Supernatural 9×15 Review: Thinman
It appears that none of the huge issues of this season are troubling neither Sam nor Dean. Life for the Winchesters is seemingly much calmer than in recent years as tonight’s episode of Supernatural has them crossing paths with The Ghostfacers. It’s the same cookie cutter monster-of-the-week episode we’ve seen multiple times this season. Though we haven’t seen the quirky duo of Ed Zeddmore and Harry Sangler since way back in “”It’s A Terrible Life” in Season 4, the story of the infamous Thinman legend killing a young girl got their attention. Thus ensues a fair amount of tragedies, but probably not from who or what you would expect.
It’s not farfetched to say that The Ghostfacers were brought back for a reason. And while many times a lighter touch of parallels will have a more profound impact on the audience, anvils and hammers were thought more appropriate as they were smashing through the narrative like they were dropped carelessly from the top of the Empire State Building. Although obvious, the parallel of Ed and Harry to Sam and Dean is a bad one at that. Ed and Harry may have been at odds, but they are nowhere close to experiencing what Sam and Dean have. For starters, Ed and Harry chose to seek out the supernatural, to be in this life. Sam and Dean were brought up as children into it; they didn’t have much of a choice. And when Sam did try to choose a normal life for himself he was belittled by his father and then guilted back into hunting later by his brother. That’s the difference right there; a feeling of “have to” and “want to”. Dean wanted to because his father told him he should. And now both brothers don’t know how to do much else. Although Ed and Harry may have been through a few tough spots together; Sam and Dean have fought, bled, lied, saved, and betrayed each other countless times. They’ve died for each other. For the whole world. I’d say their wounds run a little deeper than just one lie that got out of hand. Even if that lie killed innocent people, it’s no comparison to the constant turmoil that is Sam and Dean’s troubled relationship.
The brothers have apparently put all their supernatural problems on hold to sulk and take it easy, which is a bit more than odd to say the least. In the past, despite their differences, Sam and Dean have always ventured forward to accomplish shared goals. Sure they have hunted regular run of the mill monsters in the past and it’s a nice change on occasion from big overhanging arcs, but they’ve never just stopped trying to solve the major problems in front of them. Even if Sam wasn’t willing to pretend like everything is okay and work with him, Dean would normally continue to work on the current dilemma they were faced with. Seems more than suspicious to me. You would think helping Castiel, his adoptive “I need you” family member, who has been M.I.A. from the brothers for four episodes might be a priority. They wouldn’t just be helping Castiel, either. They would also be seeking out a resolution to the Metatron, Gadreel, and angels’ situation. What about the Mark of Cain? Is that ever going to be mentioned again or developed upon? Right now it’s just a cool looking tattoo that hasn’t been utilized as I’d hoped when Dean received it. Everything this season has taken a back seat while the brother’s codependency issues are front and center. For the umpteenth time.
Casey, who was the innocent victim in the first five minutes of this week’s episode, was dead in under three. That might be a new record. There’s no wasted time in slicing her up to get to the Winchesters but there’s plenty of precious time spent on pointless banter between Ed and Harry about memes or making rude and sexist comments. The comedic relief was less of a relief and more of a cringe inducing anxiety. Things can be funny without being demeaning. Rather than spending precious minutes on offensive jokes, that time could have been spent talking about any number of pressing issues that are more important and actually relate to the story.
However, there were a few moments that stood out and I could really appreciate. The short story told by Dean of when they were just kids was a highly adorable and fond memory for both brothers. Even if it did end up with Sam going to the ER. It reminded us once again how long Dean has been taking care of Sam. Another moment was when Dean slapped another man’s ass to get his attention rather than simply calling his name or tapping on his shoulder. It was a conscious, if fairly suspicious, choice to see and adds fuel to multiple interpretations of Dean’s sexuality. See, a little subtlety can go a long way, no?
There was something else that really stood out to me in this episode. Dean Winchester killed a human, which as far as I can remember is a first for him. He may have been the bad guy of the episode, but he was just a human with no powers of super strength or mind control. Incapacitating him and calling the cops would have been the better, less morally ambiguous option. Even Sam commented on it. I have to say it’s such a painful thing to watch one of your favorite characters change into someone you barely recognize. And it’s not only Dean but Castiel as well. Tragedies, you could call them.
The real tragedy though is not just that Dean killed a human who he could have simply disarmed or that Sam was sick yet again for a good portion of the season or that Castiel’s absence is felt exceedingly as each episode without him that passes feels more and more forced and dismal rather than exciting and entertaining. The real tragedy is watching Sam and Dean do the same song and dance that they have done for the past eight seasons with little development past it. It’s even worse when you consider season eight and how much development for all three members of Team Free Will there was. Then you fast forward to the present with their overt regression and it’s as noticeable as a howling screech in the dead of night.
Overall the episode fell flat and once again failed to answer questions that have been left unanswered for too long. Where’s Castiel? Is he okay? Where’s Abaddon? What is she up too? Or Metatron and Gadreel? What are they planning now? Are all of the villains of this season just conveniently laying low until the Winchesters are back in the hunting-together spirit? I hope the next few episodes start answering these questions, as well as bringing us some development to the vast amount of other plotlines that have fallen to the wayside. Even though there’s a gold mine of mythology to draw on and plenty big bads to deal with, it feels a bit like trying to dig your way out of a prison cell with a plastic spoon when there’s a full arsenal of tools sitting in the corner right next to you. I had high hopes for Dean having his own myth arc and Castiel to be with Sam and Dean, but alas. The only thing I’m really happy about is that Sam is sticking to his guns and not shoving what happened in 9×01 under the rug. It’s important that the brothers deal with this and their numerous other issues surrounding each other if they ever want to live happy lives (well as happy as a hunter’s life can be). Although, we’ve been down this road before. I can only pray that there’s follow-through this time and we see the brothers find a middle ground of sorts. It may be painful to watch them go through, but it’s absolutely necessary at this point. I’m excited at the prospect of Dean and Sam developing a healthier relationship and for us to get off this tiresome loop we’ve been stuck on since season one. Here’s hoping for more mythology driven episodes and that the slight progress past codependency is not in vain. Again.
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