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.
A really enjoyable episode that adds more silliness to the mythology of Supernatural without coming across as too ridiculous.
Adding imaginary friends as something that is risky but the episode manages to pull it off. It’s refreshing to see a supernatural creature with Good Samaritan tendencies as it’s pretty rare in this show.
A lot of time is spent building up the relationship between Sam and his former imaginary friend, Sully through flashbacks. It makes perfect sense for Sam to seek imaginary companionship as he always felt different from Dean and their father. All his time spent alone would naturally create a desire for companionship. It deepens Sully’s importance to Sam when he puts the idea of doing something different with his life into Sam’s head.
Sully’s appearance happens to be timely as a conversation about heroism gives Sam the inspiration he needs to talk to Dean about Lucifer’s cage again. Naturally Dean resists the idea but they are lacking in options at this point so it is definitely worth considering.
Nate Torrence does a great job playing Sully. He manages to not let him descend into the realm of being insufferably cartoonish while still being fun. The story affords him lots of depth by showing that he takes his role in the lives of children very seriously and explores the consequences of that through the villain. The villain is somewhat weak but works as a lesson for Sully. It’s also appreciated that non violent means are used to subdue the villain keeping with the theme of “saving people” that has carried through the season.
Dean’s reaction to being faced with an actual imaginary friend was priceless. I’m always amused by the line Dean draws between what he will easily accept and what he won’t. The murders of the Zahns were a great source of comedy. I just about ended myself seeing a woman cover herself in glittery blood without even knowing it and the grizzly mermaid murder was good for a laugh too.
It’s good to see that Supernatural is still capable of delivering a fun episode without it seeming too outlandish. Even in the 11th season there are no shortage of good ideas.