Emily Dunbar ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Supernatural season 10 is already blowing its ninth season out of the water. Whether that blow is coming from a stick of dynamite or a hair dryer, we’ve yet to fully ascertain, but this week, “Soul Survivor” delivered in a big way.
The episode opened with Sam Winchester (Jared Padalecki) in doctor’s garb, watching a priest bless a refrigerator of bagged blood. True to Supernatural tradition, we aren’t even slightly fazed as Sam plops several of those blessed bags into a cooler and speeds toward the Men of Letters bunker. As we all know, the only way to cure a demon, à la season 8, is to inject them with purified human blood, forcing them to become human. We saw this almost work with Crowley (Mark Sheppard) in the finale of season 8, and the consequences trailed behind him for the entirety of season 9: he craved blood; he sometimes acted human. As Sam pulls the packaged plasma out of his cooler, we know that he’s going to try to cure his big brother, Dean (Jensen Ackles). Unfortunately, so does Dean, and we get to hear some painful trash talk from the once-human, once-righteous Deanmon.
One of the crowning achievements of this episode was the dialogue. First, Dean tells Sam that he knows what he did last summer—err, season break. Apparently, Crowley informed Dean all about Sam’s ethical transgressions into the bad business of tricking-people-into-making-demon-deals-so-Sam-can-capture-and-question-the-demon. We’re just as surprised as Sam is, though for a completely different reason. It’s not news that the Winchesters will go to the ends of the earth, as well as the ends of their morals to save each other, but Sam’s been camping on the high road, recently. While it was true to his character to make a bold (and bad) move, let’s hope he takes the time to reflect, this season, on why being human is important and what that actually means. Because what’s the point in saving his demon brother if he’s going to act just like him anyway?
Dean thinks that, too. In a last-ditch attempt to psych Sam out of shooting him up with a transfusion, he brings up how the Winchesters started doing this whole song and dance. He blames Sam for everything, saying if he’d never been born, Dean’s life never would have turned out so terribly. He even pulls the Mom card, reminded Sam that it was his weird, latent psychic tendencies that caused the yellow-eyed demon, Azazel (Fredric Lehne), to choose him all the way back in the first episode of season one. His voice drips with the sort of disdain we only ever hear from a Dean who’s been compromised in the deepest of ways. Ackles can be proud, not only of his acting chops in this scene, but also for the great directorial choices he made that amped up the tension between our favorite brothers. Finally, Sam storms out after Dean tears into his father and once-idol, John (Jeffery Dean Morgan), who, for the most part we have hated, though we still get frightened when Dean bad mouths him.
All of these things are what built Supernatural. The show never would have taken off without the boys’ mother’s death or their father’s never-ending search for “the thing that killed her.” Getting mentions back to those first couple years on the road is something like a thumbs-up to the fans, a wink that reminds us, “We don’t forget where we came from!” And in this context, the painful walk down memory lane was greatly appreciated.
The pain, of course, continued, as we watch Sam make his way toward Dean’s room in the bunker. He goes inside and looks lovingly on all the things that made Dean Dean: several copies of “Busty Asian Beauties” lying haphazardly on the couch, an empty to-go container of pie, and a whole stack of family pictures. Suddenly, Sam’s resolve is restored again (and so is ours!); he remembers who his brother is and what they’ve always fought for (and so do we!) Now he’s just worried that he’s killing him. (Yeah! Don’t do that!)
Sam calls favorite Angel of the Lord, Castiel (Misha Collins), who is battling his wavering Grace, a couple of rogue angels… and a love interest? In the most predictable turn of events, Hannah (Erica Carroll) seems to be developing inexplicable Angel feelings for Cas. This is absolutely infuriating, because while we can all admit that America’s favorite angel is dreamy, he doesn’t need a love interest! He’s got enough on his plate trying to, you know, not die and to stop his best friend from, you know, dying. Hannah has always been a loyal friend to Cas, and as usual, the writers are telling us that female friends are impossible to have in the Supernatural universe. Cas has to let Hannah down easy, reminding her that “this mission is everything” and “distractions” just can’t get in the way this time. Cool. Come on, Cas! Don’t assume Hannah’s obsessed with you just because we all are! Hopefully, this budding romance will be nipped by the writers, rather than the characters; Hannah deserves better than to become Castiel’s jaded shrugged shoulder.
When Cas finally arrives at the bunker, he and Sam team up to subdue the Deanmon. They tie him back up, inject him with blood, and soon, those green eyes are flicking around the room with guilt and grief. The old Dean is back! But did it come too soon? We only got two and three quarters of an episode with demon Dean; that plotline wasn’t tired yet. Maybe he’s not really human yet. Or maybe they’re gearing up for some big, human character development. Hopefully they make the transformation back meaningful, so we aren’t left wishing Dean still had black eyes, just to spice things up.
Hey, remember that episode in season 8 with the werewolf friends making a home movie? Well, “Bitten” alum, a.k.a. the only werewolf who made it out of that episode alive, Kate (Brit Sheridan), will be returning to the scene in next week’s episode “Paper Moon.” Tune in to the CW on Tuesday at 9 pm to find out if she’s the only one who’s been howling at the moon.
Overall Episode Grade: A-