“Thin Lizzie” gives viewers a Supernatural Monster of the Week episode with an unexpected twist, reminding us that “The Darkness is coming for us all.” It might even be standing in the bushes spying on you. With his fascination for serial killers, Sam (Jared Padalecki) can’t resist investigating a couple axed to death while staying at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum. Dean (Jensen Ackles), on the other hand, isn’t thrilled to stay in a flowery room that smells like lavender toilet water. It turns out that Sam isn’t the only one with a “freaky fetish” for Lizzie Borden, because Amara also can’t resist visiting the home of this famous axe murderer. Who knew Sam and Amara had so much in common.
In “Thin Lizzie,” Supernatural pays homage, somewhat mockingly, to nerd culture. Even serial murder enthusiasts can be part of a fandom. Not only does the legend of Lizzie Borden pique the interest of Sam and Amara, it has created a superfan out of Len. Amara and Len connect with a conversation about how unfair Lizzie’s parents were, but unlike with most fan exchanges, Amara snacks on his soul afterwards. That’s not how you build a fandom. The ultimate paranormal nerds, Ghostfacers, even get a mention in “Thin Lizzie.”
Despite the brothers getting along so well in the fantastic episode “Baby,” Dean seems a bit more irritated than usual. He continues to dismiss Sam’s visions while failing to share his own close connection with the Darkness. Is his scorn for Sam’s visions a way of protecting the Darkness? Does Dean actually know Amara is closer than Sam realizes? Should we be worried that the Darkness will turn Dean into a “robot puppet man?”
Lizzie Borden took an axe
A young couple has decided on a creepy evening at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum. Nothing says romance like flickering lights and strange moans coming from the walls. But let’s face it, the ultimate gesture of love is desperately trying to escape while a hooded figure axes your girlfriend to death. Of course, all that screaming like a girl just makes Romeo an irresistible target as well.
At the bunker, Sam and Dean haven’t come up with anything new on the Darkness. It mostly seems to be Sam researching while Dean washes cars and drinks beers. At least he brings a beer to Sammy. Unable to resist the temptation to visit the Lizzie Borden house, Sam wants to check out the axe murders. Dean … less so. He doesn’t think the case will be supernatural and doesn’t have the keen interest in serial murders like Sam does. With nothing else to do, Dean agrees to go. Castiel won’t be joining them because “he’s knee-deep in binge-watching The Wire.” That’s what happens when you make the mistake of introducing an angel to Netflix.
At the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast museum, Sam and Dean ask the manager questions, but can’t get much information until they check in. Apparently the murders have had a negative impact on business. As he checks the Winchesters in, the manager gets scolded by his mother. When she leaves, Dean tells him, “Working with family can be tough,” eliciting a look from Sam. The manager tells the Winchesters that the young man who was murdered was a descendant of the original Borden family.
Once they get into the room Sam is a bit gleeful, telling Dean he can get his own room because this is Lizzie Borden’s original room and he’s not giving it up. This Lizzie Borden interest seems too macabre for Sam. But we do love it when Supernatural builds on references from other episodes. (It was in “The Executioner’s Song” that we learned Sam had memorized all kinds of fun facts about serial murderers.) Dean tells Sam in an annoyed voice, “The world’s smallest bathroom is clean.” Clearly Dean’s gotten spoiled by the bunker. Sam starts to spray an old bottle of lavender-scented eau de toilette he finds sitting in the room and Dean is disgusted: “Bottled toilet water. Why do you keep spraying it?”
Dean leaves to check out the inn, now that he’s got that grandma smell all over him. Sam checks the room marked “Staff Only,” while Dean breaks into the museum. Dean manages to scare away a photographer taking pictures from outside with an old camera. It turns out there’s lots of EMF in the house, but it’s created with an EMF generator, not ghosts. The flickering lights are on a timer. Recordings of cries are piped in through a speaker system. Dean is pretty frustrated with the place, describing it as a doily coffin, but Sam still thinks there may still be a case.
And gave this mother forty whacks
Later that night, the manager’s mother becomes the next victim of the axe murderer. Using their Genesis pseudonyms, Sam and Dean talk to Detective Madsen (Claude Knowlton). He’s familiar with the photographer Dean spotted, but claims he’s harmless. Later, Sam suggests that perhaps they’re dealing with a serial killer, and Dean responds, “Oh, yeah, you’d love that, wouldn’t you.” But all signs point to something spooky at the inn, until a man is similarly murdered miles away.
At the scene of the newest crime, Sam questions the babysitter, Sydney (Tess Atkins) who found the father dead. The dead man’s wife, Mrs. Pinski, comes home, and her son Jordie runs to her. When Sam tries to ask the mother questions, she angrily kicks him out. Sam doesn’t think Mrs. Pinski seems too upset about her husband’s death, but the local cop doesn’t agree, saying that everyone deals with death in their own way.
Dean goes to talk to the ghost photographer he scared off earlier. His name is Len (Jared Gertner) and he’s a Lizzie Borden superfan and curator. He can’t go inside the inn due to a restraining order, but that didn’t keep him from staying in the basement for a couple weeks. Dean finds a drawing of the Mark of Cain in Len’s apartment and questions him about it. After some poor attempts at lying, Len admits he ran into a girl with that Mark outside of the Borden house. They commiserated about how terrible Lizzie’s parents were to her. He tells Dean she had the symbol on her shoulder and her name is Amara. Len tells Dan that she did something to him. We know that she has sucked out his soul, but although poor Len doesn’t know what exactly Amara did to him, he does know that he hasn’t been right since it happened. He tells Dean that since then he’s been “just playing the part of what I used to be.” The other night he was at the Borden house looking for Amara—to put him back. He tells Dean he remembers how to talk to people, what to say, but he feels like he’s going through the motions—like a “robot puppet man.”
Dean tells Sam that Amara has grown—a lot. They realize she must be getting a lot of Scooby soul snacks. Dean says they can’t kill Len yet because he hasn’t done anything. Sam reminds Dean that they don’t kill people; they’re supposed to be saving people. Dean responds, “Right, your new rules.” Dean suggests that Sam be the one to break the news to Len about being soulless, since he has experience with it, but Sam points out that Dean has a better relationship with him. They decide knowing the truth won’t make him feel any better and Dean says, “Looks like we’re babysitting a 30-year-old man.”
Sam thinks that Mrs. Pinski lost her soul and killed her husband. Sam calls the babysitter, Sydney, to ask where Mrs. Pinski is. She tells him that Mrs. Pinski is probably with her boyfriend.
The Winchesters head to the boyfriend’s house with Len in the Impala. Len feels weird. Like something’s hatching inside him, something dark, with wings. It’s great fun to watch Dean’s facial expressions as Len talks. Len realizes that Sam and Dean know what’s wrong with him and he wants to know what it is. As Dean handcuffs Len to the car he tells him, “You don’t have a soul, all right? Amara sucked it out.” Sam complains about Dean’s bluntness, but Len says knowing actually makes him feel better.
She’s No Angel
Sam and Dean look into the house and find it’s trashed. They break in, and Dean finds Mrs. Pinski and her boyfriend dead in the basement. Someone knocks Dean out. Sam finds the son Jordie tied up. It turns out that Sydney is a killer babysitter with no soul. Somehow she manages to tie up Sam and Dean and move them to the garage. She wants to use them as an offering to her new bestie Amara. She met Amara after attempting to drown her sorrows after a break-up. Sydney befriended Amara and in return Amara touched her hand and gave her great joy.
Sydney: “You’re an angel.”
Amara: “Do I look like a whiny winged suck-up?”
Sydney: “Then what are you?”
Rather than give her a complicated answer about being the human incarnation of the prehistoric force known as the Darkness, Amara just sucks out Sydney’s soul.
For Sydney losing her soul took away her pain, making her free from her terrible memories and overwhelming emotions. As she describes how freeing it is to be soulless, Dean listens intently. Dean may be wondering what it’s like to live without guilt and pain. Sam seems less interested in her spiel and more interested in getting his ropes untied. But then again, soullessness is old news for him. It turns out the young man killed at the inn was Sydney’s ex-boyfriend. She killed the innkeeper’s mother because of a grudge she had after having worked at the inn. Having once been employed at the inn, she was able to get in and out easily. She killed Mr. and Mrs. Pinski because she thought they were bad parents to Jordie.Apparently soulless Sydney thinks she can do better.
Dean asks Sydney how she’s planning on calling Amara. Sydney has been praying and knows Amara is close. Dean tells her, “Well, bring her on out. We’ve been hunting that bitch for weeks,” as Sam gets free of his bonds. She shoots at Sam and misses, and before she can shoot again Len comes up behind her with an axe. She collapses on the floor and Len exclaims, “Holy crap. I just did that.” As Sydney lies on the floor dying, she says, “The Darkness is coming. It’s so peaceful. It’s coming for all of us.”
Sam goes outside and talks to young Jordie, who has just lost his family. He tells Jordie that people are going to help him. Hopefully “people” includes a therapist.
Len tells Dean he pulled his hand out of the handcuffs just to see if he could do it. Dean acknowledges that his behavior is a bit worrisome. Len tells Dean, “My brain said I should help you, but I didn’t really feel anything for you or her. What kind of person can murder and feel nothing?” Len realizes that if he’s not stopped that he’s going to kill again. He suggests that Dean could kill him, but Dean doesn’t want to. Len decides to turn himself in for all the murders.
Dean: “Well, there’s not too many … soulless killers that would give themselves up.”
Len: “I remember what it was like to do the right thing. So I’m—I’m going through the motions for as long as I can.”
While Len is talking Dean looks pensive and we’re not sure what we’re supposed to take from this. Is the connection with the Darkness affecting Dean? Is Dean going through the motions of doing the right thing?
Sam and Dean are on the road again. They stop to have some burgers and talk about Len turning himself in. To Sam it makes sense that people would have different reactions to losing their soul. He says, “Everyone’s got their own history, right?” Sam gets a feeling in the pit of his stomach when he thinks of the Darkness. He points out that Len was freaked out by Amara, while Sydney couldn’t get enough of her. Sam asks Dean if he had that feeling of bliss when he was with Amara, and Dean says he didn’t, that it was quiet.
They’re going to follow Amara’s path of bodies and destruction to see if they can find her. Dean adds that they can’t follow the crazy that Sam’s been seeing. Sam wears one of his hurt looks, but Dean doesn’t notice. As the car pulls forward Dean looks towards the woods, as though he sees something, then drives on. A minute later Amara emerges from the woods. As she watches the Impala drive away, Amara says, “Bye Dean. I’ll see you soon.”
“Thin Lizzie” raises more questions than it answers. We get clues that something is happening with Dean related to his connection with the Darkness, but we don’t know what it is yet. Supernatural gave us a good episode in what has so far been a season of pretty great episodes. We thought Season 10 was pretty great, but Season 11 has brought us a lot of interesting stories with unique spins, including “Thin Lizzie.” Sam and Dean seem to be on different paths leading to the same place, akin to Season 5. We can’t wait to see how their individual stories unfold as Season 11 of Supernatural continues.