Supernatural, Ep. 7.06, “Slash Fiction”: Sam and Dean’s Greatest Hits, for better and worse
Supernatural Review, Season 7, Episode 6: “Slash Fiction”
Written by Robbie Thompson
Directed by John Showalter
Airs Fridays at 9pm (ET) on the CW
This week, on Supernatural: Sam and Dean get some bad press, Bobby gets some action, and the Leviathans get a chemical peel and a muffin basket
After an few missteps and last week’s only partial return to form, “Slash Fiction” has a lot of fans’ hopes for the season riding on it and, barring one scene, it delivers. This episode plays in many ways like a Supernatural Greatest Hits, drawing strongly upon memorable moments from seasons past, while managing to still feel fresh and fun. The conceit of the episode has been done before (a few times, actually), and successfully- the guys get into trouble with the police thanks to some pesky doppelgangers spoiling their good name. This should feel repetitive. It should prompt frustrated sighs and eye-rolls. Instead, smart writing and plotting come through with probably the best episode of the season so far.
This trip down memory lane works for a few reasons. First of all, and perhaps most importantly, it makes sense. It’s a simple and logical move for the Leviathans to make- they don’t care that Sam and Dean have faced shapeshifters before, so we shouldn’t either. The episode is also self-aware; it’s framed very specifically to reference earlier episodes of the series. The opening scene very closely mimicks the bank robbery scene from “Nightshifter”, the Leviathan doubles follow the route Sam and Dean took in season one, and Bobby must face down himself, much as Dean did in “Skin” (shapeshifter) and “Dream a Little Dream of Me” (nightmare) and as Sam did, well, quite a bit towards the end of season 5 (Lucifer). Supernatural is very good at knowing winks, at telling its audience, “Yes, we see it too- but wasn’t it fun last time? Why not do it again?”, and “Slash Fiction” is no exception.
Finally, it’s funny. It’s consistently funny in several different ways, from Kevin McNally’s entertaining turn as new contact Frank Devereaux (here’s hoping he comes back), to Dean’s secret love of Air Supply, to the meta comments from LeviSam and Dean. Watching Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles play comedy is always a treat, and the diner scene this week is particularly fun. It’s remarkable how much leeway a show can earn for itself by simply making sure its audience enjoys the ride. Of course, fun is also had by and with Crowley (who is only saved from having worn out his welcome by Mark Sheppard’s charismatic performance), and with the great Michael Hogan, who feels a bit wasted in such a small role. It’s also nice to see Kim Rhodes back, presumably to stay. It’s about time Bobby got a love interest, and Sheriff Jody Mills fits the bill nicely.
It’s no secret that many of Supernatural’s biggest successes have come from its comedic moments and episodes, but those moments only work when the right balance is struck, as it is here. Robbie Thompson’s script succeeds for many reasons, but a big one is that he doesn’t tone down the stakes. LeviSam and LeviDean don’t just break the law or get themselves on camera, they go on a brutal rampage. Yes, this episode is light on the trademark Supernatural gore, but we get enough to remind us of the threat the Leviathans pose and to illustrate just how much trouble the guys are in.
This is, one assumes, the purpose of the late scene with Crowley’s meeting with head Leviathan honcho Richard Roman. It will be interesting to see if Crowley pops back up in a big way this season, or if he keeps his nose out of it for once. If Sera Gamble and company are wise, they’ll rest the character a bit- for someone as supposedly self-serving as Crowley, he ends up helping out the Winchesters an awful lot. That doesn’t sit quite right. Also, while James Patrick Stuart is a fine actor and makes for a promising Big Bad, one can’t help but wonder what happened to Edgar and why we aren’t seeing more of Benito Martinez. If he has been written out, or is such a low-level villain as to be unimportant, why did we spend so much time with him?
The real problem with this episode, however, is its ending. With a different, better ending, “Slash Fiction” would be an excellent addition to the series and one of the better episodes of the past two seasons. Instead, we get the predictable Sam and Dean angst-fest that has been coming for weeks now. The problem isn’t the fight, the problem isn’t even how annoyingly repetitive this particular note feels, seven seasons in. The problem is their attempt to wring dramatic tension out of the prospect of a Sam and Dean split when we all know that in an episode or two, at most, they’ll be back on the road together, this fight forgiven, if not forgotten. Pretending otherwise is not only a false character beat, it’s lazy, and the writers should know better. Of course, the terrible scoring of that scene certainly doesn’t help things. Drawing from the dramatic and comedic successes of past seasons? Great. Repeating a significant dramatic beat without earning it, or promising any measure of consequences? No thanks. That being said, “Slash Fiction” is still a solid triple, if not a home run, and is certainly a promising look at what the rest of the season has to offer.
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