Halloween is going to prove even scarier with the Winchesters in town! The official description for “Blood Brother”, via the CW Network’s website :
“BENNY CALLS DEAN FOR HELP — After Benny gets brutally beat up by some vampires, he calls Dean for help. Dean abruptly packs up and tells a confused Sam that he’s taking a “personal day.” Benny confesses that he’s going after his Maker (guest star Patrick Stafford) so Dean offers to help, flashing back on the many times Benny helped him and Castiel in Purgatory.
Meanwhile, Sam uses his solo time to reflect on the life he left behind with Amelia (guest star Liane Balaban). However, when things go bad for Dean and Benny, Dean calls Sam for help, which makes everything very complicated. Guy Bee directed the episode written by Ben Edlund.”
A short clip from “Blood Brother”, via the CW Network :
First rule for any jogger – please watch horror movies. Trust me on this one. Your life span will be considerably longer.
If this jogger had known Rule Numero Uno, he might have known Rule Numero Dos : NEVER GO JOGGING AT NIGHT. ALONE. IN A SECLUDED AREA. But no one ever listens to me (or common sense) in situations like this. Our runner in Minneapolis falls into this category, plodding along by the riverfront until he is overtaken and passed by another jogger (Brent Chapman) -– one who is several years older (and several pounds heavier) than he is.
The younger jogger finally catches up when the older man stops to smile triumphantly at him. And stopping was his final mistake. He should have been aware he was in the opening sequence of a “Supernatual” episode, and therefore doomed. Oh, well. How important is your heart, anyway?
Cases like this draw the Winchester brothers like moths to a flame, and Dean (Jensen Ackles) is soon regaling Sam (Jared Padalecki) with the facts : two hearts ripped out in Minneapolis, six months apart. “That’s gotta be a ritual, man,” he says, almost a little too enthusiastically, “or at least some sort of a heart-sucking, possessed, Satanic crack-whore bat.”
Dean is eager to work a monster case, since the search for prophet Kevin (Osric Chau) and his mom has been somewhat fruitless. (Kevin and Momma Tran bailed on the brothers at the end of last week’s episode, feeling – rightfully – that their lives were at risk.) But the elder Winchester takes another moment to berate Sam once again for the year he spent away from hunting. “I get it, you took a year off to do yoga and play the lute, whatever. But I’m back, we’re back, which means we walk and kill monsters at the same time.”
Off to the police department in Minneapolis, where the brothers chat with Detective Pike, played by Ackles’ own father (veteran actor Alan Ackles, whom the fans have also dubbed “Papa Ackles”) – and since the younger Ackles directed this episode — his third turn behind the camera on SPN — the casting is not surprising. (His mother Donna is also an extra in the same scene.) The two characters even have a fun-but-brief moment where they challenge each other’s interrogation styles, after the detective brings up the last person to see the now-heartless jogger alive.
Paul Hayes, the portly jogger from the opening scene, was captured on video passing the victim, but was released after being questioned, which Dean dislikes. “I mean, look at the guy,” says the detective, “sure he can run a little bit, but Thor he ain’t. You think he’s gonna grab Freddy Fitness here, throw him down and rip out his heart? I don’t think so. Forgive me if I didn’t drag him out back and shoot him.”
Sam and Dean visit Paul, who is happily mixing Jamba Juice-style smoothies in his kitchen. “Tastes like crap, but it keeps you young!” he says. (One might wonder if the numerous Arnold Schwarzenegger posters on his walls are for precisely the same reason, but I really have no desire to find out.) He feigns innocence about the jogger’s death, although he acknowledges that it was odd for someone as “full-figured” as himself to overtake the runner. He explains it used to be much worse – a health scare set him on the straight and narrow road to better living. “Now you body’s a temple, huh?” asks Dean.
“Where I worship every day!” answers Paul with enthusiasm, and I realize now that this line was a clue to the episode’s monster. I have to admit, as much as I enjoyed Ackles’ directing again, this week’s script (by Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross-Leming) was somewhat hard to follow on the first viewing. Once I got to the end, I realized it had made sense, but it was still confusing during the initial watching.
Part of what made it perplexing is found in the next scene, as Sam and Dean try to track different murders with a “do-it-yourself heart bypass”. (I had trouble keeping up with the information that was being thrown at me both here and in later scenes.) They discover another victim that was killed two days after the jogger, but in Ames, Iowa, rather than Minneapolis – and that killer was a cop named Arthur Swensen (Paul Boyle). Dean also notes that a similar pattern occurred six months before – Minneapolis, then Ames.
But there was no way Paul could have committed the murder in Ames, and there is no way Arthur could have committed the murder in Minneapolis. A visit with Arthur only deepens the mystery, as the only thing he has to say for himself is a repeated mantra in an unrecognizable language : “K’uhul ajaw, Cacao, shi-jiiy.” He is unable to say anything else.
Later on that night, Arthur IS able to do something proactive. Whilst sitting in his jail cell, he breaks off a piece of his metal cot and gouges out his own eye. (A more graphic cut of this scene exists, in which Arthur is actually shown removing his eye, but it was deemed too gory for a TV-14 rating.)
The brothers are still baffled by the chant and try running it through a translator app, only to come up empty. Upon learning about Arthur’s actions, their bafflement grows. The doctor who attended to Arthur’s wounds is not quite sure how he managed to break his cot apart. “Like I said,” she comments, “determined.” But Dean happens upon another fact – Arthur had two different colored eyes because he had a transplant after an accident. An accident that happened almost a year ago, to the day. And he chose to remove the transplanted eye.
After some digging, the brothers discover that Paul had a transplant as well – two suspects, two identical murders in two separate cities, two transplants done a year ago. Too much coincidence. Furthermore, they hit on the idea that perhaps the language Arthur was chanting is a dead one – hence, the app not being able to pinpoint it.
Sam wisely emails the audio file of the chanting to Professor Morrison, an anthropologist who helped the Winchesters last season when they battled Amazon warriors. While they wait on the results, they drive to Boulder, Colorado – whenever the cycle of murders repeats, the next victim always shows up there.
Sure enough, a creep named Jake in a back alley behind the Bunny Hole strip club is about to learn about the cycle firsthand. He waits for stripper Randa (Kyra Zagorsky), hoping for some action – but something tells me losing his heart (literally) was what he had in mind.
Back on the road, Sam and Dean compare notes about where their heads are at. Dean feels his year in Purgatory gave him perspective : “I know where I’m at my best, and that is right here, driving down Crazy Street, next to you.”
“Or maybe you don’t need me,” Sam counters. “I mean, maybe you’re at your best hacking and slicing your way through all the world’s crap alone, not having to explain yourself to anybody.” Dean’s annoyance is palpable as he answers, “Yeah, that makes sense – seeing as how I have so many other brothers I can talk to about this stuff…” (The statement is layered – both boys know that their half-brother Adam is trapped in the Cage, languishing in Hell…and they have no way to rescue him.)
A phone call from Arthur’s doctor brings new evidence – both Arthur and Paul’s donated organs (the eye and a kidney) came from a pro football player named Brick Holmes, who had died in a car crash the previous year. His organs went to eight people. And although none of them live in Boulder, that is Brick’s hometown…plus it happens to be their only solid lead.
Randa certainly wastes no time with her newly acquired creep heart. She performs some kind of ritual in which she chants the unknown words and devours the organ, releasing an odd red energy.
Sam and Dean pose as FBI agents and visit Brick’s mother, Eleanor, played by Patty McCormack – yes, THAT Patty McCormack, as in evil little Rhoda from the classic 1956 drama “The Bad Seed”. Eleanor is somewhat vague in her answers.
Brick signed up to be an organ donor as part of a public awareness stunt; Eleanor tellingly mentions, “I’m sure Brick didn’t think twice about it, since he never thought he was going to die…” Furthermore, Brick never married, he was so devoted to the game.
The brothers learn about the murder in Boulder and drive off, leaving Eleanor behind – and now we learn that Randa (oddly) is no stranger in the Holmes house. She only wants to protect Brick’s memory, she insists. “Brick’s heart beats inside here now,” Randa says. “Brick gave me new life, I can feel him. It’s why I moved to Boulder – to be near here…”
Professor Morrison comes through again for the Winchesters by identifying the mysterious language as ancient Mayan; the chant says, “The divine god Cacao is born.” And just who (or what) is Cacao? The Mayan god of maize, one of the most important deities in the pantheon. As to how he is connected to Brick is still a mystery – one that the brothers need to solve soon. Another recipient of Brick’s organs has gone missing in Phoenix, no telling where he might have gone.
The boys break into the Holmes mansion and soon discover a hidden room stuffed with sports memorabilia – and not just from football, but from other games as well, dating back who knows how long. They also find a box full of letters addressed to a woman named Betsy and signed, “Love, me”. The letters go back several years and discuss playing several different kinds of sports. The last one, from a more recent date, reads, “…So tired of it all…”
By cross-referencing the names on the trophies Brick collected and checking their pictures, the brothers find out that all of the players were actually him, making him quiet old — but he never appeared to be any older than his mid-twenties. And now they make the connection to Cacao. The Mayans were crazy about sports, and their athletes made sacrifices to the god by – wait for it – pulling out a victim’s heart and eating it, believing that it would make them super-strong and fast.
But what about the immortality part? They form a hypothesis that perhaps a human can make a deal with a god the same way they might make a deal with a demon. Keep making the sacrifices, and the athlete stays young and healthy. If that was the case with Brick, then it would be impossible to tell how old he actually was – maybe over nine-hundred years. And furthermore, Eleanor Holmes was not Brick’s mother…she was once Betsy — Brick’s wife.
Why have the organ recipients gone homicidal? The spell was carried along and infected them with both Brick’s athletic prowess and his need to carry on the ritual, especially if they enjoy the results. Arthur, however (being an upstanding guy), could not handle the guilt of taking a life and therefore went insane, removing the eye that made him kill.
Another visit to Eleanor tells the whole story. She confesses all – Brick was actually a thousand-year-old Mayan superstar named Inyo who had been carrying out the sacrifices for centuries before she met him. Once they had fallen in love, Brick cared more for her than for the life he had led for so long…and that started to become a problem when Eleanor began to age and he stayed the same.
She chose to ignore what Brick needed to do, as well as agreeing to disappear every ten years or so and then re-emerge with a new identity to help hide his secret. But after a while, they had to stop introducing Eleanor as Brick’s wife – and started calling her his mother instead. Brick knew that Eleanor was in the twilight of her life and could not bear to think of life without her. So he crashed his car on purpose.
After telling her story, Eleanor is ashamed of herself and offers a clue on how to stop the killings. “Brick used to say the heart was key. That was the focus of the sacrifice.” Destroy Brick’s heart, and it all ends. And who was the lucky lady who received Brick’s heart? Stripper Randa.
Sam and Dean break into the Bunny Hole club, and soon find themselves face-to-face with Randa – and two of her buddies (Paul and the missing man from Phoenix). Paul sends Sam flying before helping pin Dean to the stage, at Randa’s mercy.
She proudly tells her story : she was once a shy girl with a heart condition who received Brick’s ticker (although MY question immediately was, “Where the heck is your transplant scar, which should be highly visible with all those low-cut outfits you wear??” but hey, I can suspend disbelief a little here). But after the surgery? “I became freaking Xena, Warrior Princess. I couldn’t dissect a frog in high school – but sacrificing to Cacao? Better than sex. So if I go real slow, and take my time and enjoy this…I can actually show you your own beating heart before you die.” At which point she starts digging her nails into Dean’s chest.
Luckily, she does not get very far before Sam has recovered and cracks a bottle over Paul’s head. It provides enough of a distraction for Dean to drive a knife into Randa’s heart. After a bit of a light show, all three bad guys drop dead.
The boys finish matters with Eleanor before driving off again. Dean can identify with how Randa enjoyed having the heart of a warrior, but Sam has started to see things differently. He fondly remembers his last birthday, when his girlfriend Amelia (Liane Balaban) surprised him with a picnic lunch in the park. The scene had hints of the season three episode “Dream a Little Dream”, in which Dean’s own perfect dream involved his girlfriend Lisa (Cindy Sampson) surprising him the same way, minus the birthday.
It is becoming quite clear that Sam is disenchanted with the hunting life – in some ways, he always has been. But now he makes a declaration – once the tablet has been found, he wants out of the life for good.
Will Sam make good on his promise/threat? Time will tell…
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