‘Supernatural’ Review: “Bad Boys”
‘Supernatural’ season 9 summons its seventh episode of the year in “Bad Boys,” as Dean returns to a boys' home he spent time at as a teenager, now haunted by a vengeful ghost.
Last week’s ‘Supernatural’ episode, “Heaven Cant's Wait,” saw Dean partnering with a still-human Castiel to investigate a series of bizarre murders, while Sam attempted to enlist Crowley’s help in translating the mysterious angel tablets, so what does the seventh season 9 episode bring? What strange and unexpected challenges will the Winchesters face next?
Read on for your in-depth recap of everything you need to know about ‘Supernatural’ season 9 episode 7, “Bad Boys”!
In upstate New York, a group of young boys flee a smaller, bespectacled boy in a nighttime game of hide-and-seek, before a caretaker follows them into a barn and reminds them of approaching bedtime. Suddenly, all the usual ghostly occurrences materialize, as the tractor within the barn comes to life on its own, trapping the man against the barn door and impaling him through.
Back at the base, Dean takes a call from a man named Sonny, learning that he might have a job for the Winchesters. Dean admits to Sam that he had been caught stealing years earlier and sent to live in a boys’ home during a two-month period he’d disappeared, though he and John never told Sam the truth about the absence. When the two arrive in New York, however, the house’s other caretaker, Rosa, harshly greets them, wondering if they’re friends of Sonny from his days in prison.
Dean remembers first being brought to the home as a boy, quickly finding that the laid-back Sonny was more interested in helping him than providing a stern hand. The present Sonny arrives to the scene, informing them about the caretaker Jack’s mysterious accident. Sam investigates the house to find Rosa praying for a ghost to depart, believing the spirit to be the house’s former owner, who held a grudge against Jack and died in prison a year earlier. Dean checks out the barn, finding only the young boy in glasses, Timmy, who confirms the ghostly apparitions and pretends to fight them off with his action figure.
Sam and Dean burn the bones of the house’s prior owner, believing the ghost would die with him, though that night the spirit drowns Rosa in the bathtub. The next day over breakfast, Dean eyes his waitress, Robin, remembering how Sonny had once taken him to the same diner and had been served by the younger girl, while discussing Dean’s strange satanic habits. Back in the present, Robin pretends not to recognize Dean, before Sonny calls the Winchesters about Rosa’s death.
Back at the house, Dean breaks up a number of older boys bullying Timmy, ruling out that they might have had anything to do with Rosa’s death. A short while later, Robin arrives to the house to give the boys guitar lessons, though when one of them finds Rosa’s rosaries jammed in a lawnmower blade, Timmy seems to will the mower to start, severing the boy's fingers.
Sam discovers that Timmy had been found in an abandoned building with no parents to claim him, leading the boys to believe he might be possessed by a ghost. Sam investigates the barn, finding a secret level where Timmy appears to have drawn images of his mother dying in a car crash, while Dean remembers his first kiss with Robin when they were 16. Dean had apparently grown attached to Robin, swearing to take her to his school dance, though he ended up abandoning her before the event.
The present Dean and Robin end up trapped inside the house by Timmy’s vengeful spirit, that of a female ghost who attacks them beyond Timmy’s control. Sam makes a salt circle for the four of them, before asking Timmy to tell them about the car crash that killed his mother. Timmy admits that his mother saved him from the vehicle before it exploded, while he spent the night in an abandoned building crying out for her. Dean burns the boy’s action figure, believing it to be the mother’s tether, though the spirit still appears. With no other options, Sam realizes the ghost must be tethered to Timmy himself.
The ghost attacks both Sam and Dean when the salt line breaks, as Dean urges Timmy to let go of his mother, allowing her to move on. Timmy finally grows forceful enough to beg the spirit to stop its rampage, for which it reverts into the woman’s normal visage and ultimately disappears. That night, Dean says his goodbyes to both Robin and Sonny, though Sam wonders why Dean ever left the home, considering he seemed to have such good memories there as a youth.
Back in the past, Dean prepares for his date with Robin, before Sonny announces that John Winchester has returned with a job for his son. Sonny offers to tell John that his son wants to stay for a few more hours, though Dean sees young Sam waiting in the car, reluctantly acquiesces to his father’s wishes, and thanks Sonny for giving him a second chance. In the present, Sam thanks his brother for always being there, when it couldn’t have been easy.
Standalone episodes of 'Supernatural' tend to be more frustrating, at least in the later years of the series, particularly when gimmicks like that of "Dog Dean Afternoon" place more emphasis on a concept than its impact on character relationships. So while we hadn't necessarily placed stock in "Bad Boys" beforehand, we were pleasantly surprised to find the hour more of a throwback to the standalone 'Supernatural' days of yore, wherein a bit of insight into a period of Dean's past well marries with the conventional horror of the present.
So often has the series hit the beat of Sam wishing for a normal life, leaving Dean to drag the anchor of their father's work, that we forget that Dean too has occasionally desired the figurative apple pie lifestyle. We're not entirely sure if the time spent at Sonny's home for boys jives with whatever timeline we have for the Winchesters' childhoods after nine years, though it still comes as a surprise that Dean could make the best of a two-month sabbatical from the hunting life, snagging a first kiss and a few high school wrestling trophies along the way.
The main story itself reaches a bit into the show's own history, placing relatively few wrinkles on the tried and true ghost lore, as Dean connects with a young boy inadvertently tethering his mother's ghost to dispatching any of his perceived enemies. It helps that "Bad Boys" leaves out Ezekiel or the angel mythology for once, keeping things relatively simple, even as Sonny himself and Dean's adult crush Robin end up a bit tangential to the story (where was Sonny during the final conflict?). But while the solution to the home's ghost problem seemed a bit convenient, even by 'Supernatural' standards, the point of young Dean's heartbreaking return to the hunting life still hands.
Overall, solid character beats and throwback to classic 'Supernatural' made much more of "Bad Boys" than we might have expected, even if we're ready to return to the still-shaky serialization of the boys' ongoing quest against the angels this year.
Well, what say you? Did you get your fill of scary ‘Supernatural’ action? What did you think about "Bad Boys”? Give us your thoughts in the comments, and join us again next week for an all-new recap of ‘Supernatural’ season 9 episode 8, “Rock and a Hard Place,” on The CW!