Peace of Mind is the first written teleplay for Supernatural by Meghan Fitzmartin, although she has been Mr. Dabb’s assistant for about 3 years now. It appears to be a transition episode which recaps the emotional state of our fab four as the exposition recaps the disposal of Michael and its aftermath of all the lost alternative world hunters on each of the lead characters. It adeptly shows how despite everyone saying they were fine in the previous episode, nobody really is in good shape emotionally. Despite Jack regaining his full nephilim powers, nobody seems to know how much of his soul remains( This dichotomy gives me pause, but for plot sake, let’s continue).
By default of having dealt with souless Sam, it falls to Dean to take a field trip with Jack to visit Donatello, the souless prophet who has recovered and functions but is empty inside. Dean freely admits he was not good with souless Sam. Although Jack has been impacted, he is not totally without his soul. His decision to eat Angel food instead of Devil’s food cake snacks does create tension which is nicely expressed by Dean’s glances at his choices. Jack’s relationship to his pet snake and his resolution to its sadness brings in the new phrase.”what would winchester do?” but is a cause for concern-again good intentions, bad act perhaps? The viewer has no peace of mind and neither does Dean when it comes to Jack. The interaction or lack of it between Dean and the snake pays hommage to that episode where the big yellow snake crawls between Dean’s legs-there is no attempt to hush it as it is in the opening sequence. Nice memory.
Perhaps, most visibly shaken is Sam. He feels the need to escape the bunker and keep working while Dean says he requires at least one night of sleep after so many funerals. Sam and Castiel partner up to investigate “the case of death by exploding brains”. Despite the horror of the case, it provides much levity in smart lines. Castiel takes the lead on the case as Sam disappears into a world of artifical happiness caused by the mayor of the town who has psychic powers and chooses to misue use them to create a false reality of happiness.
Castiel’s bluntness,his frustration, and his awesome fight scene in order to wake Sam from the imposed happiness provide some great lines and action scenes for Misha Collins. The case gives Sam an opportunity to focus on work rather than the sadness he has tried to escape. The fake world of happiness has Sam don a Mr. Rogerslike persona, complete with cardigan and glasses and a very ordered life, which provide some humorous one liners. Despite Jared protesting at conventions that he is not comfortable being humorous on screen, he is superb- the costume helps drive the persona. There are constant descriptions of Sam as the tall man and the one with the beautiful hair as Cass tries to find him in the idyllic town. Let’s just say, Jared as Sam as married Justin, happy, with his hair pulled back and admonishing Cass about bad language and mouth washing is a joy to watch until Sam almost explodes. The special effects of Sam’s head ready to explode like a “ripe melon on the sun” is scary. Not to worry- Cas saves the day as does the mayor’s daughter who uses her psychic ability to defuse the mind control and put her father into a permanent state of happiness where he cannot harm others- hommage to the an earlier episode about a psychic(Mike Farrell) who is taken out of the game and rendered harmless in his own world of loonie tune cartoons. Alas, Sam realizes that he has to face his sadness and admits to Dean that he needs time to recover.
Perhaps the ability to present action heros as feeling humans is what is so essential to the success of this show and this episode exposes that element so well. It is what makes the Winchesters feel like more than just characters. The viewers are pulled in by the always keep fighting brothers who are so vulnerable. They are “everyman.”
The direction by Phil Scriggia and the shades of lighting and set design demonstrate a beautifully colorful, happy, but fake world in contrast to the drab,sad, reality of loss our characters experience. Of course, there are the usual easter eggs in the sets such as the movie playing in the town is Scooby Doo, and Dean eating a sandwich almost as big as the one in the Scooby Doo episode-He is gonna need a bigger mouth.
There is much to digest from this episode. Does it work on every level? No.Does it have fragmentation issues? Yes. However, the episode gives each character in our SPN universe space to explore their own reactions to recent events and a bit of space to the viewer as well. Does it provide peace of mind? No. If anything, this episode creates an unnerving question as to Jack’s future. Good intentions/bad intentions/power-remember the episode with the psychic twins who controlled people’s minds, maybe in season 2-Andy?
While inititally I found myself not approving of what I was watching as an episode after a high note from “Prophet and Loss”, I understand it now and appreciate how difficult it is to pull the new arc into sight in a transition episode while providing humor, gore, anxiety, and space for emotional fall out. I purposefully did not go into detail about this episode in a scene by scene review because you need to watch it a few times to make your own decision. The one truly negative part of the script is the scant details of what exactly the Mayor is? A witch? A human with psychic abilities? His daughter grows into her powers and uses them for good, but there is little detail or resolve about whether she survives although it appears she does. It is incredulous that an angel is hit so hard by humans as well. Again, the talent of the actors pull a tough, but balanced script to a good place. Jack. what is in store for you? Will you turn evil/destructive? Power with a diminished soul? Is Lucifer coming back into your life? This engine of anxiety keeps chugging toward season 15. There is no such animal as peace of mind when it comes to Supernatural.
Comments welcome, of course.