This Supernatural review contains spoilers.
Supernatural: Season 11, Episode 4
What could have been a forgettable filler episode featuring a ghoul-vampire hybrid got a unique and creative twist as this night’s episode was seen from the perspective of Dean’s beloved 1967 Impala.
I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: when you’ve got a show running as long as Supernatural has, you need to find new ways to reinvent the material and try new things. We had a found footage episode (not my favorite), some hilarious parodies of other TV shows thanks to the Trickster, and we had a musical episode (sort of). This episode told its story almost completely within the Impala’s interior, with exterior scenes near enough to the car to see from inside. This is an example of a bottle episode.
The episode concept presented unique staging, where action could happen outside but the viewer only got a selective view of it, such as Dean fighting the Ghoul-pire. By not showing much of the fight, the production could do away with many special effects and production design costs, leading to an episode that was cheaper to produce. I can only imagine that after they figured out the nuts and bolts of the actual shooting, this episode took less time to shoot as well.
(You can see more examples of great bottle episodes at Juliette Harrisson’s article here)
The introduction felt clunky and awkward. Some angles within the car were very extreme, almost fish-eyed. At first I tried being the insightful film student, comparing the shots of Dean and Sam and figuring, “Oh, the Impala thinks differently of the Winchesters, so Dean is in more pleasing shots and Sam is seen off-kilter and at a distance…” But that’s film school bunk so don’t listen to it. The shots were a bit random in that opening scene, but luckily the flow and variety of shots later in the episode made up for it. By the middle, the episode hit its stride and presented an entertaining look at life with the Winchesters.
Some of the dialogue and characterization was a little off, so I checked who wrote the episode. Robbie Thompson has written 15 episodes of Supernatural, so all of the following was probably a fluke — or a certain reviewer nitpicking. Castiel’s speaker phone conversation with Dean does not really sound like Cas at all. The tone, the word choices…it sounds more like Sam when he reads about a monster on an internet site. It was informative, but the “now get this” tone was not Cas. It worked out to be a good scene anyway, with the humorous juxtaposing of Dean fighting the monster while Cas is explaining at length what a certain monster is and why he’s not fighting one of those. Plus now, in a throwaway joke, we learn that Cas is binging on Netflix’s Orange is the New Black.
The other bit of dialogue I said BS on was Dean calling Sam a nerd for knowing saying how only pre-1982 coins are copper. Dean, having surprised the entire freaking world by knowing that “God helps those who help themselves” came from the time of Aesop’s Fables, shouldn’t be so judgy.
Also—the fact that Dean didn’t murder valet girl for daring to take a joy ride in the Impala just felt plain wrong. Valet girl’s joyride was completely useless except for getting me mad at fictional girls, not that it matters if the girls scratched it. By the end of the episode the Impala is blood stained, missing a window, and sporting a ruined front end. But she still starts up, faithful as always.
Oh by the way, I now expect to see a “Goodnight Jerk, Goodnight Bitch” fan art picture book out there somewhere. Don’t let me down, Internet.