Supernatural: “Hibbing 911”

SPN

Supernatural has a rough track record when it comes to female characters, in that they tend to die in nasty ways. It’s actually one of the most problematic elements of the show. But there have been exceptions, including Sheriff Jody Mills (Kim Rhodes), who’s been a reoccurring character for five years. Jody was back in last night’s episode, teamed up with Season 9 guest star Briana Buckmaster (as the impossibly cheerful Sheriff Donna Hanscum) in an episode that was otherwise severely disappointing.

The episode’s teaser kicks off with a splatter of blood and a dead teenage vandal, then cuts to the world-weary, sardonic Jody steeling herself for a weekend of schmoozing at a sheriff’s retreat in Minnesota. She quickly meets Donna and the two are paired up as partners for the weekend, but both find the mysterious death of the teenager far more interesting than gun demonstrations or panels on riot control. It seems the body has been eaten right down to the bones, which is something we as an audience haven’t seen before. On a hunch, Jody puts in a call to Sam and Dean; while she assures them that she’s got the situation under control, the boys are bored enough to hop in the car and drive to her anyway.

It was nice to see Jody and Donna teamed up, though they’re by no means the most compelling women Supernatural has ever seen. Buckmaster has clearly seen Fargo more than a handful of times, because she plays Donna as a near-caricature of Marge Gunderson. That said, she never crosses the line over to unbearable, and it’s refreshing to see that she can hold her own in a fight. Rhodes is a Supernatural veteran, and her relationship with Sam and Dean is always a treat because it’s full of very human moments. Jody cares for the boys, but is never controlling or overly fussy. Her initial phone call with Sam, for instance, is a classic scene of a man talking to an aunt he hasn’t called in a while. The three actors just have a very believable camaraderie, which may be part of the reason why Jody is still on Supernatural‘s back burner.

Unfortunately, the monster of the week is vampires, and vampires are the absolute worst of Supernatural‘s spooky roster. Perhaps it’s because I discovered Supernatural within the last two years, when we’ve officially outgrown this generation’s vampire phase, but vampires just drag down every episode they’ve ever been in. Supernatural is on the same network that aired Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spinoff Angel, as well as The Vampire Diaries. The show simply has nothing new to say about bloodsuckers, and it’s frustrating that they keep bringing them back. Like werewolves, Supernatural should have outgrown vampires by now. Yes, they were a necessary topic to address, being a show about things that go bump in the night, but they are not long-term canon material.

“Hibbing 911” didn’t feel as plodding as last week’s “Girls Girls Girls” and that’s possibly due to the lack of Castiel and angel politics, but it’s definitely a filler episode. I liked the unlikely team-up of the two female sheriffs, and it’s always nice to see Jody again. However, her presence just makes me wish that the show hadn’t killed off the more interesting women from seasons past, like Ellen and Jo Harvelle or Season 4’s Anna Milton. It was great to see two women team up as equals to the Winchesters, but the antagonists were weak to the point of barely being there at all.

So, all in all, not the worst filler episode that Supernatural‘s ever done. However, the presence of a filler episode means one less strong hour of genre TV. I know the show can do better than this. If “Hibbing 911” was a breather, here’s hoping that they dive back into the meatier parts of the plot next week.

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