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October 13, 2015

Supernatural: Mystery Spot

by Brett Love, posted Feb 15th 2008 8:41AM

Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles - Supernatural
(S03E11) Well now, that wasn't what I expected. When the previews hinted at a Groundhog Day plot I thought we were in for a more comedic episode. That expectation was further fueled by the appearance of the Trickster in the previous scenes. There was a good bit of that on the recurring Tuesdays, but when we made it to Wednesday, things took a decidedly darker turn. A turn that might have given us a glimpse into Sam's future.

Gallery: Supernatural

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Before we get to all of that though, a minor complaint. For the most part, I'm a pretty big fan of the flashes at the beginning of the episode, but this week was just exceedingly odd. Why all the Bela and Colt references? Getting us ready for post strike episodes? That's like Super Bowl-level of early pre-game there. The other bit I didn't really like was seeing the Trickster. I caught on a lot quicker having been given that clue before anything even started to happen.

That is a good place to start, our old pal the Trickster (Richard Speight Jr.). When last we met up with him, a day shy of a year ago, it was for "Tall Tales." The boys thought they had dispatched him at the end of that episode, but we all knew better. I was looking forward to his return then, but hadn't really given him much thought this season. There has just been so much else going on. Now was a good time for the return.

The Groundhog Day scenario was a nice piece of work from the Trickster. The ever inventive ways for Dean to die were fun. As fun as killing your main character repeatedly can be, anyway. My favorite of the bunch was the falling furniture, narrowly edging out the axe incident. I think my favorite part of Tuesday though was Dean's little dance move out of the frame to "Heat of the Moment." They just kept showing it, and it just kept being funny.

Then the bonus of the episode came on Wednesday. No, not getting to hear Huey Lewis and the News doing "Back In Time." That was a nice choice though. The real bonus was getting to see what happened to Sam when he had to go on without Dean. It's something that has been hinted at on occasion as Dean tells Sam he is going to have to go on without him, but I don't think this is what anybody had in mind. It's not Dark Sam succumbing to some kind of evil he brought back, but it is a pretty dark Sam.

If the Trickster's end game was to get Sam to learn the lesson that nothing good could come from Dean and Sam making sacrifices for each other, he was fighting a losing fight. There's just no way that was going to happen. Dean is Sam's biggest weakness? The Trickster really hasn't been paying attention. Dean is, more than anything else, Sam's biggest source of strength.

It leaves me wondering just what the Trickster's real end game was. Was it just a matter of him realizing that Sam's relationship to Dean is his core, so if he was able to get Sam to give on that devotion he somehow had beaten him? Or is there a possibility out there that the Trickster could be in cahoots with the mysterious new baddy we have yet to meet? I am, admittedly, pretty iffy on that last one. I get the feeling that the Trickster's report card said something like, "TT is such a bright boy, but he doesn't play well with others." Still an interesting possibility to ponder.

I thought they did a good job showing Sam's increasingly warping path. And Jared Padalecki did a good job conveying that change on Tuesday, and especially on Wednesday. The huge wall of research and the growing obsession also called to mind his father's crusade, and I wager that Sam would have followed through with the same dogged determination, given the chance.

In the aftermath, the whole thing works as a nice companion to the end of "Dream A Little Dream Of Me." Last week we saw Dean coming to a realization and fully committing to the idea of getting out of the deal. While Sam was already on that train, here we see him getting all the reinforcement he could ever need. The two of them should now be fiercely focused as they turn their attention in that direction.

All things considered, another great episode. And if you liked the return of the Trickster, next week looks to be another treat. It seems our old pal Agent Henricksen is back on the case. How can you not like that?

Are you up for seeing the Trickster again in season four?
Nope. After two appearances, the gimmick has run its course.35 (7.4%)
Absolutely. It's a great character.188 (39.9%)
As long as there is a season four, I don't care who or what they bring back for the boys to fight.248 (52.7%)

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Bill Bateman

this was a great show.

February 22 2008 at 9:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I loved this episode. One of the best of the season I think.

February 18 2008 at 9:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This episode was incredible. I had a tough time with the deaths because I can't stand to see one of my favorite characters die over and over and watching my favorite character suffer through those deaths was equally hard. However, I really liked the obsessive way that Sam pursued the trickster after Dean's death. He basically became his father with the military precision of his organization and house keeping to his refusal to communicate with anybody. He became a man with a mission. I loved this show because of all of the emotions it pulled out of me. I don't know if I have ever had so many emotional transitions during a 1 hour TV show. Incredible episode!

February 18 2008 at 6:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was pretty excited to see the Trickster back again, but was kind of surprised at the direction the episode took. Back in October, I had been trying to imagine scenarios for how Dean could get out of his deal and the Trickster seemed like the only legitimate answer. He is a god after all. And he kind of took a shining to Dean. So now I don't know if he's gone forever or what. That being said, I thought the episode was just ok. With a few exceptions (Fresh Blood was great) I think the strike kind of derailed this season a bit...and its a shame because I love this show.

February 15 2008 at 11:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Travis Bickle is Taxi Driver guy.

I truly loved this episode. Tainted Tacos, and all the unusual deaths. But really you see Sam dealing with what his life could be without Dean. I totally agree that Dean is Sam's strength source, their brother bond is strong as this hunter life is all they've really ever known.

February 15 2008 at 11:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to cat's comment

with a wood stick (vampire copycat)

February 16 2008 at 1:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Brett Love


Travis Bickle is Robert De Niro's character in Taxi Driver. That much is clear. As far as what the "Travis Bickle in a dress." line means, that 's a little fuzzy. Perhaps the Trickster was implying that Sam didn't have the fortitude to make good on all his threats of vengeance. That deep down he's never going to be able to follow that path to the end. Maybe he's merely pointing out that Travis Bickle wouldn't have given him the big Winchester puppy dog eyes and said please. I'm not sure. For now, it looks like that is for him to know, and for us to wait to learn in a later episode.

February 15 2008 at 10:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I love the Trickster. I think he's a great character. He really throws a wrench into the works, and if you read up on Tricksters in general (try reading about Loki of Norse Myth, who I think our SPN Trickster is loosely based on) you know that that's what they do best. The primary thing you have to know about tricksters though is that they aren't on anybody's side except their own. However, they will occasionally work with others to achieve their own ends. And most tricksters do have a tendency to show others (whether it's fellow gods or humans) what their greatest weaknesses are. I don't actually think our Trickster was suggesting that Dean himself is Sam's greatest weakness, I think he was suggesting that the family behavior pattern of sacrificing one's life and even one's soul for each other is destructive and dangerous, and he's right. I think he was telling Sam that if it comes right down to it and he can't get Dean out of his disastrous deal, he needs to let him go and not try to sacrifice himself for Dean or it will cause big time trouble. Is the Trickster telling Sam this from the goodness of his heart? Of course not, he's definitely got some sort of personal angle on this whole thing that we can't see yet. But just because someone gives good advice doesn't mean they're giving it altruistically.

February 15 2008 at 10:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Who is Travis Bickell? When the Trickster was confronting Sam he called him Travis Bickell is a dress.

When I saw the promo for this show I said Oh No they are going to rip off Groundhog Day. But the episode was great!!! It is one of the reasons I watch and tape Lost.

February 15 2008 at 10:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Am I seriously the only one who thought this episode was absolutely corny? I mean, honestly what planet am I on?
Okay, first of all, what really irked me was the deaths. I mean, come on! Those are friggin cheap shots! Phony! Out of question! The deaths really didn't appeal to me. I actually preferred on-the-job deaths, something that is actually BELIEVEABLE. Something I wouldn't have to sit and watch and say, "My God, that was pure s***." The Trickster coming back was also what turned me off. I was expecting a far more serious episode and instead it was corny and practically forced. Having Bobby randomly show up wasn't necessary either, as much as I love Bobby to death.
I did in fact enjoy Sam having to live without Dean, since it shows us what would happen. We have a true glimpse of Sam's dark side now--all we have to know is which way will he sway, good or bad?
However, I was very disappointed.

February 15 2008 at 9:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

This might be my favorite episode of Supernatural ever. I think it had a little of everything that makes the show great: ongoing inside references, some action, a lot of humor, excellent use of music, some drama, and bets of all the brothers acting like brothers. These two are the best brothers on TV in my experience. The exact right amount of vicious ribbing and total devotion.

Plus...the car. I even love the door creaks that car makes.

February 15 2008 at 1:41 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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