As “Supernatural” fans, I’m sure we’ve all faced the feat that is explaining the show to friends we’re trying to lure to the dark side. It was difficult in the first season, so add a few dozen deaths of the main characters, one missing soul, an Apocalypse and an one reverently stored trench coat, and it’s damned near impossible. “Supernatural” is wonderfully and horrifically complicated, just how I like it. So I was taken aback at how the show returned with a straight-forward, simply told episode, especially after the last time-warping extravaganza. “The Slice Girls” was directed by production designer, Jerry Wanek, and I definitely noticed and appreciated his highly visual style.
The cold open has to be one of the best and bloodiest since “My Blood Valentine." A devastatingly handsome man (who looked like Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Ray Liotta’s lovechild) was slaughtered in his apartment and none too quickly. A machete-sized knife hacked and his body careened into walls and then had a symbol carved into his chest instead of making the killing blow. No, this poor hottie died from blood loss and pain. I was sipping on my vibrantly red Starbucks Passion iced tea as I watched the screen flicker with an overhead shot of poor Mark Liotta hands and feet hacked off and the fatty yellow marrow spilling out of his bones to mix with the blood. Gross? Yup. Awesome? Yup. I’m proud to say that I finished my tea after a flinch and a shutter.
Sam and Dean weren’t coping with Bobby’s death, but they were trying. Dean adopted Bobby’s battered flask and drinks from it often, his form of “grief therapy” while Sam is pathologically focused on saving lives and had taken the case where four men had been gruesomely slaughtered. It felt like bright and shiny season 2 when the brothers launched into a “This Is Not Our Type of Thing” debate. It’s always your type of thing, dudes. The most important thing about this scene isn’t in what was being said, it's that Sam was driving. It speaks to Dean’s dangerous state of mind, that he’d rather drink than motor down America’s backroads.
A visit to the adorable medical examiner quickly proves that Sam was right. One of the victims managed to bite his attacker and the DNA from the chunk of monster meat “didn’t match anything human.” Dean still didn’t believe that it was a supernatural case because he was achin’ for a drink and the company of a female. He offered to “go undercover and mingle amongst the locals,” and Sam easily saw through Dean's horny spin. I love it when they act like brothers.
It was the Master of Smooth who was seduced by a beautiful woman unloading about “the date from hell” while she sipped her Cosmo. There were close-ups of eyes, lips and cocktails bathed in a neon blue of the Cobalt Room. I have a thing for laugh lines, especially on men a doe-eyed as Jensen Ackles’ Dean, so I appreciated those invasively close shots. But I also enjoyed the simplicity of the scene. Dean has done this dance before, and he desperately and easily loses himself in a mundane identity, where if you are brutally killed by a monster, you had 35 happy, suburban years before it, and your Heaven will have plenty of nice memories to savor. With a few longing gazes and pointed questions, it’s on Because “Supernatural” was never a show about love and romance or even functional lust, it’s on faster The Situation can change the sheets in the smush room.
Dean’s steamy sex scene (where was Cas’ handprint?!) was wickedly cut with the next murder and the entire thing is wrapped up in the musical bow of AC/DC’s “All Night Long.” Thank you, “Supernatural.”
While Dean indulged in cathartic naughty time, Sam researched the origin of the symbol carved into the victims with no results. He needed an expert. “Our expert’s dead,” a hung-over Dean groused. The loss of Bobby is the angsty gift that keeps on giving.
At the new crime scene, Dean realized that he left Bobby’s flask at Lydia’s apartment. He called Lydia (“The Vampire Diaries’” Sara Canning) to retrieve it and she wasn’t the same open, alluring woman she'd been the night before. She was cold, terse and detached. It wasn’t Dean’s fault, honestly. Anyone would a little bitchy if they had grown a human being inside of them overnight! When the returned from the commercial break, Lydia was giving birth in candlelight in a clutch of women with a matronly, sharp-nosed woman spouting things like “the pain is an honor” and “control, Lydia.” There was no cheerleader-esque encouragement from the bystanders, no coos of joy when the baby was born. Lydia didn’t even decide on her daughter’s name, the leader of the cult did. Lydia gazed at her new daughter with controlled pride and then stood up as the next mother prepared for birth.
I’m always overjoyed when my favorite sci-fi universes collide, so I was downright delirious to find “Buffy The Vampire Slayer’s” Harry Groener guesting as the very un-Bobbylike Professor Morrison. He offered to help the FBI with his knowledge of Anthropology as long as he received “suitable remuneration.” Sam and Dean promised him “the respect of a grateful nation” and “a good word with the IRS” over poorly repressed eyerolls. Sammy, the overachiever, always committs to his FBI character. When the professor balked that he couldn’t possible discover the origin of the mysterious symbol in less a few months, Agent Sammy implored him, “You’re country needs you, sir.” Morrison, the champion of education, would help as long as his housekeeper got a green card. In the hall, Dean loudly expressed his disgust with Professor Morrison’s self-serving attitude, and Sam echoed his sentiment. “Bobby’s not here, so we’re settling.” I’ve never wanted to cuddle poor grieving giant Sammy more.
Frustrated, Dean abandoned the case to recover Bobby’s flask. A few hours after delivery, Lydia had finally lost the baby weight and allowed to enter her house because even freaky monster moms aren’t impervious to his charms. “You’ve been baby-sitting, huh?” He asked when he noticed the 18-month old baby girl in the crib. He smiled and cooed at Emma, and the fact that Lydia didn’t propose marriage right there proves that she’s an evil, vile creature who should be put down. Dean fielded a call from a curmudgeonly Sam but ignored his complaining when he noticed Emma, the toddler with the eeriely large eyes, conversing with her mother. In full sentences. Lydia promised, “We’ll discuss it later.” As much as I love kids, this freaked me out.
Sam’s second visit the coroner’s office provided two important pieces of information to move the story along: most of the victims had been to the Cobalt Room exactly two days before they died. And Detective Penn on the case, another older woman with an intimidating presence, demanded to know why the FBI was investigating these murders. If I didn’t think Charlene was involved before, I definitely do now.
A properly unnerved Dean tracked a now six-year-old Emma to an abandoned building and she was passed off to The World’s Scariest Den Mother to be trained and inducted into the Cult of Fertility, where the ever-growing girls are forced to eat the meat of the sacrifices and endure a Rite Of Passage branding. Emma rebelled against authority and the brutality as much as she could. Definitely a Winchester.
Sam took a great pleasure in his brother’s anxiety over Emma’s record-breaking growth spurt until an exasperated Dean huffed, “there’s no non-weird explanation for this. This morning, Emma was a baby. By sunset, she’s Hannah Montana, early years.”
Thanks to Professor Morrison, Sammy got to revisit his college days as he summoned the boys to a lecture hall teach them about the origin of the symbol, complete with visual aids. The the symbol “originated with the Amazons,” who were created by a coupling between Ares, God of War, and the Goddess Harmonia. Amazons didn’t have magic bracelets like Wonder Woman but thrived in “an exclusively female culture.” After they mated, the fathers were killed, usually after some kind of ritualed dismemberment. Sam’s also discovered that when the Amazons began to die out after a “long, bloody war” they made a deal with Harmonia that “turned them into monsters” who could produce fully grown spawn “in fruit-fly time” and mated every two years.
It took the bulk of the episode for the boys to pinpoint the exactly what they were hunting. Although it made for a sluggish second act, it was a testament to how priceless Bobby’s expertise was. But they finally figured out that Dean had indeed fathered Emma, and Sam was more shocked that his lust-filled brother hadn’t used a condom (I think Amazons have rubber-dissolving vayjaysjays!). I really wanted Sam to dive in and give his big brother another lecture about “banging monsters” because the tables were finally turned, but Dean’s “skin was starting to crawl.”
Ontop of everything, Dean still believed that Bobby’s ghost was still lingering and sited the movement of papers as evidence. I re-watched this scene four times on a giant HD television and I couldn’t see any movement. I thought it was his denial and the alcohol at work. Sam, however, relied on facts. The redline EMF readings were due to the powerlines outside the window and the papers moved due to the breeze flowing through the open window. “We burned him, Dean. Concentrate on something else, because it’s not Bobby because we want it to be!” Sam yelled.
I’m relieved that Sam was finally expressing his grief and even his battle to remain functional as Lucifer banged around in his brain. Dean refused to abandon his belief that Bobby’s ghost was still around because the paper that had moved was in Greek, which Bobby could read. Sam went back to Professor Morrison and put down on lockdown.
Poor Emma Winchester (Alexia Fast) had a lived an entire 16 years in two days. Her life had been nothing but torture and brainwashing, and then she was faced with the awkward moment that her father was prettier than her. She fell into a damsel-in-distress routine at Dean's doorstep, and I bought it for maybe a millisecond. Charlene had already clued the Den Mother on her knowledge that Sam and Dean were both hunters, so I assumed that Emma was coached on how to approach her father, that killing him would be more a challenge than ambushing sexy Joe Six-Pack.
At the college, Sam bribed the professor again into the reading the ancient Greek script (““We’ll remove your wiretap!”), and it did indeed provide the final piece of the puzzle that the audience had known since the previews of the episode three weeks ago: “a child born of the mating process must kill her own father.”
Sam's hasty retreat was interrupted by a very tall Detective Penn, whose hatred of him was probably compounded by the fact that Sam's dimples are so much deeper and cuter than hers. With one a flash of garish monster-eyes, she revealed her true Amazonian colors. Sam put her down the second he could and raced to save his big brother. Props to “Supernatural” for attempting to film a car chase as Sam bustled across town, through red lights and then powered up dozens of narrow flights of stairs. It wasn’t that riveting, but I appreciate that they tried. To his credit, Dean never bought Emma’s crocodile tears as she pulled her knife to his turned back, Dean whirled around and drew his gun on his own daughter. Sam charged into the room, gun drawn too.
I’d like to think from Dean’s terrified eyes and pained wince when Sam shot his niece, that he shot her so Dean wouldn’t have to kill his daughter. But as Sam stewed in the car, I found out that he was upset because Dean hadn’t “killed the monster” as Dean had raged at him to do when he couldn’t kill Amy. Dean actually believed that Emma was his daughter, even though the coroner had pointed out that DNA (conveniently?) proved that their DNA wasn’t human.
“When Cas died, you were wobbly, but now…” Sam faltered. When the guy who hallucinates Lucifer on a daily basis thinks that you’re not coping well, it’s time to be scared. The boys snarled at each other like junkyard dogs, because of all of the emotional baggage they have to haul around in stolen cars and carry on their shoulders. The Winchesters have truly lost almost all of the meager good in their violent lives, and Sam’s anger was rooted in the fact that Dean almost died. “I don’t care how you deal. Just don’t get killed.” Dean was too frazzled to offer any big brother solace. “I said I’ll do what I can, so shut up about it.” For the first time since Bobby died, Sam appeared unshakably scared, like his control was slipping.
Overall, I liked “The Slice Girls,” however I do wish that the entire plot wasn’t given away in previews. It could’ve been peppered with more dark humor because the entire predicament was truly absurd. Despite that, I loved how complete this episode felt. It read like a beautiful visual story and I definitely think it was due to the fantastic direction by Jerry Wanek. I’m also sated by the much-needed exploration of Sam’s grief. The episode struck the delicate balance between the brothers that I hadn’t seen in years. What did you think about the episode? How many times will you be rewinding shirtless Dean? Hit the comments section!
I’m afraid I won’t be able to recap next week’s episode as it has to do with sadistic, murderous clowns and I will be curled under my bed in the fetal position, secured by a line of rock salt to protect myself from the clownish horrors. If you don’t believe me, check out this terrifying preview!