Supernatural’s “There Will Be Blood” fell short of where the show needs to be in the penultimate episode of the season. Despite the welcome return of such guest stars as Jim Beaver, Mark A. Sheppard and Rick Worthy, the episode was flat, with some very jarring moments that yanked me out of the story. More than ever, the writing made me resent the narrative time wasted in “The Girl with the Dungeons and Dragons Tattoo,” because sure enough, we are headed into the finale without enough exploration of why the boys and Bobby are where they are.
Part of the blame lies with writers Andrew Dabb and Daniel Loflin. These writing partners have written some brilliant episodes—I loved “Dark Side of the Moon,” while “Frontierland” is a fan favourite. But they’ve been off their game this season.
“The Girl Next Door” would have benefitted from more exploration of Amy’s dual nature, “Time for a Wedding” was a tonal misfire with several logic gaps, and “Plucky Pennywhistle,” while not a failure for many, didn’t come near the comedic brilliance of episodes like “The Real Ghostbusters,” or “Tall Tales.” This week’s “There Will Be Blood” simply didn’t build the kind of anticipation needed to head into the finale. It squanders all the character-driven tension created in last week’s excellent “Reading is Fundamental.”
Dabb and Loflin touch on all the expected story points. For example, we see Sam and Dean arguing about what to do about the Bobby problem. But as Dean points out, Sam has been flip flopping back and forth on what his stance is.In “Of Grave Importance,” Sam was hopeful the boys could find a way to make the situation work. In “The Girl with the Dungeons and Dragons Tattoo,” rather suddenly he was on the vengeful spirit train, a position he is now arguing forcefully.
I have no issue with this possibility for Bobby, except I need to see it play out in front of my eyes, not get talked about. I need to follow everyone’s, and that includes Bobby’s, emotional journey. I don’t yet feel emotionally invested in this story line, because I don’t feel anyone else’s emotional investment. I can only hope next week delivers on this arc in spades, because otherwise the splendid “Death’s Door” will have been severely undercut for little pay off.
Dabb and Loflin also had a logic issue with this story. Why can Bobby scope out the vampire hide out without his flask being nearby, but he can’t follow Sam and Dean into the gas station? And why introduce and then skip over the impact of Sam and Dean returning a kidnapped child and then being suspected of the crime? Covering something like that in exposition is clunky and unnecessary. Exposition in general is turning into a problem on Supernatural, as we saw in Robbie Thompson’s “The Girl with the Dungeons and Dragons Tattoo.”
I also disliked being yanked out of the narrative by the very campy scene with the boys and the Alpha vamp. The Alpha vamp recounts all the feelings the boys have but can’t act on right now and then tells them he’ll see them next season. I usually have no objection to meta references , as generally Supernatural does meta better than any other show. The viewer is not pulled out of the narrative in shows like “The Real Ghostbusters” or “The French Mistake” because all the embedded jokes make sense in the world of the show as well. In this case, the Alpha Vamp’s use of the word “season” jars and is an example of meta done very poorly.
I didn’t mind the main plot, except I suspected the young girl’s motives from the start and therefore was unsurprised by her double cross. I loved seeing Crowley again, because the boys actually have a relationship with him, the way they most decidedly do not with Dick Roman. It’s much more fun to try and discern whose side Crowley is actually on than to see yet another smug Dick Roman scene. We get it, he’s a soulless corporate fat cat. Sadly, he’s a rather one note fat cat, which helps neither the surface plot nor the social commentary. The writers need to figure out more Roman/Sam and Dean interaction and fewer Dick jokes.
I felt let down with this episode after Ben Edlund’s masterful entry last week which made me care and worry about everyone. However, the writers do not carry all the blame. Part of the problem is trying to cover too much narrative ground in too little time and having to skip details to get to predetermined plot points. Yet again, I have to point out the series could not afford to center “The Girl with the Dungeons and Dragons Tattoo” on a guest star at this stage of the season. The time was needed to give this season’s critical arcs the time to play out with depth and resonance. Instead, the show is racing to make up lost time and relying too much on exposition to do it.
I still have hopes this season will end with an emotional punch. All the pieces are in place. It’s just disappointing to have a lacklustre set up going into the finale.