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Supernatural - Thin Lizzie - Review

Supernatural, “Thin Lizzie,” was written by Nancy Won and directed by Rashaad Ernesto Green. This is Won’s first episode, but her previous credits include Reign, Being Human, and Jericho. In the beginning the episode appears to be a ghost story, but it quickly turns out to be a mytharc episode. The THEN montage goes a long way to raising expectations that the brothers are dealing with a ghost. This is a solid first outing for Won, and she does a good job writing the brothers and incorporating existing canon about the soul-less.

The episode begins with the typical teaser. A young couple is staying at Lizzie Borden’s house that is now a B&B. I loved that they mentioned the Ghostfacers as their source for knowing how to identify ghosts! Wendy (Emily Haine) is killed by a shadowy figure with an ax and her boyfriend (David Lennon) can’t get out and is killed as we watch through the partially opened door.

The incident is enough to make it into the paper and attract Sam’s (Jared Padalecki) notice. I love that this picks up on Sam’s hobby about serial killers – which Dean (Jensen Ackles) enjoys teasing him about. With no new information on the Darkness and Castiel still obsessed with Netflix and now binge watching The Wire, the brothers set off to investigate.

The brothers discover the Borden home is a very creepy museum and B&B run by Mason Kemper (Thomas Jones) and his overbearing mother (Glynis Davies). This leads Dean to commiserate that “working with family can be tough,” earning him a look from Sam. Lots of great brother moments in this episode that felt a bit like a throwback to “Playthings” or even “Hellhouse.” Sam is thrilled that they get to stay in Lizzie’s old room – but he tells Dean he’ll have to get his own room. I’m not going to lie. I missed Mason not assuming the two were a couple. However, we do get some classic Dean in response to Sam playing with the atomizer of toilet water – “now I’ve got Grandma all over me!”

The brothers also discover that the house is actually a gigantic hoax with a homemade EMF generator in the attic, flickering lights on timers and speakers in the walls with various sounds. While searching the house, Dean does see Len (Jared Gertner) taking pictures outside. Stumped about what killed the couple if not a ghost, Dean suggests, “Why don’t we Sherlock this over a beer and lobster roll? I gotta get out of this doily coffin.” While they’re out, we get another classic murder. Mrs Kemper moves through the darkened house, past the now empty case for Lizzie’s ax. We get the traditional blood spatter across the white bedspread as she too is murdered.

Sam and Dean jump into FBI mode as Agents Collins and Gabriel – a shout out to Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel of Genesis – or you could also see it as ‘Misha’ Collins and the angel Gabriel, but of course, Dean would have been going for the classic rock reference! Detective Madsen (Claude Knowlton) tips them off as to who Len is because he went to school with him. While the two are changing into FBI suits, there’s yet another murder which Madsen calls them about. The brothers split up – Sam going to the new crime scene and Dean to Len.

Sam discovers that another man has been axed in his driveway. Sydney (Tess Atkins) is babysitting Jordie (Finn Wolfhard). When Dawn (Tracey Power) arrives home, Sam thinks she is acting oddly – not terribly emotional. Madsen points out that people deal with grief differently. Naturally, it turns out to be the babysitter, but it’s a nice re-direct here.

Meanwhile, Dean discovers that Len is a superfan of Lizzie and has a huge and somewhat creepy collection. Len tells Dean, “gotta live your bliss!” Dean catches site of a drawing of the Mark and wants to know where Len saw it. He tries to lie, saying on the Internet, but quickly comes clean and tells Dean about meeting a 12 year old Amara (Yasmeene Ball) outside the Borden house.

A theme starts to emerge as Amara comments to Len that Lizzie had terrible parents – and so did Jordie, so Sydney kills both of them – Dawn with her lover and the father because he was a Meth dealer – and Sydney also had terrible parents. There’s a terrific scene between Sam and Jordie at the end of the episode in which Sam relates his own less than terrific childhood. “When I was six months old, my mom died and my dad was not around a lot.”

Len is desperate to find Amara again because he hasn’t felt right since he met her. As it turns out, he has no soul. The brothers pretty quickly realize that Amara is growing so quickly because she is eating souls. As always the effects team do a great job with this effect. Len pretty much describes what we already know from Sam’s own time spent soul-less. Len can’t eat, sleep, doesn’t dream, and all the things he used to love, just leave him cold. In fact, Len is probably more like soul-less Sam than either Sydney or Jenna.

The brothers figure out what’s happened to Len, but neither wants to be the one to have to break the news to him. Dean insists that Sam do it because “Because you've been there, you speak the language. He doesn't even know he's been Hoovered yet.” Sam counters that Dean has a relationship with Len. But Dean insists that Sam is better with that whole sensitive verbal massage! Sam also suspects the wife because of her seemingly emotionless response to her husband’s death and they set off to find her – keeping Len in tow to keep an eye on him. Sam calls Sydney to find Dawn, and Sydney tells them about Dawn’s boyfriend Nate, luring them to where she wants them.

Dean quickly loses patience with Len who is trying desperately to figure out what’s wrong with him. He wonders if it might be a tumor or a stroke…Finally Dean just loses it. With much eye-rolling, Dean jumps out of the car and handcuffs Len to the door handle, telling him that he has no soul. I loved how this scene was shot as you see Dean lean in to give the news to Len then the cameral pulls out to Sam glaring at Dean over the roof of the car – “Could you be more blunt?!”

Len asks how he gets his soul back, and Sam does tell him, generally, you don’t. We have seen souls released and returned to their bodies but it took Death to return Sam’s soul to him. Since Amara has eaten the souls and used their energy to power her own growth, it’s unlikely that those souls would be recoverable.

I really liked the sequence of Sam and Dean searching the house for Dawn. We get the typical creepy descent into the basement with Dean. It’s never not creepy to watch from the perspective of under the stairs as someone goes downstairs – we even get some nice blue flashlight action! After discovering Dawn and her lovers’ bodies, Dean is ambushed and knocked out. Meanwhile, Sam investigates something mysterious in a closet upstairs – but it turns out to be a tied up Jordie.

Dean wakes up tied to a post and with Sam tied in a chair beside him. It’s been Sydney all along. The initial murder was her ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend. She killed both of Jordie’s parents because they were bad parents. We get a new perspective on the Darkness. Sydney was severally abused as a child, and found Amara and the darkness to provide ecstasy/orgasm/chocolate cake bliss. She provides an escape from the horrific feelings of Sydney’s life.

          It’s an interesting contrast to Len who describes his own life as having been one of living his bliss. At first glance, it appears that the show is once again painting the picture of the weird, kind of a loser fan, but it's clear that his passion does provide his life with both focus and happiness. And in the end, Len is the hero, even without a soul.

Sam manages to get free, but it’s Len who saves them. He tells them that he only did it because he’s going through the motions. He didn’t really feel any great impulse to save Dean and Sam and he feels no remorse over killing Sydney. It’s really horrific when we find out he got out of the cuffs by ripping off his own thumb – which really hurt, but otherwise didn’t phase him! Dean tries to reassure him that if he felt even a shred of conscience, there’s hope for him, but Len has no such illusions. He tells Dean he knows for sure that if he isn’t stopped, there’ll be another murder.

Dean is adamant that they aren’t going to kill Len. This is a nice contrast to earlier in the episode when Dean is a bit disappointed that they can’t kill Len because he hasn’t done anything yet and Sam has to remind Dean that they don’t kill people, they try to save them. Dean says, “Right. New rules.” But of course, they aren’t new rules, they’re the old rules – “Hunting things, saving people.” In the end, Len decides to give himself up for all the murders so that he’ll go to jail for life.

The final scene has Dean and Sam leaning up against a fully restored Impala, having a bite to eat. It’s good to see Baby back to her full glory after the beating she took last week! They discuss how having a soul removed affects people differently – with a nice Wizard of Oz reference. Sam tells Dean, “You know I get this, like, pit in my stomach anytime I think of her -- the Darkness. I think we only know the tip of what she is, what she does to people. You know Len was freaked out by her, but Sydney -- Sydney couldn't get enough. The bliss she was talking about, you know? What was it like for you? Did you feel like that with Amara?” Dean answers, “No. Nah, I mean it was quiet, you know, until she started hatching killers and rallying monsters to raise armies.” They pretty much determine to find her by following the bodies. We still need to know how she left Crowley (Mark Sheppard)…

The final shot is of Amara emerging from the bushes where she’s been watching the brothers until the drive off. She says, “Bye Dean. I’ll see you soon.” Not ominous at all! Ball is doing a great job being creepy as young adult Amara...

What did you think of the episode? Did you like the developments on the lore about souls? Did you find Amara creepy? Favorite scene or line? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

About the Author - Lisa Macklem
I do interviews and write articles for the site in addition to reviewing a number of shows, including Supernatural, Arrow, Agents of Shield, Agent Carter, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, The X-Files, Defiance, Bitten, Killjoys, and a few others! I'm active on the Con scene when I have the time. When I'm not writing about television shows, I'm often writing about entertainment and media law in my capacity as a legal scholar. I also work in theatre when the opportunity arises. I'm an avid runner and rider, currently training in dressage.
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