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Supernatural S7E7 review


Uri Geller, eat your heart out!...

Dean (Jensen Ackles) and Sam (Jared Padalecki) working together in the 7th episode of 'Supernatural' Season Seven, 'The Mentalists'...

"The Mentalists"


Stepping away from recent Leviathan developments, Sera Gamble et al dedicated this week's episode to the boys' somewhat troubled relationship; and as expected, there were fireworks.

Still aggrieved by his brother's betrayal, Sam has been travelling alone for the past 10 days. And I mean alone - no phone contact; no messages; heck, not even pigeon mail. So, when Dean runs into his brother in Lily Dale, he's welcomed by one hell of a frosty reception...but who can blame Sam; he asked his brother to trust him, to give him the benefit of the doubt just this once, and Dean went behind his back yet again. Frankly, the fact that Sam even agrees to work with him is nothing short of astounding, but I'll get to that later on...

Anyhow, something's askew in the 'psychic' town of Lily Dale; and the unusual circumstances behind the murders attract those meddling Winchesters. Death by seance planchette; cutlery impalement; ghoulish mindf**ks - no-one saw this coming. Funny that - you'd think a town full of psychics would be able to foresee their impending deaths, but apparently not...

As ever, the boys set to work, but their atmosphere reeks of a treacherous undertone. Were it not for their undying commitment to their lifestyles, one feels fists would have been thrown, but these are the Winchesters; hide-your-emotions-and-pretend-all-is-well Winchesters. And yet Sam's keen to make a point - he's sick of being treated like the 'little brother' and sees this as his opportunity to make a stand. After all, he's five inches taller and a good thirty pounds heavier, so why shouldn't he?

Credit must go to Gamble and co for how they handled such a delicate storyline. While Sam feels betrayed by his brother - and anger following Amy's death - he's still a Winchester, and so his commitment to the 'job' remains as steadfast as ever. All involved have done a wonderful job of directing this sort of conflict - from Sera and her team right through to Jared (Padalecki) himself - and we are left feeling as betrayed as Sam himself.

After some time, the brothers finally get their first lead - a CCTV image of a real spirit - and she's pissed. In what seems to be pure spite, this aggrieved ghoul is cursing each psychic with a vision of their own deaths, before subsequently carrying out the aforementioned premonition. It's like a double tap really - mock their total lack of psychic abilities, then proceed to kill the double tap of evil spirits.

After a disgruntled call from the spirit's next target, the boys end up on a museum tour of the town, looking to learn more about their current target. However, in true Supernatural style, the tour relates closer to their own relationship, with the museum's curator discussing the "strains of sibling relationships" throughout the psychic world. Moreover, his specific comment, "yet the Campbell 'brothers' never had this problem", is sure to have resonated fondly amongst fans. Remember, the Winchesters are descendants of the Campbells (on their mother's side) and more than a few of the Supernatural fan-fiction novels have clambered towards a somewhat sickly 'love' between the brothers, so this was a clever nod towards longitudinal fans of the series.

Just as the boys were leaving, the curator had a 'vision' of his own, leaving Dean daunted by the revelation. Acting as the errand boy, the curator tells Dean that 'Ellen' has a message for him - open up and tell someone what's wrong, or she'll "kick his ass from beyond". As ever, the scene is beautifully acted by Ackles, whose facial expressions tell a story that his lines cannot. Despite his front, Dean is tortured by his past - hence the alcoholism - and, without Castiel, feels unable to open up to those around him. While slightly pretentious, the scene does at least offer some hope regarding Dean's mind-set, and is a nice call-back to characters of old.

And so the boys continue, shooting blindly until they eventually hit something. Turns out the pawn shop owner is in cohort with this demented spirit, and, like many before him, becomes the latest victim of the Winchesters. Personally, I felt the episode built to a somewhat lacklustre finish, but it was the implication of his death that has left me truly bewildered.

Angry at the town, said pawn shop owner has taken it upon himself to rid Lily Dale of these 'fakes', so arms himself with a spirit summoning penchant and sets about eliminating this 'plague' one by one. You see, this poor fellow genuinely possesses psychic ability but was forced to witness as these bargain-bucket imposters destroyed his livelihood, and it's left him a little peeved. Sam - ever the optimist that he is - attempts to reason with him, throwing all the usual clichés at him - "It's not worth it"; "You don't have to do this"; and so forth.

Unfortunately, this guy's hell bent on vengeance, and Sam is forced to put a bullet (or two) in his chest...shame. From his facial expressions (again, bravo Padalecki) we can tell that Sam neither enjoys nor likes ending confrontations in this fashion, but here he is...once again...with another dead body in front of him.

Problem is, I just wasn't able to stomach the bigger picture this time from Gamble et al. As Sam forgives his brother for Amy's murder, quoting some nonsense about "it's what we do...", he seems to be lingering on this recent confrontation; a forced understanding if you will. But this is so, so wrong. Dean brutally murdered a woman (monster or no monster) who posed no physical danger to them and had killed her own mother to save Sam as a child. In Sam's apology, they have lost both my respect and my hope for a more independent 'Sammy' - brother or no brother, Dean was way out of line, and Sam's hand has been folded before it could ever begin. I just don't understand how Sam's 'no-option kill' (as I've taken to calling it) is a 'realisation' of Dean's torment...

Overall, I understand what Gamble is trying to do, but this irrational style is beginning to frustrate me. Instead, I long for a darker storyline - such as Sam's demonic power courtesy of Ruby - and believe the continued absence of Castiel is a damaging one.

And yet there were positives. Following on from Bobby, Dean himself may have a new interest in the form of Melanie, the body-language psychic. Now, it seems odd after just one episode, but her behaviour seemed to revolve entirely around the dominant Winchester and, let's face it...the fans would love this. Moreover, we've seen nothing of Lisa and Ben (remember, that family he strung together), which would lead me to suspect that we won't again...but who knows.

Ultimately, this episode has furthered my fears that season seven may mark the end of the Winchesters. As we all know, Dean has always been the more paternal of the two and Melanie offers an exit strategy fitting for his character. As for Sam, who's to say - maybe a spin-off with Bobby? Or maybe Bobby, Dean and their love interests will get together in a sort of Odd Couple ending...the possibilities are endless.

Either way, more time needs to be spent studying Eric Kripke's work...for the sake of both the series and Gamble's run as executive producer. While the Leviathan story is promising - and a number of new avenues are emerging - Supernatural seems to be lacking that X factor; the spark that has kept us salivating each and every week. Only so much can be done concerning the brothers' relationship, so one would hope that the creative team have a trick or two up their sleeves...

See also:

Supernatural S7E6 review


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