Supernatural Review: Atomic Monsters

Supernatural returned after a week off with a Monster of the Week episode directed by none other than Jensen Ackles himself. It’s the first outing the boys have had since the loss of Rowena, Ketch, and the first time (likely of many) the two didn’t talk about Cas and the implications of his leaving. 

We open with a nice red ominous sequence of hot, bearded Dean fighting off demons in the bunker, only to find a very human Benny dying. Gotta love these little cameos of beloved characters just to kill them! Dean then confronts a demon blood powered Sam, who has no time for his big bro’s nonsense, and promptly kills Dean. Yikes.

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Sam wakes up from his nightmare/premonition/festering wound-induced delirium and heads to the kitchen to talk to Dean about most everything except, ya know, what is clearly going to become a crucial thing. Sam’s earlier reaction to Chuck touching the wound, and what ends up happening later in the episode has me wondering if these nightmares and visions are just Sam seeing Chuck’s brainstorming? I mean, I know they’re connected to the Equalizer wound, and whatnot, but we have no idea about how linear our two stories are. We know that Chuck is, well, not happy with the Winchesters to say the least, and it’s becoming more and more clear that the boys seemingly never-ending conviction and compassion are, in fact, running thin. Also a quick little side note about the whole breakfast bacon scene.

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I’m not quite sure how anyone can believe Dean is 100% straight when he himself runs around calling HIMSELF the “Meat Man”. Just sayin’.

Anyway. Dean tries to cheer Sam up by going on a hunt. Like the Old Days! A cheerleader has gone missing and it looks fishy. I’m not going to lie, the second I read “cheerleader” I was preparing myself to be grossed out by Dean being a creepy weirdo, but then I remember Davey Perez was writing this episode and not BuckLeming, so I had some hope. Dean heads to the school to talk to the Vice Principal who tells him everyone loved the dead girl and this just doesn’t make sense which… fair. Mid-convo, though, some super entitled suburban white parents interrupt to ask if the lacrosse game is really truly totally going to be rescheduled for this dead kids vigil. Cause, ya know the whole murder/chopped up thing is super sad and all, but there is a scout coming to the game and their little Billy just has to play. Honestly, I was ready for Sam to cut their heads off right there, but more on that later. 

Dean, meanwhile, finds a vampire tooth at the morgue and the boys are off on a fairly dull hunt. For now. 

Back in Not-Winchester world, we see Becky Rosen! Yes, the creepy, obsessed, almost-rapist fan/Chuck’s ex-girlfriend and personal fluffer! Becky has seemed to make a good life for herself, too. She’s married with a couple of kids, and all that just to have her ex pop in and fuck everything up. Chuck is the fucking worst. UGH. Becky wants nothing to do with him, tells him she’s finally in a good place, both mentally, and within fandom. She’s earning money, she’s writing, and has finally found a healthy balance, one that does not include Chuck. Chuck, being the asshole he is, emotionally manipulates Becky to help him through his “writer’s block” and as a mom who cherishes having the house to herself, I 100% feel for the Beckster.

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Meanwhile, another cheerleader has gone missing, and when we see Billy and his Boomer parents arguing about The Big Game, it’s Billy who is the rational one. Janet, Billy’s mom, is domineering and harsh, telling Billy that he doesn’t have to ask them to do anything! They’re his parents! They just do it! Which, bullshit. Billy hopes his spineless dad will help, but nope. He’s too busy washing blood off his hands to help out. We  scan through the house (seeing a laundry room I’d love), and find a teenage girl bound and hooked up to a blood bag in the garage. Hey maybe Mom is sucking more than the life out of her family?? 

Becky has no time for Chuck’s whining, but hopes that if she just lets him write for a little while, maybe he’ll go home because fucking patriarchy makes us all feel like we have to accomadate men and their annoying feelings.  Chuck gets a-writing, and when Becky reads it she tells him it’s amazing! It’s the Best ever! But Chuck isn’t buying it. He asks for notes, and when Becky finally can’t help herself, she gives them. The material feels stale, the villains are dull, and no one even MENTIONS Cas!! Thank you, Becky! There is no jeopardy, no risk. Of course, Chuck being the piece of shit man-child he is, can’t take the critiques he himself asked for. He gets grumpy and starts writing again. Poor Becky. Go get some wine, girl.

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Dean and Sam, having found the plate number of Billy’s dad, head out to visit the fam. They confront Dad, who sends Billy away and confesses, thinking he’ll be arrested. He’s suitably confused, however, when Dean busts out his machete and tells him they’re not FBI. Sam and Dean hear a noise and Sam goes to check it out. He finds the girl, but also finds Janet– and her gun. They all meet back together in the living room when Billy walks in on Mom holding everyone at gunpoint. Pretty sure this wouldn’t be the Insta look she wants. Dad super-subtly tells everyone that HE IS A VAMPIRE AND HE WILL GO WITH THEM BECAUSE HE’S TOTALLY THE VAMPIRE. Sam sees right through it, and Billy comes clean. He was bitten a while ago and was living off animal blood. He accidentally killed his girlfriend, and when he called his parents freaking out, they did “what any parent would!” Meaning they cut up her body and dumped her in the woods. As a parent and also not insane, I have to disagree. Mom and Dad try and justify themselves and Billy’s behavior because of his “bright future” but in the saddest Ok, Boomer Moment ever, Billy tells his parents that they’re gonna get the girl to the hospital, and blame everything on him (fair). He, on the other hand, is going to go with Dean and Sam to be beheaded, because he’s self-aware enough to know he’s not going to be able to go back to cow blood after tasting the real thing. Vamp-Veganism is not for wimps.  RIP Billy.

Back at Becky’s, Chuck has finished his second draft and Becky is horrified. The ending was so dark, so awful, that fans will never forgive Chuck. He thinks it’s all great! She tries to talk to him about it, but they’re interrupted by her family returning home. No biggie; Chuck just SNAPS them out of existence before doing the same to poor Becky. And there is another redemption arc ending in death. Well, not dead, just “away.” whatever the fuck that means.

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The episode ends with another broment in which Cas is not mentioned along with their other losses. Dean tries to push through and ignore his feels again while Sam finally opens up about the pain, resentment, and depression he’s been dealing with, before brushing it aside again with a “Maybe I’ll feel better in the morning” and aww baby Sam. Maybe you’d feel better if you came clean about the nightmares you’re having!

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This was actually an episode that kinda had to sit with me for a little while before I decided how I felt about it. On the surface it’s fairly dull, but there is actually a lot going on. There has been a distinct change in Dean and Sam’s ability to cope with trauma and in their overall attitudes, and I’m wondering now if that is because they’re no longer the heroes of their own story. The boys only think they’re free (which, how could they be so fucking naive?). Chuck is literally still here writing the story, and if you’re not the heroes anymore, the confidence and conviction that what you’re doing is worth is isn’t as important. On another note, it was great to see Becky’s redemption arc. Once a caricature representative of the worst in fandom (unhealthy shipping, lacking boundaries, and excluding all other interests), Becky has finally grown and found a healthy way to channel her love and creativity, only to have Chuck come take it all away, both the story she loves, and then her own reality. Suddenly I get why the Archangels have the beef they do with their dad. Chuck is the worst.

Bonus Red Dean with a Beard:

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