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My collected recaps and reviews of season one, which first appeared on Innsmouth Free Press, are now up (with a few extras) on Kindle. The Kindle version is available through Amazon and is on sale through this Friday. The print version is also up. If you buy the print version, you get a Kindle copy thrown in for free. I also get paid if you get it on Kindle Unlimited (for free), read the Kindle version, or lend it to a friend via the Kindle Owners Lending Library. Reviews also help with sales. Just FYI.
Recap of the story so far and where the principles and guest stars at (the latter mainly being alt-Charlie). Odd, clicky soundtrack, as though they wanted “Time Has Come Today,” but couldn’t afford The Chamber Brothers again.
Cut to Now in McCook, Nebraska, with this weirdly upbeat ragtime piano tune that sounds like something Randy Newman would write (specifically, “You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” but it’s not). We swing down past a closeup of a bronze statue of a bearded man in 19th century garb to a perky young woman jaywalking across a street.
She says hi to an elderly man then opens up the town library for the day. Later, we see her shelving books, while confirming (rather unenthusiastically) a dinner date with one guy, fending off the creepy stalking of another, and complaining that nobody ever comes into the library, anymore.
Okay, first of all, I am very sick and tired of the cliche of the young, nerdy woman who has guys swooning over her and treats them mean (especially in an episode that’s bringing back Charlie). Second, has Steve Yockey just not been in a library, lately, ’cause all my local libraries are pretty busy. If only because they have free internet and job hunting resources. And I don’t exactly live in a book paradise. More like a bookstore desert.
So, Date Guy leaves the library, all libidoed up ’cause he’s going out tonight with the hot librarian. And we get what I do believe is the first actual Classic Rock (okay, it’s Disco) of the season – The Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive.” That is, until he turns into a Doomed Teaser Guy and is grabbed by dead white hands into a bush, where he is messily murdered offscreen.
Cue title cards.
Jack is trying coffee with tons of sugar. Dean walks in and comments on this. Jack says that now he no longer has powers, “everything tastes different” and he can’t seem to figure out how to get the right taste on anything.
Jack says Sam went off on a hunt with alt-Charlie and didn’t tell Dean because Dean was already on an overnight drive to visit his mom and alt-Bobby. Sam left Jack behind to watch out for Dean because Sam is worried about Dean. That’s the story Sam told Jack, anyway.
Jack muses that Sam and alt-Charlie must be having a great time on their hunt. Cut to Sam and Charlie on a stakeout at a pest control place, in a pickup that looks suspiciously like the one Sam used while investigating Dean’s massacre of the late, unlamented Stynes.
Sam is so bored that he plays with a spinner, which is mildly amusing.
Dean notices that Jack has a cough, but Jack pretends it’s nothing and there’s no blood just yet. Jack tells Dean that Michael wasn’t his fault, then mentions he dug up some news about Doomed Teaser Guy, who was found dead with human bite marks. Jack wants to go hunting. Dean thinks it’s a bad idea and says he should go alone. Jack says he’s going stir crazy and feels guilty about not killing Michael when he had the chance. So, he eventually bugs Dean into letting him take him on a hunt. Dean tells Sam. Sam expresses concern, but doesn’t object (as if that would stop Dean). Alt-Charlie shrugs and comments that they’ve got four missing people and a jar of goo on their end. So far, so mysterious.
Dean and Jack arrive in town and first hit Dick’s Red Rooster Diner. Jack says it was the place where DTG (called “Winston”) spent his time on breakfast. This is the sneak peek where the counter person (who thinks she has a “working knowledge of the Constitution,” but doesn’t know any) is a jerk to them until Dean whips out some money and bribes her.
There follows a Fargo-like montage of local people (including Diner Jerk) talking about how sweet the librarian is, but since her boyfriend left, she can’t seem to keep boyfriends. They disappear or die and she’s just “bad luck.” It’s a little too on-the-nose, but Dean and Jack’s reactions are amusing.
Meanwhile, alt-Charlie is telling Sam that Dean will be okay, that he has friends. Sam then eulogizes her (dead) counterpart here, which rather-understandably makes alt-Charlie pretty uncomfortable. It turns out her life went very differently. She was working for Dick Roman (the real one, since the Leviathans never came out to play) and had a girlfriend named Kara. Everything was fine until the day alt-Michael and alt-Lucifer fought, causing a huge EMP wave to “fry” all the electronics in the U.S. Human society than fell into chaos and sometime during that, Kara died. Sam says that hasn’t happened in his reality and alt-Charlie just replies, “Yet.”
Back to the diner, where Dean has ordered Jack and him some pie and Jack is asking Dean about sex. As you do, when you’re about a year old and have the body of a teenage.
Dean and Jack mull over what to do about the librarian, Harper. Dean says that so much bad luck is a red flag that something is up, but Jack asks, how are they going to find out?
Dean’s idea is to run a Good Cop Bad Cop con on Harper, with Dean playing Bad Cop and Jack coming in to “save” Harper from his interrogation. I kinda like how unapologetically shady Dean is in this and how Jack enthusiastically goes along for the ride. Dean is a lot of things, but he’s also a great con man and thief.
Dean looks a little taken aback when Jack calls him an “old man,” but when he sees how eagerly Harper eats it up, he rolls with it and leaves. But he watches from the car (grumping privately about the insult) while Harper bonds with Jack (immediately taking him to her apartment for a book) and fends off her creepy, red-bearded stalker, Miles.
As Dean gets out to follow Jack and Harper, he hears Miles getting messily murdered offscreen in an alley, while putting out trash. When Dean investigates, he is watched from the bushes.
Back to Sam and Charlie. Charlie is reading through a lot of occult books, while Sam compliments her on her Hunting skills (FYI, Charlie hasn’t actually done any onscreen hunting at this point). This version of Charlie is the exact opposite of her perky SPNverse version. She wants to quit Hunting because all it ends up getting you is dead. Sam doesn’t understand why she would want to quit, which is pretty out-of-character for Sam, even now. I get that this is supposed to be an Anti-Charlie Charlie, and I guess that’s not a terrible idea, but the execution so far is still boring and the result is still a whiny Charlie.
Not only is alt-Charlie quitting Hunting, but this is her last case. She’s going to go off the grid and stay away from people and monsters.
Then they get to their MOTW (it appears we have two, since there are two hunts), something called a “Musca,” which is a man-sized fly. It turns out there is a “bad egg” of a male Musca that can’t find a mate and leaves its community to bind humans together and “nest.” Or something. Then then see someone (or something) sit down next to a pair of elderly women, wearing an all-black kind of combo of a Puritan minister and beekeeper’s outfit that completely obscures its face. It’s really lame. Like, the spider people in “Unforgiven” levels of lame.
At Harper’s apartment (which is bright and perky), Harper rather awkwardly flirts with Jack, who doesn’t get it. While she’s in the other room, getting the “book,” Jack drops a silver coin on the floor and covers his hands in holy water. When Harper appears to pass those tests, Jack covers a cough with a “Christo!” Dang, been a while (“Phantom Traveler” in season one) since anybody used that.
Jack says he’s from Lebanon. Harper says her family has been in her town for many generations and she’s “the last one.” To cover up a real bout of coughing, Jack sees a photo of Harper with a guy, whom she calls “Vance.” She says he was a former boyfriend who left town – and her – thus beginning her round of bad luck.
Harper stops Jack from answering a call to Dean and starts acting in love with him. Jack asks her where her bathroom is, goes in and answers the call (good Jack!). Dean is still at the site of Miles’ gruesome demise. As they’re talking about what/who is stalking the men around Harper, Dean gets attacked by the thing that apparently killed Miles. Jack hears the attack over the phone and rushes out of the bathroom.
When a worried Harper asks if she came on too strong, Jack reassures her that she didn’t. She asks if they should “go for coffee.” Before Jack can answer, Dean bursts in (having apparently not been messily murdered offscreen), making Harper scream in shock. Dean and Jack hurriedly do The Talk (not the sex talk, but the monster talk), while Dean grabs a chair and shoves it up under the doorknob to Harper’s apartment. They’re there to save her. When Harper asks, “Save me from what?!” the apartment door starts banging on cue and Dean says, “That!”
As Harper is asking who is out there, Dean says it’s a “what” and that “I thought it was a ghost until it punched me in the face.” (There’s an amusing exchange as Harper thinks Dean said it was a ghost and Jack says that no, Dean said it wasn’t.) Dean then spots a photo of Vance and picks it up, asking who it is and when he died.
Harper is very surprised to hear that Vance is dead, saying “He lives in Connecticut.”
“Not anymore,” Dean says (love Ackles’ delivery). Vance shouting Harper’s name from outside the door convinces her that it is, indeed, Vance.
As Vance busts the door down, Dean figures he’s some sort of revenant (a big callback to season two’s “Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things,” in which Dean was also pretty messed up). Dean comments that silver will slow them down, but only one thing can kill them. He finds a silver knife in Harper’s apartment and grapples with Vance, yelling at Jack to get Harper out of there.
Meanwhile, it’s night and the Musca shows up at the bus stop (that’s what the bench turns out to be). Alt-Charlie is all for going after it, but Sam wants to wait. So, of course, a bus comes along and gives the Musca cover to kidnap a guy sitting next to it, except why would it wait until the bus came to do that if it doesn’t know two Hunters are sitting across the street. Isn’t it doing that right in front of a bus full of people?
Well, anyhoo, it finally gets them out of the truck to go after the thing, and Sam to shut up temporarily about trying to bully alt-Charlie into staying in Hunting. Thank God. ‘Cause that was really dull.
Back to the fight scene, which is actually fun. There’s an amusing Riverdale dig when Dean calls Vance “Archie.” But Vance, for whatever reason, decides not to continue fighting Dean (who is basically distracting him to help Jack and Harper escape, anyway) and runs after Harper and Jack. Who have run back to the library.
The storyline for Sam and alt-Charlie’s hunt is so damned thin that they actually infodump a conversation we never heard about how a “brass nail dipped in sugar water” is maybe the only thing that can kill a Musca. Alt-Charlie says they don’t have either of those things. Sam babbles that they can “improvise” before they bust into a warehouse with guns that apparently can’t actually kill the MOTW. Once inside, they comment on the stink and find a lot of flies and fly paper. Then they go stalking through the warehouse, nodding randomly to each other for no reason (I was like, “Whaaat?”).
Alt-Charlie finds a pile of bodies at the same time Sam finds the Musca’s briefcase. Turns out the Musca’s been chloroforming its victims. Charlie finds the latest one from the bus stop – he’s still alive – but manages to get grabbed by the Musca and tossed off the platform thing-y it has its victims on like the cast of Cats. This conveniently knocks her out. Sam comes in and finds her, only to be attacked by the Musca (which is a guy dressed like a mime, wearing a very dodgy bug mask that the director doesn’t let is see too closely amid all the jump camerawork). As it’s dripping goo on Sam for some reason, alt-Charlie wakes up and stabs it in the back, then Sam shoots it, and that is apparently all you need to kill it. So much for the brass nail and the sugar water.
So, back to the library, where Jack finds out the hard way that Harper and Vance are in cahoots (I know. Golly, and she seemed like such a nice girl, too). Harper killed him before he could leave town and it turns out she comes from “a long line of necromancers,” so she raised him from the dead and he was obsessed with her. Yeah, the infodump’s pretty heavy in this one.
Jack gets stalked around the stacks, but just when he’s thinking he needs to make a rush at Harper (which, as “Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things” showed doesn’t actually work in getting rid of a revenant), he gets grabbed by Dean. Dean quietly brings Jack up to speed on how to kill Vance. So, Jack once again plays bait by shmoozing Harper and luring Vance out into the open. Dean gets in on it (Harper actually orders Vance to kill Dean at one point), but when Dean and Jack get demonic handcuffs on Vance, Harper pulls a runner.
Meanwhile, Sam and Charlie are in her truck, infodumping about how the last victim of the Musca will be okay, while we get a montage of the Musca’s people retrieving its body because apparently, once again, Sam and alt-Charlie didn’t salt and burn the damned body. Sam also persuades alt-Charlie to stay in Hunting, which probably means she’ll get sacrificed sometime this season. Whatever, Show.
Cut to a diner with Marty Robbins’ “I’ll Go on Alone” in the background. Harper is writing a letter to Jack in which she babbles on about finding him, killing him, and then bringing him back from the dead so they can be together forever. Seems she finally left McCook.
Back at the Bunker, Jack and Dean talk about stalking Vance to his gravebed with a silver stake (as in “Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things”) over coffee (Jack) and whiskey (Dean). Dean tells Jack he did well. Jack tells Dean he should stop beating himself up over Michael and wants to go out on more hunts. Dean hedges and says he’ll discuss it with Sam when Sam gets back. At that point, Jack starts coughing again. He coughs up blood and starts bleeding from the nose. Then he collapses on the floor as Dean tries to revive him.
The ratings were up a little from last week, with the show tying for second on the network in demo with a 0.4/2 (0.397, unrounded) and coming in second for audience with 1.48 million.
Promo for next week.
Eh. I can’t say this one wowed me. There were some nice callbacks to seasons one and two in the first hunt, and Dean and Jack got some good bonding. Dean’s Salty Old Veteran shtick with Jack is a hoot. But it was a pretty thinly plotted hunt, with even flatter guest characters than usual. It certainly lacked the depth of “Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things,” one of my favorite episodes ever, and it wasn’t nearly as creepy as “Phantom Traveler,” another early favorite of mine.
Part of the problem was having another hunt stuffed in with it and what the hell happened there? It’s not as though the show has never had the Brothers go off on separate hunts or storylines, so it’s perfectly capable of doing A/B plotting.
But this one mostly consisted of Sam and alt-Charlie sitting around in a pickup, watching a bus stop and waiting for an MOTW to show up. They kept talking about how they felt sorry for the Musca, but why would they? And that drippy montage at the end with the Musca community showing up to take away their errant member was completely unearned.
Not to mention, it made Sam and alt-Charlie look stupid because they should have salted and burned the body – all of the bodies, really. And the creature design for the Musca was … well, not very good. I’m hoping that montage doesn’t mean they’ll be coming back because no, just no.
Harper is obviously coming back. I can’t say I’m hugely thrilled about that, either. Perky evil can be fun, but there’s something missing with her and I don’t just mean that the character herself is short a few hash browns from her Happy Meal. It could just be the general lack of development for the storyline and then piling it on top of Jack’s health woes.
It was fairly obvious from the start that something was off with her. The possibility that she’d offed Vance crossed my mind rather early, but I can’t say I got much suspense out of it. I also can’t say I’m feeling much suspense about her stalking Jack, either. The whole bunny boiler thing seems pretty dated to me.
The fight scene between Dean and Vance was fun – too bad it kept getting undercut by the stakeout in the pickup truck. Ackles did some really snarky tee-offs on line deliveries this week. I also liked that Dean and Jack ran a con on Harper, not once but twice. She knew they were Hunters, but was utterly clueless about everything else (not least that Jack is not entirely human).
There was some good partner chemistry there between Dean and Jack, and it was nice to see Jack acknowledge that he made some critical errors that led up to Dean being backed into saying yes to Michael. The “old man” crack had me rolling my eyes along with Dean, but that’s mostly because it always makes the writers look like ageist idiots. That sort of thing may fly on other CW shows, but not this one.
Overall, a few nice bits (and Dean looks super-hot in a noir detective suit), but this one felt too thin. You need to work on plotting some more, writers.