Leave it to “Supernatural” to wallop fans with Sam bravely facing his own demise only for poor dead Castiel to fly in for a last minute save and then to return with a lighthearted, filler episode that played as both a love letter to binge-drinking and a PSA for drinking and driving, and then stomp on our hearts with a one-two punch of--SPOILER ALERT-- Bobby Singer’s singers return. That’s enough to drive this liquor-averse blogger to drink in celebration and because of all the feelings. Where’s a raspberry mojito when you need one or 14? I love this show so much.
This episode starts in the way all horror movies do: with stupid teenagers crowed around a bonfire in the woods, sharing ghost stories. Judging by one girl’s sensible turtleneck, I’m guessing these kids aren’t up for any debaucherous fun, especially considering they seem spooked by the boring tale Jenny Greentree, a woman who frozen to death under a tree a few feet away and haunted those woods ever since.
It wouldn't be a horror movie without some bad behavior. Trevor, a drunk little tool, shatters a liquor bottle just as Chris finishes the story and terrifies everyone. His responsible older brother chastises him for drinking underage and driving to the campsite. But Trevor’s too busy hearing phantom sounds, twitching and freaking like Sam’s favorite drug dealer, to care. “You gotta run!” he tells his brother and bolts, ultimately to his doom. His brother, Ray, runs after him. But he's already more than dead. The fuzz of his down vest buzzing in the night hair, and a bloody hole dug into his body. The moral of his awesomely cruel cold open: Don’t drink and drive, love “Supernatural.”
DJ Qualls (“Memphis Beat”) guest-starred in “Season 7, Time For A Wedding” as Dean’s temporary partner while Sam was enjoying his honeymoon and the effects of a wicked love potion. I didn’t think Qualls understood the “Supernatural”-verse, so I wasn’t entirely thrilled that he had returned. But Dean is right, Garth does grow on you like a scrawny, bug-egged barnacle. And I kind of dig him now. All it took was the slow-motion entrance set to Bel Biv Devoe’s “Poison”—a song that’s much more in my musical wheelhouse than Creedence Clearwater Revival or the Doobie Brothers—wearing aviator glasses and so much swagger, Diddy was jealous.
“What do you want, Top Gun?” One of the girls from the lake teases. To everyone else, Garth is a joke. But Garth don’t care. He has a fake badge, a trunk full of guns and a hot tub date with a girl he hearts. After flashing the badge, the girls eagerly tell him about the ghost of Jenny Greentree. Without even bothering to do more research, Garth returns to the woods, digs up the grave and burns her bones. “You’ve been Garthed,” he says, and struts away from the grave, flames leaping to the sky, as he tosses a jacket over his shoulder. In Garth’s world, he’s a superhero. To the cops, he’s a grave-desecrating freak with a fire fetish.
Case closed? Hell no.
Ray, drinking to kill the grief, returns to the woods where his brother was murdered, armed with a shotgun nerves a Winchester would admire. He can see the monster-of-the-week in the distance. A woman in white with long dark hair and Taylor Momsen-esque eyeliner. He approaches, rifle at the ready, only to be snatched up into a tree and eviscerated so violently that entrails squished and fell like bloody rain.
Finally, Sam and Dean into the episode. For having narrow escaping death for the 42nd time, Sam looks mighty healthy and is actually driving. Dean touches base with Meg, who was indeed planted at the sanitarium to protect a deranged Castiel. Unfortunately, Castiel is still crazy.
“How’s your custard?” Dean asks, because we all want to know. “It’s getting better. I feel like I’m okay, because I passed on the crazy,” Sam explains guiltily. You know Sammy’s feeling better when he’s up to angsting over things are out of his control. It would feel so normal again if they were riding in the Impala. Garth interrupts all of the glorious continuity to cash in on a favor Dean owes him, so the boys head to Kansas and him at the morgue. Garth is wearing an Army uniform and posing as Corporal James Brown. Dean EMF’d the body, finding readings that Garth’s didn’t.
“Whatever was chasing vic numero uno was invisible,” Garth says. “So invisible ghost werewolf?” Dean surmises.
Sam, the resident hacker, finds out that both victims were sons of one of the owners of Thighslapper Ale, the top microbrew for the Pacific Northwest or a “beverage for douchebags,” according to Dean. No, that’s Heineken, Dean.
The episode is bloated with a lot of convoluted exposition, so I’ll simplify. Thighslapper Ale was founded by friends Jim McAnn, Randy Baxter (the Axman seen screaming and demoting a tardy janitor) and Dale, the “sensitive” one, who and killed himself weeks earlier. According to Marie McAnn, Jim’s daughter, Dale’s wife was suiing the brewery because “she was angry and grieving and this is America.” The tragedy of the McAnn’s children death was incredibly hard on everyone, because they were just about to sell the small company to “one of the largest distributors in the U.S. The deal had been in the works for months” and it should have been a time of celebration and buying Bentleys.
To cope with the grief of her brothers, Lillian McAnn decides to spike her orange juice with vodka, and apparently not for the first time that day because she set the drinks on the table within the reach of her adorable daughter, Tess, who took a healthy swig. Thanks to the magic of television, the effect of the liquor is immediate. Giggling and coloring all outside the lines, Tess sees a figured ghosting through the house. She follows it into the kitchen and points it out to grandpa Jim McAnn, who can’t see it, but her plotzed mother can. She has the wits about her to run but barely makes it a step before the ghost plunges her hand into her torso, fingers scratching through the inside of her shirt on the other side. Poor Jim McAnn has now lost three of his children in less than a week, one right before his eyes. Moral: Don’t screw over your friends, especially the "sensitive" ones.
Back at Garth’s motel room, Dean searches Bobby or John’s journal, Sam mans the laptop, and Garth fixes his EMF meter, while he laments about the case, “You spend your life beautifying the world through beer, first the partner offs himself. Now two kids get ganked by unknown freak-a-deeks.”
Sam discovers that Dale wasn’t just a partner, who was a brewmaster and considered a genius and he was pushed out of the company a few weeks before he died. Irritated at the douchey, award-winning beer, Dean tastes it. “Dude, that’s actually awesome. I’m not even mad anymore.” Garth downs one too in one mighty pull, and because he weighs 87 pounds soaking weight and holding Sam’s barbells, he’s intoxicated in less than a minute.
The hunters are alerted of Lillian’s death over their scanner. Sam suggests that Dean and Garth go investigate while he chats with Dale’s widow, sending Dean a brilliant smile as he manages to stick him with Garth again. Yes, Sammy’s definitely feeling better. I'll drink to that.
At the house, Garth, the child whisperer, uses creepy sock puppet named Mr. Fizzles to coax Tess into confessing about the monster with the claws and how she “drank a grown-up drink.” Mr. Fizzles for the win!
Meanwhile, Sam charms the chunky jewelry off Dale’s widow. She’s a cultured, outspoken woman who has no problems expressing how angry she is about her husband’s suicide and how his greedy friends at Thighslapper Ale caused it. “It was his baby, ya know. It’s not about money.” She believes that Dale had forgave them because he sent his buddies “a bottle of Sake in a gorgeous box with writing. He was so careful with it, wouldn’t let me touch it.” Bingo! The pieces are coming together, and everyone realizes that they’re fighting a monster you have to be drunker than "The Hunger Games'" Haymitch Abernathy to see. Dean wastes no time as he pulls out Bobby’s beloved flask and chugs, creating the perfect opportunity for Garth to ask about how it it triggered his EMF meter earlier. Dean assures him that they gave Bobby a hunter’s funeral. “I burned my cousin Brandon and he stayed stuck,” Garth argues. Dean shut the topic him down immediately.
Sam and Dean sneak into the Thighslapper Ale offices to investigate the cursed box Dale had sent his friends. They discover the convenient security footage and rewind it to the first murder, but of course find nothing. The Winchesters raid Jim’s impressive wet bar. Sam, ever the lightweight, distastefully sips the whiskey. “Can you even get drunk anymore?” Sam appropriately wonders. Dean glares and chugs something that’s strong enough to make him cough, so it’s either moonshine or ammonia. With beer goggles firmly on, Sam and Dean watch the footage again, and can clearly see the demon standing beside the box. Trevor opens the box, unwittingly releasing it and it follows him to the woods. “So he let the thing out of the box, and it must have followed him to the place with all the thingies.” Stanford-educated Sam blurts. “That’s smart!” Dean awes, “I miss these talks.” Dean is a hilarious drunk and Sam is still the straight man, much apparently much, much dumber.
Baxter (or Axman as I lovingly call him) curses as he finds the FBI agents in his office, three sheets to the wind. Before Baxter can call the police, Garth tases him, awkwardly and overzealously saving the day.
After using a Japanese chef to translate the markings on the box—“What you took will be taken from you. Like eye for an eye”—and the internet, they finally identify the monster they’re hunting as a Shojo, who used to be seen by the drunken eye lurking in breweries in Japan. It can only be killed with a Samurai sword consecrated a Shinto blessing. Dale, who traveled frequently, figured out how to leash it for his own revenge mission. “Dale’s widow said the company was his baby,” which is why he went after Jim’s kids who were also Baxter’s godchildren.
Who cares about this twisty case when we can dish on Bobby’s ghost? Dean seems like he didn’t want to burden his recovering brother with Garth’s earlier concerns that Bobby was still around. “I’ve already tried contacting Bobby. When that beer disappeared, I pulled out a talking board…If he was there, I would’ve told you,” Sam explains in that strictly-business way he approaches tough topics now. Time for fight evil.
Garth, as trigger-happy and oblivious as he can be, finally proves that he’s smarter than the average bear by figuring out that Baxter indeed had a child. Cornered, Baxter confessed to having a baby with his secretary and it was the scruffy janitor he demoted earlier and the poor kid didn’t know that Baxter was his dad or that he was the heir to the freakin' brewery he cleaned daily. Armed with pockets of mini-bottles of alcohol, Garth hurries to the brewery to save him. “Come with me if you want to live,” he yells, snatching the poor, confused janitor out of the Shojo’s path, and revealing his love of “Terminator 2.”
I love how creative hunters are. Dean bought the necessary katana at a pawn shop, paid the Japanese chef to perform the blessing, and used a bottle of water, not a purified spring, to do it. Sam, meanwhile, gets blitzed at a bar while tracking Marie McAnn. Did anyone think it was odd that she was partying at a swanky pub when three of her siblings had just been killed?
Sam has to hijack a cab “for national security” in order to get to the brewery to help Garth. Don’t drink and drive, kids! He arrives just in time because the Shojo had already hurled Garth like a shotput through a glass wall and onto some well-placed sacks of hopps (that look a lot like landing stuntman landing pads).
The killing of the Japanese booze monster (that looks an awful lot like the demon from “The Grudge”) is sloppy and entertaining. A sword-free Sam is “skunked” and can see the beast while Dean, brandishing the sword, cannot, which is probably a good thing for everyone else's limbs. Dean slashes and slices the air until the sword is knocked away and Sam, of course, is knocked unconscious. Weaponless and blind, Dean is helpless…until the sword mysteriously slides five feet back into Dean’s hand. Thanks, Bobby? Sam awakens and has be Dean's eyes like a violent version of a trust exercise at a corporate retreat. It works, of course, and ends with a lot less bloodshed than I hoped.
Sam and the janitor go collect Garth, Dean has to ask, “Bobby, are you here?” His cracking with desperation is heartrending.
Nothing happens, except Sam watches his brother beg for Bobby to make himself known. Why this fun filler episode making me feel things?
The second Garth leaves, Sam blurts out, “I know something happened. I just want you to be straight with me” like he couldn't wait to talk about it but needed privacy. Dean recounts all of the strange occurrences that have happened in the months since Bobby died—the book page blowing off the bed, the card that led Dean to Castiel falling out of his journal, the sword flying into Dean's hand aka times when Sam and/or Dean were in geniune danger. “I think that regular people see ones they lost everywhere too. They see a face in the crowd, we see a book falling off the table,” Sam rationalizes. But Dean can’t find any other way to explain how the sword leapt into his hand, not one that fits. It’s weird that Sam, the former psychic, doesn’t believe or feel that Bobby's there, but he already tried the talking board and the EMF with no luck so maybe he has no hope. Dean’s seems to be fading too. As they close the door, the camera pans to Bobby’s silhouette standing darkly in the shadows. The image is palpably lonely, it's haunting. Dean heads back in the room and for a second they appear to lock eyes with a hopeful Bobby, “there you are,” Dean whispers. He walks across the room to...grab that slippery flask, which is a centimeter away from Bobby’s spirit and leaves. “I’m right here, ya idjit!” Bobby screams.
Dean pauses at the doorway, tilting his head as if he heard something, but closes the door. Bobby bleets, “Balls!” just as the picture fades and my heart breaks for the millionth time. After I literally pick myself up off the floor, because I never expected that to happen, not in this colorful, booze-soaked episode, I’m selfishly happy that some part of him lingered to haunt the boys like a curmudgeonly Casper. And it's a testament to how awesome Bobby is that he'd stay there, prolonging his eternal happiness with his wife, to watch out for his boys. I'll happily and solemnly drink to that.
What did you think of the episode? Have you been Garthed? Did you ever think you’d hear hip hop on “Supernatural?! Sounds off in the comments section.