Supernatural S7E8 review
|REVIEWS - TV|
What's worse than Leviathan, demons and vampires combined? The legal loophole of course...
"Time for a wedding"
Always the skinny white guy, never the hero - it's like the tagline for DJ Qualls' CV. After bursting onto the scene as Kyle - who, unsurprisingly, was a nerdy white guy on Road Trip - Qualls went on to carve a somewhat successful acting career for himself. So, in an episode revolving around the socially inept - those of us who carved our own clique; didn't quite have the 'look'; or, in the more extreme cases, wander around comic-cons offering free hugs in order to attain some small amount of physical interaction - who better to play Dean's (Jensen Ackles) stand in hunter?
Now, this is in no way a personal attack on Qualls - far from it, as the guy is one of my favourite bit actors - but his entire make-up fits the role requirements perfectly. Just as Warwick Davis was perfect in Willow, so to is Qualls as 'Garth'. Anyhow, I'll come back to this...
After a form of separation, Dean soon receives a text from little brother Sammy, asking him to dress smart and meet him at a specified location. As Dean approaches however, he's spooked by dodgy lighting and draws his weapon...only to find Sam standing at an alter proclaiming his love for Becky Rosen (Emily Perkins). For those of you unfamiliar with Becky, allow me to educate - Miss. Rosen is a rather fanatic fan of Supernatural, a fan-fiction novel based around the lives of Sam and Dean Winchester. Written by Chuck (Chuck Benedict), an alcoholic psychic who found fame as a writer (courtesy of Angel intrusion), the books revolve around the Winchester's real (well, the shows real) life, sometimes describing events yet to happen or currently in the process. So, as with any sci-fi creation, the books soon spawn fan-based conventions led, more often than not, by 'superfan' Becky...and so our loop is complete.
Dean can't believe what he's hearing, and tries valiantly to snap Sam out of it. As ever, Ackles combines script emphasis with perfect facial expressions, and right from the get go we know we're in for a light-hearted episode; a common trait within this season. Whether this is a good or bad thing, I'm not too sure - after all, Supernatural's success was based around serious with an antidote or two, and I can't help feel the balance has shifted as of late.
And so our brothers are separated once again, going about their business in two entirely different ways; Sam becoming a Mr and Mrs Hunter combo, and Dean taking on a supernatural 'intern' (Qualls), as he later refers to his partner. While Dean remains suspicious, his attention must focus - for the time being at least - on the consistently unique deaths on some of the towns 'luckiest' residents. Take the rags to riches career of an amateur baseball player, plying his trade for fun one week and then in the majors the next. Everything looks dandy, until his "face decides to play catcher" - as Dean so aptly puts it - and so attention soon falls upon a sales-rep-turned-CEO currently making waves.
By this point, Dabb (,Andrew) and Loflin (,Daniel) have revealed the true cause of Sam's four hour love trip...a simple love elixir given to Becky by a not-so-simple dealer. Like any future addict, "the first one's free", and poor Becky takes the bait hook, line and sinker. Unfortunately, the 'spell' (damn you, Harry Potter) begins to wear off and Sam's intoxicated love coma comes to a bitter end - a waffle iron to the head. It's funny...with the precarious mental state that is Sam's psyche you'd think that any further impact would surely cause his head to implode, but instead it just keeps bouncing back for more.
The kidnap and roofying aside, Becky's intentions are pure...ish. Like many a fan she simply longs to turn fantasy into reality. So, while the rest of us are fantasising over superpowers or longing to kiss Spiderman (erm, I mean, what?), this besotted fool inadvertently involves herself with a crafty demon (played impressively by Leslie Odom Jr.) who's simply fattening her for harvest (aka the selling of one's soul for a mortal desire).
Furthermore, it seems that Guy (Odom Jr.) has found a loophole in the contractual obligations of said deals, and as such is claiming his mortal prizes far earlier than agreed, courtesy of a third party hitman...enter The Commitments lead singer Deco Cuffe (Andrew Strong) lookalike here.
Like a rock at the seaside, I've decided to skip much of the episode because, simply put, it doesn't justify coverage; and so we return to see Becky assisting in Guy's capture. A short battle ensues, resulting in the death of our Commitment's lookalike, before a welcome face soon arrives to spruce things up - hello, Crowley (Mark A. Sheppard). Although short, Crowley's familiar face is a welcoming site, and one that I always enjoy seeing. Moreover, he links the story back to the Leviathan prologue running in the background (remember all that stuff about the bigger picture?).
And so ends episode eight of Supernatural's seventh season. In hindsight this episode is a cliché of missed opportunities and flawed script development. But what do I mean by this? Well, let's see...
First off, the episode was just plain weak. Sam getting married should have been a big deal but, due to the nonsensical arrangement of this episode, it just wasn't. OK, so it was meant to be a blithe addition to season seven, but even this was dubious. The balance between the horror and comic genres is an unforgiving one - too much of one and not enough of the other will tip the scale beyond redemption. For as long as I've followed Supernatural this balance has been preserved, but episodes like this aren't just tipping the scale...they're rocking the s**t out of it. As such, the producers need to get back on track; to study the likes of 'Changing Channels' (S5E8) and learn from such episodes.
Secondly, to ignore Bobby Singer (Jim Beaver) yet again was foolish. Call me old-fashioned, but when an episode revolves around Sam's nuptials - real or not - I'd expect to see close family in attendance; and, aside from Dean, it doesn't come closer than the brothers surrogate father Bobby. Furthermore, his inclusion would have given the episode more credibility. Instead, the whole thing feels contrived...nice one, Supernatural.
And yet it wasn't all bad. As ever, Crowley's presence was enjoyable, albeit brief. In fact, despite his minimal screen time, he still managed to land the quote of the episode award for this gem:
Guy : "I'm sorry sir, I was found a loophole in the system..."
Crowley : "Damn it! This isn't Wall Street you juvenile fool, this is Hell we're talking about. And in hell we pride ourselves on something known as integrity"
Ah yes, a subtle prod at both corporate greed and our flailing economy - it was always going to go down smooth. But before long, the shows future is again cast into doubt,courtesy of an awkward (well, to watch at least) scene of laughter and joy between the brothers. After a bit of male bonding, Sam draws attention to Dean's complacency whilst travelling alone. As I've said before Dean has encountered a number of exit strategies in the past, and I can almost sense a fresh one in the air. It's sad, but if the show doesn't get back on track soon I can't blame them.
Oh, and DJ Qualls was brutally underused. His character has no distinguishing characters, and they never explain why Bobby recommends him as a good replacement. One feels that, with a bit more effort, a nice juxtaposition between 2011 Dean and the 20-something who graced our screens in season one could have achieved courtesy of Quall's character, but there we go.
Final thoughts? Buck your ideas up guys. Get back to the gore; sideline the comedy and get a long-term character established. Failing that, how about a trickster revival? That guy's the s**t...
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