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'Supernatural' Preview: 6 Reasons Why You Can't Miss This Week's Rip-Roarin' Western Episode

by Laura Prudom, posted Apr 20th 2011 8:15AM
Jensen Ackles and Jared PadaleckiYou'd be hard-pressed to find a more fearless series currently on air than the CW's 'Supernatural'. Over the past six seasons, the dashing Winchester brothers have faced everything from Santa Claus to a spoof of Dr. McDreamy, but this Friday, they're facing a genre that few shows (or movies) dare to touch these days: The Western.

'Supernatural' already smashed the fourth wall with great aplomb earlier this season, but pulling off a believable Western on a TV budget would be a feat for any show without a premium cable network footing the bill. So it gives us great pleasure to report that, not only is 'Frontierland' gorgeous to look at, it's also one of the series' strongest episodes to date, providing humor and action while keeping up the momentum of the mythology as we approach the season finale.

TV Squad was lucky enough to see an advanced screener of this Friday's wild Western episode, and we've managed to whittle down an hour of memorable moments into a list of six reasons why this episode is not to be missed. Proceed with caution, pilgrims: there are mild spoilers ahead.

Check out the episode summary for a hint of what you can expect:
SAM AND DEAN RETURN TO THE WILD, WILD WEST - While searching for a way to defeat Eve, Dean stumbles upon Samuel Colt's (guest star Sam Hennings) journal in the Campbell library. Realizing Samuel might have the answer to their problems, Sam and Dean ask Castiel (Misha Collins) to send them back in time so they can meet the man himself. While Sam is a bit reluctant to time travel, Dean is beside himself with excitement to return to the Wild, Wild West.

1. Sheriff Winchester
Jensen Ackles has been vocal in his enthusiasm for 'Frontierland' ever since the concept was announced at last year's Comic-Con, but it's excellent to see that enthusiasm translate to the screen. The hard-working actor looks like a kid in a candy store throughout the episode's lighter moments, dropping Eastwood references and drawling like a pro (I guess being from Texas is a great boot-camp for this kind of episode), before effortlessly switching gears to channel the ass-kicking, take-no-prisoners Dean Winchester that we all know and love when the going gets tough.

I found myself reminded of the Dean we first met in season 1 at many points during this episode: The playful, smooth-talking conman who didn't yet have the weight of the world on his shoulders. And even though the stakes are high in 'Frontierland,' I enjoyed those moments of levity and confidence from our put-upon older Winchester; lord knows he deserves an angst-free day or two. This episode seemed like wish-fulfillment at its finest for Ackles, and that excitement is infectious as you watch.

Sam Hennings2. Sam vs. Sam
While Dean is playing Sheriff back in Sunrise, WY, Sam (Jared Padalecki) has an equally important mission -- he's tasked with tracking down the legendary gun-maker, Samuel Colt (Sam Hennings), who may hold the key to defeating Eve. Unfortunately for Sam, crotchety old Colt is "retired" -- even though we know there's no such thing in the hunting world -- and isn't so eager to help out our loveable "giant from the future." Fans have been imagining what Samuel Colt might look like for the past four seasons, and Hennings is more than worthy of filling those iconic boots. I hope that, somehow, we'll be seeing more of him in the future (past?).

Though Sam plays the straight man while Dean (predictably) geeks out over their 'Back to the Future III' exploits, Padalecki still has his share of physical comedy, and while fans are often concerned when the brothers embark on separate missions, both characters have integral roles to play in the episode.

3. Touched by an Angel
Speaking of important roles, I was surprised -- and pleased -- by the amount of Castiel (Misha Collins) we were treated to this week. I had predicted that the Winchesters' heavenly helper would simply pop in to send and retrieve our heroes, but as producer Sera Gamble promised us at PaleyFest, the last few episodes in the season look set to intertwine Castiel's storyline with the brothers' in an unexpected way. Following on from last week's episode, we start to understand why the human soul holds such value for the angels (and dearly departed Crowley), as well as witness the return of Castiel's angelic blade.

We're also introduced to Castiel's lieutenant Rachel (Sonya Salomaa), who isn't so fond of the way the Winchesters order Castiel around. Let's just say her attitude is more Uriel than Gabriel when it comes to humanity ...

4. Butch and Sundance
The pop-culture references fly thick and fast this week, featuring everything from 'Star Trek' and 'Die Hard' to the opening credits of 'Bonanza' and Clint Eastwood's more questionable film choices. There's also a wonderful nod to Jim Beaver's past work that should please the actor's loyal fanbase.

Observant 'Supernatural' fans will be thrilled by the respect paid to the show's sprawling mythology; Samuel Colt's work on the Devil's Gate from season 2 is mentioned, and if you pay attention, you'll spot the ancestor of a hunter we met all the way back in season 1.

5. True Grit
Even an innovative concept like a Western-themed episode can be ruined by poor execution, so I was impressed by the obvious care and respect that went into producing 'Frontierland.' Guy Bee's direction is sharp, deft and doesn't take itself too seriously. I'll wager he was enjoying himself immensely in recalling visual cues that make the Western genre so distinct, from atmospheric long-shots that set up the high-noon shootout to extreme close-ups as our sheriff prepares to draw against the black-clad gunslinger that opposes him. Similarly, the episode is tinted with a gritty sepia tone, courtesy of cinematographer Serge Ladouceur, which only serves to enhance the visual connection to the films 'Frontierland' is inspired by.

6. We Watch for the Plot
It's a hotly contested question: How do you improve upon the perfection of Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki? The guys are clearly genetically blessed, and 'Supernatural' fans have been treated to a number of memorable costume choices over the years, but I've got to admit, cowboy hats and leather dusters definitely blow them all out of the water. Someone needs to hire these two for a feature-length Western, stat. ('Lone Ranger,' I'm looking at you.)

Fans have been anticipating this episode for the better part of a year, and I'm pleased to say that it far exceeded my expectations. The humor that was sorely missed in the first half of the season is back with a vengeance now, and writers Andrew Dabb and Daniel Loflin confidently balance plot, ass-kicking and pathos while neatly sidestepping the traps that could've made the episode feel cheap or kitschy. Saddle up, partners, I predict you'll want to visit 'Frontierland' again and again.

'Frontierland' airs this Friday, April 22 at 9PM ET on The CW.

Follow Laura on Twitter: @LauinLA

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Thanks, Laura, for the article. Your enthusiasm for Frontierland is infectious! You definitely gave me an "I can't wait until Friday" moment as I read it.

April 21 2011 at 1:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Thank you, Laura: I am SO looking forward to this! Really envy you that screener, you know ... :)

April 20 2011 at 10:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Melody Paris

It's going to be a GREAT episode. I'm very excited. Dean in cowboy gear is a dream come true.

April 20 2011 at 5:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mrs. robinson

So happy to read this review. Now I'm looking forward to the episode even more. Please CW give us one more season of Supernatural.

April 20 2011 at 5:16 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

That Rachel is a cutie!

"Let's Star Trek this!" [Crickets] "It's like I dont even know you guys."

April 20 2011 at 3:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rachel Brown

Sounds really awesome. Can't wait!

April 20 2011 at 2:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

So excited for this episode, I feel like we've been waiting for it for years! And YES, Jensen as Lone Ranger would be perfect.

April 20 2011 at 1:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Awesome preview! Can't wait to watch the episode on Friday! :D Is it just me or have there been more screeners than in previous seasons?

April 20 2011 at 11:28 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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