Wardrobe seems to be on a roll this year (along with the writing). Dean has a new plaid shirt, Sam has a sweater vest. When did Sam start going preppy? Aha. Upon rewatching, I see it’s part of his college research assistant garb.
Although there were many reasons to elevate “Everybody Hates Hitler” to 4-star status, it wasn’t quite in the league of “As Time Goes By” and “Trial and Error.” Nonetheless, it was highly enjoyable, particularly because characters who could have been a cliché were written with heart and depth.
Our story begins during World War II, at a Nazi concentration camp in Belarus. Suddenly, an enormously huge and strong man attacks the compound. He’s impervious to bullets, knives, fire and all sorts of things the Nazis throw at him. He kills everyone except the camp’s commander, who disappears using some evil spell. (We know the spell is evil because, after all, these are Nazis we’re talking about.)
In present day, the Winchesters find the mother-lode of all things supernatural Larry mentioned in the previous episode. It’s an Arts and Crafts-furnished bunker in Lebanon, Kansas. And even though it hasn’t been used in 70 years, it has Wifi access!
Elsewhere, Rabbi Isaac Bass (played by the wonderful Hal Linden) is sorting through a particular library collection. He finds a ledger, which apparently is very important. He then goes to the campus pub (named “Campus Pub”—seriously?) where he spontaneously combusts. Damn, another favorite guest star this season whose role is over before the first commercial.
Because spontaneous combustion of humans isn’t normal, Sam and Dean investigate. The good rabbi was the last member of a group called the Judah Initiative, formed during WWII to fight a secret society of Nazi necromancers called the Thule Society. Before he burst into flames, Rabbi Barney Miller left his grandson Aaron a mysterious message which super-smart Sammy recognizes as a library call number. In addition, the rabbi also bequeathed Aaron the Golem, the indestructible dude from the episode’s beginning. The problem is, Aaron doesn’t know how the control the Golem (he used his Golem instruction manual to roll joints in high school), and the Golem isn’t telling.
Aaron’s grandfather hid the ledger “in plain sight,” in the library’s aviary wildlife section. Sam, Dean, Aaron, and the Golem break into the library to retrieve the ledger. They’re followed by a Thule member, who looks to be all of 20 years old. Thule dude blow-darts Sam and Aaron, who almost die, until the Golem kills the bad guy.
After some discussion and exposition, not to mention salting and burning the Thule corpse, the concentration camp’s head honcho (the guy who magically disappeared in Belarus) finds our heroes. His name is Eckhart, he hasn’t aged a day since 1944, and he knows how to control the Golem. You write your name on the scroll taken from the Golem’s mouth. Eckhart commands the Golem to surrender the scroll, but conveniently doesn’t bother to write his name on it. He also explains the importance of the ledger. It’s called the Red Ledger, and is a record of the all the supernatural experiments the Thule conducted on their concentration camp prisoners. Basically, they killed the prisoners then tried to reanimate them. Apparently it worked, because the last pages of the Red Ledger contain a list of Thule members who have been reanimated.
After a bit of a standoff, Aaron distracts the Thule thugs, allowing Dean and Sam to kill Eckhart (and burn his body to prevent him from being reanimated). Aaron takes control of the Golem and transforms from general slacker to sole member of the Judah Initiative, determined to hunt down the reanimated Thule.
The Winchesters return to Lebanon, KS, to settle into their new home.
What I especially liked (besides Hal Linden) was the Golem wasn’t your typical monstrous creature. He wasn’t a staggering nonverbal giant. He was well spoken, thoughtful, and earnest. It would have been easy to go the predictable route, but having a “monster” who expressed disappointment and dispensed sage advice was so much more enjoyable . And John DeSantis was superb in the role. (Incidentally, DeSantis is only 5″ taller than Jared Padalecki, but he looked so much larger.)
Aaron also wasn’t totally expected. Aaron lived a modern lifestyle which the Golem didn’t approve of. He ate pork (“Everybody loves bacon,” to which I wholehearted concur) and smoked his Golem owner’s manual. When Dean, Sam and Aaron were cornered by several immortal Nazi necromancers, it was Aaron who makes the first offensive move. Best of all, Aaron was savvy enough to play Dean.
Like I said, highly enjoyable.
[Photos credit Liane Hentscher, © 2013, the CW]