Supernatural S11E08 “Just My Imagination” REVIEW
Airing in the UK on E4 on Wednesdays at 10pm
Writer: Jenny Klein
Director: Richard Speight Jr
Essential Plot Points:
- This week’s “first minute of Supernatural” victim is.. a unicorn? Imaginary friend and fashionista Sparkle is stuck with a knife whilst his charge Maddie is out with her parents.
- There’s something ominous in the Bunker following Sam around – and a whole spread of colourful cakes and marshmallow nachos laid out on the table? Talk about mixed signals.
- It doesn’t take long for whoever’s following Sam to make himself known. He’s Sully, Sam’s best friend! Remember? Sam’s just a little shell-shocked and punches him, which is where Dean walks in.
- Sam haltingly explains that Sully used to be his imaginary friend, (known as “Zanna” in the folklore) and that that imaginary friend needs help. Dean’s sceptical as hell, but Sam wants to help – after all, Sully used to help him, back when he was a kid. So off they go to investigate the case of the dead imaginary unicorn.
- In a flashback, we see Sully giving a tiny Sam the courage to talk to Dean on the phone. He wants to help on a hunt, but their Dad’s said no.
- Sully gives the Winchesters “Zanna vision”, allowing them to see Sparkle laid out dead on the floor, his glittering blood covering the room. “Even when he’s dead, Sparkle can’t stop shining.” Aww.
- Cut to another Zanna, this one a mermaid. She’s having a perfectly good time of things with her charge – until she gets stabbed, which is how the Winchesters find her after Sully worries that she hasn’t checked in for a few days. Dean crudely suggests flushing her down a giant toilet! But they bury her, like respectful hunters.
- In another flashback, we’re shown Sam and Sully talking about Sam’s desire to run away from the hunting life. Sully’s all for it.
- Sporting one of the most impressive mullets we’ve ever seen, another Zanna named Weemz is helping out his charge before – you guessed it – he gets stabbed. Desperate, he calls out for Sully.
- The Winchesters and Sully find Weemz bleeding out – but he was saved by his fat! “Fat is the best!”
- Weemz saw the perpetrator run off – a girl in a blue VW Bug. They have a lead! Dean goes to pursue it.
- Weemz recognises Sam’s name; turns out mini Sam broke Sully’s heart back in the day. Just as Sam and Sully were about to run away, John rung to call Sam into the hunt. Sully tried to stop him, but Sam lashed out, claiming he wishes he could un-make Sully. Devastated, but only wanting the best for his kids, Sully had left.
- Sam and Sully talk it out in the present day. Sully thinks that it all worked out in the end; Sam saved the world, after all! Sam talks to Sully about The Darkness and God talking to him – he thinks God wants him to go back in the cage.
- Meanwhile, Dean’s found the perpetrator, but she gets the jump on him, and texts Sam to lure him into a trap. Turns out that this girl, Reese, has a beef with Sully because years ago he killed her sister Audrey. They were playing tag and Audrey chased Sully into the street, with devastating consequences. Sully fell into depression and left Reese alone to deal with the fallout.
- Mentally tortured her whole life, Reese discovered Zanna and got a spell from a witch so she could see them and kill them as revenge. Sully outright stands there and tells her to kill him; after all, it’s his job to do whatever’s best for the kid.
- But Reese can’t do it – actually faced with her childhood friend, she realises that revenge won’t get her anywhere. Sully promises to look out for her.
- Dean admits that when he wasn’t there for Sam in the past, Sully was, and he deserves recognition for that. To Sam, Sully is a hero.
We’re staying firmly within the “off-the-wall” side of Supernatural this week as we delve into the world of imaginary friends! Every kid has an imaginary friend, right? But what if they were real, and could play the air guitar? And… could be murdered?
It’s always a treat to find out entirely new information about the boys’ pasts, and this episode doesn’t disappoint. Once upon a time, when Sam was only as tall as Jared Padalecki’s knees, the way of life his Dad had brought him into didn’t really allow for things like friendships, or fun. So in stepped Sully. No, not the big blue one (although he looks just as cuddly!), but a Zanna, charged with the protection of children.
Sully is an absolute joy of a character; like Donna last week, he’s brimming with optimism and positivity. (Unsurprisingly, Dean doesn’t quite know how to deal with that.) He introduces the Winchesters to a world where mermaids and “manicorns” with glittery blood are commonplace. There hasn’t been an episode this colourful since season seven’s “Plucky Pennywhistle’s Magical Menagerie”!
But that’s not the only reason Sully’s easy to warm up to: he really, really cares for Sam Winchester. Sam’s got the short end of the stick for, well, most of his life, and he isn’t all that great at making friends, either. Think about it – Dean’s normally the one making friends left right and centre. Even if the Winchester definition of “friend” is a little ropey. Despite that, Sam’s always given all he can to those around him. But here’s a character that puts Sam above everything, and makes sure he’s doing alright no matter what. It’s like a breath of fresh air to see him being treated as someone worthwhile, and heroic. Even Dean ends up admitting that when he wasn’t there for his brother, Sully was, and that’s about the highest praise you can get coming from him.
In fact, the Zanna overall are charming characters. From Sparkle, with his ridiculous neon yellow jumper, to Weemz with his mullet and mad air guitar skills, it’s difficult not to smile. They’re embodiments of something a whole lot of children have experienced after all, be it for friendship or for protection, and in that sense writer Jenny Klein has done a fantastic job. It’s nice to have an occasional reminder that not everything supernatural has to be dark and scary!
That said, it’s Supernatural, so, of course, there’s going to be some bloodshed. Reese’s storyline is heart-breaking, both on behalf of Reese herself and since by the time the big plot twist is revealed, we’re so used to happy-go-lucky Sully that seeing him step out in front of Reese and her knife is a shocking moment. She’s literally murdered two of his friends, but he’s still set on helping her. It goes to show – there’s always someone looking out for you. It’s a surprisingly positive message coming from a Supernatural episode, but we’ll take it!
- Richard Speight Jr, aka The Trickster, aka Gabriel, directed this episode, and he did a great job! One of the highlights is Sam completely missing the rainbow-coloured spread of cakes in his half-asleep state.
- Nate Torrence does an amazing job as Sully; the way he’s looking out for Sam throughout the episode is so lovely to see.
- Dean’s complete incredulity throughout the whole episode, from his leap into Dad Mode when he first finds out about Sully to his reactions to all the different flavours of Zanna.
- Plus Dean’s references – they’re off the charts this episode!
- Sam and Dean wear some pretty incredible outfits when they pose as child therapists.
- The Zanna are so well done, from their special skills to mannerisms to wardrobe choices.
- Mini Sam (Dylan Kingwell) is absolutely adorable, and it was great to see Dylan Everett return as a teenage Dean.
- It’s a small gripe, but the murder plotline feels a little tacked-on in comparison to the rest of the episode.
And the Random:
- A reference we never expected Dean to make is his My Neighbour Totoro quip! Looks like hentai isn’t the only form of Japanese animation Dean’s delved into.
- Sully’s rainbow suspenders are a reference to Robin William’s character in 70’s sitcom Mork & Mindy, which Dean also references.
- Sparkle is seen reading the popular children’s book The Velveteen Rabbit, about a toy that wants to become real.