Supernatural, Season 9, Episode 13: “The Purge”
Written by Eric Charmelo and Nicole Snyder
Directed by Philip Sgriccia
Airs Tuesdays at 9pm (ET) on The CW
Despite the presence of Angels and Demons and their respective turf wars being the primary concern for the Winchester brothers, the duo have first and foremost been Hunters. Thrust into a life of protecting humans from supernatural entities, Sam and Dean have never fully given up on individual cases, even as they tried to prevent the breaking of the seals, or attempted to stop the apocalypse from going through. This week once again drops the brothers into another town with odd goings-on, in what is a somewhat bland episode that doesn’t quite entertain, and only minimally advance the audience’s understanding of the characters.
While Sam and Dean have fought numerous times over the course of the show, their final conversation this week has an intriguing fatalistic ring to it. Sam’s reluctance to be a Hunter has been clear on the show since the beginning, and the wrong decisions he has made, such as starting the Apocalypse, have only exacerbated this feeling. At the same time, he has never been able to properly break away from the Hunting life either, his two best opportunities with Jessica and Amelia being dashed by external circumstances. Seeing death as the only possible reprieve from this life is an understandable viewpoint for Sam, given his circumstances to date, especially after Dean prevented him from closing the gates of Hell, which could have been seen as a solution. It’s very likely that Sam’s outlook is only going to get more pessimistic as events progress, and it will be interesting to see how that affects his work and his relationship with Dean. If he becomes suicidal and self-destructive, which is quite possible, he may end up becoming a liability, but his ensuing recklessness may also be an asset. It will also be intriguing to see how Dean reacts to the change in Sam’s emotional state, if it occurs, as that will be a new challenge for the elder Winchester.
Dean’s change in stance regarding supernatural creatures, however, is a negative aspect of this episode. In addition to coming out of nowhere, the return of Dean’s black-and-white view of monsters is a betrayal to the character development he has undergone during the show’s run. Having formed uneasy, yet successful partnerships with supernatural entities such as Crowley and Death, and deep friendships with the likes of Castiel and Benny, Dean has had enough long-term experience in the idea that creatures are not all bad all the time. Even singular experiences with ghosts and other monsters have shown him that there are shades of grey, with no recent event doing anything to disabuse him of that notion. His view of Maritza, this week’s Pishtaco, being evil despite her willing assistance of the duo is thus odd and inconsistent, and feels like manufactured drama that undercuts the lessons Dean has learned from past experiences. This is a notable misstep in this week’s episode, unless another episode down the line serves to shed light on Dean’s reasoning and what led to it.
Overall, this is a somewhat dull episode, never able to elevate itself to the high calibre of standalone episodes this show has had. The idea behind the pishtaco is an interesting one, however, and credit must be given to the writers for being able to present new supernatural entities that don’t feel similar to established characters despite the show’s longevity. Dean’s reaction to the sedatives in the pudding is a highlight of the episode, providing a good platform to display Jensen Ackles’ capability for physical comedy. The effect of watching the victims get all the fat sucked out of their body is also a fascinating one. Castiel’s absence is a noticeable one this week, particularly as the brothers discuss going after Gadreel and Metatron. It will be interesting to see how his path intersects with the Winchesters once again, as well as whether the Winchesters’ search for Metatron and Gadreel lead them to cross paths with Bartholomew, Malachi, or any of the other Angels fighting for dominant control. How the Angels treat the Winchesters will be very telling, particularly with Castiel now having his grace back, and thus able to go toe-to-toe with any Angel, something he is likely to do if they harm either of Sam or Dean. How such events shape up, as well as how Abaddon reacts to the knowledge of Dean now carrying the Mark of Cain, will be worth seeing in the coming weeks.
– Deepayan Sengupta