Supernatural: You Can’t Handle The Truth
We all think we want to know the truth — to know what our family, friends, coworkers really think of us. How often do we casually throw out the line, “what are you thinking about?”, without really pondering what the impact of a true answer might have on our psyches? If nothing else, the secondary plot of this week’s episode of Supernatural offered us a glimpse into how horrifying that answer might turn out to be, and the bloody consequences that could result. For Dean, who needed truth from Lisa and Sam, the episode had devastating implications.
Truth is, from the outset, a harsh mistress. A waitress who utters the unfortunate statement “I just need the truth, that’s all” is confronted with the feelings of her coworkers, who find her “sad”, “pathetic”, gives them “the creeps, and a “3;” the confessions of her customers including an elderly woman who ran over a homeless man and fled the scene, a child who wants to kill her mother; and, worst of all, her sister who tells her that she’s “a freak,” “certifiable,” “a walking disaster.” When her sister ends by saying “why don’t you just kill yourself already,” the waitress does just that.
A dentist, working on a patient, finds out that the man in his chair not only fantasized about the dentist’s daughter, but molested her at a slumber party. Driven mad with rage, the dentist takes his drill and slaughters the patient. It was a scene gory enough to make dentists even more terrifying than usual.
After last week’s vampiric debacle, Dean is consumed with doubts about Sam’s humanity and is using Bobby as a sounding board. He’s so freaked out that he’s ready to “do something about it.” Given that Dean has never been able to harm Sam, even when he was possessed by demons, this change in attitude shows just how wrong he thinks things are — that he must believe that there’s not a smidgen of Sam left. Dean expresses this to Bobby when admitting that he thinks, worst-case scenario that Sam is actually Lucifer. Bobby nudges him in a different direction, saying that actually, the worst-case scenario is that Sam is. . .well. . .Sam.
Dean can’t bear to be in the same space with Sam. Throughout the episode you see Dean’s physical revulsion at being near him — in the car, the motel room — and his inability to even work as his partner, insisting on doing research on his own or going to drink at a bar rather than talking to witnesses.
The McGuffin of the week — the plot point to bring Castiel into the episode — is that the truth is being told because of the theft of Gabriel’s Horn from Heaven’s arsenal. It’s not, but it allows Dean to unleash his frustration and fury on a weary Castiel. A nice moment, as Castiel is telling Dean that Sam is not Lucifer, is that he knows Dean well enough to simply pick up the bottle of whiskey(?) and fill Dean’s glass without saying a word. Castiel doesn’t know what’s wrong with Sam, but he’ll make inquiries.
As the clues start to drop about the real monster of the week — all of the bodies of the suicide victims (there have been five total) have disappeared; patient zero summoning the goddess of truth, Veritas; Dean asking for the truth and getting just that from the bartender — leads to the real purpose of the episode: Dean hearing the truth from Lisa and, eventually, Sam.
Once Dean realizes he can get the truth by asking for it, there’s no doubt that he’s going straight to Sam. He is momentarily waylaid by a call from Lisa, which he takes, knowing that it can’t lead to anything good. But her comments are not what I was expecting — her comments are about Sam. Lisa asserts that she knew the moment Sam walked back in the door that she and Dean were over, because the relationship he has with Sam is the most unhealthy, tangled up, crazy thing she’s ever seen and that as long as Sam is around Dean will never be happy. And then she tells him that she and Ben cannot be in this with him.
I’m surprised at this. I don’t know whether it’s a ploy to just get Ben and Lisa out of the way for a little while or whether that’s actually it for that storyline. I can’t see that as being the final moment, not when they’ve allowed for Lisa to be a relatively strong female figure in Dean’s life.
This leads to the first tense confrontation between the brothers, as Dean asks Sam to tell him the truth about the night that he was attacked by the vampire. Sam then lies, rather blatantly, and says that he froze — that he was in shock — and that he feels terrible about it. But he’s completely reliant on the fact that Dean has received the Veritas curse — that Dean has no choice but to believe him — but the look on Sam’s face when he walks away is void of emotion. Sam, the one who has always been the most emotional, now must fake real feelings.
After figuring out that Veritas is a new local reporter, the brothers break into her house, with knives and dog’s blood (why a dog? not cool), to kill the goddess. They find a creepy (but posh) basement room where the goddess feasts on the corpses of the suicide victims.
She forces Dean to answer the question of what he really feels about Sam. Dean, as expected, tells the truth, that until recently he didn’t trust him — that he wanted to kill him in his sleep — that he thought Sam was a monster. But now he just thinks that Sam has become like Dean. That the life of a hunter strips everything good away — “you’re covered in blood until you’re covered in your own blood.” And perhaps the most sad revelation, Dean says that he’s “not a father” but “a killer.” You can see, just by the dejection in Dean’s face, that he truly believes it.
This whole scene in the basement is really about Sam — and getting one step closer to what is going on with him — but realizing just how much self-loathing Dean has for himself carries an emotional punch. Dean has always been the one, over the course of the show, to talk about how tired he is, and you can see that in the way Ackles portrays this moments of truth. He’s exhausted — by the fighting, by trying to figure out his life with Ben and Lisa, by Sam’s character alteration. Telling the truth, baring your soul, can be considered cathartic, but in Dean’s case it just seems enervating.
Of course the real action occurs when Veritas confronts Sam, asking him how he feels about the gang getting back together and he lies. Veritas is disconcerted, trying to figure out how Sam is lying, even asking Dean what Sam is, saying that he can’t be human. In the ensuing battle, Dean and Sam both deal death blows to Veritas, but when it’s over Dean raises his knife to Sam.
Fearing for his life, Sam says that he will tell Dean the truth. Unlike the earlier truth-telling, Sam actually does explain. He confesses to Dean that he can’t feel anything — he didn’t care that Dean was turned because he knew there was a cure; he didn’t care that Dean hurt Ben; and that he was a better hunter because he had no emotion.
Dean puts down the knife, pauses, and then beats the living hell out of Sam, rendering him unconscious. This is where the episode ends.
Throughout the episode Ackles beautifully conveyed all the turmoil that Dean was experiencing — as we’ve come to expect after five seasons of emotion — but kudos to Padalecki for that final confession scene. I’m not sure how he’s able to intertwine old Sam and new freaky Sam in the same moment, but he does and it was fantastic.
Gripe: Can I just say how annoying the CW’s teasers are for the next episode? I’ve never watched Supernatural on the CW; I’ve always watched through Itunes. After last week I learned never to watch the teaser because they spoiled the big reveal, which meant that I couldn’t make guesses as to what was happening with Sam. *Annoying*
Moment that I loved: Bobby on the phone with Dean confessing things. Dean’s response was hilarious (“I’m scarred for life”) and the jaunty way that Bobby said he was drinking milk and watching “Tori and Dean” was brilliant. I love the Dean/Bobby interactions.
Sorry for the lengthy delay in posting. I was sidelined by Pere Goriot and crazy work stuff. I need to get my obsessive nerd mojo back!