We’re only six episodes away from the end of this season. It didn’t occur to me until the end of this week’s episode, and that’s probably because Supernatural’s season arc has meandered at times. “The Thing” flings us into the final act of this ongoing story of apocalyptic universes by way of a neat red little bow. Read: it all seemed too easy.
I actually quite enjoyed “The Thing,” despite not being an homage to the classic horror film, even with that title. One particular sequence I found thrilling was the brother’s discovery of another Men of Letters bunker. That which seems familiar isn’t. Though Supernatural’s main music theme is classic rock songs, the original score has had its moments, too, and the moments leading up to finding Sandy gave me chills. A nice reminder that the show did come from horror roots, once upon a time. The mystery of Sandy was both compelling and refreshing in that it worked as a clear bait-and-switch and a new take on monster possession. With the introduction of parallel and alternate universes, Supernatural has been dabbling more in creature horror rather than monsters.
Where “The Thing” ultimately stumbles is in its pacing and odd tonal shifts. There’s a brief comedic moment in the beginning where Dean pranks Sam, the childish pranks reminiscent of early Supernatural episodes “Hell House” and “Tall Tales.” But that certain lightheartedness doesn’t carry through as the episode gets distracted by the seriousness of its main story. “Hell House” managed to carry the comedy for 45 minutes, while “Tall Tales” turns the comedy on its head. Both episodes balance the story with its sillier aspects. “The Thing” does not, so the post-it note prank ends up feeling out-of-place.
After Dean and Sam rescue Sandy, the forward momentum stalls for a bit, and then falls flat. Sam’s abduction by the Men of Letters, who had been holding Sandy in their bunker, lasts for all of two minutes, during which they explain Sandy is actually a god from another dimension. Except for the great sequence before the discovery of Sandy, the episode lacks any noteworthy tension. At least in story A.
Story B is another matter. In what could have been a rather dull confrontation between Asmodeus and Arthur Ketch becomes layered with the presence of a traumatized and abused Gabriel, who lurks on the edges of Asmodeus and Arthur’s heated arguments. Asmodeus is injecting himself with Gabriel’s grace, to what purpose, I have no idea (to get stronger?), while Arthur grows annoyed at being treated like a lackey. Asmodeus puts Arthur in his place by soundly beating him bloody. But throughout it all, Arthur gives subtle glances to Gabriel’s huddled form in his cell. It’s a great build up to Arthur’s eventual rescue of Gabriel by episode’s end, but that’s also why everything ends up feeling too easy.
For a good while, Sam and Dean have been searching for the ingredients of the spell that can open a rift to the apocalypse world (if I haven’t made this joke yet, excuse me, but — “There’s a crack in my wall”), thus turning season thirteen into a bit of a Macguffin chase. The ingredients seemed difficult to get — blood of a holy man, the key of Solomon, and an archangel’s grace. Difficult, no? But they easily got the blood of a holy man in, no surprise, “A Most Holy Man,” and obtained the last two ingredients in this episode. (Am I missing other ingredients, or was it just those three?) Not to mention, they learn Gabriel isn’t dead right after their incredible luck in getting the Key of Solomon. (Why exactly did those Men of Letters just hand that over again, especially considering Sam and Dean let loose a monster from another world?) It’s all rather wrapped up nicely, even with Dean and Arthur traveling to the apocalypse world together and leaving Sam and Gabriel behind. But this episode was written by Davey Perez, so “The Thing” is able to get by with big ideas and refreshing takes, even if the execution is a little off.
These last six episodes will be a fight for our world, and maybe the rescue of more than just Jack and Mary. Also, don’t forget: Lucifer has control of heaven at the moment.
- “Jinkies.” “Are you ever going to stop saying that?” After meeting the Scooby gang? I’d make reference to that all the time.
- There seemed to be some weird secondary character moments that didn’t end up going anywhere. The older diner waitress had an over-the-top personality that seemed better suited to someone who gets more screen time. The younger waitress and the guy who can’t let go of a crush also are introduced like they were to have larger roles.
- “The Thing” had a perfect location set up in the diner that could have turned the episode into a single room stand off between the diner workers, patrons, and Sam and Dean against Sandy, with the added twist that the monster is already inside. Along with the pacing and tonal shifts, “The Thing” lacks follow-through on some of its more interesting set ups.
- Supernatural‘s been renewed for season 14! Maybe in an alternate universe, this show ended after five and everyone who thinks it was a great ending is living miserable lives.