Category Archives: Season 10

The Official Supernatural: “Girls, Girls, Girls” (10.07) Retro Recap and Review

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Scroll down to find links to all of my recaps and reviews of all seasons up to this point.

Recap: Straight-forward and relatively quick recap of Cole’s roaring rampage of revenge against Dean storyline, Witches, and that Castiel and Hannah angel storyline that was so forgettable I had to rewatch this recap twice to remember to write it down.

Cut to Now and a young woman in stereotypical hooker garb (which includes the obligatory kitten heels that fail her in a dark alleyway and cause her to fall). She’s running from her pimp, Raoul, who chews all available scenery before revealing himself as a demon (after she stabs him in the eye with her heel) and snapping her neck. After telling her that hookers like her are a dime a dozen. Gotta say, the acting in this scene is not good. She doesn’t even look that scared and did I mention all the scenery he masticates? Yeah.

Cue title cards.

Cut to the Brothers eating steak at a diner. Sam is trying to figure out what kind of case they’re in town for and Dean admits they’re there because this place has “the best steak between Connecticut and the Bunker.” Sam notes that Dean is also getting a lot of messages on his phone, about which Dean acts very cagey. So, Sam grabs Dean’s phone (despite Dean’s legit protests of privacy and … stuff) and brings up that Dean has made a profile on a dating app. He’s going on a date with a cute girl named Shaylene Johnson.

Sam, having inserted himself into this situation, looks through her texts to Dean and opines that she seems “too good to be true.” On the one hand, okay, watching out for your brother is good. On the other, it’s funny how the brother who has massive issues with respecting other people’s boundaries is the one who is constantly whining about needing his own space and going off to find himself or hook up with a demon mistress or whatever. At this point, Sam has hit 30 and this kind of adolescent jealousy of his brother’s sex life (in which, by the way, Dean is far more experienced than Sam when it comes to these short-term hookups) is no longer cute.

Sam’s rather homophobic attempt to get a rise out of Dean (by saying Shaylene could be “a Canadian trucker named Bruce”) is cut off when Shaylene shows up in the flesh. It’s only at this point that Sam realizes Dean lied to him twice and they “detoured eight hours so you could get laid.” Dean openly admits to this, pays for Sam’s lunch, and tells him not to wait up. Yeah, Sam, don’t, ’cause you just got owned in the manipulation department.

Cut to Hannah crossing off photos of angels in their vessels on a poster board on the wall, while Castiel is doing research on a reverend who is engaging in faith healing. They are still tracking down rogue angels and the photos are of those they’ve returned to Heaven. Some of them have even been willing. As Castiel talks about the reverend, who is their latest target, Hannah embarrasses him by taking off her vessel’s clothes and standing naked in front of him, before going to take a shower. Hannah wonders why Castiel is “bothered,” as an angel wouldn’t usually care. But then, as Castiel points out, angels don’t need to take showers. I’d forgotten how dull this storyline was.

Cut to Dean getting slammed against a motel wall with awful wallpaper by Shaylene. It’s getting hot and heavy. Unfortunately, it soon turns out that Shaylene is a prostitute and she expects payment. Disappointed, but not angry, Dean admits that he has “a code – no cash for ass.” Then she sultrily tells him he doesn’t need to pay her money, that he can, instead, sign over his soul. As she is nattering on about how who knows if souls even exist, it’s obvious to us the audience that she has pinged the wrong john because Dean definitely knows otherwise. And he also quickly figures out that Shaylene does not, in fact, love her job, not one little bit.

Well, girl, you are in luck because if anybody can get you out of this situation, it’s Dean Winchester.

Cut back to Castiel and Hannah checking out of their motel. As Hannah goes to pay, a man grabs her hand, calling her “Caroline.” It turns out he’s her vessel’s husband and he’s been worried about her. So, he “put out an alert on your credit card.” Awkward.

Back to the other motel. Shaylene’s john strolls in, expecting to make a deal. Shaylene is sitting on the bed, looking nervous, while Dean sits on the bed with his back to her, behind her. As the guy pulls out a paper contract, Dean gets up and turns around. The pimp barely has time to register Dean’s presence before Sam walks out of a side room, but he quickly recognizes them (Dean swinging an angel blade helps, I’m sure) and he’s terrified. Oh, and they’ve drawn a devil’s trap on the ceiling because this guy, too, is possessed.

Dean tells the demon that Shaylene “told us everything.” Sam lists it out: “Abduction, forced prostitution – it’s pretty gnarly, even for a demon.”

The demon tries to claim that Shaylene is exaggerating the evil of the situation, which is kind of amusing because hello, he’s a demon. He makes the error of taunting her (We find out that she was carrying a heavy student loan debt after graduating from Harvard) and claiming she’d have been dead on the street on drugs without him. In the middle of the Brothers trying to interrogate him (and her calling him out for lying), Shaylene gets up in a blind rage, grabs the angel blade out of Dean’s hand, and stabs her demon pimp with it.

Dean grabs the sword away from her in exasperation, while Sam grumps that they just lost their best lead.

Dean: Okay, well, that happened.

Since Shaylene is their only lead, they ask her some more questions, which she eagerly answers to the best of her abilities. She really wants to help them out. She says the demon mentioned a brothel in a phone conversation with someone else. While she doesn’t know the location, she did see him handing out business cards. Going to the demon host’s body, she pulls one out. It’s bright-red and says, “Raul’s Girls.” And it has an address on it. Well, that works.

At said brothel, which is done up with a lot of glitter and bullfighting motifs that look like Ancient Minoan contests, one of the “girls,” a young brunette, is defiantly refusing to put on a skimpy costume another pimp wants her to wear as Raul (you know, the guy in the teaser and on the business card) walks in, sporting an eye patch. When the first guy, Gerald, asks Raul what he should do, Raul tells him he knows what to do, in a rather exasperated tone. Gerald gleefully turns back to the poor woman with the intent of doing some real ultra violence.

It’s at that moment that a red-haired woman in her thirties makes her entrance. She may look familiar to the observant. Remember that red-haired woman in the coda to “Soul Survivor” (10.03)? That’s her.

She asks if she’s in Raul’s Girls and Raul suggests she is in the wrong place, unless she’s a customer. He’s not hiring at the moment and she’s too old for his criteria.

With a sugary smile, she tells him that while she means no insult to his “girls,” she “would rather die than do business with filth like you.” She then tosses a hand-sized ball of what looks like solid black catnip at him. Confused, he catches it, then gets a horrified look.

“You!” he says, as he begins to vomit out black, congealed smoke and tar, and Gerald shouts, “Boss!” As another, blonde girl in leopard print runs in, Rowena suggests they step back, since things are getting “messy” for Raul. Gerald, not too surprisingly, smokes out and leaves his meat suit dead on the floor. Raul’s host, of course, doesn’t make it, either, since he got a stiletto heel to the eye in the teaser.

The woman says, “Hardly the most appetizing process in the world, but killing demons always makes me hungry.” She turns away, while the two girls stand there, stunned. Over her shoulder, she suggests they come with her and they hurry after her.

Meanwhile, Hannah is fielding an encounter with her vessel’s husband and it’s not going terribly well. It doesn’t help that the dialogue is super-clunky infodump, with her husband at one point talking about whatever “got into you.” We find out that her vessel has been missing for a year. Hubby is determined to get an explanation out of her, but Hannah’s pretty sure he’s not gonna be able to handle the truth.

When Castiel walks in the room, Hannah subtly lets him know that this is her vessel’s husband. Then she decides to make Castiel the fall guy and says she’s been in a relationship with him. She even kisses him when the husband insists it couldn’t be true (In all fairness, neither Hannah nor Castiel is putting out particularly natural body language for a human). Okaaayyyy. But it does seem to convince him. Maybe. At any rate, he looks even more devastated than before. Hannah tells him she’s sorry and tells Castiel, “Let’s go.” They leave.

The Brothers enter the brothel (to a screechy, knife-like soundtrack) to find the demon hosts for Raul and Gerald, as well as what’s left of Raul. Grumping that someone else got to kill Raul before they did, Dean tells Sam to “check IDs” while going to pour a drink behind the bar. Sam realizes that the black tar underneath Raul’s host is Raul. As Dean speculates about what could kill a demon in that particular way, Sam finds Rowena’s ginormous hex bag. Witchcraft. Looking alarmed, Dean immediately puts down the booze.

In a swanky restaurant (according to the captions, it’s “mid-tempo French music playing” on the soundtrack), Rowena is enjoying a flute of rosé wine and offering the two prostitutes some hors d’oeuvres. They look uneasy and admit that they “don’t belong here.” They want to know why she brought them to the restaurant. She says she wanted to feed them, since she’s quite sure “that swine Raul” starved them (Nobody likes Raul).

As if to emphasize their being out of place, a snotty waiter arrives at their table and tells Rowena that the restaurant (Bistro de Moules) “has a very strict dress code” and her guests don’t meet it. The girls are willing to leave, but Rowena tells them to stay where they are (to the consternation of the waiter).

Rowena takes out another hex bag, a smaller one than the demon-killing one, drops it in the startled waiter’s hand, and says, “Famulatus” (slavery). This hex changes the waiter’s attitude completely. Seems he was either the head waiter or someone else high up the waiter food chain because suddenly, full plates of food start to appear and he brings Rowena a fine bottle of champagne, Krug ’95.

The blonde is greatly impressed, but the brunette is more wary. When she asks Rowena how she did it, though, Rowena is upfront and honest: “Magic.”

Cut to Crowley’s throne room, where he is brooding on his throne when Gerald (already in a new meat suit) either comes to him or is brought to him to report. Crowley is not happy to hear about Gerald and Raul’s plan to open a demonic “bordello.”

Gerald tries to play it off as Raul’s idea and that Crowley’s reputation wasn’t really connected to it because they called it “Raul’s Girls.” Crowley is not impressed. Gerald then whines that he and Raul felt under pressure to perform after Crowley had put out a decree the month before saying CRD deals were down after Abaddon’s death, and creativity was required.

Crowley: So, you and your half-wit pal threw me into the sex trade? I’m evil. That’s just tacky.

Gerald then whines that they tried to get Crowley’s approval, but he “wasn’t taking meetings” at the time. This is an obvious reference to Crowley’s vacation with Demon!Dean and is soft ground. But Crowley does have to admit (albeit with an eye roll) that Gerald’s point about smoking into the nearest possible host (a pudgy black guy in a crossing guard uniform) is valid when Gerald says a witch being able to kill demons so easily is a dangerous precedent that needs to be nipped in the bud.

Cut to a nighttime scene in the Impala. Sam is infodumping online research to Dean, who is driving. He’s found an 18th century spell called “Defigere et Depurgere,” which he translates as “To Bind and To Purge” (eh … more or less). It hasn’t been used in three centuries and only then by its creator, a witch named … (dun, dun, dun) Rowena.

Cut to Rowena telling the girls about a group of witches called the Grand Coven. She says there are three kinds of witches: Borrowers, Students and Naturals. (FYI: This was borderline retcon at the time, as previously, witches always got their powers from demons.) Most common are the Borrowers, who use a demon to get power (Rowena glosses over the part where they sell their souls to do it). Students learn spells and take on a Natural mentor approved by the Coven. The “rarest” are the Naturals, who are born with a gift. Rowena happily admits to being one when the blonde suggests it. The brunette is still wary, but the blonde is happy to ask that they become her Students.

Rowena admits that she’s actually a fugitive from the Grand Coven, who threw her out long ago and forbade her from practicing magic or forming her own coven due to her methods being “too extreme.” Ya think? She calls them “utter fannies” (In British dialect, “fanny” means “vagina”). But when the brunette suggests this means Rowena can’t teach them, Rowena ostentatiously says, “Screw the Grand Coven” and magnanimously says she’ll teach them (even though it’s pretty obvious she’s intentionally recruiting them).

The blonde eagerly asks when they can start. At that moment, the waiter Rowena hexed stops in the middle of his rounds, as his face turns lobster red, and drops his plates before dropping dead. Rowena hastily has the girls decamp to another place to begin training.

Cut to a grotty warehouse where a demon is tied to a chair in a devil’s trap. He calls the unseen person splashing holy water in his face a “noob” who is “studying” him and in “training.” Despite the demon’s defiance, the newbie Hunter, who turns out to be Cole, is determined to find out everything he can about “your buddy, Dean Winchester.” Pretty sure Mr. Demon will give up that information for free, Cole.

Cut to a cloudy outdoor scene at a gas station where Castiel is gassing up. Hannah is having second thoughts about abandoning her vessel’s husband. She didn’t want to hurt him or erase his memories, but he wouldn’t let her go and now she feels bad. Castiel opens up a bit for the first time in years about his vessel, Jimmy Novak, and mentions Jimmy’s daughter, Claire (Yes, this is foreshadowing for later in the season). He calls what he did to Jimmy difficult but “necessary.” However, when he turns back from gassing up the car, Hannah is gone.

At the restaurant, a young waiter is telling Dean (in a suit) about the hexed waiter, Marty, who “stroked out.” He also identifies Marty as their “head waiter.” It’s not until the kid mentions that “two hookers” were in there previously that Dean realizes he has a lead. Dean also finds out that they were there with “a lady,” whom he correctly identifies as a witch to Sam outside.

Sam is getting off the phone from talking to a Hunter named Darrell. Darrell has been tracking a series of ritzy hotel murders, with bodies pinned to the ceiling (Sound familiar?). It turns out that they, too, were hexed, just like the waiter. Sam suggests he and Dean check out some five-star hotels.

Cut to Hannah standing on a wooden bridge over a stream in a rather deep channel (Looks like North Vancouver). Castiel finds her there and she admits that she is “done” with the mission. Her encounter with her vessel’s abandoned husband has reminded her that “we always said that humans were our original mission.” Well, that’s belated.

She admits to having experienced human feelings, including an attraction to Castiel, but now she realizes that they are from her vessel, “screaming” to get out and have her life back. She kisses Castiel on the cheek, says goodbye, and then angels out, leaving Castiel to deal with a very confused Caroline. Though she does recognize Castiel.

I have to say that even though I ended up not at all impressed by this storyline or character, the actress (Erica Carroll) fields the transition between Hannah and Caroline really well. It’s a damned shame they wrote her out right at the point when the character was getting a little interesting.

At a five-star hotel, there’s a knock on the door to the room where Rowena and the two prostitutes are staying. She suggests they get some practice in on whoever is knocking and admits it’s probably a hotel manager complaining that she hasn’t paid her bill.

She gave the girls some spells, but the blonde is confused by the “Spanish” (Latin). Unfortunately, the bell boy at the door isn’t exactly alive, anymore. Instead, when Rowena throws it open, it turns out he is a corpse with a cut throat that falls in through the doorway. His killers are two demons, possessing a tall, blonde woman and a nondescript greasy guy.

Cut to Rowena, gagged, being dragged down the hallway, the girls along with her. When the brunette declares that she’s not going back to the brothel, the blonde demon informs her that “Operation Skank has been canceled” and the only thing happening to the two younger women is that their dead bodies will shortly be ditched in the dumpster out back.

And that’s about as far as the demons get in their plan. The Brothers pop up and the blonde immediately gets skewered by Dean with the Spork. The other one tosses Dean down the hallway, but when Sam grapples with him (and gets knocked down), this gives Dean the opportunity to stab the second demon from behind.

As the three women back into the dead end of the hallway at the Brothers’ approach, Dean tries to reassure them that he and Sam are only there for Rowena (“the witch”) and mean them no harm. When the brunette asks who the Brothers are, Rowena says, “Hunters.” The blonde then panics and demands Rowena do something. So, she does. She hexes the blonde with an “attack dog” spell (“Impetus Bestiarum”) that turns her red-eyed and rabid (to Dean’s horror).

With an animalistic scream, the girl attacks the Brothers while Rowena and the brunette flee. Sam distracts her, and sends Dean after Rowena and the brunette. He manages to lock her in a linen closet and begs her to fight the spell, but she cries that she can’t, even as she batters at the door. Sam pulls his gun to protect himself, but then the battering stops. When he opens the door, she is standing there, wide-eyed, and falls down dead.

Out in the alleyway, the brunette demands to know what Rowena did and quickly realizes her friend will die, “just like the waiter.” After admitting the most humans can’t handle hexes like that and live, Rowena tries to deflect the brunette’s attention from this by calling her friend, Elle, “weak,” while declaring that the brunette is “strong.” The brunette agrees – then punches Rowena in the face and strides away. Just as Rowena (albeit looking impressed) points after her with a killing spell (“Occidere ingrat -” basically, “Kill the ingrate”), Dean sticks a gun in her hair from behind and shouts, “Not another word!”

Rowena turns around, looking genuinely scared (she should be), as Dean tells her, “Lady, your luck just ran out.”

But Rowena’s face changes as she looks over his shoulder. She’s not the only one with enemies and one just found Dean. It’s Cole and, as Dean puts it, his timing really sucks. He whistles at Dean and calls him “Dean-o” (which, to be perfectly honest, may be a minor thing in the grand scheme of the show, but was easily the most irritating thing about the character).

So, Dean drops the gun and turns to deal with Cole, while Rowena runs away, free (for now). Cole is now officially in deep, but apparently, he’s too cocky and stupid to understand that. Dean apologizes for … well … being a demon the last time they met and for killing Cole’s dad, but says he’s “not that person, anymore.” Cole insists he’s “not a person at all” and splashes him with holy water, but is confused when all it does is annoy Dean. Cole then persists in asking if Dean was a demon when he “murdered” his father. Dean says no.

Cole then makes the huge mistake of pistol-whipping Dean, which gives Dean the chance to grab the gun and knock it from Cole’s grasp. A fist fight ensues that Cole initially is all up for, but even before Dean tosses him against a dumpster, and then through a car windshield, it’s pretty clear Cole is still wayyyyy outmatched. That Dean gets a bit more bashed up this time doesn’t really change that and can be attributed as much to Dean’s reluctance to kill Cole as to his powers being altered/reduced.

Dean then gets to his gun and knocks Cole’s out of reach. Handing over the gun, Dean asks for five minutes “to clean up this mess, once and for all.” If Cole wants to shoot him after that, fine.

Dean tells Cole that he hunts monsters. Cole’s father was a monster, not one Dean had ever seen before or since, that had eaten the livers of three people and was determined to kill Cole and his mother that night. Cole insists that his father sounded human and was begging to Dean stop, but Dean calls this “a monster’s trick.”

Dean suddenly says, “Put it down!” but he means Sam, who has come out and leveled his gun at Cole, who now turns around to confront him. Well, Cole did torture Sam, so you couldn’t say Cole didn’t have that coming. But Dean is at least able to stop Sam from putting a bullet in Cole as Cole digests what he’s hearing and decides whether or not to believe Dean.

Cole has a hard time letting it go. After all, he’s spent over a decade hunting Dean. As Dean puts it, Cole has his “story.” Dean had his “story,” too, that led him to “beat up a good man just for the fun of it” (meaning Cole in “Reichenbach”).

Dean says that stories are great, in that they can keep you going, but they can also “lead you to dark places.” Dean says that “the ones who love me, they pulled me back from that edge. But Cole, once you touch that darkness, it never goes away. I’m past saving. I know how my story ends. It’s at the edge of a blade or the barrel of a gun. So, the question is, is that gonna be today?”

Sam looks shocked at Dean saying he’s “past saving.” But Sam has the presence of mind to mention that he heard Cole talking to his family while torturing him. He says Cole’s family needs him “to come back whole.” Sam doesn’t mention that he probably wouldn’t be able to stop Cole if Cole actually shot Dean (and we know Dean would only come back as a demon, anyway).

Cut to the front of a house as Caroline, Hannah’s former vessel, walks hesitantly up to the door. She looks scared as she knocks. Upon opening the door, her husband looks glad to see her and immediately accepts her heart-felt, tearful hug. In a car outside on the street, in the rain, Castiel watches their successful reunion as the door closes behind them. He then pulls out a laptop and types the name of his vessel, the now-deceased Jimmy Novak. He gets a bunch of missing notices and looks sad.

Later that night, the Brothers watch Cole leave in his jeep. Sam asks where Cole is going. Dean says, “Home.” And Rowena? “In the wind.” Sam then asks about Dean telling Cole that he was “past saving.”

Dean: I was just telling the guy what he needed to hear.

Dean interjects this lie casually and easily, with a shrug. Sam doesn’t look as though he believes it, but what is he going to do? This isn’t about a nice steak and a hot date, anymore. Dean’s walls are up and he’s not talking. When Dean turns to walk away, we get a look at pensive Sam before he follows his brother. Sam used up a whole lot of moral poker chips getting his brother “back” the way he wanted him and now he’s finally beginning to count the cost. He’s also beginning to realize that Dean is never going to be back under his thumb again.

Cut to one of Crowley’s dungeons. Crowley is with Gerald, still in his DIY meat suit. Gerald tells him that the Brothers took out the Alpha demon team, but the Beta team was able to play clean-up (I sure hope that doesn’t involve Shaylene or the brunette, but we never do find out). They got Rowena (as I said, she was only momentarily free). Gerald says they’ve tortured her and is creepily eager to kill her. But Gerald’s smugness quickly evaporates when Crowley points out that Gerald was only cleaning up a mess he’d made in the first place. Crowley tells him to get out of his sight.

Crowley [opening the dungeon door]: Is everyone working for me touched?

When he comes into the dungeon, though, he is struck dumb. Rowena is there, strung up in manacles and looking pretty much the worse for wear. Knowing he’s the King of Hell, she taunts him to “get on with it” and kill her.

Stunned, Crowley mutters, “Mother?!”


Ratings for this episode dropped a bit in demo to a 0.9/3 in the A18-49 demo and 2.30 million in audience.

Review: This is a problematical one. It’s better in retrospect than when I first saw it, but still, it’s got some issues, due to Robert Berens’ lack of experience and Bob Singer’s rather lackluster direction. It re-introduces a character we first saw, very briefly, at the end of Jensen-Ackles-directed “Soul Survivor.” Rowena Macleod shows up in the episode’s coda, no dialogue, sipping whiskey in front of a fire with a book and smiling – while two dead demons inside their hosts are pinned to her ceiling (They’re in red suits that appear to be hotel uniforms and we find out in this episode that they were hexed). Rowena, of course, will go on to become a very important character on the show and that starts this season. The badass intro she gets in “Soul Survivor” is worthy of that subsequent career. This follow-up episode … not so much.

The problem is that Rowena in this episode is a straight-up bitch and not in the fun way she becomes later on. A lot of the character’s longevity derived from actress Ruth Connell’s charm and (deserved) good reputation with the fandom thanks to cons and social media. But initially, the writers did not give her a whole lot to work with. Sure, it was already fairly obvious to the observant that she had a connection to a certain recurring character (Hello, she’s Scottish), but at the time, she was just a really annoying Witch character in a long line of really annoying Witch characters who somehow got to walk away (or not) with murder because they were still human.

This is too bad because “Girls, Girls, Girls” does have some potentially good meat on its bones regarding misogyny, both external and internalized, and why women would turn to the dark arts to better their lot when trying to survive in a world of scummy, predatory men, even if it doesn’t gel into a satisfying whole. Despite the title, and the admitted presence of an actually reasonable number of female characters, most of them get very little depth or exploration.

The young prostitutes in the story are so desperate for a female mentor that they don’t pay attention to the big red flags (and I’m not talking about her hair) in Rowena’s character until it’s too late for at least one of them. Meanwhile, there are hints that Rowena is her own kind of desperate in searching for a coven in such low places, and fallen on hard times.

Part of the problem is that the episode is trying to show Sam and Dean (especially Dean) helping these girls, so that Rowena is portrayed as someone who presents herself as an elder female mentor and benefactor, but is really just another predator, sucking the power and energy off the younger women. That blunts the message of female empowerment quite a bit.

One curious thing about the subplot of Crowley stalking Rowena (whom he eventually realizes is his long-lost mother) is that he doesn’t seem to be even remotely interested in Cole or why Cole is stalking Dean. This subplot, aside from introducing a new storyline for Crowley, seems intended to show him outwitting the Brothers, but that’s not really what happens here. And having Crowley simply ignore Cole seems a bit strange, especially since this episode shows Cole torturing one of Crowley’s demons.

The episode also launches the thorny relationship (which will become a friendship that sadly never got real closure at the end of the series thanks to the writers’ obsession with everyone else getting closure with Rowena) between Rowena and Dean. But the episode itself is kinda forgettable.

What is interesting, though, is that even this early on, if you know how the rest of her story goes, you can see how Rowena will eventually become a member of the Winchester family, of TFW 2.0, and herself a dark and dirty Hero, without ever actually ceasing to be a very dangerous and unpredictable character with a whole lot of her own not-so-suppressed rage at the world, particularly men. She is an outcast, a grifter and drifter, who grew up poor (We’ll find out more about that later).

I think a major reason why she worked and not, say, the arrogant Bella from Season 3 or the CW-ish Witch and Familiar couple in “Man’s Best Friend with Benefits” (aside from the really gross racist subtext in that episode, of course) is that Rowena is a bit flea-bitten and down-and-out, while simultaneously and subversively very powerful – I mean, she’s got a lot more than the Brothers on her trail, even this early on. Albeit initially someone who doesn’t seem to fit into the show’s dark and desperately poor, blue-collar worldview, she later comes off as someone who is exactly that kind of girl beneath the threadbare posh exterior. Her appearance on the scene sends up a massive supernatural flare and one wonders where she’s been hiding all this time.

The Brothers have a tendency to attract extremely powerful misfits to their group because they become a last point of refuge. This is how Rowena fits with them. It also happens that they have Scottish ancestry and she (obviously) is Scottish. While the show has sucked in the past in some of its research, I always thought it did the Scottish stuff, overall, pretty well. The crew had a long-time member who was herself Scottish (as is, of course, Ruth Connell) and someone actually cared enough to do some research into Scottish witches and witchcraft. So, kudos for that.

Some of the other female characters in this episode don’t do so well. The prostitutes, with one exception, don’t rise above the level of cliches. The brunette has some promise, but we never see her again after she rejects Rowena. I did, however, quite like Shaylene and totally got where she was coming from. Elysia Rotaru gets across really well Shaylene’s fear, rage, shame and violation (She also played “fancy lady” ghost Victoria, one of the few good things about Season 7’s godawful “Of Grave Importance”). It makes total sense she would snap and stab her kidnapper. I hope she managed to get away to a better life afterward.

Dean often gets criticized by certain segments of the fandom for being sexist and misogynistic because he is promiscuous. However, unlike, say, Charlie with the kidnapped fairy in Season 8’s “LARP and the Real Girl” or Sambot with pretty much every woman he came across in Season 6, Dean is very good with sussing out whether a partner really wants to be with him, and backing way off when she doesn’t. Even at his sleaziest as a demon, when he’s hitting on the stripper in “Reichenbach,” his actual goal is to provoke the bouncer into a fight.

His tryst with Shaylene slows way down when she brings up money, but it comes to a permanent screeching halt when he realizes demons are involved and she is working under duress. No Charlie making out with a person who can’t realistically give consent, not here. Even when the demon walks into the motel room, his first clue ought to have been that Shaylene and Dean are sitting on opposite sides of the bed, not touching and not even facing each other. Dean understands and respects sexual boundaries, which is a helluva lot more than many other characters on this show do.

And then there’s Hannah. [sigh] That entire storyline was boring as hell and it didn’t need to be. It’s a shame, because they finally did something fairly interesting with her and then they ditched this version (Subsequent versions, before they killed the angel part of the character off for drama points, were even duller). This seemed to be a pattern with the show, that the writers would finally spice up a dull character and finally give an able actor something to do, right before they wrote them out. It’s a common trope on TV and it’s frustrating, to put it kindly.

The actress playing Hannah had gotten very little to do besides being annoying fanatical and obsessive with Castiel up to this point. Carroll fielded the transition to the human vessel for Hannah, Caroline, well, but then it was like, “Oh, this could be int – oh, whoops, guess not.” I guess this was the only way for a character to get a happy ending on this show, with this crop of writers. We won’t see Caroline again.

“Girls, Girls, Girls” also brings back Cole, the character who was on a roaring rampage of revenge after Dean at the beginning of the season. This episode wraps up that rampage with something of a whimper. It’s as if the writers wanted as badly as Dean did to tie up this loose end and move on. Even though I normally like it when Dean talks a character down, I didn’t buy it this time. It was way too easy and anticlimactic. Cole was simply never a credible antagonist to Dean.

We see Cole Trenton one more time after this and then he, too, is gone. The reasons why remain cloudy, but they do seem to have been related to how the character went over with the audience and the actor, Travis Aaron Wade, went over with fans at conventions (and online, where he said some very strange things, and may have stalked and doxxed some fans) and possibly his fellow cast members.

Wade had an odd vibe at cons and some fans accused him of doing inappropriate stuff. It also didn’t help that he was 39, three years older than Ackles, when his character was supposed to be 24. Or that he later voted for Trump.

I won’t take you all down that rabbit hole of decidedly unreliable narrators and fifth-hand accounts (especially since which version some fans chose to believe and propagate seemed to depend on which ship they supported rather than which version actually made sense), but let’s just say it got pretty weird. One account now lost to time that I recall was from a girl who claimed that Wade had made inappropriate gestures at her during an after hours party, except that she didn’t really remember him doing it because she was drunk (and underage) and got the story from her friend who was there, the next morning. Much of the action and alleged first-hand accusation occurred on the now-defunct Television without Pity and IMdB boards, but there are enough remnants on Reddit, LiveJournal and Tumblr to give you a clue.

To be honest, I’m skeptical of the cancel culture involved with the Supernatural cons. GoHs are held to a very high standard, and really have to watch their step (There were also some recent allegations regarding producer Jim Michaels and some equally infamous allegations against Ty Olsson back in the day), while the fans engage in widespread, and largely unacknowledged, sexual harassment and other bad behavior (like the aforementioned underage drinking at the after hours parties, and groping GoHs during Q&As and photo ops). It sets up double standards that seem ripe for crossing boundaries between GoHs and fans that really shouldn’t be tested, let alone hurdled at high speed. With all the inappropriate behavior on both sides, it becomes hard to tell who’s the victim and who’s the aggressor.

There is, for example, the incident of the “Flying Fangirl” who attacked Jensen Ackles at the first Asylum (the yearly Supernatural con in Britain) con in 2007. There are different accounts. In one written account by Ackles himself, during an interview that I can’t now find (It might be in one of the Supernatural Magazine issues), he said that he was getting into an elevator with a friend when she launched herself at him through the closing doors. He got a forearm up out of sheer reflex as she tried to wrap her arms and legs around him, and accidentally got her in the throat.

His account apologetically continues that he didn’t mean to hurt her. Afterward, in a meeting alone with him and con security, she was tearful and apologetic, and he asked that she not get kicked out of the con. According to various other reports, however, she still was (and she should have been). I’ll admit I am again going on memory with this one, but as it’s by far the most logical-sounding (and least brutal about her) of the accounts I’ve read, and the only one that was first-hand, I’m gonna put it out there.

What is straight-up bizarre is that some writers, some academic writers, like Katherine Larsen and Lynn Zubernis (authors of Fangasm: Supernatural Fangirls) in their book, Fandom At The Crossroads: Celebration, Shame and Fan/Producer Relationships, wrote sympathetically about the Flying Fangirl and claimed she was just misunderstood. It doesn’t help that they weren’t actually at the con and got everything third-to-fifth-hand like the rest of us. Larsen and Zubernis’ general thesis in both books is that female fans are shamed about their sexuality by the mostly-male makers of the fictional media (and gatekeepers within fandom itself) that these women and girls consume.

Which is all very well, but when the authors act as though the only “real” Supernatural fans (or, at least, the only fans worth acknowledging) are Wincest fans, that interpretation gets a bit iffy. Wincest fans developed the reputation they did among Saltgunners early on because they were known for being damned inappropriate regarding the cast, writers and showrunners, as well as aggressive toward other fans, both online and sometimes at cons. And when Larsen and Zubernis’ takeaway from the incident was a frisson of horror at realizing that, yes, there are boundaries you shouldn’t cross in meeting real people who make your favorite media, and that other (more sensible) fans will certainly let you know when you cross them, even when you are oblivious to healthy boundaries, that whole thesis becomes downright problematical. Owning your sexuality as a woman doesn’t equate with becoming a sexual predator. That’s a bad message.

While some fans may have expressed the general fandom takeaway a bit overenthusiastically, they were not wrong in calling that flying leap sexual assault. The Flying Fangirl was lucky not to get arrested and charged, and both she and Ackles were lucky neither got hurt. I get that she was overexcited about meeting her favorite actor and probably just didn’t think, but there’s no version of the event out there where what she did was okay. Girls, this ain’t Ancient Greece or Rome and y’all aren’t Bacchantes. Learn to behave yourselves around total strangers you’re sexually attracted to. It’s not that hard.

But in truth, a lot of the problems with the character of Cole boiled down to very fundamental issues with the writing and casting decisions that probably would have doomed the character to a quick exit even if Wade had not gone hog-wild on the con circuit, and gotten himself iced out of the fandom and the show. Cole claims that Dean killed his father when Cole was a kid in 2003.

Dean would have been 24 at the time, as this was two years before the show started. Cole was 13. When we meet Cole, he should be 24, yet he’s already done multiple years in the military, on some pretty crazy tours. He has a wife who looks in her late 20s and a son who looks to be at least six or eight. When did this guy get married? At 16?!

There was a sort of “Just go with it” attitude in the season premiere regarding these plot holes, but they were becoming glaring by Cole’s third outing in this episode. There was also the odd thing where they had Dean beat Cole again, but it was harder than it probably should have been. Sure, Dean’s powers were altered compared to when he was still fully demonic (no TK and a bit less superstrength, but completely immune to holy water), but even this early on, we were all suspecting he hadn’t been fully cured. After all, he still had the Mark.

The whole idea of there being someone who was hunting Dean as if he were a monster was not a bad one (even if it was basically a retread of Sam’s “Hunters hate me” storyline from the first five seasons), but Cole’s obsession with Dean really had nothing to do with Dean having the Mark of Cain. This storyline could have happened in any season. It seemed like waaaayyy too much of a coincidence that it occurred in the period when Dean actually was no longer strictly human. It felt random and that may have contributed to why it also felt forgettable.

The thing was that once Cole stopped hunting Dean, there wasn’t really much reason for him to be around, anymore. We can talk until the cows come home about how the actor poisoned the well for his return, but the writers didn’t make the character likable enough to justify his return in the first place.

He wasn’t a supernatural being. He cold-bloodedly tortured Sam (which mostly existed to make Demon!Dean look like a complete bastard while very conveniently hand-waving questionable things Sam was doing like brutally torturing a CRD inside her own, innocent meatsuit). He trash-talked Dean and he wasn’t particularly witty about it, the way Crowley or Lucifer was. There just wasn’t a hook (unless they made him a Hunter and that never happened) to keep him around. After this episode (and definitely after his follow-up episode later this season), his arc was done.

Granted, that didn’t stop them from bringing Jack back a gadzillion times, but at least Jack was a supernatural being with a deeper connection to the Brothers, however forced. Cole reminded me a bit of Dan on Lucifer – a character who did really questionable things while convincing himself he was the good guy in his story, not the villain.

Dean’s speech to Cole didn’t surprise me (and it brings up the issue that the dumbest possible thing Cole could have done was shoot Dean). Nor did I buy for a second Dean’s offhand lie to Sam that he didn’t mean it when he said he was doomed. Of course he meant it. At this point, I think he just couldn’t be bothered to lie convincingly.

But Sam’s reaction was frustrating. Sam. Honey. What about waterboarding and injecting your brother with holy water made you think that would leave him with better self esteem? Plus, Dean is not incorrect that his base condition (the Mark of Cain) remains and that unless it is removed (considered an impossibility at this point), he is doomed.

However, one thing Dean remains in denial about is the kind of madness that plagues him. The Mark of Cain, we know at this point, has rendered Dean effectively immortal. He may slide back into the madness of being a demon, but he can’t die. He can’t go down bloody. And that is the biggest tragedy of this storyline.

Supernatural — “Girls, Girls, Girls” — Image SN1007a_0178 — Pictured (L-R): Erica Carroll as Hannah and Misha Collins as Castiel — Credit: Katie Yu/The CW — © 2014 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Next week: Hibbing 911: Jody meets Donna for the first time at a law enforcement conference. Then bodies start dropping and you just know Jody will end up having to give Donna The Talk.

The Kripke Years

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4

Season 5

The Gamble Years

Season 6 (with Kripke)

Season 7

The Carver Years

Season 8

Season 9

Season 10

Season 11

The Dabb Years

Season 12

Season 13

Season 14

Season 15

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The Official Supernatural: “Ask Jeeves” (10.06) Retro Recap and Review

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Scroll down to find links to all of my recaps and reviews of all seasons up to this point.

Recap: Longish recap of past MOTWs (the one for this week is in there, but it’s not overt) and the season so far (including Dean’s blink-and-you-missed-it Demon storyline), culminating in Dean telling Sam he has to get back into the saddle because he’s desperately bored and it’s messing with his mental stability.

Cut to Now, upstairs in a mansion in New Canaan, CT. Underneath a photorealistic portrait of an elderly woman and her dog (who looks just like the one that chased Dean in season four’s “Yellow Fever,” an English butler is exhorting two maids about the upcoming funeral of their “mistress” (the woman in the portrait). In a rather long infodump, he informs the maids (and us) that the mistress, one Bunny LaCroix (which sounds awfully Cajun for New England), was a good employer, but that her family is “about to descend” on the mansion “for the funeral and the reading of the will” and he wants to place “spotless.”

He assigns one maid, Colette, to lay out Bunny’s wardrobe for her burial and sends the other, Olivia, to clean the bathrooms. When Olivia starts to protest, he reminds her that she’s “new” and Colette still has “seniority.” Colette casts a crestfallen Olivia a smug look, then trots upstairs when the butler tells them to hurry it up. Olivia goes downstairs and so does the butler.

To a piano soundtrack piece, in Bunny’s bedroom, Colette starts out well enough, smartly putting out a matching skirt, blouse and jacket ensemble before going into the jewelry box for a broach to match. It’s there she hits a moral snag. Sneaking out a large string of pearls, she tries it on in front of a mirror. She gets that smug look again, indicating the pearls are about to leave the premises with her when she goes off shift.

She then hears an odd sound – a door closing inside the suite. Still wearing the pearls, she goes out to investigate. Hearing footsteps from behind her, she turns to find Bunny LaCroix herself, looking very much alive and highly disapproving. Shocked, Collette insists that Bunny is dead as she backs out onto the landing. Following her, Bunny grabs the pearl necklace and rips it off Colette’s neck. As pearls fall all around her, Colette backs right over the banister with a scream and crashes through a glass coffee table below. She dies instantly.

As Bunny stands on the balcony looking down with her own smug expression, the butler runs out and discovers the body. When he looks up at Bunny, he seems more horrified than surprised, asking, “What have you done?!” Instead of answering, Bunny turns and walks back into her room.

Cue title cards.

Cut to Dean in a flannel plaid shirt, fixing a side headlight on Baby and looking bored, as Sam comes out of the Shady Hills Motel lobby with two very small and individual K-cups of coffee. Dean grumps, “Real men don’t drink out of cups that small” and when he sniffs it, guesses “cinnamon roll” for the flavor. Sam corrects him that it’s “Glazed Donut,” but when he offers to take it back, Dean insists on drinking it, anyway. I think he secretly likes it, too.

After establishing that Sam has found no cases, Dean brings out an old cell phone from Bobby that he found while “dustbusting.” Having checked all the messages, he discovered only one of interest. Seems Bobby’s in the aforementioned Bunny LaCroix’s will and if he can’t come, his next of kin are invited.

Sam is confused about how Bobby would know an heiress. Dean comments, “Bobby had secrets, man. Like lovin’ on Tori Spelling. If he only knew Dean cheated on her.” He suggests they go and see if maybe Bobby inherited them some “beer money.”

Cut to the Impala roaring down the road across a bridge on a sunny day. The Brothers arrive in a parking lot full of swanky cars outside the mansion. At least the writers don’t repeat the joke from Season One’s “Provenance” that the Impala is low class in comparison. A 60s muscle car like the Impala is not a cheap ride these days.

Sam feels “underdressed” and suggests they get their FBI suits out of the trunk. Dean refuses, insisting that they’re lucky his “waistband’s not elastic.” He’s all for going as himself into this one, with nothing to prove.

On the porch, Dean presses the doorbell, which pretentiously plays Beethoven’s “Für Elise.” Sam snickers at this, which makes me like him a bit more than I have of late. I don’t hate that piece, by any means, but it is the kind of Classical kitsch that certain kinds of people stick in inappropriate settings (like doorbells and car horns) and it’s not due to their stanning Beethoven.

Supernatural — “Ask Jeeves” — Image SN1006a_0218 — Pictured (L-R): Jared Padalecki as Sam, Izabella Miko as Olivia, and Jensen Ackles as Dean — Credit: Michael Courtney/The CW — © 2014 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Olivia meets them at the door. When Sam introduces them as relatives of Bobby, she expresses condolences on his passing and they return them. Olivia says the funeral just ended, but they can go meet the family inside.

She brings them into a room with a large fireplace (even though it’s sunny and apparently warm outside) and a billiards table. Two cougarish blonde women with cocktails, a young woman and an much-older man playing an intimate game of pool, and a young man leaning on the fireplace mantle, all look up when Olivia introduces the Brothers. The nearer cougar (the one standing) asks if they are part of “the Westchester Winchesters” and Sam uncomfortably says he doesn’t think so, with Dean mumbling some backup. Truth is, with their grandfather Henry’s connections, they could well be related, but I doubt it even occurs to them at this moment.

That doesn’t bother either of the cougars, though. The one standing introduces herself as “Heddy, Bunny’s cousin,” and judges the Brothers “adorable,” with a deep and appreciative intake of breath. Sam is taken aback – and even more so when Dean, clearly flattered, purrs, “Ohhh.”

As Olivia wanders the room, serving people, Heddy also introduces the other cougar as her sister Beverley (Beverley is also very appreciative, but Dean is less into her and Sam not at all). She introduces the billiards couple as Bunny’s youngest brother Stanton “and his child bride – Amber.” (I love the delivery of that line.) As Amber accidentally makes Stanton miss his shot with some enthusiastic cheerleading, Heddy introduces the young man as Bunny’s grand-nephew, Dash. While Stanton welcomes them in (while clearly treating the rather trashy Amber as a trophy), Dash is suspicious of the Brothers and asks them how they know his great-aunt. Sam awkwardly explains that they never knew her and are there representing their late “surrogate dad” Bobby.

Things hit a snag when the Brothers find out they will probably need to stay the weekend. The will isn’t being read until tomorrow. Beverley and Heddy assure the Brothers that they can stay the night, since the rooms sleep two, “or even three,” Heddy adds as she grabs Dean’s ass. Dean is only momentarily startled before he checks out her caboose in return as she turns away.

Now the one making a shot at the table, Amber asks where Colette went. The butler is entering the room at this point and lies (but none of the guests know this yet, of course) that Colette quit out of grief over Bunny and went off “to find herself.” When Heddy asks if she went off to an “ashram in India,” the butler says, “Clown college in Sarasota.”

Heddy: Good choice.

The butler quietly asks to see the Brothers out in the hallway in five minutes. As he and Dean leave the room, Beverley gets up and hustles over to ask Sam if he works out. Dean gets far more amusement than is legal out of Sam’s discomfort.

Out in the hallway, the Brothers are rolling their eyes at the family pretensions when the butler comes up to them. At first, it appears he is giving them the brush-off and Dean makes a joke about knowing where the shrimp fork goes (before admitting that he doesn’t).

After an uncomfortable double-take, the butler insists that there’s been a misunderstanding. He thinks the Brothers are “too good” for Bunny’s family (and he seems quite sincere). He calls the relatives “money-grubbing leeches” who lost all their money in the 2009 recession. He says that what Bunny left them is something the family would want in on and it’s too valuable for that.

Supernatural — “Ask Jeeves” — Image SN1006a_0248 — Pictured (L-R): Doug Abrahams as Detective Howard, Kevin McNulty as Phillip, Jared Padalecki as Sam, and Jensen Ackles as Dean — Credit: Michael Courtney/The CW — © 2014 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Unfortunately, as Olivia comes out into the hallway and he’s handing them a padded envelope, the butler is forced to admit that he has no idea how Bobby and Bunny knew each other. At any rate, the envelope is the Brothers’ inheritance. Dean eagerly opens it up as the butler and maid leave, only to find a cross on a chain, with gems he deems “a bit fancy to leave a guy like Bobby,” but that looks rather cheap. Even so, both Brothers immediately jump to the conclusion that Bobby and Bunny had a past affair, and that the gems are real.

The gems are not real. They discover this when they take it to a pawn shop. However, the clerk there does help them find out a secret about the cross – it has a key inside it. But, as Sam asks, “a key to what?” Dean suggests they go back to the mansion and “find out.” They can “ask Jeeves.” There’s your title.

Cut to Stanton and Amber having a fight in their bedroom in the mansion. Thanks to Beverley, he suspects her of cheating after she texted a “peeled banana emoji” to a person she claims is her mother (Amber, deadpan: “She likes fruit”). She denies it, but she’s a little too cavalier to be sincere and deflects by insisting he’s drunk (Well, that’s true). Looking at an enormous wedding portrait of a much-younger Bunny with her husband Lance, she comments that he was insanely jealous of his wife, too. Stanton claims that’s not without cause.

Stanton: My sister was nothing but a two-bit hooker in Chanel!

Showing outrage (which may or may not be fake) at how he talks about his own sister, Amber takes this as her cue to go into the bathroom and shut the door. Soon after saying “good riddance” to the two subjects of the portrait, Stanton hears an odd mechanical voice call his name, but Amber insists (from behind the door) that it’s not her, so he goes out into the hallway.

Striding down the hallway as the voice continues, he is shocked to find the dead Lance, looking not a day older than his portrait, stiffly coming out of a room, holding an axe. While Stanton is still busy reacting in shock, his brother-in-law whacks off his head in one blow. Amber comes out into the hallway just in time to witness the murder and belts out a credibly blood-curdling scream.

Cut to the Brothers arriving back at the mansion that night to find an unmarked police car with a light on the dashboard out front. When they ring the doorbell, the butler answers, but he’s subtly different and not pleased to see them. When Dean asks him if everything is “all right,” the butler snots back, “Not really,” then makes a comment inside about checking the closet “for burlap.” Dean exchanges some more snark with him.

A bald, bearded detective comes out into the foyer, flashes his badge, and tells them they can’t leave because they, and the rest of the household, are murder suspects in Stanton’s death (This, of course, is completely illegal since no one is under arrest, but the Brothers aren’t going to push it on that score).

Re-entering the Billiards Room, the Brothers find Heddy peeling off a drunk sister while arguing with Dash about whether or not Amber is guilty. Heddy thinks yes and Dash calls her an “old lady” in his rebuttal. As the Brothers enter the room, an embarrassed Heddy begs to differ on that designation, insisting she’s only 39. Dash says the last time she was 39 was in 2003 (which would make her only 50, hardly decrepit). I’m with Heddy that Harvard Business School didn’t teach Dash much in the way of manners.

Heddy’s reasoning for Amber being the killer is that she was having affairs, but couldn’t leave Stanton due to an “iron-clad” prenup. Dash is not convinced of Amber’s guilt, even when Heddy says Amber’s story about what she saw of the murder is ridiculous. Amber claims that Lance, who’s been dead for years, did it. So, she’s claiming the killer was a ghost.

This, of course, pings the Brothers’ radar. Sam immediately takes Dean aside and excitedly suggests that this is “our kind of case.” Dean agrees and wonders if they can get back out to the Impala to retrieve their EMF meter. When Sam points out the detective is unlikely to let them do it, he figures they’ll probably have to “go old school.”

Dean: Cold spots it is. You stay here, keep an eye on Miss Peacock and Colonel Mustard. I’ll sniff around. (Yes, these characters are from the classic board game, Clue.)

Sam agrees, but is a bit horrified when he turns back to find Beverley smiling and waggling her fingers at him. Meanwhile, Heddy is declaring to Dash that she has “a big, beautiful yacht” that is actually “a mahogany sunfish” (a small sailboat) and Dash is accusing her of being nuts from too many “synthetic hormones.”

As Dean goes upstairs and investigates an empty suit of armor, Sam is downstairs “interviewing” Dash. Sam asks him why, after two deaths in the family, they’re not more distraught. Dash admits that none of them like each other, so no one’s broken up that two of them have died, one by murder. But hey, isn’t every family like that? Sam opines that he likes his family (Really, Sam? You couldn’t say that in front of Dean?), but then, it’s only him and his brother. Dash calls him lucky.

Sam then asks why Dash doesn’t think Amber killed Stanton (well, aside from the part where it would be pretty hard for her to whack off his head with that heavy axe). Dash emphatically insists Amber’s not a killer – she’s too dumb.

Upstairs, with perky harpsichord and oboe on the soundtrack, Dean is walking past a bedroom, a warthog head on the wall, and a bunch of family paintings and heirlooms (like a ceremonial sword). He arrives at some crime scene tape and a silhouette of Stanton’s body and head on the floor. There is no blood and it makes me wonder, also, why the place isn’t still crawling with CSIs or at least more law enforcement than just “Detective Friendly.”

Anyhoo, Dean glances over at a bookshelf and notices immediately the spine on one of the books has a very familiar cross pattern on it. Just like the cross-key he and Sam just inherited. He takes it out to make sure. Pulling the book out reveals a hidden door to another door with a lock.

Downstairs, Dash is admitting he doesn’t believe Amber’s story about a ghost because he doesn’t believe in ghosts. He does say that if anyone in the family were to come back as an angry spirit, it would be Lance, who was “a real bastard” in life. Albeit, after his death, Bunny became a “recluse.”

At this moment, the detective comes out with Amber and wants to interview Dash next. As Dash goes with him, he exchanges a Significant Look with Amber.

Upstairs, Dean is discovering that the cross-key does, indeed, fit the lock to the other door. Inside, he finds a passageway pretty literally between the walls, filled with weird bric-a-brac, a plate of bread, a stuffed bear, and other signs someone may have been living in there. He also discovers Colette’s dead body rolled up in a rug and a very-much-alive Olivia, who claims that the butler (Philip) locked her in there. She says he did it so she wouldn’t talk to the detective about hiding “Clown College” Colette’s body and her witnessing Colette’s murder. Dean guesses that Lance killed her and does a double-take when Olivia says it was Bunny.

Downstairs, Sam is playing cards with the two sisters while the clock chimes. He excuses himself when Dean comes back in with Olivia. Dean asks him if he’s seen the butler. When Sam says no, Dean fills him in about the attic upstairs and finding Olivia, as well as Colette’s dead body. He thinks they’ve now got two vengeful spirits on their hands, though Sam is a bit skeptical about this. Dean says the butler has the answer and must be acting as the spirits’ “Renfield” (Dracula’s slave assistant) and protecting them, since he locked Olivia in the attic. Sam suggests they split up and goes upstairs.

As Sam’s ascending the staircase, he hears the detective come out and call his name for an interview. Sam hurries upstairs to avoid him, but just as he thinks he’s in the clear, he runs into Beverley, who calls him a naughty boy and wants to be naughty with him. She figures she’s got about ten minutes before her interview with the detective and she bets Sam could do a lot in those ten minutes (Well, he sure could when he didn’t have a soul). Weirded out, and lacking Dean’s ability to be seductive, Sam tells her he’s “right behind you” as she goes into the bedroom and then flees down the hallway.

Downstairs, as the jaunty harpsichord starts back up, Dean is going down a hallway where he finds a rusty wrench (a classic Clue item) and finds the butler in one of the bedrooms, adjusting his tie. The butler insists he can “explain everything” to Dean, after making a crack about “a leaky faucet down the hall.”

However, upstairs, Sam finds a missing blade from a block of knives and a bloody smear on the floor. After pulling out a knife of his own, he, too, discovers the butler – dead with a knife in his back, and the soundtrack goes seriously dark.

Dean is not really buying the “butler’s” explanation that he was hiding Colette’s body until after the funeral because he didn’t want her murder to disrupt it. When Dean opines, “That’s crazy,” the butler insists that it’s “loyalty.”

At that moment, Dean gets a text from Sam telling him the butler’s dead. Dean plays it cool as he turns back round, but somehow, the “butler” figures out he’s been made. Grabbing Dean, he tosses him across the room into a wall. By the time Dean is able to get to his feet, the butler is gone, having left his suit – and his skin – on the floor in a bloody pile. Dean looks disgusted and calls Sam, warning him that the real MOTW is actually a Shapeshifter.

Cut to the butler’s dead body, as the Brothers discuss him from the doorway. The Shapeshifter’s MO seems to be “impersonating dead people.” And now the ‘shifter could be anybody (“Even you,” Sam points out to Dean). Dean says they need to find some silver, quickly.

At that moment, Olivia comes in with tray and drops it with a gasp of shock at the sight of Philip’s body. Sam tries to calm her down and get her with the program, while he and Dean suss out whether or not she’s the Shapeshifter. They get her to show them a silver set, while also getting her to handle some (while also testing each other). Now they have to test everyone else.

The Sisters are swiping right through a phone dating app for millionaires. When Beverley complains that one is ugly, Heddy reminds her that beggars can’t be choosers.

Heddy: Who cares if he’s ugly if you’re drinking Mai Tais in the lap of luxury?

Good point, there, Heddy.

When Sam comes in and sits down between them (so he can test them with the silverware), they are absolutely thrilled. Even Beverley is so desperate that she’s happy to forgive and forget the runner he did upstairs as “playing hard to get.” Sam ends up with his hands on each one’s knee (because Heddy was feeling left out).

Upstairs, the harpsichord starts up again as Dean enters another billiards room with a lot more dark-wood paneling. He’s about to leave when he hears noises coming from the closet. He picks up a hefty candlestick (Every time he thinks he’s about to be in peril this episode, he picks up something and it’s always an object from the game Clue). When he opens the closet door, he finds Dash and Amber canoodling. Dean guesses they’ve been together for a while, but though they admit to having an affair, they insist they didn’t kill her husband/Dash’s great-uncle. Dean doesn’t care and gets them to touch the silverware by threatening to tell about their affair if they don’t. They pass the test and he agrees to keep mum. Then he ushers them back into the downstairs billiards room, where Sam immediately extricates himself from the sisters (as Dean asks if he should wait until Sam is “done”).

Dean: And it’s all going to Hell, right here, right now.

The Brothers, while grumping about “WASPs,” confer and realize the only one left is the detective. But at that moment, they hear a scream and run into a large bathroom to find a shivering Olivia pointing at the detective, who has been drowned in the toilet.

“How filthy!” exclaims Heddy.

At first, they all turn on Olivia (even as Dean is telling them not to point fingers). Heddy then notes that Amber was the one with the most to gain from both Stanton and the detective’s death, since the latter was investigating the former. This is not untrue, but it doesn’t stop Dash from playing White Knight for Amber. He calls Beverley and her sister some pretty viciously ageist and misogynistic names (“Rizzoli and Isles,” “Old Lady” for Heddy and “Baby Jane” for Beverley), irrationally accusing them of murdering the detective. Never mind that the Sisters don’t have a motive in either killing, but Amber most certainly does with her husband.

At that point (as Dean sotto voce‘s to Sam that it’s about to happen), Amber and Dash proudly out their affair. However, they immediately start off on the wrong page. Dash thinks they’re in love with each other. Amber openly admits it’s just a fling. Whoops.

After Dash calls her “Baby Jane,” Beverley decides to do a faux-outraged flounce. Dean, after a double-take, stops her cold, while Sam looks flustered. She then tries to fling herself against Dean while declaring herself outraged that he’s outraging her desperate bod. She purrs in disappointment (lots of sexual purring in this one) when he pushes her away. At least with Dean, however, his reason is entirely practical.

Dean: First of all, who talks like that? Second of all, no one’s leaving, okay?

Beverley [throwing herself against him]: Ohh, get your hands off me, young man!

Dean [gently putting her at arm’s length]: Okay, see, I don’t trust anyone, and leaving just makes you look guilty!

To everyone’s shock, Sam announces that four people are now dead and Dean fills them in on who the remaining two are. Heddy is shocked that “Clown College Colette” is really dead.

Sam tries to get everyone back on board, but Dash puts his oar in at this moment (likely out of some misguided “chivalrous” attempt to protect Amber from accusation), accusing Sam and Dean of being the new, murderous element. He claims that while everyone in the family “hate” each other, they never killed each other before.

Heddy, for reasons not clear to me, agrees. While Dean is trying to field this latest salvo, Dash filches the dead detective’s gun out of its holster and starts waving it around (All three of the women grab each other and back away). Acting all tough (“I hunt pheasant!”), he forces the Brothers into the Security Office and locks them in (Yeah, where is Security, anyway?). His excuse for not trusting them? They wear flannel.

Even though the lock is on the outside, the Brothers get busy. Sam finds room keys and Dean tries to push in the latch with a butter knife, only to discover that the “silverware” they’ve been using to test for Shapeshifters is stainless steel, so now they have no idea who’s the Shapeshifter and no way to kill it. While they’ve got silver bullets, those are in the Impala’s trunk.

Meanwhile, in the downstairs billiards room, Heddy and Beverley are making snarky comments about how they knew the Brothers were trash because they drove an “American made” car and repeat the flannel putdown. Beverley also claims they’re gay because they both rejected her advances. She and Heddy muse on how they’re gay murderers, like the play/movie Rope (1929 and 1948, respectively).

Amber is questioning Dash’s shaky logic about why Sam and Dean have to be the killers. Amber gets nervous about Dash waving the gun around (“I hunt pheasant!”) and after he ignores Heddy telling him to put it down, she shouts at him to put it down, too. This time, he obeys.

Gotta admit that it took me a while to get beyond this section because it’s so mindbogglingly stupid. I understand that they needed a third-act roadblock to separate everyone again and slow the Brothers down a bit, but this one didn’t make sense. The Brothers are too experienced to get caught off-guard like that and Dean, at the least, would have secured the gun for his own use.

Also, it makes no sense why Heddy, who was trading vicious insults with Dash just a moment before in which she was accusing Amber (with cause) of murder and he was accusing her (without cause) of the same thing, would suddenly go along with his hare-brained idea that Sam and Dean are the cause of the murder spree, especially since Colette’s disappearance predated their arrival and Amber saw a guy who looked like Bunny’s dead husband kill her husband. Too much OOC action all-round.

Dash insists that the Brothers wanted the family inheritance, so they’ve been killing people off (except that most of those who died weren’t family). Amber doesn’t really buy that, but nobody gets any time to pick holes in his plan before Olivia walks in with a bottle of liqueur.

However, Olivia’s demeanor is different this time. When Heddy rather imperiously tells her to go call the police, Olivia drops all obsequiousness and says, “Oh, I don’t think so.” Calling them “idiots,” she tells them that whenever it’s not the butler, it’s always the maid. While everyone is shocked at her impertinence, she sets the bottle down on the table where the gun is, picks up the gun, and starts holding them hostage. She’s the Shapeshifter.

Inside the Security Office, while he and Dean look for a way to jimmy the lock, Sam sees Olivia with the gun, threatening the rest of the family, on the CCTV camera. He calls Dean over, who says in disgust, “We got played by the maid.”

Dean tries to shoulder-slam his way out of the office, but, as he notes, the doors are “reinforced.” While the Brothers continue to try to figure out how to escape, Olivia is doing a Tootsie-style monologue about her true identity. She’s Bunny’s very devoted daughter and grew up in the attic. Amber immediately references the famously shlocky Flowers in the Attic (1979), to which Heddy rolls her eyes and says, “Oh, Amber.”

While Dean watches and Sam continues to search, Olivia says that after Bunny died, Philip “took pity” on her and allowed her out. He had her pose as the maid so she could “hide in plain sight.” She claims that Colette’s death was accidental, that she only wanted to “scare” her for being a thief.

Heddy says that they’re not thieves, so why is Olivia killing them? Olivia says they’re worse – they’re disrespectful of her mother’s memory. When Dash, confused, wonders why she killed Philip, she claims that he “turned on me” after she killed Stanton.

Olivia: Lucky for me, the cute dumb one let me out.

Oh, sweetie, you have no idea.

Heddy calls her a monster, to which Olivia laughs and says, “Oh, you have no idea.”

Inside the office, Sam finds a gun safe and Dean tosses him some keys to it. Sam shoots out the lock (which everyone in the Billiards Room hears. Olivia takes aim as some footsteps approach, but still misses her shot at Sam as he comes round the corner. After she flees the room, Sam runs after her, telling the family to stay where they are.

Heddy: Did anyone else wet themselves?

Sam pursues Olivia into the darkened kitchen, where she again ambushes him. He hides behind some cupboards and they exchange dialogue. Olivia notes that he doesn’t have “a clear shot.” He points out that she doesn’t, either.

It turns out she has a beef with Bobby Singer and figures killing Sam (and, presumably, Dean) will be the next best thing. Sam gets out of her that her real father was a Shapeshifter who had an affair with Bunny. Bunny then passed off her child as her husband Lance’s, but the ruse was exposed when Bunny came home with Olivia from the hospital and the Shapeshifter showed up to claim his child. Lance was killed, but Bobby showed up and killed the Shapeshifter.

Bunny managed to persuade Bobby not to kill Olivia as a baby, but Bobby’s condition was that Bunny keep Olivia locked away. Bunny then told the rest of the family that she’d lost her baby, “devotedly” took care of Olivia, and put in her will that Bobby would also “take care of” Olivia after her death.

Sam is puzzled why Olivia would be angry with Bobby when he spared her, but Olivia rants that killing her would have been kinder than keeping her locked away all her life. The murderous madness we see that is specific to Shapeshifters throughout the series is full-blown in her. I suspect the holes in this story are due to her grossly over-romanticizing everything that happened between her parents.

In the past, for example, we have seen Shapeshifter fathers impregnate human women by deceiving them (rape through deceit) and when they later come for the babies (for an unknown fate), they murder both the mothers and their husbands. However, there is a twist with every successful Shapeshifter episode and in this one, Olivia does actually love her mother and idolize her biological monster dad. So, she has to resolve this conflict by casting Bobby as the real monster in the story. And also, of course, she’s a psychopathic murderer.

Sam tries his patented “Being a monster is a choice” speech with Olivia and it fails miserably. As far as she’s concerned, Bobby made that choice for her at birth. Sam then decides to inch out from his hiding place for reasons that don’t make a whole lot of sense (I guess he thinks he can make her spare him out of a compassion she hasn’t demonstrated so far). Puzzled at first, Olivia realizes he doesn’t have any silver bullets, though regular bullets would still slow her down.

She doesn’t have long to relish this revelation, though, let alone shoot Sam, because someone who does have silver bullets shoots her from the doorway behind her and she drops dead (we get a really nice shocked reaction shot from the actress, which is probably one reason this gets sampled a lot in fan music videos and later episode recaps). It’s Dean, having gone out to the Impala for those silver bullets and a gun. He empties the clip into her prone, offscreen back as he enters the room, just to be sure (eight shots in all). His eyes look black in the dim light, his face cold, and Sam starts at each shot. It’s difficult to say who scares Sam more – Dean or the now-dead Shapeshifter.

Dean Winchester. In the kitchen. With a gun full of silver bullets.

So much for turning her back on the “cute, dumb one.” See how that turned out.

Later that night, all the survivors are milling about outside, the Brothers standing a bit apart. Dash comes over to apologize and tell them the police are on their way. The Brothers predictably take that as their cue to bail. He also tells them that aside from the key to the attic (which Dean promptly hands over, since the Brothers don’t need it, anymore), Bunny left everything to Olivia, so I guess the estate is now going to be in the courts for the next several years. With luck, the lawyers will end up with everything.

Sam tells Dash no hard feelings, but Dash wants to make it up to them by showing the world what “heroes” they’ve been. Dean’s like, yeah, no, and tells him to “forget we were ever here.” He then, with a pat on the shoulder, calls Dash “Izod” and basically threatens him if he ever tries to contact them again. No hard feelings, indeed.

The Brothers stroll off to the Impala, leaving a stunned Dash in their wake. As they drive off to suspenseful soundtrack music, Dash finally turns and goes back inside the house.

In the car, Sam wants to have a conversation about Dean’s overkill of Olivia, because of course he does. Basically, he thinks Dean emptying his clip into the Shapeshifter was too much, “demon residue,” some sign of the Mark affecting Dean.

Dean gets irritated with him and to be honest, I see Dean’s point. Sam was in imminent peril when Dean shot Olivia and one shot, in the dark, may not have been enough. Sure, Dean may be affected by the Mark, or he may be, as he puts it, “anxious” because it’s the first time he’s killed a monster since his “recovery,” but this is their job and Dean didn’t put Sam at any risk doing it this time round. As Dean says in exasperation, “Why am I even explaining this to you?” He then turns on the radio and we finally get some Classic Rock: Bob Seger’s “Travelin’ Man.”

Seger sings, rather pointedly, “Sometimes, at night, I see their faces./I feel the traces they’ve left on my soul./These are the memories that make me a wealthy soul,” as the camera pulls back from the interior of the car to an outside shot of Sam looking pensive inside the Impala, in the rain. It almost looks like an animation.

In the credits, there’s a dedication: “In memory of James A. MacCarthy, 06/29/21-08/25/14.” He was the father of one of the ADs for the show, Kevin MacCarthy.

Ratings for this episode went up a bit in demo to a 1.0/3 in the A18-49 demo and up quite a lot to a 2.54 million in audience, from previous episode “Fan Fiction,” off an episode of The Flash.

Review: “Ask Jeeves” is a fun episode that shouldn’t work (and is largely and undeservedly forgotten), but is one of the better MOTWs of the later seasons. It’s quite solidly written, aside from a few holes (such as when, exactly, Olivia killed Philip. Was it her both times after the Brothers came back? If so, how was she able to kill him while still locked in the attic?). It’s a bloody good time, with a reasonably high body count.

It is, in fact, an episode-long advertisement for a tie-in game that came out immediately afterward. Supernatural: Clue (which I have upstairs) is a pretty entertaining variation on the traditional Clue game, using characters from the show (though I’m not wild about Charlie being in there, let alone as the token semi-regular female character) to explore the entire United States (instead of a single country house) and find out which character has been possessed by a demon. They also put out a Supernatural-themed Ouija board, which seems like a really bad idea (some Amazon reviewers agreed).

Now, this might remind you all of a certain recent famous film, Knives Out (2019). However, even though writer/director Rian Johnson claims to have come up with the basic concept for that film in 2005, he didn’t write the script until 2017 and “Ask Jeeves” first aired on November 18, 2014. Also, this episode, obviously, takes its main plot engine from being based on Clue, a board game created in 1943 and already brought to the screen (pretty memorably) with the likes of Tim Curry and Madeline Kahn in 1985. So, that part can hardly be said to have been ripped off from Johnson’s idea.

As for the twist involving Olivia the murderous maid (which sounds an awful lot like one of the twists in Knives Out), it doesn’t sound as though Johnson had that idea, or at least told anybody, before he wrote his script. For all we know, he got it from the episode and rewrote it to suit his own script. Overall, though, I think we can mainly chalk this up to parallel development. Ideas, including general plots, are not copyrightable.

The Clue game was invented in Britain by Anthony Pratt during WWII. He sold it after the War to a British game company called Waddington’s (Parker Bros in the U.S.), now owned by Hasbro. In Britain, it was called Cluedo.

It was inspired by murder mystery party games that had been conducted on country estates before the War. Guests would prowl around the estate rooms, pretending to fall down dead and play victim. Nostalgic for this light-heartedly macabre pastime, Pratt recreated it in a board game.

Most of you will probably be familiar with the format: Mr. Boddy has invited a group of six people (all with secrets) to an isolated country estate, but he’s murdered before he can explain why they’re there. The players then draw cards and play the game to find out who killed Mr. Boddy in which room with which (of six) weapon (helpfully provided as part of the game pieces). Colonel Mustard in the Library with the Pistol. Miss Scarlett in the Kitchen with the Knife. That sort of thing.

The film, set in 1954 and put out in 1986, gave a Cold War spin to the classic game. All of the guests come from Washington, DC. All of them are being blackmailed by someone. It appears to be Mr. Boddy until he’s murdered and the blackmail continues. Three different endings have different murderers and theaters got different ones at the time. Nowadays, the endings are tacked onto the main part of the film in increasing levels of complexity, with the most complex one aired last and called the “true” one. This is the one with a classic blooper from Madeline Kahn that was included in the final cut of the film.

Though not a hit at the time, the film has since become a cult classic with many quotable lines.

In addition to a musical, the game has been updated several times (about once each decade), replacing outdated weapons and even a character (Kahn’s character Mrs. White) in 2016. But what brings us here is that the company has also done media tie-in versions: Star Wars, The Big Bang Theory, Alfred Hitchcock, etc. And, of course, a Supernatural one. This episode was a licensed and intentional tie-in for the Clue franchise, just like the later Scooby-Doo episode, so it’s a rare crossover episode between fictional franchises and across media.

I guess it’s because this was a tie-in (therefore a gimmick) that we never saw any of the surviving guest characters again. That’s a shame. They were well-cast. Heddy and Beverley, in particular, were hysterical (Jensen Ackles later commented on this) and there’s a really funny blooper from this episode in which the actress playing Heddy (Gillian Vigman) accidentally overplays the word “murder” as “murrrderrr,” cracking everyone up. Dash had some promise as a wannabe Hunter, too, though I guess he took Dean’s threat seriously in the end and never dared call the Brothers up again.

Unfortunately, that does lower the stakes a bit, especially since, while they do build on the character conflict from season six’s “Two and a Half Men” (when Dean and Sambot find themselves caring for an orphaned Shapeshifter baby after its human mother is murdered), they never directly reference it. Except for the coda, this episode could have been removed from the lineup with no effect on the mytharc, just like the previous episode. That probably explains why it’s been forgotten like other well-done, one-shot episodes like season two’s “Road Kill.” Even so, I wish this one had been the 200th episode and not that stupid “Fan Fiction.”

The episode writing plays with the concept of class and flips the script on it more than once. For example, with the exception of Bunny, everyone in the family has been poor for the past five years (they lost their money in the economic crash of 2009 and don’t look as though they handle money well, anyway). The maid turns out to be the only one who inherited anything, so she didn’t need to kill anyone. Now, with her dead, who even knows what will happen to the estate? It’ll probably all get sold off to pay the lawyers (Talk about “blood-sucking leeches”).

The family, conversely, looks down on Sam and Dean, who may well be a lot richer than Bunny at this point in the series, let alone her family of well-dressed grifters. After inheriting John’s storage locker, the Campbell Quonset Hut, the dragon hoard, Bobby’s junkyard, and now the Men of Letters bunker, the Brothers not only have a lot of cursed and powerful objects they can’t sell off, but actual liquid wealth they can use to make their daily lives better and to help others. No more credit card fraud for them. They may drive an American car (albeit a classic muscle car in fabulous condition) and still feel most comfortable in flannel, but they are now the ones who are wealthy, albeit they grew up in extreme poverty.

The family is so parochial and blinkered (and desperate) that none of them realizes this. And that’s not even getting to the part where being a wealthy human is pretty far down the SPNverse food chain (as the story of Olivia’s parentage illustrates).

The way the show deals with Shapeshifters is faithful to the show’s lore, while adding in a tragic twist. In this case, the twist in Olivia’s psyche is that she is ferociously, psychotically devoted to the mother who locked her away in the attic (to save her life, she insists), to the point where she will kill anyone who dares to desecrate Bunny’s name, including other members of the family, even immediate members (like Lance, who is Bunny’s brother). Of course, as is the case with SPN MOTWs and is frequently the case with real-life serial killers, murder becomes easier and easier for Olivia, with her motives becoming increasingly casual. Her excuse for trying to kill Sam near the end is at least based as much on self-preservation as her twisted revenge-by-proxy stated reason, but her motives for killing the butler and even the detective are pretty thin.

Olivia’s view of her bio daddy, like her mother, is probably extremely rosy and idealized. She wouldn’t remember Shapeshifter Daddy, after all, let alone her human stepfather. We know from “Two and a Half Men” that the Alpha Shapeshifter’s MO was to impregnate women, then either come back or send a ‘shifter progeny back to murder the mother (the husband or boyfriend, too, if he got in the way) and retrieve the baby not long after the mother had given birth.

Though obviously, the Shapeshifter in question wasn’t the Alpha (since it ended up dead at Bobby’s hands decades ago), I see no reason why it would have romantic feelings for Bunny while using the same MO. So, Bobby probably saved Bunny’s life that night. Since even entertaining that thought would be too horrific an emotional paradox for her, there’s no evidence Olivia even tries to grapple with it. As far as she’s concerned, Bunny and the Shapeshifter pretending to be her husband (and who killed her real husband) were just star-crossed lovers and Bobby was the true Villain of the piece. Yeah, okay, Olivia.

There are REALLY OBVIOUS parallels between Olivia and Dean in the script. The idea in the climax, based on Sam’s reaction, is that Dean is crazy-murderous about family, like Olivia, and needs to be locked in the attic/Bunker as much as possible to keep the rest of the world safe. This dramatic tension is undercut quite a bit, unfortunately, by the game-within-an-episode format, where Dean comes off as no more than mildly eccentric in a redneck sort of way until the moment he kills Olivia (The goofy Clue plot-spell-metaphor is broken as soon as he escapes the house and gets back to the Impala’s magic trunk).

On the other hand, Sam’s overreaction is rather par for the course for the rest of this season, in which Sam is so damned and determined to make a crisis out of Dean’s demonic mental health issues that he is far more destructive, and hurts a lot more people, than Dean does.

Whenever I see these two, I am firmly reminded of the truism in family counseling that the black sheep (Dean) who shows overt symptoms and gets help is often the least crazy one of the family because that person at least recognizes they have a problem, and are seeking help and change. The members of the family (Sam) who are so buried in dysfunction that they think they are just fine are so far gone, so invested in the bonkers family dynamic, that they are very unlikely ever to get out of it. They may be more overtly functional and may fit better into mainstream society, because they can hide the crazy, but because of this, it festers and they never get better.

Thus, we have Sam convinced he’s the sane, socially literate, functional brother, so he never gets any help or tries to change, while Dean at least recognizes that there’s a problem by the fact that he’s in a whole lot of pain, and struggles to find help and get better. More on this in a bit.

The gender dynamics in this one are pretty interesting. Lots of toxic masculinity and misogyny within the family (which is its own special brand of highly dysfunctional). Despite the devotion and loyalty of his two surviving cousins, Lance has many nasty things to say about his dead sister Bunny, to the point where even his secretly adulterous young wife calls him out on it. Dash mirrors this in his toxic and ageist interactions with his great-aunts Heddy and Beverley. This comes up quite a lot, since there is actual gender parity in the characters, giving us enough female characters to have different character types who even pass the Bechdel Test (Heddy and Beverley constantly discussing Amber, or talking about Bunny, for example).

More interesting is how the Brothers connect to this. To be perfectly honest, I don’t see the problem with Heddy and Beverley. Sure, they’re trying to nab a new husband for one of them, but at least they’re not openly trying to welch off their dead cousin. It’s not as though they have any other skills than marrying well and being an ageing trophy wife.

The ageism with which their male family members treat them is gross. Lance and Dash act as though the fact that Heddy and Beverley grew older (just as Lance did), but still wanted love and affection, is some kind of crime. No wonder Heddy and Beverley aren’t impressed by his getting a wife young enough to be his daughter.

Dean reacts positively to at least Heddy’s come-ons and even his rejection of Beverley doesn’t happen until he is all business and trying to hunt down a murderous Shapeshifter. For all he knows, that’s Beverley. But we don’t see Dean act with the misogyny or ageism that we see in Lance and Dash. He doesn’t blame them for not being young. Hell, he treats Olivia with respect and consideration until the very end, when she’s a monster threatening Sam. And he doesn’t rat out Amber, either.

Sam … is a whole other story. It’s one thing not to be into Heddy and Beverley, and even to be a bit skeeved out by their overly aggressive overtures. But Sam acts terrified of both of them, specifically because they are older. This is a fairly obvious call-back to season three’s “Red Sky at Morning,” when Sam had to field the advances of an older rich woman in order to get information on the case.

The thing is that Sam is supposed to be the “woke,” liberal brother who is more enlightened than Dean in gender relations. And maybe he was – in 2005 when Season One aired. But from Kripke onward, the writers have constantly challenged Dean’s worldview and attitudes, while tossing Sam softball situations, when they bothered to have Sam encounter them at all. As such, we have a lot of information about Dean’s views on a whole lot of things and have seen him grow considerably over the years. Sam? Not so much.

The show doesn’t make this problem obvious very often, but Sam does not come off well in “Ask Jeeves.” There simply is no reason for him to be panicked over the come-ons from these two women, especially since they hardly do anything to him when he does show them attention to get information out of them. They’re basically playing Patty Cake with him when Dean comes in.

Dean, who fields sexual harassment and even assault several times per season, is unsurprisingly unimpressed by Sam’s hysteria (Contrast this scene with Dean fielding the overtures of an older woman with considerably more grace in Season 11’s “Into the Mystic”). Which leads us to things we’ve learned about the behind-the-scenes circumstances in the latter seasons of the show.

I know it’s taken me quite a while to get through this one. Partly, that was due to external events being very distracting (taking Physics this past semester and my jobs coming off furlough). Partly, it was due to how the show ended and what has come out since then about the writing decisions that led up to it. I wrote quite a long series ending review, so I won’t revisit it too much in detail. But I will discuss Jared Padalecki’s new show, Walker, for a little bit, since the writing and acting on that one references Supernatural pretty heavily in some revealing ways.

Walker is … well, it’s not good. I was disappointed that Anna Fricke (who’s married to Jeremy Carver and co-showran the U.S. Being Human remake) is so awful in creating this, though Jared Padalecki has to take some of the blame. He’s an executive producer and this show was pretty obviously designed to order based on his checklist of desired things.

The show wants to be a “woke” version of 1990s macho hit Walker: Texas Ranger, yet somehow it manages to be less woke than that show. Walker, for example, is no longer part-Native American and no longer explores that heritage. He’s basically the son of a rich white rancher and comes from a very privileged, albeit rural, background.

In interviews, Padalecki has claimed that he got the idea from reading an interview of a Border Patrol agent. Why this led Padalecki directly to doing a remake of an older show is less clear, but it appears to have been his idea. You could say this is a vanity project. Either way, it’s his baby and the network seems anxious to go along with it to keep him with them.

He has claimed that he originally was going to retire from acting and only executive produce the show, with the idea that Jensen Ackles would play the lead. It’s unclear whether Ackles turned the role down or Padalecki just decided he wanted to play the lead. So, the fact that Cordell Walker is basically a non-supernaturally flavored version of Sam Winchester should probably not be a shock.

Rather more irritating is that Walker has a friend/foster brother/cousin-or-something who is clearly the Dean character in the story and is introduced – I wish I were kidding – as a male stripper in a cowboy outfit at a club. Really, I wish I were kidding. He’s also a petty criminal, because of course he is. That Padalecki said in one of his interviews promoting the show that he thought Dean’s story was All About Sam and spelled out that Dean died so Sam could have a normal life, should not be a surprise when you watch this show. Padalecki also riled up fans by saying that Dean would not have wanted Sam to end up with Eileen. Hmm.

The show is rife with half-baked cliches, though the pacing is by far the biggest problem. Sam – sorry, Cordell’s wife is fridged in the pilot’s teaser and he goes on a year-long undercover assignment. This storyline worked well in the late, lamented Longmire, in scenes like this brilliant episode ender:

But Walker ain’t that kind of show. In fact, it feels like a hodge-podge of CW soap opera elements (such as the brother’s husband who is Asian American and quickly disappears for dumb plot reasons, almost identical to a storyline in the CW’s reboot of Charmed) and better shows. Like season three of The Rookie, which does this whole law-enforcement-post-#MeToo-and-Black-Lives-Matter storyline so much better. Or Nashville, which had some equally annoying kids.

The procedural elements are rushed and shallow, all of them in service to the family melodrama – and Cordell Walker has a very annoying family. Notably, his two teenage kids, especially his daughter, are dumber than a box of hair and act far too naive to be the children of a law enforcement officer, especially one who just came off an undercover assignment.

Daughter Stella makes the protagonist of Lifetime movie classic Mother, May I Sleep with Danger? (1996) look smart. She actually gets involved with the son of one of the people her father got sent to prison as part of his undercover assignment. No vetting by Dad of the people these kids date? Really?

Never mind that when Cordell has to go back undercover (because apparently, they had him go undercover near to home, which sounds insanely unsafe), his son’s girlfriend gets the kid all salty about Daddy’s frequent disappearances and the son nearly blows up the entire assignment.

Doesn’t help that Stella in the pilot gets herself and a Hispanic friend arrested for stupid reasons, completely upending the friend’s life. Seems the friend’s parents were in the U.S. illegally and the friend’s arrest puts them at risk of deportation. While Stella feels bad, rather than sitting down and doing a little introspection about her entitlement and using her massive ethnic and class privilege more responsibly, she keeps putting her oar in while throwing the biggest Poor Little Rich Girl tantrums with her father and making things worse for her friend. The writers apparently figured out eventually that this storyline was not doing Stella any favors, so they dropped it a few episodes ago.

Everything revolves around the family drama and everything in the family ultimately revolves around Walker. Very Sam-like. Procedural elements like the death of Walker’s wife or Walker’s undercover assignment are rushed and perfunctory, the better to make their even-more-pallid sequels All About The Family Drama, which is awful.

The undercover storyline is rapidly dispensed with in a single episode about six eps in, after which it morphs into a horrifically dire star-crossed lovers storyline for Stella (Stella is a black hole for storylines on this show. They all end up shifting to her and once they do, you might as well give up on them). Mrs. Walker’s murderer is introduced out of the blue about half a season in and then killed off in the same episode. Any other candidates beforehand turn out to be red herrings.

There’s also the fact that Cordell Walker is a particularly annoying stereotype of a male Hero that was popular back in the 80s. Remember shows like The Rockford Files and Magnum P.I. (written by the same people)? Admittedly, Rockford is more of a cynical cuss than a big baby, but Magnum is a damaged man child. To make these characters more sympathetic, rather than actually write them that way, the writers surrounded them with side characters (often women or PoCs, or both) who either tried to kill the protagonist or were obnoxious to him in some way. At the same time, they all revolved around him.

The same thing happens in Walker. Not only are all of these characters there specifically to help Cordell along on his journey, but the seriousness with which we are supposed to take his faults is usually undercut by how poorly they treat him. So, he gets let off the hook, constantly, for being an insensitive, self-absorbed idiot.

Getting back to the connection to Supernatural, I was always willing to buy the claims both Padalecki and Ackles made during the show’s run that they had little actual influence over how the writers chose to write their characters and storylines. There seemed to be quite a lot of evidence for this with Ackles, who grumped frequently over the years about having to do scenes and lines for Dean that he didn’t agree with. And, however inadvertently, the writers and showrunners frequently backed him up by bragging about all the challenges they handed off to him (like having him learn how to tap dance in less than a day) simply because they knew he’d do them and probably do them well.

Padalecki always seemed to be more willing to roll with whatever the writers came up with for Sam. While certainly, Sam got the nice storylines and often got Dean-tested successful storylines, too, that could be attributed to the fact that showrunners and some of the writers, from Kripke onward, were very pro-Sam.

But then we got to the exit interviews for the show. Ackles has talked about being unhappy with the show ending the showrunners pitched to him and Padalecki. Padalecki, on the other hand, has claimed to like it just fine. In fact, he actually referred to Dean’s entire storyline, his “success story,” as how he died being All About Sam. This makes it sound as though Padalecki genuinely agrees with show creator Eric Kripke that the only reason for Dean’s existence, both in-verse and as part of the story, was propping up Sam. For those of you wondering what character type that makes Dean, it’s the Sidekick. Yes, for 15 years, we’ve apparently been watching a Sidekick, thinking he was a Co-Hero in his own right. Silly us.

And now, seeing his interviews since then for Walker, which include tidbits about Supernatural, and how Walker is written to showcase his lead character in very similar ways to Sam on Supernatural, I’m coming to the sad conclusion that nope, Padalecki did not just roll with the storylines. Rather, whenever Sam got handed Dean’s storylines, whenever Dean (and Ackles) got shafted in favor of giving Sam the spotlight (however clumsy and illogical it looked), Padalecki was just fine with that.

In fact, it’s very possible that Padalecki may even have insisted on it some of those times. And it makes me sad that after 15 seasons, he could be like that to his main co-star. Ackles deserved better. Misha Collins did, too. Hell, we all did.

Next week: Girls, Girls, Girls: The Brothers encounter an old enemy and make a new enemy on a case involving witches and prostitution.

The Kripke Years

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4

Season 5

The Gamble Years

Season 6 (with Kripke)

Season 7

The Carver Years

Season 8

Season 9

Season 10

Season 11

The Dabb Years

Season 12

Season 13

Season 14

Season 15

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Retro Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.05: Fan Fiction (The 200th Episode)

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Contribute monthly via Patreon (which includes perks), make a one-time donation through Paypal, or buy us a coffee. You can still find my reviews here of North Carolina ghost story books, and notes about my folklore research on Patreon.

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.

Scroll down to find links to all of my recaps and reviews of all seasons up to this point.

[spoilers ahoy for several seasons]

Tagline: It’s the 200th episode and we’ve got the Brothers on a very light-weight case involving privileged schoolgirls doing a musical based on the Carver Edlund books based on the Winchesters’ lives. Hunting meets First World problems. Yay.

Recap: Recap that consists of someone typing out the title page to the show’s pilot on a computer.

Cut to Now, over a black curtain that opens up. It’s a living room scene with a very bad young actress reading a book. A “ghost” prop drops to the floor in front of her and lifts up. She screams.

The door busts open and two college-age women dressed as Sam and Dean aim pop guns at the ghost while “Dean” desultorily knocks off a quip. Somebody yells, “Cut!” and a young girl in a red prep school uniform, with an Asian sidekick in similar get-up (I kid you not) starts yelling at the girl playing Dean. “Dean” replies that she’s just doing it for college credit. A shoving contest ensues, whereupon the adult in the group, who is sitting in the seats, yells at them to break it up.

She tells them she’s fed up with all the girly “drama” and she’s going to the dean of the school tomorrow to shut down the production. After she leaves, the preppy girl, Marie, insists they continue until they’re “suspended.”

Outside, the teacher is bitching on her cell phone to some friend about how “Supernatural” is not theater “truth,” and tippling from a flask, when she gets kidnapped by vines in the bushes. A purple flower is left behind on the pavement.

Cue a title card of lit bulbs and Marie stating it’s not quite right – so we get ten years’ worth of title cards, instead.

Cut to Dean cleaning up the Impala, dressed in a dirty t-shirt and jeans. Damn, does Jensen Ackles have a nice ass (sorry!).

Sam exits their motel room, which is #200 (of course). He, too, is in jeans and a v-neck t-shirt. And it’s a nice, sunny day. And a downright slutty Gordon Lightfoot song, “Sundown,” is playing on the radio. Wardrobe just called and said, “You’re welcome.”

‘Scuse me, I gotta go rewatch that.

Anyhoo, Sam comments that Dean is “up early” (hinting that Dean still isn’t sleeping) and Dean cheerfully says he’s got a case. He tells Sam about Doomed Drunk Teaser Teacher. Sam is skeptical, but Dean says he’s going stir-crazy and needs a hunt. So, off they go.

They arrive at the school theater in broad daylight (there’s a nice flower bed next to the parking lot). They’re both in their FBI suits and Sam is on the phone (Dean driving) to a police officer. As Sam brings Dean up to speed on what happened to DDTT and brags about his brief career in high school theater, Dean sarcastically notes that consisted basically of running tech stuff backstage.

The Brothers walk into the auditorium and encounter instant life dissonance. One girl in makeup as Bobby Singer is practicing the word “idjits.” Another, dressed up as Castiel, is imitating Castiel’s suicidal holy oil molotov throw (“Hey, assbutt!”) at Michael in season five finale “Swan Song.” On stage, the girl playing Dean in the teaser is singing a song called “The Road So Far” about the Winchesters’ horrible life (with a heavy emphasis on how speshul Sam is) to a montage of season one, basically, acted in pantomime by other actors while another girl (the second-to-last Person of Color we’ll see in this episode) plays on the piano. Marie and her assistant are sitting in the front row until Marie calls a cut.

Sam looks bemused, Dean utterly horrified. But it does convince Sam that there’s a case here.

Marie comes rushing up to Sam and Dean, thinking they are “from the Publisher” (whoever that is). Sam introduces the two of them as FBI agents, but Dean almost spikes it (or perhaps successfully distracts the girls from the fakeness of their badges) by getting into an argument with Marie about the play being a musical, insisting that if there were going to be any singing in Supernatural, it would be Classic Rock. Marie’s assistant dryly calls the play “Marie’s interpretation” as Marie glares daggers at Dean, but then Marie semi-mollifies him by pointing out there’s a rendition of show signature “Carry On, Wayward Son” in the second act.

Sam then gets them both mad at him when he doesn’t know that song. He mightily drags things back on track by saying they’re there to investigate the drunken teacher (Miss Chandler)’s disappearance. The Brothers quickly get filled in that she’s been drinking a lot since her divorce the previous year.

Dean belts out, to Sam’s chagrin, “I don’t blame her. I’m gonna need fifty Jello shots and a hose-down to get this stink off me!”

Sam gets the name of the assistant (Maeve) and suggests she give him a backstage tour while Dean deals with Marie. As Marie and Maeve head back down to the stage, Sam comments about how charming the production looks, but trails off when he sees Dean’s look of utter disgust.

It’s a sign of the low stakes in this episode that it never once seems to occur to Sam that it might not be very safe for Dean to be wandering around alone with a kid who is irritating the hell out of him by way of mangling the most painful chapters of his life story. I mean, Dean was a demonic madman just two episodes ago and still has the Mark of Cain at this point. But nope, says Sam, let’s split up and do a tour. What could possibly go wrong?

So, Dean goes backstage with Marie and asks her about the props table (this being Dean played by Jensen Ackles, he naturally starts playing with them, to Marie’s horror). He then spies the two girls playing Sam and Dean, over by the prop Impala. Marie explains that they’re rehearsing the “BM Scene.” Confused, Dean asks if it’s the “Bowel Movement Scene.” Marie says no, it’s the “Boy Melodrama Scene.” You know, when they talk about their feelings.

That’s somehow lots worse, especially when I remember this episode was written by a guy. I’m also reminded that this was one of Thompson’s last episodes for the show and he may have already been on his way out, willingly or unwillingly. This episode has some in jokes that seem mean-spirited at the expense of the cast and crew he was leaving behind, in a way similar to “The French Mistake,” which Ben Edlund wrote when he was halfway out the door.

Dean comments that the two actresses are standing awfully close to each other. When he asks why, and says, You do know that they’re brothers, right?” Marie insinuates that it’s “subtext.” Dean then calls out to the two girls to back it up a step. Yeesh.

In the control booth, Sam is talking to Maeve, who is a little jerk. Sam tries to ask her about “weird noises” around the theater (per folklore, theaters are notoriously haunted) and she just brings up all the FX they can do. When he mentions he did theater tech in high school, she actually cuts him off so she can go answer a call. Woof, Maeve. Rude, much?

Dean, overseen by Marie, is looking around DDTT’s office. He finds a lot of half-empty booze bottles and a weird robot prop. It turns out to be part of the second act, in which Marie (dissatisfied with the way the story went in the books post-“Swan Song”) decided to write her own fan fiction – sorry, “transformative” fiction. Which involved robots. And ninjas. And Dean turning into a girl for a hot minute.

I guess we should be grateful MPREG (the trope of male pregnancy) isn’t involved. I actually wrote an MPREG novella once, but in my defense, it was original science fiction. There’s nothing wrong with MPREG. It’s the way the trope is used in media tie-in fan fiction, with the intent of making grown men act like teenage girls, that is cringey.

I know this is supposed to be a (not so) gentle poke at the show’s fan fiction, but this second act is starting to sound more and more like Act Two of the infamous cursed play The King in Yellow.

Dean then claims to have the inside track on the as-yet-unpublished later books. He basically does a rather heightened rendition of the story up through early season ten. Marie absolutely hates it and makes fun of it as bad fanfic. Dean is (not surprisingly, since it’s his life) pretty offended. Well, can you blame him? The entire school seems bratty and entitled.

Dean then notices that the two girls playing Dean and Castiel are hugging. Seems they are a couple. Of course they are. Marie goes off on a fond little rant about the s-e-x in subtext and how there’s Destiel in Act Two. Apparently, she thinks a thirty-something man who’s seen a ton of bad shit in multiple worlds needs to have gay subtext explained to him by a sheltered teenager in prep school. The straightsplaining in that speech is so nasty that I can’t help channeling Dean’s fourth-wall-breaking look of disgust at the camera.

Outside, Dean meets up with Sam (my, they look nice in those suits) and after some discussion about the weird shipping dialogue, they finally get back to the case. Sadly, there isn’t much of one. There’s no sign of supernatural activity at the theater or in DDTT’s office. Dean speculates she may be face down in a bar or a ditch somewhere. Note that we’re already almost 15 minutes in (sans commercials) and the Brothers aren’t even sure if they’ve got a case, yet. Even though inside, someone is doing a very bad play based on their lives. So, they get in the Impala and they leave.

Later that night, a girl named Maggie is bailing on Marie’s “little dictatorship” and threatens to go to the principal in the morning, but then she gets kidnapped by a monster that looks like a scarecrow, but has vine arms like those that kidnapped DDTT. Marie sees it.

The Brothers, having heard what happened, return to the theater the next day and interview Marie. Marie manages to make poor Maggie’s (how many friggin’ girls with names beginning with M are in this episode?) kidnapping about her own humiliation at not being believed. Charming.

Marie describes the monster as looking like the scarecrow prop in their play. The monster dragged Maggie behind a dumpster and then they both disappeared. Needless to say, neither the cops nor the school authorities believed her. She’s shocked to realize that ghosts might be real and Maeve even thinks she wants to believe.

Sam makes a tactical error by introducing himself and Dean. Sadly, Marie and Maeve are Very Very Stupid and respond with laughter and mockery. This makes no sense to me. If I thought someone were playing a joke like that on me after a traumatic paranormal event I witnessed, I might get angry. But I wouldn’t respond like these twits.

I so want to slap Marie and Maeve. Hard. And we’re not even quite halfway through.

Marie’s hung up on the idea that the Carver Edlund books are “works of fiction.” Maeve’s hung up on the idea that Sam and Dean are too old to be … well, Sam and Dean (the ageism in this episode is pretty darned bad). But Dean is finally able to get these two morons back on track by convincing them that he and Sam are Hunters and can help them. Maeve guesses they’re like The X-Files and Sam’s like, “Yeah, we’ll roll with that.”

So, the first theory (remember that we are halfway through and only now taking the MOTW seriously) is that the monster is a Tulpa, since Marie based her prop on a creepy scarecrow outside town when she was a “kid.” Um … she’s still a kid, so what the hell?

The big problem with Sam’s theory (which he himself admits) is that neither the books nor the play are popular, so where did sufficient belief to create the Tulpa come from? Sam is also hung up on the fact that another flower was dropped at the scene, but he can’t recall what it is.

Meanwhile, Dean has Marie take him to the boiler room, where the scarecrow effigy is. Marie is terrified of it; Dean, not so much. Marie helps Dean burn it.

But when they come back to the library, Sam says it’s not a Tulpa. It’s a goddess. A Greek Muse to be exact – Calliope, the Muse of Epic Poetry. Sam identified her via the flower left behind. It’s a starflower, also known as Borage.

Sam says that Calliope nurtures and protects an author she favors, using manifestations like the scarecrow that kidnapped DDTT and Maggie, until that author has “realized her vision.” Then Calliope eats the author.

Kinda wish Calliope had eaten Thompson before he turned in this script.

So, Marie doesn’t take this well. She freaks out and runs into another room, then hyperventilates into a paper bag. The Brothers and Maeve rush in after her and then Sam abandons Dean to go do research or something, leaving Dean to get Marie to buck up and get the show back on track. The plan is to lure Calliope out and gank her. Because if Marie tries to stop the whole show, more people will just get kidnapped. Or something.

Marie enthusiastically responds to this rousing speech by stating she’ll take her fictional hero – Sam Winchester – as inspiration and play him in the play. Yep. Marie’s a Sam stan, on top of everything else. Oh, and she’s got a version of Dean’s amulet that she calls the Samulet (always hated that name). Dean’s double-take reflects mine.

Marie gives herself a totally self-absorbed pep talk to the mirror that finishes with her saying she’s “gonna Barbara Streisand this bitch.” So much wrong with that. So, so much wrong. She later claims, with no intentional irony, she left Chuck out of the story because an author inserting himself into the story is douchey. Ugh.

The Brothers then change back into their regular flannel and Sam arrives to surreptitiously give Dean a stake of some kind that will kill Calliope.

Dean gives the cast a big backstage speech that actually works. Then they all do a group chant of “Ghostfacers!” that horrifies the Brothers before starting the play. [sigh]

Marie comes out on-stage to give a big, stalling speech of her own to the audience and the Brothers have Maeve bring up the music to shut her up. We get the “Road So Far” montage again as the Brothers roam the backstage, looking for signs of Calliope in the confusing mess of players coming on and offstage in makeup.

Sam then gets grabbed by the scarecrow, right in front of Dean, and disappeared into a wall. Dean runs frantically after him backstage, but isn’t in time to stop it.

Sam wakes up in a cellar with DDTT and Maggie. He still is holding his goddess-killing stick. It’s the school basement. Calliope shows up and TK’s Sam around a bit.

While the girl playing Castiel sings a lonely solo onstage (remember that “The voice tells me I’m almost out of minutes” scene from season 5?), Dean tells Marie to “stick to the plan” and keep going until the goddess shows up.

The goddess, meanwhile, is monologuing to Sam about how Marie’s play is terrible (especially that second act), but there’s something special about this opening night. Perhaps it’s because the real-life inspirations for the story are here (yes, she recognizes Sam as a Winchester). She guesses she’ll “just have to find out” by killing Sam and Dean.

Upstairs, during a montage recreation of Dean’s deal to resurrect Sam in “All Hell Breaks Loose, Part 2” at the end of season two (yes, I know that’s out of sync with Castiel being in the play at all), Marie sings “A Single Man Tear.” That is truly an obnoxious song that sends up toxic masculinity without actually critiquing it. The only good thing about the song is the juxtaposition with Dean, who is so intently looking for the MOTW that he doesn’t notice or care about the song’s lyrics or message, and there ain’t nearly enough of that.

Near the end of the song, Dean spots the scarecrow again and runs across the back of the stage, in full view of the audience, to tackle the scarecrow while Maeve fires off instructions to the crew.

Downstairs and stalling, Sam is getting Calliope to monologue about why she chose this story, in some of the most annoying on-the-nose dialogue ever about the greatness of the show. I mean, I love this show, but that kind of infodump doesn’t belong in the dialogue. Subtext, my ass.

Anyhoo, Dean’s fighting the scarecrow and getting his ass kicked, while downstairs, Maggie and DDTT come up with a pretty decent plan to distract Calliope (by whacking her over the head with a heavy book) and kick the magic stick back to Sam. Sam stabs Calliope in the back, right at the moment Marie gets into the fight upstairs and stabs the scarecrow, shouting “No chickflick moments!” The scarecrow staggers back, arms outstretched, then bursts into blue goo right at the moment its mistress dies in the same manner downstairs. The startled (and goo-covered audience) gives her a standing ovation. Dean tells her and the “Dean” actress to take a bow. The curtain closes on this.

Afterward, Maeve comments to Sam that this is usually when the Brothers exit stage left in haste. Sam agrees. Maeve then says he’d make a pretty decent Dean if he cut his hair. Sam looks exasperated.

Dean, meanwhile, is talking to Marie during the intermission about how they just have different interpretations of the same story. Marie gives him the Samulet prop and calls him “Dean,” making it pretty clear she’s finally figured out who he really is. Dean’s not sure how to deal with that late-hour validation. So, he just comments that he never needed the Samulet as a symbol for his love for his brother (though she does get him to take it), and goes to stand next to Sam in the wings.

As the curtain rises, Sam is startled to find the words taken right out of his mouth by the dialogue on-stage about how staying “cooped up” in a motel room or the Bunker or wherever isn’t such a hot idea and they belong out on the road. Turns out it’s the BM Scene.

The play continues with the cast singing “Carry On, Wayward Son.” One of them, according to Maeve, is playing Adam. That one sure makes the Brothers uncomfortable.

Finally listening to the song and music, Dean and then Sam are emotionally affected by it.

At the very end, in the real Impala, Dean puts the Samulet prop on the rear-view mirror as they drive off into the sunset. Or the sunrise. Take your pick.

In the coda, Maeve comes running down from the balcony to Marie to say the ticket they left for the “Publisher” was picked up. After some momentary confusion over whether Calliope came for her or the Publisher, Marie runs up to meet him. It turns out to be Chuck, whom we haven’t seen since the end of season five.

Review: So. This is the episode for which the show spiked the Demon!Dean storyline.

I never thought I’d see the day when Supernatural had an episode in which only the MOTW died (It wouldn’t really be a Supernatural episode at all if nobody died). And I certainly didn’t expect that episode to be the show’s 200th, not after the high-ish body count for the 100th.

For those wondering why I’m about to body-slam “Fan Fiction” when it’s just supposed to be a flaky lark, there are two reasons. First is that screwball comedy and farce of this episode’s type are difficult precisely because they’re supposed to be light. But if a souffle falls flat, it falls flat, and that’s a fail. Gordon Ramsay isn’t going to take pity on you and call it a nice try. He’s going to call it a hot mess. That was “Fan Fiction.”

Second, the episode itself is intended to be a milestone meta commentary on the show itself and how it’s perceived by the fans. This makes it, by its very nature, analytical. Analysis is designed to be itself analyzed. The funny thing is that the show itself has always been intended as a meta commentary on the horror genre, anyway, like its spiritual predecessor, The X-Files. So, there’s double the reason to take this puppy down to the studs and see how it measures up.

This was a bantam weight entry at best. It wasn’t the worst they’ve ever had (perhaps because there’s heavy competition for that spot), but a classic it also was not. And that’s too bad, though yay for the show making it to 200 episodes in the first place (and this week, it’s the 300th). Very, very few shows have managed it. In fact, only 40 scripted primetime shows out of over 120 thousand shows in U.S. history had reached 10 seasons (2 of them, Supernatural and Bones, were in their 10th season) the year this episode came out. Supernatural is currently one of only 14 scripted primetime shows to make it to 15 seasons. If it makes it to 16 seasons, that number will drop under 10.

That said, this came off like a rather lazy and self-indulgent effort, as well as yet another reason for Robbie Thompson, like Adam Glass, to stay far away from writing young female characters, especially female LGBT characters. ‘Cause he sucks at it and the result seems more like soft-core porn than flying the Rainbow Flag.

Also, the young actresses they got weren’t the greatest, even allowing for the fact that they were playing teenage girls, some of whom were playing (very badly) two grown-ass men.

What was especially disconcerting, in light of its total reversal on the show’s basic premise, is how it wanted us to sympathize with a bunch of privileged young (mostly) white girls who were appropriating the life stories of two white guys – who also happened to be poor, marginalized, underprivileged and – until recently – homeless most of their lives. Two people who also happened to have been brought up in an atmosphere where they lived in violence the way fish live in water. And who had made out of that unfortunate circumstance a heroic profession.

And on top of that, not only did these spoiled little brats think they had a right to critique those lives, they also felt they could rewrite the story any way they chose, which also meant making it as girly as they chose (keeping in mind that this script was written by a grown-ass white man, so the female characters were themselves walking stereotypes of Clueless Female Writers who couldn’t get inside the head of a man enough to write him well. O the irony).

It came very perilously close to the kind of cultural appropriation that makes blackface or running around in an “Indian” headdress with a tomahawk at Halloween offensive. About the one thing that “saved” it (more or less) was that the culture was a fictionalized version of many different bits of world folklore and the two protags having their lives appropriated were white. And male.

Even so, fictional as they are, I found myself feeling sorry for Sam and Dean Winchester. Dean, especially, got set up for a lot of mean-spirited laughs. Ackles dealt with it by just going out full-throttle goofy, while Padalecki went Giles-levels of deadpan. I’m not at all surprised that both of the leads were more than a tad horrified when they first got the script.

I’d say that this wouldn’t have ever flown with two minority protags, but then I’m reminded of how many times this kind of story has used minority protags in exactly that way. Somewhat dopey white characters getting life lessons from Wise Old Ethnic People while appropriating the WOEP’s life stories? Tragic Gay Best Friends for the Rich Girl Who Has Everything? Very common event in Hollywood. Hiyo, Silver.

This wouldn’t be so much of an issue if this viewpoint were simply presented as is, or even satirically, but it’s really not. By the time Dean is head-bopping at the end to a song about his mother being torched on a ceiling, it’s pretty obvious these kids are supposed to be imparting some kind of wisdom to Dean, and to Sam, after appropriating the story of their lives and rewriting it in a really crappy and self-indulgent way. The viewpoint itself is intolerant. Either you’re with the writer’s pseudo-PC beliefs or you’re a bigot.

One of the reasons why Hollywood TV writers doing riffs on their shows’ fan fiction almost always goes horribly wrong is the unexamined misogyny of a bunch of (mostly) sheltered white men whose main experience with writing women is action shows and superhero comics. I remember writing fanfic on Usenet in the 90s for Star Trek, Queen of Swords and Highlander (you can find it all here if you’re curious), and woof, was the “official” attitude horrible toward fans back in the day.

On the surface, it’s improved to where they now actively woo certain fans (while still freezing out others, thus creating fandom gatekeepers for the extra lulz). But the subtext is still one of condescension and mansplaining because you’re still stuck with the writer’s male gaze. Even women who write for television almost always do so according to male producers’ and showrunners’ specifications, and for a male audience.

The thing is that there’s nothing inherently wrong with fan fiction. Hell, a huge amount of historical fiction was nothing more than religious fanfic for a very long time (Biblefic, baby!). Sure, most of it sucks, but that’s true of most published writing, too, and some fan fiction is actually very good.

Writing in a preexisting universe, like any other writing exercise, can help you become a better writer. It can give you some extra space to learn other skills besides original worldbuilding. Plot, for example. Writing a good fan fiction story means learning to research canon and write convincing characters who give readers the same thing they look for in those same characters onscreen. That’s harder than it sounds. It’s about so much more than just filling in the gaps between scenes or episodes, or retelling a story when it turned out a way you didn’t like, or writing shipping porn.

But then you get into the part where so many of the fans writing and reading media tie-in fan fiction have been women (probably because not being the intended audience means you’re less satisfied by what you get from the canonical story), and the nasty attitude of showrunners toward those fans. And this episode, while purporting to be a love letter to those fans, too often crosses the line into mean-spirited mockery. It even commits some of the sins it mocks them for, distorting the Brothers’ characters and story to fit Thompson’s little segue into Meta Land. Apparently, if you are a “real” (read: usually male) scriptwriter on the show, you can write as much shitty fan fiction as you like. But little girls writing it for free? How dare they?

Fanshaming’s not cool, writers, especially when you get the fans in on it and internalizing it and turning on each other. These people keep your story alive and your jobs in play. Show a little respect.

Now I get that the basic structure of the MOTW episode is that the protagonists of the story (Sam and Dean) roll into town and must learn a new lesson every week while killing monsters. So, they’ve got to learn something, as well, from someone re-telling their story, however horribly. But that doesn’t mean that they should be getting lectures from civilians who have no clue what their lives truly are like. It seems to trivialize the risks of hunting monsters, as well as the tragedies.

Many fans have complained about this over the years. Yet, the show continues to do it as if the writers haven’t heard anything to that effect. I suspect that has a lot to do with network pressures to introduce characters who bring in a younger audience. Why do I think this? Why, because the show has done this before and so has the network.

In season three, the CW insisted on the show introducing two young (and attractive, it almost goes without saying) female characters as recurring guest stars. The show already had one introduced in the form of Ruby, the demon who would eventually lead Sam to start the Apocalypse. Under the gun to bring in another female recurring lead, they took a one-shot, Bela, and turned her into a recurring.

Personally, I liked Bela’s potential, if not the execution, until “Dream a Little Dream of Me,” when she tried to kill the Brothers by stealing the Colt and giving it to Lilith. This was solely to save her own hide. Even that could have been written more sympathetically, but the writers, by their own admission in the companion book for season three, hated having the character imposed on them. So, they did their level best to sabotage the writing for her from the get-go.

Ironically, the character that they really did like, Ruby, who also happened to be a Creator’s Pet, was even worse than Bela because her creator was so obsessed with her. She was so roundly hated that they had to recast her because Eric Kripke refused to write her out until the end of season four.

I was therefore unsurprised to see the network doing this again in season ten, by introducing – or should I say, having the showrunners introduce – a slew of new, young, female characters. After all, it is not the first time they tried this (“Ghostfacers” and, ugh, “Bloodlines”). And it wasn’t the last time, either, though “Wayward Sisters” was a hell of a lot closer to the original show’s concept than this episode. At least “Fan Fiction” wasn’t the (bad) sign of things to come that it looked like when it first came out. So, there’s that.

There is somewhat of a mystery about why they introduced these characters in the 200th episode (we never did see them again). I say this because the episode went to great lengths to introduce all of them (even if Marie was the only one who got any real development). Yet, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of plot gas in terms of recurring characters for someone like Marie. Okay, so she’s doing a play about Supernatural. Great. But then what? It’s not as though she is going to become a Hunter. And there are only so many times a haunting can occur at her school before it gets sillier than season seven of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with the Hellmouth and bad guys constantly coming to her town.

So, perhaps Marie and her little girl gang were not ever intended to be recurring characters, let alone the backdoor pilot material the network so desperately desires. It makes you wonder, though, why they were introduced in the first place. The very last people I’d think would be obsessed with the lives of Sam and Dean Winchester would be a bunch of sheltered prep school girls.

In addition, there are a few problems with the logic of the situation. Let’s all cast our minds back to the fact that the Brothers have been on the run from the law for most of their lives, almost as long as Bo and Luke Duke from The Dukes of Hazzard. In addition, Dean had been a wanted serial killer for nine seasons to that point. Not to mention when both he and Sam were framed as spree killers by Leviathans who looked just like them in season seven. These two have been on America’s Most Wanted list more times then Ted Bundy.

It is therefore a bit of a stretch to expect that a prep school for sheltered young girls would have no objections whatsoever to a bunch of their students doing a musical about these two serial killers. Even worse, they are two serial killers who are heavily into the Occult. It all defies suspension of disbelief just a tad in this post-9/11 world. I mean, would you really expect to see the same bunch of girls allowed to do a play like Springtime for Hitler or a sympathetic musical about the life of Charles Manson? Try so not.

The writing tries to both dodge and handwave this with a rant by the drunken schoolteacher, who is supposed to be the girls’ after-hours chaperone in the teaser, about how they are doing a musical based on a bunch of badly written books. Which is all very nice, except that the Brothers are real, and their reputations as wanted, vicious criminals are also quite real, within the context of the Supernatural universe. So, even if the teacher is mainly focused on the badly written books, she’d have to have been living in a cave not to have noticed that Sam and Dean, on whom the books are based, are very bad men, as far as she knows.

One could argue that because Chuck never uses Sam and Dean’s last names, it doesn’t matter and nobody is going to put two and two together to realize they are one and the same. However, in America’s litigious society, which is also very paranoid, the teachers would probably object amply because the Sam and Dean of the books could be confused with the “real life” Sam and Dean on the Most Wanted list.

Speaking of the teacher, we are apparently supposed to believe that she can just walk off and leave a bunch of teenage girls all alone in a theater in the evening with no chaperone. Never mind that she’s kidnapped while she’s leaving them alone; she should not have left them alone in the building in the first place. This, once again, shows that the writers of Supernatural, including Robbie Thompson, don’t always know what they’re talking about when it comes to some basic real-life situations. Certainly, it gives the impression that neither Thompson, nor anyone who vetted this script, has ever been a teacher.

I have to say that Marie is a truly irritating character. I could handwave a lot if she were more fun. Instead, she is an uptight little rich bitch who spends a great deal of time yelling at everyone else. To make matters worse, we are apparently supposed to believe that she is on a Hero’s Journey and that we are supposed to root for her. I so don’t want to root for her. I was rooting for the MOTW to eat her.

The episode also really, really tries to be PC, but fails miserably in a couple of places. For a start, what is with the token Asian character of the young woman who is Marie’s assistant? Also, to make matters worse, she just happens to be revealed at the end of the episode as the token Dean Girl.

Also, what is up with all the lesbian characters who are 1. lipstick lesbians, and 2. engaging in relationships with each other as part of a lifestyle? It makes you wonder just how hip Thompson really is to the LGBT community when he takes the number one accusation that is used against them – to whit, that they choose to be gay or lesbian or transsexual or bisexual, rather than that they are born that way and therefore can’t just stop doing it – and makes it sound as though choosing to do it is a great fashion statement and a growing phase.

Thompson honestly seems to think he is striking a great blow for LGBT representation on television by having two teenage girls who happen to be playing men – hot teenage girls, I might add – also be in a relationship with each other, on top of playing two men who are in a relationship with each other. I get that it’s all supposed to be very Victor/Victoria (which is a wonderful and very funny film on my short “I feel like crap; what shall I watch to feel better?” list), but even in Victor/Victoria, the characters who are gay are born that way and can’t help it. In fact, some fairly major plot points in the movie revolve around how incredibly dangerous it was to be gay in certain parts of the world in that time period.

Victor/Victoria makes no bones about showing how terrible and destructive homophobia was in the early 20th century. “Fan Fiction” does not make any effort whatsoever to show the equivalent for the 21st century. Apparently, the episode exists in a world all to its own where young women can choose to be lesbian with no societal consequences whatsoever. Can I live on that planet? Because it is not Planet Earth.

It doesn’t help that all of this is meant to be a goof on Destiel. On top of that, we have Dean being lectured by Marie on how to treat his brother. Never mind that Marie seems to be convinced that Dean and Sam are in an incestuous sexual relationship with each other (can’t leave out those Wincest jokes). So, I am pretty sure that Marie does not know nearly as much as she thinks she knows, not least because she has to be rescued from a pagan goddess who, up to that point, she had no idea even existed.

That said, I sort of liked the return of the Samulet. I didn’t like hearing it referred to incessantly as the Samulet. But I liked that it came back because I really hated the way they wrote it out in season five. I get that it was causing Jensen Ackles a lot of pain, but I wish it had been written out better, even if it did get a somewhat nice coda to its story near the end of season 11.

Before I wrap up this rant, I want to add a couple of things that are more positive. For one, the sets were really nice. I mean, they were really, really nice. This show’s saving grace has often been the crew who work tirelessly to make it look good on a low budget. It is rare that they screw things up. Granted, there are times when the writers write checks the crew’s talents (and budget) cannot cash. But in this case, they really came through.

For one thing, the sets look like the kind of thing you would see in a high school musical. Having played orchestra in the pit for a few high school musicals (bass clarinet, in case you’re interested), I can tell you that the sets often have to be the saving grace. Even cheap ones can look great if you have someone with a little artistic talent behind the scenes. In this case, the crew obviously did and they made it look as though Marie had a theater crew she did not deserve.

Second, while I did not care for most of the songs, I did think the voices, in general, were pretty good. And some of the young performers did quite well. I liked the girl who played Mary, for example, and the girl who played Castiel was also decent.

I didn’t care so much for the actresses who played Sam and Dean. I know they were supposed to be playing young college girls doing summer stock theater, but that doesn’t mean that I particularly liked their performances. And I also did not find them at all convincing playing men (contrast them, for example with the Hillywood sisters, who are much better at it).

It made me wonder, in fact, if the script itself had directed them to play Sam and Dean as stereotypically “girly” as they possibly could. In an episode where all of the guest characters were female, and we were supposed to have some pro-female Gay Pride theme going, it was disappointing to see all of the girls be frilly stereotypes. Once again, that is the kind of thing that can happen when a male writer thinks he knows women better than women know themselves and proceeds to mansplain feminism to them. Gee, that’s not condescending at all.

Finally, the stuff where the Brothers are getting ready for the hunt, and after they leave the hunt, is really quite good. I loved the use of Gordon Lightfoot’s “Sundown” (he’s one of my favorite singer songwriters, going back to my childhood). Baby has never looked better. I’m not sure Sam and Dean have looked better than in that scene, either. I also liked the final shot of their driving off into the sunset. Yes, it looks unreal, even stylized. But I’m pretty sure that’s the intent. I still liked it.

I wish they had done the Monster of the Week better. You would think that they could’ve written her as less underwhelming. I also wish that Dean had gotten the kill. I get, in retrospect, that they were drawing out the suspense of Dean’s first kill after being a demon. That doesn’t mean that tactic was satisfying in “Fan Fiction.” There were some good moments of Dean rushing around backstage during the climax where Jensen Ackles makes frantic work of it. But it doesn’t make the general proceedings any less silly.

Fun lines:

Dean [to Sam]: We got work to do. [slams the lid of the Impala]

Dean [to Marie]: There is no singing in Supernatural! If there were, it would be Classic Rock, not this Andrew Lloyd Webber crap!

The Kripke Years

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4

Season 5

The Gamble Years

Season 6 (with Kripke)

Season 7

The Carver Years

Season 8

Season 9

Season 10

Season 11

The Dabb Years

Season 12

Season 13

Season 14

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Supernatural: Season 10

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Contribute monthly via Patreon (which includes perks), make a one-time donation through Paypal, or buy us a coffee.

In response to requests for updating the links for older reviews, I’ve set up a campaign on Ko-Fi. I am starting the year with some pretty large vet bills and really could use the help, but also, updating the links takes time and a bit of effort. This will be a progressive goal, where I will post links as I get funding (about every $50/5 links).

Currently, links have all been fixed for Season 10.

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. 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.

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.01 (Season Premiere): Black

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.02: Reichenbach

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.03: Soul Survivor

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.04: Paper Moon

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.05: Fan Fiction

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.06: Ask Jeeves

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.07: Girls, Girls, Girls

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.08: Hibbing 911

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.09: The Things We Left Behind

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.10: The Hunter Games

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.11: There’s No Place Like Home

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.12: About a Boy

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.13: Halt & Catch Fire

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.14: The Executioner’s Song

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.15: The Things They Left Behind

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.16: Paint It Black

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.17: Inside Man

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.18: Book of the Damned

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.19: The Werther Project

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.20: Angel Heart

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.21: Dark Dynasty

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.22: The Prisoner

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.23 (Season Finale): Brother’s Keeper

The Kripke Years

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4

Season 5

The Gamble Years

Season 6 (with Kripke)

Season 7

The Carver Years

Season 8

Season 9

Season 10

Season 11

The Dabb Years

Season 12

Season 13

Season 14

Season 15

Like this column? You can help keep it going by contributing monthly via Patreon (which includes perks), making a one-time donation through Paypal, or buying us a coffee.