Rewinding 'Supernatural': "Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid"

Jessy Krupa

Episode was a straightforward zombie movie homage with a twist.

It has been weeks since the last new episode of the CW’s Supernatural aired, and fans called this break a “hellatus”. During this hiatus, the network announced that the series will be renewed for another season this fall, and it’s episodes like this one that show us why.

Supernatural has dealt with the dead rising from the grave many times before, but the last “zombie” reference was Season 2‘s “Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things”. This episode was more than a mere homage to various zombie films, however, because it had a heart.

The show opened with the usual “scary moment”; a zombie crawling out of his grave in order to break into a house. The irony is that the camera cuts away to a poster of custom cars that says “He who dies with the most toys... wins”, as a man is violently murdered. After the commercial break, we see the Winchester brothers posing as FBI agents, in order to question some guy nicknamed Digger who claims that a formerly dead friend murdered the man. Their meeting is interrupted by local sheriff Jody Mills, who doesn’t believe that Sam and Dean are agents. Usually Dean avoids these situations by giving authorities the number of his “supervisor”, Agent Willis, who is actually close friend and fellow supernatural hunter Bobby Singer. But this is Uncle Bobby’s hometown, so she recognizes his voice as that of the “town drunk”. Sam and Dean then go to visit Bobby, only to find him strangely “smelling like soap” and telling them that nothing is going on there. His suspicious behavior, plus the omens of lightning storms and empty caskets leads Sam and Dean to visit the home of the supposed vengeful zombie. They find him alive, yet pale, and very defensive of his actions. The sheriff arrives to arrest the Winchesters because as Zombie Benny says, “I’m a taxpayer!” After Bobby bails them out, Sam and Dean are surprised to find Bobby’s dead wife, Karen, waiting for them at home. Though she can’t sleep, realizes she was dead, and remembers how she was possessed by a demon that caused her husband to kill her, she just cheerfully shrugs that off and bakes an excessive amount of pies.

This is the part when the current mythology of the show kicks in. Previously, War and Famine, two of the four horsemen of the apocalypse were defeated as the Winchesters tried to avoid the end of the world. Though Bobby realizes that this must be the work of Death (stay tuned for Pestilence), he can’t bear to part with Karen. In an intense scene showing great acting by Jim Beaver, Bobby pleads “please, please…, leave her be”, but admits if she starts to “turn” that he would be the one to put her out of her misery. Dean stays behind, but Sam sets off to find more out. He comes to the home of the town’s first living corpse, an ill elderly woman. After he finds her husband’s body, the woman starts foaming at the mouth and attacks Sam. He shoots her in the head, which apparently kills the undead. It is then that we learn why Sheriff Mills is “pro-zombie”; her son has come back to life. After coughing, running a 111-degree fever, and pleading for food, he kills and starts eating his father. Just as the boy does the slow zombie chase of death towards Jody, she is saved by Sam and his pistol. The two then decide to rid the town of the undead.

Meanwhile, back at Bobby’s, Karen starts feeling ill, but she realizes what is happening. She tearfully tells her husband how she remembers everything and that he needs to kill her again before she turns. She also has a message for him from the “thin man” at the cemetery. After doing the deed, Bobby and Dean head out to destroy the rest of the living dead, but they run afoul of a crazed zombie crowd. Paying tribute to the usual horror movies, the two shoot away before they run out of ammunition and have to hide in a closet. Sam and the sheriff come to their rescue and save the day with their guns.

The show ends with the bodies of the dead being burned, known on the show as the way to prevent spirits from ever coming back. In the front of his home/junkyard, Bobby burns Karen’s body. Dean tries to cheer him up by saying, “At least you got to spend five days with her.” Bobby replies that “made things a thousand times worse”. Finally, Bobby reveals what message Death gave Karen at the cemetery: that Death was after Bobby in order to stop him from helping the brothers in their fight against the apocalypse.

Although it seemingly went by fast, “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid” was one of season five’s best episodes. It steered away from the juvenile silliness that we have previously seen in the show, yet it still gave us humorous moments and a fresh look at its concept. Next week’s episode could go either way, though, as Sam and Dean goes to Heaven and encounters the mischievous angel Zechariah.

So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.