In a long twenty two episode season, one or two are bound to be "throwaways", aka the episodes that are light on story yet still have a few key moments to keep fans engaged. I've felt cheated by such episodes in the past but I found myself strangely enjoying "Fallen Idols." It's the Winchester brothers with the training wheels on and I didn't mind the reduced pace one bit. Maybe because Kripke and company managed to put my psyche through a shredder with the previous four episodes of the season.
The whole episode meant to show the brothers coming to equal ground. There were all sorts of hints that went along with Sam pointing out to Dean that they need to be on the same level. Both have their own laptops now (so cool!). Sam gets to harass Dean at the end about being wailed on by Paris Hilton after Dean earlier makes an offhand comment about Sam's worship of Gandhi. Sam drives them away in the Impala.
â€œFallen Idolsâ€ follows the classic monster of the week format that this show is known for. Opening scene shows mysterious death, Sam and Dean arrive in town with some sort of family issue on their minds, they put on the suits and use the fake badges to investigate, they fight and air out issues in between, confront and kill the monster, then leave town with a new understanding of each other. It follows the tradition of other "light" episodes like "Playthings," and "Long Distance Call." Sure it could have been funnier, but I also could have also finished the episode demanding my hour back (cough "Bugs" cough). In the end, I was entertained.
This episode can be broken into two parts, the monster of the week story and the brotherly issues. All in all, it wasn't one of the better MOTW stories. The premise seemed right; James Dean, Abraham Lincoln, and Gandhi come to life. Monster takes the form of a person's idol and kills them. I'll have to admit, I have seen Leshii on some lists of mythological creatures this show had yet to tackle, so the choice was of legendary creature was good.
The weakness of the monster story came from the lack of suspense. The story and resulting investigation become a little too textbook and parts that could have been interesting fell flat. None of the deaths were scary. Borderline ridiculous actually. Abe Lincoln is lame, and even the tiny Gandhi jumping on the back of Sam and strangling him, something that should have been hilarious, did nothing for me. The clueless sheriff and wax museum guy were supposed to be funny, but they weren't. Finding out which mythological creature they were dealing with seemed a little too easy. How did Sam know to check for objects in the stomach? Dean freaking out over the legend of Little Bastard though? Sam speaks Spanish? Sam in blue scrubs? Keep those nuggets coming!
Bringing in Paris Hilton, that's inspired. I did love that part. Taking out Dean with her blue shoes and an "awesome," that's funny. Anyone who came to critique Ms. Hilton's acting performance so missed the point of her appearance. It was the classic tongue in cheek jab at the human weakness for celebrity. When the heiress herself chastises how our society used to worship Gods and now we read US Weekly and idolize people with nothing more than small dogs and spray on tans, she earned big points for playing along with the biting joke. She also earned big points for kicking Sam and Dean's asses while keeping her hair perfect. It also opened up the opportunity to poke fun at the vehicle that first brought together Jared Padalecki and Paris Hilton, House of Wax. Gotta love how this show takes every chance to bring out the inside joke.
The other parts of the episode, the brothers essentially airing their grievances, those are the ones worthy of analysis. Sam is still resenting Dean's treatment of him. Dean is still resenting Sam's past behavior. This time though, they're grown up enough to work through it.
Sam wonders why they're taking this job. There's an apocalypse going on. Dean thinks it can wait, they need a basic case to work out the kinks in their teamwork. Sam reluctantly goes along and takes big brother's orders. Does he like it that he does the research while Dean goes to the bar? No, but he lets his protest slide. He won't though let Dean's offhand comment to Bobby on the phone about him starting the apocalypse slide though, but Dean leaves without an apology and an order to go search the museum.
So first, why is Dean acting this way? I took it to be nothing more than a big brother giving little brother a hard time. He's taking advantage of the idea that Sam must prove himself again. He probably also figures that Sam will continue take it like he always has. Siblings do that.
Sam can't take it anymore though, especially when Dean says the case is over and Sam doesn't think it is. Sam comes clean about the real reason why he went with Ruby. To get away from Dean. That way, he wasn't the little brother taking orders. He felt stronger. They can't go back to the way things were because they were never right. Dean points out Sam wanted back in and Sam points out Dean called him back. The decision to reconcile was a two way street. Dean needs to let him grow up. That right there singlehandedly reconciles for me Sam's behavior in all of season four.
At the end, whatever Sam said has sunk in with Dean. He admits he's been too busy watching Sam's every move to see what it was doing to him. Sam asks to be on the same level, and Dean agrees. There we are. Brothers working out their differences like grownups. The apologies are now done, the bad feelings have all surfaced and been discussed, itâ€™s time to move forward. Sam knows the biggest show of faith he can get from Dean is the offer to drive the Impala. He accepts and they move onto their next big adventure.
The upcoming adventures actually ended up being the highlight of the episode. The "Soon" segment previews the upcoming three episodes to Jeff Beck's very cool version of "Superstition." I'm not sure what grabbed me more, Castiel wanting to kill a child, Sam and Dean's adventures in a Japanese game show, a sitcom, and doctor show, Sam meeting Dean as an old man or the Impala as Kitt. Actually, none of those burned in my brain more than the final shot, Sam doing a dead on Horatio Cane impression, tough tagline of â€œjackpot,â€ sunglasses and all. Oh boy, what are we in for?
Overall grade, a B. Without the soon segment, a B-. Still, it actually ranks as an episode I'd watch again. That's more than I can say for "Route 666" or a "Red Sky At Morning." Next week, Castiel is back. Interesting how his absence is now noticed.