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TV Review: Supernatural – “Out With The Old”

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Supernatural made a welcome return on the 16th with “Out With The Old,” a solid transitional episode. The story mixes together an old fashioned monster of the week case with movement on the Leviathan arc, seasoned with some Sam angst. With the case quickly taking a back seat to the Leviathans and poor Sam’s fractured mind, the shape of the episode mirrors the shape of the rest of the season.

Sam and Dean with the cursed shoes“Out With The Old” starts out with an old school vibe, as Sam and Dean investigate some cursed ballet slippers in Portland. Between a cursed Dean fighting the urge to tie on the slippers and a cursed boy stalking his mother with a knife, the episode has a scary but funny feel reminiscent of the first three seasons. The gore (and there is gore!) is balanced out by scenes like a cursed but polite little girl yelling “Sorry!” to Dean every time her shoes kick him in the face.

It’s all good fun, but at this stage in the season, we need some movement on the Big Bad arc. Fortunately, the curse boxes are not the scariest things in town. The first hint we’ll meet some more Leviathans comes when Dean’s weekly phone call to Frank actually features Frank instead of just Dean’s side of the conversation. Frank is as enjoyable as ever as he calls Dean “fudge pop” and demands to know when Dean became the boss of him.

Dean has a very different relationship with Frank than Bobby, but it is fun watching him meet his ornery match. Frank ends the phone call by saying, “And another thing . . . “ and then hanging up on Dean to show how little he’s willing to put up with Dean’s impatience to get something on Dick Roman.

Dean doesn’t know it yet, but things are about to start heating up in Portland. It seems a new real estate firm, Bicklebee, has been buying up small businesses all over town. And when the owners are reluctant to sell, they suffer strange accidents after suddenly deciding to sign the sale contract.

Dean gets suspicious when he talks to Scott, the son of the antique shop owner with the curse boxes squirreled away. Scott’s mom, who obviously knew a thing or two about monsters and magic judging from the contents of her safe, died in a car accident the day after unexpectedly changing her mind about selling her shop. Dean tries to research the real estate firm, but when he finds the parent company, Geo Thrive Inc, he can’t get past the firewall. A quick phone call to Frank gets the hunter on the case.

Joyce and GeorgeAs Dean tries adding the clues up, we realize the answer is Leviathans as soon as we are introduced to realtor Joyce and her hapless assistant George. Joyce is trying to persuade Mr. Marshall to sell his shop while simultaneously haranguing George about his incompetency. Joyce has a short fuse and her reaction to opposition is to kill it, which she quickly does to the recalcitrant Marshall. George is unsure the trail of bodies Joyce is leaving in her real estate buying wake is what Dick Roman had in mind.

Joyce has more interest in reminding George he’s her fifth assistant and he will probably suffer the fate of the other four if he doesn’t start getting her coffee order right. The tension between the two is nicely set up, as we almost feel sorry for the beleaguered assistant—until he delightedly recognizes an exhausted Sam in the coffee kiosk line up.

George happily phones his boss, sure he’s about to indulge in a tasty Winchester snack. But no, apparently there is an order of precedence to eating Winchesters and George is nowhere near the top. Joyce is, of course, at the top, and she uses poor Scott to lure Sam and Dean back to the antique shop on the pretext of having touched another cursed object. While she’s at it, she decides she’ll cover up Scott’s murder by having George turn into Scott for the next thirty years. George is unimpressed.

The brothers have no problem believing Scott had no common sense about curse boxes, so they walk right into Joyce’s trap. She delightedly tells Dean, “I am going to enjoy picking you out of my teeth.” Sam and Dean are well on their way to featuring on a Leviathan menu when they get some unexpected help. It seems George is sure his days are numbered with Joyce, so he helps Sam cut Joyce’s head off just before she gobbles Dean up.

The Leviathan clearly hopes he’ll have a friendly little chat with the boys, but, after sending Scott off to parts unknown for his own safety, Sam and Dean are not as grateful as George anticipated. With a little persuasion from the sword, George tells Sam and Dean the Leviathans are going to use the Wisconsin field to build a research facility to cure cancer. Smiling blandly, he says, “We’re only here to help.”

Sam and Dean don’t buy it for a minute, but for now, all they can do is head for Frank’s to see if he’s got any more intel for them. Unfortunately for them and Frank, the song playing over the scene as they arrive at the trailer is “Bad Moon Rising.” Last time that song played, the Winchesters were T-boned by a semi. Not a lucky song, that one. Sure enough, as the boys warily walk into Frank’s place, they are met with blood spatters, overturned furniture and no Frank. Oh oh.

Tired Sam with DeanThe Leviathan problem isn’t the only plot point heating up. The episode also lets us have another look at Sam’s Lucifer problem. In “Repo Man,” we got a peek inside Sam’s head. This week, we get Dean’s view of Sam and it’s very worrying. On the plus side, Sam is very open with Dean about his hallucinations, which are not allowing him to sleep. The brothers have grown this year in how they try to talk to each other. On the minus side, Sam isn’t sleeping and there’s nothing Dean can do to help.

Jared Padalecki does a great job conveying Sam’s utter exhaustion, from his testiness to zoning out in the middle of conversations. Sam’s physically going through the motions, but he can’t even deal with sassiness from the boy he rescued. He tells the kid, “This would be a really good time for a lesson in gratitude. Lucky for you, I’m too tired.”

Sam’s so tired he falls asleep while driving and almost runs into a semi, a nice tie in to “Bad Moon Rising” later in the episode. Dean is very worried about his brother, but other than offering to tune into a soft rock station to soothe Sam to sleep, he doesn’t know what to do. Sam insists he can’t shut Lucifer up and Lucifer won’t let him sleep. Dean carefully reminds Sam Lucifer isn’t real, but real or not, Sam can’t shake him. Now that we know what Sam is dealing with, it’s obvious Sam is headed for a crash and Dean can’t stop it.

With Leviathans coming out of the woodwork and Sam losing his mind, the rest of the season has been nicely set up. We should be in for a taut ride to the finale.

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