“He’s watching her sleep. How is that not rapey?”
I’ve been looking forward to this one for awhile, not least of all because it promised to give Twilight and the vamp phenom a well-deserved thrashing. As with all things Supernatural, what I got wasn’t exactly what I expected, but neither was it less then I was hoping for.
There’s a nice building of the central mysteries, a further exploration of vampire lore as it pertains to Supernatural, and some unsettling developments on the Sam Winchester front. Best of all, instead of settling for a few measly jokes vaguely aimed towards the Tweenlight obsession, the episode actually levels some legit accusations at the franchise. They don’t pull their punches to stop at lampooning, but make plenty of allusions to the underlying unwholesomeness that sits under the sparkling surface of Ed and his ilk.
The opening of the ep is so perfectly calibrated towards the Meyers world of misunderstood bloodsuckers that it’s almost as uncomfortable to watch as the real thing (albeit, still more dramatic than that limp dish-rag). Theres a young girl in an emo club meeting up with an Ed Cullen clone who is giving her the ‘Im so tortured but I want you’ routine. There are the usual cutesy easter-eggs, of course, like the fact that the yearning girl is named Kristen, decked out in flannel and moony-eyed lust stares. However, the whole twist here is that its real danger she’s flirting with under the hokey poetry. The bad Heathcliff impersonation is designed to get the girl hot and bothered, and out to an alley where it’s anything but satin and sparkles. Kristen is bitten and drained in the shadows next to the dumpster. How sexy.
So, right off the bat, there’s a bit more pointed criticism than I expected and not much veiling of how the writers view Meyer’s training-wheels-for-abuse (my term, not theirs). Dean’s ‘rapey’ line alone would have justified the episode’s existence in my eyes, followed by his frank diagnosis of ‘These aren’t vampires…they are douchebags.” And yet, thats pretty much where the Twiglet bashing stops ( in an overt way) and the whole thing gives way to reveal a darker episode than I expected. We get a real vampire story with a thrilling fight scene, a tragic romance, and plenty of blood. It doesn’t just criticize Twilight, it beats it at its own game with less than 40 minutes to go.
The quick breakdown is this: While investigating the disappearance of gals like Kristen, Sam and Dean end up at the same club and Dean is tricked into an alley where he’s turned by a permed vamp named Boris. The questionable part here is that Sam has seemingly let it happen. Grandpa Samuel tells the boys that there is a cure for Dean but it requires the blood of the vamp who turned him. He also tells Dean he can’t partake of a single drop of human blood during this process. So Dean goes off to find the nest and uncover the vamp responsible. Samuel, despite his own vague shiftiness, confronts Sam about the possibility that he let Dean get turned to uncover the Alpha vampire.
In the nest Dean botches giving Boris dead-mans blood and ends up learning the plan of the alpha vampire, which puts the Twilight shenanigans into perspective. He’s exploiting the emo teens predilection for flirting with danger by turning pretty boys, who will then turn pretty girls, and so on and so forth, building an army of the angsty undead. He’s not afraid of hunters anymore, and he’s got a big gameplan that doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Things get out of hand and Dean finds himself hacking his way out of the nest in one of the goriest, grittiest scenes in the shows history. It’s quite frankly, pretty awesome.
Did I miss anything? Just a few bits, including how Lisa and Ben factor in. Dean’s missing them pretty hard by the opening of the ep, and when he’s first turned he goes to see Lisa before he dies (he’s expecting to get iced before transformation). The sequence is well handled, and trippy on Dean’s part, with Sampson doing a nice job of avoiding the inherent melodrama of the earlier vamp/girl scenes. Dean shoves Lisa against a wall, and roughs up Ben a bit, before leaving. I’m sort of assuming this is the writers drawing that relationship to a temporary close–or at least putting it at some distance for awhile. Dean attemps to call Lisa after the vamp stuff is resolved, but he chickens out. That thread is left dangling.
Ok, it’s time to ask the question. What the heck is wrong with Sam?
Sure, we are supposed to understand Hell is hard on a guy, and that he doesn’t have the same compassion he held for people, but last night’s episode marked a turning point for his behavior.
Sam has lied in the past, withheld information, and gone down the path of darkness unwittingly with Ruby. But, there’s a moment in tonight’s episode where he turns a literal and figurative corner to see Dean being turned by a poofy-haired vamp and lets it happen, smiling as it does. For me, the smile was just a bit much, but chilling all the same. One of the Winchesters just let the other fall into major harm–to locate a vampire nest. There’s no way in the world that’s Sam–or only Sam– in that meatsuit. If Lucifer didn’t find a way out of the prison piggybacking with Sam, then maybe it’s Michael. Eitherway, we are well into not-kosher territory, and I’m looking to see this thread resolved.
Because, lets face it, Supernatural has been through so many sibling rivalries between these two that I’m ready to see some Winchester togetherness, on the road fighting demons as buds. One would think the universe would give Sammy a reprieve after dunking Lucifer and avoiding Armageddon, but I guess not. Either way, I think the biggest distraction this season has been the ‘odd Sam’ plotline, not least of all because it’s sort of reduced Padalecki to sinister looks and vague actions. He proved in ‘Swan Song’ to have some real acting chops and I’m looking forward to seeing those explored. Right now, there’s Sam’s no-goodness, and Grandpa Samuel’s own sketchiness, which seems to draw the line well before his grandson’s unsavory behavior.
This all leaves Dean hanging out there on the line, and this season, more than any other seems to be his story. He’s caught in the midst of a monster world undergoing a global change, sandwiched between a burgeoning new Hell and a Heaven slammed with civil war, and the people he should be able to lean on and trust are putting him in danger. That life he thought he had earned at season’s start seems a million miles away now. Right now, this is ‘Dean Winchester vs. the world’. Im curious and cautious, but I’m far from disappointed and between this ep and last weeks stellar Bobby-centric adventure, Supernatural has reclaimed almost all of its old mojo.
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