Supernatural episode review: Taxi Driver

Well, that episode was a crap salad with two croutons on top.

Taxi Driver

Hey, I know! Let’s kill every non-white person in a twenty-mile radius of the Winchesters while giving all the agency to white men whose stories should have been long over by now! Hooray! No, seriously. I count a crossroads demon, Ajay, a demon in Hell, and (possibly) Linda Tran. That’s four people of color dead and/or tortured in forty minutes, and two of them were recurring characters. Supernatural fans can usually pass this kind of crap off as a coincidence, but in this episode it happened so many times in a row and was so blatant that you really have to sit back and applaud the show’s dedication to casual racism.

Maybe the utter lack of regard for characters of color wouldn’t have stuck out like a sore thumb quite as much if the episode hadn’t made the baffling choice to bring back Bobby. Yes, the rumors were true and Jim Beaver is a great big fibber.

Sure, Jim. Sure. And you were in Canada to make an Abominable Snowman movie last year. Right.

Sure, Jim. Sure. And you were in Canada to make an Abominable Snowman movie last year. Right.

Bobby’s death was heartbreaking, and Death’s Door was one of the crowning achievements of Supernatural’s entire run. When they brought Bobby back the first time, I hoped it was to serve some important purpose for his character and the plot. Why else would they cheapen his death like that? But the ghost-Bobby plotline turned out to be rushed and disappointing, and his second “death” was nowhere near as emotional as the first. So why on Earth would the show choose to bring him back again? It smacked of trying to tap back into old angst, and Bobby’s superficial comments on issues that came up early in the season (Sam not looking for Dean in Purgatory, Dean befriending Benny) made him all the more out of place. The whole thing was bizarre and uncomfortable. And with other innocents like Adam and Bela still in the Pit, it’s not like they were obligated to drag Bobby’s ghost up one more time.

Speaking of cheapening the stories of last season, since when is it so easy to get into Purgatory? And even Hell? Even if you can rationalize it logically, narratively it blows. To see Sam traverse so many planes in one episode with so little trouble was extremely weird. At the risk of sounding like my grandfather, I remember the days when dragging a soul out of Hell meant something (like forty years of laying siege to the place)! And Dean’s year-long struggle to get out of Purgatory is diminished when Sam manages it in about five minutes. I know, I know – Dean spent most of that year looking for Castiel, and this time Benny knew exactly where he was going, so of course it took less time. But it was still off-putting to see Sam pull it off with so little fanfare when Dean’s exodus was the main focus of the beginning of the season. It’s just poor writing.

The only reason I’m glad that they went back to Purgatory was because of Benny. He’s been a divisive character since he was first announced, but I’ve enjoyed him immensely. Out of all the monsters in Purgatory, he was the only one with the cajones to walk up to Dean and start talking business. The show has done a good job of showing us just how much Benny sets himself apart, and thus how Dean is truly the only person he has left in the world (even though sometimes they did it really clumsily – don’t get me started on Andrea). So it made a strange sort of sense for him to end up back in Purgatory, and his decision to stay rang true to me. In fact, Dean’s last conversation with Benny was one of the few scenes that truly impressed me in this episode. Poor Dean; this is the second friend he’s lost to Purgatory in one season.

Taxi Driver

But even with Benny, I can’t stop my bitterness from creeping in. In a show that treats women so badly, and in an episode that treated men of color so badly, it stuck in my craw that the best story was given to a white man. For example, though they were both vampires with consciences, Benny’s story was given much more thought and screen time than Lenore’s. And though they were both brought back for one more episode only to be written off, Benny got to choose the fate that most appealed to him while Meg died in a gutter. Even though Benny’s story was well-written, as someone who is constantly waiting for more consideration for female characters it left a sour taste in my mouth.

In fact, if Linda Tran is truly dead (and if she is, I will poop in the show’s Cheerios out of spite), then the last remaining female characters who we can expect to see this season are Charlie – looking forward to 8×20! – and Naomi. Ah, Naomi. If Benny was divisive, Naomi is the fricking Berlin wall. And, at least among fans of Castiel, I can’t imagine that her latest appearances have done much to increase her popularity. She really turned on the insincere charm and played on Dean’s every insecurity to try to get him on her side and begin driving a wedge between him and Cas. To Dean’s credit, he didn’t appear to buy a word of it. But Naomi did save Bobby’s soul from Crowley in the end, so like it or not the Winchesters would seem to owe her one. This is shaping up to be a complex, interesting relationship. I just hope it doesn’t dissolve into predictable “she-made-me-think-you-thought” misunderstandings between Dean and Cas. This is a battle for the fate of the world, not a high school gossip train.

And then there’s Kevin. Words can do little to describe my love for him, but unfortunately he’s still going through the wringer. He suffered terrible mental torment all episode, and in the end Crowley busted into the boat and snatched him up. There are already theories that Sam and Dean were right, and that Crowley and even the kidnapping are all in Kevin’s head (check out the windows that Crowley supposedly blew out – when the Winchesters return, they’re intact). But whether Kevin is suffering a mental break or whether Crowley really got him, I’m unhappy with how Kevin was treated this episode. He was clearly not okay, and the Winchesters blew him off every time. If his struggles with Crowley were real, then this is merely frustrating. If they were part of a mental illness, then this is really, really ableist. And either way, the Winchesters were dicks.

I’m hoping like Hell that what Kevin suffered was not a hallucination, if only because Supernatural has an absolutely abysmal record with portraying mental illness. But then, I’m hoping a lot of things right now. Like that Kevin is even alive. And that Crowley was bluffing when he said that he’d killed Linda (can you tell I’m mad about this?).

Well, I’ll have a couple of weeks off to simmer in my own juices until the next episode. Because as people are already noting, the best thing about this episode may be the promo for the next one. Tune in three Wednesdays from now to see my rage turn into joy as soon as Charlie Bradbury is back in my eyeballs.

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