The second may be on whether it is better to keep things from children to keep them innocent of horrors and keep them happy and without worry. Was it right for John to tell his kids the truth about monsters? With Sam and Dean saying what they do at the end, we have to consider that a bit aye?
This is an angsty but hopeful episode for me because of these two themes. So let's start!
The Greatest Love of All by Whitney Houston(RIP :'() (Used in Title)
You may recognize the title of the ep as the first line of Whitney Houston's song "Greatest Love of All." And as with all (at least all the early) Supernatural episodes, the title of the episode is usually quite significant too, so I had to include the link and lyrics to the song. It's not really the kind of song that I would imagine for an SPN fan vid but holy molly the lyrics fit so perfectly to Sam and how he might feel about Jesse as well in this episode.
"Greatest Love Of All"
I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be
Everybody's searching for a hero
People need someone to look up to
I never found anyone who fulfilled my needs
A lonely place to be
And so I learned to depend on me
I decided long ago, never to walk in anyone's shadows
If I fail, if I succeed
At least I'll live as I believe
No matter what they take from me
They can't take away my dignity
Because the greatest love of all
Is happening to me
I found the greatest love of all
Inside of me
The greatest love of all
Is easy to achieve
Learning to love yourself
It is the greatest love of all
I believe the children are our future
Teach them well and let them lead the way
Show them all the beauty they possess inside
Give them a sense of pride to make it easier
Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be
And if, by chance, that special place
That you've been dreaming of
Leads you to a lonely place
Find your strength in love
So the episode begins with the MoTW attack. A babysitter is watching a horror flick (made by Robert Singer). We find that the boy she is babysitting is a prankster and has a thing for his cute babysitter. He pranks her by putting scratching powder in her brush, and horror of horrors she actually scratches her brains out.
Next scene, Sam and Dean are disguised as FBI agents at the morgue, where the doctor asks them, didn't they see the report he sent in? The girl did the scratching herself, and it was likely due to some disorder or drugs. He talks about the "phantom itch" which reminds me of Bad Day at Black Rock (Where Dean tells Sam not to itch his nose and all of a sudden Sam has an itchy nose LOL)
I love the way Sam's nose is already twitching as the doc explains, and as soon as he's gone both of them start itching! But Sam and Dean are not quite convinced that the cause of the itch is not supernatural. They go talk to the family who had hired the babysitter, Amber.
While Sam is talking to the parents in his soft manner, Dean notices a guilty looking boy who insists he doesn't know anything. I love this scene. The way Dean knows right away that the boy is lying. He tends to do that a lot with adults too, but the way he deals with Jimmy is beautiful.
DEAN:We gonna start talking truth, or are you and me gonna have to take a little trip downtown?
Sam cannot believe that itching powder would actually make the babysitter scratch her brains out. It's just ground sunflower seeds!
But that's the only lead they have. They are then called to another incident. Someone was killed by electric shock and the doctor from the morgue introduces them to the old man who says he saw the whole thing - but surely he is senile, he's not making any sense.
Sam and Dean talk to him and find out that the old man, Mr. Stanley, had shaken the person's hand with his little joy buzzer. Poor Mr. Stanley! Can you imagine the shock?! I feel so sorry for him.
Sam and Dean take the buzzer home and test it on a block of ham (best idea ever - yum)
So they find that these toys actually do work and trace them back to the same store so, thinking it's a powerful witch being cruel, they go to the trick store to find out if there was any motive for the killings. Dean sees some whoopee cushions and picks one up to show Sam ...
And they go talk to the owner (whoopee cushion in hand). After the owner tells them how he is a bit upset with young people being more interested in vampire stories (Twilight) than pranks, Dean deduces that is why he cursed the objects and killed those people for revenge and frightens the poor guy with a fried plastic chicken.
(I think you're right Sam :P)
In another house we have a little girl and her father discussing her tooth. Her dad tells her excitedly that by putting her tooth under her pillow, the tooth fairy will exchange it for a quarter but the girl is not impressed.
GIRL:So some freak is gonna come in my room while I'm sleeping and take my tooth? Sounds scary. No, thank you.
This exchange seems a bit weird to me considering the girl has a fairy mobile hanging from her ceiling. I don't understand how she in particular would equate the tooth fairy with a freak but I guess the writers are trying to project Jesse's version of the tooth fairy on to the girl. So the girl waits until her dad is asleep and puts the tooth under his pillow. Jesse's equivalent of the tooth fairy - a middle aged man in a tu-tu and shiny wings comes and pulls all the dad's teeth out in exchange for a quarter per tooth.
I actually really like this idea of a tooth fairy(...well not in my house). I wonder if this was an image one of the writers or their children had. It also reminds me of Garth and his run-in with the tooth fairy. They should do an episode with a "real" tooth fairy sometime. And the word the little girl uses - "freak"... did I say that I'm sensitive to that word? We'll talk about it some more later.
While Sam and Dean are in the hospital checking out the poor guy with no teeth, Dean happens to find two more crazy instances. Kids with ulcers because they drank poprocks and coke, and a guy whose face "froze that way."
hehehe... Dean has to look around and make sure no one is watching before he makes the face.
These are so culture sensitive. The tooth fairy can probably be found in many European countries but how about pop rocks and coke? I understand the frozen face - I've heard something similar for sticking out your tongue. And I totally understand why parents would say that to their kids. We have one in Japan about showing your belly button. If you show your belly button for too long, the thunder god will come and pluck it :P I think it comes from the belief that being naked causes colds and sickness. I'd like to see the thunder god on SPN :D
Sam can't find a connection between all those, but Dean is good at this kind of stuff and he is also good at relating to kids :P
DEAN:I thought sea-monkeys were real.
SAM:They are. They're brine shrimp.
DEAN:No, no, no, I mean like in the ads. You know, like the sea-monkey wife cooks the pot roast for the sea-monkey husband, and the sea-monkey kids play with the dog in a sea-monkey castle—real. I mean, I was six, but I believed it.
DEAN:Maybe that's the connection. The tooth fairy, the Pop Rocks and Coke, the joy buzzer that shocks you—they're all lies that kids believe.
SAM:And now they're coming true. Okay, so whatever's doing this is—is reshaping reality. It has the powers of a god. Or — of a trickster.
DEAN:Yeah, with the sense of humor of a nine-year-old.
(Ahhhh! The Trickster. He's not finished with you guys yet!*love*)
So When Sam gets back he is trying to finish the ham they cooked because they don't have a fridge. Waste not want not I say ;) Sam doesn't understand. He shows Dean the map where all the locations are within a 2 mile radius of each other and in the middle is this farmhouse. Wait.... If this is a farm, why do the parents work elsewhere? Shouldn't they be taking care of the farm? (And here I am imagining all kinds of family drama which would necessitate the parents go find work elsewhere...)
Dean then shows Sam his hand which he was (again culture sensitive) using in a specific manner (he was bored) and started growing hair, ehem... which indicates that their motel is also affected by whatever it is.
I love Dean's evil smile as Sam shouts at him not to use his razor :P
Once nicely shaven, Sam and Dean are off to the farm house. Sam is just about to break in, when Jesse opens the door from the inside.
I wonder why the story was set up this way. Did they want to show that Jesse was intelligent? That like Sam and Dean he was wary of dangers and hid the fact that he was at home while his parents were not? He is quite professional when he asks for their badges - also interesting when we consider that his real mother is thorough this way as well... personality similarities? Or instinct? Dean's assertion that he can trust them, afterall they are the authorities... is not necessarily believed either. When Sam and Dean enter the kitchen where Jesse is cooking his soup, we have another interesting scene -
JESSE:It's called soup. You heat it up and you eat it.
SAM:Right. I, I know. It's just, um...I used to make my own dinner, too, when I was a kid.
JESSE:Well, I'm not a kid.
So Jesse denying that he is a kid is cute. It is also an indication (as at the door) that he is not going to take any bullshit. But we also have our first indication of the similarities between Jesse and Sam and Dean. Despite his normal life(and that's important, isn't it.), Jesse also has to fend for himself during the day while his parents are gone. They must work late for him to have to make his own dinner aye?
Dean notices the picture of the tooth fairy in the kitchen, drawn by Jesse. We now know that he has projected his version of a tooth fairy and made it real. We also get the idea that Jesse's parents love him just from the way the picture is hanging up in the kitchen. Dean goes through the various hospital cases to make sure of Jesse's beliefs about these as well, then takes out the buzzer. He tells Jesse that it really doesn't electrocute people, that it doesn't even have any batteries, and Jesse believes him... which is pretty awesome considering he was wary of them before. Once he nods ok, though, Dean "goes with his hunch" (doesn't that remind you of Sam and his hunches?!) and buzzes Sam - scaring him to death, but thankfully not killing him through electrocution. Sam's like, What the hell?! :D
Well, now they know for sure that Jesse is the one that is making all of these incidents happen BUT he doesn't know he is doing it.
They see him peaking out the upstairs window at them. Nope, definitey not falling for any of their lies.
Sam goes off to research about Jesse's past and finds that he was adopted, so they go off to talk with his birth mother.
I always find this house facinating because it is so run down on the outside. There are cobwebs everywhere, the yard is unkept and you get the impression this lady is not quite right in the head... or... she is in hiding - like Jesse. And in truth, I guess it is probably a bit of both. She is definitely hiding from demons and is very wary of them and it is not surprising that she would be left with severe trauma after what she went through. She is a strong woman, considering.
When Sam and Dean visit, she makes them put their badges in the slot and she looks at them before even opening the door (even after they've showed her through the window). And, when they start asking questions about the birth of her child, she figures only demons would know or care about the child and the strangeness of the birth. She runs into the kitchen, Dean and Sam running after her calling that they just want to talk, and sprays salt on them which totally comes as a surprise to them.
JULIA: You're not demons?
DEAN: How do you know about demons?
And so she tells them the whole awful story - that she had been a virgin (essentially that the child was born of the demon) and saying how she half wanted to kill the child after it was born but couldn't. She tentatively asks after the child, afraid that he may have turned into something terrible. They tell her that he is a good kid and she is relieved.
Another significant point in this talk is that they find out she was able to get control of her body at one point and pour salt down her mouth, forcefully removing the demon. It's not anything new. We know that John was able to take control for a short while so that Dean was not killed by the YED in Devil's Trap, we know Bobby took control - again so that the demon in him would not kill Dean - but it does act like a reminder for the season finale.
The visit seems to have ended there, but I wonder why Sam and Dean did not give Jesse's mom a charm so she would not be possessed again. For one thing it would have relieved her from her life filled with fear and for another, she would not have been possessed later on in the ep. I can understand story-wise that they had to have her possessed again... but it sounds rather irresponsible of Sam and Dean not to have done this for her. They should be giving out charms to everyone (or at least show them so that they can get their own) that they meet that has been possessed, aye? Anyway, they didn't.
Knowing demons are involved, and Jesse's powers, they call Cas to see if he can help them and he's at their motel when they get back.
So, here I'm wondering if Dean actually put the whoopee cushion on that chair on purpose because he knew Cas would sit down on it?At the least he left it there and did not warn Cas. I'd rather think he wanted to see Cas' reaction then just forgot it was there LOL.
The whole "farting" scene is just hilarious. I love Dean's expressions here, but I also love Cas' expression afterwards, like he's saying, "Dean, you are being childish." LOL
But the conversation soon moves to more serious matters. It seems that Jesse is the Anti-Christ. Not the Anti-Christ as traditionally known by Christians from the Bible but "demon spawn." Jesse has gained his powers now because Lucifer is out -
and here Sam clenches his jaw. The problem is that the Anti-Christ is very strong and can wipe out all of the angels with one thought. Cas tells them that this must be stopped at all costs. Jesse must be killed.
Sam and Dean are both horrified by the prospect of killing what is an innocent, "good kid" for what he might possibly do in the future. I'm reminded of Gordon's speech to Dean in Hunted, about whether Dean would not kill the young Hitler if he had him in his grasp, knowing what he does about the future. I'm also reminded of Demon!Bobby saying how John may have been right - maybe they should not have tried to save Sam so much. But Dean will never stop believing in Sam, and Sam will always continue to hope that it is possible to resist the evil inside and make the right choice. And anyway, they don't believe in killing children, period.
DEAN:Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Wait. You're saying that—that Jesse's gonna nuke the angels?
CASTIEL:We cannot allow that to happen.
SAM:We're the good guys. We—we don't just—kill children.
CASTIEL:A year ago, you would have done whatever it took to win this war.
DEAN:Okay. Hey, look, we are not going to kill him. All right? But we can't leave Jesse here either. We know that. So...we take him to Bobby's. He'll know what to do.
CASTIEL:You'll kidnap him? What is going on in this town, it's what happens when this thing is happy. You cannot imagine what it will do if it's angry. Besides, how will you hold him? With a thought, he could be halfway around the world.
SAM:So we tell him the truth. You say Jesse's destined to go dark side—fine. But he hasn't yet.
And this scene is so painful because we know that Sam feels it so much. And we also know that Dean feels for Sam too. It is also a bit frustrating for me now, as I remember that Cas is the one that let Sam free. Cas is the one that delayed Dean's arrival at that convent and may have prevented Dean from getting to Sam in time. And here he is blaming Sam for it all. If he had told them the truth beforehand, things might have been different. Don't you think? And then I think back to Sympathy for the Devil, and Cas' speech to Dean there. And then even further to how Dean convinced Cas to let him go and save Sam. Dean did not appeal to their friendship. He appealed to Cas' sense of what was right. Anyway, I feel like someone needs to point out those facts to Cas. He has some serious angel-I-am-better-than-thou issues here.
Sam is unable to convince Cas to wait and Cas disappears. We don't have any discussion between the brothers after this, but we know that they are in agreement - Jesse should not be killed for a crime is has not even committed. There is hope. They rush after Cas to try to stop him.
While that is happening, Julia is being assaulted by the mailman who ends up being the demon that had possessed and raped her(wait, is that supposed to be a continuation of that joke about the mailman dad from Free to be You and Me? Really bad joke). Knowing where the boy is now, the demon is on his way to get a hold of him.
Cas has zapped right over to Jesse's house after the talk with Sam and Dean, puts Jesse's parents to sleep and prepares his attack but he's too slow. Maybe he is having some misgivings too. First he says I'm not going to hurt you, then he says, I'm sorry I'm going to have to kill you - maybe he's just trying to make Jesse feel safe so he doesn't use his powers against him, but it doesn't work anyway. When Dean barges in, Cas is a little figurine. (I'd love one of those. Can you buy one in the States? It'd be fun to play with... LOL)
Despite Sam's assertion before that they would tell Jesse the truth, Dean starts off by lying. No, Cas is not his friend, you are a superhero etc. etc. I guess I can't blame him. He has a lifetime of practice lying to the "normal" people in order to protect them from the truth. Dean's use of the word "superhero" to describe Jesse is interesting as well, when you think that this is how he described John to Sam when they were little. He lied to Sam until Sam figured it out for himself. Hey... come to think of it, he did, didn't he? Sam figured it out himself. I'll come back to that later, but the key here is that Dean lies to try to protect people from the horror that is the life of a Winchester.
It all turns sour when the demon barges in and slams Sam and Dean against the wall. I've noticed that demons use this truth thing often don't they? Lucifer constantly tells his victims that he will never lie to them. The same went for Ruby. They don't lie, but they can sure screw with people's heads. This demon also figures out that Sam and Dean haven't been telling Jesse the truth and uses that against them. He also suggests that the fact that Jesse's parents lied to him about all those things showed that they did not love him.
JESSE:My mom and dad love me.
DEMON:Do they? Is—is that why they leave you alone all day? Because they love you so much? These people—these imposters—they told you that the tooth fairy was real and that your toys could hurt you and a hundred other things that aren't true. They love you so much, they made your whole life a lie. Look into your heart, Jesse. You've always known you weren't theirs. You've always known you were different. Everyone has lied to you. They're not FBI agents. And you're not a superhero.
You'll notice from the conversation that the demon doesn't actually say they don't love him, he just makes Jesse think that maybe they don't. Sam then realizes that they need to be heard before Jesse decides to go with the demon and tells Jesse that he wants to tell him the truth. Jesse is not comfortable with the demon's methods of shutting Sam and Dean up. He may instinctively know that they are kind - sort of like how he didn't believe them when he first met them, but he still let them in the house. He gives Sam the floor. Sam tells him everything, with short breaks in between where Jesse shuts the demon up by closing his mouth and sitting him down on the chair... (That reminds me of Cain :P)
SAM:There's, uh, kind of a...a war between angels and demons, and...you're a part of it.
JESSE:I'm just a kid.
SAM:You can go with her if you want. I can't stop you. No one can. But if you do...millions of people will die.
JESSE:She said I was half demon. Is that true?
SAM:Yes. But you're half human, too. You can do the right thing. You've got choices, Jesse. But if you make the wrong ones, it'll haunt you for the rest of your life.
Here I feel so much for Sam thinking of the one mistake in particular he has made. He goes on to tell Jesse what he could not tell Cas.
That is hope for you. Hope in humanity, hope in the future, hope in himself and this is where our song/title fits in. Sam needs hope to keep going. Once this hope is lost, so is Sam. And that is what Lucifer has and will continue to try to destroy. On a side note, Dean does not run on hope. We will see later that Dean will still keep moving, doing what he thinks he has to even when he is dead inside. Actually we've seen it already in The End, haven't we?
Jesse makes one right choice. He tells the demon to leave, and the demon is forced to leave.
Then, he turns to Sam and Dean. Dean has learned his lesson and won't be lying to Jesse anymore. When Jesse asks after his birth mother, Dean answers that she will be alright - eventually. Then Dean goes over to the Cas doll and confesses that he actually is a friend and would Jesse turn him back? When Jesse cannot agree, Dean leaves it for later. What now? Dean says well, you come with us. You'll be handy in a fight. But what if I don't want to fight? And Dean has no words for that. Sam takes over.
SAM:You're powerful. More powerful than...pretty much anything we've ever seen. That makes you—
SAM:To some people, maybe. But not to us. See, we're kind of freaks ourselves.
The word freak again. It's interesting that it is used once to talk of the tooth fairy and then again to describe Jesse and the Winchesters. I don't see any deep significance except that maybe by accepting him for what he is, and telling him that they don't see him as a freak, the Winchesters help him to love himself, which is the greatest love of all... right?
JESSE:I can't stay here, can I?
DEAN:No. The demons know where you are, and more will be coming.
JESSE:I won't go without my mom and dad.
SAM:There's nothing more important than family. We get that. And if you really want to take them with you, we'll back your play. But you got to understand—it's gonna be dangerous for them, too.
JESSE:What do you mean?
DEAN:Our dad...he would take us with him wherever he went.
JESSE:Where is he now?
SAM:Dead. A demon killed him.
DEAN:Look, Jesse...once you're in this fight...You're in it till the end, win or lose.
JESSE:What should I do?
SAM:We can't tell you. It's your choice. It's not fair. I know.
Jesse is a pretty smart kid. Pretty grown up. If another child been told that his parents had lied to him and he wasn't really their kid, he might not have taken it as well as Jesse does. But if Jesse had already known deep down that he was not their child by blood then it would not be surprising that he would have already gotten over that long before this. What the demon says does not change anything. He still loves his adoptive parents and wants to stay with them but when he hears that they could be put in danger he cannot allow that to happen either.
He tells Sam and Dean that he is going to go and say goodbye to his parents - which he does by taking one last peak at them as they sleep and then goes to his room... and disappears after gazing at his poster of Australia. (I am sure he is on the beach in Australia somewhere.)
Sam and Dean come up and find him gone and are soon joined by Cas who was turned back before Jesse left - as were all the others affected by his powers who were still alive.
Cas tells the brothers that there is no way they are going to be able to find Jesse if he doesn't want to be found. So, Jesse does not choose either side. He choses to be on his own side, just as Sam and Dean decide to do what they want to do in the end.
Sam and Dean are in the Impala talking about how they had ruined Jesse's life by telling him the truth.
DEAN:You think Jesse's gonna be okay?
SAM:I hope so.
DEAN:You know, we destroyed that kid's life by telling him the truth.
SAM:We didn't have a choice, Dean.
DEAN:Yeah. You know, I'm starting to get why parents lie to their kids. You want them to believe that the worst thing out there is mixing Pop Rocks and Coke—protect them from the real evil. You want them going to bed feeling safe. If that means lying to them, so be it. The more I think about it...the more I wish Dad had lied to us.
SAM:Yeah, me too.
OK, the more I think about it, the weaker this argument seems. If kids are genuinely scared of poprocks and coke, or a joy buzzer or a tooth fairy, isn't that just as bad as telling them about real horrors? And then we consider how despite all the lies, kids like Sam and like Jesse will figure out the truth on their own, and wonder if John did have a choice not to tell his sons the truth. But then maybe they know all that. They just wish that weren't true, just like they wish they didn't have to tell Jesse but know they had no choice. The whole experience does remind them of what it was like when they were innocent, which I guess goes with Whitney's lyric : Let the children's laughter remind us how we used to be.