I’ll admit, when spoilers broke a few months ago that Kripke was going to do a body swap episode, I did my little Supernatural Happy Dance in front of the computer. (No, I will not post video.) Let’s face it, for practically five seasons, fandom has been bugging Kripke for body swap. And he finally relented! Peer pressure DOES work, kids!
However, there was a catch. To the fangirls (I’ll include myself in that group, despite last week’s review), the allure of the concept wasn’t in the body swap itself. No, it was about finding an excuse for Jensen Ackles to throw a couple Sammy-esque faces our way and for Jared Padalecki to pout his lips and look angsty. And sure, maybe Dean-as-Sam would run around and clog up Sam’s arteries with cheeseburgers, and maybe Sam-as-Dean would subject Deans’ body to yoga and feta cheese or something. But it was about flopping Sam and Dean into each others’ bodies and letting the actors play with the character mannerisms that we’ve all come to recognize and appreciate. So the moment I realized it was only Sam that was going to be subject to the body swap… well, my happy dance turned into more of a mopey sway.
Don’t get me wrong — I rather enjoyed the fact that Sam was stuck in the body of a seventeen-year-old frustrated, virginal, wanna-be warlock with a taste for Busty Asian Beauties and Star Wars. (Actually, except for the virginal part, that’s pretty much Dean.) I thought his goofy hoodies and khakis were adorably awkward. Jared Padalecki was clearly having fun in this episode. (Jensen… not so much. I think there’s a certain spark in him that dies when he’s not working with Padalecki in a scene.) Sam’s interactions with Gary’s father were pretty much what I would expect were he and John in the same room together. The analogies between Gary’s path and his own rebellious tendencies were heavy-handed, but boy do I love it when Sam gets all indignant and huffy about things other than Ruby and that whole “I started the Apocalypse” business. Given the fact that it wasn’t a Sam/Dean body swap, this was probably the best a viewer could have hoped for.
Overall, this week’s episode did a much better job of incorporating the Apocalypse arc into the story instead of completely trying to handwave it, as ‘Sam, Interrupted’ did. And better yet, it didn’t end with a Manly Emotional Moment either! Granted, I was still left scratching my head as to why the guys were bothering with their old babysitter’s paranormal issues when Lucifer is walking the earth, but at least a standard ghost hunt is theoretically less involved than infiltrating a mental institution. The fact that the demons had a bounty out on Dean makes sense — though if they knew he was Michael’s vessel ever since Season 4, I can’t imagine why the bounty wasn’t issued, like, as soon as he busted out of Hell. Also: not so sure that the dead body is such an issue (as Zach made clear in the season premiere). Taking Gary-as-Sam to Lucifer in order to get the big boss his Meat Suit was also an ingenious little twist.
So I have some quibbles with bounty setup and the fact that the voice that Dean heard on his voicemail, warning him of the body swap, was Sam’s and not Gary’s (everything was pretty consistent until then). Oh! And of course, the scene I really wanted to see was left out: what happened with the douchey guy friend’s parent got home and checked their basement. Really, guys? You’re just gonna leave the body there?
Actually, while I’m at it, I’ve got a letter I gotta get out in the air:
Dear Dean Winchester,
Your brother was exhibiting extremely odd, un-Sam-like behavior. Given your experiences with demonic possession, don’t you think it would have been a good idea to at least try spiking his beer with holy water? Or muttering a Christo or two? Hell, you coulda given him a silver knife to hold on the hunt. But no, nothing but a quizzical look or two. Gee, Sam sure is acting strange. Like, moreso than usual. Maybe he had a bad breakfast burrito this morning… [ME: OR MAYBE THERE’S SOMETHING SUPERNATURALLY WRONG WITH HIM, GIVEN HOW OFTEN THAT SEEMS TO HAPPEN TO YOU TWO.] I am extremely surprised that you’ve made it to your thirtieth birthday. Oh, wait… I guess technically you didn’t. Nevermind.
With much eye-rolling,
Generally an entertaining episode, but the last two have felt a bit like Hail Mary storylines. Kripke and the writers are tossing everything up in the air that they felt they needed to cover monster-wise (Haunted Loony Bin! Body Swap!) in the event that Season 6 doesn’t happen. While I appreciate the pandering, it doesn’t exactly make for a coherent storyline. But given the choice between Jared Padalecki in a too-small fast food uniform and a sharp stick in the eye, I’ll take the Sasquash any day.
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