Supernatural, S8 Ep5 – Blood Brother

Dean, Benny, and angry Sam
Dean and Benny on a boat

We’re on a boat!

We’ve had snakes on a plane, dinosaurs on a spaceship, and now Supernatural brings us vampires on a boat.  Or, as Dean so eloquently put it: Vampirates!  This episode wasn’t a standalone monster of the week like the last two, and I think it was stronger because of that.  Instead, it continued one of the major story arcs of the season, delving into that missing year when Dean was in purgatory and Sam was trying to find out what to do with his life now that everyone he had ever loved was gone.  It also revealed that the boys are still looking for Kevin Tran: Advanced Placement, but that he keeps leading them on well-crafted wild goose chases to keep them off his tail.  This was a good episode and one that leaves you emotionally hanging at the end when Sam realizes something big.  Supernatural has always been very good at playing with our feelings and they know it.  This episode was no exception.

The main plot of this episode was Benny calling on Dean to help kill the vampire that turned and later murdered him.  We found out a lot about Benny in this episode.  In fact, I’ve got to say that while we do get some Dean and Sam development, the main focus was on Dean’s new buddy.  Dean’s friendship with Benny is a bit strange for someone who has always been about killing monsters no matter what.  We’re talking about the same guy who once told Sam, the baby brother he practically raised, that if Sam weren’t Dean’s brother then Dean would hunt him.  So, Dean making friends with a monster is a bit strange, even if he did it out of survival.  But it’s no longer a matter of survival now, and yet they’re still buddies.  They bonded down in purgatory and Benny calls Dean brother.  How did that happen?  What happened in purgatory that overcame everything Dean was raised to believe?  Benny even asks Dean why he saved his life.  I can’t wait to see more development on that front, but until then I just have to sit here and think what could make Dean bond with a vampire.  That thinking has led me to wonder if any other monster in purgatory could have earned Dean’s trust as much as a vampire and I don’t think that they could.  A vampire, for one, used to be human and I don’t think something born a monster would have gotten through to Dean.  Second, Dean’s own brief stint as a fanged blood junkie might have given him some empathy for the guy–what he became wasn’t his fault and Dean knows how it feels to be that kind of beast.  Not to mention the fact that vampires can live peaceably with humans if they try, like Lenore and her people did back in season two.  Benny lives off of donated blood and he even told Dean that he drinks blood, not people.  He doesn’t kill humans for food so despite the fangs and the thirst for blood he’s not really a threat.  That might explain part of why Dean hasn’t chopped Benny’s head off yet, but not all of it.

Benny and his maker, The Old Man

Benny’s going to show The Old Man a whole new world, but instead of taking him on a magic carpet ride he’s going to cut his head off.  Same thing, right?

What else did we find out about Benny this episode?  Well, besides the fact that he likes to eerily whistle “In the Hall of the Mountain King” while fighting, we discovered that Benny has a tragic past like everyone else on this show.  Benny was turned by the leader of a group of vampire pirates (Vampirates!), who ambushed and fed on people at sea, letting the yachts of their victims disappear into the water to hide the evidence.  But then Benny fell in love with a woman, Andrea, and ran away with her.  Unfortunately, Benny’s former leader had a massive god complex and considered Benny leaving a terrible betrayal, so he hunted Benny down and cut off his head, but not before biting into Andrea’s throat in front of Benny.  Benny assumed that she died, but you totally know as Benny’s telling his story that she ended up getting turned, and lo and behold she did.  In the present day, Andrea helped Benny take down their evil leader, who they kept calling “the old man” but, with what I imagine was purposefully ironic casting, he looked about sixteen.  Then, angst happens in the form of Andrea not wanting to leave the vampirate life.  Benny became conflicted because he wanted to kill ALL the vampires and put her memory to rest, but how could he do that now that she was still alive?  And yet, she was no longer the woman he fell in love with; she was a bloodsucking monster.  But so was Benny.  What to do, what to do?  Luckily Dean took this decision off his hands by chopping Andrea’s head off.  Problem solved!  And Benny has now entered into the traditional Winchester Ally position of having a dead girlfriend/wife.

Castiel, Dean, and Benny in purgatory

Castiel has no possible relationship to your sibling offspring.

In addition to getting to know Benny better, we also got some flashbacks of the human-monster-angel trio down in purgatory.  As we watched our intrepid heroes running through a forest that definitely looked nothing like Canada, Castiel vehemently established that he was not Benny’s aunt before admitting that he didn’t think he’d be able to get through the trapdoor Dean was planning to take back to Earth.  Dean, of course, was still adamant about bringing Cas back, whether it killed them all or not.  This is clearly an ominous build up to something that is going to rip out my heart and tap dance on it, I guarantee it.  I liked the flashbacks, they didn’t overdo them this time, but they’re giving me feels and threatening to crush me with angst.  What happened?  Why didn’t Cas get out?  Where is he now?  I know there are already spoilers out there that explain some of this, but until I see for sure what went down, I’m going to stay over here in this blanket fort listening to “Carry on My Wayward Son” on repeat, thank you very much.

Sam in soft focus flashback

He looks like Captain Kirk is about to start hitting on him.

Lastly, I want to talk about Sam.  The producers promised us that Sam and Dean would have their own separate story lines this season, and we did get two very different stories in this episode.  Dean went off to help his purgatory buddy, Benny, kill some vamps while Sam… remembered things and fixed the bathroom fan.  I’ve noticed that Dean’s story line exists both in the past and present, but Sam’s is currently only in the past.  I’m betting Amelia will eventually show up in the present timeline and Sam will have to deal with that when she does, but until then, Sam’s development in this season consists of a handful of soft-focused flashbacks that make me think I changed the channel to a Star Trek marathon and being blamed by Dean for the horrifying crime of leaving hunting so that he could live a normal life with a chance of surviving beyond age 35.  The horror!  Am I the only one thinking that things are a bit lopsided this season where the brothers’ development is concerned?  I love both boys and I think there have been plenty of times when one of them has received more attention than the other–the show started out pretty Sam-heavy with his demon power manifestation and all that–so this is nothing new, but I imagine that the Sam-fans are going to get riled up if balance is not soon restored to the universe.

Sam looking angrily at Dean

Sam is angry.  You won’t like him when he’s angry.

A big thing happened between the brothers this episode and that was Sam finally getting a clue about what Dean’s been hiding.  Dean got a phone call that he left the room to answer like he was talking to the secret lover that he was cheating on Sam with.  And then Dean took off to help a “friend,” which was absurd, as Sam pointed, out because everyone Dean knows is dead.  But at the end we finally, finally, have Sam meet Dean’s new boy toy.  They shook hands.  And Sam reached for his knife because oh crap he’s a vampire!  How exactly did Sam know that?  Was Benny’s hand really cold or something?  I don’t know, but the point is that Sam finally found out about Dean’s little something on the side and a storm of Sam-bitching threatened to rain down.  But then the episode ended!  Most of Sam’s subplot involved flashing back to how he and Amelia went from not getting along at first to bonding over the shared hardship of losing someone and ending up alone (aka Romantic Comedy plot line #43).  And he also became a handy man while trying to find himself.  So, in a way, he was still fixing things and helping people, and considering that his dad used to be a mechanic before hunting took over his life, it is still sort of the family business.  But what I really wanted to see this episode was Sam discovering what Dean’s been doing and how he got out of purgatory, and then confronting him about it.  The brotherly angst would be glorious!  But now we have to wait!  Alas, cruel fate!

Next episode, I demand all the angst and brotherly arguing over secrets and betrayal and the brothers’ miles-long abandonment issues.  Judging by the preview for next week’s “Southern Comfort,” we might be getting just that and more…

…and by more I mean Garth.

Garth, Dean, and Sam in a grocery store