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26 January 2007 @ 06:01 pm
2.12 Nightshifter: We Are So Screwed …  

Botched shapeshifter hunt

Adds Sam to FBI list:

Bonnie to Dean’s Clyde.

 

When Dean repeats a line twice in an episode, you know it has real meaning. His tag line for Nightshifter was the heartfelt, “We are so screwed,” and he is so right. Trapped in a bank with innocent hostages and a shapeshifter by a conspiracy theorist who stumbled on the real deal while hunting a fantasy, the boys escaped by swapping places with two of the liberating S.W.A.T. team. Although they won free, however, two of the three dead bodies they left behind in the bank will be laid to their account: a black man the shifter had killed and imitated, and the shifter itself, in a pretty female shape. (And then there’s the shed skin and clothing of the bank manager; one wonders what the CSI team will make of that mess.) During the siege, Dean was seen and recognized, and the FBI agent who arrived on-scene displayed an unsettling knowledge of Dean, Sam, and John Winchester, and classed Dean as both a monster and crazy. And this time, unlike the situations in St. Louis in Skin and Baltimore in The Usual Suspects, Sam was dumped in it as thoroughly as Dean. The use of “Renegade” by Styx over the closing scene of the boys driving away was the perfect foreboding touch, because this chapter of the brothers’ story isn’t over yet, and the threat of the long arm of the law is looming larger than ever over both their heads.

 

Written by Ben Edlund and directed by Phil Sgriccia, Nightshifter was classic Supernatural. The first half had all the lightheartedness and humor characteristic of most of the first season of the show. I loved the way that the introductory “Then” was interrupted by the “Breaking News” screen, yanking us willy-nilly into the “Now.” In the flashback to the previous day, the snark was in full swing (Dean: “Frigging cops.”  Sam: “They’re just doing their job.”  Dean: “No, they’re doing our job, only they don’t know it, so they suck at it.”). The boys masquerading as feds, with Sam playing hard-nosed realist lying forcefully through his teeth while Dean empathized with Ronald Resnick, the harmless conspiracy nut turned almost-but-inept hunter, was a nice switch on the accustomed roles they had played last season when Dean had usually taken the lead in glib lying, but also signaled the welcome return of Dean’s warmth and compassion. Ronald held up a warped mirror to the boys’ hunting world, aptly illustrating what they look like to normal people, and that was charming and fun. And as a Wisconsin native, even if I don’t live there any more, permit me to guffaw over the hand-drawn poster proclaiming Cheeseheads Are Potent Mandroid Spies!

 

Of course, in his misguided absurdity, Ronald disrupts the boys’ carefully planned hunt to isolate, track, and destroy the shapeshifter and turns the situation into a suddenly desperate hostage situation. It still managed to continue to be funny (poor Sam, stuck in the vault listening to Sheri rhapsodizing about brave Dean!), right up until the moment where serious came down with a vengeance when a police sniper killed feckless Ronald. That sudden and violent loss hit both boys hard, but resonated especially with Dean, who recognized how kindred a spirit Ronald might have been, despite his eccentricity. It also pointed up just how desperate their own situation was, and that rapidly became worse with the arrival of Agent Hendricksen (“It’s become my job to know about you, Dean. I’ve been looking for you for weeks now.”). Dean’s reactions to Hendricksen were the best part of their telephone encounter, first as Dean snarked (Hendricksen: “Oh, yes – I know about Sam, too. Bonnie to your Clyde.”  Dean: “Yeah, well, that part is true.”), then as he reacted to realizing just how much Hendricksen knew, and finally as he couldn’t resist rising to the bait to defend his father (“You got no right talking about my Dad like that. He was a hero.”). Whatever issues Dean still has with John for having sold his soul and laid the burden of Sam’s future on Dean’s shoulders, Dean’s love for and pride in his father are still powerfully intact, and were beautiful to see.

 

Sam’s logical mind led the boys to penetrate the shapeshifter’s final clever “dead woman” disguise, saving Dean from making a mistake and killing the wrong woman. Dean again took on the role of killer in the fight against the shifter, tasking Sam with taking the innocent to safety, but unlike earlier episodes this season, Dean was back in control of himself and took no pleasure in the kill. Clearly fully recovered from his broken wrist, Sam was at the top of his form, disarming two S.W.A.T. guys and coming up on the spot with the way to get them both out of the bank in the perfect disguises, and so the story ended.

 

But we know better. The legal cordon around them is drawing tighter. And I’m betting that the next time Sam hacks into a police database, he’ll find an entry for himself right alongside the one for Dean, showing them both suspected of multiple murders. How this will play out, I have no idea – but I know that Eric Kripke does!

 

I have to throw out a few favorite additional lines, because the snark was so very back and felt so very good:

 

Dean, on the bank security guard: “I like him. He says ‘okey-dokey.’” And later, when the guard shows up on camera and his eyes don’t flash:  “Looks like Mr. Okey-Dokey’s – okey-dokey.”

 

Sam, realizing that Dean is panning the camera over a pretty woman’s tush: “Dean, we’re supposed to be looking for eyes.”  Dean, panning up slowly: “I’m getting there.”

 

Dean, after Ronald turns everything upside-down: “Look, I know this isn’t going the way we wanted …”  Sam: “Understatement!”

 

Agent Hendricksen:  “Crazy’s in there. And I just hung up on it.”

 

Next week:  angels and God’s will, or something much darker? And what exactly does Dean believe in, beyond what he can see?



 
 
Current Music: "Renegade" by Styx