There are several things I want to focus on this ep. First of all Sam’s feelings with regard to his dream world. We can see this not only in his flashbacks, but also in the similarities between Benny and Sam’s situation.
Just as Sam clings to his illusion of normal life, so does Benny: Sam attaches himself to Amelia so they can be “messes together” and Benny attaches himself to his granddaughter so he can be accountable to someone and not go off the deepend. They are both faced with reality, Sam when Don (and Dean) come back, and Benny when a vampire from his past comes back to lure him back into the life. And yet, they still try to cling to their lives with these people they love until finally circumstances force their decision to leave. But when they do leave, they end up going back when “their loved ones are in danger.” Amelia was not really in danger, but she could have been, and both Benny and Sam dropped everything to go rescue the person they loved.
Secondly is Benny’s strong resolve not to drink (live) blood. Casey mentioned to me previously how the original plan was for Benny to stumble sometime during Season 8. Whether relevant or not, (since there was never any indication that it did happen) there is a warning about it this ep. Benny loses the last person he could have been kept accountable to here and it will become increasingly difficult for him to hang on.
The ep itself, however, is very clearly about Benny winning one big battle against his natural craving as a vampire in the never-ending war that he chose to fight. The thing about monsters that we often forget, is that they are not really doing anything evil by killing humans. Just like humans are not doing anything evil by killing animals to eat. That’s how we/they evolved and survived. The special thing about Benny is that he is different from other vampires in that he grew to love human beings so much that he chose to fight his natural inclination. This ep shows just how strong his resolve is and how it is not who you are but what you do that really matters.
There is not much of a focus on Dean except being caught in the middle between Sam and Benny, sort of like Amelia is caught in the middle between Don and Sam - but only because Sam sees it this way. Benny doesn’t think of it that way, and we know Dean, of course, would choose Sam over everyone. Sacrifice everyone for him.
Finally, there is of course Martin and the theme of humans being more of a monster than monsters themselves.
OK, let’s get started.
"Born on the Bayou" by Creedence Clearwater Revival(plays during opening scene with Benny)
"Feel Alright" by Steve Earle(plays when Dean gets the call from Elizabeth)
"That Old Familiar Pain" by Marlin James (Sonoton Music)
(plays at the end of the episode)
The episode starts with a beautiful view of the little cajun coffee shop from the outside with some nice music, and then happy domesticated Benny (Roy) and the shop owner, his great granddaughter Elizabeth, whom he obviously has grown to love. Domestic Benny makes me very happy. Elizabeth has to leave early, so Benny is left in charge of the shop.
There is a customer, an old man, whom Benny seems to know well. The customer asks if Benny has any designs on girl, and if he doesn’t mind him taking a shot. Benny smiles and says “She’s all yours chief.” Of course he and we are pretty sure Elizabeth would not be interested.
Lurking in the shadows is Martin, who knows Benny is a vampire and, in his firm belief that there is no good-hearted (human loving) vampire, is just waiting to pounce on Benny on first indication that he might be killing folk. The way he asks Benny for a refill is terribly creepy. Benny has already recognized him as a “half-wit” hunter here, by the way. Then we see Benny going off to the woods and finding the body of the old man who had been in the shop. Martin comes up later and finds the body himself. He assumes of course that Benny did it, because he is just waiting for Benny to mess up. He calls Sam.
Dean is getting a burger when Sam gets the call and at first Sam doesn’t tell Dean what it is about - just that they have a case in Louisiana. Then he tells Dean that the source is Martin to which Dean reacts with incredulity. Dean is sure that Martin is unstable, just out of the institution, and not a hunter they can trust to be objective. And he’s right. I wonder what Sam was thinking when he decided to ask Martin to trail Benny. Maybe Sam thought it was just a good way to keep Martin out of trouble. If Benny was as trustworthy as Dean said, surely there wouldn’t be any danger.
DEAN: What is mostly ok doing hunting at all?
SAM:Not hunting, Dean, tracking. Observe and report only. I was crystal clear on that.
I’m skipping a bunch of snide remarks by Sam. Seriously, the way he talks to Dean is just really disturbing to me. It does show that he is feeling hurt by Dean's trust in Benny of course.
He is also surprised by Dean’s response that they should check it out. Like, maybe he expected Dean to deny it right off the bat. He just sits there looking at Dean for a moment before they are on their way.
When they get to Louisiana to the motel room where Martin is pacing, Martin tells them that Benny had been clean until now, working at a Gumbo Shack. Dean has to ask -
DEAN: Martin, are you sure you are running on a full charge?
MARTIN: Sure, a little shock therapy in the morning, and I’m good to go!
(Dean looks at Sam like, does he sound good to you? You trust this guy?)
Not only is Dean worried about Martin’s sanity, but he finds many holes in Martin’s story. Too many assumptions, no proof that BENNY had been the killer. Dean turns to Sam and asks him if that sounds like the Benny he knows. Don’t quite know why he says that. Sam reminds him that he doesn’t know Benny.
DEAN:(...)if this is Benny – and that's a big "if" –
MARTIN:Oh, it's him.
DEAN:I got history with the guy, okay? I'm not signing up for a witch hunt. I owe him more than that.
MARTIN:What in God's great creation could a Winchester possibly owe a vampire? Am I hearing this right?
DEAN:Look, until we get the facts, we stow the bloodlust and we work this case right, or we work it separately.
This is a reminder that Dean owes Benny not only his life but Cas’ in Purgatory. And I’m not sure, but he still hasn’t told Sam about what Benny did to help Sam understand Benny and their relationship - not that that would have made Sam feel better about Benny. To us it is pretty clear that Martin is running on bloodlust and Sam should recognize this as well because he also has history with a “good” vampire. But I think Sam has his fair share of bloodlust at the moment. His insecurities are getting in the way of rational thought.
Martin says they should just go behind Dean’s back, and Sam gets angry and tells Martin that when they do go, it will be under Sam’s leadership and Martin is not allowed to do anything without Sam’s approval.
MARTIN:Hey, it's your brother. It's your call. How long are you gonna let him go on like this? It's staring him right in the face.
SAM:Well, sometimes it's not easy to see things for what they are.
And then we have a flashback of Sam’s talk with Amelia about how he doesn’t want to let go of their relationship, and Amelia asking him for some time, just like Dean asked for time.
So, Sam thinks that Dean is unable to see things for what they are. He is also equating Dean with Amanda, who needs time to think things over before choosing between him and Don aye? But, it’s really Sam who is having problems seeing things for what they are.
Dean goes to the gumbo shop and we have a cute scene where he flirts with Elizabeth, asking for some pie. He also notices the picture of Elizabeth and Benny on the wall.
Unfortunately they are out of Pecan, and Dean takes his leave after giving Elizabeth his number to call him if Benny comes in.
He then calls Benny to leave a message. Benny, is cleaning up a body. I don’t know how Dean finds him - maybe Benny did go fishing up the creek like he told Elizabeth.
Love this scene between Dean and Benny. The wariness Dean shows by taking his machete, as well as Benny reaching for his own in case he has to defend himself.
But of course Dean wants to hear Benny’s side first so he brings his weapon in front of him as he lets Benny talk.
BENNY:I know it's hard to believe, but I haven't always been this cute and cuddly. He's chasing a memory, Dean. That's all. He's crewing up a new nest. He's hoping I can give him some cred. I told him no.
DEAN:All right. So far, so good. Let's get to the part about the blood.
BENNY:Didn't want to take no for an answer. He's trying to roust me out, leaving dead bodies in my wake till I sign up. Two bodies in two days. No amateur is gonna kick me out of my hometown, Dean. Not this time.
DEAN:Hometown? You grew up here?
BENNY: Born and bred. With Andrea gone and you hunting again, seemed like the right time for a homecoming – you two being the only ones who keep all my ducks in a row. Went back to my old job at the café. I even found someone to hold myself accountable to. Best kind of someone, Dean. Family.
Love the Cute and Cuddly line :D But very important talk here about how Benny is trying so hard to beat his natural inclination, how he’s clinging to the idea that he can live this normal life here in his home town and how important family is to him. Dean believes Benny’s story because he knows how Benny saved not only him but Castiel in Purgatory. And as he says later, it doesn’t make sense for Benny to be killing in the town where he wants to blend in, and live permanently, where there is family.
Dean tells him that he’s in a pinch with two hunters on his trail but Benny tells Dean that he has to kill this other vamp Desmond, and Dean tells him that the best way is to stay out of it and let Sam and Martin do the work so that they don’t slice first and ask questions later as they seem to want to do.
Back at the motel, this is what he suggests to Martin and Sam, although we never hear it. He suggests that there is another vamp doing the killing, and that they should go after him. But Martin is bloodthirsty and near hysterical, Sam is also skeptical.
SAM:Listen, Dean, we came here on a dead body. You asked for some time, and now there's another dead body. Are we just going on trust here?
SAM:Okay. Because we've killed for a lot less, and you know how these things turn out for us.
DEAN:Yes, I do – too well. In fact, every relationship I have ever had has gone to crap at some point. But the one thing I can say about Benny – he has never let me down.
SAM:Huh. Well, good on you, Dean. Must feel great finally finding someone you can trust after all these years.
DEAN:All I'm saying is that Benny is innocent.
Ok, so really, what does that mean, “we’ve killed for a lot less, and you know how these things turn out for us”? What on earth does that mean? They’ve killed for a lot less than circumstantial evidence? Meaning, they’ve killed monsters just because they are monsters without any evidence at all? Have they? Is that a good thing? Something they should keep doing? And these things? What are “these things”? Is he now referring to their relationships? That they have always been disillusioned by the monsters they put their trust in? When was that? Is Sam talking about Ruby here? That’s the only monster I can think of who betrayed them. Maybe Cas? And how does that lead to Dean’s statement that every relationship he’s had has gone to crap? Maybe he is saying, monster or not, all relationships have betrayed him at some point? But so far, Benny hasn’t? If you think they are saying something else here, please tell me.
In any case, when Dean tries to explain that he trusts Benny because he has never let him down, Sam is possibly reminded of Dean’s speech in Southern Comfort and is hurt by the words, feeling Dean is comparing Benny to him and how unhappy Dean is with him. To me, it’s obvious by the way he rephrases, that Dean didn’t mean to show any frustration with Sam here. It was just a fact that Benny has not had a chance to let him down yet, and that gave him credibility until he had. Sam is hurt by Dean’s words though, and I think wants to think that it’s Dean that is not viewing the situation rationally.
Dean warns them both that Benny is dangerous and that Martin would be sure to die if he went with Sam.
SAM:No. You're too close to this.
DEAN:You're not gonna find him. And if you do, I'm gonna tell you this. You'll be lucky to get out alive. And you – [he points to MARTIN] you go with him, you're a dead man – period.
SAM:These are innocent lives we're talking about, Dean. And you're willing to risk that on Benny's word alone?
DEAN:Damn right I am.
Martin then knocks Dean out from behind. Sam is upset, but also maybe justifies it to himself. They cuff Dean to the oil heater and go to find Benny. When Martin goes on about how John would not have liked Dean talking like he was, Sam stops him by pinning him against the wall in the hallway.
SAM:You listen to me. I brought you into this. I can bring you out just as easy. So the only thing you're gonna be inclined to do is shut up and follow my lead.
MARTIN:Okay. You say so.
MARTIN:Just saying – brother chooses a vampire over a brother? I know how I'd feel.
And we know that Dean didn’t choose Benny over Sam. He was there to ask Sam to trust him about Benny. If anyone made a choice, it was Sam - to not trust Dean. But Martin’s words kind of cut into Sam’s heart, because that is what he most fears - Dean loving/choosing his friends over him because he has failed him one too many times. It doesn’t make sense but that’s how he feels and again I would suggest that his feelings of not being good enough and of letting Dean down are really influencing his thoughts here.
This is when Sam again has a memory of talking with Don in the bar. First Sam thinks Don is there to pick a fight. I think he almost WANTS Don to pick a fight to show that he is less of a man than Sam. But Don turns out to be a good guy, and Sam is impressed. Don suggests that they should agree to let Amelia decide what she wants to do, and Sam agrees.
So I guess Amelia choosing between Don and Sam is being paralleled with Dean choosing either Benny or him. And talking of self-image issues… maybe that is why Sam left Amelia, instead of waiting for Amelia’s verdict? Maybe he felt that Don was better than him, and that Amelia deserved him. So what does that say about how he feels about Benny? Is he asking himself whether he should let Dean decide? And maybe even step aside? That doesn’t really make sense if Sam really believes that Benny is guilty. But maybe he is becoming doubtful of whether Benny is the bad guy here? Maybe he thinks that if he actually met Benny (like he met Don) he’d find him to be a good guy, like he found Don to be a good guy? And then maybe he would have to step aside…? Well, that’s what I got with the parallels.
When Dean wakes up, he is quite easily able to unlock his cuff - I have no idea how. He phones Benny to warn him, and tells him to get scarce while Dean goes for Desmond himself, but Benny is adamant he is going with Dean.
BENNY: Dean, this is my fight. Are you in, or are you out?
This I think is referencing what Dean said in Purgatory, where Benny helped Dean get out. Now Dean is helping Benny, so they go by Benny’s rules.
Sam and Martin are at an old camp site of Benny’s and are unable to find him, but Martin finds an old photo - maybe of his daughter not Elizabeth aye? And he gets an idea.
Dean sends Sam a message looking like it’s from Amelia and Sam drops everything to go to her… literally. He dumps Martin and takes the car, leaving Martin angry.
Dean goes in to the vamp nest, and we have an awesome scene between the vampire and Dean! And again Benny coming to the rescue. This was of course all planned - Dean was the bait.
DEAN:Son of a... It took you long enough.
BENNY:You've lost a step, friend. You need to lay off the junk food.
There is a scene here where Benny notices the blood on Dean’s neck where Desmond cut him, and he has a vamp moment, but he hides it from Dean.
Finished the hunt, Dean tells Benny that Benny has to leave, because other hunters will keep coming, and there is an interesting conversation here about people like them never being able to stay by people they love.
DEAN:Guys like us, we don't get a home. We don't get family.
BENNY:You got Sam.
DEAN: Yeah. Benny, you got to go deep underground, where nobody knows who you are.
BENNY:Yeah. I got one last thing I got to do.
Benny tells Dean you have Sam, and Dean says “Yeah…” like he’s not sure if he has Sam or not. The sad part is, Benny had this great granddaughter to keep him accountable after Dean told him no more, but now that he has no one to keep him accountable, it is going to become more and more difficult to keep dry. We feel here that maybe he won’t be able to. This “you have Sam” can also be reversed when we think of the parallel between Benny and Sam. While Benny cannot have anyone, Sam always has Dean.
We have a scene here where Sam is getting ready to leave after meeting Don. So again it's shown in parallel both of them leaving to "do the right thing."
SAM: I know that you and Don deserve a chance, okay? And... I think you know that, too. Just give him a chance – like you gave me. I mean... Amelia, you saved me.
This line also reminds us that while Sam was "saved" by Amelia, Dean was saved by Benny - and actually Benny was saved by Dean too.
Benny goes to the shop to say a silent goodbye to his granddaughter and Dean waves good-bye as he is on his way.
As Dean drives away, he calls Martin.
DEAN (on phone):Yeah, shut up and listen to me. Benny's long gone, and he won't be coming back, ever. So for your own sake, do not follow him. Are we clear?
MARTIN (on phone):You don't have to worry about me, Dean. I'm long gone, too.
I do love this "I'm long gone, too" line by Martin which totally has a double meaning - making Dean think he is leaving but really meaning that he is beyond his limit or maybe even sanity? We know he is ready for revenge, even on first watch there is something very eerie about him. He figures out that he has leverage over Benny and goes to take the girl hostage. As soon as he calls Benny, Benny U-turns. I wish he had called Dean, but I guess he felt he could not.
This scene reminds me so much of the scene with Lenora. I’m sure it was supposed to. Just like Gordon there, Martin cuts the girl to show her Benny’s vampire teeth. And just as Lenora controls herself, so does Benny. He goes to lay his head down so that he can save his girl but whether planned or not, when Martin comes to kill him, he pounces and kills Martin instead.
Elizabeth calls Dean (finally!!!) and this scene on first watch you are wondering if Benny is dead but when we go in that door with Dean, in the slow pan of the room, we see Martin, his neck slashed, blood pooling on the floor, a knife by his head. And this is of course an important point. Benny kills Martin with a knife and resists drinking Martin’s blood to show (I think) that this was self defense and not for the sake of the blood, and maybe to stay human in her eyes.
That last scene between Martin and Benny is such a wonderful suspenseful scene because we don’t know what happened until Dean sees Martin dead himself. And there is so much unsaid between Benny and Elizabeth. I wonder. I wonder if Benny actually was intending to sacrifice himself for Elizabeth. I think he was. And yet, one thing changed his mind, and that was Elizabeth pleading and begging him not to, tears running down her cheeks. Maybe he saw those tears and realized here was someone that loved him. Someone worth living for. Maybe then he decided he couldn’t die. I don’t know. I also wonder, what she thought as she called Dean. She wasn’t freaked out… it seemed more like she was heartbroken, you know? I wonder what happened between Benny and her, after he killed Martin. What did he say? What did she say?? Just thinking about it makes me all weepy, today.
Did Benny look down once and then at her with tears pooling in his eyes and say, I’m sorry for putting you in danger? I should never have come back? Did she look at him, her hand to her mouth, maybe a little bit afraid of him, tears still streaming down her face, shaking from shock as he looked at her sadly and then walking out the door, his shoulders slumped in grief, and listen to the bang… bang… of the screen door as he disappeared into the dark…?
It’s one of those scenes that really makes one use their imagination, you know?
Sam, in another part of the country, finds that Amelia is just fine. He goes to the bar and tries to figure out what that text was all about. He calls the number and finds Dean on the other end.
Dean explains that yes, he had tricked Sam into going to Amelia. He tries to explain that Martin brought his death upon himself (And boy is Sam responsible for that - first for bringing Martin in, and then for leaving him - I think he feels responsible.), but Sam is too angry with Dean to listen to his “excuses.” He turns off his phone and is about to leave when he sees Amelia come in.