You Ever Dance With the Devil?
by Sylvia Bond
Supernatural Episode Review – Season 7, Episode 15
This episode starts out with a wee flashback of four years ago in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. With the general assumption that each Season is a “year” in Winchester time, that would put us at right about the middle of Season 3. Which would put us right about the time that Dean is in the throes of trying to convince Sam not to find a way out of his Deal with the crossroads demon. This puts us in line with some very terrible episodes, such as Long-Distance Call (Boring!), Red Sky at Morning (Stupid!), and Malleus Maleficarum (Boring and Stupid!), as well as some very excellent episodes such as Ghostfacers, AVery Supernatural Christmas, and the ever beloved Mystery Spot.
Evidently, as Sam indicates, four years ago the Winchester boys were concentrating on finding demons. Ostensibly to find out what they knew about the Deal that Dean made, but also because demons are evil and deserve to be destroyed. One thing of note is that the boys let a civilian, Nora, assist them in the hunt. I can’t recall why, at that point, she’d even be interested, maybe it was her Wiccan urges that led her to assist in the capture of the particular demon known as Jeffrey the Ex-Postal Worker, even though the Wiccans that I know don’t hold truck with no demons.
The “going postal” reference from Dean is not original, nor is it lost on me; postal workers have a straightforward job, but since the damn mail never stops coming, I imagine you might feel like you were being buried alive. Also interesting is the color of Sam’s hair. Somehow, back then, four years ago, it’s depicted as being as dark as the cedars of Lebanon and long enough to curl across Sam’s shoulders, but now, in the present, it’s fluffy and the color of sunwarmed mink. Yet, both the past and the present were filmed in the present, so how on earth did the Makeup Team manage that effect? Because I bought it, right down to Sam’s adorable hair follicles.
Another interesting point is the fact that while Sam cleans up the “crime scene,” Dean drives the newly exorcised Jeffrey to the hospital. Is this something they’ve done in the past? If so, I’ve never heard reference to it, no, “You remember the demon we pitched out of the Impala into the Emergency area and he nearly got run over by an ambulance?” Yet Dean acts as if this were an everyday thing, dropping of the human husks that he’s just beat the crap out of.
Jeffrey has suffered any number of contusions and cuts and bruises, and while he bleeds on the back seat, Dean enjoins him to say he was mugged or something similar. Dean then drops Jeffrey off with the aplomb of a parent dropping his kid off at a play date; Jeffrey’s wounds are his own to bear, although we, the viewer, are given a bird’s eye view of just how nasty would be the resultant wounds from a possession.
And it’s not just the physical wounds, one of which leave Jeffrey walking with a limp, it’s also the mental wounds. We find, in a dragging, over-talked, static scene between Jeffrey and Dean, that Jeffrey has suffered mightily. First there was him telling the truth, and sounding crazy, then there came the drinking, then the psych eval, and then incarceration, and the a group home with group therapy. The only interesting part about that scene was Dean’s familiarity with the pattern. He says that he’s had friends who’ve gone through the whole mess, but how many hypothetical friends can Dean possibly have? No, personally, I’d like to think that Dean himself was in group therapy for a time. Oh wait, he was, wasn’t he! Some episode, where both Sam and Dean were in the loonie bin, ah bliss.
Sam and Dean hole up in what Lucifer calls “a men’s room with beds,” and I’d say he’s got that one right. Lucifer mocks Sam and eats paint, and leans against the wall, and makes himself at home. Meanwhile, Dean is talking to Frank about Dick, and Sam, well, he’s trying to make the Hand Job work. Yes, that’s what I call it, the Hand Job. It’s the thing that he does when he presses his left thumb against his right palm,which was the one that was sliced open by glass. The pain keeps him grounded, as you’ll recall, but it seems to be losing its sting. Now when Sam does the Hand Job (which is a much better title than “the thing that Sam does with his hand to keep Lucifer at bay”), Lucifer might flicker, but he basically only goes away because he wants to.
Anyway, the motel is perfectly grotty, and Sam, for some reason, gets to say which gig they go on. What’s more, we are treated to the beautiful sight of BOTH boys sleeping under the covers, horrible green covers, and we get close-ups of their sleeping faces. Then the police scanner goes, and we get close-ups of them each opening their eyes. The camera is only on each sleeping/wide awake boy for a second or two,but it’s a damn sight more than Show has given us this season.
The boys hasten to the next crime scene, where, for once (and it’s about time) one of the investigators recognizes Sam and Dean. Unfortunately, he recognizes them under their old (and way obviously fake) ids, as those two drummer guys. As you know, Frank told the boys they were Mr. and Mr. Smith, no relation. What’s funny to me is that, in the background, Lucifer is trying to help Sam remember the guy’s name.Lucifer knows it’s “Sutton” and says so, but Sam pretends not to listen. This is his normal behavior, and I wouldn’t expect anything less, but compare it to what happens later as a perfect example of what happens when you separate Sam and Dean over and over again.
Eventually the boys visit Nora Harlock, who now runs a Wiccan website. As they enter her office/bookstore, she leads them around what she says is a freshly painted demon trap on the floor. Naturally, we’re supposed to suspect that the reason Nora doesn’t step on it is because she herself is a demon. I didn’t buy it, even though usually I’m quite gullible, because, as everyone knows, the real bad guy is never the most obvious one. But other than that, the scene was ordinary, and there was nothing significant said or done, especially not between Sam and Dean.
Back to Jeffrey, who has picked up a dog from the shelter; what a nice guy! He then, for some reason, limps down an alleyway because he heard a noise. Shouldn’t he be simply going home with his new pet? No! He’s foolish and gets jumped by Sam and Dean. What really cracked me up was the way they kept saying his name, “Jeffrey, Jeffrey, Jeffrey.” It reminded me of that Cosby routine, you know the one about the mother and small child aboard a flight that Cosby was on? Yeah, here’s the link, it’s a riot.
Even more amusing is that when they get back to Jeffrey’s place, Lucifer comes too, and makes himself at home on the arm of the sofa. When Sam attempts the Hand Job, Lucifer gets irritated and says, “Oh, don’t bother,” and leaves in the blink of an eye. Pelligrino sure makes Lucifer easy to relate to, somehow, with his snappy comments to Sam, when Sam delivers some over-used cliché, “Do you even ever listen to yourself?”
It’s at this point that Sam and Dean split up. Dean stays with Jeffrey and has the aforementioned boring conversation, and meanwhile, Sam goes to the library to eyeball the supposed next victim on the demon’s list. It’s a comfortable feeling seeing Sam in the library; he fits right in there, like he belongs. Of course, Lucifer is bored within seconds, and makes the hallucination that library patrons are bashing their heads on the tables. One or two Hand Jobs later, and Sam knows better. He’s really quite fetching when he’s annoyed like he is in this scene, wouldn’t you agree? It’s also fun watching him spy on the librarian and her hot, young lover, as they mack near the periodicals.
Just so you know, while Sam is at the library, Jeffrey manages to waylay Dean in a trap and, surprise, surprise, get him tied up in a chair! I know, shocker, right? Jeffrey needs the blood of the person who sent his demon to hell, because, oddly enough, that demon made Jeffrey feel powerful, so he wants him back. It’s a nice little twist on the usual, as most people don’t enjoy being possessed, but not so Jeffrey.
Meanwhile, Lucifer is both helpful and unhelpful to Sam. He starts talking about the case, and how Dean’s cellphones can’t both be not working, and then, as Sam and Lucifer walk to Jeffrey’s place, he gets Sam to actually talk to him and ask questions about what’s going on. Like I said, if Dean hadn’t gone off on his own, then Sam would have had Dean to talk to. Only now, all he’s got is this demon, who really, really wants to dance, as they say, in the pale moonlight with Sam.
Eventually, Lucifer and Sam go visit Nora, who, as you know, is a suspect. I love the moment when Sam gets all “tough” with her. He comes at her, pointing his finger, and just about growls as he says, “You should be a lot more scared of me because I’m two inches away from you and I can make you talk!” Except. Yeah, he kind of crouches down, and hunches his shoulders, almost as if he doesn’t mean it, because if hemeant it, he would have towered over her and said, “I’m two inches away from you and I can make you talk!” Otherwise, he’s just like a little kid who is threatening to hold his breath till he turns blue: “See me? I’m scary!!” Because as you know, if they have to tell you, they aren’t.
And then we find out that Nora was coerced by Jeffrey to help him raise his ex-demon; Jeffrey uses Nora’s kid as bait and everything, but that’s okay, because Sam and Nora crash the re-possession party. And do you know what stops the demon? Not Sam or Dean or Nora or anyone. What stops the demon is the demon trap that was already, somehow, painted on the ceiling. Now, I ask you, if you are Jeffrey, and you want to raise a demon so it will possess you, why on earth would you risk walking under a demon trap? It made no sense to me; your mileage may vary.
The end scene was one of my favorites this ep. In it, the boys go back to their grotty motel room, and Dean crashes, face down and fully clothed, on the bed. Sam says, “Are you going to sleep?” and Dean says something along the lines of “You betcha.” Entereth Lucifer, who proceeds to torment Sam with the idea that since Sam actually deigned to talk to Lucifer, it was as good as giving a vampire permission to cross your threshold. Sam let Lucifer in, and now Lucifer apparently can’t be shocked away by one of Sam’s Hand Jobs, plus he can push and prod and poke to his heart’s content.
He does one of those hallucinations of hellfire, which surround Sam with red and flickering lights. Two good things. One is, the abundance of close-ups of Sam’s troubled face, furrowed brow, ashrose lips. Ah, me, what a good looking man. Two is, the fact that although Sam is in torment, and the Hand Job isn’t working, and Dean is only two feet away (if that), and hardly yet asleep, Sam doesn’t wake him.
It’s not that he doesn’t think that Dean will believe him, right? Dean believed Sam before about Lucifer. And Dean would help him, you know he would. No, I think that Sam doesn’t wake Sam because he thinks he can handle this, and he doesn’t want to bother Dean. And, also, he probably doesn’t want to admit that he Let Lucifer In simply by participating in casual conversation.
There are some other parallels to sleeping with demons and having truck with demons, but to me, that’s the main point: Sam feels he’s on his own on this one, and frankly, with as little as we’ve been getting about Sam, I anticipate that this close-ups of Sam in his turmoil are pretty much about all we’re going to get. There are only a handful of eps left this season, maybe five, and the writers have done this before:Big Buildup about Sam, and then, whamo, we get dumped off a cliff. Poor Sam. Surrounded by hellfire, only inches away from his brother on a hotel bed, and his Hand Jobs are no longer effective. What’s a guy to do?