Supernatural Recap: “The Purge”

Property of the CW
Property of the CW

Episode 09×13 AKA that Time Sam Teaches Yoga

Happy Wednesday, Winchester fans!

The boys are together again. Sort of. It’s all business, but no family, so the family business is just business. Whatever. I don’t like it when mah boys are fighting. So without any further ado, let’s see if they worked it out last night.

Synopsis

The plot for this MotW episode was fairly simple. The episode lights up on two men in a hot dog eating contest in a small town in Minnesota. The winner, a 300+ lb man, is murdered in the parking lot after contest by having all the fat completely sucked out of his body. His weight in the autopsy? 90 lbs. Sounds like a case for the Winchesters.

After questioning local law enforcement, there is a useless side plot about the life of the man who came in second place at the eating contest. Buuut, Dean eats a doughnut.

I have never wanted to be a round breakfast food before, but now it’s on my bucket list.

A second murder happens in a gym in the town. A young woman, who is the only one at the gym late at night, is sucked free of all her weight. At this point, I didn’t know what to think of the monster. It reminded me of The Mummy‘s Imhotep sucking dry the ignorant American archaeologists, and a little bit of the Adipose from Doctor Who. But grosser. Way grosser.

Clues of various sorts lead them to the Canyon Valley Wellness Spa, where you’re guaranteed to lose all the weight you want in a week.

The boys go undercover. Sam gets to be the schmexy personal trainer in the tight gym clothes, who can hold the Downward Dog position for 5 minutes. *cue swooning* Did you ever want to see Sam Winchester do yoga? No? Too bad. Look at this photo and thank Nicole Snyder and Eric Charmelo for writing this into the script. (I almost don’t want Sam to go back to his plaid shirts.)

Photo is property of the CW. Jarpad property of Genevieve Padalecki. Lucky lady.
Photo is property of the CW. Jarpad property of Genevieve Padalecki. Lucky lady.

Dean, on the other hand, doesn’t get the tight workout clothes (probably for the sake of my ovaries.) Instead, he is hired as a food lady. Yes, hairnet required.

Property of the CW.
Property of the CW.

Dean discovers that the pudding is drugged with Rohypnol (aka roofies) because of course, he eats some. In the most adorable/important scene in the episode, he calls Sam for help, but all he can say is “sweet potatoes” (which, according to Twitter, is the fangirling safe word). Sam comes running, quite literally, and goes more than a bit batshit crazy when he confronts the chef about the “extra” ingredient in the pudding. Turns out that the doctor in charge of the spa is some kind of Peruvian adipose-muncher whose species rhymes with “fish taco,” and that she has been performing a “suction therapy” for people who want to lose weight. She insists that she didn’t kill anyone, but her brother, however, well, he’s a bit gluttonous.

The fish taco monster brother attacks the doc’s husband, and so Sam and Dean go after him. They split up as they search the basement, and Sam is attacked by the monster and almost killed, until Dean comes in and saves him, again. Because that’s what brothers, do, Sammy.

Oh and #WherestheAngel ?????

What This Episode Reveals About the Winchesters

I happen to live with a clinical psychologist, who (after watching 10 minutes of one episode) said that the Winchesters are the most prevalent example of codependency onscreen. This intrigued me, so I picked her brain about codependency, what it means, and its symptoms, and now I’m going to apply my new knowledge to the Winchesters.

Property of the CW.
Property of the CW.

Dean Winchester

We all know that Dean is codependent. We all know that John Winchester’s shoddy fathering skills screwed Dean up emotionally. Sam pointed it out at the end of “Road Trip,” and at the end of “Sharp Teeth.” Let’s really dwell on it for a second. Codependency happens a lot more often than a person might think, and it really is common among dysfunctional families or children with ill parents. The Winchesters were hardly a functional family, and I think I speak for all SPN fans when I say that John Winchester was addicted to revenge and hardly a fit parent. Dean grew up without normal relationships. We saw in “Bad Boys”  that Dean had two months of normal childhood. From what we can tell, Dean hasn’t cultivated any deep long-lasting friendships or relationships outside of Sam, Castiel, Bobby, and some hunter colleagues. Now that is partially due to the hunter lifestyle, of course, but how much of that stems from how he was raised?

So are we really shocked that Dean exhibits the traits of codependency? We know he has low self-esteem, judging by how much he wanted his father’s approval in seasons 1 & 2. He consistently lacks boundaries between himself and Sam–he feels responsible for Sam’s problems and mistakes, making it so that his defensiveness is more a reaction to everyone else’s thoughts and feelings, rather than a defense of his own opinion. This lack of boundaries leads to his “mother hen” persona, which is what has gotten him into trouble this season. He helps Sam so much that he forgets to help himself, and at the same time, is creating feelings of rejection and abandonment when Sam tells him that he didn’t want his help. Dean also exhibits control issues, and he has “crutches”, things that he needs in his life to keep it from dissolving into chaos. His most notable crutch is, of course, Sam, but he has also used alcohol, and as we saw in the past few episodes, Dean has started drinking again (which always ends well).

Aside from Dean’s overt dependency on Sam and other crutches, he is also unable to communicate what he thinks, feels, and needs from Sam and others. This season, we have seen him lie, manipulate, and throw up shields of indifference, when, in truth, he’s obsessing over every mistake he’s made. Our poor Winchester lacks the ability to be intimate emotionally–romantically, familial, or platonically–and what we’re seeing now is a Dean in an intense amount of pain. He feels rejected and abandoned by his brother, and, honestly, I think he’s numb. He so casually mentioned the Mark of Cain last week, and I think my co-blogger hit the nail on the head when she told me that Dean is acting like he doesn’t care anymore. “What I do, I do because it’s the right thing,” he tells Sam. Dean, baby, I think that used to be true, and I think you used to believe it, but now? I think you’re just going through the motions. 

Sam Winchester

At the end of last week’s episode, Sam told Dean that “everything that has ever gone wrong between us is because we’re family.” Close, Sammy, but it’s gone wrong because no one (*cough*your father*cough*) taught you how to be a healthy family. Now, there’s been a lot of Sam-hate on the internet in the past few weeks, but I think that Sam’s intentions are good. He’s trying to have a #betterbrobond but he, like Dean, is emotionally constipated and doesn’t know the first thing about how to fix his relationship with his brother.

Sam is upset, and rightly so. In Dean’s quest for control over an impossible situation, he neglected Sam’s agency and right to choose for himself. Dean manipulated Sam into accepting Gadreel, and that kind of betrayal of trust will not be easily overcome.

You didn’t save me for me. You did it for you. -Sam

However, no matter how justified Sam’s anger is, he is in denial about one thing: he’s codependent too. Perhaps not to the same extent as his older brother, but the symptoms are still there: low self-esteem (see season 8 finale), piss-poor boundaries, need for control (see Sam’s reaction to Gadreel’s possession), dysfunctional communication skills (see Sam’s ‘honesty’ in the past two episodes), obsessing over past mistakes (again, see season 8 finale), problems with emotional intimacy, denial (about how much he depends on Dean), and pain. Sam is in a serious amount of pain. His anger and resentment for Dean is an extension of the hopelessness and depression that are eating away at him. Castiel saw it; in “First Born,” he reminds Sam that he, too, made horrible apocalyptic mistakes, but that the intention was always good. He also reminded Sam that the Winchesters chose each other, that Sam chose to live. Sam could have finished the trials, regardless of what Dean said to him, but he didn’t. He chose to live, and now he is living with the guilt that everything could have been different if he had chosen to close the gates of Hell.

Now, let me step back from the Winchesters’ psychology to put on my writer’s cap. I think that what has happened is that the writing team unintentionally wrote themselves into a corner. They wanted to have the brothers saving the world and each other, and accidentally gave them a toxic-level of codependency. This is not to say that the traits haven’t always been there, because they have, but I think that the writers have made Sam and Dean so goddamn dependent on each other that there may no way to fix it, from a writing standpoint. Will one of the brothers have to die (for good) to get them to have a life independent of each other? We all want the brothers to have a better relationship, but honestly? I can’t think of a way to fix this. Sam is right; he and Dean are broken. And that thought breaks me. Let us all pray to Chuck that this is part of the master plan by the writing team.

The Big Picture

A friendly fish taco. Photo is property of the CW.
A friendly fish taco. Photo is property of the CW.

Brotherhood and family are two big themes this season. This episode had a woman who did everything she could to protect her brother, but in the end the brother had to face the consequences of his actions (sound familiar?). One other thing I noticed about the Winchesters is that they are more flexible about monsters; read: they are willing to allow “monsters” to coexist with humans. They let Kate live in “Bitten.” They let Garth and his pack live, and now, they sent the fish taco doctor monster back to Peru instead of ganking her. This is a big, big change (especially for Dean) since the days of “The Girl Next Door” or “Roadkill.” Is this a possible lead-in for the backdoor pilot we will be seeing in episode twenty for Supernatural: Tribes?

Also, why is it ‘strictly business’ between the brothers, but the monsters get understanding and empathy? Sam, Dean, work your shit out.

Supernatural will return on February 25, and Snooki will guest star. (Ten bucks says Dean ganks her).

-The Collectress

Disclaimer: Images and clips used in the post are the property of the CW. 

5 Comments

  1. dotramblings

    Thanks for the thoughtful review, especially how you examined the Dean side and the Sam side of how they both contribute. The show is focusing on the Dean side right now, but I’m not feeling like the intent is to blame Dean or that the show is unaware that Sam feeds it, but we’ll have to see what unfolds–I am extremely curious to see it. I think there are more shoes to drop. And something has gone wrong and it needs addressing, I’m really happy the show is taking such an honest approach to it.

    Interesting point about SPN having written itself into a corner. I feel like some of the things that were appealing in early seasons and now exhausting and tragic in a less-than-engaging way, the show’s writers had Sam and Dean do certain things for drama, and the end result was a relationship so battered and damaged, the upside was getting lost. So I think the show is pulling it out by its roots, but in order to examine it, give it some light and water, replant it, let it thrive (ok running with a plant theme here!)–things will change, but the bond won’t be destroyed.

    1. acollectivemind

      I like your plant metaphor–and I agree. Their relationship needs to be re-rooted in some way that is less toxic to them. I’m really liking that the writers recognise that the brothers need to change their relationship and that it won’t be an instant fix. It’s one of the most honest depictions of a dysfunctional relationship, because the boys can no longer ignore that there is a problem.

      Thank you for reading! Glad you enjoyed! 🙂

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