Former hunter Martin Creaser, after an incident in Albuquerque that isn’t really explained, long ago checked into a mental institution for his own well-being. However, there are people who are now dying in this hospital, and Martin thinks it’s no accident. He therefore calls the Winchesters in to investigate, which leads to all kinds of shenanigans, questions about the brothers’ mental state and more.
There was stuff I did like about this episode, but honestly, there was quite a bit more I didn’t like. First, the positives. The acting by both Jared and Jensen was great, as was guest star Jon Gries, who played former hunter Martin Creaser. Each of them had moments that were exceptional. Dean going crazy, yelling "pudding!" and so on; Sam drugged and silly, learning to deal with his anger and accept it; Martin for dealing with is own demons and so on. The episode also had lots of little great moments of humor, which was very enjoyable.
The brothers explaining their situation to the head doctor was awesome, and kinda makes it interesting to see how a civilian like him, or hell, even you or I, might take the brothers explaining how they live their lives. The brothers’ descent into madness, brought on by the monster of the week, a wraith, was fantastic as well and played brilliantly by both actors. I also liked how this episode dove a bit into the mental state of both brothers, which is always intriguing to see. This is especially true of Sam’s monologue at the end of the episode about his anger, which while awesome, kinda felt out of place here.
While this episode had some great moments, they were outweighed by what I felt was wrong with this episode. Now I didn’t recognize the names of the writers or the director, so maybe I’ll chalk it up to either their newness or inexperience with the show and its characters, but I think the actors did they best with what they had. Regardless, some things that ticked me off were as follows.
First, this mental institution has the worst staff I’ve ever seen in my life, especially in regards to security. Sam, Dean and Martin regularly prowled the corridors at night, after "lights out", without a challenge or a problem. Only when Sam attacked a doctor — thinking he was the wraith — did orderlies show up to restore…well…order.
Other than that, the hunters prowled the hallways as if they were in an empty building. This bothered me the entire episode, especially when Sam performed an ad-hoc autopsy on one of the victims, which leads me to my next point. What kind of mental hospital has a morgue on site? I personally found this ridiculous, so much so that it took me out of the show and helped ruin my suspension of disbelief. It did, however, lead to the whole hilarious "pudding" incident.
Also, after Sam attacks the head doctor, again thinking he’s the wraith, is not only NOT arrested or sent to a more secure facility, that same doctor forgave him and let him back out? After it was proven he was dangerous? Sorry, but I cry shenanigans at that. If I was the head doctor in a mental facility, and a patient attacked me, I would NEVER let that patient out of quarantine so damned easily.
The monster of the week, a wraith that sucks people’s "brain juice," wasn’t either scary nor tense. I barely felt a moment of fear or tension once she was revealed, and when the brothers were fighting her, I was dang near bored. BORED in a Supernatural episode? That RARELY happens anymore, in my case, which kind of made me sad.
Finally, once the brothers were done with the wraith, it bugged me that they just left without saying "thanks" or "bye" to Martin. Yeah, I know the alarm was going and they probably did best by bugging out, but just leaving him back there to deal with his fate of being caught in Wendy’s room while fighting off orderlies seemed completely out of character for them, and it bugged me a lot.
Overall, this wasn’t necessarily a BAD episode as it was a disappointing one. Maybe I expected more of the first episode back from hiatus, and it’s my problem, but I honestly don’t think so. This episode played out more like an episode from season one, which would’ve been fine in season one, but I think we’ve come to expect more these days in the fifth season.
I’m also getting bugged, honestly, by this season’s preference for stand-alone episodes. While mostly they’ve been great, it’s odd to see them not deal with the apocalypse more. This is the eleventh episode in a twenty-two season run I believe, which means we likely have eleven episodes left. With next week also looking like a stand-alone, one has to wonder where this is going. Usually I have a lot of faith in the show, but it’s kind of being tested at this point. I still love the show, and I’m still loving this season, I just wish I had a better idea of where things are going, or not going.
So overall, this was a very "meh" episode with some great moments, both comedic and insightful. Hopefully we’ll see stronger episodes in the weeks and months to come, and this will be an anomaly. Thankfully this season has seen more strong episodes than not, so hopefully that positive trend will continue.