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by Jessy Krupa

6 Nov 2015

Tonight’s installment started in the way that countless horror movies (and episodes of Supernatural) have started: two nervous teenagers being hacked to death in a room so dark that you can scarcely see what happened.

As it so happens, they were staying in the former home of accused ax-murderer Lizzie Borden, which has been turned into a hotel/tourist trap. (Yes, there actually is such a place in Fall River, Massachusetts. It has free Wi-Fi, and is rumored to be haunted.) Dean (Jensen Ackles) and a particularly excited Sam (Jared Padalecki) are soon at the scene, looking into whether or not this was the doing of a vengeful spirit. (Long-time viewers might remember that Sam is a true crime fan or as Dean puts it, has a “creepy serial-killer fetish”.) Their investigation leads into the best part of the episode, when the Winchesters show how the haunted house is a hoax, rigged up with hidden speakers, flickering light bulbs, and an EMF machine in the basement. This is especially unexpected, considering it’s an actual business that the series is fictionalizing here.

by Jessy Krupa

3 Nov 2015

Some of Supernatural‘s most beloved episodes are called “stand-alone”, meaning that the emphasis is on a generalized plot full of humorous moments, but otherwise unrelated to the rest of the season’s events. But unlike season three’s “Mystery Spot” or season ten’s “Fan Fiction”, “Baby” also offered us some hints as to what we should expect later on this season.

The episode began with a clip from the season five finale, “Swan Song”, in which Chuck the prophet (Rob Benedict) described just how much the Winchester brothers’ 1967 Chevy Impala means to them. Many fans of the show believe that Chuck was actually God in disguise, so his brief inclusion in this episode could mean something big.

But first there was some fun to be had, as viewers were treated an entire episode from the point of view of the Impala, lovingly referred to by Dean’s as “Baby” and dubbed the “Metallicar” by fans of the show. Sam and Dean washed the car to the tune of Bread’s “Guitar Man”, which disappointingly wasn’t the sort of sudsy scene that Ackles joked about in Entertainment Weekly last month (he implied the boys would be shirtless). Apparently, this was a moment of brotherly bonding and brief plot development, rather than the sort of moment thing fans can use to make GIFs.

Deciding to go on a road trip in search of the diner-loving Metatron (Curtis Armstrong), the brothers stop at a sleazy-looking roadhouse for what Dean considers a good time (usually beer and casual sex). Surprisingly, it’s Sam who wakes up in the backseat with a half-dressed waitress, named Piper (Megan Kaptein), in search of her hairpin. I’m pretty sure the last one night stand on Supernatural resulted in Dean killing his murderous, rapidly aging, half-monster daughter, but as of yet, Piper seems innocuous. Her departure does inspire Sam and Dean to sing along with Bob Seger’s “Night Moves” and discuss how the hunter lifestyle makes them lousy at long-term relationships.

However, thinking that the entire episode was going to be all sweetness and light (or brews and babes) is a mistake. Sam finds himself talking to a younger version of his father (Matt Cohen, previously seen when Dean time-traveled back in season five) in a vision/dream. John Winchester doesn’t offer much in heavenly guidance, but knows about The Darkness and tells Sam that, “God helps those who help themselves”.

In “Form and Void”, Sam was helped by a Biblical quote from the reaper Billie (Lisa Barry)? Following his dream, Sam entertains the thought that his vision was a message from God (perhaps meaning that Billie was God, too?), but Dean surprisingly counters this theory with the fact that the quote in question doesn’t actually appear in the Bible (it’s Aesop), and that Dean also frequently dreams about their dead father. 

The rest of the episode devotes itself to the usual “monster of the week” plot. In this case, it’s a deputy (Teach Grant) who is actually a “nachzehrer”, a ghoul/vampire hybrid (or “ghoul-pire” as Dean dubs it). Oddly, the episode does include a scene in which a valet, Jessie (Danyella Angel) takes the Impala for a joyride. While this scene appears to be just an excuse to shoehorn selfie-taking and an MIA song into a Supernatural episode, Jessie’s friend (Catherine Jack) ends up unable to find her purse; it’s the missing purse that ends up helping save the day. (Of course, I thought at least one of these women would turn out to be another monster of some sort, but no.)

Eventually, the brothers split up to investigate/fight these creatures, leading up to a darkly funny scene in which Dean slaughters “Deputy Dumbass” (Teach Grant) while Castiel (Misha Collins) calls to discuss both how to kill said monster and the complexities of Netflix, leaving Dean with a decapitated yet angry head stored in an old-fashioned cooler.

Sam arrives with Lily (Sarah-Jane Redmond), a local woman he has rescued, and the three have to actually drive to a convenience store to get pre-1983 pennies, because copper coins kill ghoul-pires and nobody carries any loose change anymore. (That just may be the strangest sentence I’ve ever written.) Most viewers likely expected what happened next, as Lily ditches Sam, overpowers and handcuffs Dean, and repairs the head nachzehrer who turned her into a monster minion.

All of this leads to a semi-controversial scene amongst viewers: Dean uses the waitress’ hairpin to break out of a pair of handcuffs, and kills Deputy Ghoul-pire by using pennies from the joyrider’s purse, thus magically curing Lily and anyone else who’d been turned. Whether you think this is clever way to tie in all of the elements of the episode or a poorly written way to quickly resolve the plot likely depends on whether or not you own any official Supernatural merchandise. Like the rest of the episode, it was silly and gimmicky, but it works on its own level. That might be a fairly accurate description of the series as a whole.

Season arc thoughts

There is an increasingly popular theory that this season will end with the death of Sam Winchester, meaning that his soul would be trapped/destroyed in “The Empty”, with which the reaper threatened the brothers. Given Supernatural‘s prestige and ratings, it seems unlikely either actor will be written out of the show anytime soon. What is more likely is the departure of one of the beloved secondary character. There seems to be a lot less screen time of Castiel lately, and Crowley’s tumultuous partnership with the Darkness is unlikely to end well. Next week’s episode is unlikely to offer any answers, as the previews seem to point to another stand-alone episode, in which the brothers investigate the ghost of Lizzie Borden.

by Jessy Krupa

16 Oct 2015

Has streaming/DVD viewing changed the way television tells its stories? You could make that argument for Supernatural‘s 11th season, as its first two episodes are directly connected. “Form and Void” begins exactly where the season premiere left off, with Sam (Jared Padalecki) dealing with the effects of the mysterious black vein virus, Castiel (Misha Collins) being tortured at the hands of two snotty angels with obscure Biblical names, and Dean (Jensen Ackles) discovering what makes Amaura so special.

Was anyone surprised that baby Amara is a vessel for the Darkness? No. We’re also not surprised that she can “eat” souls, age rapidly, or that she apparently ends up hanging out with King of Hell Crowley (Mark A. Sheppard). But one of the things that makes Supernatural so interesting is that even though viewers often have a general idea of what is going to happen next, the show still finds ways to surprise us.

by Anthony Merino

25 Sep 2015

NBC has a habit of trying the same idea over and over again. Two years ago, the television network used their popular singing competition, The Voice as the lead into a high-concept crime espionage drama The Blacklist. This concept worked well enough for the network to try a similar series: Blindspot. As in The Blacklist, a person with a great deal of information surrenders to or is found out by the government. That person make reference to an agent (out of the blue) to work with, thus beginning a series of adventures in which the agent and the person with info solve crimes and capture bad guys.

In both cases, neither drama stands up to critical examination: plot holes, insane coincidences, and conveniences saturate the scripts. The big question is: will Blindspot be able to have the same draw as The Blacklist? At this point, it is too early to tell. There are a few differences between the shows that merit notation.

by Sean Fennell

9 Sep 2015

And there you have it. The F Society team has finally, once and for all, sprung several dogs from captivation and saved the world. Oh yeah, and the hack that has been discussed since episode one? That has finally been executed too.

We’ve seen numerous hacks in season one, usually with Elliot (Rami Malek) walking us through the technicalities as he ruins this life or that one, all in the name of the overall good. The ironic part of Mr. Robot’s finale is that we do not, in fact, see this hack carried out. Instead, we catch up with Elliot two days after the hack, as its effects are starting to truly sink in worldwide. This doesn’t mean that Elliot is basking in the glory of his success. In fact, he is just as lost as we are, as he remembers just as much about the operation as the viewer.

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