Supernatural, Ep. 7.18, “Party on, Garth”: Fun fluff balanced with a late-episode wallop
This week, on Supernatural: Garth likes hot tubs, Sam likes self-delusion, and Dean likes microbrews.
When the ever-reliable DJ Qualls showed up for an earlier episode this season as Garth, he was utterly wasted. What a lovely surprise, then, to see him back this week reprising his role as Garth, and getting both more screen time and far more to do. As before, the writers team him up with Dean and comedy ensues. Qualls gives Garth an enjoyable goofiness which is refreshing after so many bitter, hardened Hunters. In fact, Garth seems by far the most well-adjusted of the Hunters we’ve met over the course of the series, though perhaps that’s why, as the “Previously On…”s remind us, even Bobby was surprised he’s still alive.
Speaking of Bobby, by far the most significant development of the episode is the reveal that GhostBobby is in fact hanging out trying to get the guys’ attention. The question was left unanswered “Death’s Door” and hints, heavy ones at that, have been dropped left and right ever since implying that he’s still around. It’s a nice surprise to discover that the audience isn’t alone in speculating about GhostBobby. Sam and Dean are seemingly always keeping something from one another, so Sam admitting to trying to contact Bobby makes sense, rather than feeling like a retcon. One would think these two should have gotten over secret-keeping by this point, but apparently it’s a lesson they will never learn.
This still leaves plenty of questions though- if Bobby can drink a beer, why can’t he communicate with Sam and Dean? If interacting with the corporeal world is particularly challenging, requiring great strength, this would explain Bobby’s limited interactions. However, if that’s the case, why signal the guys by drinking a beer, an obscure clue at best, instead of, say, writing “Hey- Bobby here!” on a napkin? Given Bobby’s expression at the end, he’s desperate to break through to them (Great to have Jim Beaver back, by the way!). Assumedly we won’t have long to wait until this happens, at which point we’ll hopefully get some answers, not only about Bobby’s situation, but the Leviathans’ master scheme as well.
Outside of reveals and returns, there’s plenty to like in this episode. The several nods to The Ring are fun, though the creature design is a bit on the nose. The discovery that Dean can, in fact, still get drunk (with the help of what we can assume is very strong gin or perhaps tequila) is entertainingly handled, particularly Sam’s questioning if this is even possible. Dean’s disdain for, and 180 on, microbrews also earns a laugh, but Dean’s insistence that Sam get a cab to the brewery rather than drive impaired gives a bit of a mixed message. Perhaps the audience is supposed to assume that chugging from his flask isn’t enough to affect Dean’s driving? There’s also, of course, Mr. Fizzles, Garth’s handy sock puppet friend, and the delicious level of annoyance and incredulity this inspires in Dean.
Last, but certainly not least, is the music. The underscoring is fairly well handled, but the decision to use Bell Biv Devoe’s “Poison” for Garth’s introduction and exit is hilarious and points out one of the absolute strengths of the series- its soundtrack. Week in and week out, Supernatural uses great music in funny, touching, and evocative ways. It’s actually somewhat frustrating, in that the score rarely works as well as the soundtrack, often veering towards the overly sentimental and almost always too loud. Again, this isn’t an issue in this particular episode, but often the score distracts from the scenes, while the soundtrack almost always enhances it. “Poison” instantly gives Garth just the right note of semi-oblivious swagger and lets the audience know we’re in for a good time.
With four episodes before the finale (which recently changed titles from the endearingly immature “Get Dick” to the more standard “Survival of the Fittest”), we can probably expect a few at least semi-standalones before the final push to the end, though the careful mention of Cas and Meg is a quick reminder of just how many balls are currently in play. Let’s hope GhostBobby takes a different route than so many of the continuing elements this season- now that we know he’s back, or in fact never left, here’s hoping he stays front and center rather than becoming a quick reference at the edges of the next episode.
What did you think of the episode? Are you glad to have Bobby back, in some form at least? Is anyone else incredibly curious to meet Garth’s special lady? Post your thoughts below!