Previous Entry Share Next Entry
"The Mentalists" Review: Sibling Acts Are Tough
ChuckWriting
farawayeyes4
First Appeared on The Winchester Family Business on November 10, 2011

SPN_0240

The Mentalists starts with Sam and Dean separated after the revelation that Dean had killed Amy behind Sam's back. A week and a half later finds both brothers drawn to Lily Dale, due to the strange murders of mediums. Unlike previous episodes where the brothers are repairing a rift, the tension is an undercurrent through out. It is not wrapped up in the beginning before the case begins or dealt with at the end. Dean imposes himself into Sam's investigation, and they immerse themselves into the case completely.

The case itself is a metaphor for the issues lying between the Winchesters. No one in Lily Dale is honest. Almost everyone makes their living as a medium or psychic. They put on shows, conduct seances with phony spirits, and foretell the future for money. Yet, while it's apparent that this business is a phony business, they embrace that, too. Embellishers are almost favored over possible real psychics. Each victim was one of these, and each professed to possess some form of psychic gift. They were also the headliners for the town's upcoming festival. Sam and Dean, too, are hiding behind phony guises as FBI agents investigating the cases.

There are actually two ghosts involved in the case. One is hiding behind the other, using misdirection. The ghost that everyone assumes is responsible for the killing is there to warn. It isn't until after she is destroyed that the truth is revealed. It's another play on the truth vs. deceit motif laced through out the episode.

SPN_0845
They are the Fox sisters---and it would seem that everyone assumed the real psychic of the two had no gifts. While alive, Kate Fox mesmerized on stage, levitating objects and foretelling deaths---a gift she will inherit upon death. Margaret, however, had to stay on the sidelines, shunned for not having the gifts of her sister. She simply didn't possess the charisma required to sell her gifts the way her sister did---and so they entered a professional relationship. Margaret would provide Kate the psychic feats while Kate would sell it to the crowd. It reaped bitterness in Margaret. It's also what will lead her to be angry in the afterlife.

Sam and Dean's relationship in the present feels professional only. All the discussions they have at first concern just the case. Dean tells Sam from the start, "I'm just saying, let's try and stop the killings. That's it."

Sam takes that literally. His anger is written all over his face, and when they go to question Melanie, the granddaughter of one of the victims, she tells them in her explanation about her "psychic gift," and body language, "Like you two---long-time partners, but, um... a lot of tension. You're pissed.  And you're stressed."
SPN_0922
Rather the brothers like it or not, their issues are part of this case. It will also be what ultimately leads to an honest discourse between the brothers. Season four saw Sam distracted by demon blood, revenge against Lilith, and Ruby. Hell and torturing others while there haunted Dean. Angels and demons alike kept pulling them in different directions. Neither brother seemed able to meet the other half way and make that first step to healing. Season six, after Sam's Wall had been erected hampered any real  growth that would have been possible.

Now with both Sam's Wall down and Dean's secret exposed, there is nothing left for the brothers to truly do than face the issues that have lingered since Dean's resurrection from Hell.

The kernel that lies at the center of these is that of trust. Neither brother seems to be able to trust others---or more importantly each other. Yet, that is precisely what they must do if they intend to not only survive the Leviathan's next attack but survive as a partnership at all.

Sam is having a hard time trusting Dean. Not only did Dean lie about Amy to him more than once---it's that he lied about trusting Sam that has him so angry. He takes his anger out on Dean by distancing himself during the case---canvasing other locations without him, and not talking to him at first when Dean arrives. He seems annoyed that Dean has forced his way into the case. When Melanie calls imploring that they come back, that the haunting is not over, Sam yanks the phone away from Dean and says in a clipped tone, "Dean, just give me the phone and drive."

On the surface, his anger seems easily summed up when he barks at his brother, "Look, I'll work this damn case, but you lied to me, and you killed my friend."
SPN_0891
But it's not just that Dean killed Amy behind his back. It's that he doesn't trust him enough. Sam feels like all the progress that had been made since getting his soul back has been erased. In many ways, it has. He had his brother's trust during the period when the Wall had been in place. Now that it is has fallen and he has had struggles with hallucinations, Dean sees him as unreliable.

He has also grown frustrated with Dean's hidden issues. Even though the secret about Amy is out, Sam knows that there is more to the story, more weighing on Dean. He has tried to get his brother to talk, to tell him what is bothering him, and has only found his attempts rebuffed. He has been, unlike season 4, open and honest with Dean about all of his problems. He briefly tried to cover up his struggles with seeing Lucifer, but once it had been shoved into the open, Sam acknowledged it. He has tried to get Dean to do the same.

It isn't until the brothers attend the museum to learn more about the town's history and the ghost seen in the footage that Dean is pressured to do the same from an outside source. The tour guide, also a medium, stops Dean just as he's going to follow Sam to the car. He tells him, "I'm sorry, I don't normally do this during business hours, but do you know an Eleanor... or an Ellen? She seems quite concerned about you. She wants to tell you -- pardon me -- if you don't tell someone how bad it really is, she'll kick your ass from beyond. You have to trust someone again eventually."
SPN_1100
It's more than simply trust for Dean, however. It's not that he's unable to trust Sam that is the problem. It's that Dean can't trust himself. It's projected out to everyone around him. He admits to Sam, "Of course, ever since Cas, I'm having a hard time trusting anybody."

It's the start of what could be an honest relationship that has never truly existed between the brothers. Sam hid his psychic visions---particularly the one about Jess's death---from Dean for a good portion of season 1. Dean hid their father's last order from Sam for a period of season 2. He tried to originally hide his deal from Sam. Sam hid his dealings with Ruby---and his demon blood addiction---through season 4. Dean kept his experiences in Hell secret. In season 6, we see Dean attempt to keep from Sam the fact that he has a Wall in his mind. Secrets---and keeping them---have always led to friction between Sam and Dean. No matter their intentions, good or bad, it always makes one or the other angry.

Dean actually admitting, in one simple sentence, that he's not able to trust anyone at the moment speaks volumes. It's a vulnerable moment for them both. Sam has finally gotten Dean to say something, while Dean has finally acknowledged not just to his brother but to himself that something is wrong. It isn't a total resolution, but it could be a very promising beginning for the brothers to actually overcome their history of secret keeping. It is slight growth for them, setting them on a path of equality attempted in season 5 but never truly realized.

For the first time since season 4---Leviathans aside---Sam and Dean are able to face everything that happened after "No Rest for the Wicked." The extra baggage that has been added by both brothers is simply more for them to address. There are no angels whispering to Dean that his brother is on a path of destruction. No demons---especially one like Ruby---hold sway over Sam. They can finally, while coalescing into a unified team, breathe enough to perhaps deal with the things that have weakened them in the past.

This start is just that: a start. Considering the emphasis that sibling acts are tough, it isn't hard to imagine there will be more clashes between the brothers in the future. It's human nature. As they live on the road, there will be friction and discourse. The difference from this episode's altercations between the brothers reveals how they can start to move beyond the ruts that tend to bog them down. They are not the Sam and Dean of season 1 or 2. They are not even the Sam and Dean of season 5 or back half of 6. Both brothers have something they really haven't had before: common ground.

Sam remembers all of his time in Hell, as does Dean. They are both dealing with the fallout of Castiel's death in their own ways---even if some methods are unhealthy. They have made some baby steps here. Sam is not willing to let Dean continue, telling him point blank, "You can't just look me in the face and tell me you're fine."

In the past, both brothers have hidden behind this phrase. This is a change and a good sign for their growth as brothers.
SPN_0442
The acting in this episode was well done. I liked the guest actors this week. Dorian Brown presented Melanie Goldy well. She seemed like a no nonsense type woman---despite her chosen profession. I found her chemistry with Jensen to be enjoyable. Johnny Sneed as the psychic Jimmy Tomorrow did a good job of misleading Sam. I had to laugh at the shout out to Gen's pregnancy with his goose chasing the younger Winchester to a "pregnant yoga class." After he's revealed to be the actual necromancer, he became deliciously creepy to me. He also had that cocky attitude that tends to be someone's downfall. Rukiya Bernard as Camille Thibodeaux was a delight---even if she was a victim. She nailed the "Miss Cleo" type personality just right and I found it absolutely hilarious when she told her client that "family is just a pain in the ass." I liked how different she presented Camille off the clock, too. She was sweet.

Jensen sold us a conflicted but determined Dean. He still had issues weighing on him, but he was getting closer to the Dean that won't let others die because of it. Jensen presented a concerned and protective Dean with Melanie. It's usually one of my favorite versions of the character---especially when he's not relying on sheer bravado to do it. I sensed a vulnerability between Melanie and Dean that I attribute to Jensen's acting. He gave us a patient until the breaking point Dean with an angry Sam. I really felt for Dean in this episode. He was trying hard before running into Sam to do things on his own, yet the absence of his brother weighed on him. I could feel that in the way Jensen said his lines, telling the joke about the powerball.
SPN_0242
Jared presented an extremely pissed off Sam very well. I most certainly could feel his irritation and anger throughout the majority of the episode. It emerged in the way he carried himself, his facial expressions (really, I think it's fair to say that Sam wore a bitch face almost the whole time), and his diction. Sam's hurt also became palpable when confronting Dean again about Amy and the trust issues through Jared's portrayal. His concern showed at the end when trying to get Dean to talk, and I really liked how Jared's voice took on a softness to convey Sam's feelings.  I also sensed from him the patience to try and start fresh with Dean.

And now, who's ready for a wedding! We know this can't end well. (Especially considering who the groom is!)

?

Log in

No account? Create an account