There are worse ways to spend an hour than watching Supernatural. And even a retread of older material is okay. It's just "Atomic Monsters" felt a bit hollow. There were sparks of the old Supernatural. Dean calling himself "The Meat Man". Dean watching a beaver mascot and smirking. Hmm, I wonder who directed the episode. Let's check the credits... oh, Jensen Ackles. That explains a few things.
"Atomic Monsters" gave a us a case of the week with another of the famed "This case is like [Personal Matter X] in the Winchesters' lives" and that's not necessarily a bad approach to take. There have been plenty of good episodes in the past that drew parallels between the monster of the week, and whatever the Winchesters were going through. It just didn't feel like that parallel a parallel this week. We're supposed to believe Henry and Janet Whitman's feelings for their son Billy parallel Sam and Dean's feelings for Jack, but the relationship isn't the same. The Winchesters viewed Jack more as the brother they never had (Adam? Who's Adam?). Rather than a child. So there's no direct parallel. And writer, Davy Perez, doesn't do anything to connect the two, other than have the characters say there's a parallel.
I get Sam is torn up about losing Rowena and Jack. But we don't get a "case of the week = Rowena's death" episode. Hopefully we won't.
What do we get? The main plot is a high school girl is killed at Beaverdale High School in Iowa. Which seems to be one of Supernatural's generic go-to states. Dean figures they need a case, drags Sam there, and they soon discover the first girl was torn up with a vampire tooth in her body while a second girl has disappeared.
After identifying a SUV on security footage and identifying its license plate, Sam and Dean go to the home of the Whitmans, Janet (Anne Marie DeLuise), Henry (Andrew Arlie), and son, Billy (Burkely Duffield). They find the second missing girl in the garage with a blood bag hooked up to her arm. The Winchesters confront the Whitmans, figuring Henry is the vampire. Except... the vampire is actually Billy. He killed the first girl by accident when he went into a feeding frenzy, and his parents have been protecting him. Henry gives a "If you were a parent, you'd know a parent would die for their child" speech. Billy then surrenders himself, and the Winchesters cut off his head.
In the B plot, Chuck (Rob Benedict) pays Supernatural fan girl (the books, not the series) Becky Rosen (Emily Perkins) a visit. Becky isn't any more likable than she was in her other three appearances, and has stopped fangirling over Supernatural. Except she's still making and selling maquettes, and she still remembers Chuck as a Prophet, and has no idea he's God. Chuck can't bring himself to write, until Becky gives him a pep talk. There's a fair amount of meta-joking here: Chuck tries to convince Becky the Leviathans are scary, but Becky isn't having it. She reads some of Chuck's early writing and dismisses it as low-stakes and pretty generic.
Then Chuck decides to spice up his work, and Becky stares at it in horror and says Chuck can't do it. She talks about how what Chuck does in his story to Sam and Dean is dark and hopeless, and kudos to Ms. Perkins, she brings across the horror Becky is feeling. When Becky's husband and two kids return from a day trip, Chuck sends them away with snaps of his fingers, tells Becky he's God, and sends her away as well.
The episode opens with a first-person-shooter style battle of Dean and some Hunters fighting demons in the bunker. For some reason Benny (Ty Olsson) is there on the Dean's side and dies. Except it's a nightmare so it's not really a recurring character's death, either. And Benny died a while back anyway, so what's the point of dream-killing a former recurring character that's already dead? Sam shows up acting all demon-y and kills Dean... and Sam wakes up from his nightmare.
I don't know what any of this is supposed to convey. It shows off Ackles' directing skills and gives him a chance to engage in some first-person-shooter antics, both acting and directing. And he looks good with a beard. But it doesn't amount to anything. Sam isn't feeling bad about his demon blood, he's feeling bad about Jack and Rowena's deaths. Benny's cameo is pointless. So why we get this opening segment which is clearly someone's dream, I don't know. And even though it's Sam's dream, most of it focuses on Dean. Huh?
Overall, "Atomic Monsters" is an okay episode if a) you want to see an old-style Winchester monster-of-the-week case, and b) you want to know what Chuck is up to. I still don't get where Chuck is coming from. He wants to leave Earth, but he wants to make the Winchesters suffer as well. If it wasn't for Benedict as God, it would be very tiresome. Even with Benedict, some of the God/Supernatural/meta humor gets a bit annoying. And as entertaining as Perkins is as she learns what Chuck has planned and then has to watch her family wiped out of existence, it's not worth seeing Becky come back for a fourth visit. Particularly since in a sense, she screws up yet again and gives Chuck the will to go on.
Also, Chuck is practically the show's deus ex machina, except in reverse. He can show up anytime to make the Winchesters' lives hell. Literally, if he wants. Because... he's God. But at the same time, it's hard to imagine the creative team filling out 20 or so episodes with God as the Big Bad. Yes, the creative team has dragged out threats in the past. Michael was the Big Bad last season, and got taken off the board pretty quickly after the first half of the season. But this season, it feels like there needs to be a secondary Big Bad to get eliminated so Chuck can take over. Otherwise… Chuck feels like he's sitting around doing nothing just to give the season a full slate of episodes.
As a last-season episode, "Atomic Monsters" doesn't contribute anything to the show finale. It does set the stage for Chuck doing something horrible to the Winchesters; he talks about how he's going to title his last work Supernatural: The End. But that's about it. The case of the week is okay but it doesn't connect up with anything. Which would be fine, except at the end when Sam and Dean say it connects up with their Jack exploits. And there just isn't that connection. It's like being hit over the head with a Nerf bat: it doesn't hurt, so what's the point? That's what this episode felt like, the creative team hitting me over the head with connections that weren't there.
But that's just my opinion, I could be wrong. What do you think?
Written by Gislef on Nov 8, 2019