WWWD. What would the Winchesters do?
Still reeling from the loss of Maggie and the other hunters, Sam is running the tea ragged going from one hunt to the next. After he finds a new case where a man's head exploded inside of a gas station, Dean puts his foot down and insists that they need to slow down. With concerns of his own, Castiel proposes another solution – that he and Sam go to investigate the case while Dean stays back with Jack. After destroying Michael using his soul sacrifice powers, Castiel is concerned about how much soul his adopted son has left. Dean goes for it and decides to take Jack on a road trip to see an old friend. Meanwhile in Arkansas, Sam and Castiel's investigation of the gas station leads to them to a nearby town called Charming Acres. It's here that the two of them find themselves nearly thrown back in time as Charming Acres is a picturesque town that seems too good to be true. Friendly families walk the streets and talk to their neighbors, everyone dresses like it's the 1960s and no one knows what a cell phone is. Their investigation leads them to the local milkshake shop where they meet the mayor and a few others that directs them to the victim's room rental. Sam and Castiel search the place for hex bags but come up with nothing. It's then that Sam begins to act strange and suggests that they stay at the victim's apartment. Castiel finds the idea strange but Sam's odd, carefree attitude persuades him. Later that night, a man that they spoke with earlier recalls Sam's mention of a cell phone and he can't get the term out of his mind. He repeats the term "cell phone" over and over again until it triggers the memory that he has a daughter named Rose and that the home he's in is not his own and that he has no idea who the woman pretending to be his wife is. He feels an immediate pain in his head before darting outside into the street. He only makes it down the block when his head explodes like the first victim. Charming Acres is hiding a secret.
Peace of Mind was a solid episode of Supernatural with an entertaining one-off case but still struggles to give us a reason to care about the central arc of season fifteen. Peace of Mind started slow but the pace quickly picked up as soon as Sam and Castiel got into Charming Acres. From there, the episode was sharp, witty and dare I say...charming. The juxtaposition of the sweet earnestness of the town against Castiel's blunt description of a man's head exploding lightened the mood and once again, played up the aspect that he is an angel continues to navigate the waters of human interaction. The awkwardness will always be one of the highlights of Supernatural and one of the most defining traits of the character entirely. Where Peace of Mind stuttered in the plot was each diversion with Dean and Jack. He may not have lost his soul but Jack is not the same person that he was before he defeated Michael. While that sounds good on paper, their scenes dragged the overall pacing of the episode down and were too drab in comparison. That contrast was obviously the intent but I don't think it was meant to be as boring as it came out. Jack's story could be interesting but Supernatural continues to recycle his plot again and again in a will he or won't he become the next threat that will destroy the world. What's certain at this point is that his story going forward carries very little hope that a villain turn could be satisfying as this point.
As entertaining as Peace of Mind was during the time in Charming Acres, I wish we had learned more about the mayor and his motivations. As cool as it was for the town to be a microcosm of the 50s culture, Conrad running by the shops as the beginning exposed how simple Peace of Mind's storytelling was when he ran by the Scooby Doo sign. The mayor had one scene to introduce himself at the beginning of the episode and then spilled every detail about his plan before wanting to stop the pseudo Scooby gang in the malt shop. Why did he choose the 50s for everyone to behave a certain way? Why did he insist on killing people that wanted to leave? One of Supernatural's weaknesses has always been its weekly monsters but Peace of Mind was pretty bad.
Peace of Mind was a good episode but could have been that much better if the direction supported the story as much as it needed to. The entire point of Charming Acres was to be picturesque and perfect yet it didn't appear that differently from Donatello's home when Dean took Jack. Both places were sunny blue skies and nice, welcoming homes. Even experimenting with the saturation and colour to make Charming Acres appear even nicer while making the trip to Donatello's would have portrayed the town in a more idyllic setting than it was. Supernatural has a pretty defined direction style in the past decade of seasons but the first five used colour and light in a far more cinematic way.
Peace of Mind was a good episode that could have realistically cut everything with Dean and Jack and just been better for it. Let's see how the show fairs next week when the Winchesters return to real monster hunting in Don't Go In the Woods.