Supernatural, S8 Ep18 – Freaks and Geeks

Dean with some young hunters

Last week’s episode was an exciting, emotional adventure that expanded upon the main story arc of the season while beautifully developing our characters. And this week we have a Monster of the Week story to let us recover. Now, I’ve talked plenty of times about my feelings on MotWs, so I won’t go into all that again, but I do want to say that sometimes MotWs can really get it right. “Mystery Spot” is one of my favorites, and though the monster that week was a recurring one which, in a later season, had more of a part in the main story, the story was still a one-off deal. But one of the best parts of that episode was that it took the theme of that season, Dean’s impending death and how Sam felt helpless to save him, and explored it–repeatedly–even though it didn’t necessarily bring us further along in the season’s arc. This episode was no “Mystery Spot”–not even remotely close–but it did try to take one of the themes of the season and explore it outside of the main story arc. The results were mixed. I liked how they attempted to explore the theme they focused on, but pretty much everything else bored me.

Head vampire in sunglasses and hoodie

Victor’s vampire friend. Looks completely trustworthy, right?

One of the major issues I had with this episode was how the plot was just too obvious. A hunter, Victor, who had lost his family, took in children who had lost their parents. He was training them to become well-rounded people as well as hunters. Nice in theory, but you knew that the guy was shady and in league with the creepy vampire driving the van, using the vampire to make new vamps to give the kids hunting practice. I figured out what was what before we were at the halfway mark, which is not what you want for a good story. It leaves the audience screaming at the supposedly competent Winchesters not to fall for the guy’s tricks. Luckily, Dean doesn’t “trust a guy who wears a sweater,” so they never really bought into it.

But still, Sam had to go through the motions of getting tied up, again, and monologued at, again. Dean walked in at just the right, too-convenient time with Victor’s adopted kids and everything was wrapped up quickly and easily. Victor even killed himself when Krissy, the main young hunter of the group, refused to kill him on moral grounds, which tied up that loose end nicely. A simple, easy plot is one thing (they can be fun and exciting without a wealth of twists and complications), but an obvious one that you can spot in a second is another. This was just boring. It felt like nothing happened, even though I’m pretty sure about an hour passed while I was watching. There were a couple funny lines, but Victor also said some harsh truths about Bobby that probably had fans as well as Sam and Dean against this guy from the start.

Krissy confronting Victor

Don’t they look like a nice family?

Next there were the young hunters, which I also had mixed feelings about. My first thought on the idea of training young hunters led to X-Men, of course, and when Krissy said that it wasn’t like that I kind of liked her for the reference. But there was some shaky acting from the three kids that took away from what the episode was trying to do. Krissy, a returning character who appeared in an episode of season seven (my least favorite season), had lost her father, a hunter.

She was raised on the road as a hunter, just like Sam and Dean, which should have made a compelling parallel, but sadly the actress couldn’t sell it to me. I don’t usually like to criticize the acting, even though there are times when a side character just doesn’t have the talent to pull it off just yet (everyone’s got to start somewhere), but when someone has a prominent role in the episode and the emotional impact is dependent on them, then I think it’s a legitimate complaint. She could do sarcastic and typical teenager really well, but I thought her performance fell flat for the more emotional parts. Her father had been brutally murdered and she was seeking revenge, but I didn’t buy that she actually felt anything at all on that topic. It should have been an emotional part but I wasn’t feeling it, not from her.

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