Scary Good! Sheriff Donna Returns in Supernatural ‘Plush’
It took me a few days to be able to actually LOOK at the caps from last week’s Supernatural episode, ‘Plush’, without cringing. Damn, I somehow forget just how scary and creepy this show can be! I am totally with Sam in his fear of clowns, and weirdly almost-realistic deer head costumes or entirely sinister court jesters are right up there too. Not to mention bloody giant bunny heads stuck on some hapless innocent! Those eyes!!
Jared played it perfectly when Sam is trapped in the elevator with that ohmygodsocreepy clown – I may have screamed while Sam closed his eyes to steel himself for what was to come. You could almost hear him internally saying, ‘Really? Clowns??’
By that time, I was as terrified as Sam. The image of the clown carrying that knife, drops of blood slowly dripping onto the hospital floor as he walks down the hallway? OMG. Poor Sammy!
I was in awe of the Winchesters’ bravery, but then again I often am. And Sam got a chance to be choked per usual, but also to be totally badass and overcome his fear of clowns to save that poor bewildered man. All to the tune of some cheesy elevator music, which just made the whole thing even MORE creepy!
I rather love that Sam didn’t try to play it down with Dean later, reminding him that Sam would absolutely not kid around about something like killer clowns. They have come some distance with each other, a little more able to show each other their vulnerabilities. Sam more than Dean, I think, but that’s always been the case. He’s come clean about the visions. He can own his irrational – well, what would be irrational for anyone but the Winchesters – fear of clowns. And Dean doesn’t tease either. In this episode, clowns do indeed kill.
I also loved both Jared and Jensen in the first confronting-the-bunny scene. First of all, the cinematography was amazing. That shot down the hallway to the jail cell, that demented bloodied bunny sitting at the end of it grinning creepily at them. Like Donna said, terrifying!
Sam stealing the Roger Rabbit joke right out from under his brother, and Dean’s ‘Really??’ bitch face. Dean’s blustering bravado, which somehow managed to mostly last right through the killer bunny having him in a choke hold smashed against the bars. His muttered “Strong…” was a weird mix of hysterical and ouch, which Supernatural manages to do better than any other show. I loved Sam coming to the rescue, and literally prying the rabbit’s hands off Dean’s head (after Dean once again gets doused with holy water…hehehe)
And I’m pretty sure everyone loved a pissed off Dean cocking that salt gun and shooting him. Mmm.
Especially since the boys were in their fed suits for much of this episode. Whoever fitted those suits? Kudos. And thanks. Lots and lots of thanks. Sam and Dean get better looking every week, I swear.
So, totally creepy and terrifying monsters of the week? Check. Sam and Dean being both strong and vulnerable? Check. Winchesters being gorgeous? Check. But we also got something else awesome – we got Sheriff Donna!
It’s no secret that I love Briana Buckmaster – read our interviews with her here on Fangasm if there’s any doubt, and I guarantee you’ll fall in love with her too. We spent some quality time with her at Vancon this year, showing her wonderful husband Jose and her beautiful daughter Valentina around the con and then settling in with Briana for a lovely chat and filming a segment for the upcoming documentary film, “Squee! The Fangirl Documentary”. That’s when I developed a bit of a girl crush – now everyone has one. Just ask Alaina Huffman. Or anyone who’s seen Briana in action at karaoke or the Saturday Night Special!
Anyway, I love Briana but I also love the character of Donna. Kathy and I did an interview for The Mary Sue the other day and we were asked about our favorite female characters. Needless to say, Donna was one of them for both of us. She was well written from the start, with enough backstory that we felt like we knew her – and many of us related to her story. Briana played her with humor but also with heart, letting her vulnerability and fear show through even as she did what she had to do and lopped off a MotW’s head to save the day.
We got to know Donna even better in this episode, and Briana once again pulled off a believable mix of humor and vulnerability. She’s a bit of a mirror for Dean, sharing his snarky sense of humor and his bravado that covers up a lot of heart and compassion. They connected instantly over Dean’s wild hare joke, just as they did over the powdered donuts last time.
Briana makes Donna very funny, but she also has the acting chops to show us Donna’s humanity too. When the kid under the bunny mask ends up dead, Donna’s horror and sadness are written all over her face. She puts a human face on what hunters do all the time, showing us that underneath their own ‘masks’, Sam and Dean also grieve for the ones they can’t save. Imagine the toll that takes after decades.
That scene as they burn the mask was beautifully shot, and also emotionally powerful. I can’t see the Winchesters standing there, watch them through the flames, without it evoking all the people they’ve lost and given a hunter’s funeral. John…Kevin…Charlie….so many losses, so much grief. The scene made me tear up, and Donna’s overt sadness just made it hurt more.
“He was innocent,” she says. “He was just a puppet. He was a victim too.”
I hope Sam and Dean are listening. They too have been puppets, and each time, they were also victims, used and manipulated and now suffering the consequences.
I love that Donna is insecure but also smart and competent. I love her very real struggle with trying to open herself up to another relationship. “I was born at night, Dean. Not last night.” She’s not afraid to call it like it is, rolling her eyes at Dean’s suggestion that she make up a story about being overpowered. Not exactly female empowerment, she points out. She does it, but the point is well taken.
We were all rooting for Donna and Doug No. 2 by the end of the episode, but I think most of us understood her wariness even if Sam and Dean initially didn’t.
When the Winchesters pronounced her a bona fide hunter, I was grinning almost as widely as Donna was. Many of us can relate to Donna’s insecurity, but damn it, she deserves that title, and her glee at being given it was infectious. And a perfectly good reason to hug those strapping young men once again, Briana. Maybe for more than one take.
This was a MotW case, but as always, we got plenty of commentary on the main story arc and the brothers’ relationship too. Particularly during the tearful speech from the sister about how she should have trusted her brother, but was too afraid. As we listened, the camera was on Dean’s face, and it was very clear he was listening too. Trust your brother, Dean! You too, Sammy!
Like I said, Sam is doing more of that in this episode, opening up more about the visions even when Dean wasn’t trying to get anything out of him. Dean, in contrast, is not opening up about the Darkness. He knows he wasn’t able to kill her when the two of them were alone; he knows he let her touch his face with something like wonder or affection and did nothing about it. He’s ashamed of that, just as he was ashamed of being out of control with the Mark or when he was a demon. Dean Winchester likes to be in control; he prides himself on that. Yet now, once again, he’s not. And he’s either engaging in some patented Winchester denial about that or just trying to at least hide it from Sam. They’re getting back to a good place with each other, and Dean has never wanted to mess with that.
Fear, guilt, shame. Those can be destructive emotions that keep us from speaking up about what’s really going on. From asking for help and support. It’s what so much of the AKF campaign and the various represent campaigns and Attitudes in Reverse are all about – it mirrors the message that Jared and Jensen and the rest of the cast are trying to broadcast in real life. Secrets keep us isolated and prevent us from getting the help we need. It’s true for Dean Winchester, and it’s true for all of us.
Sam, it seems, has learned a little of this. Jared was also wonderful in the opening scene of Sam on his knees praying. Sam has always been open to all possibilities, and is still a bit more hopeful than Dean, even after all he’s been through. I don’t think it’s God who’s sending him those visions, but I certainly understand his need to think it might be. The alternatives are a lot more horrifying to consider.
Dean is Dean; he’s snarky, dismissive. But underneath that is a lot of fear for his brother. He doesn’t want Sam to get his hopes up and have them dashed. He doesn’t want Sam to put himself in danger. When Sam mentions the Cage as they’re driving, Dean jerks his head around so fast he must have felt whiplashed. No way is he letting his little brother anywhere near Lucifer and the Cage again. He’s all big brother protective instantly, and that makes me a happy fangirl.
Unfortunately, I agree with Dean: the Winchesters need to trust in themselves. And each other.
I chatted with Matt Cohen last weekend, and nothing he said about not-John’s speech to Sam in the car in “Baby” made me feel any less anxious about who the hell that was. Of course he didn’t give away any spoilers, but that ominously delivered line, “I never could fool you,” made my blood run cold. Remember that, Sam, when you think about who’s trying to contact you. Don’t do anything foolish! Especially without your brother!
This episode also had something to say about prejudice and stigma and judging others based on how they look or whether they’re different in some way. About the consequences of fear when it doesn’t have a basis in reality. We’re all quick to jump to the worst possible conclusions when someone doesn’t behave like we think they “should” – when they keep to themselves too much or live with their sister or, god forbid, like to dress up as something else! Or even when they seem to be perfectly happy NOT doing the things others expect them to. Chester was a tragic figure, apparently innocent and just doing his thing and trying to make others happy, including his nephew. I felt sick to my stomach during the scene of him being tortured and hung over the side of the bridge. I felt sick again during his sister’s heartbroken admission that she had trusted other people and not her own instincts – and not her own brother. Not to say that family members aren’t capable of doing horrible things, but she didn’t even ask.
“I should have gone to him first,” she says sorrowfully, and I’m yelling at Sam and Dean to listen to her.
One of the things we wrote about a lot in ‘Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls’ is the sense of shame that fans often feel about being “different” – and the irrational fears that people often have about anyone who doesn’t fit the cultural norm. Many of us defy cultural expectations in one way or another. We’re too passionate, especially if we’re women. We love too much, or we love the wrong thing, or in the wrong way. We collect things that seem worthless to others; we dress up as our favorite characters and cosplay at conventions. We’re “different.” And we’re judged for it sometimes, just like Chester.
That part of the episode was hard to watch, but it had something important to say. Think about how amazing it is that this show can pack all of that into one episode – horror, humor, character development of both men and women, cultural commentary. Seriously? In one episode!
Having Briana in the episode was wonderful because she’s a talented actor who brings to life one of my favorite characters. But she’s also very much “one of us”, and that makes having her back on SPN wonderful in more ways than one. She live tweeted the episode along with many fans and some other cast members, with as much enthusiasm as any of us and not afraid to show it. She gave us what we want in terms of behind the scenes tidbits too – Jensen and Jared posing like catalog models. Look at these beautiful dorks!
Briana showing us all just how courageous SHE is by posing with that terrifying bunny head. Ahhhh!
Guest star Brandon Taylor got into the act too, sharing his fanboy moment with Jared and Jensen. I like Doug; he can stay.
He and Briana also witnessed Jensen pretending to lift prop weights, while Jared remains utterly nonchalant and ignores him completely.
And Briana filming it and totally encouraging Jensen.
It seems like, after eleven seasons, Show – or I should say TPTB – is finally getting a clue about what fans want and what it’s easy and logical to give them. Of course they need to take the Show where the showrunners and writers want to take it, but bringing back beloved characters is EASY. It doesn’t take any creative control away, and it makes fandom really damn happy. This show isn’t like others; it doesn’t have guest stars who do one or two episodes and then disappear. Instead, this fandom adopts those actors into the SPNFamily, gets to know them at conventions, and then wants them BACK.
Finally, someone seems to be getting this. This season we’ve already had Matt Cohen and Briana back, and Richard Speight back as director, and it’s not a very well kept secret that we’ll be getting more beloved characters back soon too. Keep it up, Show!
So all in all, kudos to Eric Charmelo and Nicole Snyder, who gave us a solid episode with great dialogue and plot progression – and scared the living crap out of me! That’s Supernatural at its best.
Stay tuned for more from Pascon, and our exclusive interviews with Matt Cohen and Richard Speight, Jr.! And we’ll have more from Briana Buckmaster soon too!
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