- "My name is death and the end is near"...at least until January. #ApptwithDean
- We sure Eva's not a demon, Dr. Robert? Or should I call you Dr. Bobby? Bobby Bobby, anyone? #ApptwithDean
- Even when one of them is dead, it's always nice to have a double dose of Dean. #ApptwithDean
- Tessa is just being a bitch for no reason now. Who WOULDN'T want to talk to Dean? #ApptwithDean
- Well...at least he tried to help Adam. #ApptwithDean
- This has been WAY more than three minutes! #ApptwithDean
- Puts a whole new meaning on seven minutes in heaven, doesn't it? #ApptwithDean
- Maybe even death needs to take a vacation time and again. #ApptwithDean
- Yes, Bobby, yes you most certainly do have to throw Sam in the panic room. And maybe lose the key. #ApptwithDean
- Look, I'm just gonna say it: if my reaper comes with Dean Winchester in tow, I will go willingly. No matter how early. #ApptwithDean
- Since when do spells allow for metaphorical elements? That's quite progressive... #ApptwithDean
- Heh. I know Dean is going to struggle with taking someone's life later (that's just in his nature), but this is fun so far. #ApptwithDean
- Aw Dean, don't blame the cheese! #ApptwithDean
- At least they eased Dean into this whole death thing. #ApptwithDean
- Dean seems to have to relearn the same lessons. Tonight is that everyone's time comes. And the time has come for Sam to live with no soul.
- Here comes Jared's "Here's Johnny" face in three, two, oh they made that joke, too. #ApptwithDean
- I was kind of hoping Bobby wouldn't ask what this was about. Like maybe he already knew. He knows EVERYTHING. #ApptwithDean
- If Sam isn't in his right head right now, and that's scary, how bad do you think it will get if the wall comes down? #ApptwithDean
- You should have known this would happen, too, Dean; it's the same principals of "Faith" but without the human manipulation. #ApptwithDean
- Oh look who finally grew a pair, Dean! #ApptwithDean
- I think the episode can end now with Dean remembering the natural order and giving the ring back. Still don't care bout Sam. #ApptwithDean
- Wait, why was Bobby sitting in a devil's trap? Did I miss something by zoning out during the Sam parts earlier in the episode? #ApptwithDean
- Awww poor wittle Sammy all curled up in his bed. #ApptwithDean
- With all Death is saying about the human soul being a rubber ball, it really doesn't make much sense that he's going to hold up his end.
- Sam is reacting the way a person should react to death, not his own soul. #ApptwithDean
- Uh oh, don't scratch the itch? That's not something an addict can promise you. #GoodJobDean
- Was the screen supposed to freeze frame on Sam screaming? Or is my Time Warner Cable just glitchy again? #ApptwithDean
- With the next new episode featuring virgins, I can only hope we get the old Dean back-- the snarky, straight-thinking one we know and love.
Closing Remarks: It just bears repeating: welcome back Bobby (Jim Beaver)! Even though he wasn't introduced to the story until the end of the first season, he has become such an integral and beloved part of his show that his absence is felt just as heavily as it would be if one of the brothers suddenly missed an episode. Of course no one wants to see him come back just for the purpose of being used as a pawn in Sam (Jared Padalecki)'s misguided plan, but Beaver could act his way out of a paper bag (an expression I don't really understand, but I would listen to him read the phone book), so giving him such emotional meat in a story is always welcomed.
The idea of Dean (Jensen Ackles) having to play death for a day and being conflicted with his emotions really isn't anything new. Even the title of "Appointment in Samarra" is a literary nod to the fact that it is a re-telling of a previous story. In the first season, after Dean was electrocuted on a hunt and Sam took him to a faith healer, he argued with Sam over why they couldn't let Layla benefit from the healer, even though he knew it would mean someone else would go. And yet in later years, "Death Takes A Holiday," the idea of a town without reapers didn't seem so bad to him. Following the pattern this season of being repetitive, then, this episode was all about Dean re-learning a lesson he has encountered before: that everyone's time comes, and that when they do, it is for a reason. Even with the world slightly off-kilter after the shake-up downstairs, there is still a higher power pulling the strings. Even death doesn't get to choose his victims; he is just the lackey carrying out the action. I actually think it would have been really cool if Dean learned that death does choose the victims in some way; when he guessed that the guy on the bench was going to have a heart attack, maybe saying it was what sealed the guy's fate. But no, that's not how it works.
Death is just another cog in the wheel, the same way humans are. We interact with each other and set off chains of events that affect other people and our surroundings and future events. When Dean decided not to take the girl in the hospital-- which really should have been a violation of his contract, by the way-- someone else had to take her place. Just like in that aforementioned first season episode, "Faith." It's all about balance in the universe and respecting the natural order. Neither of these Winchester boys have been very respectful lately!
In all honesty, I kind of zoned out during the Sam stuff. There just wasn't much of a plot there since we knew he wouldn't succeed in killing Bobby and it was a lot of "hurry up and wait" for him to even attempt it. By the time the end rolled around, it all just felt too convenient that Death would take a liking to Dean and hold up his end of the deal even though Dean royally screwed up in his mission. But I guess Death is much more stand-up than demons.
When Death told Dean that "he would understand when he has to," I got that sinking stomach feeling. This whole season seems to be about Dean slowly spiraling, working against everything his father taught him and coming from a purely emotional place. It kind of makes sense after being away from the hardened life for so long, and in any other situation I would say it's a good thing to be so in touch with his emotions. But unfortunately it is not the Dean we all know and love. He cannot think clearly, and he is making too many mistakes because of it. This thing with Sam's soul may prove to be way worse than any of the things Sam ever did, especially because Sam never knew what he was doing would have such terrible consequences. Dean took the risk anyway because he can't bear to be without his precious Sammy. It's just not him, nor does it feel like the show I have loved for so long.
But then again, I'm notorious for not liking change.
At the beginning of the night, I said "Hello, Death" and now I will have to say "Hello, Hell-atus." Supernatural won't return with new episodes until the last Friday in January, the 28th, so it will be a lo-ong road. I plan on using the time to finish marathoning the series with my friend Liz who is watching for the first time (and who is only on season two). Hopefully I'll get her all caught up so that when the show returns, she can jump into watching with me on Fridays and perhaps even Tweeting along, too. One of my favorite things about doing it is seeing the commentary and feedback I get back from other fans.
But until January, hopefully I will be able to tide you (and myself) over with some more profile or analysis pieces. I've been meaning to tackle one about emotions getting in the way of the kind of "work" that guys like Dean do, looking at him, Chuck Bartowski, and perhaps a few more. I also want to include the show in a big feature I'm working on about stunt work on television. So hang in there, stay tuned, and please share your own advice/plans for hell-atus in the comments! Writing will only take up so much of my time; I might need more of a fix!