Supernatural: Breakdown

"When has knowing us ever worked out for anyone?"

Geez. Dark much?

Every now and then Supernatural steps over a line for me. This was one of those times. I completely understand that this series is tragic at its core: the Winchesters fight monsters and will eventually die fighting monsters, we all know this. But there is usually a compelling story, or humor, or interesting character development, or all of the above, something that balances out their storytelling. I didn't see any of that here.

And maybe I'm the wrong person to review this one. The creepy cafe, the bloody fingers turning up the bouncy music, the details of the online auction made "Breakdown" feel like an homage to a horror movie I know nothing about, so maybe I just didn't "get it." (If you know which movie it was, I'd love to know – please post a comment!)

I did think it was clever that Clegg was actually real FBI. Good save, Dean, telling him that he was Donna's cousin and it wasn't official business in order to avoid showing his fake ID. But Clegg himself turning out to be the "Butterfly" didn't make much sense. How could he pull off chasing himself for twelve years? I assume he and his buddy in the admittedly supercreepy mask were in it for the money and the thrills because they certainly weren't saving human lives by selling body parts to monsters, but how many millionaire monsters are out there risking their secret identities online? Why wouldn't they simply kill someone themselves, for the freshness? I kept wondering about the logistics, too. Did they Fedex the rotting body parts to the auction winners? Wouldn't Fedex notice something like that?

(When I'm thinking about how illogical it all is instead of being caught up in the story, that's a sure sign that it's not working for me.)

Donna Hanscum is usually played for laughs because she is indeed very funny in a Fargo sort of way, and I would have enjoyed serious episode about her if it had been better. In fact, I thought Briana Buckmaster did really well with the heavier stuff – the way she kept her obviously overwhelming fear for her niece Wendy in check, her spot on and occasionally biblical interrogation of the creepy pastor, the amusing but sincere way she gave her boyfriend Doug "the talk."

But they were signaling early on that Doug wasn't going to be able to handle monsters as reality, and that's too bad. Turning Doug into a vampire so quickly in order to cure him felt like a plot convenience, too, especially since Dean had to explain it by saying that sometimes it's fast and sometimes it's slow. It's never been instantaneous before.

Sam's depression and sleeplessness after what happened to Kaia was understandable, but I thought he'd accepted the risks and down side of being a hunter a long time ago. While Clegg was auctioning off Sam's heart, I kept thinking, was that a little metaphorical "losing heart" they were going for? Will Sam's depression continue? For continuity's sake, I hope it's not gone in the next episode.

Bits:

— Marlon the cashier slash vampire was suitably shuddery, although the outright evil way he was acting seemed like a blinking bright neon sign that he had to be a monster. You'd think he'd be cleverer about concealing it if he wanted to "pass."

— Dean and Sam spent much of this episode apart, which is probably the reason why Sam nearly got auctioned off in pieces.

— I liked the scene about John and the CB radio, and Dean meeting up with the woman trucker who drove past Wendy.

— "Hanscum" isn't actually old English, is it?

— The "immigrant" and the "whore"? That was nasty. A deliberate reflection of the current administration?

— This week: Oshkosh, Nebraska, I think. We also visited the Del Ray Motel, a vision of ugliness in blue, green and brown.

Quotes:

Dean: "You got up at ten a.m. this morning. Ten a.m. You, mister rise and freaking shine. And then you turned down pancakes."
Sam: "I wasn't hungry."
Dean: "They're pancakes!"
Reminding me of Dean and Mary and bacon. Speaking of which, are we going to get back to Jack and Mary in Mad Max world any time soon?

Donna: "Even the good book's got lawyer jokes."

Marlon: "Aww, what's the matter? You vegan?"

Dean: "Bring it, Twilight."
Which would have been funnier if he hadn't said it before. Dean did say this before, didn't he?

Donna: "She's going to be fine. Just like you."
Doug: "Fine? I was a vampire."
Donna: "For a couple hours."

Dean: "You were a little tough on Donna back there."
Sam: "What?"
Dean: "Just saying."
Sam: "Was I wrong? When has knowing us ever worked out for anyone?"

Sam: "This ends one way for us, Dean. It ends bloody. It ends bad."

By now it's probably obvious that I really didn't like this episode. What did you guys think?

Billie
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Billie Doux has been reviewing Supernatural for so long that Dean and Sam Winchester feel like old friends. Courageous, adventurous, gorgeous old friends.

15 comments:

Sue Kelley said...

Have to disagree with you on this one, Billie. Although I thought Sam’s sudden onset of depression was jarring, I liked the plot of this episode. I assume the “monsters” who are “passing” don’t want to kill people themselves because of some moral or ethical line, like taking that step would be giving in to their monstrous natures, leading to the slippery slope of being monsters instead of people with monstrous urges. The FBI agent actually being the bad guy actually took me by surprise. The sleazy clerk being a vampire not so much as the “Previously on Supernatural” pretty much indicated someone would be.

Billie Doux said...

Sue Kelley, I'm actually glad that you disagree. I almost never have a negative reaction to Supernatural. Sometimes something will just drastically turn me off, so maybe that's the case.

Anonymous said...

I'm with you, Billie. I really, really didn't like this one.

I think they could have come up with less creepy/disgusting/gory/depressing way to rid Donna of Doug for Wayward Sisters...which seemed like the whole point of the ep.

Sooze

TheShadowKnows said...

There is a not-very-good 1997 Kurt Russell movie called Breakdown (psycho truckers kidnap his wife while they're on a trip). That may be the source of the title.

Zac said...

I think this episode was an homage to, Hostel, right down to the look of the butcher.

For those that don't know, Hostel is about a group of people staying an a luxurious Hostel, only to find out it's a front where rich people buy to torture and kill backpackers.

Shari Houtman said...

I don't disagree with you often but I'm siding with Sue Kelley on this one. This episode felt like a throwback to season 5. I'm thinking along the lines of "Sam, Interrupted." Other than the gore, which I've never been a fan of, I loved it.

And I know it's usually Dean that loses faith but Sam's been down this road before, after a lifetime of hunting and losing people how could he not. There are plenty of things I thought I'd made peace with until I get hit with another setback. If it makes you feel better, considering his natural personality, I don't think it'll last long.

FYI - the British surname is actually spelled Hanscom. I think they were just having way too much fun with the play on words. :)

Dragonfire said...

I was kind of on the fence about this episode. There were some bits I liked, like Dean on the radio, and I didn't see the FBI guy being one of the bad guys. Loved seeing a darker side of Donna, and seeing how good she is at interrogation. Now that she's no longer pure comic relief, that'll make for a much more interesting spinoff.
However, the Doug immediately turning into a vamp thing kind of threw me out of the story. They're definitely trying to set up Wayward Sisters, and it isn't happening as organically as I could've wished. At least we finally got a different reaction to "monsters are out there" and probably what would be a much more common one.
As for why there are so many hidden millionaire monsters: in the first auction round, it was only about $325. The reason Sam hit $500,000 is because he's Sam Winchester. The opportunity to kill a hunter as famous as that? Any monster would give up that much.

Chatter said...

i disagree, like this episode a lot!!

Anonymous said...

The ep was a horror. But in a good sense.

cheryl Maclean said...

Doesn't anyone remember The Benders? Season 1. It wasn't any creepy/gory/sadistic than that.
I liked this episode. But I've always loved Donna and we got brothers to boot. It's been a long time since we had any Sam POV so his understandable depression didn't bother me.
Millionaire monsters? Some monsters are imortal-ish. I suppose if you live long enough (and there are 100's of thousands of them) you might amass some wealth. Although for a few more million a monster could have had the entire Sam Winchester.

curlybean said...

I agree! Sam Winchester’s Heart would be worth a lot of money to any monster.

Patryk said...

Leaving aside the gore and human villians that always darken up a Supernatural episode, I think I sometimes feel that Supernatural is a bit off because the pacing is so much different then all the other contemporary CW shows where a tousand things happen every episode. That slowness contributes to the opressive feeling of the episode.

That and contriving Doug out of Donna's life without any subtelty that it's about the spinoff.

Patti said...

I did not enjoy this episode at all. When it was over, I turned to my daughter and said "that was really dark, even for Supernatural". I also told her I was going to bed because I was disturbed and unhappy about the whole tone of the show. We really need to get back to Jack, Mary etc. Sometimes, I lose patience with this show even though I've watched from the first episode.

magritte said...

Patryk, maybe it's a matter of taste but I don't generally find Supernatural or this episode slow. I feel Supernatural's weakest episodes are often those where it tries to juggle multiple plotlines like a lot of contemporary ensemble-driven shows. This episode wasn't a classic, but I felt that was a case of not really having a sensible investigation/resolution narrative, not because it was slow.

As to all the millionaire monsters: Has nobody hear seen Angel?

Catherine Mary said...

Ok... so maybe Im overthinking it...

... So I have been watching Supernatural since it started in 2005. And I have rewatched the seasons a few times.... Supernatural has always seemed indestructable much like it’s characters... until now...
We all know that Supernatural is going to end eventually, and it’s well discussed that even though it will be great to see Sam and Dean driving the impala into the sunset, the likeliness of the shows ending will be the death of Sam and Dean.

Sam’s ‘This only ends one way for us’ ‘This ends bloody’ ‘This ends bad’ gives me the dredded thought that the end may be sooner than we might think.
2 reasons: 1) Is the speech itself, considering what we know about the show, its’ patterns and the fact that the show will likely continue until Sam and Dean do see a ‘bloody ending’. And 2) The audio at the end... I swear this specific audio has only been used ONCE before, and it was the pilot episode.
Sooo... like I said, maybe I am overthinking it... but is this the shows subtle way of hinting at the end? What are people’s thoughts? Straight away when I heard the audio my mind went straight back to that very first episode.
...started bloody and bad and played a specific audio... is it to end the same way? Playing the same audio from where it all began?