'Supernatural' Resurrects Hitler in an Odd, Stand-Alone Episode
An average, stand-alone episode leaves us wondering about the future of season 12.
SupernaturalAirtime: Thursdays, 9pm
Cast: Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, Misha Collins, Mark A. Sheppard
Subtitle: Season 12, Episode 5 - "The One You've Been Waiting For"
Air date: 2016-11-10
Supernatural has an illustrious history of weekly monsters, but this week's episode dealt with an especially unusual villain: Adolf Hitler. It leads to the question of whether or not imagining an actual person -- particularly one who caused as much death and damage as Hitler -- as a horror fantasy is or isn't in bad taste. Despite the gore and violence that usually comes with horror movies and shows, there's a certain lightness that comes with the adult realization that imaginary creatures such as vampires, ghosts, werewolves, zombies, and the like don't actually exist.
Horror movies about Hitler and Nazis, however, aren't unusual (ranging from the laughably ridiculous They Saved Hitler's Brain to more recent fare like Dead Snow), and many horror characters are loosely based on actual, often tragic events (such as how Dracula was inspired by the bloody war exploits and reign of Vlad the Impaler, or how the bacteria-related death of an archaeologist led to the idea of The Mummy's ancient Egyptian curses.) Regardless, given Supernatural's history of mashing up pop culture, ancient myths, religious lore, and just plain ridiculousness, no one should really be shocked by "The One You've Been Waiting For".
After reading about two people who spontaneously combusted in an antiques store, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) investigate what the two were arguing over at the time: a gold pocketwatch emblazoned with a swastika. They call Aaron Bass (Adam Rose) (from the season eight episode, "Everybody Hates Hitler"), the keeper of a Golem who's been hunting down a group of supernatural Nazi necromancers known as "The Thule", which is precisely what they're dealing with in this episode.
This group of age-resistant, hard-to-kill Nazi necromancers are led by Commandant Nauhaus (Gil Darnell). Darnell plays Nauhaus as a typical Hollywood Nazi who mostly barks orders with a thick German accent. At the end of World War II, he used magic to encase Hitler's soul in a pocketwatch in order to resurrect his fuhrer in the future. First, however, he needs the blood of a distant relative, a woman named Ellie (Allison Page), so he sends his (oddly 22-year-old) son (Keenan Tracey) to kidnap her.
The Winchesters find and rescue her, with Nauhaus' son, Christoph on to their side (because as he explains, throughout his childhood "Christmas was a joke" and "career day at school was a nightmare"; never mind that his father tried to have him killed). Not before, however, Nauhaus actually goes through the procedure and becomes possessed by the spirit of Hitler.
Considering the confusing nature of what is turning out to be this season's main plot (the British Men of Letters and their overreach of power), wouldn't this week's plot have made a much stronger villain? After all, what's more frightening, a bureaucratic group of kill-happy monster-hunters, or the unkillable spirit of a notorious dictator and his undead goon squad? Regardless, Supernatural's version of Hitler is more silly than scary, and too-easily killed when Dean merely shoots him in the head, continuing season 12's track record of quickly resolved plots.
The first stand-alone episode of the season -- the only thing tying it to the main plot is a brief scene in which Sam asked Dean if he really is “alright with” their mother's decision to be alone for awhile -- did at least contain a few references to the events of previous seasons. As usual, Dean was mostly used for comic relief (he still loves pie and really enjoys the fact that he killed Hitler), while Sam reminded us of his past (being used as a pawn in order to bring Lucifer back to earth on more than one occasion) as he consoled Ellie.
The show's writers could be trying to tell us something about Sam's character, as he bonded with a woman who was known for "running away from her problems"; a quality they share. Is there a reason why the writers keep reminding us of Sam's past troubles? Regarding last week's episode, the series' producers have denied that Sam will have any psychic powers this season, but that doesn't rule out some other big Sam-related plot twist. Only time will tell.