If the title of the latest episode of Supernatural, “The One You’ve Been Waiting For,” is meant to convey our excitement at having an episode both written and directed by women, then they got it right. During the first five seasons of Supernatural there was only one episode directed by a woman—“Hunted” from Season 2, directed by Rachel Talalay. There have only been three episodes over the past 12 seasons that were both directed and written by women—the aforementioned “Hunted,” the Season 9 episode “#THINMAN,” and now “The One You’ve Been Waiting For.” The lack of female writers and directors is not just an issue for Supernatural; it plagues the industry. And maybe a few other jobs as well.
Doctor Who showrunner Steven Moffat has often been asked about the shortage of female writers and directors in that series. In a 2014 interview with Zap2It, he said, “Female directors and writers have a tendency to turn us down. There are fewer female directors and female writers—it’s a statistical fact—it’s shameful but it’s true. Most of the people who are desperate to do Doctor Who are men.” Could it be the same issue with Supernatural? Are women just not that interested in telling stories about two brothers who travel the country in an Impala battling monsters and sharing emotional moments? Or is that just a story in itself? There are actually a ton of women writing about both Doctor Who and Supernatural. They just don’t work for the television industry.
“The One You’ve Been Waiting For” shows us what the ladies have to offer. It’s a solid Monster-of-the-Week episode, connecting with two previous episodes—“Everybody Hates Hitler” and “The Vessel.” It falls back into some old tropes, but it works. The episode was directed by Nina Lopez-Corrado (“Red Meat”) and written by Meredith Glynn (writer for Scream the TV Series). Having both a writer and director with little to no experience on the series was a risky choice, but they seem to get Sam and Dean and understand the series.
Something About Mary
Mary Winchester is still on her own dealing with all the feelings that come with being pulled out of Heaven only to find her sons leading lives she never wanted for them. It’s not clear what Mary is doing on her journey of self-discovery. Learning Twitter, maybe? She may try to right her wrong with the yellow-eyed demon. Last week, in “American Nightmare,” Sam referred to his psychic past and this week he mentions being primed to become Lucifer’s vessel. Will Mary be revisiting the past in some way?
Meanwhile, Dean has accepted that his mom needs some time to sort through her feelings, but Sam assumes Dean is sublimating his feelings. Each brother plays their role in this dysfunctional family.
Keenan Tracey stars as young Christoph, a millennial desperate for his father’s approval. His father Nauhaus is played by Gil Darnell. These two have an interesting dynamic that adds some humor to the story. How do you please a father who is only interested in the leader of the fatherland? Despite his efforts to assist the O.G. Thule with their plan to bring back Hitler, Christoph is a constant disappointment to his authoritarian father. And if your dad is a Nazi necromancer, the consequence of failure is severe.
Though the father-son relationship added tension and humor to the story, some aspects of these characters didn’t work so well. Nauhaus’s outrageous German accent was distracting at best. And why do TV Germans always speak in exaggerated English until there’s a German word that is close enough to English that we can understand it—mein gott. … Even if we assume an exaggerated accent was intentional for comic effect, he was no Lili Von Shtupp. While Nauhaus seemed straight out of a Captain America comic book, Christoph had an unrelenting earnestness about him. The Winchesters didn’t even have to hit this boy before he was telling them all about the Thule and their Hitler resurrection plan. Maybe he’s seeking approval elsewhere in response to his emotionally withholding father. Or maybe it’s just a contrived plot device.
Allison Paige plays Ellie, an unknowing descendant of Hitler. When Sam and Dean fail to release her after they capture Christoph and then begin telling her how they hunt monsters, it was clear that Ellie was going to become important in the story. It’s hard to develop a character like this in one episode, particularly when we have two other significant episode characters being introduced.
It took a while to warm up to Ellie, as she’s initially portrayed as an anxious young woman still getting over her last break-up. Learning you’re Hitler’s descendant probably takes a minute to process. Sam takes the soft approach of trying to express sympathy, but Dean’s more direct method seems to work better: “There are times when you run and times when you stand and fight. Now is one of those times when you fight.” Ellie does manage to get away from the Thule on her own (twice), and by the time she bravely rescues the Winchesters, we’ve come to like her character.
When Nauhaus succeeds in becoming the vessel for Hitler’s soul, he becomes a comic version of the murderous dictator. We’re all for making fun of Hitler. Humor can expose evil and satire can be an effective form of resistance. Monty Python created a hilarious portrayal of Hitler, Himmler, and Von Ribbentrop in the sketch “The North Minehead Bye-Election.” Then, of course, there’s Mel Brooks’ The Producers, in which a musical about Hitler becomes an accidental hit. The challenge of satirizing a dictator such as Hitler without making light of his crimes is not an easy line to walk. Even Charlie Chaplin, creator of the 1940 film The Great Dictator, noted in his autobiography, “Had I known of the German concentration camps, I could not have made The Great Dictator; I could not have made fun of the homicidal insanity of the Nazis.”
Supernatural gives us an over-the-top cartoon version of Hitler, dancing around in his new body. He’s not scary, and he’s not particularly funny. Making Hitler a parody can be understood as a reflection of the Season 12 ethos of reinventing monsters—taking what the audience knows, but presenting it with a different spin. Yet, this doggie-loving jokester doesn’t work well as a representation of the man responsible for killing millions of people.
Despite this, we can’t help but appreciate the line referring to his cell phone: “It’s like having a tiny Goebbels in my pocket! I sold 10 million copies of Mein Kampf. What do you think I can do with Twitter?” It’s both funny and timely.
We Need a Hero(ine)
The evil Nauhaus told Ellie he had no intention of resurrecting Hitler with her body because she is a weak, unworthy American female. Well, we see some real girl power when she picks up the gun to take a shot at Hitler, hitting his henchman in the head and saving the Winchesters (who got caught by the Nazis way too easily). Giving the ultimate kill to Dean reinforces the Winchesters’ role as heroes as well as providing some comedic moments. Though it wouldn’t have been aligned with the series, it would have been interesting to see this resilient young woman kill her ancestor and tormenter. Of course, then we would miss Dean’s Terminator-like lines.
One interesting absence in the episode is the “body disposal” scene, where the monsters are burned, buried, or whatever is appropriate. The obvious themes connected to the disposal of Hitler’s own body were not used. Also, we have no idea what happened to the gold watch, which may have provided an interesting way to frame the ending. Instead, we are given “checking in with the survivors” scenes which are not very compelling: Cristoph is told to keep running, which is something that Ellie had been criticized for doing, and Ellie is planning on reconnecting with her adoptive family, something that Christoph could never achieve.
Lopez-Corrado and Glynn managed to integrate several different characters and moved a fairly complicated story along at a good pace while still injecting a fair about of action. The strongest scenes of the episode took place at the antique shop. The cold open engaged us immediately. The scene of the Winchesters investigating the shop was funny and played up their individual characteristics.
Kudos to the always-amazing prop and set designers on Supernatural for creating such a detailed antique shop and pocket watch prop. It feels like those departments haven’t had a chance to show their stuff to this degree since Season 10. Let’s hope Season 12 brings more opportunities like this that showcase the crew’s skill.
It’s not an easy task to join a 12-season series with an established set of writers, directors, cast, and crew, but “The One You’ve Been Waiting For” showed us that an injection of new blood can give us something interesting while remaining true to the existing world of Supernatural. We’re excited that the series is bringing new writers and directors into Season 12 and look forward to the continued evolution of the series.
“The One You’ve Been Waiting For” sometimes felt like a Hydra rip-off, but it had a well-conceived story, interesting characters, and a different kind of monster. The episode seems aligned with what co-showrunner Robert Singer said to expect in Season 12 of Supernatural in terms of a back-to-basics approach with a twist. Overall, Season 12 is off to a solid start.
See our recap of “The One You’ve Been Waiting For” here.