This is an episode that I just didn’t appreciate until a second watch. In truth, it’s got some issues, but upon review, I was able to see a very sly commentary on generational issues that was very interesting.
Initial (2 days after Donald Trump was elected President):
Even I am a little too down to take the episode in stride. It wasn’t offensive or horrible but it wasn’t ‘must rewatch immediately’ for me. I do think the last two days of horrible neo-Nazis harassing people has made me queasy about the subject.
– Sam went out of his way to get Dean pie. I thought it was sweet. He usually does ‘care taking’ by encouraging talk. The pie was a nice touch.
– The grenade launcher. It’s now my headcannon that Dean tries to break out the grenade launcher a lot more than we see.
– I liked Ellie’s WTF attitude. She had real personality.
– Aaron cameo
– Research Dean. I don’t care if he’s sublimating.
– Good fight scene.
– Neo-Nazi antique buyer. Slimely price upping dealer.
– I thought Nazi dad was one-note (although I liked his mercurial turn as insane zombie Hitler)
But I’m not going to let my favorite show be left with such “meh” feelings. So, I went back in and was rewarded
Well this was SO MUCH BETTER upon re-watch. But it’s complicated. So I’m going full “charts & graphs & 92 talking points mode”. I won’t be offended if you skip. Read the TL; DR Bottom line for the gist.
First: They made a MAJOR miscalculation, this episode is timed with an election they presumed Trump would lose. After re-watching, it’s clear to me they INTENDED to make fun of Trump. They intended to poke at both elements of older out-of-touch people AND elements of millennials. But I think they presumed Hilary would win, Trump would lose, and we’d all have a big laugh. Not so much. After being brushed aside by nearly 60 million Americans, what so many of us thought was common sense (that racism and bigotry was unacceptable) got smashed into our faces with a ‘not so much.’ There are many WTF happened responses to the election but for me, the one that makes the most sense is that it’s not that people thought racism was okay, it’s that they didn’t think the character of Trump was more important that his potential ability to improve the economy. Damn, it’s just not that far off from Germany in the 1930’s is it? In fact the major bad guy MADE THAT SPEECH in the car when he was talking about “now” being the time for Hitler’s resurrection. It’s so spot on (as to what happened) as to be actually nauseating. So, because Trump won, this episode is NEVER (IMO) going to sit well with many one-time viewers. Some people will get a laugh and move on. Some will just be too grossed out to process. And some may see the flaws and not get past those (and there were flaws).
As a “savor every moment” person, I went into this re-watch with one question in mind “WHAT was the purpose of the young Thule guy?” When I saw that he represented “Millennials”, just like Ellie represented “Millennials”, I “got it”. This episode was about GENERATIONS. That theme is there throughout.
The Older Generation:
– The “Old Guard” Thule (horrible)
– The Golum (good)
– Mary Winchester (good)
– The Nazi-loving rich lady (bad)
– The collaborator for money antiques guy (bad)
– Hitler (literally worse than Trump… pretty sure)
Stuck in between
– Sam (technically a Millennial)
– Dean (technically a Gen X)
I say stuck in between because they are closer to the Millennial age bracket, they were raised by a VERY OLD GUARD (Good) John Winchester and have seen enough shit to no longer be really too closely tied to ANY age bracket. This is why they are us, the audience, an amalgam of multiple age groups.
Once I saw that angle, then a lot of the scenes made more sense. Especially with the over-arching seasonal theme of old and new hunters. Examples:
- Sam and Dean at the antique shop. Sam gets to hacking and finds the watch backstory. Dean snoops about the old fashion way. They both come to “Nazi nut-jobs” at the same time. Bonus layer: shout out to Dean/Mary similarities.
- Ellie and Christoph’s Millennial representation: BOTH were pretty savvy but a little self-absorbed. Both proved competent. Ellie got herself out of trouble three times. She ran twice plus shot the Nazi. Christoph fought off his own execution. Both were pretty quick on the uptake. Ellie called her Mom and immediately knew the adoption story was right. Christoph went straight to the Winchesters for help after escaping.
- Describing the watch as a Horcrux. Most Millennials are going to get that reference right away.
- The old guys vision of ‘reliving the glory days’ was clearly not going to work as Hitler pretty much was insane and just as likely to kill people as to lead. He was not the leader they hoped for. They were so solemn with bringing out the watch on a silver tray with a Nazi flag and Hitler pops up and goes into full-on nut mode.
- But the old guys DID get shit done. They were ruthless and committed to their ideology over their own interests. They actually resurrected Hitler for pity’s sake. STUPID, but they managed it.
- Aaron as Millennial hunter. Halfway thru the Thule list but taking time to club it up a bit in Germany. And my headcannon of Golum in the disco is SACRED. He’s just sitting there (tolerating a neon neck ring) like the lump of clay he is, protecting his guy.
And for me, the “payoff” to the generational theme was that while the Millennials survived to continue on, they learned some sobering lessons during the way. Ellie has faced Hitler, she can make it through Med School. Aaron already learned to fight for a bigger cause. Christoph figured out that just following in his father’s footsteps was stupid.
Once I could see what I thought they were going for, then the episode was much more coherent for me. Bits I picked up on a second time:
– Aaron and Golum were having an impact – the Nazi Dad was complaining about that Judah guy and his golum.
– I’m having a hardtime feeling bad about Tinder hookup getting burned up (oh show, that joke was really pretty low-brown… but I’ll take it).
– Ellie had soot on her and mentioned burning the corpses. (IA with those who say the watch is gone, no more Hitler)
– Dean really did seem pretty sober about killing the guy, until Sam reminded him that he just made History (even if no one knows it).
– The fact that Sam knows Dean did it is all Dean needs to be happy about it.
– I was reminded of Charlie when Dean admitted that sublimating is what he does (as in “that’s kind of your move”).
– I think them just sending Ellie on her merry way is a BIG mistake. First, the Thule in Germany probably know who she is and might come after her. Second, I suspect that even though Sam and Dean don’t know it, the BMOL might kill her just because she has Hitler’s blood. And then they’ll put that on their “to do” list (kill Hitler’s relatives) along with hunting down Christoph (Necromancer in training) and any other Thule out there.
Having said all this, the fact is I didn’t see the big “theme” that made this episode make more sense for me until second watching. That’s not good. The beats were there, but it was just a wee bit too subtle. I admit to having post-election brain fuzz but having the Nazi with the bad accent essentially lay out the theme was a bad move. I was too distracted by the bad accent to pay attention to his ramblings the first time.
Bottom Line for the TL;DR: The episode is MUCH better when seen as a commentary on the difference between Millennials and older generations. The show presumed Hilary would win and did not have an episode that would play well with a nation living with President-Elect Trump. Stronger writing, less cheesy accent would have helped a great deal but overall, there were some good moments and interesting commentary in this episode. I think the writer will work out just fine with a less “out there” episode.