I’m desperate to get back on track with these Supernatural reviews. You know that downward spiral of procrastination that happens when it’s been awhile since you worked on something and going back to it feels like a chore even though you want to get back to it?
That’s been me for the past couple of weeks following my return from Spain. It didn’t totally help that episodes two through five of this season taper off from the great season opener. Writing about less-than-exciting events is a bit tedious, so I’ve had to really buckle down to get this done, and even then, I had to wait until “Nightmare Logic.” This post will be a tad long: a full review of “Nightmare Logic” and last week’s “Mint Condition” will be first, followed by some general thoughts about “Gods and Monsters” and “The Scar,” since there were some significant developments from those episodes, like Dean returning.
So if you’re still with me, let’s talk about episode five, “Nightmare Logic.”
This was an interesting episode, one I found to be more emotionally engaging than the three previous episodes. A lot of that has to do with Sam, but I also appreciated the focus on how Dean is still feeling following Michael’s departure. It was subtle, but a much better look at what Dean’s going through than what the “Mint Condition” gave us.
Maggie (Katherine Evans), whom Sam and Dean saved from vampires at the end of last season in Apocalypse World, is out on a solo hunt. Sam has his hunters wearing body cams (so great) so he’s able to see when Maggie is attacked by what they believe to be a ghoul. Sam’s whole hunter HQ setup has gotten more sophisticated since “Stranger in a Strange Land.” He sends hunters out on missions, makes them check in periodically, and has the body cam footage uploaded to an app where everyone can view. He’s a little bit like Bobby from back in the day, providing advice and organizing hunts from one location. For a show that’s been going for 14 years and has seen the brothers go through many changes, this one feels absolutely perfect for Sam. Instead of feeling defeated by Dean’s disappearance, he set to work and is getting things done. This is also a great way to provide some character development for Sam; by moving him into more of a leadership role, we see all the knowledge Sam has accumulated over the years be put to good use, beyond just him and Dean hunting together.
Dean and Sam go to Maggie’s last known location, a large estate whose comatose owner looks exactly like the ghoul they saw in Maggie’s footage. Bobby and Mary also show up, concerned after Maggie had stopped texting them. Is being members of the historical society every hunter’s go-to? Seems odd that Sam, Dean, Bobby and Mary use the same excuse. They meet Neil, the nurse for Mr. Rawlings, and Mr. Rawlings’ daughter, Sasha, who insist they’ve noticed nothing odd around the house.
After experiencing some questionable monster encounters, Dean realizes they’re dealing with a djinn, who turns out to be Neil. Sam finds Maggie in the attic and saves her. The monster-of-the-week part of this episode falls a little flat, especially when it turns out to not even really be a MOW episode. Neil tells Dean he’s acting on Michael’s orders to kill as many hunters as he can. I think it’s presumed Neil has been juiced up with angel grace, but he doesn’t seem particularly stronger than a regular djinn. Dean knocks Neil out pretty spectacularly and that’s pretty much it for the plot.
What’s most interesting, and my favorite part of the episode, are the dynamics between Sam, Bobby, Dean, and Mary. This episode does a great job in reminding us that even though Jim Beaver is here to stay, he’s playing an entirely different Bobby. The way he yells at Sam about letting Maggie take on a hunt by herself and saying he isn’t fit to be a leader isn’t something Sam and Dean’s Bobby would say. Far from it. This Bobby also has some extra baggage our Bobby didn’t, which manifests as a waking nightmare thanks to the djinn. Bobby’s son was lost to the angel war in Apocalypse World, and it’s done some damage to Bobby’s psych. To be honest, this revelation was a bit clunky thanks to the loose rules the episode is playing by in relation to how the djinn is manipulating nightmares and how a comatose Mr. Rawlings fits into this. Still, it’s a revelation that works in order for us to understand that we may have Bobby back, but it’s not the one we’re used to.
Sam and Mary have a nice mother-son moment too and it isn’t until it’s happening that I realized we don’t get many of them. It’s lovely and I’d like for them to team up more often.
Dean bonds with Sasha over her bad relationship with her father. Dean tells her she should let the past go, something that’s clear Dean is desperately trying to do as well. It’s nice to see Dean opening up to somebody who isn’t Sam, Mary, Bobby, or Cas. This is a show that keeps a relatively small main cast, so any time a character can make a genuine connection to a one-off character is a breath of fresh air. This is actually the second time in two weeks Dean bonds with a secondary character. This, along with Sam’s new leadership role for the hunters in the bunker, makes me think the show is finding new ways for Sam and Dean to evolve from the hunters we know them as. I would say it feels a little end-game, but it may be too early to tell. As entertaining as Supernatural is, especially when it’s able to keep up consistency in these later seasons, it’s still a show that doesn’t allow a whole lot of character development for Sam and Dean. We tend to cover the same territory every year, but it feels like both Sam and Dean are moving forward, even if it’s only very slightly.
Even though I love Sam’s whole set up at the bunker, I’d like to see all those hunters fleshed out more instead of just roaming in the background while Sam and Dean go about their usual business. Maggie is probably the only one we really know, but even she is regulated to damsel in distress here.
Next week looks pretty fun. But before we get there, read more about past Supernatural episodes below!
Dean is feeling a little out of the loop after returning to a bunker that’s a little more lively than it used to be. After being gone for some time, going home can be a wonderful thing and it’s definitely something you don’t expect to change. If you’re someone who left for college only to return some weeks later to find your room turned into storage, then you know what I’m talking about. For Dean, the bunker’s feeling a little crowded these days, so he hides in his room watching slasher films. His favorite is one called “All Saints Day,” and seems to take on the very worst (or best) qualities of any slasher film out there, including a ridiculous tag line: “It’s time to slice and dice!” the Freddy Krueger-like slasher says, stumbling down the halls of a hospital onscreen.
Sam may be book smart, but Dean has always been presented as the pop culture nerd between the two of them. So it’s no surprise Dean is able to bond with the comic book shop workers pretty well. For a Halloween-centric episode, I felt like it could have done more. The ghost possesses only two objects in the comic shop and, while the life-size Freddy Krueger look-alike is all in good fun, it’s a missed opportunity to not have really used more from the slasher-movie genre.
I do like how the secondary characters seem to keep sticking around for each episode, instead of just being a source for information like they usually are. There are some good nods to classic horror-tropes, but ghost possession feels a little tired at this point: once they figure out it is ghost possession, or just a ghost, all that needs to be done is burn the remains. Life-size Freddy Kreugers aren’t enough to spice up this particular Supernatural staple.
And now, some very general thoughts and notes on “Gods and Monsters” and “The Scar”:
“Gods and Monsters”
- “I’ve been fighting a freaking apocalypse for 15 years, my FBI might be a little rusty.”
- The Sam/Bobby/Mary FBI team up is really cute.
- “The past, where you came from, that’s important, but it’s not as important as the future, where you’re going.”
- It’s definitely cool to see Nick exhibiting some of the habits left over from Lucifer. It’s a little sinister and dark and I love it.
- “Why be the hunted when you can be the hunter?”
- Jack seeks out Kelly’s parents, which is cool and very open-minded. What isn’t: Jack wanting to kill Michael, even if it kills Dean too. This seems totally random.
- Loved the interaction between Cas and Jack, though.
- “Duck Dynasty called and they want it all back.”
- This is a much needed follow-up to the “Wayward Sisters” backdoor pilot last season. Even though Wayward Sisters didn’t get green-lit, it’s great that Supernatural isn’t leaving them hanging. We get a little more of Kaia and learn Michael is scared of her/her scythe. While everything here was cool, there’s still a lot of loose ends to take care of. Hopefully, that will be a large part of this season.
- “I didn’t mean to be a dick.”
- Nice jungle music as they walk through the … jungle. (Okay, it’s a forest, but that music was weird).
- “Storage room, red cabinet, bottom drawer. It’s marked ‘gross stuff.'”
- Sam needs to take charge again. With Dean back, he’s fallen into the little brother, second-in-command role again. He almost had something good going in “Stranger in a Strange Land.” I want more of that Sam.
- This was a great episode for Jack, who learned to trust his instincts even without his powers.
If you made it all the way through this post, thank you. I know it was a lot, but next week, I should be back on a regular posting schedule! Which will be nice because covering four episodes at once makes my head feel like mush.
See ya next week!