In the seventh episode of the fifth season of Supernatural, Dean, Sam, and Bobby battle a witch who is really good at poker. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Supernatural.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of suicide, racial stereotypes, ableism, cissexism, and misogyny.
Good lord, this episode is kind of a mess.
There’s some good here, I won’t deny that. But most of this episode perplexed me! I admit that, right off the bat, I was set against liking this episode. It had been quite a while since the last Asian woman joke, and then this episode just knocks it out of the park in terms of grossly sexualizing unnamed Asian women AND THEN LITERALLY PLAYING A GONG SOUND AS THEY WALK OUT OF THE ROOM. You have got to be fucking kidding me. Who did that? Did someone actually see two Asian women in this when they were adding the soundtrack and thought, “Shit, people won’t know they’re Asian unless I add this horrific gong sound.” DID THEY? Because how is that even remotely okay?
You don’t need to answer that, obviously. But let’s say I could have gotten past that. The idea of a pair of witches who steal the lives of people through poker is REALLY INTERESTING. It’s a very different twist on witch mythology in the history of Supernatural because ultimately, Patrick is still giving these people the chance not to play them. That’s not to say he doesn’t feed off desperation and terror, because he absolutely does. But given how much Dean hates witches, it was intriguing to me that we were given a story that looked at them from a different angle. And it all addresses Bobby’s sense of self-worth! And it features Dean’s ego being the cause of his own downfall! And Sam being a badass at poker! And BOBBY AND DEAN BICKERING BEAUTIFULLY.
But these disparate parts, which were enjoyable or funny or revealing, ultimately don’t lift this episode out of all the strange feelings I had for it. Half the time, I felt like the jokes were simply, “Ha ha! Old people.” Half the time, I was curious if this episode was ever going to feel exciting. Until the big poker scene at the end of “The Curious Case of Dean Winchester,” I had only one reason to care about what happened in this episode: Bobby. While we’ve gotten glimpses of his struggle with becoming paralyzed, this is the first time he’s able to vocalize how he feels. Which is important! Now, I’ll leave the commentary on the portrayal of folks in wheelchairs to those who are actually qualified to talk about it, but this really was the most touching part of this episode. Bobby finally admitted to the Winchesters that he wasn’t just struggling with his own body; he’d been suicidal for a long time. His identity is so strongly tied to being a hunter that it’s clearly left him feeling useless and detached. So I’m glad that Dean specifically vocalizes the fact that just because Bobby can’t walk doesn’t mean he’s useless. That’s simply not the case, and the Winchesters have been depending on Bobby in more ways than just as a resource. He’s family to them, and family is everything.
Still, I couldn’t find a reason to care about Patrick. Or Lia. Lia’s story was neat, but it’s crammed into an episode that was pretty full as it was. While I think that Chad Everett did an okay job portraying Dean, I was distracted by the fact that he looked nothing like Dean at all. Right? Sam’s incredible poker face sequence was certainly a lot of fun, and I have a lot invested in the idea that Sam is good at hiding his true feelings because he’s brother to Dean Winchester, who is allergic to all expressions of emotions. Which brings me to that awful line that Bobby utters about “lady parts,” which is both absurdly misogynistic and cissexist at the same time. COME ON. I get that Bobby and Dean are meant to be these manly men, but you don’t need to spell it out like this. That’s a bit much, don’t you think?
Anyway, let’s move on from this episode. I hope that the next one gets back to the apocalypse storyline! WHAT’S CAS UP TO?
The video for “The Curious Case of Dean Winchester” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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