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Supernatural: Criss Angel is a Douche Bag

January 26, 2009 by  

It’s finally here: the episode with the greatest title ever. I definitely thought that this installment of Supernatural was going to be non-stop laughs, like some previous comedy-based episodes of the show. There was definitely humour to be found, but it was also a pretty heavy episode too. To be honest, this is the second episode in a row that I’ve found to be just “meh”. Since the season overall has been so spectacular it’s bound to happen at some point and as I’ve said before, a “meh” episode of Supernatural is still a pretty good way to spend an hour.

We had another twist on the usual “Dean and Sam save the world from a supernatural being” as there was last week. This time there was a supernatural element, but the brothers didn’t do the saving. Oh, and Ruby is back and Sam is keeping some major secrets from Dean that will have a major impact on the direction of the show for the rest of the season.

Sam and Dean are in Sioux City, Iowa at a magician’s convention that has taken over the town. They’re investigating because one of the performers has died mysteriously of 10 stab wounds, without a single tear in his shirt. Coincidentally, this occurred on the same night that a depressed old-timer, The Incredible Jay, performed his old act “The Table of Death”, in which he is trapped under a platform covered in spikes and given a finite amount of time to escape his restraints before the platform drops. To the audience, it appeared as if he hadn’t managed to escape but miraculously he managed to, in the nick of time. When the Winchesters find out that the victim had a tarot card eerily reminiscent of his death in his pocket they set out to find out who or what caused the death.

The funniest thing to me was the character of Jeb Dexter; a wannabe badass, eyeliner-wearing, overly-dramatic magician/illusionist who likes to create spectacles for crowds on the street. He was clearly an homage to the episode’s namesake Criss Angel, but also very reminiscent of David Blaine. He took himself far too seriously and I think just about every other character referred to him as a douche bag at some point in the episode. I took a lot of joy in this – I’m not going to lie; I’ve seen a couple of those David Blaine Street Magic shows and while yes, they are impressive (and no I am not including his random tests of strength in this category – those are just strange and pointless grabs for attention if you ask me), he IS such a douche bag, right? Anyhow, Jeb found himself also falling victim to the mysterious deaths occurring whenever The Incredible Jay performed. I was a little sad to see him go frankly; he was pretty entertaining.

The central story this week turned out to involve not a demon, but one of the old-timer magicians, Charlie, who was actually much older than people thought – he had worked in the circus with P.T. Barnum back in the day. Barnum had given him a book of magic that actually worked, and he had used it to grant himself immortality. Eventually he became friends with Jay and their other friend Vernon, the trio performing and growing old together. However Charlie has seen his friends grow depressed about aging and decided to offer them the chance to be young again – to use the same spell he did so that the three could continue on forever. He had been using spells all along to allow Jay the ability to perform all of his old illusions better than he ever had, with the small price that someone else had to die each time he did it. There was another great laugh when just as I was beginning to wonder when Wilford Brimley was going to show up with a spaceship, Dean busts in yelling “I ain’t Guttenberg, and this ain’t Cocoon”. Charlie tries, and nearly succeeds in killing Dean and Sam with a couple of the illusions, but Jay interferes by using Charlie’s tarot cards against him, ending Charlie’s life instead. Although the threat had been eliminated, at the end of the episode the boys find Jay alone and miserable now that Charlie is dead and Vernon’s too angry to stick around. He was sad, old and alone, having spent his entire life pursuing magic and not building relationships or any sense of stability.

I have to say I was really distracted throughout the second half of the episode once young Charlie showed up, because I immediately recognized the actor as Michael Weston (Garden State, The Last Kiss, House), but a quick check of the credits showed no such name. The episode is also not credited to him on iMDb, however I did notice that Michael Weston’s original name is Michael Rubenstein, which he changed professionally at some point – not only that, but the actor playing older Charlie is his father, John Rubenstein. So…if that has been bugging any of you since watching the ep, you can finally relax because the case has been solved.

Although like last week, the episode focused heavily on the characters at the centre of the story of the week, we got some significant advances in terms of the season’s big storyline in just a couple of scenes. Ruby returned to talk to Sam in an effort to convince him that they have to work to stop the apocalypse, as 34 of the 66 seals have now been broken. This is the first time, as far as I recall, that we’ve gotten a count of where things stand as far as the seals go. Ruby wants Sam to get himself together and take care of Lilith once and for all – cut the head off the snake, as she puts it. Sam is reluctant to use his (evil?) powers to do so but after seeing the mess that Jay’s life had become after having such a solitary existence he decides that he has to try. As he tells Ruby, he doesn’t want to be hunting demons and living a life on the road when he’s an old man.

It looks like we’re headed towards an epic showdown between the Winchesters and Lillith, and next week looks to be all about our favourite brothers in the episode entitled “After School Special”. Sam and Dean will visit their old high school to investigate a death and it looks like we’re in for some more backstory on the brothers in flashback form. Also, Dean is going undercover as a gym teacher, rocking a headband and high-waisted shorts so there will be at least a little to laugh at next week as well.

How are you guys feeling about the first two episodes since the break? Are you loving them more than me, or anxiously awaiting a return to the pace and excitement of pre-break season four? What are your thoughts on Sam’s new mission and how Dean will fit into it? Post your comments below!

Nicole is a lawyer with an unhealthy t.v. obsession and many t.v. boyfriends. If she had a locker at her office it would be covered in photos of Zachary Levi, Jensen Ackles, Lee Pace and John Krasinski. She lives near Toronto and is spending the winter cursing that fact while trying to convince her friends to do a group move to a warmer climate. So far it’s not working.


4 Responses to “Supernatural: Criss Angel is a Douche Bag”

  1. Patty on January 26th, 2009 10:04 am

    I really liked this episode. It had the “oh, boys” moments I love. For both of them. While I am not loving these (what i think of as) transitional episodes, I understand the need for them and I think when I watch them on DVD, the season will flow well as a whole.

    I am sad that we get what I expect to be a great episode this week (dodge ball!!!) along with the episode I have been waiting for – Sex and Violence. But then another long break (boo!)

    I watched Playthings again last night and was struck by Sam’s drunken dialog. Knowing what we do now, it was even more poignant! Go back and watch!

  2. Nicole on January 26th, 2009 12:20 pm

    I think you may be right that the flow will be more evident when watching the shows on dvd – I think one of the main issues I’ve had is that we had a six week break and now we’re back with, as you rightly referred to them, transitional episodes.

    I guess I just feel like after such a long break I was hoping for eps with more punch to get back into things. However, the last one especially helped to put some big things in place for the rest of the season, so I’m sure it will all pay off in the end.

    I’m really excited for the next two, as you mentioned. After School Special looks like it will be funny, but with lots of Sam and Dean backstory which is always great. Sex and Violence is the one I’m really waiting for too – it looks amazing. I’ve seen a couple of spoiler pics, which I won’t describe, but man oh man – I cannot wait.

  3. ColoradoKila on January 26th, 2009 2:42 pm

    Agree that this last episode was sort of “meh”.
    But it doesn’t really bother me, I know they are up to big things coming up real soon. You can’t knock all of them outta the park.

    I am a bit bothered that the brothers are so disconnected lately – but I think they want us to be a bit uncomfortable with that.

  4. Nicole on January 26th, 2009 3:28 pm

    Another good point, ColoradoKila – I think there has definitely been more of a disconnect between Sam and Dean that we, the viewers, are picking up on even though they aren’t knocking us over the head with it. And I agree that this is probably designed to make us feel more uneasy about their relationship, brotherly bond, etc, leading up to the possibility of them being pitted against each other.

    I wonder if this will still be the case in the upcoming episode, since it seems that Sam and Dean will be interacting a lot more than they have been (or maybe I’m just inferring things from the preview that don’t exist – highly possible).