Before what will likely be a dark and serious mid-season finale, Supernatural 13×08 delivered a light-hearted heist
Supernatural has always been good at giving viewers the occasional comedic episode. Given the nature of the show, dark humor is often the slant it’s taken over the years. From “Mystery Spot” to “Wishful Thinking” to “Bad Day At Black Rock,” Supernatural has mastered a twisted sense of humor. While season 13 has had humorous moments, it’s been a rather serious season overall. “The Scorpion and the Frog” seemed to be intended to change that.
Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) continued their search for Jack (Alexander Calvert) and received a phone call from a mysterious man who claimed to have something they’d be interested in. That man turned out to be the crossroads demon that replaced Crowley. Barthamus (David Cubitt) claimed he had a spell. What kind of spell? A Nephilim tracking spell. All Sam and Dean would have to do is steal something from a man named Luther Shrike (Richard Brake) and they’d be given the other half of the spell.
Despite being initially reluctant, Sam and Dean agreed to do it. What followed was a comedic heist involving two lackeys of Bart: Smash (Christie Burke) and Grab (Matthew Kevin Anderson). (Not their real names.) After numerous amusing exchanges and situations, the Winchesters ended up failing to obtain the spell from Bart, saved the life of “Smash” (whose real name was Alice), had Alice burn Bart’s bones to kill him, and returned to the Bunker empty-handed.
“The Scorpion and the Frog” may have been filled with humorous moments and references, but it didn’t appear to contribute much as far as the overall story of the season is concerned. Not every episode of the show necessarily needs to do that. Episode 8 operated under the guise of advancing the main story but since the Winchesters returned empty-handed and they’re no closer to finding Jack, the end result was an entertaining standalone episode.
We might almost be to the mid-season finale already but season 13 has continued to be entertaining and given us plenty to talk about. Let’s meet our guests for “The Scorpion and the Frog” and get into more of the details!
Lena (@lenastiel) – Hopeful optimist and lover of peanut butter who is passionate about Supernatural and its amazing cast members
Destiny (@cuddlydean24) – A business student that loves watching TV and listening to music
Lindsay (@lindieface) – Beleaguered grad student, unrepentant fangirl, whiskey aficionado
Sarah (@mishdestiel) – Writer, reader, student. Cornered by Supernatural eight years ago
Tricia (@tricia_16_) – Wayward wife and mother of two who found my people, my passion, and myself through Supernatural and its fandom
1. This episode went all out with the classic Supernatural style dark humor. What was the funniest moment for you?
Lena (@lenastiel): There are many funny moments courtesy of Jensen Ackles’s physical comedy skills. If I have to choose one, I would definitely nominate the scene when Dean has to put his hand through the slot in the vault safe mechanism, and he freaked out about spiders, spiny blade things, snakes….and most importantly spiders!
Destiny (@cuddlydean24): The funniest moment was when Dean had to put his hand in the mouth. Jensen was so great with the physical comedy in that scene.
Lindsay (@lindieface): Jensen is always a complete treasure when he gets physical comedy – he does comedic so well. I think my favorite was his hesitation about sticking his hand in the mechanism, and his obvious and totally relatable fear of spiders. His expression as he was finally putting his hand through (as well as his reaction when all seemed to be okay) was priceless.
Sarah (@mishdestiel): I enjoyed all the scenes with Alice, but the entire scene of Dean, Sam and Bart at the diner was golden… I found it very amusing and Bart’s personality was really interesting. My favorite moment of it was Dean and Bart teasing each other with “When a demon tells us to jump, we don’t ask how high. We just ice their ass.” And “How very “Dean” of you.”. As I said… golden.
Tricia (@tricia_16_): I’m pretty sure everybody’s going to have the same answer here: Dean not wanting to put his hand in the mouth on the door. Which was totally relatable for me in particular because I hate spiders, too! Jensen has such a talent for comedic timing, and his facial expressions are always absolutely on point! He was what saved the whole episode for me.
2. It took a while but the show finally introduced a demon to replace Crowley. Barthamus didn’t end up lasting too long thanks to “Smash.” Is he a character you would have liked to see used more in the future or did they make the right call by killing him off?
Lena: I think they made the right call by killing him off, and it made a good pay-off by the end of the episode to see the one making a shady double-crossing deal for a nefarious purpose be vanquished. However, while Barthamus’s performance and deviousness is a treat to watch, I believe Crowley was in another league of his own. I’d rather think Barthamus is a nostalgic reminder of Crowley’s double-triple-quadruple crossing nature.
Destiny: I think they made the right call by killing him off. There would have been no point of killing off Crowley if they were just going to replace him with a similar character.
Lindsay: I think they made the right call. If they’re looking for a new Crowley-esque character, they should go in a totally different direction rather than writing what was essentially a knockoff Crowley. His dialogue even felt like they were writing for Mark still. (I feel the same way about Smash/Alice – rather than give us what my friend hilariously called “dollar store Charlie Bradbury”, do something different. Or bring back the original characters we love rather than just doing it over again with new and less endearing actors!)
Sarah: I would have liked to see him used in the future but not as some sort of replacement for Crowley. No demon can replace Crowley. The relationship he had with Dean, Sam and Castiel, as well as other characters, was very unique and had much history behind it. It took him years to become the King of Hell we knew and loved, the demon that could hold his bargains with some honesty and humanity. If Bart was supposed to be his replacement… I think he’s better off dead.
Tricia: I actually liked him quite a bit! He made both me and my husband laugh a couple of times! Wasn’t a big fan of him saying that Sam is “the smart one” between him and Dean, but I understand he just said it as a dig at Dean. I was sorry to see him killed off, because Supernatural could use another crossroads demon!
3. How would you rank this episode among the other more comedic episodes over the course of the series?
Lena: I would place this episode among the good range of the series’ comedic episodes. I enjoyed the classic Supernatural humor, with the classic Winchester situation of having a dangerous looming threat hanging on the horizon – and this time, the audience was already privy to the fact that something really bad has happened to Castiel, while the Winchesters were under a sense of security established in the beginning of episode that Cas was doing alright. So it truly was a classic Supernatural’s dark comedy.
Destiny: The episode had a lot of funny moments but I also found it boring at some points. I enjoyed the episode but I would rank it lower than some of the other comedic episodes.
Lindsay: While I don’t think it rivaled classic comedic episodes like “Mystery Spot,” “Tall Tales,” “The French Mistake,” and “Changing Channels,” it had some very solidly funny moments. I’d give it a solid B+ as far as humorous episodes go.
Sarah: I really liked this episode, despite the fact that my favorite character wasn’t in it. But in my opinion it didn’t beat my favorite: “Hunteri Heroici” (S08E08). The whole heist plotting was amazing! And the side characters were very captivating and easy to love. I’d give it a 7 out of 10 points.
Tricia: If we’re stacking this one up to other funny episodes like “Bad Day at Black Rock,” “Changing Channels,” “Tall Tales,” or “Yellow Fever…” I think it fell pretty short. There were some funny moments, but if the point this episode was to be a stand-out comedic episode like the others I just listed, I don’t think it measures up. At all.
4. The Nephilim tracking spell would have been extremely rare. Do you think the spell was legitimate or would it have blown up in the Winchesters’ faces?
Lena: I think the spell was legitimate. Angels can be tracked, demons can be tracked, and other supernatural beings have their own tracking means. I believe the show is subverting the concept of the all-powerful Nephilims step by step as the lore about them is further revealed. Queen Sheba was apparently a Nephilim too, which is a cool surprise. So I think that extremely obscure spell is legitimate – such a shame that it got burned away.
Destiny: I think it would have blown up in the Winchesters’ faces. It might have actually worked and tracked Jack down but the past has shown that spells and magic have consequences.
Lindsay: Everything comes with a price – and who knows what the price might have been if they got hold of the spell and made it work? I think it was legitimate, but I don’t know if I think Barthamus ever intended to actually give it to them. He doesn’t have the integrity we’ve seen in some of our other villains.
Sarah: It was authentic but it had some catch. Perhaps a very rare and disturbing ingredient was necessary, or perhaps it had a bad side effect. I’m relieved to see that they’ll have to find Jack in more common ways, at least they’re not in deeper trouble.
Tricia: I hope it was legitimate. If Bart was making a deal involving it, it really should have been. I don’t know if the spell would have worked on Jack, though, since he’s not your typical Nephilim.
5. Sam and Dean stood idly by while Barthamus burned along with the other half of the Nephilim spell. Did you think that worked well from a story standpoint or was that a convenient way to get rid of it? What could have been done differently to get rid of the spell?
Lena: I would have definitely not had Sam blow air at the burning paper to stop the flames. Haha. Admittedly, it did seem a bit too convenient, but to be fair, Sam and Dean have just been double-crossed by Barn and witnessed the death of the supposed villain of the story – who turned out to be a good guy. From a story standpoint, I’m glad they put a close to that solution (tracking spells seemed a bit too cliché to me). I am curious of what they have in store for Jack.
Destiny: I don’t like that Sam and Dean stood there watching Barthamus burn along with the spell. It looked like they could have easily run and grabbed the spell before it burned. I think it would have been better if the fire happened faster.
Lindsay: I feel like it was a convenient way to get rid of it, personally. Sam and Dean are both way too smart to let that happen – or to blow on flames to put it out. Those boys are geniuses, and would’ve known to put it out with a boot or something. I think it would have been interesting to have them get the spell, but either have it backfire or perhaps be another double-cross from Barthamus. That’s the essence of the scorpion and the frog fable, after all!
Sarah: It seemed like a convenient way to get rid of it. Perhaps the writers needed Jack to still be gone a while longer but wanted to make the spell plot happen, and burning it was the only way they managed to make both happen. It’s hard to say. They could’ve made Bart double-cross Sam and Dean somehow.
Tricia: That whole sequence fell really flat for me. From the second the match was dropped into the trunk full of bones, Dean and Sam had to have known that his body was going to catch on fire, and that he was holding a piece of paper that would burn with him. Everything we know about Sam and Dean would lead me to believe they should have reacted faster. Dean can move fast enough to save “Smash” from an arrow but not react to a body going up in flames? And Sam blowing on the paper? Really? Nope. Didn’t buy it. If Bart didn’t hold the spell so far away from his body right from the beginning it could have burned quicker and more believably.
6. Jack appears to be far better at hiding than the Winchesters thought he would be. What kind of crazy adventures do you think he’s gotten up to?
Lena: He’s probably buying all the nougats he can find and visit wonderful places in the world? Eh, I gotta enjoy my happy fantasy for a while before the show’s reality comes crashing! In all seriousness though, Jack is likely to be in a very conflicted place right now. In the past, he’s transported himself to a dark alley to brood miserably after hearing Sam and Dean’s disagreement in regards to his nature. With both Heaven and Hell hunting for him, Jack is in a very vulnerable position. Let’s just hope the kind of crazy adventures he’s gotten up to are not the bad kind.
Destiny: I don’t think Jack has used his powers since he’s disappeared. Someone would have found him by now if he had. I think he’s somewhere where he can lay low.
Lindsay: The first place my thoughts went was “he’s going to Disney World.” However, this is Supernatural, and things are never that light-hearted! My guess is that he’s either wandering and exploring his new world, trying to get in touch with Castiel (I love their bond and can’t wait to see more once Cas is sprung from hell-prison), or laying low so he doesn’t get on anyone’s radar. Though from the looks of the teaser for the midseason finale, he runs into a new character.. maybe he finds her while he’s hiding out?
Sarah: I think Jack is probably laying low (pulling an Eleven, you know? Stealing some nougats and running away). Part of me would love if he’d looked for Clark for help, since the boy seemed accepting of who Jack is. But I believe he’s doing what Castiel did when he was human: trying to survive without causing any damage.
Tricia: I don’t know if I know enough about Jack to even make a guess. I can’t imagine him trying to fit in with humans anywhere, so I guess my best guess is that he’s just hiding out on his own somewhere. Maybe a seedy hotel room like the Winchester’s have taught him? I’m really not sure, but I’m definitely anxious to see where he’s been and what he’s been up to!
7. Luther Shrike wasn’t a particularly nice guy but he could have made a potentially powerful ally. Do you think he should have been killed off or is he a character you have liked to see more of in the future? Is he truly dead?
Lena: Surprisingly, I enjoyed his character a lot. He was definitely a powerful player with an interesting (and rather tragic backstory) that made him hold a big grudge against demons. I was really impressed by his last stance before death. Luther, a character who protected his immortality meticulously and escaped hell through a cunning deal – all in the name of avenging the death of his son, made the decision to go out and prevent the Winchesters from falling under Bart’s schemes, at the cost of his life. It was an impressive noble twist to his character. I’d definitely like to see more of him. It’s Supernatural, after all. The dead might not stay dead.
Destiny: Shrike had an interesting backstory. I would have loved to find out more about him. I also would have loved to find out what else he had in his house. I think he’s truly dead. His head was chopped off so I don’t think there’s a way to come back from that.
Lindsay: He looked pretty dead. But then again, does that really matter? Shrike was interesting, because he certainly wasn’t likeable.. but he ended up being a relatively sympathy-inducing character. I’d be interested to either see more of him, or see more of the supernatural treasures he’s acquired over the years. I also really wanted the boys to go back to the house and grab that giant stack of hundreds that was in his desk, but that’s a minor detail!
Sarah: I loved the construction for his character and I really hope he isn’t dead because Shrike could make an extremely powerful ally, especially with how ingenious he seemed to be. It’s always nice to see humans involved with the lore and the mystic, causing impacts and showing different stories with the supernatural.
Tricia: One thing I didn’t understand is why Luther didn’t just burn Bart’s bones himself if he had them all along? I didn’t get the feeling he wanted to be alive, especially after he spoke about his son dying. It was very strange to me. I think he’s really dead (well, as dead as one can get on Supernatural, anyway!). I wasn’t all that interested in the character myself, though the actor was great, I would have liked to see Sam and Dean rifle through his house for some of the super rare artifacts he had collected over the years once he was killed off.
Final Verdict: “The Scorpion and the Frog” was an entertaining outing for the brothers but it isn’t on the level of some of the classic episodes
“The Scorpion and the Frog” may not have contributed much to the overall story arc of the season but it certainly was entertaining. Jensen Ackles continued to prove that he’s a master of comedic timing. From his delivery of line after hilarious line to his physical comedy, Ackles was in top form throughout. Jared Padalecki, while not given as many good lines as his co-star, also did a great job with his delivery and overall performance. The two lackeys that made up the rest of the team for the heist worked as the comedic straight man to Sam and Dean’s rather poor job of robbing Shrike.
Barthamus certainly wasn’t a good stand-in for Crowley but he didn’t need to be. He served his purpose of giving the brothers hope about finding a spell and fleshed out the state of Hell a bit more since Crowley’s death. Despite being the most powerful demon in Hell, Asmodeus is not well-liked, and Bart was just the latest example of a powerful demon that secretly hated the new boss.
There’s no doubt that “The Scorpion and the Frog” was an entertaining outing for the brothers but how does it stack up against other similar episodes in the past? It’s rather mixed. Meredith Glynn wrote outstanding dialogue and consistently did well establishing the scenarios for the brothers to bumble around in.
But despite the sharp dialogue and amusing situations, there simply wasn’t a whole lot to the premise or the story of the episode. If adding in the complete failure on the part of the brothers to even obtain the spell they were after, they effectively ended up where they were when they started. To make matters worse, the manner in which the spell was lost required the Winchesters to stand by dumbly while it burned in front of them. Only after it was too late did Sam move to try to stop it from burning. If the end goal was to destroy the spell, we can think of numerous and more believable ways to do so.
After a series of relatively dark episodes this season, “The Scorpion and the Frog” gave us some much-needed laughs. It didn’t really stand out among the best episodes of the series but did serve as some entertaining filler before everything goes off the rails in the mid-season finale.