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Supernatural Season 5 Episode 8: Changing Channels

SUPERNATURALIn one fell swoop, Supernatural managed to combine a humorous episode with one that advances the season-long Mega-Apocalypse storyline.  Trapped in a Trickster’s paradise which conveniently resembles (thinly veiled parodies of) television shows, the Winchester boys discover the identity of this candy-loving Trickster and just how large a role he plays in the war between angels, demons, and humanity. 

Things open up “before a live studio audience” and Sammy and Dean mugging the camera on a sitcom-esque set.  And for the first time ever, Supernatural has a theme song with awesomely cheesy lyrics and opening credits that feel like a cross between Perfect Strangers and Family Matters

After Dean claims “son of a b*tch” as his comedic catchphrase, the boys are shuttled into a C.S.I.-type scenario, interviewing a local woman whose hot-tempered hubby was killed by a bear.  After much prodding, she admits that it wasn’t a bear, but rather her husband was killed by the Incredible Hulk.  Not just any Hulk, but the Lou Ferrigno Hulk, which was at least some consolation since “those movies were terrible.” 

Perplexed by this seemingly random death, Sam discovers that there are candy wrappers at the scene of the crime. And if there’s one metaphysical entity that loves him some candy, it’s The Trickster. Althout Dean wants to off the Trickster (still taking that whole killing him a bunch of times thing rather personally), Sam suggests aligning forces with him and tracking him down on the off-chance they’re on the same side in this Apocalypse thing.

Just when the boys get a clue, they’re zapped into the drama of Seattle Mercy Hospital on “Dr. Sexy M.D.”  (complete with loud background soundtrack music featuring whispy-voiced female vocalists, the feminine equivalent of John Mayer). Hijinx ensue as the boys get slapped numerous times by several melodramatic medical interns in surgical scrubs and they encounter a hospital ghost who had a relationship with one of the staff  — a nice shout-out to Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Pa Winchester)’s other TV gig on Grey’s Anatomy.  Dean finally cops to his guilty pleasure and takes notice that Dr. Sexy M.D. isn’t what he appears to be.  Because this particular Dr. Sexy is wearing unsexy white sneakers and not sexy cowboy boots.  Just as Dean grips up the Trickster in disguise, he gets shot in the back by the husband of a face transplant patient and Sammy must operate on him with MacGuyver-esque tools: a bottle of whiskey, pen, and sewing kit.

Dean comes to and finds himself and Sammy on the set of a zany Japanese game show that translates to “Nutcracker.”  Faced with answering questions in Japanese or getting wailed in the ol’ sushi roll, Castiel shows up to attempt to save the day but gets shut out by the host/Trickster in disguise who notes “Mr. Trickster does not like pretty boy angels.”

While the Trickster had iced Dean plenty of times at the Mystery Spot, this time around, he seems keen to humiliate the heck out of Sweet Sammy, dropping him into a Genital Herpes medication commercial as the spokesperson for the gift that keeps on giving.

Back on the sitcom set, Sammy and Dean are reunited and joined by the surprisingly powerful Trickster who urges the Winchester boys to play the cosmic roles they were assigned to.  Raging against the machine, Dean makes the Trickster mad when he realizes that he must be a puppet for some larger force.  The Trickster angrily retorts that Dean shouldn’t presume to know who and what he is. 

As punishment, he drops Dean and Sam into a procedural cop show, complete with requisite David Carruso sunglasses and theme song by The Who (or a soundalike).  In order to decipher where the Trickester is in this scene, Sam and Dean must get in touch with their inner douchebag and offer up their worst, painfully pithy puns on crime scene evidence.  They stake the wrong guy and the Trickster gets away yet again, putting Dean on the road in his beloved Impala – now given a Knight Rider-esque makeover with Sammy as K.I.T. 

Like the A-Team’s Hannibal, Dean loves it when a plan comes together and devises a solid one that gets the Trickster to show up, turn Sammy back into a boy, and allows the boys to trap him inside a fiery circle lit with holy oil.  A few more Dean-sputtered “son of a b*tch”es later, the Trickster reveals that he’s another archangel: Gabriel.  Following the war, he placed himself in his own angelic witness protection program and reinvented himself as the Trickster.  Gabriel turns all sorts of emo, telling the Winchester boys that this war is no different than an argument at Sunday dinner to most people with Lucifer and Michael leading the ultra-heated food fight with each other. 

Hearkening back to the whole lesson of them playing roles in TV-themed scenarios to survive, Gabriel parallels it to survival in a much larger picture: the Apocalypse. Again, he stresses the importance that all this annoying fighting could be over with if Big Brother Dean just allowed Michael to possess him and engage Little Bro Lucifer wearing a Sammy Suit in a Celebrity Death Match.  He also outlines that there is no coincidence that they were chosen for these roles from the outset, being brothers who do not always see eye to eye, loved each other, and then betrayed one another.  Sammy and Dean allow Gabriel to go free and lament that they wish life were as easy-breezy as a television show before hopping back into the Impala and onto their next destination.

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