Thoughts on Supernatural 10.08: "Hibbing 911"
Another win for Season Ten, and a great one at that. "Hibbing 911" was, as so many episodes have been this season, an exceptional mix of fun and drama. Playing heavily in the humour pool this time through, the episode focused largely on Jodi Mills and Donna Hanscum with their burgeoning friendship more forefront and the boys almost secondary – but that was okay! Jodi and Donna were great fun to watch, balancing a decent case with the ever-growing concerns about the Mark of Cain. All in all, this was a highly successful episode.
Sheriff Here, Sheriff There, Everywhere a Sheriff
We open with the always welcome Jodi Mills heading to a Sheriff Retreat in Hibbing, possibly the last place she wants to be judging from the enthusiasm she exudes. Jodi is so much fun because her deadpan delivery and wit fits just right with boys, but in this particular setting it’s that much more enjoyable in contrast to the sunshine and bubbles Donna Hanscum sparkles with at every turn. Which of course Jodi despises, only upping our pleasure further.
The convention is a great set up for so many possibilities. The convention is run by Sheriff Cuse, played by Fred Ewanuick, who immediately sets up all attendees to find a partner. Naturally Jodi and Donna end up together. Oh what a team they will be!
Let’s address Donna for a moment: she is such a sweet character, I can only hope we’ll see her again. Played by Briana Buckmaster, the character is equal parts heart-warming and hilariously naïve. Who didn’t want to hug her after the encounter with her ex-husband at the check-in desk? Despite being overly cheerful, Donna isn’t ditzy – she does her job well and seems to have a decent professional reputation, paving the way for Jodi later on. Should have brought that smile from Sioux Falls, after all Jodi. Donna was also a strong character in many ways, while she couldn’t or wouldn’t directly stand up to her ex, she wasn’t afraid of humbling the gun salesman either. And of course, by the end she’s beheading vamps like a pro.
Then we have Jodi Mills – our mom cop. Jodi alternates between investigator and parent fluidly throughout the episode: reprimanding Sam for not letting her know Dean was safe and sound (come on, Sam!), extending the offer to talk to Dean and checking in with him (Dean looked just so thrilled, didn’t he? More people who know what happened, the joy) and of course, she couldn’t not step up for Donna. In fact, the first moment we see Jodi she gives money to the seemingly homeless girl (who later turns out to be our killer-group leader, but I digress). This is Jodi: abrasive investigator but can’t help extending concern and compassion, even to strangers.
The bonding between these two characters was nice to watch as well: it started before the reveal of the supernatural world and had more to do with two people who needed a friend because of trying to rebuild their personal lives after their families were shifted in dynamic ways. Granted, the lost husband in each case was very different.
Scavenging Hippy Vampires, Who Knew?
The case in question wasn’t that mind-blowing, all told. But then, the episode wasn’t really about the case. I’ll admit, the picked-clean bodies confused me when everyone kept saying vampires. What in the world did they do with the flesh they took from the bodies? Eat it? That’s tad weak there, but not a major issue. As always, nice to have the classic baddies at fault. Further to that, it was convenient that “Sheriff Vampire” was slayed by his own, because it eliminated the moral dilemma of letting him live or killing him on Sam and Dean’s part, since he alleged to have been on bag blood. Nice and tidy.
The case and capture served two primary purposes, in my opinion: pulling in Donna and having Dean do some more slaughtering. Both were achieved. Donna beheaded the vampire with no hesitation and even got a closing line in there – “Hakuna matata, lady.” – she’s a badass Buffy-Sheriff now.
Dean. What to say about this? I knew when he broke free he was going to be swing and slicing, the only question was the effect and extent. Does anyone else have flashbacks to the Demon Dean days when he had the Blade when you see him handle the machete?
Sam’s expression here is great concern and I don’t think it’s for his safety at this point but rather the effect of the kills and the Mark of Cain.
Boys and Girls, Checks and Balances
The final scene is very interesting and very well done. The dialogue alternates between Jodi and Donna and Sam and Dean. First we have Jodi checking in on how Donna is feeling, all things considered. She says pretty well and Jodi offers to educate her on the supernatural world if she’s interested. Donna of course is interested and her smile is very bright; both are happy to have made a friend here.
Sam and Dean’s conversation is sort of a similar nature: Sam is checking in on Dean. He’s tentatively casual in his approach and is assured this is the best Dean’s felt since being back. Sam takes that and rolls with it, very accepting. Having said that – I don’t think he’s fully in belief and he shouldn’t be. Our final shot is Dean about to get into the car and touching his arm where the Mark is as though it’s bothering his – this is reminiscent of what he used to do in the early days of having got the Mark too.
These conversations are quite the dichotomy: one is positive and bright, ending with an openness and relief at the new relationship. The other is underscored with concern from both parties while trying on one side to be delicate about the approach and other wanting what he’s saying to be true, but maybe feeling it won’t be for long. Apprehension and worry from all.
This is a shorter review that usual primarily because the episode was more about secondary characters than our mains – and that was just fine. It was a fabulous episode to watch. Jodi and Donna were an entertaining team from their first frame together to the last and I’d watch them anytime. The storyline was good overall – not a heart-stopping, mind-boggling twist; but they don’t need to be in every episode either. Sometimes the fun characters are a great episode in and of themselves and this fits the bill for me.
Finally, the story did address again the building arc that’s clearly moving to a Mark of Cain major issue. Each of the boys are struggling in one way or another and neither seems sure where to place their feet on the issue. Neither knows how to address it with the other. Is Sam more tentative now than he was before having heard what Dean said last week about being past saving? Would he have spoken more to Dean about killing the vampires and how it affected the Mark had he not heard his brother make that speech about darkness?
On Dean’s side, he was already feeling guilt and/or shame over the things he did in the “demon months” – I wonder how Jodi mentioning he “went off the reservation” and letting him know she knew too affected him? She meant it with the best intentions of course, but it’s still one more person who knows what he did/was - his expression just seems to suggest this bothered him. Did that motivate him to underplay the Mark’s pull in his exchange with Sam?
This is all pure speculation based on nothing but too much coffee and too many viewings, but I can’t help wondering…and I’m dying to see where it will lead us!
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