Supernatural 11.17 “Red Meat” REVIEW
Airing in the UK on E4 on Wednesdays at 10pm
Writers: Robert Berens, Andrew Dabb
Director: Nina Lopez-Corrado
- There’s a definite theme to this episode, and that theme is death. Sam’s bleeding out after getting shot by a werewolf, and with Billie the reaper looming over them to make sure they damn well stay dead this time around, things aren’t looking good.
- Dean’s torn between helping out his brother and helping the hikers they found kidnapped and strung up by the werewolves, and things aren’t helped when he finds out there might be more ’wolves around. They have to move.
- They stop off in a cabin in the woods to try and find supplies when the male hiker, Corben, tells Dean that he wants to leave Sam behind. He’s only holding them back while his wife Michelle is still salvageable. Obviously, Dean doesn’t take that well.
- While Dean is out trying to put together a litter to carry Sam, Corben sees no choice – he suffocates Sam.
- Before Dean can even process what’s happened, more werewolves drive up, and the hikers beg Dean to take them to safety. He has no choice.
- Dean manages to hail down a sherriff’s van to take the hikers to safety, but the sherriff refuses to let Dean turn back without knowing what happened. He gets tasered for his troubles.
- At the nearby hospital, it’s revealed that the Corben got bitten, and he’s slowly turning.
- Dean has one of his self-sacrificial epiphanies: he needs to talk to Billie. And for that? He needs to die.
- But what he doesn’t know is that Sam isn’t actually dead. He’s holding on…barely.
- When the remaining werewolves return to the cabin, Sam hides himself in the basement, and even manages to gank the two monsters and take their car despite his critical condition.
- Billie comes for Dean, who predictably tries to make a deal – but of course Billie tells him no. It’ll always be no. And not just because Sam isn’t dead, this time. But neither is Dean – the doctors manage to bring him back to life.
- Meanwhile, Corben’s fully turned, and goes on a rampage in the hospital, to Michelle’s abject horror. He goes to strangle Dean, but is shot by Sam just in time – and so the Winchesters get to live on another day.
It’s an interesting concept for a Supernatural episode this far down the line: putting the Winchester boys through yet another set of deaths when we as an audience know that no matter what, they’re going to pull through. Especially when there’s still a decent chunk of the series left to go.
But that’s exactly what “Red Meat” does.
It’s one of the most high-stakes-on-a-micro-level episodes this season, with Sam being shot right off the bat, and Dean having to put the most important person in his life on the backburner to help out civilians who have just been through unimaginable horrors. Still, it’s almost laughable seeing Corbin trying to tell Dean to leave Sam for dead. Dean. Like that’s ever going to happen. Particularly when this time around there’s the looming threat of Billie the Reaper, who we know isn’t going to give the boys any second chances. Dead is dead, which is where the majority of the tension that builds up in “Red Meat” comes from. With The Darkness running rampant and another apocalypse on the way, death by gunshot must feel downright insulting.
But that feels like the point of “Red Meat”: to remind us that these boys, despite everything, are still only human. Sometimes they themselves need a reminder that the world doesn’t revolve solely around them, and there’s no better way than having a civilian tell one to leave the other for dead. Corbin can’t know that Dean and Sam have sacrificed themselves over and over to save the other – that their co-dependency reaches levels that the general proletariat probably couldn’t dream of.
But we do. We know exactly what it is Dean is walking away from when he leaves Sam in the cabin. It’s incredible that he even does, dead or not.
Of course, it’s not quite so surprising that Dean essentially commits suicide to try and save his brother. He’s got it in his head that Billie might have mercy – might go back on her perma-reap decision. In a way, when Dean’s standing helpless and begging for Sam’s life, it reflects the audience, who have been with Sam and Dean every step of the way; have seen them come back from unimaginable odds time and time again. The audience is Dean trying to convince themselves that Billie won’t go through with sending them to the foreboding “Empty”, especially when it’s through something as pithy as a gunshot wound! But “Red Meat” is here to tell us that, nope, they’re going. No take-backs.
Hopefully it won’t be anytime soon.
- Despite the Winchesters having died hundreds of times combined, “Red Meat” manages to make the concept feel just about fresh, with the added stakes of protecting civilians who have no idea about Sam and Dean’s epic past.
- In a series where everything is about the apocalyptic, it’s a bit different to get down to micro level and focus on the boys for once.
- Although her prerogative may be opposed to what the audience wants, it’s good to see Billie hold her ground and refuse to give in to the Winchester’s rampant co-dependency.
- We’re glad that Sam survived, of course, but could he really have held on for as long as he did?! Let’s be real – anyone shorter would probably have lasted half as long…!
- It was a bit of an eye-rolling moment when Dean decided that, yup, self-sacrifice was once again the way to go. Has he learnt nothing?!
And The Random:
- Billie calls Sam and Dean “Mario and Luigi” at one point, referring, of course, to the two brothers from the Mario franchise. Jared Padalecki and his wife Genevieve dressed up as them for a Halloween party!
- Surely just a weird coincidence, but the director of this werewolf episode is called Nina Lopez-Corrado, and the name Lopez means “son of wolf”.