The theme of this episode was Be Careful What You Wish For. As Supernatural fans, we learned that lesson long ago. Kripke is the king of the monkey's paw twist, showing us time and time again that the universe always exacts its price. In WIAWSNB, Dean got his mother back, only to lose his brother in the process. In Mystery Spot, Sam convinced the Trickster to release Dean from his endless loop of Tuesday deaths, only to watch him die one last time on Wednesday. We know better than to trust a wish by now, and so were able to watch the hapless residents of Concrete, Washington with amusement as they dealt with the consequences of getting their hearts' desires.
Kripke even hammers this lesson home with the fangirls. We wanted to see Dean take his shirt off, and he did, but then peeled off his skin as well! Ewww. We wanted Sam to have a sex scene, and he did, gloriously so, but then had to kill the girl! *sighs* Sleep with Sam and die, ladies (unless, of course, you're already dead). We wanted Dean to find a way to bring Sam back in AHBL2, and he did, but we traded that happy ending in S2 for a horrific, haunting one in S3. Damn you, Kripke, you get me every time!
Ben Edlund gave us an amazing script for this episode, full of fun characters and hilarious situations, with just the right touch of karmic justice, and a powerful ending. Another episode with so many laughs made me nervous, though. I'm afraid it's a sign of terrible things to come, one last moment of sunshine before an endless storm. But truth be told, I'm ready for a little angst. Because it was this show that taught me what it means to hurt so good.
Dean back from hell reminds me a little of Dean before he went there. He's drinking too much, hiding his feelings, and trying to lose himself in shallow, temporary pleasures. It's been obvious he has something on his mind, something he can't talk about and would rather forget. I think Sam noticed right away, but I also think it took Uriel's cryptic words to make him realize exactly what was going on. Once that happened, he wasn't going to let up until Dean told him the truth.
The episode opened with Sam asking Dean about what Uriel said, and it sounded like it wasn't the first time they had had that conversation. Dean leaped at the chance to hit the road and take a job rather than open up to his brother. Or maybe he just wanted to get away from that psychotically cheerful waiter. :)
I loved how the boys were utterly stumped by what they encountered in Concrete. We take their mad hunting skillz for granted, and it was too funny to watch them struggle in vain to make sense of the clues before them. The highlight for me was their stunned speechlessness when confronted with the reality of Audrey's gigantic teddy bear come to life. *giggles* Jared and Jensen played every moment perfectly, and I can only imagine how much fun they had filming this one.
I've spent a lot of time wondering exactly what happened to Dean in hell, but there were a couple of moments in this episode that really brought home how much Sam has been through as well. When Dean asked Sammy what he would wish for, his answer hit me like a punch in the stomach: "Lilith's head on a plate. Bloody." It looked like it hit Dean almost as hard. And when the boys confronted Wes, Sam's threat to him, and the look on his face, gave me chills: "Somethin' bad. Like us." *shivers* I kind of mourn for the sweet, naive Sam of S1, who believed in the good in everyone, and couldn't kill anyone. I'm beginning to understand how the John we met in In the Beginning became the John we know from S1.
My favorite guest stars in Wishful Thinking were the kids. Audrey charmed me from the start, and I loved her spunk with the boys. Plus she had the cutest little voice! The actress is Nicole Leduc, and I think she's awesome. And who didn't love Todd? I personally think Dean kind of deserved his superpowered punch after his condescending attitude ("No, no, I don't, but you know, you're you and I'm me, so...") and his joke at Todd's expense ("Run, Forrest, run!"). All bullies deserve a little Todd in their lives!
It was a treat to see Ted Raimi on the show, although even my first, brief glimpse of him started that song playing in my head (Joxer the Mighty, he's very tidy, everyone admires him, he's so handsome it's a sin). :) And even though Wes was wrong to make his wish, he had a point. Despite the boys' protestations, there lives are easier because they're so handsome. How many times have they charmed information out of some lonely county clerk with their beautiful eyes and their devastating smiles? People as pretty as Sam and Dean truly have no concept of what life is like for those without their gifts.
Which brings me to the subtle message I saw running throughout this episode, that there are two kinds of people in the world, pretty and not so much, and never the twain shall meet. When Sam first saw Wes and Hope canoodling in the restaurant, he stared at them like they were a monster with two heads. He saw them as a complete anomaly, a jarring oddity. When we finally met Wes, we found out he was a selfish, unemployed loser, who had the audacity to yearn for a woman clearly beyond his reach. And yet when the boys lectured Wes about how his wish was all wrong, they never once mentioned the issue of messing with Hope's free will. They treated her like an object, not a person.
The whole focus was on the fact that Wes couldn't have and didn't deserve what he wanted, and how the wish would go bad. There was no exploration of why Wes and Hope couldn't be a couple without the wish, just the assumption that it was inconceivable. I know there's a certain amount of truth to the idea that a beautiful woman wouldn't look twice at a guy like Wes, but I guess I would have found the story more poignant if it turned out that he had a lot to offer behind his all too ordinary appearance. The way it was, both Wes and Hope looked bad. It was kind of depressing.
In the end Dean decided to come clean with Sam, and admitted he did indeed remember his time in hell, although he kept the details to himself. Jensen was amazing, as always, making us feel Dean's impossible pain as he bears the burden of unspeakable horrors, and takes it as his due, not even willing to ease his own torment by sharing it with Sam. Because he also remembers that he was sent to hell in return for Sam's life, and he knows that Sam already feels responsible for that, even if it was wholly Dean's choice. Anything Dean reveals will only add to Sam's misplaced guilt, and Dean won't do that to his brother. And so the episode that made me laugh so hard ended with me in tears instead. Oh, boys.
There are only two episodes left before the hiatus, and I have to believe they're going to put us through the emotional wringer. Bring it on, Kripke, I'm ready. But as is my custom now with the funny ones, I leave you with my top ten quotes and screen caps from this week. Smile while you can, people, I can feel the heartache coming.
Waiter: Outstanding! Dessert time? Eh? Am I right?
Waiter: Listen, bros. You have got to try our ice cream extreme. It's extreme!
Sam: Uh, no extreme, please, just the...
Waiter: Check? All right! Awesome!
Dean: Women? Showers? We gotta save these people!
Candace: So what did you say you're calling your book?
Sam: Oh! Well, um, well, the working title is... Supernatural.
Dean: Run, Forrest, run!
Gus: There's a Bigfoot out there, dammit, and he's a son of a bitch!
Audrey: All I ever wanted was a teddy, which was big, real, and talked! But now he's sad all the time, not ouch sad, but ouch in the head sad, says weird stuff, and smells like the bus!
Dean: Um, little girl?
Teddy: Why am I here?
Audrey: For tea parties!
Todd: You gotta problem, mister?
Dean: What? No.
Todd: KNEEL BEFORE TODD! KNEEL BEFORE TODD!
Wes: That, that, that kid turned over that car like it, like it was nothing!
Sam: Shoulda seen the teddy bear.
And for anyone who read this far, especially this long after the episode aired, here's some bonus pretty. My top ten caps each of Sam and Dean.
Screen caps courtesy of oxoniensis, with my thanks!