(S02E17) I was looking forward to this episode for two reasons, only one of which panned out. First, like Dean said, "Werewolves are badass." From American Werewolf in London right up to the recent Dresden Files episode "Hair of the Dog," I like stories involving werewolves. "Heart" can now take a well deserved spot in that long line of lycanthropic entertainment.
What didn't pan out was my mention last week that we would be seeing Erica Cerra (Eureka) in this episode. From the quick shot in the preview, I mistook Emmanuelle Vaugier (Painkiller Jane, Smallville) for Erica. They do look an awful lot alike. While it would have been fun to see Erica Cerra mixing it up with the Winchester boys, Vaugier did a great job in what was a very interesting role.
The best bits of Madison's story didn't come from the usual formula. It was already given away that she was a werewolf, so that was no surprise. Although, when Dean discovered her, that scene did have a nice "made you jump" reveal. And once they decided to go after the beasty that had bitten Madison, I thought it was pretty obvious that it would be Glen (Brad Dryborough, Battlestar Galactica).
The lack of surprise on those fronts didn't detract from the episode though, because the really good stuff was in the interaction of Sam and Madison. Their relationship was working on a couple different levels here. Clearly, she's a cute girl, and Sam was into her. But reading a little more into what he was saying, he was clearly identifying with her situation. Something has been thrust upon her, out of her control, and it could signal her doom. Not unlike the future Sam is so worried about.
Pacing was also very interesting for the story. After the night where Sam locked Madison in the closet while Dean took out Glen, the episode went through the normal little end of the show routine. Sam said goodbye and then we find him with Dean in the Impala, having their normal wrap up talk that puts thing in perspective. The thing is, that was only 36 minutes into the show. I noticed the clock and heard a cheesy infomercial announcer in my head, "But wait... there's more!"
At that point, it would have been a solid episode. What came next, moved it up to great. The moral grey area where Madison was concerned was interesting. After she made it through the night, the boys were ready to give her a pass on the murders, because she really wasn't in control of her actions.
The love scene was good. I'm told the ladies like the shirtless Jared stuff. I'm a terrible judge of what is attractive in men, so I'll take their word for that. What I liked about the scene though was the relief. Sam saved the girl, and gained some hope that he could save himself. It was a nice moment for him, and it made it that much more powerful when he looked up and saw that Madison had turned again.
Now, what about that ending? Who says there's no crying in demon hunting? That was some pretty heavy stuff, and went in a different direction than I thought they would. It might be the years of watching Buffy and seeing Oz locked up in his cage, but I was guessing that was where they were going. Dean had it right though, she would eventually get out, and when she did she would kill more people.
Madison asking Sam to do it was heartbreaking, and a big moment for Sam. At the same time though, I thought that scene did a lot to reinforce just what Dean is all about. More than anything else, he wants to protect Sam. He was willing to let Sam walk away and take care of this for him, as we all knew he would be. When we saw that tear roll down Dean's cheek at the end, it seemed to me that it was much more about how all of this was hurting Sam than anything else.
Overall, a great installment. We are still in something of a holding pattern where the big story is concerned, and it looks like that's going to last for at least one more week, but this is one well worth seeing.