Supernatural Re-watch, S1E7: Hook Man

Seventh episode overall, from October 25, 2005.

Synopsis:

We’re in East Iowa this time, at a sorority party on a university campus. Some painful dialogue between the prudish white girl and her fabulously sassy Black roommate later, PrudishGirl (per the trope, not my judgement; I like the way she sets boundaries) is making out lightly with her boyfriend when she stops to check caller ID, not taking Dad’s calls. I’m gonna call it here, pal, she is really not that into you. If she can get away with not taking even her father’s (the preacher, we’ll find out shortly) calls, but still stops to check who it is? This is Not A Good Sign.

She checks him when he tries to slip her top off her shoulder, and she frowns a bit (told you, letter boy!), then we get to see the shiny old hook of a cloaked figure outside the car. As LetterBoy persists in overstepping her clear boundaries, she stops him again, more firmly this time, only for the hellish noise to start – a metal sign being gouged by the hook. Encroaching screechy noises get worse and worse as the kids are more confused than scared. LetterBoy gets out (he’s not actually wearing a letter sweater, but you know the sort), and as the noise gets closer to PG a few moments later, he disappears suddenly.

She steels herself to get out eventually, and gets to see LetterBoy hanging upside down from the nearby bridge.

Cut to Sam and Dean together at a hot dog stand, talking “about a hundred miles from here”, where an invisible attacker is reported; frustrated at not finding Dad, they figure they’ll look into the job. Pretexting as frat brothers transferring in, they crash the frat for info and some no-homo from Dean (gah), locating the church where PG (Lori Sorenson) is attending her father’s memorial service for the dead boy. Blah blah live on in spirit, blah blah life everlasting, et c.

Sam starts puppy-dogging Lori, and the details he turns up makes the two of them think they may have the original Hook Man on their hands. To the Archives, boys, and don’t spare the atmosphere!

Sam turns up a preacher from 1862 who killed thirteen sex workers in one night over his rage about their illicit behaviour. The place? 9 Mile Road, the same place where the latest murder happened. His weapon? A silver hook, replacing a hand lost to an accident.

Dad is unhappy about Lori going to her dorm to sleep, and fails to get her to change her mind. Inside the dorm, she finds scratches all around, and Taylor (the sassy Black roommate) fast asleep. Lori showers, while the boys check out 9 Mile Road and the bridge. We get introduced to the tequila shotties (the ones with the rock salt) – and the police staking out the spot. Oops.

Lori again, heading to bed, sees Taylor shift contentedly in her sleep. Cut to morning, Lori wakes to find the room all scratched up and Taylor slaughtered in her own bed. “Aren’t you glad you didn’t turn the lights on?” is in the wall.

Boys leaving the police station crowing about getting off with a fine, they see 5-0 peeling out with lights and sirens. Following them, they find Lori’s dorm. Dean’s weird entitlement thing peeks out: he parks in the only place on the entire street where there is a fire hydrant. In an unlikely daylight break-in, they find the symbol confirming that it is the same preacher’s spirit. Dean’s got a parking ticket.

A party that night, Sam tells us he was a good scholar, not really a partier, and Dean is draping his 26-year-old eyes across every 18-year-old in the room in a totally not creepy way (hint: it really is kind of creepy, and gets only worse as the seasons go by and he gets older). Some lore Sam’s found makes them suspect Lori’s Dad, either summoning or haunted by a violent spirit. Sam watches Lori argue with her Dad, and Dean starts looking for the unmarked grave of the preacher. He finds the same symbol, by good luck, and starts doing what Winchesters do in cemeteries.

Back with Lori, Sam’s watching the house and Lori’s watching Sam, he puppy-dogs some more, they meet cute again. Dean burns the bones. Lori announces that the Reverend Daddy “Morality” Sorenson is having an affair with a married parishioner. And hug time with kisses. W00t for Sammy.

Dad says “Come in now,” and Lori’s all like, “Nuh-uh!” and he’s all “Uh-HUH!” and she’s like “Nuh-UH!” and then HOOK MAN HOOKS HIM AND DRAGS HIM INTO THE HOUSE WTF WE BURNT THE BONES!?!? Sammy saves him, and we cut to the hospital. Sam’s getting stink-eye and The Talk from 5-0, about how he keeps turning up when bad stuff happens.

Now that Dad’s in the clear, they turn their focus to the girl, maybe the spirit has latched on to her overdeveloped morality and is punishing people for her. And Sam reasons that if the hook wasn’t in the coffin, maybe the hook is the item carrying the spirit; eventually, they get to the part where the church had it melted down into new stuff. Time to burgle the church and the house.

Sam clears the house, and while Dean is stoking up in the basement of the church, they hear noises from upstairs. It’s Lori, come to pray for her father. Sam gets puppydogging, while Dean gets on with the fire. Hook Man shows up while Lori is blaming herself for the attacks, and long and short, it’s her necklace! A crucifix which was made from the melted hook. Dean chucks it into the fire, and Hook Man gets the hook.

With the necklace destroyed, the spirit goes too, and this one’s in the books. Sam walks away from Lori, looking glum – still bummed about Jess, he’s in no shape to start up with anyone new just yet.

Give it a few months (Provenance, S1E19). 😉

Analysis:

Dean really creeps me out in this one. John Shiban didn’t write that many episodes for the show, his first two being this one and the previous, Skin. He seems to like writing Dean as a creepy lech, rather than a hedonist. Looking back into his work, he wrote a bunch of X-Files episodes, most of which I didn’t like, so maybe I just don’t enjoy this dude’s work. He was also partly responsible for the execrable Torchwood: Miracle Day, which is not exactly a mark of favour, from me.

Also, the director on this one (as indeed is true of the director of Skin, last ep) is someone who never worked on the series again. Make of that what you will.

There’s a bit of lore in this one that quietly gets dropped, like the “Demons can only affect the weak and sinful” thing from Phantom Traveler: the boys smell a strong ozone stink in the dorm room, which I don’t recall ever happening again.

The Hook Man becomes one of the iconic monsters of the series, parodied later in the Supernatural convention episode. I’m not sure why it does so little for me, but I’ve just never really enjoyed it much. I think it’s the strong focus on the purity-police morality of the episode, a thing which never fails to annoy me for its appalling effect on women and girls (ahem, Mr. Duggar to the white courtesy phone, Mr. Duggar). Not that I expect the show to deal with those effects, it wouldn’t fit, but it makes a poor contrast with Dean’s objectifying behaviour in this episode.

Also, there’s that metal-scratching, which is my nails-on-a-blackboard sound.

Conclusion:

Next up is one I have mixed feelings about, Bugs.

(cue guitars and credits)

S1E7: Hook Man: 2.5 Pentacles

Just 2.5 Pentacles on this one, and I’ll admit some of it’s petty: the scratchy-metal noise from the teaser really (excuse the pun) grates on me, and makes it hard to watch, or at least listen to. Picayune, I know, but hey, it’s my blog. I could also do without the implicit slut-shaming in Taylor’s death (made explicit when Sam dismisses her as “a party girl”), but that’s just background misogyny for most of the cultures I’m aware of.

Trivia:

Running total of innocents killed by the Boys: Still at zero! Wait til we get to demon-possession, this number will go up quickly then.

Named women and/or POC (not already dead) who end up dead before the episode’s out: All of them but Lori The Good Girl. *eyebrow*

Marginalized (named) body survival rate: Lori and Taylor make up the lot this week, and it’s one for two: 50%.

Objectification by Dean: All OVER the place. “Sorority girls”, creeping on nine-year-younger girls at the party (he’s 26, they’re frosh), checking out the librarian’s ass. Shiban gave us a script with Dean at his most dudebro.

Misogynist slurs: Explicitly, almost none. Which is surprising, given the dudebro-turned-to-11 nature of the episode.

Aliases used by the boys: None. They cover as frat brothers from Ohio once.

Hint o’ maple: Couldn’t find any today! Small cast again, and mostly imports.

Supernatural: a Progressivist Re-watch

So, recently I decided I’d like to get some regular writing, and having enjoyed a bunch of really good re-watch/re-read threads at various places (Tor.com got me started, but the one I’ve loved best was The Viewscreen’s Star Trek: TOS series, followed by their work on the animated series, and other works on the astrogator for later), thought it might be time to start my own.  To some extent, then, Torie and Eugene, this one’s for you.

You’re probably thinking: OMG, Caitie, why the fuck would you want to subject yourself to a show that is SO not feminist?  And yeah, I’ve asked myself a few times.  But I’m a fan, what can I say: I love the show.

Oddly enough, I don’t like horror movies (I’m a big fan of being scared, but I tend to believe suspense + surprise = pleasant scare, and suspense + gorefest = unpleasant scare), so being a fan of SPN (as we call it in the fandom) is a real surprise: not really progressivist at all, very man-centred, horror-lite series.

But one can’t always choose what one will fall in love with, can one?

Who am I?

I’m a queer polyamourous working-class trans white woman gamer geek with mental and physical disabilities, and an immigrant from the UK to Canada (but you can just call me Cait – short for Caitlin, pronounced, in NorthAmEnglish anyway, as “Kate”).  I wrote for a couple of years at Shakesville as a contributor and moderator (CaitieCat), and have been published in a couple of anthologies (one of queer pastiche, one of trans erotica).

I’ve been a fan since I was old enough to watch ST: TOS on my own.  That’s…ooh, probably forty years now.  I use fan as a shorthand for someone who is a general sf/fantasy geek, and who has a (possibly unhealthy ;o) devotion to one or more media properties in that pursuit.

What is Supernatural, anyway?

Supernatural is the tale of two brothers (Dean Winchester, played by Jensen Ackles, and Sam Winchester, played by Gilmour Girls alum Jared Padalecki) in a world where monsters, demons, and angels are all real, though most people don’t know about them.  Circumstance reveals the truth of that world to their father when their mother is killed by a demon when the two are very small (Sam an infant, Dean four and a half).

Created by Eric Kripke, the show has recently finished its eighth season as I write this, and has shifted from a Monster-of-the-Week horror-lite show with a background story arc, to a show more or less defined by each season’s story arc, with some MOTW action thrown in to break up the big story.  Think of it sorta like the X-Files, except that instead of the mind-numbing and eventually show-killing takeover of the conspiracy episodes, we have a set of story arcs that work with and among the MOTW stories.

What Can We Expect from this Re-Watch?

Ahh, good question.  I’m glad I asked.

My concept here is to watch each episode, lay out a synopsis, and then look at the things they do that are or are not progressivist, before closing with a bit of trivia about the ep in question and the show in general.  Among those latter trivia will be, for instance:

  • a running count of the “innocent*” people slain by the two heroes;
  • a percentage rating, for how many named characters who are POC and/or women end up dead by episode’s end;
  • favourite lines;
  • good bits: stuff that is stealthily/surprisingly progressivist!;
  • and a misogynist slur watch (how many times a show is someone called a “bitch” or a “whore”, et c.).

Closed out with a rating of how much I, personally, enjoyed the show.

So that’s the premise.  I hope you’ll enjoy watching along with me, twice a week, on Tuesdays and Fridays. I’ve already set up the first four episodes to roll out on schedule.

A Note About Spoilers

There will be some.  I don’t think it’s reasonable to expect to do a re-watch without them.  What I’d like to see is people trying to avoid giving spoilers about shows we haven’t done yet, but the episode we’re looking at will, obviously, be chock-a-block with spoilers.  Until we get caught up**, anyway.

* For instance, if the boys kill a demon with the, well, y’know, (SPOILER!) that thing they can kill demons with, and the human doesn’t survive?  That’s one for the boys’ total.  People who die because Our Lads haven’t figured out the MOTW yet, they don’t go on the total.

** If we ever get caught up – at eight seasons, the show has something like 170+ episodes, which at two a week means this is a two-year project, by which time there will be (supposing no cancellation) another 20+ episodes, and so on.