From a pure technical standpoint, there was nothing wrong with “Bad Boys.” The script construction was solid, the pacing was good, the dialogue didn’t suck, the direction and cinematography was top notch, and naturally the acting was right on. So, why am I not giving you a review today of pure gushing? Simple. For this show, all of this was nothing new.
Lack of movement in the main story is a very quick way for me to lose interest, or find adjectives and descriptions for episodes other than pulling out the standards of “compelling,” “interesting character study,” or “mildly entertaining.” Come on, truth be told, these four weeks have been very flat. Not bad mind you, I think the writing and consistency has definitely stepped up, but I’m not exactly jumping out of my chair either. It’s up to every individual fan to decide for themselves if that’s good or bad, but for me, I’m underwhelmed.
I’ve been spending a lot of time writing this season over at our sister site, TV For The Rest of Us. I’m doing that because this season, there have been some very exciting shows and show seasons introduced into our TV landscape and we’re looking to expand. Right now I’m having a blast over picking apart shows like “Sleepy Hollow,” “The Originals,” “Person of Interest,” and even a very much improved “Arrow” season two. These shows are full into their season stories, kicking our asses every week with plot twists and enthralling storytelling while still managing to pull off some great character development. That’s why it really hurts me to look at my favorite show and see none of that.
I know, “Supernatural” has an extreme disadvantage because it’s a mature show. Breaking stories in the ninth season of any show is tough. Coming up with storylines for 23 episodes becomes a near impossible task. Opportunities for character exploration are limited, especially when going for the “flashback” type stories. At this point so much has been revealed that any flashback is going to risk accusations of retconning. The question becomes, “Why go there?” Because TPTB felt it was a story worth exploring. Either that or they just needed something to get by for another week. Part of me is leaning toward the latter.
To be honest, I think the “Bad Boys” flashback fit better than the sudden family information that John grew up without a father like we got in “As Time Goes By,” even if writer Adam Glass got Dean and Sam’s age woefully wrong. Dean should have been 13 or 14 in this flashback, not 16. We’ll gloss all that over though, and look at the merits of the premise. Did those two months in the boy’s home drastically change Dean? Did it set him on the path of the straight and narrow? Why in the world would John leave him there for two months?
In defining this story, I’ve got to look at the forest from the trees. The overall premise is that no matter what, no matter how good things are for Dean, he puts Sam first at sacrifice for his own happiness. Great, got it. Saw it, bought the DVD nine times, I even bought the t-shirt and coffee mugs. Was this theme well presented in “Bad Boys?” Absolutely. And I would be marveling over what a great job Adam Glass did with this emotional script - if I hadn’t seen this before. I have though, constantly. I’ve read plenty of good fan fic that explores the “weechesters” universe too. My question in episode seven of this season is, what in the world does any of this have to do with the angels falling?
And there’s the problem. It’s my own version of “short attention span theater.” I’m looking for something I haven’t seen before. Sure, I haven’t seen Dean in a boy’s home before, but sorry, and perhaps it’s because I’ve been too spoiled by past storylines, I need more. I love having Jared and Jensen on my screen every week, but the old adage that they could be reciting the phone book and I’d watch doesn’t cut it if I’ve seen them recite the phone book numerous times before. That’s the way it feels with flashback episodes that reinforce the same family dynamic we get every week.
So, I could nitpick and overanalyze. I could give my opinions as to why these episodes seem to always make John look like a horrible father, I could point out flaws in previous mythology like how Sam and Dean had never heard of a Rugaru until season four, I could marvel over how Jensen once again knocked it out of the park with his incredible acting, but honestly, I’d be repeating what I say in about 90% of my reviews. You’ve heard it all before from me, just like you’ve seen this type of episode before.
Once the brotherly stuff was gone, “Bad Boys” was a by numbers ghost story. The fact is, “Supernatural” is stalling, passing the time until they can throw the mytharc in our faces just in time to go on midseason break. Then they’ll come back with a follow up episode and stall some more until episode sixteen or seventeen, when things get interesting just in time to close out the season. Like I said, we’ve been here before.
So my dear readers, I do apologize, but I’ll come back and write an episode review next time there is an episode that sparks my attention and I can create something that is worthy of your time. Until then, there are other writers around here with far less apathy than I that can keep the season going for those of you that are enjoying it. Then, in a couple more weeks, we can look back at the first half of the season as a whole and figure out what in the world happened…or what didn’t.