SUPERNATURAL 7.14: “Plucky Pennywhistle’s Magical Menagerie”

Let’s make one thing perfectly clear from the outset: I am not afraid of clowns (coulrophobic). I don’t like clowns, but I am not afraid of them. I think they’re creepy and I don’t understand why some people find them funny, but I am not afraid of them.

However, Sam Winchester of The CW’s SUPERNATURAL is afraid of clowns. Big time. Forget being locked in a cage with Lucifer in the pits of Hell; at least it wasn’t a clown! Well, it was only a matter of time until Sam finally had to face that primal fear and fight a couple of clowns. With pipe wrenches. Who hasn’t had that nightmare, right?

How Sam got into a position to fend off green-haired clowns who don’t die when they are shot in the chest is, frankly, a funny story. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Residents of a small Kansas town were dying in impossible ways – like being attacked by a giant Pacific octopus or skewered by a unicorn that farts rainbows. Not a typical case, even for the Winchester brothers. The boys traced the victims back to the local kids birthday emporium, a clown-themed kid eatery called Plucky Pennywhistle’s Magical Menagerie. (Yes, the joint bears an uncanny resemblance to – but for legal reasons is absolutely notChuck E. Cheese’s chain of arcade and cardboard pizza palaces. Still, I’d stay out of the ball pit, all the same.) One of the activities at Plucky Pennywhistle’s had the children draw pictures of their worst nightmares as a way to deal with them. Only, those drawings were later coming to life and “dealing with” their parents. (And by dealing with I mean murdering.)

Dean (Jensen Ackles) discovered that Howard (Michael Blackman Beck), one of Plucky Pennywhistle’s overly happy and enthusiastic employees, was behind the drawing project. He used a spell to bring the horrors to life, believing he was helping the kids by eliminating bad parents from their lives. He sent killer clowns after Sam (Jared Padalecki) because of his coulrophobia, and the jeering juggalos double-teamed him! Thanks to Dean, Howard was hoist on his own petard, and Sam escaped the horrible harlequins with just some bruises and a glitter shower that left him looking like a refugee from a Ke$ha concert.

The story was told by intercutting Sam’s battle against the clown with flashbacks to how he got into that pickle. The clock that counted down to the “present” sounded like the clock from 24, and there were several other Easter eggs peppered throughout the episode. Saul the janitor was killed in the ball pit in a scene that greatly resembled the opening killing in Jaws – the balls moved in wavelike fashion, as if a shark was swimming underneath them. Saul was whipped back and forth, released and then finally pulled under the surface just like the blonde in the movie. And his corpse was covered in shark bites. I also saw echoes of the trash-compactor fight with the Dianoga from Star Wars — Episode IV: A New Hope. Dean capped the incident by telling his brother, “They think the ball-washer did it.”

Which was only one of a bunch of hilarious situations and instant-classic lines from the episode. Among the others: Dean: “99.999% of clowns can’t hurt you.” After the blood-soaked unicorn scene (I almost fell out of my chair LOLing) Sam said, “Wait – so now unicorns are evil?” Dean replied, “Yeah, definitely.” Dean branded this week’s monsters “Dracopus,” “Seabiscuit the Impaler” and “Land Shark.” When Sam was interrogating the Plucky Pennywhistle employees, Cliff, the guy in the lion suit, was the standout – throwing the character head at Sam, fumbling at the doorknob with his costume paws, and losing his tail to Dean during the foot chase. “This is the best job I ever had,” Cliff lamented. Even the scene-setting title card got in on the act by reading, “Right Friggin’ Now!” And did you notice how the Skee-Ball score kept changing during the scene when Dean chased away the kid who was cheating?

Even I have to admit, however, that the fan service on this show is getting out of hand. When Dean said he was having a guy named Dick investigate this season’s Big Bad, named Dick Roman (James Patrick Stuart), Sam quipped, “So we have Dick on Dick”? I’ll bet a whole segment of Winchester brother fandom passed out immediately.

Great to see Jennifer Spence (ex-Dr. Lisa Park of the sadly canceled STARGATE UNIVERSE) onscreen again. She put enough effort into playing the Plucky Pennywhistle manager to make me wonder if she was behind the weird happenings.

Overall, this was a very fun, breezy episode  — but, seriously…did that little clown doll in the last scene have to wink? I mean… brrrrr.

Not that I was scared…

Oh, yeah? Sez you!

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