This was our first Monster of the Week episode of the season. My verdict: meh. Kudos to Jensen Ackles for directing (and the scene with Alan Ackles, his father, was perfect). Jensen did a great job, but it was the story that didn’t work for me. S upernatural started out mostly as MOWs in the early seasons, but over the years as the main story arc developed and took on more screen time these sorts of episodes have felt more like filler. Not that I don’t enjoy a good monster hunt, in fact some of my favorite episodes are ones, like “Monster Movie.” MOWs can be amazing or they can be really terrible, and this one fell somewhere in between. It wasn’t bad, but it didn’t wow me either.
The mystery plot line had me going for a little bit but, and maybe it’s just that I’ve seen too many of these kinds of shows, once they walked into that secret room and I saw the samurai outfit I was like “oh, he’s immortal.” And then I had to wait while our boys figured it out for themselves. As for the whole Mayan thing? It’s nice to see them delving into different mythology from usual, but it felt like they based their knowledge of Mayan culture on Apocalypto. I’ll give them points for the maize god stuff—the Maya did love their maize—but they also lose points for one simple reason: Why is the great and mighty Mayan athlete white?
Then we have the enchanted organs that were donated, and throughout the episode I kept thinking: haven’t we seen this before? And then I remembered the sixth season episode “Mannequin 3: The Reckoning,” where a woman was haunted by her sister’s ghost via her donated kidney. But instead of a vengeance ghost that possesses mannequins, this time the donated organs give you an infusion of MAYAN SPORTS POWER, which apparently can cure anything from unhealthy living to a southern accent. And naturally, after being graced with eternal youth by the power of Mayan gods, the first thing you do is—say it with me now—become a stripper! No, really, it makes sense for a woman to do that. You see, Brick Holmes, the secret immortal Mayan, was a sports guy, and his organs made the other guys sporty and athletic too, so in order to show this sort of transformation in a woman she has to become a stripper because that’s the only sport-like activity we can do. If we ever try anything else, we get the vapors and have to be led to our fainting couch.
Also, was I the only one confused about how they were communicating with each other? Did they have some sort of psychic connection that drew them together? Because they all conveniently showed up at the end when Sam and Dean were there to stop Randa the stripper, including the guy from Phoenix that they were looking for–who helpfully took time out of attacking Dean to explain that he was the guy from Phoenix that they were looking for (Thanks, Mr. Exposition!). Then Randa went all Kali Ma on Dean, he stabbed her, and so the evil heart-eating stripper was defeated. Oh, and the other guys died, too. But did that mean everyone with organ donations from Brick died, because weren’t there supposed to be eight of them? Did four other people around the country just randomly drop dead? Who knows! This episode was not big on developing anything, almost like the writers were bored with it and wanted to move on to something else.
The best part of this episode was the interaction between the brothers, without a doubt. Here are the highlights:
- Old married couple arguments over fiber and eating organic fruit!
- Dean looking so proud of his translation app!
- Sam not looking so proud of Dean’s app!
- Sam talking about how they want different things (Oh noes! Are they getting a divorce?)
- Sam wants to leave hunting—again!
We also saw a brief glance into Sam’s year off. Apparently, he had a dog named Riot (if he never tries to get the dog to stop making noise by saying “Quiet, Riot” I will be very disappointed) and he had a birthday picnic with Amelia, so his vacation was way better than Dean’s! (Also, it seems that in the Supernatural-universe, picnics are the epitome of normal-life romance, because Dean’s fantasy of Lisa back in season three was her waiting on a picnic blanket for him.)
It was this year he spent with Amelia that has made Sam want to leave hunting. The brothers have long had a love-hate relationship with hunting, but Sam especially has yearned for a normal life. The series started out with him happily studying at college like an almost normal person, with a girlfriend and friends and the whole shebang. Dean on the other hand had started the series in love with being on the road and hunting bad guys. Then their dad died and things sort of reversed. S am had only been in it to avenge his girlfriend and then planned to leave hunting again, but he got sucked in, having to deal with one thing after another until he got so deep into it that he couldn’t dig himself back out. Dean, however, lost his drive with John’s death, especially since John had sold his soul to save Dean’s life. Dean started to want out, to have a normal life that he hadn’t known since he was a small child. This is the eighth season, and there have been two year long jumps in between, so that makes this the tenth year for them since this show started. It’s been a long decade, what with the apocalypse, going to hell, and losing everyone they’ve ever loved—sometimes multiple times. It shouldn’t come as a surprise for the boys to want out, but they always seem to go back and forth—one of them is tired with it all and the other suddenly has a renewed vigor for the hunt. This year, Dean is still on edge from purgatory and Sam has just come back from enjoying a life that he had barely had the chance to know.
However, each time one of the brothers doubts what they’re doing, something comes up to remind them of why they do it and how many people they save. Usually, a quest comes up too so that they have to stay in it at least to finish that, but then something else comes up and they never leave. These boys do deserve a break, but will they ever get one? Can Sam really just walk away again? When he was alone and Dean was in purgatory, (and Sam didn’t even know where he had gotten zapped off to), I’m not surprised that Sam gave it up. But with his brother out there will Sam really leave him alone on the road? That’s the tension between the brothers they’re setting up this season and it’s nothing new, but maybe they’ll do something original with it. I don’t know, I liked the first two episodes and even though this one didn’t impress I’m going to stay optimistic. It’s either that or punch my TV, and this way involves fewer broken bones and replacement costs. Next week, we have “Bitten,” a found footage episode where people are getting bitten (ha, I get it!) by some sort of mysterious creature. Probably just a dog or something…