Season 11, Episode 8 - "Just My Imagination"
Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, Misha Collins, Mark A. Sheppard
Regular airtime: Wednesdays, 8pm
US: 2 Dec 2015
Supernatural returned this week after a short Thanksgiving break, but there were no signs of the holiday season in this episode. Also, despite reports to the contrary, Sheriff Donna (Brianna Buckmaster) didn’t make an appearance. (I’m not sure why that is, but she’ll likely turn up in another episode soon.) Instead, we got a very dark, slightly disturbing exploration of childhood and regrets.
The central plot revolved around the brutal murders of imaginary friends, starting with Sparkles the unicorn/man (Everrett Shea), and continuing with Nikki the mermaid (Ida Segerhagen), and the near-fatal stabbing of Weems the magical Deadhead (Eduard Witzke). (If this sounds confusing and ridiculous, that’s because it is.) As it turns out, “imaginary friends” are actually zannas, creatures from Romanian folklore who guard children.
Sam Winchester (Jared Padalecki) had his very own zanna as a child: Sully (Nate Torrence), a cheerful man with rainbow-striped suspenders. Naturally, he’s very surprised to see him appear in the Winchester bunker. Sully explains the zanna situation and asks Sam and Dean (Jensen Ackles) for help, but a lot of time’s wasted on Dean’s general disdain for these creatures and the ridiculousness of it all.
Some fans of the show have already pointed out that Dean hasn’t been his usual fun-loving self this season, and it really showed here. In fact, the only time we even see him crack a smile in this episode is when he refers to Sparkles as a “manicorn”.
One can hardly blame him, though. Previous “creatures from folklore” episodes like season five’s Cupid (Lex Medlin) or the fairies and elves in season six’s “Clap Your Hands If You Believe” (all of which were featured in the pre-show “then” montage) all had their silly, humorous moments, but this episode just got darker and darker. I’m not sure which was worse: seeing a clueless mom accidentally spread sparkly blood all over her face, or seeing blood spray all over the swim toys in a little girl’s swimming pool? Supernatural’s never been a show for the squeamish, but this was the literal definition of overkill.
Sam and Dean eventually track down the killer, Reese (Anja Savcic), a disturbed woman whose twin sister died after being struck by a car. Sully was their zanna, and he didn’t notice the car, possibly because he was distracted by his grief over losing Sam. The ending wasn’t very satisfying, as Reese can’t bring herself to stab Sully, and after a quick hug, is presumably now cured of her mental illnesses. Sam gets to tell Sully goodbye in a better way than he did as a child, but not before receiving some encouraging words from his old friend.
Keeping this from being a complete stand-alone episode is the last three minutes, in which Sam tells Dean his theory of stopping the Darkness by going back into The Cage with Lucifer and Michael. Dean’s his usual dismissive self, and we are left exactly where we were last week.
Those of you wishing for another “A Very Supernatural Christmas” will likely be disappointed next week, as the show spends its mid-season finale battling the Darkness and dealing with the opening of the Cage,