Saturday, February 18, 2012

Cranky Tanya's Review of "well, at least we got to see Mark Pellegrino."

I know I've lucked out before and got to recap some really fun episodes of Supernatural. This was not one of those episodes (not that the title "Repo Man" particularly suggested a romp...) Anyway, if you don't mind major SPOILERS for the episode, stick around and I'll tell you what I did and didn't like.

(But first, random anecdote! Mark Pellegrino, the show's recurring Lucifer, recently turned up on the Castle episode "The Blue Butterfly." I said, "Hey, it's that guy from--" "Practically everything?" my husband joked. Like the show's recurring demon Crowley (played by Mark Sheppard) Pellegrino does turn up on several of the shows we like, including a vampire on Being Human and mystical island guardian dude on Lost. My husband and I cracked up at a reference to Pellegrino "not aging" on Castle since he's played some sort of immortal on pretty much everything we've seen him in.)

The show opens in Idaho "four years ago" when the boys were exorcising a serial killing demon from a local guy named Jeffrey, a sensitive postal employee. Unfortunatley, they had to torture Jeffrey's body to get info from the demon within but the upside of that was, since the demon squealed on higher-ups, they felt confident it wouldn't be allowed topside any time soon. It would be in hell for a good long while. The flashback included a white magic practicing Wiccan who helped them track down Jeffrey and ended with Dean dropping Jeffrey off at the hospital.

Flash forward... Bad news for the Winchesters (and Idaho in general), the killings have started again. Since Sam and Dean can't get a new lead on Leviathan leader Dick Roman, they decide to return to Idaho on what they consider unfinished business. The Wiccan is their first stop and she says she has to take care of a few things and then she's getting out of town (since the demon threatened her last time) and asks if they've checked on Jeffrey.

We then go to some sort of group therapy session where a guy is complaining about no access to Cinemax and discover that Jeffrey is in a halfway house but is doing better. He's just received permission to care for his very own pet and as soon as he went to get the dog, I turned to my husband. "If the dog doesn't survive this episode, I am going to be upSET." My husband waved away my concerns.

Sam and Dean nab Jeffrey and ascertain that he is not possessed again. (My CW was a bit on the blink, but I think they did this by pressing a magical blade to his skin.) Then Jeffrey tries to recall what he "heard" while the demon was living in his head to give them clues.

What I probably should have mentioned sooner is that Sam has been hallucinating the devil again for this whole episode. Mark Pellegrino's Lucifer is both playfully disturbed and truly scary. He's angry that Sam won't talk to him and acts out for attention not unlike a middle school boy (only, you know, way more gruesomely). When he stuck out his tongue at Sam, I was utterly repulsed (the tongue was forked) but may have also laughed out loud accidentally.

Jeffrey says that he thinks he knows who the next victim his (town librarian) and Sam goes to check on her, with pretend-Lucifer working as his creepy, unwanted but ultimately helpful sidekick. You know how Sam presses on his old wound to ground himself in reality and make Lucifer disappear? He did this several times and my favorite moment was when he reached to do that and Lucifer groused, "Oh, don't bother" and winked out.

Meanwhile, Jeffrey and Dean go to the demon's old nesting grounds. When they get there, Dean is surprised to find a young guy with a bloody wound on his head chained to a chair. (To date, the demon's killings have all been women.) Then we see a hand behind Dean inject him with something and realize...this can't be good. As soon as Dean and Jeffrey walked into the creepy place, I told my husband I did NOT have a good feeling about Jeffrey. He told me he thought Jeffrey would get a chance to help destroy the demon and find closure that way after the last few troubled years. (No, dear, that would be what we in the biz call a happy ending.)

Sam realizes that he's been sent on a wild goose choice and his subconscious (played by Lucifer) points out an inconsistency between the recent killings and those four years ago--the victims now have been tranqued. They also discover a summoning spell written in familiar handwriting and go to see the Wiccan for answers. She greets them by trying to bop Sam upside the head--but have you seen Sam? Tough for a woman to get the drop on him like that and he thwarts her pretty quickly. She tells him that Jeffrey took her son (the wounded college kid) and was holding him hostage for the summoning spell. He wants to bring BACK the demon who possessed him. But he needs the blood of the demon's exorciser (Dean) and the heart of his pet and, I ain't gonna lie, I pretty much checked out in disgust at that point.

Turns out Jeffrey had only been a wishy-washy WANNABE serial killer before his possession, which gave him the power to act on his darkest thoughts. And he misses that power. So he brings back the demon. But the demon inhabits the Wiccan's son and Jeffrey doesn't get what he was after. (Oh, boo hoo for Jeffrey.)

In the end, the demon is vanquished and the woman and her son are reunited but it's hard to feel like this was a victory for the good guys. Especially when Sam tries to banish his hallucinated Lucifer at the end...he won't go. Sam made the mistake of interacting with the devil in head throughout the episode and now he appears stuck with him.

Maybe this episode just seemed so flat and despairing after last week's fairly funny one, and maybe I'm just still bitter (really bitter) about the dog, but I really disliked it. What about you guys? Did you find the moments of genius in it that I haven't done justice here?


Natalie J. Damschroder said...

I can't say moments of genius, no, and it will never be one of my favorites, but...

I thought the writing was overall nicely done, keeping us guessing and returning to the show's roots. I mean, it's meant to be horror! So I have to give them a pass on the dog. At least they took it off screen, though the adorable pooch picking up his cone to carry along was too poignant.

Jeffrey was nicely complex, too. He wasn't as simple and superficial as I kept expecting him to be, and I liked the Wiccan.

I hated the torture. It really bugged me that the flashbacks were set before Dean went to hell, before he came back Torture Master. They showed him doing things (like holy water on the demon-killing knife) that THAT Dean didn't do.

On the other hand, flashback!Dean was wearing his necklace! My daughter noticed, I didn't, but that was a welcome detail. And I loved the Lucifer stuff. They've made reference to him all along, so we know Sam's been dealing with the hallucinations but actively dealing with them. I loved when he was blocking Sam's view and helping him with the case, and it was a very Supernatural thing to take something humorous and slide it into something dark and awful, as when Lucifer became his usual slf and Sam couldn't banish him.

Not happy that we have another long break, but Misha's back! :)

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

I just read Mo Ryan's review and she pointed out that Dean was with Lisa for a year, so "four years ago" COULD have been after Dean came back from hell. If that's the case, and it makes sense that they'd still want Lilith so desperately, then I guess the torture thing is okay.

Anonymous said...

Def not a fave episode, but I enjoyed Sam' s interactions with Lucifer. Can't wait to see what's going on with Cass.

MJFredrick said...

I don't usually delete as soon as it's done, but I did this one. It was kind of....blah. If it had been my first episode, I wouldn't have tuned back in.

kp said...

Not genius but compelling maybe? I do wonder/ have wondered what happened to the people who'd been possessed or had run into the Supernatural in some other way. I mean, the show is not their story but it does give a little closure. It's heartbreaking to think of someone who'd already experienced the horror of being taken over by a demon to have to lie and say they were mugged. it makes me think of the quote about looking into the abyss and the abyss looking back into you. These people know this stuff is out there now. How do they cope with the immediate aftermath? They don't all become hunters but do they continue to experience these things later since now they know what to look for or how to process reality with this expanded view of their world? This was a good glimpse of the loss of innocence these people experience and how it can go horribly wrong.
Re: The Dog.
THANKS SPN! I want to kick the douchey writer who came up with that one right in the shins.

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

You're right, kp. That's not something I think of a lot, but you're absolutely right about the impact on "civilians," and it was nice to see both the positive and negative sides of it. (The Wiccan being the positive except for being forced into helping Jeffrey, of course.) Once your eyes are open to this stuff, it's got to be impossible to go back.

Pat C. said...

Not quite on topic, but ... last night on SyFy's version of Being Human, Mark Pellegrino returned as Bishop, albeit an imaginary version in Aiden the vampire's head. My first thought was, "Holy cow, now Aiden's seeing Lucifer too!" Mark's becoming the go-to actor for portraying hallucinated characters.