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There are some promising ideas and effective moments in this episode, but the promising ideas don’t really blossom in any way that works, and the effective moments don’t add up to much. They sure don’t make up for the way this episode barrels toward the stupidest climactic plot twist since the end of Reindeer Games. I like to think that Ben Affleck was pretty drunk by the time he read to the end of that script, and when he was on the set and belatedly realized what he’d agreed to sign on for, that was when he first seriously started thinking about becoming a director. Madison McLaughlin may have to aim a little lower when working on her back-up plan.


Madison McLaughlin is the 17-year-old actress who, some 14 months ago, was on this show, playing Krissy, a hunter’s daughter who developed what was meant to seem like an adorably prickly bond with Dean. That particular episode was not one of the crown jewels of last season, and Ms. McLaughlin’s in-your-face performance may have been the least charming thing about it. Even in my capacity as a gutless toad, I don’t relish picking on actors who aren’t yet old enough to vote, but at the very least, the show could have waited a little longer before bringing her back. To her credit, she pulls back a little here and is mostly just dull, though there are times when she and the writers seem to be teaming up to aim for a powerful image of a tough-as-nails warrior women, junior division, as if they were dreaming of spinning her off into her own kick-ass The CW action show. Maggie Q has nothing to worry about. As I said, she’s mostly just dull here, but when she hits her mark and tries to deliver the shit out of a Schwarzenegger-style zinger—“You’re never too young to kill monsters, especially those that killed your family!”—you can feel your eyes rolling so hard there’s a danger that they’ll leave your face and project themselves into orbit.

When Dean and Sam find Krissy again, she’s running around slaughtering vampires with two other kids her age, Josephine and Aidan. They all live together in a big house and operate under the tutelage of Victor, who wears sweaters and reeks of so much paternal condescension that it would be a major disappointment if he didn’t turn out to be the villain of the piece. All the kids are orphans, because vampires killed their families, and Victor himself lost his wife and kids to a wendigo, while on a camping trip. You just know that the wife wanted to go to Vegas and the kids had their hearts set on Six Flags, but Victor was all like, a good old-fashioned family camping trip in wendigo country will get some fresh air in your lungs and teach you little ingrates and some practical survival skills, and then we’ll finally be a happy family like on the Disney Channel, goddammit!! As Macduff said after deciding that his own wife and son would be fine if he left them home while he was off discussing the pros and cons of overthrowing the local murderous tyrant: Oops.

As if he hadn’t already established the outsized scale of his own douche-dom, Victor proceeds to trash-talk all the Winchesters’ friends. Being good guests regardless of the quality of their host, they nod and shrug right up to the point where he calls Bobby “a barely functional drunk.” For a second, I thought Dean was going to kill him right then and there and then take everybody to Six Flags to celebrate. Instead, he lets the wimpy gasbag continue to explain how, because he got his own family killed and all the recurring characters on this show suck, he has decided to devote his life to training the superior next generation of hunters. It was easy to round up a small army to mentor, because there’s been a recent rash of vampire killings, and so all his promising students have just had their families butchered by vamps and are eager to exact revenge. If I hadn’t been pre-occupied counting the fibers in my living room carpet, I probably would have recognized this as a red flag.

It turns out that Victor has cut a deal with a local vampire, having hired him to kill the families of his trainees, and then “turn” unlucky local citizens into vamps, so they can be framed for the killings and killed by the revenge-hungry kids. When the junior hunters catch up with them, they're still sporting their baby vampire teeth, which is presumably why their mouths look like James Franco’s grill in Spring Breakers; that’s the only thing about this explanation that doesn’t overshoot the “Oh, it all makes sense now!” category and land squarely in the box labeled “Hah?” In the end, Krissy is all set to waste Victor, but Dean orders her to stand down, saying that hunters don’t kill humans, though if ever there was a time to break that rule you’d think it would be now. Then, when Krissy obeys, Victor pulls out a gun and blows his own brains out, as if even he can’t bear the thought that the writers might want to bring him back some day. His self-sacrificial act helps to bump this episode up a notch or two; it never hurts to give the people what they really want to see. Always leave ‘em laughing and all that.


Stray observations:

  • The one character I wouldn’t have minded seeing more of is the sheriff, who, in his one scene, shows great amusing-jackass potential. The Winchesters come to see him in their FBI-agent drag; clearly delighted, he asks if they’re there to investigate “the Lady Killer Murders,” smirks, and then adds, “Coined it myself.”
  • Garth’s name remains on everybody’s lips, despite the fact that the great man himself is presumably unlikely to return to the set, at least until Legit wraps. Victor speculates that Garth must have been dropped on his head as a baby; Dean, telling Krissy to expect having Garth check up on her, tells her that “he’s a little strange at first, but you’ll learn to love him.” At this point, people who missed those previous episodes in which Garth did appear might not be surprised to hear that Garth is an invisible six-foot-tall rabbit, or that he’s Dean’s good friend with whom he started Fight Club.

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