“Optimism” is one of those stand alone episodes Supernatural does really well sometimes. In fact, it might be one of the show’s better ones. After some plot heavy previous episodes that never really managed to further the over-arching threat of Michael, “Optimism” takes a break from the larger plot to focus on two separate cases. Dean and Jack team up to investigate the mysteriously disappearing men surrounding a girl named Harper (Maddie Phillips) while Sam and Charlie stake out a bus stop where people have gone missing from.
Not only are the two cases great (I mean, one involves a man/fly hybrid), but there are fantastic character beats here as well. It helps that Sam and Charlie’s case mostly consists of them sitting in Charlie’s truck for the majority of the episode, which allows for Dean and Jack’s side of things to be a bit more action-packed. Since Sam and Charlie get to deal with the man/fly hybrid, less is definitely more. But it gives us a chance to understand this different version of Charlie, someone who has spent the majority of her life in an apocalypse. She’s more hardened, haunted by the war, and is tired of the fight. She tells Sam this is her last hunt before she retires to a mountain top (pending WiFi availability). Sam, who himself has tried time and again to leave the hunter’s life, pleads with Charlie to reconsider. Knowing what’s out there, how can one simply walk away? Sam’s argument actually comes as a surprise. Even though Sam has stayed in the hunter’s life, I always figured he understood why people would want to leave. He’s most likely found a new perspective from a leadership position, and not to mention, Sam’s always been able to look on the bright side of things. A hunter’s job may be hell, but you can, occasionally, save the day.
Jack convinces Dean to take him on a hunt since he’s bored hanging around the bunker all the time. No doubt he’s in good spirits after he saved that girl from a curse a few episodes back. Jack may be without powers, but he’s still capable of handling hunts. Dean and Jack don their FBI personas and set out to interview the girl at the center of the disappearances, Harper. Harper is a terrific secondary character for this episode. In a way, she reminded me of Buffy Summers. I couldn’t tell you exactly why, but she gives off this vulnerability that drags you in only to rip the floor out from under you later. It’s also incredibly funny, from the quick cuts to Sam and Charlie bored in the truck after Jack incorrectly assumes they’re having an adventure to Dean giving Jack advice about girls. Alexander Calvert continues to be endearing as all hell and somehow manages to keep giving layers to Jack that we haven’t really explored before. He picks up on going undercover real quick and is undeniably perceptive when confronted with Harper’s love-at-first-sight speech (though this could be argued somewhat since Harper turned out to be lying). Still, I can’t remember the last time I laughed this hard at an episode.
Comedy aside, Jack and Dean really bond over how they’ve both made mistakes in the past. Even though they can acknowledge some things were out of their control, it doesn’t stop them from feeling guilty. Their mutual understanding of each other in this episode makes Jack’s proclamation about killing Dean to kill Michael a few episodes back seem all the more out of left field. It also makes the end of the episode all the more heart wrenching. Jack has been dealing with a cough for a while now. With his collapse at the end of the hour, certainly some answers will be forthcoming. No doubt whatever is going wrong with him has something to do with being powerless. Don’t forget, he’s a nephilim. It wouldn’t surprise me that a nephilim without powers might suffer more ill effects than an angel without them.
This episode is such a delight. Everything is wrapped up nicely. I especially enjoyed the twist that the man/fly hybrid actually had a family as well. Its other hive members leading a procession for it was quite touching, actually. Harper gets away and the letter she writes to Jack leaves her story for a wickedly outrageous return sometime in the future (fingers crossed).
This Week’s Wayward Thoughts:
- “I’m 99 percent sure she’s in love with me.”
- “Okay, but if she is, I need to know everything about sex, go.”
- We haven’t had a zombie story in awhile, so that was cool. Harper’s twist worked really well as well. Her sunny personality works great in contrast with her dead zombie boyfriend and her tendency toward necromancy.
- Sam with the fidget spinner. Another great cut off Dean’s “he’s a smart guy” comment.
- This episode is directed by Richard Speight, Jr. Can we have Gabriel back, please?
- “Look, I promise when we get back home, I’ll give you the talk.”
- “What’s courting?” “It’s what you do before you start dating.” “Oh, that’s the thing you do before sex.”
- Felicia Day is great, but I miss original Charlie. Anyone with me?
Any thoughts, comments or questions, post in the comment section below or tweet me @kateypretzel. Since next week is Thanksgiving, Supernatural is taking a break and I guess that means I am too. Back on the 29th.