'Supernatural' Winter Finale Recap: Wicked Reindeer Games
December 6th, 2012 9:45am EST
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 the 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.
And it's not an easy task as the intensity between Sam and Dean has quadrupled, and it’s illustrated by crazy Martin, who stabs at clumps of ice with a fork. “We came here on a dead body. You asked for some time and now there’s another dead body. We’ve killed for a lot less,” Sam reasoned, trying to make Dean see the light. He's been down this path with Ruby, and he's trying to protect his brother. What does Dean do when he’s cornered? Fights back with everything in his arsenal, including meanness: “Every relationship I’ve ever had has gone to crap at some point. The one thing I can say about Benny is that he has never let me down,” Dean fired back. ZING! This was the lowest of low blows for Sam, who yes has betrayed Dean, but always tried to do so for the Greater Good. It’s a little scary how cavalier the brothers have become about human lives. But it’s downright frightening when crazy Martin knife-whips Dean and a stunned Sam leaves him handcuffed to the radiator in order to go gank Benny.
This, of course, is where everything goes from worse to DEFCON 1 (Did you notice that even though Sam still didn't take the Impala? I really, really want to know exactly how Dean pounded it into Sam’s molecules that stealing his car is worse than letting dudes knock him out). Anyway, Sam and Dean are hot on Benny’s trail until Sam gets a frantic yet perfectly punctuated text message from Amelia, begging him to come back. Never one to deny a damsel in distress, Sam goes running, literally leaving Martin standed in the Louisiana wilderness.
Dean recovers and frees himself in enough time to warn Benny and meet up to help him take Desmond out. Dean bears the brunt of the work as he gets to play bait for the hipster vampire who tackles Dean, slices his throat only to get beheaded as he goes in for the kill. It’s a testament to how much Dean trusts Benny that he doesn’t seem remotely worried being beaten and bloody in front of a creatures with legendary bloodlust. Benny, however visibly struggles, abruptly leaving as he hears Dean’s heart beating and the blood rushing tantalizingly in his veins. Back in Kermit, Sam approaches his old house, gun at the ready, only to find that Amelia isn’t just fine, she’s deliriously happy, cuddling up to Don on the couch. Sam stumbles back to the car, brokenhearted.
In the “Supernatural” world, there’s really only two kind of hunters: the ones the job kills and the ones the job breaks. Martin seems to be the latter. He stumbles back from the woods and is the picture of calm, smirking into the phone as he coos, “You don’t have to worry about me, Dean, I’m long gone too.” That’s not creepy at all. At first, I thought he’d been turned by one of Desmond’s goons or possessed by a nearby demon. But Martin was just a man with a plan. He heads back to the diner, borrows Elizabeth’s cell phone and calls Benny, threatening her life. Benny only half takes the bait. He arrives at the diner to save a poor, confused Elizabeth, but he doesn’t fight Martin, only the monster inside of him. He even offers up his own life for hers before survival instinct takes over and he does what we’re all programmed to do. Poor Martin? Not really, no.
As much as I don't trust Benny, Ty Olsson makes it impossible not to. He's turned Benny into a sensitive, big-hearted, chicken-fried grizzly bear.
The end of the episode left me stunned and a baffled at Sam and Dean’s treatment towards each other. As much as they tried to save lives, they really just conspired against each other. Sam left Dean handcuffed to a radiator in order to go kill Dean’s friend. In response, Dean used a re-programmed a burner phone number into Sam’s phone as Amelia’s number, so he could fake a text message and manipulate his brother. And he’d done it before this mess had even started. He's been down that path with Amy, and he's trying to protect his brother. “Supernatural” has delved into all the very brutal heart of evil, but watching these two saviors of the world battle each other, even for the right reasons, is probably the most disturbing thing I’ve seen since the skeeviest slow dance in history in “Repo Man.”
There have been a lot of rumors and theories on the internet that Amelia was a figment of Sam’s imagination or that Sam was actually brainwashed or manipulated by higher powers in order to keep him from pulling Dean out of Purgatory, and the GIFs and explanations on the web actually had me wondering if it was true. All of that came crumbling down when Sam turned around and Amelia, his past, was standing in his present.
But the real and soul-crushing cliffhanger is that Sam upon hearing about Martin’s death wouldn’t even listen to Dean, and Dean seemed content without Sam riding shotgun. After engaged in wicked reindeer games with each other, they'd both lost. The brothers are irrevocably divided and there won’t be any resolution until next year. Can Santa fast-forward time? That’s all I want for Christmas.
Grade: From A to F, “A Very Supernatural Christmas” to “Bugs,” this episode was a ballsy B.
What did you think of this episode? Did you want Dean and Elizabeth to hook up as much as I do? Did you feel bad for squirrelly Martin? How are you going to survive the hiatus? Hit up the comments section!
Thanks so much for reading! I will be back when "Supernatural returns on Jan. 16. Happy Holidays!
Photo Credits: The CW Network