Going into this episode, off a fantastic episode five and six, I was cautiously optimistic the trend of goodness would continue. And having seen the episode, I feel more comfortable saying that season seven is shaping up to be one of my favourite seasons so far. The Mentalists seemed like it would be more humour and mocking than anything but it had some real heart behind it as well.
Okay, there was one thing I really, really didn't like about this episode. The Then segment. Please, dear Supernatural overlords - can this be the last time we recap the Amy-death clip? The issue has been laid to rest and I'm tired of being beaten over the head by it.
Now, moving on to the rest of the episode - I loved it.
Lily Dale, New York
(Fun fact: Apparently, this is a real town that really does attract a high number of "psychics").
It's been a week and a half since the pier confrontation between Sam and Dean and we don't know what exactly Sam has been up to in that time, but clearly he hasn't come to terms with anything over that period. When the boys met up in the diner Sam pulled enough bitch-faces in that short scene to fill several episodes. It isn't surprising that they ran into one another there, they might not be speaking, or psychic, but they sure think alike at times. Wasn't it a great shout-out to Missouri and Pamela when Dean mentioned "real" psychics? I really like the throw-backs to days of yore that have populated season seven so far. It's a nice way to acknowledge the roots of the show and move forward without losing what made Supernatural, Supernatural.
The diner scene was full of fine moments that you couldn't help but laugh at. For one, the affirmation from the host to Dean, he is a "virile manifestation of the divine." It's interesting phraseology here, what with Dean being a vessel, raised from Hell by an angel, etc. But that aside, the overall effect was just funny. Then we have some great continuity in the nervous diner mentioning how much Sam and Dean "resemble" those "depraved killers" the Winchesters from two weeks back. How readily she accepts Sam's explanation that "they get that a lot" made me wonder if she wasn't doomed to be a red shirt in this episode. But no, she's just dippy for the fun. We'll later see her running a "pregnant yoga class" (a.k.a. Lamaze, Sam). Finally, we have Mr. "we can spot the law" Russian spoon bender who breaks poor Sammy's coffee stirring spoon. But hey, it's Lily Dale, after all.
"No Future Too Grim!"
Now we meet Melanie Goldy (played by the lovely Dorian Brown), the not-psychic who simply reads people (like the Mentalist, as I understand it) and can tell from Sam and Dean's body language that they are, respectively, pissed and stressed. I like Melanie. It's been a while since a one-off character in the MOTW storyline has appealed to me the way she did. Another recall back to season one and two when just about every week I cared about these types of characters and wished I could see them again.
Pawnshop guy Jimmy became a suspect in my book the second time Sam visited him, because he cooperated a bit too easy for my liking. In the first place when they visited Jimmy to fetch the necklace - Orb of Thesulah - I was too distracted by my excitement over this Buffy reference to be suspecting anyone. (Orb of Thesulah a.k.a. the key to re-souling the evil Angelus!) Of course, in this case it's a necklace made in Taiwan, rather than a mystical crystal ball being used as a paperweight by the librarian"¦sorry, wrong show.
"Probably should have bent those with the power of his mind."
Grandma Goldy and Amelda are soon joined by said spoon bender as victims of the crazed pawnshop owner and his pet ghost. When Mr. Russian picked up the fork and stares at its tines - I thought for sure that was going through his eye. I was wrong. Naturally, it's much more gruesome to drop his body on a number of upright utensils. Silly me.
"Family is a pain in the ass anyhow."
Camille (Rukiya Bernard) is another character that I was sorry to see meet an untimely death. When we meet her, she's putting on quite the show including a fake accent and her line about family seems apropos for Sam and Dean (and real life too, depending on the day). From her vision and security cameras, the boys are led to the Lily Dale Museum and to the Fox sisters. But not before encountering the story of the Campbell's - two "brothers" who, according to the curator are unlike most crash-and-burn sibling acts, but hey, these two were great probably because they weren't really brothers, that was code for their "alternative lifestyle" (how Meta, show!).
Anyway, back to the Fox sisters. Here we had Kate whose speciality was levitation and death fortune and older sis Margaret, who didn't really have any mystical talent (evidently this was the false bit of the Fox Sister myth). Now, maybe I'm overanalyzing this segment but hey, that's why we write these pieces right? For (over) analysis and discussion. Two siblings, one with a "power" and one without and a clever line about how one's true gift is sometimes in taking care of others. To me, this speaks to the long standing fervour, if you will, in some fan groups who weren't satisfied with Sam having powers and Dean not. Though this episode was certainly full of laughs, it was also chock full of symbolism, subtext and nearly-outright statements to the fans.
Ultimately, the best moment in this episode, for me, came when the museum curator quietly pulled Dean aside and asked him if he knew anyone named Ellen. She had a message for the elder Winchester: "If you don't tell someone how bad it really is, she'll kick your ass from beyond." Yes, that certainly seems like something Ellen would say - a motherly gesture wrapped in tough-chick paper. Another nice remembrance of seasons gone and a well used opportunity in the idea of a psychic town. This line reminded us, more subtly than watching Dean overtly pour booze down is neck for 40 minutes that he is struggling. The conversation with Sam and Dean at the end didn't really seem to cover the suffering Ellen's words suggest and I hope this is fleshed out a bit more in future episodes.
"Quit being a bitch."
The mid-episode chat between the brothers was well done. We've all been in Dean's shoes (more or less) where we've hurt someone or pissed them off and we've apologized and given them their space but they can't let it go and won't move forward. Now, before the Sam fans get their pitchforks and track me down for saying that let me add: we've all been in Sam's shoes too (more or less). I get it: he's mad and he's not done being mad yet. That said, in the context of the case, the boys work better with a rhythm between that and all the bitch faces in the world, Sammy, isn't going to help you solve the case and save the nice psychic town. So, I thought Dean was fair to call Sam on this point and I thought his address was in character, keeping with his own frustrations at the situation.
Hearing the story about the sisters, I knew immediately that one sister was sending the visions to protect against what the other was doing. Kate's attempt at warning the boys confirmed this. Watching Dean struggling with the lighter made me think back to Damian and Barnes from the Real Ghostbusters - where they discussed how easy it was for Dean to always ignite the lighter on the first try. Not so, this time. Maybe it was unintentional, but this was another great reference.
How long has it been since we've had an honest-to-goodness haunting on Supernatural anyways? I can't remember when I last saw them dig up a grave and burn the bones this way, so too long. We had all the classics here though: salt circle, iron weaponry, rock-salt in the shot gun. Ah, it's good to relive the classics, isn't it?
Sam shooting Jimmy is what allowed his mad to come down over the whole Amy thing. Here was a human being (ish, I suppose) who was killing people. Sam had to put him down (though I don't know if he was actually dead or just wounded, either way - Sam shot him) to stop him from hurting others. Maybe he realized that this is what Dean did with Amy, because Amy wasn't so different from Jimmy in the killing-people department.
"I wish I had better weeks."
We know Dean and Sam are more in sync when Sam makes a face at Dean's "boning" joke and chuckles when he threatens to beat up the host if he "affirmates" Dean again. Up until this point, Dean was cracking jokes like nobody's business, but Sam was not amused. Also, he gives Melanie and Dean some private time while he moves his stuff to Dean's (stolen, not an Impala) car (two episodes with the Impala under wraps makes me think we're in for another great montage when she comes out of hiding!). I liked Melanie all the more for her sweet manner with Dean at the end of this episode. She was grateful and also reassured him that things seemed more even-keeled between him and Sam.
Finally, we have what is hopefully the complete resolution of this Amy thing that's been dragging on too long in my opinion. Sam thinks Dean must feel he did something wrong in killing Amy, because his behaviour has been all about guilt-suppression with the drinking and the nightmares. Dean explains that no, killing Amy was right to him in his core, but it was the lying to Sam he couldn't handle. He also confessed that he's been having a hard time since Cas with trusting anyone. I'm not really sure what to make of that, but it's sad.
This make-up between Sam and Dean felt very mature. They got their issues out there, discussed things like rational human beings and came to terms, for the most part, with the problem. I hope this isn't the last we see of dealing with Dean's issues, because just as it wouldn't be right to declare Sam 100% sane and hallucination-free so easily, it would really be brushing things under the rug to mark Dean as his happy-go-lucky, healthy self at this juncture. Something about that line from Ellen says this runs way deeper than the Amy/lying to Sam thing (yes show, I'm talking about the Cas issue - please address it!).
This was a very full episode: humour, enjoyable MoTW and some good character moments. As I have with the last two episodes, I thoroughly enjoyed The Mentalists. How about you?