Episode: Supernatural 8.19 – “Taxi Driver”
Original Air Date: April 3, 2013
Screencaps by spn-caps
We saw the return of a few favorite characters, and more complications arose in the Winchesters’ attempts to close the gates of Hell forever. While many storylines were going on in this episode, they all seemed to tie together nicely, still leaving open the door for possible future returns. What we’re left with now is the question of how far will Dean and Sam go to see their mission play out? Will the inevitable end be a world free of demons, but at the price of the Winchesters’ lives? We’re headed down a dark road, and every trial seems to make the journey even worse.
Note: This recap may contain spoilers!
So, Sam’s second trial is to save a soul from Hell. And the big reveal was supposed to be who that soul was. Except, thanks to CW promos, the surprise was spoiled long before the airing and we knew beforehand that Bobby would be back. Unlike prior times when Bobby has shown up post-death, I was a bit wary of seeing him again. I blame that on the prolonging of his existence that we got last season. But I was pleasantly surprised this go-around, because the interactions he had with Sam and the send-off he got were more fitting for the lovely character he is.
Bobby voiced the same concerns the audience has had over Sam’s failure to look for Dean during his year away, as well as Dean teaming up with a known vampire. The latter I can deal with, since I like Benny a lot, but the former is something that remains a sticking point for me. I want the show to utilize this uncharacteristic behavior in a larger way, to have it play into the big picture of why it’s felt so off from Sam’s known characterization. Why didn’t he look for his brother? The Sam Winchester I know would stop at nothing to get Dean back, but this time he just didn’t. Was there something else going on that put the notion out of his head? My hopes of the Amelia situation being a mere dream, something Sam utilized to deal with the trauma of losing Dean, was for naught when both Sam and Dean acknowledged her existence and then Sam chose to walk away from her finally. So, I’m left with the question — what was really going on? I hope we get an answer on that.
As for Sam, every trial is weighing more heavily upon him. We’ve been through the coughing up blood and Cas proclaiming that the younger Winchester is already broken beyond his repair. Sam is doing permanent damage to himself, but he can’t just walk away from the trials. If it means closing the gates of Hell, he will sacrifice himself just as his family has done time and time again. At this point, both Sam and Dean’s middle name should be “sacrifice” because that’s all they ever do. My concern is what happens when this is all over? Sam’s health is getting worse with every trial. I hate to see what will become of him after the third one is over, if he even survives. What does he have to look forward to? A life spent confined to bed, with labored breathing and blood pouring from random places, while Dean takes care of him? If there’s not a miracle cure waiting around the corner for him, then both the boys are screwed. But, for now, he continues on with his mission.
I did enjoy seeing Sam explore both Purgatory and Hell. We got to see Dean’s flashbacks early in the season, and I was always drawn to the purity of the fighting in those scenes. Now we got to see Sam going thorugh a few of the same battles and it got me excited all over again. Monster versus Winchester is something that we haven’t gotten to see a lot of lately and I welcome those kinds of interactions. As for Hell, it’s quite a different scenario than when Dean or Sam were last down there. While there is still torture, as evidenced by the beautiful hallway scene, it’s a changed kind of situation with Crowley now ruling Hell. The subtlety, and dangerous beauty, is something to behold. But, as we found out from Bobby, the old classics of using loved ones against you still remains. How can you get Dean to break? Use Sam’s image to torture. How can you get Sam to break? Use Dean’s face to deliver harmful words. And how do you inflict the most damage on Bobby? Use his adoptive sons against him. Hell may have changed, but some things remain the same.
While Bobby and Sam were bonding down below, we had Dean struggling to get his brother back topside. All was well until Crowley went and offed Sam’s ride, so now it was up to Dean to save his brother. And who does he turn to for help? Why, our favorite vampire Benny, of course. I have long thought that Benny’s inevitable end would come at Dean’s hands, but I pictured it with more anger. Instead, we got a touching scene where they both made their choices and it felt right for both characters to do what they did. Dean knew that asking Benny to go back to Purgatory and help Sam return was asking a lot, but he had a plan. He never thought that it would be a one-way trip. Instead, Dean had it all worked out. He would kill Benny, then the vampire would find Sam and hitch a ride back topside. All would be well. Too bad Benny didn’t see it that way.
I get why Benny decided to stay in Purgatory, and I respect his decision. On Earth, he was out of place. He didn’t fit in wit the vampires, with their single-mindedness of feeding. And he couldn’t fit in with humans, who would always see him as nothing more than a monster. But in Purgatory, things were simpler. As Dean mentioned, that time he spent there was pure. It was you against your attackers, no gray areas of moral ambiguity. It was kill or be killed, and Benny was good at killing. While it’s strange to say he might be happier in Purgatory, perhaps it is a bit true. And with Dean not burning his bones, the door is left open for his possible return at a later date. He was a good man, a good vampire, and I think the way his character played out was a wonderful addition to the mythology. His sacrifice will not be forgotten.
And while all of that was going on, we also have poor Kevin who is literally going crazy in front of our eyes. You have a young man who was on the fast track of educational success and then he is given visions, kidnapped, tortured, and separated from his loved ones. Now the fate of the world is resting on his shoulders to translate some ancient tablet that no one else can read. Yes, at some point you would crack, too. And Dean’s not very helpful in giving hope that things will get better. Instead, his life-long mantra has always been “our lives suck, deal with it.” Kevin doesn’t want to deal with it, he just wants some normality back. But he can’t get any of that until the whole tablet situation is over with. At present, he’s suffering visions of Crowley wherever he goes. He may be MIA, but I can bet he’ll turn up sooner or later, looking worse for wear. I just hope he can survive the constant mental torture he’s under.
So, lots of things going on, with lots of potential for how things might play out. Lingering questions remain, such as what is the backstory on Crowley and Naomi? They seem much more chummy than one might suspect. And what is Naomi’s deal? Of course she’s twisting her words to make it seem like Cas is the crazy one, but is he really? And who will make it out of this explosive situation alive? Is Kevin going to be another victim of the Winchester curse? Are Sam and Dean going to make it out of the season still breathing? And will Crowley remain the leader of Hell, destined to create havoc for years to come, or will he be sealed off from Earth forever? I look forward to finding out all these answers in the weeks to come.
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars