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REVIEW: Supernatural 11×16 “Safe House”

The end of another Hellatus, and the return of some well-loved characters as Sam and Dean picked up a case first worked by Bobby and Rufus ‘a handful of years ago’.

Sam wanted to resume hunting while Dean seemed anxious to carry on pursuing Amara and find a way to rid Cas of his Hellish squatter, but – as is often the way in Supernatural – the boys had no leads, and the Winchesters took what appeared to be a straightforward haunting.

The victim in question was a little comatose girl, who showed no signs of outward trauma other than a sinister hand print wrapped around her ankle. Sam and Dean’s interest was piqued when the neighbourhood busybody let slip that a couple of older FBI agents matching Bobby and Rufus’ descriptions had been to the house previously, and Dean searched Bobby’s journal for clues as to what they were actually dealing with.

Following in Bobby and Rufus’ footsteps, Sam and Dean tracked down the bodies of two former inhabitants who had died in the cursed house, only to find that their remains had already been salted and burnt by their erstwhile mentors. Dean’s thought processes mirrored Bobby’s perfectly, Bobby having been preoccupied by the prospect of an imminent apocalypse and the destruction of the Winchester boys by Lucifer and Michael respectively, and Dean distracted by the coming of The Darkness and Castiel’s current status as Lucifer’s vessel. It was a nice touch to set Bobby and Rufus’ case during Lucifer’s last visit, reminding the viewer that he is back for a second bite of the cherry and residing inside the angel’s meat suit.

Sam had his own theories, as had Rufus back in the day, and finally the boys worked out they were, in fact, dealing with a Soul Eater. This is something we haven’t come across in Supernatural mythology before, a creature which can drag the soul of its victim to its nest – a kind of nightmarish dreamscape where it keeps them as a food store while the earthly body withers away in a vegetative state.

Determined to finish what Bobby and Rufus started when they trapped the creature in the house, Sam and Dean set about killing the thing using lore from the Men of Letters archive (intel the older hunters wouldn’t have had access to). This involved one of them infiltrating the nest to paint a sigil inside it, while his brother stayed in the real world to draw a corresponding symbol. Dean proved once again that he is the worst Rock, Paper, Scissors player in the history of ever, and entered the lair while Sam stayed in the waking world.

Supernatural -- "Safe House" -- Image SN1116b_0260.jpg -- Pictured: Jensen Ackles as Dean -- Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW -- © 2016 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

It was a lovely touch to have Dean and Bobby occupy the same liminal space to lock eyes for a few seconds before they re-entered their relative timelines, and I loved that the boys were able to bring closure to something Bobby and Rufus started.

This idea that monsters, heroes, the life, the fight, it never really changes, that everything is a cycle and a continuation, was echoed by the lyrics of the closing track (“And the road goes on forever” from Midnight Runner by the Allman Brothers), and was perhaps a knowing reference to the longevity of the show itself, which has just been renewed for another two seasons.

Final Grade: C

+ I really appreciated that the flashback conceit was used to show the parallel stories in two different periods. One of the main problems with bringing beloved characters back from the dead is that, while it’s entirely possible within that universe, having them return as a ghost, or reanimated by magic means, diminishes the emotional weight of the loss. While Bobby’s death was protracted as part of a season arc, Rufus’ sudden demise at Bobby’s hand while he was possessed by one of Eve’s creations was brutal and permanent, and that made it impactful. Spending time with his character without lessening the blow of his death made the episode much more poignant.

+ I had forgotten Rufus was Jewish, and his excuses to get Bobby to do all the heavy lifting were hilarious.

+ Kudos to the show for featuring gay parents and not making an issue of it.

– While this was a solid monster of the week episode, featuring fan favourites and a new creature to contend with, I did find it dragged a little in places.

Extra Thoughts:

Dean being keen for Sam to enter the Soul Eater’s nest instead of him didn’t sit well with me. There have been a few instances like this throughout the history of the show, and I would argue that Dean thinks of himself as Sam’s big brother and protector too much to ever wittingly put him in jeopardy. Therefore, I’m choosing to believe that he deliberately loses all those games of Rock, Paper, Scissors to save Sam’s pride. I mean, one victory in eleven years?! What are the odds..?

So what did you think? Was this episode a showhome or a fixer upper? Sound off in the comments or send us your thoughts on Twitter!

About the author

Katie Young