Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Curious Case of Dean Winchester (Recap)

Spoiler! Spoiler! Spoiler!

Pro: This ep features Bobby, who I always love.

Con: Less Jensen Ackles than usual! (Although, I have to give guest-star Chad Everett props, he was a fantastic senior citizen Dean.)

We open on a man coming home, rushing by his wife to lock himself in the bathroom. Where he proceeds to age horribly and die.

Flash to morgue where doctor is having trouble buying the bros. as CDC agents because they arrived in such an unpredented timely manner. She shows them the 25 year old who died of old age. (Yeah, weird). This is followed by an older woman who reported her kindly old husband missing...and the bros track him to an Asian brothel. Since he's now young, generically hot, and sporting a six-pack, they identify him by a tattoo and birthmark.

After threatening to tell his wife that he's paying for threesomes instead of having shuffled off his mortal coil (which he would like her to presume), the man admits to having played a hand of paranormal poker and betting years of his life. While the first dude we saw in the show clearly lost, this one won.

A phone call to Bobby confirms that there is lore about a traveling card player making deals. The phone call also prompts Bobby to decide that all his best years are behind him, so what does he have to lose? A lot of years apparently, because the next time we see him, he's leaving a two man poker game with not much time left. (I was having trouble with the CW all night. There were a lot of scratchy sounds in the audio, so I'm not sure whether Bobby bet 25 yrs, 35 or 45). Dean meets up with Patrick, an Irish accented 900 yr old "he-witch" and demands to play for Bobby's years. And, as anyone who saw the previews knows, he promptly loses.

Sam comes back to their hotel room to find Bobby and Dean bickering and pronounces them "Grumpy Old Men." (The interactions between them did crack me up.) When they break into Patrick's place to steal poker chips, they're caught by Patrick and his powerful girlfriend (who may have been helping him scam people in a bar earlier). She and Patrick let Dean and Sam go after Dean insists that Sam cannot play for Dean's years (dudes, break the cycle of co-dependent martyrdom already). But first the he-witch gives Sam a slow round of applause that he calls a "parting gift." Dean deduces when leaving that Sam was just given the Clap.

Bobby and Dean bicker some more but they both agree Sam isn't a badass enough poker player to bring down someone of Patrick's caliber. Suddenly they receive help from an unexpected quarter--Patrick's girlfriend who while, perhaps not quite his 900 years, says she looks really good for her age. She gives them a powerful reversal spell to undo everything he's done (although it will only help people actually alive.) Dean and Bobby (whom Dean is now calling Ironsides) start working on the spell part. Sam, seemingly going rogue and ignoring Dean and Bobby's advice (what is this, season four?), shows up to play poker with Patrick. In an odd little moment, we see Patrick deliberately fold to an older guy who wants to live to see his grand daughter's Bat Mitzvah. Not sure what the takeaway from this was supposed to be, but I did find Patrick to be a refreshing change from black eyed hell demons.

About halfway through the game, when Sam exits with Patrick's toothpick, we learn that he's there on behalf of Dean & Bobby because they need Patrick's DNA to make the reversal spell work. Unfortunately, Patrick has played Sam in more ways than one, because the toothpick he let him take had no DNA and Patrick is not happy that people are trying to cheat. In fact, he seems poised to kill Sam when his loonnnnnnng-time girlfriend (did she have a name? anyone else catch it?) interrupts that she gave the Winchesters the spell in the first place and that he "knows why."

So not everything gets reversed, but Sam actually wins his poker game--4 fours to 3 Aces--thereby winning Dean back his life. And Jensen Ackles is adorable as he comes out of the building doing a jig.

We go back to Patrick and girl whose name I didn't catch and he's protesting that he doesn't want to play her but she insists--apparently she had a daughter once who aged and died and the girl misses her family and has grown tired saying that there way of life just isn't natural. (Well, duh. See the name of the show.) Parts of this storyline (such as her randomly appearing with the spell) seemed almost anticlimatic to me (although kudos that it wasn't the deux ex spell-china that saved them) but this little bit at the end with the two distraught and apparently not purely evil lovers was decently acted.

Finally, a scene where Dean and Bobby "feel their feelings" and Dean insists that just because Bobby can't walk doesn't make him any less of a solider and that furthermore, he's family and Dean needs him.

All in all, not a bad 'sode. Certainly it won't be making the list of my top ten favorites (especially when I am so anxiously awaiting next week's, which looks very promising) but I liked it. It was more sibling bickering and funny exchanges than brooding brotherly angst and guilt over who broke the first and last seals etc. Also, do love Bobby!

What did you guys think? Favorite lines? Did you think that this week's "bad guy" wasn't quite scary or evil enough to give us the usual drama or was it a nice new take? (Hey, I just realized, I made it through a whole ep and didn't have to peek through my fingers once! Of course, with Jensen conspiciously absent, my motivation to look at the TV wasn't as strong either...)


MJFredrick said...

Not one of the better episodes. The dh wondered why they weren't more concerned about the apocalypse. I missed Jensen, but dang, good casting again.

Anonymous said...

MJ, it's tough. I don't think they can sustain the intensity of all apocalypse all the time (at least not without burning us out) but that sets up a real challenger for when they want to do a lighter one-off without it feeling discordant. Not that I notice as much if the one-off is compelling enough.

Kudos to the writers for trying something different (that didn't have Sam & Dean at each other's throats) and major kudos to the casting director, but overall, I didn't find last night to be a particularly memorable episode. Not bad, really, just not great.

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid I didn't like it. The only part I liked was Dean's happiness when he was young again. I don't expect Apocalype all the time, but I do expect forward movement and this didn't have much. I kept thinking somehow Bobby would get his legs back, and that would make it worthwhile, but even that didn't happen. The talk between him and Dean was great, but not enough.

Trish Milburn said...

I really liked the episode for several reasons:

1. All the funny exchanges between old Dean and Bobby
2. Dean coming out of the building after he's changed back to young Dean
3. On the other end of the emotional spectrum, we see how low Bobby has sunk with his injury.
4. Another fabulous casting job with Chad Everett
5. Hal Ozsan! I've liked him since he played Azazel on a TV mini-series called "Fallen" which starred Paul Wesley, who is now in The Vampire Diaries just before Supernatural.

Natalie J. Damschroder said...


Not "Mystery Spot" love, of course, but there was absolutely nothing in it NOT to love. :) For me, of course--I'm not trying to convince anyone to feel differently.

First, re: the apocalypse, I'm sorry, but just three episodes ago we (generally speaking, not individually) were groaning about how depressing everything was. Ratings were apparently as high as they'd been all season, which highlights one factor: It's absolutely essential to have these one-off eps to keep the casual viewers. We rabid fans just aren't numerous enough. So I'm a-okay with ignoring the apocalypse for two days of in-show time. :)

For me, this episode was comfort food, a warm fuzzy blanket, my-favorite-spot-in-the-whole-world that I know everything about. It's not going to make me think, like the big myth-arc eps do, but it sure made me feel good.

I giggled all the way through it, and I'm with Trish, Hal Ozsan was incredibly charismatic. I know him from Kyle XY where he played a similar character.

I loved that he wasn't evil, that he didn't actually set out to kill that guy who died (though he wasn't exactly apologetic, either) and that he was genuinely in love.

I didn't begrudge Jensen the reduced screen time. I mean, he had to do "The End" already this season, in which he did DOUBLE the performance--why should Jared get all the time off? :)

I loved how they hinted that the boys were going to follow some of their old patterns, but they didn't. I think they were a little beyond the codependent martyrdom--Dean wasn't sacrificing himself for Bobby, he was sure he could win. Ditto Sam's offer to play, which he didn't push when Dean and Bobby said no, he's not good enough--which is different from no, we have to protect you. It was a risk/reward analysis more than an emotional knee-jerk. I loved the solution they came up with, and thought it was demonstrative of their new partnership--they came up with it together, a compromise of ideas.

The only thing I have to admit I'm less than thrilled with is Bobby's trajectory. I have a hard time buying that the guy we've come to know would let himself sink into such self-pity. I didn't think his identity was that physically based. However, the psychology is sound, and they DO have me on the edge of my seat waiting to see what happens with him. Well, Jim Beaver has be on the edge of my seat, anyway, damn him! (Facebook reference)

Sheesh, I do long rambling comments.

Can't wait for next episode, with my all-time favorite guest star!