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Summer Glau

Summer Glau - "Supernatural" Tv Series - 2x04 - Ugo.com Review

Saturday 21 October 2006, by Webmaster

No classic rock in this week’s "Previously on...", but we did get a nice recap of why it’s hard out there for a freelancer monster hunter - particularly when your dad has to make a deal with the demon that killed your mom to save your life, which results in the loss of your dad’s life and the only gun that could possibly kill the Big Bad that started this vicious circle in the first place. Sigh... Jensen Ackles, you have our sympathy.

Episode 2.4: "Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things"

First, let’s start with some bad news. There was a rumor floating around that this week’s episode was going to star Serenity/Firefly cutie Summer Glau as the baddie of the week. Wasn’t true. Yeah, I’m disappointed too, but you can’t fault Supernatural. They’ve already brought back tons of faces from the fanboy-beloved Whedon-verse - Fred, Darla, heck, last week we even got Tara (Amber Benson) as a vampire - so let’s let this small bit of misinformation slide.

Now here’s some more bad news - despite its great title, this week’s Supernatural is basically one big sappy therapy session for Sam and Dean Winchester, our rugged heroes who are still coping with the loss of their dad in the season two opener. Don’t get me wrong. Character development is a good thing. If the Winchester boys had blown off the consequences of their pappy’s passing, I’d be writing an angry letter to the CW faster than anyone. But the Supernatural writing staff came up with one of the flimsiest plotlines in the show’s history to give Sam and Dean (well, mostly Dean) a vehicle for acting out their inner turmoil. And, as a result, they wasted one of the coolest movie monsters in history as, this week, the grieving Winchester boys fight a zombie. A very lame zombie.

Perhaps I’m making it sound worse than it was. The episode starts with the Winchesters driving to their mother’s grave. After papa John’s untimely passing, Sam thought it would be a good idea to pay their respects, but Dean’s still exhibiting his post-dead-dad pent-up anger. As it’s prone to happen with the Winchesters, they stumble upon a new hunt in the cemetery, when they notice that the ground surrounding a fresh grave has shriveled and died. (In the show’s opening, we witnessed pretty coed Angela dying in a car wreck after fighting with her jerk boyfriend Matt.) While Dean investigates the unholy ground spreading around Angela’s grave, Matt turns up dead and the Winchesters wonder if her simpering platonic pal Neil (who Dean chides for his "unrequited Ducky-love") may have turned all Re-Animator on the dearly departed Angela.

It’s not a bad concept and, I’ll admit, after episode upon episode of angry spirits, it was actually pretty refreshing to have our heroes fight a flesh-and-blood bad guy. But the whole zombie concept was handled in such a half-assed fashion. Sure, they drop a few Romero and Pet Sematary references, but they never do anything cool with Angela’s zombiness. She’s just a resurrected dead girl who isn’t particularly scary or interesting. Even a deadite could see that the true A-story in "Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things" is Dean having problems admitting how his dad’s death is affecting him. The zombie coed is just a hacky B-story plot device, meant to push Dean to talk about his father’s death and maybe inspire some healing. (And, of course, it does.) The hilarious thing is - the Winchesters actually pose as grief counselors at one point, essentially mocking the subtext of the whole episode. (You gotta love Dean breaking into Neil’s house and announcing "It’s your grief counselors, we’ve come to hug.")

Who knows? Maybe having Summer Glau would’ve helped. Joss Whedon was always so good at tying the monsters in Buffy to the heroine’s emotional crisis of the week. Supernatural’s writers attempted to do the same thing this week, but their hearts just weren’t in it. Dean ends the episode expressing his regrets about his father’s death (he knows his dad sacrificed himself to save his son) and we’re left to forget that the zombie was dead and gone before the final commercial break. The zombie nation deserves better.

Column by Tom Burns

Overall Grade: C