Supernatural: The French Mistake [Advance Review]

If you’re a die hard fan of Supernatural, you’ll understand the long list of in jokes that fly through this week’s all new episode “The French Mistake.” If you’re more of a casual viewer, you’ll probably feel as confused as Sam and Dean are when they jump through a window and land in an alternate universe.

Look alive, mateys, there be spoilers ahead.

When Raphael sends a formidable hitman after all who have helped Castiel in his quest, Balthazar goes on the offense by sending Sam and Dean into an alternate universe in order to protect them and the key to whole holy war. Once on the other side, the brothers find that they are actually actors on a TV show and that’s where things really get weird.

In the other universe, quite a few things are as they should be. Robert Singer is directing, Serge Ladouceur is at his side and Lou Bollo is there coordinating the stunts. (Bollo is one of the few real crew members to play himself in the episode and I must say some of the other casting choices were dead on.) Needless to say, our boys are very confused when they realize their world is now made up of plywood flats and rubber props, so they’re exceptionally glad to see their old friend Castiel. One problem, Castiel is a wimpy, diva named Misha who likes to Twitter incessantly including the use of the fan-coined term, J2. For the rest of the episode, the boys work on finding their way home while the crew worries about their obvious psychotic break. And then there’s Genevieve who apparently has no love for Jensen, but no worries because according to the trappings of his trailer, Jensen has plenty of love for himself.

The biggest problem with “The French Mistake” is that the writers decided to mix the truth with overblown exaggerations that I hope to heaven aren’t even close to the truth. In the reality column we have the boys watching a clip of Jensen from Days of Our Lives but then we have Jared and Gen living in Stately Wayne Manor with giant paintings of themselves on every wall. (Please tell me that’s not true.) When it’s suggested to Bob Singer that they’ll have to cut the scene where the boys sit on the hood of the Impala and share their feelings for each other, Singer grumbles about the landslide of hate mail he’ll receive from the fans. Then there’s that crack about how few people even watch the show. We’ve seen Supernatural indulge in both self-deprecating humor and swipes at the fans, but it’s simply not novel or funny, anymore.

The saving grace of the episode is Sebastian Roche as Balthazar who neatly fills the humorlessly sarcastic hole left by the late great Crowley (Mark Sheppard). I didn’t warm to him in his previous episodes, but this time around he has some of the best lines like when he refers to our boys as the stick in a deadly game of go fetch. Being an American, I also got a chuckle out of the boys reaction to finding out they’re in Vancouver, though I take exception to Dean’s complaint about too much hockey talk. Ice hockey is the only truly watchable sport on TV, so hush, you.

The writers did hit the mark with being out of “soul phone range,” and the reference to the “attractive, crying man” is so funny in a moment that shouldn’t be. Mother Nature also gets credit on this one as the weather really slams them good in a few scenes. Wow, I was shivering just watching them.

Supernatural has a history of making ideas that shouldn’t work, work. “Monster Movie” is still one of my favorite episodes and “Changing Channels” is brilliant in spots. Sadly, I can’t say the same for “The French Mistake” which has many of the same problems as “The Real Ghostbusters.” What bothers me most of all about this episode is that it makes Sam and Dean look like fools and that’s never fun. It also doesn’t pack the emotional punch that we often get at the end of the most comedic episodes.

“Well, at least they’re talking to each other.” In the episode, that is a running joke aimed at Jared and Jensen and as a fan, it’s one of the elements that I dearly hope is part of the fantasy and not the reality of life on the set of Supernatural.

“The French Mistake” – Jensen Ackles as Dean, Jared Padalecki as Sam, Misha Collins as Castielin SUPERNATURAL on The CW. Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW ©2011 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

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