Airtime: Tuesday at 9ET on The CW
By: Dana Leigh Brand, Contributor
If you want the definition of “filler” look no further than this week’s SUPERNATURAL.
Now, filler on this show always manages to tie into whatever emotional crisis the Winchester brothers are enduring, and this is no exception. “Paper Moon” also has the unfortunate task of living up to the episode that originated its Monster of the Week. Kate is a young woman who was turned into a werewolf in the fourth episode of Season 8 called “Bitten”–an episode that is pretty much entirely three college students filming the experiences that lead up to them being turned into werewolves. “Bitten” is one of my favorite episodes of the entire series, to the point where I’ve been wondering since then what Kate’s been up to. “Paper Moon,” while typical (eye-roll worthy) Supernatural style, just didn’t live up to all that expectation for me.
To begin with, Dean and Sam have taken Cas’s advice and gone on a vacation. They sit in chairs by a lake wearing shades and trying not to admit that they’re bored out of their brains. Dean suggests they go investigate these weird animal attacks that are obviously werewolf related (if you’ve been around this long, you know hearts torn out of chests is werewolf related–they don’t even have to tell you anymore.)
If you say “werewolves” to me, I instantly think about “Bitten” so imagine my glee when it really is Kate who appears this time! But that just ups the stakes, really, and it couldn’t live up to the glory. It’s not Kate who’s doing all the killings–she’s kept her promise to not attack humans. It’s her little sister Tasha who she turned into a werewolf to save her life. “Ah,” I say. “Now we get our surrogate sibling story so that the Winchesters can understand something about themselves.” Nothing is different here. Supernatural keeps relentlessly to its usual formulas, and they work, but I’m so used to the series destroying tropes and overturning expectations that when there’s an episode where I can predict every move –I won’t say I’m disappointed, but I’m not exactly grabbed.
Sam and Dean discuss all their anger issues, brought to the fore by Kate’s protectiveness of Tasha. Dean starts spouting some bull about being able to cure werewolves so he can trick Kate into leading them to Tasha who’s on the run. “Huh-uh,” I say, sassing my index finger in z-formation. “You can cure demons. Ain’t nothing you got can cure werewolves.” I am, indeed, the Captain of the Season Mythology Police because when they mess that up I feel personally affronted. Sam calls him on it not two minutes later. Good. Good good. Dean’s just being an underhanded skeezoid and manipulating Kate. That’s much preferable to screwing up the rules.
Turns out Tasha is a nutcase and being a werewolf has driven her off the deep end, which I could have told you would happen from the beginning. She’s turned two random dudes into werewolves as well, and gets in some good jabs at Dean and Sam. Kate does the wonderfully right thing and kills her sister because Tasha has lost her mind. That’s truly one thing that I love about Supernatural is that the characters always do the intelligent, rational thing, rather than the thing that will incur the most drama. Even in a largely blah episode, that’s still refreshing.
Kate escapes while Dean and Sam are dealing with the fledgling werewolf dudes. She calls them while they’re driving away to tell them they don’t have to worry about looking for her anymore because she won’t make any more mistakes like that. Sam and Dean have another heart-to-heart (these types of episodes exist solely for Sam and Dean’s revelatory heart-to-hearts). “Maybe I’m not ready to hunt,” Dean says, still dealing with the anger issues from the Mark of Cain, “but I’m just trying to do the right thing, man, ’cause I am so sick and tired of doing the wrong one.” Oh, honey, I swear to God I’ve heard you say that at least six times before. Usually when you’re three sheets to the wind.
This episode was quite average as Supernatural goes. It had some laughs, it had monsters, it had family drama, and it even had a perfect classic rock song to open which I’ve always wanted them to use (“Werewolves of London!”) But it seems to me that this episode suffers from being #199, existing as the buffer between the three-episode wrap up for the Season 9 cliffhanger (which, while I felt it was rushed, is still a record length for cliff-hanger wrap-up when it comes to this series) and the much touted 200th episode of Supernatural entitled (ominously) “Fan Fiction.” It will likely be amazing, given how prone this series is to go meta at the slightest opportunity and both prod and celebrate its rabid avid fans. It could possibly be a massive disaster. Either way, I can assure you you’ll get a peek at the underbelly of this fandom and fandom culture in general, courtesy of me, in two weeks’ time.