The Road So Far: “Rock and a Hard Place” Review

the road so far


This week marks the return of the amazing Sheriff Jody Mills, yet last week’s promo made it seem like this entire episode was going to be based around dumb virgin jokes. But like we said in our last review, Supernatural’s managed to go four episodes without tripping over its own feet—could it add an unprecedented fifth to its record?

Answer: no. Hit the jump to find out why.

Let’s break it down: first, the case. This episode’s case involves a supernatural monster who goes around imprisoning people who make, then break, vows of chastity. It kidnaps various members of a church before finally getting Dean and Dean’s hookup-of-the-episode, church leader Suzy. Sam and Sheriff Mills come valiantly to their rescue and kill the monster, but not before the monster makes some vague comments about how Sam is held together with “duct tape and safety pins”. All in all, pretty much your average monster-of-the-week chase.

jody millsJody Mills really shines through this episode’s terrible writing, and she’s particularly badass when she pulls a fucking stake out of her own chest and kills the monster with it. Plus, she makes for a good representative of religion, for once—she’s not a crazed Buddy Boyle follower or… well, yeah, she’s not a Buddy Boyle follower. And I’ve always really liked her as a mother figure of sorts to Sam, and she and Sam share some poignant moments in this episode that make me wish she could just be on the show all the time. Come live in the bunker, Jody! You and Kevin can take turns beating up on Crowley! Someone please draw me fanart of this, please.

Unfortunately, aside from Jody’s continuing awesomeness, we still have no idea what the plot of this season is or who the villain is. Is it Metatron? He hasn’t shown up in any episodes thus far. Bartholomew and Buddy Boyle? One episode each, and that was the same episode. Abaddon is a more likely guess, having shown up in a whopping two episodes, but her plotline isn’t yet connected to the angel plotline, and I’m assuming the angel plotline is supposed to be the actual season arc. So… basically this episode was filler and we got nothing out of it. We almost, almost had the great Ezekiel reveal, but Zeke himself took that out of the equation, which just adds to his sketch factor. He’s definitely up to something, Dean, we all told you so. From the promo for the next episode, it looks like that episode will be plot-heavy—so plot-heavy, in fact, that it seems as if the producers could have spread that out over a number of episodes instead of just stuffing it all in the midseason finale. Hmm.

supernatural-rock-and-a-hard-place-preview-how-dean-got-his-v-card-back6Well, let’s talk about this episode’s whole plotline with the virgins instead. I’m glad Supernatural didn’t go the tired old virgins-as-monster-bait route, and the show actually referenced the fact that they’ve done it many times in the past with the callback to the dragons. (Yes, dragons are a Supernatural thing. Everything’s a Supernatural thing.) So I’m really pleased that this episode centered around people who had broken vows of chastity, as that freed us of the whole concept of virgins and the troubling thing Supernatural has with making all its pretty white women into dead victims. Playing with the concept of taking a vow of abstinence allows for some real character development, which is why I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised that Supernatural did not go that route. (Character development: one of the few things that’s not a Supernatural thing.)

Taking a vow of abstinence isn’t something that one does lightly, and yet the only thing we learn about the victims in this episode is that they’re stereotypes. There’s the church pastor, the girls saving themselves for marriage, the religious nutcases, the reformed porn star. The pastor’s breaking of his vows is really something that Supernatural could have gotten into, considering the show’s overt entanglement with religion, but we literally do not even get to see the pastor on screen, we only hear his agonized scream. Why did any of these characters break their vows? Don’t care—they’re just plot devices.

Rock and a Hard PlaceSuzy, the reformed porn star turned church leader, is the one who gets to me most. It’s implied that she uprooted her life and possibly even changed her name to get away from her past. There’s nothing inherently wrong about being a porn star, but it clearly wasn’t something that she herself was comfortable with, as she says she was a “horrible person” and she’s now become the leader of a church chastity group. We have no idea what brought about this character change, but for her to do a 180 like this, we have to assume that it was something incredibly important to her. Then along comes Dean Winchester, who tells her that he dreams about the porn she’s been in, and all of a sudden Suzy’s vow of chastity disappears, as do most of her clothes. What led her to make her vow of chastity and why did she break it for a guy like Dean, whom she met an hour ago? Dean even still talks about her as if she’s a sexual object—he’s a fan of “that thing she did with the tacos”, not her. Is Dean just that attractive? Get off my lawn, Supernatural, I’ve had it up to here with your bullshit.

And as for Dean, really, I don’t know what’s gotten into Dean recently. This episode Dean doesn’t even know how to go undercover—he’s apparently so bothered by having to do something as emasculating as pretending to be a virgin that he, in a meeting where he is supposed to be gaining the trust of a group of virgins, decides to talk at great length about the sex he “used” to have. He then tells Sam he’s making it his goal to sleep with the leader of the chastity group and abandons Sam to talk to the other virgins while he goes with Suzy to her house. Once there, he tries every pickup line in the book while Suzy cries over her kidnapped friends and asks Dean to pray with her. The whole time, Dean’s got this look on his face that says “man, I thought I was gonna get some, but instead I have to comfort this overemotional chick? wtf, dude, do not engage.” He finally finds out that Suzy used to be the star of his favorite porno ever, even though she’s not a Busty Asian Beauty, and somehow he is rewarded for his relentless, indefatigable pursuit of Suzy when she agrees to sleep with him.

rock and a hard place supernaturalThe sad thing is that I can’t even really say it was out of character for Dean. He’s always been aggressively heterosexual, and as he says in the chastity meeting, he prefers one-night stands over real relationships because he’s too afraid of getting hurt. That’s been true in pretty much every woman-related situation we’ve ever seen Dean in, though Dean’s emotional constipation doesn’t make me pity him like the writers apparently think I should. But his and Suzy’s hour together almost reads along a no-means-yes rape scenario, and for all Dean’s character flaws, this is not something I ever thought he’d do. Suzy tells Dean to come to her house so she can give him some books on chastity, which Dean clearly thinks is a line, and then she—actually gives him books on chastity, and is clearly in some amount of emotional distress. Dean succeeds in sleeping with her because she consents to it, which, great, but Dean’s pursuit of a woman who has taken a vow of chastity, who’s recently lost close friends, and who’s clearly uncomfortable with Dean’s knowledge of her past life as a porn star—that all sits pretty poorly with me. Dean’s out to hit it and forget it—as Sam says, Dean’s crossed her off his bucket list. Dean’s one of our viewpoint characters, his actions in this episode stand uncriticized, and the whole thing left a really bad taste in my mouth.

This ep wasn’t just filler, it was fucking bad filler. Next week there might be actual plot. We’ll see.