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This week’s episode of Supernatural definitely seems to be one of the darker ones, but in a different way than normal. Usually it’s the monsters that are doing horrible acts and the show is dark because of their nature and violence. However, in this episode the behavior of humans is hard to watch. As mentioned in the episode, things are a bit Momento as Sam gets a mysterious text luring him back to a town that he and Samuel were hunting in a year prior, but since this is Sam with a soul things are completely new for him. Through numerous flashbacks and the brothers picking up clues, the mystery slowly starts to unravel. This episode being so mysterious is another unique property of it. Usually we as the audience know more than the brothers, but this time we’re as clueless as they are.
We have mainly seen Samuel as a brooding cutthroat badass since his resurrection, but in the flashbacks he seemed to have some heart and charm. It actually seems as if soulless Sam somewhat corrupted him. Of course, since Samuel is a grown man and has freewill, it’s still his fault for going so dark. However, it was surprising to see that he wasn’t always like that. The relationship that they supposedly form with the town’s sheriff seemed a bit contrived. The brothers have come out of their monster closet to authorities and civilians when necessary before, but Samuel and Sam becoming BFFs with the sheriff and his wife so quickly felt forced, so the pending big reveal would have more of an emotional payoff. The reveal being that soulless Sam somewhat betrayed him by trying to execute him and the other male victims.
The cold murder of the men and both the Sams plotting on using the sheriff as bait goes back to the aforementioned gloom of the episode. While Supernatural having a pseudo mystery “who done it?” episode was fun to watch, it does seem like it could have been better. Outside of the mystery are two themes in Supernatural that have been done to death, the brothers disagreeing and at least one of them wanting to selflessly redeem themselves. Of course, those are two driving themes of the show, but them being handled so repetitively is what makes them stick out. Sam’s dialogue to convince Dean to allow him to stay on the case, even though it might damage his memory wall, was too similar to last week’s argument. All he has to say to Dean is “Well, you would do it too” then he simply bends over for him. One of the brothers, especially Sam, looking for redemption has been several times before too. It seems like he’s always running from something bad, whether it’s demon blood, his family obligations, starting Armageddon, and now his actions while he was soulless. Sam feeling guilty fits his character, but once again, it’s handled in a way that the show has done before.
While I wouldn’t go so far as to call this a “setup episode”, meaning its main purpose was to setup a plot and suspense for the next episode, I would say that other than the episode’s final moments this does somewhat feel like a standalone episode. While last season was very clear and driven that it was about stopping Lucifer, this season has already bounced between Sam coming back, alphas, purgatory, heaven’s war, a pending monster royal being prepared for, Sam getting his soul back, Mother being brought back, and now Sam’s wall possibly breaking. All of those subplots have been interesting, but if there’s no point where at least several of them culminate then this season will feel all over the place. The last two episodes have reminded me why I like Sam though. He and Dean are both good and smart, but in very different ways. In the last few seasons they had different adversities come between them but this seems like the first time they’re completely on each others side for quite sometime. Even though it would be very interesting to see or at least know what Lucifer and Michael did to him all that time, fans not wanting his wall to break out of care for a make-believe character says a lot.