Episode summary: Hansel and a very German witch are luring in kids. Though, apparently it makes more sense to turn adults into kids than go after actual kids. Red tape, I imagine. Dean becomes a 14 year old again at the hands of these two and the most solid filler in a season and a bit ensues. (Written by Adam Glass)
Little late to the party this week, but man, I loved this episode! I should quickly clarify, seasons 4 and 5 were my favourites, so my title is meant as high praise.
As always, awesome things first.
From the beginning, the way the bunker was shot was better than I remember it ever being done. Dean’s room had a real sense of place to it, and having him boxed down beside his bed with the huge book gave the feel of it being a safe place. This is the first time I remember it being shot as such – I know back in season 8 when he was praying for Cas to come back, the emphasis was very much on how it was an empty space, and in my mind that had never been changed back to a home. Until this episode, that is. A+ to the director for the blocking on the scene in Dean’s room. 🙂
The bad guys in this were well rounded, not too over the top, but dramatic enough to be interesting. The plot departed just enough from Hansel and Gretel to be a good fit for the Supernatural universe, and there was even a (fantastically handled!) callback to the overarching plot with Rowena and the witch knowing of each other. Excellent on so many levels.
Dylan (young Dean, right?) is an awesome actor. He was so dead on with the way Jensen plays Dean, right up to facial expressions. It was right on the money. I don’t have anything other than praise for his performance, right down to the way he held the flashlight and the gun. Awesome all around.
It’s been a day or so since I watched, so I may be remembering wrongly, but did we get a little more location shooting out of this episode? The (non-VFX!) shot of the Impala speeding down the highway added so much. I was really surprised at how effective just seeing a shot of the car traveling during the day was.
I also liked that I didn’t feel like this episode was pitched downwards. I say that in the sense that often when there are childish themes in recent seasons – such as the story from Greek classics involving Zeus et al. – it felt like it bordered on pantomime. Without atmosphere, over the top deliveries, odd and meaningless blocking, etc. This was handled really well in this episode, and everything felt handled in a nicely adult way (the witch’s German accent was a little much, but I think it’s allowed in this case). I wish I could quantify that better, but I can’t!
And the negatives, but not so negatives in all honesty – this episode was really strong.
The lack of Cas kind of weighs heavily on me at some points. When I see a well rounded episode like this, I feel a little cheated that he’s still floating around inexplicably without any ties to a strong plotline. Including Cas in some filler with the boys, a la Hunteri Heroici, would give him a real boost. At the moment, he’s really not much more than a loose end, and I know the writers would love to keep him in the loop more. Letting him stick around for some filler would be a great way to get some of the team free will action back in play, without having to involve Cas in constantly heavy plots about how he fucked up (like Dean’s extremely heavy baggage of being unable to forgive himself, that’s only now starting to resolve). In the same way that you wouldn’t want someone to wallow in wrongdoings in reality, his character needs something other than big moral quests to keep him afloat. That doesn’t mean heavy-handed joke lines (‘Emoticons’), it just means giving him a rounded life. I feel like Cas really needs a hand in staying relevant from episodes like these.
And last but not least, I laughed harder than I should have done at ‘squeeze the bag’. smirks and hangs head in shame.
I give this episode: A solid 8 slices of pink cake and a speeding Impala.