Ah, Playthings. One of the creepiest episodes of Supernatural for me personally, because what is more creepy than an old mansion and a bunch of old incredibly terrifying DOLLS?? Add an equally terrifying little ghost girl and an old woman confined to an attic (plus some gruesome murders) and you’ve got an episode that gives me goosebumps every time. It’s also got some great brother moments between the Winchesters, so at least there’s some respite from the anxiety.
It’s next up on our Supernatural rewatch (it just turned 2022 as I’m typing this), so let’s revisit what made this episode so memorable – and so creepy!
We start out with the reminder that something evil might be brewing in poor Sam, the underlying theme of Season 2 that’s impacting both brothers, Sam terrified that he might hurt someone and Dean terrified that he won’t be able to protect Sam.
A reminder from Dean that “dad told me something”, Sam’s anguished question “Am I supposed to go darkside or something?” and Dean’s big brother determination to protect Sam no matter what. Then we’re back where we left off, Sam and Dean finding Ava’s discarded engagement ring in a pool of her fiance’s blood.
So very Supernatural.
The exterior location for this episode is every bit as creepy as the rest of it – an old mansion from the 1930s now the Pierpont Inn. As movers take out boxes of stuff, we learn that it has a rich history in the community, with generations getting engaged or married there, but it’s now up for sale. As the moving guy takes out the boxes, we pan to two little girls sitting at the top of the stairs on the landing watching – and not very happy about the move.
One of them is Tyler, daughter of the owner. The other is Maggie, her imaginary friend – who we already suspect is not exactly a trying-to-be-helpful Sully.
Tyler goes to play with her dollhouse that’s a replica of the Inn, and we pan over shelves full of creepy dolls, including a clown doll that would have given Sam Winchester nightmares (and possibly me also).
The whole episode is brilliantly shot, never fully lit and always looking just a little bit foggy, making the antique decor and dark wood just that much creepier. The creative camera angles add to the feeling that something is amiss here, sometimes looking up and sometimes down but rarely straight on.
Tyler puts a doll in the rocking chair, but when she looks again he’s not there – instead he’s at the bottom of the staircase, head askew.
Just then, we hear her mother scream. At the foot of the stairs is the hapless moving man, twisted up, head askew just like the doll, in a pool of his own blood and a cracked doll next to him on the floor.
Well done, Supernatural. CREEPY as hell, but well done.
Cut to Sam and Dean looking for Ava, their motel room covered with maps and notes and a missing poster and looking a lot like John Winchester’s motel room might have. Sam checks with Ellen, but she doesn’t have any leads either. Dean is worried about his brother.
Dean: Sorry, man.
Ellen does share information about the freak accidents that have been happening at the Pierpont Inn, though, and Sam wants to check it out. Dean is surprised. Sam wonders why.
Dean: Well yeah, it’s just, you know, not the patented Sam Winchester way, is it?
Sam: What way is that?
Dean: I just figured after Ava there’d be, you know, more angst and droopy music and staring out the rainy window…
Dean: Yeah, I’ll shut up now.