In the fifteenth episode of the seventh season ofÂ Supernatural, Sam and Dean are drawn back to an old case when it appears a demon has somehow resurfaced from Hell. Intrigued? Then itâ€™s time for Mark to watchÂ Supernatural.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of serial killers, alcoholism, PTSD/trauma, gore/body horror.
THIS EPISODE WAS TOO MUCHÂ WHAT THE HELL.
Revisiting the Past
There are a number of ways to look at what happens in â€œRepo Man,â€ as well as at least two or three different story threads weaved throughout this episode, so letâ€™s start with the most obvious one. While past cases have come back to haunt the Winchesters, and while weâ€™ve also seen characters from long ago return to the screen (hello, Lucifer!), this truly felt like the first examination of what it was like to be aÂ victim from one of these cases. Itâ€™s something thatâ€™s completely brushed over by the narrative of this show because of the nature of how itâ€™s framed. Since weâ€™re always following the Winchesters as they move from city-to-city across America, it means we never see the fallout. We rarely revisit old characters to see how theyâ€™re doing or how theyâ€™ve changed since their paths crossed with the Winchesters. And even when we have? I think you could state that theyâ€™ve mostly been able to get on with their lives in their own way. (Hell, until her son is kidnapped, isnâ€™t that precisely what Nora Havelock does?)
So whatâ€™s interesting to me about how the first half of â€œRepo Manâ€ is framed is that the show gives an idea what it might be like to cross the Winchesters andÂ not really turn out all that well. The portrait of Jeffrey that we get (and itâ€™s important to call it that for ~reasons~) is one that shows us how much his life changed since being possessed. Is he in theÂ worst place imaginable? No, not at all, and I did appreciate, even given the big twist, that Jeffreyâ€™s support group was not played as a joke. He turned to alcohol when he couldnâ€™t cope with the reality of his life anymore, and those people â€“ particularly Al â€“ helped him gain control of his life. (OH, THE TRAGIC IRONY, I CANâ€™T DEAL WITH IT.)
Unless you get into hunting, thereâ€™s simply nothing for victims of supernatural violence to help them through what theyâ€™ve experienced. (Let me take this time to recommend the stunning novella,Â We Are All Completely Fine by Daryl Gregory, which has a simple set-up: What if five survivors of horror movie scenarios did group therapy?Â Youâ€™re welcome.) That means that some of them are not going to cope with their trauma well. Now, I had this huge thing I was gonna write about Jeffreyâ€™s story and how sad it made me and I fell for this and GODDAMN IT.
This isnâ€™t the first time the show has featured real human evil as the â€œantagonist,â€ but the twist halfway through â€œRepo Manâ€ is particularly heartbreaking because we have to accept that we fell for Jeffreyâ€™s act. (I fell for it. Iâ€™m including yâ€™all in a collective â€œweâ€ because, once again, it makes me feel like a better person.) But itÂ is new to see a demon possession as a catalyst for something that was already within a person. Jeffrey was not a victim here; no, he always wanted to kill all those women, and the demon that possessed him was what made him confident enough to do it. I wrongly assumed that Jeffrey was possessed in the present time, but this is so much worse than possession. Jeffrey was a goddamn serial killer, and he wanted to bring that demon back toÂ willingly be possessed.
This is so fucked up. SO FUCKED UP. Yâ€™all, he cut off Noraâ€™s sonâ€™s ear OUT OF SPITE. What the hell.
I retroactively feelÂ even sadder about Sam Winchester. While we saw Samâ€™s struggle with his Hell-ish hallucinations earlier this season, most of the time, we just have to iamgine what Samâ€™s going through. This episode does not allow us that luxury anymore, and now we get a fuller look at exactly what Samâ€™s been going through this season.
AND ITâ€™S SO AWFUL. While itâ€™s nice that Mark Pellegrino is in this episode, I justâ€¦ CAN SAM GET A BREAK? PLEASE? Itâ€™s not just that heâ€™s seeing Lucifer every waking minute. Dealing with a hallucination that acts like an attention-starved child is annoying, sure, but then we find out that the hallucinations manifests in glimpses of Hell. LIKE, THAT SCENE IN THE LIBRARY IS ONE OF THE LEAST OKAY THINGS IN THE ENTIREÂ SUPERNATURAL UNIVERSE. AndÂ this is what Samâ€™s been dealing with forÂ months. M O N T H S. Heâ€™s been seeing violent images. Heâ€™s been tempted with a version of his subconscious, and that might be the worst part of this.
Isnâ€™t it, though? Lucifer helps Sam work through the case heâ€™s on; thatâ€™s undeniable. But itâ€™s notÂ actually Lucifer but a part of Samâ€™s subconscious. When we find out that Samâ€™s ignored his hallucinations for months, itâ€™s right at the time when his hallucination tempts him the most. Samâ€™s loneliness works against him, and he eventually caves to Lucifer, and ITâ€™S SO WEIRD TO WATCH. Itâ€™s a jarring experience because I had to constantly remind myself that this wasnâ€™t a physical manifestation of Lucifer. And yet? That doesnâ€™t mean that this didnâ€™t have physical ramifications. We see how Samâ€™s reliance on pain to bring him back to reality has slowly eroded, so much so that by the end of â€œRepo Man,â€ itâ€™s shown to not work anymore. So how will Sam ground himself? How is he going to deal with an ever-present Lucifer?
Lord, I just realized that when Dean eventually finds out whatâ€™s happening with his brother, heâ€™s going to react poorly. He is! IT CANâ€™T END WELL. I donâ€™t even know how SamÂ can get help. Is this a supernatural malady, or is this specifically a mental issue? Could therapy help him? WHY ARENâ€™T THERE THERAPISTS FOR HUNTERS?Â When will Sam Winchester be left alone?
The video for â€œRepo Manâ€ can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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