Monday, 7 December 2015

Review - Supernatural 11x08 "Just My Imagination" Directed by Richard Speight, Jr.

-by sweetondean

I loved this week’s episode. Like a lot. A. LOT. It had everything in it that makes Supernatural special. A little horror, a little gore, a lot of humour and enough pathos to make you sniffle quietly into your tissue. It was whimsical and silly, but also heart wrenching, something our show is incredibly good at being – delivering the laughter and then making you tear up. And it was thoroughly entertaining, from the opening Sparkle massacre scene to the closing fill us with dread, Sam’s going to go to the Cage isn’t he scene. In short (which is something I don’t do), “Just My Imagination” was a delight from beginning to end.

The script, by Jenny Klein, and directed by our wonderful Richard Speight, Jr. snapped and popped with hilarious one liners and ridiculous situations that gave the cast plenty of room to have fun. Jensen is a master at comedy, he only seems to get better, his timing is so spot on, and he had some spectacular moments to play with in this episode. His grumpy Dean is one of my favourite things of all time, but grumpy Dean in dead guy robe and old dude slippers, is pure it that thigh.

Dean Winchester cracks me up. It doesn’t matter how much weird the brothers have seen, when the latest weird thing they have to deal comes along, it can still surprise Dean. His reaction to the sudden appearance of Sully was hilarious, but there was also a whole lot more going on besides the, Dean Winchester I’ll go get my gun bluster, and the angriest robe tying I’ve ever seen in my entire life!

Looking out for Sam, it’s what Dean does, but more than that, it’s who he is. These are Dean’s actual words from “Swan Song”. A great deal of Dean’s personal identity revolves around him taking care of his little brother. Ever since Sam was placed in his arms all those years ago, it’s been Dean’s primary purpose to look out for him. Whether Sam wants or needs looking out for, Dean’s going to do it regardless…it’s who he is. To hear he wasn’t there when Sam needed him, so much so that this was the reason Sam created a friend to keep him company, would've been a kick in the guts for Dean…

“What’d you need Drop Dead Fred for in the first place?”  

“I was kind of a lonely kid, Dean”

“You weren’t lonely, you had me.”

Oh Dean…

Sam needed his brother, but in his absence, he turned to someone else, someone real, even if Sam had thought he was imaginary, someone who, for a time, had taken Dean’s place as Sam’s best friend. That’s who Dean thought he always was, that’s who he thought he always should have been. And it obviously hurt, you could see it all over Dean’s face, and all through his reactions. It was certainly why the whole thing, Sully in particular, got Dean’s back up. Dean was hurt, and probably a little resentful of Sully's relationship with Sam, and Dean shows his pain as anger.

Dean remembered Sam’s imaginary friend, he remembered “dumb ass” Sully. His “existence” must have stuck in Dean’s craw even back then, making him feel worse for leaving Sam behind. The thing is, Dean didn’t leave Sam behind and he didn’t abandon his brother. He called him…every couple of days by the sounds of things, and worked on his dad until John finally allowed Sam to go on a hunt. During the phone call with Sam, you can hear Dean say, “I’ll keep working on him” in the background while Sully professes Dean to be a germ. Poor Dean…stuck between his dad and his brother…sounds like it was always that way for him.

Of course Dean was just a kid at the time too, doing what his father told him to do, being the good little soldier, while trying to check in with Sam and make sure his little brother was okay when he couldn't be there. My heart breaks for Dean, not one moment did he have the chance to be a kid. I remember thinking how truly sad it was that John kept Sam’s soccer trophy, but the memento from Dean’s childhood was Dean’s first sawn-off shotgun…

In typical Dean Winchester fashion though, he came around, slowly but surely changing his opinion on Sully…he’s a thinker that one, even if he doesn’t like to admit he is, he would’ve been brewing on the whole deal the whole episode. He watched how Sully kept checking on Sam, saw how much Sully cared for Sam, and where initially that was probably like salt in his self inflicted wound, eventually he saw Sully as the good guy he was, being there for Sammy when Dean couldn’t be. His words to Reese about Sully were as much for Sam to hear as for Reese…and you could see Sam understood…he was glued to his brother’s words. In his own way, Dean was saying he got it, got the whole Sully thing, while also saying sorry to Sam for not always being there. The way the Winchesters can talk to each other through other people has always been one of my favourite things. 

And in return, Sully thanked Dean for looking out for Sam, something I know Dean needed to hear…because he’s certainly not a germ!

I always love getting these new little nuggets of Winchester back-story. We’ve seen both brothers left behind by John before, in ‘Something Wicked” and “A Very Supernatural Christmas”, but we’ve never seen just Sam left alone while his dad and Dean were on a hunt. We got to see how excluded Sam felt, a feeling that lingered for a long time, and how lonely this separation left him; so lonely he created someone to fill the void, with whom he talked with about running away (something we know Sam did at one point when he went to Flagstaff for two weeks and ate pizza with Bones the dog), while all the time desperately wishing he could be with his family, on the road, on the hunt, with Dean, the big brother he looked up to. He just wanted to be with his dad and his brother. He was so young. Way too young to be left like that (let alone to hop a bus to Milwaukee!) The sadness of Sam and Dean’s childhood, or lack there of, is never ending knife in the heart.

I’m glad Sam had Sully, sad he needed him, but glad he had him…even in the present day, to have someone to talk to that isn’t directly involved in everything, to be able to openly speak about being so scared of what’s to come. Sometimes we need that…someone removed from the situation that can listen to us, who we can run things past, before we talk to the person we should be talking to. 

And to be told he’s awesome, a hero. Neither brother hears that enough…if ever really. It was nice that Sully validated both brothers in ways they needed, Sam for not being a screw-up and for making the right choice in joining his family, and Dean for always looking out for Sam. I absolutely adored how Sam said he didn’t think about running away anymore, and that he and Dean were going to fix the Darkness mess. That’s this season in a nutshell…the brothers not running away from each other, and working side by side, because that’s where they want to be. I love you season 11.

I thought the story of the Zanna was inspired. Creatures only the children can see, born of their imagination and needful situation. It was another great addition to the Supernatural lore, and as I said earlier, lead to some wonderfully whacky moments.

The scene where the mum unwittingly tromps through Sparkle’s glittery blood, eventually rubbing it all over her face has become one of my all time favourite scenes. I think if I’m ever feeling down, that’s going to be the scene to pick me up! I’ve laughed so hard every time I’ve watched it. Director Richard Speight, Jr. was right to linger on the shots of the guys watching the horror show unravel before them. Their reactions and facial expressions were golden. And Dean’s “the family that showers together”! Oh my Lord. Jensen Ackles ladies and gentlemen! The little head shake and hand wave when he realises he’s gone too far. Nate’s “pull up, pull up”. I'm laughing as I write this! That scene was brilliant!

Then there was the Mermaid and Weems the air guitar genius. So much goodness in both those scenes. Helped along by Jensen and Jared’s spot on performances as usual, but also by the particularly good guest cast. Nate Torrence’s Sully was just great. Great. All frothy and happy on the outside, but sad on the inside, haunted by the mistakes of his past, he fit right in with those Winchesters! And even imaginary friends need validation, I’m sure hearing he was a “good weird” was pretty nice, I'd think that was pretty nice if someone said that to me! I hope, with all my heart, Sully comes back at some point, I’d welcome that. I liked him, I liked his interactions with both brothers, and I liked the actor who played him. He was another one of those characters that are so well written that by the end of the episode, you care so much about them, you’ve become genuinely attached!

I got a chance to chat to Richard briefly at the All Hell Breaks Loose Christmas convention in Sydney this past weekend. He talked about how gracious Jenny Klein was and how they discussed the script together a lot. He spoke about how Jenny was excited for him to direct, to which we all said, “of course!” SPNFamily and all that jazz, but Richard said he felt gratified by her enthusiasm, because some writers might not have been happy to have a first timer helm their script. One thing is for sure, nothing about this episode looked like a first timer helmed it. 

Rich is a funny guy, with a quick wit and an eye for a comedy moment, we’ve all seen him riffing at the conventions, and that comedic bent for sure came into play in some of the funnier scenes in “Just My Imagination”. He may hand wave it away as Jensen’s comic timing, or Nate’s bubbly performance, but Rich knows how to tell a good joke and get the most out of it. I’m sure that’s one of the reasons Jensen was so excited for Rich to be directing this particular episode, which he talked about during his meet and greet in Dallas, because the script was funny and Richard is damn funny, and having a director who is comedy gold himself, when doing comedy, can’t hurt!

Richard also talked about casting. He was so stoked with Nate Torrence – as well he should be – but he was also thrilled with the casting of the Dylan Kingwell, the latest young Sam Winchester. He said that originally the kid was being overlooked, as his first audition was a little rough. But Rich saw something in the performance and put his name forward saying they should give him another shot. And the kid turned in a second audition that got him the part! I thought Dylan was great as young Sam, and a great addition to the roster of young Winchesters. While I’m at it, how cool was it to see the other Dylan, Dylan Everrett back as young Dean. I love that kid’s Dean!

The attention to detail Jenny put into this episode was also wonderful. I love it when the show references itself. Sam telling Sully the story about thinking he could fly but breaking his arm instead, was the story that Dean told about Sam jumping from the roof because he thought he was superman, and Dean then having to take Sam to the hospital on his bicycle handlebars. And then there were the Legos, and the green army man that would help to save the world…yet to be jammed into the Impala apparently, but shoved into Sam’s duffle to take on the trip with him. I adored these little touches. They mean so much.

So much happiness.

But of course in typical Supernatural fashion, and because we’re feeling all that happiness, we have to get punched right in the feels! As Sam looks off into the distance, thinking, a train can be heard approaching; a metaphoric train I’d say, something's coming and it can't be stopped…and then, in what was a lovely edit, we’re in the car with Sam as he talks to Dean, or at least attempts to talk to Dean, about having to go to the cage… OH MY GOD…he’s going to the cage. Dean for all his, we’ll find another way…can’t think of another way. And there it is. A-WAHHHHH! If only it was as easy as turning the car around like in the gag take from this scene! Come on, who didn’t giggle just a little!

I’m so excited and scared and excited and scared about where we’re going and by we’re I mean Sam and maybe even Dean…who knows what will happen in episode 10! And the fact that Jared says that episodes 9 and 10 are his favourites in quite sometime…OMGOMGOMGOMG it’s going to be so gooooood! WITH A WHACKING GREAT HIATUS IN THE MIDDLE... NOOOOOOOOO!

Yep, “Just My Imagination” was wonderful. It was another wonderful episode in a wonderful season, with a magical script from Jenny Klein and lovely performances from everyone involved - Jensen, Jared, Nate, the Dylans and Anja Savcic who played Reese. And I freely admit, I’m super proud of Rich and the work he did here. Proud as punch. I hope he gets another shot at an episode next season…and/or an episode of another show. Director Richard is awesomeness (and actor Richard, and MC Richard and...well, you get my point). 

So until next week my peeps…HOLD ON TO YOUR FEELS!



  1. I love your reviews. They are always so spot on. I read another saying Sam was out of character for deciding at nine that hunting was the life for him when he later on hated it and did run away. I kind of wanted to ask them what show they've been watching. It made sense and was so in character to me that he was gung ho about it then changed his tune after a few years of the hunting life.

    :( re Dean's only childhood memento being a sawed off shotgun. I was actually talking about that to a friend, referencing when he said to Jo that she and Sam were kids in Defending Your Life and he forgot that because he never was. Dean Winchester deserves all the hugs. I love how deep the show is willing to go in psychology. It makes it ten times better and it was already ten times better than most shows out there, so I guess it's twenty times better now. ;) :)

  2. Every time I read a review of this episode (and all of the reviews have been positive) I want to watch the episode again. It was so much fun and so heart wrenching and Dean was hilarious and Sam was so scared and Sully was so awesome and I laughed out loud when mom smeared Sparkle all over her face...I just have to watch it again. I didn't know what to expect but I didn't expect an emotional roller coaster. Nothing does this to me like Supernatural. I am also loving S11.

  3. I'm loving 11 too! Thanks, Cheryl!

  4. As always, a winner Amy. Everything about this episode was wonderful. LOL to a tear down my cheek. This show makes it sooooo hard to watch other shows and not compare. SPN just has everything, and does it right. I can't believe the excitement it can still ignite after 10 years! Incredible. Just squee and warm heart all around.

    And I loved the concept of the Zanna. What a wonderful thought for those children needing a friend. My heart broke for Sammy. But also for Dean, who never really had ANY kind of childhood. Be still my heart.

    Okay, enough. I can't come up with anything you haven't already said better. Hiatus will be a nail biter.

  5. Loved your review and I loved this episode! Sully and the other Zannas were great. The story was wacky but worked. Sam and Dean makes me full of worry about next episode. Can't wait!

    - Lilah