(This originally appeared on blogcritics.org back in November, 2008. Since then Blogcritics has deleted the entire archive of articles that I wrote for them, so I'm reposting those reviews here. Enjoy!)
What a concept! A horror show where one of the main characters accurately states, “For us everyday is Halloween,” opts to do a Halloween themed episode. Considering the Halloween season is a disastrous time in the Winchester family history, why not dress up the fact that this year isn’t proving to be any better for the brothers?
“It’s The Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester” paid fitting homage to the teenage slice and dice horror flicks of the 1980’s. You know, those countless films in which Halloween urban legends were depicted with horrifying gore (like razor blades in the candy) and enough campy teen kills during bad parties to make us wonder how a town didn’t notice the sudden drop in the teenage population. Maybe the motivation behind following that formula in this week’s episode was to confuse enough channel flippers into thinking they were watching Halloween (insert your terrible horror movie here).
What a concept! A horror show, in which one of its main characters accurately states “Everyday of our lives is Halloween,” opts to do a Halloween themed episode. Considering the Halloween season is a disastrous time in the Winchester family history, why not dress up the fact that this year isn’t proving to be any better for the brothers?
“It’s The Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester” paid a fitting homage to the “teenage slice and dice” horror flicks of the 1980’s. You know, those countless films in which Halloween urban legends were depicted via standard horrifying gore (like razor blades in the candy) and enough campy teenage kills during bad parties that made us wonder how a town didn’t notice the sudden drop in the teenage population. Maybe the hope this year was that by following that formula, this week’s Supernatural episode could confuse enough channel flippers into thinking they were watching Halloween (insert your terrible horror movie here).
Oh, but we knew it was a Supernatural episode. Plenty of the same elements with which we’ve grown familiar are there. Sam and Dean again play FBI agents with the rock and roll names. This week Agent Seeger (as in Bob), and Agents Geddy and Lee (lead singer of Rush for those who aren’t educated in such things) were accept by unsuspecting authorities without question. That’s the second shout-out to Rush this week by the way, for their popular song “Tom Sawyer” played an important role in the crucial scene of Monday’s Chuck and it was awesome.
The MO starts the same as well. Suspicious kill, hex bag, investigate the lore, give Sam a few minutes of his usual lecturing mode to educate us on said lore, and of course, they talk to the witnesses. It wasn’t until the angels showed up that this episode took a different turn.
If this episode will be remembered for anything, it will be the stunning exorcism scene near the end in which Sam pushes his abilities to new agonizing limits to rid the world of Samhain, all while Dean watches with the most heart-crushing look of sadness and concern. Sure, having Castiel and new angel in this episode was a major bonus, and it’s great to see just how un-fluffy they are, but they were there only observers, which kind of weakened their presence.
NOW: Shadow of a man running in the night. The slow pan upward reveals our frightened victim to be none other than Dean Winchester. He’s huffing and puffing, and streaking as if his life depends on it. He turns his head, and nothing is there but the sounds of hellhounds on his tail.
He looks back, runs faster, the music of tension rises as he turns the corner, and he runs into a pile of garbage. He warns the vagabond nearby, “Run, he’ll kill you!” The man looks down and the camera follows his gaze downward to: A Yorkie? With an aborable pink bow? Dean’s eyes widen in terror and he runs again, screaming off camera while the little critter scatters across the wide shot in pursuit.
Birds of the apocalypse aren’t freaking me out right now, for I’m too busy protecting my sides from busting open. What a setup! They got me, ha ha ha. Good joke guys. That’s better than the homicidal bunny in Monty Python and The Holy Grail.
43 hours earlier and there’s that black beauty. I love how many Impala glory shots we’ve been getting lately. They’re doing the FBI thing again this week, and its agents Tyler and Perry! One of the best concerts I ever saw was Aerosmith, and that’s when they were supporting that very bad album, “Pump”. I don’t like Sam in an ugly red striped tie. Dean’s blue striped one though is very nice. As they look over the dead victim of the week, they discover there’s no autopsy, so Dean demands one. Be careful what you wish for!
Cue the squeamish Winchesters and shouldn’t they be used to this by now? Come on Sam, you cut off a guy’s head in a slow decapitation with razor wire once. You both have seen mangled corpses a variety of ways, and you can’t take a little autopsy? As for me, I’m squeamish from the first cut of the chest. I usually can handle all the icky scenes on CSI, but a deep slice into a fresh piece of flesh gets me every time.
Bravo to the sound guys for the perfect squishing effects as the doc cuts the ribs and yanks out the heart. Sam looks like he’s going to barf any second now. Man up! They notice the scratches on the arm, and now Dean is about to lose it as he holds the perfectly healthy heart. Sam laughs so you know it’s coming, he gets sprayed with spleen juice. Dean’s turn to laugh. You think they’ll be able to share this story someday with the grandchildren?
They see the sheriff, and in keeping with the pending “fear” theme he’s a germaphobe. Nice. We get dead guy Frank’s back story. They were “Gamecocks” (softball team Dean, get your mind out of the gutter). They’re majestic animals? They’re bred for cockfighting and “exhibition” purposes (since cockfighting is illegal). I go to the Ohio State Fair every year, and roosters in poopy cages don’t look that majestic to me.
The sheriff said he was a good man. ”Big heart,” Dean replies. Ha, I told you he’d never forget that. The sheriff wants to know why the Feds are involved, but they brush him off. “Just a heart attack.” Dean says. Next frame, “No way that was a heart attack.” Dean’s lying skills are still intact, for now. The premise is laid out; three victims, same red scratches, all went from jittery, to terrified to dead within 48 hours. Time to visit the neighbor, but not before Dean avoids a harmless group of teenagers hanging out by the Impala. Sam stares at him in what becomes the start of a long string of perplexed and flabbergasted gazes. Jared pulled out the facial acting manual on this one, and what he does works great every time.
They meet with the neighbor, who picks up that Tyler and Perry are just like Aerosmith. For those keeping score, that’s only happened one other time, in “Scarecrow” when the man picked up on Dean’s John Bonham alias. Sam has a quick dismissal “Yeah small world.” He’s actually right. My husband recently had to work with a pair of men named “Tom and Jerry.” I laughed every time I heard about it.
There are reptiles everywhere and a massive python around the neighbor’s neck. Dean looks like a mom dragged reluctantly into the reptile building at the Columbus Zoo by a six year old child. The neighbor recounts the dead guy was freaking out over witches. Sam wants specifics. “The Wizard of Oz was on the other night, and he said that green bitch is totally out to get him.”You asked! Everything scared him. Al Qaeda, ferrets, artificial sweetener, pez dispensers with those dead little eyes? Frank was a bully in high school, but got better. Plus he was a mess after what happened to his wife 20 years ago. This is all revealed while Dean is turning white over a lizard in a cage.
Dean freaks out over the python now, and we hear the best pet snake names ever. ”Don’t be scared of Donny, he’s a sweetheart. It’s Marie you’ve got to look out for. She smells fear.” Dean now huffs in controlled fright as a HUGE yellow python comes up behind him and slithers down his leg. His eyes roll like he’s going to pass out. Too bad the camera didn’t cut to Sam’s expression, for that had to be good. (Edited - Actually, I heard a story that Jared was so freaked out by the snakes he had to go off camera when they were shooting that. So, that's why there's no expression.)
Dean is in the Impala, scratching his arm. Yeah, we already figured out he’s the next victim. Dean found out Frank’s wife Jessie committed suicide twenty years ago while Sam found nothing. Dean drives and Sam is now concerned because he’s going 20 mph, the speed limit. Then Dean misses the turn for the hotel. ”I’m not going to make a left turn in oncoming traffic. I’m not suicidal.” Then the EMF goes off, spiking whenever Sam points it at Dean. ”Am I haunted?” Dean asks in panic. Guess so.
Now for the scene that started this whole “Supernatural Surprise” stuff over the last few weeks, and it’s what we’ve already seen from the preview clips. Dean’s in the Impala jamming to “Eye of The Tiger”. More coming later. Sam hears the music while carrying a box of donuts. He walks over with confusion, using another one of those many faces. His reactions so far are better than weepy and distraught from previous episodes.
Sam has a theory, tells Dean he’s not going to like it, and then thinks about saying something when Dean takes the donuts and throws them in the car. We get it, something is VERY wrong. It’s ghost sickness! Dean plays along with fear, than admits he has no idea what that is. ”Okay, some cultures believe that certain spirits can infect the living with a disease which is why they stopped displaying bodies in houses and started taking them off to funeral homes.” Oh Sam and his supernatural encyclopedia of weirdness.
They surmise he caught it from Frank’s body. So why did Dean catch it and not Sam? Since the next exchange raised way too much controversy, so I’m going to insert a new word for “dick” because it’s proven to be distracting from the real point. Here’s the EXACT transcript (minus the D word):
Sam: Yeah, um, Bobby and I have a theory about that too. Turns out all three victims shared a certain personality types. Frank was a bully. The other two victims, one was a vice principal the other was a bouncer.
Sam: Basically they were all *abrasive*.
Dean: So you’re saying I’m *rude*?
Sam: NO, NO, NO, IT’S NOT JUST THAT. ALL THREE VICTIMS USED FEAR AS A WEAPON, AND NOW THIS DISEASE IS JUST RETURNING THE FAVOR.
Dean: I don’t scare people
Sam: All we do is scare people.
Dean: Then you’re *inconsiderate* too.
Sam: Apparently I’m not.
Dean: Whatever. How do we stop it?
See how Dean moved on? See how he went onto the task at hand, which is finding the ghost that started all this? What bothered me about this scene wasn’t the use of that word. They didn’t go for the obvious theory about Sam. I wouldn’t have minded Dean saying, “I bet it’s your freaky demon blood thing.” Aside from that, Dean does use the tactic of intimidation far more than Sam. Anyway, those are all points that we must tuck away for use LATER in the episode.
Sam asks why he’s waiting out there. They’re on the fourth floor. It’s a little high. Dean’s fear of heights maintains continuity. ”Phantom Traveler” anyone? Sam humors him with another one of those faces and goes to get a room on the first floor. Dean shifts his eyes in paranoia, goes back into the safe haven of the Impala and then turns his nose up at the donuts. Man, is the boy sick or what?
The next scene tells us how bad he really is. Dean hears the tick of the clock, which sounds like a heartbeat. Important for later. He reads the book about ghost sickness and it taunts him. Words jump out like “You’re dying”, “Again”, “Loser”, “You gonna cry?” and “baby gonna cry?” Quite a dickish book, isn’t it? Oops, sorry, *insensitive*. The clock gets louder and more intense, and then there’s a smash. I grew up with one of those sunburst clocks in my basement, and I wanted to smash it after a while just because it was ugly and outdated. I don’t blame Dean.
Sam sees the clock on the floor, announces Jessie is not their ghost, and tells Dean to quit picking at his arm. Ha! Sam has to play responsible adult for once. How many times did you want to slap your parents when they told you that? Dean can’t though because he starts to choke and out comes a wood chip with a symbol on it. Sam’s excited, Dean’s a clue. ”I don’t wanna be a clue,” Dean pouts.
All clues point to a lumber mill. I swear I’ve seen this place used on just about every show shot in Vancouver. The X-Files anyway. Dean’s scared out of his wit, and Sam diplomatically pulls the “I need backup” card. I don’t think he’s going to be much help here. Dean chugs whiskey while Sam looks at him like he’s insane, which he is. Dean finds an ounce of courage and opens the trunk. Sam goes for the weapons, gives Dean his, who refuses to take it. ”It might go off.” Sam is ready to kill him, but Dean cements his role. ”I’ll man flashlight.” Sam switches to humoring mode (more bitchfaces!) and they go on.
Sam with shotgun, Dean with flashlight check out the dark and dusty place. EMF goes off, but it’s Dean again, frustrated Sam to no end now. They find Frank’s wedding ring, so he’s been there. They never reveal what prompted Frank to go there recently, but I suppose I’m not dying to know either. Sam and Dean step carefully down the dark hall and hear rustling in a locker. Dean looks like he’s going to pee his pants. Sam goes for the locker, and quietly gives the cue.
One-two-three! Sam opens the door, cute kitten pops out, and Dean lets out a high pitched squeal that’s better than any screaming teenage girl in a Freddie Krueger film. He shrieks a few times, and the look on his face is better than the scream. Girly man! Sam’s really disturbed now, and while Dean recovers (that was scary!), Sam in full bitchface walks quickly off the camera. I suspect it’s because Jared had to get leave fast because he was having trouble holding back laughter. He looked like he was going to crack at any second. This was also the moment that thousands of DVRs everywhere started going back and forth countless times, triggering much peril from an overload of hysterics.
Next room and Dean accidently rips a picture of Jessie. Equipment randomly starts, ghost appears, who we know since Sam just found his id is Luther Garland. Dean freaks out at the sight, Sam raises gun, and turns to see Dean running like the cowardly lion. Another Wizard of Oz reference! Sam shakes his head in disbelief, fires the shotgun, ghost goes poof. Dean’s at the back of the Impala chugging the rest of the whiskey. Sam joins him and announces they have the right place, but Dean isn’t happy about that. They might actually have to k..kk”¦killthe ghost! (Yes, that’s the worst written Shaggy impersonation ever).
Back at the sheriff’s office in the suits and their ties are reversed! Sam looks oh so pretty in blue, while the red striped one does nothing for Dean. No matter, for the deputy notices Dean weaving and asks if he’s drunk. Watching Dean in the background plastered is so amusing we don’t pay attention to what important questions Sam’s asking. Dean in a slurred voice tells the deputy he’s awesome, and we see Sam reach in from outside the frame and drag him away. Next is the sheriff, steel wool, and bloody flesh. Yeah, not the combination I wanted to see.
At an assisted living center, Dean is paranoid about lying that they’re FBI guys. Sam really should have left Dean behind by now. They show their ids, and Dean acts as guilty as a lying two year old while Sam uses the clearing of the throat and the foot stomp to get him to shut up. This scene is one of the weaker spots of the episode, for it involves the long drawn out telling of tragic tale. They did this in “Route 666” and man did it suck. This didn’t suck as bad, but the anvil like comparisons can’t be avoided.
Old man reminisces and the ghost (Luther) was a gentle yet misunderstood freak for a man. Another comparison to Sam perhaps? What happened to the days when the monster was just very bad? Luther had a crush on Jessie and was killed by Frank because of fear and misunderstanding. Sam listens to the tale with that out of control hair and those dewy eyes of sympathy, while Dean manages to control his angst to take in the story, but he’s rattled by it. ”That’s fear. It spreads and spreads.”
It all makes sense to Dean now, he’s getting Luther’s road rash and the swallowed wood chips. Dean is experiencing his death in slow motion. They can’t burn the bones either, because Luther was roadhauled and his body is all over the road.
Time for Jensen to go all out, channeling his best Bette Davis (insert your own Oscar winning actress here) and pushing Dean into a grand diva diatribe with flying colors. Oh my God! To be a writer penning that speech! He must have studied every dramatic Hollywood script over the last 50 years and picked the most over the top moments. I’ll just write it all down. It’s that good.
“You know what screw this”¦What are we doing? (Sam: We’re hunting a ghost). A ghost? Exactly, who does that”¦Us right, and that’s exactly why our lives suck. I mean come on, we hunt monsters. What the Hell? I mean normal people they see a monster and run but not us no, no, no, we search out things that want to kill us, yeah huh, or eat us! You know who does that? Crazy people. We are insane. And then there’s the bad diner food and, and the skeevy motel rooms and the truck stop waitress with the bizarre rash, I mean who wants this life Sam, huh, seriously? Do you actually like being stuck in the car with me eight hours a day every single day? I don’t think so. I mean I drive too fast and I listen to the same five albums over and over and over again and I sing along and I’m annoying I know that and you, you’re gassy. You eat half a burrito and you get toxic and I mean you know what (tosses Sam the keys), you can forget it”¦Stay away from me Sam okay, because I am done with it. I am done with the monsters and and and the hellhounds and the ghosts sickness and the damn apocalypse. I’m out, I’m done, I quit.”
Sam lets out the most appropriate grunt of frustration and by the stunned look on his face, he’s just figured out how bad this is. Dean leaves, hears a growl and the fun music from other episodes plays. There’s our homicidal Yorkie. She means business!
Back at the motel room a traumatized Dean tries to recover from his dog ordeal. Sam comes in relieved to see him, but it’s all gloom for Deano. There’s less than four hours on the clock. ”I’m gonna die Sammy.” ”Yeah, you are.” Sam replies, all cold and wicked. ”You’re going back.” Dean is confused. ”Downstairs Dean, Hell.” What’s interesting is the picture and sound only get distorted from this point forward. So, did Sam really say those things or was it Dean’s hallucination? Who knows, but the mind games are fun!
The rest is definitely a hallucination, and the other “Yellow Fever” is revealed. Sam confesses it’ll be a relief. Yellow eyes flash and he says Dean has been a pain in his side. Dean jumps, Sam uses the hand of doom to throw him against a wall. This may be a hallucination, but I’ve always wanted to see that. I’m going to consider this wish granted! Dean thinks Sam is possessed, but Sam sets the record straight. ”No one’s possessing me Dean. This is what I’m going to become. This is what I want to become. There’s nothing you can do about it.” He flashes yellow eyes and starts choking Dean. Loud heartbeats again, but then the real Sam snaps Dean out of it. Awesome!
I’ve said it before, I’ve said it again. I adore this show’s ability to jump from very funny to very chilling in a heartbeat. As all of you have probably guessed, evil Sam freaks me out. I think he’s more frightening that any monster this show has produced. To see that part of Sam buried deep in Dean’s subconscious and now I’m really scared for him. Poor Dean! If that’s what’s in his head, no wonder he’s frightened of Sam and what’s inside him. What’s even more surprising is part of him thinks Sam will want to become evil. That’s disturbing.
It’s Bobby! My offers still stands, BTW Mr. Kripke. I’m still willing to come out to Vancouver and paint Bobby’s Chevelle. Better yet, make it a fan contest. Sam now has wisely left Dean behind, saying he’s “home sick.” Bobby hands Sam a book in Japanese, and we learn Bobby can read that too! Hebrew, Latin, Aramaic, and now Japanese? Not bad for a junk dealer. I guess that makes sense for anyone that reads Dilbert, since the smartest guy in that strip is the garbage man. Bobby found the ghost they’re looking for a Boru Boru. I have no idea if I spelled that right, and Google search is coming up empty too. This spirit is born of fear, so they can kill it with fear. Sam asks, “How in the world are we going to do that?” Come on Sam, you’re supposed to be the smart one.
Sam and Bobby here were both very calm even though Dean had two hours to live. It was all business. Bobby is usually cool under pressure, but to see him and Sam both in this mode, it was strange. Not that it didn’t make sense. Since they both already lived the horror of Dean dying and going on without him it’s understandable, but very interesting to see.
Sam calls Dean, who’s disturbed by a Gumby episode. I’d be disturbed and I don’t even have ghost sickness. Sam assures him everything will be okay, they have a plan. He hangs up, and Bobby quips “this is a terrible plan”. Sam can’t argue, but he asks if Bobby has anything better. Bobby admits defeat and Sam goes into the sawmill alone.
Back to Dean, who hears the hellhounds, but the sheriff busts through the door instead. He thinks Dean is out to get him, and Dean sees the bloody arms and concludes he’s sick. They fight, and fight, and fight and fight and fight, and then Dean watches the sheriff have his heart attack o’ death. Yep Dean, you’re next.
Luther won’t come after Sam so he realizes he has to make Luther mad. He starts tearing up the pictures of Jessie. You know, the 20 year old ones in an abandoned mill that are in decent shape. The equipment goes off, and Luther creeps up behind Sam. Damn, Luther is huge! He’s much bigger than our Sasquatch. He one ups you in the freak category Sammy.
Back to Dean, the sound of heartbeats getting louder, he’s scratching his arm and losing it. He hears Sam’s voice “you’re going back, and it’s about damn time too” coupled with an evil laugh. Man is he messed up. Or maybe not! He clutches onto a bible and he closes his eyes like he’s silently praying. Wow, that’s awesome! Dean finds faith after all. Let’s hope that was for real and not part of his complete out of character behavior.
It’s not enough though, for evil little girl from “No Rest For The Wicked” arrives to play the role of Lilith. She tells him it’s time to go back now. No surprise that this is Dean’s deepest fear. It should be! Dean says she isn’t real, but he’s not doing a great job of convincing himself. ”Four months is like forty years in Hell. Like doggy years. And you remember every second.” What’s terrible is judging by Dean’s look he does remember, and that’s when the heart attack starts to hit him. Okay, I’m definitely freaked out now.
Dean still goes for the “you’re not real” thing, but Lilith taps into that thought too. ”You’re still gonna die. You’re still gonna burn.” PAY ATTENTION RIGHT HERE. ”Why me, why’d I get infected?” Deans asks AND LILITH REPLIES, “Silly goose, you know why Dean. Listen to your heart.” She chants these annoying ba-booms and we go back to Sam who’s getting his ass kicked by a gigantic ghost. Back to the ba-booms which are getting louder, and then back to Sam who pulls a chain out of the dust and wraps it around Luther’s head. He yells to Bobby to punch it and Bobby’s behind the wheel of the Impala. He drives it! How cool is that?
Luther gets dragged behind the Impala just like before, and we cut between that and Lilith shouting her annoying ba-booms even louder. Then she pushes Dean over the edge and his heart stops. No, Dean! A few seconds later Luther disappears into dust and Dean gasps a huge breath, coming back from his brief moment of death. I wonder if he saw Hell again? A few seconds in Hell is like...oh never mind. His arms are okay, but he stays sprawled out on the floor of the motel, still too shaken. Something tells me some damage was done here.
Dean fetches beers out of the Impala and offers one to Bobby who refuses. I guess Bobby’s on the wagon after his four month long drinking binge. They cover the plan one more time, they had to roadhaul Luther again with an iron chain. Ghosts and their iron deficiencies. Sam asks Dean how he’s feeling, he says fine, but that was really a setup for Bobby and Sam to needle him about his little quitting speech. Dean gets all tough guy, and Sam says “Aww,” while Bobby claims he’s adorable. Bobby leaves, and as he goes there’s a gorgeous landscape shot of the green mountains in the background. Good thing this is supposedly Colorado. If this was Ohio again, that would have been awkward.
Sam asks Dean if what he saw. Dean plays it cool, only mentions the sheriff, then looks into Sam’s eyes and sees a flash of yellow. Holy crap! Wait, wasn’t the sickness, uh oh. Me thinks a deep seeded fear has surfaced. Or maybe that was for real? I’m sure that’s something we’re meant to find out in the future. ”Howlermonkeys,” Dean replies. I also suspect he was going to tell Sam the truth until he saw that flash of yellow.
“Nothing I couldn’t handle,” followed by a close up of the trademark Dean in avoidance look. We know that look, all tough on the outside, but there’s that little crack on the inside. He won’t be shaking that feeling anytime soon. For a scene that many dismissed as a throw away scene, this one had some major foreshadowing.
Oh, but wait! Bonus!! We are back to “Eye of The Tiger” and the fist pumps from the front seat of the Impala. ”Supernatural presents Jensen Ackles.” He pops up from the front seat, lip synching the words in perfect coordination. Jensen has obviously seen Survivor’s video to this several times, for he’s got several of the moves down to perfection. I barely hear Jared laughing in the background, because my laughter is drowning his out. Jensen climbs out of the Impala window, takes his place on the hood, and kills us with moves like pointing in the air, shooting the arms out to the side, and pointing at the eyes, a la bad music videos from the 1980’s. But then he adds his own bit, he plays his leg like a guitar! That’s a new one. Finally, he brings the first chorus home with the arms stretching out, exactly like the video. He gives a gorgeous smile over the huge applause and all that hype from the last few weeks was worth it. What a huge payoff! Bravo Jensen and he’s definitely got a great shot at a career as video rock star when his gig with Supernatural is done.
My grade overall on this one is an A-. Just like with “Mystery Spot” this was the perfect combination of humor, horror, and emotional drama, but this didn’t move as smoothly or was as cleanly executed. Still, it was a winner, and gave us some huge moments we’ll never forget. A++ for the music video though. Too priceless.
I have to admit, I had my doubts after watching the first time. It wasn't until after a re-watch the next day that this episode earned its favor with me. Maybe because the second time through I could sit down and actually pay attention to details. I should have learned by now that the only way to watch a Supernatural episode is to put the kids to bed, shut the dogs in the laundry room, unhook the phone, and shush the hubby.
"Long Distance Call" has many merits, but all in all, its purpose was to prepare us for what's to come in the final two episodes of the season. Fans were online very quick to point out massive character and plot inconsistencies, but on careful examination most of this episode made sense. In coming up with an analysis, I found this episode would better benefit from a different format. Instead of rehashing the episode like I've done previously, I'm going to list what I liked, what I disliked, and what things I need to keep in the back of my mind when watching the last two episodes of the season.
(This review was originally posted on Blogcritics.org. It is no longer on that site. A copy of the first page of the review can be found here, and it includes all the original comments. I'm reposting here to preserve my history of SPN reviews.).
Like many other fans, I settled on the couch Thursday evening eager for the harrowing drama that this week’s Supernatural promo hinted was coming. I got my wish right away, for the first shot is Dean in a suit, running in the dark of night with full blown terror, the howling of hellhounds on his trail. Oh no, what happened Dean? After warning a hobo of the danger that lurks, Dean’s eyes widen in terror as the creature has caught up with him. The camera pans down, and the identity of the said treacherous beast is revealed.
A Yorkie? With a cute pink bow? Dean runs, and the wide shot shows the little critter’s long scatter across the frame after him. I pause the TiVo to work in my fit of hysterical laughter, because comedy involving cute animals works with me and the joke is on me. They’ve pulled a prank and it’s a good one. A screwball comedy is coming, and what happens next is anyone’s guess.
That seems to be the mantra of season four; leave fans guessing. The first three season’s stories, formula, and overall construction followed a consistency that was entertaining, yet often predictable. None of that in season four. Each one of the six episodes aired so far has been architected and executed perfectly, managing to work in enough twists and heightened drama that has us a jittery mess until next week. Each episode supplies enough breadcrumbs for the trail to next episode, and with the potential path fresh in our minds, it twists in another direction we didn’t anticipate. Best start to a season ever.
I sat at the keyboard for a while Thursday night, jaw hung open, unable to type a single letter, not exactly how to review this episode. Sure, "Time On My Side" was pretty shocking, but the preview for the next week's season finale was what did it, turning me into an official mess until then. I eventually could only type expletives like "Wow!", "Whoa!", "Holy @#$*!", and then I screamed my fool head off and found I couldn't type that.
After a while, and another rewatch, I found the frame of mind to go on. But before I do, I need to get out of the way a happy announcement. In my previous articles about the online Supernatural fandom, I mentioned a fight by fans in Bulgaria to get Supernatural shown on TV there. I received word this week that the pilot episode aired there on May 7, and now Bulgarians get to experience the same joy we do. Congratulations to everyone at Supernatural BG Fans for their successful efforts.
There, I feel better. No actually... hold on... *rubs ears gently while humming to self in attempts to calm down*... Nope, it ain't working. This is the OMFG that the CW should have been promoting.
For the record, this is my first Supernatural live season finale. I didn't get into the show until the beginning of season three, so I was able to watch the past two cliffhangers back to back via DVD. This is my first summer of agony, and dammit, the pain is deep.
Dean died and went to Hell!!! Sam is more powerful than Lilith!!! Ruby is banished somewhere!!! Bobby is just plain awesome!!! You're all sick of the exclamation points!!! Okay, now that I'm calmer (breathe, breathe) I must take time to do the proverbial drop at the feet of the Kripster himself, the writer of this masterpiece, and bow down in his glory. This was better than his other scripts like "Devil's Trap", "In My Time of Dying", "All Hell Breaks Loose Part II", and "The Magnificent Seven" (okay, any script was better than that one).
All season, this show harped on the "Dean's going to Hell" story line, and we fans just assumed they would come up with a way to get him out of it. So, imagine our surprise when it actually happened. Kripke went there! You magnificent bastard. Sam didn't go darkside either and even the expected shot of Sam weeping over Dean's mangled corpse blew us away. Sure, there's that whole "˜Dean-hanging-on-a-hook-in-Hell-screaming-in-agony-Sam's-name' plot twist, but you wanted us to curse at you all summer, didn't you Mr. Kripke?
I have this vision that anytime Eric Kripke and Ben Edlund get in a room together and start sharing their ideas, everyone else backs away very slowly and leaves them alone. These two so far have produced such off the wall classics as “Hollywood Babylon”, “Bad Day At Black Rock”, and the most crazy of all experiments, “Ghostfacers”. Now we get another classic, and once again they have outdone their warped minds.
This time the gem is “Monster Movie”, a faithful and brilliant recreation of the campy horror films of the 1930’s. Dracula, The Werewolf, and The Mummy all appear like they never left, freaking out the modern day Sam and Dean plus a nice looking damsel in distress via the well overdone backdrop of Oktoberfest. Background themes in these films were never subtle and naturally the creative minds here went for the works.
In coming up with this review, I found it hard to give a critical opinion on the acting, writing, directing, and continuity in the traditional sense. Instead, I did my best to scrutinize the classic horror movie elements and determine how well the lofty visions were accomplished. Given the fact that I actually took one cinema appreciation class in college, I’m thinking I could pull such an analysis off.