Episode Title: "Unforgiven"
Writers: Andrew Dabb & Daniel Loflin
Director: David Barrett
Previously on "Supernatural":
Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) made a deal with Death to free the soul of his bother Sam (Jared Padalecki) from hell and place it back within his body; which had returned to Earth as amoral version of himself. Although Dean was warned that the memories of Sam’s time in hell had devastated his soul, he allowed Death to place a mental wall in Sam’s mind to cloud his memories of hell. The wall also caused Sam to forget what his soulless self was doing doing the year and a half since they were separated.
However, their mentor Bobby Singer (Jim Beaver) did not warm up to Sam so quickly after he had tried to "Go Menendez" on him. And the angel Castiel (Misha Collins) accidentally spilled the truth to a more innocent Sam, who expressed his desire to make up for what he had done. But Death warned them not to "scratch the wall" in his mind or else there would be consequences.
One year ago, Sam shoots a man while his grandfather, Samuel Campbell (Mitch Pileggi) looks on. As they drive out of town, they are pulled over by Deputy Atkins (William C. Vaughan), who believes that they are FBI agents and he tells them that he can’t reach the sheriff. Atkins notices that Sam’s arm is bleeding badly and he pulls a gun on them to bring them back to the station for questioning. Sam simply beats the man to a pulp before resuming his trip with Samuel. In the present, Sam gets a text on his phone with coordinates for Bristol, Rhode Island. A quick inquiry confirms that three women have disappeared from there and the brothers are soon on the case.
On the way into town, Sam has memory flashes of being there with Samuel. And in the restaurant, a married woman recognizes Sam and he remembers having sex with her. A photo of Sam on the restaurant’s wall confirms he was there before. Dean tries to convince Sam to leave, but he insists upon seeing the case through. Dean also finds out that Sam was sleeping with at least one of the victims. And shortly thereafter, Atkins spots Sam and has him arrested. In jail, Brenna Dobbs (Miranda Frigon) calls Sam by his real name and demands to know what happened to her husband. He explains that he can’t remember and she accepts that. She also helps him escape.
The woman who recognized Sam in the restaurant is soon kidnapped as well and Dean realizes that Sam was sleeping with all of the women who disappeared. He calls Sam to warn him that it’s a trap for him, specifically. Meanwhile, Sam visits Brenna to examine some of the evidence from his original case and he begins to remember her husband, Sheriff Roy Dobbs (Joe Holt), who Sam and Samuel opened up to about who they really were and the monster they were hunting. Brenna tells him that she accepts that her husband must have died, she just wants to know how it happened. But Sam assures her that he probably went out a hero.
After reuniting with Dean, Sam has an extended memory flash of using Roy as bait to draw out a female Arachne, who bites him and drags him back to his lair. Sam and Samuel track it down using Roy’s phone and manage to decapitate the creature. But Roy and four other men are cocooned and presumably dying from their poisonous bites. Sam decides to show "mercy" by shooting them all in the head before they die horribly. At Brenna’s home, Roy shows up with his face heavily disfigured. He coerces her into luring Sam and Dean into a trap. And sure enough, he manages to overcome the Winchester brothers and partially cocoon them.
Before he finishes them off, Roy makes Sam admit to Brenna that he tried to kill Roy and the others, but they survived the gunshots to pass on their curse. And Roy says that he infected all of the missing women, who are now Arachne as well. He debates turning Sam or killing him when Dean breaks free and engages him. Brenna takes the opportunity to free Sam and he kills Roy. But Brenna refuses to acknowledge Sam after that. Later, Sam expresses his guilt to Dean and suddenly goes into a seizure as a memory of his time in hell flashes through his mind.
As much as I didn’t like soulless Sam when he was on the first part of the season, it was fun watching him in action during the flashbacks. Basically, he was sleeping with at least four women simultaneously and thought nothing of betraying one of the few real allies (or even friends) that he had made in the town. And do you know what the kicker is? Soulless Sam wasn’t wrong to shoot the captured men. He was just sloppy about it and he should have finished them off. The main sin of Soulless Sam was that he used Roy for bait without even telling him or offering him a choice. Other than that, he was the Duke Nukem of monster hunters.
I also liked the idea that Arachne are essentially Spider-vampires. And it would be intriguing if Sam’s actions in that town actually led to a much larger out break of the creatures. By my count, there are at least 8 more unaccounted for, including the missing women. That would actually be a great long term plot point to come out of this.
I’m a little more perplexed about what Samuel was supposed to be doing in this episode, because his main function here is to stand around and say "Wow, you’re really cold, Sam," or variations thereof for most of the episode. That’s not a very effective use of Mitch Pileggi, who’s an old hand at genre by now. Making Samuel nothing more than Soulless Sam’s sounding board actually hurt his character. He’s way too passive here.
The one area of this episode that felt like a letdown was that Sam got off the hook too easily. Brenna’s cold shoulder at the end just wasn’t dramatic enough to cover what he had done to her. That’s the kind of scene that needs a lot of yelling and screaming. It was just way too quiet of a way to end what should have been the most powerful moments of the episode. Brenna was essentially Sam’s biggest victim and her friendship with him cost her a husband. If anything, that deserved at least a hard slap.
The flash to Sam’s time in hell was also pretty weak, with some fake looking CGI fire on his face. I’d prefer it if the "wall in his mind" plot goes away fairly quickly. The longer we deal with Sam’s memories in hell, the longer the show keeps form making a clean break from last season.
Crave Online Rating: 7 out of 10.