Episode 7.16

“Out with the Old” Review
By Wendi Williams

Bekah is out of commisson until further notice. Her friend Wendi has graciously helped us out with the latest review. We wish Bekah a speedy recovery!

Supernatural 7.16: Out with the Old

Written by: Robert Singer and Jenny Klein

Directed by: John F. Showalter

Greetings, SPN fans! My name is Wendi, and I am filling in for the lovely and talented Ms. Bekah this week. In her absence, I’ll do my best not to screw the pooch too bad, and hopefully give you a review that is as close as possible to the very high standards she has set.

So, this episode. Out with the Old. I gotta say, that about sums up the way I’m beginning to feel about this season on the whole. They’ve gotten rid of two of my (and many fans’) favorites (read: Bobby and Cas) from the good ol’ days of saving people and hunting things, and yet somehow keep returning to the same overused tropes again and again (read: cursed objects).

Okay, I got us off on a rocky start, didn’t I? Let me backpedal a moment. I did not hate, or even really dislike, this episode, nor do I dislike the season. I think there are some major flaws in the story arc (in this episode specifically and the season generally), and in the characterizations, but overall, I’m still the same diehard, squeeing fangirl I have been for years.

So, that being said, let’s get to the episode. It started off on a strong note for me. A little cliché, perhaps, with the prima ballerina getting all Hans Christian Anderson’d in the teaser, but all in all, a deliciously gruesome beginning. However, I could not for the life of me figure out why Irena brought her ballet slippers to the studio in a plastic sack. Of course, it made sense later when it was discovered she’d purchased them used from an antique store. Still… call me crazy… but anyone who’s ever been to a ballet knows those stinky, beat up shoes are a dime a dozen (or $12.99 for an autographed pair), and no professional is going to dance around in someone’s smelly old kicks. Details aside, I liked the setup, and was settling in for a good old fashioned “Dean gets the sh—cursed out of him” episode.

Seems like someone failed to let the cable company know what the episode was really about! The description, supplied by CW Publicity (according to IMDB) read: After a ballerina is found dead from dancing herself to death, Sam and Dean look into the case and discover the ballet slippers she wore were cursed. When Dean accidentally touches the shoes the power of the curse starts to take hold of him.

And I suppose that’s all true, to a certain extent. Dean does, in fact, fall under the spell of the magical shoes, but the effect only serves to reveal to a bemused and snarky Sam that Dean has a penchant for art movies and (no shocker here) girl-on-girl lovin’.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Before Dean even so much as gets an opportunity to dance his tootsies off, there’s a scene with the ever-acidic Frank. Maybe it’s my all-consuming grief over losing Bobby, maybe it’s my deep-seated daddy issues, but I just can’t quite bring myself to feel affectionate toward (or at least affectionately annoyed with) this character. That’s probably my own fault for expecting him to be a father figure rather than a somewhat reluctant sidekick, so I’ll put that aside for now.

We learn during Dean’s convo with Frank that Dick Roman has his metaphorical fingers in a hell of a lot of metaphorical pies… though they are seemingly unrelated. Dean’s frustration is evident, and Frank makes no bones about his annoyance at the elder Winchester’s ingratitude. During this same scene, we also discover that Sam is nursing a serious caffeine addiction, due to the fact that (to borrow Bekah’s nickname) Hallucifer won’t let him rest.

I want to pause here to bring up something, and I promise it’s not a rant. I genuinely love where the writers are taking Sam this season, but my only complaint is that I want MORE. Repo Man set up Sam’s descent into madness so beautifully and so brilliantly, and so to see it culminate in little more than some coffee-chugging and lethargy left me wanting. I know, I know, we’re getting there next week. What can I say? I’m an impatient and ungrateful jerk. And I know we can’t bring Lucie back in for every single “Sam’s a nutbag” episode, but the energy between them is so sparkling and mesmerizing that Sam’s ride on the Crazy Train Express seems to fall a little flat when Lucifer’s not there… or at least, not corporeal.

Back to the episode. After a brush with the most appallingly lax police force in the Pacific Northwest, Dean and Sam manage to save the adorable little feet of the adorable daughter of one of the officers. Dean, in the scuffle, has to pry the ballet shoes off her feet, during which the curse is presumably passed onto him. This young actress was lovely, and her chagrined “sorry’s” for kicking Dean in the jaw were the highlight of this scene.

After an amusing car scene in which the cursed shoes appear menacingly (and appropriately sized) in the backseat, we flash to a scene of two red-blazered real estate agents attempting to talk a small business owner into selling. It doesn’t take long to figure out it’s the woman who’s wearing the ball-crushing pants in this little duo, and bam! We have our villain.

A price tag on the shoes leads the boys to an antique shop called Out with the Old. They confront the man inside, who we learn is the son of the store’s owner, who has recently passed away. Bizarrely (said with much sarcasm), the woman died just after selling off the business, before she even had the opportunity to enjoy her windfall. Sam and Dean find a boatload of other cursed objects in a heavily spelled and guarded safe, insinuating mama wasn’t quite the crackpot her son, Scott, suspected. They give sonny a stern lecture and set out to find the other objects that have already been sold.

Unfortunately, they’re too late to save the next victim, who manages to survive a veritable smorgasbord of deadly kitchen utensils, only to end up with a gullet-full of scalding hot water from an antique tea pot. I’m not one to be easily grossed out, but this one I could not watch. I can’t even handle it when I burn the roof of my mouth on hot soup!

After this, the boys clean up after more of the curses, stopping a boy just shy of shivving his mom (the gramophone made him do it, really!), and bringing a somewhat anticlimactic resolution to a man who bought some antique porn (and by the by, who on earth buys antique, used porn anyway?).

Meantime, the intrepid Dean returns to the shop and has a heart-to-heart with sonny-boy, who reveals the truth of his mother’s death – that she was killed in a violent car crash less than 24 hours after selling off to Ms. Red Blazer. Dean gives the man some heart-wrenching advice: don’t bother feeling guilty, because there’s nothing to be done about it. It smacks of Dean’s recent loss (not to mention his old losses, too), and it’s painful to hear.

Dean, noticing a sign for Bicklebee Realty, heads off to the coffee shop to wait for Sam and do a little investigation.

In the meantime, we cut to Ms. Red Blazer’s office, where she’s interrogating – sorry, chatting up – the reluctant business owner. After she finishes her spiel, he reveals that he went there fully intending to sell, but her speech has actually convinced him otherwise. Much bone-crushing later, we get the big reveal: Joyce Bicklebee and longsuffering assistant George are Leviathan, and though the details are a bit muddy, we can only assume they’re in town buying up property at Dick’s bidding. Joyce leaves George to clean up the remains of poor Mr. Marshall (and presumably start Googling better jobs), and then demands he fetch her a coffee so involved it would put even the hippest hipster to shame.

Sam’s sleep deprivation is becoming more apparent, as we see him dozing off behind the wheel, jerking himself back to alertness only after Dean calls to check in. Dean fills Sam in and then calls Frank for a little verbal tether ball, asking Frank to dig up some dirt on Bicklebee Realty’s parent website.

Meantime, after a near-miss with a semi-truck, Sam stops for a caffeine fix, rather serendipitously at the same coffee stand George has stopped at for Bicklebee’s half-caff non-fat no-sugar one-pump whatever-it-is. George immediately recognizes Sam’s voice, and calls Joyce, fairly vibrating with glee over the possibility of snacking on fresh Winchester. Joyce immediately pulls rank, saying the only way to prove to Dick they snagged a Winchester is if she eats him herself.

I have to say, I really liked the dynamic between these two actors. They were certainly not Leviathan of the pants-peeingly terrifying variety, but I enjoyed the performances nonetheless.

After a multitude of “dick” jokes, we learn from Frank that the Roman Empire (pun intended) is hella huge, and disturbingly far-reaching. Also disturbing is Sam’s revelation to Dean that Hallucifer is using Zepplin against him (for shame, Lucie, for shame). But just as they scratch the surface of Sam’s crazy, they get a call… otherwise known as The Most Obvious Setup of All Time.

Dean and Sam somehow don’t realize they’re being played, and they show up at Out With the Old, expecting to deal with a cursed mirror, only to be confronted with two hungry Leviathan. And here’s where crap gets weird. Instead of snacking on Scott for a little pre-battle energy, Joyce and George tie him up and wait for the brothers to arrive.

The ensuing fight is… odd… to say the least. As Dean begins to succumb to a severe ass-whooping from Bicklebee, George points out to Sleepy-Sam that there is a conveniently located bucket of Leviathan-unfriendly cleaning liquid in the store. He urges Sam to dunk him as a distraction, and then points out the also-convenient sword. Sam, fortunately alert enough to take direction, grabs the sword and beheads the hell out of Bicklebee. George’s reasoning for going all light-side? No big, really. He just wants what all underlings want – to eat his boss.

George makes it clear he’s not following the Winchester Way, but he does unselfishly offer to eat Bicklebee’s head to ensure she won’t return. Sam and Dean politely decline, send the slightly ungrateful Scott on his way and pack the cursed objects (including Bicklebee’s noggin) into a trailer.

As for what happens next… someone, please, explain this to me. George tells the boys what they’ve been so desperate to discover: Dick’s land is Wisconsin is being developed… into a facility where they will find a cure for cancer. I have to imagine that Sam’s and Dean’s WTF face was mirrored in my own expression because, really, WTF?!? I’ve read some theories online as to what sort of strategy this might be, but there’s nothing that really clicks in my brain. What are your thoughts?

Anyway, after this bizarre-o revelation, Sam and Dean hop in the car and haul ass (or rather, head) back to Frank’s trailer. You know crazy stuff is going down when Bad Moon Rising starts to play, and this instance is no exception. Dean enters the trailer to find what we can only assume are bits of Frank splashed over the walls, as he states the obvious: “Not good.”

Overall, I both liked and disliked this episode. The dislike is mostly because I think this season has SO MUCH freakin’ potential, and I’m not sure the individual episodes are living up to that. We’ve spent so much time on MOTW episodes, I fear the Dick Roman storyline is too underdeveloped to have much impact. Still, I thought there were really solid performances in this episode, and I’m glad we’re getting back to the story arc and the Big Bad. At the same time, I really want to see the writers dive deep into the boys’ psyche. There have been great setups for Sam’s struggle with Hallucifer, and Dean’s struggle with alcohol and depression, but it seems like we’ve hardly scratched the surface.

As always, though, I am on the edge of my seat, waiting to see what will happen next. The next episode promises to give us lots of fraternal turmoil, and a little much-needed (in my opinion) hurt/comfort. And (I don’t think is a spoiler anymore, but tread lightly if you didn’t see the teaser for next ep), it will bring the return of two familiar faces (or characters, anyway). There is much joy and anticipation in my heart, and I will await with baited breath!

So, what did you think of Out With the Old? Did I get it totally wrong? I’d love to hear your opinion!