In the eighth episode of the eleventh season of Supernatural, Sam’s imaginary friend from childhood arrives with a case. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Supernatural.
Look, I was real hard on Supernatural for the first few episodes this season. I don’t regret that at all, and I think my concerns with this show – namely, in its ability to repeat itself and refuse to take risks – are still valid. But something has happened since the fourth episode of this season, and I’ve been enjoying the way this season has been playing out. I wouldn’t sit here and say that Supernatural got a makeover or anything. It’s still telling the kind of stories we’re used to. But there’s a sincerity and an intensity to these last five episodes, even when it’s just a case-of-the-week story, that I can’t ignore. And I like it!
Really, that’s what “Just My Imagination” does for me. It gives us an absurd story full of surreal imagery and dialogue, and then it makes me care that it happened. In the opening scenes of this episode, I worried that characters like Sully and Sparkle, who stand in stark contrast to the traditionally masculine Winchester brothers in most ways (particularly Dean), would be nothing more than a running gag. I mean, it was hard not to laugh at that bizarre sequence where the mother stepped in Sparkle’s blood and then rubbed it all over her face. But within tragedy, there was humor, and then, the show takes that humor and folds it back around to tragedy. Why did Sam have an imaginary friend? Why did a zanna seek out this kid who apparently had a brother who looked out for him? Why did Sully leave?
These questions have deeply uncomfortable answers, and in the end, Jenny Klein’s script doesn’t avoid addressing any of them. The flashbacks we see here show us that before Sam was invited into the family business, he often spent days entirely by himself. His loneliness was so intense that Sully showed up to guide Sam through his emotions and the conflict he felt because he was left out. What’s interesting to me about this is that to Sully, Sam’s life was one devoid of meaning and direction. He comforted his friend while the rest of his family left him behind. He saw how much Sam longed for a life of his own, and he tried to offer that to him. I suppose that since I am a runaway, I’m biased in favor of this because I know that there are valid reasons for a kid to run away from their family. Granted, my situation wasn’t the same, but I appreciated that Sam had someone by his side who told him that it was okay to pursue a life that made him feel wanted and happy.
Of course, we all know this could not have lasted, since Sam was eventually a part of the hunter world. What we didn’t know is that he had to break Sully’s heart in the process. And that’s the core of the story in “Just My Imagination.” How do the mistakes we make affect others? What do we do when our actions have horrible ramifications for others? In one sense, Sully does what is right: he leaves Sam behind, though he does so believing he’s utterly failed this kid. But what does he do next? He takes up a pair of kids, one of which he accidentally kills. He sets Reese on a path of revenge by refusing to comfort her after her loss. Like many of the great monster-of-the-week episodes of Supernatural, this story provides us with a parallel insight into one of the Winchesters’ lives. In this case, Sully and Sam have a lot more in common than they think they do. Both of them made mistakes that cost lives, and it’s not exactly all that easy to fix them.
But I think that “Just My Imagination” is supposed to provide hope. Sully’s mistake ruined someone’s life, and at the end of this episode, Reese confronts Sully over this, after having killed two of his friends and wounding a third. She’s left a path of destruction behind her, and why? Because she’s furious, she’s had no outlet for her anger, and because when she needed him most, Sully was too much of a coward to face what he’d done. For me, that’s the message to Sam: You did something terrible, so own it and fix it. Granted, that’s still not an easy thing to do because we’re all uncertain about what it is that Sam must do. Are his visions really from God? Does he need to consult Lucifer or let Lucifer out of the Cage? WHO FUCKING KNOWS AT THIS POINT.
I enjoyed this episode. I think the ending is slightly absurd (in a way that’s actually distracting) because Reese just gets to walk away from her murders, though I suppose there’s no easy way to deal with that either. She can’t exactly be brought up on charges for killing a bunch of invisible creatures. But perhaps that’s the point. Dean comes to view the zanna as beneficial creatures, not monsters. Hell, he even THANKS SULLY for being there for Sam when he couldn’t. If Dean can adapt and change to the situation, then maybe everyone else can, too. At the end of the day, “Just My Imagination” was a deeply emotional story about guilt and fear, and I felt like Klein’s script told us that everyone in this universe deserves a second chance to prove themselves.
Of course, we don’t know how Sam is going to do that. GODDAMN IT, I NEED TO KNOW. I would be pretty stoked if Lucifer came back to this show.
The video for “Just My Imagination” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
Mark Links Stuff
– I am now on Patreon!!! MANY SURPRISES ARE IN STORE FOR YOU IF YOU SUPPORT ME.
– I will be at numerous conventions in 2016! Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches will be seasons 1 & 2 of The 100, Death Note, and Neon Genesis Evangelion. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
– Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!