The tension hits a high note right off the bat with that episode title. Yikes.
*Disclaimer* I had a really long work day today that made me weary from my eyelashes to my toenails. If I miss anything or seem off base, I'm counting on you to correct me in the comments! Thanks. :)
Okay, standard "Then" reminding us where Sam's been, what he's been doing, and how he got back. This is pretty much the only show where I consistently watch the previouslies.
We start with Bristol, Rhode Island, one year ago. Sam is cold-bloodedly shooting something(s) while Samuel cringes. Sam's been hurt, but blows it off. On their way out of town, a cop pulls them over and calls them agents (Roarke and Wynan?). Sheriff Dobbs is missing, and the deputy tries to take them in. Instead, Sam beats him unconscious and they head out of town. Why did Samuel stay with Sam so long when he was this sociopathic this long ago?
Present day, Sam's watching the news, trying to catch up. Though the news report is something serious (they're talking about prosecution), Sam brings up Mel Gibson. Dean thinks he's been possessed. That would explain a lot! :)
Bobby doesn't have anything on The Mother of All, and everything is too quiet. Which gives them permission to do an episode unrelated to The Mother.
Sam gets a text message with coordinates that point to Bristol. Uh-oh. Dean's a bit skeptical—"You got mysterious coordinates, from a mysterious Mr. X, leading to a mysterious town, and that doesn't throw up red flags for you?" But Sam can't ignore missing girls.
On the way into town, Sam has a flashback. The town billboard, and Samuel. Dean notices, but Sam just says, "Nothin'." NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, Sam! No lies! >:(
Dean: "Freak's got a type." Pointed comment, since we later learn that Sam slept with all of the missing women. Sam actually grins at Dean's joke about the wildness in her eyes. While Dean's in the bathroom (I can't say Poop Deck, I'm sorry), another of Sam's conquests recognizes him. Sam has to try to pretend he remembers her and her husband. She's asking about his partner when Dean returns and says he's in sex rehab. When the woman puts her hand on Sam's shoulder, he remembers the hot skanky sex in the bathroom. Sam says he thinks he and Samuel worked a case here, and Dean shows him a Polaroid with Sam and Samuel in the background. My daughter said at first she thought it was going to be a picture of Sam celebrating winning the challenge, but that wouldn't have been in character (of either Sam). Dean, yes, Sam, no. :)
Sam and Dean argue about whether to stay or go. Dean wants to go. Apparently, they've never been to the same place twice on purpose. "Dad always said, never use the same crapper twice." Sam argues that he either didn't catch it last time, or only thought he did, and the missing women are on him. He has to make it right, and Dean would do the same thing. Persuasive argument—Dean says he'll check out the women, and sends Sam to the police station.
Dean finds Sam's FBI business card at a victim's home. He asks the roommate how their relationship was. What was the tone or nature of their conversation? Answer: "Well, loud. And...athletic?" *pause for fantasies*
Also of course, Sam gets arrested in the parking lot of the sheriff's department. He tries to get the deputy to listen to him, but has no luck, unsurprisingly. The deputy wants the bodies and Sheriff Dobbs and doesn't believe that Sam doesn't remember.
Eventually, a woman comes into the dark jail, demanding to know what happened to her husband. She knows his name and what he does, and triggers more memories. Sam and Samuel actually told the Sheriff and his wife the truth. THAT'S weird. Sam tries to convince Brenna, the sheriff's wife, that he doesn't remember anything. She believes either "that thing" got her husband, or Sam killed him. Uh, oh.
By this point, the tension I mentioned with regard to the episode title has been unrelenting. We suspect what Sam's done, and know the answers to our questions aren't going to be good ones.
The woman from the bar is drinking boxed wine (ew). She snaps at her husband, runs out of wine, and goes into the basement, apparently to get more. A bloody-looking hand reaches through and grabs her ankle, sending her tumbling down the stairs. A shadow falls over her, and she screams. I am SO glad I don't have stairs like that in my house!
Sam's back in the empty, rundown house they're squatting in. He pulls a gun when he hears a noise, but it's just Dean.
"How's it feel to be a fugitive again? Hate to say I told you so."
"You love to say I told you so."
"Actually, you're right. I love to say I told you so."
Dean relays the info he found out, that Sam slept with one of the victims, and is actually kind of impressed at how Sam got around. A report comes over the police scanner that there's another missing woman. Dean orders Sam to stay put and goes to check it out. Sam immediately leaves. Dean goes to the latest victim's house and determines that the connection between victims is definitely Sam. He leaves Sam a message that this is all a trap.
In the meantime, Sam goes to Brenna again, looking for the files from the previous case. Her home and the files themselves trigger more flashbacks. Discussion that shows again how cold Sam was—we knew it, but Sam didn't—photos and evidence revealing that the monster is an Arachne, not seen out of Crete for over 2000 years. Sam narrowed down the area, but it's too vast and difficult to search. He wants to make the Arachne come to them. Unsettled by his revelations, Sam take the evidence with him. Oddly, he doesn't get Dean's voice mail until he leaves the house, and at the same time, he sees spider webbing hanging off the porch. We see eight Sams through Spidervision. Then Dean puts his hand on Sam's shoulder and almost gets shot again. Sam's pretty jumpy, but he's also disturbingly unaware of his surroundings.
"So. We know that this is a monster with opposable thumbs and unlimited text messaging and we know that it wants to kill you specifically. Does that about cover it?"
Sam confesses to remembering and assures Dean it's nothing to do with Hell. Dean wants to turn the job over to Bobby and Rufus, but Sam's adamant. Dean tries to impress upon Sam the risk of letting these flashbacks occur, but Sam doesn't care if it's dangerous, "I've got to set things right. Because I've got a friggin' soul now, and it won't just let me walk away." Sam outright asks Dean to back him up. Dean doesn't argue anymore, just agrees, and Sam is clearly relieved.
"Okay, let's Memento this thing."
They put together what they know, and Sam's flashbacks keep occurring. He remembers setting up Dobbs as bait, because he and Samuel don't fit the demo. Of course, Dobbs gets jumped and they're too late. But it's okay, Sam enabled the GPS on Dobbs' phone. I love the consistency of detail here: Samuel has no idea what that means. :) "So, what, Roy's just some red shirt to you?" Love that, too. :) Anyway, Sam says they can track his location, Samuel says Sam is about as cold as they come. It makes me sad that Samuel never knew the real Sam. Seeing his discomfort with the cold, soulless Sam makes his betrayal of the boys back in "Caged Heat" a little more understandable. Not acceptable, but understandable.
They find the spider's lair and the cocooned missing men. Bullets have no effect on the woman when she attacks, but decapitation works. Kind of interesting that all these unusual creatures are humanoid, or have a human form. Saves on the budget, I bet. :) Sam says the spider's bites are poison, and all the victims are dead men walking. Dobbs begs Sam not to do it, but he shoots them all in the head and tells Samuel to get the gasoline.
Back at Brenna's, the monster shows up...and it's Dobbs. He's a MESS. But he loves Brenna. Sam calls her to check in, and she asks him to drop by. However she said it, he can tell she's in trouble. They go to her house and Dean sees a light on in the shed. They find her there, and she asks if it's true, what she did to Dobbs. Then Dobbs shows up to do the Bad Guy Soliloquy. With Sam and Dean enwebbed, Dobbs reveals that the Arachne wasn't feeding, she was breeding. He was already non-human when Sam shot him, so the gunshot and the fire didn't really do anything. He and the other guys, and now the women he's taken, are scattered. He killed one monster, but is responsible for several more.
Dean gets hold of broken glass and gets out. He distracts Dobbs by letting him beat him up and try to kill him, Brenna cuts Sam out, and Sam takes Dobbs' head off. But it isn't the redemption he'd sought.
As Sam and Dean pack, Dean tries to make Sam feel better. He tells Sam all that crap last year, all of it—none of it was Sam. Sam says, crystal clear, it was him. Dean tries to be nice, Sam snaps back, Dean tells him not to be a bitch. But Sam lets us down by not calling Dean a jerk. Then, mid-sentence, Sam goes into a seizure and what we see behind his eyes—awfully reminiscent of the end of season 3 when Dean goes to hell—is Sam's body burning alive, and melting. OMG.
It's probably too early to say The Show is Back. Two episodes aren't quite enough. But I really think it is. Everything from the first half of the season is now tying together with everything happening now. We continue the thread of supernatural evil trying to increase its numbers, which we now know relates to The Mother of All. We have Our Sam back, along with a Dean who is less of a dick. The brotherly bond is strong, and complete with banter and the original dynamics of Dean being the bossy protector and Sam earnestly trying to redeem himself.
I was a little shocked that we got to the Hell-peeking-through-the-wall already. But I think it's genius. Sam didn't have a basis for really knowing what that wall meant. What was right in front of him was more immediate and important. Now he has that basis, and he'll be more careful. We don't have to spend the whole second half of the season dealing with the year he had no soul. The promo for next week makes it look like the flash was momentary and without lasting effect. We know the wall will come down, and we'll probably have more flashes. There's no reason to think the rest of the season won't be like all the other seasons, where we touch on the major storyline a little bit in each episode, with stand-alone situations interspersed with mythology-focused episodes. So for me, the passion is definitely back.
How about you? Back on board? What did you love or dislike about "Unforgiven"?