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24 November 2010 @ 10:08 pm
6.09 Clap Your Hands If You Believe …: The Truth Is In There  
6.09 Clap Your Hands If You Believe …: The Truth Is In There
 
New Age masquerade:
Fairies pose as aliens,
Stealing first-born sons. 
  
 
Episode Summary
 
In Elwood, Indiana, a couple of teenagers making out in a cornfield saw lights flicker and something passed them by, moving fast. Following the motion, the boy, Patrick, emerged from the corn only to be swallowed up in a blinding white light and disappear, and the girl found herself standing alone in a crop circle.
 
A couple of months later, Sam and Dean, investigating four unexplained disappearances in Elwood beginning with Patrick, interviewed Wayne Whittaker, a UFO nut who said he’d come to Elwood because it was a nexus of alien activity; the girl who’d been with Patrick when he vanished, who talked about the white light and maintained something had taken him; a hippie chick who said entities were here to push humans to the next level; a cop who was disgusted that the UFO flap was obscuring the real investigation of four missing persons; and a sweet older lady named Marion who maintained it wasn’t UFOs at all, but fairies. When Sam boorishly insulted Marion, asking if UFOs weren’t insane enough for her and saying all she was missing were a bunch of cats, Dean hauled him off and took him to task for his attitude, telling him he needed to at least pretend to have empathy to interact with people. Dean stressed Sam had to care, at least about being human, and when Sam protested that, being without a soul, he couldn’t care, Dean told him to fake it. Frustrated at being told to pretend again after Dean had stressed the importance of being honest, Sam said pretending ever since he’d rejoined Dean and picking every word had been exhausting, and Dean allowed that he’d be Sam’s conscience – Jiminy Cricket to Sam’s Pinocchio.
 
Posing as reporters, the brothers visited Patrick’s father, Mr. Brennan, the town watchmaker. Brennan maintained Patrick was gone, that he’d been taken, and no one could help get him back. When Sam challenged his certainty, asserting Brennan knew more than he was saying, Dean reined him in, and Brennan responded that the chance of recovery dropped drastically after the first 72 hours and Patrick had been gone for weeks. Dean left his phone number in case anything would occur to Brennan, and left with Sam. With them gone, Brennan worriedly asked the air if that was all right, and a watch hanging over the worktable rotated in answer.
 
Leaving the shop, Dean agreed he thought Brennan was hiding something. He advised Sam to stay and watch the watchmaker while he checked out the crop circles, and gave Sam explicit instructions not to make judgment calls or do anything to Brennan other than watch.
 
Out at the crop circles, Dean left the Impala’s engine running and used its headlamps to light his way into the corn. Sam called to report Brennan was simply working on getting drunk at the local bar, but while they were on the phone, the Impala’s engine died and it headlights turned off. Dean pulled a gun and looked up to see a bright saucer-shaped light in the sky heading his way. Shouting that a UFO was after him, he ran through the corn. Intrigued, Sam asked what kind of close encounter he was having, and unsympathetically advised him to watch out if it was a third kind already, because he thought the fourth kind was a butt thing. Ordering another beer, he listened to Dean’s flight. Caught by the light, Dean dropped his phone and pulled a knife, glancing around wildly with weapons in both hands and calling out a challenge; then the light flared and he disappeared. Sam called his name and asked what happened, but when there was no answer, he simply disconnected and collected his next beer, appreciatively sizing up the pretty waitress.
 
Half an hour later, Sam checked out the cornfield, locating Dean’s dropped phone by calling it and following the ringtone music. Continuing on to the nearby makeshift camp of assembled UFO buffs, he questioned Wayne, as a professed expert, about how to hunt ETs. Telling Wayne his brother had been abducted, Sam attracted the immediate, fascinated attention of the pretty, hippie-type girl in the UFO camp, who asked him if it had happened when they were kids and was surprised when he said it had been about half an hour before. Disdaining the information Wayne handed him as containing no solid data and no leads, Sam asked if it had occurred to Wayne that he sucked at hunting UFOs, and walked away. The hippie chick followed him and told him she’d like to help, if she could; the significant looks they exchanged had nothing to do with hunting aliens.
 
Some time later, with his jacket marred by multiple small tears that hadn’t been there before, Dean reappeared in the cornfield in another flash of light, wildly firing his gun at nothing and slashing the air with his knife. Realizing he was alone, he stopped fighting and caught his breath, and then walked back to town. Opening the motel room door and turning on the light, he found Sam in bed with the hippie chick. Professing to understand the brothers needed family time, the girl dressed and picked up her things, but couldn’t resist asking Dean what the aliens had been like. His sour response that they’d been grabby, incandescent douchebags merely prompted her to conclude she’d asked him too soon after the experience, and she left. Sam deduced that Dean was upset, but couldn’t understand why. Dean angrily said he’d been abducted by aliens and Sam was having sex with a girl instead of hunting for him, and refused to accept Sam’s assertion that he was looking into it because Dean maintained he’d only been gone for an hour. Sam corrected him, pulling out his cellphone to show that Dean had been gone all night, and they realized Dean had experienced some kind of time-slip. Sam poured him a drink and blatantly faked reassuring concern while getting him to talk about what had happened. Dean said there was a bright light and he was suddenly in a different place, and there were beings too bright to look at who tried to tug him toward a table of some kind. He said he went crazy, slashing and firing at them, and they seemed surprised; he guessed proudly no one had ever fought back like that before. He concluded he’d had a close encounter and won.
 
After Dean took a shower and changed, they went out to eat. In general disgust, Dean asked if aliens were real, on top of angels and demons, whether hobbits would be next. Realizing Sam was checking out the waitress rather than paying attention to him, Dean challenged him, and Sam responded by asking if, assuming he had a soul and his brother had been abducted, he was supposed to just sit in the dark and suffer even if there were no more leads to follow. Dean agreed, saying he would be suffering and he couldn’t just turn that off for the night to have sex instead. Sam concluded that having a soul equaled suffering, like the million times Dean had almost called Lisa. When he asked if Dean meant suffering was a good thing, Dean noted it was the only game in town. As they got up and left, Dean saw a peculiar, threatening-looking man in a red knitted cap outside the restaurant watching him malevolently, but when he mentioned the man to Sam, Sam didn’t see him, and when Dean looked back, he was gone.
 
Hours later, as Dean trolled websites on the laptop in their room, Sam called to report the library was closing and he’d be on his way back. Both of them had found too much UFO information, none of it worthwhile. Dean hung up, and then cocked his head, listening; the motel lights suddenly flickered and went out, and a bright light appeared outside the room as the door blew open. A tiny mote of golden light flew into the doorway and faced off with him. He dove for the gun and knife on the bed, but the light blocked his way; something caught his attention, and as he leaned forward to get a look at the being within the light, reacting incredulously to seeing nipples, the light attacked him, hitting him in the face and then swooping after him. Dodging, he jerked open the door of the room’s microwave oven, trapping the light inside and turning on the power. The light bobbed frenziedly, trying to escape, and then exploded.
 
When Dean proudly displayed the microwave to Sam, however, Sam couldn’t see the mess of blood and guts inside; to Sam, the microwave looked clean and empty. When Sam asked him what it had been, Dean reluctantly admitted he’d seen a little, glowing, hot, naked lady with nipples, who’d hit him. After affirming that he wasn’t supposed to laugh, Sam asked if the lady had wings, and when Dean agreed, Sam triumphantly concluded it tied in with one of the fringier theories he’d come across: that abductions had nothing to do with UFOs, but were just another manifestation of contacts that had been going on for centuries not with extraterrestrials, but ultra-terrestrials, the beings people used to call fairies.
 
The brothers visited Marion, the faerie-obsessed woman they’d met earlier, who happily listed off the names of many different types of fairies. Asked why fairies abducted people, she said no one knew why, but noted they only took first-born sons. She said only people who had been to the faerie reality could see fairies here. Fishing for ways to hunt them while trying not to be obvious about his desire to harm them, given her obvious affection for what faerie represented, Dean did manage to elicit the information that fairies loved cream, that all fairies hated iron and dark fairies were burned by silver, and that scattering sugar or salt in front of them would force any fairy, no matter how powerful, to stop and count each grain.   
 
Walking away, Dean observed he’d almost rather believe in UFOs again than be covered in Marion’s faerie craziness. As they reached the car, wondering what their next possible move could be, Dean saw to his surprise that Brennan the watchmaker was stocking up on cream at the local market. Following him back to his shop, they watched as he carried the cases of cream inside. When he locked the shop again and began to walk away, heading for the bar, Dean told Sam to follow him while he checked out the workshop. Picking the lock on the back door, Dean crept carefully in – and saw a whole crew of tiny people busily at work making and fixing watches, stopping occasionally to drink cream from small dishes laid out around the room. Backing out unseen, Dean called Sam to report seeing the shop full of elves, and speculated about Brennan having made a deal with fairies.
 
In the bar, Sam challenged Brennan, asking how one man could put out that much product, pointedly saying if he didn’t know better, he’d say Brennan had a bunch of elves working for him. When Brennan reacted to the comment, Sam realized it was true, and asked Brennan point-blank how a father could trade his son for a bunch of watches. Brennan protested it wasn’t like that, and proceeded to reluctantly explain that he’d contracted Parkinson’s and the muscle tremors made it impossible for him to work. Facing the loss of his family’s livelihood, he remembered his grandmother always having said fairies were real, and used the spellbook she’d left to summon a fairy and ask him to cure the disease. Brennan said the leprechaun who appeared promised him something even better – a whole group of elves to do the work – simply in exchange for providing them with a place to rest and take of the fruit and fat of the land. He’d agreed, only to learn too late that the “fruit and fat of the land” meant they would take first-born sons, and not stop just with taking his. He admitted there was a spell to send them away again, but said the book was locked in his safe and the fairies – whom he could see – made certain he couldn’t get to it. Sam promised he and Dean would provide cover to let Brennan cast the banishing spell.
 
Meanwhile, walking toward the bar, Dean realized he was being followed, and caught glimpses of the same malevolent man in a red cap he’d seen earlier through the window of the diner. Deliberately plotting a course through alleys to confirm the tail, he set himself up to ambush his follower as he came around a corner, but the man he tackled to the ground and berated as a fairy – in full view of shocked bystanders – turned out to be not the dark Redcap fairy, but a dignified little person in a suit: none other than the local district attorney. Sam and Brennan, heading toward the shop, arrived in time to see Dean being arrested and taken off to jail, admonishing them to fight the fairies.
 
At the shop, seeing the worker elves drunk and blissed-out on cream, Sam stood guard while Brennan opened the safe, extracted an old book, and began to read a Gaelic spell. In mid-word, however, Brennan gasped and died, stabbed from behind – and Sam saw Wayne, the UFO buff, revealed as the leprechaun. Applauding the cleverness of the fairies encouraging humans to cover up the truth using the UFO story, Sam claimed their cover was now blown, but Wayne asked to whom it mattered, saying Dean had been marked and belonged to the fairies now. Sam countered that they had to deal with him, but Wayne – appearing and disappearing at will – pointed out Sam could only see him when Wayne chose to let him. Observing Sam’s lack of a soul, Wayne explained that fairies were all about energy and he could see what Sam was missing. Saying souls gave off a certain perfume, Wayne cagily observed Sam’s soul was far away but not completely out of reach, and offered to make a deal – for a price – to get it back for him. When Sam scoffed at fairies being able to do what angels couldn’t, Wayne disparagingly said he was talking about real magic, and that fairies had a knack for being able to sneak in through back doors. Sam refused and shot Wayne, but the leprechaun shrugged off the discomfort of iron and disappeared. Then he attacked, taking away Sam’s silver knife even though the blade burned his hand, and began to fling him around the room and beat on him with his shillelagh-cane.
 
As Sam fought the leprechaun, the Redcap appeared in Dean’s cell and began to beat him up, slamming him into the bars and disappearing when Dean tried to fight back. At the shop, Sam grabbed for his shotgun again and the leprechaun taunted him with already having taken his best shot. Sam agreed and dropped the gun, but then pried open the shotgun shell still in his hand, spilling the salt in it onto the floor and telling the leprechaun to count it for him. Furious but bound to obey, the leprechaun began to count as Sam completed the banishing spell, which took away not only the leprechaun, but the elves and the Redcap as well.
 
Pulled over on a country road the next day, Sam declined the beer Dean offered, but sat beside him on the Impala’s hood as Dean drank a toast to the tiniest DA for dropping the charges against him. Dean wondered aloud whether the leprechaun could have returned Sam’s soul, but Sam scoffed at the idea. Trying to understand how Sam’s soulless thinking worked, Dean asked why he’d refused the leprechaun’s offer. Sam observed it had been a deal, and rhetorically asked when a deal had ever been a good thing. Sam answered Dean’s doubts by saying he still had all his brain cells, and claimed his brain worked even better now. Dean said he just wanted to be sure Sam wasn’t having second thoughts about getting his soul back. When Sam didn’t react, Dean asked the question straight-up, and Sam said no – but the look on his face said otherwise.
 
Commentary And Meta Analysis
 
While this was primarily a light and fluffy episode, full of humor – something we desperately needed about now! – it also had a very solid core and important things to say about the brothers and about the Supernatural world overall. In this discussion, I’m going to look at deals in myth and in the show, explore a bit about souls, and look at the conflict in goals between Sam and Dean.
 
When’s A Deal Ever Been A Good Thing?
 
Making deals in the Supernatural realm is never a good idea, and that’s a concept the show inherited from centuries and even millennia of lore. Myth and legend are rife with tales of deals gone wrong. Virtually every such story, at least in Western mythologies, is a cautionary tale about being careful what you wish for because the devil is in the details, the house always wins, and what you think you see isn’t going to be what you get – in the world of deal-making, bait and switch is always the rule.
 
Brennan’s situation was classic:  he made the mistake of failing to get the terms of the contract fully defined in order to know what he was agreeing to, and lost his son as a result. Any number of fairy stories had the same premise; the deal-maker thought he knew what he’d asked for, only to get something he didn’t expect, always to his disadvantage.
 
Stories have warned since Greek and Roman times that deals with supernaturals are dismayingly literal – just go all the way back to Eros, for example, who petitioned that her human lover Tithonus be made immortal, only to forget also to ask that he be made eternally young. Poor Tithonus aged to helplessly complaining decrepitude without being able to die, only to be locked away by the appalled and disgusted Eros and eventually transformed into a cicada, forever whining about his fate.  
 
Further, even knowing in the abstract what you’re signing on for isn’t the same as understanding it in truth. Just look at John, buying Dean’s life with his own soul and the Colt, unwittingly giving into Azazel’s hands precisely what the demon needed to open Samuel Colt’s gateway to Hell; or Dean, forfeiting his own soul to bring Sam back from the dead, without understanding what going to Hell would truly mean for him. Mind you, even if Dean had known, I don’t think he would have cared at the time, given how devastated he was by Sam’s death, but the point was that Dean couldn’t know what he was consigning himself to, particularly given Hell’s avid desire to have him there to break in order to launch the apocalypse.
 
We’re left to wonder again if there’s already something going on with another deal, one that perhaps released Sam from Hell without his soul deliberately to keep Lucifer imprisoned. The show keeps harping on the value of souls and the nature of deals; I wonder when the other shoe will finally drop. We need to know what happened to Sam while he was in Lucifer’s cage in Hell, and how he got out.
 
So You’re Saying – Having A Soul Equals Suffering
 
Sam is having a hard time understanding why having a soul is important or how it could be a good thing, and his viewpoint is easy to understand:  apart from realizing while he’s with Dean that something about him is different, he hasn’t really perceived being at any disadvantage because of lacking a soul. On the contrary:  he’s seeing many advantages in his current situation. Since he doesn’t feel, he isn’t lonely, even lacking real human connections. Not needing sleep, he can focus on the job and maximize his efficiency. Undistracted by emotion, whether fear of consequences or hesitation to injure another, he’s a ruthlessly efficient hunter and finds decisions uncomplicated and easy to make. He doesn’t feel the need to second-guess himself and his choices. Nothing hurts; he feels no guilt, no uncertainty, no grief, no loss. He still experiences such intellectual pleasures as satisfaction in his accomplishments and the enjoyment of successfully hunting for and finding information; he also obviously enjoys the purely animal, physical pleasures of sex. His discomforts are limited to physical hurts and the mild intellectual irritation of things sometimes not going according to plan, but he doesn’t dwell on either of those, simply moving on to the next thing. He remembers his past and what happened to him in Hell, but those memories carry no weight or emotional sensations along with them, so he doesn’t even think about them.
 
Sam remembers things having been harder when he was possessed of a soul, even if he can’t quite understand what things he felt or why. He can see what having a soul means to Dean, however, and everything he sees at the moment is pain. Even though he can’t truly empathize with what Dean is actually feeling, Dean’s misery over his estrangement from Lisa and Ben is obvious; so is his acute discomfort with all the differences he perceives in Sam and his heart-deep loneliness at being alone with Sam when they should be together. Unfortunately for Sam’s perceptions, Dean hasn’t been experiencing anything happy or rewarding to illustrate the positive aspects of feeling; all he sees is frustration, loss, and pain. Even having Sam back isn’t joy to Dean, because it’s very obvious that Sam isn’t Sam. And even if Sam saw Dean reacting to something wonderful, there would be no depth or dimension to Sam’s perception because he would need to be able to feel empathy in order to share the experience.
 
The situation is an impossible one because it seems the only way for Sam to experience the benefits of a soul would be for him to have one. It’s a classic catch-22. Without a soul, he can’t feel; without being able to feel, he can’t experience the sensations of love or the fullness of joy and happiness to understand what it means to feel them and to appreciate how much they enrich life, to know how much that is positive comes with a soul. Without empathy, he can’t sense what others feel in order to realize within himself the warmth, love, and caring they project. He can easily see the downsides to having a soul – even without currently perceiving emotional pain, he can readily equate it with feeling physical pain, and conclude it is something to be avoided – but the upside of a soul isn’t so readily visible. I think it’s analogous to trying to explain color to someone who’s not only blind, but non-tactile; you could try to explain color to someone blind in terms of temperature, grades of warmth and coolness that colors inspire in us, but if temperature also has no impact on them, none of the words about warmth and comfort would have meaning.
 
Without a soul, Sam lacks the senses to experience the totality of what a soul would make him feel, the glorious as well as the agonizing – and right now, his only certainty is that getting his soul back would carry with it an overdose of accumulated, overwhelming pain. Avoidance of pain is a powerful motivator, and with nothing equally powerfully good in the balance to counter the knowledge of how much regaining his soul would hurt, there’s no real incentive for Sam to pursue getting his soul back.
 
We are so screwed.
 
You Said No. Why?
 
Sam’s refusal of a beer at the end of the episode marked the distance between him and Dean in a subtle but telling way. It’s not that returned-from-Hell Sam doesn’t drink; that may have seemed to be the case from earlier episodes this season, which saw Dean drinking alcohol while Sam didn’t, but judging from the empty bottles on his table in the bar and the swigs he took both while listening to Dean’s flight in the cornfield and later hearing Dean report about the watchmaker’s shop being full of Keebler elves, he downed multiple beers in the bar while on his own there both times in this episode. What he doesn’t do, however, is drink casually with Dean – something Dean remarked on back in Live Free Or Twi-Hard, when he asked wistfully how long it had been since they’d had a beer together. In that episode, Sam totally ignored the beer to concentrate on the case; here, he simply declined the offer entirely. Sam sat beside Dean on the Impala’s hood, but they still weren’t together. Drinking together would have suggested a degree of companionship they don’t actually possess any more. Sam declining the beer and the comfortable camaraderie it would have implied reinforced the reality of the emotional distance between the brothers.
 
Dean’s question about why Sam said no to the leprechaun and his follow-up question on whether Sam was having second thoughts about getting his soul back got directly to the heart of the matter, but to my mind, didn’t get the truth. I do believe that Sam’s logical awareness of the built-in, always hidden costs of unnatural deals was a legitimate factor in his rejection, along with his doubts about the leprechaun’s actual ability to deliver on what he was offering. But I also think Dean was right in guessing that the bottom line of his refusal reflected a gradually developing disinclination to get his soul back.
 
I think that is going to be the core of the continuing friction between the brothers: Dean wants his brother back body and soul because anything less is just unacceptable, while Sam is growing increasingly convinced that he’s better off as he is, free of soul and its attendant pain and emotional complications. Sam refusing to drink with Dean spoke to me not of Sam avoiding alcohol and its sensory effects – based on his attitude in the bar, I suspect he enjoyed the pleasurable buzz of mild intoxication much the same way he obviously enjoyed the physical sensations of sex, and didn’t perceive it as a hindrance to his hunting ability – but rather of Sam declining the emotional unity with Dean that sharing a drink would have implied.
 
Because of that, I think Sam is again lying to Dean about the one thing most important to him, and I think Dean realizes it. And lies between these two never turn out well.
 
Now I’m waiting for them to drink together again. It’s yet another missing piece of the brotherhood arc that’s still waiting to be restored, right along with trust, love, sleeping in the same room (and with Dean in the bed closest to the door!), and calling each other “Bitch” and “Jerk.” We need to get Sam’s soul back for all those things to become again what they’re intended to be.
 
Production Notes
 
I absolutely, unreservedly loved the X-Files tribute of the show’s opening, from the IBM Selectric-typed location tag all the way through the spectacular opening credits roll. Every element was perfect, from the FBI badges, the callback to the slow-dancing alien from Tall Tales, and the Mark Snow-like theme music. That was a delight! And the final shot of the brothers in the Impala with the tag line “The Truth Is In There” – boy, do I ever want to believe in that!
 
I laughed throughout and enjoyed this episode so much that I’ve simply got to handwave the logic holes, the continuity glitches, and the one incredibly quick sunset. For me, the logic holes included such basics as the fairy presence shutting down the Impala’s electrical system and the motel room lights, but not affecting Dean’s cellphone, laptop, or – most importantly – the microwave, all of which were also electronic. The major continuity thing was Dean’s jacket, which was torn in several spots when he got back from his abduction and talked to Sam in the motel room, but appeared suddenly intact for the rest of the episode – unless he simply had another jacket that looked much the same, which doesn’t seem logical given the brothers’ paucity of personal possessions. The temporal bit that bothered me was it being daylight when Dean picked the lock on the shop and briefly looked in on the elves, but abruptly being night by the time he walked away.
 
I’m also going to pass just this once on the blatant exaggeration of Sam’s soulless behavior, because of the way it served the comedy. I understand and appreciate Sam’s inability to feel and to empathize, but for him to have hunted successfully for a year before hooking up with Dean, he had to have pretended effectively to humanity with witnesses as a necessary strategy for eliciting information from them, so his extreme dickishness here with Marion (and with the detective on the docks last week, for that matter) and his blunt approach to Wayne in the UFO camp felt decidedly and ineffectively over-the-top. His decision to have another beer rather than go immediately to investigate Dean’s disappearance also bothered me as something simply meant to be funny that didn’t logically follow from Sam’s inability to feel; a fresh and immediate disappearance would logically call for a prompt investigation to maximize the potential for success even if he didn’t care about the victim, so staying for another beer didn’t fit his current “ultra-efficient hunter” mold.
 
I loved the subtlety of the first hint that Wayne was faerie, though. Something he said when he first introduced himself caught my attention because it was such a non sequitur – about being happy as a pig in shoes – which I initially ascribed simply to the show not being allowed to use the word “shit” in the expression. When he was revealed as the leprechaun mastermind, however, I laughed out loud, remembering Grimm’s fairy tale about shoemaker elves.
 
Ben Edlund is one of the funniest writers on the planet. He contributed too many hysterical lines to this episode for me to quote without simply replicating the entire episode. I love his skewed sense of humor. Dean “pizza-rolling” Tinkerbelle in the microwave? Fairies masquerading deliberately as aliens and fueling the UFO frenzy? Dean and Sam having a discussion about what having a soul means when your brother is kidnapped by aliens and you’re faced with the offer a sex from a pretty hippie chick? All of those were sterling Edlund moments. So were all the darker aspects of the story, including Sam reconsidering the idea of getting his soul back if all it meant amounted to disadvantages and emotional pain. I trust Edlund to give us the dark funny, creating moments of hilarity out of the blackest of circumstances without ever losing the sense of pain beneath the laughter. I do think he slipped a few cues and ran things a little too far this time in having fun with Sam’s soullessness – see my earlier paragraph on things I hand-waved – but those things weren’t dealbreakers for me any more than iron was a dealbreaker for the leprechaun.
 
I thoroughly enjoyed John Showalter’s direction, and particularly liked the way he used a bit of forced perspective after Wayne was revealed to be the leprechaun to play up the difference in the heights of actors Robert Picardo and Jared Padalecki in order to make Picardo appear to be even smaller relative to Jared than he actually is. Just watch that final scene in the watch shop, and see how much smaller Wayne looks than he appeared to be earlier in the episode. We expect leprechauns to be smaller than humans, and Showalter made him seem to shrink just by how he blocked the actors in the shots, much the way Peter Jackson turned full-sized actors into hobbits and dwarves in The Lord Of The Rings. That was delightful optical fun!  
 
Speaking of optical fun, I think the set designers and visual effects crew were having us on a bit in this episode. How else do you explain the glimpse through Brennan’s shop window of a water tower with “Carthage” painted on the side, at the end of the first scene between the watchmaker and the brothers, when Brennan was quoting the 72-hour figure as marking pretty much the end of hope in cases of missing persons? Since Carthage was the place where Lucifer raised Death, I found that little background point extremely pointed; I’m guessing poor Patrick didn’t last long in faerie-land. I loved all the set dressing throughout, from the gnome, unicorn, and fairy décor of Marion’s place to the UFO camp to the deliberately corny (as in ears of corn, no less!) divider panels in the brothers’ motel room. I give many thanks to Jerry Wanek, John Marcynuk, and their artistic staff and crew!
 
Jay Gruska’s underscore borrowed not only from The X-Files, but also from Close Encounters Of The Third Kind; I chuckled at the appearance of the alien greeting music theme from the film as Sam walked into the UFO nuts’ camp. The use of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” during the scene of Dean’s hilarious combat with Tinkerbelle was positively inspired. And kudos to the sound effects crew for the hysterically funny “ding!” of the microwave after that scene went to black; that callback to the same effect in It’s A Terrible Life absolutely cracked me up!
 
All the performances were perfect for this episode, just that little shade off of true that they needed to be to match the bizarreness of a Ben Edlund script. I particularly loved all the little comic touches from Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, including Jensen as Dean fake-playing a harmonica in the cell during the montage of time-passing scenes, oh-so-obviously reconsidering sitting on the foot of the bed where Sam had just had sex, and flinging himself around the motel room during his combat with Tinkerbelle; and Jared’s Sam expressing his frustration at being unable to care about what he couldn’t care about, calling Dean Jiminy Cricket, and oh-so-earnestly trying to make sense out of what rules governed proper behavior for someone with a soul. The two of them in the exchange about whether Dean, as a kidnapped first-born, had serviced Oberon were way too funny for me to keep a straight face, and I wonder how the actors managed it – apart from never looking each other in the eye, that is. The comedic timing on line and look delivery in this episode just rocked, especially by the two principals!
 
I also enjoyed the guest stars, especially Robert Picardo as the leprechaun. Picardo is probably best known from his genre credits as the holographic Doctor in Star Trek: Voyager and as the bureaucrat Woolsey from the Stargate franchise; his turn as Wayne the leprechaun/UFOlogist adds another chapter. He went from ditzy to menacing in an eyeblink. I also really enjoyed Trish Allen as Marion; her very earnest, faerie-obsessed lady was hilariously endearing, particularly in her obtuse lack of understanding about Dean’s quest for ways to fight the fairies. And Devon Weigel as the hippie chick made a definite and positive impression.
 
The laughter this episode brought was more than welcome in the darkness that’s characterized this infamously noir season thus far. I know it will get even darker before the dawn – seeing Sam obviously reconsidering getting his soul back and lying to Dean about it was enough warning of that – but I do still firmly believe we’ll see the brothers reunited body and soul before the season approaches its end.
 
And I’ll give thanksgiving for that when it comes.
 
In the meantime, Happy Thanksgiving! 
  
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The beautifully animated icon on this post is by padabee . Thank you!! 

And may you all have a truly happy Thanksgiving! I'll be spending mine with friends in my adopted local family; may you all be as blessed. One of the things I will definitely be giving thanks for is having Supernatural, and all my online friends around the world whom I've met because of this show; you all enrich my life, and I thank you for that. Be well, and be happy!

 
 
Current Mood: happyhappy
Current Music: "Space Oddity" by David Bowie
 
 
 
borgmama1of5borgmama1of5 on November 25th, 2010 04:02 am (UTC)
Just getting more nervous about Sam--as intended, no doubt...
bardicvoice: X-Files SPN by <lj user=padabee>bardicvoice on November 27th, 2010 01:07 am (UTC)
There's so much going on with the two of them ... I really think it's past time Dean demanded to learn what happened to Sam in the cage. Sam being hurt by remembering or talking about it is no longer at issue, so - I think Dean should insist. Just sayin' ... :)
ruby_jellyruby_jelly on November 25th, 2010 04:29 am (UTC)
This was great to read, as it enriches my appreciation of the show to hear others' thoughts, bits I missed, or to have parts confirmed. Thank you.
bardicvoice: X-Files SPN by <lj user=padabee>bardicvoice on November 27th, 2010 01:07 am (UTC)
Thank you! Glad you enjoyed!
karen guntonkarengunton on November 25th, 2010 05:02 am (UTC)
'It’s yet another missing piece of the brotherhood arc that’s still waiting to be restored, right along with trust, love, sleeping in the same room (and with Dean in the bed closest to the door!), and calling each other “Bitch” and “Jerk.” ' we are all missing these things, and maybe a few more besides (some back in black or wayward son perhaps!), but it was your comment about dean being in the bed closest to the door that choked me up. *sniff*

as always - a wonderful review. i have a few thoughts to add:

i wonder if sam really ever wanted his sole back at all. we are being made to think he is having second thoughts, but i am not sure he ever had them in the first place. to me that was just more of his act. if so what is his real motivation for having dean close by?

i feel like the reason he said no to the deal is not so much that he is not really wanting his soul back, but perhaps whatever deal he has already made (cuz that's what we are thinking he has done) makes the idea of a deal with a leprechaun a moot point.

i don't really see sam's assiness (is that a word?) as being overly exaggerated now. i am sure sam did do just fine faking emotions for that year. but i get the sense that now that dean is there and he has admitted to feeling nothing, that he is done faking it all around. not just with dean, but with everyone. as he said, it was exhausting! and i think he sees dean's role as being human, so now he doesn't have to be anymore.

anyhow, i agree that this was an absolutely fantastic episode with some much needed humour. i like the idea of dean as jiminy cricket teaching sam to be a real boy. that could be a lot of fun to watch. and let's just remind ourselves that it wasn't too long ago that it was dean picking up chicks left right and centre, leaving sam to do the research!

the day my boys drink a beer together again,i just might weep. that near killed me at the end of this. *sniff*, again!

=) kar
bardicvoice: X-Files SPN by <lj user=padabee>bardicvoice on November 27th, 2010 01:29 am (UTC)
I really like your point about Sam's current dickishness possibly being due to his having decided he's finished with faking being himself not only with Dean, but with others, and that it's now Dean's role to play human; that feels legit to me.

I do think Sam considered getting his soul back earlier; I really think that being together with Dean awoke the sense that something was missing, and that a missing element might be a disadvantage, a lack he should amend. I may well be wrong - we still don't know anything that happened in Lucifer's cage in Hell, and whether Sam may be lying about knowing how he came topside - but I really got the sense in Exile On Main Street and Two And A Half Men that he was exploring how both he and Dean had changed from his now-emotionless memories of both of them. I'm dying to find out where things go from here, and what we'll learn about Sam's experiences in Hell!
Sue: Jared If You Say Socandygramme on November 25th, 2010 06:04 am (UTC)
Happy Thanksgiving, m'dear. You know, I have a theory about Sam's increasing dickishness to Dean. I think he's having a game with his brother as a kind of protest for Dean's insistence that he's doing it wrong. I think he's turning up the dickish behaviour because he's acting out the way a younger brother - even one that has no soul - would. It's his passive aggressive retaliation for Dean's criticism, and frankly I don't think that the soul or lack of it would stop him.
bardicvoice: X-Files SPN by <lj user=padabee>bardicvoice on November 27th, 2010 01:38 am (UTC)
Heh - that's a fun idea! I wonder if Sam still has the capacity to think "younger brother tease" though ... it would be nice if he did, but I'm not sure where "humor" lives, relative to a soul. How much of humor is intellectual, and how much is emotional? The intellectual aspect is unfettered, but the experiential one? Not so much ...

I did have a happy Thanksgiving; many thanks! I hope yours was, too ... :)
(no subject) - candygramme on November 27th, 2010 07:29 am (UTC) (Expand)
amonitrateamonitrate on November 25th, 2010 05:45 pm (UTC)
I'm with you, I just couldn't bring myself to care about any of the plot holes or bits of off characterization played for laughs. I was having too much fun.

Your writeups are always thoughtful and enjoyable, thank you.
bardicvoice: X-Files SPN by <lj user=padabee>bardicvoice on November 27th, 2010 01:38 am (UTC)
Thank you, very much!
rosefickeroseficke on November 25th, 2010 07:47 pm (UTC)
Great review again, Mary! And now I'm going to have to watch it again (no hardship there!) because I didn't pick up so many of the little details that you caught, like Dean fake-playing the harmonica and the tiny tears in his coat. You obviously must have high-def TV, which I don't.

For all the inconsistencies, I loved this episode because, like you say, it was a MUCH needed respite from all the dark episodes preceding it. Now I have to take a big breath and ready myself for the next two eps before Christmas break. They look to be intense!

Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving!

Rose
bardicvoice: X-Files SPN by <lj user=padabee>bardicvoice on November 27th, 2010 01:43 am (UTC)
Thank you, Rose! I had a great Thanksgiving, and one fully worthy of the name. Hope you had the same!

I most definitely do have HD. *grin* I'm no fashion plate and own few pairs of shoes, but I'm an electronics snob of the first water. And the things I can see on my brilliant Samsung HDTV are positively relished! (Heh: I went with Samsung because of their precision in rendering detail even in dark and black scenes - I used a DVD of Supernatural to test different screens for detail response!)

Hugs to you!
(no subject) - roseficke on November 27th, 2010 03:11 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bardicvoice on November 27th, 2010 03:30 am (UTC) (Expand)
ErinRua: Stormerinrua on November 26th, 2010 02:40 am (UTC)
If I tried to point out all the things I loved about your review, I'd just quote the whole thing back at you. So, instead imagine me just pointing and saying, "Word!" ;)

I love that our brains seem to track in pretty much the same paths, but you did hit one point I hadn't thought of. We all know Sam's all about thinking strategically and tactically rather than emotionally these days ...

... But I never thought of the point that he sees no disadvantage to being soul-less! That's absolutely brilliant! And it absolutely fits. I've been muttering that Sam is beginning to balk at getting his soul back because so far, everything Dean's shown him about having a soul has to do with pain, and it's simply not logical to embrace needless pain.

But the lack of disadvantage to being soul-less ... I think you hit the nail on the head. It's not only illogical to embrace pain, but it's strategically unsound to embrace a state of being that's manifestly going to affect his thinking and ability to focus.

Dang. That's ... interesting! And I'll be the leftover pumpkin pie that it's setting us up for some pretty major angst before Sam becomes Sammy again. What do we got, one or two episodes left before break? Ouch, it's gonna hurt.

Bless you, my discerning and thinky friend! How I adore your reviews. *HUGS!*
bardicvoice: X-Files SPN by <lj user=padabee>bardicvoice on November 27th, 2010 01:53 am (UTC)
Hugs right back at you, my dear! (And could I have those pumpkin pie leftovers? I'm a pushover for pumpkin pie ... *grin*)

And I heart your doggies!
(no subject) - erinrua on November 29th, 2010 05:13 am (UTC) (Expand)
mrsr58: the truth is in there STILLmrsr58 on November 26th, 2010 05:01 pm (UTC)
hi - excellent writeup - i totally concur w/your assessment of soulless!sam.
bardicvoice: X-Files SPN by <lj user=padabee>bardicvoice on November 27th, 2010 01:54 am (UTC)
Thank you very much - and I ADORE your icon!!!!!
(no subject) - mrsr58 on November 27th, 2010 08:19 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bardicvoice on November 29th, 2010 01:01 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - mrsr58 on November 30th, 2010 09:07 pm (UTC) (Expand)
morgansladymorganslady on November 27th, 2010 12:25 am (UTC)
I enjoyed this episode so much I didn't even noticed the plot errors. I'm glad the boys are slowly getting back to their old ways.. I do miss the 'bitch/jerk' dialog. Let's hope the up coming episodes continue the upward trend.
bardicvoice: X-Files SPN by <lj user=padabee>bardicvoice on November 27th, 2010 01:55 am (UTC)
Ahhhh, m'dear - I'm right there hoping with you! I know we're going to get more angst before we get *our* brothers back, but I do believe we'll see Sam'n'Dean together again, and sooner rather than later ... :)
quirky_thoughts: Split lipquirky_thoughts on November 27th, 2010 05:34 pm (UTC)
Love your review and so very detailed. I agree that Sam can't see any benefit in having his soul back. And I'm wondering how they on earth he can be shown the benefits of getting it returned either. If not are they going to force him to have it back? That throws up some interesting issues.

Dean's jacket. He did change into another one which is a slightly different colour with buttons on the chest pockets. Where they keep all their different clothes though is beyond me but then they've been doing that since the first episode.

And I think when Dean went to the Watchmakers and saw the little people he experienced another timeslip. It would be really bizarre if it had been a plot hole because of the contrast between the brightly lit inside (sun was streaming into the room as Dean hid behind the clock - another clue I reckon)and the darkness as he went outside. Plus Dean looked pretty freaked as he looked around outside. But then I am a bit of a scifi geek and see time distortions pretty much everywhere. :)
bardicvoice: X-Files SPN by <lj user=padabee>bardicvoice on November 29th, 2010 01:04 am (UTC)
Thanks! Your idea of another timeslip when Dean saw the elves in the watch shop qualifies for a No-Prize, I think! (If you're not familiar with the concept, it originated with Stan Lee over at Marvel Comics; he'd award a no-prize [as in, a prize that got mentioned but had no tangible value] to anyone who spotted a boo-boo in a comic, but offered a logical explanation than made the error something correct instead of something wrong ... *grin*)
(no subject) - quirky_thoughts on November 29th, 2010 06:48 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - bardicvoice on November 30th, 2010 02:11 am (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - quirky_thoughts on November 30th, 2010 09:12 pm (UTC) (Expand)
phyllis2779phyllis2779 on November 29th, 2010 05:32 am (UTC)
I like all your reviews/analyses, including this one. I always see new things in the story. One thing I find interesting about SPN is that the characters are so fully realized, through both writing and acting, that the most subtle action, such as declining a beer, has levels of meaning.
bardicvoice: X-Files SPN by <lj user=padabee>bardicvoice on November 30th, 2010 02:13 am (UTC)
Thank you, and I most definitely agree! It's the layers in Supernatural and its characters that stole my heart and keep me watching, and that's a function of both the writing and the acting. My hat's off to these folks!
Zazzazreil on November 29th, 2010 10:09 am (UTC)
Fun episode and fun review but unlike you I think Sam never really wanted his soul back and only said it for Dean's benefit. If he really had felt the loss and realized he needed help he would have said or done something long before but he didn't. I think it was all a sham so Dean wouldn't leave him. The $100,000 dollar question is why does Sam want Dean with him. I am a sentimentalist and would like to think that Sam missed his brother, but this is Supernatural and who knows what Sam wants Dean for.

Zaz
bardicvoice: X-Files SPN by <lj user=padabee>bardicvoice on November 30th, 2010 02:23 am (UTC)
My personal suspicion is that Sam didn't feel any desire to be with Dean again until the djinn threat to Dean made his rescue necessary, if only because Samuel, with his own obsessions about family, would have thought it unnatural if Sam hadn't gone to his brother's rescue after being saved himself. Once he was with Dean, though, I do think he started to perceive the differences within himself as not necessarily beneficial; I think he started wondering about feeling about people, seeing the photos of a happy Dean with Lisa and Ben, realizing how important human connections were to Dean, and remembering that Dean was once so vitally important to him, although he couldn't feel any longer why that was. That's why I think Sam did start to consider that getting his soul back might be a desirable thing, if only to fill in all the holes in his perceptions. So I'm still thinking Sam might have been genuine in saying he wanted his soul back - at least for a short time. I don't believe he wants it any more, though.

Until we know what happened to Sam in the cage, however, and understand how exactly he got out, we won't know the truth.

The truth is out there, and I want it!
Amberamberdreams on November 29th, 2010 08:13 pm (UTC)
Sorry I've been so slow getting to your meta, but thanks for putting all your usual attention to detail into both the recap and the commentary as usual!
I hadn't thought about the sharing of the beers at the end in quite that way, but I was still left with that same impression you describe of a vast distance between them even though they were sitting so close their shoulders could have been touching. There have been so many images like this so far this season, it is heartbreaking to see how lonely Dean is especially now his ties with Lisa and Ben seem to have been severed too.
I don;t know if you saw Loki's latest video which explores this theme - if not here's alink via my LJ picture I did around the same idea.... :D
http://amber1960.livejournal.com/34611.html
bardicvoice: Far Apartbardicvoice on November 30th, 2010 02:27 am (UTC)
Oh, my: thanks for the link! I loved the picture you did, because it is so very true!
gunznammo2gunznammo2 on November 30th, 2010 06:42 pm (UTC)
I do, so much, enjoy your reviews. So much thought and inspiration goes into them that they seem to expand each episode to a whole 'nother level. I also enjoy the comments and your responses. They answer any remaining questions I may have had. Just wanted to thank you for posting these reviews - They make my week!
(Anonymous) on March 20th, 2011 04:17 am (UTC)
What a nice post. I really love reading these types or articles. I can?t wait to see what others have to say.