This was the best of episodes; this was the worst of episodes. What I mean is that “Just My Imagination” was a solid script by writer Jenny Klein that mined the same vein of cuckoo black humor that old school writer Ben Edlund was known for, producing dark, zany classics for Supernatural as well as other shows, for instance the spectacular “Smile Time” (Angel).
As do all of the best Supernatural episodes, the script combined mytharc, Winchester backstory, Winchester character beats, plot anvils, good monster world building, pop cultural bon mots and more than a dollop of black humor. There was a lot to like, especially everything to do with the benevolent zanna. It is high time the Winchesters encountered a supernatural creature that was good. Also everything to do with the spectacular death tableau of the fantabulous Sparkles was sublime and Weems’ air guitar moment was priceless.
However that ill-advised runaway train to Hell that Sam currently is on drives me crazy. I hate that he is falling back on stupidity and hubris in his desperatIon to fix the big bad mess he made last season when he went dark to save Dean. After spending the entirety of season 10 playing the Greek chorus to Sam’s very flawed tragic hero, I am in no mood to wash and repeat as he does something far worse. Sam knows Lucifer is evil. Sam knows people suffered and died the last time Lucifer walked the Earth. Jody lost her family in the worst way for goodness sake! Ellen and Jo died trying to stop Lucifer.
I am so with Dean on this one. No he really doesn’t give Sam the mouthful that I would have because he is a man of few words; however, if looks could kill…
It will be a train wreck of epic proportions! The train whistle at the end of the episode as Sam looks pensive is proof positive of the impending doom. Kudos to Alycat, denizen of IMBD and Winchester Family Business, for noticing this foreboding repetitive harbinger of doom. Release the devil once, kudos to the long con. Release the devil twice, shame on Sam Winchester. Bah humbug! I was so invested in his redemption arc and it hurts to see him spin in a circle back to his default setting. Writers please let this character grow.
I really hate the fact that the writers had this grown man use his childhood imaginary friend, a woefully incompetent one at that, enable the worst decision of Sam’s life. Weems and I are in accord. Its unbecoming for a man to resort to a childish thing. Writers please let Sam grow into a responsible adult. I am one hundred percent behind his apology to Sully for badly hurting him as a callous and selfish child. Could an apology to his saintly brother be far off I wonder. Sam’s rudeness to Sully reminded me a lot of his rudeness to Dean in seasons 8-10. Anyhow… both actors did a great job with the emotional meat of the scene.
A high point of the episode was the tension between Dean and Sully which was played for humor. Both distrusted each other and both won each other over in the end because they each have Sam’s best interests at heart. And in the end Dean’s speech to Reese helped save Sully’s life. That and Sully’s heartfelt apology and,willingness to fully accept blame. Oh yeah… and a big hug.
As ridiculous as this ending to our zanna serial killer story seems, the plot anvils are loud and clear. Reese is a mirror for another very powerful angry wronged woman. Somehow I don’t think a hug from God and a sincere apology is going to appease Amara, although Dean will try to talk her down without a doubt. More importantly, Reese was right to be angry at Sully and I believe Amara is right to be angry at God. She probably deserves that apology.
I am a little bit worried that Sully offered his life to Reese to stop her killing rampage. Sully is associated with Sam and there is both text and subtext to suggest Sam is dying this season. Per my review of “Our Little World”, I believe Dean can retake the Mark to lock away Amara with an act of biblical sacrifice. Not only is Sam desperate to fix his mistake, just as Sully was, but he offered himself for execution by his brother in “My Brother’s Keeper.” Oh me, oh my.
The “Monsters” in this monster of the week episode were heroes for the way that they saved children, and put their charges’ interests first. John Winchester’s behavior is monstrous in comparison. John’s actions cause Dean to assume adult responsibility including hunting as a young child. It is no wonder Dean is repulsed by the childlike and sparkly zanna initially. Their charm appeals to children and Dean lost his childhood when his mother died and his father changed into a revenge obsessed killer. As for Sam, he was wounded by John’s attempts to protect him from the supernatural because it meant he was left out of the family business, an outsider in his family and too often left alone. This backstory of course gave Sam his need to prove himself worthy no matter what the cost; and enter Lucifer rising the first time. Please not again Sam, for the love of all that is holy! Do not be the devil’s puppet.
Sully was a fantastic character who interacted well with both brothers. We have Sully to thank for grumpy, bad cop, inappropriate Dean all of which were in full force throughout the episode. The interactions between Sam and Sully were quite touching overall. Sully was there to support Sam in spades, no matter what. It was cute to see him strive throughout The gore to stay strong for Sam. Sam opened up to Sully in a way we have never seen before. We finally got an explanation as to why Sam hunts. He hunts because of his family and for his family. He hunts now for Dean. It explains why he left hunting when Dean was in Purgatory and it makes sense finally why he is now invested in the family business. I wish he hunted for Sam though.
A knife wielding serial killer fits right in with our season of grindhouse/ B-horror tropes. Richard Speight did a good job of visually paying homage to the genre.
This episode was rich in Deanisms. In addition to the glorious portmanteau of “manicore” and Dean’s unabashed delight at thinking of it, we saw Dean repeatedly going “low” in his humorous quips, and flipping barbs to Sully to torment him. Dean associated us with a myriad of well placed pop culture references. Dean refers to Sully as Mork because his outfit is reminiscent of the clothing worn by Robin Williams’ titular alien (“Mork and Mindy”) as well as Toblerone, Totoro, Bozo (the Clown) and Drop Dead Fred. Dean refers to the dead mermaid Zanna as Ariel (“The Little Mermaid”). Dean refers to their psychologist garb as “the Bert and Ernie pretext”. Their psychologist aliases were Strummer and MacGowan from punk rock legends Joe Strummer (“The Clash”) and Shane MacGowan (“The Pogues”).
Jenny Klein’s script was good except for a pothole or two (why wasn’t Sparkles buried?!), Sully pumping up Sam so he could run off and do something, that’s both dangerous and stupid, and the zany zanna serial slasher that just needed a hug. Nate Torrence played Sully with aplomb. Both leads also brought their A-game. I felt sympathy for Sam despite his current path to doom and damnation. Dean’s frustration at the cutesy-pie zanna was hilarious and sad because we know he had to throw away childish things at the age of four. Dean’s begrudging acceptance of Sully and posse, after tormenting him for most of the episode, was beautifully revealed.
Reese was hunting zanna out of revenge. It’s also rare that we get to see the dark side of hunting. I can only recall two other instances where hunters were killing without thought because of emotional pain: Gordon in season 2 and Sam and Martin in season 8.
The THEN sequence was awesome. Finally someone remembered that Dean can see fairies (“Clap Your Hands if You Believe”).