Has Sam gone darkside?
Riding lost meat puppet Sam,
Mad Meg tortures Dean.
Okay – didn’t predict that one. DemonMeg escaping hell, locking herself inside Sam, and manipulating him deliberately to inflict the maximum possible emotional and physical agony on Dean as revenge for Dean having sent her back to the hell of hell in Devil’s Trap made for one nail-biting story. And although Bobby’s quick thinking managed to break the lock, and his gift of charms to fend off possession provided future protection that we heartily wish the boys had been given earlier, disembodied DemonMeg is still out there, no whit less angry. The boys are both nursing some new pains, Sam for the things he remembers doing while MegSam was in control (and just exactly which things, beyond the murder of the other hunter, was he helplessly awake to see? Was he, like John in Devil’s Trap, aware of torturing Dean?), and Dean for all the memories of fear and loss and torture. And how many other demons may learn the tricks that MegSam mastered to block exorcisms and shatter devils’ traps? DemonMeg and others like her could really become a problem if they learned to acquire the YED’s seeming immunity to holy water.
We opened on a distraught Dean calling Ellen for the umpteenth time looking for Sam, who’d been missing for a week. The fast, jerky jump-cuts through his fragmented conversation were a great technique choice to leave us feeling as unsettled, confused, and worried as Dean – kudos to new-to-Supernatural director J. (John) Miller Tobin, whose work has also been seen recently on Numb3rs and
I think I realized who was actually in residence – and had been throughout the episode so far – just about the time that MegSam said, “No. You’ll live. You’ll live to regret this.” before pistol-whipping Dean and leaving him out cold on the motel room floor. There was just something so – Meg – about that line and that action. I became certain of it as MegSam toyed with Jo, playing the “what do you really know about your father’s death” card. The feline taunt-and-threaten was such a perfect echo of Meg in Shadow with the boys in the warehouse, and of Meg in Salvation with Pastor Jim Murphy, Caleb, and John. The style and cadence of speech throughout the scene where Jo was tied to the post were pure Meg, right up until Dean entered the bar and MegSam switched gears into an imperfect pleading Sammy. Writer Cathryn Humphris, who also gave us Dean Man’s Blood and The Usual Suspects, clearly had fun, and Jared Padalecki did a lovely job of channeling Nicki Aycox’s Meg, both in the bar and later in Bobby’s place. (Oh – and apropos of nothing except that I didn’t know where else to mention the scene of Dean finding out where MegSam went – Dean still using the “Dean J. Mahogoff” alias from Playthings was a little fun moment …)
Jo was a surprise, and for me, a pleasant one. She’s grown up some since leaving Ellen after the events of No Exit, and the added maturity from evidently having experienced some harsh realities – here she is, working in a bar again, not just living the hunting life – combined with the events of the episode leading her to accept Dean refusing her company and walking away, make her character a more interesting one. I wonder if she and Ellen will bury the hatchet soon.
The entire scene at Bobby’s was superb, from Bobby again being proven a subtle and canny hunter – lacing his beer with holy water for demon detection was delightful! – to the exorcism proving ineffective, the discovery of the binding lock, the shattering of the protective circle of the devil’s trap, and MegSam finally announcing herself and her purpose. I loved that Bobby was inspired to break the binding lock on Sam’s arm by branding across it to break its pattern in the same way that MegSam cracking his ceiling broke the pattern and the power of the protective circle – the logic of it appealed to me. (Hmm – are the continuity people going to remember to have the makeup crew include the scar the next time we get to see Sam’s bare right forearm? And what about Dean’s left shoulder bullet scar? Assuming we ever get more shirtless Dean, that is …Bad fangirl! Down, girl!) Jared and Jensen just keep getting better.
MegSam proclaiming that hell is, well, hell for demons as well as for human souls offers an interesting idea about why demons might have an interest in a full-scale war. All the way back in Devil’s Trap, Bobby pointed out that more and more demons were walking the earth, and we’ve seen ample demonstration that none of them – from the plane crash demon of Phantom Traveler through Meg to the crossroads demon of Cross Road Blues – want to be sent back to hell. How many more want out, and is that ultimately the YED’s goal?
The episode’s end left us with the usual questions about when demons lie as opposed to when they mess with your mind by telling the truth. I believe that MegSam told the truth when she said that she didn’t give a rat’s ass about the YED’s master plan – demons are selfish, and this one wanted revenge on Sam and especially Dean. We’ve discussed situations before where other demons took actions that seemed to go against what the YED might want, and I think this was another example. I believe that MegSam enjoyed telling the truth about Dean’s non-romantic feelings for Jo, and she was spot-on in observing that anything she could do to Dean was nothing against the punishment Dean always inflicts on himself. But the truth of the end of the last hunt of William Harvelle and John Winchester? I don’t know yet what I believe about that. Man, even after he’s gone, John still haunts us all. And MegSam is the second demon who’s spoken of seeing John tormented in hell. Somehow, I do believe he’s there – and I do believe that, one way or another, Dean is going to find a way to lay his soul to rest. And as for whether the real Sam has actually been experiencing growing feelings of rage and hate (which, come to think of it, might together with his growing fear have been what opened the door to his demonic possession), or whether MegSam made up that detail as part of the campaign to test whether Dean could actually be pushed into destroying himself by killing his brother – the jury’s still out on that one for me, too. Here’s hoping the boys get past their latest reasons for emotional awkwardness to do a little more talking and sort those things out. No, I’m not going to hold my breath for that to happen. After all – they’re guys.
But for all the pain and struggle involved, and for all the nasty things MegSam’s new, improved demonic abilities may mean for the war to come, I think that the events of Born Under a Bad Sign most importantly marked a profound transformation in Dean, one all to the good. Despite the physical abuse Dean suffered, and MegSam employing the same belittling guilt and self-esteem hammers that the YED had smashed Dean with in Devil’s Trap, Dean still never surrendered; he never yielded to despair; he never gave up; he never broke. Instead, he made his peace with the mission John gave him, and with the promise Sam had forced from him; he found his own way to deal with it all, and his stubborn conviction, the fire of his determination, will see him through no matter what. “Sam, when Dad told me that I might have to kill you, it was only if I couldn’t save you. Now, if it’s the last thing I do, I’m gonna save you.” No ifs, no ands, no buts: failure is not an option. Dean will save Sam, no matter the price, no matter the consequences. If he believes in nothing else about himself, he believes in this, because he must. As long as Dean steadfastly refuses even to think that he could fail, he knows that Sam is safe.
Against those stakes, doubt doesn’t have a prayer.
And now for next week …
Okay, that promo for next week’s Tall Tales episode left me laughing hysterically. Apart from the promo’s style itself, which was a scream, did anyone catch how many of the tabloid headlines and photos related to episodes of the show?
Co-Ed Zombie Lusts For Flesh! Reign of Terror Could
Vampires Eat Cows, Bleed Milk!
The one I didn’t quite nail as a possible was Killing With Kindness Doesn’t Pan Out! And of course, we’ve never seen giant alligators.