SUPERNATURAL: Darkness Takes a Field Trip

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S11E5 “Thin Lizzie”

The story begins with a young woman looking at herself in a mirror. Fake out! It is not Amara. A couple is in a room at a haunted hotel. It is obvious that they are on a date and that, much like taking a girl to a horror movie, visiting the hotel is to aid in seduction. He mentions the Ghostfacers website, which is a nice shout out to a ghost busting group Sam and Dean have encountered before.  The young man turns on a phonograph. It plays “Bicycle Built for Two.” The lights flicker, they see the closet door open and when the young man turns around a figure shrouded in black is raising a small hand ax behind the girl’s head. He runs for the door, which is locked, and tries desperately to open it. Coward. The girl is of course killed and we hear screams and blood through the partially open door and see that there is a nameplate on the door that says Lizzie Borden.

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Sam and Dean are once again clueless about where the Darkness is and Sam tells Dean that there may be a case at the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast/Museum. He thought there might have been a case somewhere else, where half the town attacked the other half, but they turned out to have eaten rabid possum. I would have gone straight for the rabid possum case myself. Possums rarely get rabies, cooking meat thoroughly gets rid of rabies and one little possum isn’t going to feed half the town. They’d have to have cooked up a whole passel of rabid possums. Rare. Dean realizes that Sam wants to go to the museum because he, as Dean puts it, has a fetish for serial killers. Cas is on the second season of The Wire and won’t be surfacing any time soon. I wonder what it will be next time. Breaking Bad, maybe?

They get to the inn and the innkeeper won’t let them have the room until they pay extra. He is my first suspect for going psycho because he has a Norman Bates vibe and a mean mother that he works with. He tells them that the boy that was killed was a descendant of the original Bordens. The room  has only one bed and Sam declares dibs on it because it was Lizzie’s room. In short order the boys find that the lights are rigged to flicker, there are speakers that produce ghostly sounds, and an EMF generator that makes their EMF detector go off. Sam is really disappointed.  Dean also sees someone outside taking pictures from the bushes. They might not have been spotted if they hadn’t used one of those gigantic old flashbulbs. The boys leave for a beer and a lobster roll and to clear Dean’s head of the sight of doilies.

While they are gone, we see the mean mom innkeeper heading to bed. She walks past the plaque with Lizzie Borden’s ax and it is missing. A shadowy struggle, a scream, arterial spray on the bed and she is gone.

Sam introduces himself to the detective working the case as an FBI agent. The Innkeeper, who is very distraught about his mother,  says they weren’t feds last night. Sam says they were undercover, of course. Dean tells the detective about the man he spotted in the bushes. The detective knows who it is, says he is harmless but obsessed with ghosts.

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Dean points out that they have nothing in the way of the supernatural here. Sam is okay with chasing a serial killer. They get a call about another ax murder, this time away from the Borden house. Sam takes the crime scene and Dean goes to visit Len, the ghost chaser.

The dad of the family Pinsky has been murdered in the driveway. Sam talks to the babysitter, Sydney, who has blue highlights in her hair. (unnatural colors and piercings are tv symbolism for troubled young person). There is a young son. Mrs. Pinsky comes home and is not overcome with grief that her husband is gone, which Sam notices.

Dean talks to Len, who is as round and short and baby-faced as the detective described. He enthusiastically talks about his Lizzie Borden hobby and tells him he has a restraining order against him, but no info on the murders or any supernatural events. But then Dean sees the Mark of Cain written on an envelope. Len folds quickly and tells him he encountered a young girl outside of Lizzie Borden’s house but didn’t tell the police. He is desperate to find Amara again and finally tells Dean it’s because she did something to him and he hasn’t been the same. He can’t eat, sleep, or enjoy the things he used to and is just going through the motions. He wants to be put back the way he was. It sounds like a fine case of depression but Dean correctly deduces that Amara stole his soul.

Dean and Sam have an argument over who has to tell Len what happened to him. Both of them desperately don’t want to tell him, so no one does. Dean doesn’t think Len is the murderer, because his neighbors alibi him. Sam thinks Mrs. Pinsky lost her soul and picked up an ax.

They go back to the Pinsky house with Len in the car, talking about what happened and how things that used to gross him out don’t and other changes. No one is there so Sam calls the babysitter, who says that Mrs. Pinsky had a special friend so they go there. It is  a much nicer home. Dean can’t stand to listen to Len anymore so finally tells him bluntly that he has no soul and handcuffs him to the car. After last week’s episode this makes me worry about the car.

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They break into the house and Dean finds the mom and her lover dead in the basement. He gets sucker punched.  Sam finds the kid in the closet, tied up, and the babysitter with a shotgun pointed at Sam. She takes him to the basement where Dean is tied up and unconscious with a head wound. The babysitter got both of them. She tells them the tale of meeting Amara and losing her soul after her boyfriend dumped her. She loves it. She no longer has shame and painful memories from her childhood, and no nagging conscience. She killed the couple because the guy was the boyfriend who dumped her, the innkeeper’s mom because she worked there and was robbed of two weeks pay, and the Pinskys because they were lousy parents and she wanted to take the boy and raise him. She regards Amara as a goddess and wants to give Sam and Dean to her.

Sam has untied his bonds and makes a break for it while Dean distracts Sydney, the babysitter.  She fires the shotgun at Sam and misses. We are all confused for a moment as to what has happened but then she falls. Len is behind her and hit her in the back with an ax. Her final words are, “The Darkness is coming. It’s so peaceful. It’s coming for all of us.”

Sam has a comforting talk with the boy. Dean talks to Len. He pulled off his own thumb dragging his hand through the handcuffs, not out of fear for their lives, but to see if he could. At least her didn’t break the Impala. He asks to be killed. Dean says no. Len says he will confess and turn himself in for the murders so he can’t hurt anyone. I hope there’s no death penalty in Massachusetts.

The boys have a talk about Amara. They conclude that they may not have trouble finding her now that she is growing and leaving bodies in her wake. When they drive off, we see Amara coming out of the trees. She says she will see Dean soon.

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This is a pretty good episode to follow last week’s. It starts out as a respite episode and ends as a rising threat episode. The boys are definitely back to work. They look good, which makes sense because they both agreed to have Castiel heal them in last week’s episode. The Impala has recovered too, which I’m sure took more elbow grease.

Amara has obviously run away. This made me worried about Crowley until I saw that he was in next week’s episode.

If you are a Lizzie Borden aficionado, you will be disappointed. There’s not actually much about her in the episode. What little there is is accurate. There is a Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast Museum in Fall River, Massachusetts. I can’t help but wonder what they think of this episode. It probably doesn’t look much like the museum in the show, anymore than Stull Cemetery looked like the real Stull Cemetery. But it might give them an increase in business. Her relatives are buried there, and Len mentions an uncle that some people think actually killed the Bordens. It is mentioned that she had lousy parents. Even though there’s not much about her, there are images of her and creepy dolls.

I appreciate the fact that the ax murders took place off screen, for the most part. I think that may have been more to hide the identity of the murderer than it was to spare the viewer. But even Len’s thumb dropping off was thankfully off screen.

The episode was a good murder mystery.There were red herrings and false starts.  I keep being reminded that the boys would be effective if they were actual cops or FBI agents. Last week they figured out that the person had been killed elsewhere. This week they found the phony ghost apparatus in record time. If this were a conventional mystery they could have solved it by finding the connections between the babysitter and the other victims.

The reason that they could not deduce who the person was is that anyone could lose their soul. And they can’t tell by looking at the person. It appears that they can’t tell from questioning or interacting with them, either.  Dean was convinced of Len’s passion for Lizzie Borden even though he was just going through the motions. Sam thought it was Mrs. Pinsky because she didn’t care that her husband had died and she did not want to talk to him, when really she just didn’t care that her husband died and  she had someone else. They are going to need Castiel or Crowley to separate the soul-less from the souled. And that wouldn’t help solve the problem of what to do with them.

And that is what was really creepy about this episode: the two different people who lost their souls. Sydney would have been a very sympathetic character. Abused as a child, dumped by her lousy boyfriend, cheated by her former employer, she was still concerned about the boy she was babysitting and how he was treated. She was concerned about Amara’s well being when she first met her. She had a conscience before even though she was thrilled to get rid of it. And yet, she is the dangerous one. Len is worse, even though he is either so good that he has no evil urges, or so self-aware that he clings to his former goodness. His longing for what he has lost is poignant. His description of what is happening is horrifying. “Like something’s hatching inside of me. Something dark. With wings.”

I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

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Teresa Wickersham

Teresa Wickersham has dabbled in fanfic, gone to a few conventions, created some award-winning (and not so award winning) masquerade costumes, worked on the Save Farscape campaign, and occasionally presents herself as a fluffy bunny or a Krampus.

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