Back in season four I wrote a cheeky full length recap for what is easily one of Jeremy Carver’s stinkers, “Family Remains.” Out of the numerous things that I chastised, one was how little we saw Sam actually doing anything. He said he was going to the attic, and then showed up later with a report. I was so put out that we didn’t get that attic scene that I wrote it, right there in the review.
What does that story have to do with “Thin Lizzie?” Thank you new writer SPN Nancy Won, you finally gave me my Sam in the creepy attic scene. It was marvelous. So was your first episode.
After last week’s “Baby,” which is being lauded by many including myself as one of the best “Supernatural” episodes ever, that is a pretty impossible act to follow, especially for a brand new writer. As soon as you read the synopsis that they’re checking out Lizzie Borden’s house, suddenly a camp fest comes to mind. Well, “Thin Lizzie” was none of that. It was actually an evenly paced, well structured story that in the end remained true to the Winchesters and gave us something to chew on for the new mytharc. Trust me when I say, plenty of episode fives in a season have accomplished far less (I’m talking to you “Fallen Idols.”). It didn’t feel like Won was trying too hard, a common mistake by new writers trying to connect to this very demanding fandom. She stuck to telling a good story.
So what was it about “Thin Lizzie” that I liked? For one, it felt like a “Supernatural” episode. Sam and Dean acted like Sam and Dean! There was actual continuity (loved the shoutout to the Ghostfacers). The story had a mystery that didn’t leave me going “WTF?” Both brothers were actually involved in the story and given something to do, and both were tied up this time. They even had the closing brotherly chat near the Impala, in front of something scenic, eating junk food. It felt like old times. There were creepy scenes, interesting characters, and then there was Amara. Way to tell a good old fashioned ghost story while keeping the mytharc going.
The biggest takeaway is that Sam and Dean got to fill in some blanks that we already knew. I love that we are all on the same page now. They have figured out that Amara is not a baby any more, that she eats souls, and when she leaves darkness behind, its dark. Also, don’t call her an angel. That is a sure fire way to become a shell-less psycho path. Sam still wants to save people though, soulless or not. Dean may have made fun of Sam with, “Right, your new rules,” but in the end he tried to help Len. He can get on board and I’m enjoying it.
This episode even had the light brotherly conversations. Damn, I miss those.
Dean: Alright, well, I think the best thing is we just stick close until we figure out how to help him out, which starts by you telling him he’s got no soul.
Sam: Me? Why do I have to do it?
Dean: Because you’ve been there. You speak the language. He doesn’t even know he’s been Hoovered yet.
Sam: You have a better relationship with him than I do.
Dean: Yeah but you’re better with that whole sensitive verbal massage.
Sam: There’s no sensitive way to tell somebody their soul’s been sucked out by a prehistoric tween. Even if Len does believe us, is that supposed to make him feel better?
Dean: Fine, probably couldn’t handle the truth anyway. He’s a little fragile right now.
“People have freaky ass reactions to loss.”
The episode took a big opportunity to reflect on the idea of soullessness and did it with full continuity. We saw Soulless Sam in season six and season nine tried to explore that again with “Mother’s Little Helper.” One thing was made clear in those efforts, different people react different ways to being soulless. In this episode, the nail was hit on the head.
We get the story of two opposites, Sydney and Len. Sydney was miserable in her life, and losing her soul made her happy. Why? Amara took away the pain. She could finally act out against all those that made her life miserable. She could get revenge against the guy that took another girl for an overnight stay to Lizzie Borden’s Bed and Breakfast. Or get back at the owner of said establishment for screwing her out of pay when she worked there. Or kill that parents of the child she babysat because they were crappy to him.
Remember Soulless Sam resisting the idea of getting his soul back? Being soulless made him happy. He could hunt with clarity and focus, and mostly without fear. It took away all that pain that burdened him before. Innocents got harmed too, but he just chalked that up to collateral damage.
But then you have Len. “I can’t eat, or sleep, I don’t dream, and all the things I used to love, my Lizzie blog, my Ghost conventions, it leaves me cold.” He refuses to let it get the better of him. He acts the way he normally does. “Fake it til you make it, or feel it.” He remembers right from wrong and what it was like to do the right thing, but it feels like he’s acting.
That’s a parallel with soulless Sam too. He tried to “fake it” with Dean and do the right thing around him. It was exhausting. He tried at times to get Dean to open up to him (safe room), but in actuality he didn’t care.
Sam: It was like she shouldn’t care less. That’s kind the way I felt that whole time I was soulless.
Dean: Oh yeah, you were one chilly droid.
We certainly weren’t thinking of Soulless Sam though when poor Len was in the back of the Impala trying to reconcile what was happening to him. He eventually annoyed the truth out of Dean and Sam! They drop the bomb on him and we get a quick “it feels good to finally know.” He took that well! Yet this guy, soulless, not feeling the need but remembering how he knew right from wrong, saves Sam and Dean by breaking his thumb to get out of the cuffs and axing the girl. He never would have been able to do any of that with a soul. His motivation of wanting to see if he could do it may have been out of whack, but he did the right thing. There’s our light in a dark situation.
Dean even tries to make him feel better by telling him by having a conscience there’s hope, even if he didn’t feel anything over murdering someone. Aww, come on guys, take this adorable dork back to Castiel and see what he can do. I was really sad that he decided to take the fall, but it makes sense. If he’s locked up he can’t do more harm. It was acceptable to dying. In a way, he was saved.
“You know it kind of makes sense, people having different reactions to losing their souls. I did. Everyone’s got their own history, right?”
Do you think Len offers hope in this situation? A guy that feels himself consumed by darkness, but tries to fight it anyway? Can he win? “I’m going through the motions as long as I can.” That’s something Dean can definitely relate to. It’s a stark contrast to those chilling words from Sydney as she lay dying on the floor. “The darkness is coming. It’s so peaceful. It’s coming for all of us.” Again, the contrast of dark and light.
Did Dean lie to Sam at the end when telling him how he felt around Amara? Sam confessed to getting a pit in his stomach every time he thinks of her. I sense his visions (and their source) are creating that foreboding. What is Dean truly feeling? I think he felt that same peace Sydney did and it scares him. He knows that he’s got to stop her in his head, but can his heart do it? It does make you wonder. No, there was nothing unsettling at all by Amara’s “Bye Dean, I’ll see you soon.” (Yes, I’m totally lying.) I don’t think Dean even knows the hold she has on him.
Isn’t it nice when Sam gets to bond with the distraught kid? That happened only once before, in “Remember The Titans.” I love this new version of Sam that’s doling out hope in the worst of circumstances. “You’re going to survive this. People are going to help you.” Aww…
I get that Castiel is still hanging around the bunker and mentioning him was their way of remembering he was still there without having to pay Misha Collins to be in an episode, but how cool would it have been to watch Castiel actually try to grasp “The Wire?”
Overall grade, an A-. This is the kind of impression I’d like to see a new writer make. I’m still digging The Darkness plot, so let’s see what Mr. Berens brings to the table next week. I’m looking forward to it, especially now that I get to cross an attic scene off my list.