What is with this "this recap contains spoilers" crap? It's a recap. Grow up. Where was I? Oh, yes, this review contains spoilers. The fan police are bitching.
There was a teaser there would be an "enormous revelation" of Dean's past this season. As revelations go, this was pretty ho-hum. Written by Adam Glass and directed by Kevin Parks, "Bad Boys" went for the feeling of earlier seasons. Flashbacks wove in and out of the MOTW story. Sadly, this episode was formulaic and didn't bring anything new to the table. But it offered one of the grossest murders of the season. And a scene with a bully and a lawnmower that had me peeking through my fingers. (Spoiler alert: he lost his.) AND it was Zeke-free.
The "enormous revelation" was that as a youth, Dean gambled away the food money, stole peanut butter and bread for Sam, and got caught. The police officer brought him to Sonny's Home For Boys:
Is this place licensed? And did the sign come from "The Andy Griffith Show"?
Dean gets a call from Sonny, who runs the boys' home, a working farm. Sonny knows Dean's a hunter. There's a ghost haunting the farm. A worker at the home, Jack, was run over by a broken tractor inside the barn. Actually impaled against the door, with the bloody spikes sticking through, dripping with gore.
Sam is, of course, gobsmacked that his brother was at a reform farm and nobody ever told Sam. Dean blows it off as no big deal, and he agreed with John to lie to Sam (what's new?). "None of it was Dad's fault," Dean says. Oh, really, Dean? I'll just sit here and grit my teeth, you codependent moron.
John Winchester told Sam that Dean go lost on a hunt. For two months. On the one hand, I have a problem with the idea of Sam not freaking out and at least something being really wrong around that time. On the other hand, their lives were nonstop nightmares so perhaps this was just a blip on the radar.
Several young actors have played Dean on this show:
This one This one But not this one
For obvious reasons (the third photo above), SPN has never cast an actor as pretty as Jensen Ackles is. At my high school, he would have had his ass kicked ever day. I had a problem accepting Dylan Everett as Dean:
In part because he has brown eyes and doesn't look like Jensen Ackles. But, he nails the character (Everett watched 5 seasons and then spent a week watching Jensen...you can't get much more dedicated than that). And he's wearing the SAMULET! MEEEEGGG! Oops, excuse me, every time a strangled scream is required MEEEEGGG comes out. As written, Dean is 14, and the episode makes soooo much more sense if one keeps that in mind. How strange is it when your fanwank has to be the way the episode was originally written??
John, once again winning the award for Abusive Bastard of The Year, says Dean can "rot in jail." Sonny takes him in instead, being a decent human being and a terrific father figure. He's an ex-con who wants to prevent boys from going down the bad road he did. Unlike JOHN ASSHOLE SELF-CENTERED DICK Winchester.
"Dean, have you considered becoming an emancipated minor?"
While at Sonny's, Dean makes friends at school, joins the wrestling team, and meets a girl, Robin. She wants to get out of town and travel the world. He wants to become a mechanic. "Fixing them is like a puzzle. And the best part is, when you’re done, they leave and you’re not responsible for them anymore.” We know you're not talking about the Impala, Dean.
Then, Dean and Robin engage in an awkward first kiss. This didn't play at all if Dean was supposed to be 16, because by 18 in "After School Special" he was nailing cheerleaders like a carpenter. But if he was 14...sigh... it would play so much better.
In the present, Ruth, the housekeeper, tells Sam that before Sonny bought the place, it was owned by a couple, Howard and Doreen. Jack worked for them at the time, and Howard was sure he and Doreen were having an affair. Howard got drunk and killed Doreen. Jack got away, and Howard always swore revenge on Jack. He died in prison last year, and that's when the strange noises, flickering lights, and sudden chills began.
The boys go salt and burn Howard's corpse, but we already know who the real threat is:
I mean, look at this kid! He's creepier than Bud Cort! (10 points if you get that reference.) He does have a funny cape action figure called Bruce The Monster Smasher that says "I clobber evil."
Jack yells and beats the boys. He dies. A kid bullies Timmy. He loses his hand in a lawnmower. My absolute favorite murder is of the housekeeper, Ruth. There's really no reason for her to die except the show kills her in a really cool way! Strangled by a living shower curtain while the radio blasts "Ave Maria" at top volume! It was so horrible I was barely able to watch. Kudos, Supernatural. I watch "The Walking Dead" and that doesn't gross me out nearly as much.
Speaking of which, in the attic of the barn, Sam finds (Contrived Alert!) a drawing on the wall of a crashing car, mama and son:
Which, oddly, looks like this:
(This is a map drawn by a little girl, and "Nick" is her favorite zombie.)
Turns out Timmy's mom was killed in a car crash and his mother, now a blue-eyed charcoal briquette, is "protecting" him. Grown-up Robin, who happens to be in the house to give Timmy a guitar lesson, gets caught up in the chaos when Timmy's mom goes Beetlejuice on them.
Now that's what I call a cheap Halloween costume!
The best moment is burning Bruce on the gas stove, whose "I clobber evil" repeats slower and lower several times, to hilarious effect. Then, as Crowley would say: salt ring blown through blah blah de rigeur choking of the brothers blah blah blah. Dean tells Timmy to man up and tell his mother to scram. It's supposed to be touching when Timmy assures her he'll be okay, and she turns into her beautiful self and heads off to the afterlife. Seeing this same scene with minor variations every week is getting on my nerves. Come on! When one of the best torturing of Sam and Dean is in the Racist Witch episode, in which the witch forces them to relive their worst memories, you know the sadism department is seriously running out of ideas.
When it's all over, Sonny says that Timmy will have to do "some adjusting." That kid will be strung out on heroin by next Christmas, I promise you. Dean and Robin say goodbye.
"I'm so happy I did what my dad wanted!"
"I want to stab myself in the face."
The last scene is so damn heartbreaking it made me forgive the contrivances and foregone conclusions that went before. Dean is getting ready to take Robin to his first-ever school dance. He looks adorably goofy in a short tie and baggy shirt. Sonny comes in with bad news. John is outside in the car. There's a job. Seeing the look on Dean's face, Sonny offers to stick his neck out and convince John that Dean should stay in the only healthy environment he's ever known for his entire life. Dean looks out at the car and sees 9-year-old Sam in pajamas, playing with a plane. Despite crying, Dean breaks into a wide smile at seeing his brother. He refuses Sonny's offer and goes back to his family. Better the living hell you know...
"Sorry, Sonny, but I have to let my dad continue brainwashing me."
In the present, Sam says, “Dean, thank you. For always being there, for having my back. I know it hasn’t always been easy.” It's not only lovely to have Sam recognize what Dean has given up (and given up and given up) for him, and for Dean to know that, and we also get THIS:
No gratuitous angel nudity needed, thank you.
Right now I'm fanwanking that I grab Jared in a flying tackle and we land on the grass and...spoiler alert!