This week on Supernatural, there was no Cas, no Crowley, and a limited quantity of Winchester love. On the plus side, it took place in Minnesota, which is farther north than the Winchester’s usual stomping ground. So there’s that. Yah, no, I don’t expect you to find that interesting, but I’m a little shy on selling points for this episode.
We start out the episode in the unlikely location of a hot dog eating competition. I suppose, honestly, it’s not all that unlikely, when you really think about it. Supernatural has spent the last nine years slowly going through all the true horrors of our world. They were bound to get to this at some point. The overweight winner, nicknamed Jabba because all overweight TV characters are nicknamed Jabba, rudely flaunts his victory over the runner-up, but his happiness is short-lived when a mysterious attacker kills him in his car and then flees, leaving behind a strangely shriveled corpse.
The man apparently shrunk several hundred pounds at his time of death, sparking the interest of the feuding Winchesters. Speaking of that whole situation, like I predicted, they’re acting like they always do, because you can’t actually just switch off the sibling part of your relationship. In Minnesota, they meet a nice, heavily accented sheriff who explains the importance of the competitive eating circle in the area and bonding with Dean over some powdered donuts. Okay, I need to talk to Dean’s dietician. He binge-drinks beer, can’t control himself around donuts and pie, and now apparently thinks a fried butter eating competition sounds intriguing, but he still has the body of a Greek god? Seriously, I could become rich if I discovered that secret.
Apparently Slim Jim, the shunned competitor from early, was dead guy Wayne’s only enemy, but there are fifteen witnesses who saw him inside the competition room while Wayne was dying outside. The brothers meet up with Slim Jim, who’s eating lettuce to stretch the stomach pre-competition. “Yet another reason to stay away from salads,” Dean grumbles. I rest my case.
The man’s wife, Mala, is Romnishel, sometimes known a gypsy, a term she doesn’t care for. “I think it’s a complement,” Jim counters. “I mean, gypsies are all the rage on TV. My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, Gypsy Sisters, Keeping up with the Kardashians.” Sam finds a spell bag containing hair in the bedroom, indicating that Mala was responsible for the death. It’s a fair assumption, considering this is Supernatural and, you know, she’s a woman. However, surprisingly, this time there is a little more depth to the situation.
She shows up at their motel room door, sassily demanding her bag back.
Mala explains that she would never kill Wayne, insisting that she loved him and was having an affair. Whoa there. So to be clear, this beautiful, strong woman was dating the slobby, rude, penis-joke making Wayne? Just like last week the awkwardness that is Garth was married to a beautiful woman with no perceived flaws that fulfills all his fantasies? Please do not get me wrong. I love that these women don’t fixate on appearance or traditional charm and have no problem with either of these relationships on an individual level. However, after 9 years, I am so weary of the intense double standard this show has with character appearances. All the women must be beautiful, with no exception, and frequently go for men that our unfair culture would consider out of their league.
However, it never goes the other way! The only time we ever saw the reverse is when Becky and Sam were married, and that required a love potion to force Sam into it. The message they are sending is that women should see past cultural stigmas but that men don’t have to. Only beautiful women are worth dating, unlike men, who have intellectual and emotional value, despite the fact that they cannot see the same in others. It’s sexism against both genders. Women should not be valued based on their appearance and real men are not usually this shallow! This is unacceptable, Supernatural.
All right, give me a minute to calm down from that.
Dean and Mala make an uncomfortable fat joke, which is equally uncool. Mala tells them that she was using the bag as a blessing, not a curse, to help Wayne win so she could divorce Jim and elope to Florida with her lover.
In the gym, a woman is trying to lose weight when an unseen assailant attacks her. There’s a terrifying moment where something moves inside her torso and it seems like it’s going to turn into a chest-burster scene (no no no no no…), but instead she merely withers away like Wayne did. One of the staff members at the gym has a suction mark on her back, not unlike ones found on both of the victims. The worker, who recently lost weight, apparently went to the Canton Valley wellness spa for weight loss the month before.
They drive up to the spa, which, crazy murder plot notwithstanding, looks fantastic and fabulous and I’m now dreaming about running off to a spa in Minnesota. They claim to be personal trainers, certified in “making people sweat, kicking ass, and taking names,” as Dean puts it. Sam gives him a lot of weird, playful looks, which would be funny if it weren’t so ridiculous because they aren’t fighting at all! They are being their usual brotherly selves because apparently continuity has completely gone out the window. Their confrontation was last week, people. It’s not that hard to remember, writers.
The spa only has one personal trainer position open, however, so instead Dean gets to learn the joys of hairnets and food service while his brother goes off to teach yoga. “How the hell do you know anything about yoga,” Dean asks, to which his brother replies, “You’re not the only one who’s ever dated someone bendy,” before leaving his brother to scoop vegetables. Well played, Sam. Well played.
The couple that runs the place, a woman named Marista and her husband, is so nice and charming and the spa is so nice, I desperately wanted them to be legitimate and normal. When Marista exposes her long, veiny suction cup tongue and starts sucking fat out of a patient, I was therefore a bit disappointed.
While Sam is learning that having sex with a flexible person does not help you teach yoga, Dean is in the kitchen eating the spa client’s pudding. It doesn’t go well and he collapses on the ground drugged. I really don’t know why he ate it in the first place, ‘cause it looked like cheese. You know the kind that comes in those instant Velveeta packets that looks and taste just a little too much like plastic. Yah. So I don’t have a lot of sympathy for Dean here.
Sam finds his confused brother and confronts the chef, who claims that the pudding contained supplements from a pill bottle. Dean immediately tells Sam that the bottle contains roofies. “You think I want to wind up in a hotel bathtub with my kidney carved out in Chechnya?” says Dean, explaining his affinity for spotting the drug.
The sheriff from the food competition town shows up at the spa, not as an investigator, but as a patient. She doesn’t want question the 10 pounds she’s lost in one day because her husband left her and she’s been struggling with stress easting. While the brothers talk with her, the owners of the spa find fake IDs in the Impala, and, realizing that the two are hunters, try to destroy the evidence. “Destroy the evidence” translates to removing glasses full of fat globules and sucking them up with a suction cup. Nauseating doesn’t even begin to cover it.
Dean interrupts the woman, who explains that she is not a killer and is a Peruvian bloodsucker. She and her husband started the spa to give her food while also helping people lose weight. It was Dean’s cafeteria boss and the woman’s brother, Alonso, who couldn’t control himself. In fact, while Dean is busy with the bloodsucker, Alonso is murdering her husband. Awkward. That’s kind of crossing a line for her, so she tells the Winchesters where to find her brother, and, after a totally not noteworthy fight, Dean cuts off Alonso’s sucking tongue thing and kills them.
“Once this place clears out, we’re gonna make it a family affair,” Dean tells Sam, meaning that he intends to kill Marista because “she’s a monster.” Dean is a disgusting person. Sam, with his newfound but often inconsistent ability to totally dress down his brother, points out that a hunter could easily have killed him during his Gadreel possession. Instead, they force her to return to Peru, which is a terrible idea because she has no way of getting fat safely there.
Though the resolution of her storyline is unsatisfying, one thing I do appreciate is that, unlike last week, Dean’s bigotry is not proven to be true. I complained about that in the “Sharp Teeth” review and it actually was addressed in this episode, so bravo, Supernatural.
Once the case is finished, Dean tells Sam that what he did with Gadreel was the right thing and that he’d do it again, like that somehow makes it better. “That’s the problem,” Sam counters. Sam points out all the suffering that’s happened because of Dean’s choice and that there isn’t an upside to him being alive. “Are you kidding me? You and me, fighting the good fight?” Dean tells him. Sam tells his brother that bringing Sam back to life wasn’t to save him, brother. It was a selfish move, because, in the end, Dean cannot stand the thought of being alone. I absolutely love this scene, and although the rest of the episode is pointless filler, this scene is sophisticated and voices some of the biggest pains and problems with Dean’s character.
It’s interesting to watch Sam, after so many years of loving and making excuses for him, finally reach the end of his rope with Dean. It’s a feeling I can relate to. While Sam has had a pretty traceable story arc, Dean has not grown up or changed in nine years, and it’s clear he needs to. As a final twist of the knife, Sam tells his brother that, if the circumstances had been reversed, he would have let Dean die. It’s the first confirmation of the sad truth that Dean’s dependence on Sam is not actually mutual, and it’s probably the best scene between the brothers in years. Because of that and that alone, I am excited to see what happens when Supernatural returns after the Olympics.
Excellent points made here. Truly a cogent and relevant discussion of the thematic and societal repercussions of this episode. Most edifying.