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TV Review: Supernatural – “Slash Fiction”

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This week’s “Slash Fiction” was an example of Supernatural firing on all cylinders. The episode, from new writer Robbie Thompson, crackled with energy and wit without skimping on tension. Taking down the Leviathans just got even more personal for the Winchesters, if they can reconcile their differences enough to hunt together.

This episode had so much goodness it’s hard to know where to start. How about with the beautifully done tonal shifts? Evil Sam’s and Evil Dean’s shooting rampages were genuinely disturbing , so the anticipation of their inevitable meeting with real Sam and Deal was filled with tension even though it was obviously from the get go it would happen.

Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki as Sam and Dean WinchesterYet Evil Sam and Dean were a lot of fun to watch. Leviathan-Sam was an even more chilling version of Soulless Sam, which makes sense and is a nice call back to last season, while Leviathan-Dean was a heartless version of Dean, getting his flirt on while spraying bullets. The scene where the two false Winchesters discuss the real Winchesters with disdain was a hoot, from dissing Dean’s love of burgers to deciding the best thing to do with a brother with Sam’s issues is to eat him. The discussion of the brothers’ issues, while funny, allowed the scene to work on yet another level: we now know Sam is much less stable than he’s appeared in the last few episodes.

“Slash Fiction” finally put all the playing pieces on the board and ratcheted up the stakes for the Winchesters. The Leviathans are Mensa monsters and can infiltrate human society with ease. Their ability to access the memories of anyone they clone gives them a psychological edge as they hunt the boys, which bodes well for keeping this story line sharp. It certainly paid off this week.

Chet the captured Leviathan used Bobby’s memories against him in a way that let us get a welcome peek into the hunter. Not only did we find he shares a lot of similarities with Dean, from alcohol to daddy issues, we also realized he still has what the audience has: hope. Hope that he’ll survive and that he’ll find companionship. With a show as dark as Supernatural, it’s nice to get the occasional reassurance hope for our characters is allowed. I loved Bobby’s interactions with Sheriff Jodie. They have a nice natural rapport that keeps Bobby in character while showing a side of him he normally keeps under wraps. I’m game for a romance between these two.

The Leviathan’s psychological warfare also moved along Sam and Dean’s personal story. Dean’s secret he’s been hiding from Sam is not new territory for the brothers. We’ve seen them fight and separate before. Re-occurring plot bunnies can be an issue for a show—but not necessarily. As with any story, the success depends on how it is told.

I found Evil Dean’s reveal of real Dean’s secret to Sam very effective. I loved the way the Leviathans were clearly separate characters from the Winchesters. Evil Dean took such delight in making his meal bitter and knew exactly how to push Sam’s buttons. Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles were both wonderful in playing their alternate characters, and this scene really highlighted Ackles’ ability to play a character dark and attractive at the same time, making us feel guilty for loving to watch him.

Besides being enjoyable to watch, the scene also clarified the reason for re-introducing the secret/lie story line. This time, the point is for the brothers to examine how far they have come from season one. Sam is ready for Dean to allow him to grow up. I don’t think their eventual reconciliation is going to centre on whether Dean was right to kill Amy. My money is on Sam needing Dean to trust him to handle the hard issues.

I think Sam and Dean’s overall arc this year will be on recognizing how they need to let go in order to stay close. Dean will always be Sam’s big brother, but he has to learn to put more emphasis on “brother” rather than caretaker. Sam needs to realize his tendency to walk away when he’s upset makes Dean’s life very difficult. And I don’t think this examination is repetitive. Our early bonds shape us and negotiating space to grow up with our nearest and dearest is a lifelong process. I have always loved the authenticity of the emotional exploration of the Winchester family and I think this arc rings true.

Since the emphasis of the secret issue is more on the brothers’ relationship than plot development, I think Sam and Dean will work past it reasonably quickly. This season is about bringing the boys together, not splitting them up. They’re renegotiating the way they work together, not leaving the other behind. They need to be a team to stay alive.

Sam and Dean also need allies and I loved the possibilities this episode offered. I’m all for Sheriff Jodie being a recurring character. She’s all kinds of cute with Bobby without sacrificing her kickass qualities and I love Jim Beaver getting a chance to show more sides of Bobby. He never disappoints. I also really enjoyed Frank the paranoid conspiracy expert. His combination of crazy and savvy played really well. And it’s always great to see Crowley. He has a great reason to get involved now he knows Dick the Leviathan boss would love to exterminate demons if he wasn’t so busy with Sam and Dean.

Misha Collins as CastielHopefully, Crowley’s involvement will lead to more Cas in the story, as well. The brothers will not be impressed with the idea of the demon as an ally, considering what Crowley was up to last season, so bringing him in should link to that part of the brothers’ history. Supernatural writers do a great job of referencing Sam and Dean’s history and bringing in past story elements. Whether they bring Cas back to give him a proper send off or to find a way to re-integrate him, the character is unfinished business for Sam and Dean.

Finally, I can’t review this episode without discussing the Air Supply scene. Dean mourning that he had to put his baby in a corner and then lip synching to that most emo of bands, Air Supply, will go down as one of the series’ classic laugh out loud moments. From Dean sneakily singing along to Sam’s horrified side eye, the actors were pitch perfect. In fact, that’s a great description of “Slash Fiction”: pitch perfect.

What did you think? Where does the Air Supply scene fit in your pantheon of perfect Supernatural moments? How is season seven shaping up for you?

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