Thursday, April 26, 2007

Supernatural—Folsom Prison Blues

This week, John Shiban pens another stellar episode, this one named after a Johnny Cash song. We go back to Led Zeppelin titles next week.

At Green River County Detention Center, a cell block is re-opened after a long period of closure. Weird goings-on freak out Randall (guest star Jeff Kober, who had two memorable guest turns on Buffy the Vampire Slayer), one of the inmates. The guard who comes to settle things down is trailed by an apparition. How come ghosts never comb their hair? It traps him in one of the cells. There's a lot of screaming.

Three months later, Sam and Dean break into a museum. Dean has a plan that Sam isn't crazy about. They're arrested for breaking into the museum. Dean does his Zoolander thing for the mug shots (Blue Steel!). Agent Henrickson shows up to tell Dean he isn't adorable. None of us believe him. The public defender turns out to be hot and blonde, and she kicks Henrickson out on his ass.

The Hotties Winchester are going to be held in the Green River County Detention Center until arraignment. Coincidence? I think not. Dean promises not to trade Sam for smokes. He's such a good brother. Holy crap how did they find a guy taller than Padalecki to play Sam's cell mate? In another inside joke, Dean accuses Sam of being from Texas. Of course Ackles and Padalecki are both from Texas. Pot, meet Kettle.

As suspected, the Winchester boys have gotten themselves thrown into the prison on purpose to chase down the ghost. They're hunting the ghost as a favor to Deacon, an ex-Marine who served with their dad. Dean has a hundred percent sure escape plan. Yeah, that'll go well. Dean suspects the ghost is a previous inmate named Moody, who died of a heart attack in the recently re-opened cell block.

After starting a dust-up in the cafeteria, Dean gets put into solitary. While he's there, the ghost makes an appearance and kills Lucas, the inmate Dean dusted up with. Daniels, the public defender, has a chat with Henrickson. She's found witnesses who say Sam and Dean saved their lives. Henrickson is condescending, and dismisses the witnesses as crazy.

Dean plays poker and wins a ton of cigarettes. In talking to Randall, Sam has discovered Moody was actually beaten to death, so there might have been enough blood left behind for a haunting. They'll have to burn it out. It's Sam's turn to have a fun plan (with a reversed dialogue exchange--sometimes not funny, but in this case very funny), as he convinces Dean to goad Tiny, another inmate who's not tiny at all, into a fight, thus distracting the guards so Sam can sneak into an air vent. He makes his way to the old cell block, where he salts and burns the bloody bedclothes from Moody's cell.

In the infirmary, Tiny decides it's time to share his feelings when Dean apologizes for goading him into a fight. The ghost appears again, but it's a woman--not Moody at all. Oops. That can't be good. She attacks Dean, who flings the salt from his lunch on her and scares her off. She goes for Tiny. Poor Tiny doesn't have any lunch salt.

Sam has contacted Deacon to get them out. But they're not done, because they salted and burned the wrong remains. Randall identifies the actual ghost as a Nurse Glockner, who may or may not have killed people in the prison--again deaths by induced heart attack. Dean wants to solve the case before they leave the prison, and asks Daniels to research Glockner for him. Sam insists they're leaving the prison tonight no matter what. Dean says he's going to stay regardless. They get into a tussle in the prison yard. This turns out to be a ruse, as the guard who drags them off--the guard who's seemed to have it in for Dean throughout the show--turns out to be Deacon. He gives Dean a letter from Daniels with the research info he needs. Glockner was beaten to death by inmates in the old cell block and buried in a nearbye cemetery. With Deacon's help, the Winchesters escape.

Henrickson interrogates Deacon, then Daniels, trying to track the boys down. Daniels finally cracks and tells Henrickson about Glockner. The boys are, of course, at the gravesite so they can do the salt and burn. Henrickson heads for the cemetery. The boys dig up the grave, but back at the prison, Glockner pays a visit to Deacon. Sam and Dean burn the body just in time to save him.

In the meantime, Henrickson's pursuit proves fruitless--Daniels sent him to the wrong cemetery.

Henrickson's return provides more continuity, stretching all the way back to "Skin," from season one. He seems dead set on ignoring the evidence Daniels presents, even though he's talked to those folks himself. In some ways he's degenerating into an extreme version of the standard skeptic character. He seemed more layered last time we saw him, so this is a bit disappointing.

That's the only thing I found disappointing about this episode, though. The case felt a bit too familiar, but the backdrop and the interplay between the brothers was extremely well-done. Dean's ease in falling into his role as convict--and his lack of concern about this ability--was both amusing and revealing. Sam managed to act like annoying little brother as well as competent fighter at the same time, while Dean balanced his competent fighter persona with horndog smartass with equal aplomb.

The worst thing about this episode? It's number 19, which means there are only 3 episodes left to this season. It's going to be a long summer.

Of Note:
During the last commercial break, there was an ad for Supernatural: Origins, the comic book tie-in coming out next month. Yep, mine's on pre-order. Check out the preview here. But be careful out there, folks--the Flash presentation gave me motion sickness.

Supernatural on iTunes:
Supernatural - Supernatural, Season 2

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