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12 February 2007 @ 03:19 pm
Supernatural episode recap/review: 2:02 ELaC  
Something I've been planning to do for a while but have never been able to find the time to do, is recap the episodes of Supernatural in ways that'll be familiar to those of you who knew me back in the BBB days. So with ITV2 now showing Season Two (Sunday nights, 9pm!) I thought this would be just about the perfect time to get stuck in. Screencaps are by the wonderful leggyslove at bunny_icons.

I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!

"Coulrophobia is the fear of clowns. In discussions of causes of coulrophobia, sufferers seem to agree that the most fear-inducing aspect of clowns is the heavy makeup, often accompanied by the bulbous nose and weird color of hair, that conceals the wearer's identity.
Sufferers sometimes acquire a fear of clowns after having a bad experience with one personally, or seeing a sinister portrayal of one in the media.
Symptoms tend to include: breathlessness, dizziness, excessive sweating, nausea, dry mouth, feeling sick, shaking, heart palpitations, inability to speak or think clearly, a fear of dying, becoming mad or losing control, a sensation of detachment from reality or a full blown anxiety attack.

ElaC picks up very quickly after the events of IMToD but rather than launch straight into the angst-fest that is the fallout of John's unexpected death, we instead delve into the stuff of real nightmares. A creepy as all-get-out clown following a kid home from the carnival. Call me jaded, blame it on having read Stephen King's It a few times to many, blame it on me being a cynical SOB, but I have an inherent distrust of clowns. And this? Doesn't make me any more inclined to say "Hey, clowns are my friend..."

yeah, that's in no way creepy, really...
yeah, that's in no way creepy, really...

So kid's family become the first innocent victims of the season and the viewing audience breathes a sigh of relief that this is going to be a return to the format we know and love. Don't get me wrong, there's nothing I love more about this show than seeing the boys broken and angsty, but I love this show because it is something more than a soap opera. I love that it's unapologetically kick-ass one moment and the next we're seeing Sam barely able to speak and Dean with his single perfect tear and his downright lie.

At this point in the season (and bear in mind that although I'm writing this to coincide with the ITV2 screenings in the UK, I am up to speed with the US showings) all we know is that John has told Dean something and that whatever it was shocked the younger man. And that when Sam asked him, he lied about it. So we can pretty much extrapolate that the 'secret' has something to do with Sam and that it is weighing pretty heavily on Dean right now.

someone's a Star Wars fan...
someone's a Star Wars fan...

We flash forward to a week later and in my head all of the fics recced here are canon for that week. Or should be.

Dean is trying to fix things, starting with the Metallicar (and yes, my little fangirl heart skipped a beat when I saw it up on the blocks like that, so broken, but with the appearance of being fixed. Just like our boys). And in the process he seems to be not dealing with anything in the way that Sam wants to deal with it. Their dad is dead, and Sam thinks Dean's not facing up to it.

...I had something to say here but I'm a li'l distracted right now...
...I had something to say here but I'm a li'l distracted right now...

Grief is a very individual thing, there is no set pattern for how it should be dealt with. I have an older sister and when we lost our parents we both dealt with it in very different ways. She took the Dean (and the Buffy incidentally) approach of keeping busy, of working through it. Whilst I took the Sam (and Dawn) approach of trying to understand, trying to do what I thought my parents would have wanted me to do.

Neither approach works better than the other, it's simply what worked for us. (Although my therapist might have something to say about that...)

It isn't working for Dean and Sam though, Dean's attempts to make light of what's happened do not go down well with Sam and Sam's attemtps to do the 'touchy-feely, self-help, yoga crap' go against the grain with Dean.

They aren't communicating here at all and I find it increasingly interesting (from a film graduate point of view) that they are rarely in two-shots in this scene. When they are, they don't meet each others eyes, or one is walking past the other. The third cap below is the closest the two come to actually touching here, which - for all of Dean's gruffness - is incredibly unusual for the boys. (Check out sargraf's awesome ManLove inventory of the number and kinds of touches throughout the first season for further clarification.) They are broken, they are grieving, Dean is keeping something from Sam, they are cut adrift and unlike previous instances they are not reaching out to the other. (Think back to the pilot episode, straight after losing Mary, John is sitting on the hood of the car, wee!Dean looks like he's trying to meld into his father's ribcage and baby!Sammy is being held as tightly as possible. They are a unit there, they are together. Here, they are at opposite ends of the chasm of grief and don't seem to be capable of bridging that gap.

Maybe I could lay my head on your shoulder, we'll cry, hell, maybe even slow dance
Maybe I could lay my head on your shoulder, we'll cry, hell, maybe even slow dance

Sam is not amused...
Sam is not amused...

doesn't look like dancing...
doesn't look like dancing...

Distraction seems to be the order of the day here, and the boys head off to follow up on a message from four months ago left on John's phone. This again seems to come back around to the communication and the lack thereof that is a recurrant theme in this episode. A four month old message from a woman they've never heard of saved on one of John's old phones. They have no idea what the context is, who she is, but still they go to find her. Sam seems to be the one instigating this – he's the one who found the message, and in so doing found an address for Ellen, and he's the one who brought that information to Dean. Was this perhaps an attempt on his part to spend some time with Dean somewhere where he couldn't just turn his back? Do we know how far it is between Bobby's junkyard and the Roadhouse? Even if it was only an hour away, that's an hour where the two of them would be in the same vehicle. Dean would be a captive audience.

Which might help explain why Dean was listening to music he would probably never otherwise have listened to. From his point of view, it wasn't bad enough that he was driving a minivan (with a helluva squeal on that engine! Puts The Benders one to shame in places…) but that he had no place to escape the questions and the tear-filled eyes of Sam. And we all know that Sam's puppy dog eyes can melt the hardest of hearts. The solution? Apparently the Captain and Tennile.

Dude, I feel like a friggin' soccer mom!
Dude! I feel like a friggin' soccer mom!

There is, almost immediately after this, a nice moment where we see that the boys may not be connecting all that well right now, but they are still partly in synch. Sam is reaching for the lockpick even before Dean starts to ask if he has it, this is the synchronicity that they worked towards in the first season. It's good to see it's still here, albeit a little off the beat.

And here's where we get our first glimpse of the wider world of hunting. We've seen through John's contacts that this wider world exists, Daniel Elkins, Caleb, even Pastor Jim, but we've never seen the boys themselves interact with them. The Roadhouse is the kind of place where Hunters gather, Ellen comments that Hunters have been known to pass through, but it seems clear that this is a recognised haunt (for wont of a better word!) It does seem to throw Sam and Dean that Ellen and Jo (who just successfully kicked their asses, even if Jo's approach could use a little work!) take all this talk of demons and the supernatural in their stride.

Dean got his ass kicked by a girl...
Dean just got his ass handed to him by a girl...

...and so did Sam
...and so did Sam

I like the Harvells. A lot. Jo in particular has caused a huge upset in this fandom, but I like her. I may well go into that in detail in another post, so for now what I'll say is that she and Ellen (and Ash) form the kind of cohesive family bond which Dean and Sam are in need of right now, and which – despite being welcomed into – they don't join.

Like mother, like daughter
Like mother, like daughter

Dean's aborted attempt to toss Jo a cheap pick-up line and her own approach later on both fall flat because at that point Dean is too isolated. He has voluntarily cut himself off from Sam and he is finding himself unable to connect with anyone else. His realisation that it's the wrong place and the worng time are also echoed in his refusal to accept condolences from Ellen. He's okay, he doesn't do the chick flick moments, he's not going to break.

And here's where I insert the phrase that can mean so many different things in this fandom:

Oh, Dean!
Oh, Dean...

</a>So while Ash (again, I have thoughts for another post but I don't exactly trust this guy, although I love him for mooching unfinished beers!) is in the process of sorting through John's Demon research Sam spots a case file hidden behind the bar. Gotta say, Ellen mustn't be too worried about the police dropping by, what with a scanner and a folder containing details of murders lying out in the open like that… and the hunt is on.
I was going to give this to a friend of mine...
I was going to give this to a friend of mine...

The idea that this was Jo's hunt has been kicked about in fandom. Whether it was originally canon and was dropped from the shooting script or not, I find it fascinating that Ellen would (from what we know of her so far) have been willing to just hand it over to our boys if that had been the case. Maybe it was Sam's puppy dog eyes again.

I don't have caps for the second killing right now, which is a shame because this is the part of the episode that really creeped me out. "You were right dad, he is my friend..." Gnnnh! That would be the shivers running up my spine again right there!

Note to self: Clowns=freaky.

Anyway, the boys cunningly infiltrate the carnival and I stop to wonder at this confrontation right here. Yes, the absurdity of it is the main point of the scene, as well as a chance to have some brotherly teasing which is otherwise absent in the episode, but when I first saw this I couldn't help but think that part of the reason for Sam's uncomfortableness was that the woman was reading his mind. I've never seen anyone else mention that and I could be completely misreading the scene (wouldn't be the first time!) but the amount of eye contact here, and the frown on her face, just seems a little more than the sheer comedy value of freakishly tall Sam being afraid of this short clown. *shrug* I think too much sometimes.

did you get her number?
Did you get her number?

Moving on from the strange tangent my brain took there, looking for Mr Cooper and the race to the normal chair during the interview were nice light touches here. This episode, for all its angst, is a genuinly funny one and these moments highlight that fact. Again, Sam's amusement at Dean's predicament is a result of miscommunication. That recurring theme comes right back around and says yes, the boys are not talking to each other because each of them thinks there's a chance he'll say the wrong thing. And here we have that perfectly illustrated (a teensy bit heavy-handed with it, it has to be said) when Dean asks a blind man if he's seen Cooper, and saying to the dwarf that it's just a little misunderstanding.

see, this is called Schadenfreude
See, this is called Schadefreude

During the interview with Cooper, Dean starts to suspect that Sam's embarking on a path that he wasn't expecting. Sam can be damned convincing when he wants to be, but here Dean seems uneasy with the vehemence behind the "We don't want to go to school" statement. To Dean, that didn't seem to be an act, that seemed like Sam was speaking from the heart. The carnival is for misfits, for people who don't belong anywhere else – who can't fit in – and that would seem to be the perfect description for the borthers Winchester. To have Cooper say they don't fit in where the outcasts go again underscores the abandonment and the isolation the boys are facing right now.

seriously, would you give them a job?
Seriously, would you give them a job?

Cleaning up around the carnival site (picking up the pieces, geddit?) gives the boys a chance to investigate the objects around them for EMF readings, as they now believe that the killer clown is a spirit which has attached itself to a cursed object. Sam gets to spend some time in the funhouse (where it looks as though he's wearing blue lip salve. Seriously, the kind of stuff with the really heavy UV filters that you get for skiing... my mind is a strange place!) and this most prosaic of carnival rides actually manages to freak out an experienced Hunter. Just goes to show how off his game Sam is here.

this job&apos;s rubbish... boom! boom!
the inside of the funhouse is really dark, so here's a picture of Sam outside, with his red jacket on. :)

Despite the lack of positive readings on any of the contents of the funhouse, the boys decide that it's worth investigating anyway, and as Dean moves off to join Sam he's confronted by the blind knife-thrower who again underscores that the boys don't belong. "We look after our own." That may be the case, but it's clear that he doesn't count the Winchesters in that number. The statement itself has always been true for the boys, they look after their own too. Up until now. Dean wouldn't let anything bad happen to Sam and vice versa, but here they are not looking out for each other so much. How can they when they are barely communicating about anything that actually has any import to them as individuals?

They are talking about the hunt, they do not – will not, in Dean's case – talk about John's death.

what? I have a phone kink, okay?
what? I have a phone kink, okay?

We look after our own...
We look after our own...

Whilst Jo was in the wrong place at the wrong time, the boys are exactly where they needed to be when a kid exclaims "Look! A clown!" (and I'll gloss right over the fact that I hate that kid with a fiery passion. I just… no offence to the actress or to anyone who loves her character, but I just wanted to smack some sense into her and her parents. I'm not a violent person, honest!) and the object of her attention is of course not there when the boys rush forward to see, so they stalk follow the family home.

Does it make me a horrible person to think that right then she almost deserved anything she got?
I'm a horrible person, part of me thinks she would have deserved whatever she got at this point...

So after stalking following the family home and parking opposite their house until the small hours of the morning in a way that would normally have had the neighbours calling the police, the boys break into the house and Sam protects the kid whilst Dean takes a shot at the clown with rock salt. This is quite possibly the first instance where they actually sit back and think that maybe the police might be looking for them because of this and they ditch the minivan. Because driving a classic muscle car with distinctive out-of-state plates the rest of the time isn't at all conspicuous... What this does mean is that Dean cannot avoid Sam now. As they walk (which, by the way, glorious cinematography here!) Sam tries to make conversation, a passing remark speculating at John and Ellen's past, and Dean is on the defensive immediately. Not because of the implications Sam is getting at here, but rather because he doesn't want to talk about it full stop. ("These are your issues, Sam." "I'm dealing with Dad's death. Are you?")

Dean is using words as weapons here and they are hitting home. He is pushing Sam away not just because he's hurting, but because he – Dean – wants the isolation.

Sticks and stones...
sticks and stones...

Almost immediately we can see remorse in Dean's actions, he is unsure of himself, he doesn't understand his actions – even though he's supposed to be the belligerent one – and it does look as though he wants to take it back. But the crucial part is that he doesn't know how to do that. He can't communicate, and this time it's not because he just doesn't want to.

words can be weapons too
Words can be weapons too

There have been a spate of icons made using these images which incorporate the lyrics "I walk a lonely road", yes, absolutely, it is a lonely road. That they are walking side by side does not make it any less lonely.

…the only road that I have ever known
...the only road that I have ever known...

This break-down in communication is pushed aside (not resolved) when the conversation comes back round to the hunt. Dean seems content to talk when it's about the job, but beyond that he isn't saying a word. Sam is clearly hurt by this and again this comes down to the fact that they are adrift. Not just outcasts from society as a whole, but apart from one another as well. Ellen has provided information about the possible nature of the attacker – not a spirit since the rock salt hit it rather than dispersed it – and the means with which to kill it.

The list of suspects is narrowed down to one, the one person they know was working for both carnivals which have experienced clown-related killings in the past twenty years – Cooper. Even so, they want to actually confirm it's him before they stab him with the brass knife which Dean thinks he can get from the blind knife-thrower. (Yeah, you can see where this is going already I'm sure!) The hunt itself, whilst entertaining, is actually nowhere as near as interesting as what would normally be the sub-plot of the boys themselves.

Sam showing far too much interest in another man&apos;s bed for that man&apos;s comfort...
Sam showing far too much interest in another man's bed for that man's comfort...

boy&apos;s got skillz…
Boy's got skillz...

That scene (points to cap above this) makes me smile because of the way Dean somehow manages to keep his balance there. I'm sure he wasn't meant to *almost* fall in the way he does, that looks pure Jensen to me, but he caught it and carried on. If one were to get meta about it (and hell, I've gone meta on everything else so why not?) I could point out that he stumbled but didn't fall, in much the same way he's been stumbling along since John's death. Not letting himself fall.

The conclusion of the hunt takes them back to the funhouse where there is a convenient brass organ which doesn't seem to be behind any protective glass despite being hot enough to sizzle skin and which still has the ambient lights on. We had a travelling show come to the town near us on a yearly basis, I've seen the carnies setting these up and making repairs, the ambient lighting goes off as soon as the place shuts. But we'll gloss over that because again, the hunt is always secondary here.

Sam kills the Rakshasa. Not Dean. This is important because although we know Sam doesn't balk at fighting evil, it's always been Dean we've seen making the killing blow. (Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong here by the way!) But this time Dean is physically restrained from making the kill and it is Sam who finishes it under Dean's guidance. And yes, we're back to commuication here. With an invisible attacker, it is Dean who tells Sam where to strike, it is a team effort that is only made possible because, when it comes to the Hunt, they communicate.

Deus ex machina. That well known organ manufacturer...
Deus ex machina. That renowned organ manufacturer

Dean&apos;s just glad he wasn&apos;t wearing the leather jacket...
Dean's just glad he wasn't wearing the leather jacket...

Hunt over, the boys return to the Roadhouse to find what Ash has learned from the notes they left him with. Nothing new, as it turns out, but there is the potential for future contact. Ash reaches out to them in his own way (and not just to grab Dean's unfinished beer) and lets the Winchesters know that he considers them 'one of our own'. Jo and Ellen echo this, Ellen going so far as to offer them a place to stay – as close a thing to family as the boys have known up until now. It's clear this is appreciated but Dean almost apologetically turns the offer down (as he had just done with Jo as well) stating that he has something he needs to finish. Although it isn't stated here, the fact of the matter is that he is making the assumption that Sam will go with him. This lack of communication between the brothers is not – as has been the case for the rest of the episode – a result of misunderstanding, rather this is the synchronicity snapping back into place.

Still the wrong time and the wrong place, but maybe there&apos;s hope for the future now
Still the wrong time and the wrong place, but maybe there's hope for the future now

Or at least it is until they return to the junkyard.

The episode could have ended with them leaving the Roadhouse and it would have been on a higher note than would otherwise have been expected, but Kripke doesn't own the souls of this show's fans for nothing.

Again, Dean is back to trying to fix the car, again Sam is cut off because this is something dean wants – and needs – to do on his own. Again we have a lack of two-shots, and again, those few that are there show the disconnect. They are not meeting each others eyes, they are circling each other a little like caged animals. Again they are not communicating. Sam pushes the point though and kudos to Jared for handling this scene beautifully. The utter desolation and lonliness in his voice "And I'm not alright, not at all. But neither are you." Breaks my heart.

our broken boys...
our broken boys...

And Dean doesn't talk. He doesn’t say a word because he can't. He has lost the tools of communication and he can't work out how to go about finding them again without hurting those around him. We know from canon that after his mother's death Dean retreated into silence, it does appear that he is veering towards that again all these years later. Added to the loss of his father, his mentor, is the burden of whatever John told him. Something he has chosen not to share with Sam and this is adding to his silence, perhaps Dean knows that when he nreaks, if he talks to Sam about this, then the secret will come out. And that seems to scare him.

Dean tries to find the words...
Dean tries to find the words

if the words fail, maybe actions will help
if the words fail, maybe actions will help

don&apos;t tell me this is not a symbol, that this is not everything Dean loves
don’t tell me this is not a symbol, that this does not represent everything Dean loves

rebuild and destroy...
rebuild and destroy...

I won&apos;t leave you falling if the moment ever comes...
I won’t leave you falling if the moment ever comes...

Endlessly – Muse
there's a part in me you'll never know
the only thing I'll never show

hopelessly I'll love you endlessly
hopelessly I'll give you everything
but I won't give you up
I won't let you down
and I won't leave you falling
If the moment ever comes

It's plain to see it's trying to speak
cherished dreams forever asleep
hopelessly I'll love you endlessly
hopelessly I'll give you everything
but I won't give you up
I won't let you down
and I won't leave you falling
if the moment ever comes

hopelessly I'll love you endlessly
hopelessly I'll give you everything
but I won't give you up
I won't let you down
and I won't leave you falling
but the moment never comes
Current Mood: accomplishedaccomplished
astartexx: SPN Carastartexx on February 13th, 2007 12:04 am (UTC)
Ah, beautifully put, thank you so much for this review I had a wonderful time reading it!
the girl who used to dance on fire and brimstonewhiskyinmind on February 13th, 2007 09:07 am (UTC)
Thank you - it was a lot of fun writing this as well! I'm glad it made sense to someone else. :)