Thursday, January 22, 2009

Criss Angel Is A Douche Bag


According to Sera Gamble, the episode’s brilliant title, Criss Angel is a Douche Bag, was originally conceived as a joke among the writers, but ended up sticking. And it wasn’t the only dig they took at him. The story opens on Iowa’s Magic Week, where magicians have gathered to wow audiences, but three seniors, Jay (Barry Bostwick), Vernon (Richard Libertini) and Charlie (John Rubenstein), mourn the loss of their youth. As they watch a Criss clone named Jeb Dexter posture and preen his way through an act, Jay complains that they’re “sad, old and dying.” Desperate to recapture his golden years he decides to perform the Table of Death. Charlie tries to talk him out of it, but after being heckled by another magician and feeling crusty and obsolete next to Jeb, the Incredible Jay insists he’d rather go out on a headline than the way he is now. That night he’s shackled to a table, a curtain silhouettes his struggle against the bonds, and as a horrified audience watches the burning rope snaps and a bed of blood red spikes fall and skewer his body. Gasps. Screams. The curtain whips back and an unharmed Jay takes his bow while the magician who previously heckled him drops dead on the street of puncture wounds even though his shirt has no holes.

Enter the Winchesters. They watch as Jeb mesmerizes a group of women with magic. From his leather and eyeliner to his melodramatic breathing and narcissism, the mimicry of Angel is Mindfreakin’ hilarious. And of course, everyone has to call him a douche bag. ‘Cause really, it’s too funny not to. However, despite finding a common dislike for the douche, the old men aren’t so willing to help "Federal Agent Ulrich.” When Dean explains that a tarot card was found on the dead magician and asks if they know anything about it he’s directed to 426 Bleeker St. where he should ask for Chief.

Dean arrives at the skeevy address and Chief, sporting skin tight leather and a cat-o-nine whip, greets him with a flirty, “You are really going to get it tonight, big boy.” Dean blanches and says he thinks he’s been had to which the cheeky Chief retorts, “Oh, you ain’t been had ‘til you’ve been had by the Chief. Oh, and before we get started what’s your safe word?”

Meanwhile, Sam finds Ruby at his door and she wants him to quit dicking around with stupid cases. Thirty-four seals have been broken, more than half, and the angels are losing the war. If Sam doesn’t want an ocean of people to die then he needs to cut the head off the snake, stop things at their source. Kill. Lillith. Ruby says it’s time he uses his power and she knows he likes it. When Sam disagrees, she storms out.

Being around the old guys has Sam and Dean pondering their own futures. Dean wants to die before he gets old. He thinks things just get bloody or sad if you go on too long. Sam wonders if they could have a normal life if they could just put an end to it all.

The douche dies and then--shocker--Charlie. However, the boys have figured out Jay isn’t planting the killer cards so suspicion shifts to Vernon. While Jay diverts his attention the boys investigate Vernon’s room. There they find an old, very old, poster of Charlie, known as the Great Dessertini (WTH?). Turns out Charlie is back and young again. Thanks to an immortality spell in a grimmoire he got from Barnum he can live forever and he’s inviting his two friends to join him. Sam and Dean get there in the nick of time, but Charlie aims his hoodoo at them and Dean is strung up by a noose while Sam is strapped onto the Table of Death. Yet it’s Charlie who bites it when Jay stabs himself and Charlie finds the Magician card in his own pocket.

The next day the boys go to thank Jay for choosing them over his friend. He’s despondent, “old and alone” and he gives up on magic. Gives up on life. His defeat wears on the Winchesters. Dean copes by getting a beer. Sam copes by telling Ruby “I’m in.” When she asks why he says, “I don’t want to be doing this when I’m old.”

And that’s the rub, isn’t it? Can these two really have any kind of future? The answer remains to be seen, but I think we’re working our way there. Last week’s episode was a departure for this season because it went old school and while at first glance this week’s epi also appears to step away from the Armageddon arc it actually seems more like a bridge than a detour. Each boy is being driven forward by desperation. Dean is hell bent (pun intended) on redemption and Sammy wants desperately to know there’s a reason to hope, to hang on, to move forward to something more than just a sad or bloody ending. They’re both working for the greater good, but I have this horrible suspicion they’re headed in opposite directions. I confess I missed the humor in this episode, the best line being, “I’m not Guttenberg and this ain’t Cocoon,” but it would’ve been ill placed as these two contemplated what, if any kind, of future they might have.

So what do you think? Do they have a future? Will they rid the world of bad? Will things get bloody and sad? Tell us what you think.