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10 November 2006 @ 04:46 pm
2.07 The Usual Suspects: Arresting Supernatural Television  

This episode had a lot more going for it than just the stunt casting of Linda Blair (which worked very well, in my opinion). We saw the boys, even separated, operating in mind-linked tandem – a closeness wonderful to see, after the strain that’s come between them since John’s death – to both guard and trust each other and solve a puzzle. We saw the seeds of major future conflict sown, with the dichotomy of Dean being both alive and dead brought to the attention of law enforcement authorities and left unresolved, and with both of the boys ending the episode as fugitives, Dean still suspected of murder. And we saw a neatly crafted story in which the boys followed a lead that turned out to have nothing supernatural about it into a story with a twist: a supernatural element that wasn’t causing death, but trying to warn of it. This was the second Supernatural effort by writer Cathryn Humphris, who delivered Dead Man’s Blood in season one, and the first by director Mike Rohl, whose genre credits include Smallville, Eureka, Kyle XY, and The Dead Zone.

 

I loved a lot about this episode, starting with the fun that this time, the lead that Sam and Dean followed to Baltimore – video not having captured a man’s killer – turned out not to be because the killer was supernatural, but because the tape had been tampered with by the very human cop who’d committed the murder. The clue was bogus, but the situation turned out to be anything but.

 

With virtually the first half of the episode revealing the situation in flashbacks, I enjoyed the device that was used: it was extremely fun to see sincere and earnest Sam lying to the cops on every single point while we got to see what had really happened. From the first murder victim being an old friend of their dad’s (well, just an odd story in a newspaper, really), to consoling his widow (as insurance agents in suits – and when will Dean ever learn to conduct a subtle probe for potentially supernatural elements?), to breaking into the dead man’s office using a key provided by his wife in order to retrieve personal mementos (well, picking the lock and ransacking his files and computer) – the whole sequence was hilarious. And finding out that the stories told by the brothers corresponded in every detail, even though they had been kept separated, made me grin with the delight of how perfectly in tune with each other Sam and Dean are, at least when it comes down to business.

 

The synergy between the brothers Winchester was perfection. Watching them both separately puzzling out the anagram was sweet. I loved Dean passing the essential clue (Ashland is a street”) to Sam with the coded injunction to escape, and then staging the perfect diversion with his sure-to-be-sensational “confession” drawing cops like flies. His subsequent unhesitating decision to take the chance of sending Diana to Sam when he realized she was in jeopardy said a lot both about how much saving other people still means to him, and how much faith he has in Sam’s abilities. Following the clues to locate the remains, realizing that what they were dealing with wasn’t a vengeful spirit but a death omen, and figuring out how to find his endangered brother, Sam was at the top of his form. All of that was marvelous to watch.

 

I missed classic rock and the Impala, but the trademarked Winchester humor was on full display:

 

Sam: “We saw the second-largest ball of twine in the continental U.S. Awesome.”

 

Sam:  “This is bothering me.” 

Diana: “Well, you are digging up a corpse.” 

Sam:  “No, not that. That’s, uh, pretty much par for the course, actually.”

 

Dean: “Pee break so soon? You might want to get your prostate checked.”  
And shades of The Benders:  “You don’t want to do something you’re gonna regret. [Pete cocks the gun] Or, maybe you do.”

 

A special humor prize goes to Jensen for his hysterically funny take on Dean being bored while Sam tries to crack the computer password!

 

Most of what I will carry away from this episode is the bomb it planted squarely in the road for the future, because when that explodes later in the season, the effects will be incredible to watch. The authorities in St. Louis are exhuming the body of the dead shapeshifter, mystified by the “dead” Dean Winchester’s face and fingerprints turning up on a very much alive man; that scares me more than any vengeful spirit. Dean is now formally a fugitive suspected of torture and murder, and that puts him in major real danger. I am fiercely glad that Kripke and company chose not to craft a quick resolution to that situation, but instead found a way to build on what happened in Skin and in The Usual Suspects and create from it a very tangible, intense, and totally non-supernatural threat that will haunt the brothers. I can’t wait to see what happens when that all comes to a head.

 

And one more Winchester footnote:  I appreciated the detail that the cops don’t know the whereabouts or fate of John Winchester. After all, it was “Elroy McGillicuddy” who died in that hospital at the end of IMToD. Somehow, I like the thought that, in the minds of the authorities, anyway, John Winchester is still out there somewhere, a phantom and an enigma that will continue to bedevil them. Heaven knows, he certainly still bedevils me!

 

Now, with all that said (oh, yes; and an appreciation of the closing lines’ shout-out to Linda Blair and The Exorcist – pea soup, indeed!), I do have one little, tiny quibble:  we know that the boys will contrive to retrieve Dean’s beloved Impala from the police impound, and that we’ll see them on the road in her again. But trust me:  this time, in the real world, the cops would have gotten a warrant to search the car, and they would have taken her apart, especially once they got a look inside the trunk. I’ll make the excuse that all of the events in the show following Dean’s arrest consumed only one day and night, and say that the crime lab guys just hadn’t gotten to the car because they were processing the murder scenes first. Yeah – that must have been it.

Next week, it would appear that Dean’s angst and guilt will go through the roof when a demon tells him the truth about John’s sacrifice and offers him the chance to get his father back. What will it take to break Dean? We may find out next week …

 
 
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