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TV Review: Supernatural – “Wishful Thinking”

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Be careful what you wish for!  It’s dark comedy done Supernatural style and with anything using this genre, the side-splitting laughter usually comes with a dark and cynical sentiment by the end of the piece.  Dark enough to even make a teddy bear want to blow his brains out.     

Despite the sinister territory, the execution of “Wishful Thinking” is perfect.  It’s a slower-paced yet very entertaining episode that felt familiar, probably because it’s written by the wacky yet brilliant veteran writer Ben Edlund.  Robert Singer is the director, adding to the comfortable flow and feel of the Winchester’s latest mind-boggling adventure.   

This week’s locale is picture postcard perfect and the breathtaking scenery managed to greatly enhance the bizarre-ness episode.  I was told this is the same place where Men In Trees was filmed (the fictional town of Elmo).  One Google search later and the name of the actual town, Squamish, British Columbia, emerged.  Here it’s Concrete, Washington.  No matter what the name, Squamish is going on my places to visit list.   

Clearly the tortured soul of the week title goes to Dean, whose recollections of Hell are coming back to haunt him.  He can no longer hide his misery from Sam, although Sam was tipped off by the angel Uriel last week and reminded Dean of that a few times.  Dean is coming apart at the seams and his only refuge comes from a surreal encounter with a giant stuffed animal, serious issues with a sandwich gone bad, and taking on Superman.    

By the end of the episode, the lesson learned turns quite depressing.  Call it the Tao of Winchester if you wish, but the notion that “People are people because they’re miserable bastards because they never get what they really want,” and when “People get what they want, they get crazy,” made me want to join that suicidal teddy bear in his cloud of misery.  The ending was far from happy and all those involved were still as broken as when the mystery began.   

How Many Times Can You Kill A Winchester? 

For all you trivia buffs, this episode has a strange link to classics “In My Time of Dying,” “All Hell Breaks Loose Parts 1 and 2,” “Mystery Spot,” and “No Rest For The Wicked.”  How?  A Winchester dies.  Sam dies, again, this time after being struck down by the sudden appearance of a cloud and a lightening strike.  Didn’t I tell Kripke that this show is done killing Winchesters?  The special effects for that scene are awesome, equally comparable with Dean being cut down by a car and a desk in “Mystery Spot.”  Given the trimming of the VFX budget this year, we’ve learned to appreciate bits like that more.   

Thanks to the ever-popular paranormal reset button, Sam is brought back by a loveable loser who sees the error of his ways.  I enjoy seeing a villain of the week who’s just an ordinary guy that unwittingly creates a situation because his life sucks.  Ted Raimi, who’s been in just about everything by looking at his IMDb page, brought some wonderful depth to this week’s foe.  It’s a nice change of pace from the constant exorcising of demons and blowing away culprits in bloody ways.   

So if you had a wish, what would you wish for?  Considering Dean has already gotten his answer in “What Is And What Should Never Be,” the footlong Italian sub with jalapeno seemed like the wiser choice.  We see a horny teen exploit his power of invisibility by staking out a ladies locker room, a nerdy loser score the affections of the most gorgeous woman in town, a local man win the lottery, a bullied kid gain superhuman strength, and a set of parents choosing a tropical locale over their child’s welfare.  The absolute wish kicker though comes from a little girl, uncovered when Sam and Dean are forced to unravel a mystery of “Bigfoot,” who drinks Amaretto and Irish Cream and, like Dean, has a thing for busty Asian beauties.  Yep, her teddy bear has come to life.    

Sam and Dean get to the truth posing as “Teddy Bear Doctors” and their reactions over seeing a talking, life-sized, and loaded with despair stuffed toy are priceless.  Once again Jensen and Jared both prove how gifted they are with comedy, for their befuddled reactions take something absurd on paper and turn it into full-blown audience hysterics.  I’d react the same way if I saw a giant teddy bear shouting, “Close the freaking door!”

About Alice Jester

  • L. Matte

    I just wanted to tell you how much I enjoy reading your reviews and recaps of Supernatural. I am a big fan of the show. This past summer I found your website and enjoyed reading it ever since. I watch the show for entertainment, not critically. I especially like to see what your insights are, which help me understand anything I may have missed or didn’t get. Thanks again!

  • elle2

    Alice, your reviews are like cool water to a sunscorched traveler in the desert…in other words, me likes.

    Like you I immediately was drawn to the parallels between Sam’s and Dean’s burdens and their realization that they cannot ever explain it fully to the other. Similarly though, Sam will remain at Dean’s side, or in this case, trailing slowly behind giving his brother a little personal space. As in Metamorphosis when Dean reiterated that Sam would not have to carry or deal with his burden alone, Sam in his nonverbal way ‘says’ the same to Dean.

    Interesting that none of the conversations regarding Dean’s memories thus far have occured in the Impala, and to my memory only one was beside the Impala (Yellow Fever and even that wasn’t a reference to hell)

    Some fans indicate dissatisfaction with Sam’s development and I suspect it is based in that they see large jumps rather than small steps; they wanted to experience Sam’s change, for me the montage in Mystery Spot gave us that insight.

    While I could wish for the happier days of Sam, if I look back to S1 there was grief for Jess and the belief that he was cursed, S2 brought psychic kids and YED and S3 gave us focussed Sam as well as darker and sadder as he realized he would be stuck behind and that he had to change [as he said in Malleous M. "become more like you [Dean]“]

    I was taken aback, and deeply saddened for Sam, in his response to Dean’s wish question; he has changed. To me the Sam of S4 is right where I’d expect him to be, the past is the past and no going back. Huge kudos though that Sam came clean on his real wish, he’s not hiding from Dean about who he is.

    I was further heartened by Dean’s pledge not to lie anymore to Sam despite his refusal to share his memories.

    This season seems to be the season of openness, I’d figured the brothers, after clearing the slate in Metamorphosis, would begin a whole new set of hiding but thus far every conversation with an angel (either Cas or Uriel) has been shared on or offscreen, and now their heavy burdens are brought to light if not shared.

    Sam’s time w/o Dean was never asked to be explained so to me that doesn’t count as hiding and, since I figure we’re getting some insight coming up, I’m left with the happier thought that perhaps while each brother now publically carries a private burden [how's that for a contradiction] that it is unlikely they will begin keeping secrets again.

    I like that, hmm, a show that grows not only its characters but in how it handles them and their lives and burdens…awesome.

    Damn you Kripke — in the best way possible!!!!

  • vichi

    hi, Alice!
    Great review as always. I loved this episode, i like every Ben Edlund episode and I really was blown away by the last scene! great acting from our boys and the kidz were cool too! Can’t wait for next week!

  • http://www.milehighhorror.com DawninDenver

    Great recaps- I agree Edlund is one of my favorite writers for the series. Our site also does Supernatural recaps if you can’t get enough of the boys.

  • Elle

    Your reviews are always dead on and your comments make me laugh and think critically about the episode, Alice. When Elund’s name dances across the screen in the credits, I cackle with glee knowing a brilliant episode is about to be had. Great, funny episode. Am I the only one who was taken back to Tall Tales as Dean was chugging those shots? (Purple Nurples anyone?)

    The end was so sad – Jensen rocked it. (In a violation of my disturb-me-during-Supernatural-and-Die rule, I was interupted during the end scene and had to immediately rewind and watch again before I knew what had gone on.)

    One of my favourite funny scenes was with the boys sitting outside the convenience store trying to explain bigfoot (“Deep woods Duchovny”- ha.) Sam talking to the “Ghost-sensitive” woman was great. I especially loved when it dawned on him that the “ghost” was a peeping-Tom. “Don’t worry ma’am, I’m with the health department.” – This cracked me up!

    I enjoyed the integration of the Dean-in-Hell issue with the humerous bits of the episode.

    This has been a phenomenal season so far – usually, there is one or two episodes that I could take or leave (*cough*Red Sky*cough*) but not this season! Can’t wait for the next installment.

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

    The full recap is now available on my webpage at http://www.jesterz.net. It seems that real life is pushing these back to Tuesday lately, but it’s there now, complete with pictures.

    L Matte – Thanks for sending your kind message! I always enjoy hearing such feedback and I’m glad you like my strange view of all things Supernatural.

    Elle2 – Your analysis is dead on, as usual and I love reading it. The clues are VERY subtle, but Sam is slowly turning cold and inhuman. He still believes in saving people, but he isn’t about to sugarcoat that their existence is in a rotten place. I worry for the boy, but I also wonder if its not too late for him. It doesn’t seem he can ever go back or forward. Just down.

    Hi Vichi! Great hearing from you. I hope the blogging on your end is going well. There’s been so much to write about! The next two weeks are going to be epic.

    DawninDenver – I checked out your site. I shall add yours to the list of places to check out good recaps. Thanks for sharing!

    Elle – As much as my heart bled for Dean and his trauma, I think he’s still way healthier than Sam. Sam scared me a little. We’ll find out if that’s true in the coming months, but I can see now why Dean was chosen for this mission by the angels. He has pain, but his head is on straight. I also think this was one of Ben Edlund’s best and I’m a huge fan of Nightshifter. I adore his twisted mind.