Supernatural has put Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) through so much crap over the past eight seasons that in last night’s episode, “Trial and Error,” when Dean finally got his own room I wanted to give him a hug. I mean, seriously, how sweet was that scene where he was decorating his walls? He hasn’t had a room to call his own since before his mom died back in Lawrence, and he was like a kid all over again — albeit a kid who decorates his personal space with shotguns and machetes, but with childlike enthusiasm all the same. When he took out that photo of him and his mom and set it oh so gingerly on the nightstand, my heart just broke. We haven’t seen him this happy in so long, and I was ecstatic for him. Until, that is, later on in the hour when we found out the real reason why Dean couldn’t keep that smile off his face. But we’ll get to that.
Now that he had a little down time, Dean showed Sam around his newly decorated room. “I haven’t had my own room… ever. I am making this awesome,” he proudly told Sam. “I got my kick ass vinyl. I’ve got this killer mattress: memory foam. It remembers me! And it’s clean too, there’s no funky smell, no creepy motel stains… I’m nesting. Okay?”
Too bad their down time was short lived: after months of no sleep, headaches, nosebleeds, and chugging coffee and Advil like water, Kevin Tran finally figured out how to close the gates of hell once and for all! Looking a little worse for wear — hey, when Dean of all people tells you to eat a salad and take a shower, you know you’re not at your best —Kevin proudly told Dean and Sam that one must complete three trials in order to close the gates. “What, so God wants us to take the SATs?” Sam asked. “I guess, um, he works in mysterious ways?” Kevin replied. “Yeah, mysterious, douchey ways,” Dean said.
The first trial was to bathe in the blood of a hell hound, and the brothers knew crossroads demons always have one lying around, so off they went to find a deal that was about to expire. After finding a Dallas-like clan – J.R. and gang, according to Dean – who struck oil in their backyard almost 10 years ago to the day, the boys knew a crossroads demon was about to sic a hellhound on one of the family members.
Before they left, it was adorable how motherly Sam got towards Kevin. After telling him to take better care of himself, Sam gave the advice many college kids abide by on a binge drinking extravaganza (what, that was just me?): “This whole saving the world thing? It’s a marathon, not a sprint.” Let’s hope this wasn’t foreshadowing that Kevin would run into some health trouble before decoding the second two trials…
After the hellhound took out two of the family members – the crossroads demon made more than one deal in same family, and just Sam and Dean’s luck, that demon was none other than Crowley himself – Sam and Dean knew they had to work quickly before the rest of the dealmakers were killed. In their rush to find the hound, Dean finally came clean about why he’d been so recklessly gung ho and enthusiastic about the trials, and why he was so adamant about being the one who took the trials.
Dean was convinced that this would end with one of the brothers dead… or worse. He happily took that position because Sam was the “brains” while Dean is just the “grunt.” Sam said he sees a light at the end of the tunnel when Dean doesn’t, so Dean was happy to die with a gun in his hand — he thought that was all he had waiting for him.
This was the saddest thing Dean had ever said in eight seasons, and the fact that he said it with a smile on his face made it 10 times worse. He wanted Sam to grow old, fat, and balding, a Man of Letters with a wife and kids, while Dean died from the trials. He thought that was the only happy ending available to him, and he’d resigned from trying to figure out any other way. His insecurities were still there after all this time; he though he wasn’t worth trying to save. He was the sacrificial lamb for his brother.
But Sam wouldn’t just take that lying down. You see, his insecurities were still raging as well. After all the times Sam had let down his brother and made the wrong choices, he was determined to prove to Dean that he was good and that he wouldn’t abandon Dean. So when Dean was about to be ripped to shreds by the hellhound, Sam came in and saved the day, but as a result ended up being the one covered in the hell hound blood. It was a nice way to write the scene since Sam didn’t deliberately disobey Dean; he was just saving his brother’s life. Otherwise we would have been in the middle of another fight between the brothers.
Dean didn’t want Sam to complete the ritual of the first trial; instead he wanted to track down another hell hound. Sam knew they had already come this far, though, and it only made sense for him to complete the trials. He gave Dean a speech filled with raw emotion to make him see that he wasn’t going to let his brother give up on living.
“Shutting the gates of hell is a suicide mission for you. I want to slam hell shut too, but I want to survive it. I want to live!” Sam yelled at Dean. And then he listed all the things Dean had to live for: friends and family who love him, and the fact that he’s the best hunter Sam had ever seen, even better than their father (which you knew struck a chord with Dean). Dean had so many reasons to keep going after they shut the gates of hell, and Sam finally got through to him. Dean allowed him to complete the first trial, and now they have only two more to go.
Though they still haven’t addressed the whole Amelia/Benny of it all, the brothers finally seem to have gotten to a good place with each other for the first time in many seasons. They had honest, open heart-to-hearts, revealing the emotions they’ve kept buried for years, and for the first time it wasn’t in a hurtful way. Sam and Dean were building each other up, not tearing each other down. It was heartwarming to see the love between the brothers return after all the crap they’ve been put through.
The best line of the night came from the woman who ran the farm for the family, describing the middle daughter, a country singer who hit rock bottom: “Her last album was holiday songs for dogs. My favorites were ‘Jingle Bark Rock’ and ‘Don’t Pee on This Tree, Happy Arbor Day.’” I would totally buy that album, wouldn’t you?
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[Photo Credit: Diyah Pera/The CW]