- Retro Recap and Review: Supernatural 2.01: In My Time of Dying
- Retro Recap and Review: Supernatural 2.03: Bloodlust
- Retro Recap and Review: Supernatural 2.02: Everybody Loves a Clown
- Retro Recap and Review: Supernatural 2.04: Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things
- Retro Recap and Review: Supernatural 2.05: Simon Said
- Retro Review (and Recap): Supernatural 2.09: Croatoan
- Retro Recap and Review: Supernatural 2.06: No Exit
- Retro Recap and Review: Supernatural 2.07: The Usual Suspects
- Supernatural Fridays: Retro Recap and Review: Supernatural 2.08: Crossroad Blues
- Retro Recap and Review: Supernatural 2.10: Hunted
- Retro Recap and Review: Supernatural 2.13: Houses of the Holy
- Retro Recap and Review: Supernatural 2.12: Nightshifter
- Retro Recap and Review: Supernatural 2.14: Born Under a Bad Sign
- Retro Recap and Review: Supernatural 2.11: Playthings
- Retro Recap and Review: Supernatural 2.21 and 2.22: All Hell Breaks Loose, Parts One and Two
- Retro Recap and Review: Supernatural 2.15: Tall Tales
- Retro Recap and Review: Supernatural 2.20: What Is and What Should Never Be
- Retro Recap and Review: Supernatural 2.18: Hollywood Babylon
- Retro Recap and Review: Supernatural 2.16: Roadkill
- Retro Recap and Review: Supernatural 2.17: Heart
- Retro Recap and Review: Supernatural 2.19: Folsom Prison Blues
By Paula R. Stiles
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.
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.