I can't handle all of this amazing vintage Supernatural. You'd think that by now, I would have learned not to judge an episode by its promo, but no. I thought it looked cheesy and possibly too goofy. I don't know why I jump to these conclusions and truthfully, I think I prefer these unappealing promos that lead to awesome episodes rather than awesome promos that lead to lackluster episodes.
"Thin Lizzie" was the best possible follow-up to the perfection that was "Baby." Sure, it was goofy, but it was also delightfully old school, with Sam and Dean fighting over the sole bed in their grandma-esque hotel room, Dean mocking Sam's twisted geekery, and bonding with our socially-repressed-weirdo-of-the-week. My favorite Supernaturalepisodes are those that combine the case-of-the-week with the larger serialized story, and I was genuinely surprised by Amara's appearance at the Lizzie Borden house and also thrilled by the new mythology concerning souls.
Soullessness isn't new ground for Supernatural, nor is the effect of soullessness on afflicted individuals. Sam's soullessness eliminated his empathy and turned him into a robot made of pure id. We've seen soullessness create mindless killing machines and now we've seen it exploit the darkness within. It's poetic considering the source of the soul-snatching.
Given the Winchesters' own experience with missing souls, I had expected more interest/angst/effort put into helping Lizzie Borden's super fanboy Len. Sam told him that once his soul was gone, there was no getting it back, and yet, Sam himself is a walking contradiction of that. Sure, Amara eating everyone's glowy center appears to be a tad different than Castiel just forgetting to grab Sam's soul when he pulled his meat out of the cage, but the fact is that no one knows enough about Amara to say for certain that the stolen souls can never be restored. We just don't know yet, and while I get that there weren't many options on the table for dealing with our poor soulless fanboy by the end of "Thin Lizzie," allowing him to have himself locked up for heinous axe murders that he didn't commit was unsettling. What if they gank Amara and everyone's soul is restored? You never know. Dumber things have happened on this series in 11 seasons. Poor Fanboy Len. He reminded me a lot of Ron from "Nightshifter"—another oldie-but-goodie, with a nice balance of humor (mandroid!) and man tears.
We have to give Sam and Dean props for remembering their mission statement from the season premiere to actually TRY to save people before hunting all the things. Dean's "Nah, I don't want to do that" was a nice display of Dean's long lost empathy when Len asked him to kill him before "the darkness" inside him took over. While Len's decision to have himself locked up was obviously the lesser of the two evils, you can tell it still bothered Dean to let him do it. There was a time not even an entire season ago when Dean Winchester, in all his rage and man-pain and depression-fuelled alcoholism, would have either jumped right to executing Len or wouldn't have given his sacrifice of freedom a second thought. That's how dark the boys got over the years, and I don't blame the writers for taking them there at all. You can't come out of what the Winchester brothers have endured over the last 10 seasons and not have a monster's share of issues. To portray them as otherwise would have been stretching the limits of our disbelief.
Episodes like "Baby" and "Thin Lizzie" are not a complete return to original form for Supernatural because that move would be a disservice to the series as well; Hell, Purgatory, the cage, all manner of possession, betrayal and loss—it can't be ignored, but as we enter what is certainly edging on twilight for our little undead show, we also can't ignore just how unsustainable the endless suffering is. Sam and Dean can't return to the young men they once were, but they can at least try to channel aspects of those boys in their current lives and the fact that, despite some iffy moments, that storyline wasn't dropped as soon as the premiere ended is a pretty good indicator of how this series has survived for so long.
POSTCARDS FROM THE ROAD
– Sam has a serial killer fetish. It's okay, boo, so do I.
– Is Lizzie Borden really a serial killer though?
– I know that getting Castiel addicted to Netflix is just an excuse to justify keeping him out of the current episodes, but at the very least, it's a hilarious excuse.
– Castiel is addicted to The Wire this week. Yeah, he's not going anywhere.
– I love the implication that Sam and Dean have good taste in TV.
– Do you think Sam would have been such a pissy teenager if they had Netflix in the '90s?
– I need to know the Winchester opinion of The X-Files. I can see Dean being obsessed. Not so sure about Sam.
– Aww, the Darkness is still crushing on Dean. That's precious.
– I really have no idea what Amara's angle is and I love that I have no idea what Amara's angle is.