Supernatural Season Eight Episode Five “Blood Brother” TV REVIEW
Episode 8.05 Writer: Ben Edlund Director: Guy Bee
THE ONE WHERE Benny ties up loose ends by cutting off a lot of heads, Cas joins Team Escpae in purgatory and Sam fixes a sink.
VERDICT After a double whammy of worryingly humdrum/worryingly crap tales Supernatural gets back on track with an episode that goes big on the arc, and the flashbacks.
Benny’s backstory is a genuinely heartbreaking piece of storytelling. Unfolding like a Southern Gothic tragedy, there’s more than a hint of Interview With The Vampire to Benny’s tumultuous relationship with his Maker (or “The Old Man”, played by a man who looks anything but old, brilliantly) and the woman he loves. Rather than stretch out Benny’s mystery, or try and crowbar it into the Crowley/Hell Gate half of this year’s season arc, it’s kept completely standalone, and works better for it. Ty Olsson gets a pair of stunning monologues that veer dangerously close to exposition dumps, but are utterly compelling because of the stellar writing and delivery. One, in which Benny recounts his nest’s high seas tactics, is even reminiscent of Quint’s infamous Indianapolis speech in Jaws.
Handy Man Sam’s (Handy-Sam’s?) half of the episode is significantly less interesting, frequently hilarious (for all the wrong reasons) but occasionally quite sweet once you get past the saccharine soft focus and sickly luvvy duvvy eyes. At this stage it’s difficult to know what the point of these flashbacks are. We know Sam ends up with Amelia and Riot at some point, but can it really have meant that much if he was willing to run away with Dean again at the drop of a hat? We’ve no doubt Carver and co have a trick up their sleeve, but at present it’s difficult to care about Sam’s hunting holiday.
We also take another trip to purgatory for the first time in a few weeks. Of the three scenes one foreshadows the reason why Cas still isn’t topside, the other explains that Benny went vegetarian before being sent to the underworld; and there’s a superb Leviathan fight which manages to make the black goo beasties significantly cooler than they were throughout the whole of the seventh season.
TITLE TATTLE The “Blood Brother” of the title could be Benny (the nest’s blood brother) or Sam (Dean’s blood brother); but is more likely referring to Dean who is Sam’s blood brother (family) and Benny’s (because they chopped a lot of heads off together in purgatory).
Sam: “Kid’s like Rain Man.” Dean: “He’s like a crappy little credit-card-counting criminal prodigy Rain Man.”
SAM’S HANGDOG EXPRESSION OF THE WEEK
WHAT’S IN A NAME? “Vampirates” is also the name of a children’s book series by British author Justin Somper
IT’S WOSSERNAME! Sam’s love interest Amelia is played by Liane Balaban, who you might recognise from her captivating turn as omniglot Anna in Alphas.
OFF WITH THEIR HEADS We counted no less than five (on screen) decapitations this week. Impressive, even for Supernatural.
CHARACTER We learn that Benny stopped killing humans before he was sent to purgatory, which takes the edge off the character a little. How much more dramatic potential would there have been in Dean had brought Benny back from beyond knowing full well he was likely to kill again?
FEATURED MUSIC Supernatural joins Misfits and Chuck as yet another SF show to feature a memorable rendition of “In the Hall of the Mountain King”, in this case, whistled during one of the more violent flashbacks.
Castiel: “It does present a curious curl in the metaphysics, doesn’t it? If you murder a monster in monster heaven, where does it go?” Benny: “And this is the crazy aunt I want to take on the road?” Castiel: “I am not your aunt.” Benny: “What? Really?” Castiel: “I have no possible relationship to your sibling offspring.”