Allow me to start this review with a rant against the very thing that I think is sinking network television. Our time as TV watchers is very limited. More and more shows are out there competing for attention, not to mention the vast network of social media that causes massive distractions in our free time space. That being said, there is no room in our TV viewing for filler anymore. When an inferior, poorly constructed, momentum killing hour of television happens in a TV show’s season, that does not help the viewer in maintaining any kind incentive to keep watching said TV show every week. Our standards can be higher because the competition with tightly written 13 episode a season shows on cable is fierce.
So, when I see an episode like “The Bad Seed,” it becomes obvious that quantity is the primary goal over quality for “Supernatural.” It’s not surprising for an older show, the studio needs to get as many lucrative, money making episodes for syndication as they can! As a reviewer though, knowing that basic economic fact of network TV, do I just call something “filler” and grade on a curve? Nah.
Last week I praised writer Andrew Dabb for his ability to weave together three separate stories perfectly. Even though three things were happening at the same time, we were engrossed with the way each scene flowed together and only enhanced the interest of the viewer. The story built up into one grand crescendo. I’m calling writers Eugenie Ross-Leming and Brad Buckner the “anti Andrew Dabb.” Their MO is random plotting, choppy scenes that literally make no sense when put together, glacial pacing, dialogue that is rudimentary and often plain stupid, and the characters in their stories are about as wooden as a cigar store Indian statue. The only thing that makes such a story even remotely watchable is the fact that there are talented actors, directors, and crew that actually do their jobs well.
So where exactly did the wheels fall off the wagon? First scene. Mega coven? This is Rowena’s, a very powerful and menacing witch BTW, grand debut in season 11? A totally campy scene where she’s made to look like the most ignorant witch of all time before sizzling those that made fun of her to a crisp? She didn’t know Crowley wasn’t dead? Wouldn’t she have stuck around to find that out? Verified it at least? Doing that horrible bit in the opening scene gives us a great glimpse of the Rowena we’ll be getting this week. The annoying one. My biggest problem with Rowena is that put in the hands of the wrong writers she turns into an over-the-top, excruciating character that should be on one of those Teen Nick shows rather than the formidable villain other episodes make her to be. It was sophomoric and once again, insulted my intelligence as a viewer. I’m okay with Rowena being funny, but this was just pathetic. I was waiting for a poorly timed laugh track.
For plot B, we have Castiel going on a bender and Sam and Dean dealing with it. Nice to see Sam and Dean fall back into supporting characters of their own show. Speaking of the brother, oh wow they are keeping secrets from each other! Ooh, let’s dig up that old plot again! Fans will eat it up! Watch Sam twist over Dean finding out another lie. Bad Sam, bad! (I really need a GIF of a TV brick being thrown). At least they have Castiel’s back, right? I did enjoy seeing the three of them together in the bunker actually and that Castiel didn’t have to go through this whole spell alone. I even like the idea that Sam and Dean found a solution, even if that solution turned out to be easy and predictable. Okay, I hated that part. Plotting by the numbers. I did laugh though over Sam calling Castiel’s 78 Lincoln Continental “crappy.” Castiel was actually offended! Yes, I have to cling onto the little things.
That whole scene in the warehouse didn’t make sense. Castiel goes on a bender, tries to choke an innocent woman (?), Dean arrives just in the knick of time to save the day (??), Dean gets the crap beat out of him by Castiel (???), Rowena reverses the spell on Castiel and then uses her magic to break free and trap everyone while she escapes(?????) Why didn’t she try to kill them all? As much as she wanted The Winchesters dead last year? Because she wanted to prove she keeps her word? ROWENA (????????) I know Sam and Dean have the codex, but she obviously doesn’t need it anymore since she unlocked the power of the Book of the Damned. Plus, I hope Sam and Dean were smart enough to cover her eyes before going to the bunker because she can’t know the location of that place. Unless it’s warded against witches. Yes, this is actually the thought process that I waste time on when scenes like this happen. It’s pitiful really. As a viewer you shouldn’t have to work that hard.
That all leaves one important piece left and that’s Amara. This was the one part of the story that wasn’t botched. Well, Crowley’s was for the first part. He had a big role in this episode and his condescending attitude toward Amara was just awful. Crowley is better than that! Uncle Crowley? Giving her children’s books? Treating her like a child when it was very clear this girl was quite a bit sharper than that? It’s the return of dumb Crowley after he was so wonderful the previous two episodes. I’m also a bit confused over grown up The Darkness lady talking to little Amara through the mirror, but it’s not a deal breaker. It might mean something. Is the grown up lady what little Amara will look like eventually? Are they separate entities or one in the same?
However, it vastly improves with the conversation between him and Amara about what God has done to the world. Suddenly Crowley is having a very grown up conversation with this girl and it bothers him plenty. I did love how Amara was trying to process the cruelty of God and why did locked her away just to create an earth of suffering and pain. She felt it in all the souls she’s consumed. She is trying to figure out her role and purpose, not to mention deal with power that’s growing rather quickly. It does make you wonder what side she will land on, the side that shows the earth mercy or the side that shows wrath. On one side humans are God’s creation so they should be destroyed, or maybe she’ll end up trying to save humanity all from the cruel God and be the new savior. Either way, she isn’t going to be serving Crowley’s agenda and that was becoming very clear to him. He’s got a monster that he cannot control. It makes you wonder if he’ll eventually be seeking the help of Moose, Squirrel, and Clarence. I’m sure he will, because he already sees the bond Dean has with her.
Strangely, my favorite scene of this episode was the random meeting of stunt demon #3 and stunt angel #4 in a bar for a drink. I’ve actually dreamed of seeing a scene like this ever since season 4! It’s really awesome because it played out exactly as I imagined it; both of them downing whiskey after a bad day at work, complaining about how horrible everything is, and then clinging glasses while having more. One said they should do something about it, but they just kept drinking. I doubt anything will come of this scene, but it was fun to see for once. I wouldn’t mind seeing them again once in a while. Maybe they could be spotted in the background of scenes playing tennis or walking in the park?
Does everyone remember that beauty that was “Weekend at Bobby’s?” The story that struck all the right chords, and was made even better by first time director Jensen Ackles? What irks me most is that every script he’s had since then has been total crap. Where’s his next “woodchipper” scene? Where are the awesome lines that bring emotional depth to a character that gives a director room to bring that out even more? Where’s a story that isn’t so glacially paced that watching paint dry becomes more entertaining? Visually Jensen knows how to tell a story and bring out the best. When the script though has a hodge podge of events spelled out like that awful warehouse scene, it’s really just better watching with the whole thing on mute. That way you can truly appreciate the gift of the director. Good job Jensen. (Psst, you’re the star of the show. Next time, ask for a Robbie Thompson or Robert Berens script. I would have loved to have seen what you could have done with “Baby.”)
Major kudos to the director though of the gorgeous shot of Sam appearing to a waking yet disoriented Castiel. (See picture at the top).
Since the whole review was a rant, I shall skip the Red Headed Monster segment of the week. Overall grade, a C-. Luckily, the director saved it from being a total fail and there were two good scenes. I’m once again erasing a Brad and Eugenie episode from my memory and moving onto next week. “Baby” just might be the remedy we need (fingers crossed!).