Thursday, May 3, 2007

Supernatural—What Is and What Should Never Be

Wow. Just... wow. Just when I think this show can't get any better, they air another episode and raise the bar again. This episode took several threads that have been running through the season and wove them together to heartwrenching perfection, as Dean was forced to choose between the life he thinks he wants and the life he feels he's stuck with.

The monster of the week proves to be a djinn--and a damn creepy one, with crazy tattoos, glowy blue eyes and funky teeth. As Sam says, not like Barbara Eden in harem pants. (I find it amusing that Dean has the hots for women in all the shows I used to watch after school. Daphne... Jeannie...) Dean decides to go after it on his own. (Dean! That is never a good idea! What are you thinking?) In any case, he tracks the djinn to an abandoned building, and it corners him and lays blue glowy hands on him. That can't be good.

Dean wakes up in bed next to a woman. Then he puts his shirt back on for no really good reason (I consider that a plot hole), and calls Sam. Dean doesn't know where he is. And for good reason--apparently he's in an alternate universe where he has a cool TV and wakes up next to a hot chick named Carmen on a regular basis. And Sam is still studying law. Dean's in Lawrence, Kansas, the old hometown. He's also wearing a different necklace, or at the very least it's on a nicer chain. (I'd like to know what the necklace was, but they never showed a close up. I have to assume, though, that it wasn't the protective amulet he normally wears.)

Freaking Carmen out, Dean runs from his new home and heads for his old home. Where he finds his mother alive and well, and not burning on the ceiling or stranded in the house as a ghost. His father, however, is dead--but of a stroke, and presumably not burning in hell after a deal with a demon. Dean is understandably shaken. When he wakes up the next morning and is still in the alternate universe, he starts to research djinn, trying to work out what has happened to him. Has the djinn granted his dearest wish? Or is something else going on?

Dean falls into his persona in the alternate reality every bit as easily as he's fallen into every other alias he's assumed. And alternate reality Dean isn't the greatest person. It's heartwrenching to me that he accepts this--even says it sounds like him--so easily.

At first, Dean finds lots to love in this new life. Sam is back in law school. Jessica is alive, and she and Sam are engaged. Dean's found a woman who really gets him, he has a normal, everyday job at a garage, and he gets to mow his mom's lawn (with endearingly unadulterated glee). But strange, seemingly dead people keep appearing in odd places, like his closet and the fancy restaurant where they take Mary for her birthday. And worst of all, Sam and Dean are mostly estranged.

It seems to be the latter shift in reality that disconcerts Dean the most. His one wish, that Mary hadn't died, hasn't given him the perfect life he's thought it would. And then there's the kicker--the hundreds of people the Winchesters saved when they became hunters are dead in this world, sacrificed so Dean and Sam can have a "normal" life. Dean is devastated by this. In a scene that had me weeping on my chaise, he talks to his father's grave, wondering why he and his family have had to lose so much.

As it turns out, the alternate world isn't real, but it feels real to Dean. In reality, the djinn has dosed him with some sort of hallucinogen, and is feeding off Dean's blood, as well as the blood of other victims, all hung like slabs of meat from the ceiling of the abandoned building. In the fantasy world, Dean chooses the sacrifice--willingly this time--just before Sam arrives to save him and one of the other victims from the djinn.

Some particularly nice touches--when Dean breaks into Mary's house for the silver, the sequence mirrors Dean's initial arrival in the pilot episode almost exactly--though it's a bit shorter, especially since Sam, being a wuss in this reality, barely fights back. But in spite of their estrangement, Sam tags along with Dean on the djinn hunt, though he doesn't know how to respond when Dean calls him a bitch. Also, Dean still has the Impala, though the license plate is different.

So Dean has, perhaps, finally accepted the burden of his life as a hunter. But even knowing it was the right choice, his scars obviously run deep. And I can't say enough good about Jensen Ackles' performance tonight. Padalecki did a great job, too, though his screen time was severely curtailed.

Led Zeppelin--What Is and What Should Never Be
Led Zepellin - Led Zepellin II: A Tribute to Led Zeppelin - What Is and What Should Never Be

Lynyrd Skynyrd--Saturday Night Special
Lynyrd Skynyrd - 20th Century Masters - The Millennium Collection: The Best of Lynyrd Skynyrd - Saturday Night Special

Joey Ramone--It's a Wonderful World
Joey Ramone - Don't Worry About Me - What a Wonderful World