Note: Do not read on if you have not seen Season 7, Episode 16 of The CW's "Supernatural," "Out With The Old."
What initially appeared to be a typically humorous, filler episode of "Supernatural" actually gave us some big developments on the mythology side of the show, as one of the leviathans dropped their master plan (or at least their PR-friendly master plan) on Sam and Dean at the end of the episode. So what do these ancient, terrifying, people-eating monsters want to do now that they're out of their cage?
Cure cancer, apparently.
Yeah, I'm not buying it either, and I'm fairly sure there are easier ways to go about solving one of mankind's biggest problems than snacking on us and surreptitiously buying up obscure pieces of real estate to use as research labs. So, what's their real agenda? I'm wondering if paranoid Frank uncovered the truth and brought the wrath of the toothy creatures down upon himself, since his trailer was utterly wrecked (and more than a little bloody) when Sam and Dean arrived. Of course, since Frank is a little loopy, it's also feasible that he faked his own disappearance to get out of Dodge before he got himself killed. For some reason, though, I ascribe him a little more loyalty than that. We also know that the demons have been lying low for the past few months at Crowley's behest, but I wonder if they've finally decided to get their heads back in the game by snatching Frank for his intel. I suppose we'll just have to be patient on that front.
While the first half of the episode was fairly pedestrian, with Sam and Dean tracking down a number of cursed objects that dispatched their users in various gruesome ways (although sadly without Dean going "Black Swan" on us), things picked up when the story opened up to reveal that the leviathans were behind the sudden real-estate boom in town. I enjoyed the interactions between bossy Joyce and her long-suffering assistant, George, who kept things quippy. It was also entertaining to see the ancient creatures as corporate shills on various rungs of the ladder, each with a clear sense of hierarchy -- Joyce's outrage over the idea that George might get to eat the Winchesters instead of her was a particularly amusing touch.
Still, by professing to have humanity's best interests at heart, the leviathans are becoming eerily reminiscent of the angels in Season 4 -- Zachariah was a similarly smarmy bureaucrat (although Kurt Fuller was a far more charismatic villain than James Patrick Stewart's Dick has been so far). I'm hoping the writers have something a little grander and more ominous in store than what we've seen before -- although on genre shows, destroying humanity is pretty much the biggest conceivable endgame.
My favorite aspect of the episode, following on from the end of last month's excellent "Repo Man," was that Sam seemed to have immediately come clean with Dean about his Lucifer issue. He outright admitted that the devil on his shoulder was refusing to let him sleep, rather than simply trying to hide his deteriorating mental state as I worried he might after the last episode. That lines up with what Jared told me on set about Sam wanting to be aware of himself and his issues this season, instead of trying to ignore them or downplay them with his brother. I think it's a mature and necessary progression for the characters to make. Dean was obviously concerned about Sam's sleep deprivation, but seemed to be admirably attempting not to freak out on him, which, as Jensen put it, is because Dean feels "that he's got to stay as strong as he can in order for his brother to continue on the straight and narrow."
While I understand the logic in Dean wanting to avoid immediately switching to DEFCON 1 -- especially since Sam is attempting to be responsible for his own actions -- I think I would've liked to see the older Winchester exerting a little more pressure on his brother to stop and rest. Or, at least for Dean to have insisted on them traveling together to avoid Sam driving alone -- since his exhaustion almost resulted in him getting t-boned by a truck -- one of several references the episode made to the show's first season. Another was the unexpected return of Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Bad Moon Rising," which, in the world of "Supernatural," certainly seems to signify a bad omen -- and though Sam escaped the truck, the song did herald the boys' discovery of Frank's ransacked trailer. Since the episode was co-written by executive producer Bob Singer -- who has been with the show from the very beginning -- I wasn't surprised by the welcome touches of nostalgia, which have been popping up in many episodes this season.
Overall, "Out With The Old" was a solid, if not spectacular effort, with just the right balance of wit and exposition to keep me engaged. I think the episode benefited from the month-long break between installments, because "Repo Man" was such a well-executed hour that I think it would've made this episode look lackluster in comparison if they'd aired one after the other. I like the seeds that have been planted in establishing Sam's unraveling mental health, since we know he's headed for a major breakdown next week, and I'm intrigued to see where the leviathan storyline goes from here -- how about you?
"Supernatural" airs Fridays at 9 p.m. EST on The CW.