After nine seasons, a TV show can spend an entire episode focused on the little things. “The Purge” featured small tweaks to the Supernatural formula that were sure to get noticed by diehard fans. There were small changes, like Sam and Dean wearing something other than their shirt/jacket/jeans/boots combo or their federal agent suits. A small detail that made me smile was in the hotel room when Dean was sitting on the bed with two pillows behind his back. I sit that way in bed with my laptop. It was a small moment that humanized the great Dean Winchester. Writers Eric Carmelo and Nicole Snyder brought the humor tonight and switched things up beautifully during Sam and Dean’s talk with Sheriff Donna in the police station. That syrupy Minnesota accent was played for laughs along with the simple yet ingenious powder doughnut sight gag. I could watch an entire episode of Donna and Dean talking with powdered sugar caked around their mouths.
Speaking of mouths, this week’s villains mixed things up (compared to other freaks-of-the-week) by investigating the Winchesters and discovering they were hunters. Typically the monsters Sam and Dean come up against are too stupid or lazy to try gaining the upper hand. So that was a nice curveball that sadly didn’t do Maritza or her husband any good. Deportation and death aside, “The Purge” took what could’ve been a fairly standard mystery and added some nice swerves along the way. We suspected Wayne’s rival Slim Jim Morgan at first, then Slim Jim’s wife, then briefly Sheriff Donna, then Maritza and her husband, then the pudding chef before finally landing on Alonzo, Maritza’s brother. Unfortunately the episode went downhill after the big reveal, culminating in a classic Supernatural moment – a fight scene so dark it was impossible to tell what was happening. Among this show’s weaknesses (of which there are few) that one is probably the biggest. Why even film that scene if the viewer doesn’t have the slightest clue who’s hitting who? At this point I just listen for the grunts. Just once I’d like to see a long, well-choreographed fight in good lighting with a steady camera. Is that too much to ask, Supernatural directors?
The funny moments really carried this episode. In addition to the ones mentioned above, you have to love Maritza’s husband (never caught his name) punching the air during Sam and Dean’s interview, Sam urging his Yoga trainees to hold the downward dog for five minutes and saying “Namaste” after class was over, and Dean shooting himself in the foot with his love of pudding. There was also that creepy moment when Maritza’s tongue first came out and her eyes became white that was one of the better effects this show has done in a while. Carrying forward the theme of small changes, this week’s episode featured another one that’s small only because it’s beginning to happen more often – the Winchesters let Maritza (a pishtaco or Peruvian fat sucker) live. More specifically Sam spared Maritza’s life and Dean just agreed to follow along. Dean trotted out the family business motto and urged Sam to kill the monster but Sam swayed his older brother by asking if he deserved to die while possessed by Gadreel. Dean, captain of the “Save Sam fan club,” couldn’t argue with his brother’s logic.
That conversation ties into the final change I wanted to mention in this recap. I’ve been saying for a few weeks now that I think something has changed between Sam and Dean following Kevin’s death and Sam’s possession. Yes, the brothers reunited quickly after being separated. They joked and acted like they always do during the case because they’re hardwired to act a certain way on a job. It’s once the gnashing of teeth stops and the weapons are put away that you can see the chasm that separates Dean from his brother. The hurt and anger that flashed in Dean’s eyes during that final conversation in the bunker testified to just how far apart the Winchesters have drifted.
Sam thinks Dean is selfish and delusional. Dean thinks his decisions are justified because despite everything he and Sam are still standing. Dean is thinking on a micro level while Sam is thinking on a macro scale. The youngest Winchester has always been fatalistic. It seems being snatched from Death’s literal doorstep at the beginning of this season was a bridge too far for Sam. He was ready to die and Dean wouldn’t let him because he feared being alone. Dean’s fear is justified given the terrifying world that surrounds him and his brother. Perhaps Sam should consider the possibility that Dean is not acting out of selfish instinct but rather a desire to survive comfortably until his ticket gets punched for good. Dean is quite simply all Sam has left in the world. If he can’t be accountable to Dean then he really is being selfish. Pot meet kettle.
What do you think: Will Sam and Dean’s relationship ever be the same?
Line of the week
“Wayne used to call me his Princess Jasmine.” – Slim Jim’s wife
Next time on Supernatural...
Is that Snooki riding a shark?