The last few weeks on Supernatural have run the gamut from boring to squick, slowly improving as we move through the season. Which I find particularly disappointing in relation to “Baby.” Like a lot of people (I suspect), I have a complicated relationship to American muscle cars. Yes, they are gas-guzzlers, loud, and often driven by obnoxious individuals we’d rather avoid. But for PWT like me (and many of my friends), those were the cars that fathers bought cheap to fix up with their sons or daughters, and so it was in those cars that we had our first mobility and sense of freedom. So an episode based around Dean’s Impala seemed promising, especially since Dean is, in many ways, an only slightly-more-mature version of the boys we knew who drove those cars back in the day. From the trailers, I had expected the episode to be shot from the point of view of the car—that we would be given some real insight into what it is that Baby “sees” as the transportation for hunters Dean and Sam. Maybe we’d even get the sense that there was a touch of the supernatural about Baby herself—like when we got to meet the Tardis in “the Doctor’s Wife.” But alas, none of this was to be. Instead, the episode was simply a standard Freak-of-the-Week outing shot from inside the Impala. What made it even worse was that the freaks weren’t even inventive and the writers knew it enough to try to turn it into a joke: Dean trying to get everyone to say “werepires” was just a constant reminder that they were so out of ideas that that’s what the actually did: they combined werewolves with vampires, and—poof!—new bad guy: the Nachzehrer. Of course, there were some nice moments. It was good to see John Winchester again, even if it wasn’t Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s version of the man. And the turnaround of Sam getting the girl (instead of Dean) was cute. And the addition of perennial geek-TV guest star Sarah-Jane Redmond as the mercurial (with good reason) Lily Markham was a good “get.” What I really enjoyed was the way the Winchesters were portrayed as being able to talk about one of them having casual sex without it being sexist—it was downright sex-positive, right down to Dean’s being able to be happy that his brother was happy and relaxed rather than making it about a notch in Baby’s non-existent bedpost. In “Thin Lizzie,” we have a Freak-of-the-Week that curves back around to our season’s storyline, which fulfills Sam’s hopes for a case involving a serial killer, just not in the way he might have wished for. Set at the home of the legendary Lizzy Borden—now a touristy bed and breakfast—the episode shows the more craven side of the supernatural: a family making money off the illusion that Lizzy and her victims still reside in the house though their use of hidden speakers and EMF generators. Which is all well and good for them until first a visiting couple and then the proprietor end up brutally murdered on the property. Initial suspicion falls on a local character fascinated by the Lizzy Borden mythos, but Len is essentially just weird, not dangerous. Until Amara showed up and stole his soul, at which point the episode looks like it might get really interesting. The real killer, it turns out, lost her soul around the same time, and quickly succumbed to her urge for death and mayhem while Len, on the other hand, although he senses something dark within himself, mainly just feels empty: the loss of his soul is the loss of the passion that drove him (could have been an insightful nod to fans, had it been handled better, instead we’re left to wonder if the connection even occurred to them). But the idea that losing one’s soul affects different people differently and that innate goodness may not be the determining factor is an interesting one, but one dropped before it really has a chance to go anywhere. Hopefully it re-emerges. The real interest in the past few weeks has to be “Our Little World,” where the Amara storyline is, for the better, center-stage. Crowley is at his wits end in trying to control the 12-year-old soul-sucker, and finds that neither cruelty nor kindness work. Instead, he tries to strike a rational deal and a temporary truce is set up. It is unfortunate it does not last longer because watching the abandoned child try to master the skills of a parent has been revealing. Castiel has finally emerged from his funk, spread his metaphorical wings, and gone out after Metatron—and it’s about time. I get that having an overpowered angel on your side could make things less challenging for the Winchesters, so that’s a real danger for a writer. But having him sidelined for so long has gotten unbelievably painful. He redeems himself here, however, as he not only fails to fall for any of Metatron’s usually convincing lines, but gets the Demon tablet back and uncovers the first big secret of the season: the real relationship between the Darkness and God. One of the things I have really enjoyed about Curtis Armstrong’s turn on Supernatural is how different it is from the kind of thing the character actor usually gets cast to do. He started out as a loser in Revenge of the Nerds. And for the most part, he’s played one kind of loser after another since then (with a few exceptions). But as Metatron, he briefly ruled the universe, and even when he didn’t have that level of power, he has still been a force to be reckoned with. So it was particularly sad to see character and actor reduced to the state Castiel left him in. But of course, the main event this episode is the face-off between Dean and Amara. Dean steels himself to kill the teenage version of the babe he swore to protect, and does so with relative ease, which is not all that surprising, given the elder brother’s track record. And of course, the writers have been telegraphing that Amara and Dean, when they came to this moment, would not be doing damage to each other, so there were no big shockers there. What was a little unnerving was the level of violence that Amara would level at Crowley considering that he’s not done anything to her. Yes, he meant to possibly get around to manipulating her, but there was no danger of that actually happening, so her sadism towards the King of Hell seems a bit excessive. But what was surprising, and maybe it should not be, is the overtly sexual turn taken with the relationship between Dean and Amara. Yes, I do get that age will soon not be an issue from the point of Amara. She’s older—possibly literally—than God. But on Dean’s end, there’s a major squick factor. Just a couple of weeks ago, Amara was a baby. Now, he’s seen her as a fifteen or sixteen year old girl. The sledgehammer use of Urge Overkill’s “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon” virtually promises that when next they meet, it will be as mutually attracted man and woman. And the very idea that Dean will be able to make that leap—to go from thinking of her, at least on the physical level, as a child one week and an adult and potential sexual partner the next…well, I am really hoping they surprise us there and take things in a different direction entirely. I would have trusted the Supernatural of two seasons ago to have largely known better. Now I am not so sure. That said, “Our Little World” is the best episode we’ve had in a long while. And that success really comes down to pacing. Something happened last year that slowed the entire series, one where the struggles between Heaven and Hell and Earth underwent massive upheavals and reversals sometimes in the course of a single episode, one where you could not afford to look away lest you missed a plot twist, and ground it all to a pace so lethargic, you could feel yourself aging while you waited for something—anything—to happen. If this episode signaled the end of that, I think fans everywhere would rejoice. But I doubt many of us are holding our breath. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.