Supernatural 9.13 – The Purge

flirting

Stillwater, Minnesota. “Stand By Me” level eating contest, but with $0.50 hotdogs. Big boy versus the thin man. You’d think they’d be setting it up for the scrawny kid to win; nope, tubby takes the trophy, but not without accusations of cheating. Later in his car, Chubs removes the hidden hotdog from his pocket and chuckles smugly, right before something shanks him in the back and sucks him into a mummy.

In the bunker, Dean looks done. He hasn’t slept; his breakfast is whiskey and Cornflakes with a cold pizza chaser and he sounds like he gargled a Batarang. He’s been up all night researching, full on Google vortex style, if he’s found anything new about anything we’re all really worried about he’s not telling, but he has found the Stillwater case and Sam is down to investigate with him. Dean gruffly gets up and says he’s just gonna scrub down with some Wet Wipes and be ready to go. Sam stops him, concern seemingly creasing his brow. He asks Dean if he’s okay, if maybe what he said a few days ago (remember? The whole “if you wanna be brothers *ELLIPSES OF HEART RENDING HORRIBLENESS*”), but Dean mocks him; as if his brother breaking up with him is anything new or worth internalizing and agonizing about. Get over yourself, Sam.

For the record, Sam seems like this isn’t bothering Dean enough for his liking. For the other record, I don’t believe Dean at all. I mean, he’s still rocking the face fur, so clearly he’s still too bummed to shave.

Over in Stillwater they meet up with the local fuzz, a softly round sheriff with a penchant for being sweet and eating sweets. She offers Dean a powdered donut while she breaks down the case; the vic was Wayne McNut, competitive eater extraordinaire and his only real “enemy” was a the stick figure he competed against and swindled out of the spoils of supreme scarfing, “Slim Jim”, who has a clean alibi. Speaking of eating like glutton, Dean has powdered sugar unattractively adorning his mouth. Sam helpfully indicates it to Dean, who delicately dabs at his mouth and cleans up nothing what so ever.

Sam and Dean head over to Slim Jim’s to question him. He’s training; overeating lettuce to stretch out his stomach. Dean always knew a rabbit food diet was bad for you. Dean keeps questioning him while Sam creeps around the house. He finds a hex bag belonging to Slim Jim’s Romanichal wife, Mala, and steals it while she’s showering. Back at their motel, they find strands of Wayne’s hair and other personal doodads and thingamabobs. Their research is interrupted by a knock from Mala herself who tearfully explains that it’s not a hex bag, but a protection bag that she made for Wayne because she was eating snacks with him on the side, if you catch my drift.

As they square this away in the motel room we head over to the not-so-24-hour gym where a woman is peddling her way to a smaller wedding gown. Except, despite spinning like a hamster in a cage, she’s actually managed to gain weight, hitting 180.3 lbs. She’s upset and unwilling to believe the scale. She goes in for a redo and gets bashed on the head by a hand weight. The same thing that vacu-sealed Wayne latches onto her and takes her down to a super svelte and deadly 74.6 lbs.

The next morning Sam and Dean investigate the scene. According to the victim’s gym club records she weighed 165 lbs. Dean argues that it’s a fact all women lie about their age and weight. Sam reminds 35-year-old Dean that mere days ago he told a waitress he was younger than Sam is now. Dean accepts that he’s the woman of the team.

Dean spots a hot gym employee and decides they should split up; Sam to the morgue while Dean questions the staff. Sam isn’t into that division of labor, for once he wants to stay and interrogate the scantily clad, distraught female. Dean derisively shoots him down, claiming Sam is weird and awkward and way too “Sam” to talk to girls.

After all, Dean’s just being honest.

What Dean finds out is that the employee and the victim have similar weird, inflamed suction marks on them. Turns out so did Wayne McNut. Dean also finds out that just one month ago the hot Rollz Gym employee was more apt to be a new member, but recently lost a bunch of weight after spending a week at Canyon Valley Spa.

foodservicesucks

The boys go undercover as certified fitness training brothers, except only Sam is hired to make the spa guests sweat to the oldies. Dean, however, gets to don a hairnet and spoon up tofu-licious delights. He and Sam are trying to outsnark one another by mocking each other’s work attire. One of the fellow food staffers, Alonso, scolds Dean for flirting with hot trainer Sam. Neither brother even misses a beat.

Meanwhile, in the same spa, our adorable sheriff is getting her first taste of cupping treatment. Which to most Westerners is actually as disturbing looking as this episode makes it seem, but thankfully Sheriff Donna is too sleepy to stay awake during it. Good thing, since the woman who runs the spa, Maritza, is apparently a scary, snake-like, fat sucking monster. I was hoping for Adipose. Adipose are adorable. This was kinda terrifying in a sci-fi way.

Sam is teaching his yoga class while Dean skirts around dishing up undeliciously healthy food. He’s also hungry, but Alons tells him that they eat what the clients eat. Dean’s not eating any of that vegan nonsense. Alonso impatiently tells Dean to start serving up pudding cups from a giant vat. Dean is confused, that is not dietarily sound. Alonso informs him that it’s a last meal type of thing, one last treat before food becomes fuel not feelings. Dean gives it a taste and likes it, so he steals a cup for himself. And eats it. And then promptly gets the vapors and hits the deck.

Sam is finishing up his yoga class when he spots Sheriff Donna. She still a little loopy, but she unfortunately recognizes him. Sam is saved by his phone ringing. A pharmaceutically enhanced Dean is slurring at Sammy to come help him. “Sweet potatoes” is now the new “Poughkeepsie”. Sam rushes off to find Dean. By the time he finds him, Dean is face down on a bag of potatoes, champagne wishes and salted caramel roofie pudding dreams. Sam brings him a can of Monster and as soon as Dean is sufficiently caffeinated they go to find the sheriff.

angryspasam

Sheriff Donna is down two dress sizes in just a few hours and happy as unquestioning clam about it. She credits the cupping Maritza did and shows off her markings, which match everyone else’s.

Sheriff Donna also explained that she’d been in a sadness food vacuum for a while now, eating her pain away, numbing the hurt with delicious liquid calories before and after her husband left her. I’m pretty sure there was a lesson here for Dean, but I’ll admit it was much more subtle than any of last week’s anvils so I’m not entirely sure what Dean was supposed to learn, but considering he commiserates with her it must have hit him in the feelings box.

While the boys learn all this, Larry steals Martiza away from a guest to let her know that he went through the new guys’ car and found evidence that they’re hunters. So, not only do Larry and Maritza know about hunters, but more importantly, Larry violated Baby. Martiza tries to get rid of all the larden laden evidence while Larry offers to take care of the problem. Dean catches her in the act and ties her up. She admits to him that she’s a Peruvian fat sucking parasite, but she’s no murderer. The murderer is the problem her husband went to take care of: Alonso, her brother. Because Dean did not make the connection between the only two people aside from him and Sam not Fargo accenting around the joint.

Sadly, Larry isn’t successful at talking down his hoggish brother-in-law and gets his jugular nicked for his efforts. Sam finds Larry’s body and returns to Dean, where they get the rest of Maritza’s story. She and Larry met in Peru. He accepted her and loved her for who she is and together the came up with the idea of a ritzy fat camp so Maritza could feed just enough to live and bonus! the clients all got a better quick fix than cabbage and grapefruit ever could. Since they had discovered an acceptable way to live, Martiza opted to bring her brother with them to show him this more harmonious way of living.

Too bad Alonso doesn’t have the first clue about 80/10/10 dieting and binged on the locals. Sam and Dean head down to the basement to finish this; communicating almost solely without words they agree to split up to track Alonso down.

What’s this? Blood. Bodies. Fights in the darkness. Is it 2007 again? Did I get what I wanted? A strong MOTW and a nice early seasons feel?

Alonso gets the jump on Sam and they hand-to-hand it for a bit until Alonso gets the upper hand and pins Sam. He snakes out his fat vac attachment and aims for Sam… as if there’s any fat in Sam to begin with. Just as he’s about to go in for the kill, Dean swoops in, cuts off Alonso’s’ mini-Tremor, and watches him die. In the aftermath, Dean tells Sam that they have to kill Maritza as well, double-double. Sam disagrees. Dean argues that she’s a monster, they kill monsters, ergo they should kill her.

Um… like you killed Lenore? Or Benny? Or Garth? Or Kate? How soon we forget how grey our area is.

Sam wins though and they send Maritza back to Peru. Why can’t she continue in Canyon Valley? Who knows?

Back home in the bunker, Dean sits and ponders the bottom of a whiskey glass as Sam comes in to say good night. Dean stops him and tries to talk to him about their relationship, explains to Sam that whether it’s a pishtaco or internal burns from gate closing trials, he’s always there to save Sam, because it’s the right thing to do. Sam pulls out the last stable Jenga tile and lets it all spill out. He tells Dean that he while he may think he’s being a heroic, selfless brother he’s wrong. Sam claims that Dean saves Sam for his own benefit, not Sam’s. Saves Sam so that he doesn’t have to be alone. That given the same circumstance, Sam claims that he would let Dean die. And then walks out.

Let’s examine this shall we?

In this episode we actually saw the brothers act more like their bratty, bantery selves with one another than we probably have for years. Probably because no matter what Sam says, siblings don’t have an on-off button.

Sam showed more than a casual co-worker’s level of concern for Dean not sleeping and seemed awfully perturbed that Dean was acting like he didn’t care about the new “no brothers” rule.

They didn’t have to pose as brothers at the spa, but they did.

Dean called for “Sammy” and Sam came running.

But let’s go further.

Sam Winchester, you’re a lying liar that lies. May I remind you, and the writers, that you refused to let your brother die of a cardiac infarction. Even after he told you to let him die. After he told you that you couldn’t stop it. That was the first time one of you did something sketchy to save the other’s life. That pattern was established by you, Sam.

And let us not forget: “Yeah, I’ve been following you around my entire life! I mean, I’ve been looking up to you since I was four, Dean. Studying you, trying to be just like my big brother. So yeah, I know you. Better than anyone else in the entire world. And this is exactly how you act when you’re terrified. And, I mean, I can’t blame you. It’s just… I wish you would drop the show and be my brother again. ‘Cause… just ’cause.” Again, that was you Sam.

Oh and by the way Sam, you know why it’s better that you’re alive? Because you living is not the reason angels are tearing up the earth right now. Because Kevin’s head had a hit the moment he was tapped as prophet. Because things like ghosts and pishtacos aren’t hell demons and wouldn’t have disappeared if you’d closed the gates. You would have left your brother behind, alone, to keep fighting. Wonder if he’d have made it longer than a month?

There are things you can be pissed about Sam: Dean manipulating you while you were in a coma, Dean lying to you. But some things aren’t part of this equation.

And hey Dean, try the words, “I’m sorry”. And maybe try them sober. And maybe try being honest with Sam and with yourself. Because yeah, you don’t want to be alone, but it is about Sam. Not just any person would do and that’s a fact that Sam needs to know.

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  • Kate

    But when Sam wanted to save Dean’s life in “Faith”, he was honest and never tricked Dean, or lied or manipulated him for months. Sam never violated Dean’s consent or his autonomy.

    So I see a big difference between Sam’s action to save Dean in “Faith” and Dean’s actions to save Sam in 9×01, where Dean knew Sam’s last wishes and then used trickery that lasted months and months of lies and gaslighting.

    • Jean

      Actually, Sam did trick Dean in Faith. He purposely kept from Dean that they were going to see a faith healer, and if you recall Dean was not at all pleased about it.

    • He wasn’t completely honest, though.

      I’m certainly not condoning Dean’s actions, but I think Sam is arguing the wrong points here.

  • Jenn

    I agree with much of your observations, but one, because Sam has put Dean in front of all else and saved him in the past (or tried to) doesn’t mean he would now, that he hasn’t learned his lesson. The story is 9 seasons long, I would hope what Sam or Dean has said or felt in the past isn’t true today. Sam is trying to learn from past mistakes, don’t make deals with demons, don’t let demons or angels posses you or your brother, sometimes people should stay dead.

    • I can’t say I disagree, but if the writers continue to create situations where Dean is required to make these decisions to keep Sam alive, then what choice does Dean have? Sam stays dead, the show ends.

  • Percysowner

    Sam Winchester, you’re a lying liar that lies. May I remind you, and the writers, that you refused to let your brother die of a cardiac infarction.

    May I remind you that Sam found a way to keep Dean alive in season three when they found Zombie Frankenstein Doc Benton and his formula of immortality? Because Sam was more than willing to save Dean that way and Dean said no, it was a line he wouldn’t cross. So Sam did what Dean wanted. He didn’t slip the formula into Dean’s coffee and scout out potential organ doners for when Dean’s body started breaking down. He didn’t save Dean in a way that repulsed Dean. Sam said that in the SAME circumstances he would not save Dean by cramming an angel into Dean when he knew Dean didn’t want that and Dean was okay with dying. Dean and part of fandom seems to think that Sam won’t try to save Dean in any way, whereas what Sam said he wouldn’t save Dean using abhorrent means against Dean’s will. He has already lived by that, so I don’t see Sam as lying in any way.

    • starmage2

      Thank you so much I have been saying the same thing. Yet people have been focusing on that Sam wouldn’t save Dean but that isn’t true. People seem to be ignoring that Dean asked if the same situation was reverse but that would also include the part of being ready to move on.

    • kerikatie

      Yes! Exactly. Thank you for making the point that Sam loves his brother enough not to go against his wishes. I think a lot a fandom heard what Dean heard ‘I don’t love you enough’. Not the case. This is how Sam loves. Dean version of love is save your brother no matter what. They simple don’t understand each other(what else is new)
      Thanks for the awesome review! How sad is it that I would actually consider an encounter with this particular monster as a way to lose weight. Seems fine by me. I would have loved to see a couple of cute little Adipose as well. I have one sitting on my desk (cutie!)

      My favorite line ‘fish taco?’

    • My point was that Sam set the precedent in Faith of “do everything you can to save your brother”.

  • Tina

    Hey well as long has Dean got he wanted Sam alive then what else matters ? and ‘same circumstances ‘ seem to of inherited a various amout of interpretations. Exept that maybe Sam simply does not believe ‘save at all costs’ is worth the price tag it comes with.

  • Sue

    “Sweet potatoes” is now the new “Poughkeepsie”. Hah!

    I really, really liked the earlier seasons feel of this episode. The banter was great, Sam’s got good arms to have, Dean rocks a hairnet, I liked all of the guest stars, especially the MOW (shades of Double Meat Palace, amirite?). Perhaps when we go to Machu Picchu next year, I too can hook up with a Peruvian fat sucker!

    Vis-a-vis the “brothers sit in the Impala Bunker and talk about their feelings” tag, I can’t discuss it here (can’t sum up!) so call me tonight. Byeeeeeeeee!

  • letterstolocke

    The characterization of Sam this season seems contrived to me. Sam’s excuse – that he was ready to die – seems a weak sort of justification to hit Dean over the head with. What psychiatric health professional would hand-wave a perfectly healthy 31 year old adult, who said they were happy to die? And what person who had it in their power to save a loved one, wouldn’t? I’m quite sure I wouldn’t stand by and let my siblings die of a brain tumour, or bone cancer if I could save them. And saving them by having an angel heal them is a very different prospect to using a formula that would mean said relative would have to monstrously harvest other peoples’ lives to stay healthy; the commentator who compared those was make a specious argument.

    Sam has every right to be mad at Dean for lying to him, but his anger at Dean saving his life is contrived. Is isn’t indicative of a more mature relationship; it’s a less mature one, it has become less mature than the mutual respect – and love – for each other they had come to at the end of season 5. The “mature relationship” concept is hollow; there’s nothing to mature. It certainly isn’t mature to want to kill yourself, and to blame a loved one for stopping you.

    As this recap points out, Sam dying to close the gates of hell wouldn’t have stopped the angels, or the monsters that still prey on human beings; all it would have done would have cost Sam his life. Suicide is rarely a selfless act, and it certainly isn’t an act without collateral damage, much less the action of a healthy, stable mind. All Sam’s martyrdom would have done would be to hurt those who care about him, his brother most of all. By that perspective, Sam’s martyrdom is no less selfish than Dean’s terror of being alone. It is Sam who, once again and completely unfairly, is being made out to be the brat acting out because Dean saved his life. Again.

    All this notwithstanding that the characterization doesn’t seem to make much sense to me. At the end of season 8, Sam was ready to die – in part – because he believed that he had let his brother down; that he had always let his brother down, and that he had failed him particularly badly in not reducing him from Purgatory (an echo of his failure to rescue him from hell). Dean didn’t trick Sam into not closing the gates of hell, he told him – in a moment of heart felt honesty – that he didn’t hate Sam, that he had always put Sam first. In light of that, what greater failure would there be, to Dean, than for Sam to choose to die? There’s no shame in putting a loved one first. Sam did it at the end if season 6, and in countless other episodes. The idea that so doing has singlilarly been responsible for all of the disasters of the Supernatural!verse is a contorted, specious piece of reasoning.

    The characterization is so lacking in reality, it throws me out of the story. Sam isn’t the self absorbed ingrate this current crop of writers have made him out to be, and his stated reasons for his anger in the last episode, are contradicted – both in fact and in spirit – by his behavior and words from the preceding 8 seasons. Which means, that this characterization – and I use that term generously – is a piece of Pretzel plotting manufactured out of a misplaced belief that the only way to sustain conflict in Supernatural, is to have the brothers at odds over their relationship. Rather than being a new, mature development in their relationship, what we have in stead is an inferior redux of emotional content that was explored in earlier seasons. The circular formula of lie-discovery-Sam!flounce-detente has become a cliche of the show, a form of self parody that has reduced Sam to a precious damsel in distress and Dean to a one-trick pony.

    There is no reason that the brothers can’t sacrifice themselves for each other – watch Saving Private Ryan or Band of Brothers if you doubt what comrades in arms will do for one another – while still having a perfectly normal sibling relationship, and forms of conflict which don’t necessitate an utter disfigurement of Sam’s character. Supernatural still has stories to tell – with Dean and Sam and Cass – but they need to be told by a different showrunner than Jeremy Carver. Contrary to expectation, he has the distinction of presiding over the decline of a show that was once unique, engaging X-Files fare, to a trite piece of self-parody that tries to ape Buffy and Grimm, and fails to come close to either, or to the show it once was. If Jensen and Jared are asking for meetings with the writers, one can hardly blame them.

    • pamwat

      So well said. I feel bad that I agree with you because I do so want the show to Carry On and For the Winchesters to Hunt as Brothers. I can’t reconcile with the cruelty that Sam is exhibiting to Dean. Sure, he should be angry but he knows better than anyone that Dean’s identity has been to be his caretaker his entire life. That’s not about to change. They are not like everyone else. They have not lived a normal life so they can’t be compared to typical standards. Sam has been the only constant in Dean’s tragic life so how can he be expected to let that go without a fight. Sam knows how to hurt his brother and he is knowingly inflicting extreme pain on him. Sam also knows when Dean is covering up his pain so Dean’s so-called ambivalence can’t be fooling him. I think the writers are just milking the angst factor on this one. I say enough already. Pleease, I want to see them hug.

      • letterstolocke

        I don’t even think the brothers’ relationship IS that abnormal. I know that’s the received wisdom of the fandom, but if you compare that relationship to some of the extraordinarily strong bonds that – for example – soldiers form in war, I don’t think it looks unhealthy or odd at all. Combine that – the under-siege, constant-war mentality – with the fact that they are brothers, and indeed the only constants in each other’s lives, and I think the constant refrain that “Sam and Dean’s relationship is absnormal” becomes just a piece of hyperbole. A piece of hyperbole that certain elements of the fandom cynically use to advocate their fan-ship, and which Carver seems to be using to justify his completely contrived regurgitation of all the worst pieces or brother angst from earlier seasons. The former is just part of the usual fandom absurdities and can be ignored; the latter however, is frustrating because of all people, Carver should know better. The writers seem to be trapped in this mindset that to have drama in Supernatural, you have to have the boys in conflict about their relationship. The problem is, that conflict has now become a parody, a parody that requires increasing distortions of both brothers’ characters to sustain, but particular of Sam’s. I don’t know whether that’s laziness or ineptitude, but it is increasingly in danger of reducing Sam and Dean to a cliche.

  • Penny Harlan

    I think all of this wierd stuff going on between Sam and Dean has something todo with the mark Cain gave Dean in the house.. Cain killed his brother out of jealously and lived a solatairy life because of his actions. I think Cains mark has something to do with what’s going on and It will cause more problems before its figured out..There will be a lot of harsh words between the brothers before Cains mark is brought back into the story……just my opinion

    • I really hope this relates to the Mark in a major way. I’m not sure which route would satisfy me the best, but with the anvils they are dropping since he took on the Mark, I demand pay off.