Sunday, November 6, 2011

Supernatural Season 7 Episode 7: The Mentalists

This week's episode of Supernatural took place in the real-life town of Lily Dale, New York, which actually does have the world's highest per capita concentration of mediums. As the story begins, Dean comes into town in a “borrowed” car, to investigate the deaths of two high-profile psychics. He runs into Sam in the local diner, Good Graces, and they agree to put their differences aside long enough to work the case.

This is the sort of “monster-of-the-week” story that the show thrived on in it's first and second season, before things got all Book of Revelations. Most fans will cop to missing this sort of stand-alone episode, even if they also enjoy the great cosmic story arcs. In “The Mentalists”, the psychics (two of which die after the Winchesters show up) are being hunted by the ghost of a Lily Dale founder, Margaret Fox, who gives them visions of their deaths before, well, causing them. In life, she was overlooked in favor of her less gifted but flashier sister, Kate. Margaret, in turn, is in the thrall of a local shop owner who is bitter because his predictions are just too punk rock for the paying public.

Also in keeping with earlier seasons, there is a conventionally hot damsel in distress. Melanie Goldman is the granddaughter of one of Margaret's victims, but ends up as a target herself. Perhaps she's aware of how much being involved with Sam lowers your chances of making it through the episode, because she takes a shine to Dean instead. “I wish I'd met you on a better week,” she tells him, as they part without so much as a kiss. “I wish I had better weeks,” he replies.

There are some great moments in this episode. At one point, the curator of the city museum relays a message from Ellen Harvelle to Dean: he had better open up about what's bothering him of she will kick his tail personally. Even after death, Ellen's just awesome. Then there is the Whedonverse shout-out, when the shop owner describes a pendent as an “Orb of Thessaly”. Presumably this is a a play on “Orb of Thesulah”, a magical device from Buffy and Angel. After all, this is the same show that brought us the Serenity Valley Convalescence Home. And Let's not forget the affirmation that the waiter from Good Graces gives Dean, free with his meal: he is a “virile manifestation of the Divine”. Dean girls like myself will, at this point, be both cackling at Dean's discomfort and thinking “Well, I really can't argue with that.”

There may even have been an allusion to something happening in real life. In tracking down the buyer of an ash wood altar, Sam bursts in upon a New-Agey lamaze class. I can't help but wondering if this was inspired by Jared Padalecki's recent announcement that he and his wife Genevieve are expecting their first child. For those late to the party, the happy parents-to-be are requesting that fans make donations to St. Jude's Hospital instead of sending them presents.

Toward the end of “The Mentalists”, Sam and Dean finally discuss the dead kitsune demon in the room. It as about time, too...this particular storyline neither could nor should last much longer. It didn't drag on for too long, though, and I like the way that it was resolved. Without admitting that Dean was right, Sam concedes that he might have killed Amy too if he hadn't known her. And without admitting that he was wrong, Dean admits that Cas's betrayal and Sam's dangerous, delusional behavior may have figured into his decision at the time. Poll the home audience next time, guys—we could have told you all of this!

One of the most intriguing parts of Friday nights' viewing was the teaser for the next episode. I knew there was going to be a wedding, but my money was on Bobby and Jodie. Apparently the groom is...Sam? And I'm not sure who the bride is, except that it's NOT Jodie (that would just be odd) and some fans online seem to think that it's a character who's been on the show before. We'll see! Just wondering which alias they're registered under.

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