Welcome back to season two!  Okay, not really, but “The Girl Next Door” brought back the Sam and Dean personality types that dominated that season.  This Ackles directed episode wasn’t at all what I thought it would be, being less about the Leviathans and more about giving us another emotional starting point with the boys.

The question of Bobby’s well-being addressed almost immediately, the episode then dispatches of the Leviathan problem it set up last week.  This season is about the boys being on the run, without a stable home base, so while the Leviathans didn’t really play much of a role in the episode (beyond the teaser), they are a tension underlying everything – they have the means to pursue the Winchesters and they are, for now, impossible to kill.

The central narrative illuminated an episode from Sam’s past – when in 1998 he helped his Dad and Dean (who were off screen) hunt down a Kitsune, a monster who must feed on the brains and pituitary glands of human beings.  For the flashbacks, the Supernatural casting crew has brought back Colin Ford, who truly is an apt young Sam – he captures Padalecki’s emotion and mannerisms perfectly.

Past and present Sam are looking for the same Kitsune, a girl named “Amy Pond” (nice), who is played in the present by Jewel Staite (who wasn’t given enough to do).  Young Sam accidentally finds young Amy while doing research at the library, eventually saves her from bully boys, and once back at her house discovers that her mom is the Kitsune on a killing spree.  Amy saves Sam’s life by shoving a knife through her mother’s heart.  Present Sam, recognizing the Kitsune pattern in a modern day series of slayings, goes after Amy, with the intention of finally stopping her murders.

And here is where we get the Sam that we’ve seen over the years, but nowhere more apparent than in the season two “Bloodlust.”  In that early episode, Sam was the one to prevent the slaughter of Lenore and her vampire crew, believing that the things we call “monster” don’t necessarily have to be evil.  In “The Girl Next Door” we have a similar situation.  As children, Sam lets Amy escape, before the arrival of his father and brother – and we all know John Winchester would have killed the girl.  Then, as adults, he chooses to let her go again.  Amy, who now works as a mortician where she can acquire brains and pituitary glands from corpses, needs fresh meat for her dying son, Jacob.  Three kills later and he’s cured.  She begs for forgiveness and understanding, and Sam gives it to her.  He walks away.

And he walks right into the fist of Dean, who is pissed at being left behind with only a note and no Impala.  Sam explains the case, including the events of the past, and says that he let Amy go, that he knows she won’t kill again.  He begs Dean to trust him – and Dean says yes, that maybe it is the time to finally trust.

It’s not surprising that Sam and Amy would form a bond:  both are pushed around by domineering, emotionally abusive parents; both want a life different than what they have; both fear that they will become their parents.  Given Sam’s past – given his understanding of monsters – it’s no surprise he allows her to live in peace.

What is a surprise is that Dean agrees.  Or does he?

I’ll admit it.  I bought into Dean’s lie.  I thought it was an interesting character development for Dean, that after all this time he’d finally let Sam make a decision like this, though, granted, he did let Lenore live in “Bloodlust.”  (Yet that was more related to his realization that Gordon Walker was insane than it was related to Sam’s thought process.)  What I wasn’t prepared for was the resurgence of season two Dean – the Dean in “Bloodlust” whose discontent and turmoil led him towards the hunter dark side – led him to become more like Gordon Walker — the no option Dean.

Is this what we’re seeing here?  A resurgence of the Dean who can only see the black and white of a situation?  A Dean who refuses to apply human exceptions to a demon/monster/freak?  A Dean who is so self-loathing that he cannot see the possibility for change in others?

Well, it’s the Dean we have in “The Girl Next Door,” as he shows up at Amy’s motel room and, despite her protestations, kills her.  Only to turn and see Jacob watching.  Now, Dean doesn’t kill the boy, although Dean makes Jacob promise not to kill another human being for food – a promise to which Jacob ominously replies, “the only person I’m going to kill. . .is you.”  Is this our Chekhov’s gun?  Is Jacob being introduced into the story only to come back later and do just that?  Or is this a moment where we see a monster born?  Does the death of Amy only ensure that instead of a normal life, Jacob will turn into the creature that lives by his appetite?

I really thought “The Girl Next Door” was going to be an episode dedicated to Sam, but the last few minutes made me realize that it was actually to bring us to a depressing realization about Dean’s state of mind.

Side notes:

Ackles did a great job directing.  There were a few moments that took me out of the episode – the camera angles when Bobby was running out of the hospital and when the morgue body was being pulled out on a slab – but overall fantastic.  In fact, his use of flashback was effective, especially the ease with which we slid between times – very fluid and precise.

Love that Biggerson’s is becoming a running joke – and the Winchester eatery of choice.  I guess their year of free food is probably finished though.

The nacho cheese scene?  So gross, even though we don’t really see any of the actual consumption.

Also, it seems very right that Bobby and Dean would become enmeshed in telenovas.
D: “Dude…Ricardo.”
B: “What happened?”
D: “Suicidio.”
B: “Adios, ese.”