Sure, it was a repeat, but weren't we all a little excited on Thursday to go to the TV Guide and see our beloved show Supernatural listed in the lineup again? I got a little emotional, and I didn't even care what episode was on. The CW played a cruel joke on us for six weeks, and I'm glad it's over.
The episode chosen for repeat viewing was "Malleus Maleficarum", a graphically gross tale about shallow suburbanites who unwittingly sold their souls to the devil via witchcraft all in hopes of getting a better mortgage rate. The writer of this episode was Ben Edlund, who makes my short list of writers whose warped mind I most want to emulate when writing my own stuff. This wasn't his best script (that honor belongs to season two's "Nightshifter"), but I still enjoyed his unconventional view of witches and demons, and he delivered plenty of drama for the Winchester boys. There was one element in particular that made this episode stand out from others, but first let's cover the other stuff.
This show has always been proud of its gore, and this episode hit the ground running. A hot chick starts spitting out her teeth in a sink, blood and all. I thought that was wrong on many levels (note that I use "wrong" with wicked appreciation), until the next bit involved eating maggots in a burger while Poison played in the background. The horror (the song, not the maggots)! The subsequent visit to the offending witch's home went for the gross-out trifecta, complete with a chicken being consumed by large maggots, loads of blood seen through a glass coffee table from the witch's vertically slit wrists, and a poor slaughtered bunny. Even Sam was grossed out, but what I loved was Dean not caring about the dead woman, but grieved over the innocent, hacked-up rabbit. At that point the gore meter exploded, and that was only fifteen minutes into the episode. Nothing tops season one's "Skin" in the gore category, but this episode did live up to that tradition.
The brotherly moments, as usual, were great. There are not enough ways for me to express how hot the Winchesters look in suits while playing the faux OOTW (officials of the week), so just add me to the multitudes of women whose collective drool could drown a village. Granted, I've never run into agents from the Center for Disease Control (CDC), but I really doubt they look that good. I'm waiting for the day when someone they visit calls them out on the fact that they're not who they say they are, but lets it slide because the prettiness is too tempting.
Sam jumping in and preventing Dean from shooting Ruby was a truly shocking moment that I'm amazed wasn't talked about more. There has been growing conflict between these two all season, and that was a big, fat warning sign that in a snap moment, Sam might not choose his brother's side. We end up seeing that issue again a few episodes later. Sure, we know Sam would die for Dean, but when it comes to Ruby, Sam's head is not in the right place. That's exactly what Ruby hoped to accomplish and she's succeeding big time.
Sam finally admitted what everyone's speculated all season long - he's turning into Dean. That was even proven earlier in the episode when for the first time ever, Sam gave the rock star aliases instead of Dean (loved Bachman and Turner). Except, I think Sam is wrong. He's not turning into Dean. He thinks he's turning into Dean. What's really happening is Sam has lost his perspective, and thus himself. His single obsessive thought is he has to save Dean, and each day his anxiety grows, as well as his depression, because he can't find a way to do that. He thinks that following the WWDD (What Would Dean Do) mantra will give him guidance, but he's getting it wrong because compassion for humanity (and bunnies) and a conscience are missing from his view. Whoever he is, he's not Dean, and he's not Sam, either.
With that in mind, the ending gets all that more interesting since it ties to Ruby's definition of hell. If hell is forgetting who you are, then it sounds like Sam's the one headed there, not Dean. So the question is does that point really mean something, or is it a clever writer screwing with us? Only time will tell, but that's why this show is so fun to analyze. The "demons are humans" twist was clever considering Dean's bias that all demons are evil and must be killed. Now he's going to become one. That gave us a horror from this episode that actually didn't involve gore. I wished Sam was there though, with his sad, puppy dog eyes, to share in that crushing blow. That would have pushed the brotherly angst up several notches.
This was Ruby's best episode so far (although she also won me over in "Jus In Bello" too), and I love the element she brings to the mytharc. Does Ruby remember what it's like to be human? In this show, I've found demons don't really lie as much as they speak in half-truths. Sure, Ruby remembers what it's like to be human, but it's not the reason she's helping the Winchesters. She's doing that to get in Sam's good graces to tap into that power he refuses to acknowledge. Her motives are deliciously vague, and I'm looking forward to them getting deeper exploration in future episodes.
The big confrontation scene with the demon known as Tammi didn't do this episode a lot of favors. It involved too much monologuing. I know that's the classic vehicle for a villain, especially a demon, but Tammi overdid it. That brings me to a nagging point that keeps coming up in several of these episodes. Tammi confronted Sam by slamming him against a wall (with Dean joining him this time). I don't get it. She took out Mrs. Renee Van Allen with one quick twist of the neck, so why do demons fight off Sam and Dean by crushing them against something after delivering a taunting speech? It's sexy, sure, but it is so reminiscent of the Bond films where the villain goes through the elaborate and escapable scenario of death, when a gunshot to the head would have done the trick nicely (yes, I took that from Austin Powers, but it's so true).
The scene did redeem itself though with what my husband calls the coolest part of the entire season, Dean gutting that evil Tammi demon several times like she was a fish with Ruby's "knife-of-demon-death". In my husband's deeply profound words, that was "awesome."
The Real Reason This Episode Worked
This episode was the best showcase in season three for the beloved and equally vital third cast member, the Impala. It's criminal awards aren't given for this type of performance by a non-living entity. That brightly lit angle from the back seat while Dean rants to Sam about how much he hates witches sent my heart soaring, for I got a fully spectacular HD view of the three prettiest cast members in television. The Impala got its chance to play hero too, practically flying in to save the day for poor undeserving Paul (was I the only one that wished the maggots would get him?). Sure Dean was driving, but who wasn't watching the car?
How about the way the Impala sputtered and jerked before going dark when Ruby showed up? That's better dramatic acting than what we get from other guest stars (cough**Bela**cough). Given how the Impala is an essential member of the Winchester family, it's fitting that it stood behind Sam and Dean in unified support during the tense confrontation with Ruby. It reminded us how more powerful and complete scenes are in this show when the car is present (see all Sam and Dean in-car arguments and the end to "A Very Supernatural Christmas").
In one of the many great action shots we often get from our favorite vehicle, our heroic Impala used its power and speed to race to the rescue to save Dean with Sam behind the wheel. For those counting, that was only the second time this season (thus far) that Sam was seen driving the car (after none in season two). Finally, in the outstanding closing shot, after Dean gets the devastating news about his fate from Ruby in the parking lot, all that's left is Dean and the Impala. At least his baby is there to console him.
Okay, I'll admit, I have blind love when it comes to the Metallicar (the popular nickname given to Dean's prized possession by the fans), but its presence in this episode confirmed what has been said about the car since season one. It's the one constant in Sam, Dean, and even John's life since Mary died. It's more than transportation, it's the place for heated discussions about family matters, it's always there for support during the crucial moments of their lives (the fire, Sam and Dean's discussion about the deal at the end of "All Hell Breaks Loose Part II"), and it plays a critical part in the family business, not only being the keeper of the arsenal but using its incredible grit against all odds in a race to save victims from evil. Without either of the brothers, the Impala feels empty, and Sam and Dean cannot exist without the car either. All they have is each other.
Can anyone picture Supernatural without the Impala? I've made a few comments before about how much of a classic car buff I am. My dream is not to meet Jared or Jensen or Kripke or anyone else related to the show. All I want is to spend five minutes in that incredible car. (Yes, I know there's more than one on the set. I'll take the pretty one.) Then I'll have truly died and gone to heaven.
All in all, I give this episode a B+. The first time I saw this I gave it an A-, but then "Mystery Spot" and "Jus in Bello" aired. That's the fun of recapping reruns, hindsight is allowed. However, I don't care how great an episode is, for as long as I get my fix of the three prettiest cast members in television today, I'm good.