Before this week's episode, Sam and Dean Winchester believed UFO abductions were all the same: a white light, little green men and above all else, fake. After they arrive in Elwood, Indiana amidst a number of abductions, not only do the Winchesters get caught up in the frenzy but find themselves at the centre of a mystery even they didn't see coming.
After interviews with the local town residents, everyone seems convinced that aliens are behind the abductions except for one woman who thinks fairies are behind it all. Sam doesn't bite and gives the woman a serious tongue lashing, prompting Dean to intervene and follow up with a discussion on what a soul is. Later on when Dean is alone investigating in a cornfield, a bright appears followed by Dean running through the field screaming "UFO! UFO! Close Encounter! Close Encounter!" into the cell phone at Sam. After the soulless Sam grieves for about half a second, Dean returns to find his brother in bed with a UFO hippie he picked up when gathering information. After another conversation about having a soul, Dean is attacked by Tinkerbelle only to finish her off inside a microwave. It's at this point Sam and Dean realize the crazy fairy woman might not be as crazy as they originally thought. Apparently a father's financial troubles caused him to make a deal with the fairies which came at a cost he never expected.
This still rough around the edges, this week's episode was considerably better than last week's disaster. The first point being that this episode was actually funny when it intended to be, with clever humour and a number of throw backs to classic sci-fi. The X-Files inspired theme song, the trips to the corn field and the fight scene with the fairy were all nice touches. While he was barely present, Robert Picardo (known as the Doctor from Star Trek: Voyager) was great as the UFO fanatic/Leprechaun. It's only too bad that his role wasn't bigger because for those of us who know his work, he is capable of so much more than what was displayed in "Clap Your Hands if You Believe".
Another strong aspect of the show was its twist on the fairy myth. Supernatural often takes chances with reinterpretations to folklore which at the best of times can be hit or miss but this time they were on the mark. The writers were well aware a story about fairies could have been a complete mess but by using humour they avoided the dark and moody tone. Could you imagine if the fight between Dean and the fairy was supposed to be taken seriously? Me neither; taking the light hearted approach this week paid dividends.
Unfortunately, my concerns regarding Supernatural's explanation of the soul were well founded. Every conversation between the Winchesters regarding Sam's soul was clumsy and almost painful to hear. Defining the soul is a difficult task not only because it is a tough subject to tackle verbally but even more difficult to portray through action. Even the line "So having a soul equals suffering?" by Sam seems clouded in confusion as the writers seem to express their own thoughts and feelings on the subject through the characters. It's regrettable that each discussion on the soul falls so flat since this is supposed to be the meaningful part of the show yet it's also the weakest. If I was Sam listening to Dean define a soul, I might not want mine back either.
Though it was an entertaining episode, "Clap Your Hands if You Believe" still fell flat in a few key areas. Season six has proven several times that it can have entertaining stories but they haven't shown they can tell compelling stories with real character. Sam continually acts like a womanizing robot even though he has his memories while Dean babysits with the hope of getting his brother back to his former self. Maybe the show will balance itself out in next week's "Caged Heat".