'Supernatural' Recap: The Third Wheel
One of the estimated 19 million things I admire about “Supernatural” is the delicate touches it puts in themed episode like "Hunteri Heroici"—a daffy ode to classic Saturday morning cartoons. To say that the writing and production departments go underappreciated is like saying that Dean Winchester merely likes beer. From Castiel overzealously stepping into his new profession as a hunter and "bad cop" to Dean climbing inside of a black hole, this week's episode of "Supernatural" was one ACME stick of dynamite away from cartoony bliss.
For anyone worried that Castiel would the third wheel to Sam and Dean's dynamic duo, the writers found the perfect balance between Castiel's eccentric, clueless angel and Sam and Dean's natural chemistry as long-time partners and brothers. Angels might be able to smell bladder infections from a corpse (ew!) and tune themselves to the frequencies of police scanners, but they don't have the intuition to suss out when their victim was having an affair and they don't have the instincts to know when to bust out the "bad cop" routine (or in Dean's case, the "whip out the hunting knife and threaten certain death" routine. It's still my favorite one).
Unfortunately and hilariously, even Sam and Dean's combined years of hunting experience had them both at a loss for what supernatural baddie was committing such strange murders in Oklahoma City—a man's heart beat right out of his chest at the sight of his current infatuation; a guy stepped off a building, floated in mid-air only to plummet to this death the moment he looked down; and a security guard was crushed by an anvil. With the help of local police, Sam was able to link the general zaniness to the patrons of a nursing home, where they found Fred Jones, a psychokinetic friend of their dad's back when Sam was "the scrawny one," not the behemoth who has to bend at the waist to kiss his woefully made-under girlfriend or shake her even shorter father's hand (Fun Fact: Amelia’s father was played by Brian Markinson, who played a friend of John’s in season 1’s “Phantom Traveler”). He's zonked out at the nursing home, hiding within the cartoonish dream world of his own creation rather than facing a life of growing old, and he's unaware that the doctor was using his incredible power of bending reality to mimic the cartoons he obsessively watches to steal from his patients and inadvertently kill others.
Dean and Castiel aren't sure how to stop Fred ("Providence's" Mike Farrell). They can't kill him as he is merely an person with supernatural powers succumbing to old age but they can't let him continue to hurt others with the "collateral weird." But it's Castiel and Sam who get 'er done while Dean engages in the world's weirdest stand-off between good and evil. "You brought a gun to a gag fight!" No, actually Dean brought an anvil, a psychokinetic and an angel, sucka!
Castiel beams them into the animated abyss he lives in now in what is probably the most ambitious and flawless feat of special effects ever attempted. It definitely makes up or the cheesy Purgatory portal in the last episode. Emo-Sam with those kicked-puppy eyes brings it home with good ole angst: "It can be nice living in a dream world. I know that. You can pretend all of the crap out there doesn't exist, but you can't do that forever. Eventually whatever it is you're running from, it'll find you. It'll come along and punch you in the gut...and trying to keep that dream alive will destroy you, it will destroy everything." Even with the Sam and Dean's world of two-bed motel rooms and decades of pop cult references that Castiel doesn't understand, he wasn't a third wheel, Sam was.