Grantsburg, Wisconsin. This week’s episode opens up on a farm in the middle of the night. According to the closed captioning what we’re hearing is snarling, howling, the dulcet sounds of flesh rending and cows mooing. Apparently there wasn’t enough cowbell to make the closed captioning cut.
Seeing as it’s the dead of night, the owner of the farm is none too pleased with the disruption and comes out blazing. The figure that abandons his prime offal is scrawnier than the sounds indicated he’d be. He takes off running, jumping fences, dodging trees, just trying to get away, contemplating nothing but escape and finally making it… until the he runs into the road and high-fives a car.
Oh look, it’s Garth.
A few days later Sam arrives at the Grantsburg Memorial Hospital in full FBI garb. He flashes his badge and requests to see Mr. John Doe. The nurse at the station barely gives his magnificent hair or his badge a glance before giving him the room number. She also says John Doe is a popular dude. Obviously, when Sam enters the room he’s face to face with his estranged brother.
Okay, so this nurse spoke to Sam and Dean Winchester, separately, and was that blasé? As if hot, scruffy dudes and hot, fed suited dudes just waltz in and out all day?
Whatever. Back to Sam and Dean, who are acting less like brothers and more like exes running into each other for the first time since their break up. Which is ridiculous, they breakup every year. Garth is handcuffed to the bed, charged with offing Clarabelle. Dean tells Sam that he’s got this and Sam can skedaddle, but Sam is reluctant, Dean hasn’t even spoken to Garth and Garth is so dosed out on morphine he’s halfway to Wall Street. Dean is ready to give him a Mia Wallace special, but Sam is uncomfortable with that and backhands Garth awake.
Garth seems happy to see Sam and Dean, actually thinks he might be in heaven, until his stomach stages a revolt against him. Good thing Sam picked Garth’s handcuffs open.
The brothers sit and wait for Garth to stop revisiting everything he’s ever eaten and actually talk a bit. Sam tells Dean about the grace tracer that Gadreel left in him and how Castiel helped snuff it out and Dean tells Sam all about his fancy new Mark of Cain. This is all very open and honest and I’m a mix of proud and uncomfortable. Unfortunately, Garth bolted out the window during their dramatic tell-all, ditched his gown, nabbed a car, and fled the scene. Hopefully the surveillance camera can give them some answers. Dean offers to check and suggests that Sam go talk to the farmer.
The farmer tells Sam that his animals have been getting gutted for a while now and not just the simple throat ripped out kind of stuff, but organs only, paint the walls, Marilyn Manson-looking type stuff. Oddly familiar. Meanwhile, Dean hits the Big Brother jackpot: Garth, the car he left in, full-view license plate, complete with easily traceable registration and a handy-dandy address for the owner, Bess Meyers. All which he fails to disclose to Sam when he calls to check in. Sam, however, is right around the corner and walks into Dean holding the info he’s claiming not to have.
Dean Winchester, you sit on a throne of lies. You wear a crown of subterfuge and carry a scepter of fallacies. You also haven’t shaved. Which, I mean, I get it, it would cut into your angsting time. The longer the scruff, the deeper the self-loathing. And the deeper the self-loathing the more the audience is supposed to forget your creepy controlling tendencies. But we’ll get into that later.
Right now, let’s get back to Sam and Dean bursting into Bess Meyers’ humble abode. There’s no Bess to be seen, but there is Garth standing in the middle of the kitchen talking at the boys, but clearly to someone else. He pleads with them to put their guns down and chinwag it out with him, which might have happened if Bess hadn’t burst out of the closet with a mouth full of pointy canines and a snarl instead of a “hello”. Sam accidentally cuts her with a silver blade and her skin sizzles.
And that, boys and girls, is pretty much the last resemblance you’ll see to almost anything this show has considered canon for its werewolves in the past 7 years.
That’s right, werewolves. Bess is a werewolf and Garth loves her unconditionally. Garth is a werewolf and loves her too. See Garth was bitten on a hunt; he had his last meal and was ready to aerate his cranium when Bess sniffed him out and talked him down off the ledge. Oh, is that this a theme? Are we being thematic? Or is it an accident? I’m honestly not sure.
He didn’t call because he was embarrassed. Easier to bail than to deal. Now, however, he’s asking for their trust. Bess, who is a natural born werewolf, second generation off the lycanthrope Mayflower, and her pack are clean. No human lunchables, four-legged and farm fresh only, and if they don’t believe him, well they can just come over and join the pack’s prayer hour.
“They” is apparently just Dean. Yes, Sam and Dean somehow decide that the best plan is for Dean to go hang out with a house full of werewolves alone while Sam investigates… something at the police station. Who knows what? Does it matter?
Dean gets to meet all of Bess’ family: her father, her cousins, her stepmother, and they’re all just like you’d imagine a wolf pack to be, assuming you imagine them to be stereotypical holy rollers who just stepped out of a 1981 Sears, Roebuck & Co. catalogue. Bess’ father, Reverend Jim, is the pack alpha and welcomes Dean with open arms. Dean resists ripping them off.
The good reverend offers to break bread with Dean and show him how they are more alike than different. On one hand, it’s awfully nice of them to overcook a steak for him, it’s like making a vegan option when 99% of the dinner party is gonna be eating mac ‘n’ cheese, on the other hand he’s a little turned off by the giant raw animal hearts they’re chowing on. And for a civilized group of werewolves, some of these guys have atrocious table manners, but hey, no one put their elbows on the table. They also all have a snazzy accessory: a silver bullet on a chain around their necks. Yeah, that’s not cult-y at all. They explain that it’s to remind them that they are not invincible creatures, that they have their weaknesses. The reverend also tells Dean about how a hunter killed his wife and he wanted revenge, but realized the road to revenge is dark and lonely and empty and blah, blah, blah, we get it, it’s another thematic lesson.
Sam is off talking to the local sheriff, digging into the family, but the worst thing the sheriff calls them is hippies. Sam pushes; asking if anything weird ever happens in this town, but the sheriff claims it’s a sleepy town with a decent record.
Back to Dean. He’s lecturing Garth on this lifestyle choice, he doesn’t trust it and frankly it’s not just because they’re werewolves. Garth tells him that with this experience he’s figured it all out: love and family are what matters, no matter the form. He also tells Dean that he thought it was best for everyone, Dean, Sam, Kevin, if he stayed away. Oh, look, another lesson. And another. Excuse me while I go grab an icepack for my head.
Dean takes this opportunity to gruffly relay that Kevin is dead and that he’s shouldering the full responsibility with a vast oversimplification of the situation. I think I actually saw his beard grow an eighth of an inch.
Sam and Dean meet to recap, but are interrupted by a call from the sheriff. He’s got a weird one for Sam, an eviscerated deer carcass. Whatever could have done this? Oh, it was the sheriff, who despite us not knowing his full lineage, apparently doesn’t need a lunar cycle to shift. He starts to muahaha his plan out, but Dean bulls-eyes him in the heart before he even gets going.
Hey remember a few years ago when Madison had no control of her shifting, was ruled by the moon, was completely not cognizant of her behavior as a wolf, and Sam literally put her down like a dog? Then later we learned that all monsters came from an original Alpha and could shift not just during, but around the lunar cycle, but only if they are pureblood? If you do remember all that, it would behoove you to forget it.
Now we’re going to go the way of Ragnarok, because it’s engraved onto the sheriff’s bullet pendant, and if I wanted an Avengers lesson I’d read the comics, I’m a DC kind of gal, so nah. I guess I’ll let Dean fill me in.
I will say that at least Dean has off the cuff knowledge going on here, we rarely see that and that’s a shame.
They split up; Sam breaks into Bess and Garth’s home while Dean breaks into the Reverend Jim’s office. Bess and Garth’s place is a mess, clearly they were wolfnapped. Dean finds more info on Ragnarok. End of days, Odin, Fenris, gaping maw, prepare for total domination, spirit fingers, you get the idea. Unfortunately, Dean’s studying is interrupted by the reverend, who says he knows Dean is there because he can hear his heart beating nervously, a lifetime of hunting and he still gets the flutters. Remember that, because I’m going to bring it up again.
Anyway, the reverend defends his stance; Ragnarok is a cautionary tale, not a call to arms. In fact, his bullet is etching free.
Oh by the way, Sam got knocked out and kidnapped. When this is all over, I want a scientist to study Sam Winchester’s amazing rubber cranium.
Dean tries calling Sam, but Sam isn’t answering. He speeds over to the main cult house and sneaks up on Russ the werewolf henchman as he stands guard outside. Because suddenly Dean’s heart is steady? Silent? Did you know that under ideal conditions wolves have a hearing range of six miles away in the forest? These conditions look ideal to me, but Russ, not so much with the canine lupine hearing. Wonder what generation he was?
Bess’ stepmom had tried to be good, but a hunter killed her little brother and now, you guessed it, she’s on a path to revenge.
Get yourself an Advil as a treat.
Now she’s out to prove her dedication to sparkle motion. Unlike the sheriff she gets the chance to exposition about her plan. She’s going to kill Garth and Bess and pin it on Sam, but Sam, who is no longer unconscious, gracefully kicks the gun out of her hand. The man is nearly 6’5”, you’d think people would tie his legs down.
Let’s rewind a bit. Evil stepmom lays out plan and Sam says, “you’re gonna frame their murders on me.”
What even is that line?
Anyway, ever the resourceful hunter Dean dons Russ’ jacket to mask his sent, it also apparently muffles the sound of his beating heart, and infiltrates the barn. Evil stepmom doesn’t even get the chance to bore us again before Dean shoots her through the heart.
The next day Sam and Dean get ready to head out. Sam leaves Garth with a simple, “be good” and a hug. Dean, on the other hand, gets to have his moment with someone not Sam. Garth suggests coming back into the fold, using his werewolf abilities to give them an edge while hunting and to atone for abandoning Kevin. Kevin was his friend, you don’t abandon friends. I’m starting to feel like Sam with all these whacks upside the head.
Dean declines Garth’s offer; love, family, whatever it is, it’s worth fighting for, worth staying for.
The technical term for that pain in your head that you fell is “cephalagia”.
Dean drives Sam back to his car (by the way, where did Sam get this vehicle??) and Sam gruffly bids Dean ado, but Dean stops him. He wants to talk about the night they broke up, or as Sam likes to accurately refer to it, “the night you left me”. Fair enough, the point is that Dean wants to come home and be a family again. Sam will allow it, hell, it’s Dean’s home as much as it is his. And they can hunt together, too, but that’s where Sam toes a line in the dirt, he isn’t at a place where he can call Dean his brother right now. And with that, Sam gets back into the Impala and they, presumably, drive home.
That brother thing is the one thing here that isn’t negotiable. You can say you can’t hunt together, you can say you can’t live together, but you can’t cheat DNA, you can’t cheat a lifetime of tripping over each other’s shadows.
Furthermore, would it kill Dean to actually apologize for what he did? All this guilt and responsibility, yeah, he’s shouldering it, but wrongly.
And Sam, well, he has every single right to be upset with how Dean did what he did, and good on him for voicing it, but the fact remains that comatose!Sam said “yes”. In that moment, when Dean/Ezekiel/Gadreel pleaded his case, Sam chose Dean and life. Heck, he made that choice back in that church.
I don’t usually step this far out of the episode in my recaps, but this? What was this episode? This is what I learned: If Dean is sad, Dean can’t shave, maybe because he’ll slit his own throat. Sam has clearly taken too many hits to the head and is incapable of speaking for more than two minutes at a time and when he does he makes little to no sense, but on the upside, souled or soulless Sam Winchester digs a sweet Dodge. And subtly is so 2008.