It’s harsh to say that “Paper Moon” murdered the momentum of this season. All things considered, it was a standard episode of Supernatural that was no better or worse than the hundred other “monster of the week” episodes that preceded it. But when you look at what the first three episodes of Season 10 gave us with Demon Dean, a new threat in the form of a mysterious lady, and Metatron lurking on the periphery, “Paper Moon” deserves that unfortunate distinction. This was the first example of many we’ll see this season of fluff being used to fill out a 22-episode order.
I don’t blame the writers, director, actors, or producers for this annoying facet of an otherwise great show. It’s how things work on network television. I suffered through the same thing with Smallville. I hope Arrow and The Flash avoid stuffing their seasons with too many fluff episodes. Effort has to be made during each episode, no matter how random, to develop the season-long narrative. Sleepy Hollow has done a nice job of tying things together this season in a way that isn’t half-hearted. “Paper Moon” had Sam and Dean give voice to their emotional distress, yet when Crowley and Castiel aren’t mentioned right after the former saved the latter’s life for reasons unknown, you’ve left too much on the table.
That’s not to mention the scenes we actually got between Sam and Dean which, while refreshingly honest, only addressed the struggles the brothers faced while Dean was a demon. What about what happened last season between the Winchesters? There was a chasm between these two that seemed impossible to bridge. I wrote several times last season that I thought Sam and Dean’s relationship would look much different than we were used to after Season 9 ended. Too much had happened, I reckoned, for things to return to normal. Well, here we are four episodes into Season 10 and things look the same as always. I understand after hearing Sam’s insightful confession in the Impala that Dean’s death destroyed him. What I don’t understand is how all the bad blood from last season can be swept under the rug.
This week’s case did little to assuage my feelings of having been cheated by Sam and Dean’s too easily patched up relationship. The werewolf Kate returned with little to no fanfare. I honestly thought it was blonde Ruby for a second and got excited. Alas, it was some college-aged werewolf we met a while back. Here’s a clue that a character has never mattered: their big reveal is met with an immediate flashback explaining who they are and how we know them. If we don’t know who someone is without the flashing neon sign, they aren't worth bringing back. We even got a flashback with Lester, who we just met this season!
In a heavy-handed approach to mirror Sam and Dean’s current situation, Kate was forced to do the unthinkable (yes, she actually said that during her retelling of the story) and turn her sister Tasha in order to save her life after a car accident. This information was presented during a lengthy monologue given by a wooden actress and described an undeveloped sisterly relationship. Even for a fluff episode the writing was particularly uninspired. It was simply difficult to care what happened to Kate and her sister. I tip my cap to the episode for surprising me a bit with Tasha’s underhanded move and Kate’s tough decision to kill her sister. Other than that, the episode was paint-by-numbers from the start.
I don’t have much else to say about this episode other than two quick thoughts. First, I guess Jared Padalecki really injured his arm for Sam’s sling to still be around and for Dean to be making fun of it. I didn’t hear during production that Jared had injured his arm, but I’m sure I just missed the headline. Second, I chuckled at Sam’s flippant look at his flashlight in the well-lit cabin. After 199 episodes, it’s the little things that begin to catch your attention. Sam’s annoyed look just caught me the right way.
Line of the week
“No one’s talking to you, Paul Bunyan!” – Tasha
Next week on Supernatural:
The 200th episode will make us feel all sorts of things.