Filed under: Recaps & Reviews
When someone close to Donna goes missing, the Winchesters have to track a monster they have never faced before – The Butterfly.
After Wendy Hanscum, niece to Wendy Hanscum, suddenly goes missing the Winchesters get the call and are off to Oshkosh, Nebraska to help a friend. Donna and Doug tell them what happened but it's Agent Clegg that fills them in the details of case. Dean explains their presence there with a lie that he's Dona's cousin and he's there for family. Clegg tells them about the serial killer he's nicknamed, The Butterfly, as he has a migratory pattern to his victims and not one of them has been found over the past twelve years. Obviously, Donna is quite shaken by this but Dean reminds her that she needs to stay focused on finding Wendy. After a few call outs to CB radio, Dean gets some details from a trucker about where Wendy was last seen. Back at the police station, Clegg has brought in a pastor that just happened to be at Manny's, the truck stop café where Wendy was last scene. Clegg and Sam get nothing but manages to get everything they need when she threatens to use the evidence found in his van against him. The pastor has a criminal record but Donna and Sam believe him when he claims that he didn't do it. After Dean gets the location of Manny's café, he and Doug head there and learn that the clerk shut the place down after Wendy left and went after her. Dean isn't playing games and forces the nasty truth out of him – Wendy is going to be cut into pieces and sold to monsters for food on an online auction. The auction has already started and Sam and Dean have less than an hour to save Wendy before she's sold to the highest bidder.
After last week's episode, The Breakdown was exactly what Supernatural needed: a well-crafted story with an excellent payoff. The Breakdown worked very well because the plot was focused and it went back to the sometimes mentioned but rarely explored theme in Supernatural that people can be monsters too. Rather than have a great deal of character development for Wendy Hanscum, The Breakdown understood that she wasn't the focus but rather the catalyst to bring Donna into the story in a meaningful way and give solid motivation to save a family member that is following in her footsteps. The twist in this episode wasn't that Agent Clegg was part of it but rather why he even did it. Sure, the money is reason enough but Marlon the vampire worked for him too. Clegg understood that monsters live freely among us and you can't control that but what you can control is how often people die to serve their purposes in an era of the darknet and online purchases. This was easily of Supernatural's best episodes this season and if we can get more of this, I think fans will be very happy with season thirteen.
Besides the plot, the relationship between Donna and Doug was another highpoint for The Breakdown. For years, Donna has known the truth about what lurks in the world and the real danger while Doug is a simple man who loves her and was unaware of what she did when she was helping Sam and Dean. Brendan Taylor really deserves a lot of credit here (Briana Buckmaster was great as usual), because he brings a genuine sincerity to the character. Doug wants to help people but he also knows what he isn't. Doug's decision to leave Donna and not become a part time monster hunter was heartbreaking but earnest. He just not cut out to live that life.
The one minor flaw in The Breakdown had to be the butcher. Agent Clegg had time to explain why he sold the parts of his victims to the highest bidder but who was the person that helped him and what motivated them to cut people into pieces while they were still alive for however long he was involved? I wouldn't say this detracted from the story but it definitely got left by the wayside, likely due to time constraints. Besides that, showing the monsters bidding on Sam's heart didn't work because it didn't add to the episode in any way. Clegg already told us what he was doing and the same (if not better) effect could have been achieved if the bid numbers were shown going up to such a high amount. Clegg told us that most monsters were normal people but the shots of each one made them look villainous as they bared their teeth and snarled.
The Breakdown was a great episode from Supernatural. I think it should have been called The Butterfly but that's just me. Hopefully this keeps up when Rowena returns in Various & Sundry Villains.