Supernatural 7.06 "Slash Fiction" ReviewA tv review article by: Paul Brian McCoy
Two Leviathans take on the form of Sam and Dean and frame them for a series of murders. While the brothers take refuge with a surveillance expert, Bobby tries to figure out how to kill the Leviathans and clear the Winchester brothers' names.
Supernatural airs Friday nights at 9:00 on the CW.
Well, that's more like it anyhow.
Don't get me wrong. This isn't great. In fact it's got a number of problems, but compared to the past two weeks this is at least a step in the right direction.
Plus, there's a guest appearance by Saul Tigh himself, Michael Hogan, so it can't be all bad.
The episode was written by Robbie Thompson, and to be quite honest, the work he's done that I have seen, hasn't really impressed me. An episode of Jericho, an episode of Human Target, and an episode of The Cape are the things I'm familiar with and I wasn't a fan of any of them. I am curious, though, about his webseries, Ark, which actually sounds pretty good and I may end up tracking down.
It stars Rene O'Connor of Xena fame and all nine episodes are available for viewing on Hulu as we speak. Since that's his baby, I'm sure it's worth a look.
However, back to his work-for-hire...
This episode finds the boys hiding out and trying to figure out just how to kill the Leviathan they've got tied up in the basement. His name's Chet and he's played with gusto by Sean Owen Roberts. Meanwhile, out in the world, two Leviathans have assumed the identities of the boys and have gone on a massive killing spree, making sure to plaster Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean's (Jensen Ackles) faces all over the news.
Of course the boys won't stand for that and head out to confront their doppelgangers. But not before stopping off at the home of a fella who owes Bobby (Jim Beaver) a favor.
Frank Devereaux (Kevin McNally) is a paranoid tech-geek who prefers to believe in government conspiracies rather than the supernatural and in a pretty entertaining scene he reads the boys the riot act for doing their business in a less than secure fashion. He makes a lot of excellent suggestions that anyone in their right mind would follow – ditch the car, change up their cell phones, lose the laptop for one with more security, etc.
Sure, that'll all come back next week, but it was nice to hear someone tell them what idiots they were being. It at least shows that the creators are aware of the shows clichés and are playing with them.
By the time we discover, along with the boys, that the murders are taking place at the locations of their first cases together (during the series, anyway) in chronological order. So it's clearly a trap designed to draw them out and kill them. And that's where Saul Tigh comes into the picture.
Before the boys can confront their Leviathan alter-egos, Sheriff No Name arrests them. Which sets up an all-too familiar finale in a police station. It's a scene we've seen over and over, as Sam and Dean sit in cells and wait for the monsters to come for them. But this time, Sheriff Tigh witnesses his deputies murdering and eating each other and quickly comes around to the boys' side.
This is the first of three huge weaknesses in this episode. The boring familiarity of this final confrontation is so by the book that it could have been written by a piece of software. The second problem is with how Chet is dispatched.
Now don't get me wrong. Beheading is always a great way to kill a monster. And when a monster can come back from that, the obvious answer is beheading plus forced separation of the head and body. Put the head in a box and dump it somewhere. There's always the chance that the Leviathans can just grow a new head, though, so there has to be a twist.
And it's provided in a very unsatisfying way.
Sheriff Jody Mills (Kim Rhodes) is back, stopping by Bobby's super-secret shack in the woods to thank him for saving her life back in Episode Two. Maybe it's just me, but while I can buy her stopping by to say thanks and maybe even make out with Bobby (he deserves it!!), I really don't think she'd just volunteer to start scrubbing the floors.
Supernatural gets a raw deal sometimes with the way it treats women overall. Hell, if the number of times the word 'bitch' was used was any indication, women wouldn't be welcome on this show at all. And of course, every female character comes to a messy end. But seriously, that's not misogyny. Everybody on this show comes to a messy end.
That's how Supernatural works.
Not everyone comes back from the dead. That's mostly reserved for Sam and Dean (and occasionally the brother that they never knew they had and only showed up as a plot device anyway). So the fact that Sheriff Mills is probably not long for this world thanks to her totally justifiable crush on Bobby, that's not the problem.
The problem is suddenly writing her as a clichéd gender stereotype. Sheriff Mills would be more likely to hang out and drink beers with Bobby than to literally get down on her hands and knees and scrub the floors of his grubby cabin. That's not right.
And that's not even taking the horrible plot point of her even finding Bobby into consideration.
Remember? The boys are on the run and hiding out from the worst monsters they've ever faced (or so the creators would have us believe). They're trying to stay off the grid in a way they've not done before. But Sheriff Mills shows up at their door and when Bobby asks her how she found them, she says something like, "Duh, I'm a cop."
I guess the Leviathans haven't wormed their way into law enforcement yet, huh?
Anyway, thanks to Sheriff Mills' biological drive to clean up a man's mess, we discover that cleaning fluid with Borax in it will burn a Leviathan into goo. That's handy. So a combination of cleaning fluid and beheading, followed by dumping the nasty head in a lake, is the way to handle Leviathans.
It's forced and pretty much out of left field and I'm hoping there's some sort of explanation on the way. Maybe something about man-made chemicals or something. I don't know. It's just kind of random at this point. At least it gave Chet time to provide a couple of info dumps to clear up a couple of things. First, we were all right in thinking that their time in Castiel's head gave them access to all of his knowledge, including Sam and Dean's Rock Icon Alternate Identities. Second, he clarified that Leviathans only need DNA residue to duplicate you and know everything you know.
That's an interesting development, if only from a philosophical standpoint, suggesting that everything we know and experience in our lives is captured and accessible in every stray hair or skin cell we shed.
Aw, who am I kidding? They weren't even thinking about that. It was just a cool, easy way to explain their shapeshifting.
And then, conveniently, Sheriff Tigh allows Dean a phone call, which allows Bobby to pass on the information.
And the day is saved. For the boys, anyway. Before all is said and done, Tigh is dead, his daughter the coroner is dead, and the boys are off talking about their feelings again.
It seems that Leviathan Dean told Leviathan Sam that Real Dean killed Amy all those weeks ago. So we get our obligatory break-up scene. Again, this comes right from the Supernatural Writing Software Package and was both tedious and annoying.
But there is some good to be found in the conclusion of this episode.
We discover just who the lead Leviathan is. Turns out he's a prick businessman, named, I shit thee not, Dick Roman, and played by James Patrick Stewart (no relation to the starship captain). I remember Stewart from the criminally underwatched Andy Richter Controls the Universe, but you may remember him from Galactica 1980, All My Children, or the recent return to 90210.
He plays smarmy well enough, so I'm happy to see him. But then my favorite smarmy character on television shows up: Crowley (Mark Sheppard).
Crowley is there to forge an alliance, and brought the dead baby muffins usually required to seal such a deal, but it is not to be. Turns out, if there's anyone a Leviathan hates more than a human, it's a demon. So hopefully it won't be long before we get a regular dose of Mark Sheppard on our television screens.
Overall this episode was a mixed batch. There was some good, but there was more awkward and bad. This season is shaping up to be the weakest in a while, but I still have hope. Surely they can wrangle something interesting out this situation.
Paul Brian McCoy is the writer of Mondo Marvel and a regular contributor to Shot for Shot. His first novel,The Unraveling: Damaged Inc. Book One is on sale now for Kindle US, Kindle UK, and Nook, or can be sampled and/or purchased at Smashwords. He is unnaturally preoccupied with zombie films, Asian cult cinema, and sci-fi television. He can also be found babbling on Twitter at @PBMcCoy and blogging occasionally at Infernal Desire Machines.