Supernatural, “The French Mistake”

Well, that was awesome.

“The French Mistake” was the most anticipated episode of Supernatural in a long time and going into it, I assumed that it would either be unbelievably fantastic or pretty terrible. That’s not the most advanced analysis in the world and in the end, I probably had no reason to be concerned. Sure, last season’s “Real Ghostbusters” might have gotten a little too cute for its own good, but “The French Mistake” was penned by the series’ most creative writer Ben Edlund.

Of course, let’s not get it twisted: This episode didn’t serve any long-term narrative purpose. The episode is bookended by some scenes with Balthazar, Castiel and Raphael and a discussion about heaven’s weapons closet, but that’s really only used as an excuse to throw Sam and Dean into our “real” world where they’re actually Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, actors working on a series called Supernatural. But the execution of this super-meta story was so fun and charming that I don’t really care that it didn’t add much to the season’s arc. To be honest, what the hell did last week’s middling episode even add to the overall narrative of the season? As long as the standalone episodes are good, I don’t really care how many of them the series’ creative team wants to throw into the mix. Good television is good television and “The French Mistake” is most certainly good television.

Before we get to the meta craziness, I did want to mention that I did appreciate the attempts to tie this episode into Winchester’s ongoing emotional issues. The angel stuff was totally frivolous, but I did like how there was a bit of discussion about what it could mean for Sam and Dean to escape their “real” lives and come to “our” world. Of course this is territory the series has been exploring since the very beginning, but I guess that’s why I liked it. It seems proper to throw in a few lines of dialogue about the benefits of saving people and hunting things in an episode that’s completely for the fans. Anyway.

What I found to be particularly great about this episode is how accessible it was. Supernatural is a series that is fully aware of its place within the television landscape and the writers are also certainly knowledgeable about the fans and the things they know, so I thought maybe this episode would be too insular and closed off to people who don’t every little inside joke or message board meme. But from my perspective it seemed like this episode had multiple levels of enjoyment just like any episode would. If you’re just a general fan of the series, maybe someone who didn’t know that Jared Padalecki and Genevieve Cortese (season four’s Ruby) were married in real-life or someone who didn’t care about the Jensen vs. Jared debates that rage all over the internet, I think “The French Mistake” was still totally consumable. The episode included a lot of general humor about television production, actors’ private lives, Canada and the broad strokes of the series to make it pretty great no matter how much you care or know about the ancillary details behind Supernatural‘s production.

But of course, if you do know all of those things, this might have been one of your favorite episodes ever. As someone who has and is about to start again doing research into this series’ fandom, I happen to know so many of the random details that don’t really add anything to my intelligence on a day-to-day basis but made me feel pretty smart while watching this episode. Misha Collins’ tweeting was hilariously fantastic and winking to all the thousands of people who do follow his goofy tweets on a daily basis.* The jokes about Jared being the “star” of the series with the massive mansion while Jensen apparently only had his massive fish tank to console him, were also fantastic. I mean really, I could go on and on and just list little moments and nods to the series’ history and fandom and call that a review, but that really wouldn’t be worth anyone’s time. If you’re a fan of this series, I can’t imagine you not loving this episode.

*Real-life Misha actually sent out the tweets he mentioned in the episode, one during the exact scene while it aired on the east coast, the other during the exact scene while it aired on the west coast. As someone said on Twitter, that’s the sound of the fifth wall crashing down. Wow.

Other thoughts:

  • “Season six!”
  • Murdering Kripke was probably a bit excessive, but well-executed.
  • Jared and Jensen playing Sam and Dean playing Jared and Jensen trying to be Sam and Dean in the filming montage was unbelievably awesome.
  • Also awesome? Jared’ Warhol paintings and most importantly, his cowboy painting.
  • The Kim Manners shout-outs were beautiful.
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2 thoughts on “Supernatural, “The French Mistake”

  1. I really dug the episode as well, and I’ve only seen the first season (finishing it last weekend). Certainly the episode excels because it’s not closed off: the humor derives more from show biz jokes and status sillines (like having an alpaca) with subtler nods to the show’s specifics (the candy basket, Kim Manners, “Season six!”). And the bookending heaven war stuff works well enough since the “Previously On” gave just enough backstory to be able to follow it.

    On the upside, total motivate to continue chugging through the series. Only wish it were streaming in full some place!

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