Supernatural 5.14 “My Bloody Valentine” Review

Ew. That was the grossest episode of Supernatural I’ve seen in a while. Also one of the most unexpectedly affecting. When spoilers for ‘My Bloody Valentine’ came out, I figured pairing Ben Edlund with a rogue Cupid was going to be a recipe for disaster. Edlund’s a hit and miss writer for me — I loved ‘Nightshifter’ and ‘Monster Movie,’ but ‘Malleus Maleficarum’ and ‘Ghostfacers’ are two of my least favorite episodes of the series. This season, between ‘The End,’ ‘Abandon All Hope,’ and this episode, I’m convinced that he’s the only one with half a handle on the characters’ histories and motivations anymore. And this is the guy who wrote the Puppet Angel episode! The world, she is topsy turvy. (He also wrote the fantastic Firefly episode ‘Jaynesville,’ so I don’t know why I’m that surprised.)

Quick rundown of tonight’s toryline: Cupid was in town and the boys were convinced that his “arrows” were leading lovers to devour each other alive, along with a multitude of other passion-induced suicides. Cupid, however, was not at fault. Enter the second Horseman of the Apocalypse, Famine. The old dude’s presence in the town accelerated the citizens’ hungers to the point where they died and he could feast on their sooooouls. Sam was affected and started lusting after demon blood again, so Dean did what any good brother would do and handcuffed him to the bathroom sink so that he could go take care of the monster himself. Dean went to get Famine’s ring, as he and Sam did with War, but was ambushed by demon minions. Sam showed up, complete with a hokey blood goatee (seriously, makeup — that was terrible) and used his newly re-vamped OMGPOWERS to defeat the minions and suck the demon souls from Famine. Or something like that. I’m not entirely sure what happened to Famine. Then Dean tossed Sam back into Bobby’s detox room. Sam screamed some more and Dean was wonderfully angsty for the first time in… well, a long time.

While I was excited to see another horseman, Famine was absolutely ridiculous. Don’t get me wrong — I thought War was overdone as well, but the sight of a caravan of black Escalades escorting a geriatric, wheelchair-ridden, oxygen sucking skeleton of a man elicited a “HeheheHEE! Oh, wait. They’re actually serious,” from me. I like the idea of Famine creating a hunger among the townspeople, but I just wish the vessel himself hadn’t been so overdone. While Dean was just standing there during Sam’s power trip, all I could think was, “Dude! You have a knife! The grandpa on oxygen is distracted. Now would be a GREAT time to get rid of that ring… ok, or you could just keep standing there.” At this point, I’m sorta dreading Pestilence. The status of the ring was never resolved, but I can only assume that the guys got it before they hauled Sam back to South Dakota.

Speaking of hauling Sam back to rehab, that’s a scene that I really wanted to see. Did Sam volunteer himself, or did he agree at Dean’s prompting, or was he dragged kicking and screaming to the vault? I was able to sympathize with Sam much more during tonight’s Addiction 2.0 than during Season 4, probably because he did what I would have expected the character to do — man up to Dean, tell him what was going on and figure out a way to manage the problem. (I also thought Jared Padalecki did a particularly nice job with the scene where he was staring into the mirror while Dean and Castiel talked in the background.) Now, I think leaving Sam handcuffed and helpless in the bathroom with a cabinet in front of the door probably wasn’t the best plan, as evidenced by the demon infiltration, but at least it was something. (What, no Devil’s Trap in the doorway?) While I appreciate that the writers haven’t forgotten about the demon blood addiction, this episode managed to confuse me yet again about the nature of Sam’s powers. Ruby’s comment in 4.22 about Sam not needing the demon blood to jump-start his powers seems to conflict with what we saw here. Or it was just an ill attempt at a Dumbo joke. I’m also somewhat confused as to whether or not there are adverse effects to the quantity of demon blood he consumes — the end of Season 4 stressed that the amount of blood necessary to give Sam enough juice to kill Lilith would alter him permanently, but this episode indicated he can consume unlimited quantities with no side effects, which is why he’s the primo Lucifer vessel. Which also makes little sense because Lucifer’s intending to fight angels, not demons, so a demon exorcism/blood consumption power isn’t all that helpful… but maybe I’m missing something.

And then there’s Dean. Oh, Dean. So apparently the reason he was unaffected by Famine is because he hungers for nothing — he is but an empty shell. While I appreciate the attempt to characterize Dean as something more than a bumbling baboon who only concerns himself with sex (“Unattached Drifter Christmas” was one of the best lines of the night), cheeseburgers, and speaking in the most growly voice possible, I think there are still hungers within. He hungers for peace and rest. He might even still hunger for paternal approval, no? They’re not vices the same way gluttony or lust may be, but they are hungers nonetheless. That nitpick aside, Dean’s attitude seemed more… well, Dean-like tonight than it has in a long time. Competent (mostly), gritty, and focused. And the last scene — wow. Killer. And I loved it because it was a perfect example of how, when this show gets something right, it gets it right. Dean, junkyard, bottle of whiskey, Impala. Perfect combination. Everything about Jensen Ackles’ body language was screaming lost and destroyed. It wasn’t a long, angsty tirade about how he feels. It was visual and visceral. I didn’t even mind the manly tears! Probably because I haven’t seen them in a while. And then Dean started pleading with a God he doesn’t believe in and it was so hard for him, he could barely even articulate it. And you know what? That short, thirty second scene at the end packed a bigger emotional punch than ‘Levee’ and ‘Lucifer Rising’ combined. Kudos to Edlund for letting Ackles do the heavy lifting there. That’s how you handle character development.

So the gross-out effects were good (the teaser scene made me wish I hadn’t had dinner so close to watching), the characters were strong and the monster was okay. All in all, a vast improvement over the last few episodes. Still not much movement on the mytharc, but at least we remembered there’s an Apocalypse going on out there. Aaaaand now we have to wait until March 25th for the show to come back. Enjoy your hiatus, folks!

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