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Supernatural - 6.18 - Frontierland - Early Review

A show that is as male-driven (despite having a female showrunner this season) as Supernatural just had to tackle a western at some point, right? Both series stars are from Texas, but even if they didn’t grow up with Stetsons, spurs, and shoot-outs, this genre seemed ripe for homage from a team that so successfully took on vampires, zombies, heaven, hell, meta, and fairies. And finally that episode, aptly titled “Frontierland”, is upon us!

Within “Frontierland,” of which fans who attended PaleyFest’s panel honoring the series saw a small sneak peek, Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) get sent back in time to find Samuel Colt (guest star Sam Hennings). The man who built the Devil’s Gate and created a gun that can kill demons is also about to stumble onto another phenomenon: how to kill a Phoenix. Not River (still too soon?), not Joaquin, but an actual Phoenix. After stumbling upon his journal in the Campbell family library, they learn he has done it once, and the only way to get in touch with him is to be touched by an angel and shot back centuries earlier.

Dean is thrilled-- he is a veritable kid in a candy store-- but Sam is…not. Dean eagerly goes shopping for cowboy hats, button-down shirts, big belt buckles, and a poncho, or as he calls it (probably because the sales lady did), a zarape. “They’re authentic,” he is insistent, and he grins widely as he wears it, despite it having weird stripes and looking kind of like something we’d bring to the beach.

(By the way, when he actually goes back in time…not so authentic after all. Fashion designers will rewrite history of their own if it suits their new line!)

The audience gets to have some fun at Sam's expense in this situation: he steps in manure, which Dean also quips adds to the authencity of the experience (apparently Dean is very Method!); he doesn't like the clothing; he has trouble riding a horse. He's just not that into the whole experience, but he knows he's there for a very solid purpose, and he's much more focused on getting the task at hand done. After all, they are on a very important time clock, not unlike Marty McFly's own in Back to the Future (and for those of you who are BTTF buffs, there is a nice nod to the third film, which also sent the characters back to the wild west. Look for it!).

Needless to say, “Frontierland” is an episode for those fans who like pop culture references, witty quotables (there are so many here ripe for tee-shirts!), and lots of humorous moments, despite the fact that when the Winchesters first arrive in Ye Olde West, they witness a hanging death of a young man accused of killing his wife.

Dean and Sam may have modern day mentalities, but it serves them well when up against the small town Sheriff, and there is some fun to be had with the fake names Dean offers the town “officials,” as well as the local talent at the bar. Dean has never been one to turn down a pretty lady…until now. But there is also a very serious matter at hand: the man sentenced to death was of the supernatural type and comes back to singe those who wronged him. Dean stays behind to deal with him (and gets promoted to a position of power very quickly-- hmm, maybe simpler times suit him best!), while Sam heads off to find Mr. Colt and try to explain the concept of “traveling from the future for a very special purpose.” It an episode that, despite what the promo photos show, is pretty evenly matched with Dean and Sam bits. While what Sam handles is more important for the modern day mythology, Dean has some good old-fashioned “ganking” of a demon to do!

Colt is a bit rough around the edges and certainly ragged after a long life of kicking demon ass and not bothering to take their names, but he’s seen and done so much, this has to be par for the course, right?

And just because all of the hype has been around the action in the old west, that doesn’t mean the entire episode is set there. The action is building around Castiel (Misha Collins), too, with those in heaven not sure if they should be on his side any longer, and it is up to Bobby (Jim Beaver) to step in and offer some help when one angel in particular takes out some aggression on him.

Directed by Guy Norman Bee, “Frontierland” is lit and shot with amber undertones, undoubtedly to give off a stronger vibe of “everything is covered with a layer of dust” as was unavoidable in towns that did not yet have paved roads. But it actually works to show off the boys’ best attributes, so symbolic or not, we are grateful for the auteur’s choice!

Supernatural airs on The CW on Friday nights at 9pm.

Source : www.examiner.com