Monday, October 29, 2007

"Humans ain't our job.": Supernatural

On Friday morning I sat down to write my review of "Sin City," fingers poised to absolutely rip the episode to shreds. As I typed out the first scathing paragraph, though, I realized I just couldn't do it. I couldn't give a show I love such a bad review without a second viewing. Upon re-watching I found a few things to prevent this episode from going on my list of least favorite episodes of all time (along with "Bugs," "Houses of the Holy" and "Route 666"), but overall I was right the first time around -- this was one stinker of an hour.

The main focus of the episode was Sam and Dean's investigation of a town in Ohio where everyone is succumbing to their basest instincts: drinking, gambling, sex and the like. Unfortunately, they do most of this investigating separately which automatically makes for a weaker episode. The boys are best when they are together, as their relationship and the acting chemistry between Ackles and Padalecki is what makes this show really sing.

When arriving they run into a ridiculous hunter from Jersey (via central casting) named Richie, who is a total moron and immediately gets himself killed by the demon encouraging all of the town debauchery, who is conveniently wrapped in the package of a hottie bartender. Dean figures out what happened to Richie and tricks Casey the bartender into stepping right into a devil's trap. Unfortunately for Dean, and the audience, Casey is quite powerful and uses her demon mojo to cause the basement they are in to collapse, trapping Dean and ripping his Latin book away, preventing him from exorcising her to hell.

I say this is unfortunate for the audience because all Dean and Casey do for the next half hour is talk, and good gravy is it BORING. Through this conversation we learn that demons have a "God" that they call Lucifer, but he isn't necessarily the devil; Yellow Eyed Demon has a name, Azazel; and Azazel had a plan to have Sam lead all of the demons once they were released from hell but now that Azazel is dead there is chaos, which is worse than what the army would have done. Dean forms a bit of a bond with Casey the demon and she with him, and in the end when her demon partner (the town priest, natch) shows up and tries to kill him, she pleads for mercy. She gets no mercy when Sam shows up to save the day, and despite Dean's protests coldly kills both of them with the revived Colt.

Besides the fact that this demon conversation was so deadly boring, there were other problems with this story. First of all, Supernatural does not to these "nature of good and evil" debates very well. They are always overly simplistic and clunky. In this case it was learning that demons have a higher power and they they have faith in something, and that was simply one bit of mythology that I could have done without. One comforting thing about the Supernatural world is that demons are evil, and need to be killed. Plain and simple. It's part of what makes watching this show fun -- there's no debate, just boys kicking some demon ass, and that works. Once they edge into these murky waters of "some demons aren't so bad," it's tough to turn back and a lot of the fun of the premise is lost.

I also hated that Dean didn't want Sam to kill Casey the demon. What did he want to do, nicely send her back to hell so she could climb her way back out again? I know that they are pushing this whole "Sam came back wrong" thing and that part of the problem with him killing Casey is that he killed the human hosting the demon as well, but only four episodes into the season and this story is starting to get old. With this entire season seemingly focused on the demons that made their way out of hell I foresee a lot of stories where they have to kill demons in the future, and I am already over it. There are only so many ways you can kill a demon, and I think they've fully explored them all before so it's going to get repetitive, and quick. It's no coincidence that the best episode of the season so far had nothing to do with the mytharc of the season and revolved around a simple cursed object. Demons, it turns out? Kind of boring.

Finally, Ruby. I'm not sure what to make of Ruby yet. It is very interesting that she helped Bobby make the Colt work again (although why that was done off screen is a complete mystery to me -- I wanted to see how she did it!) but her back and forth with Sam is already a bit tired. I'm ready for him to just go along with her so we can see a little more of what she's really up to. If we spend every episode rehashing that Sam doesn't want to work with her, I'm going to go ahead and start banging my head against a wall right now in preparation. My very underdeveloped theory is that Ruby is using Sam to kill these demons and then use him exactly like Azazel intended, as the unintentional boy king and leader. Perhaps the Colt didn't work that well after all and Ruby is actually Azazel? I doubt that's right, but wouldn't it be interesting?

Overall, this is an episode I won't be watching again any time in the near future. Next week the boys take on classic fairy tales, and I sort of can't wait. Even after a subpar outing, there's nowhere I'd rather spend my Thursday nights than with the Winchesters.

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