Saturday, January 28, 2012

Supernatural 7.4 Recap: Ghost Cars Not Scary; Everyone Feels Guilty, Except Sam

If there's one thing I've learned from watching Supernatural -- and never let it be said that time spent watching this show has not taught me anything useful -- it's that haunted cars are not scary. 

Arguably the worst Supernatural episode ever (Yeah, yeah, I know) is "Route 666" from Season 1, in which the villain is a racist truck. Yes, a ghost truck. A ghost truck that is racist. A racist truck.

It's so bad that they even refer to it as the "racist truck" when they get all meta in Season 4 and discover that Supernatural is a series of cult books.

Dean: Everything is in here, from the racist truck to me having sex. I'm full frontal in here, dude.

When the Impala gets possessed in Season 6's episode "Mannequin 3: The Revenge" (yup, it's actually called that -- also the villain in that one is a haunted kidney!), they at least play it for laughs: 

  "It possesses sex dolls! This is not a sex doll!" 

Thanks to here for gifs
  So, you'd think if there was ONE thing anyone involved in Supernatural would know, it's this: haunted cars. Not scary.

Guess how S.7 episode four, "Defending Your Life," begins? 

Yup. Ghost car. 

Even the guy getting chased by the ghost car thinks its lame:

A ghost car? Really? It's not even a meta episode!

Anyway, the twist here is that even though the guy runs up many flights of stairs to his apartment, the ghost car still gets him by coming through the wall.

I know, Dean. I know: 
 It's just not scary!
So anyway, our intrepid heroes go to investigate, driving their not-currently-possessed-by-anything Impala: 

On the way to crime scene, Sam reminds us that he's solved the most perplexing philosophical problem of all time -- determining what is and isn't reality -- by pressing a cut on his hand. 

Dean makes a comment about how it's nice to be on a normal ol 'black and white case, because he never went back and watched any previous seasons, and therefore doesn't realize that every season they say, "Hey, I guess since we can't find Dad/find the Colt/stop you going to Hell/save the world/find your soul/kill ancient Leviathan creatures from Purgatory right exactly now, let's work a normal case hunting a ghost" directly after the first couple episodes of the season.

Anyway, their obliviousness is cute, in the same way that it's cute when one of them wonders, "Maybe it's not a ghost. Maybe it's just a regular horrible death," so that the other can have a reason to explain to them/the audience what's weird about the crime.

Before they go investigate, Sam stops Dean and proceeds to give him The Worst Thank You of All Time. 

Because he thinks Dean didn't kill his monster-buddy last episode, he thanks Dean for not killing her, saying "I know you didn't want to. But it was the right thing to do. So thanks."


Wrinkling your brow thoughtfully will not make your apology less awful, Sam.
I mean, come on, Sam: "I know you didn't want to listen to me. But I was totally right. Thank you for recognizing how right I was, and how I wanted to do the right thing, even though you didn't. Because you wanted to do the thing that was wrong. But you didn't, because you listened to me. Who was right." 

Dean's like, "Even if I didn't totally kill your monster buddy behind your back, that apology still would have sucked." 

Jesus H. Christ, Jensen Ackles looks like he's eighteen in this picture. THIS MAN IS IN HIS THIRTIES. WHAT KIND OF BLACK MAGIC IS AT WORK HERE?

They get to work and bust out with the handy, old-school EMF meter...

 ...Which shockingly indicates that a ghost might be involved in this guy-smooshed-by-ghost-car-on-tenth-floor-of-building situation.

it turns out that guy who got smooshed by a car had a drinking problem and was in Alcoholics Anonymous. Dean is like "AA? Gross! Gives me the creeps!" And Sam is like, yeah, cause you have a drinking problem. 

And then they find out that the guy actually killed someone while driving drunk, and Dean is like "Maybe I DO have a drinking problem" and Sam is like, "You think?" 

I wonder if/how they are ever going to have Dean actually deal with his drinking problem. Can they really have a Very Special Supernatural episode about it? Is it going to be like Sam's addiction to demon blood, where they lock him in the panic room and he flails around the room and hallucinates people from his past? (Aaaack, they can't lock him in the panic room. Bobby's house burned down in episode 2 of this season. Sorry, Dean. You're going to have keep drinking). 

Anyway, blah, blah, blah another guy dies after being chased by a ghost dog (very like the famous Ghostbusters scene).  And it turns out this man used to run dog fights. So it seems like a case of people being killed by their former crimes (Drunk driver killed by a car, animal abuser by a dog). Sam is like "But Animal Abuser turned his life around and really changed and grew to love animals!" And Dean is like "NO ONE EVER REALLY CHANGES!" (SUBTEXT: I TOTALLY KILLED YOUR MONSTER FRIEND).

Sam and Dean found some red dirt at both crime scenes, so they go to track down its source, and run into a very scared black man. They try to comfort him, and he's like "UM, I'm a black guy on Supernatural: I'm obviously doomed!" 

And Dean's like, "Yeah, our track record with that's not so great, huh?" 

It turns out the guy just got out of prison (presented without comment) for killing two people, and now those people are after him. 

Dean gets all upset their case is now morally ambiguous and goes off to drink, and Sam wrinkles his brow:

At the bar, the bartender proceeds to give Dean, like, five free shots of whiskey in a row while he whines about everything he feels guilty about (RUH ROW!) and the waitress tells him she'll go home with him and Dean is like "Sometimes looking like Jensen Ackles works out for me!" 

In the meantime, Sam calls Bobby, who's solved the case by looking at his random books. Can I just repeat that BOBBY'S HOUSE BURNED DOWN TWO EPISODES AGO? IT'S TOTALLY BOGUS THAT HE STORED BACK-UP COPIES OF ALL OF HIS BOOKS.

But then, I've just accepted that nothing will stop dues-ex-random-books on this show. Seriously. IT TURNS OUT DEATH CANNOT STOP BOBBY'S BOOKS. The Apocalypse could actually happen, and Sam and Dean could be trudging through a burnt-out shell of a landscape...and if confronted with a problem, they'd still simply be able to randomly find Bobby's books in a underground bunker and be spared having to do their own research.

Turns out the monster-of-the-week is the Egyptian God Osiris, who puts people who feel guilty on trial. If their heart is "heavy," he condemns them to death. 

Bobby points out this guy preys on people who feel guilty, and asks "Who does that sound like to you?" 

Yup. Because as Bobby as previously pointed out to Dean, "half the time you clean up a mess, you end up getting dirty." 

Indeed, Dean is outside the bar, hyping himself up for a one-stand with the waitress ("You're Dean Winchester! This is what you do!")

--When he's kidnapped. 

Sam tries to call Dean's phone, and gets the waitress instead. I love this screencap because it looks like the waitress is really pissed about road closures:

Dean comes to in the abandoned barn and looks around him, slowly processing the fact that Supernatural has like a five dollar prop budget: 

He is confronted by the Sassy Egyptian God Osiris (played by actor Faran Tahir, of Indian and Pakistani descent, best known for playing a terrorist and a "mosque greeter" on 24)

Yeah, it's best not to think about it too hard.
Blah, blah, blah, Osiris is putting Dean on trial for feeling guilty. Sam appears. He says, "You're an Eygptian GOD" in kind of a weirdly embarrassing way, and he looks like he's wearing lipstick. 

Way, way, back in the day, Sam wanted to be lawyer, so he finagles his way into getting to serve as Dean's defense attorney. Using some tips that he admits he "saw on The Good Wife" he manages to convince Osiris to call only three witnesses. 

The first witness is Jo, who is dead but gets called to the stand as a ghost. You can tell she's a ghost cause she's wearing really pale lipstick:

Osirsis tries to act like Jo went into hunting because she had a crush on Dean, and it is therefore totally Dean's fault that Jo died. 

Sam cross-examines Jo, and she eagerly explains that she got into hunting because her Dad was a hunter and not over Dean. 

Sam's feeling pretty good, but then HE gets called to the stand as a witness.

Osiris is all "This whole show is Dean's fault, right? Remember what happened in the pilot episode?" and Sam is like "Conflict is necessary to move along plot!" and then Sam realizes what this is all about: not whether Dean actually is guilty, but whether he feels guilty. So Sam calls Dean to the stand and tries to get him to admit that Dean is actually holding onto a lot of guilt that he doesn't need to.

"Is your heart heavy with guilt?" Sam asks. "Or just heavy, and none of this guy's business?" 

A lot of people felt this aspect was repetitive -- we'd already established this stuff wasn't Dean's fault and doesn't he have more recent things to feel guilty about? Like, um, Cas exploding? -- but it was nice to actually hear Sam say this stuff out loud and stick up for Dean. I'm sappy like that. 

Anyway, Sam's victory seems nigh, but the judge threatens to call The Monster Dean Killed That Sam Doesn't Know About and so Dean pleads guilty and is sentenced to die because I guess Dean would rather die than tell Sam the truth? Yes, I'm sappy about a terribly dysfunctional relationship.

So, trial adjourned,  Sam puts Dean into a ring of salt, hoping to protect him until they can figure out a way to stop Osiris. Seeing as how the ring of salt didn't work for the black guy earlier, I'm not too optimistic.

[Oh, yeah, the black guy totally died earlier in the episode. I forgot to the mention that part. We all knew that was going to happen, right?]

So, Sam leaves and Jo appears, as that's how Dean is sentenced to die -- Osiris is compelling Ghost Jo to kill Dean.
Ghost Jo tells Dean she's found some peace being dead and that he should stop holding on to so much crap. Dean says that's he's "90% crap" and Jensen Ackles does this thing where he smiles even though his eyes are full are sparkling, unshed tears.

And I'm reminded that Jensen Ackles is extremely excellent when it comes to making faces into a camera. 

Alona Tal is no slouch herself, and makes some good face, too: 

She is a Veronica Mars alum, after all, and even though both shows handed her some pretty crappy storylines at points, she always manages to be likeable and her presence on two of my favorites shows means that she will forever be surrounded by sparkles and rainbows as far as I'm concerned. 

Anyway, Ghost Jo is let off the hook because Bobby and his random books figured out a way to stop Osiris -- it's to stab him with a Ram's Horn that you can find at synagogue. 

Now, a lot of people found it pretty problematic that an Egyptian god could be stopped by Jewish holy relic. But though I give the show plenty of crap, I think they get off the hook for this one, for the following reasons:

1) It was specified that the Ram's Horn doesn't kill Osiris, just stops him for awhile. He's still around and still powerful. 

2) I'm assuming the Jews-vs-the-Egyptian thing was a reference to, you know, the Old Testament and not to present-day politics. Remember how last season the Staff of Moses was literally used as a weapon? Doesn't seem that different.
3) This is pretty in keeping with the way the show treats religions and mythologies: in the world of Supernatural, all mythological and Supernatural and religious creatures exist: ghosts, zombies, angels, the Judeo-Christian God, Norse Gods, Ancient Greek gods, fairies, etc. One type is never "better" than the others -- it's specified that the Supernatural creatures get a lot of their mojo from people believing in them: thus, the more popular the religion, the more powerful it is.

4) There really isn't a lot of value judgement in it: if a Supernatural creature causes humans to die, Sam and Dean will stop it. Dean once called the Judeo-Christian God (who might or might not be this guy:
a "deadbeat Dad." No one's above getting stopped by Sam and Dean. 

5) It's established numerous times that Osiris is not necessarily "bad" -- he points out in the episode that guilty people actually welcome punishment. That's kind of the whole deal -- Sam and Dean's job is often ambiguous, which makes Dean nuts.

6) This plot point was an excuse for Sam to break into a synagogue and get caught by tiny, adorable Rabbi, who says, "I assume you're not here for a Bat Mitzvah lessons?"

6) Also, when Osiris gets stabbed, at first it just seems like it's going to be another "We stabbed a dude in the back with a pointy object and his eyes glowed" homoerotic SPN death: 

BUT...then there's a cool mummy effect, which is a nice little nod.

Finally, at the end of the episode, Sam and Dean stand over the Impala and process their feelings. The upshot is that Osiris didn't target Sam because Sam is not feeling guilty: he says he feels "good": 

Stay zen

As Sam said he "didn't feel guilty anymore" for all the bad stuff he's done, I felt a great disturbance in the Supernatural world and could practically hear millions of Dean Girls cry out in terror (they're still mad at Sam for making fun of Dean's EMF meter back in Season 1).

And I mean: okay. Obviously, Sam can't go around feeling guilty all the time, and he's already totally apologized for accidentally starting the Apocalypse and accidentally wandering around as a soulless psychopath for a year. But it's pretty lame that there was ALL this build-up to how nuts Sam was going to be when he finally remembered Hell/his Soulless memories, and then to have Sam be like "It's cool! I've got a cut on my hand! No big!" is way anti-climatic.

I do think it's pretty funny/character-indicative that Sam's like, "Hey, I suffered in Hell for hundreds of years! I think that lets me off the hook for the stuff I did," whereas Dean's like, "But I was tortured in Hell and came out feeling MORE guilty and bad about myself." Yup. Sums them up right there. 

I dunno. It was interesting -- way back when I watched this episode -- that they'd set the season up to be all about Sam's mental health and then there was this twist that it was actually Dean that was falling apart while Sam was doing okay. And I thought it was nice to acknowledge that Dean carries a lot of crap -- I thought if his insane guilt was recognized, he and the show could move on. But having continued to watch the season, I know that Dean's guilt and angst continue, and I'm frankly way over it. 

Because Dean's guilt and angst have been covered in numerous previous seasons, and at least then it was connected to an important plot point -- Dean's guilt and angst actually led him directly to make decisions that affected the Big Plot. What's boring about Dean's Angst this season is that it's not really related to anything concrete, plot-wise. It's...just...kind of there. And it feels like every episode he makes some kind of breakthrough/sees a way to go on...and then the next episode, the angst is there again. 

Lack of character progression makes me sad, and I don't look as pretty as this when I'm sad: 

My sad face is more like this:

This recap was way negative! But really, though this episode was not a:

It was not a:


I enjoyed a lot of the old-school-feel. And I like the writer, Adam Glass, who's actually written some of the better Season 6-7 episodes (and is cute about being a fan of the show in interviews). 

And after this episode we had tons o' cheese-y goodness (killer cupcakes! Sam and Dean's evil twins!) that I thoroughly enjoyed. The most recent episode had another Veronica Mars alum in it and the preview for next week's looks cheese-tastically awesome:

Dean's daughter does grow up to be a clone of the woman he slept with, right? It's sometimes hard to tell because the CW cast so many actresses that look exactly the same. 

And by episode 17, we get Cas back, although I'm scared that will get messed up somehow. 

Stay cool, Easy. Stay cool: 

Stay zen

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