No, I wouldn’t rank “The Chitters” as one of the worst episodes ever. I would rank it as one of the most pointless ever, but it wasn’t horrible. It was just bad. It didn’t offend me and there was clearly no canon bashing, but man did I have a hard time keeping interest. I found myself missing parts because I was checking email, talking with the hubby, petting the dog, watching the cat tease the dog, folding my laundry, painting my nails…let’s just call it a productive hour of personal time. This is not supposed to happen with episode 19. This is supposed to happen with episode 6 or 12.
(Yes, this was more fun than watching the episode)
Okay, I did get pissed off at one point, and this has been a complaint I’ve been vocal about before. It’s obvious that mytharc episodes are going to be few and far between these standalone MOTW episodes. The balance of half and half is not there anymore. Then why oh why is there AGAIN the obligatory mention in Sam and Dean’s first scene of how fruitless their search is going? It’s happened in every MOTW episode so far. “Oh, we can’t find Cas, let’s work a case!” How does that enhance the story? It’s contrived, it’s dumb and in this case it makes no damned sense. Why would Dean be combing books in the MOL library about how to find Castiel? Duh, Amara took him and Lucifer to whereabouts unknown. What is research going to accomplish? It’s time to remove the directive that you have to remind the audience there is a mytharc every episode. We aren’t that forgetful and now it’s getting foolish.
The parallels between Jesse and Cesar and Sam and Dean were anvilicious. The pacing was slower than a turtle. The MOTW wasn’t scary at all. Even the recent X-Files episode “Trashman”, which was pretty bad, was scarier than this. Jesse and Cesar were intriguing characters but all the others were wooden and vacant. I mean, did we really need to have that long, slow exposition with the former Sheriff? It was racist truck speech bad. Sam must have decided to step out and take care of some shopping while Dean was hunting the bad guys since he didn’t show up until it was all over (not that much happened while he was gone). However, since Jared was involved in the filming of The Gilmore Girls right around this time (even if I'm not sure if that was the reason for Sam's absence), I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and dismiss that as an act for the greater good (can’t wait to see that revival). Overall there was no originality, no creativity, no plot, and as for elaborating any further on the events of this episode, I have no interest.
The Red Headed Monster
Since we got a filler episode, I’m doing a filler review! I’m bringing a twist into this segment by giving a rare “silver lining” perspective. In looking through all the episode 19’s from other seasons (excluding season 3 of course since it only had 16 episodes), turns out, “The Chitters” is hardly the worst of them. Granted it still ranks low, but there were greater atrocities. Let's take a stroll through the years...
Provenance (1.19) – I’ll let you in on a little secret. Season one is not a fave of mine. Most of the episodes were forgettable, weakly written and in terms of production quality, they were really tame compared to what we get today. Having said that, there are about five episodes I like to go back and watch in season one and this is one of them. Why? Because Sam was actually given a personality. The chemistry between him and Sara Blake was so damned adorable. There were plenty of light and funny moments, the family in the painting was one of the most creepiest things we’ve seen on this show, there was plenty of tension, and it has one of the best motel rooms ever in the series (the disco room). Overall, a fun hour, which is what standalone MOTW episodes should be.
Folsom Prison Blues (2.19) – I love season two. The episodes were so consistent from week to week and very engaging, yet each was so unique as well. This was no exception. The dialogue was fantastic, there was humor as well as action and mystery, and it all made us forget the fact that it didn’t touch on Sam’s looming dark destiny one bit. The arrival on Hendricksen tied in with the Sam and Dean as fugitives part of the story from that season and it was awesome. Plus, Winchesters in chains and jump suits of orange. That had win all over it.
Jump The Shark (4.19) – I recently re-watched this episode with my son (he’s going through the SPN catalog for the first time). This has never been a memorable episode for me and after that re-watch I realize this is not a good episode. Dean was wildly out of character, Sam was acting a little too gung ho over teaching Adam the ropes and I still can’t get over the fact that Sam’s arms were deeply sliced open, he lost a lot of blood, but all it took was Dean wrapping up his arms and they were all good? Andrew Dabb has always glossed over the medical stuff in his scripts and this was one of the more glaring. Plus, since it wasn’t the real Adam, we didn’t get a good brotherly dynamic. I call this one a fail.
Hammer of the Gods (5.19) – The last time I did a “Worst Episodes of Supernatural” list, this was my number one. After watching a few of Brad and Eugenie’s contributions over the recent years, that ranking might change, but this is still high on the list. I hate this episode with a thousand suns. I still have only watched it once. It’s coming up for re-watch soon with my son and I might watch just to see his reaction over how bad this episode is, especially when it followed the most incredible episode 100, “Point of No Return.” It was a f***ing slap in the face and I still haven’t forgiven.
Mommy Dearest (6.19) – This was one of the better ones from season six. Sure, the parallels between the young brothers and Sam and Dean were grossly anvilcious, but considering the "Mother of All" plot was good for once and it had one of the best endings ever, as well as one of the best jokes in the series, The Jefferson Starships, I overlooked the contrived crap that was in it. It’s also one of the few episodes that had Sam, Dean, Bobby and Castiel all working together. I loved it when they were all together. Years later and I smile when I think of this one. It worked on so many levels.
(Yes Crowley, I believe in miracles!)
Of Grave Importance (7.19) – Oh, there’s Brad and Eugenie. Definitely worse than “The Chitters.” Season seven was littered with so many bad episodes and this is one of them. The ghost story made no sense whatsoever and didn’t follow ghost canon established on this show. Sam and Dean’s treatment of Bobby, who finally broke through the veil to talk to them, was deplorable. Everyone was out of character and it was so damned obvious that by this episode they were crawling to the finish line for season seven. They just wanted it to be over. I chose to never speak of this one again.
Taxi Driver (8.19) - *Headdesk* Man, I thought “Of Grave Importance” was bad? That was nothing compared to this one. This episode will easily make that top ten worst episodes list. This episode was a big “fuck you” to anyone who wrote in season six, because it invalidated the whole season in one fell swoop. It was a choppy, cluttered mess of scene after scene blatantly trashing any canon established (Rogue Reapers that are technically angels?). The emotional stuff, which was the Bobby/Sam reunion was forced and wooden, and there was no time to enjoy it because Sam had to do the glowly thing out of his arm so the VFX guys could at least do something. I’m glad Benny got to be a hero but even his appearance in this episode seemed forced and unnecessary. At least the Sam and Dean hug worked. This is what happens when great ideas get poorly executed.
(How about something with a little less fairy dust?)
Alex, Annie, Alexis, Ann (9.19) – For the record, I hated season nine. There were so few watchable episodes in that season but what do you know, this is one of the good ones. Actually, it’s one of the best episodes of the season. This episode had nothing to do with the mytharc, put Jodie Mills and newcomer Alex front and center, relegated Sam and Dean to supporting players, yet it worked anyway. This is what happens when a writer is brought in with exceptional story telling abilities and decides to take on a common MOTW, vampires. Robert Berens gave us an emotional, intriguing, brilliantly paced hour that actually had everyone acting in character. Go figure. He won me over when he actually showed Sam woozy after being drained of blood. Take that Andrew Dabb! You also can’t lose with badass Dean on the edge.
The Werther Project (10.19) - I’m calling this one the champion of all the episode 19s. Robert Berens again delivers and he delivers big. This story is relevant to the mytharc but not a mytharc episode, using this supernatural story to poke at each of Sam and Dean’s troubled psyches. It’s intense! It tied into the current events through an awesome story from the MOL archive. Benny returns and the interactions between Dean and him are perfect, as are the interactions between Sam and a strangely not annoying Rowena. But then when it all comes together it is the perfect lesson, Sam and Dean are better working together than apart. A most inspired hour for what was not a most inspired season.
For fun, here’s my overall episode 19 rankings from best to worst:
The Werther Project
Alex Annie Alexis Ann
Folsom Prison Blues
Jump The Shark
Of Grave Importance
(tie for worst) Hammer of The Gods/Taxi Driver
My overall grade for “The Chitters” falls in the D range. There were a few marks for keeping Sam and Dean in character but otherwise, this was one of the most lackluster stories ever told on this show. That’s only a mild improvement to totally trashing canon. Next week, the episode we’ve finally been waiting for. This season really needs a boost, so fingers crossed.