Saturday, October 8, 2011

Review: Supernatural 7.03 "The Girl Next Door"

Warning – Contains spoilers!
But people.... They are who they are. No matter how hard you try. You are what you are.
The Girl Next Door may have been episode 3 of season 7 but it sort of felt like something else. Something older. Of days gone by, of hiding out, of researching, of balancing the heartbreak and the humour, of honest to goodness monsters, of inner demons and real demons, of Sam and Dean, talking, trying to trust, trying to be brothers. They may still be failing somewhat miserably, but at least they’re still trying! This felt kinda like the Supernatural I fell in love with. Not that I haven’t loved every single season, I have and I loved the dark and twisty turn it took when things went to hell in a hand-basket…literally. But why did I fall in love with Supernatural? Sam and Dean. I fell in love with these two struggling, dysfunctional brothers who above everything else, love each other. The Girl Next Door had so many shades of why I first fell in love with Supernatural. It felt old, but new. It felt familiar but still fresh. It felt like Supernatural, especially when everything went pear-shaped.....
Hey look, Bobby isn’t dead! No surprise there and he arrives just in time to pick a drug addled and totally adorable Dean up off the floor. I was super worried that the missing Bobby would turn out to be Levianthanised, but I don’t think he has been, because he’s being way too reasonable and really, he could have just eaten Sam and Dean at anytime, that is, if that’s the boss’ plan for them. But where was Bobby? It was totally glossed over. That was sort of annoying. Dean said he thought he was dead, Bobby looked at him like he was an idjit, said he wasn’t, yet, and then they high tailed it out of there. I understand they didn’t have time to stop and natter, but I would’ve definitely asked him where the hell he was when his house burnt down. Even if he said, I’ll tell you about it later, at least ask! He was also very chirpy for a guy who’d just lost everything. I have to admit this got my spidey senses tingling, but I’m assuming he was just so happy to find the boys alive that he wasn’t thinking of anything else. Bobby is totally awesome. The way he came in and scooped Dean up, gave him a little pat on the cheek (also got my spidey senses tingling…I’m so suspicious), goes and grabs Sam, commandeers an ambulance and beetles off to stash the boys in Montana! Bobby to the rescue! And he continues to be the voice of reason. Trying to accept Sam, letting Sam heal in his own time, trying to talk Dean down, make him see sense and trust that his overgrown brother knows what’s what.  He’s so calm. I love that he stashed copies of his books….Bobby Singer, paranoid bastard. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Bobby in the opening episodes of season 7. I’m pretty sure he’s not a Leviathan, like, 90% sure. 
And what about the Leviathan? Man they’re organised. I’m definitely starting to believe that the Boss is going to be possessing the Jimmy vessel, because the Leviathan seem to have a lot of knowledge about the Winchesters. I’m assuming that’s knowledge that went into Jimmy’s brain when Cas was living inside him, unless Cas is still inside him; just subdued. The Leviathan know things. They’re set up in fraud centres, hospitals, using cell phones, reading the paper while enjoying a cappuccino! They’re fitting right in! It's like a great holiday with an all you can eat buffet. They know about the boy’s credit card scams, so they must know their fake names. How long until they suss out all their alias' and then their phone numbers and track them that way? How many are there? A lot of black goo came out of Cas, I wonder how many Leviathan that equates to? I’m enjoying the Leviathan; they feel like a genuine threat. The unknown.
So Sam. I like where Sam got to in this episode. He seems to be closer to coming to a place of peace with his craptastic life. He’s dealing with the whole freak word, he says he’s managing his hallucinations, or at least he’s trying to, but a couple of things bothered me. I was disturbed that he lit out on Dean to go in search of Amy. Bobby was gone, Dean was laid up with a broken leg and God knows how affected by pain-meds. Sam took the car and left a note like some teenage kid. He left Dean alone, immobile, unprotected and vehicle less. That seemed poorly thought out to me. If a Leviathan had rocked up to the cabin, Dean would’ve been dinner. On top of this, Sam wants to be trusted, he wants his brother to have faith in him, but once again he’s sneaking around, ducking out while Dean’s asleep. We’ve seen this before and it never ends well. How can he ask for Dean’s trust if he doesn’t trust Dean enough to tell him what’s going on? Takes two to tango. But having said that, I understand why he did it, he had a good idea what Dean's response would be and he didn't want to hear it. He wanted the opportunity to see if he could fix this on his own and in his head space, showing that he's capable of doing this would be important to him. But you can’t asked to be treated one way while you behave another. Of course Dean was going to flip his lid. He’s beside himself with worry about Sam and Sam doing this ain’t helping none. I would've popped him one in the nose too quite frankly!

The other thing that bothered me was Sam’s choice to let Amy go seemed all too easy. But I guess that brain of his isn’t working properly right now. Yes, they had a history and Amy saved his life once upon a time and she obviously made a profound mark on young Sam, maybe molding a lot of how he approached this work as a hunter in later years, but she’d killed, more than once, and it looked like she was about to kill that drunk driver guy when Sam nabbed her in the park. Sure, she only killed because her son got sick and needed fresh meat, but killing is killing and what if he got sick again? I’m not convinced Sam was right when he said to Dean “Put me or you in her position, we’d probably do the same thing.” Dean was ready to put his brother down when he thought Sam’s future was to be a soulless killing machine. So maybe they would, maybe they wouldn’t, but regardless, I just kept coming back to, what if her kid gets sick again, then she’d kill, good intentions or otherwise, she’d have no choice. I don’t know, I guess I thought Sam’s logic was flawed, but then he’s always been driven by empathy and that’s a very large part of why we love him so much. His heart. I’d also say he’s probably feeling even more empathetic to people like Amy than usual, given his current situation and fuzzy, freaky headspace. He wanted to believe in her. He wanted to believe she could stay true to her promise, because if she can overcome the monster inside her, maybe Sam can overcome this monster inside him. This whole, Amy unfinished business thing, reminded me of Something Wicked from season 1, where John sent Dean to clean up a mess which was the outcome of when he hesitated as a kid. Dean felt responsible and needed to fix it. People had died because of him. Now people had died because of Sam. That probably should have rung bigger alarm bells than it did..... Oh and Sam’s first kiss was with a monster?! So that’s where that started! The boy has a type!

Dean….you break my heart. But before I get to THAT scene, let’s start with the fun stuff! Dean in the hospital. ADORABLE! I love it when Dean is like a little boy. The noise he made when he hit the floor and realised he’s in a cast, the half stoned “Hey look, a monster broke my leg”, the look on his face when Bobby patted him on the cheek. Awww-worthy the lot of it. Then of course we have him watching Mexican tele-novellas while he recuperates. Hilarious! Dean and his soaps! The man is such a contradiction. There’s this Dean, then there’s the Dean that killed Amy. I believe Dean is in the throws of a major crisis. A breakdown. He’s at tipping point and it’s been a long time coming. I said this in last week’s review, but now it seems even more obvious. He’s regressed. He’s not trusting Sam, panicking about every little thing his brother does, driving him crazier by constantly asking him how he’s doing, buggy Bobby with his mania and then outright lying to Sam’s face. I hated that lie. The whole thing’s hard to watch, but I get it. This is a man whose trust in himself and those around him, has been severely battered and bruised. First his brother. For several years now, Sam has wandered into dark territory, then he was all soulless and just when Dean thinks he has him back and they’re starting to find their footing, BAM, down comes Sam’s Hell wall. Now, once again, Dean doesn’t know whether his brother is telling him the whole truth. He’s worried sick about Sam. He’s worried Sam will never get better, that this dropping out, screaming at no-one Sam is here forever. I think he feels that he’s losing his brother again and maybe this time for good. Dean is all about Sam, for good or bad. Without him, he falters. I’m sure he feels a level of responsibility. If he’d said yes to Michael, maybe this would never have happened, maybe Sam wouldn’t have needed to throw himself into the pit. I don’t doubt that’s crossed Dean’s mind. Then add to the mix Castiel. Cas was his friend. He tried to help Cas but his friend didn’t listen, he went down the wrong path and it set them against each other. Dean felt absolutely betrayed and though in the end, the only way to save the world was to save Cas, his friend ultimately died. He died and in doing so let an unkillable evil loose. Dean couldn’t get through to Cas and now they have the Leviathan. Not only has Dean’s trust in his own judgement and his faith in those around him been rocked, but more profoundly, his faith in his ability to protect those he loves, and that’s at the very core of who Dean is. He couldn’t protect Sam and he couldn’t protect Cas. What use is he? So he regresses back to a Dean where things were easier for him, where things were black and white. 

I get why he killed Amy. This is what that father of his trained him to do. She was a monster and yeah, he was right, chances are she’d kill again. He couldn’t take that risk. Sam took that risk and now there were bodies. In Dean’s mind, if an Angel can put a foot wrong then there’s no doubt a monster can. He couldn’t let her go. But on first watch, wow, it was so brutal. I was shocked. Shocked. I felt horrible afterwards. Horrible that Dean did that. I didn’t like it. When I watched it again, without the jaw-dropping horror of the moment, I saw it slightly differently. Yes, it was just as brutal, but when he said sorry to her I believed him and then he gently catches her as she falls, and lays her on the bed. On the second watch through, with my shock gone, I saw remorse or maybe regret that he had to do this thing. I saw his surprise when he saw her son at the door, the son he chose not to kill. I also saw pain on his face when he looked back at the son rushing to his dead mother’s side. He knows that feeling. A monster killed his mother. To that kid, Dean’s the monster. This is going to eat him up. That he lied to Sam, that he killed Amy and that he left her son an orphan. That’d be guilt, with a massive side order of guilt for Mr Winchester please. I know this whole thing left a bad taste in a lot of people’s mouths. Some fans were saying it was completely out of character for Dean, but I disagree. It's not the first time he's made the tough decision to take down a monster that wasn't outwardly evil. It’s just we haven’t seen this side of Dean’s character for a while. He's grown into someone who’s developed the ability to see the greys in life. But remember, deep down, he thinks he’s a killer. He told Veritas that’s all he is. We know it’s not true, but Dean's never put much stock in himself. He’s reverted to this Dean because everything he knows and believes and trusted is once again being pulled out from under him. He’s in a very bad place. Black and white is easier. Black and white was how he was trained to think. He’s been pulled this way and that by demons, Angels and the Devil himself. He's a hunter. Monster bad, kill monster. It's easier and it's probably the one thing in his life that makes sense, the one thing he can hold on to. And you know what, he’s right, he couldn't just walk away. But there’s got to be fallout from his choice to kill Amy. You don’t do something like that and walk away scot-free. Guilt, pills, booze, lies, he’s heading for a crash and I assume that’s going to kick off next week’s episode. Is the killing of Amy, Dean’s big secret that the producer’s have spoken about in regards to the brother’s relationship? My main concern is that this act will put the brothers at loggerheads again. I don’t want that. No more. Not again. Enough. I feel like we've flogged that dead horse. They can have conflict; they've always had that, but let them be brothers. I need them to be brothers. I need them to be Sam and Dean.
Whew, I better wrap this up! 
Of course I’m not going anywhere without mentioning Jensen. As we all know, he directed The Girl Next Door. He’s showing a real knack for interesting camera angles. The escape sequence in the hospital was particularly well staged. I liked his shot choice for Dean stumbling around on crutches, it added to the morphine-induced vibe and the POV shot towards Bobby with the gurney was also pretty cool. The sweeping shots down the hospital halls, the way the camera never stopped moving or the actors constantly moved past the camera, the cuts, it all added to the feeling that Bobby and Dean were in a race to get the hell out of there. I thought this hospital escape sequence was really tense and kind of awesome. This episode would’ve been more difficult to direct than Weekend At Bobby’s. There were a lot more scenes, more locations, more cast, and flashbacks to deal with. It was a busier story, more detailed script and Dean was in it a lot! Jensen did an awesome job! I hope he never goes behind the camera permanently, because to deny us the joy of watching him would be a crime against humanity, but I do hope he gets the chance to direct some more. He’s good at it.
The Girl Next Door may not have rocketed along at the breakneck speed of episode 1 and 2 of season 7, but it felt like a nice breather from that frenetic pace. Essentially it was a monster of the week episode that also did the job of propelling along the main storyline and setting up issues that are going to play out in the first half of the season. The Leviathan were there, but not all consuming. I liked that. Colin Ford as young Sam was uncanny as usual. He’s absolutely perfect casting. And though I don’t think this was Dabb and Loflin’s best script, it was still pretty juicy, full of wonderful throwaway lines, blissfully needed lighter moments and tongue in cheek references (check out SuperWiki for a list). Season 7 is really shaping up. Every week I’m gagging for the next episode, though next week, I think my heart might break in two….
Oh and one more thing…pie. Dear God Sam PIE! When are you going to remember the pie! Maybe that can be the very last shot of the series….Sam finally remembers the pie. The End.
On that note, I’ll leave you with the promo for 7.04 Defending Your Life and some wise word’s from Sam’s young friend Amy…. “All the coolest people are freaks.” Amen Padaleski.
See you next week and thanks for reading! – Amy (not the dead monster one)

P.S. don't forget to comment!