Supernatural season sven, episode fifteen, “Repo Man”, airs Friday, February 17th, at 9pm EST on The CW Network. The episode description, from The CW’s website : “DOUBLE TROUBLE – Four years ago, Sam and Dean helped a woman named Nora (guest star Nicole Oliver) exorcise a demon that was systematically killing women in a small town.
Sam and Dean managed to save the postal worker, Jeffrey (guest star Russell Sams), while vanquishing the demon but now it seems the black-eyed monster has reared his ugly head and returned for a second helping. The brothers visit Jeffrey, who has been locked in a psych ward since the incident, to see if he can remember any of the demon’s plans while he was possessed. Thomas J. Wright directs “Repo Man” while this Friday’s episode is written by Ben Edlund.”
We include the full episode below courtesy of the CW Network via Hulu below for your enjoyment.
Plucky Pennywhistle’s Magical Menagerie:
According to wikipedia.org, the irrational fear of clowns is known as coulrophobia. “The prefix ‘coulro-‘ may be derived from the Ancient Greek word…meaning ‘stilt-walker’.” Whatever the etymology of the word, one thing is abundantly clear : Sam Winchester has coulrophobia.
This week’s episode is not the first time that Sam (Jared Padalecki) and his brother Dean (Jensen Ackles) have gone up against killer clowns. In the second episode of season two (“Everybody Loves a Clown”), the Winchester brothers found themselves facing off against a rakshasa, a monster from Hindu mythology.
Before the boys once infiltrated the circus where the monster was hiding out. In the episode, Dean mocked Sam for his clown-fear. In “Plucky Pennywhistle’s Magical Menagerie”, things will get much worse for Sam!
As the episode begins, we cut to now. Sam is fleeing…something. What can make a six-foot-four-inch veteran hunter who has seen the insides of Heaven and Hell cower behind cars and run for his very life? Apparently, the normally beloved clown character Plucky Pennywhistle. In particular, a pair of pernicious Pluckys pounding and punching persistently. (Sorry, I just had to…)
Already, we know that this is not going to be a typical episode of Supernatural. The point is driven home by the augmented title card – this season’s normal black-goop-on-white-background has been glitterized!
How did the younger Winchester find himself in such a predicament? Cut to sixty hours previous (we are made chronologically aware by a timestamp counting down from the aforementioned sixty hours, accompanied by a beeping tick that most likely drew inspiration from 24). Their sole lifeline in the world, Frank Devereux (Kevin R. MacNally) has forced them to communicate via payphones in order to keep off the Leviathan’s radar.
“I’m getting the clap off the thing just touching it,” Dean complains. Frank still has not had much luck getting information on LeviaBoss Dick Roman (James Patrick Stewart). (“So we got dick on Dick?” Sam asks, ever eager to make a phallic-inspired quip.) Dean is frustrated…again. “This whole ‘protocol du jour’ thing is really starting to creep my cheese,” he declares.
In addition, the Amazons who made Dean’s life hellish in the previous episode have vanished. So when Sam brings up a job in Kansas, Dean is more than ready to jump on board…as long as the case steers clear of babies, bars, and hot chicks. “You spawn a monster baby and see how quick you wanna dive back in the pool,” he growls when Sam expresses shock at his new attitude.
In Wichita, Dean and Sam examine the body of one Mr. Brian Harper, who is covered with what Dean refers to as “not the fun kind of hickies”. The coroner says the sucker marks appear to be from a 30-foot giant Pacific octopus, a species not really indigenous to the American Midwest (to put it mildly). But the coroner’s opinion is that the killer was a freaky fetishist who gave the man the marks before bleeding him out from a gash on the neck. “So what’re we lookin’ for?” Dean wonders afterwards. “Octo-vamp? Vamp-topus?”
The brothers, posing at FBI agents (a typical disguise for them), interview Mr. Harper’s somewhat frosty widow Debra (Laura Jaszcz), asking about sulfur smells, a bad feeling, cold spots, etc. They also inquire after anyone who might have held a grudge against the man. Debra answers that Stacy, their nanny, was with Mr. Harper the night he died…and the disapproving nature of her tone cannot be missed.
Sam stakes out the house while Dean goes to interview “naughty nanny” Stacy (Caitlin Cromwell), who, as it turns out, is not naughty at all. She had been in the Harper’s house the night of Brian’s death because she was comforting little Kelly Harper (Allison Skovbye). The night in question had been Kelly’s birthday, and they celebrated at Plucky Pennywhistle’s Magical Menagerie, which Stacy describes as a “…pizza chain for kids. Actually, more for lazy parents.” Mrs. Harper had been out of town and Mr. Harper had shown up for a grand total of five minutes before heading back to the office. A bully taunted Kelly, telling her she was unloved, and the girl was inconsolable.
When Dean asks about anything else odd going on in the house, Stacy adds that Kelly is convinced that there is a monster living in her closet. Dean calls Sam and gives him the details, and they begin working under the theory that the murder was a “birthday wish gone wrong”. Sam is able to get a few questions in with Kelly, who confesses that she told the police she had warned her father that “the monster would get him”. Kelly is quickly pulled inside by her mother after that, but there is no missing that her sidewalk artwork depicts a very frightening-looking killer octopus.
The next scene contains one of the single most bizarre and creative deaths that the Supernatural writers have ever thrown at their audience. This episode was penned by Andrew Dabb and Daniel Loflin and directed by Mike Rohl, who all took a slightly insane premise and turned it into something magnificent.
A man runs through the park, pursued by a white horse. He scales a fence on a baseball diamond, then presses his back against a wooden wall…which is when he is impaled by a golden, twisted something that pierces through the wood and his chest cavity. The camera pulls up to reveal that the horse is no mere horse, but rather a splendid (though homicidal) unicorn.
As the unicorn gallops into the night, we are treated to a wonderful bit of consistent mythology. In season two episode thirteen (“Houses of the Holy”), Dean taunted Sam about his belief in angels (their existence, of course, was proven once season four rolled around); he pointed out that there is also a lot of unicorn lore as well. “In fact, I hear that they ride on silver moonbeams, and they shoot rainbows out their ass.”
Five years later. Behold.
Thank you, visual effects supervisor Ivan Hayden. You have made my year.
Cut back to “Now”, as the timestamp informs us, where Sam is doing his best against his white-faced assailants. He repeats the mantra “If it bleeds, you can kill it” as he fires a shot into one of the clowns. Unfortunately, it appears that clowns bleed glitter. Once he realizes that firearms are useless, Sam is pretty much on the ropes.
Padalecki does a remarkable job in this episode of emoting Sam’s aforementioned coulrophobia in ways both subtle and pronounced. In some scenes, he uses smaller actions, like a tightened jaw or a slight widening of the eyes, to get the point across; in others, when his terror is close to overwhelming, his movements become desperate without straying into cartoonish…a great achievement, considering his foes are clowns who keep dipping into the Official Three Stooges Handbook of Fight Choreography.
While investigating the scene, Dean learns from the widow of this latest victim that, on the previous day, he and his son Billy had attended a birthday party at – I think you might guess where – Plucky Pennywhistle’s. Dean sends Sam to investigate at Plucky’s while he talks to Billy…an assignment that Sam resists. “Just know that 99.99% of clowns can’t hurt you,” Dean says, trying to be encouraging. “And if it bleeds, you can kill it.”
Sam steels his nerves, but still finds the task of exploring Plucky’s to be a nightmare made flesh. He first meets creepily over-enthusiastic employee Howard (Michael Blackman Beck, who, coincidentally, is married to actress Julie McNiven, who played fallen angel Anna Milton in seasons four and five). Next, he witnesses the plight of an exasperated youngster named Tyler (Jakob Davies), whose mother Libby (Caroline Cave), also an employee, seats him at a table with his homework, begging him to stay patient for “just three more hours”.
Sam notices that one of the walls is covered with children’s drawings. The drawings are on placemats that read “Draw your worst fear” with the promise that “Plucky will make your fear disappear.” (The little touches on the Plucky’s set are just as amazing at the overall layout – notice that one of the drawings is of Mike, Billy Crystal’s one-eyed, green spherical character from “Monsters, Inc.”. The production design team did a fantastic job with this episode, as they did a couple weeks ago with “Time After Time”.) Furthermore, both Kelly and Billy’s drawings have mysteriously vanished.
Sam meets manager Jean (the delightful Jennifer Spence, of “Stargate Universe” and, more recently, “Alcatraz”), who tells him that the “Draw your worst fear” idea is based in pop-psychology. When he asks about Billy, Jean tells him that the boy’s father tried to pull him away from the party early; when Billy begged to stay a little longer, Jean reports that the father pulled a “full-frontal douchebag”, embarrassing and traumatizing his son to no end.
Before Sam leaves, Janitor Saul (James O’Sullivan) discretely gets his attention and tells him to come back after closing, since at the moment there are “too many eyes” watching.
Back at the wonderfully decorated Tiki Motel, Dean shows Sam something that little Billy drew for him – the same thing that he drew on his “magical” placemat at Plucky’s : a unicorn impaling a man, a rainbow tail trailing behind it.
At Plucky’s, Saul never gets a chance to tell Sam whatever deep dark secrets he was willing to dish. While grudgingly sanitizing the ball pit after a child upchucked in its colorful plastic orb-fill depths, the whistle-blower (or is it Pennywhistle-blower?) is attacked and devoured by an unseen creature. The sequence is a near shot-for-shot recreation of the first scene of “Jaws”.
Sam and Dean return to Plucky’s; Sam reports that authorities believe “the ball washer did it”. Dean delights in getting Sam to repeat “ball washer” a few times before he declares that the bite wounds had to be made by a shark, “I’d say a twenty-footer, at least…’Shark Week’, man! How do you not watch that?” (Fun factoid : Jensen Ackles and his lovely wife, actress Danneel Harris Ackles, have both professed a love for “Shark Week”.)
While snooping around inside, the boys discover that another worst-fear drawing has gone missing, although the child in question had no connection with the victim. Saul was simply targeted because he was about to spill the proverbial beans. Someone is working a spell that “fire off childhood fears at will,” Dean realizes. “…Dractopus…Seabiscuit the Impaler…Land Shark…what’s next?”
Back to “Now”, where Sam is getting whooped by the pounding Pluckys. He gets in a few good shots, but when one’s opponents can juggle wrenches, one can be put at a significant disadvantage.
We return to a few hours previous, where Dean and Sam are completely tapped out when it comes to ideas for their killer. Sam decides to go back and play bad cop with the employees at Plucky’s, then Dean can hang back and see if the grilling sends any of them into an A-1 level freak out. Dean is skeptical : “Yeah, yeah, a guy in his 30s hangin’ out at Plucky’s alone, that’s normal…that’s not pervy at all.”
Sam starts putting the pressure on Jean almost immediately after arriving at Plucky’s, but Dean finds himself coveting a most unusual object – a giant rainbow slinky. He rushes to the prize stand manned by Howard, who informs him that items can only be purchased with “tickets won by hard work and determination”.
To which Dean replies, “You mainlined the Kool-Aid, huh?” Howard emits an annoying giggle and tells Dean that it just happens to be Double Ticket Tuesday on the Skee-ball machine.
In the break room, Sam lays into Jean and finds out that she has only held the position of manager for a couple of weeks – and that there was some stiff competition for the job, since it came with benefits.
Dean is not as good as Skee-ball as he is at hunting, so he dutifully trails Jean when she races from the break room after Sam’s grilling. But she most likely is not their main suspect – she has a more green approach to coping with stress.
Sam also gets nowhere with Howard, whose spirit seems unflappable. Dean comes to Tyler’s aid after the boy tries to stop another child from cheating at Skee-ball. Despite Dean’s stressing about his horrifically thwarted fatherhood, throughout the series he has always gotten along with kids, especially boys without father figures. From Lucas in 1×03 (“Dead in the Water”) to Ben (to whom Dean served as a father for over a year between seasons five and six), to shifter baby Bobby John (episode 6×02, “Two and a Half Men”), he continually demonstrates his strengths as a potential parent.
Tyler gives his mom some attitude for having to eat Plucky’s pizza for dinner again (“That stuff tastes like butt,” he tells Dean, and if you have ever tried the pie at a real-life, Plucky’s-esque chain that shall remain unnamed – I will refer to it only as “Charles Edward Cheese’s” – then you understand his point of view). And although Dean quickly finds himself agreeing with Tyler’s assessment, he encourages him to take it easy on Libby. After all, “she’s workin’ a tough gig. She’s exhausted. You should take pity on the old.” All the while Tyler is creating a new drawing on one of the “worst fear” placemats : a giant robot with laser eyes.
Dean sees that Howard was not fazed in the least by Sam’s bad cop routine, but it looks like the younger Winchester has hit pay dirt when the last employee on his list, the lion-costumed Cliff (Dagan Nish) suddenly bolts.
Dean is able to tackle him, but Cliff was fleeing because he thought he was about to get busted over a meth lab fire. “…It wasn’t me, okay, it was my brother…we got the same fingerprints…” (That excuse had me rolling with laughter as the single worst alibi of all time. Not even identical twins have matching fingerprints.)
But Cliff is able to share one very helpful piece of information : while “shrooming” in the basement at Plucky’s, he and his friend heard a lot of strange noises coming out of the boiler room.
Back inside, Tyler takes Dean’s advice to heart and apologizes after throwing a bit of a fit about his drawing being stolen by someone. It gives Libby some comfort, but Dean is dismayed to find out that that drawing in question was the giant robot on one of the nefarious “worst fear” placemats. And since the killer seems to be going after what he or she deems are bad parents – and since Libby seems to qualify for the award some days – Dean worries that she might be the next target. He sends Sam to watch over Tyler and Libby while he checks things out in the boiler room.
Dean discovers serious mojo-making materials downstairs, where someone has set up shop permanently. There are more children’s drawings there as well – all showing one kid drowning while another one floats on the surface – along with a photograph of two boys, several painted figurines, a spell book…and Tyler’s drawing. Before he can do anything, though, Dean finds himself staring down the barrel of Howard’s gun.
“There’s power in fear,” Howard explains, “and when a child draws what he’s afraid of, a little of that mojo ends up on the page.” To send the creation after what he judges as unsuitable parents, Howard has to steal a personal item from the adult. He honestly believes that having little Kelly see her father butchered by a giant octopus is better than having her grow up with an inattentive father. Plus, he was overlooked for the management position that ended up going to Jean…no doubt that pushed him over the edge and into black magic territory.
Even though Dean destroys Tyler’s drawing, Howard taunts that he has already sent clown assassins after Sam – he pegged the coulrophobe immediately.
Tired of sticking with the boring old timestamps, the show treats us to the highly irreverent “RIGHT FRIGGIN’ NOW”. (That phrase, along with “clowns kill”, were high on Twitter’s worldwide top trends chart when the episode aired on the east coast.) While the clowns continue to beat the stuffing out of Sam, Dean gets more of the story from Howard.
When Howard was a little boy, his brother drowned. Howard still blames his parents – he was screaming to them for help, but was ignored. Dean picks up on Howard’s residual fear; he guesses correctly that Howard has not been in the water since the accident. He grabs one of Howard’s drawings off the wall and throws it into the fire, along with a personal item : one of the Plucky figurines that Howard painted.
Howard’s dead brother is summoned. With one touch from the phantom, Howard falls to his knees and proceeds to drown on dry land. And with the spell-caster dead, the evil Pluckys attacking Sam explode into a colorful glitter-bomb that coats him in rainbow pixie dust.
In the final scene, Sam reunites with Dean and Plucky’s and allows his brother to mock him for his glitter coating – to Sam, the ribbing is worth it to hear Dean laugh harder than he has in months. “I’m sorry,” Dean manages through his chuckles, “you looked like you got attacked by some PCP-crazed strippers…”
Sam tries to look on the bright side : by getting walloped by clowns, he faced his fears. “And now, what could a clown possibly ever do to me?” And just to prove how much he knows his brother, Sam snagged Dean a giant rainbow slinky. Dean has a present for Sam as well…his very own stuffed Plucky. “You can think of it as a, uh…clown-phobia sobriety clip.”
Sam has his own ideas, apparently. He leaves his Plucky in the street after mangling it. Now that…is therapeutic. Coulrophobia cured.
Many thanks to you for reading and you for visiting WormholeRiders News Agency to read about our continuing coverage of the great Supernatural series!
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