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This week marked the return of the majority of prime-time television to our screens, meaning of course that Friday was all about Supernatural. The mid-season finale was something of a strange one, combining a series of good individual moments together to make what ended up as a mediocre pile of frustration. Bobby had caught a bullet the week before and we got to see a fairly emotional aftermath to that, but the way things ended up was just stupid. Now that the month long cliffhanger is over, we have ourselves “Adventures in Babysitting.”
I am not entirely sure where to begin with this episode. It certainly had elements that made it scrape just above unwatchable, but following up a month-long break with this was a terrible idea. The episode began with the standard introduction to the weekly hunt and then moved on with a scene reminiscent of - I cannot believe I am about to say this - The Twilight Saga: New Moon, in which the brothers mope around whilst time slowly ticks by. Admittedly, Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles can hold the screen slightly better than Kristen “no emotion whatsoever” Stewart can, but it was awkward to the point of laughable. Although intuition would tell you the answer, we still didn’t have absolute confirmation that Bobby was dead until five minutes into the episode, because that’s how long it actually took one of the brothers to speak.
With the veil of silence broken, the episode’s plot line finally kicked in when a call came into Bobby’s old phone from an unknown little girl asking for the recently departed. With the ten words that she spoke before hanging up, Sam decided that she was in trouble and that he and Dean should drop the investigation into the numbers that Bobby left them to go and help her. Despite clearly being the more grief stricken of the two, Dean had the presence of mind to question why they would do that, but to avoid an argument allowed Sam to go solo. In what was by far the most interesting part of the episode, a small sound effect then accompanied the full beer in Dean’s hand suddenly becoming empty. The moment is completely overlooked by Sam and Dean who pass it off as Dean just forgetting that he drank it, but we have to assume that isn’t all there is to it. If there was no significance to the moment whatsoever, then why on Earth would it be included?
With that, Sam goes one way to find the caller as Dean heads off to see fellow hunter Frank, who hasn't responded to the two in weeks. The next half an hour plays out pretty much exactly as you would expect it to, with the repeat history of the brothers parting leading to trouble. After finding the girl, Sam discovers that her father is a hunter too and that he’s missing while on a hunt - being the man that we saw get taught a monstrous lesson at the beginning of the episode - one that he then takes up in an effort to find him. There are a few angst filled moments for Dean as he and Frank work on the numbers problem, none more so than when he listens to a message from Sam, discovering that he, like the missing man, has the wrong idea about the thing that he’s hunting.
Dean then leaves Frank’s side to go and save his brother, being forced into a spot of babysitting along the way when the girl refuses to stay behind this time. There’s some light humor between the two that certainly works to the episode’s advantage, but it’s all negated by the extremely predictable end. Sam and the missing father find themselves tied up and just when Dean’s rescue attempt starts to go well, the little girl comes in and ruins it. With some of the worst acting I’ve ever seen, little hunter girl then semi-redeems herself by revealing that she had completely planned screwing the whole plan up all along (that’s the point at which I strongly considered hitting myself in the face with something hard) and everyone lives happily ever after. The episode then rounds out with a season one style emotional car driving scene that just about saved the episode.
From the above it should be fairly obvious that this just was not a stellar episode of Supernatural, its failure being compounded even more so by the fact that it really needed to be good after the mediocre mid-season finale. The story was progressed mildly with the numbers being deciphered as part of a still as-of-yet unknown plan by Dick and the Leviathan, but that really wasn’t enough to combat its shortcomings. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that you shouldn’t watch it, but if you didn’t, you missed absolutely nothing and I would not worry.