I will say this for being unspoiled. It allowed me to laugh uproariously at the sight of Dean dying, again and again and again. Because it sure didn't look so funny the second time I watched, when I knew what was coming later.
The episode started out lighthearted and easy, playing on the differences between the brothers and how Dean drives Sam crazy sometimes. Dean's head bop to Asia's Heat of the Moment was hilarious! It looked like a normal MoTW episode, with the small-town trappings that are this show's trademark, and maybe just a slightly heavier dose of humor than normal. It was a fun episode, and I was loving it! Even the previouslies didn't really give anything away. Then bam! Dean was dead. Wait. What? Did you see the way Dean looked at Sam in his last seconds? First, his eyes met Sam's with incredible intensity, and then we saw the fear. Oh, Dean, baby. And then he was gone.
Sam's eyes. Alarm clock. Heat of the Moment. Head bop. OMG, Groundhog Day!! I heaved a big sigh of relief, gave myself a shake, and threw myself back into the fun. I laughed and laughed at Sam's deja vu rant, and Dean's line about dingo-ate-my-baby crazy. Then bam! Dean was dead. Again, some more. Ouch. I didn't think I was ever going to get used to that. The next time around, Sam was really freaking out, and Jared even had the barely suppressed tears going on, but I wasn't worried. This was one of the funny episodes.
I couldn't stop giggling at Sam's way over-the-top intensity when the boys interviewed the Mystery Spot owner, and I even laughed out loud when the desk fell on Dean, squishy sounds and all. This was getting good. What followed next was hilarious, death after death after death. And then the best part of all, the part where the boys say in unison, "Sam Winchester wears makeup. Sam Winchester cries his way through sex. Sam Winchester keeps a ruler by the bed and every morning when he wakes up- okay, enough!" LOL! Hmm, so Sammy wakes up every morning with a... *cough* Never mind.
Once the Trickster was revealed, everything started to unravel, and fast. Dean was dead, really dead, and Sam wasn't even there when it happened! I'm never going to forget the sight of Dean on the ground, blood spurting out of his chest. What the hell, show? And then we had to watch as Sammy, our beloved Sammy, seemed to harden before our eyes, becoming a killing machine, a soulless killer who reminded me a lot more of Gordon than of Dean. With a mad case of OCD to boot. My sweet Sammy was dead inside. I didn't know where this could possibly end up, and I was freaked.
When Not!Bobby transformed into the Trickster, I saw that I had been all wrong about Sam. What I saw as a lack of emotion was just complete focus, utter determination to reach his goal of tracking the Trickster down, and killing everything like him on the way. My Sam wasn't gone at all, because he was standing right in front of us, with all those months of anguish right there on his face. That's when I felt the tears running down my face. And as Sam begged for his brother back, I wept. Jesus Christ, Kripke, what do you want from me?!
And what the hell is coming for this boy? What is it for which everyone is trying to prepare him? Ruby knows something, the Trickster knows something, the demons all seem to know something, but all I know is fear.
When Sam woke up and it was Wednesday again, and Dean was alive, and all the months of torment had been erased, he looked stunned. I think for a moment he was afraid to believe it. Then he rose from the bed and advanced on Dean, and we all knew what was coming next. I jumped up from my couch, screaming, "OMG, they're going to hug!!" And it was the most glorious hug in the history of hugs. Sammy's face was fused to Dean's. The look on Dean's face was priceless. It said, "Dude, are you okay?" And then, "Yeah, okay, big guy, whatever you need." I was still crying, but for a completely different reason now. *sniffles*
I still have so many questions. How has this whole experience changed Sam? How quickly will Dean notice that this time Sam really did come back different? Will Sam ever tell Dean everything? Will I survive this season, or will I end it shattered and drained? Just how far is Kripke willing to go?
Finally, let's talk about Jared's performance. How does this man become a better actor with each episode? Every week I think he's reached the pinnacle of his talent, and then he surpasses himself, again. I feel like he's capable of portraying any emotion, any experience, and making me go through every nuance with him. These episodes exhaust me, but in the best way possible. And I felt like Jensen really focused on being the quintessential Dean in this episode: earthy, snarky, straightforward, and 100% in the moment. It was as if he were providing the perfect counterpoint to the emotional depths Jared displayed, in essence generously stepping aside to let Jared shine.
Random thoughts: Jared Padalecki has the most perfectly shaped eyebrows I've ever seen on a man. I loved the Bobby voiceover phone messages. The Mystery Spot was a masterpiece of cheesy goodness, as was the flamingo motel room. And I'll always remember this episode as the one where we got to see Sam sit up in bed in nothing more than a beautiful, grey, v-neck tee, over and over and over again. Yum.
Show, have I told you lately that I love you? And now that the writers' strike is over, we have the promise of four additional new episodes. Life is good for a fangirl. And Kripke? Please don't make Dean go to hell. Please?