Friday, 17 October 2008

“Some people juggle geese!”

Danger! Danger! Spoilers Will Robinson!
Supernatural season four episode 5 spoilers are contained in the following post!

So where do we start? Oh how we rolled around howling, how we nearly cried with both laughter and upset - yes, it was ‘Supernatural’ again. Episode 4.5, imaginatively entitled ‘Monster Movie’, was a scream from start to finish. Never ones to take themselves too seriously, we have it all shot in black and white (explanation later) and presented in the style of a 1930s monster movie of the week. Excellent idea, fellas - comedy gold, in fact.

A late-night drive into Pennsylvania in the Impala finds Dean unimpressed with the horror movie mood music on the radio, and Sam unhappy with the fact that they’re not out trying to save the world. Remember, last time we saw The Boys, the sixty-six seals (no, not the live show at Sea World) were being systematically broken by Lilith in order to set Lucifer free. Dean couldn’t give a pair of foetid dingo’s kidneys, however, and just wants to get back to honest-to-goodness, by-the-numbers creature feature killing. And don’t we too? I mean, the first four episodes have been a little arc-heavy. That’s allowed, seeing as there are degrees of arcing going on, and it hasn’t actually been all doom and gloom. But this lightening of the whole situation, even in black and white, can only be a good thing. And, as previously discussed, it’s written by Ben Edlund, so it’s about to be a very, very good thing. I can smell it.

Dean tells Sam it’ll be “like the good old days! It’s about time the Winchesters got back to tackling a straight forward, black and white case.” Which, of course, is the death knell for all things straight forward - but not the black and white. See what they did there?

The Boys arrive in Oktoberfest-land, and it’s smiles all round for Dean’s Downstairs Brain, while Sam looks on in fond bemusement. What, he didn’t think Dean would be sniffing round anything in a short skirt the first chance he got? Indiana Jones and giant pretzel gags later, and The Boys (posing as FBI agents Angus and Young - get the AC/DC hook there?) are opening a morgue gurney on the first victim. Nice vampire bite marks there - except vampires don’t make marks like that - except in the movies. (Our first clue.) The Boys move onto the local tavern they’ve booked to stay in for the time being and encounter the lovely Jamie (again, for Dean) as they try to locate the eye-witness. Cue a very cute moment as Dean tries his hardest to get into the barmaid’s pants good books.

They move on to interview the witness and we get a few giggles over the aceness of the actor portraying him, and the whole set-up. (Catch Sam jump, while Dean just stares like the man’s off his meds.) We get introduced to a side-character who makes for interesting back-story and Fleshing Out Of Guest Stars. Cue another cute moment as Dean reveals why he’s on a mission - and we’re not talking about monsters. As he explains to Sam that he’s “back from the furnace without any of my old scars, right? No bullet wounds, knife cuts, none of the off-angle fingers from all the breaks - I mean, my hide’s smooth as a baby’s bottom” we all know exactly what he’s about to say next, right? Right? I mean, this is Dean Winchester we’re talking about, and he considers himself if not reborn, then having had a major physical reset. And he is determined to right the wrong of considering himself a virgin: if he doesn’t get laid in the very, very near future, there’s going to be Trouble. Sam just finds him, at best, amusing, and at worst, degenerate.

Cut to the next victim, and it appears to be a true-blue werewolf attack - complete with wolf hair at the scene. FBI agents Angus and Young pay the surviving young miss a call and then go to check out the remains of the kebab’d dude. With the heart intact and real wolf hair at the scene there’s no way it’s a werewolf - and Dean’s getting a headache. So they retire to chow down and discuss the myth of werewolves having actual wolf hair - and Dean’s persistence with the bar wench has paid off. They make a date and Sam is quietly amused enough to not tell him he has a hyowj beer-head moustache.

The next death is imminent (this is the end of act two, after all) and we get a sarcophagus complete with half-rotten, all-bandaged mummy straight from an ancient WB movie. Purr wee Security Guard gets squished in all the wrong places and the next thing you know, The Boys are investigating the crime scene Mulder and Scully style. Scully - sorry, Sam - finds it’s all bought from a prop store, and as such, “stoopid”, and Mulder - sorry, Dean - recognises it all for crazy talk. He splits to keep his date with the lovely Jamie. Cut to Jamie being stalked by the fabbest vampire ever to grace a modern TV show - except she maces the guy and make a run for it. Straight into Dean, who takes one look at The Crazy and attempts to punch his lights out. I say attempt - what he does manage to do is yank the dude’s ear off. Nice! A quick chase later and Dracula is making his get-away - on a Vespa. He even has the cheek to beep-beep Dean, stuck behind the wrought iron gates.

Then a moment of genius - the Intermission. Yes, a full-on, olde worlde style intermission card goes up for the duration of a strain of some vaguely familiar ‘Supernatural’ music, complete with curtains!

Then it’s back to the fun and frolics, as Dean has figured out the ear part of the case: shapeshifter meat ahoy! He pronounces it ‘buckets of crazy’ (no, not THEE Buckets Of Crazy site, but one of his most affectionate terms), especially since Dracula’s costume is also a movie prop, and the actual shifter underneath all these monsters is out to secure the lovely Jamie as his prize. The Boys quickly decide the best way out of all this is to have Sam find the most likely candidate for shapeshifteriness and shoot it with silver bullets while Dean chick-sits. Of course! (Oh, and the crack about The X-Files: “So you guys are like Mulder and Scully or something, and The X-Files are real?” - “No, The X-Files is a TV show. This is real,” was priceless, considering about 90% of the production crew of ‘Supernatural’ is actually from ‘The X-Files’.)

Cue Sam going off all gung-ho to shoot the critter before it pretends to be another great monster of Screenland while ganking someone, and Dean gets left talking to Jamie. Which could be a mistake, as he’s not exactly the most eloquent of people when it comes to talking to chicks. But there again, we’re in for a surprise - Dean’s not really season 1 or 2 Dean anymore, and he certainly is not anywhere near to season 3 Dean. I wouldn’t go so far as to say he’s All New Dean, but he’s definitely moved on. And we get some lovely, lovely background music - all new - to stroke Tragic Dean’s story into Heroic Loneliness territory. It’s working, too - until he comes out with the classic ‘Blues Brothers’ line and we all start giggling again. Purr confused Jamie is prepared to believe, but she’s not exactly comfortable with Dean’s admission of haring round the States killing creatures. Dean covers the awkward ‘Greater Good’ moment with a lovely crack (“Some people paint”) that I swear I thought was going to be summat else: “Some people juggle geese!”. There was just something about the moment that I found very Wash-like, and a ‘Firefly’ quote right at the moment (considering Ben Edlund was a series co-producer and wrote two bloody excellent episodes for the show) would have been hilarious.

Anyway, we knew The Boys would balls it up and go after the wrong suspect, and we were right - cos otherwise the show would be over in ten minutes, right? Where’s the fun in that? And, lest we forget, this episode is all about the movie pattern - so let’s have the actual monster being the one person Jamie has been pals with all this time, and purr wee Action Sam about to shoot the wrong man. Action and giggles ensue as the ‘shifter turns up unexpectedly (as said pal), interrupting Dean finally getting to first base, and spikes the drinks of the damsel and hero. The next thing Dean knows is he’s waking up dressed like an Oktoberfest regular (dig those socks, dude), strapped into Dr Frankenstein’s lightning board. Looks like he’s all ready for an overly-elaborate and easily escapable death routine. Aceness! Except Dean is saved by the bell (literally) and we have a very funny moment at the front door (the old ‘I have a coupon’ moment never fails to make me laugh). Meanwhile Sam is already adding two and two and coming up with secret monster lairs. Sharp boy, that one.

But then we have a lovely performance that really goes for the heartstrings in a big way. Aww, purr wee shapeshifter - I did actually feel sorry for the guy, hearing his story. I loved the exchange between the ‘shifter and Jamie the Victim - the old “You’re lonely because you kill people” - “No, I kill people cos I’m lonely” did raise a smile. But then, he did murder those people. So hey-ho, say The Boys, let’s go shapeshifter-killing. And Sam getting his foot stuck in the door was excellent.

But all good things must come to an end - it was an excellent chase, a merry dance, a wonderful roller-coaster of giggles, gasps and guilty sympathy. And this end came not through the two boys, but the damsel in de dress. Quick-thinking she may have been, but no fibre in her being felt sorry for him, Sam-style? Or did she just know that there was no way round what he had done and she had to end him, Dean-style? Who knows. But she did well. Well, I was thinking that right up until the purr wee ‘shifter’s last moments. He was so eloquent, so tragic! (Quoting some good old fashioned movies, too!) Awww! Come on! No! Can we just have The Boys think he’s dead, so he gets away with it? C'mon! Booo! I were so upset I actually watched the camera on him, and totally ignored Dean in his shorts on the floor (well, the first play, anyway).

An excellent parting scene later, and we’re fading to a retro Fin card that just made me grin. We leave The Boys thick as thieves, back as they should be, and the end scene makes a good point: it’s all about the monsters, not about story arcs. Blessed are the writers, for they know what fans want.

This was such a fantastically classic episode, in more ways than one, and it’s a definite keeper Big Time. The comedy episode of season four? Or the funniest damn playing about with the genre we’ve seen in ages? You be the judge. I just laughed my arse off the whole time - until the end. But then, that was quickly and neatly bundled to one side by the sight of The Boys actually being normal mates again - back as they should be. Bloody marvellous.

Well, that’s about it - got to go to bed. Gruelling day at work tomorrow, followed by a personal training session from Hell. Kinda.

Peach and lube, everyone. Lots and lot of lube.

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