What do you look for in a Supernatural episode? For me, these are the things that make an episode great. How does “About a Boy” stack up?
1. I’m stumped. Check!
There have been several episodes where, about a third of the way in, I have no clue of what’s causing the supernatural problem. Two episodes that come to mind are “Playthings” and “What Is and What Should Never Be” (my all-time favorite episode). I love not knowing and being surprised.
“About a Boy” had three such moments. The first was the mystery of what happened to the victims. (It wasn’t aliens. Bobby said there’s no such thing, so it must be true.) When we learned where the abductees were taken, we still weren’t sure of the how or why. Once that was solved, the question became how would the victims return to their former selves? See? Triple goodness there.
2. Humor. Check!
Granted, humor is usually a given for this show. Even the most dire episodes have something funny in them. Jen at Fresh from the.. always lists her favorite lines, but she missed my favorite one from “About a Boy.”
Dean: All right, let’s go.
Sam: Dean, I’m way too big to fit in that.
Dean: First time you ever had to say that, huh?
Sam: Big talk coming from the dude who wears Underoos.
Dean: … … Ok, good one.
Even Dean can admit when he’s been bested. Sometimes.
And just in time to (sort of) address my question #7 from last week, there was the visual of Sam in the passenger seat after teen-Dean adjusted the car seat. Ha!
3. Great guest stars and superb acting. Check!
Not paying full attention during the opening credits, I wondered why Dylan Everett got second billing. When the witch appeared, there was definitely something “special” about her, but I couldn’t place it. It was
Mrs. Patmore! Leslie Nicol! The CW is doing some terrific casting this year.
Huge, huge props to Dylan Everett playing teen-Dean. He’d played him in “Bad Boys,” but as a teen-ager in a new (i.e., healthy) environment. Here he played adult Dean in a teen’s body, and his speech and mannerisms were perfect. You saw and heard Dean, just in a smaller body. His response after being kidnapped wasn’t to panic, but to calm his kidnap-mates fears and scope the place out for an escape route.
The conversation in the Impala was classic Sam and Dean. They discussed the problem (and benefits) of the situation, weighed their options, and even getting some brotherly teasing in.
And then there was Leslie Nicol. ‘Nuff said.
4. Brotherly angst. Check!
Dean wondered if life would be better as a teenager (sans the Mark of Cain) instead of the “psycho rage monster-slash-borderline demon” he’d become. It’s always interesting when Dean describes himself—it gives us view into his psyche, and it’s always intriguing. As Sam contemplated these options, and I got the distinct impression he was also wondering how the brotherly dynamic would change if they chose the teen-Dean route.
But it was the final scene, after putting Tina on the bus, that brought everything together. In true Dean fashion, he made jokes. But Sam refused to be amused. It led to perhaps the best brotherly scene of the season. Dean said he didn’t hesitate to turn back into an adult because Sammy was in trouble. And Sam confessed that while he wanted Dean free of the Mark of Cain, “I wanted you back.” Sam continued to made several wonderful comments expressing his admiration and respect for his brother. “You pulled a Dean Winchester.” (And Dean swelled a bit with pride.) “We’ll figure it out. We always do.”
It reminded me of the final scene in “A Very Supernatural Christmas.” Thinking about it, there are parallels. In season 3, Dean was living his last year, and Sam was fearing life without his brother. Now it’s what the Mark of Cain is doing to Dean, and Sam is once again terrified for his brother.
5. Great music. Eh, not so much.
It wasn’t just the Taylor Swift song. The opening song by the James Gang (thank you, close captioning) kind of sucked. Heck, it didn’t even rhyme.
To sum it up, four out of five ain’t bad, especially since the four “About a Boy” got right are the most important ones.