By Stacey Gillard
“You know what? We are home.”
First things first, a confession. I will find it hard to write a balanced review because I absolutely loved Baby, beautifully written by Robbie Thompson and directed with genius by Thomas J Wright. So I apologize in advance for the gushing.
Trying to explain the premise of the episode and its importance to anyone who has not watched Supernatural is practically impossible. “It’s from the car’s point of view. No, the car isn’t anthropomorphized. The car is a character. Nobody plays the car. It’s just from her perspective. No she doesn’t narrate, she’s a car.” Who else but a fan of the show would understand when you say “It’s what Baby sees.” Before watching the episode, as excited as I was, I found it a little hard to imagine how it would look. As it was, through Wright‘s directing talents and the beautiful lighting from Serge Ladouceur we were treated to a unique perspective of the beloved ’67 Impala. Whether it was a peek at the pine tree air freshener hanging from the glove box, the well-worn floor mats under the back seat or the stunning overhead shot of the boys sleeping this felt like an intimate journey into Baby’s existence and despite the lack of dialogue from her I almost felt like I knew what she was thinking.
Robbie Thompson proved once again that he has a deep understanding of what the show means to its fans. Reviving inside jokes from even as far back as Season 1, knowing that only the hardcore fans, the ones who watch each episode multiple times and commit them to memory, would catch on to. Dean calling Sam “Samuel” and being corrected with an eye roll and told it’s “Sam” (homage to the Pilot when Sam objected to “Sammy”); Dean proclaiming with glee “I guess I did shoot the deputy!” (throwback to Henriksen’s “I shot the sheriff” lament in Jus In Bello); the Green Cooler being a constant presence in the backseat; Dean’s cassette tape collection; and who didn’t have “something in their eye” when we saw the montage narrated by Rob Benedict in the “Then” teaser. I could go on and on.
The big throwback that nobody saw coming (at least until CHCH released their spoiler-filled promo!) was the return of Matt Cohen as a young John Winchester. How wonderful to see him again; Matt has been a constant presence at Supernatural conventions around the world, indicating the popularity of his small but important role. His appearance in Sam’s dream/vision was beautifully written, directed and acted. While making John Winchester his own he managed to also channel Jeffrey Dean Morgan in both voice and mannerisms and his calm, gentle delivery of what seemed to be an ominous message, that God “helps those who helps themselves”, along with Jared Padalecki‘s perfect reaction to seeing his dad’s visage, made the scene intense and impactful. One thing I found fascinating was the part of the conversation where Sam questioned the identity of the man talking to him. “John” responded with the phrase “Never was able to fool you.” Immediately I was reminded of the way Lucifer spoke to Sam and it made me think that maybe it is him reaching out to the younger Winchester as I suspected after 11.02, Form and Void.
Inspired by the unwanted intrusion into his subconscious, Sam finally opened up to Dean about his infection and subsequent cure, leading to a wonderful Winchester heart-to-heart moment only instead of over the top of the car this one took place inside Baby, across the bench seat. I felt it was a huge leap forward in their relationship not only that Sam felt he could admit to Dean that he’d been keeping that from him but that Dean, while pissed that he hadn’t known, chose to ask questions and discover the reasons and meaning behind what was happening rather than shutting down and having an uneasy atmosphere between the two of them. Opening up to Sam, Dean talked about his recurring dream of their father teaching him how to drive, but as if they lived a normal life. To hear that Sam was also in that dream, sitting in the back as a pain-in-the-ass little brother brought a tear to my eye. Dean’s “normal life” always involves Sam. With a heart-warming “Goodnight jerk”, “Night bitch”, the two settled down, Dean in the front seat, Sam in back and slept as they had thousands of times before. Beautiful.
This week was the first time in a long time that we saw Sam talk once again about the possibility of having a relationship. While Dean saw one-night stands as his future, Sam admitted that while he no longer saw the white picket fence version of settling down, maybe they could find fellow hunters, people who understood the life. This conversation was prompted by Sam’s surprising fling with waitress Piper in Baby’s back seat. We also saw Sam flirting heavily with a gas station attendant and what I found interesting was that both girls were blonde. Since Jessica the only partners we’ve seen Sam with have been brunettes and it made me wonder if maybe this was a sign that he was finally moving on. Or maybe it was just coincidental casting. With Supernatural, one never knows!
Glimpsing the moments between the times we usually see on an episode was an absolute treat. We saw Sam and Dean as true brothers, bickering about food, criticizing the other’s driving skills, laughing hysterically at an unheard joke and, in what was probably my favorite scene, singing along at the tops of their voices to Bob Seger’s “Night Moves”. Reminiscent of the finale of season 3 when a doomed Dean started singing “Wanted: Dead or Alive” and his brother heartily joined in, it was a light-hearted moment in an already uplifting episode, with Sam even changing the words to relate to his brother’s good-natured ribbing about his backseat hook up. For the first time ever the show used no score and the only music was from Dean’s classic cassette collection, a brilliant choice that gave the episode even more of a fly on the wall feel. Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki delivered marvelously, as they always do, their real-life friendship adding layers to the strengthening bond between Sam and Dean.
Beneath the main object of the episode, the role of Baby in the day-to-day dealings of the Winchesters, there was an old school monster hunt. While Dean would have loved to have named the beasts Werepire or Ghoulpire (neither of which Sam or Cas would allow to catch on) they were in fact hunting a Nachzehrer, a vampire-like creature with ghoul features. Working its way through a small town in Oregon it was trying to turn as many locals as it could, upping its victim tally from 3 in the previous century to 16 just in the previous month in an attempt to build an army. It knew The Darkness was coming and decided it needed to find a way to fight it. Killing it turned out to be something of a chore, even cutting its head off didn’t work and the Green Cooler served as a containment device for the snarling cranium! Eventually Cas (a disembodied voice on the phone, trying to help while deal with binge-watching Orange Is The New Black!) found a way to end the pack leader, effectively returning the people he’d turned to their old selves. Does this mean other monsters will be doing the same thing now that the presence of The Darkness is known? Will we see armies of werewolves? Wendigo? LEPRECHAUNS?
In the course of the investigation poor Baby took quite the beating. By the end of the episode she had lost several windows, had a bent grille, was being soaked inside after colliding with a water-filled traffic barricade and had blood splatter both inside and out. But she survived to fight another day alongside her Winchester boys.
The final scene was one of pure magnificence. Dean told Sam the fight is up to them, that the appearance of The Darkness is on them and suggested they go home. Sam lovingly patted the dash and said “You know what? We are home.” Dean turned the key, the engine roared to life, Dean muttered “that’s my girl” and they drove off, down a long, empty country road to the dulcet tones of Bob Seger.
I feel like the episode moved the story along and left us with a lot more questions about The Darkness, while also holding up as a stand-alone installment. What about you? Did you enjoy it? Anything you’d like to see done differently? Is Lucifer about to make a return? As always, we love reading your thoughts!