6.16 … And Then There Were None: She Has A Message For You
Eve makes new monsters,
Planning to cage human food;
Hunters' families die.
Commentary and Meta Analysis
This episode provided riches in character relationships, fleshing out the backgrounds of both Rufus and Bobby in very satisfying fashion that also spoke to the Winchester brothers’ situation, and further cemented the partnership of Sam and Dean. On a lesser level, it also provided a little more information on the Mother of All Monsters and left more threads dangling on the story of the hunting Campbell family. In this discussion, I’m going to talk about all the many and varied forms of family, because that’s what all these pieces were about.
A Mother Wouldn’t Abandon Her Children
Eve's encounter with the Christian trucker in the teaser set up a confrontation not just between Eve and humans, but between Eve and the forces of Heaven, because Eve maintained God created humans and then simply abandoned them, while she would never abandon her own children. While we already knew the forces of Hell as embodied by Crowley had an interest in Eve and Purgatory, this is the first real suggestion we've gotten that the new role of monsters on Earth may feature as well in the Heavenly civil war; Eve here set herself up against God, so she's also effectively challenging the loyal angels as embodied by Castiel. And since we know God isn't quite as absent as he's seemed, given that he brought Castiel back more than once (see Sympathy For The Devil and Swan Song, for example) and granted the Winchesters salvation in Heaven (remember Dark Side Of The Moon?), I think Eve's presumption may be more cheeky even than she credits. I also believe she deliberately chose her name as a slap in the face of Heaven, mocking the Judeo-Christian scriptural mother of humanity.
In effect, Eve presents yet another take on family in the show. She claims to be a caring Mother, as opposed to an absent and manifestly uncaring Father God. I would challenge, however, that she lies, and her lies are made evident precisely by what she did through the creation of the Khan-worm in this episode.
We heard the Khan-worm speak through Bobby, saying the Mother had meant for them to find him, laying a monster trail to Sandusky precisely to draw hunter attention to the worm's actions in killing the trucker's family and the cannery workers. According to the worm, all of that was intended to do just one thing: convey to hunters Eve’s message that humans were doomed and their days were numbered in pain from here on in. Eve manifestly didn’t care what would become of her newest creation so long as it served that purpose and conveyed her taunting message. That's not the action of a loving mother: it's the action of a game-playing, narcissistic megalomaniac setting the stage for a challenge to her opponents to make the game more enjoyable and more interesting to her. There was no rational logic in setting a trap for hunters simply to kill a few and serve the rest notice of Eve's plans, unless the entire goal was simply to spice up the game for Eve.
Eve's many different monster children would do well to reconsider blindly following where she leads, because all of them are as much her pawns as the worm was and doubtless mean every bit as little to her. I dare to hope that “monsters” who've chosen of themselves to go off the monster script – like poor Lucky in All Dogs Go To Heaven or Lenore and her vampire family all the way back in Bloodlust – might see through Eve's deceits and form the core of a resistance to challenge her dominance. After all, if she were to succeed in penning humans as monster food, from where would her next entertainment come – pitting her children against each other to see which would win? That seems about her speed, because she's not given evidence of thinking of anything of more consequence.
At The End Of The Day, You Two Were Family
What I enjoyed and mourned the most in this episode was the presence and the loss of Rufus Turner. I loved him from the moment we met him as the dark mirror of Dean's potential future in Time Is On My Side, and in the seasons since, he truly did become family. I will miss him tremendously.
When we first met Rufus, Bobby described him as a retired hunter living in Canaan, Vermont who was now mostly a hermit and occasionally sold things. Bobby had included him in the list of folks he’d called to put out the alert on Bela in the hope of tracing the stolen Colt, so the two men clearly were still in occasional professional touch and were known to be so by others, since Bela revealed in her phone call after Dean first left her room that her contact with Rufus had been intended to attract the Winchesters. However, Bobby dismissed Dean’s immediate conclusion that Rufus was a friend by saying he hadn’t seen Rufus for 15 years. Now we have an inkling why, and maybe a timeframe for the disaster of Omaha – sometime around 1993, when he and Rufus split after years of having worked as a team.
I speculated in my review of Time Is On My Side about Rufus's past. His bitter, bleak, and anti-social attitude was in sharp contrast to indications in his home of a once-normal and happily social life, including award plaques on the wall and bowling trophies – one of them dated 1983 – on the bookcase. The plaques over his desk looked like they held starred badges, the kind featured on service awards from federal, state, or local law enforcement units. Once upon a time, his life had obviously been very different, and I suspect he lived it in that very same house, simply leaving the normal memories where they were as the hunting took over, the same way Bobby did later. We never learned what made Rufus a hunter or when he became one, or whether he, like Bobby, managed any kind of normal life at least for a while after becoming a hunter – although I suspect he did, or he wouldn't have been able to keep the house, and I think that's a balance he probably taught Bobby, enabling him to keep the salvage yard running – but we know now that he was in the game well before Bobby. I suspect he was a cop before he became a hunter, both because of those awards on his wall and because he knew how to handle things to save Bobby from facing murder charges over the very obvious stabbing death of his wife. We learned in Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid that she'd been cremated and buried in the local cemetery, so it wasn't a case of a hunter simply making a body disappear; Rufus was evidently able to redirect a police investigation. All hunters have to be able to learn to manipulate cops, but that kind of thing goes beyond anything the Winchesters ever learned to do.
It would seem the Winchesters and their apocalypse were the catalyst that brought Bobby and Rufus back together through simple, essential need. After Dean's meeting with Rufus during season three, we didn't hear from him directly again until the end of season four, when he called Bobby in When The Levee Breaks with word of multiple disasters marking the rapid breaking of seals on Lucifer's prison. We next saw him in Good God, Y'All, in which he'd gone to River Pass, Colorado because he'd interpreted apocalyptic omens in the fall of a meteorite and a river running red, and suddenly discovered himself apparently up to his ass in demons. Plainly, the need to attempt to avert the apocalypse had been incentive enough for him to give over living his hermit's life and return to active hunting. We learned then that Rufus had known about Dean being back from Hell even though Ellen hadn't gotten the word, something I suspect he'd learned independently from the same sources that had informed him earlier about Dean's deal. If Bobby hadn't even told Ellen Dean was back, it was unlikely he'd have told Rufus, and Bobby certainly hadn't told anyone about Dean's deal. Rufus clearly had his own resources as a hunter, going beyond the ones he'd shared with Bobby. He tapped them again to compare notes in a phone call with Bobby on omens possibly indicating the presence of Death in The Devil You Know.
The first time we ever actually saw Rufus with Bobby came in Weekend At Bobby's when Rufus turned up in person at Singer Salvage, much to Bobby's surprise, with the body of an okami in his truck. All the unexplained, unresolved tension we saw between the two men during that episode now makes so much more sense. They clearly knew each other and worked together without even having to think about it, but at the same time, Bobby was desperately trying to avoid asking Rufus for help or incurring debt to him. It seemed the continuation of a long-standing game of oneupmanship, but it had an uncomfortable edge that hinted at larger emotional stakes. After Bobby dispatched the okami with the wood chipper and Rufus uncomfortably thanked him for cleaning up his mistake, Bobby concluded that he was still in Rufus's debt – an oblique reference to Omaha, as we know now – and that seemed to reset the tone for the rest of their relationship. From that moment on, acknowledging that Bobby still owed him, Rufus volunteered his help, and while Bobby was reluctant about it, he asked for it explicitly.
Looking back on it now, we can trace through Weekend At Bobby's the uneasy reestablishment of the once-close bond between Bobby and Rufus. They made it a balance ledger, constantly adding up their columns to determine who owed whom, and while they did it partially in jest, we now know there was a deadly serious core to it: Rufus's determination never to forgive Bobby for Bobby's actions in Omaha that cost Rufus a woman he loved. As long as that debt outweighed every other thing in the balance and both of them acknowledged it but kept it in the background, they could still work together again. But Rufus emphatically slammed the door on Bobby's attempt to bring it out into the open and consider whether it could ever be resolved. Bobby finally apologized openly for what he'd done and what it had cost, but Rufus couldn't let it go. And with Rufus now dead, that balance can never be restored.
I'm grateful for Dean's ability to see the lesson in what happened between Bobby and Rufus and his determination to apply it in his own life. He and Sam, quite unintentionally and unconsciously, had begun long ago to keep something of an unspoken balance ledger of blame running between them, built out of the accumulated resentments of a shared lifetime. While they've absolved each other along the way of many things, there's always been a snarled core of things left unresolved, some of which are very basic and go very far back – for example, Dean's hurt belief that Sam's desire for independence meant Sam didn't love his family as much as Dean loved Sam, and Sam's abiding resentment of Dean's smothering protectiveness and seemingly frequent mistrust – and some of which are much more recent.
This is something very human, something virtually all of us do. When we're hurt, we tend to mark it down in our mental emotional ledger whether we talk about it or not. When we look at each other, our view is often colored by shadows of resentment and anger we may never even have shared with the people whose actions – often unintentionally – triggered them. Just think of the things about family, friends, and co-workers that irritate you: the niggling, common things that often make you feel unappreciated or imposed upon. Those things are mostly a lot smaller and less consequential than having cause to blame someone for the death of a loved one, but they can take just as great a toll on our ability to maintain close, healthy, and loving relationships over time. And if they aren't resolved within lifetimes, they continue to haunt us afterward with recriminations and regrets.
Dean's rationale for and approach to dealing with the situation is one we could all aspire to.
Bobby: It was Omaha. It was my fault. And he never let it go.
Dean: Well, he should have.
Bobby: You don't know what I did, Dean.
Dean: Doesn't matter.
Bobby: What do you mean, it doesn't ...?
Dean: I mean, at the end of the day, you two were family. Life's short. Ours are shorter than most. Are we going to spend it wringing our hands? Something's gonna get us, eventually. And when my guts get ripped out, just so you two know, we're good. Blanket apology for all the crap that anybody's done, all the way around.
Sam: Some of us pulled a lot of crap, Dean.
Dean: Well, clean slate.
Dean was definitely speaking for the future, granting his absolution to Bobby and Sam for anything left unresolved at his own death, but what he said, what he gave them, was more than that. I think he was speaking as well to all the consuming regrets and apologies owed that could never be given or received: to Bobby, for never having been able to be fully reconciled to Rufus and for having been unable to save his wife; to Sam, for all the things he still doesn't even know his soulless self did, as well as all the earlier missteps he already bitterly regrets; and to and from himself for all the people he knows he's hurt, from Sam and Bobby to Lisa, Ben, and even Gwen.
What Dean may not realize yet is that keeping that promise – both giving and accepting that blanket apology and absolution – means eventually forgiving himself as well as others, and that may be the biggest challenge of all and the hardest promise for all of them to keep. And it will be hard for all of us, too; but it's still a life lesson we should learn and accept in dealing with the people we love. I intend to try.
Just ’Cause You’re Blood Doesn’t Make You Family; You’ve Got To Earn That
Samuel very cagily tried to play the family card with Gwen and Sam despite realizing Dean would never forgive him. Dean's harsh attitude toward Samuel stood in stark contrast to his all-forgiving view of Bobby and Sam, but I didn't see that as a contradiction; instead, I saw it as a proof. Family forgives and is forgiven, but in Dean's definition, without love, there is no family in the first place, and that means blood can be irrelevant in the family equation.
Dean has always been all about family. From the very beginning, he defined his life in terms of his father and brother, and the memory of his mother: his family. Along the way, he expanded his definition of family to include others, among them Bobby, Ellen, Jo, Lisa, and Ben. Family to Dean always meant love and duty, in lockstep. Blood was part of that definition in the beginning, but as Bobby so succinctly put it in No Rest For The Wicked, Family don't end with blood, boy. Dean realized long ago that where there was love, there was family, and that meant there was duty, too; the responsibility to protect and defend those he loved, and as part of that, to put their happiness and well-being at least on a level with if not above his own.
But the thing about family is that those lines of love and responsibility run both ways, and I think that was Dean's point in distinguishing between Samuel, his blood grandfather, and the members of his core and adopted families. Dean knows beyond need of proof that Sam and Bobby – along with John, Mary, Ellen, Jo, Lisa, Ben, and a number of others – love or loved him for who he is, flaws, warts, and all. And he also knows that however imperfectly that love was expressed – just think how often he's misunderstood Sam's feelings, and vice versa, or how misguidedly John burdened his sons with his own issues in his desperate concern to protect them – there was never an intent on the part of those others to hurt him, or even simply to use him for advantage. They and he all made mistakes along the way, and some of them were doozies; and they all struck out at him sometimes in hurtful, reactive moments of their own pain and anger even as he sometimes struck back in his own bitterness; but underneath it all was love, and their desire that Dean be well and happy even as he tried to benefit them the same way.
We never saw that kind of concern or love from Samuel Campbell for anyone but his wife and daughter. What we mostly saw from Samuel was calculation, a weighing and estimation of how the Winchesters could fit into and be used in his plans. And looking back over this season, we saw essentially the same from him for all the other members of his little contemporary family of far-flung, distant cousins. He used them all in pursuit of the only goal he really cared about: getting his daughter back. While he dangled the concept of family before them as the reason and the model for cohesion, he never seemed to forge with them the two-way bonds we've seen among everyone in Dean and Sam's immediate circle. The closest Samuel seemed to come was in his relationship with Gwen, in whom – to judge from what she said to Dean during the early part of Family Matters – he saw reminders of Mary. It was almost as if, in the absence of Mary, he indulged in the comfort of seeing her partially reborn in spirit in the form of Gwen.
In the absence of love, however, all of Samuel's talk of family rang hollow. He played on the theme of family without ever achieving true harmony, because all his family feeling ran only one way: he expected loyalty and obedience from everyone else, but didn't give them the same. He kept secrets and used people without regard for the cost to them, all the while expecting them to give him respect and trust. In particular, he never accepted Dean, even as he courted him simply in order to use him.
So I don't see it as a disconnect that, while offering blanket pardons and apologies to Sam and Bobby in the name of family for anything they've ever done, Dean determined to kill and never to forgive Samuel. Blood notwithstanding, Samuel was never family, not as Dean has always understood it; and he failed to meet that definition not because of anything Dean did, but because of his own choice from the outset not to accept and treat the brothers with the love and care that translates into the reality of family.
The truth is, the families we make from the chance-met people in our lives are often as or more important to us than the families to which we were born. Love is what makes family, family; love and trust and shared responsibility and caring for each other. However imperfect, however flawed, however awkward in expression, the people we love and those who love us back make us who we are. They are the family we're committed to accept unconditionally, whose mistakes we forgive seven times seventy-seven times, and whose forgiveness we beg for our offenses against them.
I submit that in Dean's eyes, love is how you earn being family, how you become part of an enduring unit able to live in the assurance of being accepted and loved. If you don't give it, even – as John did – in the most stilted and convoluted of ways, you can't ever get it back.
And by that measure, Samuel isn't and wasn't family, no matter that he was their grandfather by blood. He could have been family, and that's the tragedy; he just never cared to be, being too wrapped up in his own obsession even to care for his grandsons as anything other than tools.
You Don't Know Half The Things That I Know, Kid
I remain convinced we haven't seen or heard the last of the Campbells. I believe there had to have been a reason Samuel, of all human beings, was brought back from the dead, and I believe it had to do not just with his blood tie to the Winchester brothers, but to the nature of the Campbells as an historic bloodline of hunters with access to information no solitary hunter born of a recent personal tragedy could hope to have obtained. I don't know whether we'll discover more Campbells yet alive, see dead ones turning up as ghosts or other spirits, or simply learn things either through Sam recovering memories of his year with Samuel or through the brothers discovering the Campbell cache of family hunting history (did Samuel have a stash somewhere like John's secret storage unit, holding the accumulated Campbell family records and artifacts?). However it happens, though, I'm certain there's more to the story than what we already know.
Samuel belittled Bobby and Rufus as children compared to him in terms of monster knowledge. He was being snide, but I think in a way he was also telling the truth. Think of the things we learned only from Samuel, knowledge carefully guarded within the Campbell family and never shared with other hunters outside their bloodline: a cure for vampirism, an antidote to djinn poison, even the knowledge unveiled here that Eve had last walked the Earth about 10,000 years ago, and was the origin of all the monsters hunters knew. What we didn’t learn, however, was how Samuel knew that, or whether or what he knew about how she had been consigned to Purgatory back then. He didn't seem to know about the Mother during Family Matters, or have any specific knowledge of Purgatory, instead simply pursuing his information-gathering assignment for Crowley, but that's not to say he couldn't have taken what he learned then and applied it to achieve a new viewpoint and different understanding of obscure information already in the Campbell archives. Just think how differently Dean viewed the first sentence of John's journal after he learned in Home that Missouri was the name of a psychic: “I went to Missouri, and I learned the truth.” I always thought he meant the state.
I found it particularly telling that while Bobby and Rufus called all their available contacts in search of any information on the Khan-worm or Eve, Samuel volunteered nothing and called no one. We don't know when Samuel got possessed by the worm; it could have been immediately after it fled Dean, since Samuel and Rufus had split up in their search, or it may not have been until Samuel was alone again in the bathroom. His failure to contact anyone or volunteer any additional information in the time between those events may have been the worm exerting control, but I doubt that; I think it was simply Samuel operating in his normal modus operandi, relying on and ruthlessly restricting access to his own sources of information. Campbells didn't hunt with outsiders and didn't share information with them. Samuel said it flat-out back when we first met him during In The Beginning, in his very first attempt to exclude Dean: I don't trust other hunters, Dean. Don't want their help, don't want them around my family. It was Deanna who made Dean welcome and forced Samuel to be polite. Without his wife's tempering influence, the Samuel who came back from death was closed off from anyone outside his limited definition of family. He didn't turn to anyone – and that was absolutely consistent with who he'd been before.
I hope there's another chapter for us to discover in the Campbell family history. There's definitely something more there for us to see, and for the Winchester brothers to learn and understand. I simply can't believe or accept their story ended here with the abrupt deaths of Gwen and Samuel.
I really enjoyed this episode while I was watching it: the tension level was way up there, the camaraderie among Dean, Sam, Bobby, and Rufus was positively delightful, and we learned key pieces of the Bobby and Rufus back story that illuminated all their interactions since we first met them. Everything among our principals felt absolutely genuine and became downright heart-wrenching, and Mike Rohl's hard-driving direction and Serge Ladouceur's brilliant lighting design kept everything that happened both perfectly clear and dramatically scary. In the aftermath, however, I felt a bit let down in two main respects: the way the tale apparently abruptly truncated the story of the Campbells, and how Eve came off as nothing more than a classic megalomaniacal villain who simply couldn’t resist tweaking the heroes’ noses.
As usual, I’ll get my criticisms out of the way first. The biggest one has to do with Samuel and Gwen Campbell, and goes beyond just this script by Brett Matthews to take on the scripts for the season as a whole so far. I can’t help but feel that the Campbells haven’t been well used or consistently written and portrayed this season, and I think that’s a shame. Samuel’s depiction was particularly choppy; we saw him go from forceful clan leader in Exile On Main Street and Two And A Half Men to little more than a passive observer in Unforgiven. Admittedly, he always had secrets, and as we learned more, particularly in Family Matters and Caged Heat, we came to understand just how much he was being manipulated rather than being in control as he’d pretended to be all along, but he just didn’t feel like the same character throughout. He never particularly seemed to care about the losses his little family-focused hunting group was sustaining – and they lost people every time we encountered them, except during Unforgiven – which made his family speeches ring hollow to me even before he betrayed the brothers to Crowley in Caged Heat. That made it hard for me to buy him right from the start as a leader charismatic enough to have kept his hunting group together out of family loyalty. If you don’t feel that someone really cares about you and your welfare, you’re not inclined to go above and beyond for him, or trust him to lead you when his origins and motives are hidden, especially not if you’re a hunter trained to be suspicious by nature. And we never really got to know much at all about poor Gwen, so her death meant little to us beyond knowing Dean would feel bad about having killed her. We were starting to see Gwen questioning her faith in Samuel, but her life was cut short before that journey amounted to much.
I still hope we might yet learn more – perhaps as Sam begins to recover memories from his lost year – at least to explain why Samuel in particular was brought back in the first place and to allow the brothers access to the information sources he had that were never available to anyone else. An antidote to djinn poison, a cure for vampirism, lore on the Alphas, knowledge of Eve’s history – all these things came from Samuel, and nowhere else. I think his utility was being the oldest hunter with the longest family history and thus an unbroken line of direct knowledge beyond the means of most hunters, and his uniqueness was sharing blood family with the Winchester brothers – but I think we’re missing something else. I hope it’s a missing piece that will come into play before the season ends, not one that got left out of the puzzle box entirely. I'm hoping we'll see into Sam's year-long shared past with Samuel and the Campbells to be able to understand how a hunter family truly worked, or that the Campbell family information stash – like John's secret storage unit – may be uncovered and come into play. I really want to understand particularly why the Campbells always held totally aloof from other hunters and didn’t share information to help others in the fight; that still bothers me.
I was also singularly unimpressed by Eve. Her ability to create new kinds of monsters – and presumably to alter the profiles of existing monsters, given the way they've been acting out of character – is a fascinating and scary one, especially since it means hunters won't know the guaranteed ways to kill or otherwise deal with them or with her, but her expressed intent in creating the Khan-worm was laughable. As explained by the worm possessing Bobby, she created the worm and planted a blatant trail of other monster activity leading to it simply to send a taunting message to hunters – the only people aware of her – that she was back and her planned endgame was to take over the world by making monsters outnumber people, causing pain to hunters and other humans along the way. That served no purpose except to demonstrate that the Mother is a classic megalomaniac, the kind of mustache-twirling villain who can't resist boasting to the hero about how she's going to torture him before killing him. And that mustache looks pretty silly on a woman. That aspect of the Mother was disappointing. The only sense I can make out of it is that she's driven by a desire to show off her prowess by winning games she creates – and I'm sorry, but that's a pretty petty urge, and leads me to wonder who created Eve, and why. She comes off as a high-level demon's wet dream of yet another way to play with humans by making them into other twisted things.
In retrospect, I also had a little trouble with the Khan-worm. Admittedly, the writer and director were always careful to ensure that people were only attacked and taken over by the worm when they were alone, so no one else could notice the worm scooting up someone's leg or back and give warning – but man, anything crawling up my neck in the vicinity of my ear would get swatted fast! I enjoyed the psychological tension of a monster that could surreptitiously take over people, though, so I'll give them a pass and guess the worm was just too quick on its final strike for human reflexes to block it.
Two little production points made me laugh out loud, just because they were amusingly incongruous. First, listen carefully when Rufus cuffs Sam; what my ears heard were standard metal handcuff noises, not plastic zip-cuff ones! I think we're so conditioned to hearing metal cuffs snap that a plastic ratchet just wouldn't leave us with the right mental impression. The second chuckle came from the thought that Khan-worm goo was evidently a great solvent, because how else would you explain Sam having been able to simply brush duct tape off Bobby's face without also removing his beard? I dare say Jim Beaver was very grateful the prop tape wasn't up to Home Depot's or Lowe's normal stickiness standards!
Enough with the criticism, on to the good stuff! I loved the way this script, with its illumination of the history between Bobby and Rufus, remained consistent with all we'd seen before, while at the same time forcing a new and dramatically different interpretation of what we'd thought we'd seen. If you want to see what I mean, watch Weekend At Bobby's again, and see if you take away an entirely different impression this time of all the exchanges between Rufus and Bobby now that you know what happened in their past. I also enjoyed all the small touches that preserved the character consistency, including discovering that Rufus had been Jewish – hinted by his I know what I want for Hanukkah! joke when he saw Bobby's backhoe in use digging the okami's grave – and seeing Bobby pour his libation tribute in Johnnie Walker Blue, the only alcohol Rufus bothered to drink, as we learned when we met him the very first time in Time Is On My Side. At $250 a bottle, Blue is the most expensive but still generally readily available Scotch; if you order it from the distillery, they'll even engrave the bottle.
I also truly loved seeing Sam – with his soul back – first protesting and then having to turn away from watching Dean torture the worm in Bobby's body. After all the time we've spent totally missing Sam's gentle, empathic side – from Sam deliberately setting out during season three to try to harden himself to fight a war alone, through being led down the well-intentioned path to Hell in season four, jumping into it in season five, and being soulless for the first half of season six – I felt both grieved and relieved to see him so tormented by Bobby's pain and appalled that Dean was inflicting it, while simultaneously realizing and accepting there was no other choice. Jared Padalecki did a spectacular job of piling layer upon layer of emotion throughout this episode, but especially in that torture scene and at Rufus's grave. Similarly, watching Jensen Ackles convey the changes in Dean that let him do what he had to do, drawing on the ugly skills he'd learned so horribly well in Hell while simultaneously loving Bobby and holding to the essential goodness that makes Dean, Dean, left me in awe of how skilled an actor he is. Jim Beaver as Bobby and Steven Williams as Rufus were exactly the men we'd come to know and love, while also being different men than we'd ever known they were. Tour de force all around. One of my absolute favorite memories from this episode will always be the four men meeting outside the cannery at night to hunt together; it's been a long time since we saw such smiles and perfectly shared happiness, particularly on both Sam's and Dean's faces, and I'm afraid it will be a long time before we see that again, given how very dark this very noir season has been.
While there were aspects of this episode that let me down, the good things definitely outweighed them for me, and particularly since I suspect there are still many things hidden from us that will change our perspective as we learn them – much as this episode changed my understanding of what we saw in Weekend At Bobby's by providing character context we hadn't known at the time – I think this entire season may look very different when we re-watch it with wiser, more informed eyes after we get to the season's end.
In the meantime, I think I'm going to take a page from Dean's book and work on loving and living harmoniously with all the members of all my families: the born, the made, and the Supernatural.
Life's too short to do anything less.