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TV Review: Supernatural – “After School Special”

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Once in a while, it’s beneficial to look backward before going forward. Sure “After School Special” isn’t embroiled with the presence of angels and Ruby leading Sam toward the dark side, but it is a welcome look back at Sam and Dean’s history. Thanks to crisp plotting that mixes all the elements of horror, drama, action, and comedy perfectly while giving thought-provoking character studies, this episode is a big winner.

It’s taken me a while to wrap my hands around this one since there’s plenty to examine. That instantly earns kudos for Andrew Dabb and Daniel Loflin, the writers of this episode, for I love being challenged to think. Also worth noting is a brilliant first time Supernatural appearance for director Adam Kane. He offers a few new tricks that add huge depth to the unfolding of this very busy story.

The Plot

This time the drama occurs in a high school, an unpopular girl giving a mean girl the swirly of death in the girl’s bathroom. That gets Sam and Dean’s attention since the girl thinks she was possessed and the attack took place at Truman High, one of their old schools.

Classic rock (remember that?) takes the story into the first of many flashbacks to 1997, when Sam was an undersized ninth grader and Dean was a well-built and very handsome 12th grader. The way the numerous flashbacks are woven into the main story is fantastic and the flow between both time frames is seamless. One great example is when young Sam and Dean are introduced to their new classes. It shows the sharp contrast — Dean is rebellious and disrespectful to authority, Sam is withdrawn and doesn’t say much about himself.

Sam instantly makes a friend, a geek named Barry, who’s bullied by the thug Dirk behind him. Sam stands up for Barry, not hesitating to stare down the larger kid and ready to take on his wrath. From his first scene, Colin Ford shows why he was brought back to play Sam after doing such an uncanny job in "A Very Supernatural Christmas." The kid is a natural and has every mannerism down perfectly. The flashback scenes, just like in the Christmas episode, are often bridged with older Sam holding the same contemplative look as the younger version. It’s even better the second time. Brock Kelly is the younger Dean and his performance is decent, but it isn’t as good a mirror as young Sam.

Hilarious moment yet again comes from Dean, whose cover is the substitute PE teacher. Dodgeball lives! Sam takes on the humbler and less funny role of janitor. The high school setting also doesn’t stop TPTB from bringing back the “hide behind the pillow moment” a la the garbage disposal accident in “Home” or the table saw mishap in “The Kids Are Alright.” All that’s needed is a working food processor and a hand in Home Economics class. Sam arrives after the hand puree to see black ectoplasm ooze from the offending kid’s ear. It’s a ghost possession!

I adore all the touches with the salt and burn scene, which happens after they find out Sam’s friend Barry killed himself in 1998 at the school. Clearly the act is not pleasant for Sam, and Jared is poignant in portraying Sam’s restrained sadness. The camera angles are incredible. A somber Sam sprinkles the salt, while a respectful Dean sprays lighter fluid. They both light the matches, and are shown side by side from the view of the burning grave and from within the trunk of the Impala. In those last two shots, the focus is on both the brothers instead of cutting between one and the other, giving a greater emotional impact. I got goosebumps. Well done, Mr. Kane!

Even back then, Sam felt like a freak. The next flashback has young Dean ranting, wanting to kill the bully hurting Sam. Sam wants to forget about it. Sure, Sam could defend himself, but he doesn’t want to. He doesn’t want to be the freak, he wants to be normal. Again, Colin Ford has Sam down pat, taking Dean’s berating by blinking his eyes and looking away, exactly what Sam does constantly as an adult.

Again we get a big reminder of how superior the pacing is for this episode, for it’s another seamless yet radical shift. Sam in a reflective mood goes back to the school for some unfinished business with his old teacher Mr. Wyatt. He gives directions to a cutesy young girl in the hall, and she thanks him by name by stabbing him with a pen! Then she gets really dirty and kicks him square in the… um, tenders before delivering one last sucker punch. Jared and this girl must have had a blast filming this scene, for he’s so getting beat up by a little girl. Sam quickly pulls out the salt and covers her mouth and ghost goes flying. It’s not Barry.

Current Dean is pissed in a perfect copy of the flashback scene a few minutes before. Touches like that make this episode so exceptional. He gives Sam a cold bottle of malt liquor for the injury down there. Seriously? That works? Tell me guys, I don’t know. I guess it can’t hurt. After making the connection that all the kids ride the same bus, their search of the vehicle finds the bus driver is the dad of Dirk.

The next flashback fills us in on the real story. After being pushed outside by Dirk, Sam gets those crazy eyes of anger (adorable!) and shows Dirk how well-trained he is. It’s very interesting the trigger word is “freak.” Sam shows no mercy with his quick moves to beat Dirk to a pulp, even tagging the fallen kid as “Dirk the jerk.”

However, there are always consequences for actions. Dirk got into drinking, drugs, then too many drugs before dying at 18. Kids picked on him, calling him “Dirk the jerk.” Turns out Dirk was acting out over his mother’s death when Sam knew him and was a good kid who took care of his mother. I’m loving this director now, for only simple touches are needed to show how Dirk’s story is ripping Sam apart. The shot of the normal kid’s picture on the mantle in his happier days in the background with Sam’s guilty profile in the foreground, it’s powerful.

Dean in a not so subtle way gets the dad to admit he keeps a lock of Dirk’s hair on the bus because he was cremated. The ghost bus is then seen bringing back football players from something at night. Bus driver has black stuff coming out of him. No fear though, for Sam and Dean use strategically placed tire shredders to stop the bus. I’m wondering where you find those at a moment's notice. I can never seem to find them at the Home Depot when I need them.

This next scene is so well done, and not just because of Sam’s heartfelt attempt to get through to Dirk. Again the direction rules. When Dean listens to Sam, he’s shown from an upward angle in a wider shot, giving the message he’s a distant observer. The shot slides in closer, as if to show Dean getting sucked in by Sam’s words, and we’re getting sucked in by Dean’s somber face. Again Jensen’s incredible strengths are capitalized by him just standing in the background.

Dirk doesn’t buy into Sam’s wisdom, so Sam shoots him with the rock salt. Dirk goes into another kid, who comes out of the bus and tackles Sam, pounding the crap out of him. Dean finds the hair on the now Dirkless bus driver and burns it. Time for another clever shift as the intense action turns funny. The ghost is expunged and the big kid collapses onto Sam in a very compromising position. Sam struggles for air while Dean winces, knowing the proper name for the position.

Dean

Despite the fact that this is a Sam-focused episode, much about Dean is revealed and in the end who couldn’t help but feel sorry for him. We understood Amanda’s shocked perspective when Dean tells her of his great life living from motel to motel with Dad not around. “HBO, magic fingers, free ice, it’s great.” Seeing this from the perspective of an outsider accents for us how abnormal Sam and Dean’s lives are.

Any stay longer than two weeks is a problem with Dean. By staying that long, he’s gotten cozier with Amanda. He jokes about how he doesn’t do parents, but there’s obviously more to it than that. He doesn’t do relationships. Letting anyone get too close and finding out who he really is proves to be damaging to his psyche.

The final flashback is the most revealing. After Amanda finds Dean in the closet with another girl, she’s figured out who he is and tells him so in front of a large group. The whole coolness thing is an act, and underneath it all is a sad, lonely little kid. She feels sorry for him. Dean reacts with anger, calling himself a hero, but everyone thinks he’s chump. Somehow, this side of Dean makes sense. We’ve seen his struggles with self-worth most of the series, and they apparently go much deeper than we thought. I just wanted to give him a big hug.

Sam

Sam has always been an enigma, so any episode that opens his layers is earth shattering. Sam rarely chooses to openly defend himself, so his words with ghost!Dirk outside the bus are jaw dropping. “I’m not evil, Dirk. I’m not.” Oh, there’s hope for you Sammy. He’s seen real evil and they were just scared kids that needed to take it out on each other. He tells Dirk it gets better. As Dean watches, he reflects what we’re all thinking. Has it gotten better Sam? Young Sam left that school getting high fives and gaining new hope for his life, but as the two scenes with Mr. Wyatt show, it wasn’t enough.

The first scene is in the past. Mr. Wyatt is impressed by Sam’s werewolf story, even though the essay is supposed to be nonfiction. It’s likely one of the few times Sam’s openly shared his thoughts about his family and he didn’t care if anyone believed him or not. He knew it was the truth. Sam is easily thrown by the most basic question. “Do you want to go into the family business Sam?” “No one’s ever asked me that before,” a stunned Sam answers. No, he doesn’t. He really doesn’t.

Mr. Wyatt tells Sam he doesn’t have to do what he doesn’t want to do, and this is likely the first glimmer of hope Sam’s ever gotten about his future. “There are maybe three or four big choices that shape someone’s whole life and you need to be the one that makes them. Not anyone else.” That explains a lot Sam’s behavior over this season. He’s soul searching and making his own choices. Now there’s a clue where that comes from.

Adult Sam’s return visit to Mr. Wyatt at the end of the episode leaves us worried though. Mr. Wyatt remembers Sam’s horror story, and Sam admits “it’s been one long horror story.” Here again is Sam’s desire to open up with someone, just like with the werewolf essay, but he stops himself from going farther than an offhand comment. Sam tells Mr. Wyatt he for a while he managed to make his own choices and went to college because of him. Then, responsibilities and life happened. “You took an interest in me when no one else would, and that matters.”

Dean is the only one Sam has ever been able to talk to and most of the time he isn’t a great listener or empathizer. For one, Dean has never had a problem with the life. It’s very sad to see Sam forced into a life of secrecy, knowing he longs to be normal and have decent relationships with people. Mr. Wyatt is the closest he’s ever come to that.

Just like the first time, Mr. Wyatt asks the most simple yet most complicated question to Sam. “You happy Sam?” Sam can’t answer the question. The camera closes in on his thrown back expression, and it all hits him. He didn’t really take his advice after all. It hasn’t gotten better. Sam’s heart sinks into his stomach, and what a way to end an episode.

This ending coincides perfectly with last week’s and opens great possibilities for Sam’s future direction. Sam is ready to make the tough choices in his life, and he wants to be the one that makes them. He’ll either be happy or die trying.

Random Notes

The episode is in memory of Christopher F. Lima (rigging electrician) and Tim Loock (online editor). Wow, on top of Kim Manners last week this has been a tough year for the crew.

Sam’s white scrubs have returned! When he wore them in “Houses of The Holy” I thought he was meant to look angelic. In this episode, I took it to mean he isn’t evil. Of course, chances are I’m reading way too much into a likely accidental discovery in the costume department.

The classic rock is back! Foreigner’s “Long Long Way From Home” is a great choice to bridge present with past.

I played dodgeball in school and never got hurt. My kids are missing out. Schools allow kids to work with swirling food processor blades but not allow them to play dodgeball? Also, did anyone catch the “Mrs. B’s in Massachusetts getting married” line? Oh snap! I’m surprised there wasn’t a ton of outrage over that. It’s a brilliant, underhanded joke.

Plenty of great Dean quotes. “The whistle makes me their God.” “Three cheerleaders are legal. Guess which ones?” Whose jaw didn’t drop at him telling, of all people, his brother, “He’s giving you the full cowgirl.” The things that come out of that boy’s mouth.

A 21 Jump Street reference. The bus driver sells pot. Hee! Dean just described the plot every week. I only watched because Johnny Depp was hot. Still is.

Teenage Dean wanted to watch I Spit On Your Grave? A story about a woman who’s gang raped and then goes back for revenge? Some stupid friend made me watch that in college and it’s the worst thing I’ve ever seen. It wasn’t horror at all. It wasn’t even bad enough for cult status. Ah well, to each his own.

Another magic fingers reference! For bonus trivia points, name the other episodes that show or mention the magic fingers.

Whew, that was a tough one to review! My grade is an A, this time due to the fantastic directing as well as outstanding character examination. Next week’s review will be late. On Thursday, instead of watching “Sex and Violence,” I’ll be traveling to New York City to cover the New York Comic Con February 6 – 8. I’ll be posting daily reports, including my coverage of the Friday The 13th panel with Jared Padalecki and others associated with the film. Enjoy the next episode without me!

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About Alice Jester

  • http://em-spn18.livejournal.com/ Emma

    Another great review Alice. I agreed with everything you said. Spot on!
    This was everything I could have hoped for in an episode of Supernatural. It was fantastic. Definitely in my top 5 for this season.
    I particularly liked Sammy in this episode. Although I’m a Dean Girl I really enjoyed getting to know the ‘real’ Sam. The one who didn’t want to go into hunting and had found a place he finally belonged before being pulled away. Sam sees the hunting life like quicksand. It sucks you in and won’t let you go. He had a way out, Mr. Wyatt gave him his way out and for a while it worked but now he has been dragged back in again. This season it seems Sam is standing up for himself and making his own decisions as his own man, not John’s son or Dean’s little brother but as Sam Winchester.

    The insight into Dean’s fractured psyche is always welcome and this one was amazing. We got so much out of Dean in a Sam-centric episode. Just when a girl is getting too close he pushes her away on instinct and in the process gets humiliated when she can see his true side, something he tries to hide from everyone including himself and it comes as a smack in the face.

    Sam’s ‘horror’ story would be one interesting read. To see what a 14 year old Sam thought of himself, his father and older brother.

    I agree that first time Supernatural director Adam Kane has certainly made his mark in the Supernatural verse and his name won’t be forgotten in a hurry. Brilliant direction.

  • WithinReason

    This was one of the worst episodes of Supernatural–ever. The only one worse this season was Yellow Fever, also penned by this duo, Dabb and Loflin. Nothing new was revealed here, and worse, they seriously damaged the character of Dean by reducing him to a stereotype and giving him dialogue that was soooo out of character it was offensive. He was portrayed as an obnoxious loser who hunted because he had nothing else–and that’s not the Dean we’ve come to know over the last 3.5 years. The guy who is about hunting evil and saving people–protecting innocents. These two writers are terrible. They don’t understand Dean at all and I hope they never write another episode again. Dabb and Loflin are the same two that caused all the problems in YF with the “Dean is a dick” scene. Even Kripke had to release a statement to fix what they had done.

  • kmb316

    I’m going to try this without cheating. Are the Magic Fingers episodes – Houses of the Holy and Sin City?

    Thanks for another great review Alice.

  • Brandy

    Good episode and food for thought. Why are bullies tolerated in schools? Look what damage it does, that continues for generations, even. Bullying would not be tolerated in an adult work place. Why at a school? Teachers, administrators, do something. You surely know which kids are being picked on and by whom. Do something about it! Call a school assembly, DO something.

    This is an important topic and I am glad the series covered it. For me the writing and acting were up to par with all other episodes, too.

  • vichi

    Hey Alice, as always, is like you read my mind:)I loved the episode and is was more than meets the eyes! The plot was left in the background while the accent was focused on the flashbacks and the past of our Wincehster boys. Colin Foed owns little Sammy. That boy is a fine actor and his act was outstanding. I loved the parallel between 14 old year Sammy walking down the hall and adult Sammy on the same hall, years later, doing the same gesture ith the hand.

    As for Brock Kelly, he was goos, not so good as Colin, but you can see he really study the character he was playing. Some Dean gestures, expressions and even his smirk, were reproduced exactly by Brock. But he did forced some scenes and to be honest, i didn’t like at all the actress playing Amanda. I don’t know why, but didn’t seem to connect with Brock’s Dean.

    As for adult Dean, I just love him. I liked all his funny lines and yes indeed , his mouth speaks without thinking :), but this is his charm.
    I hope you’ll have a wonderful time next week at the con and I can’t wait for your report:)

  • vichi

    Also, did you noticed that this episode had something from “yellow fever”? The same writers did the scenarios for both epy and the subject was kind of the same, i mean about the bullies. In Yellow Fever, the desease infected those who were bullies in the school and in ASS the bullies were tormented by the geeks possessed by a nasty ghost. I wonder if the writers really hate bullies or it is just a coincidence. But, leaving alone the plot and the substante the episode had, I think is was also like a alarm for a very serious social phenomenon. It seems very difficult for a kid to have a normal and happy life in school, which I can’t really get, because for me, high school was a wonderful experience. I was kind of a geek – a cool one but still a geek :), but nobody ever made me feel ashamed about that or to be mean with me…
    Anyway, I loved the epy and I was waiting for it so long and now I have seen it I just hope they will do more episodes with flashbacks from their teen life, If we get a season 5, that is.

  • bkkgeek

    Hi Alice, I’ve been reading your reviews for months but I never got round to comment. I love your insight and your analytical way of approaching every detail. I absolutely loved the episode, still haven’t gone back to rewatch and appreciate the fine moments but I’m sure it’s going into my favourites’ list. Great background story, links to the present, characterisation, character development, the works. A most skillful way to focus on one hero while presenting a deep insight and a good, moving story for the other one. Keep alternating the focus between the brothers like this and the forum rackets will be silenced!!! It’s been subtly shown during the 3.5 seasons that the two main characters are not one dimensional paper cuts, the strength and resilience behind (not so) Little Geek Sammy’s emo facade and the sensitivity and vulnerability behind Awsome Big Brother Dean’s brave face but it’s the first time we actually get to see them working in public, in a social setting, Sam standing tall and Dean losing his cool. It doesn’t change the basic characterisation, it just does more right to the characters by making them more complex and tangible and their lives more real (how would otherwise Sam ever survive or stand up to his Dad, how could Dean possibly remain unscarred unless he were a cold bastard?) All this together with a good horror story and the moving untimely death of a bullied kid. What more could one ask from Network TV? I loved the 21 Jump Street reference, the high jinks in the gym class and the Home Economics gore! The two leads did an excellent job but that Colin kid is uncanning! I’m sorry if I blabbed on for too long and for all the mistakes (English is not my native language) Keep up the good work Alice, I envy you for being able to cover New York Comic Con, it’s like the far side of the world from here!

  • Julie

    I feel sad that I didnt caught on that Mrs B reference… but oh well a lot of references I dont get at first… *sigh*
    I enjoyed every little bit of this episode! I was happy to have a more Sam centered episode: This mean we might actually get to his side of the story real soon! I can’t wait to find out what he and Ruby are hiding.
    Great performances by Colin and Brock. Brock had HUGE shoes to fill in and I think he did an amazing job.

    Enjoy your time in NYC! Thursday’s episode promises to be one heck of an episode, but I’ll still come on every day to see if you have posted your review (you’re the only one I read reviews from!).

  • heraldtalia

    I too loved this episode, but it demonstrated one of my problems with season 4 in general. I feel that Dean this season is being turned into something of a caricature of the hero he used to be. Let me explain why:

    In an episode about the horrors of bullying (and as someone who was bullied for being “fat” and a “nerd”, I felt for those kids), they make Dean himself act like a bully. First in the scene where he was the coach (does anyone believe Dean would actually dress like that) and then later on when he referred to the three kids who had been possessed by the ghost as “dumptruck, Revenge of the Nerds, and Hello Kitty”. So what? It’s horrible when the cheerleader picks on the heavy girl but it’s supposed to be funny when it’s Dean? This isn’t the first time we’ve seen that this season–again I point out the heavy kid in It’s the Great Pumpkin Sam Winchester and I’ll also point out Dean yelling “Run Forrest Run” at bullied Todd in Wishful Thinking. Prior to this season, I would never have believed Dean could be so mean-spirited, especially to a kid. He had such great empathy for the kids in Dead in the Water, Something Wicked, and The Kids are Alright. He just feels wrong here. If this were the first time, I’d write it off as bad writing for Dean, but it’s been something of a trend this season.

    And Dean looking for barely legal teenage girls when he’s pushing 30? That is just plain creepy. I know Dean uses sex as an escape and I have no problems with that, but having him rifling around in files to find barely legal girls while other kids are being maimed and murdered? It’s just not right and not the Dean I know. Again, we saw a similar theme in It’s the Great Pumpkin where Sam even made a Chris Hanson reference. Dean has always liked sex and women, and that’s fine, but I can’t even imagine Season 1 Dean Winchester pursuing any of those attractive teenage girls in Bloody Mary, and he was younger then.

    It just feels like this season, aspects of Dean’s character that used to be just pieces of him have become totally over-the-top. It’s like the writers have ideas about a shallower Dean–he likes food! He likes to eat a LOT! He likes hot chicks and makes jokes! Let’s dress him in lederhosen or a headband or make a gay S&M joke! Let’s make him say “douchebag” over and over again–without the depth he used to have. He is either really angsty (which is understandable) or else over-the-top “funny” in an almost frat-boy kind of way. It’s only Jensen’s incredible talent and charisma that allows me to enjoy watching him in any of the non-mytharc episodes.

    Anyway, sorry for the long rant. I really did love this episode and it was great to get some insight into Sam and some official take on their teenage years outside of the reams of fanfiction I’ve read on the subject. I just miss the old Dean. He can, and should, be damaged from his time in hell, and he can, and should, still have his sex drive, snark, and appetite as ELEMENTS of his character, but as elements only–not as over-the-top jokes sprinkled into almost every episode.

  • Huppy

    Alice, I loved your review. After School Special was an excellent episode, one of the best this season. I really liked the linking of the past to the present, and getting insight into both Sam and Dean. The episode was funny, scary and involving.

    I wasn’t happy with the direction the mytharc took in IKWYDLS and HH. “Good” demons, “bad” angels, angelic grace in a tree or bottle or wherever. I am hoping Kripke can pull off this mytharc; we’ll see.

    Family Remains was awful, and the Criss Angel episode had a good performance by Barry Bostwick, but just was an okay episode in my opinion.

    After School Special, though, was great, and felt like a return to the high quality SN usually gives viewers. Like you pointed out the direction was really good. I liked the overhead shots they used, such as poor Sam with that heavy high schooler on top of him. I also liked the effect of the ghost leaving the Asian American girl’s body in the hallway, how it hits a banner hanging from the ceiling.

    Really enjoyable episode.

  • Hana

    The 21 Jump Street reference was win.
    Wow, your reviews are very thorough and impressive.

  • Sandy

    Great review Alice. It was a good episode. Colin Ford has a bright future in front of him thats for sure.Personally I didnt like how teen Dean spoke to his teacher..I mean ‘sweetheart’, ‘sugar’? I would never expect someone that doesnt like being singled out at birthdays to bring that sort of attention to himself. Oh and my 12yr informs me that they play dodgeball in our NZ schools here! Certainly not as rough as it was portrayed on Supernatural though! One question…as a Kiwi I have no idea what the reference to Mrs B getting married in Massachusetts means. Can someone enlighten me please? :)

  • Sandy

    Oh yea and the barely legal cheerleader comment from just turned 30 Dean was ewww and creepy. whatever where the writers thinking….

  • Tigershire

    Funny, I took that whole cheerleader thing completely different. Personally, I think Dean tries to get a rise out of Sam whenever he can and I took this as just another attempt on Dean’s part to poke at his brother.

    Dean isn’t fixated on sex, he’s fixated on harrassing Sam. Look at how Sam responded in I Know What You Did Last Summer and Heaven and HEll – the whole “Dean you’re confusing real life with porn” bit.

    I betcha anything Dean’s keeping count on how often he can get an exasperated comment out of Sam.

  • http://www.jesterz.net Alice Jester

    Sandy – Sorry, I should have had at least a comment explaining the Mrs. B joke for the International folks. After all, I did it last week with the “douchebag” definition.

    In the US, the only state where gay people can legally get married in Massachusetts. So, either Dean was “implying” that a female gym teacher must be a lesbian, or she was actually getting married there and he hinted she was a lesbian. Either way, it was a sly and somewhat offhanded remark.

    I’m really surprised that comment flew under the radar. Same with I Spit On Your Grave. That’s a horrifying film for women to watch because the rapes are so graphic. Throw in the barely legal cheerleader comment, and Dean definitely hit some lows. I forgive him though, for we know his character isn’t that shallow. He just says weird things sometimes.

  • Sandy

    Thanks for clarifying Alice. Hmmm reading what you wrote about ‘Mrs B’, I dont see the ‘sly’ and ‘offhandedness’ in it but I guess Im only seeing it from my point of view as in a Kiwi rather than an American (if you get my drift..lol).
    When I heard and read the comments about ‘I Spit On Your Grave’, I went to wikipedia and read about it. EEEWWWWW Dean wants to watch a movie like that??!!! Who ARE these writers?

  • http://www.jesterz.net Alice Jester

    I think a lot of Americans missed the joke too, so it can be called sly. It was a pretty quick moment.

    I love what the writers did with the script, but they were pushing limits with those references. Luckily, they were quick lines that didn’t figure into the complex story.

  • http:/ Suze

    Great episode. I liked the way they present bullies as damaged people too. The two Scary Monsters that stalked my school both had home lives you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy.

    Small Sam was brilliant, same moves, same expressions, quite spookily accurate. Not as sold on Teen Dean, he seemed to be at least a foot taller than the ulitmate version and a bit over Fonzified, if you see what I mean.

    I fell about over the Jailbait joke. Tigershire’s quite right though, Dean’s not a dirty old man, he’s just winding Sam up by having a poke at his puritan sensibilities!

  • Baronius

    No offense meant to Dean or his fans, but I’ve always seen him as kind of a bully. Look at how he pushes Sam around; and he’s been treating him that way since Season One. He’s violent – appropriately, given his career, but it’s the way he responds to a crisis. He sure isn’t a gentleman around women. Even his experience in Hell ties in. He became a willing, joyful torturer.

    Dean has a gentle side. And given his upbringing (violence, an authoritarian father, no mother), it’s surprising he has a gentle side at all. That doesn’t change the fact that he is kind of a bully.

  • lynn

    I’m feeling lost. I haven’t gotten the ‘Mrs B’ joke. Could someone please enlighten me?

  • http://www.jesterz.net Alice Jester

    Lynn – considering the only place gay people can be legally married is Massachusetts, that was Dean’s very sly way of implying that Mrs. B (the gym teacher he’s subbing for) is a lesbian. Now granted, she might actually be a lesbian and getting married in Massachusetts, but either way, it’s meant to show Mrs. B’s true orientation.

  • http://bardicvoice.livejournal.com Mary (Bardicvoice)

    Hi, Alice! As you can tell, I’m catching up on lost time …

    I loved this episode, as my review indicated. Still, I totally missed the “Mrs B” reference. Shows you how cued in I’m not. I did think that Dean was mostly winding Sam up with the cheerleader comment.

    On the other hand, I caught something you missed: that scene of the boys burning Barry’s bones, which you credited to new director Kane? Nope – that was a flip of the scene from Hollywood Babylon where the boys burned the starlet’s bones. And by that, I mean it was the identical footage, just flipped to look a bit different.

    Mind you, I loved everything that Kane actually did, and if reusing that bit of footage meant they could afford to use the classic rock, more power to them for creative accounting!!

  • http://www.jesterz.net Alice Jester

    Mary – I did read your observation about that after I posted this review and I have to say very clever! I mentioned your catch in my full recap on my jesterz.net site. Thanks for pointing it out here. I think they did a fantastic job with the reuse, because it worked perfectly.

  • laura

    I can’t believe all the comments about Dean being sensitive. Dean’s far from sensitive when it comes to women. Maybe it comes from watching his mother burn alive, maybe just from living life on the run, either way the only time we see sensitive is when it involves one of his family members.
    Remember the psyic in ‘Home’ played by the talented and beautiful Loretta Devine. She saw straight through Dean and didn’t waste any time or mince any words when it came to setting him straight. She recognized that he needed a firm a hand, especially when it comes to women.
    And how about Ellen Harvelle played by the talented Samantha Ferris. She doesn’t give him an inch. Nor does she fall for the puppy dog eyes.(Either a very strong woman or perhaps she needs new contacts).
    And remember Anna Milton? She was blinded because she tried to help Sam and Dean but that doesn’t stop Dean from going and dragging her back again when he thinks she can help Sam, even though he knows he’s putting her life in danger.
    Tell me one scene that involves a woman other then his mother where he is truly caring towards her and doesn’t want sex. It’s what he lives for, women and tormenting his brother-well, alright, and his car. And for all the arm-chair anyalists out there I’m sure it’s all cover for something much deeper but I doubt what lies deeper is very pretty.
    He hates Bella and Ruby and makes a point of expressing his feelings every time he sees them. In fact he could have cared less when Bella died. We’ve seen one girlfriend that he was friendly enough with but he trashes her because she broke his heart and then sleeps with her.
    He even seduced an Angel. (Great scene by the way.)
    He’s always making comments about the waitress in Florida with the rash. When they are interviewing people it’s always Sam that’s the compasionate one, not Dean. When Dean is talking to the roommate in ‘Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things’ he acts as though he’s listening and caring but rolls his eyes when handing her a tissue.
    Of course Dean is interested in the hot cheerleaders. I would be surprised if the super macho, leather jacket wearing, ghost fighting, muscle car driving, Zep loving Dean wasn’t interested.
    This show isn’t a look into the softer side of two guys, it’s suppose to be dark and supernatural and gritty. Sadly it got stuck on the CW so there are limits but I would bet that the original sketch for Dean was much rougher and harder, not soft and cuddly.
    Alice, your review was well written as always and your insights dead on. I always enjoy reading about other peoples insights. It’s opens the door to area’s that I might have overlooked.
    I didn’t really like this episode very much. It felt wrong and I think I even commented to a friend after the show that it felt different. Thank you for mentioning that it had different writers. That explains a lot.
    Please keep up the excellent reviews and I look forward to your next one.

  • Jennifer

    Alice – I have really been enjoying your reviews and anxiously await the latest update after each episode.

    I’ve found it interesting how much debate this episode has raised about Dean being a womanizer – which is not to say I doubt that is how his character is written. One thing has always struck me in the scenes with the boys and women is the different “styles” shown between Dean and Sam. Maybe it’s the direction from the various directors and partly because Jared is such a big guy but Sam always seems so rough with women. In direct contrask Dean seems gentler, takes his time and takes care of who he is with. I often think this is directly opposite of his facade. He enjoys women and just wants to be loved – if only for a short period of time. Maybe not healthly but he certainly isn’t bottling it up like Sam seems to be.