OK, I lied. As much as I would like to see a smackdown between Benny and Amelia, in which one broods beardily and one delivers fragile pouts, these two characters didn't actually meet in last night's episode. But their plotlines looped around each other as Sam and Dean confronted what it means to have their loyalties divided — and their love tested.
"Citizen Fang" was one of those episodes that had me gripping the sofa pillows with excitement half the time, and just basically barfing the rest of the time. Allow me to explain. We'll start with the barf.
As I believe I've mentioned before, the Sam/Amelia relationship has been one of the weakest story arcs this season. From the cheesy bit where Amelia bakes Sam a monstrously huge birthday cake in a field of lens flare, to the cliched "can we ever love/trust again" thing, it's been awful. But wait! It can be worse! Because last week, Amelia's supposedly dead husband showed up again. And this week we learned more about how everything went down after that.
In short, the men got together and made a decision for Amelia, even while claiming that they were doing what Amelia wanted. Hubby went up to Sam in a bar and said, "Hey, it seems like Amelia loves me still, and now she loves you. And of course we should let Amelia decide, but if she picks you over a traumatized war vet who had her first you're going to feel like crap forever so obviously you should leave and she should pick me." And Sam said, "OK I'll go home and pack because we've done the manly thing and decided who the woman really belongs to."
And so Sam left, even though Amelia had told him that she actually wanted to stay with him earlier that day. Because only a man can really decide this kind of thing. Thanks, everybody, for clarifying.
Then at the end of the episode, Dean sends Sam a fake text from Amelia to get him out of the good plotline and Sam races to Amelia's place and finds out that she's bringing Hubby beer and is totally fine. EXCEPT MAYBE NOT. Because she chases him down to his favorite bar at the end and is like "Hey it's you," and Sam says, "Hey these are my chest muscles."
But before we get there, let's explore all the awesomeness of Dean's "it's complicated" relationship with Benny the sailor vampire. First of all, one of the things I love about this arc as it's developed is that (correct me if I'm wrong) it's the first time one of the Winchesters has gotten deeply involved with one of the monsters they hunt and had it not turn out horrifically. Usually we're talking about a Ruby situation. But Benny has Dean's back, and is clearly trying to be a good guy. He's even gone back to his hometown and is working in the family gumbo shack, with his great-granddaughter. (She thinks he's just a drifter.) He loves home and family, and wants to lead a humble life.
Unfortunately Sam doesn't trust him, so he's sent Psycho Incompetent Hunter Guy to watch over Benny's every move. And when another vamp comes to town and starts killing people, Psycho calls Sam and fingers Benny. But Benny is innocent! Cue one of the more interesting conflicts that Sam and Dean have had for a while. Why should they cut Benny slack when all signs suggest that Benny is killing again? Admittedly the evidence is circumstantial, but normally that would be enough for them to whip out the stakes and salt. I love watching Dean — who in the past has been so anti-monster — talking about how much he trusts Benny. This is a great bromance. Benny is the perfect man for Dean in all kinds of ways.
Dean manages to straighten out the situation, working with Benny to kill the other vamp who has been eating people around town. And they even prevent Benny's great-granddaughter from figuring anything out. Dean and Benny bond over how their lives have to be lived on the run — there is no going home and living with family for guys like them. Benny is going to have to leave town if he wants to keep his family safe. And Benny is doing just that when he gets a call from Psycho Hunter Guy, who had gone nuts after being stranded when Sam rushes off to stalk Amelia.
Psycho has Benny's great-granddaughter tied up and threatens to cut her throat unless Benny offers himself to Psycho. Poor Benny. We think he's going to make the ultimate sacrifice, allowing Psycho to chop off his head, but then at the last minute he chomps Psycho's throat out and runs away. A tearful great-granddaughter calls Dean in a complete panic, and he arrives to find dead Psycho. Dean knows that Benny was given no other choice, but when Sam hears the news he refuses to believe any explanation other than the Occam's Razor one: Benny has reverted to his old ways and gone bad.
We're left on a bit of a cliffhanger at the end of this mid-season finale. What will happen with Sam and Amelia? Will they barf all over each other? What is up with Benny? Does his great-granddaughter know he's a vampire now? Psycho did mutter a bunch of stuff about vampires and great-grandfathers when he had her at the end of his knife, but how much of that came across as the ravings of a madman? And how will Dean ever convince Sam that Benny is innocent now? Also, why is it that Sam and Dean seem to have this power to deploy other Hunters like Psycho guy? I've often wondered about this. There is no hierarchy among Hunters, and yet Sam and Dean act like the bosses sometimes.
And now it's time to process our feelings. I've been really fascinated by the triangle that's emerged between Sam, Dean, and Benny this season. We've never had a male character who threatened to tear the two brothers apart in quite this way. I suppose there was the Hunter family when Sam was Soulless Sam, but that wasn't quite the same thing. Soulless Sam didn't form any emotional bonds with grandpa and Parker Lewis. Whereas Dean clearly has an intense emotional relationship with Benny — he seems to trust Benny more than Sam these days. And with Dean's trust in Cas compromised as well (that will happen when your buddy eats a zillion souls, rips Heaven apart, and nearly destroys the universe) it's as if Benny is his only friend in the world.
I think this is the first time in a while that I've really believed that Sam and Dean are drifting apart. Benny offers a form of companionship that Sam simply can't — and he's been through Purgatory with Dean. They've shared more than Sam and Dean have in a long time. I'm sure we'll be watching Sam and Dean heal their rift this season, but it's delicious to stand at the edge of this plot cliff and imagine all the possibilities.