This Supernatural review contains spoilers.
Supernatural Season 14
“Optimism” is a quirky story about the lovelorn librarian and her dead beau, and it only fits that the tone of the episode reflects that quirkiness. Lots of fun humor, underscored with lighthearted music, and brighter-lit scenes contribute to that tone. It’s refreshing to have a light episode here and there. It breaks up the tension, can deviate from the main story arc while exploring some new territory.
We’ve gotten some really fabulous episodes that way, which defined new ways of telling a story in a show that’s been around the block “Optimism” doesn’t break too many boundaries, but I appreciate the effort.
Much of that humor stems from Jack being so green at his job. Jack was ready for a hunt. The kid has been itching to get out of the bunker and be useful since the beginning of the season. The fact remains that he still has a lot to learn, both about hunting and just about being human.
Jack is so innocent. When he asks Dean to explain the term “courting” and heard it’s what you do before dating, he replied that must be what happens before “the sex.” I guess somebody gave him the basics of “The Talk”, but you really see he’s only been on this Earth a short time when he’s that oblivious. It makes it all the more funny for Jack to step in as the typical romantic novel interest in the lovelorn librarian’s life. That comes full circle when Jack plays the part again, long enough to distract Harper and get a zombie into the firing range of Dean’s shotgun.
Jack, as green as he was, still holds his own pretty well. He tests Harper to see if she’s a demon by putting holy water on his hands to touch hers, and by saying the Latin word “Cristo” under his breath. That was a great callback. We haven’t seen that used since Season 1 Episode Four’s “Phantom Traveler.” It was a detail I thought the writers had forgotten about and it was a fan service moment for sure.
The biggest twist in the main plot of the episode was that the librarian wasn’t so sweet and innocent as she seemed. I enjoyed this deviation from the usual tired tropes. In the first ten minutes or so, we expected the other guy at the library to be the jealous guy hunting anyone who came within Harper’s gravitational pull. Turns out, the girl’s just super into her dead boyfriend and likes to play a little cat and mouse with every guy who shows interest in her. Weird lady, but great villain.
The B story showed Sam and AU Charlie teaming up on a separate hunt for a bug monster abducting people from a bus stop. We haven’t seen a Supernatural monster that’s so unapologetically Doctor Who-esque since…well… maybe ever? The point of this interaction though was to separate this Charlie from the character Felicia Day played before. She made it clear halfway through that Sam had to stop comparing her to the other Charlie. Sam, however, was more concerned about Charlie going out on her own, still clinging tight to his buddy system method.
Sam and Charlie’s final scene is intercut with scenes showing the bug monster’s people lovingly taking it away on a stretcher. And…it was weird. I get the idea of comparing what Sam was telling Charlie about having a group who has your back, but it was very strange that to illustrate that point, we’re supposed to sympathize with the bug monster with a pile of rotting victims in its lair.
Overall, “Optimism” is an enjoyable lighter episode with several quotable lines and a chance for Jack to shine.