Four and a Half Torches (Out of Five)
Warning: This review contains spoilers for the “You Can’t Handle the Truth” episode of Supernatural.
I’ll fess up and say that I’ve always considered Jared Padalecki to be the weaker of the two lead actors on Supernatural.
I’m not so sure anymore. I’m starting to think maybe it was more than Jensen Ackles always had the more interesting part: quippy bad boy beats moody homebody any day.
But Padalecki is doing a terrific job being Not Quite Sam so far this season. I especially like that his phone message has changed (much more curt). Nice touch.
(It’s also interesting that Sam and Castiel have “changed.” That’s clearly a theme of the season.)
What about the episode itself? Why am I rating it so highly when it was pretty clearly a by-the-numbers monster-of-the-week episode — one with a pretty rote ending at that?
A couple of reasons. First, I’m thrilled they’re not drawing out the mystery of Sam’s identity: they’re dealing with it. (At the same time, they’re not quite answering the question either, which is cool. Just so long as it doesn’t feel like they’re teasing us — that there’s some forward momentum.)
A goddess that compels people to tell the truth? Okay, sure, that might be a little too perfectly suited to the situation with Sam and Dean. On the other hand, I like that shows like Supernatural can be a little larger-than-life, using “monsters” and magic to dramatize situations we all can relate to. This reminded me of a Buffy episode in that regard.
I also think they did a pretty nice job with the “can’t lie” set-up. It was an extremely nice (and unexpected) moment when Lisa is compelled to tell the truth. Boy, does she tell the truth! Dean and Sam absolutely are destined to make each other unhappy. (What made the scene work was that sense that Lisa had had it, that she was going to be telling Dean this “truth” regardless of whether she was under a spell.)
It was also nice that Dean tells the truth to Lisa, even if he’s not compelled.
Even better, of course, is that Dean, knowing that he can compel the truth out of others, directly asks Sam what’s going on with him. And it’s great that Sam is able to resist the curse and still lie, even as he says, indignantly, “I can’t lie to you!”
This is a turn of events that ends of shocking the hell out of the Goddess of Truth. Which causes the audience to ask: what the hell is Sam anyway?
Later, Sam says he’ll give the real truth: that he’s lost all “feeling” since returning from Hell. But is he really telling the truth? He’s told so many lies since the start of the season — even when directly confronted — that it’s impossible to say.
I liked that a lot. Answer one question, but with an answer that just leaves us with many more questions. This is exactly what they should be doing at episode six of a 22-episode season.
A couple of other things I liked:
- The “dentist” scene was pretty extreme: a combination of the creepiness of the pedophile and the protective dentist father going at it with the drill.
- And I loved that Bobby’s “truth” is that he loves Tori Spelling! I also liked hearing that obvious: that Dean is his “favorite.”
They could easily still screw up this Not Quite Sam sub-plot. But between this episode and Padalecki’s performance, I’m definitely hanging in there so far.
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