"Playthings"
--Robin's Rambles by Robin Vogel
 
Season two of SUPERNATURAL was, by far, the heaviest with brotherly togetherness/ angst. Perhaps that's why I remember it as my favorite, although my top 10 favorite eps probably would be assembled from other seasons, too.
 
At the haunted, beautiful Pierpont Inn in Cornwall, Connecticut, where once two vice presidents slept, people are getting killed in grisly ways-drowning in bathtub, hanging from a ceiling fan, falling downstairs (head turned all the way around). In an exact replica of the Inn, a gigantic doll house fit for a queen of a little girl, these same things happen, foretelling the deaths. Brrrrrr.
 
Ellen hands this case over to Sam and Dean. They've been searching for Ava for a month without success, and it's Sam who volunteers to take the case. Dean finds this far too healthy for Sam; he should be listening to droopy music and angsting some more, especially after he told Ava to return home to her husband, where a demon got her. 
 
Dean says he's uncomfortable with an old-school haunted house gig, which reeks of Fred and Daphne (he LOVES her!), but takes it, anyway. They notice a five spot hoo-doo mark on an urn right in front of the hotel as they're walking in. Susan and Sherwin, the inn's owner and bellhop, respectively, mistake them for "antiquers" and Susan offers them a king-sized bed, but Dean explains they're brothers and require two queens. Sherwin tells the brothers that the Inn is closing, which is a shame, since it was a real palace in its day. When it appears Dean's going to stiff him on a tip, Sherwin says, "You're not going to cheap out on me, are ya, boy?" He doesn't. A wedding dress hanging on a wall freaks Dean out, and he wonders why hotel folk always think they're gay. Sam points out that his brother is butch and overcompensating. (LOL!)
 
The brothers notice Susan's daughter Tyler playing with her sister, Maggie, bully their way into Susan's office, and observe the creepy, giant doll collection there-and the huge hotel replica. Dean says this isn't at all creepy and talks of Sam's big doll collection back home, how he loves to change their little outfits, so Susan agrees to let them look more closely. They note the doll with the twisted head; Susan says her daughter found it that way. These were all her mother's toys, Susan explains, but when the Winchesters ask to speak to her, they're flatly told no - Rose is sick and cannot have visitors. Later, a man comes to have Susan sign papers turning the Inn over to him. His plans are to demolish it. 
 
Tyler, Rose's daughter, has a tea party, her back to the doll house. Dean leaves Sam to do research on dolls, voodoo, binding spells-not porn, that's not the wrong kind of whacking! Tyler looks in the dollhouse to see a man hanging from a ceiling fan-and the man who came to have Susan sign off on the sale of the house is dead, hanging from the ceiling fan in his room! From his hotel room, Sam observes the Coroner taking the dead man away. He explains to Dean that he worked for the company that had purchased the inn. Dean realizes his brother is drunk. "So?" asks Sam. "You get drunk all the time. "You're bossy. . .and short." Dean's annoyed with him because they're working a case. Sam rambles-I should have saved him and Ava. He has to save a lot of people if he's going to change his destiny. Oh-and if he DOES turn into something evil, Dean has to promise to kill him. PROMISE! He's cupping Dean's face in his hands when he asks, earnest and sad. Dean puts Sam to bed like he's a little kid, arranging him on his stomach. Sam hugs the pillow and is soon out.
 
In a scene reminiscent of THE SHINING, Dean goes to the hotel bar, has a drink and speaks with Sherwin (remember Lloyd?). The hotel is cursed, or so it seems. Sherwin shows Dean a photo of sisters Rose and Susie with Nanny Marie, their Creole nanny, wearing that hoodoo sign around her neck. 
 
Next morning, Sam hovers over the toilet, vomiting up his indiscretion. Dean suggests the best cure-a greasy pork sandwich served up in a dirty ashtray, sending Sam back to upchucking. Before they do anymore business, Dean orders Sam to brush his teeth. They sneak up to Rose's room, where the elderly woman just sits in a chair, unable to speak. Sam is sure she's had a stroke, and is angry when Dean suggests they poke her with a stick. Finding Sam and Dean with her mother, Susan, furious, orders them to leave the hotel.  The brothers learn that Tyler is an only child, Maggie imaginary. Maggie tells Tyler she doesn't like her mother.  
 
Luckily for Susan, they don't go quickly; in the dollhouse playground, swings, teeter-totter and merry-go-round all move of their own volition, and a car starts up by itself and aims to run down Susan. Only Sam's timely intervention prevents her from joining the pile of dead bodies the hotel is spitting out.
 
Inside the hotel, the Winchesters explain to Susan that a spirit is haunting the hotel. Rose was protecting her until the stroke, when she no longer could stop the spirit.
 
Upstairs, Maggie tells Rose, "I'm staying and you can't stop me-we'll have tea parties forever and ever!" 
 
Susan and the brothers find all the dolls destroyed and Tyler missing. Susan explains that Maggie was Rose's sister who drowned in the pool here when a child. Maggie and Tyler stand very high up over the pool, which is covered in plastic for the season. Maggie urges the other girl to jump-it won't hurt-and then they can be together forever! Maggie can't leave here, so Tyler has to stay. Tyler is afraid, she can't swim. Susan, Sam and Dean race to the poolhouse, but every door is firmly locked and nothing they throw works. Maggie pushes Tyler in, then reappears and pushes her head underwater. Sam is able to find something heavy enough to break the glass in one of the poolhouse door. He dives in, cast and all, pulls Tyler from the pool, and lays her down. After a few terrible moments for Susan, Tyler coughs and begins to breathe. 
 
Maggie has gone upstairs to "speak" with Rose. "If you did that, I'd let them go," she says. "OK, little sister." She caresses Rose's face gently. When Susan and Tyler are leaving Pierpont Inn for the last time, Sam, Dean and Susan go up to bring her down-and find her dead. Susan, distraught, wonders if Maggie had something to do with her mother's death, and while they have their suspicions, they can't be sure. 
 
Outside, Susan thanks them for giving her EVERYTHING, and hugs Sam hard before getting into a cab. Dean teases him about getting some MILF action, who says it feels good getting back in the saddle-of hunting. Sam reminds him of what they discussed the other evening and assures him he's holding him to that promise. Dean, hoping Sam forgot what they had discussed in light of his hangover, isn't happy.
 
Back in the hotel, two little girls jump rope and laugh with joy, sisters forever joined as their dolls watch them play.
 
  1. One of the creepiest endings to this show ever. The dolls, the girls. Brrrrr. I recall reading a comment someone made-that Sam and Dean could well end up ghosts in their own story, their only companions each other. What do you think of that?
  1. Did this story make complete sense to you? Any plot holes?
  1. There was one doll that looked exactly like Maggie. What is she supposed to represent?
  1. There must have been a falling out between Maggie and Rose at some point. Any clue what it was? Did one believe in hoodoo while the other didn't?
  1. I wonder why the nanny was a missing ghost in all this?
  1. What did you think of Sam's drunken behavior? Was he right to force Dean to make a promise this dire while under the influence?
  1. What was your favorite funny remark? Once again, our brothers are taken for gay. 

Comments  

Supernarttu
# Supernarttu 2010-02-21 13:42
Hi Robin. Nice review. I don't really care for this one. It felt kinda slow and not really creepy, although the ending was sad. And the dolls were supercreepy, they should have used them more. And I did like the hotel with the Shining vibe. But the story itself was kinda blah and the supporting cast (well except Maggie) weren't that moving.

I read a sad fanfic once of the boys being ghosts. A really really good one, written by kroki refur if I remember correctly. It had a happy ending so I wouldn't mind it that way. SamnDean, together in the after life, that thought makes me happy.

Plot holes... Hm... So Sam got drunk in minutes? The actual plot was very boring to me so I didn't really take that much note into anything plotholey (lol).

Drunken Sam was very somber. I wanted to hug him and the way he just spread around that pillow like a little boy *sigh* I just want to take him in my arms and not let anyone hurt him. He just sounded so desperate as did Dean when he pleaded Sam not to ask him to make that promise. Oh Boys. And now we know it never gets any better for them, quite the contrary. :cry::
Alice
# Alice 2010-02-21 13:44
I never liked this episode, but it has grown on me throughout the seasons. Probably because I'm always going back to it for some quote or example in proving a point. The most relevant event is a drunk Sam. It showed how much he was cracking on the inside and how much his destiny worried him. Sure, we were also tired of him whining about it by this time, but his getting drunk over it and making Dean promise to kill him was precious and still stands out today. Especially when Dean balked at the promise a few episodes later with "Born Under A Bad Sign." Heck, he's still balking.

Another thing this episode is remembered for is Sam's super action hero water rescue, ala Dean in "Dead In The Water." Other than that, this episode offered a few good lines and that was it.
Jasminka
# Jasminka 2010-02-21 13:51
I don't have much time right now, so forgive me for not getting more into your interesting questions, Robin.

I like this episode,and it creeps me out on more levels than one - well, I'm afraid of dolls, as I am of clowns... Maybe Sam and I should have t-shirts printed...
And my angst added to the effect the episode had on me.

It affected me mostly with what was going on with the brothers. The moment Sam asks of Dean to promise to kill him broke my heart. Well, a drunken man will speak the truth. It's gotten worse and worse for them, and watching that episode from a today's standpoint is even scarier, as we know what is going to happen to them, to their relationship, their lives....

The one doll reminded me of Nancy Travis in a way. Don't know why, Whenever I see her, that pops into my head.

My funniest remark - probably the moment when Dean sells Sam to be a lover of dolls, dressing them etc... :D

Thanks for this, Jas
Jessy
# Jessy 2010-02-21 15:22
I see this episode- especially the drunken Sam scene- as something of a mile-marker of Sam's character development. Or rather, his regression.

Dean is tragic because John, intentionally or not, raised him to be way too dependent on his family and way too responsible. He never had a chance. Sam, on the other hand, is tragic to me because he actually started this series as more or less a well-adjusted young man, but fate/demons/des tiny/everyone he loves dying/psychic crap quickly did away with all that.

In Season 1, Sam enjoys his brother but still envisions and hopes for a separate, normal life. By this point in Season 2, he's completely put his life in Dean's hands. He doesn't think he can overcome or control his "destiny." He went from fiercely independent to the little brother who needs big brother to take care of him. How helpless did Sam feel, how codependent had he become in that year and a half, that he felt Dean could do a better job determining his existence than he could?

This regression played out into Season 3, where Sam openly admitted he didn't want to live without Dean, right and wrong be damned, and even to the end of Season 4, where Sam just didn't give a damn about his humanity or whether he was good or evil, or whether he even lived through the next fight, after his brother condemned him.

Well, that's a lot of writing to say that this episode, IMO, was an important one for Sam's journey through this series, showing how much he'd changed- and not necessarily for the better (and I say this as a loyal Sam!girl!)- since the pilot, and foreshadowing what was to come if his and Dean's current attitudes played to their logical conclusion.
Bevie
# Bevie 2010-02-21 18:07
I enjoy this one a lot myself. Especially for the brotherly interaction. I was also fascinated by the hotel replica and thought it was beautiful. Also I enjoyed it for just a good old ghost story.

The funniest line to me was Sam telling Dean he was butch and overcompensated to make people believe he is gay. :lol:

Creepy dolls, imaginary playmates, haunted dollhouse and a heroic Rose. Wonder what Rose and Maggie will do when the hotel is demolished? I guess they will haunt whatever is built over it.

Yeah, I liked this one.
Randal
# Randal 2010-02-23 10:18
Sure, one of season two's weaker ones, but I don't mind a slow pace, though I do think they might have lost an opportunity for a displaying a classically haunted house. Though when you only have 40 minutes to tell and wrap up your story, you're kind of hamstrung.

I do think the most important thing a viewer likely takes away is another layer to Sam and Dean's relationship and what each feels about the future.
alysha
# alysha 2010-02-25 09:10
I always see this episode as the end of the "Sam's Evil Destiny" arc of mid season 2. It's famous for the most haunting and continuing line ever: "If I ever become something I'm not...."

I think this episode contributed quite a bit to Sam's personal battle to understand what exactly was happening to him and what yellow eyes had planned. I've never seen this episode as weak.

umm, and there is the bonus of wet Sam... ;-)