1×08 “Bugs”

Much in the same way Hook Man reminded me of Urban Legend and it’s sequel, Bugs reminds me of an X-Files episode, War Of The Coprophages–not surprising, considering Kim Manners directed both Bugs and Coprophages. But that’s all to the benefit of Bugs, because it has solid storytelling as well as quirky humor, and more reliance on their actors instead of swarms of cockroaches. (Granted, there are no charges to the local Qwik-E-Mart for bug spray, but there is the whole thing of Dean and Sam being mistaken for a homosexual couple looking for a starter home. It’s a fair trade-off!!)

… thank you so much for that so-graphic shot of the broken ankle. I’ve had one of those before. It hurts like a bitch. I really didn’t need the reminder. The also-graphic picture of bug-consumed construction-worker guy? Kind of makes me regret the chicken wings I just had for lunch.

I much prefer the opening shot past the teaser. You know, the smoky bar with the jumpin’ music and Dean Winchester, the pool hustler with the secret Oprah addiction.

Yes, my friends, Dean Winchester watches Oprah. Yeah, I’m laughing too.

Actually, what I like most about this opening scene isn’t the fact that Dean watches Oprah Winfrey. It’s the fact that with about five lines of dialog, we find out a lot about the way the brothers were raised, and who they are. Dean has no problem running illegal credit card scams or hustling people at pool; Sam would rather work an honest day job and pick up a paycheck. Dean would rather go for fun and easy; Sam would rather go for honest. Sam would rather rise above the way they were raised, Dean would rather live the way he knows.

I love this show, mostly because it never fails to amaze me what kind of commentary they can give on the Winchester family dynamics in a few lines and a little body language.

Obviously, I watch too much television. Because I’ve seen the beetles-eating-people gig before. On a show called American Gothic, in an episode called, aptly enough, Meet The Beetles. Fun fact here; Bruce Campbell was among the ones munched by beetles in that episode, and Bruce Campbell was also the man who gave Supernatural a less than glowing review. How much of a geek does it really make me that I get all gleeful at the fact that I get to make all these connections to shows I love?

Jensen Ackles is about as good at parallel parking as I am.

I realize this writeup is… slightly more fragmented than the others. I can’t help it. Bugs is a seriously underrated episode. It’s got some seriously hysterical moments. Like this one, of Dean and Sam being mistaken for a gay couple looking for a starter home *together* in Oasis Plains. I kind of wonder if that was vaguely ad-libbed in some way, because the shock that both guys show is really kind of hysterical, and it takes Jared Padalecki a moment to recover and deliver his line of, “We’re brothers. Our father is getting on in years…” etc. Although when they encounter it a second time, from another of the homeowners’ group, they seem to be a lot more prepared for it, as Dean calls Sam “Honey” and delivers what *sounds* like a slap to the ass. Of course they don’t show it, just Sam’s head snapping to the side like whoa, but you know. READ INTO THAT WHAT YOU WILL. Cause I’m not sayin’ a thing.

… I’m going to fast forward through the next little bit with the tarantula, because your friendly blogger gal IS SERIOUSLY ARACHNOPHOBIC. So I’ve got no idea what happens after the big ugly hairy spider crawls towards the woman’s hand, because I’M NOT WATCHING IT.

And we’re back, just in time to hear more Winchester family dynamics at work. Sam is feeling empathetic towards the homebuilder’s son, who does not have a great relationship with his father, Larry the homebuilder. Larry is very terse with his son, because he obviously doesn’t understand the kid’s obsession with bugs (and yes, anyone who’s watched Smallville can tell you that won’t end well, because hi, have you *seen* Metamorphosis?)

Sam calls Dean the perfect one, and said that Dad never treated Dean the way he treated Sam. Dean doesn’t remember it that way; “sometimes Dad had to raise his voice, but you were out of line.” And Sam brings up wanting to learn soccer instead of bow-hunting. Sam, you’re crazy. Bowhunting > Soccer any day. But, whatever. They put that aside for the moment and jump right into plot exposition.

…and excuse me again while I fast-forward through the realtor’s death, because it involves more arachnids than I’m comfortable with.

… ooh. What a nicely shallow place to start back on–Dean in the steam shower. Also, did I mention that Jensen Ackles can’t park the Impala worth a damn? Because he nearly rear-ends a police car.

Following a suspected bug-boy into his natural habitat may not be the smartest move you guys ever make, you know that? However, it does give Sam and Dean the chance to bond with Matt and stick him right in the middle of the old Winchester family push-pull. Sam’s encouraging the kid to get out and go to college, and Dean’s reminding him that’s shit advice and that it’s better to stay where he’s needed–with family. Of course, that’s Sam and Dean talking about themselves, but that’s the beauty of the scene. Not to mention the vicious shut up glare that Sam deals out to Dean.

Luckily for them, Matt turns out to be just a normal kid keeping track of bug populations for an AP science project, but they find what turns out to be a burial mound, because Dean sticks his hand into a pile of writhing and disgusting earthworms to root out a skull. God bless Jensen Ackles for doing that, because I couldn’t.

Not for the first–or last–time, but I feel kind of sorry for Dean. “No chick-flick moments, please” is his motto, and yet, sometimes I don’t understand it. Those are his best moments. When he’s talking to Sam at the college about how Sam and Dad had their fight, and how he remembers a few choice words coming out of Sam’s mouth, too… you see, really see, how he feels like he was in the middle between his brother and his father. And when Sam wants to know why Dean didn’t tell him that Dad checked on him in Stanford, and how proud John was? Dean points out that it was a two-way street, that Sam could have picked up the phone just as easily. He maybe stayed with John, because that’s who he is and what he was raised to do, but I don’t think he ever picked sides.

Finding out the bones they found were Native American leads them to a reservation about sixty miles from the housing development, and they speak to a tribal elder who relates the story of a village decimated over six days by the US Calvalry, in which no one was left alive. The chief cursed the land, and the Winchester brothers figure out that “you don’t break a curse, you get out of its way,” and that the housing development is built on cursed land.

Remember when I said that Kim Manners directed the X-Files cockroach episode, War of the Coprophages? Yeah, it should come as a shock to no one that the last insect plague in the episode is cockroaches.

Matt discovers the cockroaches in the back yard, and when he tries to warn his father, he gets brushed off, even when Sam and Dean are there. It’s not until Larry sees the swarm of insects for hiself, blotting out the moon they’re so thick, that he realizes he might shoulda listened to the guys who were saying, “get the hell out.”

A bug spray blowtorch and a lot of yelling gets everyone upstairs into the attic after the fireplace flue is flooded and the bugs break into the house. Ever-prepared Dean happens to have a lighter–which, though he doesn’t smoke doesn’t surprise me; there’s no telling when you might need a light, especially when you’re in the dark places for 99% of your life.

The episode ends happily, if not predictably; the day is saved, the family is happy, and the Winchester boys are off again, looking for their father and whatever evil lurks in the continental forty-eight states. It ends with Dean at his pragmatic best; “We’ll find him. You’ll apologize. And within five minutes, you’ll be at each other’s throats.”

Makes you hanker for the Winchester family reunion, don’t it?

Best Lines:
Dean: Mad cow disease… wasn’t that on Oprah?
Sam: . . . You watch Oprah?

Dean: Man… Oklahoma. Work, work, work. No time to spend my money.

Sam: There’s nothing *wrong* with normal.
Dean: I’d take our family over normal any day.

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