By John Keegan
I think my favorite parts of the episode took place in the past. We got to see Dean as the not-so-dutiful son, bristling at the command to watch over the younger, less capable Sam. Considering Dean’s almost obsessive desire to protect and maintain family, it’s a nice bit of contrast. What child doesn’t occasionally wish that siblings would disappear and no longer be a responsibility?
It also highlights just how screwed up childhood was for Dean and Sam. They were running around the country from place to place, dealing with demonic entities and a father whose idea of education was unique, to say the least. It’s surprising that Dean and Sam were able to function in normal society at any level. (In fact, more flashbacks focusing on that very topic would be a nice touch. Maybe in the second season?)
Those flashbacks explained the depth of guilt that drove Dean in this episode. It made the episode a lot more interesting. Sure, the creature in this episode was pretty damn neat, and it was disturbing to think of something that would victimize children to such a degree. I usually don’t like it when writers take the easy way out and place children in peril to generate cheap drama, but in this particular case, it was a logical extension of the central concept.
I actually don’t have a lot more to say about this episode. It was a good, solid story with a great (if admittedly non-subtle) look at Dean’s childhood. I think I was equally excited by the previews for the final episodes of the season. Things look like they’re going to get intense, and that’s just the way I like it!
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