Supernatural S7E5 review
|REVIEWS - TV|
Supernatural tips its bow to Joss Whedon...
"Shut up Dr. Phil"
Though a fleeting stranger with the likes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, even I had to admire Supernatural's vigour in this episode. Reuniting two of Joss Whedon's greatest protégés, James Marsters and Charisma Carpenter - Buffy's (and Angel's) Spike and Cordelia Chase respectively - Supernatural effectively tipped its hat to Whedon's expertise, whilst providing an encapsulating plot worthy of the man himself.
Shut up Dr. Phil sees Dean (Jensen Ackles) and Sam (Jared Padalecki) heading to Prosperity, Indiana, following the mysterious deaths of two of its inhabitants. However, Dean's unusual behaviour - even for him - has Sam spooked, and he confronts his brother in true Winchester fashion:
Sam (after exercising): "One more thing...what's going on with you?"
Dean (drinking whiskey): "We've had this conversation, Sam"
Sam: "No...we haven't. To do that, you'd have to...speak"
Dean (as ever, hiding the truth): "Let's get this straight. You're new Sam, and I'm still me. So, you might see things different now - call it a runners high or some crap - but that doesn't mean something's going on with me"
Sam walks away; Dean looks conflicted - it's the one-two of a Winchester conversation. God forbid that they might ever be able to have a normal, open discussion. Anyhow...
As I've mentioned in the past, one of Supernatural's stand-out features is its ability to run a number of stories simultaneously, and this fact was again highlighted by the presence of our Leviathan agent. Keen on the pursuit of those meddling Winchester's (and their dumb Bobby), his inclusion allows the story to diversify, whilst ultimately relating back to the seasons long term goal - Leviathan deportation.
A comedic tone resonated throughout this episode, allowing for a moment of respite after an emotionally heavy series to date; again, another iconic feature of Supernatural. As demonstrated in 'Monster Movie' (S4E5) and 'Changing Channels' (S5E8), Gamble et al like to mix things up throughout each season, and, while not quite as satisfying as 'Changing Channels' (no trickster), it's certainly appreciated. Furthermore, Jensen and Jared seem to switch flawlessly - heck, the Winchesters' life is the epitome of 'you got to laugh, or you'd cry' - so why fix what's not broken?
At first glance, the murders look like a common, witch-bitch vendetta. As ever, Bobby's expertise proves invaluable, helping to identify both a time period and ghoulish match, but as to what connects the murders - and establish a pattern - remains a mystery. And yet, before either can investigate, a construction worker is nail-gunned while using a porta-potty. Death by hair-dressing and porta-potty paralysis - you can't question the shows originality.
Following some day-time drinking and finals-esque research (I'll leave you to link path to brother), the Winchesters arrive at the office of Don Stark (James Marsters). Turns out - in true Spike form - that Mr. Stark's been a naughty boy. An affair here, some lustful looks there...you know, the usual for any successful businessman. Anyhow, Stark's better half Maggie is pissed...real pissed. Throw 800 years of witchcraft and a jealous personality into the mix and you've got an explosive mix; the type that would fill an assistant's fairy cakes with miniature, beating hearts. But fear not, our heroic Winchester's arrive just in time.
Cut to a charitable fund-raiser, and a fiery 'discussion' soon breaks out between Mr. and Mrs. Stark. Regardless of what's said, this is one for the Whedon fans out there; Spike and Cordelia Chase reunited once more. As ever, the boys are hot on the scene, but as paintings begin to melt and Mrs Stark's BFF is beheaded by a serving tray, their hypothesis is soon banished.
And so we reach the pinnacle of this episode. After a poor attempt at a banishing spell, Dean and Sam are sent curtailing into a wall and/or doorway while the Starks have it out. So, in homage to USA favourite Doctor Phil (whose mints I stole yesterday, but that's another story), the Winchester's try counselling. The irony of two of the most dysfunctional individuals counselling a problematic couple is humorous on its own, but expert direction and wonderful guest casting help coagulate the laughter.
After last week's episode - one I thought to be lacking and the weakest to date - "Shut up Dr. Phil" has yet again renewed my faith. Whilst treated to an episode abound with originality and creativity, fans of the supernatural genre were given a pleasant flashback - déjà vu, if you will - to times gone by, courtesy of Buffy co-stars James Marsters and Charisma Carpenter.
Furthermore, the episode opened the series wide open once more. Don Stark's Leviathan slaying - although coincidental - makes me wonder whether this is a face we may see more in future episodes. After all, he certainly has the Supernatural charm, and his former life as Spike can only open the series up to a greater following (cough Joss Whedon fan boys cough).
Again, one has to wonder how the impact of Dean's irrational behaviour will affect the brothers. As the episode concluded, with Sam stating that "a problem aired is a problem shared", the physical torment was clear to see - Dean wanted to tell Sam all, repenting for his actions, but he just couldn't. From prior experience, these things don't bubble over, so mark my words this is going to be big.
Finally, what of Castiel? It's obvious he's missed - after all, he became a fan favourite - and I'm convinced his reappearance is a matter of when, rather than how. Conversely, with Leviathan running a mock, Dean and Sam moments away from a blazing confrontation and Bobby fading into the background, Supernatural feels primed for Angel involvement. I suppose we''ll just have to wait and see...
IF YOU ENJOYED THIS ARTICLE, PLEASE HELP SUPPORT OUR SITE, AT NO COST WITH ONE CLICK ON THE FACEBOOK 'LIKE' BUTTON BELOW:
If you're interested in writing for Shadowlocked (disc and screening reviews, etc, or just getting some extra coverage for your extraordinary writing talent, get in touch with us.