Getting to binge watch this show takes a little out of Dean's resurrection. I didn't have to wait months to find out how they solved his demise. And, it's my second time through... so even less surprise. But the opening scene still doesn't disappoint. He's hoarse, he's burning up oxygen with a Zippo. He's got to climb out. And look, if I buy that The Bride from Kill Bill can climb out? I TOTALLY buy that Dean Winchester can climb out. The pull-away shot, with all the trees down is majestic and haunting.
He's thirsty, and still hoarse. The gusto with which he drinks water is spot on.
As noted above, Bobby's testing of him is great-- the reaction shot to the holy water is so humorous. The spit makes me giggle. "Thriller video reject" is a funny line.
The look on Sam's face, contrasted with the total love and joy on Dean's? It's fear and doubt and apprehension and disbelief. Nice work by both actors.
I'm pretty much convinced that Ruby pulled the Kathy/Christy thing to further the idea that it was just a hook-up. It fits within her MO-- manipulative liar, protecting her own agenda, like pretending to not know who Dean is at first. Sure, she might actually like Sam. Or it might be BS to gain his trust. That's not clear now. And I'm fine with that. It even helps me appreciate Sam's motivation with her-- he sees saving people, even with her help, as more important than anything else. That her help comes in an I-like-you-and-sleep-with-you package probably allows Sam a bit less self-recrimination.
Sure, it's twisted in some ways. He watched Dean die 100 times, then actually get mutilated and killed by a hellhound while he survived Lilith, and for four months, failed at any effort to fix it. He's had some serious sh*t to deal with, and the fact that he may have made some bad decisions in that process? Understandable. So I don't mind much that Sam obscures Ruby for now. He knows Dean is going to lose it, and Dean's fresh out of Hell so why not take a few days to figure out how to present this, maybe prepare yourself for having to make a Dean/Ruby choice, or find a place where that choice isn't so horrible. Get into his own head and look over the possible options. But what does not work for me is when Sam earnestly declares to Dean that he would NOT use his psychic powers because it was almost Dean's "dying wish." You do NOT have to sell your BS like that, and it makes me think the writers want me to be angry with Sam from the outset. Also, and this is a tiny detail, but when Ruby leaves the room, and Sam is turned away from Dean and Bobby, he's grinning at her like she was a one night stand, but she was fun enough to have hang around for pizza. It's way more flirty than it needs to be to sell the illusion, because they can't see his face. Weird choice, unless I'm also to believe that Sam has some real affection/attraction to her. That is a LOT to process.
So they contrast Sam's betrayal with his first real dialogue of the season being this heartfelt, self-anger, frustration, and humiliation that he couldn't save Dean. The delivery by JP is so credible, so raw. The acting makes me believe Sam has been wrung to the core, and it makes him sympathetic and worthy of compassion. I always try to find a space where all aspects of the character can live in some degree of harmony. And we're all full of little quirks and inconsistencies. But this seems like a lot of ambiguity to accept in one ep. Am I to feel so much empathy for Sam that I condone his lie to Dean? And his consorting with a demon? It's asking me to embrace a Sam version where his "do good" motivation blinds him and makes him a lying liar to Dean, fresh out of Hell. Tough wrangle for me because one of the big lessons for both boys in S3 was supposed to be: not all "do good" is wise, the human self-preservation drive has a purpose, and your instinct to self-sacrifice should be weighed ever so carefully.
Whenever it's a psychic, I want it to be Missouri. But Pamela's open admiration of Dean ("your gain") is so cool, and Dean's "you're not invited" is pitch perfect for him.
The one Dean thing that strikes me a bit unharmonious is his drive to summon the unknown thing of unimaginable power. After seeing Pamela's fate, and knowing that demons are terrified to the point of letting him walk out the door after smacking the ever-loving snot out of the presumed leader? He's out of Hell for one damn day and he's prepared to sacrifice his life all over again? That is hard for me to accept in him. I want Dean to cherish his life for a few minutes before plunging headlong into risk.
When Castiel looks into his soul and says you don't think you deserve to be saved, followed by JA's reaction? Heartbreaking.
Gah... this got so long. Sorry. One last thought. Dean's conduct in life didn't make him deserve Hell. If he deserved Hell in the show's construct, it's because he made a deal to go there. And in return, he got Sam's life. At this point in the show, a deal is a deal when you can't figure out how to kill the deal-holding demon. So he could legit believe he didn't deserve saving because he made a deal, and because of what happened there. But, his perception is likely still colored by his pre-death lack of self-worth. And that pains me for him. Again, sorry for the length, but this ep really starts a process where I struggle with the characterization, so I'm hoping putting my thoughts down will help me this time around.