Supernatural, S8 Ep6 – Southern Comfort

Garth, Dean, and Sam in a store

This episode of Supernatural was a mix of things.  You have a monster of the week style mystery, you have the brothers dealing with the ramifications of last week’s episode, you have the return of Garth, and you have some residual emotional issues left over from the loss of Bobby last season.  There was a lot going on, when you think about it, and I liked it.  I think it was better than the first two monster of the weeks we’ve had this season but not quite as good as last week’s episode.  Still, a strong outing, but with a few drawbacks.

Dean pointing a gun

Deadly and sexy. Dean has many layers…

We started off with the brothers having a bit of a spat over last week’s revelation that Dean has been hiding the existence of Benny from Sam.  They bickered and Sam mentioned that Dean had killed Sam’s friend, Amy, just because she was a monster, so why not kill Benny too.  Dean countered with the fact that they recently let Kate the werewolf go free.  No one mentioned Ruby because that would have been awkward for everyone.  This fighting perfectly set up the episode, which dealt with the ultimate battle of brother against brother: the American Civil War, also known as the Only Plotline That Can Exist in the South.  (Everyone knows that the South is only good for metaphors about brothers fighting, primetime soaps about vampires, and special episodes reminding white people that racism is bad.)  And, in this episode, we get triple the pleasure with some individual brother-against-brother action that took place during the war of Brother Against Brother, which culminated with yet more when Sam and Dean got caught up in it all.  Things got hairy when Dean became possessed by the ghost-like Spectre that was causing deaths around town, deaths that were all about avenging betrayal.  Dean ended up pointing a gun at Sam and going off about all the times Sam has turned on him over the years.  It reminded me a bit of the first season episode “Asylum” when Sam got zapped in the brain by that evil ghost doctor and he ended up pointing a gun at Dean.

It would of course take some sort of supernatural possession for Dean to open up about his feelings.  This is the King of Emotional Constipation here.  But how exaggerated were his feelings?  The first victim was killed over a betrayal that had happened years before and another incident happened over a disputed call in a baseball game.  The Spectre turned even the slightest grudge into full-blown murderous rage.  But when Dean pointed his gun at Sam, yelling about Sam not looking for Dean in purgatory and how Sam betrayed him like everyone else, how much did the Spectre really have to amp it up from “angry” to “put a bullet in my baby brother’s head?”  There’s a lot there that could make a normal person go crazy without the help of supernatural possession.  Did any of it even need to be amped up?  How much has Dean been holding back all this time?  Like I said, Dean Winchester is not a man who likes to discuss his feelings.  Dean has been betrayed by almost everyone he has ever trusted and I think he’s had enough.  He’s tired and, though he may have gotten a boost in his desire to hunt monsters thanks to his stay in purgatory, I think he’s still nearing the end of his rope.  He’s lost everyone but his brother, and even then I think he feels like he’s lost part of who Sammy used to be. Benny represents a possible new ally and friend, and that’s why Dean hasn’t chopped his head off.  Benny represents something that’s been missing, something that’s been lost for Dean–a friend at his side, willing to go through thick and thin to save his life.  Dean wants that, he misses it, and pointing a gun at Sam in this episode reveals that the cracks in his relationship with his brother that have formed over the years have not healed.  Dean wants his brother back, and if Sam won’t be what he needs, then Dean will find it elsewhere.  I think that’s how his friendship with Cas started, but then that left Dean hurt, too.  In the season four episode “Sex and Violence,” a siren took on the form of a man that represented the perfect brother for Dean, because what Dean wants most in life is to have his Sammy back, the brother he fought beside and thought he could count on to always have his back.  Perhaps that version of Sammy never really existed, maybe he was only an ideal in Dean’s head, but either way Dean knows now that it’s not there.

Dean looking in opposite direction with Sam staring angrily at him

I think this picture accurately sums up their relationship: Dean trying to change the subject while Sam has feelings.

As for Sam, he’s not going down without a fight.  He pointed out that he told the truth about what he was up to while Dean was gone but that Dean never mentioned his vampire friend or how exactly he escaped from purgatory.  Sam is pissed about Benny and the fact that Dean hypocritically refuses to kill him when he’s killed so many other monsters before.  Sam doesn’t like being blamed for not looking for Dean because he thought that Dean was dead and Sam’s done feeling guilty about that.  He had no idea where to look for Dean and so he tried to repair a life that was broken, jagged, and lacking pieces.  He tried to put together a puzzle of normal with what he had left and only a sparse knowledge of what “normal” was supposed to look like.  Sam felt guilty and had to keep defending what he did, but then he discovered that Dean had been keeping secrets from him (it’s what they do best these days) and that sent Sam over the edge.  Dean’s pissed at Sam?  Well, Sam’s pissed at Dean.  And Benny is suddenly the centerpiece of all this.  Benny, a monster and Dean’s big secret, is also Dean’s new “friend.”  Is it jealously fueling Sam’s anger?  Spite?  Misguided justice for Amy?  I don’t know but Benny is going to be a sore point for these boys as long as he’s around, especially now that Sam basically threatened to kill him.  Last week I was disappointed because I had to wait to see Sam’s reaction to Benny and all the brotherly arguing/angst that was bound to come from it.  This episode, though not what I was expecting, delivered enough of what I had hoped that I’d give it a good grade just based on the amount of delicious pain it put my boys through (What? It makes for good TV).

Sam about to go to a flashback

Flashback? Or sneeze?

There was a drawback though to the Sam-and-Dean Show and that was Sam’s flashbacks.  His love story just isn’t as interesting as Dean fighting for his life in purgatory with a vampire and a hot scruffy angel at his side.  I love Sam, but his personal story line this season is not doing it for me.  Not to mention that I think they overdid the flashbacks this episode, reaching the point of laughable.  I’m starting to like Amelia, but having Sam look wistfully off into the distance each time just made me snort.  But I am starting to see some parallels that are keeping me interested.  Sam and Amelia both shared a loss, the loss of a soldier they deeply loved.  I think Sam and Dean are both trying to find the connection they once had with each other that has been damaged over the years.  They both want their brother back.  They’re trying to recapture that via relationships with other people and it’s just not the same.  Zachariah was right: these boys are codependent on each other.  Psychotically, irrationally, erotically…

Garth dressed as what he thinks a Texas Ranger looks like

I admire Garth’s subtle taste in undercover uniforms.

Moving away from Sam and Dean for a moment, another thing this episode tried to touch on is the problem of what to do when a TV show kills off a beloved and vital character but keeps making episodes.  Bobby’s gone and it doesn’t look like he’s coming back, so what to do about that big gaping hole left not only in our chests but in the hunters’ network?  Bobby was the guy to call for advice, translations, FBI supervisor impersonations, the works.  And, as Garth pointed out, Bobby belonged to all the hunters; every one of them feels his loss personally and professionally.  Garth, our little weirdo who either grows on you or grates on your nerves, is trying valiantly to take up the slack. Dean’s reaction to that essentially amounted to him screaming “You’re not my real dad!” by criticizing every Bobby-ism that Garth tried to adopt.  But, in the end, Dean gave him the benefit of the doubt, handing back Bobby’s hat that Garth had tried to wear earlier. Is Garth officially the new Bobby?  Bobby had to start somewhere, maybe he was just like Garth at one point.  I don’t know if I like Garth being the new Bobby, but replacing a character is never easy and Garth’s not bad.  If only they hadn’t killed off Rufus and he could have taken the job.  Just imagine that for a moment… it could have been beautiful.

And now let’s go to a new segment I’d like to call:

POINTLESS NITPICK OF THE WEEK

Spectre of a Civil War soldierThe monster this week was a Spectre, which is like a ghost but with green ectoplasm, and this ghost was a Civil War soldier.  My problem comes from the fact that everyone kept saying he was a Confederate soldier but, uh, guys–that one shot we see of him in the convenience store? He was wearing a dark blue uniform.  A Union uniform.  I was very confused and wondered if I had missed something.  You see, the Union wore blue, the Confederates gray.  I live in a town where a big Civil War battle was fought, so I get to be reminded of this fact pretty much every freaking day just walking around town.  Heck, even our local brew is called Blue and Gray, and so is the local bypass of a major highway.  The difference in uniform color is something deeply engrained in my brain, whether I like it or not, so like I said I was confused. But then I thought, just because I live around this stuff doesn’t make me an expert, so I went a-Googling and discovered that early in the Civil War uniforms weren’t standardized and some Confederate soldiers did in fact wear dark blue uniforms (and were mistaken for the enemy, hence standardization I imagine).  So, maybe it wasn’t a mistake and the costume department just really, really did they’re research.  Or maybe I put way too much thought into this.   Possibly both.

Thus ends our newest segment.  Tune in next time as I criticize the strength of the stitching on Dean’s leather jacket. Kidding!  Or am I…

Next week, we get to sink our teeth into “A Little Slice of Kevin,” where we see the miraculous return (once again) of Castiel and what looks like a showdown between him and his former business partner/King of Hell Crowley.  Cas against Crowley, Heaven against Hell, BAMF against BAMF, originally intended to be a one-off character turned a recurring character against originally intended to be a one-off character turned a recurring character…

Castiel in a white room