Episode summary: Charlie’s back from Oz, evil twins (sort of) become a thing, and Dean begins to possibly internalise what everyone’s been telling him.
Right, good things first!
Dean’s attempts to deal with the MoC this episode were very fun. They had the right tone (not too slapstick, fairly subdued in terms of CRANK UP THAT COMEDY MUSIC SO THEY KNOW IT’S A BIG JOKE, BOWWW-WA-DADA-BOWWW), were nicely spaced, and made sense in their context. Big thumbs up on that, I loved it. Similarly, there was a nice continuing undertone of having the MoC affect Dean, and it being consistently acknowledged, with even a slight pay off at the end in that another person’s getting involved and actually made a tiny bit of an in-way into Dean’s psyche that Sam seemingly can’t touch anymore because bro-feels
and about 8 seasons of trying to address the same issue Dean has with himself.
Slightly related aside: Thank you, Robbie Thompson, for giving making this gif possible. It will come in very handy for GISHWHES.
Some of the more obvious pieces of VFX were done a lot better than they have been. I’m thinking particularly of the side of the Impala shot. That didn’t feel anywhere near as fake or forced in as it has done in the past – hurray!
I like that Cas got two phone calls. This feels almost silly to have picked up on, but I feel like there’s a slot dedicated at the start of episodes to being like ‘LOOK CAS IS STILL IN THE STORY OKAY now we shall move on with the story without him’. It actually felt like characters keeping each other in the loop, rather than for the placation of viewers. Generally, things for placation seem to stand out like a sore thumb. Working it in a little more naturally like this was lovely.
Though I’m always going to root for Cas in an on-screen Bobby-esque role.
I think they’re making attempts to shoot from more interesting angles and get some variation in movement, especially in the bunker and when doing Jensen’s reaction shots. Things that come to mind are the fact that we’ve had a shift from Dean looking/poking at the mark to paying more attention to the hand he beat the crap out of Charlie with. Having that shift in actual movements being representative of Dean’s mental progression, without really alluding to it explicitly, was excellent. And that silent shuffling back after said beating and silent lingering pause was exactly what was called for. It could have easily come off heavy handed with a different director, but it really hit the mark.
Onto the things I wasn’t so hot for.
The VFX. I’m guessing that we got a boost in budget when the CW realised that SPN was a cult thing that turned some sort of profit, we hit season 10, Bill Shatner liked the show.. something happened. Now the VFX are starting to gear up way too hard with not enough pay off. Example: Wizard coming through the mirror. I get that he had to get there, but nothing about it was elegant and it felt kind of… I don’t want to say obvious, because the mirror idea suited the character. But the way it was handled made the focus the VFX, not what was actually happening. It felt like an RPG. Same goes for ‘dark Charlie’ lifting and doing a ghost thing back into ‘good Charlie’. It just felt… cheap? Which I know it won’t have been. xD I know that VFX are something that can be used to great effect, but in terms of skill and keeping you in the realm of suspended disbelief, I think masking them a little more would /really/ pay off. Think early seasons. Think Sam slicing into the hellhound in season 8 and getting covered in ick. That’s the sort of stuff that really feels.. well, good.
The idea of good vs bad aspects of self was too on the nose, especially directly following Cas’ ‘little monster in all of us’ bit last episode. I don’t really know what to say about it other than I feel like it was too much. (which sucks, because I’d love to justify it, but.. ahh!)
Some of the dialogue was a little clunky, but I’ve really come to expect it at this point. I don’t feel like I need to point out certain instances – we all know what sounds natural.
And, biggest for last, Robbie, PLEASE stop shoe horning in recent pop culture. There’s a large part of tumblr and the extended fandom that on the first watch will love this and take to twitter to tell you that you’re great for it. Understandable. However, the problem with these kinds of references are that firstly, they date the episode something rotten, secondly, they take you out of the SPN universe and cause some issues with suspension of belief, and thirdly, why would the characters on screen be into these things? Dean’s all about that rock and roll. Sam’s probably not been into a cinema since Stanford. Charlie has been trapped in Oz. I get that it’s fun to make shout outs to things that you like, but subtlety is key with very current references, otherwise you’re running face first into the issues above.
Steps down from her soapbox and feels like scum for being harsh
I give this episode: 2 stolen cars and a bloody fist bump