It’s been my goal to clean up and improve my Season Three recaps as I can. I so far have only fixed “Mystery Spot,” so in honor off the holidays here’s my new and improved recap for “A Very Supernatural Christmas.” Enjoy!
What a better way to celebrate this special holiday season than to re-experience the twisted, gory, heart-wrenching, fast-paced, cynical, and downright brilliant version of Christmas the Supernatural style. Kripke and Company are a bunch of sick bastards, and we love them for it.
This episode contains an overwhelming attention to detail so it’ll be impossible to overlook most of these elements that made up one of the most outstanding episodes of the series. It went all out, beyond the usual great writing and acting, giving us several unique camera shots, extreme set decoration, a brilliant cast of supporting characters, loads of eye catching background details, and even a clever cover story as to why Ypsilanti Michigan was looking so lush in December.
The writer of this episode, Jeremy Carver, gives us his first solo script here, and I must wonder how many Andy Williams Christmas specials he’s seen in his lifetime (I assume enough to drive him crazy). As with his other masterpiece, “Mystery Spot”, this script is very diverse, offering snappy and outrageous (in a good way) dialogue, a multitude of jabs at the history of Christmas culture, a progression of scenes going at a wild yet seamless pace that blended laugh out loud moments, powerful emotional ones and very disturbing ones. Plus, it ruined Christmas. What could be better?
The directing on this episode is phenomenal as well, coming from J. Miller Tobin. This was his second outing for Supernatural. Considering his first episode was the stellar “Born Under A Bad Sign”, he already had an excellent track record with this show. What he did with this episode was nothing short of incredible.
Kripke you magnificent bastard. Right from the opening second, when the old CBS intro “A Special Presentation” popped on the screen, I knew they were going all out. That intro as a kid always let me know that something cool like Rudolph was coming on, causing me to squeal with glee. That’s exactly what I did here too. The show didn’t waste anytime going for the shock value either, starting as if we were watching a cheesy Hallmark Holiday special. The living room décor takes a page straight out of the Christmas edition of Martha Stewart Living, a pleasant flute plays in the background the sweet sounds of “The Twelve Days of Christmas”, and cubby cheeked little boy greets his Grandpa with glee, for its Christmas Eve. I can picture the director telling these two “ham it up as much as possible,” and boy did they run with it.
It’s Seattle, Washington, One Year Earlier. “Santa,” aka Grandpa in one very fake Santa suit, starts unloading presents under the tree. Considering Santa isn’t supposed to be seen or bad things happen, you would have thunk that Grandpa would have paid attention to his urban legends more. But no, Grandpa puts on the suit and with one less than subtle bell ring he alerts his grandson just because he wants to show off. Yep, he does give the boy a show.
This All-American kid, now decked out in his reindeer jammies, peeks through the wooden rail of the stairs to see “Santa” putting presents under the tree, reacting with wide eyes and adorable lit up face. He gets very excited by the thump on the roof. “Reindeer.” “Santa” isn’t so overjoyed, since he knows that isn’t good because he left the reindeer back at the North Pole. Some soot filters down from the chimney, and we assume from the creepy music playing this is Grandpa’s last Christmas. Sure enough, “Santa” is suddenly yanked up the chimney and judging by his chilling screams, that hurts. A lot. Then his boot falls down the chimney. With blood on it. Who knows, probably a foot too. All this happens while the boy watches with confusion. At least Grandpa gave his grandson a Christmas he’ll never forget.
Cue the special title card, a decked out “A Very Supernatural Christmas.” Major kudos to the graphics designer on that one! It’s so evilly tacky! That right there gives us a hint as to how much effort and attention to detail went into this episode. It should also be mentioned that Kripke said in the DVD extras that after this episode aired, many of his family and friends went up to him and asked “What’s wrong with you?” I’m sure they meant it with love. Along with several referrals to a psychologist.
Its present day Christmas, in balmy Ypsilanti, Michigan (trust me, as a prior resident of that state, December is not that green), and Dean talks with a traumatized wife with daughter overlooking in the doorway. Dad is missing. The story is pretty intense. She and the girl were upstairs in their beds, Dad was downstairs decorating the tree. You know, a man never does this. It’s always the wife and children that decorate. I’m still trying to find out if this is a law or something. She heard a thump on the roof, Dad screamed, and now she’s talking to the FBI. I hate to add to your misery lady, but you aren’t. However, Dean is a fantastic alternative to a real G-man.
Dean confirms she didn’t see any of it. The doors were locked, there was no sign of forced entry. Sam comes out thanking Mrs. Walsh (that name is important for later) for letting him look around. You’re FBI, did she have a choice? Scratch that. They got everything they need and will be in touch. The poor lady. She plays the sympathetic victim very well and points out the theory is kidnapping but there’s no ransom and no calls. It’s three days before Christmas. What is she supposed to tell her daughter? Since this is season three Sam, who apparently left his puppy dog eyes in the great beyond after he died in season two, he gives a rather insincere “we’re very sorry.” Mom wants to drag on the point more, but gives up sensing she isn’t getting anywhere with the Winchesters. Good call.
Another clue that Sam is being a heartless bastard? Dean asks if he found anything. He gives a matter of fact “Stockings, mistletoe, and this.” It’s a tooth. I understand the message being sent here, Sam hates Christmas. Still, he is being a jerk. They quickly figure out Dad went up the chimney and likely not in one piece. Time for research.
There are clippings of Pagan beasts everywhere and Sam is at the computer doing his “checking of lore” because he’s so damned good at it. Dean enters and this room takes the cake. This scene is a prime example of what happens when great set decoration and directing collide. Sam is sitting on a dated forest green leather couch when Dean comes in, exposing the red leather retro table and chairs, ugly green curtains and loud yellow floral wallpaper. A standard room so far, right?