'Supernatural' Winter Finale Recap: Wicked Reindeer Games
The worst television inventions since "Two And A Half Men" has to be the winter finale a.k.a an excuse for our favorite shows on hiatus for six agonizing weeks after airing the most maddening, cliffhangery finales of the year. And is it just me or are the winter finales coming awfully early this season?
The last new "Supernatural" of 2012 was a bloody, broody, intense episode that finally found Sam and Dean facing the Benny's A Vampire issue and the Amelia Problem head on. "Citizen Fang" was a disturbing reminder of how far the show has come since its"saving people, hunting things" inception, so much that I actually yearn for the days when a fresh-faced Sammy was mourning Jess and Dean was a wise-cracking badass with daddy issues.
But even Winchesters have to grow up.
Apparently, even those tedious, albeit beautifully shot flashbacks, didn't distract Sam from the knowledge that Dean's new BFF is a vampire and still roaming around the south with his head on his shoulders. Sam had enlisted the help of Martin, the institutionalized hunter we'd last seen in "Sam, Interrupted," to track Benny and make sure he didn’t drain folks like juice boxes. The episode opens with a less-than-cuddly Benny looking downright angelic as he works The Gumbo Shack in his hometown of Carencro, Louisiana. He's slinging hash and flirting with Elizabeth, his who appears to be the mint in his julep. Everything seems kosher until Martin follows him down a dark path and all but trips over a dead, body with a vamped throat.
Sam and Dean pick up the case and assume their corners. The two Winchesters are more stubborn than Riot with a tennis ball: Sam, citing reasons Dean has used to kill “friendly” monsters in the past including Sam’s friend “Amy” in last season’s “The Girl Next Door,” doesn't trust Benny not to kill again and Dean still doesn't believe that Benny, the guy who raised him from Purgatory, actually did it.
I loved watching Sam and Dean talk to each other as if squirrelly Martin wasn't even there because it was all about what they weren’t saying. Dean beseeched Sam for a few hours to investigate this case, to find out the truth, and Sam obliged, because they were partners and brothers, and he knew what it was like to be so close to a situation that you couldn't find your way out of it.
Sam's flashbacks detail just how much he empathizes with Dean and ties seamlessly with this episode. After moving in with the widowed Amelia and finding out her soldier husband was still alive, the two maturely and honestly try to find the right answers in a world's most complicated love triangle. Amelia admits that she's torn, but she's still dedicated to Sam and the life they were building. Sam seems shocked but desperately happy because Amelia saved him and outside of that beautiful house in Kermit, that dog and her, he literally has nothing. The war hero Don tracks Sam to a bar to insist that they're all innocent parties and that he doesn't want to fight. I’m praying to Cas for some Sam to destroy the place with Don’s face as their shirts fall off and it spontaneously starts raining inside the bar, because it would definitely make Sam's flashbacks more compelling. I still hope they're tied to some kind of big bad, even if it's one that ganks the reunited couple.
I understand that the Powers That Be are attempting to infuse some epic romance into the show—an element that has been unsuccessful with in the past because they almost always miscast their female characters. It's a shame that Sam and Amelia is the fruit of their labor. Jared Padalecki has more chemistry with the actor who plays her husband than he has with poor Liane Babalan. Jensen Ackles has more of a connection with a piece of pecan pie than Padalecki has with poor Babalan. Let's face it, doing a guest stint on "Supernatural" can't be as easy as playing Hooker #3 on "Law & Order."
My favorite scene of the episode had to be Benny and Dean’s armed reunion. Dean innocuously greets Benny as he cleans up after burying the second victim. This episode is one of the most wonderfully directed of the season, and the reveal shot of Dean clutching his machete was both a brilliant shock in an episode that needed a big moment and incredibly telling. These are two friends who bonded solely for survival and they aren’t above slaughtered each other over a misunderstanding. Thankfully, Benny explains everything. The women were killed by Desmond, an up-and-coming vamp who needs fang cred and started dropping bodies because Benny wouldn’t vouch for him. Even if you didn’t trust Benny, it seemed plausible enough, and Benny has put down roots, working at his old job with Elizabeth, his great granddaughter. “My brother’s not someone you want to mess with,” Dean says when Benny refuses to leave town. Dean only move to try to talk Sam down.