While things could certainly be better for the Winchester boys, fans of Supernatural have nothing to complain about. This was a great episode. It brings to mind conversations I've had with people concerning which episode of Firefly you show to someone to introduce them to the series. I always pick "Our Mrs. Reynolds". And now I would put "Nightshifter" high on the list for giving people a look at Supernatural.
There is quite a bit of back story that leads up to this story, but the episode was done in a way that it will stand on its own very well. All the big elements of the series are in there too. We had ladies man Dean, the brothers arguing, a creepy and mysterious foe, nutty guest star, gorgeous girls, dead bodies, something slimy, great music, and the boys being misunderstood by the authorities. The only thing lacking was for Jared and Jensen to take off their shirts for the ladies, or guys, depending on your tastes.
Anyway, on with the show. Things got started with a nice twist, replacing the normal NOW with the breaking news segment. Seeing Dean on the news at a bank robbery certainly set the mind racing with just what kind of complications that entails. It's one thing to dodge the law when investigating a case with little coverage that they found in the paper. And it is an entirely different thing to be inside a bank with news cameras on you. That draws all kinds of unwanted attention.
The investigation was kept to a minimum, but I liked what we did see. It was fun to have ladies man Dean back in action, getting the number from the girl at the jewelery store. Bringing in Ronald Resnick (Chris Gauthier, Eureka, pictured) to sum up what is going on was a fun bit of writing. His mandroid explanation was great, as was the reaction from Dean and Sam when they realized it was a shapeshifter.
Speaking of the shapeshifter, give some credit to writer Ben Edlund for taking a creature we have seen before and managing to make everything about it exciting. I automatically thought of season one's "Skin" but nothing in the story felt like it was rehashed.
Once inside the bank, business really picked up. Chris Gauthier was fantastic in his part. He was harried and on the edge. His brief, but tumultuous relationship with Sam was pretty funny. "I ain't talking to you. I don't like you." To which Sam replied, "Fair enough." It all came full circle when it became clear that they would have to work together. I loved Sam's sheepish, let's be friends voice when he said, "Hi Ron..." More evidence of just how well written this episode was came when Ronald was shot. In just those few minutes of screen time they managed to get us invested in him so that bullet came as a shock. I really didn't see that one coming.
Of course, the big twisty announcement that is going to move on and factor in to future episodes is the appearance of Special Agent Hendricks. Dude has attitude for days, doesn't he? I wasn't quite as surprised as Dean when he dropped his name on the phone. He gave away that he was after Dean when he mentioned the monster inside the bank. Clearly the FBI wouldn't be chasing down a shapeshifter. But the news that he has been tracking the boys and knows about St. Louis, Baltimore, the desecration, and the thefts came as quite a surprise.
I thought Detective Ballard from "The Usual Suspects" might have been able to put the kibosh on some of that stuff, but no such luck. While watching the episode I considered the possibility that the shapeshifter would change into Dean and Hendricks would get his man, kind of. No dice there either. This changes the game quite a bit. Hendricks will have to be dealt with at some point. It's tough enough to get around being wanted. All the more so when someone is actively looking for you. It opens up lots of fun possibilities.
Finally, how about that ending? Supernatural has always done music well, but that was just fantastic. "Renegade", by Styx is a great song, and they used it to perfection. The long pause after the slow intro as we watch the reality of all of this wash over the boys, followed by Dean's line, "We are so screwed." Then it was all topped off just right as the next line when the song picks back up is "The jig is up, the news is out, they finally found me..." Awesome.
Overall, a great episode. I watch a ridiculous amount of TV, and this was the best hour I've seen in quite some time. The only gripe I had about the episode as I watched it was that tiles in a drop ceiling don't support dead bodies. That's it. I'm on board with everything else they brought us this week, and can't wait for the next one.