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.

Old Friends

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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.


Visuals

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.

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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.

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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.

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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”.

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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.

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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.

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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.


Bookends

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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.

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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.


Final Thoughts


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?

Comments  

cheryl42
# cheryl42 2015-11-24 21:36
Thank you for your review. I will admit on first watch (and falling asleep half way through....exha usted) I was underwhelmed. But on second and third watch I really enjoyed this one. The costumes were really creepy, the murders were really brutal (I had to close my eyes several times), the brother teasing and humor was really fun, Donna and actual plot advancement (even if it was only a little). The standout scene for me was the elevator also. I never get tired of Sam vs Clowns.

It was a fun MOTW episode that maybe said more than we might know. As you said their really wasn't a bad guy or a monster. Just a lot of victims. Maybe a little foreshadowing for God, Amara, the Winchesters and the rest of the gang. Is there really a bad guy this season? Or just a lot of victims of circumstance.
Jen
# Jen 2015-11-25 00:00
Thanks Elle enjoyable read. There wasn't a stand out bad guy here (as you said) The whole situation was accidental from the start and everybody became victims of circumstance. The one thing I did take away from your review was "lack of Conversation" This whole horrid mess would have been avoided completely. 1) the woman spoke to her brother, 2) they then spoke to the fathers, 3) spoke to the children making the accusations. the air may have been cleared and none of the above would have happened.

Is this what Sam & Dean should be doing ?????????? Talking before one or the other causes a great catastrophe Always a Winchester fault. I believe Sam will not drop his visions and he will persue it further by going to Crowley about getting to the cage either to talk to Lucifer ?? or Michael ?? This will cause a major problem

Cheryl I agree we havn't really seen a bad guy this season -- just a lot of victims of circumstance.
Remember Amara is a Amoral force --------------- ------------ lacking a moral sense; unconcerned with the rightness or wrongness of something.
Barbara Maake
# Barbara Maake 2015-11-25 07:48
Elle, I agree with every word of your review. I liked almost everything about this episode and I think it's just about the best MOTW of the past few seasons. Like you, I really love the old school feel of this ep. It reminded me so much of S1 because of how creepy and chilling the possessed people were. And I loved that, as you pointed out, the whole situation was so morally ambiguous. SPN has always excelled at that, but they seemed to have forgotten it a bit the last couple of years. The recent bad guys have often been flat out evil, no shades of gray: virtually all of the people killed by Demon Dean and MOC Dean were portrayed as caricatured thugs, apparently deserving of death. I like Cheryl's thought that this episode is representative of the whole season, in that there might not be a true "big bad" but rather a lot of victims of circumstance. I also agree with Jen that the lack of conversation issue that was at the heart of the problem in this ep parallels what is going on between the brothers. Hopefully it won't have the same catastrophic result that it did in this ep, but this being SPN, I'm sure it will. Thanks for a great read.
anonymousN
# anonymousN 2015-11-25 08:13
Quote:
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.
Disagree with you on this.This episode did not make me come here and want to comment because this episode was not on par with other episodes.But it was a sad episode.There was no justice only revenge.I disagree because for me Chester was the only victim ..others were not even an iota of the victim.

Other than Chester, Max and the guy in the Bunny costume who died I have no sympathy for anyone in the episode.
MaryEllen
# MaryEllen 2015-11-25 18:47
I am really enjoying the return to old-school hunting this season. I like the bit mythic arches as much as the next person, but I do love the return to the format of just the boys, sometimes with recurring outside help (like Jodi or Donna), doing their thing. Seeing this episode made me remember how much more focussed and powerful the show was before they essentially doubled the size of the main cast by adding Castiel and Crowley as major players. I like Castiel and Crowley as characters, but I think introducing them and keeping them as major characters has really watered down the essence of the show, which is most successful when it is more about Sam and Dean and the family business. I am interested in Amara but I like that she is not overwhelming the entire season.
BoGirle
# BoGirle 2015-11-25 22:57
I agree MaryEllen. I think that both Crowley and Castiel could be better utilized as recurring characters rather than as co-leads. I feel like that the show feels "obligated" to write for them because they are main cast members now, and that they don't always fit into the story organically. It's my understanding though that the change was made because of the J's demanding schedule. They aren't 26/22 any more, they have families, they want more time off etc... so it makes sense to have a bigger cast. This is the trouble that X-Files ran into as well. There are almost no hour long dramas out there any more that rely solely on two main leads; think about how big the casts of ensemble shows like ER were/are. Anyway. With Castiel and Crowley as co-leads now sometimes I feel like the writers are really struggling to come up with things to do with them, because as main cast members they are contracted to get X amount of screen time. When they were recurring they would only be used when they were crucial to the main story. Now, we get this fluffy filler that's disconnected from the main story arc, filler like Cas/Hannah or Cas/Claire and Crowley and his mommy issues, story lines which sometimes makes me wonder what show I'm watching.
Jen
# Jen 2015-11-26 03:10
BoGirle I understand totally what your saying about J&J needing time off. But the Boys have also said that they would like the show to go as long as possible. ??
If the show does then the above format will have to change (Correct) ? I think once they introduced to Major players as in a Angel character, and a King of Hell character that got stuck ?? You can't write about the Live and times of Castiel the Angel -- boring or same for the King of Hell Maybe the only other way is to remove the idea of Myth Archs, and introduce short stories involving the Winchester and Donna, and Jody something around MOL maybe It would be sad th have less air time with Our Boys but we have to let them go eventually
BoGirle
# BoGirle 2015-11-26 07:04
That's true. I know they want the show to continue as long as it can, but they do also want more time off to be with their families which live no where near filming. It's a conundrum for sure. Still though, I think that the best used secondary character on this show was Bobby. He was never made a lead character on the show because it wasn't what Jim Beaver wanted. He was asked several times if he wanted to be made a main cast member and he always turned the show down, because when you are a main cast member, you are exclusive to that show and can't do other shows. Jim Beaver always kept his "guest start" status so that he could do other projects. Therefore his character only appeared when it was necessary to the main story arc, and the character never appeared at loose ends. It just worked better that way IMO, and feel it would work better that way with Cas and Crowley too. As you can see from Jim Beaver's involvement, being a guest start didn't diminish in any way how much he was involved in the show....I mean he had entire episodes dedicated to his character and was in a huge percentage of the episodes. But because he wasn't a main cast member, the writers never struggled to shoe horn him in just to fulfill his contract; they only used him when they needed him. But the show must continue to evolve, it can't stay the way it is, it will stagnate. It's current evolution this season, back into a show with a plot, and two characters who have equal POV, and some organization and direction is an evolution that I am absolutely cheering!! I didn't love this episode, but it was still relevant to the main story arc in many ways, meaning that every episode so far this season as been relevant to the various facets of the Darkness storyline. Color me HAPPY!!! Missing the show this week too. It's been a long time since I've felt this level of anticipation. :D
Jen
# Jen 2015-11-27 04:46
BoGirle I too am missing the show this week hohummm But its even sadder to think two more episodes then 6 wks off I like what you said about Jim Beaver. It as you said worked out great.
Why did they change it for Cas & Crowley The few photos we are getting from J & J are lovely they look so relaxed and happy. It must make it so hard to come back to work
I too am loving this season for all the reasons you metioned. But not for the headache it has caused in trying to work things out LOL
I hope you and your family and everybody on WFB and families have had a Wonderfull Thanksgiving xxxxxxxoooooooooo

Maybe Australia should have a Thanksgiving day to the convicts that came here LOL I have two in my family. Jen