say "Life is inherently meaningless" and then I'm like "DAMN IT, PAUL!"
What I really love about the conversation between Dean and Fake!Benny though is that, albeit in a twisted way, it shows us what Dean KNOWS. Dean knows that Sam and Cas love him. He knows that his death would completely ruin them. That's actually pretty big for Dean, because it shows us that for all his hurt feelings last year over what Sam said, he KNOWS that it's not true - that Sam can't and won't and doesn't WANT to just let him die... and he knows that if he does die, Sam's not going to be the happy-go-lucky "let's get my life back on track and go to law school" guy either. He's going to be ruined. And Dean may have asked Cas to kill him back in the previous episode because he knew all this about Sam, but this shows that he ALSO knows it about Cas - that Cas and Sam are really the same when it comes to how much they love Dean and how much they are unwiling to kill him, or to let him die, even if he asks them to. So, on the one hand, Benny trying to convince Dean to off himself was sad, but it was also kind of touching and full of love?
And the full of love thing is the key here - because of all people, I think the hex picked wrong when it picked Benny, because Dean knows that Benny loved him too, that Benny would never tell Dean to kill himself.
I should talk about the purgatory thing though - I love the dichotomy about how Dean both loves and hates Purgatory. He loves it, because you can kill indescriminately and without consequence and Dean is GOOD at killing. There's a satisfaction you get out of a job well done, even if you hate the job.... and that's what Purgatory is for Dean. Dean came out of Purgatory with even more PTSD and angry at Sam for not having rescued him, but he also came out happy, because he did his job well. Dean's sick of fighting, but he does derive joy out of it, even without the Mark.
So, Dean can break out of the curse thing because the Mark doesn't want him to die... that's really what it boils down to. The Mark allows him to see through the lie - mainly, that although Benny is making sense, what he is saying would never actually come out of Benny's mouth... and since Dean also knows that Benny loved him, he knows that if it isn't something the real Benny would say, it's not something that would actually be good for Dean.
Now, with Sam, the curse does a much better job, because it doesn't pit him with a friend - it pits him with an enemy. So, of COURSE they're going to encourage Sam to hurt himself, and Sam isn't weirded out by OOC behaviour, so instead he has to try to be his own friend... which, yeah, Sam is kinda bad at when it comes to being self-sacrificing. In this case, Sam correctly reads the inscription, and then realizes after bleeding just a little, that he's going to have to bleed A LOT to open the door - in fact, he's going to have to bleed himself dry. So, of course he ends up doing it, because in his head, he's thinking that Rowena is there - and she'll take the codex and she'll use it to save Dean...even if Sam isn't there? Of course she wouldn't... but the thing about depression is that it makes bad ideas and bad logic seem like good ideas and good logic.
Luckily, Dean saves the day by realizing that if they split the burden of bleeding between them, they can open the door without dying. Awww, metaphors.
Of course, the whole scene with Dean reveals to us that Rowena was fake the whole time! She's not there on shots that centre on Dean, and only there on shots that centre on her or Sam... and then once Dean opens the box, she disappears in the huff of green smoke that signals the curse. But man, I totally fell for it up until Dean ran into the room and didn't say a thing about her being there.
So, Dean learns from all these metaphors and tells Sam that it's all proof that they're better together, that shitty things happen when they're apart... and Sam is like "aww, I kind of love that you're saying that, but it makes me feel super guilty because I'm totally going behind your back and doing a whole bad-idea quest all on my own."
And then they drive off in the Impala... leaving that stolen car out front for the police to puzzle over.
We then get the meet-up between Sam and Rowena... Rowena pretty much shows her hand when she's so excited about the codex that she stumbles on reassuing Sam that she actually needs it to help Dean and not just for her own purposes. Sam isn't THAT stupid though, he has at least a little bit of a plan... namely, lock Rowena up until she saves Dean, so that she can't just run off with both the codex and the book. I'm not sure this is going to be quite enough to hold her down though.
So, the moral of the story is: Don't let a curse trick you into killing yourself, kids. It's all lies and everyone loves you and would be super sad if you left.
And before I go, I also want to say that I really loved Sam and Rowena's scenes together - I think both Jared and Ruthie did a really good job.
Also, that boop on Dean's nose was adorable... and a really smart adlib (Berens confirmed it as an adlib) because the only other person who has ever booped Dean's nose is Sam. So, obviously, booping Dean's nose is something Sam's subconscious always wants to do. :P
Next week looks wicked too!
As usual, let me know what you thought in comments - if I missed talking about anything super major. Also, as usual, forgive me my spelling mistakes, spell check doesn't work for me on LJ and I am not the world's greatest speller.
(Also, speaking of spelling: For those who read these reviews AND the demented'verse - I'm about to start posting Part 2 of the PPP fic, I'm just waiting for my betas to get back to me.)