Supernatural – Season 11 Episode 8
“Just My Imagination”
Supernatural takes some time to venture back into the wacky before what will likely be an intense midseason finale next week.
Over the course of 11 seasons, Supernatural has never been afraid to have a little fun with the mythology of the show and add things that should be completely ridiculous. These episodes manage to strike a seemingly impossible balance between the serious and the comedic. There are lots of laughs but they never get in the way of the storytelling.
Now we can count imaginary friends among the weird things that exist beyond our world. Apparently imaginary friends are creatures called Zahns who give companionship to children when they need it the most. They are harmless supernatural creatures with Good Samaritan tendencies. It’s rare to see a creature that isn’t out to kill the Winchesters and I enjoyed the change of pace that came with it.
The Winchester’s are brought into this when Zahns start turning up dead which causes Sam’s old imaginary friend Sully (Nate Torrence) to reappear to enlist his help. As I type this I feel like I’m out of my mind saying that this episode works but I promise you it does.
A significant amount of time is spent building up Sam’s relationship with Sully. It’s well established that Sam always felt different from his Dean and their father growing up. He was left along a lot to keep him safe while Dean and John went hunting so it’s only natural that Sam would invent some companionship to help him cope with the loneliness. It’s a nice touch to have flashbacks showing that Sully was the one who plants the idea of leaving his family to do his own thing in Sam’s head. Of course it’s not necessary as it’s easily something that Sam could have come up with on his own but showing how profound an influence Sully had on him growing up adds weight to their scenes together in this episode.
Sully’s appearance is very timely as Sam has been struggling with figuring out his next move. The conversation Sam has with Sully about heroism came across as really heartfelt and sincere which gives Sam the motivation he needs to talk about Lucifer’s cage with Dean again. Of course Dean still resists the idea but they don’t have an awful lot of options at this point so it’s definitely worth exploring.
Nate Torrence gives a great performance as Sully. It’s a difficult character to pull off as he could easily have gone to the extreme of being insufferably cartoonish but Torrence manages to rein that in to make him feel more genuine than I would have expected.
Sully has plenty of depth as he carries around a lot of pain. Dealing with the issues of developing children isn’t a job to be taken lightly and he certainly doesn’t. Really negative consequences to being careless are shown by the villain of the episode being traumatised by Sully’s careless behaviour leading to the death of her sister. As a villain she was pretty weak but managed to create good character beats for Sully as he is faced with the consequences of his failure. It is also appreciated that the solution is more in line with the theme of “saving people” that has carried through this season. The villain was stopped by words rather than violence. It also ties in with the innocence associated with the children that the Zahns look after.
There were so many laughs in this episode. Dean’s reaction to being faced with Sam’s imaginary friend is absolutely priceless. I always find it amusing that, no matter how many crazy things he encounters, Dean has a line that is drawn in his head over what things he will find difficult to accept.
The Zahn murders were another great source of comedy. Sam, Dean and Sully looking on in horror as a woman walks around the murder scene oblivious to the brutal sight that only they can see was brilliant. Seeing her cover her face in glittery blood almost ended me as well. Also, the mermaid murder is something I won’t soon forget.
Beyond a weak villain there’s nothing really wrong here. It comes together as a wonderfully fun episode to offset the intensity that will no doubt follow next week. It’s great to see that Supernatural can still deliver on the fun episodes when it really wants to. There are certainly no shortage of ideas even this late in the game.