Supernatural Review, Season 7, Episode 4: “Defending Your Life”
Written by Adam Glass
Directed by Robert Singer
Airs Fridays at 9pm (ET) on the CW
This week, on Supernatural: Dean’s self-loathing gets him put him on trial, Jo comes by, and Sam plays lawyer
Angst has been a strong element of Supernatural from just about frame one, but in recent years, it’s become an increasingly oppressive gloom hanging over the series. What started with Dean as the lighthearted one and Sam as the broody one has morphed over the seasons, with both brothers taking their turns as the self-hater of the week. It’s understandable- they’ve both been to hell and back. Literally. Of course they’d have some issues. At this point, though, one can’t help longing for divine forgiveness or some such to sweep down and clear things out, letting these guys just be happy for a while as they work to bring down the baddies. Or, if happy isn’t possible, how about not miserable? “Defending Your Life” addresses this issue head on but does unfortunately little to resolve it or even provide forward momentum. It has a solid concept, but weak execution and missed opportunities hold back what could have been a great episode.
Supernatural has always been a bit murky about gods. There’s been a clear connection made between their worship and power, but little else definitive has been added to the canon. It’s been a fun aspect to the show and bringing on Osiris as the antagonist is smart and adds to this tradition, opening the door for other Egyptian gods to pop up in the future. Unfortunately, he does little here. It would have been nice to see one person escape judgment, even if it was just Dean, to see Osiris’ reaction and to make him more balanced. He seemed a bit vindictive, for an impartial judge. He also seemed a bit easy to kill (at least temporarily). Handy how these small towns always end up having the perfect rare items.
The most disappointing aspect to the episode are the scenes with Jo. Alona Tal is a welcome presence, as ever, but she’s given almost nothing to do. It’s great that we get her, not something just aping her form, but she says very little. It would have been nice to see her whip Dean into shape and out of his funk, give him a talking to like you know her momma taught her to. Instead she serves little purpose. She doesn’t even make sense as a witness- far more logical would be Lisa, Adam, his half brother, or Pamela, the psychic who first was blinded then killed while helping Dean (against her better judgment, both times). Jo, and her mom Ellen, were great additions to Supernatural and the PTB were foolish to write them out in season 3 in favor of Bela, but, unlike Ellen’s appearance last season, this episode does little to improve on Jo’s arc and history on the show.
There are other problems too. The salt circles they use serve no purpose and felt very much like an afterthought- why even make Osiris’ attackers ghosts, when they could be anything, particularly as they don’t act of their own volition? The music is incredibly over the top and groan-worthy, particularly at the “dramatic” moments, and the line of questioning presented to Sam is ridiculous and a retread of ground covered, and moved on from, in the past. Apparently Dean has regressed and now feels responsible for the machinations of Lucifer and Raphael, even though he’d let go of that previously. It’s frustrating to see Supernatural backtrack on prior character development and definitely does not inspire confidence for where this thread with Dean is headed.
It isn’t all bad though- as ever, Dean gets some great one-liners and jokes. His corny puns and jokes go a long way in cutting the angst and bs-meter in the early scenes, and are one of the elements of the show that separates it from lesser pretty-boy genre shows. The early pacing is good too- viewers aren’t given enough time to wonder about Sam’s sudden soil expertise when he comes back with an answer about where the red dirt is from. Getting an outsider view on the brothers is always nice as well, as we do briefly from the man they attempt to save. “We specialize in crazy” is putting it mildly and it’s nice to have a bit of a reality check on that every now and again. It’s also nice to see some series memory shown with the callback to Sam’s law school past.
What did you think of this episode? Were you as glad as I to see Jo come back, however briefly? Post your thoughts in the comments below!
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