Filed under: Recaps & Reviews
If you hear a whistle, run.
After a girl is found dead in the woods in Iowa from a strange animal attack, Sam digs deeper and has found that several people have been found dead the in the same area across the past few decades. It's a case and one that will get him and Dean out of the bunker. Still not feeling comfortable with Jack's returned powers, he suggests that they leave the young Nephilim behind in case something goes wrong and instead leaves jack with a grocery list to keep him busy. After the two make their way to Polk City, Iowa, they talk with the sheriff who is pushing the narrative that the victim died as a result of coyote attack. Based on their examination of the body and the strange markings, there is no way that is true. Back in Lebanon, Jack is running the errands when he comes across the young kids that had previously stolen Dean's car and the mystical relics in it. Jack gets invited to hang out later on. Meanwhile in Iowa, another victim has been claimed by whatever monster lurks in the woods. Not willing to sit back, Sam and Dean head into to track it and end the murders before the creature can claim its next kill but suddenly they are surprised by the sheriff. He gets the drop on them but they manage to quickly turn the tables and assure him they are there to help. The sheriff tells them that the monster is a cursed settler that was forced to wander the forest, forever consumed by his hunger that threatens to consume him if he doesn't eat. The Winchesters may be pros but they are in for a long night if they plan to end the terror on Polk City.
Don't Go in the Woods struggled to find its footing while being caught in the middle of Jack's lonely downward spiral and the cannibalistic monster that lurked in the woods. The result is that Don't Go in the Woods doesn't end up pleasing fans that were hoping for a simple monster if the week episode or those that were hoping to for a better sense of what the end game for season fourteen. While the pacing of each story complimented one another, the tone between the two always felt disjointed and felt like I was watching two different shows altogether. The monster in the woods was very compelling and I was genuinely interested in the latest hunt but just as it was building suspense the show shifted to Jack's awkward and sad hangout with the kids. Jack's struggle to fit in is a great story but both stories conflicted with one another in Don't Go in the Woods rather than complimenting the other. What could have been a great (but sad) character arc or a great monster of the week episode ended up being a middling story from both.
The stand out highs of the episode obviously came from Adam Beach and his portrayal of the town sheriff. Beach didn't have a lot to work with in Don't Go in the Woods but he made the best of it. Many past episodes of Supernatural have had very similar stories with overly doting fathers portrayed by actors that make the character entirely unsympathetic but Beach managed to pull it off very well. Also delivering a good performance is Alexander Calvert as Jack. He captures the immature desire of kids to impress others but still never fully grasp the consequences of their actions. I do believe the episode would have been far better if he wasn't hanging out with teenagers for the day. I understand the desire to juxtapose him next to people that he should be more mature than but it always felt off and quickly established Jack as that creepy guy that tries to make friends kids.
Don't Go in the Woods is a good concept but lost too much focus trying to tell two very different stories. Let's see what happens next week when Supernatural returns with Game Night.