"Plush", the first true stand-alone episode of this season, is stuffed with horror movie cliches and filler.
SupernaturalAirtime: Wednesdays, 8pm
Cast: Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, Misha Collins, Mark A. Sheppard
Subtitle: Season 11, Episode 7 - "Plush"
Air date: 2015-11-18
Has anyone noticed how misleading Supernatural's recent promos are? Advertisements for “Plush” made it look like one of the series' sillier episodes, with the brothers spouting puns and chasing a giant bunny rabbit. Instead, what we got was a disturbingly dark (even by Supernatural's standards) hodgepodge of ideas lifted from other horror movies.
It opened with a stereotypically lazy husband (Kirt Purdy) finding himself brutally stabbed by a stranger wearing a plush rabbit head. Since this happened in Sheriff Donna's (Brianna Buckmaster) district (you might remember her from last season's “The Purge” and “Hibbing 911” episodes), she called Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles). This is where the writing starts to get iffy: since the suspect's mask won't come off and he doesn't respond to any questions, the brothers manage identify him due to his college T-shirt and a “Kylie forever” tattoo on his wrist. But first, the rabbit guy nearly strangles Dean (Jensen Ackles). As odd as this is, it doesn't stop the brothers from making Bugs Bunny and Who Framed Roger Rabbit? references.
Kylie (Megan Peta Hill) tells the Winchesters that the man in the bunny mask is her boyfriend, who’s been acting strangely ever since he tried the mask on in a thrift shop (similar to the plot of both The Mask and a book in the Goosebumps series.) Before they can warn Donna, the man attacks her and her Deputy, Doug (Brendan Taylor), who’s forced to kill him. As he dies, the mysterious bunny head falls off.
Sam and Dean salt and burn the head, believing it to be inhabited by a vengeful ghost. But the same ghost has other costumes to try on. His next victim is a coach (Bruce Blain), who is almost kettle-belled to death by a girl (Cate Sproule) in a high school mascot costume. After Dean's shotgun of salt frees her, the ghost jumps into a clown suit.
The “previously on” at the beginning of the episode warned us that Sam (like most sensible people) doesn't like clowns. (Just a joke! Please don't write angry comments, clown fans.) This was a big build-up to nothing much, as Sam quickly disarms and dispatches the ghost in a hospital elevator, to reveal an elderly man who’d donned the costume to entertain his granddaughter; unfortunately, the ghost is dispatched only after the man slits the throat of the aforementioned coach.
Eventually, the brothers tracked all of the costumes and murders to a “children's performer” named Chester accused of “inappropriate actions” with children. (You can draw your own Nightmare On Elm Street comparisons here.) After a vengeful father and coach killed him and made it look like a suicide, his ghost wanted revenge. After the brothers set the last costume, a caribou-like creature that was referred to as a deer, ablaze, the ghost vanishes. Only the last few minutes of the episode focus on the main storyline of the season, as Sam reveals to Dean that he has been praying to God for help and confirming that his visions are of The Cage in Hell where Sam was trapped for months between seasons five and six. Dean, however, is his usual dismissive self, wondering why God would intervene now when he didn’t bother during the apocalypse of season five.
The only non-misleading aspect of the promos was to let us know that we were in for a stand-alone episode (the only one so far that hasn't featured Castiel [Misha Collins], Crowley [Mark A. Sheppard], or Amara [Samantha Isler]), but it certainly wasn't as fun as the promos suggested. It was nice to see Sheriff Donna again (some fans are currently lobbying for her to star in a spin-off with several other notable female characters), who offers a light-hearted and welcome female presence to a very male-dominated series, but other than her reluctant relationship with the deputy that shares the same name as her ex-husband, she wasn't given much to do. Even the main plot of the episode went somewhat unresolved; we're left wondering if Chester was innocent or not.
Following a break for Thanksgiving, Supernatural seemingly will continue the theme of silliness, with an episode featuring imaginary friends materializing and going on a rampage. Here’s hoping it’s more successful that this episode.