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SPN 8.03 - Heartache

Time is not on my side. I meant to write something for 8.02, but it's almost 2 weeks too late! Alas, I guess I'll just skip that one and quickly jot down a few thoughts for 8.03 before the next episode airs.

Everyone in the fandom is well aware that this is Jensen's third foray in directing. I gotta be honest: I like this one the best for no other reason than Dean is in almost every scene. Pretty impressive considering he's joggling two demanding roles at the same time. But Jensen seems quite poised in both crafts. Most of the time, I wasn't even conscious of the fact that it wasn't a seasoned director behind the camera. Once I "unstuck" my mind from the visual admiration loop, I appreciated the episode as one of the better told MotW episodes in recent years.

But I didn't get the story at the first go. This was because I can be quite shallow at times. Dean in a white dress shirt with open collar was quite distracting. Dean in the said shirt telling Sam with an adorable smile that he bought an app for his smartphone put hearts in my eyes. Dean getting manhandled by two burly men and straddled by a hot chick (who was really a male Mayan warrior in spirit) sent my brain AWOL. Phew, thank goodness for replay. I had to watch it twice to actually catch the plot.

Then again, speaking of the plot, the official synopsis I read beforehand sucked:

Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) investigate a string of unusual murders where the victims were all recipients of organs from the same donor. The killer is captured, but things become even more complicated when the brothers find their killer in a trance mumbling an ancient prayer.

That was another reason why I was confused at first. I kept thinking the victims were the organ recipients, and I didn't get the connections between the killers and the dead athlete, who I thought was a "HOUSE" at first (really? "Brick Holmes"?! The writers sure have a quirky sense of humor.) When it got to the part where Randa and those two guys wanted to cut out Dean's heart, I was like: wait, when did Dean receive an organ transplant? Was it back in season one when he got a new heart? But that unwitting dude didn't donate his other organs, did he? Yeah, not gonna trust anything I read lest I watched the show with my own eyes. And even that, things can be misleading.

What I'm referring to, of course, is with respect to Sam. I'm not going to be an apologist for Sam. In fact, I was even blasé toward the character for the past two seasons. But here, three episodes in, I hesitate to jump on the "hate!Sam" bandwagon because I still don't believe what we see is what we get.

When Sam said to Dean in the car that maybe Dean is better off without him, after the initial gut wrenching punch I felt on Dean's behalf, a wild thought struck me: OMG! Sam actually believed that. I can't say for sure if it was Jared's delivery, or if it was my wishful thinking, but I detected a note of sourness behind that declaration, and that got me thinking: what if the reason Sam didn't look for Dean (if that was indeed the case) was because Sam didn't know Dean needed his help? After all, from Sam's perspective, he didn't know what happened to Dean. What if someone convinced him Dean took off on his own with Cas and left him behind? I know Sam would have to be pretty gullible to believe Dean would abandon him, but I do think Sam has proved to be more manipulable in the past. And this scenario is certainly easier for me to swallow than the one where Sam just turned his back on Dean in time of need to pursue his own happiness.

Especially when that "happiness" involved Amelia. I admit I have no love lost for the unprofessional vet. I very much hope she turns out to be as manipulative as she appeared in glimpse. I've only read spoilers saying she lost someone she cared about, and that's why Sam connected with her. But what if she lost her loved one(s) to the Winchesters, and she's out for revenge? What if she set out to entrap Sam and "poison" his mind for her own nefarious reason? That would explain why she behaved so erratically as a veterinarian when we first saw her. Also that shadowy figure outside her house where Sam was staying was not my imagination. Something fishy is going on here. I wasn't quite sure at first why Sam left her and headed to the secluded cabin in the dead of night: was it because one of the many messages Dean left for him finally got through? But the more I think about this, the more likely I think Sam didn't know Dean was in the cabin. Question is then, why did Sam need to get away from her?

I also have a hard time believing that Sam quit hunting this whole time. I don't buy it that the backward Latin Sam recited to trap the demon back in the host was done on the fly. Something that complicated surely required practice. Lots of it. But if Sam kept hunting, why did he tell Dean otherwise? I don't have problem with the boys keep secrets from each other. They are grown men after all. But I'm interested in exploring why they felt they needed to maintain those secrecies.

So I'm holding off on judging Sam because I don't know all the stories yet. But this is not to say I wasn't irritated when Sam explained "Far-Mer's Market" to Dean in the beginning. No matter how I look at it, I think it was in poor taste for Sam to rub in Dean's face the "good things" he enjoyed while Dean was gone after he learned Dean was in fact stuck in a place that was "bloody, messy, 31 flavors of bottom dwelling nasties" the whole time. I can't say this was entirely out of character because I think Sam can be a tad haughty at times. I guess this was one of those times.

One of the things I most enjoyed watching from this episode was that brief scene involving two Ackles. How I wish we get to see Detective Pike again in the future! It was quite thrilling to see Alan Ackles faces off Jensen Ackles. If I hadn't known better, I would not have thought they are father and son in real life. But if Jensen inherited his looks from his mother, I can see he got some of his acting talents from his father. I loved the little stares they traded at the end of their scene after Detective Pike declared he was not going to "shoot" a suspect based on thin evidence: Pike's eyes were frank and challenging, while Dean's eyes assessing and vulnerable as if he realized that's what he would've done. This couple of seconds of a scene goes a long way in emphasizing Dean's current head-space, and both Ackles did a terrific job here.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 24th, 2012 01:18 pm (UTC)
All I can say is, I had a lot easier time believing something was wrong with Sam when he came back from the cage than I do believing that now he would just not look for Dean...hoping we get a good rationale eventually...
Oct. 25th, 2012 11:28 pm (UTC)
I agree it was easy to believe Sam was not his normal self back in season 6 when we first saw him. After all, he just got back from lock-down with Lucifer under mysterious circumstance, so we naturally expected things were wrong with him.

This time, things are hazy because Sam was topside the whole time. How wrong can it go for him, right? Here's the thing though: Sam may have other faults, giving up his purpose is not one of them. In fact I think he is stubborn to a fault. So I cannot believe that he simply abandoned the arduous search for his brother in favor of a greener pasture for himself.

Nor would I believe he didn't even try to look for Dean in the first place unless he was somehow convinced that Dean was off somewhere by himself with Cas for the better.

The interviews I've read all say the same thing along the line of Sam lost everyone he knows so he decided to quit. Well, that just doesn't make sense to me. When someone like Sam lost so many people he cares about, I think he would fight even harder to hold onto the last person he has. Therefore, short of Sam salt 'n burning Dean's body, he would be driven to keep looking and researching for answers.

I believe we are seeing clues about Sam: shady figure lurking outside his house was one, his sharpened skills is another. In the year he supposedly quit, he somehow learned how to do exorcist in reverse, and his research fu seems stronger than ever. So I don't think Sam has simply been playing house with Amelia and the dog this whole time.

One more thing, I'm not entirely sure why Benny the vampire knows the way out of purgatory. Was the knowledge common to all monsters there? If not, how did he acquire that knowledge? We've seen Dean found a way to leave message for Sam across time, could Sam found what he was looking for and passed the information to Dean in an unusual way? This is far fetched I know because it appears that Sam did not know where Dean was for the past year. However, I believe Sam was not as truthful with Dean as he seems.

Anyway I fully expect there's going to be a heavily Sam centric episode coming up explaining what really went on.
Oct. 24th, 2012 05:07 pm (UTC)
i agree with you dear - reserving judgement. it disappoints me that there are others so quick to throw in the towel.

loved the scene between the two ackles as well. however, i've always thought jensen looks like his dad (with the exception of his nose, which looks more like mom's). they even have the same build. :D
definitely inherited his acting chops!

Oct. 25th, 2012 11:51 pm (UTC)
That's interesting. To me Jensen doesn't look all that much like his Dad. Alan's eyes are pretty wide, but not really that unusual, while Jensen's are very distinct. Anyway, he probably is one of those extremely lucky ones who inherits the best parts from both parents.

I think it's quite obvious that the writers are laying clues and doing misdirections to set up Sam's story. So it's pointless to draw conclusions at this point.

But ultimately my enjoyment of the show directly ties in with how interesting Dean's story arc is. Therefore I'm rejuvenated by the new season! :)
Oct. 25th, 2012 04:46 am (UTC)
That Farmer's Market thing made me think of that season 4 episode, you know, the black and white one, can't remember the title, Monster Movie I think? Sam casually told Dean he saw that movie ( Star Wars? Star Trek? ) while Dean was in hell. Could it be the tactless little-brother thing or something?

But if Jensen inherited his looks from his mother

And thank goodness for that ;P

You know, I actually believe you're on to something there, about Amelia and Sam not quitting hunting after all. And you know what, Sam doing all the "normal things" didn't hurt as much as it did when Sam hooked up with Ruby while Dean was in hell. I don't know whether it's because I'm not as invested in the bothers' relationship as I was back then, or ... you are right, that there really was something more about Sam that we, the audience, has picked up subconsiously. Hmmmm ... *deep thoughts*

I didn't know anything about the last episode so finding out about Jensen's father and him directing it gave me extra squees! Also, Jensen in shirt sleeves ( *drooooooooools* ) and him buying that app ( awwwwwwwwwwwwww .... ).
Oct. 26th, 2012 12:33 am (UTC)
Oh yeah, "Monster Movie". I really loved that episode. You are right, Sam did mention to Dean that he went to see a movie during the time Dean was in Hell.

But to me, Sam boasting about enjoying the "good things" this time is way worse in comparison. Because when Dean was dragged to Hell back then, Sam had closure. He knew where Dean went and how lost he was to him. This time, Sam didn't. He had no clue if Dean was dead or alive. By now, Sam and Dean had each experienced numerous resurrections that he should've known better than to give up on Dean. Besides when Sam rubbed in the perks of his new life, he already knew Dean had been stuck in a horrendous place in the meantime. So his haughty attitude was really crass in my opinion.

I confess Sam and Dean (or J2) are still my OTP. But I guess all along, the only thing I was truly invested in was Dean. Sadly under Sara's direction, Dean's story arc dwindled to none existing. Hence my interest in the show dropped drastically. Jeremy Carver's return brought back high hope. And so far I'm very happy with how the story is shaping out to be. So I'm now cautiously optimistic. *fingers crossed*

Isn't it awesome that Alan Ackles was once again in the same scene with Jensen? Only this time, it was even better because it was under Jensen's direction! Gosh, Jensen did really a fine job with the episode. :D
Oct. 30th, 2012 01:58 am (UTC)
I just found out that the lady sitting in the chair while Jensen had his scene with his Dad was Donna Ackles. Isn't that just so sweet?
Oct. 31st, 2012 12:07 am (UTC)
OMG!OMG!OMG! Are you serious?! I gotta go check that out! Thanks for telling me this. :D
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )

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