Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Classic Episode Review--Faith

I’ve been watching the first three seasons of SPN again and my favorites are still my favorites. And one I watch again and again is “Faith.”

The episode opens with the boys on a hunt for a monster that can only be killed by electricity. Children are in danger, and the boys find them in the basement of a house. Sam escorts them to safety while Dean stays behind to zap the monster. Unfortunately, he’s standing in a puddle and electrocutes himself, damaging his heart.

In the hospital, the doctor tells a distraught Sam that Dean can’t be helped and he’s going to die. Dean, of course, is cracking wise about daytime TV and fabric softener teddy bears, while Sam is frantic to find a way to save him.

Dean leaves the hospital AMA and shows up at the motel, declaring he’s not dying in a hospital where the nurses aren’t even hot. Sam has found a specialist, he says, and takes Dean to a muddy field in the middle of nowhere where an evangelist has set up a tent for faith healing services. Dean swears that Sam has lost his mind but agrees to appease his little brother. He meets Layla outside the tent, and manages to flirt despite being deathly ill.

Against all odds, Dean is called to be healed. He resists, but Sam convinces him. When the preacher lays his hands on Dean, Dean sees a man in a suit standing nearby. Instantly he feels better, but is disturbed by the miracle, especially when he learns Sam didn’t see the suited dude. Then the doctor who checks Dean out and gives him a clean bill of health happens to mention that a healthy young man died of a heart attack the day before. Dean convinces Sam to check it out and they learn that somehow lives are being swapped for lives. It turns out the preacher’s wife has managed to control a reaper. Worse, she is choosing who lives and dies based on their beliefs.

What I love about this episode, besides Sam’s desperation to save his brother, is Dean’s dilemma. He becomes attached to Layla, who has faith and is suffering from a brain tumor. Once he learns about the reaper, he can’t allow Layla to be healed, no matter how he cares for her. He can’t let the preacher’s wife take another life in exchange for Layla’s. I really love how this choice tears Dean up, especially when her mother asks why he deserves to be healed and Layla doesn’t, playing on Dean’s already low sense of self-worth.

In the end, they can’t save everyone. They destroy the bond to the reaper just as Layla is about to be healed. But she comes to Dean in one of the most poignant scenes in the series. She’s so serene, he can’t help but offer the only thing he has left.

Where is this episode in your list of favorites? What were your favorite bits?


Natalie J. Damschroder said...

This one might just be top of my season 1 list. I just rewatched it recently, too, and the same things struck me as did the first 15 times. :) And they're the same ones that struck you.

In season 5, they're bringing back a lot of past characters. I'd love to see Layla again--that she survived somehow, or in some other way that something like the apocalypse could make possible. :)