I've complained recently about unfunny humor on Supernatural, but last night's episode, "How to Win Friends and Influence Monsters," had me eating my words — just like Dean chowing down on a big old Turducken Slammer! The episode was hilarious and action-packed, plus we learned more about the awesomely devious things the Leviathans are doing. These are some Big Bads I can sink my teeth into. As it were.
A word about episode structure
I'm going to geek out for a second about one of the things that Supernatural used to do routinely in seasons 4 and 5 (two very strong seasons). The episode would start with one kind of story — often, a monster-of-the-week kind of thing — and suddenly in the middle of act 2 we'd realize with an appreciative "oh shit" that the story was actually about something else. Something a lot deeper and more intense. You'd wind up with an episode that was satisfyingly complicated storywise, as well as emotionally layered.
This week's episode was a return to that structure, though with a much lighter touch. What I'm realizing is that the show has moved from a mix of dark irony and just plain darkness, to a mix of goofy slapstick and dark satire. And when it works, like last night, it really works.
Glamping with the Jersey Devil
The boys come out to the New Jersey woods, where they've heard reports that campers are being found hanging from trees, looking like puppy chow. So we begin with our standard monster-of-the-week structure, watching a couple of "glampers" going to sleep out in the wilderness with a generator, TV and electric lights. When they smooch to go to sleep, the husband plugs himself into an iPod so he can hear "nature sounds." Haw haw. Then he winds up in a tree being eaten by . . . something!
Bobby's best theory is that it could be the notorious cryptid known as the Jersey Devil. So the brothers go out to a local diner to interview a very stoned-looking "Ranger Rick" about the killings. Rick seems weirdly unperturbed by the fact that his assistant ranger has also been shredded. Jokes about smoking forest weed abound. Seems like this is going to be just a jokey episode about glampers, stoners and cryptids. Oh, and really aggro waiters at the local diner. (Whoa, dude, why is their waiter so angry?)
And that's right about the time that Dean becomes obsessed with the diner's Turducken Slammers.
Mmmm, Turducken - made with the top three edible birds!
It's not a new thing for Dean to be obsessed with good burgers - or turduckenurgers, or pie, or whatever. But he REALLY loves those Turducken Slammers. So much so that when Sam and Bobby finally bag whatever it is that's eating everybody in the forest — a bulgy-eyed zombie thing with blue goop in its veins — he can't stop talking about dinner.
There's a great, grossout dissection scene where Sam and Bobby are trying to figure out what the creature is. They cut it up and empty its stomach, which is full of a pine cone, a cat head, and some human remains. Plus, tons and tons of gray goo. And Dean just keeps saying, "C'mon guys - it's dinner time." Sam gives him that look — his priceless "OK Dean whatever" expresion. But this is more than Dean's usual dumbassery. He's acting as stoned as Ranger Rick. And he doesn't even care anymore about Cass and the Leviathans!
As Dean tears through yet another Turducken Slammer at the diner, Bobby and Sam start to wonder: Could it be . . . turducken?
Yeah, it can. Look what happens to Dean's burger after it sits out for a while! It's belching gray goo, just like that stuff in the monster's veins.
The Rise of Dick
And now things get interesting. We've reached that curve ball moment in the episode, where we realize that this isn't just about goo monsters. It's about a giant conspiracy that brings together fast food suppliers with the Leviathans. Bobby and the Winchesters stake out the diner's supply house, to find out where all that Turducken is coming from. And they see Edgar the Leviathan there! Along with Dick Roman, the head Leviathan. Things are starting to come together . . . though not really to make sense.
I love this fake TV spot we get to see about Dick — we get a perfect portrait of "evil" as this season of Supernatural wants to play it. This is political satire for the Occupy Wall Street era, with evil monsters from beyond Hell controlling that 1%. Not only is Dick the head of a mega-corporation that likes to eat smaller corporations, but he's connected with Republican politicians who worship money. Maybe he'll even run for political office. Leviathan for President!
And that's just the beginning of the Leviathans' plans . . .
Deep inside Dick's secret headquarters
Man, this episode never let up for a second! Seriously, about a million things have already happened and now a million more will happen before the shocking conclusion. Awesome. Speaking of which . . .
The brothers and Bobby decide to spy on what Dick is up to, and they follow him to some gleaming corporate headquarters where Dr. Sexy is experimenting with ways to "pacify" humans. We see Dr. Sexy showing off this fake living room in his lab, where a family is slowly chomping on Turducken Slammers while watching eye surgery on television. They so stoned that they don't even notice that Grandma has died mid-bite on her Slammer. Dick is excited about all the "progress" and "collaboration," but he's not happy that a small percentage of Dr. Sexy's experimental subjects go Reaver and start randomly eating people.
"I'm going to turn this into a big fat teachable moment," says Dick with his shit-eating smile. "Will you help me do that?" Dr. Sexy nods happily.
Turns out that teachable moment involves letting us find out what Dick meant in that previous episode when he said, "Don't make me bib you." As Bobby watches with some spy equipment from across the street, Dick's assistant ties a plastic lobster bib around Dr. Sexy's neck. And forces Dr. Sexy to eat himself.
This conspiracy is bigger and weirder and more bitchen than I ever hoped
Unfortunately, the Leviathans catch Bobby spying, and drag him to Dick's office. There's a great scene where Dick tells Bobby all about how "cute" humans are — and how they are just "spunky" for doing things like inventing guns. He's extremely impressed with guns. But despite our spunky, gun-toting ways, the Leviathans are still going to crush the humans and take over the planet.
And then, just when you have no idea what Bobby is going to do to get out of this "infodump before you die" scene, the Winchesters come busting into the building with giant containers full of cleaning fluid! Dick runs out into the hall to see what's wrong, and Bobby manages to look through some of Dick's plans for humanity — which include weird circuit diagrams and maps — before grabbing a gun and hightailing it out of there. I love that there's some kind of massive X-Files-ish conspiracy going on, with industry, government, and science involved. And we've only just gotten started figuring it out.
So the boys are making their getaway, after soaking everybody in what Dick calls "that stuff," and they've got the car revved up . . . they're just waiting for Bobby to make it out! And Bobby finally runs out just ahead of Dick and jumps into the back of the van just as Dick opens fire on them. Luckily they get away.
Once they're on the road, Sam turns around to the darkened back of the van to give Bobby his hat back. But Bobby doesn't respond. Uh oh. "Bobby?" Sam asks. "BOBBY?!" And fade to black.
Ohhhhh, nicely done!
Now it's time to process our feelings
Was anybody else thinking about this?