I still think that Supernatural is the best TV show currently being aired. The entire team, from the writers to the producers to the actors, have set the bar extremely high. Episodes are filled with humour, drama, and action, and missing one episode is akin to missing one or more vital links to understanding the story.
Or so it usually is.
Don’t get me wrong here, I do not want to seem like I think Supernatural isn’t great or has jumped the shark or anything, but this episode was, in my opinion, the worse one of this season.
And yes, I realise that I am probably going to be attacked by hate mail and hate comments. But if that’s the cost of reviewing honestly, then so be it.
But before you condemn me, dear fan, please consider the following. This episode was good, but in all fairness, after the first amazing six out-of-this-world ones season five started with, it wasn’t at par. It was less fast, less funny, and less interesting than the episodes it was preceded by.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t watch it, nor does it mean I didn’t enjoy doing so. From the opening scene, where we see a woman reading Weekly World News! (hello Men in Black!) to Dean struggling to adapt to his newfound (and thankfully temporary) old age to the intense scene between Dean and Bobby to the one-liners, this was a great episode.
Just not an amazing one.
There were also some pretty interesting topics to cover in this review. For one, our monster-of-the-week was delightfully grey-toned; he wasn’t all bad, as his two kind acts of the episode clearly showed, nor was he all good, as the ghosts of the numerous people he killed can testify.
In all honesty, can Patrick really be considered a villain? After all, he is clearly setting the rules of the game for his opponents, and doesn’t cheat – he’s just a master at poker. If he truly was evil, he would have taken advantage of the older man’s terrible game of poker to win 13 years, and yet he folded, knowing he had the better hand, to give the old man the chance to attend his granddaughter’s bat mitzvah.
As for those who lost and consequently died, they did know what they were playing for. Can we truly blame Patrick when it’s the opponents’ greed that is making them bet on things they shouldn’t be betting on? If you aren’t a great poker player – heck, even if you are – you aren’t playing for pennies or for fake chips like many of us do with our friends; you’re playing for your life.
Perhaps the fact that Patrick knows humans so well and uses their weaknesses to his advantage makes him definitely devious; I do not for one condone this fact. However, this is one of those cases in which the solution will not be putting someone like Patrick in jail. The entire system needs to be changed, because even if you lock this Patrick away, there are many more in the woodwork that you can go after.
In short, Dean and Sam can fight all the bad guys that they want, but ultimately — we know it and they probably know it — they have to fight Lucifer
On another Patrick-related note, the last scene between him and his girlfriend was quite poignant (and very well filmed and acted – bravo, everyone). In a Twilight-obsessed world, I can’t help but see the social criticism of the act; Patrick gave her what she needed rather than what he thought she needed. I don’t know if it struck a nerve with anyone else, but this made quite the impression on me, all the more that I compared it bore a striking parallel to the relationship between Dean and Bobby, and that of Dean and Sam, the latter relationship being more about each brother giving the other what he himself needs rather than what the other needs.
Oy — this is getting slightly confusing.
What the girlfriend asked of Patrick was horrible for him; while it meant the end of her suffering, it meant only the beginning of his. Was it loving of her to trick her way into being killed, by sneaking the formula to the boys? Not at all. Neither was it loving of her to ask of Patrick to die, when she promised him a lifetime at his side. Her behaviour was actually quite selfish, and – I can’t believe I am going to say this – perhaps she didn’t deserve someone like Patrick, who loved her so much so that he gave her what she wanted, at the cost of his own well-being.
It’s similar in many ways to the conversation between Dean and Bobby; Dean tells Bobby that he and Sam have nothing else but Bobby to hang on to, and he’d better not leave them. But is that a fair statement? Wouldn’t it have been kinder to tell Bobby to consider the fact that Dean and Sam have no one other than him, rather than laying it on his shoulders as yet another weight to bear?
Then again, all this just might not be real love. For isn’t love about giving and taking? Shouldn’t the girlfriend have spoken up her mind about her dilemma and together, they would have made the decision? Shouldn’t Dean have spoken up his mind, but also have offered Bobby a hand? After all, in both cases, the other person is also clearly suffering; to put the weight of the responsibility of the others’ happiness on top of that suffering hardly seems like love.
On the related theme of suffering we have Bobby, who has been having a very tough time accepting that he’s not a hunter anymore. Being stuck in a wheelchair is hard for anyone, but probably even harder for someone like Bobby, a trained hunter who knows the Apocalypse has happened and can’t be out there fighting it with his friends and the boys, who are like sons to him. It’s also understandable that Bobby took the risk playing Patrick to get his legs back; and it’s sweet that he was willing to sacrifice himself for Dean, knowing that on the field at least, Dean would be more useful.
But there are two reasons for which Bobby’s life couldn’t be sacrificed. One is that, wounded or not, Bobby is still a soldier, and there is a lot he can still do. The second is that his presence is important to the well-being of two other hunters, i.e. our boys.
Dean: You don’t stop being a soldier because you got wounded in battle. No matter what shape you’re in Bobby, bottom of the line is you’re family. Now I don’t know if you’ve noticed but me and Sam, we don’t have much left. I can’t do this without you. I can’t. So don’t you dare think about checking out. I don’t want to hear that again.
There is one thing that bothered me about this particular scene, and that I was a little disappointed it wasn’t addressed in Dean’s above-mentioned rebuttal. Bobby mentions how he had lacked the courage to kill himself the day he got back from the hospital. To that I would have replied: does it take more courage to kill yourself, or to live in a way you couldn’t have previously fathomed, but persevering because you know there is an Apocalypse happening and two of the best hunters out there, Dean and Sam, are going to need you to back them up, be it with a pep talk or with the thorough research Bobby is known for? For suicide isn’t an act of courage; it’s an act of desperation, one that poor people stuck in terrible conditions and who can’t see an end to their pain and suffering choose to take. And I think we can agree that the one thing Bobby doesn’t lack is courage.
On yet another related note, I would love to hear some opinions on if the girlfriend (WHAT is her name?) was trying to commit suicide when she gave the reversal formula to the boys, or when she played against Patrick knowing she would lose. I think that if you are going to encourage someone and/or empower them to do something that will kill you, then you are, at least indirectly, killing yourself.
Sam: You’re crying? For a witch you’re so nice, it’s actually creepy.
There were, of course, a lot of old people jokes, from Cliff not knowing what an Xbox is to the maid comparing Dean’s flirting to her grandfather hitting on anything that moves. Dean’s physical condition is given a beating, with him barely able to make it to the second floor without being winded, not being able to eat a cheeseburger without getting heartburn, and not being able to see the numbers on the safe’s dial. My favourite one is when Dean Senior tries to talk some sense into Sam by pulling a ‘when you’re our (his and Bobby’s) age…, to which Sam replies: “Dean, you’re thirty”.
On a closing note, we know by now that Supernatural writers have a tendency to play with their viewers (remember Becky?). Which makes me wonder if the exchange below is a hint of things to come, or just them messing with our minds:
Dean: Hope I get that kind of kick around his age.
Sam: Yeah, like either of us will live that long.
I fear it is going to be a very, very long season.
Some great lines:
Doctor: You expect me to believe you’re CDC?
Sam: Excuse me?
Doctor: It’s just that you’re a day early. First time in history I haven’t sat on my ass waiting for you people.
Dean: New administration. Change you can believe in.
Cliff: It was a game.
Sam: Like Xbox?
Cliff: What’s Xbox?
Dean: And you beat me here.
Bobby: Brain trumps legs, apparently.
Dean Senior: Bobby’s an idiot, that’s what happened.
Bobby: Hey, nobody asked you to play.
Dean Senior: Right. I should have just let you die.
Bobby: And for damn sure, nobody asked you to lose.
Sam: It’s like Grumpy Old Men.
Dean Senior & Bobby: Shut up, Sam!
Dean Senior: I’m having a heart attack!
Bobby: No you’re not.
Dean Senior: What is it?
Bobby: Acid reflux.
Housekeeper: Ready for housekeeping, sir?
Dean Senior: Born ready.
Housekeeper: You’re just like my grandfather. He hits on anything that moves, too.
Sam: It’s more like ‘Mission: Pathetic’.
Dean Senior: You may be in a wheelchair but I've been to Hell, and there's an archangel there waiting for me to drop the soap.
Bobby: Are we done feeling our feelings? Because I’d like to get out of this room before we both start growing lady parts.