After last week’s gift to Supernatural’s harder core fans, I really expected this week’s episode to be a return to some of the larger simmering arc-plots on the series. You would have thought the P. G Wodehouse-inspired title, “Ask Jeeves” would have disabused me of the notion, really. I can sometimes be slow on the uptake. Jeeves is a character created by British comic-author Wodehouse back in 1915, the valet to ne’er-do-anything-well Bertie Wooster, a member of the rich, idle, and essentially foolish English upper class. Bertie, his friends, and family get into ridiculous scrape after scrape, and it’s the sharp, strategic, and endlessly patient and loyal Jeeves who figures out how to right their otherwise trivial world. (If you’ve never seen the Hugh Laurie/Stephen Fry ITV series based on the characters, you are missing some of the best British comedy out there). Wodehouse published his last Jeeves/Bertie story in 1974, a year before he died, making the series one of the longest running in literary history. “Ask Jeeves” pairs elements of Wodehouse’s stories with those pulled from both the game (1949) and the film (1985) Clue and sets us up for a fun and fast-paced whodunit that provokes grins throughout. Dean discovers one of Bobby’s cell phones in the Impala, and on it a message informing Bobby or his family that a Bunny LaCroix has recently died and left him something. Sam and Dean journey to the home of the recently deceased and apparently (at least at first) quite wealthy woman. They soon meet both Bunny’s family–a group every bit as frivolous as Wodehouse’s characters—as well as the eponymous Jeeves, the butler who, while loyal to his former mistress, easily acknowledges the ridiculous menagerie that has since descended on the house to attend the funeral, and more important, hear the reading of the will. “Jeeves,” who Dean at various points refers to as Wadsworth (the name given to Tim Curry’s butler in Clue), Mr. Belvedere, and Alfred, informs them that there’s no need to stick around as he has the item that Bunny left Bobby and hands it over to the brothers: a ruby and diamond cross. The boys, however, soon find out that the gems are fake but that the cross is actually a key, and return to the house only to find that Bunny’s brother has been killed by what his wife claims is the ghost of Bunny’s late husband, Lance. They also find themselves suspects in that murder, as is everyone who set foot in the house that day. The primary difference between them and most of the others, of course, is that Sam and Dean have no motive and we know they are innocent of the crime since we’ve seen the ghost of Lance beheading his brother-in-law in the hallway. Amber, the new widow, was also witness to the grisly murder, but Sam and Dean are the only ones willing to give her story any credence. So while the formerly silly-seeming (and ass-grabbing, in some cases) members of the family squabble among themselves, Sam and Dean go to work tracking down the ghost. It would be a very familiar story, then. While others look about for a “rational” explanation of the terrible events in the episode, the brothers Winchester seek out the more likely supernatural one. But writers Eric Charmelo and Nicole Snyder soon have both the boys and us questioning our expectations that there’s simply a ghost running amok. Amber’s husband isn’t the only corpse in the house, and they begin to pile up rather quickly. Along the way, we get a series of obvious but still enjoyable references to the board game as most of the weapons—knife, revolver, wrench, candlestick—each show up in the hands of one or the other of the brothers as they each roam the house trying to figure out what’s really going on. The secret to making any mystery interesting, of course, is to keep us guessing for as long as possible, and Charmelo and Snyder do an admirable job of this throughout. In fact, they set us up before even the episode even begins. In the “Then” flashback, rather than give us the “story so far,” we are instead treated to a quick montage of various creatures that Sam and Dean have fought in the past—everything from ghosts to tuplas. This has the effect of substantially widening the suspect list for us from the very start. What should be our special secret knowledge of the boys’ lives instead cleverly compromises our ability to tell friend from foe. Then we have our Wodehouse cast of semi-rich (“money-grubbing-leeches,” as Jeeves put it), trivial characters. As in the Jeeves/Bertie universe, the men seem to have no purpose in life while the women spend all their time attempting to procure either husbands or, in this very contemporary version, young lovers (primarily in the form of Sam who spends a good deal of the episode fending off the cougars, much to Dean’s amusement). But clearly, none of them are of a moral fiber that would allow you to dismiss them as suspects, even though their threats come off as something from another era: Dash, holding off Sam and Dean with a revolver informs them he won’t miss because he “hunts pheasant.” And even when it is finally revealed what kind of supernatural nasty the boys and the LaCroixs are dealing with, the writers succeed not in clearing up the mystery, but making it that much more difficult: there’s a shapeshifter on the loose, which means the murderer not only could be anyone in the house, but could be (and has been) several of them. Much of the rest of the episode is spent, ala Clue, moving from room to room, including a secret attic, in search of the monster. When the true culprit is unveiled, and the murderer’s rationale is explained, it makes perfect sense and we are left wondering if the shapeshifter’s actions don’t just make him/her the most honest member of this terrible family. I guess tragedy happens even among the ridiculous. In fact, the only real complaint I have about the episode is the framing of it. We start with the discovery of the message left for Bobby. The loss of their “surrogate father” from the show was a big blow, so we can hardly be faulted as an audience if we instantly perk up at the mention of his name, hoping that we might learn something really interesting or important about him (possibly even be treated to a flashback return of actor Jim Beaver in the role). Instead, we learn nothing new about Bobby (just getting an affirmation that the gruff old man had a sweet side) and nothing about our larger Supernatural story. It’s hard not to feel disappointed. And the tiny bit that we do get on that over-arching story actually comes at the end of the episode when Sam questions Dean about his shooting of the shapeshifter—putting far too many bullets into the already dead corpse. While both Sam and we are concerned about this, and about Dean’s possibly demonic status, the conversation comes off as artificial and, in this otherwise well-crafted episode, clunky. Better to have let us see what Dean did and spend this next week in suspense about what it portends than force the issue into an episode where it simply doesn’t fit. Still, those issues aside, this episode was fun and kept us guessing. It might not have been the return to the larger issues we might have been expecting, but coupled with last week’s even more successful “Fan Fiction,” it was absolute affirmation that the series’ longevity is, unlike many of its storylines, not a freak occurrence. Supernatural continues to deliver. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.