Thoughts on Supernatural 13.15 “A Most Holy Man”
This was an entertaining episode with a wonderfully worldly sense about it. There really isn’t any other way to say it: it had humour, atmosphere and interesting characters – and the best part was it was all about Sam and Dean together. Sure, it tied to our seasonal plot too but in due course it was our brothers working in step with each other and getting their individual groove back in the process. Along the way, some thought-provoking themes and realizations emerged as well that left the Winchesters in a far better spot than when we last saw them.
Chicanery and The Like
The mob plot of this week was a lot of fun and over all well done. It was a continued element through the episode that somehow walked the line of too corny versus too dark that Supernatural can do so perfectly. One of my favourite things about this episode was the sense of different places as we moved from city to city: Seattle, Malta, San Francisco. It is rare to move around like this on Supernatural and it gave a grander scale to an entertaining episode with several stately, over-the-top characters. The angled, perspective shots, the writing, the atmosphere – it all merged to create a modern nod to film noir and classic mafia movies.
Let’s start with the villains, as they were, and how perfectly cast, written and executed they were. First we have Margaret Astor as played by the lovely (and sinfully evil) Leanne Lapp. Viewers may recognize our red headed mastermind from the other CW show iZombie in which she played a similarly manipulative role. Such a deliciously devious character, with a keen interest in Sam (and, for the record, not Dean as she made very clear), could never have been a one-scene woman. Beyond that, Margaret had all the trappings of the femme fatale in her dress, her styling, her seductive nature. It was a good irony that her own, umm, proclivities for Sam were what led to allowing the ending to happen as it did then, where it is typically the femme leading the men with seduction.
Moving to Richard Greenstreet – another ridiculous character who almost shouldn’t have worked given how close to silly he was at times. And yet he managed to be just serious enough to present a legitimate threat in the final moments with his proposal.
Finally there was our mob boss, Santino Scarpatti. A villain so villainous he reminded me of Dr. Evil at times, in particular as he stroked his fluffy cat while meeting the Winchesters. He was the most obvious threat among our three “bad guys” and really, the most reasonable all things considered. His conversation with Sam and Dean made me laugh out loud at times, by and large the disparate reactions of Sam and Dean to their mutual conundrum. And Scarpatti’s amusement with Dean:
“You believe this guy? You got a set on you, pal.You talk to me like that in this room?”This was a fun, fresh storyline that engaged elements in a new way while maintaining momentum for the overarching plotline of the season. The dialogue was sharp and full of humour and wit and watching these characters come together at the end for that final gun battle was almost as epic as it was cheesy.
Now, I will say I felt it was a bit heavy-handed to use the exact language Dean quoted to Sam earlier when explaining why they needed to steal the skull and Sam was questioning the thievery:
“I'm not perfect and by the way neither are you, okay. Oh, so now you're above a little bit of chicanery? Look, this isn't a perfect world we're trying to save, okay? And if im not perfect trying to save it, so be it.”
This was one plot point that I was unclear about what exactly the writers were trying to say…so let’s look at this next.
Themes and Motifs
Overall, this episode flowed well from last week’s theme of mankind as a destructive group as a whole. Afterall, this episode had no touch from the supernatural – it was simply humans being human (greedy for the most part) and destroying one another for entitlement, want and desire. This is a good theme and worth exploring, certainly. We as humans undoubtedly have a tendency to take unabashedly, destroy for unjustified reasons and make selfish choices. But not all humans – and certainly not everyone - wakes up in the morning, tapping their fingertips together cackling over coffee wondering what they can tick off their evil list next. Usually Supernatural shows the balance well, monsters aren’t all monsters and humans aren’t innately good.
Speaking to the point above however, something about the message of “imperfect choices” and justifying them because the world isn’t perfect was muddled in the execution. It felt like the message was don’t not do the right thing because the wrong thing is easier, or because everyone else does the wrong thing already so, oh well. Fair enough – but is that valid for the Winchesters?
The Winchesters don’t do LEGAL things, certainly. However, lots of these things are for the sake of the greater good. Stealing the skull to get the blood seems to fall in that grey area (and considering the skull is stolen already) so, maybe this is me but I can’t quite add two and two and get four with these analogies. Share your thoughts on this – because I’m just a tad fuzzy about what we were saying to who.
Last week we didn’t have much of Sam and Dean so this week it was a good “temperature check” if you will, without the chaos or clutter of other plots and characters to check in with throughout the episode. It was also a rarity to focus on just Sam and Dean which afforded us some fantastic brother material in their conversation and behind each other’s backs. There is so much to choose from that will now be classic Winchester lines – “I know that Disney Princess hair gives you some padding” – was definitely a laugh out loud moment. And so was this exchange – with perfect acting from both boys:
“I mean, if -- if somebody, uh... If somebody stole the Impala, what would you do?”
“ Murder. I'd murder 'em all.”
“Right. My point being I... I don't want a dick like Greenstreet or Scarpatti to win. Not this time.”
“There'll be torture first. There'll be, like, a lot of torture, and then there'd -- it would end up with death. If I can't have it, nobody can.”
I think we all feel that way about Baby, right? Hands up if you were horrified by the suggestion of Goon 1 driving her and thought Dean was going to take him out just for speaking the words aloud.
Another highlight was just before our priest rendered Sam unconscious and he’s mocking Dean’s intuition about the room and the clue (which was accurate). Classic brothers. This episode was rich with these laugh out loud moments and most between or result from Sam and Dean’s interactions with each other.
The final exchange of course is the one that really matters. Sam has been doubting, himself, their mission, the likelihood of success. A lot of things we’ll say. And while Dean has been trying to keep everyone motivated, the wear and tear is there – for both of them. So the final conversation indicates a shift in both of their perspectives to a degree – Sam is maybe a touch more hopeful, or at least looking for something to be hopeful about. And Dean has faith (though it’s unclear in what precisely at this moment, beyond their general success).
How about the vague nod to the idea of eliminating all monsters forever? Again, this notion is too blurry and abstract for me to have a true opinion on what Sam is suggesting. The BMoL tried to sell this the year prior and it failed miserably, as we know. And not all monsters are bad. So does he mean evil? He says, “You know, stop all the monsters, all the bad?” Where are you going with this Sam? Admittedly I’m curious – but insist on more details.
Thoughts? Speculation? Opinion?
Funny, character driven episode that motivated our characters in refreshing ways. It was unique to find an episode wholly motivated by human beings without a single supernatural element in play (religious relics don’t technically count here). The final notes certainly left on a more inspired note than last week, though I can’t help wondering if Sam and Dean were given the same understanding of their impact on the world that Mary was granted in AW, they’d gain some serious insight about the good they really do.
So – what did you think? Favourite bro-ment below! Questions about the themes or am I the only one a bit confused? And start your countdown - Three weeks until Scoobynatural!
[Photos courtesy of HomeoftheNutty.com]