“The Thing” reminds us that monsters come in all forms on Supernatural. Director John Showalter and writer Davy Perez create a Lovecraftian horror story replete with hooded figures, a deceptive threat, and an interdimensional rift. Oh, and did we mention, there’s tentacles? Supernatural’s “The Thing” takes a side trip into Men of Letters history, while former British Man of Letters Ketch takes one for the team.
Throughout Season 13 Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) have been focused on getting back to the apocalypse universe to rescue their mom, and now Jack. Though almost every story that takes place in the prime universe connects to this narrative, it’s the standalone episodes that have worked the best in Season 13. Perhaps because the Winchester angst has inexplicably volleyed from Dean to Sam, and Castiel himself seems confused about his purpose this season, Supernatural feels most grounded when the boys are out hunting, even if it is for an ingredient to a spell. Sam and Dean on the road is classic Supernatural. Yet, we’ve become so used to the third “Winchester,” it’s hard not to get distracted by the angel’s absence without it being explained.
Though we like the bunker, we’ve never been big fans of stories about the Men of Letters, American or British. Yet, “The Thing” uses the Men of Letters as a backdrop to what is clearly a monster story. The misanthropy of a discredited Man of Letters reveals the interplay of arrogance and honor of the group and their descendants. The Rhode Island chapterhouse, filled with supernatural symbols, piles of books, and abandoned pictures, creates an eerie setting for the first part of “The Thing.”
The chapterhouse is contrasted with Krispy’s Diner, a seemingly wholesome restaurant where the waitress gives strangers nicknames and young people flirt. The Men of Letters arrive at the diner in their hooded gear, creating a whole lot more hubbub than was probably necessary. When Sam is captured, an angry Dean provides arguably the best line of the episode: “They took my brother. I’m going to get him back.” Despite the intensity of the delivery, the story doesn’t create any action to back it up because it’s quickly revealed that neither Sandy nor the hooded figures are what they seem.
Sandy’s sinister nature is confirmed when a tentacle comes out of her mouth. Whoa! Creepy work, Supernatural! After she feeds, she’s ready for the next step. She takes Dean back to the chapterhouse to become her mate’s host because, “I like you, Dean. You’re strong, and I enjoy looking at your face.” You’re singing to the choir, Sandy. Dean references Ghostbusters when he tells her, “I don’t know what kind of kinky gatekeeper-keymaster thing you’ve got going on there, but I think I’ll pass.” We only get a glimpse of her mate and his many tentacles before the otherworldly monsters are vanquished by the Winchesters and their new friends.
While the Winchesters are inadvertently rescuing monsters, Arthur Ketch (David Haydn-Jones) is waiting to see Asmodeus (Jeffrey Vincent Parise) at Hell HQ. The head minion gave a comedic performance, including his conversation about how much he loved watching cat videos. Eventually, Ketch walks in on Asmodeus shooting up with angel grace. The Prince of Hell proceeds to humiliate and beat Ketch:
“You say you have this code, this Men of Letters code handed down for centuries, but wait, wait a minute, you work for me. You act like you’re this cold-blooded killer, but you know what I see when I look in your eyes? Fear and regret and pain. I see your chewy middle, boy. You want redemption. But you ain’t never gonna get it. Your kind, our kind, we can’t be redeemed. All we can do is spread our pain around. So no, you won’t know who you are, but I do. Which is why no matter where you go, no matter what you do, you’re mine.”
Out of spite, or possibly as a result of Asmodeus’s psychological manipulation, Ketch decides to rescue a reluctant Gabriel. His breakout of the terrified archangel seems way too easy. Almost like he, or the Winchesters, are being set up. We’re always happy to see Gabriel, whether he’s in Casa Erotica, being impersonated by Metatron, or acting as his Trickster self. But this fearful, muttering, decrepit angel is not the Gabriel we know and love. Let’s hope Cas will return soon to provide the healing touch.
Maybe if Cas had been around, Dean wouldn’t have had to partner up with Ketch as he heads into the rift. We agree with Dean when he says about Ketch, “I don’t care if he dies. Hell, I’m kind of rooting for it.” Besides, Sam and Gabriel together could be fantastic because Sam makes the perfect straight man to the comically gifted.
“The Thing” Review
Supernatural gives us a somewhat muted but funny episode in “The Thing.” The season story arc is finally progressing in a significant way. Dean will head into the apocalypse world, while Sam has some quality time with Gabriel. Will Ketch get that redemption he wants, the death that Dean is rooting for, or both? Who knows what Supernatural will bring next?