This week’s episode of Supernatural feels like the first truly missed opportunity of the season, opening up an intriguing can of worms about Dean’s character along with the repercussions of his actions and then promptly shutting all of that down with “monster of the week” nonsense.
Without any new leads on Leviathan, Sam and Dean follow up on a series of improbable murders in a small town. Each of the victims has some horrible incident for which they were responsible, and in each case, their deaths somehow mirror the thing they did. Doing a little research, the boys learn that it’s none other than the Egyptian god Osiris, played by Iron Man and Star Trek (2009) actor Faran Tahir. Apparently, every few years he shows up in a random location and sits in judgement of people feeling profound guilt, dooming them to a poetically just death (i.e. the hit and run driver is run down in his own apartment, etc.). Still shaken up by killing the demon mother from last week, Dean crosses the sardonic god’s path, opening up a perfect opportunity to take a look at the kind of messed up life the elder Winchester brother has led up to this point.
And at the start, it almost works. The conceit with Osiris is that he doesn’t judge you. He presents you with a series of witnesses from your past–usually ghosts–and allows the your own feelings of guilt in your heart to determine if you deserve to die. While I’m not sure I necessarily agree with the characterization of Dean as a sad sack who’s got the weight of the world on his shoulders (it feels more like a Sam thing), I like the setup here, dragging the guys into an existential crisis that shouldn’t be easily dealt with by some kind of magic weapon or spell.
Once this is established, the expectation is that the other shoe will drop and Osiris will put Amy, the demon from last week (who was apparently Sam’s first love) on the stand, but instead, the focus is incredibly narrow. Jo (Alona Tal), hunter and kind of surrogate sister to Sam and Dean takes the stand as what is apparently his biggest failure. Since Jo’s a ghost, she tries to stick up for Dean with Osiris, but again, the point isn’t to sway Osiris, it’s to sway Dean and by the end, he feels sufficiently like crap that he accepts his judgement. And again, the whole thing in the motel room with Jo near the end is some chilling stuff that roots around in the characters a little while also making what seems like an inevitable death more frightening.
Then it goes completely off the rails with the typical “kill it with whatever” trick, there’s a little heart-to-heart between Sam and Dean and the episode feels kind of inessential.
The failure is two-pronged: first, it’s a waste of a perfectly intriguing and funny “villain” in Osiris. Tahir gives the role this playful boredom where it’s clear that he’s one step ahead of our characters until the script calls for him to be stupid. Second, if it’s not clear from the paragraph above, in the grand scheme of things, it has no real impact on the rest of the series or the characters really. It’s simply this thing that happened, they killed the thing behind it, and moved on. And it’s really disappointing given how focused Supernatural typically is on building up arcs for the characters over the season.
Here’s a clip from next week’s more lighthearted episode. Hey, look, it’s Charisma Carpenter and James Marsters!
Supernatural airs Friday nights at 9 on the CW.