bardicvoice (bardicvoice) wrote,

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2.19 Folsom Prison Blues: We Pay Our Debts

Vigilante nurse

Kills lawbreaking cons and guards

Where the boys are jailed.


In a return to classic Supernatural, the Winchester brothers, responding to a call for help from one of John’s old Marine buddies, deliberately got themselves tossed in jail (”This is without a doubt the dumbest, craziest thing we’ve ever done, and that’s in a long, storied career of dumb and crazy,” as Sam so aptly put it) in order to put a stop to a ghost killing guards and inmates. No sooner were they arrested than FBI agent Hendricksen caught up with them, however, further complicating their lives. Inside the prison, Dean adapted comfortably to the local culture and Sam fretted, and both worked to deal with the presumed culprit, the ghost of a dead psycho killer inmate. While Dean triggered a diversion in the form of a fight with another prisoner, Sam snuck away to burn the remnants of blood from the dead inmate in the old cell block, but Dean’s confrontation with a female ghost in the prison infirmary indicated that the inmate wasn’t the spirit they needed to destroy. With the time until their prearranged escape from the prison rapidly evaporating, Dean persuaded the boys’ public defender to learn how the prison nurse had died and where she was buried. The boys faked a fight, and their contact Deacon – none other than the prison guard who’d been closest to them all the time – provided their promised and foolproof escape. They dug up the grave and burned the corpse in time to save Deacon from the ghost, and their lawyer lied to Hendricksen about the location of the cemetery, buying them time to escape again. This time, they knew they would have to go deep under cover, given how hot and how close the pursuit would be.


I enjoyed Folsom Prison Blues for many reasons. Dean’s attitude and snark were in full flower, and his references to nearly every prison escape film ever made, including my personal favorite, The Great Escape, were delightful – kudos to John Shiban for a lovely script. Director Mike Rohl seems to be making the police procedurals his particular Supernatural forte, given that his last outing was The Usual Suspects. Sam’s facial and verbal reactions to Dean’s plan and to being in prison, particularly to being assigned a cell mate even bigger than he was and to how easily Dean seemed to fit into the prison system, were priceless.


In many ways, however, my biggest enjoyment was Deacon. The boys’ contact, a prison guard, was yet another link to John. Dean explained to Sam precisely why he had responded to Deacon’s plea for help, and was willing to go to the extent of putting the two of them in prison at the risk of their very lives even with a guaranteed escape in the offing: Deacon had served with John in the Marine Corps and had saved his life once. When Sam reiterated his objections to the whole plan of going to jail, Dean’s response was telling: ”We may not be saints, but we’re loyal. And we pay our debts. Now that means something to me, and it ought to to you, too.” But here’s the thing: Deacon clearly wasn’t a hunter. If he’d been a hunter, he’d have had the skills to identify, track down, and eliminate the ghost of Nurse Glockner himself. No – Deacon was Corps, a piece of John’s normal past, but he still knew and believed enough about what John and his sons had gotten into to know to call them for help with the supernatural. John had clearly maintained this old friendship even after Mary’s death and to the extent of having shared with Deacon what he and his boys could do, and Deacon had believed. There’s something noble about all parts of that equation, and particularly about Dean’s determination to repay Deacon for having once saved their father’s life. I wonder: will we get to see Deacon in the comic book that will detail John’s initiation into the hunter life, perhaps as the one solid link between his normal past and his anything-but-normal new obsession?


Dean was also fully back into the focus he’d had throughout season one, of hunting to save the lives of others. That, even more than the trademarked humor, was an indication of how far Dean had come back to himself since confessing to Sam about the burden that John had laid on him, the burden that had nearly driven him over the edge into the abyss of despair. Dean, not redemption-seeking Sam, was the one pressing for saving lives – even the lives of convicted felons – in despite of the potential cost. This time, Sam wasn’t convinced that the game was worth the candle, given that the victims weren’t exactly innocent. Dean was the one who wanted to complete the hunt, even if it took him staying in prison after Sam escaped. Sam insisted on sticking to the plan, on both of them leaving together and on schedule, and Dean conceded to his brother, but not without reluctance. He did it whole-heartedly only after learning that the lawyer had given them the information they needed, and that the bones to burn were outside the prison. And that was when Sam, too, admitted to Deacon that the Winchesters had owed him.


Saving people, hunting things – the family business. John would be very proud of his boys.


There were too many good lines to quote, especially since everyone else has doubtless gotten to them already. But knowing the origins of the actors, I had to laugh out loud at Dean’s line, “What, are you from Texas all of a sudden?”, when Sam chuckled derisively at Dean for having called the inmate victims innocent. Dean’s follow-up – “Just ‘cause these people are in jail doesn’t mean that they deserve to die.” – pretty much made me cheer. Way to go, Dean. Nice to see the boy get all of his compassion back.


This episode was an interesting exercise in the differences between the brothers both in attitude and execution. Sam didn’t want to take insane chances with their freedom, knowing that the FBI was on their trail: Dean believed that the plan, with its guaranteed get-out-of-jail-free card in the person of Deacon, offset their personal danger enough to warrant taking on the hunt, especially with the goal of paying a debt for John. However angry Dean still is with John for his choices in selling his soul and burdening Dean with the obligation to either save or kill Sam, Dean still loves his father with all his heart, and that’s what was driving him on this hunt: living up to his father, doing the right thing the best way he knew how, as John would have expected and done himself. Sam could see the potential downsides and consequences all too clearly, and understood much better than Dean the limitations on attorney-client confidentiality; Sam realized the true stakes better than Dean, and worried more as a result. Dean trusts to luck, his charisma, and winning people to his side: Sam trusts only to the plan and their training, and still expects the worst. Dean’s the optimist, Sam’s the pessimist, and the two of them together balance each other out.


Me, I’m a realist, and I expect that the next three episodes will test both brothers to their limits, and prove both of them both right and wrong.

Tags: episode commentaries, jared padalecki, jensen ackles, meta, supernatural

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