Ah, Thursday night – at last you return with my Supernatural fix. I settled in with my tea, ready to continue on the Apocalyptic adventure with the Winchesters. But wait, what’s this? A basketball game? That can’t be right! Sadly, it was. Yes, the first new Supernatural episode in months was pre-empted by a basketball game. I was not impressed. So after waiting all this time, I had to wait another day for someone to get the episode online. This morning with my morning coffee and breakfast, I sat down to enjoy the gruesomeness that was Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid.
Most of this episode was sombre and sad from start to finish. You couldn’t really rejoice at the return of the deceased loved ones because you knew there had to be a catch. And boy was there. The episode did have it’s funny moments – such as when Sam and Dean’s FBI boss-phone trick backfired. And who didn’t love Sam’s exchange with old zombie woman, the expressions on his face throughout that scene were priceless. Sadness was the primary theme running through this episode. Bobby’s misery over his wife and her death. The sheriff rallying herself together after watching her newly undead son devour her husband (and who won’t be haunted by the shot of the bloody-mouthed tot in PJ’s for days to come?). Bobby’s wife herself, recognizing that she was unnatural, trying to play the happy wife and pretend she didn’t know Bobby had killed her. There was even something tragic in the simple idea that Dean has never been in love – because it’s true. Yes, this episode was riddled with melancholic moments.
I have a few issues with this episode, specifically as the first out the gate episode after such a long hiatus. We’re going into the back end of the season and I’d hoped for something a little more myth-heavy than this episode. We were left in such a raw place after My Bloody Valentine, with Sam locked in the panic room detoxing and Dean pleading to anyone who will listen to help him. This episode didn’t really touch on that. Bobby as a target for Team Lucifer wasn’t really a surprise, was it? I mean, he’s helping our boys maintain their anti-apocalypse, no-way-are-we-consenting-to-be-vessels stance; of course they want to knock him out the way or at least down a few pegs on the moral support pole.
What did work about this episode was the incredible performance of Jim Beaver. Bobby’s turmoil was understated and beautifully executed. As viewers, we really felt for him. One of the saddest scenes was Bobby talking about his wife humming, which is a tight second only to the tears in Bobby’s eyes as he shoots Dean the most devastated expression after having killed his wife for a second time. Finally, the ending in which Sam’s question to Bobby – you’ll be alright? – was left hanging in the air with a vacant look on Bobby’s face that suggests, no, he probably won’t be okay for a good long while.
There were also a few subtleties in this episode that I appreciated. Sam’s look at Dean’s tired expression as Bobby tells the boys another horseman has run amok. This minute exchange really tells us how close to the edge Dean is – and, more importantly, how aware of that Sam is. Also, I wasn’t sure whether to be amused that Bobby was considered the town drunk, or concerned. On one hand, I wondered if that wasn’t part of his “cover” to keep people away and give him an excuse for any “weird” behaviour that he might engage in as a hunter. On the other hand, however, I wondered if this was a recent label that Bobby’d earned himself since landing in the wheelchair. After tonight’s episode it’s clear Bobby isn’t in a good place and, like Dean, I wonder how much longer he can hold on.
Sam was a great take-charger in this episode. From his encounter with the first-to-rot zombie to his dealing with the sheriff’s creepy son, Sam seems to have bounced back quite nicely from his demon-blood binge the last time we saw him. Perhaps the relapse was a monkey off his back – yes, he relapsed – through no fault of his own- as he feared he would, but he also got clean again, so maybe this has renewed his strength.
Overall, this episode was subdued and sombre – not quite the bold, apocalyptic episode I’d anticipated fresh of a hiatus – but I kind of enjoyed it all the same. Now, next week’s episode – well the trailer alone makes me quiver so I’ve no doubt the episode itself will be incredible. All in all, the most important thing about this episode? The end of Hellatus! Thank goodness the Hellatus is over and we’ve got a straight shot to the end now! Welcome back, Winchesters, welcome back.