Boy, was I off base when I thought that last episode, with the clowns was going to be funny. I don’t want to make the same mistake here, but I’d like this episode to be funny. We need to lighten up a little bit before we have the season hiatus.
Okay, just for the record, when I hear this title, this is the song I will be hearing every single time, and now so will you. This is not a matter for debate. A very fitting song about imaginary friends, yeah?
Oh, I really liked this episode. I’m also a big fan of Richard Speight Jr., who directed this week’s episode and it shows. The flavor of this episode is very much in keeping with the gentle, but zany humor of Gabriel and Speight, as well. And distinct in style from episodes directed by Jensen. It was absolutely darling and sweet and bitter and funny…it just brought all the feels. I think Sully is now one of my new favorite characters, not just for his clear devotion to Sam but because of his little pudgy body, his fragility and compassion, but also because he was willing to sacrifice his life for Sam, by owning up to what he’d done, thereby giving Sam an example to follow regarding his fear of The Cage and Lucifer. There’s even a tiny bit of Trickster in him too, although he’s much, much nicer than Gabriel.
Aaahhh! I loved his suspenders (braces). I used to own a pair just like that when I was about nine years old, so it was fun and funny to see someone else wearing these. Its also a callback to the show Mork and Mindy. Mork was also a zany, cartoonish character, not unlike the Zannas of this episode, or Trickster Gabriel. (It feels like a distinctive Speight touch, too.)
A young girl named Maddie is having tea with her imaginary unicorn friend named Sparkles. After coming back from dinner with her parents she discovers that Sparkles has been horribly murdered.
Sam wakes up at the unholy hour of 6:30 in the morning. A person should be sound asleep at that hour but he’s up getting coffee. I love how this scene is shot,with the shadow of an ominous figure following Sam to the kitchen. Although once he gets to the kitchen,the viewer can see that the table is set with colorful junk foods. There’s some wonderful tension as we watch Sam wander back and forth waiting for him to notice that.
I think it’s sweet that Sully, having not seen Sam in so long still remembers all his favorite junk foods and the things they used to say to each other. At first only Sam can see Sully but Sully decides to let Dean in on the action, too. Dean is having some real trouble with the idea of imaginary friends and is acting pretty dickish towards Sully, although as the episode goes forward he starts to come around.
The brothers realize that since children are the only people who can see imaginary friends, called Zanna, in Romanian folklore, they can’t just ride up on the house like gangbusters and interrogate the family. This is a delicate situation, so thy’re going to have put on … their “little old man” sweaters. They both look totes adorbs as they pretend to be counselors for Maddie, who refuses to sleep in her room.
Dean, still having trouble with the idea of “real” imaginary creatures, calls Sparkles a “manicorn”, which is even dumber than the “ghoulpire” thing he kept trying to invent in Baby. I have to admit, some of the funniest episodes, are the ones in which Dean just makes up words.
We see why Maddie wont go to her room, when the brothers investigate. The room is covered in blood and Sparkles dead body is still present. I’m feeling a tinge of sadness. Its tragic when unicorns die. Maddie’s mother, as well meaning as she is, is completely oblivious to the carnage and even manages to get Sparkle’s blood all over her face. The Winchesters, reluctant to alarm the mother as well, advise her to shower the entire family. I still don’t know how she’s going to get near Maddie, if her face is covered in blood only Maddie can see.
Simultaneously a young girl’s pool mermaid is murdered in her backyard.
Sam has a flashback to when he was about ten or so and begging Dean to ask John to let him go hunting. It seems Sam has always waffled back and forth about wanting the hunting life. Sully tries really hard to impart to Sam the idea that he doesn’t have to be a Hunter and can do anything he wants. These flashbacks aren’t just to show us what Sam was like as a child but to show us exactly what Sully’s job entails and the kind of Zanna he is.
Sully explains that imaginary people have a form of telepathy which each other, which is how he knows that Nicky the Mermaid is dead. While investigating the scene, Sully tells them she had a jealous boyfriend named Weems and that it would be wrong to leave her body in the pool, so they spend some time burying her huge remains. Dean goes along with this, though he was initially dismissive of her death, and doesn’t understand why Sam ever needed an imaginary friend,.
Dean is still kind of a dick, though.
Before they can interrogate Weems, he is attacked and sends a telepathic signal to Sully. The Winchesters and Sully arrive to find Weems still alive and he confesses that he saw the shooter, didn’t know who she was, but she drove an old beat up VW Bug. He does seem to know Sam though. Dean wondering what it is that makes Weems so special as an imaginary friend, finds that Weems can play a mean air guitar. I mean he is awesome at it! Dean is impressed, although he pretends he isn’t and goes off to find the VW.
While he’s gone, Sam and Sully talk about their bad breakup and..yeah, it was pretty bad. When Dean called Sam back to tell him he could go hunting with him and Dad after all, Sam is very happy to leave. Sully tries very hard to talk him out of going but Sam rejects him and sends him away. Sully says he considered Sam to be one of his greatest failures, because he couldn’t save him, even though he sort of worships Sam and considers Sam a hero for saving the world, which I thought was one of the sweetest things ever said. Sam usually gets vilified for the things he’s done.
Its interesting that supernatural creatures know and talk about the Winchesters and their deeds. The Winchesters are almost considered mythical creatures themselves, and Sam looks mildly surprised and baffled by this.
They also talk about The Cage and The Darkness. Sam confesses that he made a mess, and that there may be some price for what he did. He confesses his terror about having to go back to The Cage and Sully is kind and supportive throughout, (he genuinely cares about Sam’s well being) and later, he takes a cue from Sam, and shows by example what should be done.
These conversations between Sam and Sully are notable for another reason. At one point Sam (as a child) discusses running away with Sully, who mildly encourages this form of rebellion, but not explicitly. We do know that when Sam was a pre-teen he did run away and Dean spent several weeks looking for him. We have noted Sam’s tendency to run away from confrontation or drama, (as he is trying to do with The Cage decision) and when he sacrificed his life to save the world from the Apocalypse, was one of the few times we saw him tackle a problem head on. (Although to be fair, Sam has never had a problem running towards danger, its running away from personal issues that seem to be the problem.)
Dean calls and says he’s found their killer. Naturally he was smacked over the head with something and then tied up. The two of them have been tied up so often, that breaking out of their bonds is a fairly routine occurrence, and generally of no remark. The many head-bashings they’ve received over the years might explain their bad decision making abilities.
It turns out the killer is the grownup sister of a young girl, that got killed by a car, while under Sully’s care. Her twin, Reese, blames Sully for her sister’s death and in revenge, she procured a spell and a special knife from a witch, so that she can make Sully pay for what he did. But its not just the death of her sister that is the problem. She is still in grief for the loss of her family because Sully, having committed a horrible mistake, ran away from it in fear, rather than help her cope with her pain. Too caught up in his own guilt and pain he forgot his purpose, which is to help children through theirs.
The irony is that if he’d stayed and helped her through her grief, he would maybe have alleviated the pain for both of them, and Reese might have become one of his greatest success stories, instead.
When Reese threatens to kill Sam, Sully, taking a cue from his hero, steps up to acknowledge the mistake he made and offer his life in exchange for Sam. Dean has not been blind to any of this. Having worked himself free of his bonds, he tells Reese that killing Sully is unnecessary and manages to talk her down. it is clear she really doesn’t want to kill him and is in a lot of pain. She and Sully reconcile, but it’s too bad that Nicky ans Sparkles had to pay for a mistake he ran away from, so many years ago.
There’s definitely a larger lesson in this episode for Sam and the entire season. Running away from one’s responsibilities or mistakes will cost you the one’s you love later. On the way home, having heard this message loud and clear, Sam tells Dean he’s made a decision. He has to go back into the The Cage.
Next week: Sam visits The Cage and has a reunion with Lucy and I’m way too keyed up to talk about that, in any coherent manner.