[This is a review of Supernatural season 11, episode 5. There will be SPOILERS.]
If you can accept an enormous coincidence, then you can be on board the latest installment of Supernatural. Thanks to reports of a double-murder at Lizzie Borden's house -- now a quaint killer b&b -- Sam wanted to take a break from hunting Amara (the spawn/reincarnation of The Darkness) to stoke his obsession with serial killers.
But this is a TV show and there are plots to develop, so of course Amara just happened to be behind the latest murders at the Borden house. In this case, we got to see what she gets up to now that she's out and about. The latest incarnation must have taken a note from Crowley's playbook, because she's playing the role rather cartoon-villain over-the-top. Her closing moment where she waved goodbye to Dean as he drove away was just too much.
Putting all of that aside, though, there was a lot about the episode to love. Perhaps at the top of the list was Dean's completely expected reaction to a typical bed & breakfast room. He was overwhelmed by the pastels and the doilies. And the smell... "Why do you keep spraying it?" he shouted at Sam when his brother spritzed from a perfume bottle on the nightstand. It was too much, and the ultimate man's man simply had to get out of there. Sam, on the other hand, seemed quite comfortable.
One element of this Supernatural episode, 'Thin Lizzie', that was interesting was the exploration of how the loss of a soul can impact people differently. We've seen how dark it turned Sam, and this week we got to see two very different reactions. The babysitter became a self-righteous murderer with a religious fervor toward Amara, basically worshiping her.
And then there's poor, sweet Len. A Lizzie Borden-obsessed local, Len ran into Amara while he was skulking around the house trying to get shots of Lizzie's ghost. A pesky little restraining order keeps him out of the house. Unfortunately, Amara was all too happy to run into him, and steal his soul to feed her "hunger." At least she stopped shouting "I'm hungry!" over and over again. That was annoying. That said, Yasmeene Ball's teenage performance as the little Darkness isn't much better than Gracyn Shinyei's child take. At least promos show us we're getting an adult Amara as early as next week, so here's hoping Emily Swallow brings it in the role.
But back to Len. His good heart keeps him from going too dark, though he had no remorse about axing the babysitter out to save the boys. As he kept saying, he knows intellectually what it is to do the right thing, so he's going to just fake it until he makes it. He goes so far as to decide to turn himself in for all the murders to keep himself off of the street as he worries he might kill again. What a guy! But what does this say about Sam? He wasn't doing what he knew was the right thing while he was running around without a soul. Clearly, the Winchesters have a darkness already inside them that's not as easy to suppress.
This also establishes Len as one of the most decent and kind-hearted people they've ever met. His establishment in the role and the show leaves me feeling confident we'll see him again. Supernatural loves its recurring characters who are quirky but sweet, and they killed off Felicia Day ... and so many of the other ones. Maybe a future installment will be about Sam and Dean needing to break Len out of prison. Or if they ever figure out how to restore souls that Amara has sucked down her maw, maybe they'll try and do right by Len by giving him his back ... and then breaking him out of prison so he can try and live a normal life ... as a fugitive. Hmmm, this one may need some thinking.
All in all, this was another solid installment, and I can't help but wonder if it's not because it was again following the traditional Supernatural formula. No Crowley and no Castiel, it was just the boys, the Impala. and monsters that need stopping. Yeah, they didn't stop Amara altogether, but they at least solved the case of the new murders at Lizzie Borden's house.
The real test will come next week, as Amara takes center stage again while Castiel and Crowley make their returns. The gang's all here, so we'll see how well the quality holds up. If Amara is supposed to be the "big bad" for the season, they're moving pretty quickly through her story. She's been the major component of almost every episode so far, and we're barely into the season. Maybe the back half has some other threat, or Amara will grow into something much worse once she achieves adulthood.
Supernatural continues next Wednesday with ‘Our Little World’ @9pm on The CW. Check out a preview below: