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    Supernatural returned from “hellatus” with an episode that really heated up the mytharc and was packed with familiar faces. Episode 8.10, “Torn and Frayed” was written by Jenny Klein and directed by Bob Singer. This was Klein’s first solo effort on an episode, and I’m sure it won’t be her last as she delivered a tightly written episode that covered a lot of ground in tying up a lot of the story threads that began in the fall and set the stage for the season going forward. As usual, Bob Singer brought out the best in his actors.
    Before we get to the episode discussion, a quick rundown of some of the interesting tidbits I caught while watching – and I’m betting many of you did too. It was director Bob Singer doing the voice over for the dung beetle documentary that Sam is watching. While Dean and Cas are interrogating the “ambushed” victim in the hospital, Jim Michaels (co-executive producer) is paged. Kevin (Osric Chau) is being hidden on Garth’s houseboat which is named Fizzles’ Folly. Mr. Fizzles is the name of the puppet Garth uses in “Party On Garth” when he is questioning the little girl. Vincent Gale played Viggo, Crowley’s torture assistant. He also played Evan Hudson in season three’s “Crossroad Blues.” He was also in Sanctuary which Amanda Tapping (Naomi) starred in.
    This episode seems to have wrapped up both the Amelia (Liane Balaban) and Benny (Ty Olsson) story lines – at least for the foreseeable future. I, for one, am sad to see them go. I liked the dynamic they both brought to the show, and they are both fantastic actors. We’ve also, apparently, seen the last of Castiel (Misha Collins) for the next few episodes.
    While we were biting our nails for several weeks, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) pick up pretty much where we left off. The episode opens with an excellent montage of “then” set to Bob Seger’s "Katmandu". “Now” begins with Samandriel (Tyler Johnston) trying to contact Naomi and being tortured. Once again kudos to the VFX team (Mark Meloche, Grant Lindsey, and Werner Ten Hoeve) on the nails and screws in Alfie’s head! Johnston was amazing in what must have been an exhausting shoot for him. It was very uncomfortable to watch the torture.
    “Torn and Frayed” finally sees the brothers have some meaningful dialogue. Sam insists that Dean has to be done with Benny, and initially Dean says he doesn’t know if he is or not. Dean does apologize for using Amelia to get Sam out of the way. Sam tells Dean that he was afraid that what happened to Jess had happened to Amelia. It made me wonder if Sam left her in the first place in order to keep her safe. Of course, with Azazel dead, that shouldn’t really be an issue as he was the one who had Jessica killed to get Sam back into hunting. Dean leaves, and in light of what he says later in the episode, I believe he didn’t realize the depths of Sam’s feelings until he saw him so distraught.
    Meanwhile, Cas is making amends by doing random acts of kindness – a nice shout out to Misha’s own charitable organization which does the same! Naomi recalls Cas and charges him with rescuing Samandriel. There is a classic Cas moment when he is simply staring at Dean watching him sleep when Dean starts awake, telling Cas “It’s just creepy.” Dean agrees to help find Alfie (Samandriel), and in another classic Dean/Cas moment, Dean is embarrassed when Busty Asian Beauties, his favorite porn site, pops up on the computer when he opens it. Collins and Ackles have great comedic timing together. Cas wants to know where Sam is, and Dean’s only explanation is that he’s “gone.” Dean insists that they don’t need Sam.
    Amelia comes to see Sam, and they end up having sex. She mentions that Don, her husband, has been travelling a lot since returning (from the dead), and I found that a bit curious. I wonder if that is going to play out in some way in the future. Is he hunting? Did he make some kind of deal to come back from the dead? Of all the women they’ve paired Sam with, the relationship with Amelia has felt the most real for me. Balaban is an excellent actor, and the character is written extremely well. She is strong – despite being emotionally vulnerable and she is smart enough that it’s believable that she would be an interesting and challenging partner for Sam. They really had great chemistry. In an episode with several emotional scenes, I think this scene with Balaban is one of my favorite scenes ever with Padalecki. There’s an honesty, vulnerability and longing in his performance. Amelia tells Sam that she is willing to give up everything for him, but he has to be willing to commit to her one hundred percent: He’s got to be all in or all out. They decide to think about it for two days. When Amelia showed up at the motel at the end of the episode and found an empty room, my heart broke for her.
    When Dean and Cas do find Crowley’s hideout, Dean realizes the two of them with the demon-killing knife, aren’t going to be enough, but he still won’t let Cas get Sam. Instead, he takes Cas to Kevin so that they can make more demon-killing bombs. The bombs are my favorite special effect from this season! Explosions are always good, but I love how it blasts the demons back and through the walls, leaving a shadow impression, much like angel wings when angels die. Kudos again VFX team!!!
    Kevin is struggling to read the tablets. He’s even sent his mother away. He tells Dean that this is his desert in which to learn how to read the tablets and that he couldn’t possibly enjoy a world he knew he had to save. Right now, he tells Dean, nothing is more important. This really resonates with Dean who has spent his entire life feeling that way. What Dean knows, and this shows completely on Ackles face, is that there will likely never be a world for Kevin to enjoy knowing what he knows now. There will always be another monster to kill for Dean or another tablet for Kevin.
    When Cas returns with the fixings for demon-bombs, he brings Sam back with him. He tells the brothers to “stow your crap” until they’ve saved Samandriel. When they finally get to the door behind which they can hear Samandriel being tortured, Castiel has a breakdown and remembers Naomi torturing him in flashbacks. Tapping finally gets to show a bit more of Naomi’s character in this episode and we learn that she has somehow been manipulating and controlling the angels. Cas eventually remember her drilling into his head, much like Viggo and Crowley (Mark Sheppard) do to Samandriel. By the end of the episode, after Naomi has forced Castiel to kill Samandriel and lie again to the brothers, Cas is bleeding from his eye – from where Naomi had drilled into him. I wonder if this is similar to the re-programming torture that Cas was subjected to in season four and that Anna was subjected to as well. Perhaps, Cas’ bleeding is related to him trying to resist Naomi’s influence in the same way he was able to throw off their control before. Castiel is devastated that he killed yet another angel and over a mere tablet. Both Naomi and Crowley realize that a tablet relating to angels, as Samandriel reveals it is, is a huge threat to the angels. If the demon tablet would allow someone to lock up the demons, an angel tablet might do the same to the angels. Dean and Sam are unfortunately in the dark about the angel tablet because Dean impulsively kills Viggo before he can tell them.
    Dean and Sam do realize something is wrong with Cas and angel-proof the cabin when they get back to it. Dean reminds Sam that he knew Cas hadn’t been right since coming back from Purgatory. Dean tells Sam to go, that he can handle things on his own. He tells Sam that he’s just tired of the fighting and one of them should be happy. He also admits to being jealous of Sam. He tells Sam that he could never separate himself from the job the way that Sam could. This is a nice parallel to Dean’s conversation with Kevin. It also demonstrates a consistent thread in Sam’s character. Sam has always wanted “normal”. That doesn’t mean that Sam doesn’t want to do the right thing and help people too – even at school he was going to be a lawyer to help people. But like Dean and Kevin, even while he wants to go to Amelia, he feels the pull to put the world first.
    Possibly my favorite part of this episode is when Dean tells Sam – just like Amelia already had – that whatever Sam decides, he just has to decide. He had to have both feet in or both feet out because anything in between would get him killed. Sam takes a walk to decide and Dean calls Benny. He’s also decided he’s got to be all in or all out, so he has to let Benny go. This is Dean’s second call to Benny. Benny had asked Dean to come meet him because he was struggling. Olsson does a beautiful job of conveying a strung out addict just with his voice. Benny’s struggle is palpable in the barely heard tremor of his voice. Like a true friend, Benny simply thanks Dean for the ride and lets him go. It's clear that Dean feels badly, but as always, when push comes to shove, he's going to put Sam first. Like Amelia, I felt really badly for Benny, that Dean had, in fact, let him down. I suspect we will see Benny again, and when we do, it won’t be pretty.
    The episode ends with the brothers back together. I suspect they will both still carry some baggage forward and may even second guess their decisions, but I don’t think they’ve been so much on the same page, and both reasonably healthy emotionally and mentally for a good long while. I know a lot of fans have been waiting patiently for them to reach this point! Next week’s episode features the return of Felicia Day’s very popular character, Charlie Bradbury and takes place at a Renaissance Faire. Anybody else excited for that one? What did you think of tonight’s episode? Will you miss Amelia and Benny?

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