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Supernatural - Red Meat - Review

Supernatural, “Red Meat,” was written by the team of Robert Berens and Andrew Dabb and was directed by Nina Lopez-Corrado. This is the first pairing of Berens and Dabb. I felt the episode had a fair number of throwbacks to “Wendigo” – campers lost in the woods, discussion of who likes camping and who doesn’t, and victims hung up like curing meat. I also thought the episode relied on those same elements which have become such fixtures in fan fiction about the show, including one of the brothers being hurt and the other having to get him back out of the wilderness where there is no cell reception or other medical help, leading to the necessity of field surgery….

Of more interest to me about this episode is Lopez-Corrado’s direction. She only has two other directing credits – Stitchers and The Mentalist on which she was also a producer. However, the show has had very few women directors, and Lopez-Corrado really did bring a different perspective to the show. Supernatural has been criticized in the past for misogyny and how it treats its female characters, so it is very interesting to note that the two women who are killed in the episode are both killed off camera. We see no violence done to them – though we do hear it.

The opening THEN montage contained a lot of Casifer (Misha Collins) scenes for some reason as there is only the barest mention of him in the episode. I did, however, really like the nice death montage. To paraphrase Ash, those boys die more than anyone else on television!

What was a lot less successful about this episode for me was the jumping around in time. This can be done for effect but really didn’t add to the story here – it simply dragged out what was a somewhat thin plot. So, we begin in the middle of a fight that ends with Sam (Jared Padalecki) being shot – in slow motion. And then we go back to 48 hours earlier. If we want to continue the parallel to “Wendigo” in that episode, it was Sam who wanted to solely focus on finding their Dad – much as Dean (Jensen Ackles) is focused on finding Cas here. In this case it’s Sam who has found them a case and pushes to work it.

Jumping back to the present storyline, we see Michelle (Erin Way) and Corbin (Blair Penner) strung up. Dean leaves them hanging while he quickly performs field surgery to remove the bullet. It’s always obvious in hindsight, but of course, if you are more observant than I am, you would have twigged right away to the fact that Corbin was pretty peppy while Michelle was in a very bad way. Now, I’m excusing myself because Way is very waif like anyway… And Way turns in a terrific performance in this episode as she learns about monsters, helps Dean, and loses the love of her life. It’s a reasonable arc for a woman even if it does end with her having no direction to her life now that she’s lost her man…

It’s also telling that Michelle has already determined that they were monsters while Corbin is denying it. She wants to know why they can change outside of a full moon if they are werewolves – and of course, we already have an explanation for that. Naturally, there’s no cell service to call for help and Corbin and Michelle point out that there are more werewolves out there. Dean refuses to leave Sam behind and they set out.

The next flashback takes us to the bar – and in hindsight – to the other werewolves – Rose (Suki Kaiser) the bartender and the bouncer (Ryan Jefferson Booth). So far they’ve had no leads and at first it looks like Rose can’t help them, but she “suddenly” remembers the easement cabins and sends the brothers looking there. And in another role-reversal, Dean seems to be off his game, and it’s Sam who flirts with Rose – you didn’t miss that adorable wink, did you?

Back in the present, Sam is getting weaker. Corbin wants to leave Sam, and of course, Dean is having none of that. Dean leaves them to get wood to make a litter to carry Sam, and while he’s out, Corbin smothers Sam – or we all think he does anyway. As we learn at the end, his body simply goes into shock, slowing his heart and respirations to nearly nothing – and I suppose we can attribute that to his not just bleeding out too. Padalecki does a nice job with the smothering.

Dean returns and immediately calls “Sam!” But this quickly changes to “Sammy” when he realizes something is wrong. Ackles brings a real childlike element to Dean as he doesn’t want to accept what he’s seeing. He repeats, “Sammy” and pushes at his brother very much like a child would. As he’s still trying to process what he’s seeing, Rose and the bouncer show up. Dean’s first instinct is to go out in that blaze of glory that we saw referred to in the THEN montage. Corbin begs him to help them, however, and it seems the hunting things, saving people mantra takes precedence.

Ackles is terrific as he leans over Sam’s body and tells him, “I’ll come back for you. I promise.” Now he doesn’t specify what he means by coming back for him, but you can’t know Dean and not realize that’s likely nothing good. As Dean takes a final look back at Sam, he pauses at the door for that one perfect tear – something we haven’t seen in quite a while. Rose and the bouncer see the three take off through the woods.

Dean manages to get them out and flag down a Sheriff (Toby Levins). When Dean tries to leave immediately, the Sheriff tries to stop him, resulting in Dean decking the Sheriff and the Sheriff tazing Dean. Dean wakes in the hospital and is injured more badly than we had any indication of – broken ribs and severe concussion.

Michelle and Corbin are interviewed by the Sheriff. Michelle is ready to talk about monsters, but Corbin avoids the subject. Michelle has already noticed the differences in Corbin and when the Sheriff leaves she turns away from him. When the doctor (Eileen Pedde) insists on checking him out, the bite is revealed – and we all know what it means. There are a couple of good, traditional horror shots when we see the other Sheriff clawed up and dead in his truck and when the doctor finds Corbin in mid change and we see his nails and fingers come around the door jamb. The shot of the door parallels nicely with the shot of Sam coming up out of the basement later in the episode.

Michelle goes to Dean – and can anyone explain why he’s in bed fully clothed? He’s that way when he wakes up and the doctor is checking him out, so Michelle didn’t catch him in mid-flight. Though it’s clear by how he keeps eyeing the door as Michelle talks that that is his intention. Michelle comes to him to tell him she’s sorry about Sam and to see if he’s ok. She tells him that her mother used to say that “Death is not the end” and I guess we can blame it on the concussion that this hadn’t already occurred to him….

Dean sets about killing himself with pills and Michelle’s help. This entire scene is nicely intercut with Sam waking up and going looking for Dean. Sam collapses and falls down the stairs just as Dean collapses from having taken the pills. I have to say that I was a little worried the doctor wasn’t competent enough to bring him back! Regardless, they also certainly didn’t glorify death by pills. It’s effective for Dean as Billie (Lisa Berry) shows up to reap him – and savor the moment. There’s some nice cross-talk until she finally convinces him that Sam isn’t dead.

Billie points out that she didn’t imagine Dean would die by suicide given his whole martyr thing. Dean’s plea that Sam is needed to save the world doesn’t impress Billie and she tells Dean that it’s never going to work. She also tells him that she knows Dean only wants Sam back for himself and not the greater good. The doctor does manage to bring Dean back. And even though a much healthier Dean was unable to take out the last two werewolves, a severely injured Sam is able to kill them and take their truck.

The Sheriff still won’t let Dean leave – he’s stolen a lot of drugs now on top of hitting a police officer! The Sheriff leaves Dean alone – though handcuffed – to try to convince the doctor to sedate him. Michelle cuts Dean loose, and he and Sam have a very fractured conversation before the call gets dropped.

Corbin kills the doctor and Sheriff and is about to turn Michelle when Dean stumbles back in and jumps him. They fight but it’s clear Dean is losing. Sam arrives in the nick of time to shoot Corbin and save his brother before collapsing.

There’s a nice final scene between Dean and Michelle. My favorite line of the episode was that Sam “was just mostly dead.” A terrific shout out to The Princess Bride. She explains that Corbin wasn’t a killer – and it’s easy to imagine the violence and strength were all factors of the change. Dean tries to reassure her that everything will get back to normal eventually, but she’s having none of it. She tells him, “No I won’t…. I watched the man I love die. There’s no normal after that.” And isn’t that also Dean’s experience with Sam?

As the brothers leave the hospital, Dean puts a steadying hand on his brother’s back. Sam asks what Dean did when he thought he was dead. Sam is far from an idiot and knows his brother. Dean makes a joke about re-decorating Sam’s room, but Sam wants an answer. Dean maintains that he just knew that Sam wasn’t dead. But would Dean leave his brother that badly injured? Sam lets it go, however, and the two drive off into the sunset.

I have to think that the interaction with Billie is going to come up again before the season is over. This was an interesting episode from a directing standpoint. The basic story felt a little like comfort food to keep us going until the final push toward a climax of the mytharc. What did you think of the episode? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

About the Author - Lisa Macklem
I do interviews and write articles for the site in addition to reviewing a number of shows, including Supernatural, Arrow, Agents of Shield, Agent Carter, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, The X-Files, Defiance, Bitten, Killjoys, and a few others! I'm active on the Con scene when I have the time. When I'm not writing about television shows, I'm often writing about entertainment and media law in my capacity as a legal scholar. I also work in theatre when the opportunity arises. I'm an avid runner and rider, currently training in dressage.
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