Supernatural, S8 Ep14 – Trial and Error

Sam, Dean, and Ellie
Sam and Dean in Men of Letters hideout with sandwiches

Nothing says love like sandwiches.

Supernatural does Valentine’s Day right with an episode dedicated to the undying love of the Winchester brothers. Whether you love them for their complex sibling relationship or you’re all for the Wincest, you can’t deny how much these two guys care about each other. This week’s episode was amazing, really amazing. Season eight has been pretty good so far, prompting fans to call it “season gr8,” and the latest episode only continues to show that these guys still have it in ‘em. It’s episodes like this that keep me watching the show through thick and thin.

We’re nearing the end of the season now, and this episode is the usual set up for what the brothers need to do in the lead up to the finale. It started off with Kevin Tran: Advanced Placement figuring out what the demon tablet said about how to close the gates of hell. There are three trials that one must undertake to close the gates, so Sam and Dean headed out to tackle the first one: to kill a hell hound and bathe in its blood. Happy Valentine’s Day!


King of Hell aka Tea and Crumpets

In order to find a hell hound, Sam and Dean searched online for anyone who had gotten hit with some crazy, too-good-to-be-true kind of luck in the hopes that that person had sold their soul. When someone’s soul is due to be dragged to hell, a hell hound does the dirty work. Sam and Dean managed to find a family who had the odd luck of striking oil where there was no oil, so the brothers went off to investigate. Sure enough, someone had sold their soul ten years before. But it wasn’t just one person who had made a deal, it was several. And they hadn’t sold out to your average crossroads demon either. They had sold to Crowley himself. Two of the soul-sellers got killed by the hell hound before Sam or Dean could kill it, but the farmhand Ellie, who had sold her soul to save her mom, hadn’t been taken yet, so Sam and Dean tried to save her as well as kill the hell hound to finish the first trial.

An interesting side note I’d like to make is about Carl, the man who had summoned the demon in the first place to sell his soul to make the woman he was in love with fall for him. That kind of wish is actually really creepy, what with the required mind control and emotional manipulation that would be needed for that to work. What was interesting about this was how they showed Carl’s wife’s reaction after Carl was killed. She didn’t feel sad about his death, but she was confused as to why she didn’t feel bad that the man she had loved died. She also couldn’t remember why she had loved him in the first place. It’s the sad truth about selling your soul for love: in the end, the love is still not real.

Ellie standing in front of tractor

Hark! Is that an awesome female character that I see? And she’s still alive? Did I accidentally change channels?

But what made this episode awesome wasn’t the hunt for a hell hound or Ellie being a cool female character who doesn’t die (but most likely will never be seen again, except possibly to show her inevitable death, because, seriously, that’s how this show works). The awesomeness came from Sam and Dean’s relationship being touched on in such a poignant way as it was here. The producers had promised an emotional talk between the brothers, and that’s what we got this episode. All throughout the season there has been a distance between the two of them, because of what had happened when Dean was in purgatory. Sam has wanted to get out of hunting and only got back into it to help deal with closing the gates of hell. He wants an ordinary life, and that has been driving a wedge between the brothers this season. But this episode, this episode! I have a lot to say about what happened here, but let me start from the beginning.

Dean excited about his memory foam bed

“Memory foam. It remembers me.”

First, we had Sam and Dean in the Men of Letters hideout. Dean had his own room for the first time since he was a little boy, before his mom died. He decked the place out with his vinyl records and his weapon collection, and he was just so freaking excited that he had his own room that wasn’t in some creepy, smelly motel. His room looked Spartan, but it was his, and that just hurts me in the empty cavity left over after they tore my heart out. They need to warn for this kind of emotional distress. Dean was nesting, as he put it, showing off his hitherto unknown cooking skills by making awesome sandwiches and trying to get Kevin to eat salad when they saw how he had been pushing himself so hard to translate the tablet. Dean had a year of a normal, apple pie life with Lisa, and that’s been it for him as an adult. This concept of having a place to call home is something strange and new that he never thought he’d have. And as we find out later, it’s one he doesn’t really think he deserves.

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