The Super Sleepy Dispatch

Recap and Review of Supernatural 11:5 “Thin Lizzie”

By P.S. Griffin

I think I died and went to my special heaven where reruns of Supernatural’s fourth season play non stop.   “Thin Lizzie” is a return to the type of writing that made Supernatural great.  Nancy Won’s first script was tight, with fluid dialogue, vivid characterizations, humor, borror and canon.  it even had funny and relevant hard rock and pop culture references.   I wasn’t a fan of Dean being ignorant about marsupials (eye roll at persistant use of the dumb Dean trope), but all in all… me likey!  Ditto to Rashaad Ernesto Green’s excellent direction.  The episode rolled along, possessed great atmospheric details and created many outstanding vignettes of a lit area pent rating into the Darkness.

The episode continued the season’s thematic approaches to storytelling.  We have references to both the Wizard of Oz which per my discussion of “Out of the Darkness, Into the Fire” is the framework that holds, the season together, as all of ou characters are on journeys of self-explanation and heroism.  We also see the continuation of the garden motifs that followAmara’s story, signifying her femininity and the act of creation.

The red herring of a ghost case enabled us to see the Winchesters at their best investigating and debunking the faux spectral shenanigans at Lizzie Borden former house, now a B&B.  Whilst Sam is investigating yet another axe murder, Dean uncovers that Amara has grown into a young girl and has been in town feeding on souls.  

The episode includes a large number of grindhouse/exploitation cinema tropes including the presence of two female murderers in the episode,  a killer babysitter, a serial axe murderer, drug dealers,  adultery, child abuse, dive bars and the sensational aspect of the crimes themselves.  Both Lizzie Borden and the Babysitter are presented as wronged women and Lizzie may have been wrongly accused; therefore they are both mirrors for Amara’s story.  Likewise, as noted in my review of “Baby”, the heavy use of grindhouse/exploitation themes strongly suggests that Amara is just another wronged woman seeking revenge. 

Nonetheless she remains a formidable big bad because of her great power and great hunger to consume souls.  Unlike most seasonal villains she possesses empathy for the futility of the human condition (“The Bad Seed”) and the emotional pain and physical decay of a lived life.  She isn’t interested in taking everyone’s soul either. Initially she told the babysitter not to drive drunk because it was dangerous and alleviated her pain by providing instant bliss making Sidney to feel like “ecstasy, orgasm, chocolate cake”.  Amara only takes Sidney ‘ s soul when she tells Amara she is an angel or “whiny winged suck up” as Amara calls them.   She may consume human souls out of personal need or misguided belief she’s helping them; however,  it’s angels that she really hates and angels that will feel her true wrath.

Amara’s powers include sensing Dean’s presence in town. She watches unseen as the Winchesters have a well earned brothers moment eating on the hood of their car.  Sam expressed deep fear about the Darkness.  Dean admits his time with her was quiet, but then the soul suckling and deaths changed things. It seems as if Dean enjoyed being with Amara but knows he has to kill her because that’s what they do with Supernatural beings that prey on humanity; unlike Sam and despite the stories, Dean wassn’t afraid

The other soulless victim we meet is Len, a needy and gentle Lizzie Borden super fan that gently chides Amara for being out alone.  Amara doesn’t like to be told what to do (poor Uncle Crowley).  Len loses his soul and has been going through the motions of his former life, a lost “robot puppet man”.  Len is one of the best standalone characters that the show has produced in years and is reminiscent of the Mandroid fearing Ronald from “Nightshifter”.  Len not only served as black humor and a comic foul for Grumpy Dean, the character eloquently explained exactly what it was like to be soulless and helped the viewer to understand the disparate behavior from soulless humans we have witnessed since the show overdosed on Soulless Sam in season 6.  He also doesn’t immediately resort to killing, probably because life hasn’t shaped him into a killer.  He decribes a forboding image to Dean to illustrate how being soulless feels to him; “it’s like something’s hatching inside of me. Something dark. With wings.”  A dove or other bird has often been used to represent the soul in art and iconography and a white dove white is the standard iconography for the holy spirit.  However I don’t think Len is speaking about being influenced by the Darkness per se.  He’s talking about the rise of dark impulses from the Id without the moral and ethical constraints imposed by the soul (super-ego).  I still don’t understand why soulless folks cannot eat or sleep, however placing soullessness within the structure of The Freudian structural model of the human psyche makes a lot of sense to me (,_ego_and_super-ego).

I liked the reminder that Sam has a serial killer fetish.  It’s interesting that Amara does too however that’s because she relates to Lizzie and Sidney as abused or wronged women, with Lizzie being one who exacted her revenge on those that harmed, hampered and replaced her.  The murders happened after Mr. Borden took a new wife and financially favored the new family ( There are also unsubstantiated reports of physical and sexual abuse.

Rock references include their FBI pseudonyms of Agents Collins and Gabriel from Genesis,  apropos considering the biblical allusions this season; Molly Hatchet, the bar where Amara meets the babysitter, and of course the episode’s title, “Thin Lizzie” although the band spells it Thin Lizzy.

There were pop culture references to The Wizard of Oz, The Shining, The Wire, Sherlock Holmes, Casper the Friendly Ghost, The Purge and others. All felt natural within the story and dialogue. Some of the other writers should take note.

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