An Egyptian god hits Dearborn, Mich., and puts people who are dealing with an immense amount of guilt on trial for their lives. It's no surprise to learn that one of Osiris' latest defendants is Dean Winchester. The man eats, breathes and sleeps guilt, especially after the events of "The Girl Next Door."
I don't know about you guys, but it's been a week since "TGND" and I'm still processing the whole Dean-offing-Amy business. That one moment has been constantly debated and analyzed since it aired. Should Dean have killed this supernatural creature? Should he have let her kid go free? Or should he have adhered to Sam's wishes? I don't know. What I do know is I'm not a fan of the continued conflict it creates between the brothers. However, Dean killing Amy did serve to ratchet up the suspense for this latest episode.
Regardless of what end of the spectrum you find yourself taking up space, we all know it's going to be bad news in the long run because Sam will find out. In fact, one of the first things uttered in "Defending Your Life" is Sam thanking Dean for not going after Amy. All Dean can say is "no problem," and then his face lights up with guilt.
Meanwhile, Sam's all about diving knee-deep into the particulars of the case. Dean is too -- to a certain extent. They're using an EMF again, which is nice. We rarely see that thing anymore, so I always enjoy when they break one out. Sam seems eager to do the grunt work, like burning bones, going to check out the next dead body and searching for an abandoned apple farm. Dean, on the other hand, seems tired, impatient and a tiny bit reluctant.
He's also drinking. He skips investigating the AA meeting because it gives him the "jeebs." And when the case of the week takes Dean to the same bar at which the victims were spotted before they disappeared, he hits the hard stuff -- double shots of Scotch, hold the soda. And he flirts with the pretty blonde bartender who listens as he talks in vague terms about going behind Sam's back to do something he knows he was justified doing. The secret is clearly killing him. Before he and the bartender can hook up, Dean's snatched and disappears. Poor guy, he was about to get lucky for what I assume is the first time since Lisa.
Ever since I heard about this episode and its premise, I was looking forward to a few things:
1) Getting a deeper look into what Dean's going through
2) Sam getting to utilize the legal skills he learned as a pre-law major at Stanford
3) The return of Jo
The trial features some really good moments. The flashback montages are awesome. The actor who plays Osiris (Faran Tahir) is powerful, wonderfully funny and sarcastic. And I love how Sam sets himself up as Dean's lawyer so "Judge Judy" doesn't kick him out of the proceedings. I think Osiris is a bit amused by the brothers. He lets the Winchesters know he'll be calling three witnesses. First up is Jo, who died in Season 5's "Abandon All Hope."
Now, here's the thing. I know Jo's always been this controversial figure in the Supernatural universe. She was brought on as a potential love interest for Dean. The love connection wasn't quite there -- for me or for a lot of SPN fans -- but I really did like Jo as a character. However, she was quickly written out and relegated to appearances every great once in a while instead of becoming a recurring role like Bobby. When they killed her off in Season 5, I was saddened, but it was also a very effective move. I felt her loss because she was a character about whom I cared. The final Dean-and-Jo scene, for me, was amazing. I feel like I finally felt their connection and the kiss was pretty potent. There weren't many words. There were looks, and actions, and then she and her mom blew themselves -- and the hellhounds -- up to help the cause.
Jo gets called as a witness. Even in death, she tries to have Dean's back. The judge tries to define the Dean-Jo relationship, but she doesn't really give him what he wants. She clearly doesn't blame the hunter for anything. I don't know if that will ever stop Dean from feeling guilty for what he thinks is his part in getting her into hunting, and he blames himself for her death. Defense Attorney Sam highlights Jo's daddy issues to explain why she was so eager to become a hunter. Her testimony isn't proving Dean's guilt, so suddenly, the judge makes her disappear.
Sam's the next witness. Osiris' questioning involves Dean coming to Stanford and luring Sam back into hunting. After that one act, Jessica died and everything bad that's happened to them since can be traced back to Dean coming to get Sam because he didn't want to hunt alone. Sam doesn't pin the blame on Dean either. It's Sam's idea to call the next witness: the defendant.
Sam uses leading questions to help Dean avoid admitting guilt to anything. But when the judge asks Dean if he really wants him to call his third witness, the oldest Winchester knows he's talking about Amy. And instead of letting that happen, he caves and Dean is pronounced guilty and sentenced to death.
My favorite moment of the episode had to be the conversation between Ghost Jo and Dean back at the hotel room. She's there to execute him the same way she went out -- she's going to rig an explosion. Jensen is simply heartbreaking as Dean. He, for the millionth time in this series, makes me tear up over Dean's self-esteem issues, his guilt issues and his severe savior complex. Their exchange was filled with dialogue designed to get me emotional:
-"You deserve better." "No, you did. You deserved better, Jo."
-"You were a kid." "Not true." "You and Sam. You know you're just...you know, hunters are never kids. I never was. I didn't even stop to think about it."
-"It wasn't on you." "No, but I didn't want to do it alone. Who does?"
-"You carry all kinds of crap you don't have to, Dean. It gets clearer when you're dead." "Well, then, in that case you should be able to see that I am 90 percent crap. I get rid of that, what then?"
Sam saved the day after Bobby gave them the lead they needed. At the end of the episode, Dean praised Sam's legal-eagle skills. (Well, he praised him in his own Dean way, that is.) He also wondered why Osiris didn't put Sam on trial for his life. Sam sounded remarkably level-headed about his tragic experiences. He feels like he paid his dues, especially since he went to hell. He doesn't feel the same kind of crappy anymore. And he's managing his wall. He feels his past is his past and he can move on with his life. I hope that's true. I like a level-headed Sam; and I liked Sam in this episode.
As much as I enjoyed "Defending Your Life," I also had some issues. The trial was only about 10 minutes of the action and therefore, didn't go far enough for me. I feel like the show could have dug deeper into the wells of Dean's past and issues of guilt. For example, the only tell-tale signs of Dean's guilt from what transpired in hell, came from a shot in one of the montages. How amazing would it have been if Osiris had put one of his victims in hell up there on the stand? We've been dealing with so many aspects of Sam's time in hell; this was a perfect way they could have dealt with Dean's time down under. The guy got off the rack after 30 years and started torturing souls. Dean has massive guilt about that.
And Cas wasn't even mentioned. Are you telling me that Dean has no guilt about his friend that he just lost? Dean has guilt about everything. I assure you, Cas is a major part of that. I, for one, would have loved it if Misha Collins had returned for this episode.
And let's go way back. What about Layla from Season 1's "Faith?" Roy, the preacher, saved him and didn't get the chance to save Layla. I know she gave Dean the "God works in mysterious ways" spiel and that she's fine with what happened. Stuff like that doesn't matter to Dean. He's going to feel the guilt. I'd like to have heard more about his guilt over his dad selling his soul for him as well. We did see a couple shots of this in the montage. But montages just cover the surface. It's the same with Ben and Lisa. There was so much material to mine that I wish his trial had been more epic and really got to showcase all these elements. It would have been great to see Sam really dig deep to prove his brother innocent.
-Do we need to start worrying about Dean's drinking even more? Again, I'm not sure if the show is headed down this sort of path. But they're definitely emphasizing his drinking.
-I think Sam would make a better cop or FBI agent than a lawyer.
-Emilie Ullerup plays Mia, the bartender. Sci Fi (and Syfy) fans may recognize Emilie from her stint on the early days of a show called Sanctuary. She starred as Ashley Magnus, the daughter of the lead character, Helen Magnus, who is played by Amanda Tapping. Admittedly, I wasn't a fan of that character, but I really enjoyed Emilie in "Defending Your Life." I think she shared a nice chemistry with Jensen.
-Dean lied to Sam one more time at the end of the episode. He wouldn't tell Sam who the final witness would have been. Boo.
Favorite Line: "Objection!" "Grounds?" "Witnesses being called without prior notice." "Good one." "I saw that on The Good Wife."