Sunday, April 24, 2011

Supernatural - 6.18 - Frontierland - Recap

Previously, Samuel Colt made the world's largest Devil's Trap (Does Guinness know about this?) , Dean time traveled to 1973, Eve came from Purgatory and created the herpes worm but she was all talk and no action

In Sunrise, Wyoming on March 5, 1861, standard spaghetti western music plays on a dusty deserted street. Two cowboys with spurs that jingle-jangle standoff while nervous townspeople appear through windows. Apparently 3 people live in Sunrise. The cowboys dramatically draw back their coats in tandem and we flash onto a Sheriff badge. Well howdy Sheriff Dean. He looks intensely as a clock nears noon. Yep, it's an old-fashioned showdown. Guns are drawn but we fade to a map of old Wyoming. Bwah! It's a Bonanza-style title card. As flames burn the middle, a flaming yellow "Supernatural" appears, before the discordant sound of the usual glass breaking. They always get the title sequence for "very special" episodes dead right. Love it!

48 hours earlier and 150 years later (thanks place card), the brothers and Bobby (hereafter called the Winchester clan) search the once busy Campbell compound. I know the Campbells are dead, but why did everyone else leave. It was a well-defended, nicely stocked crazy compound. I would have stayed. However, it works well for the plot and the Winchester clan under Sam's direction find the trap door to maybe the best hunting library on earth. It's a solid concrete bunker with full electricity, making the door cobwebs and Dean's flashlight use incongruous. Pictures of past Campbells decorate the wall. The bonneted woman looks tough! Dean wonders what they're looking for, and Bobby answers, "Anything that will put a run in the Octomom's stockings." Bwah! Pop culture humor already. Always a good sign. They each pick a row, and it looks like Bobby's the scavenger hunt winner when he asks about phoenixes. Dean: "River, Joaquin, or the giant flaming bird?" Ha! Sam laughs with me. Bobby finds that phoenix ashes can burn the mother. Problem? No phoenix. Music of 70's police work montage resumes so Bobby doesn't get the prize.

Dean delights over a book so it's either porn or he found something good. Since he looks at Bobby and Sam and covertly grins, it's the latter. He'd share porn. Dean suddenly wins the scavenger hunt with Samuel Colt's journal, which mentions killing a phoenix on March 5, 1861 in Sunrise, Wyoming. Ah, things make sense. Sam is superstoked about the journal too, but like any good older brother, Dean pulls it away, telling him to get his own. Bobby refocuses them. Alas, it contains no details about the phoenix so Dean suggests they ride Castiel's Time Traveling Mystery Bus again. Except he uses a Star Trek IV reference. Gotta admit, I never saw Dean as a Trekker, so I blame his year in suburbia. Maybe Sid the neighbor guy invited him to a Star Trek marathon. And he calls Sam a nerd? Bobby: "I only watch Deep Space Nine." Bwah! I'm with Dean, "It's like I don't even know you guys anymore." Dean lays out his plan. Bobby: "Time travel. That's a reasonable plan?" Dean calls down Cas with one of his patented irreverent prayers. "Castiel, the fate of the world is in the balance. So come on down here. C'mon Cas, I Dream of Jeannie you’re a** down here pronto. Please." At least this time he said please.

Surprise! It's not Cas. He sent his angel lieutenant Rachel in his stead. She asks how she can help and Dean pulls first attitude, insisting that he wants Castiel. Get a grip Dean. He's not at your beck and call. Dean: "Busy. Well, we've got a line on the Mother of freaking everything.." Rachel cuts him off. "I'm sure your issue is very important.." Snap! I kind of like her. She's like a witchy customer service person whose words say, "I'm here to help" but actually means "You are interrupting my lunch you, insignificant peon. Take your issues elsewhere." Rachel tells them to mind their place and Dean mouths off on their importance and Sam says they're friends. Rachel: "I think you call him when you need something." I agree. Neither Cas nor the Winchesters treat each other like friends. They mostly use each other and there's little gratitude between them. The saving grace is it works both ways. Sam says they get Cas is fighting a war. Rachel: "Clearly you don't or you wouldn't call him every time you stub your toe, you petty, entitled little…." I know people must be irked by Rachel, but she's right. It reminds me of the smack down Bobby gave them in Weekend at Bobby's. While she has less right to deliver it, she isn't any less right in what she's saying.

Cas interrupts Rachel, sending her on her not-so-merry way. Dean snarks about her and I want to slap him because he obviously did not get the point. Cas looks pretty weary these days and explains to Sam and Bobby the brothers only have 24 hours due to partial differential equations. Bobby suggests he "aim lower" and head tilts toward Sam. Bwah! I thought Sam was the smart one in this trio. Basically time travel retrieval gets trickier the farther back you go. Dean returns from Wally's Western World and Sam's protesting face has me cackling. Dean argues Sam will stick out in his clothes but Sam counters that not everyone's as obsessed with the Wild West as Dean. Bobby's stunned Dean can quote Clint Eastwood's monkey movies; I find it sad but funny. Sam to agree to the shirt but I'm surprised. It has hideous gold decals on the shoulders, but that's nothing compared to the full Hollywood western garb Dean's sporting, complete with serape. Cas: "Is it customary to wear a blanket?" Funniest Cas line in ages! Bobby gives them gold because where they're "going they don't take plastic." Dean's so giddy about the west, I can't help but grin along with him. Cas gives them the forehead knock…

…and we're in Sunrise, Wyoming. Sam's digital watch already violates every time travel code ever written. He starts a 24 hour countdown while Bobby does the same thing at his place. Dean suggests they hit the saloon to get info and hot saloon girls. Sam calls him "Sundance" and promptly steps in horse manure. Dean: "Authenticity." Sam and I think "gross". Instead they walk into the hanging of Elias Finch, who swears to kill the three responsible for his death. Something more's going on here. A miscellaneous person in the hanging mosh pit insults Dean's serape and I feel sorry for the man. He was just trying to get into the spirit of things and now he's so embarrassed he takes it off. Sam offers a somewhat sympathetic smirk. Yikes! The outfit underneath makes me hope he keeps the blanket.

They head to the sheriff's where Dean is renamed Marshall Clint Eastwood, complete with badge, and Sam becomes Walker of the Texas Rangers. Good call. High lonesome music twangs in the background before the judge makes fun of Dean's too-clean shirt. I silently make fun of it too because I swear people line dance in that thing. Sam redirects everyone to Samuel Colt but they point Dean and Sam to saloonkeeper Elkins. Let's just say no wild party's going on. One snoring drunk and 2 um, ripe saloon girls are not the stuff of Dean's dreams. "This is not awesome." Aw, poor Dean. He orders a whiskey for himself and a sarsaparilla for Sam of which Sam gets the best deal. Dean: "It's like gasoline." Sam: "Sarsaparilla ain't half bad." Ha! Elkins says Colt was around 4 years ago but is now creating a railroad in the middle of nowhere. Darla, the best whore in Slick Jim's Saloon, hits on Dean. Considering she sports a wicked rash, bad teeth, and screams of STD's, Dean's "don't touch me" reaction makes a lot of sense. Sam sports a "Yikes" look. Dean: "This is so much more germier than I pictured." Ha! He's rescued by the judge who has a date with a less-than-thrilled Darla. "Wow! That was a close one."

A scream erupts from Darla's room and Hanged Finch makes good on his promise. He touches the judge who burns and crumbles to dust. Nice special effects here. Cowboy twang howls as the brothers find a pile of steaming bones. Darla says it was a ghost, but the sheriff thinks Finch wasn't hung properly since ghosts don't leave footprints. Yep, the Winchesters are on grave digging duty. The sheriff needs a posse and Dean is all over that. Another dream come true? The sheriff says they meet at dawn but to get real cowboy clothes first. Ha! At Finch's grave, they don't need a shovel. He burned his way out of the casket. Dean: "You know maybe we're not looking for a flaming bird. Maybe the phoenix is actually walking around in cowboy boots." Whoa! I should have guessed it after the dragon people but it completely shocked me. I love it! Dean tells Sam to get the Colt from Samuel Colt while Dean stays with the posse. "You know me; I'm a posse magnet." Dean's facial expressions crack me up. Sam scolds like a teacher with a naughty kid and Dean looks down but still smirks under his hat. Sam wonders about transportation when Dean hears a horse neighing. They trade gold for a horse and Dean instructs Sam on horseback riding. (The Madsen women: "Is he back to riding a Mustang?" "No! He's stuck with a Pinto!" Me: snickering) Sam tries to mount on the right of the horse and Dean suggests going on the left. Did he really learn that from westerns? Hm. Sam awkwardly rides off; Dean mutters, "That poor horse." Bwah! Great scene. Meanwhile, the sheriff tries to leave town when stopped by Finch. Second verse same as the first, except the sheriff finds that bullets don't hurt Finch.

At the Derelict Warehouse of Secret Meetings, Rachel summons Cas. She's heard rumors of Cas' "dirty little secret" and I think we'll finally get answers on those "regrettable things" he spoke of. But no. Cas did something in the angel war that Rachel doesn't agree with. Rachel: "We put our faith in you and look what you are turning into." What's he turning into, Rachel? Cas claims "no choice" and Rachel swings an angel blade in his ribs. Cas' fighting has improved greatly and he makes short work of Rachel. Black feathers float above the imprint of her blue-black wings. Cas: "I'm sorry." Me too. I want more info. If you shove random angel plots at us at least make us care. Plus, for all the hype, Rachel's only in 2 scenes. We joke about women not lasting long on Supernatural, but that's ridiculous. It's only 21 minutes in. White soul light pours from Cas' wound and he hightails it to Bobby's where he does Enochian finger painting on Bobby's fridge. Not sure that's exactly fridge artwork, Cas. He promptly passes out.

The next morning Dean arrives for the posse and Elkins compliments his new clothes. "I look good." Fangirls all over the world agree with you. Dean thinks he's early for the posse. Elkins: "Or you're the only greenhorn dumb enough to go chasing after a ghost." Ha! I like Elkins. Not so much the continual music, but it enhances the authenticity of western bliss. Dean: "What are you talking about? Sheriff's tough as nails. He'll be here." Judging from the bags he slung on that horse last night, you give him too much credit, Dean. Off screen someone shout that the sheriff's dead (anyone know whose voice that is?). Elkins wipes off the sheriff's badge on top of the bones and pins it on Dean. "Congratulations Sheriff." Dean looks a lot less thrilled than you'd think.

We pan in on a dusty cabin, home to a researching, drinking Samuel Colt. Two men burst in and yes, they're demons. Dumb demons who have obviously not learned of THE Colt. Elkins tries to deter them. "Listen, I've long since hung it up. I'm tired and I'm too damn old for this and I'm sure as hell not looking for any trouble." Ha! Hunters are cranky in every generation. The demons want Colt to open the devil's gate so after another warning, Colt shoots them with the Colt. Sadly, he broke his whiskey bottle in the process. Apparently, hunters are drunks in every generation too.

Flipping back to Sunrise, Victim #3 packs for his sister's. Dean falsettos, "Candy gram for Mongo." Bwah! Blazing Saddles reference. Victim's not the sharpest tool and opens the door. Did candy grams even exist back then? Dean: "Howdy pilgrim." "I ain't no pilgrim." Or a John Wayne fan. Still, it's 46 years before his birth so you're excused. Both pull guns on each other and Dean quips, "Is that any way to uh, greet your new boss?" He overcame his job phobia and plays sheriff to the hilt now. Dean calls himself a one-man wolf pack, which I guess is from The Hangover, an odd choice to quote in a western. Dean recaps the previous 2 deaths for those just joining in and normally I would roll my eyes, but I love the effects so I'm good. Victim #3 wants to run. Dean: "You really think you can outrun him? He's going to kill you. Unless…" What? "Unless we gank him first." Unfortunately, gank is not in the old west lexicon or the dictionary. Dean: "I'm not asking you to throw down with him. I'm asking you to play your part." That's bait.

As Samuel Colt returns from burying demons, Sam pops in - bad timing, Sammy. He gets a shirt full of Holy Water from a cautious Colt. Samuel Colt meet Sam Winchester. Who's next? Sammy Uzi. Sam proves his future status by handing Colt his cell phone. Sam, did you not read your time travel rulebook? No bringing new toys into old worlds. Skynet might take over. Colt is surprisingly accepting of the situation. "Well, when you've done this job as long as I have, a giant from the future with some magic brick doesn't exactly give you the vapors." BWAH! I love Samuel Colt. Sam tells Colt about the phoenix, but he never knew they existed. Hmmm. Odd! Sam shows him his journal which does get a reaction. "I'm either too drunk or not drunk enough." You and me both because the journal looks as shiny new as Dean's former shirt. Shouldn't it be falling apart? Colt is retired; the Winchesters are on their own. Sam says hunters can't retire, but since he already has that argument doesn't works. Sam calls him a hero, but when it doesn't sway him, Sam demands the gun. "What gun?" Sam: "THE gun." "Oh, that gun. I lost it in a game of stud." (snicker) Sam calls him out with logic, but Colt calls the gun a curse and won't give it up. Sam unleashes the unrelenting power of disappointed puppy eyes and demands it.

It's now T-minus 1 hour and Cas looks hung over on Bobby's couch. According to director Guy Norman Bee, a gag with Bobby using jumper cables on Cas was planned here. Instead, Cas spins a story of a Raphael-corrupted Rachel, whom he had to kill. It's possible there's truth in that, but really? You're one shady angel now Cas. I thought Lucifer was the father of lies. Cas used the fridge fingerpaint to protect them from angels and he'll gradually heal. Bobby: "Well, good cuz we've got less than an hour before you pick up the kids at Frontierland." Bwah! It's like Disneyland. Except Cass is too drained to get them. Bobby: 'Well, if you're up on blocks, then call in another halo who can get the job done." Spoken like a true mechanic. Bobby asks what rejuices an angel and shocker, someone else wants to play with his soul. It has more playmates than the Jolie-Pitt family. Bobby is anti-soul deal for good reason, but Cas just wants to touch it. I'm soooo glad this line was directed at Bobby instead of Dean or we would never hear the end of it. Cas: "The human soul, it's pure energy." So 50,000 souls must generate a lot of energy - if you soul-torture all of them. Not liking where my head's going with this one. Plus, Bobby will explode if Cas doesn't do it just right. Let's hope Cas is better at Operation than I am. Bobby: "Well…keep both hands on the wheel." Bobby, you are the greatest Winchester to never have the name.

Back at the OK Corral…er…Sunrise, Wyoming, Sheriff Dean waits impatiently for Sam. It's 11:50 and he has locked Victim #3 in a cell. Dean asks why Finch wants him dead and I agree that hanging wasn't the deal breaker. Finch appears right on time and demands Dean open the cell. Dean says Finch could tear it apart himself and throws a nail at him. It burns his hand. Iron and phoenixes don't mix. Makes sense why he couldn't escape before he was hung. Dean: "Don't worry. Most monsters I meet can't get it up for iron. It's a common monster problem." Finch: "So you're a hunter." He tells us that Victim #3 tried to rape his wife and then shot both her and Finch when he tried to rescue her. She died in his arms. That's it; you're no Victim. You are hereby called Phoenix Kill. I hate sympathizing with the monster. Finch asks if Dean will die for Phoenix Kill. Dean: "Honestly, I couldn't care less about him. He's a d** and a coward, but this ain't about him. I know what you are…so I gotta kill you." Well, that sucks out loud. Finch pulls a gun from a holster on the wall and shoots Phoenix Kill. I cheer. "Wow, I should have seen that coming." Dean jumps out the window and races down the alley. Sam pops up just in time and hands Dean the Colt. I guess not even Samuel Colt can withstand disappointed puppy eyes. Dean: "Hello beautiful." Welcome, substitute Impala.

Back at the House of Trucker Soul Torture, Bobby's ready. "Well, we can't just strand those idjits in Deadwood, can we?...Just don't explode me." Bobby bites down on a belt as a weakened Cas shoves his hand through Bobby's belly. Screaming ensues. I'm buying Bobby a World's Greatest Dad mug. He totally deserves it. And we're back at Hang 'Em High. Dean calls out for Finch in his best guttural sheriff voice. Sam: "What are you doing?" Ha! Poor Sammy. Your brother's living the dream and you're stuck in this nightmare. I always wondered why bad guys didn't shoot as soon as they saw the idiot hero standing in the road. Westerns never made a lick of sense to me. Still, Finch follows the game plan and we're back to the opening scene. Finch: "So this is how you want to die. Fine." The eye close ups are fantastic and shooting commences. Dean's intense face reminds me of when he shot Tom and YED. The phoenix flames out and explodes in ash. There's a Die Hard quote not suitable for family-friendly print. Sam yells for Dean to get the ashes as Cas' eyes shoot out light. Dean drops the Colt and races for the ashes…

…but it's too late. They zap back to Bobby's house and Dean wants to go back. No dice. Both Cas and Bobby are out of juice. Cas: "I never want to do that again." Well, it explains why they don't redo the same plan tomorrow. That's the problem with time travel stories. If you don't succeed the first time, wait awhile, grab a lunch or a nap, and try it again. There's no urgency. Dean asks about Bobby. "I'm still kicking Annie Oakley. Be back good as new in a decade or two." Dean has high guilt face, apologizing for his fun getting in the way of the job. At least, I think that's where it's going, but we're saved by the bell. The W Courier Express delivers a package to Sam they've had forever, yadda yadda. In short, this is either an homage to Back to the Future or the anvil of plot contrivance landed on my head. Since my ears are ringing, I pick the latter. My harping on how much I hate this ending will only kill the buzz of those who have this episode in their top 5 ever, so let's just say this is the biggest cop-out Supernatural has done in a long time. Right up there with Insta-Morning. The package from Samuel Colt includes Sam's phone, a note, and of course, the ashes of a phoenix. (cue heavy eye roll) Dean: "You know what this means." Bobby: "Yeah, I didn't get a soulonoscopy for nothing." Ha! Me: "The writers couldn't come up with a good ending." Dean nods: "Yes, and it means we take the fight to her." The theme of western justice drives us home as Dean puts his cowboy hat back on.

For those whose absolute love for this episode makes it hard to hear criticism, stop reading or skip to the next paragraph. Fair warning. I admit it. I wasn't near as excited for this episode as everyone else was. I'm not a fan of westerns and I didn't fangirl out over cowboy hats and spurs. For me, it's just another in a long line of Winchester costumes. (By the way, I wasn't excited over the priest costumes either.) I was in fact worried about the episode's placement. We are so close to the end of season 6 and still no movement to make Eve evil instead of just saying she is. Right now she's worse than Lucifer as a Big Bad and all he did was whine. This episode did nothing to assuage my Eve fears and that's my main criticism. Although there was reason to go back in time, it still screams "fun episode" we're doing because it's cool. Supernatural is known for these and I love them. Just stop airing them at season's end when there are far more important issues to cover. Call me an impatient fan, but I'm also tired of hints about Castiel but nothing else. Unless it ties back to Eve in the next 4 episodes, and it very well might, this storyline should have wrapped mid-season to allow time to establish a main evil. I love this season. I am thrilled with how it's going, but even I understand the frustration of fans who are tired of too many balls in the air and not enough closure. I trust Sera Gamble, so I trust the payoff will be huge and satisfying, but right now I'm unsettled. It feels like we'll be racing towards a conclusion that doesn't have enough time to develop. As for the episode itself, my biggest problem is the cheesy ending. It didn't even hit cheestastic; it was merely sad and sucked some of my enthusiasm from the episode. It's like the writers couldn't find a satisfactory finale so went the brain dead route, an ending unworthy of a great episode. I also wonder if the season is coming to a "wrong thing for the right reasons" head. Bobby betrayed Dean about RoboSam to let him keep his domestic life. Cas has done who knows what to win the angelic war. Dean and Sam lie to each other constantly because they think they're protecting each other. Now Dean kills a monster, not because it's a bloodthirsty killer, but because they need its ashes to kill Eve. Besides already hammering this theme to death in season 4, the whole thing is troubling and screams of future hypocrisy when they finally confront Cas.

That being said, there is much I loved about this episode. It would be in my top 8 of the season. The humor was dead on. From the one-liners to facial expressions to body language, everything was designed to thrill fans. You could see the glee on Dean's face which was delightfully contagious. Sam's awkwardness with the west and hero worship of Samuel Colt were fun too. Director Norman Guy Bee should be congratulated for bringing an authentic feel to the episode. The sepia tones were a big highlight for me and even that horrendous, headache-inducing spaghetti western music fit perfectly. I loved the staccato shots and quick close-ups that viscerally emphasized time moving. It reminded me of classic films with John Wayne and Gregory Peck. This was a beautifully made episode, perhaps one of the best. I also liked watching Cas finally do something questionable instead of just getting hints. I won't lie; my greatest season 7 hope is that we're truly done with the angel storyline. I want what's ever happening to finish quickly and move on. We took a baby step in that direction tonight. I also loved every scene Bobby was in but nothing new there. He is increasingly being shown as the father the Winchesters never had. He sacrifices himself for them and shows his love through his actions if not his words. In fact, he's practically up for sainthood and that makes me very, very nervous…in a delighted, self-torturing way. No killing kids; no killing Bobby!

Next week: Eve tries her hand at truck stop waitress and makes herself a Mary demon. That ought to be sufficiently angsty for the brothers. Methinks the fun is at an end.

Screencaps by Jillyanne and Supernatural Caps.
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  1. I'm as much a western lover as Dean, so even the kinda meh ending couldn't ruin it. It had me practically squeeing and giggling the whole time.

  2. I think most people felt the way you did.  I have no love for westerns but I was enjoying this episode for the most part until the painfully bad ending.  Thanks for commenting.