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There’s a scene in one of the earlier Gabriel/Trickster episodes where Dean is remembering what Sam said to him and hearing “blah, blah, blah …” This is how I feel during a portion of many of the case of the week episodes. I know there’s plot I should be paying attention to, but somehow I … just … can’t.

This was the case through probably a good three-quarters of this episode. I got to the end and couldn’t tell you who or what the thinman was, nor the subject of the drama between Harry and Ed. A second watch and the anvils helped some with the second part. Ed, the Dean in this scenario, lied to Harry about something and now Harry has learned about it and isn’t ready to forgive. I still don’t know what the thinman was though.

This was Sam and Dean’s story being played out by much less attractive and talented actors, set up against a MOTW plot, that unlike earlier Ghostfacer episodes, was neither funny nor scary. This week’s review is going to be uncharacteristically short because I’m going to focus on the only point that really matters, and that is the problems with how the Sam and Dean story is playing out. I usually have a section in my review titled “Good.” Both Jensen and Jared looked exceptionally good in this episode. The touch of stubble with the sleek suits worked well on them. I kept focusing on that. The plot and the anvils, however, need to fall under the “Bad” category.

Where’s the Growth?

Last week I commented that we should be seeing some learning and growth as Sam and Dean work through their issues. We just finished a full hour focused on Sam and Dean’s issues, and there was still nothing that hinted of anything learned. The problem may be that the point Jenny Klein, the writer for this episode, chose to focus on is exceptionally shallow. The betrayal and the loss of trust are the surface issues, and issues that I can’t imagine either Dean or Sam isn’t completely aware of by this point.

When your world is shaken by death, loss, or betrayal, you eventually reach the point of introspection. You look at regrets in your life, different paths that could have been chosen, and if you’re fortunate, you remember this lesson long enough to actually make some changes. There should be more to this story than recognizing that the deception was wrong.

On Sam’s side, maybe he needs to take a closer look at his decision to start hunting again, keep relationships at bay, or back off of missions like completing the trials, just to make Dean happy. We should be seeing Sam talking to someone about regrets he has (not just about Dean) and making some changes. On Dean’s side, he needs to look at why it’s still so important to him to keep Sam hunting by his side. His life is pretty empty, and like Sam, he needs to be thinking about making changes.

There was one point where I think the anvils brought some clarification to a point that’s been confusing for the fandom, and that is why Sam brought up Dean talking him out of completing the trials in a conversation about trust. Ed made up a mission to keep Harry by his side, rather than accepting Harry leaving to have a normal life with his girlfriend. I guess the story we’re being told is that Sam feels that Dean convinced him to commit to the trials to keep Sam hunting, even though Dean wasn’t fully committed to them himself – as became evident when Dean asked Sam to stop them. But anyway, the betrayal portion of this storyline has been obvious and not worth an episode of being replayed by two side characters, with Sam and Dean as the audience. The episode could have and should have tackled something more substantial.

Who Are These People?

The second big problem is with this storyline is what it is saying about Sam and Dean. To buy that Sam let Dean talk him out of continuing a relationship with Amelia, and then talk him out of closing the gates of Hell, is to seriously rewrite Sam’s character from being the independent-thinking and obsessively determined young man we met in season one, to one that is just drifting now without thoughts of his own.  What he wants for himself may not be clear to himself yet, but Sam has always owned his own decisions.  And what about the drama around Amelia’s husband returning? I thought part of why Sam left Amelia was that he didn’t feel comfortable breaking up their marriage. What was the point of that drama if it wasn’t a factor in the end?

On Dean’s side, in season 3, Dean didn’t need to be told that this decision to sell his soul for Sam wasn’t about doing what Sam wanted, it was about what he needed. Sam has been indirect lately, that much is true, but are we really to believe that Dean doesn’t understand that what he did was wrong?

So what are your thoughts about #THINMAN? Were you more generous than I was?

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