“Exile on Main Street” Review
By Bekah James
Welcome to Season 6, baby! After the longest hellatus known to any fandom ever, Supernatural returned in style with “Exile on Main St.”
From the opening strains of Bob Seger’s “Beautiful Loser,” the bent of this episode was clear. Things in Winchesterland have changed. Dean waking up to a 7:00AM alarm and moving through the smooth choreography of a morning routine with his new family was more creepy than happy. Flashes of his present life in parallel to his past life with Sam made my heart twinge wistfully.
Before anything else, let’s talk about Lisa. The beautiful Cindy Sampson did admirably with what she was given. She is the loving and steadfast woman that anchored the flailing Dean after the Apocalypse and for that, I am eternally grateful. She took Dean in and helped him through his grief and alcoholic binges. She gave him a reason to hold on, and in a particularly moving scene, she tells Dean that he is the man she wants Ben to look up to “like a father.” She doesn’t question too deeply when he sends her out of the house so he can make sure there are no monsters lurking, or when he orders her to pack up to head to Bobby’s house. Dean is lucky to have such a supportive woman at his side, and in future episodes, he will need to lean on her heavily to deal with the ramifications of his brother’s return from Hell.
Sam. Oh, Sam. Where is the overly caring, always-means-well Sam we all know and love? Jared Padalecki once again showed his remarkable talent in turning his long established Sam on his ear. This new Sam is cocky, cold and aloof. Sam’s facial expressions have always defined him—come on, you know you love the Puppy Dog Eyes and the pouty lips—and cast him as the brother with more emotional empathy. Throughout this episode his expressions reminded me so greatly of those of last season’s Lucifer that it gave me chills. He remained stoic and detached, even through the much anticipated brotherly hug. Heck, even his smarmy intonation when he greeted Dean for the first time was full on Lucifer. What does this mean? Did his stint in the Cage burn out the last light of his caring and sharing?
I will admit that Sam pissed me off in this episode. How dare he mock Dean’s life on Main Street, U.S.A.? He was the one who set Dean on his path to normalcy, but now that he has deigned to return, Sam wants to judge his brother’s golf clubs and tell him he can’t have that after all? Dean’s refusal to be baited back into hunting made me cheer, although I want nothing more than for the brothers to reunite.
It broke my heart into pieces when Dean offered the Impala to Sam… and when Sam refused to take it. The offer was full of meaning; Dean was giving up the keys to the Winchester kingdom, but Sam flat out refused them. Here again I saw Lucifer in Sam’s face, clearly projecting the incredulity that Dean would assume he wanted the Impala/ kingdom.
Speaking of the kingdom, what gives with the new court jesters, AKA the Campbells? I do not like them and do not trust them, especially Samuel. The Campbells choose not to kill the female djinn, instead shuffling into their van, which is pimped out with a cage and restraints. Surely this capture is not a shiny new idea. They went in with an end game that they purposefully kept from Dean—although I’m certain that Sam knows what they are up to. I would guess there is some sort of medical testing going on, what with the introduction of the djinn poison antidote. This opens a can of worms that I’m sure will be wriggling around throughout Season Six.
It was interesting to see the theme of the episode—the disparate halves of Dean’s world—continued by Dean taking Lisa and Ben to Bobby’s house. Likewise, it was jarring to realize that Bobby had been on the betrayal; he knew Sam had been resurrected and kept it from Dean. The “trust no one” catch phrase in the Season Six trailers is starting to make sense. The two people Dean trusted above all others (Cas doesn’t count because he’s an angel!) worked in tandem to keep him in the dark. They hid the one secret that would have ended Dean’s suffering and self-imposed punishment. Frankly, I’m shocked Dean didn’t start throwing punches, especially after hearing Sam and Bobby’s bullcrap excuse from not telling him. If I had to guess, I’d say Sam will be on the receiving end of an ass-kicking within the next couple of episodes. I, for one, am looking forward to it.
Okay, so let’s lay out the story arc that Sera Gamble not-so-subtly introduced:
1. Sam has been changed by his time in the Cage. What happened to him and what does the change mean for his relationship with Dean? Who/ what brought him back?
2. Dean has been changed by his time with Lisa and Ben… and by the betrayal of his brother. What does the change mean for his relationship with Sam?
3. The Campbells on a whole: What are they up to? Why did Samuel get resurrected? Are they, collectively, a good witch or a bad witch?
4. Monsters have lost their damn minds and are not following the clearly established Rules. Why?
Because I am a cinematography fangirl, I simply must talk about the camera angles in this episode. They were disorienting, especially when combined with the unnatural (at least for Supernatural) brightness of daylight. Sam leading Dean in to meet the Campbells presented the most discombobulating angle, forcing us to view Sam from below, throwing the viewers into an odd quasi-fisheye world where both Sam and the Campbells are strangers. In that same scene, Dean and Sam walked away from a circle of light forming behind them as they descended into darkness, which I anticipate is important. As always, the cinematography on this show rocks my world.
I cannot say this episode will ever make it to my Top Ten Best list. It harkened back to the Pilot episode, to be sure, but after five Seasons of amazing storytelling, I was left a tad cold. I am as eager as ever, however, to see how the Winchesters will resolve their issues and carry on (Wayward Sons). I think Bob Seger said it best when he warbled “you just can’t have it all.”
Bekah Has Some Questions (TIA CW):
What gives with Misha Collins (Castiel) not listed as a regular in the opening credits? Red herring (as my friend Wendi says)?
Can someone untuck Dean’s shirt and artfully muss up his hair? Stat!
Really? Dean as a construction worker? Not a mechanic?
Bekah’s Been Drinking (Again):
This week’s Supernatural SuperDrinking Game utilized Eric Kripke’s suggested “thoughtful profile” method. Everytime Sam or Dean (or a recurring guest star) looks off into the distance and is shown in profile, we take a drink. This week’s total: 15 (but I may have lost count 5 Purple Nurples in)
Next week we’ll be drinking to every time Sam says “Dean” or Dean says “Sam” or “Sammy” or Bobby says “idjit”. Join us, won’t you? Agree with Bekah? Disagree? Just wanna make a comment, do it here…