by Mieke Trudeau
“I guess we’re going to have to go old school”
From the “Then”, featuring a rogues gallery of MOTWs, to the beautiful end shot: panning from the inside to the exterior of Baby as she is rumbling down the road, boys in their seats, classic rock song playing; this episode, written by Eric Chamelo and Nicole Snyder was indeed old school Supernatural.
Sam and Dean are back on the road, staying in seedy motels, albeit ones with gourmet coffee. Dean is eager to hunt, but for once there is no case for them to pursue until he finds one of Bobby’s old phones with a recent message about an inheritance. Seeing that the boys are the closest thing to Bobby’s next of kin, they decide to take a road trip to check it out.
What they walk into is a living game of Clue, complete with a mansion, dead bodies, many suspects and all the familiar weapons; we see a rope, lead pipe, wrench, revolver and a candlestick. Seems even Dean gets a familiar vibe, pausing each time he finds one of the game’s icons. It appears to be the deceased, Bunny Lacroix and her equally dead husband Lance who are committing the murders, so perhaps Sam and Dean have stumbled on a case after all. The boys have to rely on their old school hunting skills for this one. It is a really fun romp with lots of brotherly ribbing, cougar heiresses hitting on Sam and a dandy nephew waving around a revolver, claiming to know what he is doing because he hunts pheasants. Quips abound, references to movies, mysteries and TV shows are everywhere and the camera work, casting and music choices all add up to a very fun and effective episode.
There is more to this story though. The real murderer turns out to be a shapeshifter. Maid Olivia, a charming Izabella Miko, is really Bunny’s daughter. She was only a baby when Bobby hunted and killed her shapeshifter father and in a fit of familiar compassion, Bobby decided to let the baby monster live, provided her mother would keep her locked away in the attic for her own and others’ protection. Bobby’s and now Sam and Dean’s inheritance from Bunny is this lost girl. Sam tries to tell her she has a choice to be a monster or not, a theme familiar in the Supernatural universe. But Olivia’s choice was made for her a long time ago. Growing up locked away in an attic doesn’t exactly prepare one for coping with the world and in the end there is no choice but to end her life. As she holds Sam at gunpoint, Dean rushes in and shoots Olivia with a silver bullet. This is where the episode takes a dark turn. Not only does Dean kill the monster of this week, he unloads his gun into her dead body. Director John MacCarthy, with quick cuts and zoom-ins on Dean’s face as he coldly shoots bullet after bullet, adds a great deal of menace to the scene. Do we see Dean’s eyes flash black, or is that just a trick of shadows? Most interestingly, we see this all play out from Sam’s perspective. We don’t often get the younger Winchester’s point of view on this show. It is usually Dean who is the audience’s eye, but this time we see and feel what Sam does; worry, shock and fear. This time we are left to wonder what is going on in Dean’s head. Did the Mark of Cain, still very much present on his arm and presumably in his system, drive this act? Is there still some residue of demon inside? Dean denies it and brushes Sam off. He chalks it up to readjusting to the hunting life, but we feel like Sam does as he turns away and looks out at the road passing by; this is not over and we don’t know what will come next. Bob Seger sings: “Sometimes at night I see their faces, I feel the traces they’ve left on my soul” as we watch Baby drive off into the night.
I thoroughly enjoyed every aspect of this episode. Sam and Dean on the road again, getting along, being brothers and heroes is like a breath of fresh air after so many seasons at odds. Bringing Bobby into the story, even if not in person, provided an anchor in the show’s history that is sometimes lacking. I loved the pride with which Sam called him their surrogate father. Wonderful to see the brotherly teasing; Dean’s smirk at Sam’s discomfort at the women’s insistent attention and Sam’s resigned look when Dean was flattered at the same attention. I also really appreciated the return of the original canon lore about shapeshifters. I was thoroughly pleased to see the gooey shed skin that is supposed to be there when one of these monsters takes on another shape. I am excited to get Sam’s perspective and Dean’s mystery. The whole episode felt connected to the Supernatural universe I know and love. Keep it coming Season 10. So far, I am loving it.