harsens_rob (harsens_rob) wrote,

SPN Reviewed: The Benders


Season 01, Episode 15

The Benders

Writer: John Shiban
DIR: Peter Ellis

Blurbage: A nice decoration for the wall. A backwoods family of hunters likes to stuff and mount their kill as trophies. Only they hunt humans. An they’ve got Sam.

Scene 01: We open in Hibbing, MN.

We’re in some kid’s bedroom who is hugging a comforter close as he’s engrossed in a horror movie playing on the TV at the foot of his bed.

The boy hears something squeal outside and goes to the window, where he sees below a man taking the trash out to the dumpsters.

Scene 02: As the boy is watching the stranger making his way back toward the rundown apartments, we join him at street level. The stranger is looking around questioningly, as if sensing something isn’t right. He hears something creeping about nearby.

From nearby, under a car, another odd noise captures his attention. He sees something that gives him a start and stands up quickly, only to be hit to the ground from behind. He shouts as he’s dragged underneath the car.

The boy in the window continues to watch with agitation.

Scene 03: Sometime later, the police are there questioning the boy’s report but his mother doesn’t seem to put much stock in her son’s tales. She complains that they’ve been questioned over the past week, and she doesn’t like the way that every time her son repeats his story, the more he’s led to believe it happened.

The officers, once we swap our POV from an overhead to a three-quarter profile at floor level, are revealed to be Sam and Dean Winchester. They’re pretending to be the Staties, over the local boys in blue. Sam assures Evan that it doesn’t matter how crazy it sounds, they want to hear what he saw the week prior.

Evan relates about watching TV late and hearing a weird noise going on below. He can only say that the noise sounded like a monster [or, uh… two pieces of metal squealing against each other … but potato - potata, I guess]. His mother informs the “officers” that her son was watching a Godzilla move and ergo his overactive imagination.

But Evan insists that he saw Mr. Jenkins being dragged underneath a car in the lot. Then “it” took him away with a whining growl.

Scene 04: Later that night, we join “Kugel’s Keg”… a local bar. Inside, Sammy is having a beer and telling his brother that the local PD did find signs of a struggle. Dean suggests this sounds like a common kidnapping, which Sam would be apt to agree with, except that John marked the area as a possible “Phantom Abductor”. He’d taken some notes on local mythology, so this appeared to be something he’d planned on looking into at some point.

Also, according to John’s notes, the county that they’re in has more missing people per capita than anywhere else in the state of Minnesota. They decide to ask a few more questions the following morning.

Sam wraps up John’s journal, while Dean complains about his brother putting such an early end to the night. He tells Sam he’ll catch up with him after he takes a leak.

Scene 05: Outside, Our Sam passes a few guys heading into the bar when he hears an odd and out of place noise coming from the rear of the parking lot. He doesn’t immediately back away and wait for Dean.

Sam pulls out a mini-flashlight and takes a creeping look under a car -- where he gets a cat scare. As he’s laughing at himself and proceeds to Impala, we see POV staring at the back of his shoes.

The POV comes with Threatening Chord of Doomcakes.

Commentary: This was a cute scene with Sam, and I do like the general way we can see that Sammy is going to be the next victim, while also stretching the moment. I expected him to get clobbered on the back of the head as he stood up, but it was creepy that we kept watching him walk around the car at so close a perspective, so that was nice directing. And I don’t know… Our Sam is looking particularly adorable for some reason.

Scene 06: When Dean makes it out of the bar, he finds John’s journal sitting out on the trunk and no sign of Sam anywhere. He questions some bikers who are just leaving if they’ve been outside in the past bit, but nobody has been.

Dean shouts for Sam but there isn’t a sign. What there are is some cameras on a pole above the parking lot. Otherwise, there isn’t any lead on his brother’s sudden disappearance.

Commentary: This was also a more interesting scene than it could’ve been, because of the music. The soundtrack had a particular “Jaws” cast to its sound and instrumentation, especially the horn section. It gave this particular short shot of Dean finding out of Sam’s missing a bit of energy, which was a nice surprise so I want to kudo the music direction.

Scene 07: The following morning, Dean is at the local Sheriff’s office and presenting himself as Officer Washington. He reports Sam’s disappearance as his cousin missing since he has to use his real name.

The locals offer what help they can, but they want to do things by the book - even for this fellow officer. Our deputy looks up Sam Winchester to find there hasn’t been any reports of his being found yet, or logged in a hospital. She does find it interesting that Dean Winchester, the missing’s brother and the “officer’s cousin” was reported a suspect in multiple homicides before his death in St. Louis [for that tale, you can see the episode ‘Skin’].

Dean brings up the number of missing persons in the county, and doesn’t receive a very positive vibe about the outlook for any of the missing turning up again. He insists to the deputy that he’s finding his “cousin”.

Commentary: It’s nice that they’re giving some continuity here with Dean’s shape shifter ending up dead in Sam’s friend’s house. This will continue to be an issue with Dean having to dodge a murder wrap every time his identity is made for the next … uh… two(?) seasons.

Scene 08: In the meantime, Our Sam is coming around from unconsciousness in a metal cage. He’s not alone.

In another cage nearby, he finds the missing Mr. Jenkins … asleep but apparently thus far unharmed.

Scene 09: Back with Dean, he’s sitting on a bench in front of the police department waiting for information. He’s soon joined by Officer Kathleen who has something of interest.

At first Dean doesn’t see anything in the traffic photos that cop is showing off. But she tells him to look again at the old, beater-camper truck. She tells him to take a look at the license plate. It’s spotlessly brand new, which seems suspicious right there.

Meanwhile, an old rusted van drives by. The engine noise catches Dean’s attention because it has a squealing engine, which sounds like maybe the type of noise that his young witness described.

Commentary: I don’t know… there seems to be some real hazy assumptions being made in this scene, and the “whining growl” of the old van driving by that maybe coulda-possibly matched the kid’s report of “weird noises” was awfully convenient. This scene doesn’t really work for putting Dean and the Officer on the right track, it just feels lazy.

Scene 10: In the old cage barn, things aren’t working out for Sam. He’s trying to break through the cage, but it’s made of welded rebar and is quite solid. His kicking and yanking on the bars isn’t doing anything but tiring him out.

It does bring Mr. Jenkins around, though. Mr. Jenkins isn’t doing so well emotionally and complains to Sam about the piss poor rescue attempt after Sam tells him he’s been searching for him. Sam tries to offer that Dean is out there looking for them right now, but this doesn’t comfort Alvin any, since it smells like their on a farm - which would put them in the middle of nowhere.

Next Sam tries to ascertain what has them, intimating he’s expecting a monster. Alvin tells him he’s about to find out, as the barn door starts rattling open. And though a monster does have them… it’s not a supernatural beast….

They’re just a pair of men, carefully keeping their faces hidden. And they’ve brought Alvin a plate of food. Sam feels slightly better at finding out their abductors are just some rednecks. Alvin isn’t as gladdened about it. Obvs, he doesn’t know about the nastier shit that the Winchesters and Slayers fight.

Scene 11:  Elsewhere, Officer Kathleen is driving around her “fellow officer” in her cruiser. They’re out near the last traffic cam that the suspect vehicle was spotted on.

The onboard computer of the cruiser beeps for a message from central dispatch and Kathleen gets a shift look. She pulls the car over to Dean’s puzzlement as she tells him that she ran his badge -- it’s routine when the locals team up with the Staties for accounting purposes. It seems that “Gregory’s” badge was reported stolen… and Dean doesn’t actually look much like a middle-aged black dude to her.

Now having been busted for property theft and impersonating a police officer, Dean swears that he’ll cooperate with her if she’ll only PLEASE don’t stop looking for his brother right now. She’s hesitant, but he tells her to look in his eyes and tell him if he’s lying about just how scared he is. He references pulling Our Baby Sam from the fire and his deep feelings of responsibility to take care of him and keep him safe.

It’s obvs that Dean is seriously terrified of what he’s going to find of Sam if he can’t find him very soon.

She appears un-swayed, if still sympathetic, but then she spots a photo she keeps of a family member on her sunscreen, and relents that she’ll have to take him in for questioning after they find Sam Winchester. You can tell though, that she knows she’s not doing the smart thing and is annoyed with herself.

Scene 12: Meanwhile, in his cage, Sam has grabbed onto an electrical cable within arm’s reach and is trying to tear it down from the ceiling, although what his actual plan is for it, I couldn’t say.

Alvin bitterly tells him that there isn’t any way out and he should stop wasting his energy. He calls Our Sam ‘Sammy’, which annoys Our Sam and gives him the adrenaline push he needed to successfully yank down the conduit.

Inside his cage, Sam tells him he retrieved a bracket. Alvin isn’t impressed with this either. But suddenly the magnetic lock on his cage buzzes and his door pops open. Alvin tells Sam he must’ve shorted something.

Sam tells Alvin to get back in the cage, as he tells him that this escape was way too easy  and knows that “the short” wasn’t possible. But Jenkins only sees a chance to run for it and get help, and despite Sam’s advice takes off.

Sam calls after him that this looks like a trap, but Jenkins doesn’t listen and rushes out of the barn door.

Scene 13: Alvin sneaks through the large barn that he and Sam are in, while trying to listen for sounds of the Bender family nearby.

Commentary: There is some problems with these scenes and it… alas… comes down to acting. Jon Cuthbert is simply… awkward… in this performance and it pulls attention away from the scene. What I do like about this section though is the lighting and the music direction which enhances the scene nicely.

On the other hand, we’re 17minutes into the episode, and it feels like 30. Things are steadily, but slowly creepin’ along and it’s all a bit too leisurely.

Unfortunately also, this episode - through no fault of its own - brings to mind the episode from the X-Files, “Home” which really did the “backwoods, inbred cannibal family” right. That episode was really horrifying. This episode could have used a bit more of that gritty horror styling.

Scene 14: With the barn cage, Sam sees Alvin’s cage door automatically close and lock pointing to his being correct in thinking that he had nothing to do with Jenkins’ amazing good luck.

Scene 15: Outdoors, Alvin creeps through the downpour. He slips past the Bender family home and starts to make his way through the junk cars in the yard. He finds a knife lying on the ground, and considers his luck is continuing.

He jogs off through the forest.

Scene 16: In the woods, he hears the Benders call out with wild screams and panicking starts to run in a mad dash. He runs right into the wood pole of one of the Bender family who laughs at him rolling around in the mud.

The Bender tries to spear him, but misses. Alvin slashes at him with the knife blade, but it’s too dull to penetrate the Bender’s thick pants.

Alvin continues his retreat through the woods with his attacker behind him making yelping noises.

Scene 17:  He takes a sudden polearm blade through the lower leg, as another Bender family member makes wild, grimace faces at him. First Bender joins Second as Alvin writhes on the ground ineffectively waving the dull knife in their general direction.

The Benders quickly disarm him and watch with glee as Alvin again runs off in a random direction, limping and falling all the way. He trips himself over a wire strung between two trees at shin level. The Benders are quickly on top of him again.

Alvin rolls over to confront them again, but it’s clear on his face that he knows he’s not escaping. The Benders share an amused look and as we cut away to hear Alvin screaming, they both spear him.

Scene 18: His dying cries echo throughout the property, including to Sam’s ears.

Commentary: Okay, so yeah. It’s not that I don’t feel badly for Alvin Jenkins. In fact, seeing just how uselessly doomed he was put a knot in my gut. But again, this type of horror really does benefit from gritty blood-n-guts, and that is something that we’re not going to get because this is on a primetime television show and that really undercuts the horror aspect. Not that I like guts flying around, but when the camera is cutting away before the victim is even speared, it’s just too PG rated to really have the proper impact.

Scene 19: The following day, Kathleen and Dean are getting coffees and he tells her that he wants to press his luck with her. She’s already questioning herself on her not arresting “Officer Washington” as it is, but he presses onward.

He asks why she’s so willing to help him, and she explains her brother Riley vanished in circumstances similar to Sam. Despite their best efforts, they never found a trace of her brother and it haunts her still. She tells him they should get back at it.

Scene 20: Later, they’re searching another of the deep country roads [which the county apparently keeps in tip top shape, so good for Hibbing -- on the other hand, I live in Michigan and our roads are so bad they're in the news, so maybe I'm just easily impressed]. Dean suddenly tells her to pull over, excitedly.

His attention was taken by a dirt road turnover that is more like a narrow path. Officer [Steen] and he argue for a minute over his being a civilian and thereby not coming with her to check it out. She rolls her eyes when he makes it clear that he’s not staying behind. Finally, Kathleen gives him the okay as long as he promises not to interfere and let her handle things. He agrees and she makes him shake on their agreement.

Except, not. As soon as Dean shakes her hand, she brings out her cuffs from the other and slaps it around his wrist. He secured to the squad car door.

Dean complains to himself about not carrying paperclips.

Scene 21: In the meantime, Kathleen cautiously makes her way down the dirt track. This leads to a house and she calls out if anyone is home.

The front door to the home is answered by a dirty girl, plainly dressed who says her name is Missy. She tries to get information from Missy about whether she’s seen Sam Winchester by pulling out a photograph of him. Missy seems cooperatively enough, if a bit sullen and skittish. Missy looks at the photo and suddenly smiles slyly.

When Kathleen asks her why she’s smiling, she tells her “that’s gonna hurt”. “That” is her father coming up behind Kathleen with a shovel. He smashes her in the face with it.

Mr. Bender sends Missy to fetch her brothers -- the spearing twins.

Commentary: I really liked this scene a lot. The grey, cold looking rain and run down property were great atmosphere and Alexia Fast did a nice job of making Missy seem both vulnerable and slightly ‘off’. You just knew she was a twisted little shit but she didn’t overact that she was setting Kathleen up.

Scene 22: Back at the car, Dean looks around for something he can use to pick the cuff lock. He spots the car’s radio antennae. As he stretches to reach for it, he hears the whining, screeching motor of the Bender’s hunting vehicle.

We cut back and forth between Dean trying to get free before the Bender brothers make it to the cop car that they’ll naturally have to hide.

Naturally by the time they get there, complaining about their father’s temper, Dean has made an escape - being sure to take the cuffs with him.

Scene 23: Sometime shortly later, Kathleen wakes up with out her uniform shirt and jacket to find herself caged. She finds the missing Sam Winchester and tells him that his ‘cousin’ is looking for him. Sam is grateful at first, until Kathleen shares that she cuffed him to her car, which makes Dean a sitting duck for the Bender hunters.

Thankfully, Dean makes it clear he wasn’t butchered at the car by choosing that moment to slip into the barn.

Scene 24: Dean and Sam share information while Dean looks at how to release the locking mechanism on Sam’s cage. Kathleen realizes that both Dean and Sam are about as shady as she had started to suspect with her interactions with “Officer Washington”.

Sam tells Dean that they’re just people, but he can’t figure out what they want or why they let Jenkins go, only for it to have been some sort of trap. Dean glances at Kathleen before telling Sam that their “usual playmates” have patterns and rules -- people tend to make things more unpredictable. While they’re talking, Dean finds that the control switch for the locks won’t work. In the meantime, Dean tells Sam about finding dozens of cars, making him think that they’re collecting automobiles from their victims.

Kathleen asks about her brother’s car, and Dean confirms that the make, model and color is one of the vehicles rusting out back. Which, I’m sorry to say, pretty much tells Kathleen what her brother’s fate was.

Dean can’t open the heavy locks without the manual key and heads out to look for it at the Bender abode.

Commentary: Again, there is some good acting here - this time from Jessica Steen who has a nice moment of sorrow as she realizes her brother really is gone and isn’t going to be found alive. But the pacing is still an issue.

Neither Jared, nor Jensen act as if they’re in trouble here. On one hand, it’s understandable for their characters because they’re used to dealing with actual monsters and Sam has said “they’re just people” like this is all no big deal. But on the other hand, we need that sense of impending danger and risk to give a sense of urgency.

Other than for just brief moments, we’ve just not gotten enough tension and it’s forcing the episode to feel longer than it actually is. It feels like we should be getting to the exciting battle against the Benders right about now, but actually we’re still only 27 minutes in, so Dean still has time to sneak around while we wait to see if he’ll get caught or not.

I really think that we needed to have another scene somewhere in here of Our Sam being actively menaced by the Bender brothers… or maybe having the butcher shop also being in this barn where Sam can see what is being done with Alvin, and ergo what is going to be his fate if Dean doesn’t find him soon.

As it is, things are just a tad bit too calm and quiet for Our Sam being in the clutches of a cannibal family.

Scene 25: After the establishing shot of the house, we find Dean already inside having gained entrance via basement window. He pulls out his mini flashlight from his jacket and starts the search. What he finds is jars upon dusty jars full of odds and ends from previous victims, including eye glasses and what appears to be an embalmed brain.

More [slow] searching reveals a collage of photographs of the Bender brothers posing with their “trophies”.

Dean finally heads upstairs after opining out loud to himself that demons he can understand, people are just crazy.

Scene 26: Upstairs, the house is as big a sty as the basement. From the kitchen, presumably, comes the sounds of someone rattling pots and dishes.

Dean bumps into a wind chime made out of human bones. Fortunately, it appears that some music covers the rattling sounds so that Mr. Bender doesn’t suddenly dash out into the hallway behind him with a cleaver.

Scene 27: As Dean slips by the kitchen, grabbing a lying about cudgel while he’s at it, Mr. Bender continues to saw at an arm at the kitchen sink, unawares.

Dean spots a key tray, but the living room and kitchen share an open floor plan, so that he has to be careful not to be spotted by Mr. Bender who is busy turning this way and that while he’s working on hacking up Alvin.

Dean goes for the key, but gets distracted by a jar full of human teeth. It’s time that shouldn’t have been wasted as Missy comes across him in her house. Dean tries to tell her that he’s not there to hurt her. She replies that she knows that, while she pulls out a knife and throws the blade at him, pinning his jacket to the wall jamb. She shouts for her daddy, to Dean’s chagrin.

Her calls end up summoning the Bender Brothers, who tag team him. He holds his own until the raucous summons Mr. Bender, who has already made clear he don’t like visitors.

He gets knocked on the back of the head, and it’s lights out.

Scene 28: When Dean comes to, he finds himself tied to a chair with his arms behind his back. The entire Bender Fivesome is staring at him. The Bender Brothers ask their father to let them hunt Dean because he’s a fighter and it’ll be fun.

Dean, rather late to the party, finally figures out that the clan’s entire kink is hunting people, and this let’s Daddy Bender go on to monologue the excitement that comes with The Most Dangerous Game… same blah-blah that people hunters have expressed in every film in which they’re not pleasantly mute.

For reasons, they don’t simply kill Dean immediately. But first try to ascertain if he’s a cop … despite the fact that this apparently doesn’t matter one way or the other since they already blew their secret by making Officer Kathleen ‘disappear’.

The Daddy asks Dean if any other cops are going to come looking for him [and presumably the lady cop they’re already holding]. In order to convince Dean to cooperate with truthful answers, Daddy pulls out a heated fire poker and threatens to burn out his eye.

He tells Dean that he gets to choose what the next hunt will be: Sam or Kathleen.

Dean shouts to hunt “the guy” as he knows Sam has a better chance of saving them all. But Mr. Bender has a surprise: Rather than hunt Sam, he tells Bender Boy to shoot Sam in his cage, out of spite towards Dean’s smart ass mouth. In addition, he also decides that the Lady Cop is going to be shot like a dog, too.

It’s not just out of viciousness, though. Dad tells Son #2 that they need to get the mess cleared up before anymore cops come looking for their missing deputies. Dean is left knowing that he just signed Sam’s death warrant.

Commentary: This scene. This is what we needed more of… though, not necessarily the monologue nor the “are you a cop, are other cops going to come looking” because that was all wasting time, anyway. But the threat to put out Dean’s eye was harrowing and the nastiness that John Dennis Johnston put into his lines was terrific.

I wish we’d gotten more of this sort of horror spread out over the episode beforehand, but this scene really makes the episode.

Scene 29: In the barn, Bender Brother #1 ignores what his father told him about not opening the cage, but shooting Sam through it, like a rabid dog being put down. And because he opened up the cage, it allows Sam to bean him with that cable bracket he’d torn off the ceiling earlier.

The gun goes off….

Scene 30: In the Bender living room, Dean makes empty threats about what he’ll do if they’ve hurt his brother. The rifle goes off again….

Scene 31: In the barn, Sam - shockingly, I’m sure - has not been shot dead. He’s busy wrestling with Bender Brother - who turns out to be Lee. Which makes Bender #2, Jared.

Lee gets knocked unconscious, but breaking the convenient rifle in the meantime.

Scene 32: Despite the two rifle shots being exactly what was expected, Daddy Benders Cannibal Spider Sense tingles. He calls for Lee and when there isn’t a response [probably because Lee wouldn’t hear you all the way in the barn after being deafened by rifle shots in an enclosed space, dumbass], he decides that he and Jared have to go make sure he didn’t mess it all up. Missy is told to watch Dean.

As her dad and brother head out, Missy threatens Dean’s eye some more - this time with that throwing knife she has a knack for.

Commentary: I’m not even going lie: Even though Missy appears about twelve, I was looking forward to Dean getting free and punching that little brat unconscious. I also figured they wouldn’t actually go there.

Scene 33: Outdoors, the Benders barge into the barn with their weapons drawn.

They find Lee unconscious and in Sam’s cell.

They start searching the dark barn for their prey, while Sam hides out behind some bales of hay. No telling where Kathleen is right now. While Jared checks the ground floor, Pa heads up into the hayloft.

Scene 34: While Lee is on the other side of the barn, we see Kathleen finding a cabinet. She reaches in to grab something, but makes noise that draws Lee’s attention.

The cannibal figures that she’s hiding in the cabinet and unloads a few rounds before creeping up to check if he left a woman body filled with lead. All he finds his junk with holes in it.

Kathleen was actually above him in a rafter. She jumps down on his shoulders now and wrestles with him.

Scene 35: Above, Sam alas pokes his head up to check on her. This lets Pa see where he was hidden. A shot is taken, but misses. It leaves Our Sam to scramble at a severe disadvantage through the loft.

Meanwhile, Kathleen gets slammed into a beam, throwing her off of Jared’s back and leaving her looking doomed as well.

Scene 36: Somehow [really, WTH?] Sam and Pa end up on the first floor again. Sam calls out to Jared from behind him, just as he’s ready to shoot Kathleen dead.

Jared spins, firing his rifle, but Sam dodges to the side leaving Pa Bender to take one to the shoulder. This lets Our Sam grab hold of the rifle and wrestle it away from Jared. He beats the man unconscious with the stock.

Commentary: Okay, that was supremely clumsy. And kind of anti-climactic to boot, but I’m gonna give a kudo to the stunt work. That was some nice acting being carried out of Jared beating Ken Kirzinger to a pulp.

Except that in a minute he’ll not look like somebody who just took several hard blows to the face by a rifle butt….

It was nice to see Sammy play the tough guy here, but yeah… it would’ve been better if Sam had had a logical way to have made it from the loft to the floor with Pa Bender on his heels without him taking a bullet through the back.

Scene 37: The Bender Boy is added to the cages. Meanwhile, Kathleen has Pa at rifle point when Sam rejoins them.

[And I gotta say that Jessica Steen strikes an unusually alluring figure in tan slacks, a T-Shirt with a rifle.]

The Officer tells Sam that she’s got an eye on Pa and he should go ahead to look for what has happened to his “cousin”. Sam gets a “I’m not sure I should leave you, what with these guys having killed your brother and all” look, but she insists again that he go. He gives a glare at Pa Bender but does so and leaves Kathleen to kill him, or arrest him as she will.

Pa tells Kathleen that if she hurts his family, he’ll bleed her. She responds that he killed her brother. He laughs and tells her it was fun. She fires.

Commentary: I liked the acting here too, especially from Jared Padalecki and Jessica Steen. I really liked the way that you could see Sam size up Kathleen, look at Pa Bender and make the decision that he wasn’t worth saving from her, anyway.

I also liked the wild look on Kathleen’s face before she pulls the trigger.

I’m not convinced that she actually shot him, rather than just showing that she could’ve but it’d be a nice twist if she really did him in.

Scene 38: Back at the house, Sam and Dean walk out. They see Kathleen leave the barn without the rifle and breathing heavily. She asks after Missy, and Dean tells her she’s locked in a closet. He asks about Pa, and she tells him he was shot trying to escape.

It’s a story that the Winchesters clearly aren’t buying as Dean gives her a shocked stare of “you’re a murderer in a uniform” look. There are tense stares given around, but nobody says anything.

Commentary: Wow! And that’s a both good and bad one.

First, the bad: What?! We don’t even get Sam rushing into the house and having to fight a knife wielding psycho-cannibal-kid to rescue Dean?! Oh, c’mon! What rip off! I really wanted to see somebody punch that little girl out, damn it.

But then the good: What?! Oh, my god… she really did put a bullet in him! Good for her! I mean, maybe. She’s going to have to live with her deliberate murder of somebody but… I really think she was totally justified, so whatevs on the morality of it.

It was awesome that they gave the character this dark vengeance moment, since I really didn’t think that they were going to have her forsake her badge and all that.

If only they hadn’t wimped out on showing the bratling getting her beatdown, too.

Scene 39: Minutes later, Dean, Sam and Kathleen are in a “what now” moment. Kathleen has found her radio in the house and has called in for backup. She now tells the Winchesters that the police and FBI are en route.

She tells them both that they need to be gone before they arrive. Dean asks for a ride, but she tells them to start walking and duck if they see a squad car.

Before they go, Dean expresses his condolences for her brother. She thanks him, but tells him that she really thought it would be easier to know what happened to him than have him missing, but she’s finding now that it really isn’t at all.

She urges them to get while the getting is good.

Scene 40: As Dean and Sam head down the drive, Dean tells Sammy never to disappear like that again. Sam teases him about being all worried, but Dean returns that the next time Sam vanishes like that, he’s not looking for him.

Sam laughs. He teases Dean about being sidelined by a thirteen year old girl.

The Good: I really liked the work of guest actor, Jessica Steen and especially the acting between her and Alexia Fast before Officer Kathleen's capture.

I also liked the script giving Kathleen a clear, emotional reason for continuing to help Dean after his impersonating an officer is busted without her actually knowing he's Dean Winchester, reported dead [except see The Bad on that]. It was also nice that her brother isn't the abducted guy and he doesn't get saved after three years... he was killed long before, as is sensible.

I enjoyed the physical stunts that came with all of the fighting, and when Dean is captured the episode really ratcheted up some nice tension that the rest of the episode could've used more of.

I wasn't expecting that Kathleen would actually murder Pa Bender, so that was a nice development.

The Bad: There is a really big hole for this story to work: I find it highly suspect that Officer Kathleen would pull up Sam Winchester's name, have a report of his brother Dean being shot after being suspected of murder... and yet the file doesn't actually have an pictures of Dean or Sam to blow Dean's cover immediately. Hmmm... yeah, not buying that.

The pacing is an issue on this one; Until about the last 15 minutes things just kind of drift along. There is no reason why an episode involving cannibals should be this generally laid back.

Other Thoughts: Okay, so first, in order to try to hide the villains of the piece they have the witness boy go out of his way to not just say that there was a squealing engine. Instead he talks like there was an otherworldly noise, which would've been more convincing if they'd gotten a younger actor to be the witness. This set up was just clumsy because he's too old, I don't care what he's watching on TV, to think there was a monster out in the parking lot, rather than a rusted out old truck with a bad engine. I also don't buy the mother not believing his story, despite the fact that there was really a disappearance of somebody in her building. You'd think she'd be scared witless that something like that could happen where she and her son are living, instead of blowing it all off as imagination! That didn't even make sense.

It was kinda different, and ergo neat, that the monster of the piece wasn't supernatural despite catching John's interest.

I wanted to be invested in the scenes between Alvin and Sam, until it became clear he was doomed anyway, but the scenes are just awkward and the acting by Cuthbert isn't up to the task of making us forget he's an actor reciting lines.

As mentioned above, this episode really needed more tension and horror surrounding Sam being a captive to these murderous cannibals and it's unfortunate that so much of the episode doesn't have any gut wrenching, screw tightening of the audience at all.

There were also a few scenes that were just... odd: Like Pa Bender suddenly being so concerned about Lee in the barn because he'd heard the rifle report twice... which is exactly what he should've heard since Lee was out there to shoot Sam and Kathleen to death. Why the sudden, "something's wrong... we've got to go out and check on him" thing??

It also kind of sucked that Missy's capture was off screen since it would've been funny if she'd managed to kick a little of Sam's ass before he knocked her out, considering he's twice her size. It was a nice moment at the end though when Sam was able to tease Dean at being "sidelined" by her.

For some reason, I could've sworn there was a stinger in this episode at the end and there wasn't. But what this episode could've really used was for Sam and Dean to have their humorous moment, and then cut back to Kathleen as she jerks in shock and then we see Missy had gotten free and stabbed her through the back. That dark twist would've been more in keeping with this dark cannibal tale and more darkness was really needed in this script.

The Score: It isn't a bad tale for what we got, but it needed more darkness, more horror and more tension. Thankfully Jessica was a strong actor, or this would've tipped into boring.

3.25 out of 5 stars

Next up: That mentioned movie review for "The Mole People" (1956).

Tags: supernatural season 1 reviews

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