This was one dark, dark episode. But it was also damned hilarious at times. Mixing the two so well is one of Edlund’s strong suits, so it works brilliantly here. The first scene, with the new couple eating each other to death, was one of the grossest things I’ve seen on the show in a while. But heck, that wasn’t even the darkest thing in the episode, that was just a prelude of what was to come.
This episode had a lot of "WTF?!" moments. First off, Dean not being hungry and not wanting to chase women?!!?!?!? Seriously??!?! I mean this gets explained in an awfully tragic way, but wow, this was odd and awful and sad to see. Secondly, seeing Castiel/Jimmy eat so much was just wrong, gross and totally took my appetite away. Thirdly, Cupid was nekkid?!?! This was awesome, and hilarious. His "handshake" was so awesome. There’s more, but they need their own analysis.
First, let’s look at Sam. The way that Famine gets control of him and turns his hunger for demon blood up to eleven was just incredible. Seeing Sam trying to deal with his hunger, too, was just incredible. How Jared Padalecki plays his role with such amazing subtlety, I have no idea, but he’s just brilliant at it. With just a twitch of his face you can see the pain and anger he has broiling underneath.
You could also see him fighting with his own inner demon — the addiction — just by the look on his face. When he finally succumbs to his addiction, draining a couple of demons dry, it’s easy for one to worry that Sam has fallen off the deep end again. However, when you see Sam pull off the final piece of resistance and use his hunger for the greater good, you can help but cheer. Sadly, this also meant Sam had to go through a horrible detox once again, which was just awful to hear. Though watching Sam use his ability to rip Famine apart from the inside kinda made it worth it.
Secondly, we’ll look at Dean, which is a much sadder story in some ways. The fact that he didn’t feel the compulsion of the hunger, due to the amazing emptiness and sadness inside him, was just torture to watch once Famine revealed it to the audience. Dean tries to put on a brave face, tries to be strong, to work through the crap that’s thrown at him in this apocalypse, but to find out how empty and broken he really is — something many have already guessed at — was just heartbroken. Dean is sort of like John as described by Sam in the previous episode, "trying to keep it together in an impossible situation." One wonders if John could have handled the apocalypse any better than Dean is.
What was really heartbreaking was at the end, when Dean just seemed to finally break. He has friends, he has allies, but in that moment, you could tell just how alone he felt. You could see the pain, the despair, the anguish. It was just awful to see, and yet played brilliantly by Jensen Ackles.
Next up is Castiel. Seeing even Cas affected by Famine — through his vessel Jimmy — to the consumption of so much red meat, not only made me sad, it also made me hungry, honestly, for a cheeseburger. 😉 Seriously though, Castiel was slowly being affected by Famine’s touch, and it was sad to see him slowly fall to his own vessel’s desires. Misha Collins played it brilliantly though.
Finally, we’ll look at Famine, played wonderfully by James Otis. The horseman’s hunger, but also his insight, was just amazing to see. Watching his effect on people’s desires was just amazing, and it was also incredible to hear about his tirade on American’s hunger. "A swarm of locusts in stretch pants," he says, which is a telling commentary on our hunger for food, money, sex and so on. However, it’s his scene with Dean, where he describes how empty, broken and defeated he is inside. "A deep dark nothing" he called it. He was just amazing in his role.
Oh, I touched on this for a moment, but I have to mention the last act. Watching Dean listen to Sam go through detox. Watching Dean, crying, broken, looking up to the sky and asking for help, was just heartbreaking on multiple levels. This is the kind of compelling drama we love this show for, and I’m glad to see it making a comeback after a few bumps in the road.
Finally, some little things worth mentioning. The guy who played Cupid, Lex Medlin, was just fantastic in his short, yet powerful scene. Especially what he had to say about working to bring John and Mary Winchester together, was just amazing. I honestly felt bad for the character. He was just so nice and happy, just trying to be the love machine he was meant to be, that I was sad to see him go. I also really liked the character of Dr. Corman, played by, Jay Brazeau, and was really sad to see him go.
Overall, this was an amazing episode. It was tragic, gross, awful, funny, touching and sad all in one forty minute slice of amazingsauce. It’s a shame we’re going on a hiatus after this episode, because the season is really picking up. One can hope, however, that the episodes retain this level of quality for the remainder of the season.