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Roundtable Discussion on Supernatural Episode 11:7 “Plush”

Welcome to TNWU’s roundtable discussion about this week’s Supernatural episode Plush written by Nicole Snyder and Eric Charmelo. Plush marks the return of SPN fan favorite Brianna Buckmaster! This week’s roundtable features Michele Villery, Jackie Bojarski, Stacy Miller, Debbi Bachman and Tracy Miller. As always, we encourage fan feedback. Please leave your comments below and join the weekly discussion.

Topics:


Sam:

Tracy: This episode did an excellent job exploring various aspects of Sam’s character. The initial scene where viewers saw Sam praying was a look at a vulnerable man. Despite the pain he has experienced over the years and being told by several sources that God doesn’t care, Sam pulled from that quiet reservoir of Faith to sustain him that God will offer an assist to defeat the Darkness.
We also witnessed a determined Sam. When confronted with one of his greatest fears, a killer Clown, the younger Winchester fully embraced his heroic status. He conquered his fear. Sam’s courage was a radical departure from the man we saw in Plucky Pennywhistle’s Magical Menagerie whose instinct was to flee from the clowns. Of course, being trapped in an elevator didn’t lend itself to flight. But if you look at Sam’s face in that scene, it became evident that he went from fear to bravery. He remained as calm as he could when facing his fear.

Michele: Remember back in the earlier seasons of SPN when we saw Sam having visions and trying to make sense of them? When I first saw this scene it reminded me of that. Only this time, it’s a more mature Sam trying to figure out why he’s getting these visions, AND from whom. I loved that through this, Sam has gotten his faith back. Since we continue to see The Cage, I think these are messages from Lucifer or Michael. Maybe both? We also saw poor Sam fight the one thing he fears most, Clowns! But instead of freaking out, he was calm and did what he needed to do. Granted he was in an elevator and couldn’t run, but kudos to him for conquering his fear. I really am enjoying how they are writing Sam this season. Jared has been amazing to watch.

Stacy: I’m really enjoying how much viewers are getting the Sam from the earlier seasons back. This is the Sam that viewers first fell in love with. Over the years and due to all he’s been through, he has become jaded. Back in Season 2 episode “Houses of the Holy”, Sam told a surprised Dean that he prayed everyday. He had a strong faith and believed in God and in the power of prayer. In Season 5, that belief began to waver as witnessed by his exchange with Paul in “99 Problems”: Paul “I take it you’re not a believer”. Sam “I believe, I do. I just get the feeling God stopped listening a long time ago”. Now, it seems that Sam’s faith is returning. He has been praying to God for guidance and help.
I also like how Sam has somewhat conquered his clown fear. He told Dean in “Plucky Pennywhistle’s Magical Mengarie” that his battle with the “jug-a-loos” was therapeutic. “What could a clown possibly do to me?” Granted, he still had a look of fear in the elevator with the guy in the clown head. But he wasn’t paralyzed by fear (I’m proud of you Sam!) and was able to overpower the guy. Sam has grown into a strong man. He’s no longer “Dean’s kid brother”.

Jackie: I loved how open Sam was with Dean about his visions in this episode. After seasons of the brothers lying to each other, it’s a nice change and a sign that the boys are learning from their mistakes. I’m not sure that Sam should be immediately assuming they are from God, however.

Debbi: think Sam desperately wants to believe that he and the cage will not be part of the final solution for overcoming the Darkness (if indeed they need to overcome her – more in predictions) but is worried that it ultimately will be necessary for him to make a return trip to hell. He’s hoping against hope that God is out there and listening, but I’m afraid Dean may be right about the fact that God is still in the wind and doesn’t care. Since Sam was ready to die after the trials, I think he’d sacrifice himself willingly if that was what was needed to save the world (and his brother). Even knowing that Billie said the Reapers will stash him away in a place that offers no chance of return.

On another note….Sam’s hair is just amazing this season. It just might be my favorite Sam hair of all time. I liked Season 8, but it really was almost too long. I’m so glad the hair folks at SPN decided to ditch whatever product they were using last year and give the guy a few layers. Thank you hair people! Thank you!

Donna and Doug:

Tracy: Donna and Doug were an example of how to effectively use guest characters to move the plot forward. Their scenes didn’t overwhelm the lead characters nor did their presence stall the progression of the plot. They were revealed as competent not bumbling caricatures. I could easily see them returning at some juncture.

Michele: Welcome back Sheriff Donna! Brianna Buckmaster is such a fun actress to watch. I loved that her character has also grown quite a bit since we’ve met her in season 9. She’s quite the savvy Hunter since she knows about things that go bump in the night. She and the new Doug were fantastic and fit right in with the boys. I really loved the addition of new Doug in this episode! I have a feeling we’ll be seeing he and Donna back again.

Stacy: I was very happy with the return of Sheriff Donna. I like Briana Buckmaster and every time Donna says “You betcha” I smile. She has an optimistic outlook which is rare for a cop. Unfortunately, her husband Doug’s belittling her over her weight gave Donna low self-esteem. She needed a man to tell her she was and is an attractive woman. And how appropriate that this new man is also named Doug. Maybe this Doug will respect her more than her husband did. I hope we see Donna and Doug again.

Jackie: Donna was hilarious in this episode. You can always count on Donna delivering memorable one-liners. I was glad to see her working with the boys, although I worry that her becoming a hunter because of how dangerous a lifestyle it is. New Doug was a nice addition to the episode. I hope Donna pursues a relationship with him.

Debbi: Love this sappy couple! If there are two people more meant to find happiness with each other, then I haven’t seen them on the show. They are both a little awkward, a lot shy and oh so well-meaning. Poor Doug is saddled with the same name as Donna’s ex which doesn’t help his cause. While Donna has picked up a lot of empowerment tips from her friend Jodie and is proudly showing off her new tricks. I love Donna (way to go Briana Buckmaster) and I think Doug is perfect for her. He already likes her just the way she is! I hope we see more of both of them.

The Creep Factor!

Tracy: The monster of the week flavor that framed so much of the earlier seasons of the show was on full display in this episode. Seeing the bunny head, jester and clown fulfill their homicidal urges, with the lavish amount of blood and gore, was vintage Supernatural. Starting with the Pilot when we met the Woman in White, I’ve always enjoyed the vengeful spirit episodes.

Michele: This is why I love Supernatural. Bring on the monsters of the week! I dreamt of the bunny head and jester overnight. After the episode. Chills. This was vintage Supernatural at its best. I love the vengeful spirit stories due to each spirit having their own back story. “Plush” was no different.

Stacy: I really didn’t feel the episode was that creepy but of course, my definition of creepy is different from many. I actually thought the bunny head was kinda cute (Don’t judge!). I wish Mr. Energizer Peter Cottontail Kick ass Bunny Man would have stayed longer in the episode. I didn’t like that he was killing people but it wasn’t his fault. I also don’t have a clown fear or any of the other mask heads presented. I found myself shouting for the victims to fight back. Well, except for the old man in the hospital bed who got his throat slit. I don’t know, the episode was intense and at times funny but not creepy to me.

Jackie: This episode was rife with scares, from the demented bunny to the killer clown. Very creepy. One of my favorite moments was the elevator ride with Sam and the clown. You can clearly see the fear on Sam’s face. It was great! And Sam was right: clowns kill!

Debbi: Masks are creepy, you can’t see the person behind them and that is uncomfortable for most of us. Possessed masks are downright terrifying. Imagine putting a mask on and going on a murder spree – without even knowing what you’re doing! Yikes! This episode will make me re-think handing out candy on Halloween next year (OK, I left an empty bowl on my porch with candy wrappers in it….Halloween Scrooge here). Onward….the masks that Charmelo and Snyder chose for the murders amped up the creep factor at least ten-fold. The bunny was deranged looking even before he was blood-stained; the jester looked a lot like a mime and no one likes those; add in a creepy clown and Bambi and you’ve hit just about everyone’s scare threshold. Nicely done! This probably should have been shown the Wednesday before Halloween, but that’s a small complaint.

Sam and Dean:

Tracy: The last few weeks with the brothers working as a team has been marvelous. It can’t be said enough that Sam and Dean are the lifeblood of Supernatural. I continue to advocate for the boys to abandon the mistrust and secrets in favor of functioning as a coherent unit that listens and incorporates their individual strengths when formulating and executing strategy.

Michele: I love them working together so much. Sam and Dean are the heart of the show. They have come so far yet still have a way to go. I’ve said this in previous roundtables but I truly think that reason Dean hasn’t told Sam about what Amara has said is because he isn’t fully able to figure it out. Once he’s able to fully verbalize it, I do think he will say something. Hopefully it’s not too late.

Stacy: The Winchesters of old are back! I’m so happy that with each episode we are continuing to get old Sam and Dean back. I was giddy that we are seeing the scenes with them in Baby. I do miss the classic rock that used to play while they were in the car though. I feel that the Men of Letters bunker really takes away from their brother relationship. When they don’t want to listen to each other, Sam and Dean can walk away and close their room door. The huge place allows for many opportunities to separate and as we know, they’re stronger together.

Jackie: As I mentioned earlier, I was ecstatic that Sam was so honest with Dean about his visions. I wonder if Dean’s refusal to take the visions seriously is due to his bond with Amara. We’ll have to wait to see! I do think that the mom’s statement that she should have trusted her brother could be foreshadowing for Sam and Dean, especially in regard to Sam’s visions.

Debbi: They are getting closer to leaving all their grudges and angst behind, but it’s apparent that there is still some mistrust and second guessing going on. Dean isn’t quite himself and it’s hard to tell if this is due to having carried the MOC for over a year, the lying games with Sam, the bond with the Darkness or a little bit of all of the above. He seems colder, certainly less care-free, which is to be expected after bearing the Mark, but the coldness is somewhat uncomfortable to see. That said, during their BM at the end of the episode, his fear of hell came through loud and clear. He didn’t have to say a word. This is one of the things that Ackles excels at…saying a thousand words, without speaking.

Sam is making a true effort to keep everything on the table and trusting that his brother is as well. That said they both know each other well enough for Sam to be able to tell that Dean is just this side of ‘off’ and I think it concerns him. I believe that concern for his brother may drive him to take risks that he doesn’t need to and will ultimately drive him to try to sacrifice himself.

They have a way to go before they are ‘whole’ again and I think that they will need to be on the same page and as close as they’ve ever been to solve the puzzle and contain the big bad.

The Cage:

Tracy: Sam telling Dean about his visions of the Cage towards the end of the episode was foreshadowing of what is to come. I envision one or both of the brothers somehow finding a way into the Cage despite Dean’s seemingly vetoing the idea. And I still believe that Lucifer and Michael are destined to make an appearance at some point this season.

Michele : I did like how Dean did tell Sam to not go near The Cage. But we all know that Sam will most likely do the opposite. It’s how Sam rolls. I think Dean’s dismissiveness about the visions is due to him trying to protect Sam from what he might find out and I hope that it doesn’t cause a potential domino effect as in Lucifer or Michael (or both) getting out of the Cage.

Stacy: Sam told Dean about his Cage visions and confessed that he thinks they’re meant to return to get answers to defeat The Darkness. “Not gonna happen” said Dean. I agree.

Jackie: There wasn’t much revealed about the Cage in this ep; all that really happened in regard to the Cage was that Sam told Dean that was what he was having visions about. I was happy that Dean was so adamant about not allowing Sam to even consider opening it. It would be like fighting fire with fire, in my opinion.
Debbi: It’s clear that the thoughts of the cage scare the living hell out of Sam. I think he is praying more to hear the words ‘you don’t have to go there again’ as much as he is for information on defeating the Darkness. We didn’t get too much more info on how exactly the cage will come into play, but it’s clear that it will be a factor before the season ends.

Predictions:

Tracy: think we will see more of Sam’s visions of the Cage. Unfortunately, I imagine that Sam will not rely on his brother to help him uncover the full meaning of these visions but will journey on his own for answers. Same goes for Dean as his full connection to Amara slowly comes into focus.

Michele: I think we’ll see more visions of The Cage and who that was in Episode 11:4 that was talking to Sam. (It definitely wasn’t a young John Winchester). I also think Sam will be going there despite Dean’s pleas not to. (They never learn!) I think we’ll eventually see Amara’s full revenge plan against her brother, “God” be revealed. I’m dying to know why God locked her up. Anyone else curious about that?

Stacy: I think Sam will not listen to Dean (so what else is new) and find a way to go back to The Cage. Despite his fear, Sam is a hero and will risk his own well-being (and sanity) if it means saving others and the world.

Jackie: I definitely think Sam is going to continue looking into his visions, despite telling Dean that he wouldn’t. I also hope we learn more about Dean’s bond with Amara and how much hold she has over him.

Debbi: What if the Darkness isn’t bad? Sure she feeds on souls and there is something inherently evil about that, but what if she is necessary to provide a pivot point between heaven and hell; to be the fulcrum keeping the two realms in check? What if we can’t see the light without the contrast of the Darkness? Just some random thoughts, but I don’t think that we should necessarily trust everything the writers and Carver throw at us. They do know how to use a red herring to their advantage when necessary and the puzzle of the Darkness could tie up the boys’ collective resources enough to allow someone/something else to slip in unnoticed….

I think the brothers will find their respective ways back to the comfortable relationship they’ve had in the past. I don’t think this will be without a few missteps, but I believe that they believe that they need each other. With each of them having come so close to losing the other – and now with Sam knowing there’s no coming back – they have learned that they truly are better together.

Donna and Doug will date and maybe even go steady (you betcha!). I think in some future episode the guys will revisit them and Donna may have to let Doug in on the truth….that the monsters are real.

Overall Score:

Tracy: Plush was a stellar standalone, monster of the week episode. The horror elements were highlighted in a fashion that permitted the enjoyment of the characters and plot. Interestingly, despite the gore, viewers were also treated to some humorous dialogue. Consequently, I give the episode an “A”

Michele: Plush was a fun, episode. There was also some funny ‘wrabbit’ humor in the episode as well. I give this episode an “A”.

Stacy: I give “Plush” a grade ‘A’. The message of the dangers of bullying and fear were presented in a creative way. Kudos to the writers for coming up with this one. The episode had an enjoyable monster of the week, ghost possession flavor in the delicious meal that is Supernatural. Season 11 is shaping up to be a strong one. I hope the show continues on this trajectory.

Jackie: I’d give this episode an A. It was creepy with a good story, and didn’t feel disconnected from the larger mytharc. I can’t wait to see what else this season has in store!

Debbi: This was a very solid MOW episode. Vengeful ghosts are always a good monster to battle because there are just so many ways for them to manifest. Using cursed/possessed masks was a brilliant plot device and I found them to be ultra-creepy. Having Max in a mask at the end just added to the creep factor; mask plus child – super creepy (sing-song voice). I’m going to give this one an A. I’d totally watch it again and particularly on a stormy night with the lights off!

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