Supernatural: Beyond the Mat

Filed under: Recaps & Reviews

You made me bleed my own blood.

Following the death of one of his childhood wrestler icons, Dean suggests to Sam that the two of them pay their respects and attend the funeral. Sam thinks the timing is bad but Dean needs a break and knows that they aren't any closer to a lead with Amara or Castiel (now Lucifer). Attending the funeral is like a fan moment for Dean as he meets Gunner Nelson, his all-time favourite wrestler. Dean recalls some of his favourite matches but it's still kinda strange because it's a funeral after all. Since the two of them don't have much else going on, they decide to attend the memorial show the wrestlers are holding later that night. Back in hell, Crowley still has a loyal demon in Lucifer's ranks that wants to free her former master. After the show, a man's body is found outside the venue; the wounds depict some sort of marking and Sam thinks they have a case. Dean and Sam split up to investigate so Dean takes the wrestlers while Sam looks into the history of the tour. After a night of drink testing the wrestlers with tequila and holy water (including himself), Dean comes up empty handed. On the sober side, Sam finds that someone has turned up dead at every stop on the tour and when they check the hotel of Gunner's rival, Harley, he's nowhere to be found. The Winchesters watch the security camera footage of the hotel parking lot and see that Gunner is the one that took Harley, he may not be the man they thought he was.

Following last week's episode, Beyond the Mat was really good at focusing on the wrong story. While Beyond the Mat tried to tell us that the compelling and interesting story was with Dean, Sam and Gunner Lawless – everything exciting was happening with Crowley and Castiel (Lucifer). When the demon that was forcing Gunner to kill all of those people was about to say his name, Sam just said "We don't care" and in that moment, he was speaking for the audience. A demon trying to win favour with the new king of hell is about as vanilla as it gets on Supernatural. While some elements of the Beyond the Mat are compelling, the episode reminds me quite a bit of season four's very well done, Criss Angel is a Douche Bag. That story had a similar idea with an aging magician attempting to recapture his glory days of being a world class entertainer amidst the younger generation that was leaving him behind. The difference being was how good that episode was and its focus on the guest stars over Sam and Dean.

While it was straightforward and predictable, Beyond the Mat did have a few great moments. The first being Jensen Ackles bringing the humour when he stepped into the ring. We mostly get to see Ackles cut loose in the gag reels each season but we could see how much fun he was having as he made all of the cliché wrestling moves and played it up. On the other end of the scale was Aleks Paunovic as Gunner Lawless. Paunovic played the character quite well and we could always see that Gunner's life was long past the glamour of his younger days. By the end, Gunner accepted his fate while Paunovic still made us root for the former champ.

Though Beyond the Mat has its shortcomings, it did quite a bit to set up the last stretch of the season. Crowley is now free and he is racing against Castiel (Lucifer) and an arm of demons to find the next hand of god/object/that is a terrible name and Amara is still out there somewhere. We'll see what happens when Supernatural returns on March 23rd with Safe House.

Tags: Supernatural, Dean Winchester, Sam Winchester, Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, Aleks Paunovic

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