The Super Sleepy Dispatch

Recap and Review: Supernatural 10:12 “About A Boy”

By P.S. Griffin

I am not always complimentary of Adam Glass’ work (“Paper Moon”), however this episode was solid.  It was maeginally creative, showcased excellent brotherly action and dialogue, exhibited believable plotting for the most part, added interesting details to two of our ongoing storylines, and once again emphasized that magic might help or hurt Dean in his present state.  Was the episode perfect?  Of course not!  This is Adam Glass we are talking about.  There’s too many wooden “dudes”, a lame twist that relies on the Winchesters being inexplicably stupid, and Taylor Swift which is just wrong.  This show is going to the tweens and I cannot shake off my distress at this.  Grumpiness and nitpicking aside, all in all the episode was a fun ride with an old school feel.

The episode opens in a dive bar. A bartender throws a customer outside after an altercation.  He walks to the parking lot, passing a homeless man rummaging through the garbage.

As he fiddles with his car keys, a large scary man appears in front of him. Suddenly there’s a scream and an intense burst light behind the car, and in a flash victim number one, J.P. is gone. 

The light gives off a fairy vibe per “Clap Your Hands if You Believe”.  I have a feeling that Dean’s going to have another unwanted adventure.  Has Oberon, King of the Fairies, come looking for the one that got away?  Anyhow, the homeless dude sees it all and runs to the parking lot finding nothing but J.P.’s empty suit and his cheap shoes.  (Note to Glass: Florsheims are not cheap shoes; they’re old-fashioned for quality in men’s footwear.)

Yeah!  You go boy!  We get a fabulous  montage of Dean going into serious research mode regarding the Mark of Cain.  I enjoy it even as I recognize his mostly justified beating of Dark!Charlie is the cause (yawn). He’s perusing lore books on Cain’s history with fabulous voice overs of pertinent dialogue from “First Blood” and “Do You Believe in Miracles?”, including “After Cain killed Abel, He became a demon.” (Crowley); “I felt connected to you right from the beginning. You and I are very much alike. I can give you the mark, Dean, if it’s what you truly want.” (Cain); “But when I kill, I kill for a reason. I’m nothing like Cain.” (Dean).

I still say that Cain’s definition of a burden is very different from mine.  I also wonder if Dean still thinks that he’s very different from Cain.  

He’s even looking outside the box at tattoo removal (yeah right). The scene is punctuated by an angsty rock ballard, The James Gang’s “Ashes the Rain and I”.

By the end of the montage Dean is camped out in his bedroom, hiding out from the world, or more likely keeping the world safe by keeping himself locked away from it.

Sam pops in with a case, however Dean isn’t interested.  He tells Sam to have fun because he’s happy with his cozy bed (memory foam) and three hot meals. Sam’s not buying it, “You need to get back in the game, for your own good. You can beat this, Dean.” Dean wonders if Sam really believes in Dean overcoming the Mark’s violent urges. When Sam emphatically says that he does, Dean reminds him that he believed in the Easter Bunny until he was 12. It turns out he was 11 and a half, suggesting that Sam is a believer despite the odds.  Well yeah… he bought what the demon Ruby was selling…

Also somehow Charlie forgiving him is supposed to make everything all better.  First Charlie killed someone, terrorized three others and repeatedly attacked Dean.  Perhaps she should be seeking forgiveness herself.  Second, ACK! Why are we name checking Charlie in episode that she doesn’t appear.  The writers barely bother to name check Cas most of the time.  Grrrr… Third, Charlie is not God.  Her forgiveness means very littlewriter’s in the scheme of things, especially since she was beating the crap out of Dean.

Because it is Supernatural, soon both brothers are on the case regardless of Dean’s fear of losing control.  Next thing we know they are interviewing the homeless dude who says that it was aliens, despite Dean’s adamant request for him not to go there.  Dean walks away at the personal recollections of full body probing. At any rate, they did learn that when he ran to the car all he found were the man’s, clothes,  shoes and a strong “flowery” flower smell.

Dean, feed up with the alien subplot, observes “Well, the wheels just came flying off the bus.” Sam notes that it wasn’t a ghost because… no cold spots. Dean replies,  “No sulfur means no demons, so that leaves us with what? Couple of little green dudes and a bucket of lube?” Sam suggests either fairies or angels.  Dean thinks both options suck, “Ugh. I’d rather have the little green dudes”. Fight the fairies! (“Clap Your Hands if You Believe!”) 

They split with Dean taking his “comfort zone”, the dive bar, and Sam taking the victim’s apartment.  Dean is momentarily hesitant but then pretends that all is good.

Dean goes immediately to the bar saying that he “wants to believe in himself” and orders a shot of “something dark and strong”, which he downs after momentary consideration. Then he looks down at his right forearm, the Marked one; it’s resting quietly still sated by the brutal beating of Dark!Charlie.  So much for his self proclaimed 12 Step Program (“There’s No Place Like Home”). Oh, the angsty music in the background (Headwater’s “It’s Only a Matter of Time”) includes the repeated lyric “It’s only a matter of time.” Yeah… Well duh.

Dean questions the bartender about J.P., pretending to be am old friend.  The bartender has nothing particularly good to say; however a regular barfly named Tina says that he was a good guy, as good a guy as someone that boozes it up every day can be. She throws in an unnecessary Cheers reference since it’s patently obvious that this particular dive is no Cheers.  It’s totally a drink oneself to solitary oblivion kind of place.

Dean orders two whiskeys and eventually he and Tina are sharing booze and memories of sad childhoods.  I never want to think about macaroni and cheese and fluff again.  

They seem well matched yet she leaves without hesitation when Dean’s phone rings.  He answers it and there’s an exchange about the devil’s butt that neither brother would vocalize considering their history. In summary, J.P. lead a sad life. Dean is starting to tell Sam there’s nothing here for them to work with until he sees a big creepy fellow following Tina out of the bar.  He rushes out too late to see anything but the telltale flash.

He goes to investigate, finding a pile of clothes. He is quickly accosted himself.  We see the Creepy Guy touch a hex bag around his neck, shortly followed by a bright light.  Dean disappears, apparently transported to a basement dungeon.  Oh… and he’s teenaged.

He’s still our Dean in his childhood body. Without skipping a beat he assesses his surroundings and tries to find a way out. This leads to him seeing his hand which is… small.  He cleans the mirror to see his squeaky clean, youthful visage… and cue “Son of a bitch!”

His outburst garners a young girl’s attention.  She peers at Dean rhrough a hole in the adjoining wall between their cells.  She’s amazed that teen Dean is so calm and so deft. Of course she’s Tina.  She’s freaking out despite Dean’s take control attitude and advice to keep calm, “Stay calm? I’m a freakin’ tween, and you look like some One Direction reject. And we’re in some freaky serial-killer basement. I can’t…”  J.P. is in the same cell as Tina, huddled silently against the wall.

Creepy Guy stomps down the stairs, opens the cell housing Tina and, J.P. and hauls the screaming J.P. away.

Always the hero, Dean tells Tina that he will save her.  However a big piece of pink layer cake is pushed into their cells.  Somehow this derails teen Dean’s sense of everything.  He stops being the hero to dedicately eat the cake with his fingers.  He stops when Tina comments that it’s likely poisoned. First, who stops thinking about living and saving people,  saving the girl (!!!), for pink cake.  Cake!  When is Dean ever happy with cake. It’s pie that Dean cannot resist. Even then Dean Winchester would forego the pie to save lives.  They are clearly in danger of the supernatural kind.

We finally cut to Sam looking for Dean. He heads to the bar, calls Dean and hears Dean’s phone ring before the bartender shuts it off.  The dude is going through Dean’s jacket!  Sam gets rough with him, learning that the jacket was beside the dumpster.  He heads out there and finds Dean’s big leather bootie, and his gun.  The gun is covered with a yellow powder that smells like flowers.

Back at the dungeon, teen Dean is finally getting serious about escaping. Unfortunately, the big creepy guy is coming for him now.  Tina screams her head off to distract the big guy letting Dean escape after having quickly removed one little bar.  Presumably this leaves, Tina alone in a whole world of pain; however,  she trusts him to come back. She even admits that she read him wrong initially,  believing him to be just another drunk.  Dean of course corrects her saying he thinks of himself as a “functional alcoholic”.  I would amend that to highly functional alcoholic!

Meanwhile Sam is on the Internet learning that the flower, which he somehow identified as yarrow from the powder (?!!!), is used for transfiguration spells.  Anyhow, his reading is interrupted by a knock at the door.  He answers it to find teen Dean standing there like a teen heartthrob. Sam remains clueless until Dean unleashes a telltale, “Hiya Sammy”… And cue bitchface.

Sam really wants to know what happened despite actually having the information that tells him it was a transfiguration spell.  Teen Dean’s version is pretty close to homeless guy’s story, “Some  Scarface looking dude… bright light… next thing I know I wake up looking like Bieber.”

Dean hasn’t stopped moving since he entered the room.  He’s putting together a go bag to rescue Tina.  Sam is annoyed because he is having trouble dealing with this teen Dean deal and wants to talk; however Dean doesn’t want to waste time, “Really Sam, now? I got no grass on the infield and a girl’s gonna to die. Sorry if I’m not in a chatty mood, look you wanted me back in the game, I’m back in the damn game. Come on.”

There’s a cute scene where Dean picks up a lady’s keys and she complements Sam on his polite boy.  In the car, teen Dean has to move the seat to accommodate his short legs which is extremely uncomfortable for Sam who insists on driving.  He’s completely freaked out by teen Dean who is surprisingly calm if well aware of the downside to this strange fountain of youth,  He’s the seasoned, thirty something Dean in a teenager’s body. Dean seems most upset that he really liked a Taylor Swift song, he has zits, his voice is weird and weird he has absolutely no control over little Dean. 

The zany comedy portion of the episode now over they get back to business. Sam tells Dean that yarrow is used in witchcraft.  Dean assumes they’re good to fry themselves a witch.  Sam assumes that they will get Dean fixed. 

Oh my!  Dean shows Sam his unmarked arm.  Apparently the spell returned Dean to the body that he had at fourteen,  hence no darn Mark.  Dean is not sure he wants to return to his normal body although one has to assume that eventually the Mark would reappear, so it’s a short-term gap at the most.

Sam seems incredulous that Dean is considering staying fourteen; however Dean’s reasoning is solid, “… If it’s between being a psycho rage monster-slash-borderline demon or a teenager,” then yes… he’s considering it.

Dean’s upside is no Mark and a virgin liver to despoil. Sam enjoys pointing out that Dean cannot legally drink for seven more years.  In their world of false identification and credit card fraud how is this even a burn.

At the witch’s house Dean gets in a major zinger. He points out the window that he escaped from. Sam notes that “(he’s) way too big to fit in that.” Teen Dean doesn’t miss a beat, “First time you ever had to say that, huh?” Sadly Sam misses several beats as he epically bitchfaces before spitting out a lane retort implying little Dean has shrunken because big Dean shrunk, “Big talk coming from the dude wearing underoos.”  All in all I conclude that Sam has insecurities despite his height and that teen Dean knows  that he has no worries.  I also note that the Dude/Sweet dialogue doesn’t work for a man in his thirties.  Fans that want the brothers to act the way they did as young men should petition for a Teen Winchester spin-off.  Dylan Everett is certainly up for the challenge.

Teen Dean takes the window and Sam presumably breaks through a door.  The camera follows Dean as he surveys the basement.  He finds a skull and endless cobwebs before being accosted by Creepy Guy.   Luckily Sam knocks Mr. Creep out because teen Dean was clearly undersized and outmatched.

Creepy Guy is named Hansel and he’s been serving an evil witch for centuries.  She’s sooo evil that she made him eat Poor Gretel’s heart.  And with this exchange the writers’ can add a classic fairy tale to the numerous mythologies and much loved children’s tale that they have ill used by borrowing from in a lackadaisical manner. 

Despite the numerous flaws in its second season Sleepy Hollow has demonstrated extraordinary creativity in how it has used it’s borrowed material.  It really puts these Supernatural one-offs to shame.  Even Grimm which has mastered the art of presenting nearly identical rpusodes, week after week is more creative with their use of fairy takes.  Yeesh!  Supernatural isn’t even scary anymore.  They don’t even try to be scary.

Anyhow, for some reason both brothers took stupid pills before breaking in. They brag about being hunters and show off their witch killing molatov mojo.  He sells them a story about being forced to do bad things by the wicked witch.  He wants in on any witch frying that the brothers have in mind.

So instead of a clever twist where we suddenly figure out that this is straight out of the Brothers Grimm… Seriously why no adorable gingerbread house!… We get this lame twist where the brothers inexplicably believe that Hansel is on their side.

They burst into the kitchen where Tina is being regaled with the Witch’s culinary prowess.  J.P. is history… death by thin soup!  Tina is to be slow roasted with  sweet sauce and an apple in her mouth. 

The best thing about this episode besides Dylan Everett’s strong performance as teen Dean, is that the Witch is played by Lesley Nicol who also plays the Head Cook Mrs. Padmor on Downton Abbey.  She joyously chews scenery every second that she’s on screen.

The big bad witch cackles at teen Dean’s stupidity over returning to be eaten.  Hansel betrays the brothers, and the two baddies easily subdue the brothers for the time being.  

The witch explains why she abducts transformed adults rather than children (amber alerts and milk carton photos), as well as smacking her lips over the marbled yummy goodness of American children versus the gamey quality of Europeans.

For some bizarre reason she mentions that she was sent stateside by the Grand Coven to stop her old stupid friend Rowena.  Dean and Sam exchange glances and Dean asks if this is the same Rowena that has red hair and likes fancy hotels.  This raises the Witch’s ire and distracts her. 

The brothers make another move for freedom. Sam knocks Hansel to the ground and Teen Dean tackles him, eventually being thrown off, punched and kicked.  The witch disarms Sam with magic and nearly knocks him out when she tosses him against the wall with her magic telekinesis.  Kudos though for Sam remaining conscious for a change, albeit too groggy to do anything.

Hansel is very excited that the Hunters will burn.  He’s ordered to turn Sam but finds that his hex bag is missing when he tries to comply.  Teen Dean has it.  He’s flaunting it and he doesn’t hesitant to use it. There’s a bright light which momentarily stuns everyone in the room.  Before we know it Dean is back as lethal and badass as ever. 

There’s no question that the Mark is back too because he grabs the knife and kills Hansel quickly and then goes for the witch who is stuttering in fear.  Dean jams the hex bag in the witch’s mouth and stuffs her in the oven.  She screams as she’s burning so Dean coldly shuts the door, silencing her forever.  And that’s how stone cold Dean hot fries a witch!

Unfortunately without the hex bag Tina cannot easily be returned to her proper age.  Dean apologizes for using the hex bag to ensure a win. Happily Tina is philosophical about it. She admits that she was horrible at being an adult.  She reckons that she might get things right this time.  

Dean is melancholy at the talk of second chances.  I imagine he’s thinking that he will pay for his choices.  However he smiles and asks if she’s sure she will be okay. Then they take her to the bus station and give her a wad of cash.. Because that’s what responsible folks do?!!!

Actually this is completely irresponsible.  She’s maybe twelve, a very slight twelve.  Good grief!  Castiel showed more common sense regarding Claire. At least he sprung for some new clothes!  

Seriously! Considering Claire’s near rape and Dean’s story about being roofied I just cannot believe that the Winchesters are comfortable with this.  Suddenly they are the worst heroes ever. Where’s babysitter Garth when you need him?  How about Mama Tran or Krissy’s gang?  They have options to ensure that Tina is safe with a good home environment.

Lucky Dean gets a hug and a kiss from little Tina, who tells him that they will always have the Royale Hotel.  Of course this confuses Sam.   He’s probably wondering if Dean somehow got laid… and in what form.

Weirdly Sam has to ask about the Mark.   Whoa dude. You saw him get his kill on.  Those eyes were all stone cold killer.  Dean tells Sam that he had to turn back to save them.  Sam thanks him for saving Tina and him.  He refers to it as pulling a Dean Winchester.   Yeah it is totally a Dean Winchester thing to save people and hunt things… to kill things.

The brothers are good.   It’s a win for now and at least Dean didn’t “Hulk out”. Dean turns the radio on and leaves it on Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” despite Sam’s look of horror and disgust.   I feel like this is Glass’ passive-aggressive message to those thinking non tween fans that pollute the Internet with their criticism because they know lame writing and poor characterization when they see it.  Boo boo Princess Glass.

Additional Thoughts: 

Thanks to Adam Glass for telling this story without resorting to heavy handed anvils.

I certainly hope we won’t see a magical reboot that erases the Mark or a deus ex machina of any kind.  If this season is about choices, and consequences then Dean had better well learn to live with the Mark, even if and especially if it means he has to be demonic to maintain control.

Speaking if which what was the talk about being a “psycho rage monster/borderline demon”?  Calling himself a “borderline demon” pretty much describes demonic Dean from the first three episodes of the season. He had black eyes but he certainly wasn’t like any normal demon that we had met.

According to the dictionary ( a borderline demon is a de facto demon:

bor·der·line -ˌlīnadjective

: having some but not all characteristics of something

: not quite as severe as what is usual or expected

Did Dean just out himself as still being kinda sorta a demon?

Hmmm… what is Rowena doing that is over the top that the Grand Coven sanctioned her yet an unrepentant child cannibal runs free.  Will there finally be a story there beyond Crowley’s unfortunate childhood.

“About A Boy” also lends more weight to my speculation that magic will be employed in some form against Dean. He’s not immune to magic, although his Marked state probably factored in his, decisive victory over a powerful witch.

As I stated in my review of “There’s No Place Like Home” it is, looking like magic will be employed go help or to hurt Dean depending on the user.  However the likelihood of it working as desired is uncertain. Magnus in “Blade Runners” lost his head after trying to magically control Dean. The wicked witch tonight is also dead.  It may be that the hex worked because Dean was caught off guard. 

Any talk of hex bags leads us to the Queen of hex bags: Rowena. A Rowena/Dean match is as certain as Dean killing Metatron the next time that he sees him.
I also still see the possibility of Sam turning to magic to help his brother or stop him.

I previously wrote:

Altogether they give me the idea that powerful magic will be explored as a means to fix Dean.  I am not opposed to this in principle, although I think something older than lore, used by a powerful archangel and possibly originally created by God should not be removed by magic.  I suppose the Mark’s effects could be mitigated in a way that allows Dean to control the carnage and channel the bloodlust into hunting.

The thing that worries me is Sam getting sucked into black magic as a means to an end and throwing all caution, common sense and basic morality into the wind as a result.  This is the guy who was okay with virgin sacrifice if it benefited him in “Jus in Bello”, willing killed a possessed human to obtain more power in “Lucifer Rising” and willingly risked two human lives to trap a crossroads demon in “Soul Survivor”. Sam has been corrupted by power before and appears willing to do anything if he feels the ends justify the means.  Machiavellian is an understatement.

From Recap and Review: Supernatural 10:11 “There’s No Place Like Home”.

This, episode has, done nothing to dissuade me.

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