Supernatural has its ghost hunting stories down pat, its familial struggles played out to a tee, its humor so charmingly sharp and the never-ending struggle of good versus evil illustrated perfectly.
And even as the show has been able to nestle into its niche, it's never stopped itself from branching out and pushing its genre's so-called boundaries.
Take the ultimate breaking of the fourth wall in the episode "The French Mistake" or even zapping Sam and Dean into versions of real life TV shows on "Changing Channels." The writers continue to find ways to add certain freshness with ideas that work splendidly even though they might not sound like it.
"The Girl with the Dungeons and Dragons Tattoo" falls into the "let's try something new" category whipping up playful antics akin to the Oceans Eleven films or TNT's Leverage with its use of split screens, bringing together the team of specifically useful individuals, and showcasing the crafty switchero that pulls one over on the bad guy.
Felica Day as super computer hacker Charlie was a fun, quirky addition to the cast. It's rare that we get to see female characters last on this show, but her nerdy yet endearing qualities made her unique and certainly likable in a way that I wouldn't mind seeing again. I mean, who hasn't gotten a tattoo of Princess Leia in a slave bikini straddling a 20-sided die?
I couldn't help but crack up at Sam rallying her confidence through ultra specific Harry Potter references or Dean working his artful flirtation on the guard.
Of course with all of the easter egg references from Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, War Games, to some I'm sure I didn't recognize, the episode was really amping up that amusing factor. There was a cleverness to the episode that really held out.
Yet, even with the zany caper focus, the episode felt like it was missing a lot for me.
I'm not sure if it was the complete change in tone for the show. I'm so used to the darker feel accompanied by the monsters, but even in the threat of imminent danger, the hour felt as positive as Charlie's song "Walking on Sunshine." Sure, Bobby doing his ghost thing and the Leviathan spending time feeding and copying people was all within the realm of supernatural, but it felt hidden by the mini heist created for the episode.
Maybe it was the fact that Sam and Dean really didn't have a lot of screen time and when they did it was mostly stuck in a van. I know that they couldn't show their faces, but they weren't the hands on hunters we normally see. They felt more like the characters Sam and Dean that we know, placed into a world that felt out of place for them. Computer hackers, private jets, research facilities? Doesn't scream Winchesters.
Perhaps the Leviathan storyline has taken so long to bubble to anything of importance (I'm still not sold on the whole meat packing for world dominance through Turducken agenda) that stealing Dick Roman's slab of clay didn't feel like a big payoff that most capers usually end up delivering. When you get an entire rundown of the main bad guy during the episode, you know it's been too long since you've last seen them. It's still hard for me to find Dick Roman scary.
I truly want to focus back more on Sam and Dean, and have them focusing away from weekly visits of haunted houses, to finally staring down the big enemy. If we're going to show the Leviathan again, let's finish them off with a bang. Let's give them some credence and menace and not just smarmy manipulative business strategies.
This episode certainly set up for the home stretch introducing the clay tablet and dealing with Bobby's vengeful spirit. I do applaud trying something brand new and certain aspects were entertaining, but it wasn't the extremely fulfilling cup of tea I had hoped for.
With the final act of season seven bearing down, I'm ready to watch Sam and Dean save the world with a gusto as loud as their Impala engine might roar.
Sean McKenna is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.Tags: Supernatural, Reviews