1×12 “Faith”

Faith is one of the hardest episodes for me to watch on a lot of levels; at least, the first twenty minutes or so are.

I admit, part of it is because I get wrapped up in the show and the characters– Sam and Dean are real to me, they’re fully fleshed out and *flawed* characters that come into my house once a week (or, thanks to the downloads, drop in whenever they want like the old friends they feel like) and share their latest adventure.

But, watching Dean get electrocuted, then seeing Sam crumble when the doctor tells him that Dean’s only got a couple of weeks to live, that hurts. Dean’s acceptance of his own death and then, his refusal to die in the hospital but instead having to be with Sammy, that hurts too. And Sam’s quiet anger at Dean for not fighting, that hurts to watch.

But that’s what makes the episode so *good.* Because despite the anger, and the not-so-nice things that’ve been said in the past few weeks–Skin and Asylum–this episode shows just how much these two brothers really do love each other.

The teaser for Faith is unique in that it actually shows Sam and Dean. Up to this point, the teaser usually deals with innocent red-shirts being menaced by the supernatural demon, sot hat the audience gets a feeling of how the creature works and what the Winchesters are going to be up against. In this case, however–which is one of the reasons this teaser works so well–we join the Winchesters in the middle of a hunt. The creature isn’t important, only that it kills children is. Dean and Sam find the children and Dean sends them and Sam to get out, while he faces the creature–corporeal, this time, not a spirit–with taser guns. He uses his charge to shock the creature into letting Sam and the children pass, and he uses the second charge from Sam’s gun to kill it. Only, since they’re both standing in the same puddle of water, Dean is severely electrocuted as the creature is, and Sam comes down to find Dean unconscious.

When we come back from the break, we’re at the hospital, where Sam is giving the police the whitewashed version of the story, and then breaks away to speak to Dean’s doctor. He’s told that the electrocution triggered a massive heart attack, and there’s nothing else they can do but keep him comfortable for a couple of weeks, maybe less.

Jared Padalecki doesn’t usually impress me–don’t get me wrong, I love the kid like whoa, but when he’s up against Jensen Ackles, he kinda pales. Not this time; the bright eyes, the near-tears, the quivering chin and locked jaw; he’s broken, down to the core, and he *shows* it. When he goes into Dean’s hospital room, Dean’s bravado is nearly too much for Sam to handle and he can barely look at his brother.

Dean tries to be matter of fact about things; “you’re gonna be leavin’ town without me”; “burial or cremation”; and the worst of them, “I’m gonna die and you can’t stop it.” Sam refuses to believe any of it, and when his voice goes whispery broken on “Watch me,” I had to reach for the tissues cause it made me sniffly. For all the bullshit of the Winchester family dynamic, everything is stripped away here and it’s just Dean and Sam, who suddenly realizes how much he can’t live without his brother.

Watching Sam leave a message about Dean’s condition on their father’s voicemail is bad enough, but Jared does a great job of making Sam’s voice break at the right spots, fighting to breathe and not be weak and cry in front of that bastard, even if it is on voicemail. When he hangs up, he looks to be about a second away from frustrated tears when he’s interrupted by a knock on the door.

Dean has checked himself out of the hospital saying, “I’m not gonna die in a hospital where the nurses aren’t even hot.” Sam is nearly beside himself trying to scold Dean and eventually tells him they’re visiting a specialist in Nebraska. “You’re not gonna let me die in peace, are you?” Dean asks, teasingly but yet in obvious pain. “I’m not gonna let you die at all,” is Sam’s response.

When they arrive in Nebraska, Dean finds out that the “specialist” that Sam has brought him to see is a man named Roy LeGrange, a faith healer. Dean is incredibly derisive, and Sam is confident that LeGrange is going to help.

This is another reason that I have strong feelings about this episode, and it’s not exactly a pleasant association. I tend to go much more with Dean on this than I do with Sam; I have an appalling lack of faith in things. I like that it’s Dean that is the sick one in need of healing; it makes it that much more fascinating to watch and see the Reaper when Dean is healed and you know that something not-faith-based is at work. In a way, it’s debunking the idea of blind faith, and that’s something I can get behind.

A side tidbit here; Julie Benz is a friend (and former co-star) of Jensen’s best friend, Christian Kane (Benz and Kane were both on Angel together, she as Darla and he as Lindsay, both involved with Wolfram & Hart).

When Dean and Sam get themselves settled into the faith healer’s tent, Dean is content to sit in the rear while Sam makes them move to the second row. Once the service has begun, Dean makes a catty comment about the healer’s spiel, and that brings him to LeGrange’s attention, with the healer teasing Dean, “watch what you say around a blind man with sharp ears.” It takes a lot of coaxing, both from Sam and the audience, but Dean finally makes his way to the stage.

When LeGrange touches him, Dean doesn’t expect anything at first, but then *something* happens that brings Dean to his knees, and then flat unconscious as he falls to the stage. The crowd erupts, Sam sprints to his side, and Dean comes around, but as he does, he sees the blurry shadow of a wizened and wrinkled old man in a black suit.

The next day has Dean at the doctor’s office being checked out, and the doctor delivers a stunning diagnosis; there’s nothing wrong with Dean’s heart, and no sign there ever was. But she also lets drop a little piece of information; out of nowhere yesterday–the day Dean was healed–a young, athletic twenty-seven year old kid dropped dead of a heart attack.

Dean knows it’s not coincidence, but when he wants to pursue it, Sam refuses, wanting to know why they can’t just accept it and move on. Dean protests that he knows something’s wrong, that he saw the spirit, and when Sam says he would have seen it too? Dean snaps, “Hey, psychic wonder, you’re just gonna have to have a little FAITH on this one.”

When Dean visits LeGrange, he goes under the pretense of “trying to make sense out of what happened.” Thinly veiled skepticism is the order of the day as LeGrange and his wife relate the miracle that happened to him; LeGrange woke up blind one morning, he had cancer, not long to live, so he and his wife prayed for a miracle. He slipped into a coma, and when he woke up, the cancer was gone, and he could heal people.

The scene ends with something that I personally think is going to become a huge huge important thing in the second season; Dean asks, “Why me?” and LeGrange answers that he looked into Dean’s heart. When Dean asks what he saw, LeGrange answers, “A young man with an important purpose. A young man with a job to do, and it’s not finished yet.”

Personally, I think his purpose and his job is to help protect Sammy from the Demon, but way more on that in later episodes.

When Dean comes back from his meeting with LeGrange, he finds Sam in their hotel room, quietly near tears and working on the laptop. His first words are, “Dean, I’m sorry.” And he tells everything he’s found out so far; that at the exact same moment–4:17 PM–that Dean was healed, a young man named Marshall Hall died of a heart attack. So Sam did cross-checking and found out that for every healing that LeGrange did, someone else died of the exact same ailment. Dean explodes at his brother, saying that Hall was dead because of Dean, and Sam apologizes again, saying that he didn’t know. Which Dean realizes for truth, and lets it go.

He tells Sam that LeGrange isn’t the one doing the miracles; that there is only one thing that can give and take life like that, and that they are dealing with a Reaper. (During this sequence? Blue Oyster Cult’s Don’t Fear The Reaper is played. And it’s the best song ever.)

Dean and Sam figure out how the Reaper is being controlled through their research–they match the coptic cross on Roy’s altar to a cross on the Death card in a tarot deck, and realize LeGrange has to be using black magic to bind the Reaper and do his bidding. Dean sends Sam to search the LeGrange house while he stalls the next healing, but he finds that a quandary when the person LeGrange chooses to heal is Leila, a woman with an inoperable brain tumor (that’s Julie Benz) whom he finds himself oddly drawn to. He tries to stop Leila, but when that fails, Dean yells that there’s a fire in the tent, causing the evacuation of the tent and the cessation of the healing.

When that doesn’t stop the Reaper’s attack on the next victim, Dean finds out that it’s not LeGrange but his wife, Sue-Ann, that is controlling the Reaper. When Dean confronts her, she calls out for help, and Dean is dragged away by the police. He and Leila have a confrontation in the parking lot, and as Dean and Sam leave, they hear LeGrange promise that he will heal Leila.

Back in their hotel room, Sam shows Dean the book he found; a book of black magic spells, including a spell to bind a Reaper. Dean realizes that Sue-Ann was using the spell at first to keep the Reaper away from Roy and keep him alive, but once Roy was healed, she was using the Reaper to execute people she thought “immoral.”

When they arrive at the tent, Leila and her mother are already inside, and the special service has already begun. Dean sends Sam to destroy the black altar binding the Reaper, and Dean himself distracts the cops protecting the home so that Sam can get in.

Once Sam is inside, he finds the storm cellar and the altar, and topples it. Sue-Ann finds him, however, and traps Sam in the cellar after he finds out that she’s sent the Reaper after Dean.

Outside, Dean is being drained of his life by the Reaper while Sue-Ann is controlling it through the coptic cross around her neck. Sam–who had dismantled a wall of the cellar to get out–takes the cross and breaks it, which stops the healing in its tracks, releases Dean from the Reaper’s grip, and sends the Reaper after Sue-Ann herself, thus ending the cycle.

At the end of the episode, Dean suffers a rare moment of doubt. He flat out asks Sam, “We did the right thing, didn’t we?”

Sam answers that of course they did, and then gets up to answer the perfectly-timed (c’mon, it’s television, of course it’s perfectly timed!) knock at their door; it’s Leila. Leila says that Sam called her, and said that Dean wanted to tell her goodbye before they left, and Sam leaves them in the room together. (Perceptive little brother, innit he?)

Dean asks what happened, and Leila admits that Roy laid his hands on her to heal her, but she didn’t feel anything. And that she’s okay with it, because you can’t just have faith when the miracles work, sometimes you have to have faith when they don’t work, too. There’s an obvious connection between the two of them, because as she leaves, Dean tells her, “I’m not exactly the prayin’ type…. but I’ll pray for you.”

Leila gives him a soft smile and tells him, “Wow. There’s a miracle right there.”

Music of Note
Don’t Fear The Reaper, Blue Oyster Cult

Best Lines:
Dean: That fabric softener teddy bear. Oof. Gotta hunt that little bitch down.

Dean: You better take care of that car, or I will haunt your ass.

Dean: I know it’s not easy. But I’m gonna die. And you can’t stop it.
Sam: Watch me.

Dean: God save us from half the people who think they’re doing God’s work.


One Response to “1×12 “Faith””

  1. I have to tell you that I’ve read most of your reviews and you have to give yourself more credit about praising Jared’s acting. I actually think that you’ve praised both Jensen and Jared almost equally (and I don’t disagree with you); which is probably a testament to the fact that although Jensen is the more seasoned actor (being years and experience ahead of Jared), it almost seems fitting that Jared plays Sam as he seems to be evolving as an actor the same way that Sam is evolving as a character. It’s been great to watch these guys interact and feed off each other every episode. As we know, Jensen initially read and was considered for the part of Sam, until Jared read for Sam and the creators decided on Jared for Sam instead; and Jensen was casted for Dean. And I just have to reiterate that I so love the decision on this casting. Because as great an actor Jensen is, I can honestly say that I find it hard to see him as Sam because as pretty as Jensen is, he doesn’t have the look of youth and innocence that Jared has… and it’s not even in the acting alone — Jared just has this innocent looking face and the soulful eyes to perfectly convey Sam. And Jensen to his credit, has one of the prettiest faces to perfectly play the cocky, yet ever-so-layered Dean personality. I just can’t say enough abot this perfect casting.

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