Monday, April 23, 2012

CW's "Supernatural" Visits the Afterlife in "Of Grave Importance:" A Television Review

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*here be spoilers.

Director: Tim Andrew.

Writers: Eugenie Ross-Leming & Brad Buckner.

Being a ghost is not easy. Just ask Bobby Singer or Annie Hawkins (Jamie Luner), this week's guest in “Of Grave Importance.” She has not been mentioned before in the series until now. With this episode, she was going to hook up with the Winchester Brothers, to give them a few items that she had of Singer's. But before she even gets to see them, she dies.

The hook with this episode is to reveal what some ghosts do in their afterlife. Some move on, and others do not because of unfinished business. There are even those who cannot do either—they are often being manipulated by a powerful force. These souls are trapped in purgatory. If this subtext is sounding familiar, perhaps the writing team of Eugenie Ross-Leming and Brad Buckner are building on the lore of what the Leviathans must have experienced when they were confined.

The title may well be very telling. Ever since Singer was revealed to be a spirit, some viewers must be wondering what this old cahoot must be feeling. He's attempted to communicate with the Winchesters many times and his frustration is only mounting. The two brothers hardly notice his attempts at contact until the writing is quite literally on the wall.

Singer has to learn through trial and error about how he can manipulate objects in the physical realm. While he has yet to attempt possessing another individual, that may be tried later on.

Now with Annie involved, the two can learn about the finer points of being a ghost by Haskel Crane (Russell Roberts), who may be a reference to a Hugh Crain from Shirley Jackson's "Haunting of Hill House".

Annie tries to understand her new life as a ghost and she asks why a Reaper has not come to take her away. She wants to leave, but she cannot. That may be an important plot point to address later on in the series. With no Reaper around, she wonders how she can move on. Her discourse with Bobby defines this episode than the unusual reunion Singer has with the Winchester boys.

With no surprise the three men have trouble expressing themselves. They do not hug or get teary eyed. Sam is disillusioned since he did try to communicate and Dean is keeping his emotions all bottled up. Until he can throw away the flask, all his problems are not going to go away. Dean might even be developing an alcohol addiction. Appropriately enough, Dean and Bobby are becoming more alike. This episode does have some chuckle-worthy moments where the two would do exactly what the other would say or act upon since there is a dangerous ghost, Whitman Van Ness (Antonio Cupo), on the loose.

He makes a great villain, and as for why is feeding off the energy of other deceased souls may well be a hint of more to come in this season. Leviathans absorb all the knowledge of their victims through touch. After they are done, they can feed upon the remains. Some viewers may wonder what will happen if one Leviathan eats another of their own kind. Will one Leviathan acquire the abilities that another one of their kind has stolen? The possibility exists. The Leviathan impersonating Sam in the episode, "Slash Fiction," mentioned how he ate a brother of his (not Dean). That may have been done to rid himself of the mental issues inherited from the real Sam. This plot detail was never fully explored.

And that may mean trouble for the Winchesters if this episode is outlining what may come in this season’s final round of episodes. Only Bobby can stop Whitman. The Winchesters cremated the evil ghost’s human remains just when the spirit was pulling the life force of Bobby away. The result: a new purpose for this hardened mentor. He received a Quickening of sorts ala The Highlander. He has abilities that may prove to be useful if the three heroes can sort their feelings for each other out. The Winchesters thought Bobby would have moved on than to stick around.

Once Bobby masters his ability to interact with the physical world, the likelihood of any Leviathan being able to stop him is slim, if not next to none. Now if Bobby can possess Dick Roman and ruin the Leviathan hierarchy from within, that can provide for an interesting conclusion to this season. It will not be spectacular, and some viewers may want to tune in to see if this prediction comes true.

Overall, 7 out of 10.

*trivia: The Van Ness estate may well be very familiar to long-time viewers of CW's television shows, namely "Smallville." Parts of Hatley Castle was recreated for effects use in X-men 2; the foyer and its recognizable interior oak and rosewood architecture made this episode a fun watch. Especially when Dexter, the other ghost, started running around like a mad "Wolverine."

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