I get it, not every episode can be an epic winner, especially with a 23 episode season, but really? When the show has so much momentum right now we get this?  In the words of Sheriff Donna, “You betcha.”   

I shouldn’t be so harsh though, because “Plush” was not a total waste.  Sure, the script was.  It was a total disaster.  Penned by writers Eric Charmelo and Nicole Snyder, the script was littered with bad jokes, horrible dialogue, agonizingly slow pacing, and plenty of opportunities lost for anyone that loves the CSI classic, “Fur and Loathing.”   The things they could have done!  But yeah, instead we got a wimpy, mostly filler ghost tale about what happens when a grown man likes to dress in animal and clown costumes.  Bad things people.  Bad things.

The Good Parts  

If anything, “Plush” is a directing and editing achievement.  It’s one thing to have well designed creepy animal and clown costumes, but it’s another to use tricks like lingering camera shots for a few extra seconds on the masks, decorated with blood spatter and big bright eyes, and turn something so innocent and childlike into something very terrifying.  Tim Andrew found all the right beats to take something so weak on paper and deliver the intended horror through stunning visual cues.  Horror isn’t meant to be a quick “Hassan Chop!” and then the victim dies like so many teasers on this show.  It’s the psychological fear generated in the moment before that. This episode soared that department, giving it a true season one feel when the horror element was the main focus.  

Two scenes really stand out for me.  First is in the jail when Sam, Dean and Donna were staring down the demented bunny; motionless, expressionless, silently taking bad jokes from Sam and Dean (especially Sam, that Who Framed Roger Rabbit? reference was a stinker!).  No matter what they tried, the shot kept moving in closer and staying longer on that bunny face.  That extra-long pause near the end was just enough time to get hairs to stand on the back of the neck.  

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The second was Sam vs. demented clown in the elevator.  That could have easily turned into a meta parody, aka “Plucky Pennywhistle’s,” but no, they managed to take a well known comical Sam phobia and turn it into something truly scary!  It’s about freaking time.  It starts on a funny note, with the clown stepping into the elevator with Sam and Sam’s mortified face behind him.  But the clown turns around to face him, giving him that creepy blank stare from the mask.  Sam maintains calm on the outside but we can see that internal freakout as he realizes what’s happening when he sees the bloody scalpel in his hand.  That long pause is terrifying!  Kudos for the choice to lose the omnious score and use the elevator music to sell the scene for just the right amount of tension.  It takes a few seconds, but a frozen Sam evenutally pulls it together and the confrontation begins.  



The Okay

I love the character of Sheriff Donna and I’m glad that they’ve been finding ways for her to return.  Three outings now though and she hasn’t really been given a strong story.  If anything, her adventure in last season’s “Hibbing, 911” was much stronger that this week’s.  I’m definitely not okay with her having relationship issues with fellow cops each time we see her and Sam and Dean discussing these items with her like they’re all a bunch of school girls.  These are not the guys that should be giving relationship advice! 



Donna was given one big chance to shine though, as strangely surreal as it was.  While I really felt Donna’s remorse over killing the innocent 19 year old kid that was possessed by the bunny head, some of the impact was decimated by the fact that freaking creepy bunny head was sitting on the ground staring at them.  I kept screaming, “Burn the damn head already!”  I watch this show, it’s hard to enjoy a tender scene when you’re expecting the damn ghost to show up behind them and fling them across the field.  But hey, Charmelo and Snyder were nice enough to do that to Sam later with an even weirder deer head.   
  

I’m not a fan of “buffoon” comedy, aka acting like a total idiot around someone you like.  So I really didn’t enjoy Donna being all weird in front of Doug.  She wasn’t being herself!  Come on girl, stand tall and proud and show this man the kind of kick ass yet beautiful woman you are.  There, that’s the advice Sam should have given.  But I did love how Donna was welcomed into the official "hunter" club.  Yeah, three cases, she does deserve this.  You go girl!  

There is one clear path we’re on though and it’s a divide between Sam and Dean.  I accept it is a setup for episodes to come, but I didn’t like the standard cliché of Sam presenting a problem and Dean shutting him down.  I thought they had gotten past that.  But “round and round they go” is one of the basic rules of filler, so here we are. 

Sam is really struggling with his visions of the cage and he should be.  He’s starting to wonder if it means that going back there is how they can stop Amara.  He can’t make any sense of it and Dean isn’t exactly helping with the, “We’ll deal with it ourselves” attitude.  I don’t believe he’s getting the visions from God either, but how is ignoring the problem helping?  Dean’s reasoning is correct, dealing with the cage is suicide, but how can Sam ignore what’s popping in his mind at random moments (except for this week)?  Dean should know better, Sam never listens to him.  He’s not going to let this go.  This isn’t ancient history either.  Has Dean forgotten what Sam did to get the MOC removed despite his objections?  For Sam’s own safety, Dean better stay involved.  I wonder if Dean would ignore the visions if the shoe was on the other foot.  He’d probably reach out to Castiel, which is EXACTLY what Sam should be doing right now.  

The Bad Parts

Well, that’s just about everything else, but it’s mostly the script.  Because of the serialized nature of this season (and the show in general), a show is not only judged on its standalone prowess, but it’s fit with the mytharc as well.  This episode failed on both counts.  Something I praised last week was immediately dropped this week, Sam’s new found commitment to save people.  I’m okay with Amara taking a break this week, but considering that Sam’s visions ended up taking a small focus this week, wouldn’t an actual vision been nice?  

The pacing of the story was awful.  There’s one thing that happens in rudimentary (or desperate) television scripts that just drives me nuts.  The long, drawn out, weepy expositional scene that tells the compelling story.  Except it ends up being a hack fest in terms of acting, it’s a waste of your main characters’ time because they have to just stand there and do nothing through all this, and the story ends up being horribly uninteresting and/or anti-climactic.  When that happened with the victim’s sister in the house, I had horrible flashbacks to the worst SPN expositional scene of all time, the vomit worthy racism tale in “Route 666.”  The VFX was even worse though on the bridge scene in this house.   

The tension triggers in the story were awful too and played with stereotypes  way too often.  For one, haven’t we resolved the weight issue with Sheriff Donna?  Come on, she’s been in three episodes now.  It made sense in the first episode since she was at a health spa but it should have died there.  By now, it’s very irritating and a disrespect to a good character.  Second, these shallow yahoos killed a guy because they thought that wearing an animal costume and interacting with their kids, which was basically his job, was inappropriate?  And the sister agreed because she has a kid too and what if they’re right?  What???  I’ve got a better idea to fix this problem.  Send the guy to Las Vegas for a Plushies and Furries convention so he can interact with adults of his kind.  Its better that way. 

Aside the fact that this sorry plot made these secondary characters faceless, shallow, and unsympathetic for no good reason, the concept was lost that if you’re going to flirt with the issue of pedophilia, don’t tip toe.  Either tackle it head on or just don’t go there.  Anything less is a total waste of our time. 

Then there’s just the little things you notice that make things very annoying.  The Sam Winchester head wound count just keeps going up.  In this episode, Sam was knocked out twice within a span of five minutes.  Time for more angel healings because how else is he not having neurological episodes?  How about the really bad jokes?  I mean REALLY bad.  I was half expecting someone in an animal costume to come out and hit them on the head with a rubber chicken (Monty Python reference).  Then there’s the return of “dumb brother” syndrome.  Since when does Sam do such a private moment as praying to God with his bedroom door open?  So the writers can get their awkward brotherly moment?  Sam isn’t that careless. 

Stray Thoughts



“Fat sucker Donna?”  Really Sam?  I wonder if when thinking about calling you, she says, “Hairy Jackass Moose.”  

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How in the world could Dean fire a shotgun in a police station and not be swarmed by officers in seconds?  Wow, those are some really deep budget cuts.  

Speaking of Dean, he’s still not acting quite right, is he?  He’s still way too edgy for me.  There’s a theory floating around that he’s soulless and trying to cover.  A topic about that was started on our Discussion Page.  If you have an opinion on this, do share!  

http://www.thewinchesterfamilybusiness.com/lets-discuss/dean-and-his-soul


Overall grade, a C.  It goes to prove with the right direction and costumes, a story can be lifted with a terrible script.  Coming up next, a funny episode written by Jenny Klein (whose biggest influence is Ben Edlund) and directed by Richard Speight, Jr.  Next week is a Thanksgiving week break though, so check out some of the gems we’ve already gotten this season.  I plan on giving “Baby” another watching or two.  What’s your Season 11 favorite?