Apparently, catharsis is a good thing. Taking the show to task last week for its inconsistent season must have knocked something loose in my brain, because I thoroughly enjoyed this episode even though, upon further reflection, it was more than a little bit annoying. Still, Sam and Dean spent almost the entire hour looking rip-roaringly hot in either suits or tuxes. How can you take issue with genius like that?
The best thing about this episode (besides the aforementioned wardrobe coup) was the monster of the week story. After a season filled with snooze-inducing demons, the return of a good old fashioned ghost story was a welcome one, especially since it brought with it the return of the rock salt guns. Oh, how I love it when Dean shoots rock salt from sawed-off shotgun. I was skeptical about the idea of a ghost ship, but the execution was fairly decent and kept me engaged for the whole hour. The actual ghost himself and the way he killed people by literally filling their lungs with water was very creepy, but all I could think of when I saw him was...he's Old Greg! (Which honestly induced more giggles than scares, but whenever I get a chance to link to that clip, everybody wins!)
Also entertaining this week was the lighthearted humor. Dean and Bela (more on her soon) had a decent amount of chemistry and funny banter, and their spy-like mission this week to steal the ghost's hand of glory was entertaining. Bela was a bit of an audience stand-in when she saw Dean come down the stairs in his tux, with her tongue practically hanging on the floor in awe. This ensuing banter was probably the highlight of the season so far for me:
Bela: "You know, when this is over? We should really have some angry sex."
Dean: "Don't objectify me!"
Sweet, sexy Dean. You know you love it. Less entertaining, but still amusing, was Sam's plight of being burdened with an...erm...older lady who wanted to get her a piece of that fine Sammy ass. This story really was a great example of the law of diminishing returns, because the more uncomfortable they made Sam, the less funny it became. I've stated in the past that subtlety is not one of this show's fortes, but really. This one was a bit too much.
Even though this week was heavy on the monster story, there was still time for a few brotherly moments. I've not made it a secret that I am having a hard time with the characterizations of Sam and Dean this year, and their conversations this week did nothing to alleviate my fears. In fact, they only heightened them, especially in the end when Dean simply showed no emotion or empathy at all when confronted by Sam about his feelings towards his imminent death. Dean is being an ass, plain and simple, and it's not becoming for Dean the character or Jensen the actor, and in turn I think the whole show is suffering a bit because of it. One refreshing thing, though, is that the writers aren't having the brothers keep huge secrets from each other like last season. Dean found out about Sam killing the Crossroads Demon right away, much to my relief.
Now that I've talked about the good stuff (and the not-so-good stuff), it's time for the bad. Bela. I take back what I said about Bela in her previous appearance, because Bela sucks. Bad actress, bad character, even worse accent. I know that the British accent is Lauren Cohan's real voice, but it sounds completely false. And completely like Hermione Granger. When she was posing as a reporter this week and speaking in a very pleasant American accent, I honestly couldn't believe they EVER decided to let her speak in her normal voice. Also, although her role as Sam and Dean's antagonist causes some amusing moments (Dean hyperventilating over his missing car, for example) she still manages to feel shoehorned in and ultimately unnecessary.
Despite my reservations about the actress and character, I was still ready to go along with her completely until the reveal that she has some sort of tortured past and killed a loved one. That's when I checked out for good, because giving her depth is a bad idea. With a different actress and a story that better enmeshed her into the fabric of the series, a tragic backstory might be compelling. But as is, it feels like an obvious ploy to manipulate the audience into liking her, and I'm not buying what they are selling. Bela is scheduled to be in as many as 10 more episodes this season, and I'm already dreading her return, especially if we are supposed to feel bad for her or something. Newsflash, Kripke: we don't. Hire a more sympathetic actress next time, though, and you might just have something.
Next week: Gordon is back and out to get Sam! Damn, that is going to be awesome.