“Love Hurts” is another installment of how the Winchesters have grown emotionally this season. While the episode has a new monster, a Quareen, to add to the MoL catalog, and the Darkness arc is very much alive, it appears that the road trip this time is about judging others for their desires and their acts in pursuit of those desires.
The first scene in the kitchen shows us Dean returning from a night of making all the single ladies happy. It is a Valentine Day special from Supernatural writers, after all, a night where Dean does not have to be Mr. Right. He sports a hickey, eats sloppily out of a carton, slurps coffee, and reeks from his activities. Sam explains he has spent his time researching a new case. The brotherly banter is humorous with Sam’s play on the word “hopeless” in Dean’s recounting of himself as a “hopeless romantic.” Dean teases Sam about what he knows will make Sam bristle, but it is all in a loving, brotherly tease in which Dean uses the word “judgey” to describe Sam. Sam is honest about Dean needing a shower and Dean admits his brother is correct. Smellovision,almost. This admission is a nice parallel to Sam telling Dean he was correct in the previous episode. There is more friendly teasing than judgement in the scene.
The hunt for the entity that rips out hearts leads the brothers through false clues to a cheating scenario between a husband,a wife, and a nanny. Neither Dean nor Sam judge the players as the focus is to gank the entity, which turns out to be a Quareen- sort of a djin who brings the thing/person most desired to the victim and then at the control of a witch, it rips out the heart of a beloved. (Anyone thinking Pirates of the Caribbean’s Calypso and Davey Jones?)
The Quareen does not judge and is powerless under the control of the witch. The witch, however, stands in judgement of not only the cheater but the person who takes the cheater back and thus,multiple murders. At one point, Dean needs to get a beer and try his luck with the ladies…again. Sam says something like “you just be you”and I will go back to the motel and do research. This is Sam being Sam. Neither brother judges the other here.
There is some off camera judging of Dean as he remarks upon his return that he had no luck with the ladies and inquires into what a “Dadbod” is as if this is what he heard all night from the ladies. (Personal comment- Ackles is not sporting a Dad-bod and wears his costumes rather well especially the Fed disguises).
At one point, Dean impulsively takes on the curse in order to save the wife who initially contracted with her hairdresser/witch for the spell. He proves the curse is like a Supernatural STD which transmits through kissing. Sam tells Dean that he does not have to always be the martyr; that he is there to help. This is, IMHO, not a judgmental remark, but one that lets Dean know that his brother has his back.
Dean wins “Rock, paper, scissors” and Sam says “whatever” and proceeds to investigate the upstairs of the shop while Dean spins around in glee. Let’s not judge why winning is so important here, other than to get Dean alone so he can be attacked by the thing/person he desires most and Sam alone so he can kill the witch and stab the Quareen’s heart. There is much evidence that Dean was under attack but the writers smartly wait until the denouement.
Dean admits that the monster took the form of Amara. He most definitely wants to kill the Darkness, but admits that to Sam that he is powerless when it comes to her influence on him. Sam already knows and rather than judging Dean’s object of desire or his act or lack of action, he tells Dean”I got this”.
It is a great way to bring the elements of the episode into the final scene. This episode is more than just about a Valentine’s writer’s present where love literally hurts by having one’s heart ripped out. The brothers’ nonjudgmental zone is refreshing. Ackles’ and Padalecki’s facial expressions show how the siblings’ love for each allows them to be hurt. One loves who one loves-no judgment. As Sam follows Dean out the motel door, we see his shadow as we hear Dean rev Baby’s motor. Sam thinks he’s got this-my heart is being ripped out!
” Love Hurts” is about not judging others or oneself as well as the Amara arc. So in contradiction,here is my judgement. It is good that not to many players are used to distract the viewer in this episode. The humor is both verbal and physical and well placed. The pacing is crisp. The decor in the “Too Tired” hotel has a double meaning as does the episode-clever. As usual, our actors portray Sam and Dean naturally and so the credibility factor takes the show beyond genre. Strength, vulnerability, fear,shame, and love without judgment are very much the undertone that bubbles to the surface in the last brother conversation. Small criticism: what made the wife get out of the car and go help Sam? This piece just happens- edits are needed for time and if it gives us one more memorable line, then that is the price of love- it hurts. Sam tells Dean that he understands that Dean may not have a choice, that destiny/free will trope sings out.
“Love Hurts” is another solid entry into the journal. Check out the lyrics to the J.Geils Band song “Love Stinks”. Do these lyrics apply? Does Sam have it and let us not forget about Lucifer’s role.