First, let me offer congratulations to Jared Padalecki and his wife Genevieve on their birth of their son, Thomas Colton, born on March 19th. As predicted, Twitter and Tumblr practically exploded after Jared tweeted the simple message, “It’s a boy”; within minutes, phrases like “Welcome PadaBaby”, “Papa Padelecki”, and even “Uncle Jensen” had all made it onto Twitter’s trending topics list.
Secondly, it was announced that Sera Gamble will be stepping down as the program’s primary show-runner so that she may pursue other projects; we wish her nothing but the best.
Ms. Gamble will be replaced by Jeremy Carver, who wrote several episodes from the first three seasons and has been working as a show-runner for the Syfy Channel’s version of the BBC hit “Being Human” (which has also welcomed “Supernatural” cast members Mark Pellegrino and Cindy Sampson).
Although The CW has yet to confirm that “Supernatural” will be getting an eighth season, a quick exercise in deduction tells me that announcing a new show-runner when filming is just wrapping up for season seven’s final episode is pretty much a flashing neon sign that reads “RENEWED”.
“Supernatural” returns with the new episode “Of Grave Importance” on April 20th. The episode’s description, as per The CW’s website : “AN OLD HUNTER FRIEND RECONNECTS WITH SAM AND DEAN – Sam and Dean get a call from Annie Hawkins (guest star Jamie Luner), an old hunter friend, asking for help on a case.
When they arrive in town, they find out Annie has disappeared. They trace her last whereabouts to an old abandoned house that is haunted by a powerful ghost. Tim Andrew directed the episode written by Brad Buckner & Eugenie Ross-Leming.”
Party On, Garth:
The last episode, “The Born-Again Identity”, saw the return of the sorely-missed Castiel (Misha Collins), who (after retrieving his memories that had been lost after his vessel was taken over by Leviathans, destroyed, and reassembled by powers unknown) healed the Cage madness that was killing Sam…by taking it into himself.
Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) reluctantly left him at the hospital under the “watchful” eyes of the demon Meg (Rachel Miner) – one of their oldest foes, dating back to the first season.
Since the last episode ended on such a heavy note, it seemed logical to balance out the mood this episode with some well-deserved comedy. To do this, the show brought back gawky hunter Garth Fitzgerald IV (special guest star DJ Qualls), who was introduced earlier this season in “Season Seven, Time For A Wedding!”
Qualls has been welcomed into the fandom with great enthusiasm, and has embraced us in turn. He recently tweeted that he had never seen anything quite like SPN fans, and after viewing his performance in the episode, I sincerely hope he will end up with a spin-off – maybe alongside the beloved Ghost Facers? (Are any of the show runners listening?)
We move to Junction City, Kansas, where several teens are gathered in the woods, listening to story-teller Chris as he relates the terrifying tale of Jenny Greentree to his friends, one of whom is a young man by the name of Ray McAnn. (The name Jenny Greentree almost sounds like the infamous nursery bogey Jenny Greenteeth…follow this link if you would like a little nightmare fuel : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jenny_Greenteeth.
Ray’s intoxicated brother Trevor McAnn shows up, unimpressed with the stories of Jenny’s evil spirit roaming the woods. But in under a minute, he sees…something. Something the un-inebriated do not. After he flees, Ray hears him screaming – and soon discovers his brother under a tree, bleeding, gutted, and very dead.
Luckily, Junction City gets a visit from one heck of a Hunter – Garth, driving a beat-up Ford El Camino, wearing a Members Only jacket and aviator glasses that take up half his face, and striding into his work while Bel Biv Devoe’s “Poison” pulsates in the background.
Garth questions the girls who were in the woods the night Trevor died, and they tell him that the ghost of Jenny Greentree did it, even being so helpful as to point out where the real-life Jenny was buried. That very night, Garth digs up Jenny’s remains and burns them, using his own patented kill line, “You’ve been Garthed.”
But if he took care of Jenny Greentree…who is it that a super-drunk Ray sees running through the woods that same night? The female figure with the long hair and the white dress that ends up dragging Ray up into the trees, tearing him open, and bleeding him dry? That is also what Garth would like to know, once he finds out about Ray’s death.
Meanwhile, Sam and Dean are still coming to terms with what happened with Castiel – and with having to rely on Meg for help. She reports over the phone that Cas’ condition is unchanged, “…down to the drool”, Dean states grimly. Garth’s call for assistance provides a diversion, and the Winchesters meet up with him in Junction City.
While the brothers have opted for their traditional suits and FBI personas, Garth has dressed up in an army uniform and disguised himself as “Corporal James Brown”, cousin to the slain brothers. Sam notes that Ray and Trevor died in the same manner, and Garth replies that they were supposedly killed by Jenny Greentree…and that he supposedly killed her by torching her bones.
Dean does a sweep of the body with his EMF detector (a standard bit of equipment used by real-life ghost-hunters that picks up fluctuations in electro-magnetic fields – a spiking meter in the “Supernatural” universe usually means a ghost is present); although Garth already checked the body with his own detector and found nothing, Dean’s meter immediately lights up. Garth assumes that his meter is broken.
Garth also tells him that the first brother said he was being chased by something invisible, so (tied in with the legend of Jenny Greentree) he assumed a ghost was responsible. But he also noted that the state of the bodies suggests “less evil spirit, more monster chow”, although an “invisible ghost werewolf” would be very confusing. “Why’d you think I called for backup?” he asks Dean.
After a quick online search, Sam discovers that both boys were the sons of Jim McAnn (Eric Keenleyside), owner of the Midwestern Brewing Company, makers of the successful Thighslapper Ale. “Is that a stripper or a beverage?” Garth wonders.
The three make their way to the brewery (after Garth ditches his uniform in favor of a traditional suit), where they meet another McAnn sibling, Marie, who works as a manager. She tells them that Jim owns the company with his friend Randy Baxter (Terry David Mulligan), and that there was a third partner, Dale Lampert, who has passed away.
They witness Randy chewing out a teenaged janitor for being late, sending him to the graveyard shift before dismissing him. After only a few questions, Jim becomes emotional and leaves the room, but Randy stays and gives a few more details…mainly that a) Thighslapper Ale was recently sold to a large distributer, and b) third partner Dale took his own life a few months before. Furthermore, Dean learns from Marie that Dale’s widow is suing the company. When Dean asks why, she answers, “She’s angry and grieving, and this is America?”
But hard times keep on coming for the McAnn family – this time, ugly death sets its sights on Jim’s other daughter Lillian, who is seen in her kitchen pouring orange juice for herself and her own daughter Tess (Megan Charpentier). Of course, Lillian adds her own special ingredient…a goodly amount of vodka.
Lillian sets both glasses in front of Tess when her father arrives, and Tess accidentally takes a few swigs of her mother’s Screwdriver before realizing her mistake. As she is a tiny girl with a tiny liver, those sips are enough to make Tess quite giggly by the time her grandfather sits next to her. But what she sees next will probably keep her from merriment (and in psychotherapy) for a long time.
She looks into the kitchen and sees a black-haired woman in a white dress sneaking up on Lillian (the same creature Uncle Ray saw before his death); she can only point in horror as Lillian finally notices the creature’s presence – although Jim still sees nothing. Lillian tries to escape, but the woman in white jams a hand through her gut.
At the Afternoon Delights Motel (which Garth chose because of the hot tubs in each room), he and the Winchesters try to figure out what killed off the McAnn sons. Sam learns that Dale was the brewmaster of the company, “widely considered a genius”. They each sample some Thighslapper Ale, which Dean declares to be “actually awesome”. Garth downs his entire beer in one go, and is quickly and completely intoxicated – which makes sense, since Garth probably weights 98 pounds soaking wet.
Sam also discovers that Dale left the brewery two weeks before he died, most likely because he disagreed with the sale of Thighslapper to a distributor…perhaps he was pushed out entirely to keep the sale from falling through, which would account for his litigious widow. “So maybe he’s a spirito malo,” Garth muses, in between drunken hiccups.
The police scanner alerts them to a disturbance at another one of the McAnn residences; Garth and Dean head for the house while Sam decides to speak with Dale’s widow. At Lillian’s house, Dean has no luck getting little Tess to tell him what she really saw (a rarity for Dean, since dealing with kids is usually his forte). Luckily, Garth has a secret weapon : a sock puppet named Mr. Fizzles.
Quall’s performance as Garth was endearing enough – but the work he does with Mr. Fizzles the sock puppet is nothing short of brilliant. I must confess to viewing this particular scene several times, giggling like an idiot with every single go. Mr. Fizzles even got a special mention in the final credits : “Mr. Fizzles as Himself”.
Dean seems dubious, but there is no arguing with results. The reluctant Tess confesses (to Mr. Fizzles) that she saw a monster with big claws before her mother was killed…and also WHY she saw it. “I drank a grown-up drink!” she blurts out. “…It was an accident. Don’t let them arrest me, Mr. Fizzles!”
While visiting Dale’s widow, Sam finds out that although the late Mr. Lampert had been crushed when his partners sold the company “right out from under him”, he had given them a present to show – supposedly – that there were no hard feelings : a delicate and expensive bottle of saki from Japan.
While driving, Garth hits upon the notion that all the people who have seen their monster were intoxicated. “Whoa,” he says. “Monster you got to be drunk to see. Cool!…Also, hard to fight.” Dean begins drinking from his flask to “[get] in the zone”, and Garth questions him about it.
When Dean tells him that it belonged to their slain father-figure Bobby Singer (Jim Beaver), Garth remembers that his EMF meter spiked when it was placed near the flask. He finally says what the fandom has been screaming at their televisions for the last few months : “You think there’s a possibility that Bobby’s riding your wave?”
It began in “Adventures in Babysitting”, when Dean’s newly-opened beer emptied itself without leaving his hand. It continued in “Slice Girls” (when an important piece of evidence appeared out of nowhere), and came to a head in “The Born-Again Identity”, when Bobby’s journal jumped off of a table under its own power and spilled out a clue that was key in locating the amnesiac Castiel.
Dean protests that they gave Bobby a proper “Hunter’s wake”, i.e., they burned the body; Garth points out that sometimes spirits hang on anyway. But as the subject is a raw and prickly one for Dean, he forces Garth to drop the issue.
They join Sam at the brewery, where the brothers break into Jim’s office to examine the bottle of saki. The seal on the bottle has been broken, and someone has been taking sips. They bring up security tapes from the night of Trevor’s death; young Mr. McAnn had indeed opened the bottle, although Sam and Dean are unable to see any kind of spirit.
Then Dean gets the idea that perhaps they need to use one category of spirits to hunt another, and the two start pounding back the copious amounts of liquor found in the office. “Can you even get drunk anymore?” Sam asks his brother, who has been drinking excessively this entire season. “It’s kind of like, uh, drinking a vitamin for you, right?”
But the technique works, and soon the brothers are able to see their monster on the video – the same creature that little Tess saw in her house. Drunken Sam states (and this is the man that studied law at Stanford, mind you), “So, he – he let that thing out of the box, and it must’ve just followed him to the place with all the thingies.” Unfortunately, they are then discovered by Randy Baxter, who is subsequently tasered by Garth.
Sam and Dean take the saki-holding box to the only place they can think of to get a translation – a chef at a Japanese restaurant. He tells them that the box contained a shojo, an nasty alcohol spirit that takes vengeance on the enemies of the one who controls it…in this case, that person was Dale Lampert.
They return to the motel, where Garth has handcuffed the still-unconscious Randy to the support bar in the hot tub. After some research, they learn that the shojo is a spirit that likes to hang around breweries, and that humans can see it if they are intoxicated. And with the proper spell box – like the one that contained the bottle of saki that Dale gave as a “peace offering” to Jim and Randy – it can be controlled and sent after enemies.
“Except it’s not killing the people that screwed [Dale] over,” Garth points out, and Sam recalls that Dale’s widow said the company was like his “baby”. So he ordered the shojo to go after Jim’s children once it was released (since Randy has no children…or so they think). And luckily, the shojo can be killed – once they find a samurai sword that has gone through a Shinto blessing. And since the monster has ripped through every single one of the McAnn children except Marie, Sam decides to “babysit” her while Dean tries to locate a sword and someone to perform the ritual.
When Dean’s EMF meter goes off yet again, Garth broaches the subject of Bobby’s possible haunting anew. Sam confesses that after the beer incident, he pulled out a “talking board” (something akin to a Ouija Board) and tried to make contact, only to come up empty.
After the brothers depart, Randy awakens, and Garth is able to confirm a suspicion – the young janitor that Randy busted to the graveyard shift is actually the man’s secret bastard son. Which means the shojo has another target.
Dean heads back to the Japanese restaurant with a samurai sword (that he somehow acquired from a pawn shop…one should not ask detailed questions at a time like this) and has the chef perform a Shinto blessing that he got online, using water poured from a bottle to simulate a running stream.
He receives a call from Garth, who tells him about Randy’s love child. Garth, in fact, is already trying to break into the brewery to assist the unsuspecting janitor…and he already has an elevated blood alcohol level, thanks to the mini-bottles of booze that he raided from the motel room’s fridge. After getting inside, he sees the shojo stalking Randy’s son; he grabs the janitor by the arm and borrows a line from “The Terminator” : “Come with me if you want to live!”
Dean immediately makes tracks to the brewery, calling Sam to tell him to stop trailing Marie and meet up with him. But since Sam followed Marie to a bar, and since he needed to pound a few back to blend in, driving is now no longer an option. He uses his fake badge to commandeer a taxi instead.
Randy’s son is highly confused by Garth’s presence, and the Hunter’s explanation does nothing to help : “Baxter is your father. Baxter screwed Dale. Dale roped this Japanese monster you can only see when you’re drunk, and now it’s here to kill you.” Although Randy’s son is not all that inclined to believe him, he changes his mind when the invisible shojo launches Garth through the air.
The janitor tries to flee, but the shojo keeps slamming doors shut. Luckily, Sam arrives to assist, but soon finds himself thrown by the shojo as well and temporarily stunned. But continuing the Brigade of Good Timing is Dean, wielding the blessed samurai sword. Under normal circumstances, sobriety is a good idea when sword-play is involved; in this case, however, fighting an invisible monster while tee-totalling can be a hazard to one’s health. After making a few blind slashes, the shojo knocks Dean to the ground and the sword slides out of his grasp across the floor. But as he looks at the sword desperately…
It slides back into his hand under its own power.
With the shojo bearing down on him, Dean has no time to ponder what has just occurred. Sam awakens and tries to guide his brother; after a few mistakes, Dean is able to spear the shojo and kill it. While Sam and Randy’s son check on Garth, Dean stands, sword in hand, looking around him. “Bobby?” he heartbreakingly asks. “Are you here? Come on, do SOMETHING.” But he gets no reply.
The next day, after Garth leaves the Winchesters with a cheerful, “Sayonara, kemosabes!”, Sam tries to get Dean to talk about the moving sword and the other strange occurrences. Dean honestly thinks that Bobby might still be around, but Sam has another thought.
SAM : “You know what I think, Dean? I think that regular people, they see ones they’ve lost everywhere, too.”
DEAN : “Yeah, freakin’ ghosts!”
SAM : “Or they just miss ‘em a lot. I mean, they see a face in a crowd, we see a book falling off a table. Same thing, Dean…”
DEAN : “All right, well, if it wasn’t Bobby, then what Jedi’d that sword into my hand?”
SAM : “The shojo slammed the door from across the room. Maybe it was trying to grab the sword too.”
DEAN : “Right. Right. I mean, if it was Bobby, he would let us know. I mean, who knows more about being a ghost than Bobby? Instant Swayze, right?”
But as they leave the motel room, the camera pans over…to reveal Bobby, in ghost form, watching the boys sadly.
Outside, Dean realizes that he has forgotten his beloved flask; when he goes back to collect it, he almost appears to see Bobby. He stands right beside his beloved surrogate dad, unaware of his presence. “I’m right here, you idjit!” Bobby scolds, adding his favorite swear word – “BALLS!” – when Dean leaves again.
The reappearance of Bobby Singer sent the fandom into a frenzy, for more than one reason. First of all, Bobby has been grievously missed ever since he was killed – I, for one, have not been able to re-watch “Death’s Door”, the episode in which he died…too painful. Like Dean, we have been looking at all those strange little happenings and wanting to believe that Bobby has been hanging around, unable to leave his two unofficially adopted sons.
But the more remarkable feat was how closely guarded Jim Beaver (and others in the cast and crew) kept the surprise of Bobby’s return. For the past couple of months, Beaver has been tweeting that he has been filming a movie about the abominable snowman, complete with pictures from the “set”. After Friday’s episode aired, Beaver sent out the following tweet :
The entire abominable snowman film has been a ruse. (And, might I add, THANK GOD, because it sounded like a really terrible movie.) Executive producer Jim Michaels joined in by insisting that the strange occurrences were not Bobby; Beaver even enlisted the aid of his young daughter, Maddie, who has been tweeting as though her father was away filming the creature feature.
Heck, at Burcon last month, Beaver claimed that he knew nothing about Bobby possibly returning. “When they stop paying you,” he quipped, poker-faced, during his panel, “they kinda stop telling you things.”
Well played, Jim. You “punk’d” an entire fandom. And we could not be happier about it.
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