Tonight’s episode of Supernatural had me checking my watch to make sure I hadn’t unknowingly been transported back to 2005. “Thin Lizzie” debuted a new staff writer, Nancy Won, and she certainly didn’t disappoint. The episode began with a vintage vibe that harkened back to the first two seasons of Supernatural, when fans were familiar with a monster of the week format that worked its way through every urban legend we grew up with.
While I was left feeling the nostalgia feels at the beginning of the episode (I mean, just seeing the EMF meter made me clap and giggle like the teenager I was in 2005), I couldn’t help feeling a bit of a let down. After last week’s hugely successful “Baby,” which made all of us fall in love with the Winchesters again, I was a little concerned that we’d be left with another hanging plot that wouldn’t really push the Darkness story line. Fortunately, the Supernatural family’s newest staff writer certainly showed off her writing chops and married a nostalgia filled episode with Amara’s hunger for souls.
With Cas still firmly ensnared in the clutches of a Netflix marathon, this time watching The Wire, Sam and Dean are on their own to take on a serial killer in Massachusetts, much to the delight of Sam, the serial killer aficionado. The beginning of the episode certainly had everyone revved up for a good old-fashioned ghost hunt, but with the discovery of hidden speakers, an EMF transmitter, and flickering lights on a timer, the legend of Lizzie Borden’s ghost quickly ends without solving the case.
What began as a ghost hunt quickly evolves into a close look at what happens to people in the aftermath of having their souls eaten. Part of the appeal of Supernatural is the writer’s effort to not generalize an entire character group into one trope, focusing instead on individual personalities and motivations that manage to endear even the most reviling of characters to the viewing audience. We first encountered this approach to characterization when the demon plot line leaped onto the scene in 2007 with the opening of the Devil’s Gate, releasing hundreds of individual demons into the fandom- each with their own distinct personality. It looks like the writers are at it again, making sure that each soulless person left in Amara’s wake has their own individual way of coping with being a shell of their former selves. Len experienced apathy, while Sydney experienced a sense of euphoria that transformed her into an axe-wielding groupie.
The episode concludes with Sam and Dean driving off in the Impala, really bringing us full circle with the season one nostalgia. The twist? Amara watching the boys drive off, saying her “until we meet again” type farewell in a very stalker-esque way. Which raises the question once more: is Amara the darkness that Dean met in episode one, or is she a different incarnation of the same primordial force?
The Darkness plot itself didn’t gather much steam this week, but it looks like next week it will be back in full force with the return of Crowley and Metatron. Hopefully we’ll get to see more of the ideological conflict between Amara and Crowley, or at the very least some uncomfortable parenting moment.