Supernatural Takes on The Thule
This week’s Supernatural episode was by another new writer, Meredith Glynn, but directed by a returning fan favorite director, Nina Lopez Corrado. The Winchesters once again come up against the Thule, Nazi necromancers who are determined this time to resurrect Hitler himself.
The first half of the episode was a bit oddly paced and choppy, but it had some wonderful scenes. This season we’re getting more domestic Winchesters than we usually do, which makes me incredibly happy. Robbie Thompson was onto something when he wanted to show us more of the brothers’ lives in between cases. That lets us see the people they are, and lets us see the bond between the two of them in a different way than we see it on a hunt. We know they have each other’s backs, and that’s wonderful to see as well, but part of the reason they’re so close is that there are all those little moments in between – the little moments that bond all of us to the people we care about.
Sam comes in with groceries and offers to cook them some eggs, and just that little glimpse made me smile. They do things for each other – simple, everyday normal domestic things. But those things are what cement relationships and get them through the hard times.
Dean – alarmingly – says he isn’t hungry, which makes Sam’s eyebrow go wayyyy up. Sam isn’t deterred though. He pulls out something even more enticing for his brother – a delicious looking pie. This made me grin ear to ear, because we all know Dean loves pie and we all have heard him ask his brother to ‘remember the pie’ on multiple occasions. This time – most of the time, apparently – Sam does.
Dean even turns that down, which makes Sam think that he’s still pining for his mom. Another thing I’m really liking about this season is that Sam and Dean keep TALKING to each other. Instead of just letting it go, Sam pushes his brother to talk about it. And Dean does! All this occurs in glorious close up shots that make me want to send a dozen roses to Serge Ladouceur, the Show’s brilliant director of photography.
There were some comments about last week’s episode that the boys weren’t written in character, but I didn’t feel that way – this week once again the characterization seemed spot on. And in keeping with the progress both Sam and Dean have made, Dean owns up to his defenses when Sam calls him on it:
Dean: Kinda my thing.
Hey, at least it’s one of the healthier defense mechanisms!
I’m also enjoying seeing the brothers ribbing each other the way they used to do, with some affectionate eye rolling. Like when they investigate the antique shop when two people were incinerated on the spot after being foolish enough to touch a certain pocket watch.
Sam: Maybe not touch anything until we find out if it wants to kill us.
Dean: proceeds to knock things over repeatedly.
That’s part of Dean Winchester’s charm – he can be adorably blundering at times and yet smart and capable and badass – because all of those are characteristics that make Dean the beloved character he is.
His ill advised touching in this case works to their advantage, as he discovers the hidden creepy creepy Nazi room. Who was expecting those mannequins to come to life at any second? (Especially because the production office tweeted out a little vid of their mannequin challenge today, with the crew and director Richard Speight Jr. frozen in various interesting poses).
Sam and Dean are understandably excited about going after Nazis (who apparently are back to reincarnate Hitler himself, whose soul is stashed inside the lethal pocket watch and just needs the blood of one of Hitler’s descendants to bring him back to life).
The affection between the brothers was also clear when Dean gleefully gets out the grenade launcher that’s been languishing in the Impala’s trunk all these years, overjoyed at the prospect of killing Nazis. Sam shakes his head, reminding Dean that this is a stealth mission. Dean deflates like a little boy who isn’t allowed to play with his favorite Christmas present, and Sam doesn’t even tease him. Instead, his voice goes soft and reassuring.
“We’ll get a chance. It’s okay, Dean.”
We even get Winchesters in a diner, which makes it feel like old school SPN. And I liked the subtle little touch of Dean saying ‘gracias’ to the waitress.
Dean is back to teasing Sam whenever he gets a chance too – in other words, that brotherly vibe that sold me on the show in the first place is very much back. There were even smiles – real actual smiles – in this episode.
When they find out that Hitler’s soul is trapped in a horcrux, Sam explains, “It’s a Harry Potter thing.”
Dean: Yeah, you’d know that.
I’m fairly certain Dean would know that too, so perhaps he just wanted to take the opportunity to rib his brother. That was the only time I was tempted to eyeroll a little, because I much prefer smart Winchesters. They don’t need any dumbing down to be funny, Show.
I also liked the continuity nod to the Winchesters’ past encounters with the Thule – they call Aaron Bass, which meant we got some Adam Rose back on Supernatural! I love the character and the actor, so that was a win – even more of him would’ve been even better.
There were a few pivotal guest actors, including Allison Paige as Ellie, the reluctant descendant of Hitler. She not only watches her date go up in flames, but finds out that she’s Hitler’s great grand niece and that she’s adopted, all on the same day. The character seemed a bit over the top at first, but she grew on me, and by the time she ripped out her IV and shot one of the bad guys, I was cheering for her. Her well-played incredulity struck me as entirely appropriate – especially when poor Sam tried to tell her the truth about Lucifer wanting him for a vessel. I mean, it IS hard to believe!
Then there was the zombie Nazi dad (Gil Darnell), whose accent was so thick it kept making me laugh, and his son (Keenan Tracey), the rebellious Millenial who’s just pissed that Nazi Necromancers don’t know how to celebrate Christmas or show up at Career Day. I actually liked that kid from the start – like almost everyone on this show, he has some serious daddy issues. Something to which Sam and Dean can definitely relate.
Kid: All I do is try to make him proud…
He’s smart enough to come to them for protection when he turns on his father, and Sam and Dean – who know a thing or two about allying with former enemies for common goals – let him go.
The episode was well balanced, with both Winchesters getting screen time and interacting with the guest stars. For the most part, the humor worked – sometimes unintentionally, like in the scene where Dean bursts in and announces that ‘meltdown time is over’. Video of several blown takes of that scene after Jensen was way too espresso-caffeinated had made the rounds as part of the ‘Shaving People Punting Things’ videos that I love, so when the actual scene came on I burst into laughter remembering the takes that weren’t quite so serious. Have I mentioned I love this Show?
That was a great scene though – I loved the Winchesters’ trying to convince Ellie that this was the time to fight, and that Dean knelt down to appeal to her. Those small things make a scene ring so true – whether that was the director’s idea or the actor’s, it totally worked. It seemed like what Dean would do.
Nina Lopez Corrado also directed the hell out of a major fight scene, with amazing choreography presumably by Lou Bollo. Both Sam and Dean got to be badass and kick some ass, and even if they didn’t ultimately take the bad guys down, they were definitely the strong and capable Winchesters I love. Sam and Dean can be adorable, but they can also be scary, and we were reminded of that again in this episode. When the rebellious son slid into their booth at the diner and we saw Dean get his gun out under the table? I got goosebumps.
The timing of this episode was perhaps unfortunate, especially when the actual phrase “This can’t be happening” was used and there was discussion of the state of the economy making it ripe for Hitler’s return. When Hitler was actually successfully reincarnated, the episode came dangerously close to going completely off the rails – I think they were going for Hitler is batshit crazy, but I honestly didn’t know what to make of him for a little while.
Hitler: (with a maniacal laugh) I sold 10 million copies of Mein Kampf. What do you think I can do with Twitter?
I ended up laughing, partly because everyone in the room had such a ‘WTF’ look on their faces, but laughing at Hitler isn’t exactly comfortable, so then I tried to stop and ended up as confused as the Winchesters.
Notwithstanding that confusion, I was full on beaming when Dean shot the crazy guy, though.
Sam: Dude, you just killed Hitler.
Dean: (breaks into a grin) AWESOME
And it was awesome, for so many reasons. Dean defines himself, and draws all his self worth, from feeling like he’s making a difference. Writing wrongs, taking out the monsters, saving people. Having the opportunity to kill Hitler himself will go a long way toward building up the self esteem that Dean has had shattered a few times along the way. I was happy for him; I had the feeling that Sam was too.
Sam: Nobody will believe you.
Dean: But you believe me.
And that’s all that matters, really. What Sam thinks of him has always been paramount for Dean, right after what his Dad thinks of him (and perhaps now his mom).
Sam has a moment with Ellie, who has had some realizations of her own.
Ellie: You can only run for so long.
It’s something Sam realized too a while ago. There’s that character growth again that keeps happening this season.
This week, in contrast to last week, ended on a positive note. The Winchesters drive away in the Impala, as it should be. In search of the ‘best pie for 1000 miles’ that Dean saw a sign for.
Sam: So now you want pie?
But there’s no protest in his voice at all, only affection. Dean is back to wanting pie, and annoying Sam by repeating ‘I killed Hitler’, and Sam is back to rolling his eyes. No shady motorcycle rider comes out of the shadows to take out Ellie as she heads back to med school. And me? I’m smiling.
Thanks for that, Show.
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