Lynn’s review and inside look at Supernatural‘s Beat the Devil episode continues from Part 1 which features some never before seen photos.
Watching that scene be filmed – first Jared Padalecki‘s coverage and then Jensen’s – was incredibly emotional, even sitting there on set knowing I was watching the filming of a television show. Jared and Jensen are just that good, and I care about these fictional characters so much, that all the emotional impact came right through. I gasped out loud when Sam went down, and the blood started spurting, because no one had prepared me for what was going to happen, and had to slap a hand over my own mouth to avoid ruining anything. I think I sat there in shock for a good ten minutes after, even as I kept watching them film. Jared just put so much emotion into that moment, the way Sam yelled for Dean, the way he screamed as his throat was savaged….the way his head falls back as he dies of blood loss. I just….wow.
And then Jensen’s coverage, which if I was still emotionally alive at all, finished the job of killing me. He had to do multiple takes of Dean seeing Sam get attacked and yelling “Sammy!” and every time, it broke my heart. Every single time he put so much emotion into it, so much that it clearly drained him. These guys put 150% into everything they do, even after thirteen seasons, and that really does make all the difference.
Dean fights his way free of the vampire pinning him against the wall, which was a longer scene than it ended up looking like, with Jensen having a fight scene too and Dean throwing a guy practically over his shoulder. He immediately gets attacked by another vampire and blasts that one with his shotgun and blows its head right off like the freaking badass he is. He is clearly on a mission to save his brother, his every motion full of intent and urgency, allowing absolutely no bullshit.
Fun fact: Jensen really did fire that gun, and it really did make a huge noise – luckily I was warned to cover my ears!
Castiel has already run after Sam as the vampires drag him away, yelling for him as he disappears into one of the pitch black passageways.
As Dean takes off yelling for his brother, Cas comes back and stops him. Dean tries to barrel past, and Cas grabs his shoulder to stop him.
Cas: He’s gone.
Cas: We don’t have time. Dean, we can’t save him.
The expression on Dean’s face is one of absolute horror – and shock.
I 1000% expected Dean to go after Sam anyway – to at least have to see for himself. I actually gasped in shock when he didn’t, when I was sitting there watching them film it. (Luckily it was a quiet gasp).
This is the part of the episode that is still bothering me two days later, though I’ve had time to make some sense out of it. But it still FEELS wrong.
One thing that we know unequivocally about Dean Winchester is that he will never leave his brother. This is canon. We’ve heard him say it, flat out, multiple times. And we’ve seen him live it. One of my favorite episodes of the series is ‘Red Meat’, which Robert Berens also penned (with Andrew Dabb). In that episode, Sam also dies temporarily (only on Supernatural is that a ‘thing’…). And in that episode, Dean also is forced to leave Sam’s body behind in order to get some civilians to safety. But this felt different. First, Dean didn’t get to SEE Sam’s body like he did in Red Meat. Yes, I know, Sam wasn’t just lying on the floor of a cabin this time, he was dragged off by vampires who would have been equally happy to eat Dean. And yes, Dean did see Sam get attacked. But I still can’t see him not wanting to see with his own eyes that Sam was indeed “gone” as Cas said.
Second, the dialogue for Misha Collins was again just… weird. It was unclear from the timing whether Cas was gone long enough to even see for himself that Sam was indeed gone or if he just assumed. If he did know for certain, why didn’t he say that to Dean? Instead, he said something vague about “not having time.” What?? Not having time to look for Sam?? Not having time when they’ve waited for months to get to the AU? That was not a compelling reason not to go look for Sam. If he’d said “Dean, he’s dead, and you will be too if you go after those vampires. There’s nothing you can do now, and we need to get these people to safety,” then I would have understood it better. But surely “we don’t have time” would never in a million years convince Dean Winchester not to go after his brother!
This is the Dean Winchester who, when told by Cas in Season 5 that all he’d see out there was Michael killing his brother, “Well then I ain’t gonna let him die alone.” Who sat with Sam’s dead body for three days at the end of Season 2 heedless of the pending apocalypse and exploded when Bobby tried to talk him into moving on. Who left a lamp on by Sam’s dead body and promised he’d come back for him before he led the survivors to safety in Red Meat. Who swore to Sam that “I’m never leaving you – ever!” as Sam lay dying in Amara’s mist at the end of Season 10. That’s the Dean Winchester I know and love. It’s not toxic codependence or character development when someone does not want to leave their brother without being sure you can’t save him. That’s who Dean is, and that is the emotional backbone of this show.
I think that whole scene could have worked if only Dean had been able to see that Sam was gone for himself, ala Red Meat. Dean leaving Sam’s body behind worked in that episode, because he KNEW. So his commitment to keeping others safe kicked in, because it was too late for Sam. (Of course he was wrong that time, so you would think that would make him even MORE determined to make sure for himself this time!)
I’m going to assume that Dean could see clearly from across the tunnel that Sam was 100% certain to be dead because of that spurting blood because that’s the only way it makes sense. But it bothered me enough to throw me out of the story, which is never a good thing.
That said, everything else about the tunnel scenes was stellar. Jared played the hell out of his death scene, breaking my heart with both of the times he called out for his brother. And Jensen played the hell out of Dean having to watch that, helpless and unable to save Sam – and then unable to even go after his body. He broke my heart into a million pieces with the look on his face when Cas said they were too late. Misha also had a moment when he showed us Castiel’s sadness, but it came after such an odd exchange that it didn’t have the impact it might have despite his best effort.
They continue on, Dean a walking zombie just putting one foot in front of the other. This follows canon well, the same as the other times we’ve seen one of the brothers lose the other. Sam like a robot after Dean’s death in Mystery Spot, Dean in Red Meat or even going through the motions with Lisa and Ben. I don’t even know how an actor manages to show what the character is feeling so clearly without even saying anything, but I could read all of Dean’s agony on his face.
He’s having flashbacks of Sam’s death as he pushes forward, and OMG that really broke me. The guilt, the regret, the sadness, the overwhelming sense of loss….you can see it all. Maggie tries to offer condolences about “your friend” and Dean just turns away from her. How could he ever explain who Sam was to him, what he’s lost?
But he’s Dean Winchester, and he keeps pushing on until they get to Dayton – and to Mary. You can see Dean’s shoulders drop when he sees his mother, when he knows he’s succeeded in what they’ve been working for this whole time – but Sam is not there to savor it with him. Mary wraps him up in a hug, and when she pulls back to look at him, she’s smiling, relieved – and then she gets a real look at his face.
Mary: Dean, where’s Sam?
Ohgod ohgod ohgod. He can’t even answer her. Can’t even speak. How do you tell your mother that her son is never coming back? A single tear overflows – the One Perfect Tear – and Mary knows.
And poor Dean. He’s been working for this reunion the entire season, and now he can’t even feel it, not with his brother dead.
Flash to Cas telling Jack the news, and Jack channeling many of the rest of us, screaming “he can’t be dead! Why didn’t you bring him back?”
Good question, Jack! Why is Jack the first person to demand this?
Cas says he’s not strong enough, that they would have if they could have.
(I am continually confused about this. I know Gabriel is not at full power, but he was able to take down the wards. And isn’t Cas at mostly full power? The two angels together could not take out a rag tag group of starving vampires?? Nobody wanted to get to Sam and at least TRY to bring him back or get him to Jack?? At the very least, Cas and Gabriel could have carried Sam’s body away from the vampires literally EATING him. They were tossing around giant rocks like they were nothing to clear the blocked passage a few seconds before. I just don’t get why everyone gave up so easily.)
No sooner does Dean get everyone to the camp and confirm that Mary and Jack are safe, then he turns around to head back out again.
Dean: We have to go back, get his body.
I think Mary is still in shock, but she knows better than to try to talk Dean out of it.
Ohgod, my heart. Of course he does. That’s very ‘Red Meat,’ and it makes me feel a little better about the tunnel scene and Dean leaving Sam in the first place.
Flash to Sam, lying on the floor open-mouthed, eyes staring upwards, unseeing – and somehow looking incredibly beautiful anyway.
And then Sam sucks in a giant breath (also ala ‘Red Meat’) and comes back to life, struggling to his feet and clutching his throat where he just bled to death. Behind him, there’s a noise.
Lucifer: Boo! Hey Sammy.
And OMG the look on Sam’s face, his confusion giving way to horrified understanding.
Sam: You brought me back…
Lucifer: I did. You’re welcome.
Lucifer explains how he had enough juice to bring Sam back (he ate a bunch of AU angels on the way…ewww) and keeps not answering Sam’s question, because Sam KNOWS that Lucifer has an agenda, of course.
Sam: What do you want?
Lucifer: (doesn’t answer)
Sam: WHAT. DO. YOU. WANT?
Me: Holy hell, is it hot in here??
I don’t have words for how incredible Jared was in this scene. You can see every emotion Sam is feeling, and it’s absolutely heartbreaking. To have his abuser, the one who traumatized him so horrifically, be the one who brought him back to life? And is now going to hold this over his head to get what he wants? What is more horrible than that??
Lucifer finally answers.
Lucifer: What you have. A relationship with my son.
Lucifer knows that Jack won’t want to have anything to do with him if he just bursts into the camp and demands it. So he’ll come bearing gifts.
Lucifer to Sam: You.
Sam’s faaaaaaaaace OMG. I was dying right along with him.
Lucifer: I was the one who brought you back to life. I just want you to acknowledge it.
So he’s going to make Sam say it? Like some kind of twisted parody of gratitude – admit it to the one who tortured and abused and broke him?? I feel sick to my stomach just thinking about it, that this is what Sam is being forced to do.
Lucifer: So you coming with? Or (gestures to crowd of starving vampires) this?
Sam Winchester is so much stronger than I am. He wants to say go to hell; he wants to say no. But that would mean Lucifer would still go find Jack – and Dean, and Mary, and Cas and everyone else. This way, if he does this, he will be able to help keep the world – and his family – safe. So he agrees, even though it must be costing him so damn much.
Mark Pellegrino also did a fabulous job with this scene. I hate Lucifer unequivocally and want him to disappear from the Supernatural universe, and that’s in part due to Pellegrino’s skill in playing him. He makes Lucifer always interesting, and at the same time makes my skin crawl. The two of them together portray a complicated dynamic that rings a little too real to my psychologist self – hence the skin crawling.
The ending scene killed me all over again – let’s face it, I did a lot of dying during this episode.
As Dean is preparing to literally turn around and head right back to get Sam, a bell announces visitors to the camp. Dean looks up, and once again we can see every emotion he’s feeling as a bloodied but very much alive Sam stumbles into view. Disbelief, shock, and then Dean’s eyes literally widen as he realizes his brother is alive – it’s like he wasn’t willing to even let the world in when Sam was dead, all of him closed off – he was mute, unable to speak; half blind, eyes slitted closed, unable to see anything but the traumatic memory of watching Sam die. But as soon as he knows Sam is back, he can open himself up and let himself see again – let himself feel again. It was like five seconds, and every bit of that emotional journey came through loud and clear.
We see Castiel’s shocked face, and Mary, and Jack, whose face lights up with the kind of innocent absolute joy that any parent who has returned to their child after a long absence knows so well.
Jack: (almost reverently) Sam.
Alex Calvert did a wonderful job in the few moments he had onscreen showing us Jack’s feelings for Sam, and it touched me so much.
A brief almost-smile crosses Sam’s face as he sees everyone he loves standing there, alive and okay. His eyes lock to Dean’s and they share a look full of feeling.
And then Lucifer appears behind him.
Sam hangs his head, and you can see how tormented he is, only allowed that one second of triumph and relief after all this time. He looks ashamed, guilty almost – at having brought the devil himself to their doorstep. At maybe having disappointed his brother, let him down. Sam’s biggest fear. Ohgod, my heart broke for Sam at that moment.
Lucifer (to Jack): Hello, son.
By that point, I was ready to fall over. What a rollercoaster of an episode! I love this Show for its ability to create strong emotions in me and strong connections to the characters I love – and this episode certainly succeeded in that! So I’m giving Robert Berens kudos in spite of my quibbles. And I’m crossing my fingers that next week’s episode picks up right where this one left off (Spoilers ahead…) Jensen Ackles said at the Supernatural convention in the UK today that there’s a “bro hug” in the next episode, so it seems like we might pick up right there – I always love that, it amps up the momentum into something that feels like “real time.” And let’s face it, I will ALWAYS want a bro hug – especially after one of the Winchesters has lost the other, even if only temporarily.