Supernatural: “The Purge”

May I just say that I think it’s cruel to give us “Purge” and then leave us hanging while the Winter Olympics take over television for the next few weeks? I’m not even sure what I’m going to do to distract myself. I have lots of feelings about this episode.

“Purge” is a streamlined, sleek version of an earlier season episode. Which amuses me since the episode centers on a monster that literally sucks the fat out of people. After nine seasons, the writers know the drill, where to trim the fat, beef up the tension and heartbreak, and add an extra side of character development.

While some shows would sink into a rut with this formula being so well developed, “Purge” shows that the Supernatural crew know how to stay away from well-traveled paths. They’re willing to explore the darkness that other shows just can’t seem to address. All while being silly with their shout-outs to old episodes, poking fun at politicians, and banter.

I don’t think we’ve had a brother-centric episode for a while. I love Castiel, but it was a nice change of pace to see Dean and Sam have to work out their problems together with no one to distract them. If they keep pushing this discussion off then the rift between them grows. So that’s the reason for “Purge.” We finally get to the bottom of what makes the brothers different and the fundamentals of their deepest emotions and thoughts. It isn’t pretty.

“Purge” sees the Winchesters working in a tenuous new relationship with the rule for their interactions set up by Sam: they can work together, but they can’t be family anymore. Sam has always been the one to shy away from family. He doesn’t want the guilt or the co-dependency. He is much more independent than Dean and enjoys being on his own. Dean, on the other hand, is having a hard time following this rule. It hurts him that Sam doesn’t seem to care about their past, but he really doesn’t want to be alone so he compromises as well as he can.

I’ve always liked Dean better, despite his faults, and this episode showed me why. No matter how messed up Dean may be, no matter what stupid decisions he makes, he is trying. He never gives up. He is tenacious, passionate, and he keeps fighting for what he wants. Sam, on the other hand, is someone who eventually gives in or gives up. He doesn’t share Dean’s stamina, his tenacity, or his passion. Sam may be the “good” brother, but Dean is the one I’d like to be.

I think I really started noticing my dislike of Sam in this episode. I’ve never been a huge fan (I can understand his need to separate himself from his family, but I’m much more like Dean in personality and I don’t understand how Sam operates) and the conversation the brothers had clinched it for me.

Sam calls Dean out near the end of “Purge” saying that he only rescued Sam for selfish reasons. “You don’t want to be alone,” Sam says. Dean counters by saying if he had been dying, Sam would have saved him. “No, I wouldn’t,” says Sam. He leaves before he can see the betrayal in his brother’s eyes.

Picture 1Sam may be right about Dean not wanting to be alone, but what Sam doesn’t realize is that Dean was also thinking of Sam. He tried to put himself in Sam’s shoes to think about what he would want. Dean would want to be rescued. And Sam wouldn’t have brought him back to life. How heartbreaking is that? Sam is selfish in his own way, too. He doesn’t consider Dean’s feelings in the matter, he just wants to be done with everything. He doesn’t want to fight anymore. And he can’t forgive Dean for keeping him alive. Sam would rather leave Dean to fight by himself. He’d rather say goodbye than to have to rescue one more person. I think Dean is the better person, for all his mistakes.

Apart from the “fudge” and “pudding” references, the silly Sarah Palin-esque character (“Dontcha know? Whack-a-doo!”), and the interesting character development (the boys compromise and kill the monster but leave its non-violent family member alive) we see Dean go through, “Purge” was actually quite tragic.

We’re finally getting to the core of what make the Winchesters the Winchesters. Both of them are brave, selfish, and exhausted. Sam is ready to be done. He’s ready to say goodbye. But Dean keeps fighting. He feels the responsibility of caring for other people. And he doesn’t want to do it alone. His relationship with Sam, while messy and unhealthy, is important to him. Sam keeps surprising him with a coldness he doesn’t understand, and a logical progression that is pushing them apart. If Sam is Spock then Dean is Captain Kirk.

I am quite upset that we don’t get another episode for the duration of the Winter Olympics. I need to see this relationship resolve, whatever it is going to become. Also, the promo for the next episode showed us the guest star: none other than Snooki. Really, CW? (I’m hoping it turns out like the Paris Hilton episode, which was pretty hilarious).

K.M. Cone

K.M. Cone

K.M. Cone is a story nerd, particularly for the episodic stories told via the medium of television. When not parked in front of the TV, K.M. Cone can be found writing kooky urban fantasy on her personal site, attempting to learn German, or making a huge pot of soup for her friends, who are probably coming over to join her in her latest TV or animated film obsession.
K.M. Cone

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