Supernatural: Two and a Half Men
Wow. Wasn’t it refreshing to get a very old-school Supernatural episode? It was like the writers, with the episode credited to Adam Glass, anticipated how badly the audience would want Sam and Dean hunting together again. And after the final episodes of season 5 and the premiere of season 6 opened with the focus immediately on one of the brothers, it was nice to see a cold-open that featured a Supernatural strength — blood, blood, and more blood. And, of course, people in peril.
While the episode opened with the nightmare scenario of a baby in danger with a mother and father brutally murdered, we quickly move to Sam posing as a detective (?) and querying an officer about details regarding the incident. He then makes a phone call to Samuel, suggesting that perhaps the kidnapping of the child is less a supernatural crime and more a perverse human one. Samuel alerts the audience to the fact that there have been multiple child abduction/parent murders in the area and that regardless of the origin of the perpetrator, that heinous crimes are being committed that need to be solved. Sam seems to deflate a bit with this — again highlighting a behavior that he mentioned to Dean in the season premiere — he simply doesn’t care about the victims — he’s far more concerned with the being responsible for the crime.
In an interesting exchange, Samuel remarks, “You know, sometimes I wonder about you Sam.” To which Sam replies, with possible regret, “Sometimes I wonder about me too.”
Underlying all of this, I can’t help but again feel the inharmonious union of Samuel and Sam. This is a conversation that Sam and Dean should be having. The hunters should be the brothers, not two souls brought back from heaven and hell.
And clever, I thought, to show Samuel in a different light. He seems to care about the abducted children; how cute that he is so frustrated with using the laptop (oh this complicated newfangled technology); how curious that he seems to draw attention to Sam’s lack of empathy. Compared to the scenes that will come later with the Campbell clan, it’s a tone that almost made me question my concerns about the family.
In contrast to all of this, Dean is struggling to yoke together his past and present life. His decision to remain with Ben and Lisa at the close of the last episode was an emphatic one. The ramifications of this decision are immediately apparent when we first see our new nuclear family. Dean and Lisa are unpacking boxes in a new home. Ben is clearly upset with this sudden unrest. Ben wants to take his bike out and explore the new neighborhood, but Dean clearly is terrified at the thought. He coaxes Ben into staying in the house by laying a gentle guilt trip about leaving Lisa to unload the boxes without his help, and Lisa, recognizing that Ben is going a bit stir-crazy, promises that they will all go out for lunch and drive around the new area. Dean mumbles an agreement, but soon after we see him paying a pizza delivery guy and then locking them all inside.
Dean simply cannot deal with the seeping over of the demon world into the Ben and Lisa world. He is clearly desperate to keep Ben’s life from becoming what his childhood was like, forgetting that the whole reason Dean was brought back into their lives was because he had to save Lisa and Ben from a monster. Dean underestimates what Ben already knows and accepts. It used to be Sam who wanted to keep the truth about demons and monsters from kids — now it’s Dean.
Luckily Lisa is once again the voice of reason. Seeing that Dean is trying to keep them under lockdown, she confronts him — gently of course. She tries to find out what the threat is, and, in a moment of pure frustration, Dean has no answer. In that moment there is no threat, but he doesn’t know if and when something might be coming. Lisa asserts, “We have to live our lives.” In response Dean can only articulate his greatest fear, “If something happens on my watch. . . .”
It’s really such a metaphor for what real life is like. Dean has never cared this deeply about anyone other than Sam and Bobby. And just like a new parent he’s coming to the sickening realization that he can’t keep them safe always and forever.
This is such an odd little show. An opening scene with buckets of blood and a conversation between two hunters seems so normal, whereas watching Dean unpack boxes and adjust to family life is completely disconcerting.
Back to the babies. . . .Sam and Samuel realize where the shifter is going to hit next and Sam tries to prevent the attack. He gets there too late to save the mother, but not too late to save the baby. We only realize this after he makes a phone call to Dean asking for help. Dean is reluctant, emphasizing that he’s no longer a hunter, but Sam says something that gets him to join him. (At this point I noted, “17 minutes and still no Impala)
Dean walks up to Sam’s spiffy new car, which I call KITT, looks in the back seat and sees a rather adorable baby. Sam’s comment, “Welcome to the party Gutenberg.” Who doesn’t appreciate a Three Men and a Baby reference?
After the trauma/drama of the last few episodes, the scene of Dean and Sam shopping for baby gear was fabulous. As was the moment that the baby sat screaming while both boys stared at him, unsure what to do to make him stop. It was funny, but I have to question whether they are so inept that they didn’t know how to pick him up and hold him? Does that really happen?
The funny stopped, however, when the elderly woman behind them who offered to help turned out to be a shifter looking for the baby. Escaping in the car, but not without the shifter catching sight of their plates, Sam takes them back to the hotel. Dean, who proves to be rather adept with the baby, explains to Sam some of his fears for Ben and Lisa. He shares that he wants to keep them safe — and that he wants to give them a life different than the one that he and Sam had with their father. Sam says, “You sure about that?” When Dean bristles, Sam explains: “. . .moving them around, keeping them on lockdown. . .that seems a lot like how we were raised.” And so the eternal question is posed, “How do you keep them safe and not turn into Dad?”
When it’s discovered that one of the fathers of the kidnapped babies is still alive, as he was not living with the mother and child at the time, Sam goes out to question him and Dean stays with the baby. Sam finds out that the man left his wife after she became pregnant, given that the timeline meant he was not the father. When he confronted his then wife she told him that it could only be his, and described a sexual encounter with him that could not have happened because he was not in town. Sam realizes that a shifter posed as the man, impregnating the woman, and she truly did believe she had slept with her husband. It’s like a darker version of The X-Files episode Small Potatoes.
As Sam realizes the implications of this, we see Dean, our own Mulder, enjoying the hotel room’s magic fingers. The baby starts screaming and before Dean can reach him there’s a horrific burst, splat, and blood and goo sprays all over the wall. Dean looks into the crib and the caucasian baby that was there just prior has not morphed into an African-American baby whose image can be seen on the box of diapers. Sam calls Dean to warn him that the baby is a shifter. Too late!
Back in KITT, Sam argues that they should take the baby to Samuel — that he’ll know what to do. Dean is extremely skeptical and argues, “We don’t know them.” Sam responds, “I do.” Trying to appease Dean, Sam says, “Samuel is a lot like you.” It is an unconvincing argument.
Another tonal shift.
Sam and Dean drive up to the Campbell home, which is not a home — it’s a compound. There are guards with guns at the gate. It’s night, so the entire place is cloaked in darkness. There is ominous music. The room where Sam and Dean meet the rest of the family is spare, grey, and there’s not a comforting piece of decor. All I could think of was the episode from season 5 where Dean ends up five years in the future — a world heavily engaged with the apocalypse, with the Croatoan virus turning people into monsters. The Campbell compound had a similar, end-of-the-world feel.
Like the audience, Dean trusts neither Samuel nor the rest of the Campbell clan, and he is very hesitant to hand over the baby. He asks what they are going to do with the baby, worried that they are going to kill him. Samuel says that they will raise the baby themselves. He asks Dean to hand him the baby. Dean will not. In a very telling moment, Sam asks Dean to hand him the baby. Dean does, and Sam turns and hands the baby over to Samuel. Sam as intermediary? Untrustworthy? A traitor?
Mark, who is usually silent, finally speaks, saying that having a shifter as a hunter will make them very powerful. Samuel asks Christian if he and his wife (whose name I cannot remember) are still trying to conceive. When Christian answers yes, Samuel hands him the baby and says “Congratulations, it’s a boy.”
The music is still very ominous. Although the words might seem light, the whole scene is rife with tension. The way Dean and Christian are glaring at each other, they are seem headed down the route of being mortal enemies.
Outside things begin to go awry, and Samuel sends Sam and Dean downstairs into a demon panic room with the baby. The shifter storms into the compound, snapping Mark’s neck. Oh Mark, we hardly knew ye. . .we hardly heard ye. . . .The shifter cannot be beaten, and in order to save Gwen, Samuel must hand over the child.
When Sam and Dean leave the room and go upstairs, Samuel explains that the shifter is actually the alpha-shifter. Samuel is kind-of like their info-Giles.
Two interesting things: 1. As they leave the compound Dean wonders aloud whether Sam actually planned this — taking the baby to the compound to be used as bait for the alpha-shifter. The answer from Sam is not convincing — what has happened to him? 2. After the boys have left, Samuel makes a phone call — a rather mysterious one of course — to someone to whom he has promised captured monsters.
Upon returning home, Dean and Lisa have a talk. Ever the perfect girlfriend, Lisa proves that she is completely accepting of the fact that Dean is a hunter, not a construction worker. She argues that she doesn’t want Dean there — she wants him out on the road, fighting monsters, making the world a better place. Dean misunderstands, thinking that Lisa wants him to leave. She comforts him, explaining “If there’s a rule that says this all has to be either/or, then how ’bout we break it.”
Yeah, Lisa is perfect. But it wouldn’t work any other way. It would be way too frustrating for the audience if Dean was trapped with a woman who nags, whines, complains, begs him to stay home, etc. And while she might be too perfect, I think that Dean deserves one bit of happiness in a completely fractured world.
And then. . .EPIC! Minute 56 — IMPALA!!!!
I will admit it — I was happier to see the Impala then I was to see Sam!
Questions: Do you think Samuel and Dean are similar? And what is up with this Campbell clan? And who could that have been on the phone?