Last Thursday's stellar episode, "Fresh Blood," confirms I wasn't crazy in thinking the season so far hasn't been up to snuff, because it proved they still have it in them to achieve greatness. Ladies and gentlemen, forget most of what you've seen so far this season: this is Supernatural, and sweet Jesus, it is awesome.
One of this show's bigger long-term storytelling successes has been the character of Gordon Walker. Initially brought on in season two as sort of a device to illustrate Dean's warped state of mind after his father's death, Gordon immediately became so much more. Most of the credit is due to Sterling K. Brown's excellent portrayal of a misguided, vengeful hunter who only sees the supernatural in black and white, with no room for gray. If it's supernatural, it's evil, and it must be killed. End of story. I would normally applaud this sentiment because killing evil things is fun, but this narrow-minded belief became complicated last season when Gordon learned of Sam's psychic ability and ties to Azazel, and convinced himself the world would be a better place with Sam not in it. This quest has shaped most of Gordon's story arc, and he has offered a very dangerous yet welcome antagonist for the Winchester boys. This episode represented the end of Gordon Walker but like all great villains, he went out in style.
On to the plot. Sam and Dean got the beat on a vampire that was turning young, blond girls to from his own sort of vamp-harem, but unfortunately for them when they tracked him down they also found something far more nefarious: Gordon, out to kill Sam. Brilliantly, though, they manage to slip away when the vamp they were chasing gets a hold of Gordon instead, takes him to his vamp lair, and TURNS GORDON INTO A VAMPIRE. It's so perfect it hurts, people. Gordon, who has now become the embodiment of everything he hates, decides to finish the job on Sam before he ultimately kills himself. It's a tragic turn, fitting for the character and completely morally interesting, especially when Gordon can't suppress his new vampire instincts and feeds on an innocent bystander.
Even though Gordon is a vamp, he's still a clever hunter and he ends up luring Sam and Dean into a trap, separating them by locking Dean into a storage closet with a newly turned vamp and stranding Sam in a dark warehouse by himself, with only a knife to defend himself. The ensuing cat and mouse pursuit is very reminiscent of The Silence of the Lambs, but instead of feeling like a rip off it feels almost as intense and scary as the original. In the end, Gordon and Sam get into a brutal fist fight until Sam finally finds a piece of barbed wire and viciously squeezes Gordon's neck until his head pops off. It's savage and necessary and gory and heartbreaking and amazing, and Jared Padalecki plays the moment perfectly. Goodbye, Gordon Walker. Your crazy ass will be missed.
Adding to the episode's punch was the wonderful interplay between the brothers this week. Dean has been a royal ass ever since he made the crossroads deal, and Sam finally calls him on it in the most poignant way, by flat-out telling him that he needs Dean to suck it up and be Dean, so he can be Sam again. Dean seems to finally take Sam's words to heart, and at the end of the episode even does the "big brotherly" thing of teaching Sam how to fix the Impala, since the car will be Sam's when he dies.
All in all, an absolutely pitch perfect episode, the first great one since "What Is and What Should Never Be" last year. If they can keep up this clip, we'll have a season.