There are many different types of Supernatural episodes. Last week was an example of a more innovative, format-bending hour. But this week was another Supernatural essential: The classic case of the week (that beautifully ties into the greater story arc).
Here’s how these seem to go: There’s a murder. Sam and Dean get on the case. Sam and Dean hit a bump…until there’s a second murder. Then and only then do they really get involved. Then they usually find themselves in a highly dangerous situation — oftentimes tied up — and they come out victorious. It might sound like it gets boring, but when done well, it really doesn’t. And this show does it well.
We start this week in Fall River, Mass., where a young teen couple is spending the night at the Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast Museum. (Yes, it’s all of those things.) For those of you who don’t know the story, Lizzie Borden allegedly murdered her father and step-mother with an axe before being acquitted. And now, this young couple is found murdered by, you guessed it, an ax. (But can we talk about how that boyfriend thought a punch was going to stop a ghost?)
Back at the bunker, Sam catches wind of the case, and, instantly, his adorable geek alarm goes off. As a huge fan of Borden (and really just serial killers), Sam is more than willing to head to Massachusetts. As for Cas, well, he won’t be coming along for this one, because he’s currently binge-watching The Wire, and he’s only on season 2. (How long until he starts doing this?)
In Massachusetts, Sam and Dean book themselves the room that the murdered couple was staying in. Only, when they discover that it has one bed, Sam tells Dean to get his own room. Hey, this is Lizzie’s original room, and nerdy Sam is not about to give it up. Plus, let’s be real, Sam pulls off the flower wallpaper better.
After Sam and Dean look around a bit, they discover that the entire place is rigged. Like Dean suspected, it’s a tourist trap, complete with a homemade EMF generator, flickering lights, and a sound system in each room programmed to make crying noises, foot steps, whispers, and even the sound of a flushing toilet — because ghosts that pee are downright terrifying.
So this is the point in the episode’s formula in which Sam and Dean look the other way thinking they’ve got nothing when another murder victim shows up. And this time, it’s the owner of the B&B/museum. And just kidding, there’s also a third murder down the road. A kid’s father was axed in the driveway while the babysitter was inside with the child.
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While Sam checks out the babysitting murder, Dean chases down Len, a photographer he spotted outside the museum earlier. Turns out, Len is a Lizzie Borden superfan who can’t go near the museum because of a restraining order issued against him after he slept in the basement for a couple of weeks.
And yet, when Dean finds a drawing of the Mark of Cain in Len’s house, Len becomes a lot more than just a superfan. Len explains that he met a young girl outside the Borden house a few nights ago. She had the Mark on her shoulder. The young girl’s name? Amara. And Len would guess she’s around 12.
But that’s not the end of the shocking twists for Dean: Len needs to find Amara because she kinda sorta ate his soul. Okay, now Dean can start processing.
NEXT: The Darkness is still coming
After updating Sam on the situation at hand, the brothers decide that what they now have to deal with are the empty shells Amara leaves behind. And odds are, someone without a soul is behind these murders. But first: Who’s going to tell Len he’s lost his soul? Dean thinks Sam is better at the “sensitive verbal massage.” Plus, Sam knows what it’s like to be a “chilly droid.” And yet, when the time comes, it’s Dean who loses his patience and blurts it out. Sorry, Len.
On the hunt for the murderer, Sam and Dean both find themselves knocked out and tied up in a basement, only to discover that the killer is the babysitter from the other night. As she puts it, “I can’t believe that I bagged both of you guys.” What most women wouldn’t give to be able to say that, amirite?
According to Sydney, she met Amara the other night, and after she made the mistake of calling Amara an angel, she lost her soul. Only, Sydney loves her soulless life. She feels free, blissful even.
But here’s where Sam and Dean use one of their classic escape tactics: Dean keeps Sydney talking while Sam gets out of his ropes. The bad news is that Sydney’s holding a gun, so even when Sam is free, he’s literally out-gunned. Thankfully, Len decides to test his new boundaries, rips his own thumb off to get out of his cuffs, and axes Sydney in the back.
The real creepy part is watching Sydney die as she calmly states, “The Darkness is coming… It’s so peaceful. It’s coming for all of us.” Yeah, I’m really starting to get scared of this thing.
With that over, Sam gives the “you’re going to survive this” pep talk to the young child who lost his parents to his babysitter (and is a tiny, pale version of Sam). Then Dean talks through Len’s options with him. And when Dean refuses to kill Len, Len decides to turn himself in to the police. He might not be able to feel anything, but he can still remember what’s right, so he makes the right choice (though I, for one, am bummed to see him go).
Ending on a meal between brothers, we get another hint at Dean’s connection with the Darkness when he more or less dodges Sam’s question about how it makes him feel. But for now, their plan is to follow the soulless bodies that Amara leaves behind.
Only, what they don’t know is that Amara is standing in the woods watching as they drive away. But wait, do we think Dean knew she was there? He did look to his left for a bit there.
All I know is the threat of the Darkness is continuing to grow, and I am here for it. I’m scared of it, but I’m here for it. What did you all think of the episode? Hit the comments with your thoughts, or find me on Twitter @samhighfill.