Okay, new game everyone. Write song lyrics to the new and completely awesome Supernatural opening for “Frontierland.” After all, there were actual lyrics to the Bonanza theme song. I say the key word is “posse.”
I kid, I kid. Let’s face it, Supernatural is a pretty heavy show. The story of the Winchesters is a very tragic one and we get sucked in by the intense, emotional, heart wrenching aspects anyway, for this tragedy is just that irresistible. Once in a while though, something needs to be fun. Something needs to go the Winchesters’ way. We do need that bone thrown at us before we end up slitting our wrists.
“Frontierland” couldn’t be more perfectly timed. If you want to amuse fans, an old time Western should do the trick! Sera Gamble called this a love letter to fans and she couldn’t be more correct. After all, Dean Winchester gets to live out a boyhood fantasy with unabashed glee. Sam Winchester has to negotiate things like horseback riding and we end up feeling more sorry for the horse than Sam.
If you’re making an episode that will get fans excited, throw in plenty of pop culture references even if many are over the younger audience’s heads. Even I’m too young to remember Bonanza, but any TV buff will know Bonanza’s iconic opening of the title followed by the burning map. I adore the unique Supernatural twist, taking that idea and slowing it down, making the feel more spaghetti westernish than the corny upbeat greeting of the guys at the Ponderosa.
Speaking of spaghetti westerns, I loved finding out that in old west Wyoming, the Clint Eastwood cliches don’t apply there either (that and Dean knows the name of the ape in the Every Which Way But Loose movies). Poor Dean though, reality checks are never fun. Dean finds out that the old west is just as crappy as his current time, maybe worse. At least in his time there are less germs and true hot chicks. Sam too had to be a little put back that the legendary Samuel Colt is nothing more than a cranky old drunk that stopped caring. Yet neither took the disappointment pretty hard. I guess it goes with the territory by now. They took it in stride like everything else, probably accepting long ago that nothing is what it seems. They were there on a mission and they weren’t letting such things stop them.
“Frontierland” is a continuity fiesta. The writers, Andrew Dabb and Daniel Loflin, did their homework and I didn’t catch any obvious errors. The bartender being Elkins is especially continuity at its finest. It certainly explains how Daniel Elkins ended up with the colt. They brought up the railway lines built by Colt in southern Wyoming from “All Hell Breaks Loose Part II” and it was nice to see Castiel’s assistant Rachel have such disregard for humanity as the other angels we’ve met like Uriel and Zachariah. Even the gold from “Like A Virgin” at they snagged from the dragons came in handy for currency for the time.
Also, after six seasons of hype we finally get to meet the legendary Samuel Colt who is a burned out, disillusioned hunter much like the rest of the hunters we’ve met. It makes you wonder how Sam and Dean will go down in hunting history, especially when all they did was do whatever it took to survive. Maybe survival is all that makes the hunting hero.
If anything bothered me with continuity (and this nitpick is very minor), it’s Sam remembering the location of the Campbell family library. How many of us in the back of our minds wondered what sort of risk was taken to access that memory? Of course that concern turns out to be nothing since Sam is even keeled this entire episode, but still, I’m sure it was a common thought. Putting that aside, I’m deeply impressed with this well paced and very fluid script. The western drama intertwined with Castiel and Bobby’s scenes worked together well, which is saying something considering they were so different. Sure, it would have been nice if the entire hour had just been the Western, but I’m certain this was Back to The Future Part III on a budget. Director Guy Bee did a fantastic job with what he was given and gave us something that felt authentic.
What I most enjoyed about “Frontierland” something we haven’t seen in a long while. Dean having an immensely great time at his job and Sam tagging along as the beleaguered sidekick. Dean’s childlike enthusiasm is infectious and the rapid fire exasperated responses from Sam reminded us of Supernatural days long past. Think Hollywood Babylon, Folsom Prison Blues, and A Very Supernatural Christmas. I did love how this time thought one of Dean’s gags against Sam backfired. I guess he didn’t realize not half bad sarsaparilla trumps whiskey that tastes like gasoline. That didn’t stop the jokes from coming though, including Dean’s hilarious one liners about being a posse magnet.
I know the secret wish out there, why oh why couldn’t we get more of Sheriff Dean Winchester cleaning up this sorry town? Hotness with a badge doesn’t begin to describe it. I’m thrilled Dean figured out the long coat looked way better than the serape (boy did it!). I get it though, the blanket jokes were just too good to pass up. It isn’t just the look (although that’s definitely hard to ignore). Dean’s interactions with the Phoenix, aka Elias Finch, are great too. Sure, you couldn’t help but feel sorry for Elias, a monster choosing to live in a human world, but how could Dean buy into the sob story? The man was still a killer. He couldn’t show mercy, which is not only a reflection of the times, but also following rules of hunting monsters. Ultimately, the phoenix had to die, and not just to serve Sam and Dean’s purposes. The fact that Dean didn’t get into that moral conflict is quite refreshing.
Two things really struck me too with Sam and his talk with Samuel Colt. That whole conversation proves how the younger Winchester brother has grown very wise beyond his years. First, Sam of all people lecturing this icon in the hunting world that there’s no getting out, no retiring from this business? If anyone should know, it’s Sam. Also, Samuel Colt assumes just by looking at the youthful Winchester that Sam needs to “put on a few more miles.” Sam’s “Trust me, I’ve got plenty of mileage,” answer is delivered with sheer, biting perfection. That one line reminds us of all the really horrible things this guy has been through. I think that’s what got ultimately through to Samuel Colt and inspired him send the package with the ashes of the phoenix that they failed to collect (Which is not a contrived ending. Come on, Back To The Future Part II has been out for a long time now). It just goes to show how much Sam has indeed grown for there were no puppy dog eyes used anywhere. Probably because he knew they wouldn’t work.
Then there’s Castiel and Bobby. I’ll tell ya, I never tire of scenes with these two together. They’re really the ones propping up Sam and Dean and their crazy missions, and even when things go wrong in their worlds they can rely on each other for backup. I love how Castiel needs a place to hide after being brutally attacked by his assistant Rachel and instantly chooses Bobby’s house. Judging by the previews of the four heroes taking on Mother of All, I’d say that Castiel will be underground for a while longer. It’s good to have him part of the gang again, even if he’s hiding something that will likely disillusion his friends when they find out.
The Fun Stuff
Oh yes Dean, you do look good!
Oh bitchface, how we missed ye!
More great lines for us to repeat exhaustively:
Sam: Dean can recite lines from every Clint Eastwood movie.
Bobby: Even the monkey one?
Sam: Especially the money one.
Dean: His name was Clyde.
(See bitchface #1 for Sam’s response!)
“Is it customary to wear a blanket”
Castiel: Well, the answer to your question can be best expressed as a series of partial differential equations.
Bobby: Yeah, aim lower.
Bobby: I only watched Deep Space Nine. (That’s a shoutout to Jim Beaver’s late wife Cecily, who played Ishka in that series.)
“That poor horse.”
“I’ll stay here, hook up with the posse–’cause you know me, I’m a posse magnet–I mean, I love posse–make that into a t-shirt.”
Dean (after Sam steps in manure): You know what that is?
Sam: Yeah, it’s horse-
“So much more germ ridden than I pictured.”
“Gank? What’s gank?”
“When you’ve done this job as long as I have, a giant from the future with some magic brick doesn’t exactly give you the vapors.”
“Well good, because we got less than an hour before you got to pickup the kids in Frontierland.”
“We just can’t strand those idgits in Deadwood, can we”
Overall, Frontierland gets an A from me. No, it wasn’t the most brilliant, most awe inspiring episode ever but as far as fun ones go, it’s far better than most. It comes at a time when we sorely needed it, and shows the previous week’s “My Heart Will Go On” how light hearted is done. Next week it’s all nail biting until the finale, so it’s nice to have some fresh air before going back into the trenches.