Emily Dunbar ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
In this week’s episode of Supernatural, we saw defeats among small victories.
To start with the not-so-hot aspects, a lot of the dialogue in the episode was as bland as Dean’s short-lived diet a few episodes back. As Sam and Dean (Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles) exit the church, Dean jokes that he thought the nun they spoke to had the hots for him. Sam responds, “Dean, she’s married to Jesus.” In an episode like this—a “filler” episode, to put it least delicately—it would be unfair to blame Supernatural for implementing on-the-nose dialogue such as this. Fans of the show know better than anyone that the in-between, monster-of-the-week episodes have to work double-time in order to create and see a story through to completion; it’s a tough job!
The discouraging thing, though, is that some of Supernatural’s most memorable episodes are those in which the overarching plot was, for all intents and purposes, forgotten. Episodes like season three’s “Mystery Spot” or season four’s “Yellow Fever” are just two examples that come to mind immediately which exhibit the writers’ incredible ability to create, sustain, and entertain within a completely new world under a time constraint. Knowing that Supernatural writers often excel with the one-off episodes, coming up with hilarious one-liners that fans repeat for years to come, it was disappointing to see our favorite hunters spewing out obvious jokes.
In that vein, Dean’s legitimate confession to the priest was also a bit too precise. In the past few episodes, we’ve seen the elder Winchester stare into the distance as if he’s thinking deeply about… something. Surprise! It’s the Mark! And Dean is thinking about how he doesn’t want to die! This isn’t news to us. Diligent Supernatural fans know the progression of a Winchester’s death march:
- He ignores/denies the potential for death for as long as humanly possible.
- Once it’s clear death can’t be avoided, he presents to the world a (false) acceptance of said death sentence.
- The faux-acceptance goes a step further, and he then attempts to convince himself by running blindly and headfirst toward the nearest possible danger. (This danger may or may not be one that brings about the specific death in question.)
- In a flash of mental clarity, he realizes he doesn’t want to die, and he and his brother stop at nothing to pull the endangered sibling out of the fire.
To hear that Dean doesn’t want to die is only the completion of the usual run-and-go. He’s done with steps one through three, and now we’re just waiting to see how the brothers will see out step four.
All this, of course, isn’t to say that “Paint It Black” fell completely flat. This monster-of-the-week episode took a couple storytelling risks that really paid off. First off, the flashbacks between present day and the 16th century Italian bedroom where our ghost story truly began introduced a new and attention-grabbing way to create a narrative that the show hasn’t really done before. We were along for the ride—we didn’t know Isabella (Catherine Michaud) was the ghost, nor did we know she was from such a long time ago. Rather than presenting us with the Winchesters arbitrarily picking up tidbits and piecing the story together for us, we got to actually experience the story via Isabella’s recounting to her friend and her journal entries. This really changed the pace of the episode and brought an element of suspense that the story needed to make it different from the Winchesters’ other race-against-the-clock ghost experiences.
Second, it was clarifying and unsettling to see Crowley’s (Mark Sheppard) and Rowena’s (Ruth Connell) interactions, this week. The ambiguous balance between love and disdain, respect and humiliation, seems to have reached an impasse in the sense that the mother and son duo are at least able to work together, to some end. This is going to make for great TV… let’s just hope we see it soon so we can stop saying how great it’s going to be.
This season of Supernatural has a lot going on, and therefore a lot of potential. We’re halfway through, and it’s coming down to the wire… which means (excitingly) the next few episodes are going to give us big drama and bigger twists. Make sure to tune into the CW next Wednesday at 9 pm for “Inside Man.” We’ll see the return of our favorite angel of the Lord, Castiel (Misha Collins), our least favorite prophet of God, Metatron (Curtis Armstrong), and the best father figure this side of the Mississippi—Bobby Singer (Jim Beaver)! It’s definitely not an episode to miss, folks!
Overall episode grade: C+