Retro Recap and Review: Supernatural 2.10: Hunted

This entry is part 10 of 21 in the series Supernatural Season 2

By Paula R. Stiles

[spoilers ahoy]

Tagline: After learning what John told Dean at the beginning of season two, Sam takes off. But he soon regrets it when a young woman tracks him down and tells him she’s had a prophetic dream of his murder.

Recap:
Minute-long recap of the Psykids storyline (which makes even less sense now than it did in season two. Hmm). Then we have an emo kid named “Scott” talking to a psychiatrist (to the tune of Jefferson Airplane’s “White Rabbit”) about how he accidentally zapped his neighbour’s cat with his new electric power. I so didn’t need to hear about that. When the shrink looks skeptical, Scott offers to shake hands with him, but the shrink won’t take the bait. Instead, he asks Scott why he’d want to kill the neighbour’s cat. Scott says he didn’t. It’s the “Yellow-Eyed Man”, getting inside his head during his dreams, pushing him to do “awful” things.

Later, Scott is walking to his car at night in the fog under the Vancouver metro…sorry, subway in a U.S. city. He senses that he’s being stalked by someone, but can’t see them…until they pop up in the reflection of his car window and stab him to death, that is. Exit Scott. You were our Doomed Teaser Guy this week and we hardly knew ye.

Cue fiery season two title cards.

Cut to the resolution of the cliffhanger from “Croatoan” (This episode originally aired two months after “Croatoan” and Sam is still sporting a cast from Jared Padalecki’s injury in “Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things“). Dean is telling Sam what John whispered in his ear at the end of “In My Time of Dying“. He says that John told Dean to watch out for Sam, to save him if he could. And if he couldn’t, to kill him.

Sam, predictably, flips right out on Dean (By all means, let’s shoot the messenger, Sam) and says Dean should have told him sooner (because Daddy ordering you to commit fratricide is such an easy thing to share with your brother, especially a couple of days after shooting a bunch of strangers) and should “take some responsibility for yourself” and other whiny crap. Yeah, right, Sam, like how you should have told Jessica you were having dreams about her fiery death? Like that? But no, Sammy’s on a roll and off he goes on Dean. Dean yells at him back (In retrospect, Dean probably should have clocked him one and dumped him in that river, but I guess the show would have been a lot different then). Sam is a complete asshat in this scene and watching Dean grovel to him is actually pretty upsetting. Dean just confessed that Daddy wanted to turn him into a murderer–a fratricide, no less–and Sam’s response it to make it All About Sam. Ugh. What happened to “Anybody can become a murderer” in the recap?

Dean begs Sam to give him some time to think (You know, the way Sam begged Dean for time to think about his psykid stuff), so naturally, Sam instead waits until dark, sneaks out of their motel, boosts a car, and takes off. Good one, there, Sam. Nice and mature. [/sarcasm]

Cut to Sam breaking into an abandoned shack, tripping a wire and getting blasted into a mess on the wall by a grenade. The screen jumbles and this turns out to be a dream of a young woman, Ava, who wakes up in a sweat next to her fiance. She reassures him that it was “just another nightmare”, but as they lie back down, she looks wide awake.

Cut to Sam, alive, walking into the Roadhouse. As hunters eye him suspiciously, he walks up to the bar and starts talking to Ellen. She’s not surprised to see him because Dean has been calling her, “worried sick”. Sam tries to change the subject to Jo, then discovers to his chagrin that Jo took off hunting (after the events of “No Exit”) and Ellen hasn’t seen her since. Ooops.

Ellen admits that she wanted to blame the brothers for Jo taking off, but knows better. Anyway, she forgave John years ago for accidentally causing her husband’s death, even though she feels “he never forgave himself.” That water now under the bridge, she asks Sam why he’s there and he says he “needs help.” Ash’s help, to be exact (There’s an alternate version of this scene on the DVD that begins with Ash hitting on a hot female hunter and getting turned down cold). He needs Ash to come up with a computer search program to find other psykids like Sam. Ash very quickly tracks down four psykids who had mothers who died in nursery fires: Sam, Max (from “Nightmare”), Andy (from “Simon Says”) and poor Scott the Doomed Teaser Guy. Ash says Scott is dead, recently dead (a month ago) in Lafayette, Indiana. His murder remains unsolved. Sam decides to go there. When Ellen tells him she has to call Dean, Sam whines that he has “to find answers” and Dean can’t “protect” him from that. The self-centered, utilitarian view Sam has of Dean in this episode (He only wants Dean around when he needs him for something) is stunning. I’d forgotten how far into the episode it went. Ellen, God knows why, agrees to it.

Later, Sam interviews Scott’s dad, pretending to be a former schoolfriend. The dad admits that Scott had changed in the past year, getting headaches and sinking into paranoia. Nothing seemed to help. Sam asks to see Scott’s room. Inside, he finds a whole lot of Stephen King novels and psych meds (He gets the name, “Dr. Waxler”, of Scott’s shrink off one of the bottles, which he steals). Inside the closet, behind Scott’s clothes, he finds a wall full of yellow eyes cut out of magazines. Creeeepyyy.

Later that night, Sam returns to his motel room at the Blue Rose, but stalkercam and ominous music (plus steps behind him) alert him that he’s being watched. He spins around and pins a young woman to the wall, demanding to know who she is. Her name is ‘Ava Wilson’ (Katharine Isabelle of Ginger Snaps) and she tells him he’s in danger.

Inside his room, she explains that she’s “not crazy and not on drugs” and is very normal, no matter how her warning might sound. Hee. I like Ava, already. Sam gets her name out of her and she readily spills that she’s been having headaches and dreams since about a year ago. She also saw Scott’s death (though he was a complete stranger to her) in a dream and later saw the article in the paper about his death. Last night, she dreamed about Sam’s death (the one we saw). Clever girl, she noticed in the dream that Sam had some stationary from his motel and googled it. There’s an extended version of this scene on the DVD.

Sam realizes in the middle of her rant about her sanity that she’s a psykid, which makes her question his sanity.

Meanwhile, Ellen is ignoring her promise to Sam and calling Dean (Go Ellen!). After letting Dean twist a bit with some philosophical musing about how you can’t protect your family, she tells him Sam’s in Lafayette. Dean thanks her and hangs up.

Back in Lafayette, Sam and Ava are arguing. Ava tries to persuade Sam to leave town and save himself (not a bad idea, actually), but Sam is determined to stick around and figure out what’s going on with the psykid mystery. Even if the one lead in Lafayette is, you know, dead. Ava announces that she’s done her bit for humankind, but she’s just a “secretary from Peoria”, who’s engaged to be married in two months, and she’s off. Sam stops her by asking if she doesn’t want to find out what’s really going on. Don’t her headaches and dreams scare her? This gives Ava pause and she doesn’t leave, after all. Sam asks for her help.

Cut to the next day and and an amusing scene with Ava squirming on the couch of the shrink we saw in the teaser, trying to explain why she’s there without letting on why she’s really there, so to speak. Ava says she’s “super-anxious right now” and jumps when she sees Sam climbing across the window (which is waaaaaay up in the air). She then asks the shrink if eating Pop Rocks and drinking Coke when she was eight qualifies as “a suicide attempt”.

Later, back at the motel, Sam asks a pensive Ava is she’s okay. Ava says she just helped Sam steal a dead patient’s confidential files from his shrink, then breaks into a big smile: “I’m awesome!” (Amazingly, this line sounds so much better coming from Ava than from Ruby) They listen to the session where Scott talked about his new power (his last session) and how YED had plans for kids like him, that they were going to be an army in a brand new world. Meanwhile, Dean rolls into the parking lot and sees Sam in the window (amazingly unobservant of Sam not to notice Dean in the noisy Impala). Dean is relieved to see that Sam’s all right and amused when he spots Ava (jumping to the obvious and wolfy Dean conclusion about her presence).

As Sam and Ava talk over Scott’s disturbing words, and what they mean, a shot shatters the window, barely missing Sam. Ava goes for the floor and Sam covers her. Flash to the shooter across the street – It’s Gordon Walker, the vampire hunter from “Bloodlust“. Gordon gets off a few shots, but just when he thinks he’s got a bead on the top of Sam’s head, Dean shows up on the roof, yelling at Gordon and kicking him in the head. Dean punches Gordon hard and swears to kill him for trying to kill Sam, while Gordon tries to explain between punches. Then Gordon somehow gets the drop on Dean with his rifle (This is, by the way, completely unrealistic. The first kick to the head alone would have made Gordon too dazed to show that kind of coordination). Gordon coldcocks Dean (but, you know, a kick and several punches to the head weren’t enough to knock Gordon out [eyeroll]).

Later, Sam and Ava go up to the roof, to see what they can find about the shooter. When Sam starts talking about the make of the rifle and that the shooter must have used a suppressor (based on a round he finds and the noise of the shots), Ava’s further horrified by his knowledge of things dark and dangerous. She doesn’t look convinced by Sam’s claim that he got it “from watching T.J. Hooker“. Sam finally decides it’s a good idea to call Dean. Dean, who is tied to a chair with a gun on him, while Gordon holds a phone to his head, admits he’s already in Lafayette and that “it’s a real funky town.” He gives Sam an address on Monroe St. and they hang up. When Gordon asks Dean, “Now, was that so hard?” Dean responds with a prophetic “Bite me.”

Sam tells Ava Dean’s in trouble (“Funky Town” was a codeword for Dean having a gun on him). They have to go rescue Dean (who, it must be said, wouldn’t be in trouble in the first place, had it not been for his brother being a numbnuts).

Back at Gordon’s squat, Dean tries to feel out Gordon’s motives. He figures it’s revenge and Gordon calmly admits he was pretty pissed off at them for a while. But his motive is different, or so he says. He claims to be a hunter not a killer, and that Sam is “fair game”.

Out on a sidewalk, Ava is insisting she should stay with Sam, Sam’s trying to be chivalrous and send her away to safety, and the conversation is, predictably, going nowhere. Ava warns Sam that he’s walking into a version of her dream. He tells her he has to go rescue his brother (not realizing that Gordon has no intention of harming Dean, who is actually bait). Her persuades her to leave, but she asks him to call her as soon as he rescues Dean, to reassure her.

Back at his squat, Gordon is explaining to Dean why he’s suddenly hunting Sam – and it supposedly has nothing to do with Sam defying Gordon in “Bloodlust” (Yeah, right). Gordon starts talking about how he was exorcising a teenage girl in Louisiana of a “low-level demon” that let slip something about “a coming war”. Gordon tortured the demon to find out all it knew and discovered that psychics (whom he doesn’t consider “pure human”) were being recruited for a future war. When Dean asks Gordon about the host, Gordon casually admits, “She didn’t make it.” Dean calls him a “son of a bitch” and Gordon smacks him, ostensibly for insulting his mother. Gordon says the demon told him he knew one of these psychics, Sam Winchester (’cause demons, they never lie). When Dean points out that trusting what a demon says is pretty dumb, even for Gordon (who, it must be said, is a fanatic and tunnel-visioned, but not at all stupid), Gordon starts talking about Sam’s visions and such, saying he has Roadhouse connections, too. Dean is not thrilled to hear this.

Gordon then sits down in a chair across the room from Dean and admits to murdering Scott. Gordon (who is clearly a psychopath or something equally twisted with no real conscience or empathy) feels he needs to kill all of the psykids before they become a threat. Never mind that they are humans, too, because he’s convinced himself that they’re not. In typical Evil Overlord fashion, he lays out his plan to Dean. He will cover the front with his rifle, so that Sam sees it, and set two grenades in the back, with a tripwire. He figures Dean has found a way to warn Sam and asks Dean if Dean really thinks he’s that “stupid”. Dean shrugs and smirks.

What really shows that Gordon is waaaaayyy out there on the lunatic fringe is his attempt to apologize to Dean for Sam’s death beforehand and promise that it will be “quick”. Gordon seems to believe that he will be able to kill Sam and get away without Dean either killing him then and there (probably after torturing him) or hunting him down. If Gordon had actually succeeded in killing Sam in this episode, he would have been a dead man walking, afterward, but he’s so goofy about this idea that he can “convert” Dean to his cause by murdering his own brother in front of him that he doesn’t see it. Fanaticism and tunnel-vision. It gets you killed, eventually.

Dean tries to talk Gordon down by saying that Sam is a better man that Dean is (and, by implication, Gordon), that he feels uncomfortable even surfing for porn on the internet. Gordon accuses Dean of getting “emotional” and says he’d heard Dean was more “professional” (i.e. psychopathic) than this. What if, for example, Dean had a “little Hitler” riding with him? Wouldn’t he kill him before he murdered all those people? This analogy, of course, has all sorts of problems, not least that it’s precisely the excuse Hitler and other racists have used through the ages to justify slaughtering infants and children. The increasingly murderous looks Dean keeps giving Gordon would, you’d think, make Gordon feel grateful he’s got Dean tied up. But instead, Gordon puts a companionable arm on Dean’s shoulder, to which Dean reacts as if it were an enormous rat.

Gordon does possess the motherwit to gag Dean before claiming that John would have killed Sam if he’d known about Sam’s “destiny” and asking if Dean really lacks “the stones” John had. The glare Dean aims at Gordon is answer enough without words, especially considering what Gordon doesn’t know about John’s directive to his eldest.

This is a very interesting scene. There’s the text, of course, that Gordon is convinced that he must kill Sam and the other psykids before they do anything monstrous in order to save the world (echoing Dean’s cold logic about Croats in “Croatoan” and later in season five in “The End“). That Gordon is a psychopath, who is following a script inside his own head that he is imposing on a very complicated moral situation to justify committing murder and getting off on hunting other human beings, is the tragedy. Sterling K. Brown sells all of this with ease, in a calm, chilling tone that evokes grim racial history like Abel Meeropol’s famous anti-lynching poem, “Strange Fruit“. That Brown is African-American gives it a further ironic twist.

But then there’s the subtext (enough of it in the words to show this is deliberate) that Gordon is not just out to destroy an entire group of people (perhaps having run out of vampires to kill), but also to recruit Dean to his cause. The way he messes with Dean’s head is frightening because Dean has already been shoved halfway over the line by his own father, not to mention Sam’s violent rejection at the beginning of “Hunted”. It takes all of Dean’s passion and focus to redirect his own murderous rage away from Sam and toward Gordon…and other hunters. It’s like one serial killer trying to deprogram another and making himself his intended student’s target, instead.

That night, Sam scopes out the place and sees Dean tied up inside, with Gordon sitting near the door (just as Gordon planned). So, Sam goes round the back and picks the deadlock to get inside the backdoor. First Dean and then Gordon hear him, Dean horrified and Gordon anticipatory. Dean screams uselessly through his gag when the first grenade goes off, while Gordon coolly waits for the second. While the dust rises from the first, the second grenade blows.

Gordon says, “Sorry, Dean,” as Dean cries through his gag and tries to get loose (There’s a blooper where Jensen Ackles accidentally frees himself from the rickety chair). Meanwhile, Gordon goes into the backroom with his rifle. He grimaces in potential triumph when he sees Sam’s empty boot on the floor, smoking, as in Ava’s dream. But his triumph is shortlived when Sam comes up behind him and levels a gun at the back of his head. Sam orders Gordon to put down the rifle (Dean hears this), which Gordon does, but Gordon then spins around and grabs Sam, after some babble about how Dean thinks Sam is a “saint”. Personally, I hate this cliche, which is used especially with women having guns on men. In real life, if you did that to someone, they’d most likely blow your head off just out of reflex. Or maybe I’m just too big of an edged weapons fan and am thinking of how, if you tried to do that with a sword in the same position, you’d spit your own throat on your opponent’s blade.

There’s a knockdown drag-out, with Sam getting the worst of it initially (while Dean mumbles, “Son of a bitch!” through his gag and tries to free himself). Naturally, Sam then gets the drop on Gordon, somehow, when Gordon stupidly decides to kneel down, monologue and go for a knife, instead of just blowing Sam’s head off. This gives Sam the chance to grab Gordon’s hand and pull him down to the floor. There, Sam straddles Gordon and punches him in the head a few times, then gets to his feet and picks up the rifle that is lying right next to them, holding it on Gordon. When Gordon tries to goad Sam into shooting him, Sam finally knocks him out with the rifle. I get that the whole point of this scene is whether or not Sam will prove Gordon “right” and kill him, but jeeeez, Sammy, there have got to be easier ways to subdue the bad guy. This is the second ludicrous fight scene in the episode and a poor twin to the awesome Dean-Gordon fight in “Bloodlust”.

There’s a callback to their rivalry in “Bloodlust” before Sam knocks Gordon out in which Gordon taunts Sam, calling him, “Sammy” (which Sam hates). Sam smacks him with the rifle and then retorts, “It’s ‘Sam’!”

Sam then stumbles into the front room and unties Dean…whose first move is to make sure Sam is okay. Waitaminute. Dean’s been tied up with no food or water all damned day. Surely, he’d be scarcely able to get up, let alone mother Sam. Not to mention, he’d still be pissed off at Sam for bailing on him without a word. But at least Dean’s next move (to go kill Gordon) makes sense. Sam stops him with a rather weak “Gordon’s taken care of.” Dean lets Sam lead him away and the episode glosses over lightly the fact that Gordon needed to perceive the people he killed as monsters, but Dean doesn’t even need that excuse. You just need to try to kill one of his family to get on his hitlist. This will all culminate in some ugly doings down the road, what with skewered demon hosts, angel vessels, cousins, and grandparents.

But the fight’s not quite done. As the brothers leave the house, Gordon comes after them, firing with both pistols. The brothers run and dive behind a small hillock. Sam won’t run further, which confuses Dean – until two cop cars show up and Gordon is arrested at gunpoint. Sam says he called in “an anonymous tip” before he went to the house and Dean comments proudly on his brother’s subterfuge. When the police find Gordon’s rack o’ weapons in his car, it looks as though Gordon will be going away for a very long time.

Dean calls Ellen at the Roadhouse and balls her out. She takes it calmly then points out that she didn’t tell anybody anything, but that she can’t control her clientele, either. She says that the hunters at her bar are “smart” (They must have all died in the fire in “All Hell Breaks Loose, Part 1“, then, because most of the hunters we’ve met on the show were too stupid to live) and that she knows at least twelve who could have put together a hunt against the psykids.

Later in the car, Sam calls Ava (not the first time) and gets no answer. Dean muses happily that Gordon will be in prison for a while (if he doesn’t get off or break out, Sam points out, unhelpfully. An older black guy killing a young white kid? In Middle America? Sam, Gordon’s not getting off for Scott’s murder. Really). Dean then threatens Sam about taking off again, but Sam laughs this off (Sam really needs to be scared by his brother more often). Sadly, after Dean says they should go to Amsterdam, musing that hunting sucks and they should say, “Screw destiny,” Sam takes this as his cue to start whining about how he’s Destiny Boy and he has to keep on hunting so he can face whatever is after him, blah, blah, blah. Ugh. Shut up, Sam.

After a round of “bitch” and “jerk” between the brothers, Sam calls Ava again and still doesn’t get her on the phone. Sam gets a bad feeling, in spite of Dean’s teasing that Sam “likes” Ava, and off they go to Peoria. That night (because that’s the best time to drop in on a girl you hardly know [snort]) they find Ava’s house deserted and her fiance dead in bed, his throat cut. Dean discovers sulfur on the windowsill…and Sam finds Ava’s bloody engagement ring, dropped casually on the floor. YED has taken her, but did she go willingly?

Review:
This entry, written by Raelle Tucker (and, rarity of rarities, directed by a woman, Rachel Talalay), has its good points, its okay points and its bad points. In the good entry is the fabulous death dance between Gordon and Dean, in which Gordon attempts to seduce Dean over to the dark side in a way that will be made more sexually explicit with both Alastair and Castiel in seasons four, five and six. This is nicely balanced by the sweet and platonic (but equally doomed) budding friendship between Sam and Ava. It’s good to see the brothers go off and have separate, important interactions, returning to each other changed at the end. Speaking of the ending, wow, that was bleak.

The psykids angle goes into the “okay” category, verging toward pointless, what with the psykid bloodbath that clears the boards at the end of the season and the revelations of seasons four and five that render every psykid not named “Sam Winchester” superfluous. You can’t help feeling sorry for Ava (even if she weren’t cute, perky and willing to drive hundreds of miles to save a complete stranger), since it’s now obvious her dreams were YED’s way of manipulating her into saving his favourite psykid. On top of it, he yanked her away from her home and family, probably induced her to murder her fiance (the dropped ring), and stuck her in a kill-or-be-killed free-for-all, probably just to isolate Sam from all allies and from working out any game plan with the other psykids (Note how the psykids in “All Hell Breaks Loose, Part 1″ started to appear in the ghost town around the time Sam started looking for them, using Ash’s computer program). All that nascent heroism, later turned to bloodthirsty killing, all those growing powers, and in the end, she was tossed aside like a broken toy as soon as her purpose was completed. And her purpose was only to ensure that Sam came out on top.

Into the bad category goes the initial breakup of Sam and Dean. It makes Sam look like an asshat and a whiner, not to mention stupid. And what the hell is up with using Ellen and Ash as a barrier between him and Dean after he went off on his brother and snuck off into the night? Put on the Big Boy pants and pick up the damned phone, Sam. Stop being so passive-aggressive.

Once he hooks up with Ava, things get interesting and he settles into a new and intriguing relationship, but what is up with the way he gets there? Also not-so-great is how the Gordon-Dean dance overshadows the psykids stuff (and Sam and Ava), yet never gets any satisfying resolution. This bothered me a lot, even when I first watched “Hunted”. I’ve never been big on uberplots (perhaps because they’re impossible to do well beyond a season or so in the uncertain world of television), so I’ve been far more invested in what the show had to say about mythology and hunting and hunter (twisted) psychology. The idea of Gordon trying to turn Dean into his padawan is a creepy and entirely plausible one, far more so than any of the eeeeevil YED manipulations that supposedly pushed the psykids over the edge and instead made them all come across as immature, self-centered buttheads.

Dean is already straddling the line between Good and Evil, Light and Dark, even in season one. He first meets Gordon shortly after being struck a mighty blow to his moral compass, whereby his father wanted him prepared to do something (kill his brother) that was the exact opposite of what he had been told all his life. Needless to say, it messed with his head. And when he finally confesses it to Sam, Sam turns on him, which messes Dean up even more. In this very episode, Dean swears that he will kill Gordon if he tries to harm Sam, and is all set to go back in and finish Gordon off after Sam unties him. So, the Show (and the subtext) in “Hunted” is that Dean and Gordon and other hunters are extremely dangerous people, humans operating either on the dark side or very close – and that Dean is capable of murder. In fact, Dean’s willingness to kill Gordon takes him one step closer to the terrible goal John has set for him – killing Sam.

The problem is that the Tell is the opposite, to the point of ignoring any resolution for Dean’s conflict with Gordon (which is an internal conflict externalized). This is despite “Hunted” following on “Croatoan”, in which Dean killed people who might have been infected with a demonic virus before they turned crazy (like Gordon killing psykids before they did anything bad), and despite the writers’ remembering to pick it up and hammer on it every so often in ensuing seasons.

Supernatural could never decide how it wanted to play this. “Hunted” is no different, what with characters ranging from Dean to Ellen rushing to absolve Sam of any real bad behavior and the only person willing to call Sam “evil” (Gordon) turning out to be a serial-killing whackjob. We have Gordon complaining that Dean thinks Sam is a “saint”, and Dean claiming that Sam doesn’t even like to surf internet porn (Meanwhile, Sam is boosting cars, breaking into houses, practicing fraud on grieving family members, stealing people’s property, and beating people up, all things that were criminal acts, the last time I checked). Nobody even calls Sam on his selfishness in excoriating and abandoning (and endangering) Dean, using Ellen and Ash as resources and a way to duck Dean, or endangering Ava and the other psykids by pulling them out of the woodwork, which alerted hunters like Gordon and demons like YED. So, the big moral dilemma of whether or not Sam and the other psykids should be murdered when they haven’t done anything mortally wrong sounds like so much hot air. There’s a lot of blah, blah, blah about killing Sam for bad things he hasn’t done and handwaving of things he actually has done. It’s all one big bait-and-switch.

Which is too bad, because it’s an interesting moral question (albeit flawed in its logic), if done right. Were Sam and the other psykids innocents manipulated and forced into doing horrible things, hunted because of what they might become? Or were they bad to the very bone? And if they were good or bad, what did that say about the humans who hunted them? Or monsters? For that matter, what did it say about Dean, who was the only character being set up from “Hunted” onward to do something so evil and taboo that it’s considered a mortal sin in most cultures – fratricide? Is this question ever answered? No, not really. Instead, we’re given a lot of nonsense about whether evil is nature or nurture and whether Sam (’cause it’s gotta be All About Sam, even when that makes no sense) is going to go EVOL. The only character I see in danger of going evil in “Hunted” is Dean.

This makes Sam’s reaction to Dean’s revelation that much more puzzling (and not in a way that flatters Sam’s intelligence). Is Sam worried about Dean’s stability, that Dean might do what John wanted him to do? Does Sam worry about sleeping at night next to his brother, who has been urged to fratricide by his own father, and then by a fellow hunter that Dean had previously bonded with? Is Sam’s conviction that Dean is no threat to him shaken in the least by Gordon’s attack and reveal of his master plan? Does Sam remember how worried he was by Dean’s bloodthirsty actions just a few days before in “Croatoan”? The answer to all of these questions is “no”. And there is no hint that it’s because Sam trusts Dean or has faith in Dean’s unshakeable love and fidelity. In fact, Sam takes Dean for granted and simply doesn’t see Dean as a threat. If he saw Dean with Gordon this time round, he might feel differently, but even what he saw in “Bloodlust” should have given Sam a heads-up that Dean is not a stable rock that Sam can regard as emotionally inert. This obliviousness to the potential for darkness and violence Sam knows for a fact is inside his brother makes Sam look dumb in an episode that’s supposed to make Sam look clever and awesome.

I also can’t help thinking that the combination of “Hunted” and “All Hell Breaks Loose, Part 1″ was a sad way to write out Ava Wilson. Ava was cute and funny and ridiculously normal, yet willing to step up and be a little heroic. Her complete 180 near the end of the season (slightly foreshadowed by her peppy enthusiasm for helping Sam pull a fast one on the shrink) made little sense because, in order to preserve the twist of the episode, we couldn’t see any of that evolution. What a waste of a great character with so much potential. I know that life is not fair and that the SPNverse is especially harsh, but come on. The showrunners still owe us a good story with interesting characters. Stop killing off the good ones before they get any potential going and making us endure the godawful ones.

Fun lines:

Dean: [Dad] just said that I had to save you, that nothing else mattered; and that if I couldn’t, I’d….
Sam: You’d what, Dean?
Dean: That I’d have to kill you. He said that I might have to kill you, Sammy.

Ellen: Oh, don’t get me wrong. I wish I could blame the hell out of you boys. It’s be easier. Truth is, it’s not your fault. Sam. None of it is. I want you to know that I forgave your daddy a long time ago for what happened to my Bill. I just don’t think he ever forgave himself.

Ash: Done, and done.
Sam:
That was fast.

Ash: Well, apparently, that’s my job. Make the monkey dance at the keyboard.

Ellen: Just tell us what you got, Ash.
Ava [to Sam]: Okay, look, I know how all this sounds, but I am not insane and I am not on drugs, okay? I am normal and this is way, way off the map for me.

Ellen [to Dean]: Now, Dean, they say you can’t protect your loved ones forever…Well, I say, ‘Screw that. What else is family for?

Ava [to Sam]: Okay. you know what? Screw you, buddy, okay? Because I’m a secretary from Peoria and I’m not part of anything! Okay? Do you see this? [shows Sam her engagement ring] I am getting married in eight weeks. I am supposed to be at home, addressing invitations – which I am way behind on, by the way. But instead, I drove out here to save your weirdo ass. But if you just want to stay here and die, fine. Me? I’m due back on Planet Earth.

Ava [to Scott's shrink]: I just remembered: When I was a kid, I swallowed, like, eight things of pop rocks and then drank a whole can of Coke. You don’t think that that counts as a suicide attempt, do you?

Gordon: See, I was doing an exorcism down in Louisiana. Teenage girl, seemed routine, some low-level demon. But between all the jabbering and the head-spinning, the damned thing muttered something. About a coming war. And I don’t think it meant to; it just kind of slipped out. But it was too late. Piqued my interest. And you can really make a demon talk, [if] you got the right tools.
Dean: And what happened to the girl it was possessing?
Gordon: She didn’t make it.

Dean [to Gordon]: Come on, man. I know Sam, better than anyone. He’s got more of a conscience than I do. I mean, the guy feels guilty surfing the internet for porn.

Gordon: I’m surprised at you, Dean. Getting all emotional. I’d heard you were more of a professional than this. Look, let’s say you were cruising around in that car of yours and, uh, you had Little Hitler riding shotgun, right? Back when he was just some goofy, crappy artist. But you knew what he was going to turn into, someday. You’d take him out, no questions, am I right?

Gordon [to Sam]: You’re no better than the filthy things you hunt. [as Sam aims the rifle] Do it. Do it! Show your brother the killer you really are, Sammy.
Sam [after coldcocking Gordon]: It’s ‘Sam’.

Next week: Bad Day at Black Rock: Vengeful hunters, a cold-blooded relics thief, more of John’s hidden past, and a cursed rabbit’s foot make for a unique day in the life of Sam and Dean Winchester.

You can watch (or download) this episode, in standard or HD definition, on Amazon.com.

About Paula R. Stiles

Paula is not at all paranoid about government conspiracies after six years in EMS, two years in Africa for the Peace Corps, a few summers with the Park Service, and ten years studying the Knights Templar. She's seen governments in action. They couldn't cover up a toy picnic table, let alone evidence of alien visitation. Writes about science for fun, history for money, and zombies for the company. You can read her sober-as-a-judge book about Templars in medieval Spain, Templar Convivencia, on Amazon. You can find her homepage at: http://thesnowleopard.net.

Paula R. StilesRetro Recap and Review: Supernatural 2.10: Hunted

12 Comments on “Retro Recap and Review: Supernatural 2.10: Hunted”

  1. shamangrrl

    Thanks for the review, Paula. I look forward to them every week.

    Sam and his propensity to run away at the drop of a hat has always bothered me, especially since show seems to imply, each and every time, that Sam is right to do so, and it’s All Dean’s Fault. But every time he runs away, I have to ask “What is his plan? What is he running away to? What does he plan to do, and once he gets back, what has changed with Sam and/or his situation?” In this episode, Sam actually made some progress – but I don’t understand why he couldn’t have done so with Dean. His running away still made no sense to me. But I think the point of the episode was that Sam done right and good.

    Also, I agree with regard to Sam’s taking Dean for granted, and not seeing the threat Dean could be. However, I think you’re missing one point – Sam honestly believes that Dean isn’t as good or as smart as he is. Dean might (read that as definitely would, in my eyes) be able to overpower Sam in a physical confrontation, but in Sam’s view of the world, it wouldn’t get that far. Because Dean is stupid and obvious and a horrible tactician who comes up with horribly flawed “plans”, and he’s also far less intelligent than Sam. Therefore, he isn’t a threat.

    Sam really doesn’t know or understand Dean.

  2. Manto

    Thanks for the review Paula! It was delightful and insightful, especially the analysis of Dean and Gordon’s relationship.

    “(By all means, let’s shoot the messenger, Sam)”

    I don’t know why, but this made me laugh. He would have faired so well in ancient Greece!

    “Dean just confessed that Daddy wanted to turn him into a murderer–a fratricide, no less–and Sam’s response it to make it All About Sam. Ugh.”

    The story of this show’s life…. Sam showed absolutely no concern about what this directive from John could and has done to Dean’s mental health.

    “Dean begs Sam to give him some time to think (You know, the way Sam begged Dean for time to think about his psykid stuff), so naturally, Sam instead waits until dark, sneaks out of their motel, boosts a car, and takes off. Good one, there, Sam. Nice and mature. [/sarcasm]”

    I’m loving you right now! Sam was especially immature and stupid in this episode, yet somehow the writers made him look mature and smart. Oy! The Show and Tell in this show.

    “The self-centered, utilitarian view Sam has of Dean in this episode (He only wants Dean around when he needs him for something) is stunning.”

    Yeah, the brotherly bond is a beauty to behold, isn’t? It was the first instance of “He means well…, but” ugh!

    “Sam realizes in the middle of her rant about her sanity that she’s a psykid, ”

    I thought the way he said “you’re one of us” had an air of superiority and in fact throughout the episode he’s face was screaming *condescending* to me.

    “Then Gordon somehow gets the drop on Dean with his rifle (This is, by the way, completely unrealistic. The first kick to the head alone would have made Gordon too dazed to show that kind of coordination). Gordon coldcocks Dean (but, you know, a kick and several punches to the head weren’t enough to knock Gordon out [eyeroll]).”

    Both fights in this episode felt unrealistic to me. They were just plot-convenient disregarding biology.

    “they have to go rescue Dean (who, it must be said, wouldn’t be in trouble in the first place, had it not been for his brother being a numbnuts).”

    Preach!

    I agree with most of you review Paula. I found the last conversation Sam and Dean had in the Impala extremely manipulative from Sam. He says humbly thank you to Dean for trying to protect him after saying that Dean can’t and then uses that against him in order to do what he wants. So grating… This is the same card he uses every time he wants to do something that Dean disagrees with and this season’s Unforgiven shows that neither brother has outgrown that mentality, which suits Sam just fine, because he gets his way, but for Dean it always leads to trouble he wouldn’t be in the first place and makes me as a viewer think this relationship is one-sided (because it’s never the other way around, even in this episode where we have Dean literally begging Sam for something and is dismissed in the most immature way possible).

  3. Paula R. Stiles

    Thanks, guys.

    @Manto Actually, messengers were sacrosanct in Ancient Greece. Shooting the messenger was a Greek version of kicking the dog in our culture–a moral event horizon.

    @shamangrrl

    Sam is very childish at this point in the show. He runs away to make a point and play a little hooky. It’s not about striking off on his own for real. And when he’s pulled this kind of thing later on (early in seasons five and six), he’s been shocked to discover that Dean took him at his word about wanting to be on his own and didn’t really want him back.

    My main problem with Sam’s superiority complex (I disagree about missing the point) is that it makes no sense in the context of the season. Feeling smarter and better is all very well, but it evaporates in the face of true violence. Nobody feels smarter or better after being the victim of a violent act. It’s why smart kids are terrified of bullies, no matter how stupid the bully.

    I’m not saying that Dean is a bully (because he’s not), but he was very out of control in season two. Sam had witnessed this violence earlier in the season. Dean had even lashed out at him. It had been a major plot point between them that Sam was now afraid of Dean and found him very unpredictable. Suddenly, in “Hunted” (mere days after witnessing Dean act like a maniac on a hunt), Sam is acting all cocky with Dean, even after discovering that Dean has been sharing quality brainwashing time with a psychopath who’s had a very bad influence on Dean in the past. It makes about as much sense as the fight scenes in this episode.

    I get that Sam is still pretty young in “Hunted” and still apt to act like a brat, but his behaviour toward Dean in the episode doesn’t fit with the previous arc between the brothers in the season. Also, four seasons later, you have to wonder when Sam plans to start getting a learning curve, here. He’s pushing 30 hard in Earth years (I don’t count the Hell years, mainly because there’s been no evidence whatsoever Sam learned anything from them). He shouldn’t still be doing this with Dean. *Dean’s* changed and grown up. When does Sam intend to change and grow up?

  4. Manto

    @ Paula: Oh I know! I was trying to be sarcastic but unfortunately the internet doesn’t convey tone of voice! I am from Greece and very familiar with ancient Greek code of conduct (I think that’s the phrase…)

  5. Ginger

    Another great review and there is nothing that I don’t agree with I, too, look forward to these.

    I liked this episode when I first saw it for two reasons: the psychological battle between Dean and Gordon and for the character, Ava. I loved her and agree that what they did to her later was disappointing.

    By S2 I was hoping the show would go in the direction of exploring the mentality of hunters, those supposed fringe of society type, and especially the tease that Dean could easily cross lines. We now get a line of dialogue ever so often that infers Dean is not entirely stable, but the days of me believing that a long past. Even though they throw in a tease occasionally (Roy and Walt or the big threat to Sampa), it’s just an shoulder shrug moment for me. In my view, one very consistent thing the show has maintained since the pilot is Sam’s superiority complex. I haven’t seen that change, even throughout S6…and I don’t expect it will. I get the feeling that the show is trying to show Sam as more grown up in his dealings with Dean, but as Manto mentioned, in Unforgiven Sam was right back to doing as he pleased and sneaking out.

    I’m still hoping not to have to deal with Sam’s Hell issues all through S7, but that is a dangling plot at this point and it is Sam…

    You know, if there really is a God, the show would just dump everything that happened before and start something new in S7. I’d be up for that (but I expect most fans would not). Oh, well. Any news on who is writing 7.01?

  6. elena

    “Hunted” has always been one of my least favorite episode because I fine the underlying message about the brothers and their relationship so disturbing. Episodes like Hunted, Metamorphosis, Fallen Idols, Unforgiven take behavior that normal people would find problematic (ex: lying, breaking promises, sneaking out, manipulating, selfish behavior) and instead of holding Sam accountable to these standard norms, twist things around so that he’s supposedly in the right. And Dean- the loyal brother who stays when anyone else would have told Sam to shove it- is the one who shoulders the blame and apologizes instead. It’s like being in Bizarro World. To me, Bobby’s rant/Dean’s apology/Sam’s lack of accountability in “Lucifer Rising” was the worst example of this. It was an outright perversion of normal human dynamics, when Dean, the clear victim, was humiliated and his feelings invalidated so as to push him into once again chasing after Sam. Whereas Sam got a free pass from Dean, Bobby, and the show, after brutally attacking his own brother. Since I doubt Kripke and the other writers would be quite so blase if people in their own lives acted like that, I’m baffled by their complete lack of insight into just how badly all this whitewashing has damaged Sam’s character in the eyes of many fans.

    Otherwise, as you mentioned, there were aspects about this episode that I did like. I enjoyed Ava’s delightful quirkiness and sociopathic Gordon was wonderfully acted. Although I thought Dean was badly written in many scenes (the groveling, not holding Sam accountable for his bad acts, being All About Sam, the ease with which he was overcome by Gordon), his interactions with Gordon were awesome. Whenever Jensen gets that intense “I’m going to kill you” look…..*shivers*

    Thanks for these weekly retro reviews, Paula. They’re definitely helping get me through the summer hiatus!

  7. Manto

    I have a question that it’s not relevant to this episode but since this is the latest article for Supernatural I’ll just post it here. If you can think of a more appropriate article please feel free to post it there.

    The question concerns Mary. Do we have any written proof of where her afterlife is taking place? In season 1 we found out her spirit was still dwelling in her home, which would mean that until then she was neither in Heaven nor Hell, right? But later we learn that she had made a deal with YED so that he would be able to come in to her house. Was that deal different from all the other deals we’ve seen in the show? Or was she, too, dragged to Hell after she cancelled herself out with that poltergeist? I don’t think the show has given us an answer.

    Thank you! I look forward to your next review; I enjoyed Bella’s introduction in that episode.

    1. Paula R. Stiles

      @Elena
      Thanks!

      @Manto
      We don’t know where Mary is now. Her father appears to have ended up in Hell and her husband escaped it after going there following a deal. Between the deal and her willingness to screw over her adult children in favor of her husband in “The Song Remains the Same”, Mary seemed pretty hellbound. On the other hand, her self-sacrifice in “Home” may have been enough to put her on a different path. But we just don’t know. It’s one of the big mysteries of season five that were never revisited.

  8. Manto

    Thank you! Although, now you have me wandering why Samuel ended up in Hell and where is Deanna. At the time of the reveal I was just happy he wasn’t in Heaven as he claimed because a demon dragging to Earth someone from Heaven would have been too much.. I don’t suppose they gave us an answer to this question either, did they? Oh my, I think this season left me with more questions than answers…

    1. Paula R. Stiles

      I assume Deanna is in Heaven. We never heard anything to indicate she was hellbound. The evidence for Samuel having been in Hell is that Crowley told Castiel he could use Samuel as a substitute for Dean (when Castiel refused to allow Crowley to recruit Dean). Castiel said nothing, indicating that the “bench” Crowley was talking about taking Samuel off was in Hell.

      It’s not clear why Samuel went to Hell (though it’s been said many times that most hunters do), but I’d guess the number one issue was his pride. He was a walking billboard for it. Also, the evil qualities that we saw him exhibit after he came back. When he was alive, he had good qualities to keep those in check, but after a few Earth-decades in Hell, those would have been burned away and we instead see pride, an unhealthy obsession with his daughter and a willingness to throw his grandsons under a bus.

      It is strongly implied (especially in the Heaven episode, but also inherent to his being Michael’s intended vessel) that Dean should be regarded as an exception that the proves the rule about hunters. Dean is always heavenbound and Sam gets to go to Heaven because Dean loves him. But that’s not a given for hunters in general, who are basically serial killers.

  9. Arafel

    I disliked this episode intensely and see Elena’s post as to why. I couldn’t have said it better myself and I think we’ve gotten more of the same in these latter seasons and if this is the Sam they think we should all love, than I think they should pack it in after S7.

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