Friday, January 23, 2009

Criss Angel Is A Douche Bag


According to Sera Gamble, the episode’s brilliant title, Criss Angel is a Douche Bag, was originally conceived as a joke among the writers, but ended up sticking. And it wasn’t the only dig they took at him. The story opens on Iowa’s Magic Week, where magicians have gathered to wow audiences, but three seniors, Jay (Barry Bostwick), Vernon (Richard Libertini) and Charlie (John Rubenstein), mourn the loss of their youth. As they watch a Criss clone named Jeb Dexter posture and preen his way through an act, Jay complains that they’re “sad, old and dying.” Desperate to recapture his golden years he decides to perform the Table of Death. Charlie tries to talk him out of it, but after being heckled by another magician and feeling crusty and obsolete next to Jeb, the Incredible Jay insists he’d rather go out on a headline than the way he is now. That night he’s shackled to a table, a curtain silhouettes his struggle against the bonds, and as a horrified audience watches the burning rope snaps and a bed of blood red spikes fall and skewer his body. Gasps. Screams. The curtain whips back and an unharmed Jay takes his bow while the magician who previously heckled him drops dead on the street of puncture wounds even though his shirt has no holes.

Enter the Winchesters. They watch as Jeb mesmerizes a group of women with magic. From his leather and eyeliner to his melodramatic breathing and narcissism, the mimicry of Angel is Mindfreakin’ hilarious. And of course, everyone has to call him a douche bag. ‘Cause really, it’s too funny not to. However, despite finding a common dislike for the douche, the old men aren’t so willing to help "Federal Agent Ulrich.” When Dean explains that a tarot card was found on the dead magician and asks if they know anything about it he’s directed to 426 Bleeker St. where he should ask for Chief.

Dean arrives at the skeevy address and Chief, sporting skin tight leather and a cat-o-nine whip, greets him with a flirty, “You are really going to get it tonight, big boy.” Dean blanches and says he thinks he’s been had to which the cheeky Chief retorts, “Oh, you ain’t been had ‘til you’ve been had by the Chief. Oh, and before we get started what’s your safe word?”

Meanwhile, Sam finds Ruby at his door and she wants him to quit dicking around with stupid cases. Thirty-four seals have been broken, more than half, and the angels are losing the war. If Sam doesn’t want an ocean of people to die then he needs to cut the head off the snake, stop things at their source. Kill. Lillith. Ruby says it’s time he uses his power and she knows he likes it. When Sam disagrees, she storms out.

Being around the old guys has Sam and Dean pondering their own futures. Dean wants to die before he gets old. He thinks things just get bloody or sad if you go on too long. Sam wonders if they could have a normal life if they could just put an end to it all.

The douche dies and then--shocker--Charlie. However, the boys have figured out Jay isn’t planting the killer cards so suspicion shifts to Vernon. While Jay diverts his attention the boys investigate Vernon’s room. There they find an old, very old, poster of Charlie, known as the Great Dessertini (WTH?). Turns out Charlie is back and young again. Thanks to an immortality spell in a grimmoire he got from Barnum he can live forever and he’s inviting his two friends to join him. Sam and Dean get there in the nick of time, but Charlie aims his hoodoo at them and Dean is strung up by a noose while Sam is strapped onto the Table of Death. Yet it’s Charlie who bites it when Jay stabs himself and Charlie finds the Magician card in his own pocket.

The next day the boys go to thank Jay for choosing them over his friend. He’s despondent, “old and alone” and he gives up on magic. Gives up on life. His defeat wears on the Winchesters. Dean copes by getting a beer. Sam copes by telling Ruby “I’m in.” When she asks why he says, “I don’t want to be doing this when I’m old.”

And that’s the rub, isn’t it? Can these two really have any kind of future? The answer remains to be seen, but I think we’re working our way there. Last week’s episode was a departure for this season because it went old school and while at first glance this week’s epi also appears to step away from the Armageddon arc it actually seems more like a bridge than a detour. Each boy is being driven forward by desperation. Dean is hell bent (pun intended) on redemption and Sammy wants desperately to know there’s a reason to hope, to hang on, to move forward to something more than just a sad or bloody ending. They’re both working for the greater good, but I have this horrible suspicion they’re headed in opposite directions. I confess I missed the humor in this episode, the best line being, “I’m not Guttenberg and this ain’t Cocoon,” but it would’ve been ill placed as these two contemplated what, if any kind, of future they might have.

So what do you think? Do they have a future? Will they rid the world of bad? Will things get bloody and sad? Tell us what you think.


Anonymous said...

>>it actually seems more like a bridge than a detour<<

Well put, Terri! I feel the same way. The main storyline may have been a standalone, but they were clearly feeding into/setting up the overall arc. I suspect we're coming up on a major showdown between Dean and Sam re: how they should handle the apocalypse and what exactly is going on with Sam and Ruby.


Trish Milburn said...

I think you're right about the bridge, Terri. I'll admit to a bit of a jolt when the tone of the episode changed from stand-alone to big picture, but it shouldn't have been a surprise since the "previously on Supernatural" clips at the beginning were full of Ruby.

I fear too that we're headed for a time when the brothers grow apart, especially when Dean finds out what Sam is up to. I think eventually, when the show is over, they'll both come back together and be on the winning side (at least I hope so), but they might diverge for awhile. It'll be interesting to see how the writers handle this since I think the show loses a lot when the boys aren't together. Perhaps they'll be physically in the same scenes but mentally and emotionally on different pages.

I felt so sorry for the Jay character at the end of last night's episode. I think that's a universal fear -- to grow old alone.

Trish Milburn said...

Oh, I missed the humor too, though I did think it was funny when Vernon called Jeb a douche bag and Dean was like, "Thank you" and that "I told you so" look on his face.

Next week is "After-School Special", right? I bet that's full of great lines. Dean as tight-shorts-wearing gym coach -- LOL!

Heather R. Holden said...

I liked this episode a lot more than last week's -- probably because, like you said, it acted as a bridge to the overall arc instead of being completely stand-alone. It left me feeling so sad at the end, though. With everything as bleak as it is, I can't help but feel, by the end of the series, it will end on some kind of hopeful note to balance it all out. (At least, I hope it's hopeful...)

Anonymous said...

Tanya - I think we're heading for a showdown too and sadly it isn't just going to be between demons and angels. I get all anxious just thinking about it. LOL.

Anonymous said...

Trish - I'm curious how the writers handle this too, but trust them to drag us through the ringer and then back together again. These guys love each other too much to ever fully turn on one another.

Anonymous said...

Heather -- Thanks so much for stopping by! The episode left me sad and contemplative. But I think you're right and things will work out in the very end.

Anonymous said...

Why must they go the old and alone route? Now I fel order and more alone! Ga!

I really liked this episode. I liked that it was dark and sad and everything was not all roses when it ended. It think Sam and Dean are headed for a showdown but I don't think it will play the way everyone is expecting. In the end, I think they both will do what needs to be done for the greater good and it will be heartbreaking. And I can't wait!

Anonymous said...

My biggest fear from last night's show was the "brothers" theme. I'm afraid it was a foreshadowing of a task Dean will be forced to do himself later on. Since Jay mentioned over and over that Vernon and Charlie were brothers and then his last line was about having to kill his brother for becoming addicted to using real magic... Yeah, the parallels were too obvious to me. And that's just scary.

Trish Milburn said...

Meredith, you have an interesting point. Oh, I hate to think of it, but it could be some well-placed foreshadowing.

I do think that after all is said and done, if the boys don't get some sort of emotionally satisfying/happy ending, at least certain segments of fans will revolt.

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

I played hooky today so I'm late AGAIN. Sorry!

Very good recap and review, Terri!

I actually liked this episode less than last week's, though neither one is driving me to watch it again. This one was very good, but there wasn't enough of the boys, and they had very little to do with the resolution. Still, I adore Barry Bostwick, and he broke my heart.

I'm still not buying the theory that they will go brother-against-brother. So far, even with the trends in that direction, they haven't been that simple. Everyone was all, "oh, Dean's on the side of the angels, Sam on the side of the demons!" But they're not on different sides. They've still got the same goals, and I can't see their conflict over methods coming between them so completely. Plus, they've shown us that angels aren't all good, and Ruby obviously isn't all bad, if at all bad (in the evil sense, not the manipulative, means-to-her-own-ends sense, because she is using Sam to get Lilith, after all, and for personal reasons).

Meredith, you're right, the parallel is scary, but "Heart" drew parallels, too, as did others, and Dean never had to face killing Sam, so it didn't reach the point they dreaded. I don't think we have any straight lines here. :)

Trish, I'm very afraid that the endgame is going to be one place they will stay true to what they think is best for the story and ignore the fans. Both Jensen and Jared have said multiples times that the boys face a Butch-and-Sundance end. That's their opinions, not the writers', but Kripke is a guy, and that's a guy kind of ending. :)

What I liked about the foreshadowing is that BOTH possibilities were broached, which to me means either could happen (sad or bloody versus hopeful and happy).

Anonymous said...

>>>Both Jensen and Jared have said multiples times that the boys face a Butch-and-Sundance end

AUGH! It's the Angel finale all over again (or the moment during the Serenity movie where I actually turned to my friend and squeaked, "Dear God, he's going to kill them all!" Personally, I think the Butch & Sundance ending is overrated...

Sure, yeah, I see where it can make sense (see above re: angel) but come on! These are hot young guys in their twenties, not centuries old weary vampires. I wouldn't mind a creepy ending, like you THINK they've defeated evil, then flash forward ten years to Sammy kissing his son goodnight only to see something in the nursery when he leaves (hinting at future generations of demon-fighting Winchester bad-asses!) but to kill them off? Nooooooo.

Gee, guess it's a good that I don't pay attention to spoilers/rumors or judge before I've seen the ep, or I'd be really cranky right now :-)

Tanya, cranky in spite of her best intentions

Trish Milburn said...

If they kill off the boys, I was so not be happy. I hope they do something totally surprising but that is satisfying.

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

I just want to reiterate that this is just what the actors say they think would make a good ending, not anything specifically related to the show. In other words, it's no more meaningful than us saying what we want.

I love your flash-forward idea!

Personally, I think Le Grand Death is usually a cop-out. Like in Horse Whisperer. It's too EASY. I didn't mind it in Angel so much because to me, the possibility of survival was there, if slim. But I think JK Rowling nailed it when she said she didn't kill Harry because coming back from that, living a normal life, takes a lot more courage, in some ways, than dying.

Plus, I always want a hopeful ending. Always always. :)

MJFredrick said...

I absolutely agree that surviving something and learning how to deal with it is so much harder.

Personally I loved the Angel ending, thought it was perfect. But I like Tanya's ending, Sammy kissing his son goodnight in the nursery and the cycle starting over.

MJFredrick said...

Okay, I watched it again. HOW do the boys deduce it's Charlie based on finding an old poster?

Maureen Child said...

Well, I like Tanya's ending too. Ever think about emailing the Powers That Be over there and sharing? LOL

The episode was really good, natch. But sad, too. And I hated seeing Barry Bostwick so sad (I've always liked him)...but does it have to foreshadow the boys' fates? I don't think so. A possible future, sure.

But they're a lot more pro-active than the magicians ever were. They know what's coming and are preparing to fight it. So I'll just hang onto my balloons and think about happy, shiny things! LOL

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

Mary, Charlie had a large, distinctive birthmark over his right eye, that was also on the man in the poster.