Every now and then, a show takes an approach to storytelling so unique as to overshadow the plot lines and instead have us focused on the audacity and beauty of the artistic approach. This week’s ‘Supernatural,’ rightfully titled “Baby” gives us a glimpse into the everyday world of our favorite monster hunting duo from the vantage point of the third most important character in the ‘Supernatural’ universe: the ’67 Impala.
Things start out ominous enough, with a cuffed and unconscious Dean in the backseat, blood spattered across the windows and a blood knife on the floorboards. Talk about setting the tone…
Seconds later, we shift to 48 hours earlier where the brothers are at their wits end, searching for anything they can to combat the Darkness but can’t find a thing. Sam eventually runs across a possible monster case in Oregon where a deputy was seemingly mauled by an animal. With nothing else on their plates, the brothers head to Oregon to check things out. On their way, we get to spend quality time with Sam and Dean in a way we’ve never experienced. It’s a wonderful reminder to their brotherly bonds, the laughs and tunes shared between the two we’ve only seen in snippets from the periphery. The two do share a couple of serious moments, the first after Sam has a bit of a tete-a-tete with a diner waitress. “One night wonders, man,” he tells Sam, “we’re lucky we still get that at all.” But is that all to life, Sam wonders; maybe finding someone who’s a part of the life, maybe not someone to settle down with but someone there for the quiet moments. Dean is resigned to those single nights of losing himself with a woman, he’s made peace with the lonliness.
The second conversation comes after a napping Sam has a vision of the younger version of John Winchester. Sam can’t make sense of this entity but falls into a natural conversation. Pseudo John admits that he never wanted this life for his boys but finally reveals (if you can call it that) himself to be an answer to Sam’s prayer. “The Darkness is coming,” he tells Sam, “only you boys can stop it.” But who is he? Is this God talking or something else? When he wakes, Sam relays his visions to Dean and likens it to his brother’s experience with the Darkness. Dean’s not buying the God angle, still bitter at His absence while everything’s gone to crap. Each has their own dreams about their parents; Dean about John and Sam about their mother, but it’s all they are, dreams. Still, the conversation reminds us that, despite the ups and downs faced over the years, Sam still believes in things other than themselves, a stark contrast to Dean over cynicism.
Road time out of the way, the brothers arrive in Oregon to investigate the case. The long and short of it, it was a by-the- numbers adventure. The deputy’s death was supernatural in origin, the culprit a Nachzehrer, a ghoul/vampire hybrid that’s very hard to kill. Thanks to Cas, they discover the need to use a Charon’s obol—significant in its relation to the ancient ritual of placing coins in the mouths of the dead. The alpha Nachzehrer ends up being a Deputy Donelly, the new officer in charge after Deputy Markham’s demise. Kill the alpha and the turned victims will revert back to their humanity. After Donelly admits to building his army to combat the Darkness and some of the most brutal fight scenes in ‘Supernatural’memory, Dean’s able to kill the deputy and save those originally turned.
“Dean,” Sam tells his brother as they meet up in the beaten up Impala, “even the monsters are scared.” The Winchesters drive off into the distance, knowing there’s still a lot of work to be done.
- This has to be one of the most fun, creative, and will done ‘Supernatural’ episodes I have seen in a long time. Everything from the dialogue to the cinematography are top notch. To be able to deliver such a unique experience after more than a decade on the air is a testament to the writers.
- Matt Cohen’s return as the young John Winchester was both fun and integral. It connected the past with the present, the true John Winchester with the ideal John the brothers, in those quiet times, may have wished for. Additionally, this pseudo John acts as a messenger for Sam. His advice is cryptic, as is his identity but his parting words to Sam—“God helps those who help themselves”—was not an accident nor was it a throwaway.
- The Nachzehrer was a new entry into the ‘Supernatural’ monster bible and, though it was an interesting concept, the monster itself, as well as the Oregon plot, took a backseat to the star of the episode: Baby.
This episode was, at its core, wholly ‘Supernatural.’ The dialogue, the music, and the pop culture references were all top notch. Below, are some of the highlights from all three categories:
Dean: “Where’s the beer?”
Sam: “Under the smoothies.”
Dean glances back at the cooler. “Where’s the rest of the beer?”
Sam (after Dean stops by a suspect road house): “Are you serious? Dean, it’s late, I’m exhausted and starving. And this place—not even Swayze would come to this road house.”
Dean: “First of all, never use Swayze’s name in vain. Ever.”
Dean (after coming out of the road house the next morning): “Mistakes were made.”
- There were some amazing tunes throughout this episode, from Bob Seger’s “Night Moves”, “Someday Soon” from Judy Collins, and “The Guitar Man” by Bread. ‘Supernatural’has always been known for its music and this episode was no different. Every song was perfectly placed, setting the tone for each particular scene.
- “Turns out, I did shoot the deputy” was Dean’s response after the first battle with Deputy Donelly. It’s a play on Bob Marley’s “I Shot the Sheriff”.
- “I’m not sure how orange correlates with black that is new.” Cas’s reference to the Netflix phenomena ‘Orange is the New Black’.
- “We got tonight, who needs tomorrow?”—Dean quoting ‘We Got Tonight’ by Bob Seger, one of the many references to the great singer/songwriter in the episode.