Review: "No Exit"
--Robin's Rambles by Robin Vogel
It's ironic that Dean makes a joke about Katie Holmes being held against her will by a cult, given that the MOTW in this episode turns out to be a man named H. H. Holmes, the world's first serial killer.
This is a Jo-centric episode, and since a lot of folks in the watching audience didn't like Alona Tal or her character, it tends to be on the bottom of fave episode lists. I liked Jo, enjoyed her as a hunter in training, but couldn't see her as a love interest for Dean, if that's truly what was planned (I wasn't watching the net at that time). There was zero sexual chemistry there, at least IMHO.
The Winchester brothers come to the Roadhouse to find Ellen and Jo in a huge argument over the latter beginning a career as a hunter. Given that she lost her husband, Bill, to the life, it's understandable that Ellen doesn't want to lose her only remaining family the same way. Jo, an adult, wants to be treated like one, so they are at an impasse. (Great use of the song "Surrender" - "Mommy's all right, Daddy's all right, they just seem a little weird, surrender, surrender, but don't give yourself away. . . "
So we have a ghost in Philly, PA who likes kidnapping petite blond gals in an apartment complex that used to be a warehouse located next to a prison that no longer exists. Prisoners were executed by hanging there. This ghost drips black ectoplasm on his victims from the ceiling, and this black, gooey stuff also pours from one light switch in the wall, which for some reason has no plate covering it. The ghost likes to look at the gals through the light switches and floor-level vents, and grabs them by their ankles down there, too, scaring the crap out of them. He uses chloroform to knock them out, hides them in walls, sometimes starving them, other times killing them first. Whatta guy, huh?
Dean and Sam arrive and check out the apartment. Sam feels bad stealing Jo's case after she did all the preliminary work"”and so well, too. Dean doesn't believe she could handle it, anyway. They find the ectoplasm, which Sam notes only comes from VERY pissed off spirits and Dean says means their bad guy is the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. Hee!
to find Jo already renting the apartment where a girl disappeared using her tip and poker-hustling-at-the-Roadhouse money. As soon as she spots Dean, she calls him her boyfriend and "honey," smacks his ass and has to suffer him smacking her ass, too, calling her a pistol, more like spanking. She forces him to lie to Ellen about being in Philly; she set up an elaborate ruse making her mom think she's in Vegas. Dean sticks by her so intently, she asks if he's buying her dinner; if he's going to "ride her" this much, he might as well.
She plays with a knife Dean calls a "pig-sticker"; when he hands her HIS huge knife to play with, she shows him her father's initials on her knife and explains the reason she wants to work this case so badly--for her dad. They exchange good memories"”Dean going shooting with his father when he was six or seven and hitting all bullseyes; Jo, her dad coming home, sweeping her into his arms after a hunt and just being a family with her and Ellen. Dean feels that Ellen wants more, better, for Jo than hunting, and she shouldn't throw that opportunity away.
There's a genuinely scary scene in which a young woman returns home to her apartment and opens her mail. From above, ectoplasm spills in the paper she's reading. The lights go wonky, and she complains about the crappy apartment. A crack in her ceiling grows larger, moving faster; she reaches for her phone on the wall, but it doesn't work. She reaches for the doorknob but can't get out of her apartment. Finally, a filthy hand reaches out of the grate and grabs her ankle, making her fall, pulling her. . .
When Dean and Jo find the grate with the ghost and some blond hair still attached to flesh (gross!), Dean says "Mazel tov!" (I can always spot Sera's Jewish touches on a script.) Dean and Jo end up looking in the walls for the latest victim, but when they arrive at a really narrow area, Jo goes ahead because she's thinner. Unfortunately, she finds herself between two walls spewing ectoplasm, and the ghostly Holmes kidnaps her.
Dean begins slamming down walls, trying to find Jo, but he only locates her cell phone. He runs into Sam and tells him what happened. Deans phone rings; it's Ellen, she got Ash to confess what Jo REALLY did. Dean is forced to tell her Jo is Holmes' prisoner, but he swears he'll get her back. "This isn't the first time I've gotten a promise from a Winchester," warns Ellen, "I'm coming out there on the first plane!"
Jo awakens in a box, and cries a bit at first, especially after noticing blood and scratches of former, probably dead, victims, on the wood above her. There's an opening big enough for Holmes to pay visits to touch her hair and caress her body, but she gives him a burn with her dad's knife, which is made of iron. She isn't alone; the missing Theresa is in another box in the dank room, sure they're both going to die. Jo assures her she is here to rescue her, and two guys are on their way.
Sam has found an old sewer system, and using a metal detector, he and Dean find the opening buried underground. They locate the sewer's opening, go down there and shoot Holmes with some rock salt, sending him away long enough to free Jo and Theresa from their boxy prisons.
Turns out, Sam and Dean need to use Jo for bait to put Holmes' ghost away permanently. Jo sits alone in a room, her back to Holmes as he creeps up on her, When he realizes he's trapped in a salt circle, no exit, he begins screaming. Sam asks Jo if this job is glamorous, and while she realizes that isn't the right word, they DID save Theresa's life. How are they going to make sure Holmes never escapes? Wonders Jo. Dean backs a cement truck up, and Jo is impressed. They fill the sewer with cement, ensuring Holmes will be down there until hell freezes over.
The return drive to the Roadhouse, Ellen, furious, riding shotgun to Dean, Sam and Jo in the back, is quiet. Dean puts on the radio, "Cold as Ice," plays, Ellen shuts it off. Dean predicts a long drive, and Jo and Sam exchange looks in the back. At the Roadhouse, Dean tries to tell Ellen that Jo did a terrific job on this case, but Ellen is ranting about them using Jo as bait. She asks Jo to come inside where she speaks to her alone. When Jo comes out, she's very angry. Bill Harvelle had a partner on his last hunt"”John Winchester. John got Bill killed, and couldn't look Ellen in the eye since then. "Just go," says Jo.
If there was a budding romance going between Dean and Jo, it's apparently doused now.
Sam wore a cast in this episode, but his fingers were free. He wasn't in the episode much, another complaint. This was a Dean-Jo episode. I have a fuzzy memory that Jared was taking a lot of painkiller and couldn't be in this ep as much as they originally planned, so they expanded Jo's role.
We won't see Jo again for a long time, I think she reappears in "Born Under a Bad Sign."
I thought Dean and Jo were amusing together. He kept hitting her, using her using HIM as her boyfriend as an excuse to keep it up. I just found it funny. She made him sleep in a chair, and what an uncomfortable position he was in! All twisted up!
His showing her his knife just seemed a sexual effort to say "Mine is bigger than yours." I found Jo's talk about her father touching. I guess Ellen telling Jo about John Winchester and Bill Harvelle turned Jo off to the Winchesters, but not hunting, since Jo DID leave home, as witnessed in BUABS and her taking up hunting down the line.
Do you think Dean's desperation to find Jo safe and sound was more because he cared about Jo or because he feared Ellen? I say the latter, although I think he had begun to care for Jo. I think his respect grew after BUABS, when she had grown up a bit.
Jo's first reaction to finding herself in a box with blood and fingernail scratches was exactly what I'd expect from anyone, but she calmed herself down pretty quickly and called out to Theresa. Funny how she told her she was there to rescue her but was in the exact same situation. I think she calmed Theresa down, at least a bit, by cursing at Holmes so much. What a potty mouth!
I love how efficient Sam was in this ep. He was right on the ball, paring down Ash's excessive information down to what they could use. He recognized Holmes, figured out the prison next door, and realized there was a sewer down below, where it turned out Holmes was hiding Jo and Theresa.
Not my favorite episode, but not bad, either. I loved how over-protective Ellen was, but since I liked the Roadhouse, Ellen and Jo, I wondered if we would ever see them again after this, and hoped the answer would be yes, since it seemed they had gone to the trouble of deliberately driving a wedge between the Winchesters and Harvelles.