Well, that was certainly an odd duck in this versatile “Supernatural” universe, wasn’t it? I get exactly the intent of the writer, Meredith Glynn, who delivered her first “Supernatural” script with “The One You've Been Waiting For.” She chose to deliver a tongue-in-cheek tale that targeted something that shouldn’t be taboo by now, but this episode unfortunately came at a time when national (heck international) emotions were running high and probably not fully understanding of the joke. For those that did get the joke, well, we still aren’t laughing. The episode failed to deliver on many sides.
Before I start my analysis, perhaps I should explain the context on which this episode was framed. Back in 1968, comedic master genius Mel Brooks put out a film that it considered one of the funniest ever done, The Producers. It’s a film about two con artists who decide to put on a bogus Broadway musical that is so bad, it’ll close in one day and they’ll run off with all the investor’s money and cash from the pre-ticket sales. The play was “Springtime for Hitler,” which was a lively Hollywood style musical that portrayed Adolf Hitler as a goofy, wacky nut job. It was written by a Nazi sympathizer and not intended to be a comedy. To a sold out house, the first scene did render the audience stunned and speechless because it was in extremely poor taste. But when the scenes with Hitler happened, suddenly this “sure fire failure” became a huge broadway comedy hit. Who knew Hitler was funny?
For those thinking, “That was 1968,” The Producers ran as a Broadway hit as well from 2001 to 2007. I get that the inspiration was to take the Hitler lunacy of The Producers and work it into the SPN verse by drawing from the season eight Ben Edlund classic, “Everybody Hates Hitler.” Sadly the experiment didn’t work. What we got instead was a lackluster, slowly paced unfunny hour that only earned a chuckle when Dean declared after killing Hitler that it was time for pie.
Where did the episode go wrong? It certainly wasn’t the beginning, which started off exactly right. A creepy, dusty old antique shop involving two people having a 3 am “backroom” deal. One of them was a rather wealthy woman. As soon as they spontaneously combusted over a Nazi artifact, we knew where this was headed. The Thule were back!
For those that remember when Ben Edlund introduced The Thule (it’s one of my all time favorite episodes), Sam and Dean were the straight guys to a loser college student and his giant Golem that he inherited when his grandfather spontaneously combusted. It’s when we found out about the whole Judah Initiative, which had ties to the Men of Letters. Aaron and the Golem won us over immediately. When their quirky characters mixed with Edlund’s hilarious dialogue, an extraordinary episode came of it. The Thule were menacing, but when everyone banded together to brutally kill Nazis, it was fun. The inspiration was clearly from the film Inglorious Basterds, but with the Edlund twist that made it a classic.
In this episode, we had quirky Ellie. Aaron was reduced to a brief cameo on the phone with Sam and Dean while he was in Germany, and there was no wacky Nazi killing Golem to be seen anywhere. Evie, who managed to escape peril the first time when The Thule spontaneously combusted her date, quickly fell into the arms of The Thule anyway and ended up being the damsel in distress, even if she managed to whack a bad guy in the end. That was hardly the fun and strangely heartwarming tale and Aaron and the Golem. She was more annoying than charming and in the end another generic character in the SPN MOTW spectrum.
The whole story was very predictable. It following a typical SPN “paint by numbers” pattern. The victims of the week are killed in the opener, Sam and Dean find out about the incident on the internet and head to Ohio (Columbus! My home town), they investigate, encounter the other victim of the week posing as FBI agents, she falls into the hands of the bad guys who execute their diabolical plan, in the end Sam and Dean kill the bad guys while saving her. Sound familiar? It’s the plot of at least half of the SPN episodes. We knew Hitler was going down and it was tough monster killing Dean Winchester with full scowl that did it. The moment felt more cliched than awesome.
Because the story was not very entertaining and generic, the pacing of the episode suffered horribly for it. I was often bored, wondering if this would go anywhere. This was one of those weeks where having a Crowley and/or Castiel B-plot would have benefitted things, while I didn’t feel that way about last week’s episode.
But what hurt this episode most of all is given that it was supposed to be a light hearted look at Hitler coming alive and being the whacky nut job from The Producers, there was a lack of humor in all of it. The dialogue had plenty to do with that, but so did the directing. For example, Evie finding out she was supposed to be possessed by Hitler because she had his blood. Sam tried to tell her that he could relate because he was the vessel for Lucifer. Evie didn’t even want to hear it because the whole thing was too absurd for her. I know what moment was intended to be comedic. In the end, it was just plain awkward. Whatever was intended in that dialogue and the way the scene was shot didn’t work.
The action really lacked too. How long have we been waiting for Dean to use the grenade launcher? He even had it in his hand, ready to blow up Nazis! Wouldn’t that have been cool if Sam and Dean showed up blowing those Nazi bastards to pieces? That would have been fun! No, instead they cheaped out on budget and had Sam and Dean go in normally, setting aside the launcher, and they were easily caught. Boring! We didn’t even get to see a scene of Sam and Dean burning the Nazi bodies, something that was a highlight in “Everybody Hates Hitler.”
All in all, it was yet another mediocre to poor attempt at continuing a beloved story from the past. This should have been the return of Aaron and his Golem ready to crush the heads of Hilter and The Thule high command once and for all. This should have been those two playing off on one another while Sam and Dean were caught in the middle. This should have had grenade launchers! The idea to bring back The Thule while channeling The Producers was brilliant. The execution however was deplorable and weak. Sadly, that just seems to be the case with a lot of SPN episodes anymore. They’re striving for mediocrity, not brilliance. As a fan, I feel like I deserve better. Yes, I know that sounds like fan entitlement, but this show taught me long ago to expect better. I’ll always hold them to that, despite those that strove to do better have left.
(Yeah Sam, I'm kind of puzzled by what's happening too.)
The Red Headed Monster
The timing of this episode didn’t help either, but we can’t fault the writer for that. Many of our WFB writing team is sitting out from doing a review this week. Some because of schedule, but others because plain and simple they were offended. The timing of a Nazi story, especially one that ended up being so unfunny, was insensitive given not only what happened with the US election this week, but some other events as well. For one (and I credit Nightsky for informing me of this), the episode aired on the anniversary of Kristallnacht. Here’s what Nightsky found about this event:
Kristallnacht, a rein of terror brought down on the Jewish people of Nazi Germany. From Nov. 9-10, 1938 “Jewish homes, hospitals, and schools were ransacked, as the attackers demolished buildings with sledgehammers. Over 1,000 synagogues were burned (95 in Vienna alone) and over 7,000 Jewish businesses destroyed or damaged. Estimates of the number of fatalities caused by the pogrom have varied. Early reporting estimated that 91 Jewish people were murdered during the attacks. When deaths from post-arrest maltreatment and subsequent suicides are included, the death toll climbs into the hundreds.” - Wikipedia
This episode also fell on the eve of US Veterans Day and Canadian and Australian Remembrance Day. Some took offense to the memory of the soldiers by doing a tongue-and-cheek look at the Nazis. One statement I was given was, “It made a mockery of their sacrifice.” So yeah, for the sake of churning out a weekly TV show, once again “Supernatural” and The CW overlooked some sensitivities of what was going on in the world around them. They even heavily promoted this one, using this episode as the showcase for their annual bloggers tour. The whole thing seems to be backfiring badly if Twitter is to be believed.
In sympathy though, I get caught off guard a lot by what happens in the fandom too. I find it extremely difficult to keep up anymore with what will offend verses entertain. The most recent example I can think of is when we ran a “Caption This” contest that used the scene of Sam in bed with Toni, or what many online vocal fans called the “mind rape” scene. We thought it was a good opportunity to make a mockery of the scene, especially since we didn’t create it. It was canon thanks to the insensitivity of Brad Buckner, Eugenie Ross-Leming, Andrew Dabb and Robert Singer. But no, a number got offended instead, saying we were making fun of rape. That wasn’t our intent at all, but once fans get on a roll, it becomes something no one ever imagined.
So, I guess it boils down to the fact that in entertainment, there are some no win situations. This episode was written and shot months ago. They had no idea what was going to happen when it aired. Yes, I think The CW should have looked at the closeness of airing this episode to Remembrance Day and Veterans Day, but otherwise just remember that in your offense, Mel Brooks felt all the way back in 1968 it was time to make fun of the Nazi party. It’s been ripe for 48 years now. I think the episode would have been far less offensive if it was actually funny, or at least as absurd as Brooks’ classic or even Edlund’s episode. That’s where “Supernatural’s” true failure lies this week
Overall grade, a D+. Next week, a new writer, but a premise that looks oh so more exciting and more “Supernatural” like. Let’s put all the ugliness aside and move together in unity. It’s what our country’s leaders want.
As a bonus this week, here’s a shot of what could of been. This is one of the funniest damn things I’ve ever seen in film.