#7 – Shapeshifter – Pick Your Favorite
I try to give a subjective analysis to these lists, but it’s obvious every once in a while when the subject matter gets too damned subjective, what I pick might not necessarily jive with most other opinions. Take for example the Shapeshifter. There have been three of them in Supernatural; in “Skin,” “Nightshifter,” and “Monster Movie.” Considering the Shapeshifter in “Nightshifter” plays more of a boogeyman role and never takes on a strong identity, I easily eliminate that one. So the debate begins, which is the better Shapeshifter? The creepy and psychotic one that takes the form of Dean and tries to kill Sam in “Skin,” or the absolutely absurd, over-the-top, yet sympathetic Count Dracula in “Monster Movie?” I can’t choose, so let them both share this category and call it even.
If I was picking a personal favorite though (which I am), I choose Count Dracula. For one, I’m a sucker for dark humor. His character is written funnier. The visual of the dastardly Count Dracula fleeing the dark scene of neck biting attack on a Vespa is too ridiculously funny for words. So is Dracula stopping the campy torture of his in full costume victim to pay for pizza delivery with a coupon. Or how about the perfect recreation of Dracula’s castle, down to the flimsy stage sets that make Sam Winchester look like Frankenstein’s monster when knocking the doors and walls over.
There’s something to be said about the evil, twisted, Shapeshifter Dean in “Skin” though. First, taking off your skin is a memorable visual that someone will talk about for years. Two, he’s one of the few baddies/antagonists/nasties, whatever, who’s motivation we got to know. He tries to explain to Becky what he’s all about without revealing his true identity, and we strangely understand where he’s coming from. “Evolution is about mutation, right? So, maybe this thing was born human but was different. Hideous and hated. Until he learned to become someone else.”
This show loves playing on that theme, being forced by nature to become someone else. Still, evil must be killed. Sure, Count Dracula is a serial killer too, but his incredible imagination and genuine love and appreciation for classic horror makes him like no other villain ever to be encountered. There’s a tender side to his love of playing a monster. I found Count Dracula to be richer in character. Maybe because he was a little less psychotic. What am I saying, this guy dressed up as Count Dracula and stalked people for God’s sake. No, I think it’s his gentler nature. Take this exchange between him and the woman he stalked as Mina, Jamie.
Dracula:Everywhere I ran, everywhere I tried to hide, people found me, dragged me out, attacked me. Called me "freak," called me "monster." Then I found... them. The great monsters. In their movies, they were strong, they were feared. They were beautiful. And now I am like them. Commanding. Terrifying.
Sure, there’s also something delicious about Dean, real or not, tying up Sam and then revealing to him what’s in Dean’s head. His resentment over Sam going to college, over not getting the chance to fulfill his own dreams and stay with Dad instead. Or the knock ‘em out long fight between real Sam and not!Dean in the ending scene, followed by Dean essentially shooting himself. Yeah, I’m sure those scenes have been played in our DVD players a few thousand times.
However, Count Dracula (and guest actor Todd Stashwick), did dead on Bela Lugosi, which is not an easy feat. In the end, that was the shifting factor. The filming of the episode in black and white didn’t hurt either.
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