It's no secret that my favorite episode of all time is "Mystery Spot". It was one of the very first reviews I ever wrote for blogcritics, and after going through it for reposting here, I found that review wasn't very good. This episode is so good, so spectacular in its detail, that it deserved its own full recap. This is by far my longest recap ever, and there are tons of pictures in it, so it isn't dialup friendly. Enjoy!
The best episode of the series. There, I said it. Every single element that goes into making an episode clicked into high gear in this one and through an extremely fast paced and very unpredictable story everyone delivered big time. I'll make my argument, even though many have already told me I'm nuts.
Not only was "Mystery Spot" the best episode of the series, but it's one of the best written episodes for any TV show out there. Since my other favorite episode of season three is A Very Supernatural Christmas, Jeremy Carver owns me. In both scripts, this new staff writer offered stories with a dark humor edge, creative and intriguing plots, sharp and humorous dialogue that greatly energized the already incredible chemistry between the main characters, yet also managed to impress with deeply emotional and sentimental moments. That's a really fancy worded way of saying he rocks.
For this episode in particular, combine the flawless script with the brilliant directing of Kim Manners, some of the best set decoration and special effects of the series, and the usual top notch acting and we have an episode to be listed among the best. Jared especially took his performance to outstanding new heights, delivering his best episode to date by nailing Sam's long ordeal with incredible range and versatility. Of course the script demanded it, but he rose to the challenge brilliantly.
Sure, it was a Sam focused episode, but considering Sam's character has lacked deep exploration for two and a half seasons, this was both a welcome but very frightening glimpse into how dark he can become when pushed. Uncorked Dean last season was scary, but Sam in sociopathic killer mode was downright terrifying.Any time a television show goes out of its way to do revealing character studies, I'll be the first to sing its praises.? Without character development, without seeing these people evolve either positively or negatively in the stressful circumstances set upon them, we all end up with TheBrady Bunch every week (yes, I'd love to see Dean Winchester nail Marcia Brady).
Heat Of The Moment?
"Mystery Spot" takes place in Florida, which is the first episode ever to take the brothers to The Sunshine State. It's all good since a pink flamingo themed room has always on my wish list and now I can die happy. The episode runs from the start with the standard motif in these Groundhog Day inspired themes, repeatable elements that are funnier each time we see them.
Sam wakes to "Heat of The Moment" emanating from the cheap motel radio that makes me wonder how such a radio even runs anymore. They certainly made electronics more reliable in those days. My digital clock radio (made by high cost manufacturer starting with an S) crapped out after a year. Asia? Dean, whose already dressed and pretty chipper, thinks it's cool.
"If I hear that song gain, I'm going to kill myself," Sam quips. There's foreshadowing with a capital F. Since we know the Sam we all know and love is shattered to little bits in this one, my theory is waking up to Asia on those Tuesdays played a huge part. At least that would have driven me over the edge. I've always hated that song, but now I relish listening to it just so I can picture in my head Dean lip-synching the words and bobbing his head to the beat.
Another major bonus of this setup is seeing Sam repeatedly in a grey t-shirt and bed head. No wonder I instantly fell in love with this episode. The morning routine begins; Dean gargles while Sam watches and examines the messy toothpaste with disgust, and then gets really annoyed when Dean is taking too much time trying to find his gun to take to breakfast. Yeah, I never eat at a diner without taking mine. Interesting that the bra among Sam's belongings is the mega full size. Usually a woman with breasts that large have a body that large to go with it. I've never seen Sam eye a chunky ass.
The first thing I want to know is what the hell is "pig 'n a poke"? As many times as Dean ordered it, I still don't know what it is.? If I ever see that as a menu choice, I'll order it just to find out.? I'm sure I'll be disappointed. The brothers use this backdrop of the ultimate greasy spoon to discuss the case of the week. A man named Dexter Hasselback is missing, last seen atâ€¦The Broward County Mystery Spot? Where the laws of physics have no meaning? Hilarious! Where is this place so I can take photos of my kids posing in this tourist trap? It's a family hobby. Ocean City, Maryland is our playground. Yes Ripley's Believe It Or Not, I'm talking to you!
The next scene introduces another repeatable element, and it's incredible how the different variations never got boring. Sam and Dean stroll down the city block with an adorable barking Golden Retriever (one of my favorite types of dogs), a woman that keeps bumping into Dean, and two movers that struggle with cramming a large desk into a small doorway (I have HDTV people, it was not a piano!). "What do you want, a Pulitzer?" That line was bad for a reason; it's so stupid it's funny.
They're off to check out the Mystery Spot, with hopes that there's some sort of vortex or black hole there. Yeah, I'm with Dean, Sam's theory is a little too X-Files to me. ?The set designers again were given the opportunity to outdo themselves, which I thought was pretty hard after "A Very Supernatural Christmas". Not only did they get to do a pink flamingo motel room and a run down diner, but the Mystery Spot was their crowning achievement. I've never seen such hideous displays done any better. Even Dean was appalled!
Nothing comes up on the EMF, but somehow they were careless enough to alert the owner to their presence. The guy is actually worried that they're robbing him? What, is he afraid they're gonna run off with the shark head or plastic food? Nonetheless, he wields a shotgun and he doesn't know how to use it. Dean getting blown away by the gun stunned me, despite the many previews I saw. Poor Sam. To see his heart crushed while his brother gurgles and dies in his arms; that reaction kicks off the roller coaster of emotion that leaves us a complete wreck by the end of this episode, not to mention days afterward.
We don't have much time to grieve, since Sam's back with the pink flamingo behind him and Asia on the radio. Hmm, the giant reset button. Lord knows I wish I could do that after a bad day. ?Sam's confusion over everything being the same as the day before is adorable. He's troubled, wants to know what happened, but is taking it in stride considering Dean is alive. He finds though that it's more than a dream when everything in the diner is exactly the same. Proof of how brilliant the dialogue in this script is comes here, in a quick, intense and very funny exchange over the true meaning of dÃ©jÃ vu. That and Sam has already perfected his hot sauce catching skills.
Back to the street scene, and Sam is not selling the idea to Dean that it's Tuesday again. "It's crazy, even for us crazy, dingo ate my baby crazy." I love that line! Sam thinks maybe this has to do with the Mystery Spot, and in dorky fashion convinces Dean to check it out while it's good and crowded. They never get that far as moving car plus Dean equals a spectacular split-second impact that earns a standing ovation for the special effects guys. Usually I'm great at "guess that classic car," but I'm still at a loss over what the old man was driving. I don't try too hard, for dead Dean on the pavement has my attention.
Sam freaks out, clutches his dead brother again, thenâ€¦Asia, "Rise and shine Sammy", gargling and "Tuesday, pig 'n a poke." It never got old for me, watching the same day over again, for each day gave us a fascinating different reaction from Sam. He went from confused, to distraught, to defeated, to depressed, to completely unhinged, to outright grumpy, to distracted, to murder in his eyes. All that while growing increasingly irritated each time he had to catch the hot sauce.
Also, who didn't enjoy all the creative ways they killed Dean? Mr. Carver is one sick twisted bastard, and I love it. Take this next day. They're back at the diner, Dean is his normal jovial self and Sam is rightfully "flipping out". He even on full edge orders what they've been ordering the past few days, and Dean gets in another great line, "Sammy, I get all tingly when you take control like that." At least one of them is having fun!
Sam frantically tries to convince Dean about the time loop, even cutting Dean off with that same great "dingo ate my baby" line, telling him he's said it before. Then he catches the hot sauce, claiming he knew it was going to happen. Dean isn't convinced but knows Sam wouldn't be like this without good reason, so he goes along with it, especially when Sam has his mini meltdown over Dean dying today. He can't go through it again. Oh Sammy, things are about to get much worse.
Street scene, dog, woman, desk, bad joke about the Pulitzer. Sam is still on edge and this time he tells Dean why they have to go to the Mystery Spot now. Dean dies there, blown away. Dean nods and steps into the road, only to have Sam desperately yank him back before he's hit with car from yesterday. Dean, not worried over meeting his end via the front grill of a fast moving classic car bother him asks, "Did it look cool, like in the movies?" Sam, who's still a little too wired, gives the answer in his classic bitchface form. "You peed yourself." Dean now has to cover himself. "Of course I peed myself. A man that gets hit by a car you think he has control of his bladder?" They go on casually, both hoping to forget that conversation ever took place. Too bad I won't, because I'm still laughing.
Back at the Mystery Spot, and wow what a slimy owner. With each evasion to Sam's irritated questions ("Take the tour") I'm rolling on the floor. I guess that's what happens with the laws of psychics have no meaning. Sam goes ballistic and the guy admits he bought the place in a foreclosure auction, he doesn't know about Dexter Hasselback, and this guy is officially the most clueless man in America as well as the tackiest. None of this is of comfort to Sam, for the day is winding down and he knows Dean is about to die.
Dean has an easy answer. He doesn't die, they go on to tomorrow. Sam thinks it's a fair plan, until Dean steps forward and with the same exact precision we got with the car strike, the desk from earlier plunks right on top of Dean with stunning velocity, and all we see are his feet sticking out from a crushed body a la Wile E Coyote. Ah, the cartoonish death. The special effects guys have to be pinching themselves for getting to do that scene.
Sam has another abrupt wake up to Asia, and slowly lies back down in despair after getting another "Rise and shine Sammy!" The next breakfast scene implies this is taking place several days later, for Sam is far more resigned and looks like he's ready to bust out crying. Clearly this ordeal is toying with his emotional stability. Dean gives his usual big brother assurances and Sam buys into it, especially when Dean changes his order from bacon to sausage. "See, different day already." Of course Dean chokes to death on the sausage right after pledging that he's not going to die. Sam's reaction is classic, but we don't get it long because this is an insanely fast moving episode and we need more Asia.
Now what I call the "Asia" montage begins. They're staying in for breakfast that morning. Dean protests while deliciously soapy in the shower, but Sam says "you'll thank me when it's Wednesday." Dean slips in the shower. Asia. They're eating in the motel room. "These tacos taste funny to you?" Asia. In another great special effect, Dean lights up like a Christmas tree when plugging in his razor. Asia.
Back at the Mystery Spot, and nothing is better than a fully unhinged Sam Winchester with an axe. He's duct taped the owner to the chair, and he has the place good and destroyed. "I'm gonna take it down to the studs," axe wielding Sam declares. Dean, who is supposedly of calmer mind, tries to wrestle the axe away. Yeah, that's smart. I LOVE the way this shot is done and again I bow to Kim Manners. We hear Sam and Dean fighting off camera, while the focus is on the tied up owner. He watches the fight, blood spatters all over him, Sam cries "Dean? Oh no" right when the sound of Dean's body hits the floor, prompting the owner's muffled cries in terror. Asia. For the record, that is my favorite Dean death.
Back at the diner, Dean is again excited over "Pig 'n a Poke" while Sam now is mega depressed, hopelessly slamming the old man's keys on the table. Dean gives his regular order and Sam tells Doris the waitress to clock in more hours at the archery range, for she's a terrible shot. I guess that's another Dean death we didn't get to see. I would have loved to have seen that one! Dean smiles at her in apology, Sam smiles too and then instantly goes into a scowl. Somebody's grumpy!
Apparently he should be. It's the hundredth Tuesday and Sam's had it. He proves his point first by doing his bitchiest hot sauce catch yet. He slams the bottle on the table, and the waitress leaves quite unnerved. Dean isn't convinced, so Sam resorts to the best sibling gag of all, repeating exactly what big brother says. The rapid fire synchronization of some of the strangest comments (Sam Winchester wears make up, Sam Winchester cries his way through sex, Sam Winchester keeps a ruler by the bed and every morning when he wakes up...enough!) qualifies as one of the best moments in this series.
Sam does the Groundhog Day type exposition where he tells what everyone in the diner will do today then tells it like it is, everyday he watches Dean die and then he wakes up, and its Tuesday again. Oh, now my heart is breaking for him. The line between funny and sad in this episode starts getting thinner right about here.
It's back to the street scene. A poor defeated Sam is disgusted by the same old sights on the street (Dog, "Where's my dang keys?", "Excuse me"). Dean finally comes through with the breakthrough in the case. I know Sam had a lot on his mind, but he geez.? He missed this for one hundred Tuesdays? Dean at least drove that point home. The woman they kept bumping into is Dexter Hasselback's daughter. Sam chases the woman, and Dean finally gets a chance to pet that adorable Golden Retriever. Apparently the adorable and deadly mauling Golden Retriever. Sam wakes to Asia. Awesome!
Sam is now distracted by the case, throwing himself into it with research. Dean of course wants to know how he's found all this time to do said research, but Sam apparently isn't in the mood to go through the time loop stuff today. Then, Sam FINALLY gets the clue. First, Dean finds the irony that a man debunking tourist traps for a living disappears in one. It's "just desserts". Uh oh, where have we heard that one before? Then Sam notices the man at the counter used strawberry syrup. Obviously our villain has grown impatient. A very rattled Sam watches the man leave, and it's all starting to make sense.
There's an off camera death that I wish we'd got to see (I vote for impalement) for Sam's waking to Asia again, this time with the cold look of revenge. He either figured out what's happening, or after a hundred Tuesdays he's ready to kill Dean over "Rise and shine Sammy!"
Sam's mood is stone cold as he patiently waits for pancake man to leave. He does, Sam follows, and Dean has no freaking idea what's going on as he chases Sam. Sam corners the man in an alley, pulls out a wooden stake and holds it to the man's throat. He declares with unabashed certainty "I know what you are, we've killed one of your kind before." The man suddenly morphs. "Actually bucko, you didn't." It's the Trickster! All right! That was really ironic for us because just before we watched this episode (for the first time), we were watching "Tall Tales" on DVD. We had no idea he was coming back.
Again, another brilliantly shot scene here. Sam has the Trickster in a chokehold in the foreground, while Dean is in the background in the middle watching back and forth with a great arsenal of reactions. He's confused, surprised, unimpressed, and heartbroken for Sam, especially when seeing how unglued Sam comes over the notion of having to watch Dean die over and over and how he can't save him. The Trickster promises to give Sam his Wednesday, but Sam decides to kill him instead. Of course all the Trickster has to do is snap his finger, so naturally Sam isn't that quick with the stake.
Sam awakes back in the motel room, with the flamingos still behind him, and this time the music is "Back In Time" by Huey Lewis and The News. I love that band, but I never cared for that song. Sam is ecstatic, obviously a little too giddy for he thinks it's the best song he's ever heard. Dean asks how many Tuesdays Sam had and he admits he's lost count. It's time to get the hell out of dodge, and much to Dean's dismay, without breakfast.
Dean packs the car and there's Kel from the diner with a gun, asking Dean for his wallet. Uh, Kel, didn't you just see the massive arsenal in the trunk? That would have been a big clue to turn away. Once again, Dean's chance to talk reason goes bad thanks to an itchy trigger finger. Sam hears the shot from inside the motel room and instantly thinks its Dean. He was right, but that was a pretty big assumption. Sam rushes down the stairs, but Dean's already on the ground with a gorgeous fountain of blood coming out of his chest.
Poor Sammy is rightfully horrified because it's Wednesday and there's no do-over. Or he finds out there isn't when he closes his eyes and there's no reset. "I'm supposed to wake up," a devastated Sam declares. Sam breaks into sobs (as do I), the sad music plays and the camera pans out to show the haunting visual of Sam clutching a dead Dean with the rear view of the Impala behind them. Oh Sammy! How does this show do this to me, going from funny to turning me into a tearful pile of mush in the course of a few minutes?
This is where the episode turns from dark humor to just plain dark. It's "Six Months later" (that caption did not show in the first airing of this episode, or on my current digital copy, but it's on the repeat and DVD), and just when you think you know a character, a very clever writer comes along and blows your reality to smithereens. We get a glimpse of one very bleak Sam in which life without his brother turns him into a soulless, methodical, ruthless killing machine focused on the overly obsessed goal of finding the Trickster. All I could think was, "Holy crap, John Winchester lives!" No wonder he grew up hating his father, because deep down he knew he could become him.
Sam's intense self-discipline over every tiny aspect of his life (organizing the weapons in the Impala trunk, eating, cleaning the gun, clippings in perfect order on the wall, making the bed, brushing his teeth) was so realistic that Jared earns high marks for making OCD so frightening. How about Sam with blank face entering the motel room, pulling off his jacket, cutting off his shirt, and calmly applying peroxide just before prying a freaking bullet out of his ribs and stitching up the wound?? This is the same guy that looked like near death from vision induced migraines not to mention screaming like a girl when his fingernail was pulled off (it's okay Sam, I screamed like a girl too).
By this time, you know that Sam has indeed hit rock bottom from which he cannot recover. That is especially shown when he looks at himself in the mirror (after making the bed with hospital corners?) and doesn't recognize the person on the other side. His lost gaze turns into a scowl, for that's who he is now, a monster. I wanted to reach out, give the puppy a hug, and say 'there there'. The entire montage unnerved me to no end, and this terrifying glimpse was the first real hard look of the course Sam is headed. Until this, it was implied. It's not pretty.
They're pulling out all the stops, for this quick little summary of Sam's six month downward spiral are sans dialogue. The tale is cleverly told through a series of messages from Bobby, where Sam is leaving his mark with one spectacular kill after another, but won't return Bobby's calls, choosing to hunt The Trickster alone. The last message has Bobby revealing he's found him, which is a perfect segue into the next powerful scene.
Back to the Mystery Spot, and oh alter of the truly tacky, we missed you. By this point, Sam is about as stable as a Tilt O' Whirl. He isn't glad to see Bobby, standing cold like a statue as Bobby hugs him. Bobby goes into the ridiculous scenario about needing a gallon of fresh blood to perform the summoning ritual for the Trickster and it must be tonight. Sam accurately observes they have to bleed a man dry. Yeah, that's a setup talking, but Sam easily goes for it. He's so given up. Bobby tells him he won't let him kill an innocent man, and Sam jumps down Bobby's throat. He not only can't tell right from wrong in his state, he doesn't care.
We know it's a setup now, for Bobby offers his life instead. Sam won't agree at first, but then does. Again, the direction catapults this scene into amazing. The camera angles upward from the ground, showing us Bobby on his knees in clear view, nervous about meeting his end while a fuzzy Sam towers behind him. We get a vague view of Sam pulling something out of his coat and when he kneels down his cold blooded killer face comes into perfect focus right when he drives a stake through Bobby's heart. Um, this side of Sam is freaking me out. He's going WAY beyond that gentle nature of his now.
Blood spurts, Bobby collapses and dies. Sam sees Bobby's body not moving, and for a few seconds questions what he has done. All of a sudden, he isn't so tough anymore. His raw emotions take another wild swing, and we get quite a spectrum in this scene.
The Trickster doesn't leave Sam hanging too long for the pacing in this episode is insane. Bobby disappears while the stake flies into the Trickster's hand. Again, the special effects in this episode are especially remarkable for that stake moving was not as easy as it looks.
Sam sees the Trickster and falls apart, breaking out the teary eyes and all, pleading for Dean's life. Sam is so emotionally destroyed that he's acting on pure instinct which in this mode, as pointed out with the Full Metal Jacket reference, means he's dangerous. Another thing that is dangerous, those weepy puppy dog eyes! How can anyone say no to that?
Richard Speight Jr. and Jared in this next part just rip me to shreds. Suddenly the Trickster isn't a joker anymore and he's dead serious over what's happening to Sam. "There's a lesson I've been trying to drive into that freakish cro-magnon skull of yours." Sam doesn't get it, but he's pretty messed up right now. "This obsession to save Dean. The way you two keep sacrificing yourselves for each other, nothing good comes out of it. Just blood and pain. Dean's your weakness, and the bad guys know it too. It's gonna be the death of you Sam." Ooh, stuff we've heard before from other episodes! It's also foreshadowing of what's to come. It's also the same thing Dean says in the finale.
"Sometimes you've just got to let people go." The way The Trickster says that, the way the score plays in the background, I feel my heart sink into my stomach just like Sam. "He's my brother," Sam pleads, and now I'm sobbing. Stop it you guys! "Yep, and like it or not, this is what life's going to be like without him." "Please, just...please." Another TiVo pause. How did we get through these emotionally killer scenes without TiVo? Sob profusely and then wait months later for the rerun to catch what you missed while crying?
The Trickster isn't all impressed with Sam's plea or inability to learn a lesson. "I swear it's like talking to a brick wall." A tearful, broken and ultimately uncorked brick wall. The Trickster ends the scene with a very strange Taxi Driver reference, but I get it. The whole situation is as much of a turnoff now as Travis Bickle in a skirt. He snaps his fingers, and end scene.
Sam awakes to the same really bad Wednesday song, and this time he rises with less vigor. It's back to the last Wednesday before Dean bought it, and he gives Sam the same line about sleeping all day. Sam, who is finally seeing this long ordeal end with exactly what he begged the Trickster for (take me back to that Wednesday) is both relieved but emotionally spent. "It's Wednesday" he softly says, uncertain over whether this will stick or what's in store now that he has Dean back and the deal still looms.
If Sam has learned one thing from this, it's he must take advantage of any opportunity. He throws off the covers and with four quick giant steps swallows Dean with a huge bear hug. Man does Jared have some broad shoulders. Unlike the previous Wednesday where Sam was overjoyed, here he's solemn and warily grateful.
The directing in this scene again is astounding. The camera cuts between the reactions on both brother's faces. Dean is perplexed but accepting, suspecting that Sam has been through some serious shit. Sam is hopelessly lost. He got what he wanted, his brother back, but the damage to his psyche has already been done. He holds on tight and can't let go. "Dude, how many Tuesdays did you have?" "Enough." Oh man, EVERY single time I see that scene (and I've seen it hundreds) I have to pause and have my mini breakdown. Hugs aren't going to make it all better, are they Sammy?
When the embrace is broken, Dean looks at a shaken Sam and he's very worried. He should be! Sam asks Dean what he remembers, and Dean remembers the encounter with the Trickster outside the diner. That's good, for he has some inkling what Sam's been through. A drained Sam declares they should go, there's no breakfast, and Dean's not going outside alone. "Just trust me." Luckily, Dean does.
Oh man, I can never get through this scene either. This is EASILY for me one of the most painful, gut-wrenching, kill you with emotional sledgehammers to the heart moments for any show I've ever seen ("Noel" for The West Wing being the only other thing comparable). They're packing to leave, and Sam is understandably lost is in his own world. No, he's more than lost. He's on the brink of a crippling nervous breakdown. It's taking every bit of his inner strength to hold it together. "Hey, you don't look so good, did something else happen?" Dean asks Sam. "I just had a really weird dream," Sam replies, unable to say much else. Oh come on Sammy, go over to your brother's shoulder and let it all out. I know, character continuity.
"Clowns or midgets?" Dean quips, but Sam can barely crack even the faintest of smiles. Even Dean's humor isn't helping this time either. He's truly broken, possibly irreparably. Dean leaves, and Sam takes the long walk to the door, every fiber of his emotional well being shattered. The score in this scene also enhanced Sam's terrible frame of mind perfectly, another example of how everything went very right with this episode.
Sam and those crushing eyes of heartache turn to see his empty and unmade bed before leaving. His sorrowful gaze shows what a bad place he's in right now. The bed is a reminder that while things have gone back to normal for now, life without Dean is still going to happen. There was a lesson in all this, and he will end up back in that empty life. His ordeal isn't over.
There's So Much To Ponder
I'm sure diehard fans didn't expect "lollipops and candy canes", but Sam made Dean's crisis's look like meltdowns that could be addressed with a hug and some haagen-dazs (yes, two stolen references from a prior episodes in one sentence). Sam was already on a self destructive path this season and the Trickster just hastened the circumstances.
Hot debate was sparked over why the Trickster would do this to Sam. My theory is he likes these guys, he even said so in "Tall Tales". He saw where Sam was headed and took on the mission to give Sam of preview of life without Dean, if anything because it's his nature to screw with things. His methods are usually cruel and over the top, and this probably went on as long as it did because Sam's pretty stubborn and wouldn't learn. The comment, "that's for me to know and you to find out" could also indicate a higher motivation at work that will be revealed later. I doubt it though.
Picture the Sam Winchester from the pilot, trying to run from his family and his life, and the Sam Winchester in "Mystery Spot", alone in the world and now some sort of monster wanting desperately to have it all back. If anyone doubts the evolution of his character, just watch these two episodes back to back.
Dean's joke at the end didn't make it all better this time. It's always worked before, most noticeably at the end of "Born Under A Bad Sign", but Sam is so damaged now it no longer helps. Dean has a lot of worry about with his own fate, but I wonder whether he knows how much his brother won't be okay without him. Sam's brush off at the end, "I just had a really weird dream", didn't help matters. Another secret from brother, another burden pushed inward ready to eat him alive.
Character study galore! Take notes from this episode, this writer, if you're someone like me who yearns to write an incredible story that cleverly exposes the weak inner layers of a closed main character. I still have a lot to learn. My overall grade, an A++. Best episode of the series (ducks flying tomatoes).