There are two kinds of Supernatural
episodes. Some are designed to help push the season-long plot forward.
For season 9, those would include episodes about Metatron's plan or the
war between Crowley and Abaddon. Then there are the stand-alone episodes
that feature a monster-of-the-week, and those typically have some sort
of metaphoric meaning about Sam and Dean's relationship.
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"Alex Annie Alexis Ann" is the latter. Sheriff Mills returns with a simple vampire case, and it works as a metaphor for every character involved. Sheriff Mills is still trying to fill the hole in her heart from the loss of her family while the vampires serve as a lesson about whether or not you can turn your back on the family you've done everything for.
A Human in a Vampire Family
The titular character of this episode is a human runaway who spent the last eight years living as a blood slave with a family of vampires, meaning she's a girl who lets them feed on her. Her real name is Annie, but now she goes by Alex, hence the title "Alex Annie Alexis Ann." She's all four of those names, which represents her conflicted nature.
She ran away from her vampire family, which is when Sheriff Mills, Sam and Dean come in to help protect her. But does she really want to be protected? When Sam and Dean capture one of her vampire brothers, he delivers a speech about how, despite Alex/Annie's moral confusion, she'll always pick her family in the end.
Obviously this is a metaphor for the ongoing feud between Sam and Dean. Sam is Alex/Annie, so maybe the episode should be titled "Alex Annie Alex-Is Sam." He may say he wouldn't save Dean's life, but he always seems to come back to family in the end. Family is a bond that lasts forever, no matter how dangerous it is and no matter how hard you try to escape it. At least that's the point of view for Dean and the vampires.
The metaphor becomes even more obvious when Dean explains that for the past eight years, everything Alex/Annie has done has been for her vampire family, so it's impossible to believe that she suddenly has a change of heart and wants to escape. Clearly Dean doesn't believe that abandoning your family is possible.The Hole in Sheriff Mills' Heart
There's a second metaphor at work in this episode. Sheriff Mills takes a shine to Alex/Annie, trying to fill the hole in her heart from her dead family. After the vampires retrieve the girl, Sheriff Mills and the Winchesters go back to take out the vampires.
Sam and Dean get tied up for a bit, but Sheriff Mills is trapped in the basement with Alex/Annie and her vampire mom. Alex/Annie has been partly turned, but she's still uneasy about killing Sheriff Mills. It becomes clear that the vampire mother changed Annie's name to Alex because that was her real daughter's name. Alex/Annie is simply a way to fill the hole in the vampire mother's heart, the same way Sheriff Mills has grown attached to the girl to fill the hole in her own heart from her dead family.Family Isn't Forever
In the end, Alex/Annie actually stabs her own vampire mom with dead man's blood before Sheriff Mills kills her. So I guess, in the end, you really can escape the family you've been so loyal to for eight years. Metaphorically, I suppose that means Alex/Annie is on Sam's side in the brotherly feud. Does this foreshadow that Sam may have to stab Dean by the end of the season? Given Dean's recent behavior with the Mark of Cain, that's not completely out of the question.
As for the second metaphor, Sheriff Mills takes in Alex/Annie as a pseudo-daughter after they cure her vampirism. So it's the start of a "happily ever after" for those two.
Elsewhere, Dean gets free and attacks the vampires. He takes some very disturbing pleasure in killing a vampire, demanding that the vampire look at him before the decapitation. This messed-up side of Dean doesn't go unnoticed by Sam, who is starting to get worried about how the Mark of Cain may be affecting his brother. At some point Sam is going to have to make a choice about Dean and we'll see if he is truly willing to let his brother die just like Alex/Annie let her vampire mother die.
Next week on Supernatural
: It's the "Bloodlines" spin-off set in Chicago, which is run by five monster families. As Dean says, it's The Godfather with fangs.(Image courtesy of the CW)