Once upon a time there was a homicidal clown…Tell me if you’ve heard this one already.
I do get where Eric Kripke and John Shiban were going with this. In reality, clowns are creepy as hell. They’re “funny” strange, not “funny” haha. But aside from a chuckle or two watching Sam’s worst childhood nightmare surface, which is really strange considering his entire life is a nightmare, this story was too busy. It was disjointed mess that didn’t do any of the multiple stories present any real justice. Let’s follow the short attention span theater.
So yes, we start with homicidal clown. Nice (not!).
Then we jump to the heartbreaking salt and burn funeral of John Winchester, tears rolling down Sam’s face, and the poignant yet epic Dean Winchester single man tear. We’re also into episode two of the season and the Winchester lies continue to mushroom. Did John say anything to Dean before he died? No, Dean denies. LIAR!! You lying liar who lies. Sam is going to be pissed when he finds out the truth in episode 2.10.
Then it’s time to watch Dean rehab Baby at Bobby’s house while Sam tries to get Dean to talk about things. Oh, that’s laughable. You have a better chance of being amused by a clown Sam. Oh, there’s also a call on one of John’s phones from Ellen. Let’s go to the Roadhouse and meet her!
We meet Jo, Ellen’s daughter, brandishing a rifle. Then Ellen, who has a pistol to Sam’s head. Then there’s Ash, some sort of redneck super genius with the most overdone mullet ever, passed out on the pool table. Jo and Dean are flirty right away. Love interest now? Really Kripke? Ellen is ground commander fighting a war. Oh, and she has this case about a homicidal clown. While Sam and Dean decide to amuse themselves through work, Ash will take John’s scribbled research and make something of it. Yay, teamwork?
So yeah, by the time all of this has taken place, there’s no good way to get Sam and Dean into the circus undercover, save the new potential victims, find the real killer and kill the real killer without it all seeming rushed and too easy. Somehow, in between all this, there was a long brotherly talk as they are forced to walk back to town because they weren’t very conspicuous in showing up at a child’s house and firing weapons at so called homicidal clowns that only they and the little girl could see and had to ditch the hideous on-loan mini-van so they wouldn’t be arrested for looking like potential kidnappers. Luckily for them, Ellen was able to figure out what sort of MOTW they were dealing with as they were walking. Team work makes the dream work I guess.
A Rakshasa. A whatshasa? They're super powerful but can't kill unless they're invited into a house. Geez, the rules again? Why would any kid invite a strange clown into their home at night after everyone has gone to bed? Those kids looked old enough to have heard of a horror movie and stranger danger. Dead parents, you had some really dumb kids. Sam and Dean solve the case before lunch, and now it's back to reality.
Ash has all of John’s info inputted into his supercomputer of muddled together parts on a laptop and will let them know if any of the signs that John figured out will surface. Jo and Dean flirt more before saying goodbye. Ellen offers them shelter, meaning they will be back. Then Dean and Sam go back to Bobby’s to share one more brotherly chat of “I am not okay” before Dean loses it on Baby. Damn good thing she’s made of very strong Detroit steel.
My Two Cents
I don’t mind busy plots. Hell, if anything my criticism in the later seasons is the action is way too slow to non-existent. But all the action of this one didn’t blend together well and often seemed random. It felt like they were more diverting us than trying to tell a fluid story. Hmm, now that I think about it, given the gravity of what happened to Sam and Dean, maybe that disjointedness was the point. Yeah, it still does nothing for me.
Ellen, Jo and Ash deserved a better introduction, as well as a major part in the story to form a believable bond with Sam and Dean. The help that Sam and Dean got so easily, two strangers that they didn’t know, didn’t fit with the whole distrust hunters have of each other, as we do find out later as the season progresses. Eager to please like that usually results in people getting killed, or betrayed, or both. I know that Kripke wanted the Roadhouse to be a place that Sam and Dean could lean on for support after their terrible loss, but it was too much too soon in this introduction. Luckily, that all was toned down drastically in the episodes to come.
This was the start of a criticism you will read in my episodes to come. How was Sam actually okay with John’s death after this? He wants revenge for Jessica but his own Dad he’s accepted? I’ll have to dig into why that is more than just a horrible slight by the writers. Oh right, come episode 2.17, it all catches up with him.
Pop Psychology of Major Characters in a Few Small Sentences
Dean is not taking John’s death well. Sam is over it. That is all.
Despite my criticism, this episode has my all time favorite quote:
Dean: Hey, planes crash.
Sam: And apparently clowns kill.
Ah brotherly love. Digging at each other’s deep fears so deftly.
Overall grade, a C-. I thought maybe this one would improve after going back to watching it. Nope, not at all. Just a major disappointment after the breathtaking 3 episodes before it.