On the D/L – Supernatural
Season 10 Episode 13 – “Halt & Catch Fire”
Supernatural goes old school with this episode and gives us an old fashioned ghost story that has the added hook of traveling through WiFi to go after victims.
Both last week and this week felt like episodes from a more innocent time in the run of this show. An episode like this could have fit nicely into season 2 or 3 without too many tweaks which is fine as long running shows like this are bound to revisit old ground from time to time.
I had my issues with the execution of this episode though. It sort of felt like a really bad horror movie full of cheesy dialogue, people acting inhumanly stupid and scary situations that actually come across as hilarious in practice. This episode had all of that and more.
The conceit of a ghost that could travel through WiFi was a fantastic idea especially in today’s world where most of us are perpetually connected to the internet through any number of devices. I don’t think it would have been difficult to make this idea truly terrifying but the episode would have to make some cultural statement on our reliance on technology to make that work. Sadly the depth just wasn’t there in the writing to make this anything more than superficial. Ultimately the ghost could have had any random ability and things would have been the same.
One thing that let the episode down severely is the lack of believable characters. Every single one of the teenage characters was a ridiculous caricature and came across as fodder to be killed by the ghost. To be honest in all cases I wasn’t the least bit concerned about any of them. Do Eric Charmelo and Nicole Snyder actually think this is how people act or were they writing it with the intention of being amusing? Either way it failed. Just a side note, does salting and burning bones ever actually work in this show? I don’t recall a time it ever has been an option that has worked.
It wasn’t all terrible though, I liked that Sam and Dean opened up to each other and Dean’s decision that he was giving up looking into getting rid of the Mark of Cain made a lot of sense. He’s spent a lot of time recently trying to find a suitable balance in his life and it’s been met with challenges. It was good to see Dean getting back to his old self this week with him eating copious amounts of junk food and making suggestive comments whenever he can. Again it all felt like a more innocent time in the life of this series and that’s good. Seeing Sam and Dean open up to each other about what’s really on their minds is always great to see.
It was interesting that Dean has decided that helping people and solving cases is a way for him to keep some kind of internal balance. I’m not entirely sure how that works and I don’t think it’s a long term solution but if it lets them get back to basics for a while then it’s a good thing so far. I do hope they don’t abandon the struggle with his darker urges. I’m also glad that Sam wasn’t happy with him giving up. Sam’s obsession has been to fix his brother this season so it makes sense that he wouldn’t accept this.
There were plenty of attempts at comedy in this episode and most of them worked for the most part. I liked Sam’s disgusted reaction to Dean having a mouthful of noodles and Dean’s terrified look when Sam told him that no file is ever truly deleted. There’s also the unintentionally funny moments like straight lines about lethal WiFi being delivered by the characters.
Generally a dumb episode that coasts by on the nostalgia factor in the frequent reminders to earlier seasons of the show.
Having a ghost that hunts victims through WiFi could and should have been a terrifying concept that has a very modern hook but instead it came across as a generic ghost story with a bad B-Movie style script. All of the characters were blatant caricatures and didn’t come across as the least bit real. There’s no way that professional writers think that teenager act the way they do here. If they were trying to make some kind of exaggerated social commentary on society’s reliance on technology then it failed there too.
There were good points such as the classic Supernatural comedy elements such as Dean eating junk food and making suggestive comments. The episode also had a good scene where Sam and Dean opened up to each other. I enjoyed the conflict created by Dean seemingly finding his own brand of inner peace by focusing on saving people and solving cases against Sam’s irritation that Dean is giving up. This is sure to cause some friction later on.
I’m giving the episode a higher mark than it probably deserves because I did enjoy it in spite of the numerous flaws. I liked the nostalgia of the situation and enjoyed the way Sam and Dean played off each other. I just wish the plot had been less stupid.