Figures. I abandon the east coast for sunny California and Sam and Dean head there to meet the ghostly version of a celebrity: apparently Lizzie Borden herself is giving people (some number less than) forty whacks! That’s right, friends, it’s a Monster of the Week episode, featuring the scariest being to wield an axe since Paul Bunyan. What? I’m the only person who thought a thundering giant with an weapon and a huge ox (that’s, for some weird reason, blue) was scary? Yeah, right.
1. Full of Sheet
I loved the all too brief overview of ghostly trouble the Winchester boys have faced as shown in the “Then.” Who else, as their greatest haunted hits flashed by, was blindly scrambling for the iron and salt? Just me then? Okay. I always love it when a “Then” pulls dual duty: it catches up some fans who haven’t seen the early seasons (blasphemy!) and sets them up nicely for the episode, and it reminds the long haulers of the longevity of the show and gives us a moment of nostalgia for episodes past. Imagine how long the “Then” will be when we’re on Season 20! I know, my lips to Chuck’s ears.
2. Booooootiful Losers
Okay, so the minute we see them we all know that that couple is going to literally going to be covered in axe body spray. But before they do? THEY MENTION THE GHOSTFACERS! (Sing it with me: “Ghost! Ghostfacers! We face the faceless—WE FACE THE DEAD!”) I hope this little namedrop means that Ed and Harry have found their way back to each other and are once again (sort of) fighting the good fight against the things that go bump in the night. Basically? What I’m saying? Is that I want another Ghostfacers episode. They’re the only characters from Season One that haven’t died yet. Doesn’t that warrant another guest spot?
3. Hobby Lobby
It’s kind of adorable that they all have their obsessions, right? I mean, Dean’s got pie and busty Asian beauties. Cas now has Netflix, prompting the following exchange as the boys hit the road:
Dean: What do you wanna do about Cas?
Sam: Oh, he’s knee deep in binge watching The Wire. Just started season two.
Dean: Oh, yeah. He’s not coming out any time soon.
And Sam? Sam has serial killers. Wait. What?
I’m sure there’s a lot to analyze there—maybe our boy has seen so much supernatural killing that it doesn’t faze him anymore—he’s more fascinated by the horror human beings commit upon each other. We’ve seen a few episodes where it turns out the slaughter was perpetrated by humans (“The Benders” from Season One being particularly shudder worthy) and what we do to each other? It always seems so much scarier than anything any monster could do to us.
4. Ms. Borden’s House
Was anyone else reminded of Season Two’s “Playthings” when the guys finally reached Casa Lizzie? I mean, it even opened on a creepy doll! Some of the best brother banter of the night happened in that house, including my favorite moments of the episode as Sam plays with an atomizer filled with lavender toilet water:
Dean: “Bottled toilet water?! Why do you keep spraying it?”
Sam: “I just wanted to see if the squeezy thing worked. I think it was supposed to be a perfume or something.”
Dean: “All right, I’m gonna go check out the rest of the inn because now I’ve got grandma all over me, so….”
Dean, later: “The whole place is a hoax, man. It’s a tourist trap just like I said.”
Sam: “Yeah, but we still don’t know how that couple got axed. I mean how did the killer get in and out?
Dean: “I don’t know. Why don’t we Sherlock that over a beer and a lobster roll. I gotta get out of this doily coffin.
The Winchesters and lobster rolls? Delicious.
Creeping around the house, looking for clues, had the best elements of a MotW episode: eerie music cues, moments of anticipatory silence, and an ultimately unsatisfying uncovering of the tourist trap nature of the faked hisses and boos that led to the real story of the oncoming Darkness. It’s always kind of cool when the boys uncover the story, only to find a deeper story underneath. Speaking of Sherlock, letting their Men of Letters sides come out proves what Irene Adler always says: “Brainy is the new sexy.”
5. Under Investigation
As a huge Genesis fan, I loved that the boys were agents Gabriel and Collins. I also love the way the boys embody their FBI personas—somehow they pull it off even when they’re “undercover” in Winchester plaid. And them in the Fed suits? Again, delicious.
Dean is his usual bad cop self, snarky and determined, as he questions Len, a man who definitely has a future as a Ghostfacers correspondent.
Sam is, well, Sam, as he questions Sydney the babysitter and her charge Jordy after her employers are killed—so kind, so gentle, and so thoughtful of their pain. He’s no Soulless Sam, here. And speaking of being soulless…
6. I’m a Soul(less) Man
Sam may have a soul, but a few other people don’t seem to. And why is that? Their souls were eaten by…guess who? If you said Amara, stick a gold star on your forehead. Amara’s still hungry, it seems, and the residents of Fall River, Massachusetts are looking especially tasty. The way Amara talks about serial killer eyes as she flashes her own is still hella creepy.
And the way she sucks out Len’s soul (white, interestingly, unlike the black of the demons she has consumed heretofore) is just pathetic. Len shares what it’s like to be soulless. How he fakes it, remembering what it was like to be human before he lost what is key to his humanity. It was interesting to see soulless as blank, as opposed to sociopathic. Poor Len. Other than being babysat by the Winchesters (a fate I would love to have to succumb to myself) what does he have to look forward to? Certainly not “kitten videos, chicken and waffles or eucalyptus scent.” (Side note: Len losing his heebie jeebies is fine and all, but when he said he was no longer afraid of clammy handshakes—and that he could lick the sweat off any stranger’s body part—that crossed the line. Gag.)
7. Babysitter’s Club
So who else initially thought it was babysitter Sydney who killed everyone? Yeah, me either. After she knocks the boys out and traps them in the basement she tells them why she’s gone Lizzie on everyone. She met Amara outside a bar called “Molly’s Hatchet Room” (nice!) drunk and in emotional pain. Amara took her pain away, leaving her feeling like “ecstasy orgasm chocolate cake” (which, to be fair, sounds pretty great, actually.) Then Amara sucked out her soul and she became like Sam of old—seeing a soul as a liability, especially in light of her years of physical abuse at the hands of her parents. Len finds soullessness troubling, but Sydney finds it delightful. In her mind, Amara has set her free.
Sydney killed the young couple because the dude was her ex, the innkeeper lady because she screwed her out of two week’s pay, the babysitter family because she was saving Jordy from them—the meth dealing, slut couple that they were. Oh, and also? She’s offering Dean and Sam up to Amara. But before she can? Len puts an axe in her back, leaving her dying on the floor whispering, “The Darkness is coming. It’s so peaceful. It’s coming for all of us.”
8. Boys ‘R Us
When Sam talks to sweet, sad little Jordy after all is said and done, it’s more than a little heartbreaking. He tells him of Mary’s death and his dad’s absence, telling Jordy he will survive it. That people are going to help him. It’s a small and quiet reminder of where they have come from. How Mary’s death has led them to this: a life of monster hunting, often lonely, always selfless, and how often they are the help people don’t even know they need. MotW episodes don’t tend to make it into my top ten episodes list, but they are important reminders of the Winchesters’ day job. Yeah, like Buffy Summers before them, they save the world. A lot. But they also save the individuals that create that world. And, in many ways and to many people, that’s just as important.
9. Their Soul Responsibility
As Amara roams the earth we have to ask: what are Sam and Dean going to do with the “spent shells” she leaves behind? Unlike Sydney, who saw soul sucking as orgasmic bliss, Len’s not a fan. He may not have a soul, but somehow? He still has a conscience, and he knows there is something deeply wrong with him. He regards his escape from handcuffs as a mere curiosity. He ripped off his own thumb, and picked it up like a “mini hotdog,” a fact Dean regards, correctly, as worrisome. He didn’t even save the boys for any other reason than he was curious if he could do it. He knows if he’s not stopped he will kill again. He feels it inside him. So he asks Dean to kill him, and when Dean can’t, he decides to take credit for all the murders and end up in jail for life. Interesting, huh? That the soulless killer can be the good guy? This show turns things on their severed heads in the best of ways.
10. “The Darkness Is Coming”
The boys talk of Amara, and what effect she is having on their world, even in her tween phase. Sam finds her chilling—thinks they are only aware of the tip of the iceberg when it comes to her evil. Dean, of course, somewhat downplays his connection to her, and we’re not sure if it’s because he doesn’t want Sam to worry or if he doesn’t quite recognize the seriousness of it all. Either way, as they drive off, Amara emerges from the woods where she has been watching them, eerily calm as they drive away. “Bye Dean. I’ll see you soon,” she says with a grin, and we know that unfortunately? She’s probably right.
Next week I will be attending the Salute to Supernatural convention in Pasadena, California (and doing some live tweeting!) so the recap for “Our Little World” will be delayed until the following week, when you, you lucky dogs, get a two-fer as I also recap “Plush.” See you then!