Supernatural: “Torn and Frayed” (Season 8, Episode 10)

spBroadcast date: Wednesday, Jan. 16th, 2013

I’ve been following Supernatural since episode 2 of season 1 (I missed the first episode but caught it later on DVD). The show has had its ups and downs; when it’s a weekly serial about hunting monsters and ghosts, it’s top-notch; when it’s caught in the several-season arc about the battle between Angels and Demons, it’s not quite as good. It’s a series that has a mix of action, suspense, goofiness, drama-heavy moments, and of course the supernatural, and it is not afraid to take a good-natured, tongue-in-cheek jab at itself from time to time. The two brothers, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles of Dark Angel), have lost everyone close to them, but still they continue to hunt monsters and demons. Why? Beacuse they are good at it, and it’s the only life they know.

In this season, the older brother, Dean, escaped Purgatory (where he ended up after taking on Leviathans last season) with the help of angel Castiel (a regular on the show for several seasons) and Benny, a vampire. While Castiel struggles with his mind, which we are finding out has been altered in some way, Benny is starting to slip back into his own ways. Meanwhile Sam spent a year on his own without Dean and got himself a woman, only to find out that her husband, who was thought to have been killed in Afghanistan, is still alive, and Sam must depart. The reunion of Sam and Dean was less than happy, as Dean was upset that Sam quit hunting, while Sam is not thrilled that Dean’s new best buddy is a vampire. Although Sam should be grateful that the vampire helped Dean escape, the underlying bad blood goes back a couple seasons, when Dean killed a Kitsu named Amy that Sam used to love. Sam doesn’t understand why Dean killed Amy but allows Benny to live, and it’s driven a wedge between them.

This episode focusses on the angels vs. demons arc instead of a weekly serial hunt. Castiel (Misha Collins) enlists Sam and Dean’s help to track down an angel who has been captured by Crowley (the current ruler of Hell, played wonderfully for several seasons by Mark Sheppard of Leverage). But Castiel is broken – an angel in Heaven (Amanda Tapping from Stargate and Sanctuary fame) has been messing with his mind, so it’s up to the brothers to take the lead. Meanwhile, Benny calls Dean for help, as he can no longer control his hunger for blood, but Dean’s up to his neck in demons and can’t help. Meanwhile, Sam’s gal Amelia returns while her husband is out of town, and Sam must decide to quit the business or leave Amelia for good. While a transitional episode – Sam and Dean must make decisions on their relationships – there’s still plenty of demon-fighting, and there’s a cool sequence where Sam and Dean move through an abandoned warehouse “tagging” demonic symbols that prevent Castiel from entering. The big reveal (revealed by an angel that does a lot of annoying screaming under Crowley’s torture) is that there is an angel tablet, a stone artifact that when activated, allows Heaven to be sealed up and prevents angels from coming to Earth. Though the angels vs. demons arc is tiring…the Leviathan arc was better last season, and Benny has been a great addition this season (but is barely in this episode)…at least the relationship questions get wrapped up (for now) and we can move that part of the story forward. However, we know that at some point, when Benny starts killing again, Dean is going to have to face him down. There’s a very poignant moment at the end where Sam and Amelia agree to meet in two days, and whoever shows up will know what the other person has decided. Only one person shows up at the rendezvous, and it’s a sad scene. It’s the cap to a fair episode – not great, but not terrible either.


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