Supernatural 4.3: "In the Beginning"

For quite some time now, I've held the theory that Sam would go darkside, forcing Dean to do whatever it takes to bring him back from the brink. I expected it to happen before Dean's expiration date came due at the end of the third season, but now we have evidence that it was delayed for a more dramatically satisfying moment.


Casstiel puts it all on the table for Dean: Sam, as the sole survivor of Azazel's Antichrist Gladiator competition, is in danger of fulfilling whatever Azazel had in mind for his protege. Apparently the angels don't know that plan, and it's got everyone in a whirlwind over what Sam might do. Combine that with Lilith's ongoing plan to open the 66 seals and unleash Lucifer, and there are plenty of issues all around.


So the idea, as expected, is that Dean is the one person in the whole world who can turn Sam off the road to perdition, and in the process, perhaps stop Lilith’s little run at glory. And considering that Sam is hiding a lot from Dean at the moment, it could be an uphill battle. Add to that the possibility that Lilith's plan was in direct competition with Azazel's plan, thus explaining why Lilith wanted Sam out of the picture, and things get ugly. Sam could appear to be doing the right thing, while all the while carving out opportunity for his own plans.


The nice thing about all of this is that it's consistent with everything that came before it. Ruby told Sam that there was something they didn't know about Mary and her circumstances, and sure enough, that was an understatement. Not only was Mary a total hottie (and Dean's reaction to that was classic), but she cut the deal that led to the events in November 1983. And the path to that decision was laid with unexpected and powerful moments.


Early on, I had speculated that John Winchester's family had been hunters, and that Azazel had attacked the family because of some history there. Close, but no cigar. I never would have guessed that Mary came from a family of hunters, or that she was desperate to escape that world. It adds endless layers of tragedy to a story that is already bathing in it.


One might ask, of course, if the truth is even worse than Dean realizes. Was Dean always the catalyst for the death of Mary's parents, John's initial death, and Mary's deal with Azazel? If Dean hadn’t been there, would any of it happened? Casstiel hints at the possibility that the Winchesters' ordeals have all been designed to serve a higher purpose, so from that point of view, God might have foreseen the necessity of having a pair like Sam and Dean at this point in the struggle.


But if Dean was always the one who triggered the family tragedy, how is that going to weigh on him? The Brothers Winchester already carry guilt around like it's going out of style, and this is a major deal. And I can definitely see this playing into Dean's anger with God over how the war against the demons has been handled, which in turn provides more grist for the drama mill.


None of which is a negative by any means; this is the kind of material that consistently puts "Supernatural" at the top of my list. Not a moment of this episode was wasted, and some of the revelations left me floored. In short, it was everything I could ever ask of an episode of "Supernatural" and more, and it sets the bar even higher for the rest of the season.

Comments

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Oct 4, 2008 5:39PM EDT

Nice, neat review.And a fabulous episode.However, even now I find it hard to believe that Sam has it in him to go completely off the map and turn all antichrist. Yes, he's dipping into his "forbidden" abilities, but as of yet he only uses them to save people.If he survived the death of Dean without becoming satanic, it's hard to imagine what could drive him to join the dark side.(Yellow-eyed Demon: Sam....I am your father!Sam: NOOOOOOOOooooooO! It's not true!) Ha ha.Nope, not even that. Anyhow, now we can anticipate some brotherly drama of a satisfying sort. Dean now knows about Sam's demon blood ( a secret Sam has kept since season 2), and he knows he's doing dirty business in the night. Sooooo...should be a good one next thursday.Man, how are they going to maintain the quality level of this season thus far? It's gonna be a struggle. They've begun so very well.

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Oct 4, 2008 8:25PM EDT

i personaly felt the reasoning behind sending dean back was to test him and reveal to him the secrets that lay within sam. god needs dean. i highly doubt god would give dean a chance to fix his family therefore making dean normal ( AND WROTHLESS!!) this show is amazing i watched this episode 4 times!!!!

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Oct 4, 2008 9:22PM EDT

(sam..i am your father!!looool) i don't think dean was the catalyst for the death of john and mary's parents...it would have panned out a different way even if he wasn't there. i think that was the whole point castiel sent him back to show him that he couldn't change it no matter what (like in final destination even if they prevented it earlier, it would have happened later on). i must admit that supernatural has surpassed all my expectations this season..so far any ways...i thought we were going to see a few mediocrre episodes and then a great finale. if this is what we are getting now imagine what the finale is going to be like...i just hope they don't mess it up!!!

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Oct 8, 2008 1:23PM EDT

I don't think that the connection between Sam developing his psychic powers and thus becoming evil is out of step with the show at all. In fact, it's perfectly in tune. It's what they feared in Season 2. There were only two people among Azazel's children who didn't become killers- Andy and Sam. The others either died before they were tested or turned evil and were killed. Although I don't trust Castiel and certainly "God" must have an agenda of his own that isn't necessarily in humankind's best interest; I don't think Ruby and Azazel have a more altruistic endgame either. But regardless of anyone's plans, Sam is already displaying signs of darkness. He's keeping secrets from Dean- and look how smooth he was when Dean showed up and Ruby was in Sam's hotel room? Sam and Ruby didn't miss a beat in lying to Dean and pretending she was a one night stand. Even with the shock of seeing Dean alive again, Sam still had the presence of mind to deceive him. Also in Lazarus Rising, he didn't have to go after those demons by himself- leaving Dean alone. They were no immediate threat and they had bigger fish to fry, but Sam couldn't let it go. He had to run out and use his powers to destroy them. And that smile he gave Ruby when she praised him? He's definitely getting a swollen head. And again in 4x03, he left Dean alone to go out with Ruby and use his powers. Sure he might be helping people, but the road to hell his paved with good intentions. Dean said as much to him in No Rest For the Wicked. The very fact that Ruby wants Sam to use his powers, says to me that they're bad. I don't trust her at all, I don't think she wants to help Sam- she must have an agenda of her own. In fact, she could be loyal to Azazel and be trying to finish his work by encouraging Sam to use his powers. Anyway, I don't think the show is necessarily going to be about good vs evil, but rather the lesser of two evils vs. evil. lol

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