A couple nights ago, I rewatched 8.03 (to see Jensen’s dad!). Though it aired third, it was filmed first (so Jensen, who directed, would have time to prepare)--it is fun to see J2’s hiatus tans, so unlike their usual Vancouver pallor. ;-)
S8 doesn’t get talked about much anymore. The consensus (which I agree with) seems to be that as a season it was a mess, with very many subpar episodes, at least compared to the level of quality SPN sustained during the previous 7 seasons. Indeed, 8.03, on second viewing, is virtually nothing but exposition. While infinitely superior to Buckner/Ross-Leming’s most infamous episode, “Man’s Best Friend With Benefits” (although an argument could be made their racist truck episode takes the top spot), it’s also lame and boring, especially on second viewing, when you already have some idea what’s going to happen. However, I want to give credit to Bucker/Ross-Leming for always having had a knack for writing the relationship between Sam and Dean quite well, and again, that was the high point of this ep.
Given that it was the first episode of the season that was shot, they’re delving into the issues between Sam and Dean that S8 intended to explore for the first time, and in retrospect, they seemed crystal clear--and, in light of everything that’s happened on the show since, quite interesting and potentially illuminating, especially in terms of Sam and Dean’s current issues. The setup is simple: fresh outta Purgatory, Dean’s love for the job is renewed; he’s invigorated, since the ‘purity’ of always knowing what to do there (i.e., kill everything in sight) was something he liked. Sam liked what he did during that year, too: living a normal life. Their two desires could not be less compatible. More than once, Dean gustily declares his pleasure at being back where he’s happiest: in his baby, his brother at his side, hunting monsters. Sam, always more circumspect by nature than Dean, doesn’t say as plainly what he’s feeling, but it’s written all over his face: this is not where he wants to be. This thing that Dean wants is palpably, in every aspect, NOT what Sam wants.( Read more... )