'Supernatural' Recap: The Ghosts Of Hunter's Past
Last week’s episode of “Supernatural” ended with the season’s biggest shocker so far when Dean killed Sam’s first crush—a brain-eating demon with a morals—after his little brother had all but begged him to trust in his judgment that she wouldn’t kill again and let her go.
It was an ugly moment for the often self-destructive Dean Winchester, and it spoke to his frayed mental state. His guilt carried over to this week’s episode that felt like classic “Supernatural” and a love letter to the fans who’ve stuck around for seven crazy seasons. “Defending Your Life” had loads of gore, the Winchesters’ trusty EMF meter, an old-fashioned salt-and-burn, and Dean flirting with a hot bartender.
“Defending Your Life” started with a badass car chase, and it wasn’t the Impala. A black sedan with no driver chased a thoroughly freaked out man down streets, alleyways, on sidewalks, and even…in his tenth-floor apartment, where he was crushed to death in a visceral splatter of blood.
All was quiet on the Leviathan front, so Sam and Dean returned to working regular jobs. Sam seemed to be healthier than he has been all season. The trick Dean taught him was still working, even though the laceration has long healed. Sam attributed his good health to Dean agreeing to spare Amy's life. He accepted gratitude with a better poker face than Lady Gaga but grimaced as the machete of guilt twisted the moment Sam turned to enter the crime scene. I noticed, with laughter, that the forensics team wore jackets with “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation” on the back. I heart the "Supernatural" production team.
The investigation uncovered that the victim, Matthew, had backed over a little girl while driving drunk 10 years ago. He wasn’t charged, and had been sober ever since. He sent flowers to her grave every week, and had paid the florist three years in advance shortly before his death. It seemed like Matt knew he was a goner. Sometimes, the smallest details are the most haunting.
The bones of the little girl were salted and burned. Case over? Absolutely not.
Another man was being chased by the most foreboding nearly black german shepherd I've ever seen. Victims on this show are smarter this season as illustrated by the man who ducked into a diner, bolted into the bathroom and called 911. Cujo appeared inside the bathroom and tore his throat out anyway.
The boys straggled back to their motel after a night of graveyard desecrating. Sam was still disturbingly chipper while Dean was running on fumes and sarcasm. Sam found the story of poor Christopher, who was mauled by a dog that no one had seen or heard, in the newspaper. He had a shady past too— he'd been convicted of running a dog-fighting ring (no Michael Vick joke as he actually went to federal prison), sentenced to community service at an animal shelter, and was still working there years later.
After examining the body, Sam found the same red dirt under Christopher’s fingernails that was at the first crime scene, and tracked it out to an abandoned apple farm. Before they reached it, an old man darted into the middle of the street, visibly wigged. Back at the motel, Warren disjointedly explained that he was abducted outside of Neal’s Tavern and “sentenced to death” by a mysterious judge for robbing a liquor store and killing two people in 1981...after he’d already served 30 years in prison. The other victims had been patrons of the same bar. This episode started to feel very similar to “Crossroad Blues,” where a demon set up shop at a dive bar, granting the wishes of the drunk and stupid for the tiny price of their souls.
Dean was “having a hard time not rooting for the ghosts” as all of the victims have done horrible things (and apparently the jail-time and strides to right their wrongs meant nothing). Sam pointed out that they’ve killed a lot of people. Dean remarked, “when those ghosts come to kick my ass, they’ve got a compelling case.”
Sam left Warren at the motel, secured by the Salt Circle of Safety ( that never works) and left to find the barn.
At Neal’s Tavern, Dean drank and hit on Mia, the hot blonde bartender (Emilie Ullerup), and failed to notice the exotic stranger eavesdropping when Mia invited him to unload. I actually thought she was the ghost causing the murders, but I realized that she was flirting because she has functioning eyes and common sense. Dean confessed that he felt guilty killing Amy behind Sam’s back while pounding an alarming amount of scotch.
Dean Winchester is many things—snarky, brave, prettier than any man has a right to be, and a damn good brother—but he’s not foolish enough to his sins at the very bar the victims visited before they died. He did it purposely, because his heart was bleeding with remorse and he wanted to be punished. Because he’s a good person.
Bobby informed Sam that evidence pointed to the Egyptian god Osiris, who “weighs the guilt” of the human heart and sentences people to death if he finds “more than a feather’s worth.” He implored Sam to get Dean out of town.
Meanwhile, Dean was hilariously psyching himself up for a night of debauchery with Mia, but was abducted before he even got to the plate. With Mia’s assistance, Sam tracked Dean to the cavernous courtroom that was decorated with Egypt’s finest, including burning torches and ornate golden thrones.
Osiris was portrayed with campy pizzazz by Faran Tahir (“Warehouse 13”). Sam, utilizing his Stanford education and tricks from “The Good Wife,” acted as Dean’s counsel. It was a fangirl’s dream come true, and a proud moment for Sam. In a courtroom performance that would make Elle Woods proud, Sam objected to nearly everything Osiris said until he threatened to kill him and called the ghost of Jo Harvelle (Alona Tal) to the stand. Jo and Ellen Harvelle were killed in an explosion on a mission to defeat the devil in the superb tearjerker, “Abandon All Hope.” Despite her macabre grayish-white pallor, Jo was a peaceful ghost.
The courtroom scenes were probably the most ethereal moments in "Supernatural's" history. The real-time action was interspersed with emotive montages of pivotal character deaths in the series. It was an incredibly effective way of reminding viewers of how much the Winchesters have suffered.
Jo was obviously fighting for Dean’s life, but Osiris pointed out that Jo got the taste for hunting because of the case she worked with Dean in “No Exit,” and that she would’ve followed him into any battle, including the one that killed her and her mother.
Sam easily established that Jo became a hunter of her late father during his cross examination. It always leads back to daddy issues on “Supernatural.”
When Osiris called Sam as the next witness and began questioning him, I realized that his goal was to dredge up incurable pain for the accused, and that even Ghandi would’ve felt innocent after this kind of “trial.” He asked Sam, “don’t you think that your brother dragged you back into that catastrophic mess because he’d rather damn you with him than be alone?” After the disclosure of bloodlines, destiny and the ominous forces working against them, Sam knew that it wasn’t his fault. But Dean didn’t.
Dean was struck with memories of the gruesome deaths of loved ones and the innocents, like the mandriod-loving Ronald from “Nightshifter,” and Pamela from “Death Takes A Holiday,” his father’s funeral, and worst of all—Sam’s death in “All Hell Breaks Loose Part 1.” Jensen Ackles conveyed it all wordlessly, brilliantly and stunningly, an example of his extraordinary talent.
Sam found the loophole when Osiris admitted that Dean had to believe in his innocence to be saved. With lawyering that would have Alicia Florrick objecting to leading the witness, Sam clarified the difference between being heavy-hearted about someone’s death and feeling responsible for it. Dean agreed that he was burdened by the countless losses, but didn’t cause it.
Osiris threatened Dean with the final witness: Amy. Rather than crush his little brother’s healing spirit, he allowed Osiris to condemned to death, and was released to make final arrangements.
They returned to the motel to find David Caruso’s CSI team bagging Warren’s body. There was no time for mourning; they had to find a way to save Dean. I thought with all of the supplies they’ve stolen that they would’ve purchased two laptops so they could research simultaneously.
Bobby called to inform them that if Osiris was stabbed with a ram’s horn he’d be neutralized for centuries. Sam had to rob a synagogue to obtain it.
Dean somberly stood in the salt circle awaiting Jo’s arrival. “You carry all kinds of crap you don’t have to. It gets clearer when you’re dead,” she said softly. “You should be able to see that I’m 90% crap. I get rid of that, then what then?” Dean wondered.
Osiris’ power was forcing her to kill Dean even when she didn’t want to. She cranked up the gas on the stove and destroyed the salt circle by breaking the window and blowing it away. Dean didn't fight it as she slipped his trusty Zippo from his pocket and—
Meanwhile, my favorite Egyptian god stalked his next victim. Sam appeared and ganked him with the magic horn. He died with a flourish of low-budget special effects.
Freed, Jo caressed Dean’s cheek, a gesture of the love they could’ve had, and vanished.
During the celebratory post-hunt drink, Sam explained that he no longer felt guilty for all of his transgressions because he had suffered incredibly for it. I cannot fathom this explanation because there were so many unspeakable things that happened to Sam when he was possessed by Lucifer, hunting soul-free, and was in the worst part of Hell that haven’t ever been mentioned. As a lover of angst and emotional torture, I ache for these issues to be addressed by the writers. But then Sam, hair billowing beautifully in the wind, smiled and said, “I kinda feel good, Dean,” and I smiled too, gripes forgotten, because Sam has never been at peace, not since his journey down the paranormal rabbit-hole started, and he deserves this. And because he will convince his brother he does too.
What did you think of Jo's return? Do you think Dean's secret will ever come out? Do you still miss Castiel? How proud were you of Sam Winchester, attorney-at-law? Hit up the comments section with your thoughts!