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Of the many facets of the supernatural, one of the least touched upon in Supernatural is that of psychics. When they have come along, they have been almost uniformly instrumental in significant plot twists throughout the show’s run, but they had yet to serve as the focus of an episode until now. Before getting your hopes up about this being a mythology-heavy piece that serves to create an amazing episode in the scheme of things, know that “The Mentalists” really didn’t delve into anything. Instead, almost all of the “psychics” seen were complete fakes.
The premise was fairly simple: supposed mediums in a supposedly extremely psychic town were being offed by a real supernatural entity and Sam and Dean were brought back together after last week’s separation to hunt down the killer. The latter part of that sentence is really where the episode found its strengths, but it also contributed to a lot of what I found wrong with it. After finding out that Dean had killed Amy behind his back, Sam was naturally pissed last week and mirrored his season one self by taking off on his own. The idea of having the brothers then collide on the case was perfect - it is exactly how they should be brought back together - but its execution didn’t quite work as well as I’d hoped.
Essentially, neither of the brothers really acted how they should have. Initially, Sam was as angry as before, which was to be expected, but Dean couldn’t have acted more like his regular self if he tried. Although we were supposed to believe that there was tension between the two based on the observations of many of the “psychics” around town, it just didn’t translate onto screen. The first scene between the two was what it needed to be (probably one of the best of the episode), but from then on everything just reverted to normality while the hunt was on. We’ve seen them before, but there really ought to have been a few more verbal fight scenes between Sam and Dean for us to actually get to see the tension that is supposed to be there.
Relationship issues aside, the hunt itself left me a little confused as the brothers acted really stupidly - ignoring something glaringly obvious and allowing someone to die as a result. After the brothers arrive in town, more people die at the hands of what they discern to be a spirit - that of one half of a sibling psychic act from many years ago. As they go to burn her bones, she appears and asks them why no one is listening to her before being ignited and sent to wherever spirits end up. Let us ignore that the episode was only half way done and so things obviously weren’t over and simply look at the fact that the brothers have dealt with multiple spirits that were warning people, not killing them, and they don’t even question that they’ve got the right one this time.
As soon as the suggestion of there being two sisters involved in this plot came up, I knew that it would be the one that we weren’t supposed to expect it to be, so how could the Winchesters’ possibly not know? After over six seasons of a similar type of formula for hunts that the brothers go on, viewers really aren’t going to be shocked by twists like “We burned the wrong body!” anymore. I appreciate that it is pretty difficult to come up with new ways to surprise us, but most of the last twenty minutes of the episode were just lazy. Matching the previous level of stupidity, Sam also ignores a fairly obvious truth about who’s responsible for the killings when the brothers find out that the spirit is bound to a person, but after the first and worst plot error, it just becomes nitpicking.
All of the action/drama of the episode really only served to get us to where we ended up: with the brothers back together. Whilst he doesn’t cite a specific reason for his change of heart about the conflict, it appeared to me that after being forced to kill a human during the hunt, Sam takes on board the necessity of what Dean did. We got one of the many talking over the car scenes that we’ve had throughout the show’s run where the brothers shared their feelings, which, while not spectacular, was again easily one of the better scenes of the episode. I was personally disappointed that the two were brought back together so quickly - having a couple of episodes where we followed each brother’s path for a while would have been good - but it will likely have been required in the long-run.
If people have learnt anything from the previous six seasons of the show, it is that the overarching plot of the season has always been pretty well planned out, so if the brothers are back together this fast, there is a reason for it. “The Mentalists” really wasn’t a great episode, but it at least tried to hold viewing interest whilst showing us basically nothing that we haven’t seen before. It really was just a filler to get us to whatever is to come next. Taking that into account, it’d be fairly harsh to knock it severely when it never really stood at chance at being good.