“Beyond the Mat” Review
By Annie Kenney
Another Supernatural episode of two halves! The writers seem to be really getting into these over the past few seasons and they obviously must be popular, so why don’t I love them?
So for half of this episode we have an excellent monster (or should it be demon) of the week. We have big chunky wrestlers and we have Dean being the biggest and most lovable fan boy ever (I was reminded fondly of his crush on Dr. Sexy). For the other half we have the ever mugging Luciel/Casifer and an escape plot that just seemed so meh. Why does this happen? Are the writers trying to please too many people at once? I realize that there are dye in the wool Castiel fans and Crowley fans and fans of the show’s myth arc, but do they have to be appeased week after week? I firmly believe that Supernatural would benefit from a complete reboot and that – if we get a season 12 – it should be Sam and Dean in the Impala investigating monsters/myths and urban legends. They could even come to England and look into a few of ours – how cool would that be?
Anyway enough of my rambling; back to the episode. I have to say that The Wrestler starring Mickey Rourke is one of my favorite films and Beyond the Mat reminded me a lot of that film. It captured the bitter sweet world of wrestling as it is now, small halls, fights being staged and fixed and just a few hardened fans turning up. I really liked the set-up and I guess that a lot of the wrestlers really were actual wrestlers – they were certainly chunky enough. So how much fun was it to see Sam and, more particularly, Dean walk into this set-up? A lot of fun and certainly the best part of the whole episode.
I adored Dean this week; he was so funny and it was nice to see him cut lose and actually enjoy himself. The scene where he threw himself into the ring and pretended to wrestle was classic and fantastic acting by Jensen who captured Dean’s delight perfectly. I especially liked this because it is the sort of thing that you do given half a chance. Dean being a little boy again is one of my favorite Deans and I hope we get to see him do it more often. Nice to see that Sam was also a bit of a fan boy with a crush on Rio (also how cute was it to see him deny that he had a poster of her above his bed). All in all this was an excellent part of the episode and watching Sam and Dean cheering on the wrestlers, jumping about like kids and doing all the gestures was really, really fantastic.
Unfortunately the wrestling story was transposed with scenes from hell. Again there a definite unpleasantness about Cas/Lucifer’s interaction with Crowley and again calling him ‘puppy’ and making him lick the floor only intensified my unease with all of this. Again I wasn’t sure about Misha’s performance (although it was free of mugging this week and a lot more subtle) and again I am not convinced that this is a good move by the writers. However I realize that it is only my opinion and that, maybe in time, it will make more sense and therefore I might revisit it and decide it wasn’t as bad as I thought.
After that the two stories sort of merged; because Crowley was imprisoned the crossroad demon was working independently and he was making deals within deals. I sort of liked this as I imagine that is what would happen. Everyone is still freaked out about Amara and it is every man for himself by the looks of it. I enjoyed the demons interactions with the Winchesters but – ultimately – thought that the plot was stretched a little thin. It might have been better if the whole episode was devoted to the wrestling rather than splitting it two ways. But we will never know.
So what did I like? Dean – in fact I loved Dean in all of this and I want to personally thank Jensen for making me laugh so much. Sam and Dean’s interactions both at the start and at the end of the episode and Sam and Dean being kids again by joining in with all of the wrestling moves and cheering the wrestlers on. I liked Gunner too and it was sad to see him give himself over to the hellhounds at the end. Funnily enough I also like the fact that Crowley got free of Luciel, I want to see Crowley as his old, sneaky, evil self and I hope he gets to lead some sort of demon attack on Luciel at some point.
What didn’t I like? The puppy scenes, Crowley licking the floor, the quick zipping back and forth between Sam and Dean and Crowley and Luciel. I also didn’t like Simmons – dirty double crosser!!
So what next? A whole month’s break that’s what…aggggh how will we ever survive? I do want to know what comes next and I have no idea where this is all going. All I hope is that we get to see more Sam and Dean, more fighting random monsters and less messing about in hell!!
So 7/10 this week with extra marks for adorable Dean!!