In the nineteenth episode of the first season of Supernatural, a story about a haunted painted ends up being not nearly as bad as it should have been. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Supernatural.
Seriously, this could have been a lot worse, and I know that seems like a backhanded compliment, but I think that the writers set themselves up for a challenge when they tried to make a haunted painting creepy. The idea is a little silly in and of itself, but the execution of it is fairly unsettling at times because NOOOOOOO to creepy children. I realize that this is a very prevalent trope in horror and it’s been used way too much in the last fifteen years or so, but that still doesn’t mean I’m not massively disturbed by it. (My favorite example of the creepy children trope is in the Spanish film Quien Puede Matar a un Niño?, which is about a billion times fucked up for a number of reasons, and if you can get past the horrible audio sync issues and the decidedly late 70s everything, I really do think it’s one of the scarier films I’ve ever seen.) I DON’T LIKE IT, IT ALWAYS MAKES ME FEEL AWFUL.
Truthfully, though, I don’t really find the main story to be all that compelling. Again, it’s a competent little horror story, but I wasn’t blown away by. I definitely think this is one of those episodes that suffers more from following episodes that are much better. Creepy children? Okay! Haunted painting? Well, not so much. It’s fun once, and I certainly had a lot of fun watching this episode.
BUT NO, THIS EPISODE IS ABOUT WINCHESTER PAIN FOREVER. Let me get one criticism out of the way to start things off. Dean’s expectation of attention/affection from women after saving them (as he does here with Sarah at the end of “Provenance”) is just too weird for me. Yeah, don’t? That’s creepy, please stop expecting that, what. I suppose there’s a great deal of this that just comes across as “straight guy stuff” that I will never, ever understand, so… do straight men cheer each other on to hook up or is that a Winchester-only thing? Wow, that is an awkward sentence which I will now immediately ignore that I ever wrote.
But honestly, let’s talk about what I do like about “Provenance.” I mentioned in the video for this episode that it was easy to imagine that this sort of life – as hunters – is deliberately lonely. In fact, I was certain that was why Sam was refusing to pursue a single woman ever. It seemed so obvious! They’re in a town for a week, and that’s it. You can’t build a relationship around something like that, and Sam definitely seems like the relationship type, you know? It’s impractical for him. Plus, there’s still the threat of Sam possibly leaving Dean after they find and kill the demon that killed their mother and Jess.
Oh, manpain. There’s just so much of it here. When Sarah started talking about losing her mother and how it shut her off from pursuing a relationship, I still thought I knew what was going on with Sam. That is easy to understand as well. His heart is still raw from Jess’s death, which, reminder, was less than a year prior to this.
But this wasn’t about replacing Jess. I don’t think Sam had any qualms about that. This is more about protection. (It’s important to note that this is actually the same behavior we see in Dean. More on that in a bit.) Admittedly, this is a very common story choice for a heroic character. How often have we seen the hero unwilling to pursue a relationship because they’re worried that the very association will get that person killed? ( :: cough cough HARRY POTTER cough cough :: ) For Sam, that threat seems a whole lot more real, given that his own mother and Jess both died around him. But I think he’s mistaking himself as the cause of all this trauma. I mean, who could blame him? From his perspective, the people he loves leave him. (I think you could include John Winchester in that, especially since I now know that Sam is a volatile ball of feelings towards his father.)
So I love what Sarah represents, and I love that despite me constantly guessing that she was going to kick the bucket, the writers actually leave her alive and standing at the end of the episode. God, she is such a bundle of hope and joy, and I love how this is pulled off while respecting the fact that she spent a year grieving. Unfortunately, I already know I’ll never see her again, which is criminally unfair because this show keeps introducing these incredible women as side characters and then NEVER AGAIN.
And then there’s Dean. So, I was being a little facetious about the whole I DON’T UNDERSTAND STRAIGHT PEOPLE thing, though truthfully, I don’t understand y’all much. QUEER FOR LIFE. But I did get that Dean was looking out for his brother’s mental health in his own Dean-like way. I know it’s largely passed off as a joke, but Dean was trying to give his brother an outlet to cope with their hunter lifestyle. Granted, I can’t ignore that Dean’s a bit of a womanizer at times, and he’s pushing Sam to essentially use women for sex. That’s part of this whole thing. Sam’s the little brother here, and Dean views him as his responsibility in every way imaginable, even his own love life.
So, this was a decent episode! Not spectacular or anything, but not awful either.
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