“When you choose this life, anyone who gets too close…eventually they get hurt. Or worse. So let him go; It’ll be safer that way.”
To paraphrase a saying, sometimes the truth can be scarier than fiction.
For the first thirty minutes or so, this week’s Supernatural took that left off of Albuquerque and delivered a horror tale you could open the paper and see any day of the week. A young girl taking a trip through the back roads of Oshkosh runs into some very uncomfortable characters only to have her tire tampered with. She’s left stranded on the road, passed by a female trucker only to be abducted by a weirdo in a mask for some sick dark web showcase.
Okay, so the dark web thing may be a stretch as far as the everyday aspect, but the fact that Wendy Hanscum was taken with no one really in a position to help her was disturbing on a level this show rarely gets to. Not only did the story weave the truth of these type of abductions properly but the helplessness felt by family members and. of course. the victim was a weight that built the gravitas of the situation. It reminded us that, while we may not have vampires, ghouls, and the like in our world, there are just as many monsters that prey on the innocent and, unlike on Supernatural, oftentimes the good guys don’t bust the door down in time to save the day.
So while the first half of “Breakdown” was a very unique and powerful take on a real-life ‘what if’, the second half of the episode fell back into what we’re normally expecting. Now, that’s not to say things went bad in that regard: yes, it was a more predictable Supernatural though not in every way (more on that later) and some of that sense of urgency fell away once we discovered the truth: the whole dark web showcase was nothing more than a body parts bidding site for monsters run by the lead agent in charge of the investigation—Agent Clegg. Clegg’s cover has been his twelve-year manhunt for this serial abductor, this ‘Butterfly’, who has taken dozens of people, none of which have ever been found. When Clegg pulls the one-eighty on Sam and readies him for the auction, he brings up a very interesting—and frightening—point. The Winchesters kill monsters; you may even say they kill a lot of monsters. But how many creatures are out there that hunters never sniff? In that, Clegg is right. There are so many monsters—thousands, tens of thousands—out there that if they banded together en masse, the death toll would be catastrophic. But while his words bring a cold truth to the effectiveness of American hunters’ ways, Clegg loses credibility when he frames himself as the pseudo-hero in the tale. Clegg is nothing more than a monster himself, taking advantage of others for his own personal gain. And like so many Winchester foes, Clegg ends up on the other side of dead.
Knowing that Donna’s niece Wendy is rescued in the end, we don’t have a nice and tidy ending. One of the more interesting aspects is that Doug, Donna’s boyfriend, has no idea the truth of what goes bump in the night. He finds out during the search for Wendy, even getting turned into a vampire (for a few hours). At the end of the day, he knows the truth and, as Dean tells him, another good guy is out there ready to fight the good fight.
But that would be too predictable. Instead, Doug’s reaction is that of 98% of people were they to be confronted with such an awful truth. “Maybe you all can live this life,” he tells the trio, “but I can’t. I just want to go home.”
Before walking away, he tells Donna: “You kill monsters. You’re a damn hero. But that’s not me.”
Driving back to the Bunker, Sam has hard words for his brother. He’s no longer the optimist, instead of a realist, albeit focusing on one aspect of their lives: the death and blood. “This ends one way for us, Dean,” he says toward the end. “It ends bloody.
“It ends bad.”
As much as we love our Winchesters and want to see them ride off into the sunset, words have never been truer.
The Good, the Bad, the Supernatural
- There were some golden moments in “Breakdown”, particularly that first half where the only monster we saw was a human preying on the unsuspecting Wendy (among other victims). As much as we are connected in this world with technology, there is a world behind that world, if you will, of backroads and dead spots where phones and GPS will fail you. No matter how big we try to make our world, there will always be those cracks in it. Cracks into which even the most diligent can fall.
- Though Clegg was a monster, his words about just how many creatures are hiding in plain sight is a scary proposition. I couldn’t help but think back to last season and the British Men of Letters. Despite their questionable methods, that organization was able to free the UK from monsters. I always thought their purpose was a noble one but they were so narcissistic and set on Americans being so below them as to be cannon fodder. Does that discount their purpose? That’s a tough one but, knowing what Clegg said is true, it puts a different light on that entire storyline.
- I’ll leave things with Sam. It’s no surprise he’s gotten to this point. Hell, the things these two have gone through (including trips to Hell) would break anyone. And Sam’s not wrong either. He knows they aren’t always successful or that the happy ending with Mary and Cas is nothing more than a fantasy. It’s said that you live by the sword, you die by the sword and as much as we are in their corner, blood and death has been a part of the majority of their lives. A life like that, there are no happy endings. There’s only one ending and while you may keep it at bay, sooner or later, it’s going to come for them and there’s not a damn thing they can do about it.