I’ll preface this recap by saying that season 3’s “Ghostfacers” was not one of my favorite episodes of Supernatural ever. (Supernatural episodes need the Winchesters and the more we can have of them, the better, I say.)
So going into this found-footage episode, which I knew would be told largely from the perspective of three college kids who were making a film, I was already anticipating (and not too happy with the idea of) minimal amounts Sam and Dean. I tried to keep an open mind about it, however, and I’m happy to report that the lack of Sam and Dean didn’t bother me as much as I thought it would. In fact, I enjoyed seeing some moments that we normally don’t.
For example, after one of the teens (a good-looking jock named Michael) was attacked by a mysterious creature, we got to see what happens afterward. Typically, we only get to see the beginning part of a victim’s attack, hear screams, fade to black, then see a body. In this case, we followed him home, where we saw him panicked, nervous, and writhing in pain from his bad injury, which turned out to be a werewolf bite. This was a neat departure.
I also appreciated the pacing at the start of the episode. Every time I found myself remembering how much I missed the Winchesters, they’d pop up on camera. It was like they predicted my anxiety! Beyond that, there were a few other cool/creepy moments that we wouldn’t have gotten had this been a normal episode, like when Michael used his new claws to creepily stroke his sleeping girlfriend’s hair and the reveal of bloodied, post-meal were-Michael in the background of a shot. Chilling.
But while all of these small moments, the episode’s very solid writing, great build-up of tension, and good direction helped make this episode much better than I was anticipating, I don’t think I’ll ever be OK with a lack of Sam and Dean, who, with very little exception, were mere background players in this episode.
You see, the kids caught Sam and Dean on camera thinking they were FBI agents, but as the trio of pals got deeper into investigating the mysterious condition that was afflicting Michael (claws aren’t normal, right?) they soon learned Sam and Dean were not typical lawmen. (Also, Sam and Dean said “awesome” way too much to be agents, claimed hipster girl.)
So after listening in on a number of Sam and Dean’s convos with witnesses, they began piecing the case together. Their friend was a werewolf. They needed to find a way to help him. He was hungry for hearts. He ate a bully with a “crew.” (Ha!) And so on…
Meanwhile, the third boy in this trifecta, Brian, wanted in on the action. He wanted to be a “superhero,” too. Were-Michael discouraged it, especially at the beginning when they weren’t sure what was going on. But Brian really wanted to be like his much cooler friend, even if it meant becoming a non-human. (Hey Diet Dawson, want to be cool? Start by not being a whiny tool.)
In the end, Brian got his wish by being chomped on by their college professor, who was the werewolf that initially bit Michael, and caused his transformation. So he went home to share the good news, but, as expected, his friends were not thrilled with his life decision and were even angrier when they realized that Dean and Sam were likely going to track them all down. (After the brothers tracked and killed the Prof, they found a hidden camera in the professor’s office.) Before they could high-tail it out of there, Were-Brian killed Were-Michael, turned hipster girl, then was killed by hipster girl, who escaped.
Once the episode got to this point, we returned to Sam and Dean, who finished watching “the movie” they found at the start of the episode. After the last frame, it was clear that the girl’s parting words for them (“I didn’t choose this”) resonated with them both, and they agreed to let her try to live life as a non-human-killing werewolf. If she ever messed up, that’s when they would hunt her.
I really liked how the episode brought it back to the brothers in a nice way at the end. “I didn’t choose this” could pretty much be the name of Sam’s autobiography, and I think Dean realized that. Here’s hoping that stays with him a bit.
Closing thoughts: I hope I don’t sound like I’m completely unhappy with this episode because that’s not the case. I do, however, think an episode like this would have worked better a few seasons ago, when we — the audience — were still learning about the Supernatural world. Had that been the case, it would have been cool to take this journey with a bunch of monster newbies. At this point, though, I was sometimes bored by their journey — not because it wasn’t well written but because I’m a Supernatural nut. I’ve seen every episode numerous times and to see a case from a non-expert perspective was a little tiring. (Actual text I sent a friend: “Oh. My. God. She’s locking herself in the bedroom WITH the werewolf to have a relationship spat?! Ugh. She deserves to get eaten.”) Perhaps that’s my problem to deal with…
Burning questions: Did anyone feel like there were less commercials than usual? Did you think Sam and Dean’s few lines in this episode were a huge highlight? (I’ll say this: At least they made their time on screen really count!) Did it bug you that the camera’s zoom was apparently also a magical microphone? (Zooming in on something does not give you better sound; that’s not how cameras work.) Who was your favorite member of the friend trio? (Mine was Michael.) Do you think I’m stupid for not liking “Ghostfacers”? So do my Supernatural friends. And were you hoping we’d be rewarded for tolerating less Winchester with some gratuitous skin at the end of the episode? (Just me? Ok.)
“Is it me or are you getting a workplace romance vibe from those two?” — Michael re: Sam and Dean
Sam: Dude, two burgers?
Dean: Hey, I didn’t eat at Big P’s for like, a year
(Note: I hope we eventually learn how Dean survived down there. Did he eat squirrels? Did Purgatory even have squirrels?)
“Clear eyes, clogged arteries, can’t lose.” — Dean
“I’m pretty sure FBI agents don’t say ‘awesome’ that much.” — Girl
“They mentioned something about being apart for a year; I’m pretty sure you were right about that office romance thing.” — weird boy
“Hey, Sam…do I really say awesome a lot?” — Dean