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Supernatural "Beyond the Mat" Review: Macho, Macho Man Pain

Posted by Arni Bergsson on

Supernatural S11E15: "Beyond the Mat"

Nope, nope, nope. "Beyond the Mat" may have given us fanboy Winchesters, and it may have busted Crowley out of his kennel, but with an awkward ending and a plot that literally went nowhere, I can't say that this was the note Supernatural needed to go out on for its mini-hiatus. It's true that we can't get enough nuggets of Winchester childhood trauma, and the realization that their's was a nauseating cross between Here Comes Honey Boo BooDoomsday Preppers, and Ghost Adventures (or, as I like to call it, Ghost Hunting for Brahs) is both heartbreaking and hilarious, but Sam and Dean's strolls down memory lane have been done before—and done better—with enough frequency that not even our favorite form of filler could save this... this this
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The worst part of "Beyond the Mat" was that the episode wasn't a complete trainwreck. It was a perfectly coherent story about poor schmucks selling their souls for some quick success and then getting hauled into circumstances way beyond their understanding or control. So, basically, it was "Crossroad Blues" with wrestlers. Or "Time is on My Side" except with Dean's childhood idol, wrestler Gunnar Lawlessplaying the role of Bela Talbot: postponing death as a hellhound chew toy by doing their demon's dirty work. 

Except Gunnar's missions didn't even make sense. While Bela was sent out to screw with the Winchesters as Dean's own hell deal closed in on its due date in Season 3, Gunnar Lawless's demonic master had him killing his co-workers because... well, we never really got to that part. According to Sam's childhood wrestling crush Rio, there was a dead body left behind at every single stop during Top Notch Wrestling's latest tour. Apparently, the police in all of these towns were investigating, but chalked it up to "satanic stuff" and let the show go on because a trail of bodies following a traveling carnival of testosterone and more-real-than-fake stage violence definitely doesn't point to any kind of pattern or cause for alarm.

And yet, for all of the leaps of logic "Beyond the Mat" forced upon us, it had moments of brilliance and the occasional attention to detail that makes me stop short of playing the "scraping-the-barrel-after-11-seasons" card. From the kayfabe lingo to the often depressing reality of life outside the ring à la The Wrestler, this wasn't just a goofy detour from the larger apocalypse storyline. This was a labor of love, and I wanted to love it myself, but the execution just wasn't there. 

Also, since when do we just let people throw themselves to the hellhounds like some kind of Winchester brother wannabe? Gunnar Lawless was presented as a generally decent guy who let his bad decisions, poor self worth, and crippling desperation literally lead him to hell. Realistically, without a pile of goofer dust and/or those snazzy hellhound-vision glasses from a few seasons back, there wasn't much Sam or Dean would have been able to do for poor sad Gunnar, but to just turn around and peace out after Dean's CHILDHOOD HERO gave an abridged version of the plot of The Wrestler in his final moments of a miserable life felt like an odd choice smack in the middle of the season where supposedly Dean and Sam were going to try really, really hard to save everyone all the time. 

At least we had more Casifer mentally sexing with every prop and co-star on the screen while Crowley's best gal betrayed him, then betrayed Luci, then betrayed C-dawg again before getting blowed up real good with the hand of God that Crowley just happened to have laying around his storage locker of horrors. I would tell the guys to stop wasting these mega-weapons on stupid shit, but apparently they're all over the place, just waiting for some wayward hunter to trip over them on the way to the apocalypse. 

I mean really

But hey! Crowley's on the lose and we have three weeks to forget how mediocre this episode was before we (hopefully) dive back into Dean vs. the Darkness vs. a functional liver. See you there, darlings.

 


POSTCARDS FROM THE ROAD TO THE APOCALYPSE

– Hungover Dean never gets old. 

– Sam bagging on John for being a crappy parent also never gets old. 

– Dean defending John's crappy parenting, however, does.

– I know Jeffrey Dean Morgan is like, too good for The CW now, but there's very little I want more than a proper Papa Winchester sighting— host, flashback, zombie, whatever—before this series ends. 

– I also know that the "I'm the Juggernaut, bitch" line from X-Men 3 is one of the cringe-worthiest moments in a movie that is just bursting with them, but that's literally the only thing I could think of every time Crowley had a BAMFy "I'm Crowley" moment. 

– THE KING HAS RETURNED. LONG LIVE THE KING. 
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