Plush was more than I expected it to be. Well paced, colourful and humorous with an emotional climax and still relevant enough to the overarching seasonal drive, it was a great episode.
What is wonderful about a show of Supernatural’s maturity is that it has a slew of characters to pull back in, revisit and continue to develop without just reusing the same two over and over. Donna is one such character. When we last saw “fat-sucker” Donna, she was learning about vampires from Sherriff Mills and now she’s just as perky but with a bit more attitude toward her unfortunately named second in command, Doug.
I enjoyed Donna even more this time around because her tougher attitude didn’t sacrifice any of her personality: still the odd catchphrases, sweetness and friendliness all coming through as bright as ever. Except now she’s a real hunter. The other great thing about Donna – despite her overall agreeable kindness – she isn’t stupid. We see Donna take charge where it’s needed (“a copycat killer!”) and even tells off Sam and Dean a time or two – always amusing. We could see Donna again and have more of the world opened to her – perhaps introduce her to Castiel or Crowley for kicks. Donna is such a nice, funny character – I don’t mind visiting her once in a while in between apocalypses and Darkness invasions.
The visuals in this episode especially stood out. Supernatural is never half-way with the sets and costumes, but this week the disturbing quality of a bunny head and that extra I’m-A-Killer-Ask-Me-How appearance to the rest of the “children’s entertainment” costumes deserves a kudos. Seriously, what kids would be entertained by those? I’m with Sam on that clown – nightmares for life if that was at a birthday party I went to, as a child or an adult.
In my opinion, there are two particularly stand out scenes. The first is when the jester first appears in the gym. This was gruesome. She picks up the kettlebell and when Coach realizes someone has entered his office and turns, the swing at his head is so grisly – I can almost feel the crunch of bones. All with that floppy, tri-peak hat on.
The second scene also involves the Coach, in the hospital with the world's most frightening children’s entertainer. To begin with the contrast of white, sterile hospital with the both the colourful clown costume and the swath of blood he casts across the room is an engaging visual. Beyond that is the clown walking through the hallway with the dripping knife and casually waiting for the elevator – to say nothing of the entire scene with Sam (more on this later).
Yes, the episode had some great eye-catching moments and standout costumes all around. Which was the creepiest costume in your opinion? That deer was pretty brutal too……
Who Was the Villain?
Admittedly, on seeing the promo for Plush I didn’t hold high expectations for this episode. It’s not that I ever walk into an episode of Supernatural with low expectations per se; but some are so clearly going to be classics where others easily become the bridges between. Instead, Plush hit all the right notes of a good episode – starting with the killer.
It took a while to get to the core motivations of the disturbing Easter bunny costume and the court jester – they weren’t, as first thought, cursed objects. In fact, the tragedy of the boy killed wearing the bunny costume was powerful despite the ridiculousness of the costume itself. When it’s finally uncovered how the spirit came to be, there isn’t really a bad guy to blame even. Arguably, there were two fathers wanting to protect their children from an alleged pedophile and a mother torn between accusations against her brother and the idea her child might be hurt as well. The fathers didn’t intend to kill Chester, just frighten him severely and it went too far. This isn’t to absolve them of their crime; nevertheless – it all became a case of “went too far”.
Chester is never really cleared of his crimes – the accusing children are never introduced and stated to be liars; nephew Max says it’s lies but this doesn’t mean anything truly. The case is never settled one way or another so truly everyone involved is a victim.
Ultimately, the Coach and Stan Hinkle took their actions based on protecting their families and so too did Rita; which all led to a big murdering mess in the end. This was Rita’s message ultimately –she had been protecting her family her whole life and she should have trusted her brother enough to talk to him first.
Really, this episode left it hard to pick out a bad guy. Chester was kind of a sad story – assuming he wasn’t a pedophile. Yes, ultimately, he became a murderous vengeful spirit, but he certainly had some help along the road. Though the Coach and Stan were murderers in their own right, they didn’t set out to kill – just protect their kids. It doesn’t absolve what was done, but intentions count for something.
Everybody Loves a Laugh
Lots to laugh at this week, despite the serious tones and subject matter that come into the episode. So again, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the giant rabbit in the promo – but I guessed if Donna was in the episode, it was full of laughs. Actually, though the jokes were great and the physical comedy well done, the episode itself isn’t one I would put in the “funny episodes” list simply because of the content. It was about people being forced to commit violent crimes, pedophilia, accidental murder and (less surprisingly) family trust. That said, some things do stand out.
Undeniably, the running fear of clowns is long and it’s hilarious whenever Sam encounters something clownish. First, when Sam and Dean are speaking with Rita and she shows a picture of Chester dressed as a clown, offering it to Sam. He quickly gulps and shoves it across the table to Dean who, on seeing the picture, smirks to himself because he knows Sam is afraid. The whole bit takes maybe thirty seconds – but it’s so brotherly, so Sam and Dean, and so funny. It’s in these little moments that you feel the brother relationship between the boys.
Of course, I’d be out of line for not talking about the big Sam v Clown scene in the elevator – just watching Sam’s face when the elevator doors open says it all. The claustrophobic environment of the elevator adds to the scene, building the tension for the inevitable fight and watching the floor numbers light up one by one just enhances it all even more as the blood drips from the clown’s knife and Sam try’s to contain his panic. Jared sells the fear so well: the gulping, eyeing the clown, nervously shifting – it’s all there and of course the fear of clowns is all the more ridiculous given everything these boys engage day to day. That said we’ve had a number of clown bad guys now, so maybe it’s all the more justified…. either way it was a hilarious scene and topped off by Sam’s less than amused report to Dean on the whole encounter.
Yes, the episode was rich with one-liners, side-glances and references that will definitely keep it in my re-watch list for this season.
Emotionally, I was ready for a break from the Darkness/Amara so this was great. Ghosts, old friends and classic investigations. Not exactly simple or light, but it did the trick without ignoring things completely. Opening on Sam praying to God asking for clarification on the visions and Dean walking in with commentary, well we know Dean doesn’t feel very supported by God and Sam wants answers. By the end, whether motivated by the situation with the Chester and his sister or not, Sam confesses to what he’s been seeing in said visions: the cage. Naturally, Dean is even more against anything involved in the praying/visions/visiting the Cage plan than he was to start with.
Sam’s face at the end of this was so difficult to read. He looked uncertain, sad and maybe disappointed. Of the two boys, Sam’s always the one more inclined to have faith in the higher power and wants to believe that God is the one sending the visions, that they are helpful in some way. Dean is just upset with the entire situation and determined to find a different solution, but his glance to Sam at the end suggested growing concern over the visions, the suspected source of the visions or, more likely, both. And what Sam will do as a result. It was not a warm note to end on. Having said this, both brothers seemed to take in a lot of what was being said about trusting and talking to family first when Rita was telling the story of Chester. Let’s hope the no-secrets pledge continues to guide the way, whatever the path.
Plush was a great episode. I’ve said it in a number of reviews this season so far, but I’m going to say it again: the return to the classic formula is loud and clear and really appreciated. Supernatural never lacks in grand storylines, impressive master-villains and world-dominance catastrophes that are (for the most part) always impressive and one hell of a ride, but along the way, it’s episodes like Plush with the FBI-suits, the investigations, the salt-and-burn and the ghostly back story that keep it connected the roots and are always good to revisit.
This was fun, emotional, engaging and very well written. The pace flowed, the characters were complex and sympathetic enough that we really didn’t have a black-and-white bad guy in the end. And ultimately, it could still relate back to the main characters enough to leave us wondering where they were going to go next.
What did you think?