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YES, this was always a sleeper episode to me. I keep forgetting how good it really is and then is hits me in the face watching it again.
I agree with everything you say, JBB!
First time we see one of the guys play two versions of themselves and Jensen knocks it out of the park. I have the same thought as you, it is really hard to tell after a few camera pans which Dean is which. Is it “our” Dean beating himself up or the evil version trying to break him down? And I flinch every time when the shot comes. Still shocking but so well done!
The beginning with Sam drinking alone and Dean calling him out on it is a nice brother scene! Showing Sam’s mindset and desperation at being unable to save Dean and it really doing a number on him. And the scene at the end when Dean admits that he doesn’t want to die and Sam promising that they will find a way is really good as well because even though the say all the right words the heavy mood stays and it feels like the walls are closing in on them because they don’t have any clue how to make it happen!!
The scene with Lisa is truly heart breaking to me. The simplicity of what Dean wishes for is so sweet and sad. And seems so unachievable at this point.
The glimpse at Bobby’s hunter origin story is really intense as well. I love how it’s so confusing at the beginning which is made even more impactful once you find out what it was you were seeing.
The episode is also visually super interesting to me. That scene where the wallpapered hallway turns into the woods. Or the difference between inside Bobby’s house and when Sam steps outside into the perfectly sunny day.
Yeah, I also agree that Sam’s sex dream about Bela was STUPID. It made no sense in its abruptness and they never mention again that he’s turned on by her later. As you said – totally against Sam’s normal behaviour. It seemed like a forces scene to lighten the mood of the otherwise heavy episode.
Nice to see Bela again, though, and OF COURSE she found another way to really mess with them AND steal from them. I do appreciate her smarts and fearlessness, though. But I am also happy that Dean really puts down the law at the end. I think she completely lost all chance at getting their help with THIS incident. Screwed herself in the end.
I also appreciate that it’s SAM who figures out how to break the cycle and overpower Jeremy with his OWN fear! SMART!