‘Supernatural’ Review: “#THINMAN”
‘Supernatural’ season 9 summons its 15th episode of the year in “#THINMAN,” as Sam and Dean's investigation of a mysterious murder brings them back together with "Ghostfacers" Ed and Harry (A.J. Buckley and Travis Wester).
Last week’s ‘Supernatural’ installment, “Captives,” saw the boys following a surprising request from the ghost of Kevin Tran (Osric Chau) to free his captive mother Linda (Lauren Tom), while Castiel was confronted by the angel Bartholomew and forced to make a difficult choice. So, what does the 15th 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 15, “#THINMAN”!
A young woman in Washington hangs out alone in her bedroom taking selfies, when one of the photos appears to show a faceless man standing behind her. The lights go off as she hides in the closet to call 911, but the figure appears behind her in the closet and slits her throat. Hours later, Dean prepares to leave the base and take the case solo, though Sam awkwardly signs on to go, as well, the brothers being unable to get a read on one another lately.
Sam and Dean talk to the girl’s mother as they scan for evidence of ghosts, but the woman surprisingly makes mention of cold spots, implying some knowledge of the supernatural. Sam and Dean question where she got said information, admitting that two “Supernaturalists” had earlier visited with more information than any of the police seemed to have. Sam and Dean track the two men to a local diner, revealing them to be none other than “Ghostfacers” Ed and Harry.
Sam and Dean quickly insist the two men leave the case alone, but Ed and Harry laugh when Sam and Dean mention their own theory that the killer is a ghost. Later, Sam reads up on Ed and Harry’s latest book on the mysterious “Thin Man,” a ghostly figure that appears in photographs before people die. Dean continually dismisses the theory, while across town Ed and Harry make a video in the dead girl’s bedroom, Harry obsessively checking his ex-girlfriend’s Facebook profile. Ed suggests they might let Sam and Dean have the case, but Harry believes that catching Thin Man will prove their ticket to fame.
Sam continually researches Thin Man, as Dean observes that the young girl’s selfie found its way to the internet after she’d already been killed, something the local deputy Norwood doesn’t have an answer for, though he too buys into the Thin Man theory. Elsewhere, the diner manager prepares to close up for the night but continually hears rattling from outside. Checking the security cameras, the man sees a figure moving out of view outside before the same figure appears directly behind him in a subsequent shot, and the faceless killer strikes again.
Sam and Dean arrive to the latest crime scene to find Ed and Harry already present, as Dean presses them to admit they don’t actually know what might be committing the Thin Man killings or how it ties into the internet fandom. A while later, Harry finds that the diner’s security footage has also mysteriously appeared online, resolving to explore the woods in search of the figure, even as Ed again suggests they might be better served leaving the case to Sam and Dean.
Sam and Dean continue working on the case, reminiscing how some of their own happy childhood memories might have made for effective viral videos, before Ed arrives at their hotel room with a confession: he himself started the Thin Man internet phenomenon as a way to keep Harry interested in the Ghostfacers, rather than marry into a boring life with his girlfriend. Meanwhile, Harry bumbles through the woods looking for Thin Man clues, before the killer himself appears behind Harry and attacks. Harry manages to escape with only a minor slash before Sam, Dean and Ed catch up to him in the Impala.
Harry fumes at Ed for selfishly tricking him into keeping up their ghost-hunting lifestyle, admitting they could never trust one another again. Sam steps in once Ed leaves, admitting that he knows how it feels to be unable to forgive certain deeds before Dean interrupts with a lead on a car that left the scene of Harry’s attack. Ed overhears and implores Harry that they might set things right by unraveling the Thin Man mystery themselves. Sam and Dean track the car to a warehouse, finding the sheriff’s deputy Norwood already on the scene waiting for them, but agreeing to hang back. Once Sam and Dean lead the way into the facility, however, Norwood tases them both from behind.
Awakening strapped to chairs, the brothers find Norwood setting up a video camera to document Sam and Dean’s murders as official confirmation of the Thin Man legend, revealing his masked partner as Roger, a busboy from the diner who hated his boss and had earlier been rejected by the murdered girl. Both men admit to bonding over their love of conspiracy theories and wanting to make a name for themselves with the killings. The killers soon find themselves distracted by the arrival of Ed and Harry, but by the time Norwood and Roger manage to capture the duo, Sam and Dean have already gotten free. Dean overpowers Roger into stabbing himself, while Harry shoots Norwood to prevent him from killing Ed and Sam.
Sam expresses trepidation about having killed ordinary men, but Dean insists they were sick people. Meanwhile, Harry tells Ed that they still can’t trust one another, nor can he ever forgive Ed for the betrayal, echoing some of Sam’s earlier words that Ed’s “selfless” actions were really for his own benefit. Harry asks the Winchesters for a ride, admitting in the car that he feels devastated to lose someone he thought he’d always have by his side.
The Ghostfacers have likely proven the most memorable of 'Supernatural''s recurring characters, particularly the manner in which their fourth-wall bending antics comment on the surreal nature of the show itself. Of course, the characters themselves haven't appeared since the fourth season and had only made a handful of episodes even prior to that, so "#THINMAN" isn't exactly starting on an even keel with the current fanbase. It certainly makes sense in context to have Sam and Dean facing a mirror of their own brotherly issues, even though the show's own characters have taken to pleading with Sam and Dean to get over their brotherly drama.
Equally clever, if somewhat on the nose, is the use of the real-life "Slender Man" legend as ripe fodder for a 'Supernatural' twist, the "Thin Man" potentially scary enough to attract the brothers' attention, but just artificial enough that the inverse approach works for Harry and Ed, however mileage may vary on some of their more bumbling antics. Rather than play with meta references as the Ghostfacers tended to do, however, we get the revelation that Ed (A.J. Buckley, doing far more serious work on 'Justified' this season, a few channels over) in fact invented the "Thin Man" legend to selfishly keep Harry a part of his lifestyle, an effective parallel of Dean's actions with his brother.
It isn't as if "#THINMAN" has altogether very much to say about the parallel, skewing into some pretty dicey territory when it turns out the killings were actually performed by deranged men, who Dean then kills and covers up for the police to find. If Dean's actions were intended as a side effect from the Mark of Cain (remember that?), the point was quickly glossed over, all suggestive of an episode that wasn't entirely sure of the message it wanted to send.
By now the series seems largely self-aware that the reservoir of Sam and Dean's brotherly angst has run dry, but short of bringing in the Ghostfacers for a bit of nostalgia and humor, "#THINMAN" mostly resonates among the more mediocre filler episodes. It's certainly nothing as egregious as "Dog Dean Afternoon," but lacking a bit of focus overall, even amid the highlights.
Well, what say you? Did you get your fill of scary ‘Supernatural’ action? What did you think about the show's take on the “#THINMAN" legend? Give us your take in the comments, and join us again next Tuesday for an all-new recap of ‘Supernatural’ season 9 episode 15, “Blade Runners,” on The CW!