Note: Do not read on if you have not seen Season 8, Episode 18 of The CW's "Supernatural," titled "Freaks and Geeks."
Since not every "Supernatural" episode can be centered around the season's chosen mythology, it would be nice if every self-contained episode could be like "Freaks and Geeks," which paid homage to the series' history and demonstrated a firm grasp of continuity while still providing fans with the satisfying character beats we tune in for every week.
Adam Glass' snappy script, beautifully directed by John Showalter, brought back Krissy Chambers (a delightfully sassy Madison McLaughlin) and utilized plenty of vampire lore from previous seasons, including a cure for the condition and the always-handy Dead Man's Blood.
And, like many of the show's stronger episodes, the story grappled with themes of revenge versus justice, what truly makes a monster monstrous, and whether there's any possibility for a hunter to have a "normal" life -- something Sam continues to struggle with this season.
The episode's conceit was simple enough: A hunter called Victor had established a kind of hunting school for wayward orphans whose families were murdered by supernatural creatures, both to recapture the lively atmosphere he lost when his own family was murdered and, allegedly, to prepare the kids to be the next generation of monster killers, smarter and faster than those who came before them. Krissy might have insisted that they weren't like the X-Men, but the concept was certainly similar.
Sadly, Victor was so desperate to replace his own murdered kin that he used a pet vampire to kill the teens' families to set them on a path of revenge -- kind of wasteful, when you consider how many kids have legitimately been orphaned or affected by things that go bump in the night over the course of the show so far. If Victor's methods had been truly altruistic, he could've done a lot of good in a world constantly on the verge of an apocalypse.
It would be fascinating to revisit some of the characters we saw back in the first couple of seasons -- kids like "Something Wicked's" Michael and "Dead in the Water's" Lucas who would now be in their mid/late-teens and might've had their whole perspectives rocked by their encounters with the Winchesters, but "Freaks and Geeks" was a solid investigation into one logical way a child might react to that kind of loss. I hope we see Krissy, Aidan and Josephine again to find out just how good the "next generation" of hunters might be.
t was heartening to see Dean making the distinction that "hunting isn't always about killing" and that good and evil isn't always black and white, reaffirming what he learned in Purgatory through his friendship with Benny and preventing Krissy and her friends from starting down a bloodthirsty path.
I've always had a soft spot for episodes that utilize Dean's rapport with kids, and Krissy has been a particularly engaging foil for him in both her episodes, constantly insulting him like the bratty sister he never had. Watching him eschew giving Aidan the overprotective father talk on Krissy's behalf was a wonderful moment (since she really would kick Aidan's ass all by herself), but watching the tough teen forgo a fist-bump for a chaste kiss on the cheek in thanks was even more touching, especially since Dean is a character who seemingly craves human connection and familial bonds but has always struggled with how to maintain them.
Dean's insistence that Krissy resist killing Victor was completely justified, but I can't help but wonder whether he and Sam would've taken Victor out if he hadn't shot himself first, since he arguably could've started doing the exact same thing with another group of kids if left to his own devices. Though the Winchesters have always been reluctant to kill humans, history has certainly proven that some of the show's mortal villains have been every bit as twisted as the supernatural ones, and I would hate to think they'd simply let someone as selfish and twisted as Victor walk free.
The episode's greatest strength was undoubtedly its examination of Sam and Dean, reaffirming Sam's desire for a safe, apple pie life and raising the question of whether either Winchester actually wants children, let alone feels like they could provide a safe life for them.
Dean still believes that the only way to ensure anyone will grow up safe and avoid the life the Winchesters have led is to close the gates of Hell, while Sam seemed to gravitate towards the concept of maintaining a sense of normalcy even while hunting, which is understandable, if potentially misguided.
The show's history has shown us that staying in one place makes our hunters a target, illustrated by the fates of The Roadhouse and Bobby's home, but with the right warding and an obscure location -- like Rufus' cabin -- would it really be impossible to create a home between hunts? Judging by Dean's excitement over the bathrobes and proper beds in the Men of Letters bunker, a safe haven is obviously something that appeals to both brothers (and why shouldn't it?).
It would be nice to think that Sam and Dean could someday take the lessons of their encounter with Victor and the teens and create their own place of sanctuary for people who have lost everything but still want to protect others from suffering the same loss, if they live long enough to continue hunting in their later years. Regardless of whether the brothers succeed in closing the Gates of Hell, there will always be non-demonic monsters to hunt. Both Sam and Dean (whether he'd admit it or not) have the kind of altruistic nature and desire to protect others that would make them ideal teachers (or father-figures) for wayward souls like Krissy. After all, what was Team Free Will if not a makeshift family? Their relationships with Castiel, Bobby, Garth and even more peripheral characters like Charlie prove that the Winchesters can't help but pull people into their orbit, even when it would be safer to push them away. Ultimately, family is at the heart of this show, and it would be nice to think that the Winchesters will be able to achieve some semblance of one by the time the final credits roll.
Watch a sneak peek from next week's episode below:
"Supernatural" airs Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.
Do you think a hunter could ever balance a "normal" life with the demands of the job? Would Sam and Dean have let Victor go? Share your thoughts and reactions in the comments!