Weird camera angles, hybrid monsters, and a brotherly sing-along leads us to some interesting plot developments when Supernatural puts Baby in the driver's seat.
SupernaturalAirtime: Wednesdays, 8pm
Cast: Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, Misha Collins, Mark A. Sheppard
Subtitle: Season 11, Episode 4 - "Baby"
Air date: 2015-10-28
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.