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Supernatural - A Most Holy Man - Review

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Supernatural “A Most Holy Man” was written by the showrunning team of Robert Singer and Andrew Dabb and was directed by one of my favorites – Amanda Tapping. This episode is a brilliant homage to film noir. I’m not an expert, so I’m hoping lots of people will chime in with things I may miss. The episode also features some great brotherly moments - and some nice call backs to previous episodes and themes, such as faith.

The spell to bring Mary (Samantha Smith) and Jack (Alexander Calvert) back from Apocalypse-world needs four main ingredients: the grace of an arch-angel, a fruit from the tree of life, the seal of Solomon, and the blood of a most holy man. The episode begins in Malta with the heist of a most holy object – the skull of St Peter!

At the bunker, Sam (Jared Padalecki) is surfing the Internet, looking for clues, Cas (Misha Collins) is dodging bullets in Syria looking for a fruit from the tree of life, and Dean (Jensen Ackles) is eating old pizza. Sam is having some luck looking for the blood of a most holy man – he’s thinking it might mean the blood of a saint. Sam has found the black market for such items, and someone he thinks might be a legitimate dealer: Margaret Astor (Leanne Lapp). Mary Astor was a famous actor of 1940s film noir.

The brothers head to San Francisco to meet with Astor – her hair, dress, and makeup all harken to the 40’s. For once, Sam is the object of the girl’s eye! It was really fun to watch Sam embrace his role as flirt – and it was nice to see that for once, the girl in question wasn’t a senior citizen! It’s hilarious as she treats Dean with utter contempt – but naturally, she’s going to be drawn to SAM – because Sam Spade, right??? Dean, of course, sulks as Sam gets the attention – and the name of a lead in Seattle.

Astor sends them to see Richard Greenstreet (Dominic Burgess), which is clearly a reference to another 40s film noir actor – Sydney Greenstreet. We get another kick at the sugar donut gag as Greenstreet insults them and catches them lying about their identity. Dean is ready to leave, but Greenstreet makes them an offer – because he senses that they won’t be bothered by a bit of chicanery!

Greenstreet wants the brothers to get the skill of St Peter from Santino Scarpatti (Al Sapienza) and in exchange, he’ll give them the blood of a saint. Dean recognizes the name Scarpatti as the head of the Seattle mob. Once the conversation turns to chicanery, Dean takes over. Sam isn’t happy about stealing the holy relic. Dean points out that it’s already stolen – and he’s not perfect. But it really is for a good cause – they’re saving the world after all!

We get a bit of fun business in a coffee shop as Dean is sidetracked by an “Asian Beauty” – (Fei Ren) – who just happens to be reading a book on the supernatural! It’s hilarious – and she even seems into Dean – but Sam pulls him away to keep focused on the business at hand. And be sure to notice the large black crow on the shelf - a quasi-maltese falcon? Sam has tracked anyone who flew from Malta to Seattle following the theft of the skull and has narrowed down the suspects to Antonio Miele (Dino Dinicolo) – and tracked him to a hotel in Seattle.

Like any good film noir, Sam bumps into an important character coming out of the elevator as he’s going in – Lucca Camilleri (Massi Furlan). Dean and Sam find Miele dead and his room trashed. They are interrupted by Cromarty (Fulvio Cecere) – who flashes his badge at them, but is clearly not on “official” business. Dean recognizes that it’s a fake badge – but he still has them cuff themselves to the radiator while he holds a gun on them and leaves. Cecere has been on virtually every CW show and is a familiar face on Canadian television. Most notably, however, is that he was also on Dark Angel with Ackles! Which was also set in Seattle btw...

Sam has handcuff keys in his pocket, and Dean admiringly compares him to a Boy Scout – always prepared. Sam is at a loss as to what to compare Dean to! The two evade the police as they leave the hotel – watched by Camilleri – only to walk into Scarpatti’s men. Scarpatti’s thug (Shaun Omaid) insists on driving Baby! Dean is not happy when he’s forced to ride in the backseat – but he does it.

Sam makes fun of Dean saying “whacked” but then Scarpatti uses it too. Scarpatti points out that the brothers both died 6 years ago according to the FBI. He could hardly be accused of killing them if they were already dead – I really loved that this is the same logic Dean used to excuse stealing the skull!

Scarpatti knows about the deal they made with Greenstreet. Scarpatti’s issue with Greenstreet is that he’s a scoundrel who has no real reverence for the sacred objects he’s dealing in. Scarpatti considers himself a good Catholic who is simply giving the artifacts a good home – and Dean points out that they already had a home. Sam becomes increasingly nervous as Dean provokes Scarpatti.

Scarpatti paid Miele half up front, so he feels that the skull rightfully belongs to him. In exchange for finding the skull, Scarpatti offers to pay the brothers a handsome finders’ fee – and they can use that to buy whatever it is that they need. It’s an offer they can’t refuse! Dean agrees.

Dean is sure that the key to the case is in the hotel room. In order to get rid of the police guarding it, Dean pulls the fire alarm. I loved that the cops are all wearing vintage uniforms. Sam searches to hotel room. He finds a note – right before Camilleri knocks him out with a telephone. If you’ve been counting – and I know many of you have been – that’s the fifth time Sam has been knocked out this season! Not to worry – Dean is on the case and is worried about the number of hits he’s taken to the head.

In true film noir fashion, Cromarty slides out of the shadows to follow Camilleri. Dean and Sam come upon Camilleri after Cromarty knocks him out! The brothers question Camilleri and discover that he’s a Priest. The skull of St Peter was stolen from his parish. Camilleri was planning on buying it back with all of the money from the Abbey.

Camilleri tries to explain the importance of the skull to the brothers. What would you do if this thing that you loved that was a part of your life was suddenly gone? I loved how many meta layers there were to this. It sounds like the Maltese Falcon – but it could just as easily be the show itself! What would fans do if Supernatural was suddenly just gone? Well, we already know how hard fans have fought to keep the show on the air, right?

Camilleri gives the brothers the pep talk they’ve been needing: “It's not about luck, son. It's about effort. All the time, I hear people saying the world's not perfect. And they're right. It's not. But do you use that as an excuse? Do you use it to excuse your own sins? Your failings and your laziness? Do you use it to give a bad man power, because the world's not perfect? Or do you work? Do you try and improve things in whatever way you can? Guys, the world will never be perfect, but if good men do good things, it can be better. Every day can get better.” Camilleri could be speaking about the brothers’ entire lives. We get great reactions for both Padalecki and Ackles.

Camilleri is ready to go home without the skull, but Sam is determined to help him. Dean pulls Sam away – they need the skull to get their “Jesus juice.” Sam believed what Camilleri said – and he’s looked him up on the Internet – he’s a good guy. It’s Sam who wants to pull the double cross in true film noir tradition. There’s no denying that Sam knows his brother and gets him by drawing an analogy between the skull and Baby. Sam is a little taken aback when Dean declares that he’d murder anyone who stole the Impala. And that’s it for Dean – he can’t focus on anything else except the horror of Baby being stolen! Padalecki and Ackles are pure gold in this brief scene. I’m betting they had a blast filming it!

Luckily, Camilleri has a really, really good memory and remembers the number on the paper even though Cromarty took it. It’s a tracking number for a parcel sent from Malta. They arrive in time to see Cromarty pick it up and follow him to a warehouse. Why not just grab him and it outside the delivery outlet? It turns out that Cromarty is working for Astor and they’re there to meet with Scarpatti and Greenstreet.

One of my favorite scenes in the episode is Dean’s discussion about God with Camilleri, who has faith that God will see them through – Dean shouldn’t worry. When Dean tells him that God won’t see them through, Camilleri assumes that Dean doesn’t believe in God, but of course, Dean’s actually met God. Dean doesn’t believe that God cares about people – but he’s wrong, and we know it. Chuck cares, but he also believes in free will. Camilleri, who’s never met or spoken to God understands him better.

Camilleri clarifies that he doesn’t expect God to perform a miracle – he doesn’t expect Him to reach down and protect them. Camilleri believes “all good things are God's things.” And what Sam is doing is a good thing – Dean adds or stupid, and Camilleri says they are often the same thing. Camilleri’s faith and belief give Dean pause.

Meanwhile, Sam arrives at the meet with his own – or rather Camilleri’s – briefcase full of money. This is what Dean and Camilleri have been waiting for, and they head in too. Astor is super happy to see Sam again, and she invites him to bid. Dean is a bit miffed at Camilleri’s attempt at “making a distraction” – but lying is a sin! Putting all the thugs into a sleeper hold is hardly going to keep them down for the count – could they not at least have tied them up and gagged them? Dean goes in while Camilleri promises to say a prayer.

The double cross is in as Greenstreet offers Comarty $1 million for killing Astor – which he does. And then the firefight is on. Camilleri prays while Sam, Dean and the skull manage to avoid being shot, but when Camilleri comes in and saves Dean from Comarty, he’s shot. But it’s just a graze – it’s a miracle! While I did enjoy the slow motion fire fight as Camilleri prayed, I didn’t quite enjoy the thug who got shot and reacted several seconds after the bloodpack exploded. It was quite satisfying, however, when they find Greenstreet the only one standing unscathed, he tells them the blood doesn’t exist – and Dean punches him!

The police take Greenstreet away in handcuffs as our classic film noir soundtrack plays. Dean and Sam take Camilleri and the skull to the airport. Dean points out that the skull is just a hunk of bone, but Camilleri tells him that everyone has to have faith in something. Sam is still impressed by Camilleri’s resume – he’s met the Pope! Even Dean is a bit impressed by that. This is another nice thread that has woven throughout the series. Sam has always found comfort in religion – though not so much anymore. Camilleri tells them that the Pope called him un uomo santissimo – a most holy man. Still no intervention from Chuck? Sure looks like more than luck…Here is what they need, and Camilleri provides them with the blood they need.

Back at the bunker, Dean is feeling optimistic – one ingredient down, three to go! But Sam isn’t so sure. It’s nice to see that the brothers really are continuing to develop. Dean doesn’t ignore Sam’s mood, but asks him what’s bothering him. Sam feels like they’re always playing defense. They just go from one Apocalypse to the next. He knows they do good, but no matter how many people they save, there will always be more who need to be saved. It’s a really nice brotherly moment – something these actors do so well. Padalecki is the quintessential baby brother as he asks whether they can some day find a way to stop it, stop all the monsters, all the bad.

Dean thinks about it – and Ackles is great here – and agrees that would be nice. This is also a really nice call back to the end of “Houses of the Holy” when Sam has lost faith and Dean has gained it after his first brush with the hand of God. Sam turns the discussion to the immediate problem – stopping this Apocalypse and whether the spell will work. Dean thinks about it, smiles, and tells Sam that he has faith.

This was a fun episode very much in the tradition of episodes like “Monster Movie.” I have to say that I was really missing the old atmospheric dark palette for this one as it would have been perfect – more shadows! Or even black and white. Maybe they didn’t trust the audience enough to go with them on this one? What really worked were the nice shout outs to faith. It’s clear that the good thing that Dean really has faith in is Sam after all, and it’s nice to see the brotherly relationship growing and becoming stronger than ever. What did you think of the episode? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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