Supernatural: Halt & Catch Fire

"College is better than Vegas."

If Supernatural has a stock episode, this is it. 'Halt & Catch Fire' was very old school Supernatural: a complicated ghost story with a twist, gruesome but comical deaths, a touching denouement, and an ending that featured a brother-to-brother moment of bonding and clarity.

The ghost plot was very Black Mirror. Four college students are driving along, so busy posting updates and taking selfies that they accidentally kill Andrew Silver, a young newlywed. He haunts his wife and at first he's cool and she is happy that she has more time with him, but just like nearly all the other ghosts on this show, most notably our beloved Bobby, Andrew gets murderously angry and seeks revenge.

What this particular episode did well was the creepy deaths (one of Supernatural's strengths), particularly the death by decibel, something I don't think I've ever seen before. (But I don't watch horror movies, so I've probably missed some prime example.) Dean and Delilah trying unsuccessfully to hide from wi-fi was clever, too. And I liked that the ghost had some depth. He told Billy's girlfriend to get out of the truck before he crashed it, and in the end, his wife talked him down and he realized what he was doing was evil. Sad.

The best part of the episode was Dean. It was like he was channeling the old Dean from season two: leering at every co-ed on campus, eating like a pig, enjoying the hunt. Saving people, hunting things. The only sad thing about it was that in the space of this series, Dean has gone from near college age to too old for a co-ed. That Gen X exchange ("Who's Christine?") made me cringe just a little bit.

But Dean talked about choosing peace, and that's what this particular episode was about. All he's ever wanted is to follow his calling, to fight evil. I'm not sure if that was just the Supernatural way of giving us stand-alone episodes in the middle of an arc about The Mark, but I'm okay with that. It's what Supernatural does.

Bits and pieces:

-- "Halt and Catch Fire" refers to a CPU ceasing operations. I didn't know that, but it certainly fits the episode.

-- I mentioned Black Mirror above. This particular episode reminded me specifically of "Be Right Back".

-- At one point, I thought Delilah's guilt was causing the deaths. I also thought that Andrew wouldn't target Delilah because she was the only one of the four that tried to get them to do the right thing, the one who kept leaving flowers on the road.

-- And I also thought early on that we were getting a repeat of a monster created because people believed in it, like season one's excellent episode, "Hell House."

-- No Castiel or Crowley. But Cas has discovered riverboat gambling. I want to see that.

-- This week: Spencer, Iowa. I don't think there's actually a Kasem College. Maybe it's a reference to Casey Kasem.

-- Dean was Agent (Dave) Grohl and Sam was Agent (Kurt) Cobain. Nirvana. That one was obvious, but maybe not on a college campus.


Sam: "A croissookie?"
Dean: "Yeah. They're the new cronuts."
Sam: "Okay, so what? Half cookie, half…"
Dean: "Who gives a crap? They're freaking awesome."

Sam: "You have to excuse my partner. When it comes to technology, he's a little behind. He just learned to poke on Facebook."
I never got the poking thing on Facebook. What is it supposed to do?

Sam: "What are you saying? If you died and I drove your car, you'd kill me?"
Dean: "If you stunk her up with taquitos, probably."
The thing is, though, Dean has died, and Sam did drive his car. Ten seasons. Geez.

Delilah: "Everyone knew Billy. He was the president of Sigma Theta Delta."
Dean: "STD?"

Delilah: "How do you deal?"
Dean: "Whiskey. Denial. I do my best to make things right, whatever that may be."

Dean: "My peace is helping people. Working cases. That's all I want to do."

I'm having a terrible time coming up with ratings for Supernatural these days, so it's up to you guys. How many taquitos out of four?

Billie Doux is the founder of Doux Reviews and has been reviewing her favorite shows for quite some time. More Billie Doux.


Juliette said...

It's like this episode swallowed season one whole and spat it back up, and I love that about it - EMF! ectoplasm! an actual ghost! a (new-ish) urban legend! horror movie references! Dean enjoying free/cheap food! The downside is, I never liked the way Dean leered at college girls when he was in his 20s, and now he's in his mid-30s it's positively creepy.

That conversation between Dean and Janet about the app/Christine is every conversation I ever have with my students.

It's cool that they show them supposedly on the phone to Cas to explain why he's not helping (and he really has nothing else to do these days, they have completely run out of reasons he doesn't just live in the bunker) but I wish they wouldn't, it just reminds me that I wish he was in the episode. And I second you on wanting to see the riverboat gambling, Billie!

I also had the same thought about Dean dying and the car - Sam should have said 'next time you die' not 'if you die'.

I have no idea how many taquitoes either! I like old school ghost stories, I miss Cas. Three?

Billie Doux said...

Juliette, you made me realize that I give Dean a pass when it comes to things like leering at co-eds. It's of course because Dean's life is so tragic and Jensen Ackles makes Dean so attractive. If it were anyone else, I'd find it uncomfortable.

Juliette said...

I didn't mind so much when the character was 26 (though I've always been slightly bothered by the character's tendency to objectify women, though he's fine as soon as he's actually interacting with them) but a character of 36 (37? 38? Do you age in Purgatory? Does 40 years in Hell count?!) and actor of 37/8 is just a bit skeezy. But then, I work in a university, so maybe I'm super-sensitive to it.

audrey L said...

I so loved this episode, I though I traveled back in time and it felt so good. I like this Dean so much, Sam was smart, it's been so long since we got a good ghost story.
Sorry Juliette but I really didn't miss Cass on this one.
I give it a 3,9.

sunbunny said...

Giles saying "there's a demon in the internet" was in my head this entire episode.

jenallday said...

I loved the old Supernatural feeling. But I did miss Cas, he's no hunter but I wish there was a way for him to be around more.

And I can never thank you enough for mentioning it reminded you of Black Mirror! I've been think about various Black Mirror episodes since I watched this Supernatural and now it makes sense! I generally try to forget Black Mirror, not because it's bad but precisely because it's done so well it's legitimately scary to ponder the ideas! Off to read those reviews!

JRS said...

I'm not so bothered by Dean's behavior here - it makes sense.

He's been jonesing to get back to his youth for a while now, back to where it began. The obsession with junk food has grown and last episode as a kid clinched it. He's mythologizing his own childhood.

But yeah - it's a facade that's cracking. And he's realizing. I'm not sure the pretty faces are going to mean as much to him anymore, as the opportunity to really connect with someone who gets his quite intelligent references at times.

So while I probably wouldn't be his friend - I can't stand men who leer at women - I have to say it fits the narrative and shows the writers are thinking about the character...

Great review and thanks!!!

Elfie said...

Oh. This episode takes me back to the good old days. I miss what Supernatural is at it's core, a story about two brothers hunting things, saving people, the family business. I'm tired of giant arcs about angels and demons and stuff. I just want me some old-school Supernatural (with the added exception of Cas of course bc i love him duh.) I guess this episode was like a breather for us, although, last week's episode was just as good.

I'm less interested in Crowley and his annoying mother, and Claire as a character. I also feel like I'm getting a bit tired about the Mark arc. Hopefully they'll tie the strings soon. Great review. Can't wait for the next episode.

Marianna said...

Fun episode! But I actually had no idea what "Who's Christine?" meant. Could someone please explain?

I am in at least eight poke wars. (it's hard to keep track.) I use it because I like to think it reminds people that I exist, which I have found to be surprisingly easy for people to forget.

I don't think Dean was technically dead when Sam drove his car (with a dog in it even). He was alive but in purgatory.