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November 28, 2014

'Supernatural' Season 7, Episode 6 Recap

by Maureen Ryan, posted Oct 29th 2011 7:15PM
['Supernatural' - 'Slash Fiction']

It's been a tempestuous few weeks for 'Supernatural' fans. Well, all right -- for this fan. I can't speak for everyone who watches the show, but I certainly felt many disturbances in the Force as season 7 got underway. It's been a bumpy ride, to say the least, and for me, it led to the writing of last week's 'Tough Love' laundry list of things I think the show needs to fix, address or otherwise improve.

So it comes as a relief to say that I liked 'Slash Fiction' quite a bit, and though it remains to be seen whether the show can fix all of its long-term and big-picture problems, this week's episode was double the fun of anything we've seen in the past month.

Actually, 'Slash Fiction' felt as though it was almost double the length of the usual 'Supernatural' episode -- mostly in a good way. There were lots of scenes and characters and new scenarios to chew on, and several moments to simply savor. We were promised a "back to basics" feel this year, and while I have many problems with the current regime's interpretation of what constitutes the "basics" or the heart of the show, there was indeed an old-school vibe to 'Slash Fiction.' It wasn't just that the second half echoed 'Jus in Bello,' it was the fact that the episode had momentum and stakes and characters (some of them new) that I enjoyed spending time with. I can't perfectly articulate why, but it just had a season 2 or 3 feel.

Now, if you think I've lost all my critical marbles and won't question anything about 'Slash Fiction,' simmer down. As I said, there's still that pesky big-picture stuff that may fall apart or continue to be problematic and inconsistent. I'll just get one of those critiques out of the way at the outset: The separation between Sam and Dean at the end of the episode was the definition of an anti-climax. I don't trust where that will go at all, based on past experience in this arena. The show will no doubt put the brothers back together very soon, as it has in the past. As many of us have said this season and last, the manufactured, repetitive conflict between the brothers is one of the show's weakest angles these days, so to have the concluding scene go to that dry well one more time felt lame to me, especially since the next phase of this been-there, done-that conflict won't be hard to predict.

But the hour that came before it? There was a lot about it that I liked, moments big and small. Bobby even got his own damn story line -- and got to kiss a lady! What is the world coming to?

Again, let's get something out of the way: namely, the implausibility of Sheriff Jodie not only finding Bobby's new hiding place but hopping in her car and driving 17 hours to drop in on him. (Yes, I looked up the distance between Sioux Falls and Whitefish on Mapquest.) She did all that just to thank him for rescuing her several weeks ago? A phone call wouldn't have sufficed? Perhaps a muffin basket (one without body parts)? Just one of the problems that comes from killing off most of the show's recurring characters is that it now requires a really large storytelling stretch to find a way to bring in someone who can conveniently spill cleaning fluid on the floor while Bobby tortures a Leviathan in the basement.

But I was willing to wave a lot of those quibbles away because Jim Beaver and Kim Rhodes have an enjoyably easy chemistry together, and because Bobby got to do more than just be Lore Answer Man. Of course, him figuring out how to take down a Leviathan and relaying that information to the boys was Bobby serving a plot purpose, but his scenes with Chet and Jody were entertaining, interesting and even had flashes of black humor. Also, did I mention that Bobby got to kiss a woman? That might strain credulity even more than the Winchesters coming back from the dead again! Seriously, that Bobby-Jodie moment was actually sweet, and, as I said, Jim Beaver is so good that it's nice to see his character get a range of things to do in an episode. (Also nice? Someone acknowledging that Bobby's house burned down and that he deserves more out from life than cold food and regular infusions of Hunter's Helper. And I for one am glad that Bobby hasn't abandoned all hope -- as I noted last week, constant pessimism is one of the show's biggest stumbling blocks at the moment.)

One obvious thing that wasn't on my list of things the show needs to improve was the cast -- they're so good that it sets my teeth to grinding when they're not used to their fullest abilities. Hence my love for the scene in the non-Metallicar, which made great use of Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles' comedic skills. There was so much to enjoy in that scene: Dean's look of hatred at the accursed plastic pony, the wail of little pony as it was tossed in the back seat, Dean's secret adoration of 'I'm All Out of Love,' which he sang with disturbingly intense enjoyment, and Sam's increasing discomfort at Dean's hidden love of 80's soft-rock. I could happily watch that scene a dozen times.

As for the rest of the episode, there was a lot going on, and though I thought the overall pace and energy of the hour was enjoyably brisk, not every element worked. The "FBI agents" tracking Sam and Dean were especially weak (one of them had no on-camera presence at all, and the other looked 10 years old), and it wasn't a shock to discover that they were actually Leviathans. The fact that anyone can be a Leviathan kind of sucks the tension out of those reveals the more they're used.

Also, if there were two teams of Leviathans drawing out Sam and Dean, why weren't they coordinating activities? Granted, maybe they were and we just didn't see that, but something about the Leviathans' attempts to take down Sam and Dean seemed a little convoluted. In the main, however, I was willing to go along with the premise of the episode because it gave the actors a chance to play very different versions of the brothers.

What do the Leviathans actually want? That has yet to be explained (and I'm not saying it's necessarily a bad thing that we don't know yet). At least we did meet the Big Boss of the Big Bad: Mr. Dick Roman, who is so powerful that he views Crowley as a piddly nuisance who's not worth the effort it would take to kill him. Somebody think he's important, huh?

The thing is, if the Leviathan are as powerful as Mr. Roman indicates that they are, it'll be hard for the show to demonstrate why the Levs can't simply take out the boys at will. And for the season to have sustain the kind of energy that 'Slash Fiction' had, we'll obviously need to find out much more about what the Leviathans want and who they are. Mr. Roman as an especially douchey douche in an expensive suit isn't going to be enough, as Big Bads go. As I wrote last week, the stakes have to be personal for the boys, and that's what made 'Slash Fiction' work -- the fact that their own bodies had been hijacked to commit grievous crimes, and that could not stand.

'Slash Fiction' did allow for some meta-commentary on what Sam and Dean's ongoing problems and issues are, but I'm glad it didn't beat us over the head with that stuff (i.e., Dean's sainthood applications and Sam's "Satanvision" -- and the latter has not been in evidence in recent weeks, but apparently it's still around). As I've said before, the more the show tells us where the boys are at, rather than shows us through imaginative and creatively told stories, the more it begins to feel like a collection of storytelling shortcuts.

But wisely, 'Slash Fiction' didn't overdo it in that department, and honestly, I'm just glad I looked forward to sitting down to write about the episode, which hasn't necessarily been the case in recent weeks.

It remains to be seen whether the rest of the season will demonstrate momentum, consistency and vision. But at this point, I'll take what I can get, and 'Slash Fiction' was a solidly entertaining hour.

A few final observations:

* I bet it won't be long before everyone in America will forget that Sam and Dean's faces were all over the media, even though their crimes were front-page news for days. I have to be honest, my prediction is that the show simply forgets the brothers' brush with national media exposure. And that isn't the end of the world, in all honestly -- it'd be too hard to tell stories if the brothers were being stopped by the cops every 20 minutes.

* Wasn't it Leviathans getting into the water supply that started this whole mess? So why dump the heads into bodies of water? We don't know if they can be revived that way, but why tempt fate?

* I'm sure you caught all the 'Pulp Fiction' references, but if not, here's the ever-handy SuperWiki to the rescue! I don't say it enough, but I do love that site.

* So I compared the Leviathans to Cylons and soon enough the show has a guest actor from the cast of 'Battlestar Galactica'! I'm going to take the appearance of the great Michael Hogan, a.k.a. 'BSG's' legendary Saul Tigh, as a welcome shoutout to the Syfy show (and the frequently human-looking Cylons). 'BSG' is one of my all-time favorite shows, so it was great to see Hogan again.

* So how do Leviathans work, exactly? They all downloaded Cas' thoughts and memories when they were inside him, but they also get all the thoughts and memories of each new person they change into? Just want to be clear on how that works. If you have a different theory, let me know.

* Really, you can dismember a Leviathan head and it will somehow crawl its way back to the top of the body? No wonder they didn't show that because it's a cockamamie idea.

* The only thing we really know about the Leviathans' mindset is that they're very arrogant and that human goodness really makes them crabby. And what is their goal? Perhaps they mean to win Wimbledon!!

* We got to meet another new character in the form of Frank Devereaux, who seems like the kind of enjoyable crank we might meet again. He and his paranoia were entertaining, to the extent that, again, I could wave away a question. Which is: Where did the boys get the $5,000 they needed to pay him? Guess we'll never know.


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'Supernatural' airs 9PM ET Fridays on the CW.

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henninggirl

I doubt they'd do it, but as the show winds down, it would be a different turn to actually have Sam and Dean distance themselves from each other. Not, cut each other out of their lives, but step back from the constant cycle of pain, neuroses and self-flagalation. If they actually agreed, 'we work well together but we also need to have identities as individuals' and forced a little bit of normalcy into their relationship. I know, I know 'they're not normal!' But I really thing they need to at least attempt to imput a level of how siblings actually deal with each other into their lives, however they can. Again, it's doubtful this will happen.

November 03 2011 at 10:13 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to henninggirl's comment
Allie

Yes! This! This is exactly what I've been thinking.

November 04 2011 at 1:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Allie

Yes! This! This is exactly what I've been thinking.

November 04 2011 at 1:50 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
lily

Hey guys,
Check out the youtub clip for this week of SPN. It is awesome! http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=9nkeImIAIYI

November 02 2011 at 12:04 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
MishelM

At least the main plot was moved forward with the "discovery" of Borax hurting the Levis. Other than that and a few enjoyable moments, this one wasn't the best. The stupid-stick was passed around freely, and Bobby is quite the deus ex machina. And the less said about Sherrif Mills (who I like) finding Bobby and travelling hundreds of miles for the express purpose of cleaning the cabin, the better.

November 01 2011 at 4:19 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to MishelM's comment
DDavina

Having a female sheriff, who played a large role in saving herself , drive to Bobby's house just ot get down on her hands and knees and clean was incredibly demeaning and disrespectful.

November 01 2011 at 9:21 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to DDavina's comment
henninggirl

Misogyny is certainly rampant on "Supernatural" (example: "On a good day, you get to kill a *****." Still one of the most disgusting things ever uttered on television) but the sheriff scrubbing up a mess she made which leads to the discovery of what can at least hurt the Leviathans was not one of those moments. Here is a good example of all the misogyny on "Supernatural" albiet slightly dated, but true: http://www.viddler.com/explore/Luminosity/videos/2/

November 03 2011 at 10:33 AM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down
MishelM

I was actually trying to reply to henninggirl, but it won't let me...

Anywho, I know that everyone gets upset at that quote, but it's a *mis*quote. Dean didn't say "On a good day, you get to kill a *****." He said "On a good day, you get the kill The *****." And since she was, in fact, The ***** Of Babylon, I really don't understand all the fuss.

November 03 2011 at 4:09 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down
Spirale Rouge

.
I like the Leviathan's concept. They look so normal in their human forms
and yet they are practically immortals. Real monsters who can clone anyone and take all his memories. Horrible monsters who when they get munchies eat people. And like all real evil monsters they don't need a reason or purpose to do evil things.

I am so glad that Crowley is coming back, I hope we are going to see him a lot in the next episodes. I really enjoy his interaction with Sam and Dean. It would be also nice to see Meg again.

Me too, I re-watched the scene with Air Supply, it's so good to laugh out loud unrestrainedly!!
.

October 31 2011 at 8:39 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Toni-Jo Sarausky

Michele MacKay: Thank you! I don't know what these women are complaining about either! I've watched Seasons 1 through 6 complete, and each season is a rare and wonderful gift. This is the best show on television, and it has been for years! I believe that there are people in the SPN universe who cannot refrain from looking a gift horse in the mouth to comment on the number of molars, grinders, small cavities, and hay sprigs caught between the teeth! They are so OCD that they cannot just enjoy this wonderful series!Sad, but luckily they are fewer in number than you, me, and literally millions of others who don't lose their ways in over indulgent criticism and nit-picking!

October 31 2011 at 7:12 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
Toni-Jo Sarausky

Maureen, Alice Jester, and Fangasms: Really. Seriously. You four seem to be in a weirdly negative, Supernatural parallel universe from the one in which most of the show's fans are! Season 7 has been brilliant, awesome, spectacular, loaded to the gunwales with great "stuff." All of the first 6 episodes have been totally great! Ladies: Relax. Enjoy the show -- Jensen and Jared have vaulted up another level in their performances; Jim Beaver and his character (along with the fab Kim Rhodes) are headed down a fascinating path; the Leviathans are great Big Bads; Crowley is back (OMG); and the "road ahead" looks like Season 7 is going to be on of the great ones.

Have to disagree with ALL of your show comments so far, except for the sour grapes and grudging praise squeezed out for Slash Fiction. Bye, girls! Moving on....

October 31 2011 at 7:04 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Toni-Jo Sarausky's comment
DDavina

I am a fan of the show who has spent hours and hours of my life watching it. So I feel I have every write to complain about the collapse of quality these past two seasons. Being a fan of a show doesn't mean singing it's praises and loving every episode regardless of merit. That's obsession and it's what makes the writers think they can get away with lazy sloppy writing and redundant stories. Because they think the fans are so obsessed they'll watch any crap they throw on the screen. So the discontent you see by a huge, even maybe the majority of the fandom, is us telling the writers they have ruined a show we care about deeply. We want them to fix it. We want the show to get better, we want the brothers characters to develop, not regress, we want popular characters, like Cas, to come back. It doesn't do the show any service to let the writers get away with the lazy writing and lack of respect for what the fans want we are seeing this season.

October 31 2011 at 7:57 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to DDavina's comment
Spirale Rouge

.
You are not wrong DDavina, but personally I wouldn't use the word "ruined". It is when we apply too big an epithet that we make it almost impossible for the people to communicate on a subject. I really don't think that Supernatural have been "ruined" at all. I even can say that I prefer the background story of season seven ("Leviathan") than the one in season 6 ("Mother of all").
But it's just a question of personal tastes.
.

October 31 2011 at 8:49 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down
Deborah

Thanks for your review, Mo. I'm happy you liked this episode better than the last few.

I think the ending of this episode was understandable. First of all, Sam did not leave. He said he couldn't talk to Dean "right now' and told Dean to leave him. And he walked out on to a pier - so unless he is planning to swim, he is not going very far.

Sam was angry at the end of this episode, but to my mind not just because his brother lied to him about Amy. It's because his "stone #1" has betrayed him. Before this, Sam was in a good place, or at least had convinced himself that he was. He was obviously still having hell visions but had found a way to deal with them and tell what was real and what was not based largely on what Dean had shown him, had taught him, about how to tell the difference. Dean told Sam to believe him and to make that stone #1 and build on it, and Sam has trusted that and appears to have been doing that. But now he sees that some of what he believed was true is not, and I'm sure that brings everything else he believed into question also.

Lucifer/Dean was the one who lied to him, his brother Dean was the one who told him the truth. He's now got to be afraid that all that he thought was true might be in question, that msaybe this all was again some giant illusion cooked up by Lucifer. And he is devastated and not sure who he can trust, especially himself. He needed that stone #1 and, in his mind at least, with this revelation, that has been ripped from him and he's not sure what to do to get that back.

I predict the next episode will begin in exactly the same location, with Sam walking off the pier to find Dean sitting there in that crappy car waiting for him. And they will have the talk they should have had weeks ago, and then leave together. I just hope that happens before another bad hellucination hits Sam.

There has been character development here, especially on Dean's part, if you care to dig below the surface of just seeing "Sam leaving Dean again." I posted my above response at a journal earlier where the writer has a great grasp on these characters and this current situation. I highly recommend her review: http://dodger-winslow.livejournal.com/280498.html

October 31 2011 at 1:22 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
RGNYC

Hi Mo, thanks for your review. I loved Slash Fiction and agree with most of your points. I was so sad at the end--especially after such a fun episode--but I agree with what Dontainique said about Sam needing to cool off. It was not the same type of leaving Sam has done in the past. It was not a pre-meditated thought out leaving--it was abrubt, in anger. Sam needs more than a count to 10 to let go of his anger. And his anger was about being lied to. The issue of trust and the truth is what needs to be discussed between our heroes and I am hopeful that we will get that. I so loved the scene in the 'my little pony' car--the timing and expressions were brilliant. I wonder what became of the duplicate Metallicar?

October 31 2011 at 11:46 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
trinarosem

This episode was a blast. A bit farfetched maybe (why don't the Leviathans just take out Sam and Dean with a snipers rifle and be done with it), but really who cared when the episode is so darn entertaining. Leviathan Sam and Dear were a blast, and Bobby and Sheriff Mills made me smile with happiness. Kim Rhodes is so great, and I would be very happy to see her as a semi-permanent part of Bobby's (and by extension Sam and Dean's) life. She really is the perfect woman to fit into their world (much like Ellen).

As for that final scene, I just don't think Sam needing a cooling off period is unreasonable. It seemed pretty clear from the dialogue that Sam wasn't saying bye for life, he was saying "I can't deal with this right now". It's probably one of the most healthy things either of them have done in quite some time.

October 31 2011 at 11:22 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
Michele MacKay

This epsiode was awesome with awesomesauce on top! I think it's my favourite so far this year, with 701 and 702 being close contenders, but they've all been good. I'm really loving the vibe this year. I can see why some people had problems with Season 6, but this season is really great, it's quintessential classic Supernatural with new life breathed into it. So, with all due respect, I don't know what you're complaining about, Mo.

October 31 2011 at 10:57 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to Michele MacKay's comment
Michele MacKay

P.S. I did read your "Tough Love" post. So I know your complaints, I just don't agree with them, is my point.

You know, it's funny: I have seven friends who watch Supernatural, and none of them have ever set foot in the online fandom or know any of the behind-the-scenes stuff. They don't know their Eric Kripkes from their Sera Gambles, and they didn't know there had been a handoff. And they all just kept right on loving the show as much as ever, without being influenced by concerns about new showrunners and five-year plans.

The other thing that's funny, is that Kripke didn't actually have a five-year plan. Jared spilled the beans at Nerd HQ at Comic Con this year. He said Kripke was going to kill him, but he nonetheless revealed that Kripke had only told the network he had a five-year plan in a ploy to get them to renew the show for a few more years, like "I just need a couple more seasons to tell this great story I have all planned out!" I always thought it was strange he had only come up with the idea of including angels in the first story meeting for season 4, if he supposedly had the five-year mythology all planned out.

Anyway, his fake five-year plan became a self-fulfilling prophecy. So I have to wonder if the worries about the five-year plan didn't also become a self-fulfilling prophecy for some fans, if they were so busy worrying it impeded their enjoyment of the show. I'm not saying people don't have legitimate complaints--there will always be legitimate complaints. But it's hard to let go and just get into the story and enjoy it if you're worried about how behind-the-scenes stuff is going to impact the show.

October 31 2011 at 11:21 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Michele MacKay's comment
Alessandra V.

do you have a written source for the Nerd HQ @ Comic Con thing? I'm so interested!

November 01 2011 at 5:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down
Michele MacKay

P.P.S. I realize you're a TV critic and it is your job to criticize the show. I'm a fan, and it is my job to enjoy it. And I still really enjoy it, so I have no complaints. I appreciate it was tough love and constructive criticism though.

October 31 2011 at 11:54 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

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