Supernatural: ‘Clown… with Benefits’

When Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki provided commentary on the season 1 DVD set, they talked about how things came together that year and how season 2 would be even better.  I scoffed.  How could you improve something that was superb?  I was wrong.  Season 2 was better.

Everybody Loves a Clown (202)

This episode gets 4 starsOver the years, I’ve written about this episode many times.  I still chuckle when Sam makes his first “bitchface” ever.  Jared Padalecki still moves me when Sam expresses his grief in his final scene.  I’m still reminded of Jensen Ackles’s extreme talent when Dean is beating the hell out of the Impala.

Sam and Dean walk along a deserted road.
Just a couple of brothers, trying to avoid the law

The scene of Dean and Sam burning John’s body is heartbreaking.  Both are grieving, but can’t seem to comfort each other.  Sam wants to talk, but Dean seems numb.  Throughout the episode, we see Sam trying to make up for his feelings of guilt, while Dean just avoids everything.  We now know what John whispered to Dean in the hospital, and coupled with the realization John may have traded his life for his son’s, it too much for Dean to take in.

Watching these early episodes, I’m impressed with the consistency of  the characters.  Fans often give the show crap for small inconsistencies, but they haven’t been important to the story.  I learned to let go of extreme fanaticism in order to enjoy the larger picture.  The larger picture being, of course, the characters.

We meet the Harvelles and Ash in this episode.  When Dean asks how come John never mentioned Ellen and Jo, Ellen says “You’d have to ask him that.”  Now that we know story of John Winchester and the Harvelles, the response seems appropriate.  We also understand why John kept Ellen’s voice mail message for four months.  See?  Consistency.

The episode is chalk full of scenic, memorable moments.  And we learn Sam’s afraid of clowns.

– Written by John Shiban; directed by Phil Sgriccia
– IMDB rating 8.2 (out of 10);  TV.com rating 8.6

Man’s Best Friend with Benefits (815)

This episode gets one star.Hey!  TV Guide said the episode was going to be “Heartache.”  You know, the one Jensen Ackles directed and his father Alan Ackles guest starred in.  Instead we get one of season 8’s worst episodes.  What happened?  Did fans petition the CW to skip the Sam and Amelia episodes?  “Heartache” was loads better than this episode.

A dog shows up at Sam's motel door.
Portia, in doggie form

Reviewed here, this episode seemed to have something to offend everyone.  Female subjugation, perceived slavery borderline bestiality.  Perhaps if they’d made the woman the witch and the man the familiar, it wouldn’t have been as offensive. But Hollywood has one of the most sexist mindsets in existence, so that probably wasn’t thought of.  Sad, considering one of the writers is female.

Downgraded from two stars to one, the story wasn’t good enough to make up for the uncomfortableness.

– Written by Brad Buckner & Eugenie Ross-Leming; directed by John F. Showalter
– TV Fanatic fan rating 3.8 (out of 5); IMDB rating 7.8; TV.com 7.6

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