Back in season four I wrote a cheeky full length recap for what is easily one of Jeremy Carver’s stinkers, “Family Remains.”  Out of the numerous things that I chastised, one was how little we saw Sam actually doing anything.  He said he was going to the attic, and then showed up later with a report.  I was so put out that we didn’t get that attic scene that I wrote it, right there in the review.  

What does that story have to do with “Thin Lizzie?”  Thank you new writer SPN Nancy Won, you finally gave me my Sam in the creepy attic scene.  It was marvelous.  So was your first episode. 

After last week’s “Baby,” which is being lauded by many including myself as one of the best “Supernatural” episodes ever, that is a pretty impossible act to follow, especially for a brand new writer.  As soon as you read the synopsis that they’re checking out Lizzie Borden’s house, suddenly a camp fest comes to mind.  Well, “Thin Lizzie” was none of that.  It was actually an evenly paced, well structured story that in the end remained true to the Winchesters and gave us something to chew on for the new mytharc.  Trust me when I say, plenty of episode fives in a season have accomplished far less (I’m talking to you “Fallen Idols.”).  It didn't feel like Won was trying too hard, a common mistake by new writers trying to connect to this very demanding fandom.  She stuck to telling a good story.  

So what was it about “Thin Lizzie” that I liked?  For one, it felt like a “Supernatural” episode.  Sam and Dean acted like Sam and Dean!  There was actual continuity (loved the shoutout to the Ghostfacers).  The story had a mystery that didn’t leave me going “WTF?”  Both brothers were actually involved in the story and given something to do, and both were tied up this time. They even had the closing brotherly chat near the Impala, in front of something scenic, eating junk food.  It felt like old times.   There were creepy scenes, interesting characters, and then there was Amara.  Way to tell a good old fashioned ghost story while keeping the mytharc going.  

The biggest takeaway is that Sam and Dean got to fill in some blanks that we already knew.  I love that we are all on the same page now.  They have figured out that Amara is not a baby any more, that she eats souls, and when she leaves darkness behind, its dark.  Also, don’t call her an angel.  That is a sure fire way to become a shell-less psycho path.  Sam still wants to save people though, soulless or not.  Dean may have made fun of Sam with, “Right, your new rules,” but in the end he tried to help Len.  He can get on board and I’m enjoying it.  

This episode even had the light brotherly conversations.  Damn, I miss those. 

04

Dean:  Alright, well, I think the best thing is we just stick close until we figure out how to help him out, which starts by you telling him he’s got no soul.
Sam:  Me?  Why do I have to do it? 
Dean:  Because you’ve been there.  You speak the language.  He doesn’t even know he’s been Hoovered yet.  
Sam:  You have a better relationship with him than I do.  
Dean:  Yeah but you’re better with that whole sensitive verbal massage. 
Sam:  There’s no sensitive way to tell somebody their soul’s been sucked out by a prehistoric tween.  Even if Len does believe us, is that supposed to make him feel better?  
Dean:  Fine, probably couldn’t handle the truth anyway.  He’s a little fragile right now.  

“People have freaky ass reactions to loss.”

The episode took a big opportunity to reflect on the idea of soullessness and did it with full continuity.  We saw Soulless Sam in season six and season nine tried to explore that again with “Mother’s Little Helper.”  One thing was made clear in those efforts, different people react different ways to being soulless.  In this episode, the nail was hit on the head.  

We get the story of two opposites, Sydney and Len.  Sydney was miserable in her life, and losing her soul made her happy.  Why?  Amara took away the pain.  She could finally act out against all those that made her life miserable.  She could get revenge against the guy that took another girl for an overnight stay to Lizzie Borden’s Bed and Breakfast.  Or get back at the owner of said establishment for screwing her out of pay when she worked there.  Or kill that parents of the child she babysat because they were crappy to him.  

Remember Soulless Sam resisting the idea of getting his soul back?  Being soulless made him happy.  He could hunt with clarity and focus, and mostly without fear.  It took away all that pain that burdened him before.  Innocents got harmed too, but he just chalked that up to collateral damage.

But then you have Len.  “I can’t eat, or sleep, I don’t dream, and all the things I used to love, my Lizzie blog, my Ghost conventions, it leaves me cold.”  He refuses to let it get the better of him.  He acts the way he normally does.  “Fake it til you make it, or feel it.”  He remembers right from wrong and what it was like to do the right thing, but it feels like he’s acting.  

That’s a parallel with soulless Sam too.  He tried to “fake it” with Dean and do the right thing around him.  It was exhausting.  He tried at times to get Dean to open up to him (safe room), but in actuality he didn’t care.   

Sam:  It was like she shouldn’t care less. That’s kind the way I felt that whole time I was soulless.   
Dean:  Oh yeah, you were one chilly droid.  

10

We certainly weren’t thinking of Soulless Sam though when poor Len was in the back of the Impala trying to reconcile what was happening to him.  He eventually annoyed the truth out of Dean and Sam!  They drop the bomb on him and we get a quick “it feels good to finally know.”  He took that well!  Yet this guy, soulless, not feeling the need but remembering how he knew right from wrong, saves Sam and Dean by breaking his thumb to get out of the cuffs and axing the girl.  He never would have been able to do any of that with a soul.  His motivation of wanting to see if he could do it may have been out of whack, but he did the right thing.  There’s our light in a dark situation.  

Dean even tries to make him feel better by telling him by having a conscience there’s hope, even if he didn’t feel anything over murdering someone.  Aww, come on guys, take this adorable dork back to Castiel and see what he can do.  I was really sad that he decided to take the fall, but it makes sense.  If he’s locked up he can’t do more harm.  It was acceptable to dying.  In a way, he was saved.  

“You know it kind of makes sense, people having different reactions to losing their souls.  I did.  Everyone’s got their own history, right?”  

Do you think Len offers hope in this situation?  A guy that feels himself consumed by darkness, but tries to fight it anyway?  Can he win?  “I’m going through the motions as long as I can.”  That’s something Dean can definitely relate to.  It’s a stark contrast to those chilling words from Sydney as she lay dying on the floor.  “The darkness is coming.  It’s so peaceful.  It’s coming for all of us.”  Again, the contrast of dark and light.  

Other Thoughts

Did Dean lie to Sam at the end when telling him how he felt around Amara?  Sam confessed to getting a pit in his stomach every time he thinks of her.  I sense his visions (and their source) are creating that foreboding.  What is Dean truly feeling?  I think he felt that same peace Sydney did and it scares him.  He knows that he’s got to stop her in his head, but can his heart do it?  It does make you wonder.  No, there was nothing unsettling at all by Amara’s “Bye Dean, I’ll see you soon.” (Yes, I’m totally lying.)  I don’t think Dean even knows the hold she has on him.   

Isn’t it nice when Sam gets to bond with the distraught kid?  That happened only once before, in “Remember The Titans.”  I love this new version of Sam that’s doling out hope in the worst of circumstances.  “You’re going to survive this.  People are going to help you.”  Aww…

I get that Castiel is still hanging around the bunker and mentioning him was their way of remembering he was still there without having to pay Misha Collins to be in an episode, but how cool would it have been to watch Castiel actually try to grasp “The Wire?”   

Overall grade, an A-.  This is the kind of impression I’d like to see a new writer make.  I’m still digging The Darkness plot, so let’s see what Mr. Berens brings to the table next week.  I’m looking forward to it, especially now that I get to cross an attic scene off my list.  

Comments  

SueB
# SueB 2015-11-06 02:30
Enjoyable review. IA that the new writer did very well. Len was one of my favorite one-off characters in the series. Like Ronald Resnick, part II. Here's hoping he lives! I love Sam playing with the atomizer! And Dean having to leave because he 'got grandma on him'.

Good plot, good character, nice balance of MOTW/Mytharc. Well done.
Minor nit: Len ripped OFF his thumb (and picked it up like a mini hotdog!).
jane
# jane 2015-11-06 04:01
Thanks Alice for this nice review.
What I liked best about the episode is than both Sam and dean had a role in it, well balanced and the MOW episode has been able to include the mytharc. I can't remember the last time it happened since nowadays it's always one or the other.
rmoats8621
# rmoats8621 2015-11-06 06:34
I thought it was a great episode, definitely creepy. It's been a while since Supernatural made me jump and I did it several times while watching this episode. Also, Amara is blossoming into quite an adversary for our guys.

So far, I've rewatched each episode of Season 11 multiple times and that hasn't happened for me in years. Keep it up Supernatural! I'm loving the ride!
Fazzie
# Fazzie 2015-11-06 07:16
Liked the episode, but is anyone else thinking Soulless is now equated to depression?

Len going through the motions, Soulless Sam chilly droid, Babysitter chasing that blissed out feeling that makes her misery go away.

Just saying as Dean has been faking things by going through the motions from time to time. It wouldn't be a jump to say the man is seriously, seriously depressed.
Shante
# Shante 2015-11-06 07:28
1. my grade is A+
2. Nancy Won, welcome to Supernatural
spnlit
# spnlit 2015-11-06 07:39
It looks like most of us are on the same page as to why we enjoyed this episode. Hope our new writer Nancy Won is feeling the love for her job well done and keeps it up. I agree, one scene with Cas watching netflixs would have gone a long way. Also, I was completely "unsettled" by creepy Amara emerging from the trees stalker style spying on the boys during their broment. I am not yet sure why, but Dean is feeling unsettled too. I am not convinced he is feeling the heroin peace but I think he is feeling the connection to Amara and perhaps the desire to protect her. He certainly protected baby Amara and told Crowley hands off. I think he is conflicted and does not yet want to tell Sam of his feelings because in Dean style he is in a bit of denial, thinks he can handle and fix it himself and like, Len, the hero of this story will fake it by acting like he will and can kill Amara until he makes it. We will have more clarity next week when he seems to have another face to face with Amara. Looking forward.
sylvia37
# sylvia37 2015-11-06 10:16
This is my sentiment. I'm thinking Dean is doing his denial dance and it's going to bite them all in the ass. I just hope it's soon because I really don't want them to drag it out too long. Sam needs to know. Of course, what would be really interesting to me is if Amara put Sam in danger and Dean found himself protecting her instead of Sam. Wouldn't that be a wake up call? Hee.:)
E
# E 2015-11-06 11:55
I'm wondering if that happens in the next episode. Sam's down for the count (again... poor head injury boy, I'm surprised he can still speak at this rate) and Dean's face to face with Amara. This is a Beren's script so I hope that there will be all kinds of complex confrontations and that we are given a better idea about what Amara and Dean's actual connection is. I haven't really seen all of the "Dean's acting off" that other people are commenting on. In fact, I thought Sam seemed to be reacting more than Dean did. Sam's comment about "this feeling in the pit of my stomach" was said right before we knew Amara was very near the boys. I wonder if they are both aware of her on some level. I don't want a Soulless Dean storyline. Been there, done that, they won't take Dean where he need to go, so lets just not go there shall we?. I woudl like it if Dean is connected through the mark though. If he's conflicted... doing what's right vs. an almost trancelike affect that Amara has on him? We haven't seen that before. That would be cool. Then Dean would really have to dig deep to find his inner strength to fight the affect she has on him and to kill someone/thing he doesn't want to. That could be a great storyline!
sylvia37
# sylvia37 2015-11-06 12:18
Yeah, I saw those pictures too. I have to say that it looks like Sam will be out for the count while Dean has his confrontation which means Sam won't hear any of it. Seems to happen quite often throughout the show. I will be disappointed if they go the soulless route. Especially because I've been enjoying this season more than I have any other in years. One less than stellar episode out of five must be a record lately.
E
# E 2015-11-06 13:23
Yes... the "let's knock one character out so the other can have meaningfu coneversation and then be at liberty to keep it secret" trope; old and tired as it is. Le sigh. They used to do that all the time to Scully on X-Files to the point that it got to be absurd. Bobo is a good enough writer though to turn that on it's head, so lets hope he does or that he frames the whole situation in a way that's not overly conveeeeeenient .
sylvia37
# sylvia37 2015-11-06 18:27
I'm hoping it isn't what it looks like. Ha, I do remember Scully missing all of the pertinant information. It was so annoying, but then how were they going to keep her keep her sceptical if she saw everything that Mulder did? Anyway, I'm thinking that if Dean talks to Amara and she really tells him what's what, then unless he really wants to be more of a hypocrite then he already is, he will have to come clean with Sam. Or maybe Castiel will be there and hear and be able to tell Sam.
E
# E 2015-11-06 19:27
I hope you're right. Carver said that the boys would be on the same page "ish." It's that ish that's got me worried.
njspnfan
# njspnfan 2015-11-06 11:43
Nice review, Alice. I liked this one a lot; Nancy Won clearly did her homework going in, and hit a lot of the right notes.

Something is definitely off about Dean, not in a Soulless Sam sort of way but something is definitely off. Leads me to wonder how Dean will react when he/they encounter Amara.

Finally, a question that might ruffle some feathers - I think there's a noticeable improvement in the storytelling this season; do you think this has anything to do with Bob Singer stepping down as co-showrunner and Jeremy Carver having a bigger say in what we see on screen? You have a much better grasp on the behind the scenes politics and was wondering about your take on this.
E
# E 2015-11-06 12:03
Oooh, that's a good question. I too am noticing a marked difference. I really appears as though there is a plan in place and that each writer is expected to address certain issues in their scripts. Even the wretched episode 3 (I've already forgotten the title! Paint it Man's Best Friend? No...Shut Up Taxi Driver? ... no, no......?) addressed Cas's affliction, what Rowena has been up to and some not very interesting stuff about Amara. Things seem tighter, more considered, better organized. I guess time will ultimately tell, but last several years's episode 5 was total and unrealted filler for the most part. Clearly epside 6 also appears to be myth arc related. I am all for it, I am loving this season so much more than any other since Carver took over.
YellowEyedSam
# YellowEyedSam 2015-11-06 13:12
Perhaps this season's plot will shift mid season like it did in S6. :D
E
# E 2015-11-06 13:24
A plot shift of the yellow eyed variety? :P
YellowEyedSam
# YellowEyedSam 2015-11-06 16:08
*grins* :D
LEAH
# LEAH 2015-11-06 12:08
Good debut for Nancy Won. Enjoyable episode. It hit the right notes and flowed well, had the mytharc folded into it. I am enjoying that aspect. Sometimes in the past they had theses horrible things hanging over their heads, world ending things, and they would up and go on a Mow episode where it never gets mentioned. My favorite line was Sam saying he just wanted to see if the squeezy thing worked while Dean stood annoyed at the fresh infusion of Grandma perfume. The look on Sam's face was great. I wouldn't grade it quite that high. Even though it does hold up better than many of the episodes the last few years. I will give it a B- if I am comparing it to the best episodes in the series. Thanks for the review Alice I enjoyed it.
E
# E 2015-11-06 13:28
I loved that "squeezy" line too. Every time I see an atomizer I have a nearly overwhelming urge to squeeze the squeezy part even if the bottle is empty... even if it's full of perfume that smells like bug spray! Supernatural has been missing these funny little one liners lately. It makes the boys look so human and endearing; it makes them so relatable. Loved it.
LEAH
# LEAH 2015-11-06 13:51
I love those little moments so much more than the frat boy/pop culture humor we get sometimes from writers trying too hard to be cute.
sylvia37
# sylvia37 2015-11-06 18:28
She really did do her homework. Their humor was really natural and not forced.
YellowEyedSam
# YellowEyedSam 2015-11-06 13:11
Quote:
Sam confessed to getting a pit in his stomach every time he thinks of her. I sense his visions (and their source) are creating that foreboding.
Maybe it was because he was infected. He felt that darkness once, and thinking of her reminds him of that evil.
Barbara Maake
# Barbara Maake 2015-11-06 14:45
YES, that is a really intriguing thought that hadn't occurred to me. I've been so busy enjoying the episodes that I forgot that we still don't know what was the purpose of those people being infected. That would be really cool if, by virtue of having been infected, Sam has some enhanced awareness of the D. So many cool directions the story could go in this year, for BOTH brothers. I LOVE it!
YellowEyedSam
# YellowEyedSam 2015-11-06 16:08
I hope that purpose involves an evil Sam :D

Maybe those infected can relapse? I mean angels possess you and leave grace, so maybe being infected by the Darkness leaves something else behind ;)
Barbara Maake
# Barbara Maake 2015-11-06 16:28
I am loving how the brothers are enjoying each other's company and teasing each other and joking around. But an ep or two of Sam going full-blown darkside would certainly have its pleasures!
YellowEyedSam
# YellowEyedSam 2015-11-06 17:49
Why wait when you can write it? Thats what I say :D
Jen
# Jen 2015-11-06 19:09
Hi Ladies That is the first thing I noticed when I was watching I thought to myself Why do they look so surprised !!! You can hear a gun shot in the background but so much was going on that it was hard to follow. Usually you would get a idea as to where the bullet went so you could then tell how close the person (Sam) was to being shot . We know Amara may be protecting Dean (they made a very big point of showing us those articles in Baby) I believe Amara helped put them there. But we don't know what Amara thinks of Sam yet. They are really playing this season like a real mystery Which I Love to Hate because I can't work anything out ............ sob sob :(:(:(:(:(:(
Barbara Maake
# Barbara Maake 2015-11-06 20:04
Hi Jen. I think you meant to respond to Cheryl's post, but you can add me to those who were perplexed by the blatant reaction of the characters to the gunshot. The way Sam hesitated to get up I was sure he'd been hit. It did seem odd that they made such a point of having us believe that Sam had been shot. I tried to think of a reason but came up blank. Unless they are going to reveal that Amara had a hand in protecting him. Maybe that's how she will try to win Dean over, by informing him that she was the one who protected Sam. It's my current theory, anyway! My theories change every other day. But I agree that it's really nice that they are keeping us guessing. That in itself is a throwback to the earlier seasons when plot details were slowly doled out over the course of one or more seasons.
BoGirle
# BoGirle 2015-11-06 21:17
I was confused by the gunshot as well, and maybe we'll hear more about it. It could have been just the way that scene was set and/or directed. Still, I would be kind of disappointed to find out that Amara is protecting both Sam and Dean...it' kind of takes away from Billie's threat about them going to the nothing, which really added some tension to the brother's fight.
AlyCat22
# AlyCat22 2015-11-07 02:19
I'd have to rewatch it but when I initially saw the scene it looked as if she shot just as Len was sticking the ax in her back which caused her to jerk and pull the barrel changing the trajectory of the bullet. Or shell. Was it a rifle? I thought that Sam was checking himself out in such an odd manner, kind of in disbelief, because of the way he had just scraped by and wanted to make absolutely sure he wasn't hit.
njspnfan
# njspnfan 2015-11-07 12:28
just rewatched it; looked as though Len axed Sydney in the back just as Sydney was firing the shotgun and Sam was ducking so I'm not sure if this was Amara intervening, or plain old dumb luck.
cheryl42
# cheryl42 2015-11-06 14:12
Thank you Alice for your review. I really liked this one too. Nancy Won must have binge watched the show (maybe she has been a fan all along) because she seemed to get it. She seemed to get the bond between the brothers and the banter that we love. Also she remembered the myth arc and wrapped it up in a mystery that was well told. All the guest actors took their parts seriously (probably because they had some good dialog to play off of). Len kind of broke my heart. He was sweet. I hope he is going to recover his soul when Amara is eventually dealt with (I'm sure a good lawyer can help him get out of jail).
There was a moment that I couldn't tell what exactly was happening though. When Sydney fired the gun Sam checked himself out because it looked like he couldn't believe he hadn't been shot. The look on Dean's face looked like he couldn't believe it either. At first I thought that maybe there had been some "divine" intervention. Like maybe Sam was going to be as protected as Dean by some other force (I'm not sure it was Baby that kept all those items Dean needed to escape. It might have been Amara? Protecting Dean from harm.) But it could have been Sam was just surprised and so was Dean. Thoughts?
Pretty good start for the season so far. The best in a long time.
njspnfan
# njspnfan 2015-11-06 18:19
cheryl42 - I wasn't sure about it and wanted to rewatch but it also looked to me as though Sam was surprised he wasn't shot, as was Dean.
Gwen
# Gwen 2015-11-07 06:06
Great episode. Loved the brotherly banter/relation ship in this episode, the squeezy bottle moment was so cute. It was a good mix of MOTW and mytharc and it even had some creepy moments. This writer seems to get both brothers and both brothers were involved in the storyline which I very much appreciated.
I adored Len, he was a fabulous side character who pretty much broke my heart. I'd love to see him back again, hopefully he can get his soul back one day.
I'm looking forward to Ms Won's next episode, she's already one of my favourite writers. :)