This review contains spoilers.
15.4 Atomic Monsters
Supernatural returns after a brief Halloween break with Sam and Dean dealing with the ramifications of losing Rowena and Mr. Ketch in that last climactic showdown. We find out that Sam holed himself up in his room for several days (perfect timing on this episode’s airdate, by the way, since we had a week off.) Dean makes an educated guess that it’s about Rowena and Ketch dying — sure, logical reasonings. But Sam has something else on his mind.
The whole intro scene is trippy and feels like an action-thriller movie. Bearded Dean stalking through the halls of the bunker, awash in red security lights, taking down enemies with hand to hand combat and swift gun action. It feels more like a scene out of Arrow than Supernatural, but I was totally digging it. One complaint is that it’s hard to tell what’s going on in the scene as the red tint over everything made it difficult to see. Was that actually Dean’s buddy Benny? It was Benny! Up the brightness and contrast, will you?
This scene isn’t explained, but it could be one of several things: a stress dream in Sam’s head, an actual vision, or an alternate timeline where Sam never got hold of his demon-blood addiction. And I so love that the show has finally brought the demon blood storyline back, even if in some small Elseworld’s kind of way. I've been waiting seasons to see this storyline return, and want Sam’s visions from the beginning of the show to come full circle in this last season.
Think of that intro scene as nothing more than a tease, because it won’t be mentioned again for the rest of the episode. What was it about? Was it a vision of things to come, and possibly a hint at more of Chuck’s meddling?
The main story in Atomic Monsters is really rather straightforward — Sam and Dean are looking for a vampire in town who curiously is not killing his victims in the usual way. It turns out, it’s due to the parents of the jock vampire covering up for him. The monster of this episode is not a mindless eating machine, a conniving murderer or a vicious bloodsucker. The monster is really just a teen kid who got bit recently and doesn’t know how to control these urges, but makes the fateful decision to let the Winchesters take him out. That moment was the most surprising in this part of the story — the monster willingly dying to keep from killing. You don’t see it that often, and it reinforces the theme that sometimes comes up time to time — not all monsters want to be bad.
The B story features Chuck going to visit Becky, his old flame and number one fan. It is actually sweet, because Chuck is vulnerable, admitting he’s feeling down and that not even his sister would help. The back-and-forth between Chuck and Becky is pleasant because it was like old friends with a bitter past trying to have a conversation. Becky has grown, and is no longer the obsessive fan she used to be. Her house may be full of delightful Supernatural Pop figurines and her homemade maquettes but she’s reigned in her fandom in a healthy way.
Naturally this interaction can’t stay sweet and innocent. Chuck becomes dark and obsessive himself, making Becky be his inspiration, overstaying his welcome so he can write a story about Sam and Dean and get her approval. It’s like a reverse Misery, though with much less ankle-breakage. What’s fun about this is how it appears he’s writing the very story we’re watching. Becky’s constructive criticism mentions a distinct lack of Castiel mentions — of which there were none in the episode — and the tension feeling low.
Chuck reveals he’s writing “The End” and states, “The cover is just a gravestone that says ‘Winchester’. The fans are gonna love it.” Becky recoils in horror at what he’s done to Sam and Dean. Sharp viewers might note everything she hints at is vague enough to mean anything, but could contain clues to where everything will end. Chuck relishes the torture he’s planning for the Winchesters. Chuck is the ultimate author, a twister of Fate itself to suit his interests.
The boys need a pep talk at the end of every episode now. Dean seems more hopeful, talking about how they fight the good fight, not for them but for the people who will benefit and in honour of those they lost. Sam is the Debbie Downer of this end cap, no doubt still thinking about the nightmare scenario he dreamed about in the beginning of the episode. He can’t just put aside those they lost. He even reveals that he still thinks about Jessica, his girlfriend who died in the pilot a million years ago. Sam said, “I don’t feel free. What we’ve done, what we’ve lost, right now that is what I’m feeling. Sometimes it’s like I can’t even breathe.” Jared Padalecki’s acting in this scene is so strong that when he choked up, it was palpable. Spectacular acting on his part, and fantastic directing on Jensen Ackles’ part. What a team.
I enjoyed this episode. There’s loose ends, an A-story that didn’t do too much to subvert expectations, but a few really well appreciated surprises. I can’t wait to see where that nightmare scene leads, what new pitfall the boys face and what devilish shenanigans Chuck throws in next.
Read Bridget's review of the previous episode, The Rupture, here.
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