In the tenth episode of the first season of Supernatural, the Winchesters go into an abandoned asylum of their own free will because apparently, they haven’t seen a single horror movie? What the fuck are you doing? You even scold one of the characters for ghost hunting in an asylum while you are in an asylum hunting ghosts. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. At least you did this while constantly reference The Shining. I’m okay with that. I should really end this introduction.
I really feel like Supernatural is allowing me to be my most ridiculous, y’all.
- Even if “Asylum” is largely a monster-of-the-week episode, it feels so much more coherent and serialized after “Home.” There are still emotional issues brought up through Sam’s journey in this episode that resonate with the what we’ve seen so far, and it’s what is keeping me interested in this show. I know I yell at my computer every time this goddamn show gives me feelings, but I do like that it is.
- There are a few glaring and strange moments in “Asylum,” but otherwise, this was a lot more solid than I expected.
- Let’s get to my big complaint here, though I’m sure this won’t be surprising to anyone: I really hate the depiction of mentally ill people in horror/thrillers where it’s just assumed that one cannot live with a mental disability, they’re always hopeless, and we should be terrified of all people with mental illnesses. (Though I must bring up the awesome way in which this trope is subverted halfway through “Asylum.” STAY TUNED.) Frankly, it’s just boring more than anything else. Which sucks because ABANDONED BUILDING HORROR STORIES ARE SO FUN. THEY ARE LIKE THE MOST FUN. Oh my god, one day I’ll tell the story of the old asylum at Cal State Channel Islands that I broke into years ago and…
- wait I just realized that my entire intro is hypocritical because I once willingly went into an asylum that was abandoned because of Reagan (fuck Ronald Reagan), and did so because we were looking for ghosts.
- Whoops, I’m a fool.
- Anyway, clearly I can’t complain about that.
- Back to what I was saying. Initially, at least, this episode forces us to rely on stereotypes of the mentally disabled to fill in the blanks. That’s not to say that the psychiatric community didn’t treat their patients terribly in the past. That’s not the case. It’s just that this very trope – that doctors experimented on their patients, and the patients are ready for revenge – isn’t exactly the newest thing in the world.
- OH, BUT HOW “ASYLUM” PLAYS WITH OUR EXPECTATIONS.
- I suppose that is one the big reasons why this ended up being so satisfying. I expected vengeful spirits who wanted to avenge their horrific deaths, and I wasn’t even close.
- But before that big reveal arrives, there are shenanigans. I am calling total bullshit on the idea that James Ellicott would seriously trade a session for the story of how his father died. THAT SEEMS REALLY SKETCHY. Like… no, I can’t do it. I CAN’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT. Let me tell this random, suspiciously inquisitive stranger how my father died violently at the hands of the very patients he was tormenting. That’s a reasonable thing. That’s a thing that would totally happen.
- (Can I also just take a moment to acknowledge the inherent absurdity about complaining of realism in a show where ghosts are whispering in the ears of the main characters. Because I realize that’s also happening here.)
- I was also convinced that Kat and Gavin would die. At least Gavin would.
- But then nothing makes sense.
- I gotta say that one of my favorite things about these ten episodes I’ve seen is how the writers take a very popular horror trope or urban legend and twist it in a way that makes the ending surprising. In this case, the ghosts aren’t malicious. I was genuinely shocked by this! As creepy as they appear here, it’s due to what Dr. Ellicott did to them. Their appearance is a red herring in that sense. They aren’t trying to harm anyone. THEY ARE TRYING TO COMMUNICATE.
- NUMBERS. THEY’RE TRYING TO COMMUNICATE NUMBERS
- WHAT IF THE WHOLE TIME THEY WERE JUST TRYING TO SOLVE A REALLY DIFFICULT MATH PROBLEM?
- This is why no one should give me a television show to run.
- Anyway, I love the twist that the ghosts just wanted them to find Ellicott’s secret “lab” area and destroy his body! BENEVOLENT GHOSTS WHO ARE SAD AND TORTURED AND JUST WANT TO HELP and probably just want friends??? Oh, can we have an episode about lonely ghosts who want friends???
- But I do want to seriously discuss one aspect of this episode that worked extremely well. There was an inferred confirmation early on that Sam had spoken about his relationship with Dean to James Ellicott. I think it was easy to imagine that once Dr. Ellicott did his weird little electrocution head zap thing (which made no sense once I thought about it, but I’ve found if you don’t question this show it makes it easier to handle), it unlocked all the anger that Sam felt toward Dean that he must have expressed to Dr. Ellicott’s son. And while Sam tries to quickly insist that what he said wasn’t sincere, I don’t quite believe him. Sure, Dr. Ellicott’s awful procedure made people more angry and wrathful than they’d ever been, so perhaps Sam was exaggerating. But was he 100% lying? I’m not so certain of that. We know from the beginning of this episode that Sam questioned whether or not their father actually sent the coordinates to Dean. Plus, by the end of this episode, we don’t find out if John Winchester was behind this. WHAT IF IT’S SOMETHING ELSE?
- So how much does Sam resent his brother? Is it possible that he’s also jealous that it’s so easy for Dean to love their father?
- QUESTIONS. FEELINGS. QUESTIONS ABOUT FEELINGS.
- Oh, right, SAM SHOT DEAN
- I DID NOT EXPECT THAT.
- AT ALL.
- Things got too real for a second there.
- I think the conclusion is wrapped up rather quickly. So, do all the spirits just disappear after Dr. Ellicott’s body is destroyed? Yes? Okay. And Kat and Gavin survived! Granted, they just stood in one spot for the last fifteen minutes once this became the Dean and Sam show. (Well, it was always that, I should say.) They didn’t get much development, though I did appreciate that bit where Kat swore she was going to break things off with Gavin. BECAUSE THIS IS ONE OF THE WORST DATES I’VE EVER SEEN.
- BUT Y’ALL. Y’ALL. JOHN CALLED DEAN. AND SAM PICKED UP.
- THIS BETTER BE ADDRESSED IMMEDIATELY IN THE OPENING OF THE NEXT EPISODE.
- IT BETTER BE.
The video commission for “Asylum” can be downloaded right here.
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