Ever since The CW released the description for this week’s episode, I’ve been drooling, more than Dean Winchester approaching the Biggerson’s pie buffet, at the notion of a gore-filled hour of my favorite demon hunters becoming the hunted by a flesh-eating predator that looked like a zombie from “The Walking Dead.” Instead, I had to watch an exposition-heavy episode where one of the best hunters in the world was taken down by a friggin’ sandwich. With Thanksgiving around the corner, I’m quite grateful that Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) are so incredibly easy on the eyes, which softened the blow of repeated viewings.
I covet the little details about the hunting world, so I loved watching Sam and Dean squat in an abandoned shack just outside of New Jersey, and jury-rig the electricity. Since Sam’s fake marriage, the Winchesters have lived off the grid and in the cold, eating Hot Pockets—poor Dean—and even avoided their typical rent-by-the-hour motels. You’d think with the sky-high foreclosure rates, they’d be able hole up in some pretty nice cribs. But Bobby shut that down immediately, “Everybody’s out to get you, paranoia is just plain common sense.”
Dean had also returned to macabre disposition, too, they’d “steered the bus away from the cliff twice already. I think if we didn’t take its belt and all its pens away each year, the whole enchilada would’ve offed itself already.” I’m not a hunter, but with the earthquakes, the unemployment rate, climate change, and the number of talentless celebrities, I’ve thought the same thing.
When the electricity failed, Sam forlornly clicked on a lantern and squint at the files of their newest case: “a strange, fast-moving creature” was killing people in Jersey’s Pine Barrens and its latest victim was a pampered camper named Mitchell Rayburn who was snatched from his bed, strung upside down from a tree and devoured. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out it wasn’t a “rogue bear.” All signs pointed to the storied cannibals, Jersey Devils, the supernatural creatures, not the hockey team.
The trio did some investigating to “make sure it’s not some backwoods crackhead who likes to roll glampers.” It’s adorable that Dean knows what glamping is, and a very nice shout-out to the hillybilly cannibals who tried to make Sammy Stew back in the first season.
The brothers interviewed Ranger Rick, a stoner who seemed unconcerned by the deaths in his jurisdiction, that he hadn’t seen his assistant Phil in days and pretty much everything else. Dean flagged down a waiter to ask for a booth only to be sassed Dean by the combative worker. Just when I thought Dean would wail on him like an MMA fighter, he merely sputtered a lame comeback and prayed Brandon didn’t spit in his Pepperjack Turducken Slammer. I don’t exactly know what happened after Brandon gave them their food and new trucker handles (“Big Bird,” “Ken Doll,” and “Creepy Uncle”), because as Dean tucked into is Thanksgiving sandwich, he started having foodgasms and making such yummy noises that my brain short-circuited faster than fusebox in their shack. Watching Dean eat is even better than watching Brad Pitt’s character chow down on Vegas junk food in “Ocean’s Eleven.”
Finally, the guys ventured into Wharton woods with backpacks and rifles. We learned that before Bobby became a Hunter, he was a hunter who killed his own food. I’ve had a seething hatred for hunters ever since my uncle fed me summer sausage with a devious smile and only told me it was venison after I’d eaten my fill. I found it cute that Bobby took the boys hunting with him and taught them how to track, even if the youngins couldn’t bear to kill anything. Bobby ruined that sweet moment by grousing, “You don’t shoot Bambi, jackass. You shoot Bambi’s mother,” thus offending my animal-loving, liberal sensibilities.
Sam, Dean and The Evil Hunter found Phil, or at least his mangled arm and some fleshy scraps. Stoned Ranger Rick arrived and regarded the remains of his friend with a dopey smile that seemed a little too similar to Dean’s.
As Rick made radioed in, the trees rustled, triggering the spidey senses of three season hunters. Something buzzed the trees so fast, it was invisible in the darkness and snatched Rick back and up. They rushed to action, training their rifle sights to the treetops. “Shut up, shut off, and listen.” Bobby implored, flicking off the light on his gun. The only thing that could be heard in the quiet, however, were the stomach-turning squicks of something hungrily grubbin’ on human. Channeling Mr. Miyagi, Bobby closed his eyes, harnessed his Chi, and fired.
A bug-eyed, grey-skinned creature plummeted into the leaf-litter, still clutching stoned the remains of Rick.
I knew the monster wasn’t killed by a single, non-silver bullet. As they laid it on the table of their shack, I squirmed, waiting for the inevitable spring-and-growl, and I jumped when it happened, cheering as Sam, Dean and Bobby pumped it full of lead. Now that’s the kind of gunplay I fully support.
The next scene was perversely disgusting and more awesome than anything “CSI” could cook up. Sam and Bobby performed a fire-lit autopsy on the skinny cannibal that used to be Gerald Browder, a 235-pound air-conditioning repairman. Not only were his intestines swimming in grayish goo and his adrenal glands mutated black, giant blobs, they found human parts and a cat’s head in its stomach. Whatever this creature was, it wasn’t a Jersey Devil. There go all of my “Jersey Shore”-themed jokes I’d prepared.
While Sam and Dean were elbow-deep in a body cavity, Dean complained about being hungry and he headed back to Biggerson’s. It took Sam and Bobby, who were finally rewarded for their healthy and maligned eating habits, a few seconds of panning the restaurant to realize that there was more than “three birds shoved up inside each other” in the Biggerson’s Thanksgiving special, and bolted.
Back at the shack, Dean’s said that he felt the “best I’ve felt in a couple months. Cas, black goo, I don’t even care anymore. You know what’s even better? I don’t care that I don’t care. I just want my damn Slammer back.” If you didn’t know already, you do now: Jensen Ackles hails from the giant state of Texas, and his normally downplayed accent was front and center. But his body language was languid and his head rolled in lethargic indifference. Dean’s sandwich barfed the same gray “snot” that was in Gerald’s body cavity. “If I wasn’t so chilled out right now, I’d puke,” Dean confessed. Still wanting that Thanksgiving turkey?
With Dean sleeping off the tainted sandwich, Sam and Bobby staked out Biggerson’s headquarters. While they waited, Sam confessed to Bobby that he was worried about Dean, that he hadn’t been the same since “his head broke.” Bobby wondered how Sam had the capacity to do so with Lucifer camping out in his head. Sam felt that the fallout of him being possessed by the devil could’ve been far worse. I’m not sure if it’s Sam making the best of his situation—because despite every unspeakably traumatic event he’s been through, he still keeps going—or if he actually believes it. I believe former, which makes it even more heartbreaking.
They tracked the Midwest Meat & Poultry truck to a fancy warehouse and were stupefied to find Leviathan Edgar (Benito Martinez) hauling a half-monster Brandon, his flare still glowing, out of the trunk. This episode just got so weird.
The warehouse scenes are where this episode lost momentum from all the speechifying. Mr. Sexy, the doctor who’d set up a human buffet in Sioux Falls, had been experimenting on humans via Biggerson’s tainted Turducken Slammers to make humans obliviously complacent. Except his additive had some nasty side-effects like “of hyperadrenalized cannibalism.” Edgar, who had actually saved human lives by rounding up the poor test subjects who didn’t get the placebo, warned him that Dick Roman was coming and that his failures should be burned. This development felt like a rehashing of demons tainting flu shots with the deadly Croatan virus during season 5’s apocalypse arc, but I’m not holding grudges.
Back in the van, Dean was recovered, over-caffeinated and embarrassed. Bobby, knowing Sam’s fears, lit into him like any good father would, because Dean doesn’t know why anything matters and he’s so tired of suffering and corpses and deaths of loved ones, that he can’t see straight and Bobby knew it. “You find your reasons to get back in the game. I don’t care if it’s love or spite or a ten-dollar bet. I’ve been to enough funerals. You die before me and I’ll kill you.” This is when I suspected Bobby wouldn’t make it to episode’s end unscathed. It’s a device used in soap operas use a lot: trotting out a character that hadn’t been seen in a while, giving them touching moments with the main characters only to have them be clobbered by a drunk driver or an assassin’s bullet twelve minutes later. It’s crazily effective, and I’m scared for Bobby.
Sam arrived just in time for Dick Roman motorcade. Who’s Dick Ronan? The Winchesters take to YouTube and watch a piece entitled “The Rise of Dick” (I love you, “Supernatural” production team!), Roman (the captivating James Patrick Stuart) is a billionaire corporate raider, gun enthusiast, motivational speaker, and friends of Prince Harry and George W. Bush (as we see in horribly photoshopped pics). Thankfully, he’s not running for president as I assumed. But even with a Leviathan riding him, he’s better candidate than Rick Perry or Herman Cain.
Dr. Sexy presented his results. Dick was angry because he broke his golden rule—“monsters don’t exist”—and the experiments had to be scraped because it made headlines. His beautiful assistant, Susan (Olivia Cheng), presented him with a silly bib from Red Lobster, and Dr. Sexy was forced to eat himself. Bobby, who was listening and watching with his high-tech toy, was understandably flabbergasted. “Now I’ve officially seen it all,” he gasped before being bumrushed by a Leviathan goon.
Kamikaze Rescue Mission, anyone?! As Sam and Dean stormed the warehouse (that I suspect was used in “Two Minutes to Midnight”) armed with stolen sprayers of Borax, Roman prattled on about how earth was a planet of “the cutest little engines that could, but like the late great actual Dick Roman used to say to the whore he kicked out of the presidential suite, ‘cute don’t quite hack it, sugar.’” I hated this episode upon first viewing, but I’m enjoying it now, and I love Dick.
Dick left to investigate the disturbance and Bobby assembled Dick’s priceless gun, pocketed his files and made his escape, shooting Susan in the face on his way out. Downstairs, Sam doused Dick with the last of his Borax. In a moment inspired from “Terminator 2,” he advanced on Sam, blotting the acid of his scorched face as it rapidly healed, eye reforming.
Bobby shot Dick and Dean soaked him the rest of his acid. Sam and Dean sprinted from the facility with Bobby covering their six, taking down a Leviathan goon bigger than Sam with a crowbar. He too bolted outside as the brothers pulled up. Roman pursued, firing his pistol as Bobby dove inside. “Glad you got in, almost took your friggin’ head off,” Dean ironically said, relieved.
Sam found his trademark trucker hat, and but his finger slipped into a bloody-lined hole roughly the size of a bullet. And the screen flashed black as Sam and Dean screamed for the fallen hunter. I knew that Bobby would be hurt or even shot, but I never expected a bullet to the head. I'm fairly positive that Jim Beaver's job is safe, but I worry about the emotional toll it’ll take on the brothers, whose grasp on reality seems precarious at best. Sadly, we have to wait until Dec. 2 to find out.
At first, I thought this was a very unsatisfying episode, especially for sweeps, but after re-watching, I liken it to the first movie in a franchise. “How To Win Friends And Influence Monsters” laid the necessary groundwork what could be an excellent, tear-soaked episode 10 and an intense second half of the season. The Leviathans have to re-think how to destroy or dominate the humans and kill the Winchesters while angel-less Sam and Dean face losing Bobby for good.
What did you think about the episode? Are you worried about Bobby? Do you want to make Thanksgiving dinner for Sam and Dean as much as I do? Sound off in the comments section.