Long Distance Call Review

By John Keegan

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After the previous episode, an attempt to ease back into production after the writers’ strike, the story gets back on track with this installment. This is all about the shift in Dean’s attitude about his own survival. Unlike the beginning of the season, Dean is feeling every inch of his mortality as his deadline approaches. The frustration is mounting with every new failure, and he’s ready to accept any chance of a come-from-behind victory.

So when the demonic creature in this episode uses a cell phone connection and John Winchester’s voice as a ruse, Dean falls for it hook, line, and sinker. “John” gives him the opportunity to take down the demon with control over his fate, and nothing Sam says will ever get in the way of that. After all, it very seldom has.

Sam, on the other hand, is all about discovering the truth and surviving the threat. He simply doesn’t believe that their father is calling, and it puts the brothers at odds. It also eventually puts Sam in exactly the same position as the previous episode: tied up and forced to watch a civilian die. Either the writers completely missed the repetition, or the downtime had a more profound effect than anyone imagined.

The “phone calls from the dead” were very creepy and well-done, especially with the little boy, but the rest of the episode felt a little “off”. Perhaps it was the tension between the Brothers Winchester; the brothers haven’t really been a solid team in the forefront of an episode since “Jus in Bello”, and there was tension there as well. The conversation at the end of the episode did much to repair the damage, but the writers would be better served to let the brothers work together.

That said, I’m beginning to get very concerned about the resolution of this season arc. A lot of time was lost by the strike, and it seems impossible (with the relative lack of progression in the past couple episodes) that the writers will come up with a satisfying season finale. I maintain my long-standing prediction that Sam will save Dean by agreeing to take his place as leader of the demonic horde (at least, those still supporting him), but I also believe it will now feel rushed. The reality of a fourth season helps mitigate the disappointment, but with the actors’ strike now looming, I can’t help but wonder how much further the series arc (and the series itself) will be damaged.

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