Supernatural, Season 8, Episode 5: “Blood Brother”
Written by Ben Edlund
Directed by Guy Norman Bee
Airs Wednesdays at 9pm (ET) on CW
One of the most intriguing questions to come out of Supernatural’s season 8 premiere was Dean’s friendship with vampire Benny. While the details of their first meeting were revealed in the season opener, the way Dean and Benny interacted in Purgatory and in the real world were noticeably different, with a bond that was clearly deeper than one simply forged by a mutual goal. The glimpses of Purgatory that the season has shown so far have done little to shed any light on the evolution of this curious friendship, but this episode further explores the dynamic between hunter and monster, blending a standalone episode with the larger arc in fine fashion.
Possibly the most fascinating part of the episode is watching Benny and Dean hunt the vampire nest together. The two function in tandem very effectively, much like Dean and Sam worked together in the heyday of their hunting lives, and arguably more effectively than the Winchester brothers have worked together this season. The contrasts between Benny and Sam are very interesting to note; while the latter ended up spending the year of Dean’s imprisonment in Purgatory slowly weaning himself out of the only life he’s really known, Benny has spent the last year honing his fighting skills to a ruthlessly sharp point, and has fought alongside Dean to boot.
It will be very interesting to see if Dean at some point decides, or even considers, having Benny help him go up against Crowley rather than Sam, a possibility that’s perhaps strengthened by the high regard for humanity that Benny displays this episode. The fact that Dean leaves Sam alone without a moment’s thought to help Benny, then proceeds to treat Sam’s concern as a distraction and an annoyance, are definite indicators of unresolved issues between the brothers, something that has yet to pop up between Dean and Benny, which also increases the viability of the latter as a more suitable hunting partner.
Going through Benny’s past is also quite interesting and adds another dimension to the character. While the writers had already revealed that Benny was interested in getting out of Purgatory strongly enough to partner up with, and even save the life of, a human who had just gotten in, showing what fueled that motivation allows the audience to get a better handle on the character in a manner that wouldn’t have been achieved if he had been seen only in Purgatory. While Benny becoming Dean’s new hunting partner is one possibility, Benny becoming a full monster whom Dean is forced to put down is also a strong contender. Seeing the love of his life betray him, as well as putting down the vampire that killed him, certainly gives Benny the potent combination of despair and aimlessness which could very easily make him dangerous. Whether he reacts positively or negatively to his new circumstances, as well as how much help Dean will be willing to provide, will be interesting to see as the season progresses.
Revisiting the past year in Sam’s life is also unexpectedly fascinating. Amelia, who unfortunately did not get painted in the most flattering light at the start of the season, effectively manages to become a more complex character with the extended time the writers give her this episode. The idea of both Sam and Amelia being untethered and alone is a very promising idea for the show to explore and gives Amelia a level of depth that elevates her character above a simple plot device to give Sam an excuse to leave behind the hunter’s life. It will be interesting to watch how the relationship between the two develops, as well as whether she returns in present day or not. Watching Dean meet Amelia for the first time is also a scene that has potential; while it may not be as tense as Benny’s first encounter with Sam, Dean’s obvious distaste regarding Sam’s decision is bound to come to the surface when dealing with Amelia, and in what manner that manifests itself, as well as how Amelia reacts, will be fascinating.
Overall, this is another strong episode that goes a long way towards fleshing out the newest addition to the show. Sam’s perplexity at Dean’s declaration that he wasn’t hunting alone is a nice touch and an effective reminder of how much the Winchesters’ circle of acquaintances has shrunk over the show’s run, to the point where Garth is the only viable hunting partner option Sam can think of who isn’t deceased. Dean’s fierce loyalty to Benny is also compelling to watch; while Dean has a lot of flaws, one thing he has never done is refuse help to a friend in need, even traveling all the way to Scotland to help Bobby get out of his deal with Crowley in Season 6. The ruthless and efficient slaughter of the vampire’s nest is another testament to how much more effective Dean has become as a hunter following his time in Purgatory, as he nearly single-handedly finishes off all the vampires, with Benny only killing two once he is in the lair. What happened to Castiel in Purgatory continues to compel and watching Benny behead a Leviathan before it attacks Castiel is a very well-executed moment. Where the show chooses to go with Benny, as well as further exploration of how being in Purgatory affected Dean, Benny, and Castiel, promises to be fascinating, and worth tuning in for next week.