A few weeks back I said that sending Sam and Dean to different time periods was something Supernatural did exceptionally well. Something else the show does an amazing job of is breaking up its oftentimes dark and dreary proceedings with a moment of brevity. Supernatural can be one of the funniest shows on TV when it wants to be, as anyone who remembers “The French Mistake” and “Mystery Spot” as fondly as I do can attest. We can safely add “Plucky Pennywhistle's Magical Menagerie” to the list as this week’s episode brought the show’s wacky humor to a typical case-of-the-week setup. Really, there were just too many funny moments to recap them all here but needless to say I was chuckling in the beginning and belly laughing by the end. I mean, c’mon, a “Right Friggin Now” subtitle? That was hilarious! Only Supernatural could keep its brand of humor fresh after seven seasons.
If it bleeds, you can kill it.
After quickly referencing the season’s over-arching storylines – the Leviathans and the Amazonian children – we were off and running with this week’s case, which in typical fashion involved people being killed in ridiculous ways. First we get “death by blood-sucking octopus” (vamptopus!) and then a killing straight out of “Red Dead Redemption” as a unicorn stabbed a man through the chest with its horn while literally shooting rainbows out of its ass. Throw in an opening scene that was over-the-top creepy and it was obvious we were in for some kind of witch/crossroads demon/trickster/cursed coin in a fountain situation. This episode did a good job showing the not-so-glamorous part of Sam and Dean’s job: investigating crime scenes and interrogating witnesses. However, it’s with good reason that the show usually glosses over the legwork, as spending a lot of time with bland, nameless witnesses would get monotonous quickly.
But investigate a crime at Plucky Pennywhistle’s and you get a whole slew of funny and interesting characters, including manager Jean Holiday (and her two semesters of college), the Koolaid-sipping Howard and the shroom-eating, ball pit-loving Clive. Jean was funny in her recounting of the unicorn fodder’s backstory and every second we spent with Clive was a treat. I loved how he tried to open the door with his lion gloves on and how he thought his brother had the same fingerprints as him. That was some great comedic writing.
Quick question: did anyone else notice something weird on the inside of Dean’s shirt when he tackled Clive? Watch after they roll across the tires and Dean’s back is visible. At first I thought it was a mic pack but it looks like something else. Any help would be greatly appreciated as I’ve already rewound that part twice and can’t figure it out.
So you didn’t get that promotion at work? You should definitely kill parents to get even.
I’ll be the first to admit that as much as I liked the buildup in this episode, the ending was a convoluted mess. There was something about Howard not getting promoted, wanting to help kids, his brother drowning while his parents sat idly by and Howard wanting kids to grow up without their crappy parents. There also seemed to be a fire and some hoodoo going on down in the sub-basement. The ending was a total mess but I’m not going to let that diminish how much I enjoyed the episode as a whole. You can’t expect clear motives every week after seven seasons. Sometimes the writers are going to whiff with things like a character’s motivation but “Plucky Pennywhistle’s Magical Menagerie” definitely brought more strengths to the table than weaknesses.
The biggest factor working in this episode’s favor was that Sam and Dean actually seemed to be having fun. They were smiling, cutting jokes, poking fun and getting ridiculous presents for each other (it's so awesome Dean loves giant Slinkies). This was such a refreshing change of pace from the season’s earlier dynamics of Sam and Dean not trusting one another after Amy’s death and Sam being crazy and Dean being depressed. After working together for seven years, Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles have developed a genuine brotherly bond that comes across quite clearly on screen. The writers take full advantage of this chemistry by working in lines like Dean’s “Don’t have one of your episodes” that hint at the deeper relationship the brothers share.
But what say you, readers – where does “Plucky Pennywhistle’s Magical Menagerie” rank on your list of all-time funniest Supernatural episodes? Sound off in the comments below!
Lines of the week
1. Sam: “So we got dick on Dick?”
1. Dean: “That’s a vivid way of putting it.”
2. Dean: “A robot. About the size of a house. Shoots destructo beams out of its eyes.”
2. Sam: “At least I’ll see it coming.”
Next week on Supernatural
We’re back to the heavy stuff as the brothers meet a guy who likes being possessed.