'Supernatural' Recap: Eternal Sunshine of the Tortured Mind

January 17th, 2013 10:12am EST

Supernatural “Supernatural” had me at the first “son of a bitch!” After a shocker of a winter finale, that left Sam and Dean in opposite corners on opposite side of the country—Dean siding with troubled vampire Benny; and Sam accidentally reuniting with his old flame Amelia—it returns with the show’s strange and engrossing take on a romantic comedy. “Torn and Frayed” had it all: angels, sacrifice, and heartrending break-ups.

Let’s dive in shall we!

The episode begins with Dean knock-knock-knockin’ on Sam’s door in Kermit, Texas. His kid brother is seven feet of anger, betrayal and disbelief and nearly shuts the door in Dean’s gorgeous face. Sam was angry, because Dean cloned Amelia’s phone and sent him a distress text had queued up echoes of their loved ones’ deaths. “You save a vampire by making me believe that the woman I love might be dead.” Nice summary, counselor!

Dean was self-righteous and tossed out flippant apologies because in reality, he didn’t think he was wrong and maybe he didn’t realize the gravity of what he had done. Dean Winchester ain’t got time for that! Neither of them were entirely innocent, and needed to work their issues out instead of tiptoeing around them. At a stalemate, Dean slinked off to drown his sorrows in porn and to cuddle up with several six-packs at Rufus’ cabin.

Elsewhere, that adorable Cas-lovin' angel nabbed in “A Little Slice Of Kevin” with the hippie, vegan, crunchy name, Samandriel, was still being tortured by Crowley’s mooks. Now they have a demonic doctor was overseeing the angel-boarding. He’d adapted a medical device used to stabilize the spine and is deliciously called a “halo” to figure out how angels tick. Nice touch, show! Samandriel’s screams of agony were strong enough to cause ripple effect of strange happenings, enabling Castiel to triangulate his approximate location to Nebraska. Nailing down the exact address would take people skills, which meant he needed his favorite Winchester.

Dean definitely has a way with a case. After interviewing a man who was charboiled by a burning bush, (“I’d laugh too if it didn’t feel like the sun just ate my face"), he realized that Crowley would have hoards of demons guarding the Samandriel’s location and they just needed to “drive ‘til we see ugly.” It worked, of course, but the facility was guarded an army of demons, and they needed reinforcements and a better plan than gank-and-grab. To Castiel, who’d been flitting around the globe doing good deeds, like providing a weary mother with a diagnosis for her sick baby, that meant snatching Sam from his den of sin with Amelia, and returning him to the houseboat with the grubby, grouchy prophet to make anti-demon bombs and still not talk.

The episode went from good to teeth-grindingly, I-don’t-want-to-blink intense when Sam and Dean, armed with angel blades, anti-demon bombs and spray paint mounted their not-so-stealthy rescue mission. With Cas sidelined by the angel-repelling sigils, the brothers worked as a well-oiled machine, relying on muscle-memory and decades of training to take down demon after demon, even as they groused at each other while doing it. Unintentional or not, I laughed at Sam tediously and carefully clearing a hallway before whipping out his can of spray paint, shaking it as loudly as possible to deactivate the anti-angel graffiti.

Inside the dungeon of torture, Crowley was literally turning the screws on poor Samandriel, who had literally done nothing but writhe and roar in misery and chant forebodingly in Enochian. After this episode, I hope his doppelganger Tyler Johnston was plied with gallons of hot tea and Vancouver’s best ice cream.

It became a nail-biting, gruesome race as Sam and Dean tried to break down the reinforced door—with poor Castiel reliving his own torture at the hands of Naomi—and with Crowley literally putting the screws to the angel to delve deeper into his “factory settings” for hardwired secrets.
Seconds before the Winchesters triumphantly interrupted the world’s worst party, Crowley discovered what he'd been praying to Lucifer for. The scribe of the all God’s tablets had written a recipe to destroy demons, and never one to play favorites, had also written one to lock the door on heaven forever. And I don’t even have time to ponder that proverbial bomb because “Supernatural” has decided to launch a Shock and Awe attack for its first episode of 2013, and clobber us with Castiel’s jaw-dropping memories of Naomi torturing him. She had also done a little digging in Castiel’s cabeza and could control him despite his protestations.

As Samandriel, finally freed, but guiltily confessing that Heaven was controlling angels, Castiel became a puppet himself, spewing Naomi’s lies and doing her bidding. He killed Samandriel, claimed it was self-defense, and returned him to Heaven. It was all so bizarre, especially as blood oozed from Castiel’s eye, that Sam and Dean were just as gobsmacked as we were. Something tells me Season 8 has nothing good in store for Castiel.

The episode ended with Sam and Dean huddled in Rufus’s cabin, finally admitting just how complex things had gotten with the hunt and with each other and freaking out about Castiel's odd behavior. Dean had learned from seeing Prophet Kevin so blindly focused on his work and shutting out his mother and the outside world that he had to enjoy the very thing he was trying to save. Sam realized that he couldn’t keep straddling two worlds because the distraction would get him or someone else killed.

In the end, Sam and Dean choose Sam and Dean. The eldest Winchester cut ties with Benny (who’d been twitchily struggling his blood addiction and called Dean’s help like an alcoholic phoning his sponsor). Sam had made a promise to meet Amelia at their motel room in Kermit two days after reuniting for a tryst, and he just never showed, leaving her standing in the room alone like a forlorn, brunette Meg Ryan who will go on to live unhappily ever after.
It was oddly touching and a little sad to watch two grown men make even more concessions for The Greater Good. Sam and Dean are always stronger together, but I always wish they could have their own separate happiness outside of each other and the hunt. Ultimately, there was little I didn’t like about this episode. It was a good catalyst for the rest of the season, which looks like it’ll be an angel vs. demon vs. deathrace with the Winchesters trapped somewhere in the middle, together. From A to F, “Mystery Spot” to “Ghostfacers,” this episode was a star-crossed A-.

What did you think of the episode? How much were you done with Amelia when she admitted to hating motels? Do you think you’ve seen the last of Benny?
How heartbreaking was Castiel? Hit up the comments section!

Tune in next week when the Winchesters go LARPing and reunite with Felicia Day!

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