Editor’s note: I know Sylvia left big shoes to fill, so we’ll be presenting multiple SPN columns penned by multiple writers for the foreseeable future.
Let’s meet Julia Santo!
In the end, “Out With the Old” is a holding pattern. In the previous episode, Sam opened up the door to Lucifer and we still have the vague impending doom of Dick Roman looming over our heads. A shoe will drop, but this is not the episode for it. This is the break, the build up, the wait for Mischa Collins to return. Just kidding. (Kind of.)
The episode opens on a dancer coming into a studio. She makes a snarky comment to other dancers who are leaving and laces up for practice. She dances for a moment, and then it becomes apparent that she has lost control. Her eyes widen, her feet quicken and then a quick cut to a janitor noticing a splatter of blood on the window in the door. He walks into the studio to find the dancer, sans feet, with an amount of blood around her that can only be described as Tarantino-esque.
Enter Dean, going over what they know about Dick Roman with Frank, who has little in the way of helpful information. They know that the coordinates Bobby worked so hard to get them are an archaeological dig, and that Dick is funding similar projects around the world. Sam approaches, and in case you forgot Lucifer is now his special full-time brain buddy. He complains about that for a minute, and then, not even having the energy to marvel about Dean’s complete lack of culture (Dean saw a movie for hot chicks! Quelle surprise!) points out a possible case in Portland (our dancer friend from before.)
We are now inside the Portland Police Station, where it is apparently bring your daughter directly from ballet to work day. The officer cataloguing the evidence has his dancer daughter there with the cursed shoes in plain sight. She is told once to leave them alone, and then goes to the bathroom where they have conveniently appeared. This was another one of the several great horror moments in the episode, I was practically yelling at the screen for her not to put the shoes on. She does put them on (of course) but the Winchesters are quick and get in to rip the shoes off her feet. We get to see Dean get kicked in the face a couple of times in the struggle, so that’s a good time.
Dean and Sam go to the antique store where the shoes were purchased, “Out With the Old.” Once Sam and Dean get into the store, they find out the owner has been selling his late mother’s possessions, some of which were kept in curse boxes. In the course of their investigation, several ballet jokes are made, which I’m sure would be hilarious if I understood any of the references. In any case, this is where we really start to see how Sam’s struggle with his visions of Lucifer is affecting him. He hasn’t slept in days, and he has very little patience with the store owner. The boys set off to track down the other cursed objects.
A tea kettle is the first item they try to lock down. We see the new owner in her kitchen, and dear lord is there anything more terrifying than watching someone chop produce? I thought for sure she was going to cut her fingers off. And the little bit of mystery, trying to figure out what the object was before she ended up pouring scalding water down her throat was a fun touch. Needless to say the Winchesters were too late to save this one, and so they set off to recover a gramaphone and an old issue of Playboy. We don’t watch Dean recover the porn from Mr. Yankit (I mean, seriously.) but we do get to see Sam snap at a scared kid, which is just further proof of his deteriorating mental state.
(Sidebar: is this really supposed to be Portland? Where’s the gauged ears, the etsybought clothing, WHERE IS CARRIE BROWNSTEIN?)
With the cursed objects under control, Dean learns that the store-owner’s mom had sold the store she “spent her whole life trying to keep” the day before she was killed in a car accident. Suspicious Dean is suspicious. It occurs to me at this point in the episode that while Sam is basically out of commission, Dean looks positively cerebral in comparison.
In the meantime, local real estate agent Joyce is trying to convince a local store owner to sell to her, but he is not biting. She has been buying up the whole town, and he is the last holdout. In response, she kills him, signs for him and orders her assistant George to dispense with the body. It turns out these real estate agents are Leviathans, working on direct orders from mister Dick Roman himself. Intrigue.
Dean is enjoying a coffee while he relays his suspicions about the town to Sam, who is on his way to haul the cursed objects out of the antique store. Sam is worse than ever, can barely concentrate on what Dean is saying, and eventually is distracted from the phone call by almost dying in a head on accident. PSA: Don’t drive when you are hallucinating Lucifer. Sam stops for coffee to wake himself up, and George sees him there. He calls Joyce and they create an eat-the-Winchesters-plan.
Cut to Dean eye-fcuking a pie. We can assume he has been doing this since he got off the phone with Sam, because, well, despite my comment about his intelligence above, it’s still Dean. Sam shows up at the cafe, and Dean has figured out with Frank that the real-estate agents buying the town (Joyce and George) are connected to Dick Roman. Sam has trouble reacting to this, because Lucifer is singing Zeppelin in his ear (could be worse dude, could be Asia.) They get a call from the store owner to help him with another cursed object, but the call is a ruse orchestrated by Joyce to get them there for dinner.
The ensuing fight ends up in the Winchester’s favor, with George aiding in the decapitation of Joyce. They try to interrogate George about what Dick is trying to do, but he just tries to vague-ominous-reference them to death. Sam isn’t having it, and so he eventually reveals that they will be building a disease research facility here to cure human plights like cancer because, “we’re just here to help.” If the leviathan turn out to be lizards, we might have a problem.
Dean and Sam drive out to Frank’s to run down their new information. Sam tries to catch some sleep, and Dean claims that soft rock will knock him right out. What we get, though, is Credence, and we know that “Bad Moon Rising” means nothing good in WinchesterWorld. They arrive to find that Frank has been killed and his trailer has been tossed.
The weirdness-of-the-week part of the show was nice and scary, just how I like it. As far as moving the Leviathan/Dick Roman plot forward, the episode fell a little flat. Instead of giving us actual information that the boys could act upon, things just get scarier and crappier for Dean and Sam. But that’s Supernatural.
By far the best part of the episode was the characterization of Sam. I have the benefit of doing this review after having seen subsequent episodes, and so knowing how Sam will break in “The Born-Again Identity,” the constant fatigue and anxiety he displays throughout the episode tees that storyline up perfectly.