Sunday, February 12, 2012

PLUCKY PENNYWHISTLE’S MAGICAL MENAGERIE

You know from the moment we see poor Sam getting cornered in a garage between two maniacal, green-haired clowns that this is going to be an amusing episode and it didn’t disappoint. I especially loved the opening splash page exploding into a garish splatter of glitter and paint.

The episode toggles back and forth between Sam’s battle in the garage and the events that led to the clown showdown. For now we’ll rewind 60 hours

Dean’s talking to Frank on a clap-infested pay phone, trying to see if he’s learned anything about Bobby’s murderer. Unfortunately, the answer is he’s got dick on Dick. So the boys head to Wichita, Kansas. (I’ve got relatives there. I’ve always known that place is ev-il!) Dean is happy for the diversion because he’s sworn off bars, booze, babies and hot chicks of any kind. (Dear Lord those Amazons really did a number on him!) The latest strange involves a man with suction marks all over his body from a giant Pacific octopus and a bite mark on his neck that bled him out. It’s Octo-vamp, not to be confused with Octo-mom, but equally scary. The next casualty is a man who was impaled in the chest by a unicorn who appears to have rainbow farts.

The boys soon discover a commonality between the victims. They’d recently taken their kids to Plucky Pennywhistle’s Magical Menagerie, a scarier version of Chuck E. Cheese. It seems Sam’s Coulrophobia stems from the fact that his big brother would dump him off at the kiddie pizzeria while Dean trolled for chicks. Sam doesn’t want to investigate Plucky’s but Dean tells him 99.99% of all clowns can’t hurt you and if it bleeds, it can die.

At Plucky’s, “Where All Your Dreams Are Good” ( I think not!) the walls are decorated with children’s drawings. In an effort to aide childhood development the kids are encouraged to draw their worst nightmares so Plucky can make their fear disappear. A janitor overhears Sam’s discussion with the manager and tells him to come back after closing so he can tell him something in private. The poor guy never gets the chance. After some kid pukes in the ball pit the custodian climbs in to sanitize the balls and—in a clever homage to Jaws’ opening scene—is quickly dispatched by a land shark.

Something or someone didn’t want him to blow the whistle, but the remainder of the victims are all less than stellar parents. The next one on the hit list looks to be a Plucky employee. The harried mom actually gives her son, who looks to be about seven, money so he can take the bus home on his own. Eek! Instead he settles into a table and draws a picture of a robot with laser eyes.


Federal Agent Sam returns to Plucky’s to “lean on” the employees. Dean will then follow them post-interview to see if they reveal their guilt. (But really he’s all about earning the super-sized Slinky by winning double-tickets on Skeeball.) Using every bad cop cliché maneuver Sam hilariously questions the manager, the prize guy (who’s so chipper you want to punch him) and the Lion mascot who takes off running. Only he’s not guilty of Mary Poppinsing the kids pictures into reality. He thought he was being busted for his Breaking Bad bro’s meth connections. However, he does reveal that the basement is uber-scary.

Sam seeks out the kid and his mom before she gets blasted by a robot, while Dean checks out the boiler room (always a bad idea). Wow, it turns out perky prize guy has been taking the kids drawings and a personal item he’s lifted off their parents and thrown them into a fire pit set into the middle of a pentagram. Dean finds the boy’s robot pic and tears it up. Mom might be safe, but prize guy had already thrown Sam’s business card and a clown picture into the fire. That brings us to Sam’s clown chase. The poor boy is getting his butt beaten. Apparently, these juggalos are in the rare minority of clowns who CAN hurt you.

A desperate Dean tries to figure out how to save Sam. It seems prize guy went all berserk because he was passed up for management. But the real reason for his revenge goes back to his childhood. His brother was drowning and when he tried to get his parents attention in order to save him, they ignored him. Dean quickly makes the connection between the story and a picture prize guy had drawn. He takes the artwork and a clown figurine and throws them into the fire. Prize guy’s brother then shows up and causes Plucky’s perky employee to drown. Fortunately for Sam, his clown duo then explodes in a cloud of glitter. When Dean sees him again he laughingly tells his little brother he looks like he’s been attacked by some PCP crazed stripper. (It’s SO good to see Dean genuinely laugh and smile!) He then apologizes for psychologically scarring Sam.

You know, I had a boyfriend in high school who was terrified of clowns. He literally shuddered at the mere mention of them, which of course meant I had to tease him unmercifully. Sorta the same way Dean teases Sam. As the boys get ready to leave Wichita behind, Sam gifts Dean with a giant slinky. Dean says he has a present for Sam too. Unlike the slinky, the clown doll is left on the asphalt as they drive off.

I thoroughly enjoyed this episode. There were tons of great one-liners, Jared did an awesome job acting skittish and his bad cop routine had me in stitches. It was also wonderful seeing Dean in a lighter—i.e. not self-destructive—frame of mind and the phobias were fun. That’s all over now. The previews for next week show things are about to take a very dark turn.

6 comments:

kp said...

OOOO I didn't get that ball pit thing as an homage to Jaws, I was thinking Star Wars trash compactor but now that you say it, the movements etc. are dead on. NICE catch.

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

Great writeup, Terri! I love reading these and reliving the show. :)

The unicorn having rainbows coming out of its butt refers back to "Houses of the Holy":

Dean: You know what, there's a ton of lore on unicorns too. In fact, I hear that they ride on silver moonbeams, and that they shoot rainbows out of their ass!
Sam: Wait. there's no such thing as unicorns?

I loooooved the moment when Sam shows up covered in glitter and he actually enjoys Dean laughing at him. There's such relief in that moment, a connection they've been missing because of everything they've been through.

I also liked the countdown ending in "RIGHT FREAKING NOW." LOL

I felt bad for the employee mom, but was appalled at the bus thing, too. She did a good job layering the guilt and frustration and everything into her performance. Actually, I thought all the casting/acting was great!

Sam is so bad at being bad cop. LOL

TerriClark said...

Thanks, KP. I most recently saw that same homage in Shark Night. LOL. I think it's been recreated a million different times. :)

TerriClark said...

Nat, I should've known you'd know what the rainbow farts stemmed from. :D I swear girl, you have a photographic SPN memory. You're impressive as hell. I just can't do that. I bow to your SPN superiority. {view me doing a Wayne's World I'm not worthy bow here}

I agree with you, Sam allowing Dean to laugh at him because he's showing genuine joy for the first time in ages was touching and perfect. And yeah the RIGHT FREAKING NOW was too funny.I LOLd.

Natalie J. Damschroder said...

LOL Don't be TOO impressed, Terri. I've rewatched the early seasons over and over, so I remembered the scene, but I had to look up the exact quote.

My daughter, now, SHE'S the one with the memory! She caught it, too, but hasn't watched the eps nearly as often as I have.

Rosalie Lario said...

I absolutely loved this episode! Sam was hilarious when trying to hide his clown-phobia, and even more so when doing the bad-cop routine. And Dean cracking up at the end...that was just too great!!