This review is going to be a little shorter than usual, because frankly, this episode was not my cup of tea. I have no doubt there are shouts of glee throughout the internet at all the geek references writer Robbie Thompson manages to pack in. There is also quite a bit of movement on the Leviathan front, and not just with plot. Thompson also presents us with a philosophical treatise on what humans have that no other species has, including Leviathans. With all that going for it, why didn’t “The Girl with the Dungeons and Dragons Tattoo grab me?
I got off to a bad start with the episode when it opened with some of the clunkiest exposition I have ever seen on the show. The “Before” preamble gives us a very detailed synopsis of both the Frank Devereaux and Ghost Bobby stories, touching on almost every scene. That leads right into an even clunkier exposition scene among Sam, Dean and Bobby.
Neither Thompson nor director Johnnie Mac even try to make the scene work as drama. Bobby just recites plot details we already know while flashback sequences play. I have no idea why the show decided its audience is suffering from collective amnesia, but if the writers decide to go with this much exposition done this badly, they could at least take a leaf out of Games of Thrones playbook and wrap it up as sexposition.
It comes as a relief when the scene breaks to guest star Felicia Day, who is fine in her role as geek hacker extraordinaire Charlie. But I don’t watch Supernatural to be glad to switch to the guest star because nothing much is happening with Sam, Dean and Bobby. I don’t expect a guest star to carry an episode in the final stretch to the finale. Every episode counts at this point, as story threads set up all season come to fruition.
Sadly, Felicia Day does indeed do all the heavy lifting. Thompson at least acknowledges how passive Sam and Dean are, as Dean complains about sending in a 90-lb. girl to do their work for them. The little tidbits of Dean directing Charlie through an ear piece while Sam giggles are cute, but are just not the sort of dramatic scenes I need from the Winchesters at this point in the season.
At least the episode touched on Sam and Dean’s fear of hunting Bobby—but touched on is the only way to describe it. I need a lot more than that to pay off bringing Bobby back as a ghost. “Death’s Door” was a fantastic episode and a wonderful if wrenching goodbye to a beloved character. If Bobby is now going to be something other than father figure, if he may indeed turn into something the boys have to destroy, I need to see that play out on screen. I need to follow the boys’ journey as they deal with their feelings. I want to see Bobby’s fear of what the price of coming back may be. I don’t want to just catch glimpses while a guest star carries the show.
I also want the Leviathan story to pay off as a season long arc, because it hasn’t been woven in terribly well. And to pay off, Sam and Dean need to go head to head with Dick Roman. Supernatural’s arcs work really well when the boys have as big a relationship with the bad guys as the good guys. Who can forget Dean torturing Azazel or taunting Zachariah? Or Sam falling under Ruby’s spell? So far, the Winchesters do not have a relationship with Roman and that hasn’t improved the arc. Charlie, on the other hand, had some revealing talks with the Leviathan boss. Too bad the show is not about Charlie.
At least we did get to know the Leviathan plan, which wasn’t a great surprise after “How to Win Friends and Influence Monsters.” The Leviathans intend to farm complacent healthy people, setting up death camps in plain sight. Dick’s interest in an ancient artifact hidden in clay is more of a surprise and I am very interested in knowing more. Clearly, it represents some kind of Achilles Heel Sam and Dean may be able to exploit.
I was pleased with the introduction of some of the philosophical musings Supernatural does so well. I think it was a good use of Charlie to represent a creative impulse in humans Dick Roman cannot clone. That X factor allows humans to make inventive leaps the Leviathans may not see coming. The show’s angel/demon story line portrayed the power of love in defeating even fate—and that love may be part of how humans are made in God’s image. Perhaps this arc will deal with the spark of creation in a similar manner. But if so, it would be nice to see Sam and Dean being creative in dealing with Roman.
My biggest criticism of the episode is that Thompson enjoyed hiding geek Easter eggs in the dialogue so much, he went further and made the Easter eggs the point, rather than character exploration of the leads. I love Easter eggs as much as the next geek, but they’re an extra, not the main course. Geek references don’t just spice up the dialogue here, they are the point of much of the dialogue. And that’s the cart pulling the horse.
With only three episodes left in season seven to pay off Bobby’s and Castiel’s return and the Leviathan menace, not to mention Sam’s hell memories and Dean’s depression, the Winchesters better be front and centre from now to the finale.