This review may contain spoilers
Garth Fitzgerald IV (DJ Qualls), first introduced in "Time for a Wedding!" from Season 7, is quite the character. It is miraculous how his strangely skewed world view and general incompetence combined with hunting has somehow not ended with him quickly dead. His quirky musical introduction in the episode through to the point where he salts and burns Jenny Greentree's bones with the quip, "You've been Garthed!" was fun. Of course, considering the body count that piles up, the humor had to be scaled back considerably. Plus navigating towards the achingly melancholy chord at the end was tricky. It worked, but left the middle feeling a bit hollow.
The monster of the week, a shojo (Debbie Podowski), a Japanese alcohol spirit that can be commanded to kill through the use of a spirit box, provides some amusement in that one must be drunk in order to see it. The boys lose a few IQ points when they are inebriated and Garth is voluble and a bit wobbly. The previews and trailers made much of this, but the fun factor from this through the episode was kind of mild.
The meat of this episode relates to the idea that Bobby's (Jim Beaver) ghost is haunting the boys. Garth goes there immediately after getting an EMF reading off of Dean's (Jensen Ackles) flask. Dean does not want to talk about it, and Sam (Jared Padalecki) seems more interested in making sure that Dean is uncertain than anything else. The latest mysterious event happens right in front of Dean's eyes as a samurai sword lost in the midst of battle is helpfully drawn towards his hand jedi-style. In the end, we see Bobby's ghost, but Dean does not, even when standing right in front of him. Sam wasn't in the room.
Points Of Interest
1. "Party on, Garth" was a catch phrase from the popular "Saturday Night Live" skit (and movies), "Wayne's World." A quick read of the Wikipedia entry would seem to indicate that Garth Fitzgerald IV is much different in personality from "Wayne's World's" Garth Algar.
2. "Shōjo" (少女) in Japanese means young woman. Shojo manga is a subcategory of manga that targets a young female readership and thus would be a poor reference to the kind of anime porn that Dean likes. If they were wanting to make an in-joke reference to that, they might call such a monster "hentai."
3. Garth likes to soak in a hot tub after a successful hunt.
4. Garth is heard talking on his cell phone with his sweetie who knows that he is a hunter.
5. Dean is getting updates on Castiel's condition from Meg.
6. Sam is feeling better personally, but feeling guilty over Cas.
7. Initially dismissive of the victims' family's artisan microbrewery, Thighslapper Ale, as snobbish and overrated, Dean was an instant convert as soon as he tasted some. Will Thighslapper continue as part of the "Supernatural"-verse like Biggerson's Family Diners?
8. Garth has a sock puppet, Mr. Fizzles, that he always has with him in case he needs to extract information from children.
9. After the disappearing beer incident, Sam did a full range of ghost finding/contacting activities without telling Dean. He tells us there was no result and at this point is actively denying the possibility of various strange incidents being evidence of Bobby's ghost. This behavior is strange, and I smell ulterior motive on Sam's part, perhaps a conspiracy to keep Dean in the dark for some reason, but maybe it's just an artifact of the writing.
10. Garth's cousin continued as a revenant despite being cremated. Was whatever happened with the cousin what introduced Garth to hunting?
11. Normally, the show uses a fake generic "Search the Web" search engine when people are doing online research. However, Garth uses "Google" as a verb when explaining why he knows that Lee (Andrew Francis) is Randy's (Terry David Mulligan) bastard. Failure of imagination on the writers' part? Late to the game product placement? Deliberate pop culture reference?
12. Bobby's ghost wants the boys to see him.
Not normally the show's usual type of music, "Poison" by Bell Biv Devoe was an excellent mood piece for Garth's introduction montage.
Getting translation assistance from a sushi chef (Kasey Ryne Mazak) was reasonably clever. Getting the same chef to enact a Shinto blessing, of course, parallels the boys' ability to exorcise demons and create holy water with the right words despite not being ordained by anyone. Simulating dipping the sword in the waters of a spring by pouring bottled spring water on it was art.
What Didn't Work
The youngest McAnn, Tess (Megan Charpentier), looked to be about 10 or so. Now, while I'm not a bloodthirsty child hater, introducing and threatening the child but then killing the mother (Shauna Johannesen) after explaining that the shojo has been tasked with killing the children is disingenuous. Are shojo's squeamish about killing small kids? When the boys are later enumerating possible victims, Tess is not mentioned again. A better explanation is needed, or just don't set up an ideal victim that you are unwilling to kill (or seriously threaten).
Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due
"Supernatural" stars Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, Jim Beaver, DJ Qualls, Terry David Mulligan, Debbie Podowski, Andrew Francis, Julia Rhodes, Kasey Ryne Mazak, Eric Keenleyside, "Party on, Garth" was written by Adam Glass, and it was directed by Phil Sgriccia.
"Supernatural" airs Fridays at 9 p.m. ET on The CW.
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