Unforgiven ended in an amazing cliffhanger, this week’s episode made me wish for a MIB neutralizer, erasing every memory of it from my mind. It was the first “Supernatural” episode which got even worse after re-watching it. “Mannequin 3: The Reckoning” made so many bad choices, sometimes I wasn’t even sure if I was still watching “Supernatural” or a bad crime procedural with a ghost.
Sam returns from his little trip down memory lane, shaken and tired but otherwise fine. Apparently the hell flashback was not enough to change his opinion about continuing his quest to remember. At least, Dean still possesses some common sense and orders him to stop. To get their minds of this unpleasant topic, the brothers start working on a new case. They investigate the death of a janitor. At the crime scene, Dean gets a phone call from Lisa which he ignores. After the third call, Sam forces Dean to answer. It’s not Lisa but Ben who asks Dean to come home because his mum is in danger. Dean goes and leaves his brother to work the case. The younger Winchester finds out that a girl who was killed is the culprit. She possesses all kind of dolls throughout the episode to take revenge on the people responsible for her death. Just when Sam thinks he stopped her by burning the remains, the next guy dies. The problem is the sister of the girl. The ghost gave her a kidney when she was alive and now she uses it to stay attached to earth.
Meanwhile Dean finds out that he was tricked. Lisa is fine but on her way to a date. Dean and Lisa talk about their relationship. She knows their situation is hopeless but doesn’t blame Dean; she simply tries to get over him. Dean doesn’t look happy but doesn’t know what else to do than to stay away. Dean tries to explain to Ben that it’s not their fault but simply the life of hunting which turns Dean into a danger for others. Ben is upset and hurt. He confronts Dean with an unpleasant truth. Dean might say family is important but after spending a year with them, Dean is leaving his new family behind. Dean returns to Sam and the case. They try to find a way to get rid of the ghost without salting and burning the sister. The ghost possesses the Impala and chases Dean. It crashes into a building, a flying shard of glass kills the girl and the ghost vanishes. Dean is depressed. They couldn’t save anybody and the whole situation with Lisa, Ben and him is heart-breaking. Sam uses this moment, to thank his brother for freeing his soul and lets him know that he will always have his back.
You know, I can’t ask for something. I know what I want, but I can’t have it, not how you live. My phone rings I think tiny chance it’s you, big chance it’s Sam calling to tell me you’re dead. What do you want from us Dean? (Lisa)
Doesn’t sound too bad, does it? But appearances can be deceitful. The episode got three big problems: copying, bad music choices and a lazy visual look. If not even the scenes between the brothers are a redeeming factor, ‘Supernatural’ is in trouble. But before I ramble about the negatives, there was one bright spot: Lisa and Ben. In comparison to how the writers dealt with other minor characters, it was a relief that they weren’t killed off in the premiere episode to get the brothers back together. Surprisingly both managed to survive meeting the Winchesters. Lisa was like a breath of fresh air in Supernatural’s world of female characters. She loved Dean and understood him. She supported him and tried to help him talk about his issues. After the Winchesters averted the apocalypse, she treated Dean like a war veteran. I always loved this factor about her personality. And still she had no romantic illusions about Dean or their relationship. At the end, she moves on with her life without getting angry or mad at Dean but simply asking him what he expects from them. On the other hand, her son isn’t so understanding and rightly questions Dean’s behavior:
Why do you say it like you’re so bad? … You’re a liar, Dean! … You say family’s so important, but what do you call people who care for you, who love you, even when you’re a dick? You know you’re walking out on your family, right? (Ben)
After John and Mary’s death, Dean’s family only consisted of Sam. Now he also has an expanded family with Ellen who was a mother figure for the brothers or Bobby who has become a real father over the years. So during the time after Sam’s death, Dean found a new family without realizing it – Ben and Lisa. In all the scenes they shared, you could see how much Lisa and Ben cared about Dean and vice versa. Dean might be shocked by Ben’s words about family buy they are absolutely true.
Charmelo and Synder’s first “Supernatural” episode ‘You can’t handle the truth’ was OK, nothing special but there was also nothing wrong with it. This time, it seemed like they were not even making an effort but simply writing a recycled story of previous episodes. E.g. Ben Edlund made the same ‘Blood Valentine’ reference with a human heart a year ago, if you cannot top a scene by adding something new, you should leave it alone. The car chase was from Supernatural’s pilot. Difference, the women in white behind the wheel was awesome, in this episode the scene was simply too slow. Even the title is a copy. If ‘Hellhazer 3: The reckoning’ from ‘Hollywood Babylon’ would exist, I bet it would be more interesting to watch than ‘Mannequin 3: The reckoning’. But the most ridiculous thing in this episode was the deaths. Sure there is Horror 101 and ‘Supernatural’ has his fair share of convenient deaths but a girl killed by being clumsy, the sister killed by a flying piece of glass and not a single victim being able to outrun a doll is more than pathetic. And even worse, not a single one these cliche deaths was the least bit gory or scary. Dear writers and guest directors, ‘Supernatural is not just about comedy and drama, it’s a horror show! Add movement to the scene, so that it becomes logical when something happens, don’t just let a girl trip to death because a guy is holding her arm. If you want to kill somebody with a broken piece of window, show the audience a lot of glass flying around and don’t just cut to the one stuck in the girl’s stomach. This is not ‘Black Swan’ but laziness!
Sam starts to sound like season 3 Ruby in this episode, “I was human once” is now “I might have done something”. In Unforgiven we learned that Robo Sam killed people. What else does Sam expect to find out? That his soulless self killed the last unicorn? To sum up, the possessed Impala was a copy of the Pilot scene, the title was from Hollywood Babylon, the scare factor of the dolls resembled the slow-moving Wendigo, the haunted kidney storyline felt like a recycled crime drama which never happened, the deaths could have been from any cheesy horror movie (tripping, freezing to the spot for no reason, the shed of glass and more tripping) and the brother’s talk about “keeping swinging” and Sam’s ‘I might have done something’ happened too often to have a real dramatic impact. If you find an ounce of originality in this episode, I will be most likely only under a microscope. Maybe the tires of the Impala were new.
The entire episode was filled with bad music choices. E.g. The montage, Sam’s interrogation scene and the brothers watching a surveillance video. It felt like they tried to make the scenes more interesting because they were too weak to begin with. Problem, all I noticed was the awful music trying to cover up the silliness of the scenes. I hate it when the music suggests that the scene is dramatic and important and in truth it’s not. E.g. The boys watch a video and see nothing. Not very surprising but the music makes a fuzz about it as if a monster could jump them any second. Another bad music choice was the score for Lisa and Ben’s montage – horribly cheesy. The entire sequence was unnecessary in the first place; Ben and Lisa’s words were powerful enough . You didn’t need sappy, cheesy music or a visual summary. It reminded me of another scene from “Lost”: I come to the island with a parachute landing in a lake and the audience could be wondering if I die because there is the non-existent possibility that I can’t swim!
Usually ‘Supernatural’ is blessed with talented guest directors who instantly grasp the feel of the show. Jeannot Szwarc is either not a big horror fan or he simply didn’t get it as you could see by his choice of shots. There was always something off about them. The burning bones scene looked weird, the impala chase had no tension, and the killing dolls were not frightening. Everything was too wide and slow. ‘Supernatural’ is usually much more in your face. More close-ups and more movement could have worked wonder for the episode. E.g. compare the dummies to ‘Jump the shark’s ghoul killing Adam’s mother. It’s like comparing a snail to a race car. A normal ghost killing people violently would have been better than this cosplay-ghost. And it was simply too convenient that the brothers didn’t have to ‘burn’ the kidney of the sister. The ghosts of ‘After School Special’ and ‘Provenance’ didn’t vanish after Sam and Dean drowned their hair, they had to burn it.
The discussion between the brothers at the end was boring too. It felt like a copy of previous discussions without adding something new. It would have been enough if Sam would had thanked Dean for bringing his soul back. The rest was unnecessary and repetitive.
- Stardate 2011.episode14…no sign of angel plot activity. There are also rumors about a dangerous specimen on a little planet this side of the universe…the natives call her ‘the mother of all’.
- At least ‘Bugs’ was funny.
- “What were we doing back there Sam?” Excellent question. Why don’t you ask the writers Dean?!
- You could sum up this episode with one word: Next!
There was something seriously off about this episode and the more you think about it the worse it gets. Truth is it was simply awful. Even the scenes between Sam and Dean were weak. The whole speech of ‘keep swinging bla bla…’ whenever one of the Winchesters needs to justify the decision to continue hunting is getting redundant. If they had at least rephrased it and stop recycling the same sentence over and over! Sam can understand that he should thank his brother for freeing his soul but is too ignorant to accept that scratching the wall could cause his death? Sorry, but nobody is so selfless. Who wants to spend a life as vegetable for the possibility of giving a few people answers why their loved ones disappeared? The only thing positive about this episode is Dean’s goodbye to his other family. It was heart-breaking and sad; too bad it was nearly ruined by a horrible cheesy montage.
I cannot say I appreciate Dean giving up so easily but I understand the writers’ reason: Sam and Dean reestablishing their bond. Weak guest actors plus weak writing and directing plus horrible music equals boring. ‘Mannequin 3’ was definitely the weakest episode this season. But it’s not the first one. E.g. ‘Bugs’, ‘Everybody loves a clown’, ‘Malleus Maleficarum’, ‘Yellow Fever’; ‘Fallen Idols’, ‘The hammer of the Gods’, ‘Swap Meat’ etc., to name a few of the less than great ‘Supernatural’ episodes. This show takes risks and fails but it always gets back on its feet and tries again. And based on the preview clip, go to cw.com to watch it, next week’s episode is gonna be much better.
“Supernatural” airs Friday, 9/8c pm on the CW.