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It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that the majority of Supernatural fans would likely agree that the show used to be better than it is right now. The seventh season, much like the sixth before it, has had extremely good episodes in combination with weaker ones (last week’s “Shut Up, Dr. Phil” being a prime example of the lower end of the quality spectrum), whereas seasons one through five, if you are a fan, were largely excellent throughout. There were downfalls. This isn’t the greatest show ever made, but relative to the present, the past was a winner. With that in mind, we come to Friday’s “Slash Fiction.”
Up to now the involvement of the Leviathan in the season has been somewhat on the back-burner since their introduction in the premiere. It has been fairly obvious since then that things weren’t going to stay that way, but how the super-monsters truly featured into the Supernatural universe hasn’t come close to being defined. What we know of them so far is that they are just about the closest that something could come to being invincible, they have the ability to shape-shift, and they’re not at all bothered about getting blood on their hands if it will help them get what they want. So far they’ve immersed themselves into powerful positions in society and their endgame is unclear.
In starting to push the show towards revealing more about these new/extremely old antagonists, the writers of Supernatural seem to have accepted my earlier point about the past being better and constructed an episode that with a heavily nostalgic theme, whilst all the time staying true to the current plot. In short, “Slash Fiction” was a mash-up of previous plot elements that all worked well, combined in such a way as to make the episode possibly my favorite of the season.
To quickly recap, last week wound up with Sam and Dean getting their hands on a significantly weakened version of the Leviathan that had been pursuing them across the country, leaving the scope for how this episode was going to unfold fairly wide. What we got was undoubtedly a departure from what anyone might have been expecting. If you claim to have guessed this plot before it happened, you are either God or completely full of it. Yes, there was the five thousand rounds of interrogation and torture of the captive to see what makes his kind tick, but more importantly, outside of the cabin in the woods that our hunting trio now call a home, there was more than one of Sam and Dean. After losing contact with the aforementioned captive, two Leviathan got their shape-shift on and became Sam and Dean Winchester, having themselves a colossal and very public crime spree in an attempt to draw the brothers out.
Elements of supernatural torture have existed in the show many times before, creating perhaps one of the series’ best episodes in the form of “On the Head of a Pin,” but the throwbacks to past Supernatural really began with the acts of the Leviathan. The first time that we were introduced to Shapeshifters back in season one, pretty much exactly what happened in this episode happened. Dean’s face ended up plastered on television screens country wide after his doppelgänger went on a crime spree and law enforcement naturally got themselves involved. Granted, this time around the Leviathan were intentionally trying to draw the brothers out in an attempt to kill them once and for all, but the similarity stands.
Compounding the blasts from the past, the spree that the Leviathan went on took them through towns familiar to the Winchesters and us as viewers (a sign on a building at one of the crime scenes gave this plot element away to me about twenty minutes before it was revealed to the brothers). The FBI agents following the case were a much more dumbed down version of Victor Henricksen and his partner from seasons two and three and really the entire plot was a strong shout-out to long serving fans. It all wound up in a much less against-the-odds fight in a police station than that in “Jus In Bello,” the first time that the brothers fake-died, after Bobby’s torture yielded some useable results.
With the brothers coming out on top, they walked away relatively unscathed, unlike the people that they left behind to cover up the truth of the matters at hand - again, like the conclusion to “Jus In Bello.” Probably the most glaringly obvious parallel to a past plot point that coincidently was also the most important in terms of the present-day story line, came from the episode’s conclusion, when Sam and Dean split after Sam learnt the truth about Amy. Season one’s “Scarecrow” used this divide to ultimately bring the brothers closer together, however this time around I have a feeling that things aren’t set to be patched up quite as easily.
Little of import actually occurred in “Slash Fiction,” rather it just allowed us to spend some time with the Leviathan in a way that made sense for the show. As weird as the situation would have been in real life, having Jared and Jensen be the Leviathan was just better to watch than two random actors that you’ve never seen playing the same scenes. The only other occurrence of note saw Crowley return to our screens trying to strike a deal with the man that appears to be the head Leviathan - or at least an important one - with him failing miserably, something that will no doubt become a part of the plot in one way or another. All in all, “Slash Fiction” was a strong episode. There really isn’t any other way to put it. It will have meant more to long-time fans than newer ones, but should have translated either way.