Supernatural, “Hibbing 911,” was based on a story by the team of Phil Sgriccia and Jenny Klein with Klein writing the screenplay. Sgriccia is better known as a director on the show. The show was directed by Tim Andrew, who’s directed some of my least favorite episodes, including “Season Seven: Time for a Wedding!” I’m increasingly finding that overall the show’s balance of drama and comedy has tipped over into caricature. It’s hard to take a horror show seriously when the characters on the show don’t take it seriously. That said, I did enjoy this episode, mainly because of the performances. I will state that if the CW is really committed to doing a spinoff, Kim Rhodes (Jody Mills) and Brianna Buckmaster (Donna Hanscum) would make for a really, really good choice. The two have terrific chemistry, and both deliver wonderful performances – equally adept at both the comedy and drama. Are you listening CW? More Jody and Donna!
This episode was set in Hibbing, Minnesota by Jenny Klein as a deliberate shout out to Bob Dylan and his ties to that city. Just a few of the Dylan references in the episode include “The Weight” by the Band playing and the farm being on Cripple Creek Road – a reference to another Band song. The Band is Dylan’s band. The vamps got together at Woodstock and are clearly hippies who enjoy folk music. In addition, the “monster” is alluded to as a BOBcat…
However, setting the episode in Hibbing had me comparing the episode to the other episode set in the same town – “The Benders” from season one. In that episode, Sam has gone missing and Dean has to work with the local sheriff to find him. One of the things they rely on is the traffic camera footage. I was always impressed with Jessica Steen’s performance as Officer Kathleen in that episode. She quickly figures out that Dean is not a cop, yet helps him anyway because of her own personal connection to the case. I found myself thinking that that officer and performance would have felt oddly out of place in this episode. One thing I ask myself when a character feels off is whether this character would fit in on another show. The Officer from “The Benders” wouldn’t have felt out of place on Criminal Minds or Flashpoint (which Steen was also in for several years), but I can’t see any of these Sheriffs making an appearance in that universe, with the possible exception of Mills.
It was nice to see them keep the continuity of Alex (Katherine Ramdeen) – the girl that Jody has taken in to raise, and it was nice to see that it seems like it’s continued in a fairly realistic vein. We see Jody checking in with Alex twice, once to express her faith in Alex’s ability not to have a kegger and then once when said kegger might have been in full swing. Regardless, Jody takes it in stride. I loved when Dean (Jensen Ackles) asked how she was doing and Jody says she’s head of the cheerleading squad. Sam (Jared Padalecki) responds with “Wow! Really?” And Jody tells him, “No. She smokes weed under the bleachers, but at least she’s not luring men to their deaths!” It’s always nice to see the brothers’ universe expanded, and while Jody certainly isn’t old enough to be their mother, she is like family.
It’s interesting that Sam didn’t tell Jody when he found Dean – he left her to think Dean was still missing. Is he trying to protect Dean? From embarrassment over what he’d become and done or from anyone thinking Dean was a monster? When the episode opens they are pouring over the Men of Letters library – much to Dean’s displeasure – finding nothing useful on the Mark of Cain. When Jody calls, Dean is desperate to go help. Sam is reluctant – he says because Jody said she didn’t need them, but it seems clear that Sam is still unsure about how the mark is affecting Dean. Dean pulls out the big guns, however, and turns the puppy-eyes on Sam to get his way.
Jody and Donna really don’t hit it off. Jody had always been strong willed and not much of a people person. I think since Bobby’s death, the character has been even more so. Donna is the complete opposite – to the point where she is still a doormat to her ex-husband Doug (Michael Karl Richards). It was perfect that in the “THEN” scene, Dean says, “Doug’s a dick,” to be echoed by Jody saying the same thing in the present. In fact, Donna’s warmness and willing to please, actually do more to get them help with the case. When Donna asks to see the body, she just wants to help out while Jody is seen by Dr Pierson (Ellie Harvie) as a snoopy out of towner. Donna is good at her job.
Donna isn’t without feelings, however. She clearly still has feelings for Doug and takes offense when Jody labels him a dick. In fact, she subtly points out that Alex is also a dick. I loved Rhodes in this scene as she describes trying to raise this teenager. Her joy at having the opportunity to have a family and her obvious love for Alex come through loud and clear. But Donna makes her point – even dicks have their good points, especially when they’re your dicks.
It’s pretty hilarious when Jody finally snaps and tells Doug to stop fat-shaming his ex-wife and that he’s a douche. Unfortunately, Donna doesn’t enjoy it nearly as much as we do. She asks Jody what’s the point? They’re divorced and she’s not going to change him now. Then Donna tells Jody to keep her mouth zipped until she’s lost a husband too. We then flash to “Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid” – the episode that introduced us to Jody and the Jody to the weird in the world – it’s both a nice way to pay homage to how far Jody’s come and to foreshadow the journey that Donna is about to start on. I did find the tonal shift from this episode to the season five episode a bit jarring, however, for the reasons I’ve already stated. Regardless, Buckmaster also does a lovely job with this scene as she sees that she’s really stepped in it as Rhodes’ face tells the entire story without her having to say a word.
I liked how they teased that Donna suspects that there are things out there – why else would she have been so curious about that first body? But she’s still shocked when she comes across Sheriff Cuse (Fred Ewanuick) over Sheriff Goodhill’s (Marina Pasqua) body. She goes to Jody and she’s clearly freaked out and afraid, but asks, “You ever think there are things out there that don’t end up on the police blotter?” She steps right up with Cuse’s room number, and she doesn’t hesitate to go investigate the room with Jody. It’s there that she learns vampires are real. I loved Dean saying to Jody, “You want to give her the talk?” Clearly passing the torch of experienced hunter.
Sam and Dean’s reunion with Jody is sweet, but it was also nice to see them fondly recognize Donna, even though Dean says she almost blew their case. There is also a terrific scene when Jody has obviously picked up on Dean being troubled and offers to talk any time if he wants to. And maybe that is what he needs – someone other than Sam that he can talk to. All three of them do work hard to protect Donna from learning the truth. Jody takes Donna to the Gear Expo to distract her though she’s not thrilled to be assigned to babysitting. I loved the gun dealer trying to be condescending and both Jody and Donna demonstrating their superior knowledge and expertise. Did anyone else recognize a lot of props from past episodes? Like the orange jump suits from “Folsom Prison Blues”?
Dean and Sam talk to Cuse and Dean and Deputy Graham (Aren Buchholz) get into a pissing match. It’s hilarious watching Dean defend the honor of the FBI! I loved Sam chiding him over being defensive about his pretend job! Dean says the badge means something – what it really means is respect for him! LOL! And Sam points out that he made the badges at Kinkos. Dean then responds, “Yes you did. Be proud of that.” Ackles apparently ad libbed that part. Even so, the brothers note that the Sheriff has lied about the surveillance footage and the Deputy knows it, so Dean goes to talk to him again. Dean promises to speak to his superiors about the Deputy to win him over, and the Deputy tells him the Sheriff changed the password. He assures Dean that the Sheriff is a good guy and had to have his reasons for doing it. I did like that once again, the monsters weren’t strictly speaking black and white.
Dean and Sam don’t want to put Donna any further in harm’s way and tell her to sit this one out. But Donna is through being a doormat and says, “Stuff you, Dean!” I loved Jody’s reaction here and her immediately stepping up to say “Hanscum’s good.” The boys take Jody’s word, and they don’t even suggest that she should sit it out. Dean gives Donna a machete and tells her to swing hard – the head’s gotta come off. There’s a nice re-direct when Sam sees Cuse inside the barn and then Cuse pops up and tells him to run – too late of course.
And now we run into my biggest problem with this episode. The boys don’t think it’s a vampire to begin with because the entire body gets eaten. Vampires DRINK BLOOD – that’s it, that’s all. Eating bodies the way they do would have attracted the attention of hunters a long time ago. Starr (Morgan Taylor Campbell) suckers Jody into giving her money and telling her to go get lunch at the beginning because she no doubt reminded her of Alex – IRONY!!! But Starr doesn’t strike me as stable enough to be the head of her group. Regardless, it’s yet another adjustment to firmly established lore within the show. The blood splatter on the tag to make a smiley face in the opening tag was a classic, but while the blood running out of the dumpster was gross, it was also ridiculously stupid! Remember, Vampires live on BLOOD – it’s like throwing the coffee on the ground and eating the paper cup. I didn’t have an issue with them stealing from the corpses – Vamp-irates remember – but again, that would attract more attention not less.
We do get to see Donna make her first vamp kill as only she and Dean are able to break their bonds. She kills the vamp before the vamp can get Jody – the look on Jody’s face is great, but Donna’s is terrific. I’m betting it’s just the kind of validation that will ensure her days as a doormat is over. I loved how happy Dean was for her as well – and did you catch him wink at her?
Clearly, by the end of the episode Jody and Donna are fast friends – so more of this duo, please? And DO NOT Thelma and Louise them! Like ever!! The final scene is beautifully shot as it cuts back and forth between the two teams de-compressing and checking on each other. The women are at the front of the car – a symbol for being at the beginning of their partnership – and Sam and Dean are in their usual spot by the trunk.
Jodi checks to make sure Donna is ok, and she really is. “I just chopped off a vampire’s head!” And Jody confirms, “Yeah. You were great at that.” Really, what more can you ask for in a friend? Donna says knowing what’s out there makes the world feel bigger and darker, so when Jody offers to give Donna pointers on how to kill what and Donna is in. Jody has clearly stepped up to be the mentor to the new hunter, one that she initiated herself. There are so many ramifications to that, of course. How will Jody feel when the life starts to really affect Donna? I can’t wait to find out – and see these two hunting together again.
Meanwhile, Sam asks if Dean is ok. Dean tells him “for the first time since I’ve been back, I didn’t feel like the mark was pushing me.” Sam is worried – and probably rightly so – that Dean hasn’t mentioned this before. But Dean reassures Sam, saying, “All I know is killing those vamps, I felt like me again.” Sam asks cautiously, “So, that’s good, right?” And Dean says, “Yeah.” But is it? Is Dean simply accepting that the bloodlust he’s been attributing to the Mark is really just a part of him? That’s what Crowley said all along – the Mark didn’t do anything to Dean except enhance that darkness that’s always been inside him. And if Dean accepts this, does that mean he won’t fight it anymore? Sam is willing to take Dean’s reassurance that he’s good at face value, but as Dean gets in the car, we see him rubbing his arm like the Mark is hurting him again. Is Dean lying to Sam? To himself? To both of them?
What did you think of the episode? Do you want to see more of Jody and Donna? Are you on board for them to have their own spinoff?! Did you catch the cameo from SE Hinton (The Outsiders author and superfan of Supernatural)? Do you think the Mark is effecting Dean? The promos for next week’s fall finale could indicate that or they could indicate that Dean is having vivid dreams… Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!