Mark Watches ‘Supernatural’: S11E15 – Beyond the Mat

In the fifteenth episode of the eleventh season of Supernatural, THIS IS REALLY GREAT until it just becomes okay. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Supernatural

You know, this is one of the most entertaining episodes of Supernatural PERIOD until it relies on storytelling or tropes that we’ve seen a million times before. It’s still one of the best episodes this season, but there’s a part of me that wishes that the writers had continued to play with the format and our expectations instead of bringing us back to crossroad demons and double-crossing.

I grew up on professional wrestling… sort of. It’s complicated. This isn’t the first time I’ve written about it, but in case you missed out: I weirdly loved it for a while? My father was obsessed with watching it, and I despised it. It was obviously fake, I didn’t find it entertaining, and then I realized it was full of hot men. And I may have changed my outlook on it. (You have no idea how excited I got about wrestling when The Rock showed up. To this day, I still adore and admire that hunk of a man.) I think by simply being exposed to it weekend after weekend, I came to find entertainment in it. I let myself be amused by it. (So many hot men, christ.) I had problems with it, and I know that’s why I never actively watched after I left my parents’ house, but there was a time when I at least understood professional wrestling.

In the wake of the events of “The Vessel,” this episode provides us with a necessary and hilarious break from the emotional intensity the Winchesters have been dealing with. Much like “LARP and the Real Girl,” we’re given a vehicle for Dean Winchester’s best feature: absolute and total joy. And it’s not dishonest, either! Both Sam and Dean grew up on wrestling, and while they’re excited to briefly return to this world, you can still see the signs of age. The arena is smaller, the crowd isn’t as big, and it’s much more of a local affair, rather than some sort of grand spectacle. There is, of course, a subtextual interpretation of the events in “Beyond the Mat” as a commentary on the aging of the Winchesters, but that’s lost. And I don’t mean that as a criticism. As soon as Gunner Lawless steps into that room, Supernatural turns into something else.

Is it indulgent? Yes! Absolutely so! But I loved that indulgence. I loved that for five minutes, all pretense of seriousness and mythology was cast aside so that Dean could be happy. So he could relive the excitement and joy of his youth. SO THAT SAM COULD EVENTUALLY BE JUST AS EXCITED AS DEAN WAS. I loved that detail because he totally went into this as a skeptic and was won over. And he was understandably doubtful! They were pulled back into the world of wrestling through a wake, a stark reminder of the mortality of their heroes. It’s not exactly an inspiring place. (Though the wake scene inspired something else in me: GIVE US BISEXUAL DEAN WINCHESTER. Did you see the look he gave Gunner? Goddamn.) But in that room, watching the fight in that ring, was a means to remind them of something they used to love. Hell, even I got a little excited watching it!

I just wish that excitement carried through to the second half of “Beyond the Mat.” I was even intrigued by the murders until they became nonsensical. Y’all, I still don’t understand who killed that kid’s father. It couldn’t have been Gunner, right? Unless I misunderstood that cut, wasn’t Gunner still in the ring? Let’s say he wasn’t, and that happened right after Gunner’s fight. How did he kill him? A knife doesn’t do THAT to a body. How did he kill the Hangman? That killing looked supernatural! Did the Crossroads Demon do that? Why couldn’t the demon just kill people and take their souls?

I understood that Gunner was supposed to be a stand-in or a foil for Cas, but I wish it would have been interesting beyond that. The dude has been killing people for YEARS just to put off the hellhounds, so I don’t exactly feel bad for him. (Seriously, did Dean actually say that Gunner didn’t deserve to go out like that? YES, HE DID. HE MURDERED A LOT OF PEOPLE, DUDE.) On top of that, I really, really want to see this show do ANYTHING ELSE with Crowley and Cas and Lucifer besides having them stand around and double-cross each other. It’s so boring! We’ve been here a million times before! Aside from Crowley being free, not one thing was advanced in their storylines. (Well, Simmons is dead now. BOO.) What gives? Why isn’t Lucifer out in the world and enjoying it? Surely, there’s a better way to find a Hand of God then just… remaining in the same spot?

I did have fun watching this episode, so there’s that.

The video for “Beyond the Mat” 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 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!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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