Supernatural: Exile on Main Street

Dean: "Am I the only one here that thinks that this can't all just be fine?"

I am completely weirded out. What just happened?

Most of this episode was Dean actually hallucinating, but in fact, the entire episode felt unreal to me. And there were a number of clues that it might very well be unreal. The episode began with an alarm clock going off, like Groundhog Day. (Or "Mystery Spot.") The scratch marks were a deliberate reference to Nightmare on Elm Street. The bad guys were djinns, masters of unreality, and Dean was living a "normal life" much like he did in "What Is and What Should Never Be." Even the new credits were a broken reflection.

How could Sam just let Dean grieve for him for an entire year? I just didn't believe it. Sam couldn't remember how he felt when Dean was in Hell? Sam even rejected Dean's offer of the Impala, the symbol of their connection. In fact, Sam didn't feel like Sam. He creeped me out. Of course, if most of this episode actually was real, it makes sense that Sam has changed. Even if I hate it.

And Grandpa Samuel Campbell creeped me out even more than Sam did, because he just felt evil – like he was still the Yellow-Eyed Demon, who (coincidentally or not) had a return engagement. The assortment of Campbell cousins creeped me out, too. And why did Samuel keep a captured djinn hidden from the boys? Don't get me wrong: it would be cool to have Mitch Pileggi around as a real family member. But he'd better have a damned good reason for lying to the boys.

So everyone felt "off." Except for Dean, who was still Dean. He was still drinking, and it felt like he was going through the motions. The holy water under the bed and the devil's trap at the door told us that Dean knew the hunting life wasn't over for him. I really liked the opening montage contrasting his old life with the new one, as well as the lyrics of "Beautiful Loser," which fit Dean like a T. Dean's new drinking buddy knew nothing about him. And what about Lisa? They seemed happy, Dean was being faithful, and she said it had been the best year of her life. But all she said about their lives together was that Dean was a good father to Ben. What about her? It was like she was waiting for him to leave her.

So much of this episode was an off-center callback to the pilot, like we were seeing it through a carnival mirror. Sam came for Dean this time. Lisa burned on the ceiling. The Yellow-Eyed Demon fed Ben instead of Sam. I usually feel a strong connection to Supernatural, but this episode made me feel like a stranger.

Maybe that was the point. We don't know what's going on, just like Dean.

Bits and pieces:

— New credits, this time with broken glass.


— A year has passed, if this is indeed reality. Dean was living with Lisa in, I assume, Cicero, Indiana. Dean's truck had an Indiana plate.

— Okay, Bobby did feel like Bobby, but he kept the truth from Dean, too. That was just wrong.

— Where is Castiel? Why wasn't he answering Sam? And Dean didn't even ask about Adam. Is Michael in Hell, still in Adam's body?

— Liked the djinn's tatts climbing up their arms. It was much like Willow and the magic books on Buffy.

— Who was the hunter who died in front of Lisa's house? Was it another cousin that they just didn't bother to mention later, much less mourn?

— There was a poster that said, "DJ Sam" on the boards outside the abandoned hotel.

— Sam used Dean's golf clubs to kill the djinn, because you can never have too much symbolism. I think the djinn poison was also a metaphor for the poison that Dean brought into Lisa's life.

— I also liked the stars in the ceiling above Ben's bed. It worked as a reminder of Dean and Sam living beneath the stars. Or maybe a reference to what the boys experienced in heaven. Hey, I could make it mean pretty much anything.

Quotes:

Dean: "You have no idea what's in some peoples' walls. It could eat them alive."

Dean: "I got a permit for it."
Sid: "What, to shoot the Bleekman's dog?"

Gwen: "My god, you've got delicate features for a hunter."

Samuel: "Lots of resurrections in your face today. It's all right. Take a minute."
Dean: "It's gonna take a little more than a minute."

Bobby: "Just don't touch the decor, okay? Assume it's all loaded."

Samuel: "You don't know what you're part of, Dean. You know, you had ancestors hacking the heads off vamps on the Mayflower." Really?

I hope this episode makes more sense later on in the season. Two out of four djinns,

Billie
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Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

17 comments:

Paul Kelly said...

I'm glad you felt distanced, Billie, because I did too. The characters just didn't ring true. At first I put it down to bad writing. There was hardly any humour. Sam didn't sound like Sam. Dean didn't sound like Dean.

I hope you're right in thinking there's more than meets the eye going on. If the episode was meant to feel hollow and unfamiliar... then, cool. Even a badly written script I can forgive. I just hope that this isn't what Supernatural is, now Kripke's thrown in the towel and the main story arc is over.

Josie Kafka said...

I felt the distance, too, but I really liked it because of the distance. Whatever they're going through shouldn't be easy.

(And I think the reason for that overheard conversation about goats and facebook is to clue us in that the show hasn't lost its sense of humor, even if the characters have lost theirs.)

In the finale last season, it was all about mirrors and reflections for Sam as he battled with Satan. Is it possible that this episode had nothing to do with Dean, and is actually Sam's own personal hell? Stuck with even more surly family members, but without his brother, who is living the dream Sam used to want.

Paul Kelly said...

Josie, if that isn't the plot, it bloody well should be. That sounds awesome! If that happens, I'll be happier than a baby staring at a set of shiny dangling keys.

*claps really fast and gurgles*

Josie Kafka said...

[Tickles Paul's tummy while making silly faces.]

Gus Brunetti said...

Josie and Paul,

I'll actually be disappointed if that is the case, because it would fit the "it was all a dream" gimmick.

But I loved the episode. It *was* awkward, fittingly awkward. And I believe Sam wouldn't have told Dean. Remember that Sam always wanted out. When he saw that Dean had, Sam projected his dreams and concluded Dean was happy.

Unknown said...

Having just re-watched the entire series before this episode, I can say unequivocally that it isn't the writing. It is definitely not Dean that's off, and I believe that this feeling of unease is entirely on purpose.

Sam feels like Sam yet a little twisted. As if Lucy rubbed off on him a bit. I have no illusions that papa Campbell is on the level, he just seems too good to be good. Maybe it's the presence of ole Yellow eyes in the episode, but I kept getting creeped out by him.

Anyway good episode, probably a three in my book. And a great analysis of a off kilter episode.

Nitewoman said...

Reading lots of negative comments especially about Sam. I hate it when people dish the episode and/or show without giving it a chance. Of course Dean and Sam have changed look what they've gone through for 5 years for heavens sake! I like this new direction kudos to Sara!

The episode was awesome. Great opening scene bringing everything up to date. Wish we could have had more than 5 minutes!!!! of "Happy Dean" before "All Hell Broke Loose" The scene in the Kitchen Dean and Lisa getting breakfast showing how they worked together synchronizing their duties summed up the whole family life.Sammy sitting and waiting for Dean to wake up....Sam way too nonchalant, bodes bad things. I like the addition of Campbell clan. I know all the men from other shows (love 'em) but something is up with Grampa Campbell. Great start to the season. As Mo Ryan stated in her review the whole episode had the feeling of melancholy.
I missed "The Road So Far" opening, maybe we will get it in episode 2, but the opening was good. The new opening banner is interesting.

I hope Lisa and Ben stick around at least in Dean protecting them. Dean had a year of some happiness IMO and though he still did somethings hunters would do (devils trap, salt, gun) cause he knowns whats out there. And I can see why Dean would choose Lisa and Ben over Sam...good for you Dean! Know it's not possible to stay that way because there would be no show without the brothers hunting. But when the show does end I want Dean back with Lisa and Ben. Lisa is the best woman for Dean, she completely understands him.

Nitewoman said...

One more observation: well actually three

1. John, Dean and Sam have all been to hell. John the longest what was it 100 years? Dean 40 years, Sam ? Sounded like he didn't stay in the cage very long have to wait and see on that one.

2. John, Dean and Sam have all died, the boys more times than I can count. Poor John he never got a chance to come back.

3. John watched Mary burn on the ceiling. Sam watched Jessica burn on the ceiling and now Dean watched Lisa burn on the ceiling all by YED! So all the Winchester men have experienced the gut wrenching death of someone they loved or really cared for ie:Lisa.

Billie Doux said...

I really do hope this feeling of "off"-ness is deliberate and there's a cool reason for it. And one thing I didn't state in my review (but I should have) was that I liked how Dean decided to stay behind and protect Lisa and Ben from the danger he inadvertently put them in, instead of running off to hunt monsters again. He's grown up a lot in the past year.

Jess Lynde said...

I loved this episode. I wasn't super excited the series was continuing after the five-year arc, but darn if they didn't just intrigue the hell out of me with all this aftermath stuff. Sam and Grandpa being back is cool as hell, and I can't wait to see where it is going. Especially since Sam very clearly came back "wrong" somehow and Grandpa is lying and hiding stuff.

I will say that "melancholy" is definitely the feel I got from the opening. I did not get the impression that Dean was super happy and comfortable in his life with Lisa and Ben. He missed his brother and the life, and only truly seemed happy to me in his interaction with Ben. (Which Lisa seemed to pick up on, too. As Billie notes, she only talked about how happy she was in terms of Ben having someone he could look up to.) I think he stayed for Ben. What upset him the most about that Jinn-induced vision was Ben feeding off YED.

All together, another impressive start to a season in my book. It keeps us all on edge and gives the writers lots to work with going forward. I'm happy to realize I'm now actually excited to see where Sera Gamble takes us!

KimmieAnn said...

Love your reviews Billie! They are what have inspired me to start watching the series and I have fallen fast and hard for it!

I am glad that you noted the DJ Sam poster outside the abandoned hotel. I was wondering if I really saw it.

Also, Sid has me wondering about him. When Dean was following the claw marks, and almost killed the Bleekman's dog, Sid spotted him and spoke to him. Sid had on a Nirvana shirt with wings on it. Maybe a bit of symbolism?

Also, didn't Sid mention having drinks with Dean every night the past year? Could Sid be watching over Dean? Could he be an Angel?

Loving the show and can't wait til this Friday!

Kim

Billie Doux said...

Kim, the idea of Sid as Dean's guardian angel makes a lot of sense. It never once occurred to me.

And thank you so much! I love it when someone tells me they started watching something they love because of my reviews -- it just makes my day.

Rachel said...

So, it's always a bit of a relief to come here after I watch something and go, "oh, good. It wasn't just me." Because Sam is creepy. Like, super duper creepy. In fact, I'm not really sure that is Sam. It's less that he didn't tell Dean, and refused to take the Impala, and made blithe comments about how Dean cares about watching innocent people get slaughtered while he (Sam) doesn't, it's how he did all this. He seemed very removed from everything that was going on, and some of the little head-tilty, mouth-twisty things he was doing at the end seemed more like Lucifer mannerisms than Sam mannerisms. Not that I'm saying that I think Sam's still Lucifer; I have absolutely no idea. But... creepy.

Gramps Campbell was also very creepy, as was the mysteriously dead, never-mentioned-again Campbell cousin. Does no one notice/care that he's dead? What purpose does his death even serve, since Lisa and Ben aren't home?

Also, isn't djinn juice supposed to make you think happy thoughts, so they can eat you or something? It's been a while since that episode, but it seems to me that Dean got a REALLY bad trip compared to his last one.

That said, I really do think that all the weird offness is deliberate, and they're going to come up with something cool.

Anonymous said...

I liked this episode a lot more now than I did the first time. Maybe rewatching up until season 5 helped, I don´t know but this time around, the episode didn´t seem so odd to me but I also think that this episode is also right on the money: it´s meant to make us feel odd and uncomfortable. Sam and Dean are strangers now.

Patryk said...

The blog ate what I wrote so i'll be brief. I hope everything comes together in the end becasue as of now the premiere feels not very Supernatural.

ChrisB said...

I feel so relieved! I watched this episode, then watched it again thinking I had missed something the first time through. Everything felt a bit surreal. The review and the comments have convinced me that I'm not crazy.

Dean is obviously unhappy, yet chooses to stay? I can see the sense of responsibility, but I would argue he's protecting them more by being out in the world.

Sam is bizarre! What is going on with him? For a guy who spent a lot of the past five years with tears in his eyes, he seemed so distant and remote. The reunion was nothing like the one after Dean came back from hell -- Sam's face when Dean hugged him was, I don't even know the word -- detached?

Why the hell is Bobby keeping secrets like this? Something is up with Grandpa -- nothing good, I'm sure. His conversation with Dean seemed almost rehearsed. And where is Cass?

I must say I went into this episode thinking it would be a classic jump, but I am I interested. Something has happened...

Anonymous said...

I liked this episode. I felt a lot of parallels between this episode and Buffy's 6th season. Everyone sort of learned new ways to live without their counterparts - the Scoobies learned new ways without Buffy, and both Dean and Sam created new lives without each other yet all those lives feel a little off, as they should. This is of course if the entire episode wasn't a dream or a hallucination.

I was also thinking a lot about souls. Does Bobby have his soul back? We also haven't really explored what not having a soul means in the Supernatural universe, as Bobby didn't really seem that different without a soul. I can't imagine they just dropped that plot line.

I was furious with Sam and Bobby hiding that Sam was back from Dean. Thinking they know what is best for Dean. Sam was the one who wanted a normal life, not Dean. Dean just wanted his brother, as he stated in the episode. How dare they lie to him about Sam being back?

Also, I thought that opening montage was wonderful and the saddest thing I have seen in awhile. I lost it when I saw the holy water under Dean's bed. So sad for him without his brother, also fueling my fire when I learned they had been lying to Dean about Sam's return.

Anyway, thanks again Billie, for your most wonderful reviews. My TV watching experiences are incomplete without them. I'm always sorely disappointed when I watch a show and don't have one of your reviews to read! The reviews add so much to the experience.