Alice, Nightsky and Robin take a second look at "About A Boy", viewing it through the lens of hindsight, knowing what is to come for Sam, Dean and the Mark of Cain...
Alice's Second Look
Initially I liked this episode a lot. Yes, I did the inevitable comparisons to “Bad Boys,” which I hated, but this ended up being the much better episode. I still like it because it was one of the lighter scripts in a very heavy season. It reminded us, through the face of a 14 year old Dean Winchester, why we fell in love with this guy to begin with. Calm under pressure, always the hero no matter what the circumstance, wise cracking with his brother in the face of danger, saving the girl, all the good stuff. There was no “Mark of Cain” weighing him down, just puberty. It was refreshing. Considering this turned out to be Adam Glass’ swan song for “Supernatural,” it makes sense he would go with a continuation of his teen Dean storyline. He often said that he was most proud of his “Bad Boys” script.
I still wouldn’t list this episode as one of the classics though, or even one of the best of the season. For one, Sam was again relegated to “damsel in distress.” Heck, at this point, it was so ridiculous it became Motivational Poster fodder for me.
Two, Hansel and Gretel? If you combine this with Oz, a Clue parody, and The Stynes (aka Frankensteins) it just makes you wonder how badly out of ideas the writers were when tapping into the endless sources for material out there. Children’s stories have been done. The ludicrous “ghost takes over the internet” followed this, and I suddenly became very worried where these writers were getting their lore. I’d rather have John Constantine come on the show and challenge Castiel trench coat off while fighting demons (too late, I guess Arrow snagged him).
We even have a discussion going on the reasoning of why The Darkness didn’t show up when Dean lost the Mark of Cain in this episode (I think I won with an explanation of string theory). It does raise some questions though, what is the impact of all this powerful witchcraft in the scheme of this supernatural universe? What will it mean now that Rowena is on the loose, especially when Katja the child eating witch (come on, call her Gretel) was sent to stop her. If the witches don’t think she’s doing right and now she has all the powerful secrets, will she use it against her coven as revenge or world domination? Probably both. I might actually be excited, except I don’t care much for witch stories.
Tossing all that aside though, I enjoyed watching for the full hour again and it totally didn’t inspire me to throw out harsh explicatives, even when they cruised out to Taylor Swift at the end (the anti-classic rock). Maybe because Sam was allowed to express how I felt! If they both had gotten into it, I might have been crying foul. I gave this episode a B when it first aired and I’m sticking with that.
Farewell Adam Glass and thanks for giving us something entertaining before you left. Your scripts may not have always been my favorite, but your devotion to the show and the fandom was pretty extraordinary.
It was a fairly small #WFBRewatch party last Wednesday night. Several fans told me that they didn’t have “About A Boy” on their DVR/VCR so they couldn’t live tweet with me. It was ironic, then, that my second tweet of the evening prompted a reply from Jay Gruska, one of the two talented composers who choose and produce all of Supernatural’s background music. I was particularly struck by the guitar solo that accompanied Dean’s research while he was sitting alone on his bedroom floor.
I commented: “I enjoy the music much more during rewatch. 1st time through, I’m too worried about what is happening.”
Jay’s reply: “Interesting. 1st time thru I worry whether the music is working. On rewatch, I can enjoy the show : )”
It’s all a matter of perspective.
In a way, that was a central theme of “About A Boy”. Without warning, a witch’s spell turned Dean back into a pimply, puberty-laden teenager. Sam was shocked and intent on turning Dean back into an adult (“So, we’ll get you changed back… Right?”) even badgering Hansel for the reverse spell (“Tell me how to turn him back!”), and confessing to Dean “I wanted you back”. Dean wasn’t so sure, though. From his perspective, “this whole freak show has an upside”.
Tina was also thrown back 20 years to her naïve and more innocent days. Always fast to accept blame, Dean apologized that the hex bag was destroyed and they couldn’t turn her back. Sam's intellectual proclivity theorized that they might be able to “reverse engineer the spell”. Tina, though, saw things a different way. “Everybody wants a second chance, right?” She decided to see the bright side of the situation and rewrite her life’s story with better choices, learning from her years of hard-gained wisdom.
DEAN: "Sure you’re gonna be all right?"
TINA: "Like I told you, I always am."
In the cinematography section of Wednesday’s review, she observed that the episode emphasized people’s view of themselves. Many of the shots were angled, obstructed or through dirty windows or mirrors, casting jaded reflections. This view matches both Sam and Dean’s lives and their opinions of themselves.
It’s a shame they can’t see themselves through each other's eyes, through the eyes of the people they save (Tina), or through the eyes of the people who admire them (Castiel).
I liked this episode. I was enthralled with the dynamic between Dylan Everett (young Dean) and Jared. I thoroughly enjoyed the humor, plus the episode raised good questions about reliving your life. The one flaw in an otherwise wonderful story, though, was Sam failing to kill Hansel. That would have been such an easy fix.
The witch could still have thrown Sam against the wall and Dean would have had to make the same choice about reverting to adulthood to save the day. Sam would have been vindicated as a capable hunter instead of a gentle giant. Unfortunately, that perspective wasn’t shared by the episode’s writing team, and television doesn’t give second chances, so I’ll have to remain content with my “adjusted’ view of the events in that kitchen.
At the end of the episode, adult Dean also adjusted his view of at least one song in today’s pop culture. Having heard it through a teenager’s ears, he decided that Taylor Swift had some pretty good advice. “Shake It Off” became an acceptable tune in the Impala and a Supernatural classic, thanks to the Supernatural Parody.
Proving once again, it’s all in your perspective.
I really enjoyed this episode.
It had a fairy tale, young Dean (and the return of a very talented young actor, Dylan Everett), and the Cain mytharc rolled into a cool storyline. You can let me know at the end if you agree with me or not; it will be one of the questions I pose to you.
I loved the interaction between Dean and Tina as adults. It was nice to see him opening up to a woman on a personal level without having sex on the front burner. They were good for each other--but their dysfunctional familial situations made them perfect fodder for Hansel and the witch, who has been forced by Obama, LOL, to turn adults into kids to get the sweet child meat she craves. Sam's ongoing fear for Dean was huge in this ep, and I reveled in every sweet moment of it. He reassured him over what had happened with Charlie, that they would solve their conundrum over the Mark, and that he wanted BIG brother Dean back, Mark and all. That really touched me.
Those hex bags work a lot like angel magic, huh?
Nice music in this ep. I liked what played solemnly under Dean's research.
I'm jumping right to the questions for y'all. Here goes:
1. What did you think of this ep? Did you like TeenDean paired with Sam, or did you find yourself wishing for Jensen back right away?
2. What do you think becomes of TeenTina? Is her life going to go better, or do you see her winding up a teen prostitute?
3. Plenty of "feels" in this ep. What did you think of Dean considering the option of remaining young to free himself of the Mark? Sam was torn; he wanted his brother free of the Mark, but wanted the adult version back. Did you get that? Do you think Sam was wrong to want his adult brother back if the Mark came with the package?
4. I got chills when TeenDean leaped up, grabbed the hex bag, got restored to his adult self, stabbed Hansel, and shoved the witch into the oven. That was a really cool scene (and that was a really ugly, creepy witch, wasn't she?). Of course, when he knew Sam was in jeopardy, all else flew out of his mind, including concern for himself. Lots of "feels" there, right?
5. What did you think of our villains in this ep, and the fractured fairy tale the brothers became involved in? I really enjoyed it. I knew Hansel's deal wasn't legit. He was eeeeevil through and through! Did you know?
6. Rate the episode. I give it a 9. I really liked it. What did you think of it?