This Supernatural review contains spoilers.
Supernatural Season 13 Episode 15
The search for one of the ingredients led the Winchesters on a bit of a wild goose chase through the criminal relic underbelly of the West Coast.
This was an episode with an immediately noticeable tone change from our usual Supernatural. If it felt like a procedural cop show mixed with a classic gumshoe detective, you hit the nail on the head. The usual supernatural elements played way in the background to dealings with the mafia and dirty cop tactics.
The music was also reminiscent of a film noir set in a big city, the nasally swooning of brass instruments adding to the overall atmosphere. The homage to film noir was everywhere. The episode also played on a common TV trope, a quest that person to person. “It’s a Devil’s Bargain” Mafia Boss said. No, I replied, that was two episodes ago.
The tone was well executed from the music, the theme and the shooting style, including a classic silhouette shadow shot of a man with a gun. The only thing the episode it lacked — and this might be an unpopular opinion — I had trouble getting into it.
Although Supernatural has played with other show styles before, including this season’s heist episode “The Scorpion and the Frog,” I felt this one was more of a miss than a hit. It’s difficult to pinpoint why exactly. All the elements were there, as I described above, but I didn’t find myself interested in the side characters we met along with way, or even caring too much about the detours Sam and Dean met along the way, akin to an actual film noir’s structure. Maybe that was it. It was too formulaic for me to enjoy the ride.
Things do finally speed up near the end, and I enjoyed seeing these various characters all confronting each other in a bidding war over the skull. Of course the scene must end in gunfire.
Overlaying Gregorian Chant style music over a slow motion rendering of the shootout was an interesting choice. The Padre being shot could have ended up in cliche territory, but lucky for him and for us, he made it.
There wasn’t a ton of funny moments to be had, but one was the Padre distracting the thug by literally saying he was creating a distraction. When Dean called him on that, the Padre replied, “Lying is a sin.” It would have been nice to throw in some more light moments like this. Miss Astor hitting on Sam in the beginning and Mr. Greenstreet’s donut eating just didn’t cut it.
The Padre being the Most Holy Man wasn’t a surprising twist, but I was glad to see the boys got another item checked off their list. The last thing they needed after this series of events would be another mad search for Saint blood.
The Padre also succeeded in giving Sam a recurring existential crisis: can he and Dean eventually stop all the monsters, or rather, make a lasting difference? It’s a concern the brothers have brought up before, and for good reason. You don’t hunt the supernatural for the majority of your life without wondering if there is an end game in sight. I recall a couple episodes that touched on Sam and Dean’s importance to the world, so I wonder why Sam is feeling this way again. Could it be in connection to the near futile attempt to get Mom back, or is it something else, like Sam looking to back out of the hunting life again?
One thing’s for sure: Sam’s tried that before. Just when he thought he was out, the supernatural pulled him back in.
Although I wasn’t too enthused with this week’s episode, I’ll continue to look forward to what’s coming up. Next week: Scooby-Natural. I am so ready, you guys.