First off, the previouslies had one of my favorite lines ever, Dean saying, "I couldn't let him die, Bobby. He's muh bruther." Love that touch of Texas, Jensen! :)
This episode was classic horror movie material. Those changeling kids were seriously creepy, more so with the inappropriately clingy affection than with the monster in the mirror flashes. It gave me flashbacks to that old movie, The Bad Seed. Those dead eyes were scary, and when Katie was trying to get to her mom in the bathroom, with all the banging and screaming, I was totally freaked out. Not to mention the full on monster kids were gross! Then we had that whole power saw sequence. I couldn't watch it, but I listened with my eyes covered, and that was bad enough!
Then, right alongside the monsters and the gore, we had this very real story of Dean and Ben, that was about missed chances, and the road not taken, and what we leave behind when we die. I loved this story. Dean thought he was stopping by to revisit a former, casual love for some fun times, and he ran smack into his life, the life he can't face and is desperately trying to bury beneath his persistent pursuit of hedonistic pleasures. It started out funny, and ended up dead serious, which I found wonderful.
So we started out (after the initial gore) with Sam and Dean in a diner, which was a refresher course in Dean's being a jerk, and Sam's trying to save his life. We also found out that Sam is a really bad liar, at least to his brother. Did you see that face? hee! And did Jared somehow get exponentially hotter over the hiatus, because he's so ginormous, and beautiful, and guh! What were we talking about? Oh, yeah, we're off to Cicero.
Dean arrived at Lisa's house out of the blue, and I found this entire sequence hilarious. I liked the actress who played Lisa. She had great chemistry with Jensen, and I wouldn't mind at all if they bring her back. Jensen did what he does best, portraying an entire range of thought and emotion without saying a word. His face, as he met Ben and went through the mental process of realizing the possibility he presented (do the math, Dean), was priceless! Jensen also did some nice physical comedy at the party. Ben was adorable, if a bit over the top, and I loved all his conversations with Dean. I also thought Lisa's friend who was checking Dean out was beyond funny. Her line delivery was perfect. Then, at the end of the scene, when Dean found out what had been going on in the neighborhood, he instantly switched and went into hunter mode. The comic portion of the program was over.
Later, Dean had another conversation with Ben, in the park by his house, which was tender, and heartwarming, and showed a very parental side of Dean. Dean bonded with his miniature counterpart, and ovaries across the land exploded! It really was a sweet moment, with a generous portion of wistful heartache.
In the climatic scene of the episode, when Dean and Sam went to rescue the children held captive by the changeling mother, Dean seemed to be channeling his own father when he made Ben a part of the hunter team, putting him in charge of getting the other kids out of the house. Bittersweet, for me, and maybe for Dean, too. By the time he returned Ben to Lisa, he fully realized that this was not his life, and he had no choice but to hit the road again. But I'm hoping he does so as a changed man, no longer able to fully ignore the emotions he carries beneath the surface. His final goodbye to Lisa was a scene full of subtle anguish, that Jensen absolutely nailed.
Meanwhile, Sam is holding many things secret from Dean, including his plans to save his brother, and a repeat visit from Ruby. I find Ruby somewhat obnoxious, but it's early days yet, so I'll give her the benefit of the doubt. She imparts some maddeningly incomplete information about Sam's past and disappears again. She leaves Sam to work his research fu, then returns at the end of the episode, only to reveal that she is a demon! WTF?! My mind is officially blown. Jared was phenomenal in his scenes with Ruby; his acting continues to be impressive this season. Also, did I mention how gorgeous he is? Sam is so hot when he's got that barely contained masculine power going on!
Overall, I liked this episode. I wish the boys were together more, but there's a reason for their separation, which is more than physical, so it works for me, for now. A few more observations: I'm convinced Dean's mention of his "bendiest" weekend was a shout-out to the fangirls. I loved the shot of Dean's legs running to the car to go rescue Ben. I'm not convinced that Lisa was telling the truth about Dean not being Ben's father. And finally, Sammy drove the car!!! Yay, Andie!!
Okay, Kripke, I'm still in! I'll see you next Thursday!