Supernatural: "Family Matters"
B+

Supernatural: "Family Matters"

B+

Supernatural

"Family Matters"

Season 6, Episode 7

Any Joe Hill fans out there? Tonight's episode of Supernatural reminded me quite a bit of Hill's last novel, Horns. That book opened with its main character discovering he had the power to make people tell him the worst secrets about themselves. And it's not even that he had a choice in the matter; folks spilled their guts whether he wanted them to or not, which means the poor guy got to spend a lot of time hearing from friends who hated him or resented him. I wondered about this, reading the book, because the truth isn't inherently bad--but the truth we conceal nearly always is. 

Horns is all about demons and the Devil, and that's not exactly what's going on in "You Can't Handle The Truth." But the cause behind four suicides in Calumet City, Illinois (soon to be five suicides plus one murder) is, ahem, supernatural, and a deity is involved. And boy oh boy do these truths hurt. In the episode's cold open, a sweet little waitress in Jane makes the mistake of asking for some honest answers, and spends the rest of her shift hearing how she's pitied, how she's ugly, how the kindly old lady in booth five ran over a homeless man once, and how her own sister can't stand her complaints anymore. Jane cracks and shoots herself. Turns out that's the M.O. of this week's monster: after being invoked by someone desperate to know if her boyfriend was cheating, Veritas, Goddess of Truth, is hanging around town, working as a local news anchor, and collecting the occasional sacrifice/evening meal. Whenever anyone makes the mistake of asking directly for the truth, they're cursed to get just that until they can no longer take it, and they kill themselves. Veritas collects the bodies, has herself a snack, and the cycle continues. (Wait, is that a cycle?)

At least it does until Sam and Dean show up. It's convenient that their latest case comes so close to the heart of the problem between the two brothers: Dean doesn't trust Sam anymore, and Sam doesn't seem to really trust anyone. So it's not surprising that Dean inadvertently gets himself a dose of Veritas. After getting an earful from Bobby, and learning his relationship with Lisa is basically over, at least until he and Sam can figure out their crap, Dean confronts his brother point blank about the vampire attack. And Sam lies. Jared Padalecki takes some heat for not being quite a strong an actor as Ackles, but I've been enjoying his work this season; it's great to see him get to do a routine that isn't just endless variations on "the sensitive one," and it's fun to see him play someone who seems familiar, but is just a little not quite right. His long pause and weird hiccuping when Dean asks him about what happened managed to convey that he was lying without confirming it definitively.

About the only real disappointment in tonight's episode was Veritas herself. She's a Roman goddess, the daughter of Saturn, and she was supposed to be hard to find, not, y'know, living in a swanky apartment devouring corpse tongues. It's not a disappointment big enough to seriously hurt the episode, and ancient-gods-who-are-basically-just-nasty-beasties is a standard plot development on the show. Maybe that's why it's disappointing. I liked Veritas's shocked horror when she realized Sam was lying to her, but the character was about as generic as they get, just another blandly hot actress in blandly hot clothes. Wouldn't the Goddess of Truth have a little more kick to her? And if they're going to go this route, why use a goddess at all? I'm sure there's a creature they could make up that would fit the bill.

Really, "You" was more about what's going on with Sam and Dean than it was about Veritas or any of her victims (although that dentist scene? Damn!). We don't get any definitive answers tonight, but we do learn that there is something wrong with Sam; that he's not human; and that he's known there was a problem for a while now. He's a better hunter (Bobby even says he's a better hunter than Dean, now), but he doesn't feel much of anything, and in the long run, that's dangerous. His last minute, desperate confession stops Dean from stabbing him, but doesn't stop Dean from beating the crap out of him. The Winchesters have always had a troubled relationship, but this season is the first time in, well, ever that it feels like Dean has something other than his brother to compete for his loyalty and love. I'm not a huge fan of Lisa and Ben, and I hope that, after this week, they fade out of the scene for a while, but it's good that we finally have a change in the status quo. Before, the Sam and Dean always came back together because they had nothing else. Now, Dean has the chance at maybe a happy life that doesn't end in him covered in his own blood. As much as he might be convinced that he'd doomed to be a hunter, that changes the balance. This time, if something's wrong with Sam, Dean might not risk all he has just to set it right.

Stray Observations:

  • Cass! Although only for a scene. (I wonder if the references to Gabriel's Horn of Truth were a nod to the book I mentioned above?)
  • "You mean the... non-sexy kind of drilled, right?"
  • "I'm sitting like this so you'll look at my breasts. I just bought them. I need a lot of attention." "Good luck with that." (The best part: he came back to check her out. The actress's reaction as was so delighted I almost wonder if Ackles improvised the double-take.)
  • Well, the preview for next's week's episode surely let the cat out of the bag, didn't it?

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