First: Still been drinking, still only seen it once, still won't remember everything exactly. Only correct me if I ask.
Really, I was expecting stupid-funny, not classic SPN "super serious and heartfelt while using a ridiculous premise to somehow make those punches to the gut even hearder." (There's probably a shorter way to convey that, but I've been drinking.)
Let's talk about the episode in some semblance of an order though, because I made notes (not very good notes) so that I could do just that....
Guys, I love Sparkle. I'm super super sad by this teaser death. I think this is possibly the first teaser death that I'm gut-wrenched over, because I have a thing for non-gender-compliant men.
So, let's skip to Sam waking up at 6:30 am... and he's ADORABLE. And he's had a hair-cut and it looks really good! I like that length of hair on Sammy. Sam goes on to do a great impression of me in the mornings, only I never get up at 6:30am. That is the devil.
Sam is surprised in the kitchen by a table full of sweets. And then an imaginary friend! I think it's kinda neat how they did this shot, because everyone is like a little kid when they first wake up, and then there's Sam's little-kid imaginary friend. It's a cool sort of.. unconscious ease into the premise and the characters.
We meet Sully, and then Dean comes in and is super confused by Sam threatening to punch the air. Sully makes himself visible to Dean and then asks for help. Apparently, imaginary friends are called Zanna (which I thought was spelled Xana, which would have been really cool, because I like Xs) and they are legit BEINGS whose purpose it is to help little kids through hard times. AWwwwwwwwwwww
Dean orders Sam to join him in the library and he even walks out of the room like a chastized little kid. Also... guys, were there ALWAYS two doors to the kitchen!?! This has blown my mind.
Anyway, floorplan aside - we find out that Sam indeed had an imaginary friend when he was 9 years old. And this is where I realize that Sam was 8 when he found out that hunting was real, and so he needed a Zanna because he was probably FREAKED.... oh man, emotions.
Sam believes that Sully really is his imaginary friend though, because he's the only one that Sam ever told about his craving for marshmellow nachoes. (Also, this makes Dean's story last season about putting marshmellows in mac&cheese and Sam LIKING it make so much more sense... Sam obviously had really really weird taste buds as a kid....and liked marshmellows.)
So, we find out that Zanna guard and protect lost children. Sam wants to help, so it's off to Wisconsin!
When they arrive, they decide OUTSIDE THE HOUSE to go with Child trauma councillor aliases... and then what? They change in the car? They just happened to have those sweaters?! I mean, I've changed in a crowd at a music festival, and I've changed in a car at a beach, but I've never changed completely in a car on a suburban street... and I'm only 5'7''.
Dean questions why Sam even needed a Zanna as a kid, and Sam points out that he was a lonely kid. Dean takes offense at this because Sam had DEAN...
Then it's FLASHBACK TIME! Man, I love flashbacks and I was completely unspoiled for this episode containing flashbacks!!!
We get to see new young Sam, who is ADORABLE... and he might not be as spot on as Colin Ford, but he's got the same cat eyes and slim jaw. And yeah, SUPER ADORABLE.
But the flashback does a good job of explaining why Sam needed a Zanna... I guess once Sam found out about hunting, John might have let Dean come on more hunts with him, since Sam was gaining the knowledge to look after himself. Still, uh, I don't know about the US, but in Canadaland, kids aren't allowed to be left home alone until they're 11. Anyway, with John AND Dean gone, probably after a childhood of Sam always having Dean with him, of COURSE Sam was going to be lonely. Not only that, but we know from A Very Supernatural Christmas that Sam WORRIED about John surviving in a way that Dean didn't seem to... and now probably he was lonely and scared that he was going to lose both John AND Dean. Oh man, poor Sammy.
Also, we get to see Dylan Everett as Dean again. It's an interesting choice, because if Sam's 9, then Dean's only 13, and I think Dylan is getting a LITTLE old to be playing that age, but hey, I love him, I don't care.
Back to the present and the boys are posing as children's trauma councillors. Their introduction made my friend laugh, because he pointed out that doctors don't have "partners" they have "colleagues" the only time they have a "partner" is if it's a romantic partner. So, we made a bunch of jokes about "Oh, how sweet that you two work together too.... You must have a very strong relationship to both work AND live together?, etc..."
Dean really loves his portmanteau names and can't help declaring that Sparkle is a manicorn. Oh Dean, there's a time and a place. The poor kid is traumatized though.
Sure enough, there is blood all over the room... glitter blood. Sully wammies them so that they can see, and I love the scene of the mother coming in and traipsing through blood and getting it all over her face, and the three of them are horrified but don't know what to say. I mean, the RIGHT thing to say would be "Make a show of cleaning the room." But, yeah, Dean goes the "shower together" route and I loved Sully telling him "pull up pull up!" because I think that just shows exactly the role that Zanna play in a kid's life, only Dean obviously never had one (or perhaps has forgotten his completely, and/or, we just don't know about it.)
Personally, my imaginary "friend" was a cheetah. So, I don't know how that works. It's not like it could talk. It just ran alongside the car. (My family drove a LOT... Canada is really big, you guys, there's a whole lot of wilderness to run through).
Next up, it's a mermaid Zanna that gets stabbered.
Sully leads them to her when she doesn't check in - and they find her dead. Awww...
I forget if it's here, or just before here, but at some point Sully and Dean are left alone for two seconds, and Dean asks how Sully is doing or something, and Sully says that he has to "stay strong for Sam." And man, the feelings, and I think that makes Dean have feelings too - because I'm pretty sure that Dean's been doing that his whole life as well.
Anyway, they can't leave the mermaid for the little girl to find, so they bury her in the backgarden.
And then it's another flashback time!!
Sam and Sully are playing a game of "ever think" and Sam tells Sully about the time he thought he could fly and broke his arm, and it's all very cute... and then Sam asks "ever think of running away?" and man, Sully actually is a good Zanna, because he comes back with "ever think about going to school and making friends?" He's trying to get Sam to connect with people, to not be isolated and depressed... and FEELINGS... but even when Sam talks about running away, Sully isn't openly discouraging, he just tries to come up wtih alternatives that wouldn't put Sam in danger, but he respects Sam's decisions even as a 9 year-old. Sully actually says, "it's your choice, your life" - and yeah, thus Sully becomes basically the first and only person in Sam's life to gives Sam AGENCY over his own life. Man, all the Sam!Feels.
Meanwhile, back in the present, the crew go to talk to Weems, the Mermaid's boyfriend and fellow Zanna.
Weems, is a dude with a mullet...and he is being attacked before they even get there! Oh no! His little charge has wet the bed and he's out hanging up the laundry. But he's not killed, so he can telepathically call for Sully to come help him. He also sees a girl run off towards a VW Bug.
When the boys and Sully arrive, they find Weems in the huge spooky garage. He was stabbed through the love-handle. Awww... I love his and Sully's brief conversation about how great body fat is.
Dean doesn't understand what's special about Weems, and we find out that he can play air guitar. It's a cute and funny scene.
Dean runs off to try to find the girl, and Sully runs off to get medical supplies for Weems...which leaves Sam and Weems alone. And another nice touch was Sully turning around and saying directly and clearly to Sam that he'd be right back. I love throughout this episode how Sully really did act in every scene like Sam was the centre or his world and the most important person to him... and here we see the care that he took with Sam as a kid too, because he reassures Sam, who was kid who was abandoned for days at a time, that Sully would be right back, that he wasn't leaving.
This line also tells Weems who Sam is, and he misunderstands and thinks that Sam needs Sully again, like a lost child...rather than Sully coming to Sam for help for himself. But, I like the fact that although Weems initially lets on that it's a bizarre situation to have an adult need an imaginary friend, he then switches into understanding-mode and says that "we all need a tune-up from time to time" or whatever exact words he uses...and I like that because it's true. You don't leave therapy and never need it again at all, that's just not reality. (And Sully was totally therapy for young Sam). In reality, you often need someone to talk to, more than once...sometimes years apart, and in different levels of severity, but you WILL need to talk to someone to keep yourself sane eventually, whether that's a therapist or a good friend or a priest or a parent.
Weems also tells us that Sam broke Sully's heart. So, FLASHBACK TIME.
We get a flashback of how it ended between Sam and Sully - and it was when John changed his mind about Sam being on the hunt. Even though he seemed all set to run away, as soon as the prospect came up of reuniting with the family he loved and possibly being respected by them as a fellow hunter...well, Sam changed his mind and wanted to join them. And who could blame him. This is the first time we see Sully be skeptical of Sam's choice, probably because he knows how much Sam doesn't like hunting and probably, at this stage, is only enthusiastic about it as a show for Dean and John in the hopes that he'll be loved. (Because lets not forget that both Sam and Dean have "Dad liked my brother best" complexes). And, true to Winchester fashion, as soon as it appears that Sully is standing between Sam and his family, Sam wishes Sully away... Sam recognizes that Dean told him on the phone what was preventing John from seeing Sam as a viable hunter and that was the fact that he was a kid WITH AN IMAGINARY FRIEND. So, if he doesn't have an imaginary friend anymore... well, then he's one step closer to being treated like Dean rather than treated like Sam.
Again, Sully is awesome though, because although his heart probably is breaking, he wishes Sam a "good long life" very sincerely, and with the sort of emotion that tells you that the reason he didn't want Sam to go hunting was because he's afraid it will be the death of Sam.
Back in the present, Sam takes the first chance he has to apologize to Sully for the way things ended, saying that he was a "jerk kid". Sully forgives him (of course), and tells Sam that he had thought Sam was one of his failures, but that he wasn't - because Sam SAVED THE WORLD, and Sam is good... and oh man....
And then Sam talks to Sully the way young!Sam probably talked to Sully... he DOES go in for a tune-up with his therapist. He confides in Sully about how he's also done bad things, and how he released the Darkness, and how he wants to fix it, but he's SCARED. And man, it's such a good scene and so well acted, because Sam really is like a scared little kid here, and Sully just goes right back to... I don't want to say treating him like a kid...but treating him like he is LOVED and that his emotions have validity... and he goes back to talking to him like he did when Sam was a kid, not to treat him like a kid, but to give him the comfort of that relationship. It's speaking to Sam in a language that Sam is comfortable with and understands.
He asks Sam "ever think of running away?" and Sam tells him that he hasn't in a while. (And then I have another quote written down in my notes that must have been important, but my hand writing is SO BAD, you guys.... SO BAD. "Ever think about awerp a min va?" Like, seriously? What doea that mean?!)
Dean texts that he found the stabber, but IT'S A TRAP!
The Stabber is a woman and she has Dean, and it's all an elaborate trap for Sully... and before you ask why she killed his friends instead of going straight for him? Sully was in the main office, he wasn't in the field anymore. I had this thought too, but then realized.
The girls name is Reese and when Sully arrives, we find out that in her opinion Sully killed her sister, Audrey, because Sully accidentally let Audrey chase him into the street and she got hit by a car. Then, to compound the problem, Sully was so ashamed of himself and scared of hurting another kid that he abandoned Reese to grieve alone...so, she went insane, moved to Romania, found a witch, and then set in motion a plan for revenge... a plan which had her murdering two people and traumatizing another kid, good jorb, Reese.
Sully, though, is an imaginary friend until the end, and he decides that if killing him is going to make Reese feel better, then he'll let her do it. Dean, meanwhile, is frantically getting out of his bounds, and telling Reese that revenge is NEVER a good idea and it never makes you feel better.
In the end, Reese just needed a hug, and apparently she's forgiven for killing two people and traumatizing a poor kid. Whatevs, hopefully Sully talks her into going into therapy where someone can keep tabs on her sociopathic tendencies (or whatever the PC term for that is.)
Then we get a chat between Sully and Sam, where Sam tells Sully that if there's one thing he's learned, it's that heroes aren't perfect. And Sully tells Sam that he's learned that if you're scared of something, then that something must be really important.
And then Sully and Dean have a nice moment where they thank each other for looking out for Sam... and AWWW... I have a feeling that part of the reason Dean disliked Sully so much was because it was DEAN'S job to look after Sam, not Sully's... but I think Dean has reached an age where he's realized that it's good to have help, and also that his personality is not solely comprised of looking after Sam.
Then there's a great cut that transitions us into the car, and we get a bro-ment. Sam brings up the cage again, saying they have to seriously consider it. Dean tells him it's not happening and that there's gotta be another way. Sam asks him what the hell the other way is then? But Dean doesn't have an answer for him.
DUN DUN DUN...
Seriously though, I know I forgot a lot in there... there's some GREAT quotes, and Jared, Nate Torrence, young Sam actor-dude, just knocked this episode out of the park. Richard Speight Jr. did an awesome job directing, because every joke landed REALLY well, and there were great visual gags, and great transitions, but it also had a HUGE amount of heart, and those are my favourite episodes of Supernatural, where we can go from Manicorns to SO MUCH LOVE THAT IT MAKES ME CRY in one episode.
Next week is the mid-season finale, and it looks SUPER INTENSE, YOU GUYS!
I have said "you guys" far too much in this write-up, but I am Canadian, and I have been drinking.... you guys.