We need your help!
In response to requests for updating the links for older reviews, I’ve set up a campaign on Ko-Fi. I ended 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.
You can still find my reviews here of North Carolina ghost story books, and notes about my folklore research on Patreon. Contribute monthly via Patreon (which includes perks), make a one-time donation through Paypal, or buy us a coffee.
If you’re enjoying these articles and reviews, any contributions are welcome. Even in a pandemic, the kitties still gotta eat.
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.
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.
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
The Gamble Years
The Carver Years
The Dabb Years