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Roundtable Discussion on Supernatural Episode 11:5 “Thin Lizzie”

Welcome to TNWU’s roundtable discussion about this week’s Supernatural episode Thin Lizziewritten by Nancy Won and directed by Rashaad Ernesto Green. Participating in tonight’s discussion are Debbi Bachman, Michelle Villery, Stacy Miller, Tracy Miller and Jackie Bojarski.  We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
Lizzie Borden’s myth arc:

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Stacy: I was excited when I first read that Sam and Dean would be tackling the ghost of Lizzie Borden. As a history buff, I was curious as to how Supernatural would explore this and wondered how Lizzie’s ghost would be. That said, I was a little disappointed when the murderer didn’t turn out to be Lizzie’s ghost after all. I was looking forward to a good old-fashioned Supernatural ghost hunt.

Michele: I was so thrilled when I heard that we were getting a Lizzie Borden story. I have always been interested in this story and I was curious to see how they would have Sam and Dean explore the myth arc. Too bad we didn’t get the actual ‘ghost’. However, I did like how they talked about the history of the story. Thanks to Sam and his “serial killer fetish!”

Tracy: It was an ingenious choice for the writer to craft “Thin Lizzie” around the Lizzie Borden mytharc. The tone of the episode harkened back to classic Supernatural enabling Sam to research Lizzie Borden and the Winchesters to subsequently partake on (what they believed) was an old-fashioned ghost hunt. In addition, Dean referencing Sam’s “serial killer” fetish honored character continuity. Further, the scenes between the brothers in the bed and breakfast/museum offered humor. The bottled toilet water bit was particularly funny. Supernatural delves so much into weighty internal and external conflicts for Sam and Dean that I always welcome humor. Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles excel at drama, but it is a joy when they are given the opportunity to flex their comedic muscles.

Jackie: I want to start off by saying that while I didn’t love this episode as much as “Baby” last week, I still enjoyed it. I especially enjoyed that this episode showed a return to American folklore, which used to be a centerpiece of the series. Lizzie Borden is one of the most notorious alleged murderers in American history, and her story is saturated as much by speculation and folklore as it is by real crime facts. For this reason, I was excited that she was going to be featured in this episode.

Much to my disappointment, however, the only presence of Lizzie Borden in this episode was the B&B that now serves as a tourist trap. I really wish that the case the boys were investigating would have had more to do with Lizzie. However, it was still enjoyable.

Debbi: The Lizzie Borden murders have always fascinated me since she was acquitted and there were never any other real leads in the case. Now of course acquittal doesn’t mean she was innocent, but the open ending to the story leaves a lot of ground for fertile imaginations to plant their theories.

I did love that Sam and Dean were off to investigate at the site of one of the country’s most famous unsolved murders. It didn’t even disappoint me that they found the house was a hoax as this is exactly what I’d expect an enterprising owner to do in this day and age. I would have loved it if Lizzie’s actual ghost was responsible for the hauntings though – I dig ghost stories – I did like how the story progressed anyway.

Jared Gertner did a great job as Len. He was both pathetic and utterly enviable considering he found his bliss and didn’t seem to care what others thought. He would definitely fit in at TNWU!

Sam and Dean:

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Stacy: I think the brothers are really getting back into their early seasons’ relationship, which is a plus for them and viewers as well. There was nothing the Winchesters couldn’t handle as long as they worked together. Unfortunately in recent years, this has diminished. Secrets, distrust and resentment has clouded their partnership. Thankfully, their deep abiding love for each other has helped them whether the storms. In Thin Lizzie we got to see the old Sam and Dean, complete with brotherly bantering. The moments at the Lizzie Borden B&B as they commented on the room’s decor and the other amenities were hilarious. I especially loved Dean’s comment “You’re better with the whole verbal massage”. It was a throwback to Dean talking about Sam’s sensitivity, which was a constant in the early seasons. I hope this continues in Season 11.

Michele: This episode had some of the snappiest dialogue. I have missed the ‘brotherly banter’ that the Winchester Brothers are noted for and we got it with this episode. “I wondered how the little squeezy thing worked.” A classic Sam line when he was trying to figure out the lavender toiletry decanter. New writer Nancy Woo really ‘got it’ in terms of the overall relationship of the guys. I love it when the brothers are together. Another thing that I noticed in this episode was that Dean is still not telling Sam everything he knows about Amara. I’m wondering if its due to Dean not being able to verbalize what he experienced with her? Did she take part of his soul? Or when the Mark was removed was there some residual effect that is happening to him when he is in her presence ?

Tracy: I enjoyed seeing the boys working together on the case. They are much more effective as a team so any episode that showcases their partnership is a win in my book. As I noted earlier, I welcomed the humorous dialogue in the episode

Jackie: This episode featured the boys working together on a Monster of the Week type case, which is something that I always enjoy. I loved that Sam’s fascination with serial killers was brought up again, and that each brother was smart and competent in their own ways. However, I was disappointed that Dean “No More Secrets” Winchester chose to lie to Sam about his bond with Amara. It felt like a step back in many ways, especially considering the candid and open way that they spoke to each other in the last episode. I’m also curious as to why Dean is so quick to brush Sam’s visions off as being nothing but hallucinations. It seems to me like his bond with Amara is affecting him a lot, and I’m anxious to see whether he will finally be honest with his brother about it!

Debbi: I loved all of their interactions in this episode. This reminded me of a season 1 or 2 MOW episode and it felt a little like I was welcoming long-lost relatives for family dinner. Padalecki and Ackles have such great chemistry together that it is a joy to watch them trying to match wits with each other. I loved seeing Sam as the lead in the FBI team and Dean was surprisingly gentle with poor soulless Len. Season 1 Dean wouldn’t have been so careful with him and I loved watching Dean struggle to control his snark when he realized exactly what Len was facing.

I’m surprised that Dean “no secrets” Winchester is still keeping such a major secret from Sam. I’d like to believe it’s because Dean still hasn’t figured out exactly what this bond with Amara means, but the truth is, it is a typical Winchester response to anything out of the ordinary. I’m now wondering how long he’s going to let this play out. It’s clear that Amara will become a huge problem sooner than later. He gets the benefit of doubt from me for one more episode before I slap him upside his head.

The mention of Sam’s obsession with serial killers was a nice nod to continuity, but the Borden killings wouldn’t be considered serial. Lizzie (if that is indeed who did the deed) would be considered a spree killer or perhaps a mass murderer. It is a very famous case and it wouldn’t be something Sam would overlook in his research about murderers in general

Amara:

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Stacy: Who does creepy little girls better than Supernatural? No one. (Laughs). Loving the Amara character. Underneath the beautiful child exterior lies a force to be reckoned with. Additionally, before she sucks your soul, she makes you feel as though she’s giving you a gift as witnessed by Sydney, who felt peace and her problems melt away. Will Amara end up creating a zombie, emotionless army? It will be interesting to see her storyline unfolds. Also, I liked her “See you soon Dean” at the end of the episode. It teases at her connection with Dean. Where will this lead?

Michele: Whomever casted pre-teen Amara deserves a standing ovation! She was awesome. Her line delivery, how she set people up to feel comfortable before she sucked their souls out. Just wow. Amara is slowly becoming one of my favorite villains on Supernatural. That last line of the episode, gave me chills. Brrr. Supernatural has some of the creepiest little girls on television!

Tracy: Having Amara introduced into a plot that was initially presented as a ghost scenario was an unexpected wrinkle for me, although I should have been alerted to the possibility via the mention of Amara in the “Then” & “Now.” While I would have preferred the episode to have focused solely on the ghost story and the Lizzie Borden implications, using Amara didn’t overwhelm the plot. Her presence was perfectly paced and her eating the souls permitted the story to reflect on the theme of soullessness and the various characters’ responses to finding themselves soulless. The teen actress portraying Amara is skilled at maintaining the mystique of the character. Yet, Amara’s endgame remains undetermined at this juncture.

Jackie: I was really impressed with the actress who played 12-year-old Amara in this episode. She was both innocent and psychotic in a way that few child actors are. I’m also curious as to whether she plants something in her victims after eating their souls. It seems to me that, like a mosquito, she leaves a little piece of herself behind to occupy the space where that person’s soul had been. That would explain why all her victims reacted the way that they did.

Some of the scenes between 12-year-old Amara and the adult actors/actresses were a trifle uncomfortable, especially since their interactions with Amara had sexual undertones.

Altogether, though, I thought the actress who played Amara did a fine job!

Debbi: Yasmeene Ball, the actor playing this version of Amara, is chilling in her apparent sociopathy. She has perfected the psycho-tweenager look and I wouldn’t want to tick that girl off. I did wonder where Crowley was and how she got away from him and her keepers, but it didn’t bother me enough for it to be an issue. I am curious to know what she gave Sydney that made her so happy. I imagine we’ll be seeing more of that as the season progresses

It is also very interesting (but not surprising in retrospect) that each person who loses their soul reacts to that loss in a different way. It’s a nice nod to the theory that when people’s inhibitions are suppressed that they will not actually do anything they wouldn’t do anyway, they just do it easier. I think it will be fun to see the different reactions of the soulless as the season progresses.

Predictions:

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Stacy: How will Sam and Dean fight Amara as she eats her way through humanity? What will be Castiel and Crowley’s roles in it all? Will Dean’s connection to Amara somehow come between the brothers?

Michele: I really think the key to fighting Amara is within three things. Sam’s visions, the Book of the Damned and the Demon Tablet. All of that combined will help Sam and Dean. I do think as I re-watched the episode, that there is something off with Dean. That pull he has with Amara! Or did losing the Mark of Cain make him a tad distant? When Sam attempted to ask him what Amara said, Dean actually took a few seconds before he answered. If you know Dean Winchester, he’s the type that will answer without hesitation. It was as if, he couldn’t explain who she was or what was said. In my opinion, I think this is why he hasn’t told Sam yet.

Tracy: We saw Soulless Sam in Season 6. With much of “Thin Lizzie” episode addressing soullessness, I wonder if we will see either Sam or Dean lose their souls at one point in the season. Amara promising to see Dean soon almost guarantees further exploration of her link with Dean. I’m thinking that when she and Dean do cross paths, it will be Amara in adult form.

Jackie: I think that we will continue seeing Dean acting strange, since I think Amara is manipulating him in some way or form. I also think that Sam will be more adamant regarding his visions and about finding answers. Previously, I speculated that Lucifer or Michael were behind his visions, but now I’m thinking that it might be Gabriel!

Debbi: Not much new in this episode to fuel further speculation in terms of the progression of the story. I still think Dean is having his own visions and that is perhaps why he’s kept his bond with Amara a secret from Sam despite is new ‘no secrets’ policy. While Dean doesn’t look as tortured as he did while bearing the MOC, he still seems to be affected by it to some extent (it’s too early to tell whether or not this effect is solely through Amara or not).

Sam will continue to have visions and I think they will become dire enough for Dean to accept them as visions rather than hallucinations left over from the ‘rabid virus’. I do believe that Sam’s visions will lead them to the information they need to gain control of the darkness and put her back in her cell. The question would then be who would wear the key….in a total spitball of an idea I think Len would possibly volunteer for that duty.

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Overall:

Stacy: Thin Lizzie was a good solid episode of Supernatural. From the classic bloody teaser to the change of events, the ghost case that wasn’t a ghost. Even in their seemingly stand alone episodes, Supernatural manages to creep the season mythology in. I give Thin Lizzie a grade A. The script, casting, everything was stellar. Supernatural continues to be at the top of its game.

Michele: I’m giving this a solid “A”. The script, the casting (the supporting cast was one of the strongest I’ve seen in a long time). This was a monster of the week with a twist and I thoroughly enjoyed it. After 11 years Supernatural never ceases to amaze me with how fresh their storylines are. Nancy Won ‘s story was great. It had continuity, great pacing and some of the best dialogue we’ve heard in years! But let’s bring Jared Gertner back!  He was fantastic as Len!

Tracy: An engaging, humorous, suspenseful episode that exceed at both characterizations and plot. My grade: A

Jackie: I’d give this episode a B+. It had some great funny dialogue between Sam and Dean and stayed true to their characters. Altogether, I think Nancy Won did a great gob!

Debbi: Before I give my grade, I just wanted to point out that Sydney was wearing the star tattoos on her chest that we saw on Jared’s arm earlier this year, so I guess we now know where he picked that up 😉
I really liked this episode, but it didn’t blow me out of the water. I can’t really find anything specifically negative about it so I’m giving it a B+ and the plus is for the brilliant acting by Jared Gertner. He killed his role and I’d love to see him make a return appearance.

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