Somehow a case that is so strange – imaginary friends are being murdered – ends up being one that is also bittersweet and emotional. The Wednesday, Dec. 2 episode of “Supernatural,” 11×08, “Just My Imagination,” sees Sam get the surprise of his life when his childhood imaginary friend reappears in his life and needs his help.
This “Supernatural” episode allows for some insight into who Sam was as a child, back when Dean was hunting and he was not yet (though he thought he was old enough to) and he needed someone like Sully in his life. It was a time when he needed some guidance, even if at the time, he didn’t necessarily agree with the advice offered. And now, in the present, he needs some guidance again, strength and confidence, to do what he thinks he has to, what he thinks his visions are telling him to do, even though it means doing the last thing he wants to do.
The hour also allows for a brief look at Sam and Dean’s relationship back then from both their perspectives with just one exchange. Why did he need Sully in the first place, Dean asks. “I was kind of a lonely kid,” Sam says. “You weren’t lonely,” his brother protests. “You had me.” But Sam was alone while Dean was off on a hunt at the time, and though Dean doesn’t exactly take the hunt seriously, he does acknowledge what Sully did for his brother back then.
Imaginary friends are actually Zana, creatures who guide and protect lost children. They help kids, and Sam’s, Sully, has come to him because a fellow Zana, Sparkle, has been murdered. As expected, Dean has a hard time not only believing that Sully is real but also that this is even a case for them. Still, Sully helped him, Sam insists. As a flashback reveals, Sam was left behind while Dean and John were on a hunt, even though Sam insisted he was ready and his brother started hunting when he was younger than him. Maybe never time is the only thing Dean can offer before hanging up.
Posing as trauma counselors, Sam and Dean talk to Maddie and her mother about Sparkle the manicorn, and once in the girl’s room, Sully shows them what they can’t see – the gruesome, glittery crime scene, the dead Sparkle and the murder weapon. And so they can also see it when Maddie’s mother steps all over the glittery blood and smears it across her face. Sam and Dean can’t help but recommend a hot shower with a deep scrub.
Sparkle isn’t the only Zana who turns up dead; a mermaid, Nikki, does as well. Though Dean wants to go off to talk to her boyfriend who may have loved her too much, Sully doesn’t want to leave Nikki for the kid to find, so they bury her in the backyard. While Dean digs, Sam is lost in a flashback, of him and Sully playing “ever think.” The questions range from flying to eating 10 waffles to the more serious running away, leaving the hunting life behind. Sam can go to school, make friends, Sully suggested, to which Sam said that he had him. But Sully didn’t let it drop, instead telling him that he could be whatever he wants to be, that he wasn’t his brother, wasn’t his father. And Sam agreed to go.
By the time they find Nikki’s boyfriend, he has been attacked as well, but he was left alive and he saw the person who stabbed him – and the car she was driving. That car gives Dean a solid lead he can follow up on, but when he does so, the killer knocks him out and lures Sam and Sully to them. The killer turns out to be one of Sully’s kids, whose twin sister he got killed when they were playing tag and she ran into the middle of the street.
Reese became obsessed with folklore and found a witch, who provided her with the knife and spell to kill and see Zana, even though she also told her they’re good. She says she’s saving other kids from monsters. After her sister died, she’d never needed him more, but where was he? He panicked, Sully admitted, and that was why he moved into management. Sully offers to let her kill him if it makes her feel better, but Dean intervenes. Revenge won’t make her feel better, he says, and he’s seen monsters. Sully isn’t one. He was there for his brother when he wasn’t. Yes, Sully made a mistake, but that’s what it was, a mistake. And instead of killing Sully, Reese hugs him.
While Dean is looking for the killer, the mermaid’s boyfriend informs Sam that he broke Sully’s heart, and a flashback shows Sam pushing aside the notion of running away when his father called and agreed to let him join them on a hunt. Is that really what he wanted, Sully asked. He’s a Winchester, he hunts monsters, Sam said as an explanation. He didn’t want to look for another way and besides, Sully wasn’t even real. He didn’t need him anymore and he wished he could unmake him up. Yes, he wanted him to go, and to Sully did.
Sam apologizes to Sully for what he did, and Sully admits that he saw Sam going off to hunt as one of his biggest failures, but hey, it worked out and he’s a hero and saved the world. Yes, Sully keeps track of his kids. “I screwed up,” Sam tells him. “I let something out into the world.” And because everyone knows about the Darkness, yes, Sully does too. He’s heard rumors. Sam tells him about the cage, about Lucifer and about thinking Go wants him to go back. This time, when Sully asks if he ever thinks about running away, Sam admits that he did and he has, but not in a while, not anymore. And there you have it.
So the final scene is Sam and Dean in the Impala, and Sam again brings up the cage. They need to seriously discuss him going, he tries to convince his brother, and here’s Dean’s idea of that serious discussion: “Not happening.” Talk over. They’ll find another way, he insists. So what is that other way? Dean doesn’t have an answer.
“Supernatural” season 11 airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. on the CW. What did you think of episode 8 “Just My Imagination”?