Tonight’s Supernatural episode, “Everybody Hates Hitler,” was written by Ben Edlund and directed by Phil Sgriccia, both Supernatural veterans and they delivered one of the best and most satisfying episodes yet this season. In fact, this episode featured pretty much everything that there is to love about Supernatural: great dialogue, an interesting and pretty cool monster of the week – of both the friendly and non-friendly varieties, wonderful sets, brotherly love, a little comedy, great special effects, and outstanding lighting and production values.
First? Those sets! Jerry Wanek earned my respect a long time ago and earned a reputation for amazing themed motel sets, but two of tonight’s sets just blew me away. The Nazi camp in the first scene was stunning. In fact, between the detail and richness of the set – and the costumes! – that set was feature film worthy. We keep hearing about the budget constraints the show is always under, but you would never know it from sets like that. The second set was, of course, the Men of Letters bunker. Just wow. And this one we have been promised we will keep for some time. It’s a wonderful space – I love the two floors and stairs – not to mention the gigantic telescope! And of course, a library to make Sam’s scholarly heart sing. I’m hoping we will eventually also see the rest of the bunker’s rooms too.
This episode once again featured a wonderful guest star – Hal Linden. Many may remember him from the long-running sitcom Barney Miller (1974-82). Miller was fantastic as Rabbi Bass, the last Rabbi of the Judah Initiative. He follows in the footsteps of guest stars like Mike Ferrell from earlier this season and Chad Everett in season five. I wish we had had more of him, and I really wish he’d had a scene with Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles).
The opening scene with the brothers finds them pulling up outside of the Men of Letters bunker in Lebanon, Kansas. As it happens, Lebanon, Kansas is famous for being the geographic center of the contiguous United States. It’s interesting that the boys’ new home is back in Kansas. My favorite line once they get into the bunker is Dean’s exclamation: “Sammy, I think we found the Bat Cave!” Sam is immediately intrigued by the records and books of lore. Dean is more interested in the shower. I like that they remark on the fact that there is water and electricity after all this time and they have no idea why. As we know that the Men of Letters were versed in magic, I’m going with that being the explanation. It will be interesting to see if that does play out and whether Dean will be disturbed by them using magic if it does turn out that way. The question of why things still work is a bit of a glaring hole but at least they do address it somewhat.
Dean appears to be a bit intimidated by the Men of Letters. We’ve seen him in the past feel inadequate in the face of those he thinks have a superior intellect. He tries to tell Sam not to put too much stock in the records – they only go as far as 1958 after all – and the Men of Letters was a secret society, so they must have been a bit wacky. My theory is that Dean knows Sam pretty well. He knows that if he’s too enthusiastic, Sam will put the brakes on. So he leaves Sam for two weeks to go check on Kevin and Garth and lets Sam immerse himself in the records. By the time Dean arrives back, Sam is pretty enthralled. By the end of the episode, Sam is even more interested in the records and what they could mean for helping people. Dean says to him, so you’re a Man of Letters now. Sam looks pleased – and so does Dean as he says “Good.” By putting it out there at the beginning of the episode that the information stopped at 1958, it was like throwing the gauntlet down for Sam to fill in that information. Dean knows his brother, and I think he took the opportunity to find a way that Sam would be happy and want to continue hunting. It remains to be seen how happy Dean will ultimately be being so tied down. For now, however, the episode ends with them sincerely toasting each across the table. They felt much more like they were back in it together than they did at the end of “Torn an dFrayed.”
The episode did a nice job of touching base with the larger season myth arc by having Dean go to check on Kevin. It was also interesting that he mentioned Cas. Dean had obviously actively been trying to contact Cas and had had no luck.
It was interesting that Sam stepped back into the scholar mode even when he went undercover to retrace Rabbi Bass’ steps. He tells the librarian that he’s retracing the Rabbi’s research steps to finish writing his last paper. He’s even dressed like an academic – with patches on his suit coat and a sweater under it. However, as soon as I saw what was obviously the wrong book in the crate, I would have gone to its place on the shelf. Meanwhile, Aaron (Adam Rose) hitting on Dean, and Dean’s level of discomfort were hilarious.
Rose does a fantastic job bringing Aaron’s learning curve and changing commitment to life. John DeSantis as his Golem is equally terrific. His very presence at 6’11” is intimidating and his deep voice just completes the character. Rose and DeSantis had great chemistry together as well. I’m really, really hoping we will get to see them again! One great scene was Dean and Sam burning the Thule sorcerer’s body and Aaron exclaiming, “Oh my God! These guys are psychopaths!” And then Sam warming his hands over the burning body.
It was interesting that the Golem recognized the Men of Letters but not hunters. It seems that the Judah Initiative and the Thule society are just two more of a network of secret societies. This really is a great plot device that could provide material for a very long time to come. When Eckhart (Bernhard Forcher) shows up, we finally learn the importance of the red ledger. Not only does it contain all of the magical, horrendous experiments he performed, it also lists all the dead Thule members who have been re-animated.
Eckhart is able to gain the upper hand because Aaron has not been a good observant Jew. In fact, he hasn’t been a very good grandson either as he didn’t pay attention to the stories his grandfather tried to tell him. He isn’t able to control the Golem because he used the instruction manual for rolling papers when he was in high school. Eckhart is able to make the Golem give up the scroll that controls it. I found it really interesting that this episode finally provides us with subtitles when we’ve had Latin and Enochian being spoken for years with no subtitles.
There is beautiful shot just at the end of the scene when the brothers kill Eckhart – and it was lovely to see them shoot in unison and kill the monster together. At the very end of the scene, the camera pans in to a close up of Eckhart’s ring which has a picture of a dagger carved into it. The dagger is pointing down toward the scroll, almost indicating that the scroll which controls the Golem is the thing that will keep the Thule at bay.
Once they regain the upper hand, Aaron decides that he is going to re-animate the Golem and take control of it. Sam tells him the Golem is made to go to war and asks Aaron if he is prepared to take that on. Aaron has had a very steep learning curve. He’s learned his grandfather’s stories are true. He’s also learned that the Thule society is a credible threat. Aaron feels that there is something only he can do, and that’s control the Golem. Aaron commits to taking on the mantle of the Judah Initiative as he is the last one left – much like Sam and Dean are the last legacies. Aaron’s journey also felt a bit like John Winchester’s and even Kevin Trans. Free will might allow them to walk away, but destiny rests heavily upon them.
While this was primarily a standalone episode, it felt like it advanced the overall mytharc too. I really liked how Edlund carefully included shout outs to other important characters. The bunker opens up so many possibilities to help with the tablets as well. Do you like this new aspect to the show? Do you think this finally offers a balance that both Sam and Dean can live with? Did you enjoy the episode? Are you happy to see the brothers back together? Let me know in the comments below.