Saturday, February 19, 2011

Mannequin 3: The Reckoning

We open with a distraught Dean trying to wake Sam after his seizure. Things don’t look good and then Sam gasps awake.

We switch to a Chemistry classroom with a creepy, full-size human body model. I keep expecting the bug eyes to follow the janitor as he’s mopping. Eek! I’m right! Uh oh, the model has escaped from his supporting chain. Ack, Sylar from Heroes has attacked the custodian. Blood streaks across his forehead. Cold breath. The lights go out. A tray of dissection instruments drops to the floor. The man cries out, “Who’s there?” Then he takes off running and comes face to face with what I can only assume is the mannequin this episode is named for. Stab, the custodian is dead.

“You got a big, fat face full of Hell.” -- Dean

Sam feels like crap. Dean tries to doctor him up with coffee, grub and some “effective” but unnamed drug. When Dean asks Sam what happened, he stays pretty mum, other than to say he’s fine. An upset Dean wants him to completely ignore the past and do what he does to cope. “You shove it down and you let it come out in spurts of violence and alcoholism.” Dean tries to convey to Sammy how his life is on the line. Dean’s got his real brother back and not that soulless dipbag. He wants to keep it that way. To distract Sam they take a job in New Jersey.

“Hey, maybe we’ll have a Snooki sighting.” -- Dean
“What’s a Snooki?” -- Sam
“That’s a good question.” – Dean

The guys get to the university Chemistry lab and Dean immediately starts manhandling the model’s internal organs. He yanks the heart out and starts cracking jokes, which I find especially funny considering he starred in My Bloody Valentine which had to do with eviscerated hearts. Dean’s lighthearted mood shifts when Lisa calls. He ignores her despite Sam’s encouragement to talk. Refocused, they find the EMF goes bonkers near the human body model. They dismiss the plastic dude, but are happy to see the lab has a video camera. Unfortunately, the tape reveals a blank spot in the footage. The boys ask around about the custodian, but come up empty.

Later that night a security guard at a garment factory is murdered by a pack of faceless mannequins. Interesting. Guess maybe it’s all mannequins. Not just the uber-creepy Body Worlds model. Our boy detectives show up and after the EMF goes wild near a cart of severed mannequin limbs Sam makes the connection, but Dean is slow to believe.

“So, what, we’ve got a bunch of killer dolls? Like Chucky? That’s just… friggin’ creepy.” -- Dean

This victim has a squeaky clean background like the last, so the boys don’t know what to do. Then Sam finds a news article about a seamstress from the factory who disappeared and is survived by her sister. Dean thinks maybe they’re dealing with a vengeful spirit.

Lisa calls again and Sam tells Dean to answer, which is exactly what I wanted to yell at the TV. Turns out it’s Ben. He says his mom won’t get out of bed, that things are bad and Dean needs to come. Sam sends him on his way, saying he can handle the case alone for 24 hours. He also says he had to handle his past and now Dean has to handle his.

Sam goes to interview the seamstress’ sister, Isabel. There he learns Rose was a shy, awkward girl who was often given a hard time. Isabel feels like she defended her sister her whole life, but it went two ways. Hmm, I wonder if Rose is defending Isabel from the grave. Flipping through a photo album, Sam discovers Isabel worked at the same factory as Rose and so did the college janitor.

Sam conducts interviews at the factory. One dude, Johnny, seems especially twitchy when asked about Rose.

Dean shows up on Lisa’s doorstep to find her dressed for a date. Seems they’ve been “parent trapped” by a meddling Ben. The green-eyed monster takes over Dean when he learns his girlfriend is getting ready to go out with Dr. Matt. She’s pissed Dean never returned her calls. He tries to placate her and prove he cares by saying he dropped everything and ran when Ben called. Speak of the not-so-little devil (growth spurt much?), he peeks his head around the corner and both “parents” bark at him to go to his room. In their heated exchange Dean asks Lisa what she wants from him. She says she’s not asking him for anything and he tells her to. She says she can’t ask for anything because she knows what she wants and he can’t give it to her. She says she’s trying to get over him, but he keeps showing up on her doorstep. She turns his question around and asks what he wants from them.

It’s these quiet moments when Jensen’s acting is so powerful and I get lost in the exquisite beauty of his face. LOL

A freaked out Johnny is talking on his cell to someone, saying he’s losing his cool because his friends are dead. And, yet, he’s stupid enough to go to the factory. Alone. At night. The deadly dummies waste no time in trying to dispatch him, but Sam arrives in the nick of time. He and Johnny take refuge in the lunch room, behind salted lines of security. Sam presses Johnny into confessing what he and his friends did to Rose. They pretended to be her secret admirer and invited her to an apartment where they had a candle lit dinner set up. When she reached out to touch her “date” she discovered it was a mannequin. Her cruel co-workers then came out of hiding to make fun of her. When she tried to get away one of the guys tried to stop her. She tugged out of his grip and tripped, falling and hitting her head on the coffee table. The cut that’s been showing up on the victims foreheads matches the lethal one she received from the blow. Sam plans to put a stop to Rose by burning her remains. He tells Johnny to stay inside the salt lines. (Wouldn’t he be safe going with Sammy though? There are no mannequins in a clearing.)

“Just because you love someone doesn’t mean you should stick around and screw up their life.” -- Dean

Ben tells Dean he considered this an emergency situation because it was Lisa’s third date with the doctor. He watches TV and knows how that number is significant. Ben wants Dean to come home. Like a kid caught between two divorcing parents he wants to know if Dean hates Lisa or him. (And I’m distracted by Jensen’s left eyebrow. Half of it seems to be gone.)

Dean explains to his surrogate son that he isn’t afraid that something would follow him home, but that his job turns him into somebody that shouldn’t sit at their dinner table and that if he stuck around Ben would turn out like him. The boy thinks he should get a vote in the matter, but Dean says it’s non-negotiable. By leaving he’s insuring that Ben can have any life he wants, Dean has only had the one option. The boy calls Dean a liar because he always talks about the importance of family, but he’s walking out on his. You can see how Ben’s words, the revelation that the boys speaks the truth, clobber poor Dean. (Sniff. Sniff.) As Dean’s driving away he flashes back on all his moments with Lisa and Ben.

“What do you call people who care for you, who love you even when you’re a dick?” -- Ben

Salt and burn. Sam calls Johnny and tells him he’s safe and should take advantage of his second chance. He wastes no time scurrying home, an apartment above McOwen’s pub, where we see Rose’s sister hanging out. Johnny tells his unseen girlfriend, Jenny, to pack up, they’re leaving tonight and she should only take the essentials. All he wants for them to do is move on with their lives. The camera shifts to the girlfriend and--WTF?—she’s a mannequin! Ew, is he into dolls? Then she turns her head and startles the hell outta him. I heart how Love Hurts plays in the background. Guess maybe it wasn’t Rose after all. I’m betting on the sister.

Sam shows up at the crime scene to find that Johnny’s been strangled by the sash from his “girlfriend’s” robe. The buxom, and I do mean BUXOM, blonde looks on from the couch. Plastic bitch! Frustrated, Sam goes to the sister’s house in search of more answers. He gets them when he learns she’s a student at the University where the custodian was killed, she’d been to the factory the same week the security guard was stabbed and she was present at the bar when Johnny was strangled. She is the common denominator. Sam wants to know what she’s wearing of Rose’s—a ring, locket, bracelet, etc. Nope, not that simple. Turns out she’s got Rose’s freakin’ kidney!

“Is that the girl with the haunted kidney?” -- Dean

Sam meets up with Dean. They’re both stumped as what to do. They can’t exactly excise Isabel’s kidney. They decide on Hoo Doo as a band-aid to the problem. Then the Metallicar goes all Christine and tries to run them down. She chases Dean all over the parking lot until he forces her to drive into a storefront. Isabel is accidentally stabbed by flying glass. She collapses to the ground and her sister’s ghost shows up to apologize. Too little, too late.

Back at Singer Auto, Dean is working to fix his baby. But he wants to know what they accomplished on their last job. They saved a couple dicks, while an innocent lady lost her life. Plus he’s got a kid who’s heartbroken and a woman who is beyond pissed at him. He doesn’t know if he and Sammy are doing any good. His brother assures him they are. Dean says he’s tired of all the bad luck. Sam tries to look on the bright side—he’s got his soul back, right?— and thanks Dean for getting him back. He then advised that they keep their heads down and keep swinging. Sure they’ll lose some, but hopefully they’ll win more. And no matter what, he has Dean’s back. Dean says he knows and you can see the great pleasure that gives him. The end.

I can not say enough how much I loved this episode. It evoked the monster-of-the-week sensibility of seasons one and two, but progressed the current storyline of dealing with past demons. And it did so with rich emotion that demonstrated the deep love these two brothers have for each other. There was great humor, definite freakiness, raw emotion and tenderness. I guess the only qualm I had was how easily Sam got over his seizure and his flashback to Hell. To be honest, I didn’t let it bother me too much because I don’t want to go down that dark road again any time soon. This episode took me exactly where I’ve wanted to go and I just hope we hang onto this path for awhile. There’s only so much wrenching drama and separation you can drag us through. I know the Great Wall of Sammy is going to come down sometime, but I pray it stays solid for awhile. The brothers are back! And I couldn’t be happier. I also like that things weren’t tidied up with Lisa and Ben. I love what they bring out in Dean. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to see him become Mr. Cleaver, but I don’t want that door permanently shut. Major kudos to Eric Charmelo and Nicole Snyder for penning a fantastic episode. This is only their second, their first being last year’s You Can’t Handle the Truth, with the Goddess Veritas. No question about it, I’ll be keeping an eye out for their name from now on. What did you think?


Natalie J. Damschroder said...

I totally agree with you on this episode! And I feel like the darkness and frustration with the first half made the last two weeks even better. Like spring sunshine after a harsh winter. :) The emotion and connection between the boys is even stronger, and Dean's scene with Ben broke my heart.

And I cannot WAIT for next week. I don't think any other show can pull off the meta-ness that this show can. :)

Anonymous said...

Yay! I'm glad you liked it as much as I did, Nat. Love your sunshine analogy. Yes, Dean's scene with Ben was heart wrenching. I'm always amazed at the incredible range Jensen has of showing emotions with his face. Like his grimace/smile when he ordered Ben to his room. There are few actors who do as much as he does without words.

I'm so, so excited for next week!

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

I totally agree about Jensen's range. Jared's getting better, too, with every episode. Much more subtle. But Jensen is amazing!