Supernatural 5.5: "Fallen Idol"

Every season, the writers try to balance the darkness with the light, and the results are often mixed. For every smart send-up of the Supernatural formula that veils the usual excellent character study, there's a misfire.


This episode is really about setting the stage for the changes in the Brothers Winchester dynamic that will drive the rest of the season and bring closure to their overall character arcs. Sam is absolutely right: while they are stronger together, they need to act as equals to balance out their weaknesses. And while Dean (and the rest of the hunters) have been justified in their distrust of Sam after all he's done, it's good to see him gain a bit of perspective on his own role in the apocalypse.


It's easy to forget, but Dean was the one who broke the first seal, an act that allowed the whole "Free Lucifer" plan to gain momentum. As much as Sam's loyalties and perceptions had been twisted by Ruby, he still couldn't have known that killing Lilith was going to break the final seal. While this is the perfect example of good intentions paving the road to Hell, there are some mitigating circumstances involved.


Being the more draconian of the brothers, Dean was going to be the one who needed to set aside the anger and resentment the most. Dean tends to see things in black-and-white, even if he's usually a lot more forgiving when it comes to Sammy. I suspect much of it was displaced anger and self-loathing. Considering how many of his own faults have been held up in front of him lately, it's not too surprising that Dean would focus more on Sam's issues.


Sam, on the other hand, really gained nothing from his time alone, other than the knowledge that Lucifer wants to inhabit his body. Perhaps he didn't need more time to reflect on his personal shortcomings. His desire for redemption, however, has pushed him into a more self-confident stance. Hopefully it's not that he's been possessed by Lucifer already; luring Dean into giving up some control to gain advantage would be a subtle move.


As amusing as the rest of the episode tried to be, it felt like window dressing to the core emotional conflict of the episode. Unlike many other examples, the antagonist and situation didn't seem to have a direct correlation to the character conflict. One didn't feel into the other beyond the fact that Sam was right and Dean was wrong. That meant both elements had to stand up on their own, instead of strengthening one another.


Unfortunately, the whole "killer celebrity" idea didn't quite work for me. I appreciate the fact that Paris Hilton was willing to play along, but I really didn't care. Zombie Abraham Lincoln and Killer Gandhi were more fun, but even that felt forced. Add to that a number of scenes with little or no scoring, and it just didn't seem to have the pacing necessary to keep up the tension.


The bottom line is that this was the first true disappointment of the fifth season.


Comments

8 comments

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Oct 10, 2009 3:23AM EDT

I agree that the plot of the episode was completely frivolous, I love that this show addresses that from the start. Sam flat out asks Dean why they are wasting their time with this little case, and if you consider Dean's answer AND the truce reached by the end of the episode, it was completely necessary. So, fine, every show will have their throw-away episode, the stand-alone segment that is mostly filler and partially main storyline. And yes, the whole Paris Hilton thing was pretty lame, as were the other incarnations, but at least Dean got to make fun of Sam and restore a little brevity. Basically, I pretty much agree with your assessment of this episode, but I wouldn't go so far as to call it a disappointment.
Apart from that, I didn't even THINK that Lucifer could have already possessed Sam and that this is all an elaborate ruse, but as intriguing an idea that is, I don't think it's the case. Then again, Lucifer is a pretty good actor....

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Oct 10, 2009 7:10AM EDT

Lucifer makes it a point to mention how he'll never lie, as a note.
True, he's satan and could just .. y'know, be lying about that, but so far he's been 100% true to his word.

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Oct 10, 2009 10:12PM EDT

I don't quite agree that this episode was bad. I think what the writers have done is written the storyline to an episode that could have easily been placed in the first season when Sam and Dean didn't have the apocalypse hanging over their heads. Then they put in the whole apocalypse theme into the background and it truly reflected the rift between the brothers and that, no matter how hard they try to be like the good old days, they won't be able to, too much has happened. Basically, in my opinion, they threw in a light hearted episode to truly reflect the fact they the brothers Winchester will never be the same but they are going to have to try in order to stop what they BOTH unknowingly started.I admit I was pissed with the Paris Hilton thing, but there were two things I liked about it: 1) The Beheading, it was right up there with the spearing from house of wax. 2) Dean saying "I never even saw House of Wax." and then the shot of Sam, cracked me up.In reflection to the whole sam already being possessed by Lucifer, it's interesting. But I think we have all come to expect bigger things from Kripke and the team over the years to know that when Lucifer finally "wear's Sam to the prom" (which we all know deep down will happen) there will be some big twists that lead up to it.Look at it this way though, if that was the weakest episode of the season so far and you still kind of enjoyed it, that's not bad. i mean compare it to Smallville where I think the majority of viewers are watching it purely out of respect to the fact that they have been watching it since the beginning and owe it to see it to the end.

Let's just hope the CW don't decide to bring it back for season 10, Superman with a zimmerframe?

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Oct 10, 2009 10:20PM EDT

P.s. I was hoping your theory for Sam being possessed by lucifer already not being true purely because I want to see more of Mark Pellegrino as I though in those few minutes of episode 3 he was fantastic.

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Oct 10, 2009 11:46PM EDT

I thought this episode was a lot better than I expected it to be, for a couple of reasons. First, what joshy_boi19 said about how the apocalypse affects what would have otherwise been a routine hunt. It was classic Sam and Dean, but they managed to throw in some things that have a different meaning now, like Sam (Lucifer's vessel Sam) idolizing Gandhi, who was a fruitarian and a pacifist and about as anti-satan-like as it gets in a human.Second, The monologue Paris gives about how humans used to idolize Gods but now the idols are anyone with money. Her role fit well within the plot and echoes the previous questions on why people would worship whatever they worship when in most cases it's not justified.Third, I like forward that both characters took in their development. It has long irritated me that Dean placed all of the blame of the apocalypse on Sam when Dean had as much to do with it starting as Sam. While I know Dean needs to learn who he is, and though it may be beneficial for him to do that alone, I think that he'll still find himself while helping Sam. Sam can't get better without Dean, because Sam needs to see himself change in the eye's of Dean. Sam's problem is not with himself but with his family. His relationship with his father and now his relationship with his brother have been a struggle. He needs to learn how to work through the tough times.

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Oct 11, 2009 1:30AM EDT

I hadn't actually thought about Paris' monologue but when you think about it it give's reason for God's desertion. As Lucifer has said, God created man and told the angels to love men more than Himself,Lucifer disobeyed was cast down to hell and so the story of "Good" vs. "Evil" began. Then there is the ten commandments with a specific one being to do with idolising false gods, i.e. celebrities in this day and age. So God sees man idolising all these celebs and decides that He has had enough and leaves heaven, cue all the events that lead to the apocalypse. Now God saves Castiel, Dean and Sam but is making it difficult for them to find Him because He doesn't want the world to be destroyed but He doesn't want man to go unpunished. This could be completely wrong as I'm not a religious man so i don't know all the in's and out's of the Bible just the basic stuff. And I could just be reading into Paris' monologue a bit too much I don't know, will just have to see.

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Oct 11, 2009 9:53PM EDT

wow, that seems to be a very logical and insightful observation. This wouldn't be the first time the writers have foreshadowed the plot, and if that turns out to be true then this episode, a.k.a the disappointing filler episode, deserves more credit than it has been given.

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Oct 13, 2009 4:21PM EDT

I just need to point out that Dean doesn't put all the blame of the Apocalypse on Sam. This is a seriously false notion. He understands he had as much of a part in it as Sam. The problem between the two brothers is that Sam can't be trusted, not because he brought on the apocalypse, but because he picked Ruby (a demon) over Dean. Sam sacrificed all his brotherly bond with Dean for Ruby. That's the problem and Dean, rightfully so, cannot just forgive and forget.

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