I've talked a bit in previous eps about the theme of Dean's friendships - both with Cas and with Benny - and how it makes Dean feel responsible for them. Blood Brothers again stresses this theme - both with the title and within the various scenes. Many people commented at the poll post that they didn't particularly like the Benny/wife story or the wife in particular. I agree, and yet I feel that this side story is all about making a point about Benny and about Benny and Dean’s friendship, and not really important in itself.
If I remember this right, we will also be going a lot more into Sam and Amelia, which is a bit tiresome but is the same as the Benny storyline in that it explains what was and is going on inside Sam's head. The scenes are also obviously picked for parallels with Benny’s story and with Benny and Dean trying to adjust to being back on Earth - because Sam is still trying to adjust as well.
And finally Sam's reaction to Dean's blood brother, which has always made me feel ill, and is so unlike the Sam we've known and we just saw in Bitten who does not reject a “monster” outright for what they are, but gives them a chance to prove themselves. He is terribly upset to realize that this friend of Dean’s is a vampire… upset enough that I can’t think of it just as worry for Dean or wariness against monsters. This is Sam hurt by Dean seemingly choosing a vampire over him to go on a hunt with. Despite all his talk about going back to normal life, Dean doing fine without him, any hunter being able to take his place and sounding like he's not at all interested in hunting except for to close the gates of hell, Sam is shocked and hurt by it. It is something that is going to eat at him all season.
"In the Hall of the Mountain King" from Peer Gynt, Suite No. 1, Op. 46. by Edvard Grieg
(whistled by Benny in Purgatory)
We start with Benny meeting with an old family member of his vamp nest, who actually had held his legs while the “old man” sawed off his head. This scene is so well made. I really like watching it.
Then, Sam and Dean coming into a motel room supposedly rented by Kevin. This is another in a trail of motel rooms that Kevin has left for them. Sam and Dean are both grumpy from having been played. They are snapping at each other about who’s fault it is. Dean says it’s Sam’s for not catching it earlier, and Sam says it’s Dean’s for trying to kill his mother in the first place.
It is important to remember though that Sam was not angry with Dean for almost killing Kevin’s mom at the time so it is unlikely that he is truly angry here. Nor do I think Dean is really angry at Sam for not being able to catch Kevin. It’s them taking their frustrations out on each other. Then Dean gets the phone call from Benny and he goes outside to talk with him. Sam peeks through the window wondering who might be calling Dean. Dean hears from Benny that he’s messed up, and Dean’s like “what did you do?” thinking he went off the rails.
He hasn’t though, just bitten off almost more than he can chew(haha), taking on a half a dozen vamps all on his own. He asks Dean for another favor, and Dean goes in to tell Sam that he’s going to be gone for a few days taking care of some personal stuff.
Sam is sputtering in indignation, first that Dean would put something in front of finding Kevin(because Sam still wants to get this over with and go back to a normal life, and secondly that Dean has some personal crap to deal with that he won’t explain to Sam.
Dean tells him they might as well use the room, so Sam should stay and do some research on Kevin while he is gone.
He takes the Toblerone :D
In the car, we see Dean remembering how he and Benny fought together in Purgatory. We see Dean touch Benny on the arm to let him know to beware of the next monster, and the touch seems very personal and friendly.
Benny’s deadly whistling is very cool as well. Basically we see them working well together, much like Sam and Dean.
Sam, meanwhile, is stalking... no, “is concerned about,” Amelia. He starts looking her up, or actually resumes looking her up (he had all the information up on his screen already). As he does, he hears a noise in the other room and realizes it’s the fan. I’ll stop here once and note that I think Sam looking Amelia up like this while Dean goes after Benny shows that both of them are having a hard time letting go of their past. They are both "worried" about their friend/partner’s safety and wellbeing.
Sam fixes the fan and remembers how he became the fixer upper at the motel he had been staying at. He has a little satisfied smile as he sees the fan run properly without noise. It also reminds me of how Dean is a fixer too.
Meanwhile, Dean gets to the dock and finds the AB blood in the back of Benny’s truck. He shakes his head as he looks at the blood a moment before closing the lid and going off to find Benny. I get the impression he is wondering to himself how he got himself into helping a vamp like this, and how he would have never imagined something like this before his trip to Purgatory.
He finds Benny and after a few bags of blood, Benny is as good as new. Dean is again surprised at how good Benny looks afterwards, but when Benny tries to leave after saying his thank you, Dean stops him, asking what Benny is upto.
DEAN: Benny, what’s going on?
BENNY:You and that whole friend thing, man.
And then I think it’s Benny’s flashback we see here, because he his remembering the "whole friend thing" in Purgatory.
Cas, who’s just killed a monster with his angel powers comes up to them, wondering what happens to a monster murdered in monster heaven.
BENNY: And this is the crazy aunt I want to take on the road?
CAS: I am not your aunt.
I seriously love this scene, Cas and Benny arguing and Dean in the middle trying to stop it. Reminds me of Sam and dad a bit too. But they do agree on one thing, Cas shouldn’t be coming with them because he is a monster magnet, and he probably won’t be able to get through the portal anyway.
DEAN: Cas, we are going to shove your ass through the eye of that needle if it kills all three of us.
Of course Benny objects to that, but Dean is the one with the plan and the mojo so it’s not like he has a say. And Benny is more impressed with this than he lets on. This is what Benny remembers of Dean and friendship - basically, he never gives up on saving them and is willing to die saving them whether they want to be saved or not… which actually reminds me of the end of the season as well.
BENNY: It’s good to know you’re as dumb as ever.
Benny then tells Dean about his plan to kill the “old man.” Dean’s like, “why?” and Benny tells him he’s going to kill him or get killed, and I’m reminded of how Benny must be feeling at this point. Probably overwhelmed with the temptations. It’s almost a suicide mission to go kill his maker. Vengeance may be the reason, but it maybe more than that.
Back to Sam, who is now outside the room sitting on a bench with his computer when sounds from the ice machine reminds him of his work at the motel again, and how fixing a sink put him back in contact with Amelia, who despite having a pretty full time job as a doctor at the clinic, has not settled into the town but is living at the motel.
She is pretty shocked to see him there and accuses him of being creepy and sneaking into her room while she was gone. He quickly assures her that he is just fixing her sink.
Dean decides to go with Benny and they start combing the vamp belongings for where the nest might be. Benny tells Dean about how they used to attack ships for their supply of humans/blood and we have a cute scene of Dean’s naming the vampires -
And when Benny smiles and tells Dean that in all the years they did it, they never thought of that name, and Dean’s like, you’re kidding it’s the third thing that comes out of your mouth, and Bobby’s like, uh, no… but the way he deals with Dean here, not rolling his eyes like Sam (which he would I’m sure if he had had more time with Dean) but kind of looking at Dean like You’re the most adorable guy… is just heartwarming and… no wonder they are are ship.
Then they are on their way to Prentiss Island. In the car, Dean asks Benny why he was killed by his maker if he was the favorite,and Benny tells him about his love story with a human girl, and how that changed his view as a vampire. He realized how precious life was and did not want to be like other vampires anymore. He left the nest to be with Andrea:
BENNY: Everything I’d been or done before, just seemed to vanish into what we had become together.
So first, I know that this is supposed to parallel Sam/Amelia somehow, like Sam escapes the hunter life and is able to forget the life he had (and the pain of losing Dean) by being with her. Another parallel is the fact that the maker comes to kill Benny because he strayed from the nest. Sort of goes with the whole you can’t escape who you are theme from Bitten, and Sam trying to live a normal life.
When Dean and Benny get to the island, Dean starts to type a message to Sam, telling him where he is and what he is doing: “Hunting vamps nest on Prentiss Island, not alone.” then he thinks better of it and erases it. My interpretation is that he feels he has to let Sam know what is going on, now that it is not just giving Benny some blood to get on his feet again, but the situation is so complicated that he feels that the short message will just confuse him, and he decides to phone him later instead.
BENNY: It’s weird being back, in the world I mean, isn’t it?
DEAN: Sure as hell is.
BENNY: I mean what do you do with it all?... all the everything? Hell, I don't even know if this world is real, if I'm real.
Another interesting line by Benny showing how he is missing Purgatory and feels uncomfortable being back. He feels like he is in a dream world. But Dean warns him that he can’t think that way. He has to believe that this is real. This sort of reminds me of Sam’s mind-Hell in Season 7 - Dean being an anchor for him. But, this little conversation may also explain Dean's hesitance to writing or letting Sam know about what he was up to, and even about Benny in general. Dean has been away from Sam for a year. The brother act may be a bit weird getting back into after all the time he had spent with Benny and Cas on his own in Purgatory.
When they get to the house, Benny see’s the Old Man’s harpsichord and a picture of his wife, Andrea, on top of it and he freezes.
Dean, unable to get Benny to come with him, goes off to hide. Then Andrea comes down the stairs and sees Benny. Of course she is with a couple of other vamps so that he is quickly caught and tied up for the Old Man. Dean is watching this from behind a door.
While Benny is being held, Dean goes down another hall - I’m guessing to find a way to kill off the vamps and rescue Benny, when he gets a call from Sam. He turns it off saying he’s busy and can’t take the call right now.
That brings us back to Sam, who is still researching Amelia and reminiscing about his time with her.
When Amelia finds him in her room fixing her sink, They both point out stuff about each other they are uncomfortable with, (basically that they are both wrecks and can't settle down) and she throws him out. The reason her sink was out of order fyi, was that she'd been stuffing too many limes down the drain and broke the disposal - which would obviously mean that she was drinking quite a bit. Amelia sure doesn't like Sam finding that out and gets defensive.
Dean then calls Sam wondering if Sam was calling about something important, but it seems Sam just wants to know what Dean is up to… possibly just bored and curious. Dean tells Sam that he is in the middle of a hunt, and Sam’s like, you should know never to go on a hunt on your own, and Dean’s like I’m with a friend.
SAM (on phone):What guy? Garth?
DEAN (on phone):What? No. You don't know him. He's a friend.
SAM (on phone):A friend? Dean, you don't have any – all your friends are dead.
DEAN (on phone):That's not what I called to talk about!
Sam telling Dean that all his friends are dead is reminiscent of previous eps…funnier I guess when we consider that Benny is actually "dead," but also could be taken as a bit mean, considering Sam had a normal life and a special person in his life for a year while Dean was gone and he thinks that Dean didn't have anyone. Let’s put it down to writers not thinking that deeply.
There is the question of why Dean is keeping Benny a secret from Sam. Dean has actually kept pretty much everything about Purgatory a secret from Sam. He didn’t answer Sam about what actually happened to Cas (his version of it anyway) and of course has purposefully kept Benny and how he got out of Purgatory a secret. I think there is a part of him that is uncomfortable with befriending a vampire, as can be seen by his reaction to Benny drinking blood. He is also possibly worried of how Sam will react. And, I think most of all that he is trying to keep these two lives separate, which is why he ends up having to let Benny go just as Sam has to let Amelia go. We get a hint of this in his later phone conversation with Sam.
While that’s happening, Andrea is secretly telling Benny that she wants him to kill the Old Man. She seems to be ok with Benny “stopping the killing” at this point.
Meanwhile, Sam is still arguing with Dean while Dean tries to not get killed by vamps.
SAM (on phone):I get the separate-lives thing, but this is a hunting thing, and we need to find that line –
DEAN (on phone):Oh, my God, stop talking. I texted you my 20.
SAM (on phone):Yeah, I got it. Look, I'm on my way. And, listen, if you handle it, great. I'll buy your friend the first round. But, Dean, listen to me. It – Dean? Dean, are you there?Dean. Dean. You kidding me?
And Dean uses Sam’s voice to lure a vamp over for a kill but gets his phone broken so he can’t finish the conversation with Sam. This whole conversation on Sam’s end is about going on a vamp hunt without him. I also think the mention of “separate-lives” is interesting as well, like he having the whole Amelia thing from when Dean was gone understands that Dean has a right to his own privacy. But a hunt is different. Wait... Sam’s been saying all along that Dean is better off without him and he doesn’t want to do any hunting other than the quest and yet he is so upset by Dean going off on his own for this “hunt.” Isn’t that contradictory? Like maybe all his talk about him not being needed is just testing Dean or trying to get some validation about his worth? Or, he just didn't realize before how much it would bother him when Dean actually did go on his own.
Going on, Dean is being badass and killing a bunch of vampires on his own - love this scene, both humorous and scary with Dean walking towards us with murder in his eyes.
But then we have another Purgatory flashback. Benny is explaining how he had begun to see the value of human life on Earth and was strictly on blood bags “I drink blood. I don’t drink people” before he died. They also talk again of how Cas is a danger to them. Dean doesn't seem to believe Benny's talk and tells him that they are going to take Cas no matter what. Then some Leviathan catch Cas’ scent and Cas tells them to run while he deals with them.
Then we jump to Sam. He’s stolen a car and is on his way to Dean when he also has a flashback of how he came to know Amelia. We have an important conversation:
AMELIA:You come from nowhere, you appear to be going nowhere, and you've, quote, "seen a lot of stitches." It's all pretty solid creepy.
SAM:You have no idea where you're going, either, do you?
AMELIA:No. Not really.
SAM:And that's because you have no one. I mean, at all, right? I mean, that's why you're... here, in this place.
AMELIA:I used to – have someone, I mean. But that's over now. It's gone. You know what that's like, don't you?
So they find out they have a similarity, that of having lost the most important person in their lives and being completely alone.
Back to Benny and the Old Man. The Old Man explains that he turned Benny’s wife because she was important to Benny, and he wanted something to remember him by. Benny ends up killing him but this scene is also interesting in that the Old Man doesn’t fight back. He is tired of his life, his non-life. He tells Benny that it is meaningless. Just the continuous cycle of the same thing over and over again without an end. He decides he wants it to end by Benny’s hand.
BENNY’S MAKER:This is my story, you gnat.
BENNY’S MAKER:It ends the way I choose, not you.
BENNY:Well, at least I can finally show you something new, old man. A whole new....world.
And Benny gets his revenge. Actually, this little side story has it’s similarities with the boys’ quest to shut the gates of hell, and their opponent Crowley. Crowley getting back at the boys by killing those people the boys have saved over the years and then talking about the meaninglessness etc. is similar to the old man turning Benny’s wife because she was important to Benny, then turning repentant in the end.. Doesn’t he also say that his life was meaningless? It is also similar to the pure blood in Bitten (and Benny in Taxi Driver) in that the Old Man “chooses his own death.”
After killing the Old Man, Benny and Andrea have their talk and Benny tells Andrea that she is not the Andrea that he loved. He had loved the humanity of her, and now that she was a vampire, she had lost that and become the same as all the rest, only interested in drinking the blood of humans.
Andrea attacks him, angry she doesn’t get her way. Dean appears from behind and cuts off her head, saving Benny from having to do it himself - which he may not have been able to do.
And Dean looks at him with his "I'm sorry, buddy, I know you loved her, but she is not the person you loved anymore" face. This is what Dean does for friends/family, you know?
As they leave the island on the boat, Benny asks Dean why he resurrected him, when he could have done otherwise. He again tells Dean how confused he is in this life. Then we have a flashback to Purgatory and Leviathan attacking. This is in answer to Benny’s question so it is a flashback of Dean’s.
Cas is almost killed in the Leviathan attack while Dean is too far away to help, and Benny saves him. Benny didn’t have to do that. He could have let the Leviathan kill Cas for all his whining about Cas being a magnet and not being able to go through the portal anyway. This was what made Dean loyal to Benny and keep his promise to bring Benny back. Not just a life for a life, but Dean saw what kind of man Benny was through that act more than any explanations.
When they get to the dock, Sam is there to meet them. Benny offers his hand, Sam takes it but loosens the knife on his belt and looks angrily at Dean. *cringes* Dean shakes his head, indicating not to hurt Benny. What do you read from Dean's expressions here at the end? A little bit of shame, some pleading for understanding, a bit of an apology maybe?
BENNY:I can see you two have a lot to talk about.
And Benny leaves. So I wonder if Sam and Dean did actually talk about this or not. A part of me doesn't think Sam would have understood even if he had at this point. Sam was jealous of Dean hunting with another person even before he knew he was a vampire and when he did find out, I think it hurt him deeply that Dean would "choose a vampire over him." If Dean had vouched for Benny and told Sam how he had saved Cas, Sam would possibly have felt even worse... well he actually does later doesn't he.
As to Dean, I don't think that he would have sent Sam his location if he didn’t want Sam to know about Benny. There was really no other reason - he was doing fine on his own, and Sam would not have arrived on time even if he wasn't. Something made him decide to come clean - it may have been Sam's reaction to Dean working alone/with another hunter, it may have been the fact that he just didn't want to keep it a secret any more. Probably both.
In any case, a very sad ending to an excellent episode.