Friday, April 25, 2014

Female Trouble - Supernatural, Ep. 9x19, "Alex Annie Alexis Anne"

Was I seeing things?  Was this an alternate universe?  Was this "Supernatural"? Three interesting, nuanced, intelligent female characters on the show?  A recurring character didn't die?  It's not Bizarro World, it's "Alex Annie Alexis Anne", written by Robert Berens and directed by a guy whose name I can't spell.

The title is a play on the thriller  "Martha Marcy May Marlene" (2011).  From IMDB: Martha has run away from an abusive hippie-like cult where she was living as Marcy May for two years. Here it is a child who has been kidnapped and been raised by a family of vampires, who have kept her human for complicated reasons. What I didn't know when I wrote this was that Berens was referencing four other movies: "Carrie", "Fargo", "Aliens", and "Pete's Dragon".

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Writer Robert Berens getting in touch with his feminine side. Note matching lip gloss. Work it, girl!

This was a throwback to the good old Supernatural MOTW, and unlike others ("Sharp Teeth", anyone?) it was a solid entry.  It won me over with the line, "He's been having nightmares ever since the barn scene from The Walking Dead."  Cue Norman Reedis voice: "So-fee-ya! So-FEE-Ya!"  But I digress.

spn_919 Alexis cop

A struggling teenager is hauled into the Sioux Falls police station and put in a holding cell.  She tells the officer that "they" will get her. A minute later he gets a B&E call and leaves her alone. Until a vampire happens to  shows up. "You can run, but we'll always find you," he says. Then--

spn_919 BAMF Jody  
Sheriff Jody Mills in da house!

It's great to see Kim Rhodes again, even with that strange John Travolta skullcap hairdo. And so we have First Dead Vampire Brother.  Keep track, folks.

Jody and Alex are the center and heart of the story, which upsets those fans who want all Sam and Dean, all the time. I don't know about you, but unless Crowley is around, I'd rather not spend too much time with these guys right now.  All they do is avoid eye contact and act mopey.  Alex is completely closed off, until she begins to bond with Jody.  Probably the first human being Alex has interacted with in eight years.

The Winchesters arrive in Sioux Falls. Jody shows them the dead vamp in her police car.

spn_919 Sam trunk
 Jody has major junk in her trunk.

Sam: Yeah, that's a vamp all right.
Dean: I don't know Sammy, looks like Jody might not need our help anymore.
Sam: Ah, they grow up so fast.  
Dean: Don't they?

Okay, so that was adorable, not mopey.  My bad.  When Jody asks the boys how they are, Dean:"peachy", Sam:"touch and go."  That's about it for brotherly angst this go-round.  It seems that Alex is really Annie, who was kidnapped eight years before.  However, Alex has become loyal to her captors. "Vampiric Stockholm Syndrome?" Jody asks. Heh.  

During the interrogation, Alex corrects the boys when either of them calls her Annie.  I would, too. Alex is a much cooler name.  She's a "blood slave" to a nest of vamps--they feed from her before they go on a hunt.  There's some "make choices and hurt your brother" stuff slipped in, of course.  But my foot wasn't crushed by an anvil this time. The Winchesters take pest control duty while the sheriff takes Alex to Jody's secluded cabin in the woods. What could possibly go wrong? Dean and Sam find the vampire nest in a foreclosed house.  Excellent exterior shot of Vamp Castle.

spn_919 vamp house  
Where's that eerie owl hoot when you need it?

Indeed, this is where the vampires are nesting.  The woodchipper from "Weekend At Bobby's" reappears!  Another recurring character.  It's been too long, Industrial Machine of Spouting Blood and Gore.  (Dang! This was a "Fargo" reference and I missed it!)  Sam and Dean capture a vampire, tie him up and torture him.  It's pretty hilarious listening to a monster hissing out a litany of complaints about Kids These Days.

spn_919 cute vampire brother  
Noooo! Don't kill the only cute vampire!!!

Seems the vamps used underage Alex to lure pervs from bars to secluded houses, where her family killed them.  Who needs a register for sex offenders when you've got the undead?  Dale becomes the Second Dead Vampire Brother.  I know his name because later somebody says, "They killed Dale."

Back in The Cabin In The Woods, Alex tests Jody's boundaries, as any teen would, by pissing Jody off.

spn_919 FU Jody  
Don't make me use my twin temple moles on you, young lady!

But soon Alex's heart softens, and she allows Jody to tuck her in.  Alex couldn't stand the killing and listening to the victims' screams anymore, so she fled to Sioux Falls.  But her brothers show up, snatch her, and since Jody needs to be alive, knock her unconscious instead of killing her.  It's morning when Sam and Dean arrive.  Who wouldn't want to wake up with the Winchesters standing over them?

Now in full woman warrior mode, Jody insists on going with the boys back to Vamp Castle.  The vampire brothers are straight out of "Deliverance."  But instead of making Sam squeal like a pig, they tie him up (is anyone surprised?  There must be some huge rating spike whenever Jared Padalecki is tied up) to "pack a lunch" i.e., sticking an IV tube in Sam's arm to siphon out his blood.  Somehow there's a Third Dead Vampire Brother when I wasn't looking.  Dean plays possum until Fugly Vamp Brother grabs him.  Is it me, or do Dean's eyes flash back for a split second before he leaps and pins Fugly to the wall? "Look at me!  Look at me, bitch!" he hollers at his intended victim.

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 spn_919 Dean vamp
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"Was it as good for you as it was for me?"

spn_919 Sam tied up  
"That's some fucked-up shit, bro."

And we have Fourth Dead Vampire Brother.  Alex is in the basement with Celia, aka Mama, who is deeply hurt by her child's running away.  This is a much more complicated creature than usual.  Vampires on "Supernatural" tend to be portrayed as having families they love, with the ability to grieve.

spn_919 Mama  
It is Piper Laurie in 'Carrie'!

As Second Dead Vampire Brother had said, Mama thought Alex was "too good" to be turned.   "It was so selfish," she says.  "I wanted to watch you grow up. I kept putting it off. Don’t you see? These things you’ve been feeling – all the guilt and suffering – those are human feelings. It ain’t too late. I can take the pain away, and then we can stay together, as a family. Like none of this ever happened. Wouldn’t you like that?" Jody hears the noises in the basement (which sound a little too much like porn moans to be comfortable) and finds that Mama has turned Alex.

spn_919 Alexis vamp  
That's a great look on you, Alex! Oh, wait...

"I'm sorry, Jody," Alex sobs. Upstairs, Sam has had so much blood drained out of him that it's a miracle he's still alive.  Let's face it, if he died he'd be brought back before the end of the episode.  Sometimes I think this show should be called "Resurrection". "Dean," he gasps.  "Yeah, you wouldn't do the same for me," Dean snarls, pulling out the IV. "No, Jody you asshole," Sam says.

To complete turning, Alex has to feed.  Mama has been kind enough to tie up Sheriff Mills for easy snacking.  But the girl won't do it.  Mama knows that Jody is feeling unresolved guilt--and so is Mama.  The vampire once had a little girl named Alex, which is why she changed Anne's name.  Mama proceeds to beat the shit out of Jody, and since Alex won't kill her, it's din-dins for Mom.  Except that Alex plunges a syringe full of dead man's blood into her mother's back.  Mama is staggered at the betrayal.

"Don't look, sweetheart," Jody says, before cutting off Mama's head.  It's a moment the plays one hundred times sadder than that sentence. 

Children can be so ungrateful!

Sam and Dean bring Jody and Alex back to the Cabin In The Woods, while Alex is being cured.

spn_919 Alexis Jody
This lesbian sex scene had to be cut for length.

Sam is disturbed--not by "bitch" being virtually the only word in Dean's vocabulary--but by how much Dean enjoyed killing Fugly Vampire Brother.  The Winchesters drive off, and we're left with Jody and Alex.  The ending is left nicely ambiguous.  Will Jody take on a maternal role? Will Alex go into the foster system? Will Alex strike out alone?  It's nice to be left to make up your own after-story.  Dirty or otherwise.  Finally:

spn_919 cute Sam  
Because I'm the reviewer, that's why!

Next week: the Winchesters meet a whole lot of college kids who are monsters and run Chicago.  Just so you know.

screencaps by
Robert Berens courtesy of Robert Berens

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