I watched this episode of Supernatural from an unusual perspective (for me, at least). I wasn’t able to watch Peace of Mind live, nor was I able to watch it for almost an entire week thanks to being on family vacation. (Despite what most people would probably assume, I actually do prioritize the kids over my favorite show. Okay, maybe I did sneak off and try to watch a bit of the episode on the CW app on Sunday, but that lasted about five minutes, so I gave up after only a single attempt. Pretty respectable, I think.) This meant that I was partially spoiled for the episode, but more importantly, that I already knew what most of my social media timelines thought of it. I intentionally have a wide range of friends and acquaintances on various platforms, and they have a wide range of reasons why they love Supernatural, so it’s not surprising that some people loved the episode and some people hated it.
If you really needed a break from the angst and a good laugh, you probably loved it. If you watch for quality Misha Collins content, you were pretty pleased. If you ship Sastiel or are amused by Misha Collins and Jared Padalecki’s real life (adorable) teasing friendship, you got way more than you ever dreamt you would and were probably over the moon. If you watch for Sam and Dean and expect them to be interacting alot, maybe you weren’t. In other words, as in most things fandom, your mileage may vary.
When I tweeted that I hadn’t been able to watch and had no clue whether I’d like it or not, I had a lot of predictions from people in all those contingents about how I’d feel when I finally sat down to watch, which was also really interesting to hear. That watching thing finally happened last night, and guess what? Even I didn’t predict my reaction very accurately!
I didn’t have a strong emotional reaction in either direction, perhaps because I was already prepared for what the episode would contain. That allowed me to look at it with two different lenses, which is not the way I would usually do a review, but I think it’s helpful here. As a 42 minute piece of episodic television, I think Peace Of Mind was well done – and very enjoyable. Collins and Padalecki together in Charming Acres were comedy gold, both of them hitting just the right notes, and Meghan Fitzmartin’s teleplay giving them all the right dialogue to play with. They looked like they were having the time of their lives and that enthusiasm carried right over onto the screen. That story line – let’s call it the A story line – was particularly well done.
Misha shared at the Nashville Supernatural convention last weekend that there had been a scene where Sam lands on top of Castiel, and that Jared had way too much fun with that, including making “an impact”. That little tease primed me for the scene, and when it actually happened I laughed out loud, imagining all the fun Padalecki must have had with a trapped Collins who’s trying to stay in character. I’m crossing all my fingers and toes for lots of gag reel content from that one, because Phil Sgriccia was directing and he definitely knows when to let the cameras keep rolling!
I loved the set dec and locations that transformed a part of Vancouver into the idyllic and picturesque (according to Cas) Charming Acres, and the campy music and back-in-time costumes. Supernatural never cuts corners and it shows.
The B story line, as Dean tries to figure out if Jack is in the angel or devil camp (at times with a Twinkie choice test), worked less well for me, but perhaps that’s inevitably colored by having expectations for how these characters would be feeling after recent canon events. There was humor there too, but it didn’t work as well for me in the B story line. That may be because there just wasn’t as good a reason for the departure from the Show’s usual angst and darkness, like there was in the A story line. Alex Calvert and Keith Szarabajka (Donatello) had some lovely scenes together, but I think the back and forth between what was happening in Charming Acres to Cas and Sam and then to what was happening with Jack and Dean kept jarring me. I was more invested in the Sam and Cas story and didn’t want to keep being yanked away, which is a recurring problem with me and Supernatural when they have two separate story lines running.
From purely the perspective of an episode of television, the bookended brief Winchester brothers moments at the start and end were a separate thing too. They worked for me, and I was glad they were there, but perhaps that’s largely because I was waiting for them as a Supernatural fan.
So that’s the first perspective. Congrats to Meghan for her first episode as a writer and to Steve Yockey for his co-writing, especially for the entire Charming Acres story line. I literally laughed out loud – more than once!
The second perspective is of someone who has watched Supernatural since the beginning and is emotionally invested in this season’s story line as well as in the individual characters. From that perspective, I wasn’t quite as happy with the episode. Did we need a break from the angst? I know some people did, but I was in my happy place after the emotion-drenched episodes we had in the middle of the season and craving nothing more than a continuation of that angsty Winchestery goodness. I do enjoy the “funny” episodes, and I did enjoy this one, but I was also a little frustrated that it popped into the middle of a pretty serious overarching story arc.
The departure from that angst-ridden story arc into some humorous moments worked pretty well with the Sam and Cas story line for me as a Supernatural fan too – it made sense because there was a reason for the departure. Sam wasn’t really Sam as far as knowing himself and having his memories, so of course he wasn’t brooding and angsty and consumed with guilt. That’s the whole point. That Dean also wasn’t brooding and angsty and consumed with guilt in the B story line didn’t have as ready an explanation, so the humor in that story line didn’t work as well.
The A and B story lines also differed in terms of my understanding of what was going on with Sam and Dean. I understood Sam and recognized him as the character I know and love throughout the episode. Although we didn’t get to see as much as I wish we did, we did see that Sam is understandably traumatized by the slaughter of the AU hunters essentially in his living room. Everywhere he looks, he sees their bodies. Repeatedly, he sees and hears Maggie call out his name, which has got to be the most upsetting thing ever. I can’t even imagine! (As much as I didn’t like the character, I think Sam took her under his wing, so for her to die screaming for him to save her must have been unbearable – and he had to witness it!) It makes perfect sense that Sam would want to get out of there, to get away from the sights and sounds that are constantly triggering him. So Sam’s mental state and his actions made sense to me.
It makes less sense to me that Dean didn’t go with him, and I wish we had gotten to spend more time hearing the two of them talk about it so I could understand why (other than practical constraints of availability for filming). I can weave my own explanation – Dean is giving Sam space, understanding that he needs time to get past what happened and that he’s also feeling guilty as hell – but we don’t really see that and it’s not necessarily how I would have predicted Dean would react. I guess I’ll go with there’s tension between Sam and Dean also because Dean snapped at Sam when Michael got out, and Dean feels bad about that and so gives Sam his space, but again, I’m making this up as I go along and I don’t like having to do that.
I’m much less clear about what’s going on with Dean. He was devastated by Michael’s escape from his mind and the carnage that resulted, and has to be consumed by guilt. I agree that Dean has made progress in not blaming himself 1000% for every bad thing that happens, but I don’t think he’s made that much progress. Actually, I can’t imagine anyone not feeling guilty if that happened to them, even if you’re not Dean I’m 100% Guilt Winchester. In this episode, we get a Dean who seems anxious and a little jumpy, but who also seems to be trying to be almost upbeat in his interactions with Jack. Maybe he’s trying to act like everything is okay so he can get a read on what’s going on with Jack? Maybe he’s in denial about the horror that just played out in his living room and making jokes and eating giant sandwiches as a result? I honestly don’t know, and I don’t like not knowing.
I was also confused about Castiel and Jack’s interaction. I’ve really enjoyed the relationship between Cas and Jack and thought that Cas was doing a pretty damn great job of being a comforting father figure to Jack from his unique perspective as an angel. In this episode, Cas gave up oddly quickly on their conversation and left Jack to his snake ponderings. He also seemed unable to tell whether or not Jack had any soul left, when he’s been able to sense that in others multiple times. Why?? Head scratch.
As an episode of Supernatural, I also will never jump up and down when an episode has two minutes at most of Sam and Dean having actual conversation. I can separate myself enough to realize that complaint doesn’t have any bearing on the quality of an episode of television from my first perspective, but from this second perspective, it doesn’t feel like Supernatural with Sam and Dean hardly interacting at all.
With those diverse perspectives in mind, let’s take a quick trip through the episode itself. After a preview that includes Dean and the snake from Yellow Fever, we start with a guy running at breakneck speed down the road – another Yellow Fever call back so I half expected him to be chased by a Yorkie! Instead he makes it to a gas station and then his head explodes, with all the gore you’d expect from a Supernatural episode. Shout out to the guy playing shopkeeper Griffin, because his reaction was the first to make me laugh out loud.
Griffin: Dude, you need help?
[Brains fall from the ceiling]
Griffin: [pukes all over]
I feel you, Griffin.
Meanwhile, Jack is concerned about the snake, who won’t eat, but insists that “I’m good, Castiel” when Cas checks on him. Castiel has some helpful on-the-nose things to say about how it impacts all creatures when there’s a lot of change in a short period of time. Concerned, he asks Jack if he still has some soul left, to which Jack replies that he doesn’t know. It seems to me like his concern for the snake suggests he does, but I guess we’ll see. I personally think the snake would enjoy a bigger cage, but that’s just me.
Next we see Sam’s flashbacks, which is fairly heartbreaking and well done. Jared does a great job showing the depth of Sam’s pain in just his facial expressions and some involuntary winces.
Then we get 30 seconds of Sam and Dean as Sam announces he’s found a case and Dean insists that he needs rest.
Dean: We both do.
Sam gruffly insists he’s going anyway, and Cas offers to go instead. Dean acquiesces though he does ask why, and Cas is unusually in charge as he tells Dean that he should stay behind and try to figure out what’s going on with Jack.
Cas: He looks up to you. And his soul, you’ve seen this before…
Me: How about Sam has EXPERIENCED this before, why isn’t anyone encouraging SAM to talk to Jack??? Remember all those awesome Sam and Jack scenes we got early on??? Their close relationship?? Anyone??
No one hears me, so Sam and Cas head out to investigate exploding head dude’s death. Sam yawns, but continues the mantra of mid-to-late Season 14, insisting to Castiel that “I’m good.”
Cas: Yeah, I know, everyone is good.
Misha delivered that line flawlessly, and I loved it. It might have been the first time I knew that the Sam and Cas content in this episode was going to be a fun ride indeed.
Castiel: You need rest.
Sam says he can’t, and I believe him. He’s just not at a place where he can slow down, because if he does, he’s going to have to process all this trauma and loss.
Sam and Cas ask Griffin about “the incident” and Griffin is incredulous.
Griffin: The incident? That’s what we’re calling it now?
Griffin is every normal person who encounters the weirdness that is everyday Supernatural. Nicely done, Meghan.
Sam and Cas roll into Charming Acres to continue their investigation, which looks like a Rockwell painting come to life. Cas comments that it reminds him of the Saturday Evening Post, which he apparently reads after Sam and Dean fall asleep.
Cas: It’s very soothing.
When they realize Charming Acres is a little bit off, they do think to call Dean, but conveniently there is no cell phone access. They encounter Justin Smith and his wife, who think that the dead guy had an aneurysm. Castiel corrects them.
Cas: Oh no, his head exploded. Like a ripe melon on the sun.
I laughed out loud again, because Misha nailed that line – and Jared nailed Sam’s reaction. The Smiths are perplexed, but what’s more interesting is that they’ve clearly never seen a cell phone before. And that’s definitely weird.
Cas: Maybe they’re Mormon?
Sam and Cas have a milkshake (or at least Sam does), and Cas manages to once again shock the townsfolk with the truth about what happened to Justin, much to Sam’s chagrin.
They then visit the hotel where Justin was staying and split up to search it. Sam enjoys the landlady’s coffee and wants to stay for her pot roast, already acting a little off, and Cas finds some cards and letters hidden under Justin’s mattress. He tells Sam they were “passionate”.
Sam: Passionate how?
Cas: She talks about the shape and heft of his…
Sam: Okay, got it! Yep, passionate. Understood.
Sam insists on staying the night and finally getting some of that much-needed rest (and if Cas didn’t know Sam was off before, he should have known then), but when Cas knocks on his room’s door the next day, Sam is already gone. The landlady (oddly wearing what look like very modern ear buds) tells him where to look after an amusing conversation that keeps referring to Sam as “the very tall man” and Cas goes to the Smith house to interview Mrs. Smith about her husband’s death and to find Sam. Random moment that made me laugh out loud – Mrs. Smith screaming NOOOO when Cas almost sits in her husband’s chair and Misha’s expression when he leaps up. Priceless!
Cas describes Sam to her, now adding that “he has beautiful hair” and I can hear my Sastiel shipper friends dying in the background. Sam himself appears, but he’s now the new Justin Smith, all that beautiful hair pulled into a man bun and some lovely dorky glasses on his handsome face. I gotta say, the look totally worked for me. I have a thing for any of these guys in glasses, what can I say?
And I like the man bun, don’t yell at me.
What follows is a hilarious scene between Misha and Jared, as Cas tries to get Sam to snap out of it and Sam flirts with his fake wife.
Justin: I’m feeling adventurous.
Mrs. Smith: Rawrrrr.
Justin: (hilariously): Rawr!
When Castiel tells him to “snap the hell out of it”, Justin responds with pearl-clutching offense and ushers Cas right out of the house. By this time, I was laughing so much I might have teared up. ALL the kudos to Jared and Misha for playing this exactly right (and providing the fandom with gifs until infinity)
Cas now knows something is very wrong here (ya think?) and confronts the milkshake waitress Sunny to find out why. We get some pretty badass Cas here, which I always appreciate.
Cas: Tell me or I’ll rip it from your mind!
Turns out it’s not Sunny but her deranged father, a mind control psychic who’s controlling everyone in the town to create his own vision of “happiness” after the death of his wife, who shows up to confront Cas – along with Justin aka Sam and a few other mind-controlled guys.
Here I have to say that I couldn’t help but view this part of the story as similar to one of my other favorite shows, Wayward Pines. I know it’s a trope that’s been done numerous times, but this episode really did play out just like that series began and had the same vibe to it. I was on set for much of the filming of that pilot thanks to director Night Shyamalan, so that episode is deeply ingrained in my memory. That episode was also filmed in Vancouver, in fact, and I kept being distracted by the parallels.
Anyway, we get a well choreographed fight scene from Rob Hayter and company, and Castiel actually gets to be somewhat effective this time. He says he won’t hurt Sam, and seems to be trying not to hurt any of the other mind-controlled people either, which I appreciate. Eventually we get the scene I’ve been waiting for, as Sam tackles Cas and pins him to the ground. In a scene reminiscent of the time Dean had Cas pinned and an angel blade held over him while Cas tried to talk him out of it, Sam grabs Castiel’s angel blade and raises it to kill the angel.
Castiel: I know what it’s like to fail as a leader, but you have to keep fighting! If you don’t you fail everyone we lost.
Sam: (continues to struggle)
Cas: You fail Jack…
Sam: (raises blade)
Cas: Sam, you fail Dean!
Sam struggles to take that in, then crashes the knife down to the floor, and rips off his glasses, the spell broken.
I’m sure it was a hilarious scene to film, but the final cut works so well as a dramatic scene, as Cas uses the one thing he correctly predicts will get through to Sam. He won’t let his brother down.
I also loved the “always keep fighting” reference, intentional or not, to Jared Padalecki’s real life mantra that means so much to fans.
The bad guy psychic insists to his horrified daughter that he’s God in this town, and Sam and Castiel disagree.
Sam: No you’re not. We’ve met God.
Castiel: (indignant) God has a beard!
More kudos all around.
It’s Sunny, the bad guy’s daughter, who finally takes him out just before Sam’s head explodes like a ripe melon on the sun.
She zaps him with her own mind control skills and locking him inside his own mind in a place that he’s happy but can’t hurt anyone.
Sunny: You want to be happy? Be happy.
It’s kind of a theme of the episode, the question of what is happiness and what gets you there – and what’s the price of staying there.
Meanwhile, in story line number two, Dean talks to Jack, who is still attempting to get his grieving snake to eat. (Do snakes really eat that often?) This story line also attempts to be funny, perhaps to mesh better with story line number one, but the humor just didn’t hit for me throughout the Dean and Jack section. And that’s saying something, because everyone knows that I find Jensen Ackles’ comedy talents very impressive!
Dean tries to pretend he’s totally cool with snakes and in fact has always liked them, suggesting that Jack feed his snake some bacon and then inexplicably deciding to fry some up himself (after inexplicably consuming an oversized sandwich, which would usually amuse me but….why? Is Dean eating to avoid his own guilt feelings? If so, why is he enjoying it so much? At any rate, I didn’t laugh out loud). It did make me smile a little when Dean opens what he thinks might be a tasty treat for the snake and it’s a box with two live white mice in it. Poor little things.
Eventually Jack and Dean and the snake climb in the Impala for a little road grip, still talking about the snake and how much Dean likes them. When Jack is confused and notes that they’re dangerous, Dean comes up with the odd answer of “it’s not the snake, it’s the bite” which somehow made me think of the gun control debate and threw me out of the story for a second. Dean then gives Jack the choice of Angel Food or Devil’s Food twinkies and is relieved when he chooses the Angel Food one. That intended-to-be-humorous moment also really didn’t work for me. Dean, of all people, knows how serious this is, and he has to be genuinely worried about Jack, but that’s not really what we see.
Dean takes Jack to see Donatello, who I always enjoy. He’s an interesting character, a man who’s struggling to be “good” despite having lost his soul through no fault of his own. That’s fascinating both from a character standpoint and an ethical one and I love that Supernatural is allowing Donatello to be a recurring character. Donatello tries to tell Jack what it’s like not to have a soul, describing it as being bright and shiny on the outside, but in the center there’s just emptiness.
Donatello: I don’t feel anything.
His strategy? Ask himself what the best man he knows would do in a given situation – Mr. Rogers. Oh Donny, I do love you.
Jack: Sam and Dean are the best men I know.
So for Jack, it’s “WWWD” – what would the Winchesters do? And right now, Jack’s goal is to make sure they’re not too worried.
Me: Oh this won’t go wrong…
Dean hangs out at the car while Jack and Donatello talk, and while I was amused by Dean being nervous around the snake and scootching his way to the front of the car instead of by the window, I still don’t quite get where Dean is coming from.
He asks Donatello how things went, and clarifies: So Jack is not like you.
Donatello. Oh no. I’m a prophet of the lord, but Jack is the most powerful being in the universe…
Me: That’s not ominous at all…
Dean and Jack head back to the bunker, and shortly after they return, Sam and Cas arrive too. Cas has clearly already called Dean and filled him in, presumably as soon as they got service.
And Sam and Dean actually have a little bit of conversation!
Dean (gently teasing): I hear you wore a cardigan.
Sam: (glares at Cas)
Dean (with a little more genuine emotion in his voice this time): He said you were really happy… Really happy, huh?
This is a tiny scene, just a small fragment of the episode, but somehow when you give Jared and Jensen a chance to be Sam and Dean in the same scene, they invest every line with so many nuanced emotions, it riveted me anyway. Dean goes from teasing his brother to a trace of that long-standing worry that so characterizes their relationship. Was Sam happier without him, without the life they’ve both chosen? That’s a subtly threatening thing to think about, and their brief conversation reminds me of the one when Dean came back from the Djinn’s fabricated “happiness” world.
Sam answers similarly.
Sam: I guess…. It wasn’t real.
And it wasn’t. It’s worth noting that the first Justin Smith, when he was shocked out of his trance by the existence of Sam’s cell phone, immediately remembered the people he really did love and desperately wanted to get back to them, especially his daughter. The happiness that the Mayor created was fabricated, and so were the other emotions.
Dean is watching, his expression full of empathy.
Sam reminds them both that it wasn’t real. And then he gets real.
Sam: I hate this place right now. I see them, everywhere I look. I was desperate to get out of here, but I can’t keep running. This is my home. This is our home.
That was enough to make me tear up, not with laughter this time, but with genuine emotion. And that is why I love Supernatural. That’s what I want more of. In this small quiet ending scene, I recognized the characters I know and love, and the bond that connects them to each other and me to the Show.
Sam: (anguished) Dean, I just think I need some time.
Dean: (softly) Okay.
He clasps Sam on the shoulder in silent support, and leaves Sam to start the difficult work of processing his losses. The small nonverbal gesture says more than words probably could have: I understand, I don’t judge, and I’m here if you need me, always.
We end with Jack, trying to make things right for the snake he thinks is grieving his previous owner – trying to make him happy.
Jack: You miss your friend. I’ll help you see your friend again. In Heaven.
Me: Uh oh.
Jack turns the snake to ash, and we all start to have some doubts about his judgment and the state of his soul.
Through a crack in the open door, Castiel watches, looking equally worried.
Despite some mixed feelings, I did enjoy the episode, especially the A story line. I have nothing but congrats to everyone involved for the Charming Acres story and for Misha and Jared’s incredible comedic performances, and I loved the little bit that we did get of Sam and Dean, with Sam haltingly opening up and Dean being supportive. I even liked the ominous ending, although I’ve really liked the character of Jack and am not looking forward to him perhaps going darkside. But I am on pins and needles for the next episode to find out where we’re going, and maybe that’s what loving a show is all about!
Just five more episodes until Season 14 wraps!
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22 thoughts on “Supernatural Brings Some Laughs with ‘Peace of Mind’”
I just finished a binge that started in october and I’ve read your reviews for a lot of it. You are pretty much always on point of what I think about the ep, and this time just as much as the others! I liked the A line very much, had the same quibbles about the B line (and I want to see Jack with Sam, damn it), so thank you very much for your reviews that helps me ordering my thoughts about the show.
So glad you finally got to see the episode. Thanks as always for your review. I love watching Supernatural no matter what is going on. I have the same thoughts when things don’t seem quite right, but I usually don’t stress too much about it, because Sam and Dean and Cas and Jack could just stand there and read the “phone book” and I would enjoy it. (Wonder how many of your followers know what I mean by the “phone book” ha ha ha).But I have to say at the end of this one I just sat there and said Hmmmm? Looking forward to tonight…but remembering what Jensen said in Nashville about his scene sitting in the rain in the woods crying….so afraid we may lose someone tonight?
It is an ambitious bridge episode. It attempts to bridge the Michael arc to the souless Jack issue and the mental state of the Winchesters and friends in the aftermath of the Michael arc. It does take 2 separate story lines to flesh out everyone’s status, but the B story line in this episode is not as strong even though it seems to be where the story is going with Jack,so I call it introduction to Jack’s arc and will hope it builds- I could be wrong as the writers always seem to take a different shot than the lay up. The humor is stronger in the A story with Castiel and Sam, yes, but it provides a Cass is still important to this universe thread as he continues to be blunt, but loyal and actually demonstrates how much he has learned from the Winchesters. The memory jogs from Yellow Fever, the attention to detail in cg and costuming and lighting, all of it- not the worst way to spend 42 minutes. And yes, Jared Padalecki who says he is not good doing comedy- well I disagree. Give JA and JP a good script and they can act the .HE double hockey sticks out of it whether it be comedy or drama.
Oh good! I always enjoy Lynn’s thoughts on an episode!
My first thought was this was an oddly placed episode-so close to the season finale I’m not sure what I expected but I don’t think this was it.
Sam feeling all the pain and regret about what happened to all the AU hunters makes total sense-that’s Sam. Plus, he knew the hunters longer than Dean. Dean hardly (seeming) to care, doesn’t.
I thought the little Scooby Doo shoutout on the theatre marquee was cute. And, as soon as I saw Charming Acres, my first thought was Pleasantville. Or Stepford Wives (husbands in this case).
The song being played on the lady running the B&Bs headphones (which -like Lynn-I thought was odd) the exact same song at Harrington’s was creepy. One soundtrack in the town?
I found some of the terminology totally hilarious (skedaddle) and h e double hockey sticks (Canada reference?) very believable for the times though.
Sam drinking a milkshake surprised me a bit. They’re not particularly healthy (I like them) but maybe When in Rome??
My main worry after all this is that Sam is going to start shutting down. Everybody dies was what Season 1 Sam said and it hasn’t changed. He seemed genuinely fond of Maggie and I’m thinking he’s just going to stop caring as much.
This episode was better than the previous one, but only slightly. As much as I’m all for female writers getting a crack at writing for any show, I genuinely hope Ms. Fitzmartin is a one and done writer. I will readily admit my bias towards Dean (though I love Sam), but I truly don’t believe my Dean bias comes into play at all when saying this was one of the most ridiculous scripts Jensen has had to play in a long time and that illustrates how the writer fundamentally does not understand Dean. “Bugs” sprang to mind in how out of character this seemed for him, and those writers were one and done so maybe I have some hope. The B story line made absolutely NO sense given what happened in Ourobouros. Dean’s *good* after some sleep, walking around seeming totally unaffected and making gigantic sandwiches?
Yeah. I don’t think so. The thing he was trying to specifically avoid by building the box – Michael getting out and killing a bunch of innocent people – literally happened while he watched helplessly, and he’s fine????? I’d hoped to give this young woman the benefit of the doubt despite the chatter I picked up that she kept the first three seasons of the show on as “background noise” while working on this, but clearly she’s among those who don’t think there’s any reason to watch the seasons before Cas joined the cast, and it shows in her fundamental lack of understanding about Dean and how he’s operated since the very beginning of this show.
I was also galled by Cas’ insistence that Dean see how Jack was doing with the whole soulless thing instead of Sam, because 1) Sam is the one who *actually* lost his soul, and he has not to date shown an aversion to discussing it when dealing with other soulless individuals, understanding that his unique perspective to it is *incredibly* valuable, 2) I actually remember last season when Sam was the one who bonded with Jack, and 3) I remember how Sam’s soullessness impacted Dean (that whole turning him into a vampire thing and purposely torpedoing his life with Lisa – not that I think they could have made it long term, but Soulless!Sam hurried the death of that relationship and Dean’s chance at getting out of the life along as quickly as he could). It struck me as the same level of bad writing as when Sam earlier this season was the one who so cavalierly decided they’d just trade away a bit of Jack’s soul to bring him back to life without his explicit consent, when Jack had clearly and openly stated he was okay with dying. It’s just bad writing to get these characters from point A to point B without caring about whether it is actually IN character. Trying to bend my mind around all of the plot holes and inconsistencies that crop up in nearly *every single episode* this season is becoming intellectually and emotionally exhausting.
The way Dean tried to figure out if Jack was good or evil was also galling. Angel food cake vs. devil’s food cake???? Ms. Fitzmartin must have an especially low opinion of Dean to reduce him to such baseless jokes and utter idiocy. Bless Jensen for being a professional and working through scenes that were an insult to Dean’s intelligence.
Also, the way he reacted to the snake was ridiculous, as was the callback to Yellow Fever (penned by Dabb, of course that would be in the “THEN”). Since apparently neither Fitzmartin nor Yockey remember, Dean had ghost sickness and THAT’S why he was so over-the-top afraid of the snake. I’m quite sure a snake that large would have anyone freaking out if it slithered over them, but it’s not some kind of longstanding, established fear he has, like Sam’s fear of clowns or Dean’s aversion to dogs (which the show seems to have forgotten because why bother watching the first three seasons when Dean was dragged to Hell by a hellhound???). Dean existed solely in this episode to chauffeur Jack around and be the butt of a bunch of jokes when he should be easily as traumatized as Sam is. If this is the direction the show is going to take in order to continued to make Jack a main character, then sorry to all the people out there who love Jack, but I want him killed off forthwith, because they no longer seem interested in exploring Jack and Sam’s relationship (i.e. THE IMPORTANT ONE) and when it comes to Jack and Dean, Dean is reduced to a prop.
The Sam and Cas portion of the episode left me decidedly less irritated, though the idea of the psychic making everyone think they were in the 1950s confused the hell out of me. Was the town actually stuck in the 1950s because that’s when his wife died, or did he make everyone think it was the 1950s after his wife died? If it was after the 1950s – say, the 1990s based on his daughter’s age – how did he manage to retrofit the entire town with vintage stuff? Was the town actually from the 1950s and were he and his daughter immortal as well as psychic so that they just never aged? If they retrofitted the town, how did they fix things that were broken or find replacement parts? Did the man actually live through the 1950s or was he basing it on one too many re-watches of Pleasantville? Did they mind-whammy everyone who wandered through town or just people who stopped to ask questions? Why would Sam drink a milkshake in a town that was OBVIOUSLY weird that some random stranger just gave him??? I suppose I could chalk it up to Sam being exhausted from too many hunts, but I also remember The Purge (because it stabbed me through the heart, but I digress) and when Dean was drugged eating the pudding and mentioned knowing what roofies look like. The Winchesters are aware that someone could be trying to drug them, or slip them something if they’re not careful, and Sam just drinks a random milkshake from a random stranger in a VERY strange town where they’re investigating a kid whose head literally exploded??? And if the guy was a psychic, WHY would they need the milkshake to mind-whammy him anyway???? Unless it wasn’t the milkshake that mind-whammied him, though it seemed pretty clear that it was since he drank his and Cas didn’t, and he didn’t start acting weird until right after he drank it, and if that WASN’T the reason Sam ended up mind-whammied they should have both refused the milkshake, because it just confused things and made it seem like Sam was initially drugged into compliance instead of simply falling under the spell of the town.
And then there are just ridiculous inconsistencies within the town’s “rules,” where no one seems to know what a cell phone is outside of the boarding house owner who somehow managed to get her hands on a pair of earbuds and presumably an accompanying iPod, which would indicate some kind of ability to download music, despite there being no cell reception and (it is reasonable to presume) no Internet in this town. This is a growing problem with the show overall that *must* stop happening. In order for science fiction, horror, fantasy, or any kind of AU to work (and this town was essentially an alternate universe within the overall alternate universe structure of the show) there must be RULES, and those rules must be adhered to. Certainly things are going to get missed or retconned in a show that has over 300 episodes under its belt, but the retconning is now constant, leading to an free-for-all atmosphere that allows for lazy, sloppy writing. This is a 42 minute episode. It should have been easy enough for Fitzmartin and Yockey to agree on and establish rules within the context of 40-45 pages of script that they could then adhere to, but halfway through when it’s already been stated clearly that the town is in some kind of old-timey bubble, suddenly someone’s wearing a piece of modern technology. Like Fitzmartin and/or Yockey (whoever came up with the bit) are unaware that life and technology existed BEFORE the advent of cellular phones. It’s like watching something written by one of the millennials who, several years ago, was stunned to learn the Titanic was an actual ship and not just a movie.
Also, respect to anyone who liked the man-bun, but Sam in this episode is exactly why Dean has heretofore been the only one who time travels. Sam’s hair is simply too long to believably fit in many earlier eras, and pulling it back into a teeny tiny ponytail doesn’t actually fix that issue, it just (in my opinion) looks ridiculous. Like he’s Jared – who I have NO problem with wearing teeny tiny ponytails – instead of Sam. It’s again like someone dug through fanfiction archives to see what people want to see on the show and went, “We’ll give him a man-bun!!!” It’s absurd.
I have almost no hope that the remaining five episodes of this season are going to be any good. Tonight we have Jack interacting with those TERRIBLE kids from the 300th episode that Dabb for some reason wants to insist we be subjected to again because – I’m guessing – he has to have kids in here somewhere now that he’s killed off Maggie (THANK THE GODS) and wants to hold onto the younger fans in anticipation of older fans giving up in despair at what he’s doing to this wonderful show. That’s at least prescient of him. I also have almost no hope that Dabb will be replaced before next season, and that makes me want to find a vat of pinot grigio and drown myself in it. It’s painful watching a show that has been so good for so long suffer the death of a thousand cuts – or in this case writers who never talk to each other and have a show runner who couldn’t give two craps about consistency.
Sometimes I feel like we share a similar brain. Also, I agree with nearly everything you said.
I’m super numb to the rest of the season, and I’m literally not excited, anxious, or interested in anything that they’re exploring right now. I’m going to give the show to the end of the season, but I don’t know if I can continue the show if the writing doesn’t improve. It is literally hurting me. I love this show a lot, but one of the reasons I loved it was because of how few main characters there were so the show was very tightly focused. I loved the regulars because of how they treated Sam and Dean and the relationship that they formed with the brothers. Some people love a larger ensemble show, but that’s not why I fell in love with this show. I’m very character driven, and I watch for the character(s) I love, not for underdeveloped drama and plot holes that you could drive a bus through.
I think the milkshake was just a red herring. It was meant to throw off the viewer so they thought that the milkshakes were causing it. Really, I think they were just good milkshakes and Cass just wasn’t affected because he was an angel.
You nailed exactly why I love this show with my entire being. It is a small cast with TWO, count ’em, TWO main characters, around whom the story revolves. This does not mean there can’t be supporting or recurring characters – there always have been – but under Dabb, *especially* this year, it is turning into a bloated mess with all these new or side characters that we’re supposed to love simply because they are somehow attached to the Winchesters and not because they have been developed into characters we will naturally love. The entirety of Jack’s development as a character this season has been propped up either by dying or by Dean or Cas (it’s like he’s developed a sudden allergy to Sam) as if simply being in proximity to one of the lead characters and one of the longstanding recurring characters is enough to flesh Jack out without the writers having to put any work into him. If I want to watch ensemble shows, there’s a whole fleet of them over on NBC that start with “Chicago” for me to pick from. Of course they’re procedural dramas instead of tragedies in the epic tradition, so it’s kind of hard for me to get into them seriously, but I know they’re there if I want an ensemble show.
That’s not what I watch Supernatural for. That has *never* been what I watch Supernatural for. And it’s very clearly what Dabb wants to turn Supernatural into. I absolutely understand the Js needing time off, but if you go back and watch earlier seasons there are PLENTY of Monster-of-the-week episodes where a considerable amount of screen time is devoted to what’s happening to the current victims of the monster of the week. I just think the well of talent in the current writer’s pool has run dry, and that’s why Dabb keeps doing these stupid mini-arcs. He doesn’t have people outside of Perez that he can rely on to write a stand-alone episode not tied to the larger arc, so he just keeps making up stupid mini-arcs to give them something to write to.
Either that or the writers are so hampered by all the mini-plots that they have to force into their stand-alone episodes that they’re hamstrung right out of the gate by needing to get references to plots A, J, and Y worked in somehow while Sam and Dean are hunting down a vampire nest. I really don’t know if it’s a top-down or bottom-up problem, but the current writing is not working. I don’t know why the people in charge can’t see just how awful this season has been and DO SOMETHING about it! Something that hopefully does not involve ending the show, because the show has a ton of life left if they’d only get people in there who have a clue how writing actually works! Something that hopefully involves getting rid of someone whose initials are A.D. and won’t get off Twitter and actually changed his plans for Jack to be evil last season because so many fans tweeted to him that Jack was just so darned cute with his nougat love! It derailed all of last season, because now they had to have this all-powerful being locked away in an AU because if they didn’t he’d be able to just fix everything with a snap of his fingers, and now this season they’re turning Dean especially into either a babysitter or a moron as if that will somehow imbue Jack with his own unique personality and purpose on this show.
It physically hurts me to see what is being done to this beautiful thing. I wait days after an episode airs just so I can steel myself against the feeling of being utter underwhelmed by a show I have rewatched in its entirety no less than three times (excluding season 13 – I can’t bring myself to rewatch that yet on Netflix). Even the sort of silly Eve and Leviathan arcs were *nothing* compared to the dreck that Dabb & Co. are churning out on a weekly basis, and there’s just no excuse for it.
I’m completely willing to accept that the milkshakes were a red herring. It probably would have been a little clearer that they were just a diversion if the rest of the town and how it functioned made any sense. I was expecting it to be a trickster at work, but then then end when it just turned out to be a guy who was a psychic I was left *really* scratching my head as to how that was supposed to work when presumably the only thing he could manipulate were people’s thoughts.
Mer, you are spot on here. The writing has been so weak lately! From what I have seen of Steve Yockey’s writing this season, I am not impressed AT ALL. He just does not seem to really get the characters, and there are these “off” moments. Except for a couple of good episodes, season 14 has just not felt like Supernatural to me, like my show, and that is the worst thing I can say about it. I am really hoping for a strong finish to the season, but like you my hopes are not high.
It doesn’t feel like Supernatural to me, either. It feels like some new, awful spin-off where Sam and Dean occasionally make a guest appearance and are even less frequently allowed to be in the same room and speak to each other. My hopes right now are that the remainder of the season is so blatantly awful that TPTB CAN’T ignore it and boot Dabb. I’m getting dangerously close to starting a petition.
Guess I share the „hmmmm…“-reaction…
And I agree with Lynn, I don‘t like having to make sense of a character’s behaviour, the plot, or inconsistencies by making up reasons and missed scenes and conversations in my mind.
What I also found a little peculiar was Jack thinking of the snake’s owner as „in Heaven“. One would assume that he‘d by now know that a Medusa would‘t end up there after dying.
And sending the snake to purgatory to „be happy“ is a much less comforting thought, isn‘t it.
Good review. I also agree the A plot was well done.
On the B plot, I attribute Dean’s chill at basic relief. Rather than kill 7Billion, the lost 7 AU Hunters. They dodged a bullet. Plus Dean no longer has Michael pounding in his head.
But it would have better if the writer threw is a bone on Dean’s mindset.
Sometimes I feel like the only one who just enjoys the fact that the show is still on. There are some episodes that I like more than others, but I even enjoyed season 7.
I think that some of the problems with the way this seasons episodes go is because of the shorter season. Seems like they’re trying to cram too much story into each one. Maybe they’ll figure out how to better do that next season.
I’m just really worried about if we’re going to see “final season” when they announce the return.
I enjoy the fact that the show is still on. I’m frankly not sure what I’ll do if they announce that Season 15 is the final season. I love Dean and Sam Winchesters and will stay with them until the bitter end, and am increasingly frustrated that the current people working on this show are working hard at making sure that for me it is truly a *bitter* end.
However, that’s not going to stop me from railing against the *terrible* writing of this season, because I’m fairly confident that if they continue with the current guy in the head writer’s chair and the current slate of writers who (mostly) don’t seem to care about maintaining character consistency or applying even the most basic of writing skills, like understanding the way to plot a through-arc that last more than three episodes, this show may not only die a premature death, but it will limp towards the series finale with a season unbecoming of the two leads in this show. After fourteen years of playing Sam Winchester, Jared had a scene this season that he just could not get. TPTB would be hard pressed to convince me that wasn’t due in part to the increasingly bad writing these two professionals are given every week and told, “Make it work.” There is literally no reason with all the lore still out there to pull from to write new and interesting stories for this season to be such an utter mess, outside of having a guy in charge who doesn’t know what he’s doing.
And people like Bobo Berens who specifically tell fans on their Twitter feeds who raise valid concerns about new writers like Ms. Fitzgerald to take their complaints somewhere else, because he’s not interested in constructive criticism.
I still watch. There are always weaker episodes in every season. I still watch. Season 15…shortened or a farewell- will have to wait and see.
Thanks for your honesty in your reviews. I love this show, I love Sam & Dean, but this season …has not been good, aside from a few stand-out episodes like Prophet & Loss and the 300th.
The writing this season is just really weak. When a show no longer feels like itself, something is terribly wrong.
As another commenter said, the season feels bloated with too many characters and so many plot holes. Sam & Dean are barely interacting these days and so often feel OOO. When you have two actors that create magic onscreen together, why keep them so separated?? Why limit their screen time and interactions especially when that dynamic has literally carried the show for 14 years? Sam and Dean are lightning in a bottle and these writers are just “meh.”
I criticize so much this season because I love the show so much. I know it can be better. We, including the actors, deserve better from the writers.
This episode was like whiplash from the prior episode. There was no flow, especially no emotional flow or continuity for the characters. It was jarring. I couldn’t enjoy the humor of the Sam and Cas storyline because it just didn’t feel right or ring true to these characters. Don’t even get me started on Dean…who I did not recognize in the least.
Two story lines. Two writers. Not seamless. Trying to show how sad Sam is at the loss of the hunters not only as their leader, but as a personal loss. The contrast to happy Sam/Justin drives home the point that happiness is not his life and that losing people is part of his role as a hunter. Despite his admission that he is not good at comedy, Jared pulled off the ridiculous Justin Smith with sass in contrast to Cass’ blunt serious frustration. His difficulty in a previous episode at getting the words out imho, is more about Jared being an emotional person and beings honest about those emotions. Something about the line as Sam to Dean believing in each other just got to him on a personal level. That scripted dialogue is well written. Again, some parts of episodes are notably good while others are meh. The next episode Don’t go in the woods- two stories, two writers even more bumpy but with a thrust of lie vs. truth and see the change in Jack. The A story is the distraction for the B story which might become the A story. There is still enough good for me. I do think Berens should not try to influence the viewer, but then again he is supportive of his crew of writers. I do agree that Dean is not being written very well as the Dean we know and unless there is a surprise in the finale as to his state of mind, the scripts have been way off for this character. At least Misha got a chance to be Castiel in more than one or two scenes. Worth the price of admission.
You’re suggesting that Jared, whose character has held his dead/dying brother in his arms numerous times and had no problem with delivering his lines around the emotions, was suddenly overcome by a *Bucklemming* script??? That it was just so emotional he couldn’t get the scene to work for him? Because his and Jensen’s description of the scene sounded to me like the problem he was having was the switch from being upset and on the verge of crying to punching his brother – something they haven’t done IN YEARS when not under the influence of outside forces and which felt to me as very forced and un-Sam-like. I’m sure that was the point, to get through to Dean how far Sam had been pushed, but to justify that kind of shift internally to yourself as an actor is difficult enough without it being in one of the few episodes you’ve actually been able to perform in with your primary scene partner for fourteen years. It would have worked if Sam had finished his speech, Dean had insisted it had to be this way, and THEN Sam punched him, because the punch would have been a reaction to Dean ignoring Sam’s pain rather than just standing there waiting to get punched. Instead Jared had to drag that up from somewhere within his own emotional depths without having any real reason (a little thing we like to call “motivation”) for it. To suggest that Jared is an emotional guy and that’s why it was a problem is extremely insulting and shows a lack of understanding not only how actors work but belittles his professionalism.
You can justify the terrible writing this season to your heart’s content, but you shouldn’t presume that the people criticizing this episode and this season overall just don’t “get it.” Or that episodes should be excused for being lackluster because two people wrote it. I have a favored co-writer I work with on audio dramas and somehow our stories, even the one with two separate plots, manage to be coherent, because we (gasp) work together. The current method when pairing people up on SPN seems to be, “You work on plot A and you work on plot B” and that will NEVER result in a coherent script.
The two main actors who have given a sizable portion of their lives to this show and the fans who are still here BEGGING them to fix the writing deserve better.
And I hope Berens got reamed for basically telling fans they don’t have a right to voice their opinions on the downward spiral this show is in. It was completely unprofessional and he should be ashamed. If he doesn’t want to hear opinions that upset him, he should stay off of Twitter. In fact, ALL of the writers should stay off of Twitter.
You misunderstand my intention. Not throwing shade at Jared. It is a complement that he is such an honestly emotional person. The scene between Sam and Dean somehow got to him on an emotional level that came from within the actor. It was not because that scene was written poorly in my opinion. He does believe in “us” meaning not only Dean and Sam but Jensen and Jared. His professionalism cannot be questioned as he has acted through some awful dialogue as well as some not so good plots in the run of the series. Not saying the writing is outstanding or defending the writing, just my opinion that this scene written and then the words spoken with honesty are raw emotion. To me, it seemed more Jared than Sam as Jensen said at a convention, he was the one hugging “Sam”- Jared. Perhaps more is under the surface and Jared was pulling on that emotion to get through the scene as part of his process and something hit him so hard- well he came through. Berens is also entitled to his opinion about the writers- we do not have to agree with him- and maybe the Powers behind the scenes noticed or not. Writing is hard. Endings are hard.-Ask Chuck. In any event, after season 15 there will only be re-runs. Let’s just use this site to share opinions and not rant at each other.
So it’s probably easier to make a like, don’t like list this week. The set was beautiful, I loved the old style ice-cream parlour, loved the strong and decisive Castiel, he’s been MIA for a while. Sad as it was Sam’s reactions in the aftermath of Michael’s escape were consistent and in character. The way the smaller characters were allowed to shine ( Donatello, Mrs Dowling, Griffin I’m looking at you) was cool, I’m comfortable with them having a little room to grow, our show is better than most because it’s not one dimensional. Unfortunately something has to give for this to happen, this took the form of Dean effectively being sidelined, which I was not cool with, 42 minutes just wasn’t enough for dealing with the full aftermath. Jensen did his best to give us the signals Dean wasn’t fine with what time he had, the jumpiness, the massive comfort eating, but it wasn’t enough it felt like there was a gap where he should have been. Oh and the man bun, please, never again! Sorry Lynn, not for me, as Dean would say,give me 5 minutes with some clippers! Thanks for review
Don’t Go Into The Woods. Episode bringing back the obnoxious Teenage Townies. Why Dabb, why? Bring back the Warlock and his stick figure sister. Kill off the Townies. You try and try to write teenagers and you suck at it. Please resist if you get another urge to do so.
Jack needed a vehicle to act without supervision and that in order to he give into peer pressure- he needed peers. Again, not sure teenage townies is the best way unless there is another reason: perhaps that the hunters are being more and more exposed to the civilians and that runs a risk to their success or existence in Lebanon.
I am commenting even later than you are reviewing, but I have to say I don’t understand the glasses kink. Wardrobe choose ugly glasses for the boys, heavy frames that hide their pretty pretty faces! Not sure about Sam’s pony tail (it’s not a man bun!), but I definitely think Sam’s scruff was totally out of place. Justin would absolutely have been clean shaven.