Episode 11×05 AKA “The One with Lizzie Borden”
Well, the hellatus is over and Darkness is unleashed on the Earth in the form of a little girl. Crowley has become a guardian to Teh Dark Preteen; Sammy was infected by the rage monster virus, and Castiel has been cured of his curse by Rowena. I’m guessing the Winchesters won’t be getting sunshine and puppies anytime soon…Warning there be spoilers ahead.
“Thin Lizzie” brought back the best aspects of ‘Monster of the Week’ episodes, which throwbacks to early season haunting investigations, older technologies (the EMF!), and even Sam’s obsession with serial killers. Written by Supernatural’s newest addition to the writing room, Nancy Won, “Thin Lizzie” is creepy, funny, and fraught with emotions in ways that only the Winchesters can move us to.
The episode lights up on a couple of expendable teenagers who decide that Lizzie Borden’s house is a good place to have a snog fest.
News flash: it’s not worth losing your head over.
The Winchesters are on the case, although Dean is convinced the murder house-turned-B&B is a tourist trap rather than a haunting. Sam is hoping it’s a serial killer. After eleven seasons, we’ve almost forgotten that this is not what a normal family talks about.
The Lizzie Borden house seems to be exactly what Dean says–a tourist trap–until a second axing happens. The Winchesters encounter a Lizzie aficionado named Len, who recounts to Dean his encounter with a bizarre young girl named Amara. You’d be right if you guessed that this doesn’t end well for Len.
Len’s encounter with Amara left him soulless, and though we don’t see how he’s affected right away, he describes himself as “going through the motions.” He’s pretending to be how he used to be. The Winchesters take Len with them as they continue investigating the murders, hoping that he’ll know something that leads them to Amara. Their investigation leads them back to the home of the second murder, where it appears that Amara has left more soulless persons in her wake.
The real murderer is not the ghost of Lizzie Borden, but another victim of Amara’s, who is determined to sacrifice Dean and Sam to Amara’s vicious appetite. The Winchesters are saved by Soulless Len, who remembers right from wrong even if he doesn’t feel compelled to always act on it.
The episode ends with the feeling that Len is just foreshadowing for the fate of one of the Winchesters.
The Big Picture
We know now that it isn’t so easy to figure out whether or not a character retains their soul. Len seems adorable until he admits to being empty on the inside. “I can’t eat or sleep. I don’t dream,” he says, “And all of the things I used to love? My Lizzie blog, the ghost conventions? They leave me cold.”
Now, this begs the question: did Amara take Dean’s soul in the season premiere, when they had their little tete-a-tete?
I’m inclined to think not, for the following reasons: 1. Amara wasn’t in human form when she saw Dean in the premiere, and we’ve seen that she feeds on souls now that she’s in a human body. There’s no indication that she ate souls when she was incorporeal. 2. The “surprise! you have no soul!” plot has been done before. In season 6. With Sam. I’d like to think that Supernatural is beyond recycling plotlines and swapping Winchesters. But, you know, seasons 9 & 10 happened, so who knows? And 3. “Baby.” You can’t watch last week’s episode and tell me that Jensen Ackles was playing a soulless Dean Winchester.
The appearance of Len and the question of Dean’s soul status makes me wonder: does losing your soul make you a bad person? Is the memory of morality and emotion enough to keep someone from going to the Dark Side? “And now I remember how to talk to people, what to say, but I feel like I’m acting,” Len tells Dean, “going through the motions. I’m like a robot-puppet man.” Though Len is strongly tempted to follow Amara into the Darkness, he chooses to do the right thing because he remembers what the right thing is. For Len, knowledge trumps emotion (or lackthereof) and if Dean is soulless, or will be soulless, the same theme will likely reappear. In fact, it appeared in the premiere episode of the season, when Sam reminds Dean that their family business consists of hunting things and saving people.
If things go soulless, let’s hope Dean remembers that.
Until next week, SPN Family.