After kicking off Season 7 with two heavily serialized, mythology-building episodes Supernatural‘s third episode ventured into case-of-the-week territory. And it was… fine. Many of Supernatural‘s standalone episodes have been among the series’ best, but aside from its somewhat shocking ending, I don’t think “The Girl Next Door” will remain in my memory bank for too long.

The cliffhanging events of last week’s episode (Sam and Dean were headed to Monster Hospital! Bobby’s placed burned down!) were wrapped up quickly to make way for a tale of teenage love. Bobby helped spring a literally broken Dean and a mentally shaken Sam from the joint, immediately crushing any hopes that the episode would come to be known “Escape from Dr. Sexy MD’s Human Buffet.” There was some trickery involved on Supernatural‘s part, ending last week’s episode by throwing Sam and Dean into the lair of this season’s lieutenant bad guy and then pulling them out right away, but whatever. I’m not filing a formal complaint, I’m just not sure it was necessary.

Fast forward to three weeks later, where we found Bobby and Dean recuperating with some telenovelas and Sam occasionally bugging out. Can I just say that it’s great to have the old Dean back? It’s great to have the old Dean back. While out on a munchies run, Sam noticed a headline that reminded him of a case he worked on when he was but a teen—so he decided to up and take off without telling anyone. Oh, Sam! So smart, yet so dumb. Turns out he’d linked some specific murders to the girl he shared his first kiss with. Wait, what? Yes, what.

Through a series of flashbacks intercut with Sam in the present day, we found out he was hunting a Kitsune named Amy. A Kitsune is a monster that likes to snack on people’s brains, and this Kitsune was hot. In fact, it was Jewel Staite, the other other cutie from Firefly. Young Amy once saved young Sam’s life by stabbing her Kitsune mother (who was ready to kill Sam), and because of that, current Sam found himself in a bit of a quandary: “Do I kill her? She’s a monster, but she’s a nice monster (i.e. she’s killed, but it was to save her son’s life).” Sam ended up not killing Amy because of their history; she now has a kid, and she’s feeding from cadavers she picks up while working as a mortician. So even though she’s a monster, Sam let her off.

But you know who did kill her? Dean! Older bro went behind younger bro’s back and stabbed her in the heart in what can only be described as utter defiance of Sam’s wishes. This was precisely the moment when “The Girl Next Door” got a lot better. It’s was a big step for Dean to take, and it’s going to come back in a big way at some point in the season, at which point it will surely create one of those trademark hubbubs between the two. It also raises an interesting question: Who is in the right here: Sam and his forgiving heart, or Dean and his commitment to being a hunter of all things that threaten the world? I’m caught in the middle here, guys. I suppose all decisions should be made on a case-by-case basis, but this was a tricky case. How could anyone guarantee that Amy wouldn’t kill again? That’s what monsters do. But she did save Sam’s life, and she seemed sincere. Where do you all stand on this issue? If I were forced to choose a side, I’d pick Dean’s: Rules are rules are rules, no exceptions. Because if you let one monster live, next thing you know you’re letting others off the hook as long as they swear they won’t kill again. Better double-check to see if their fingers are crossed.

“The Girl Next Door” further developed some season-long bits as well. Apparently the Leviathans are a bit more restricted than other supernatural beings, in that they must rely on normal human means of investigation—like tracking credit card charges to find the Winchesters (nice recall of “Mistress Magda,” by the way). I’m on board with this. It humanizes the storyline just enough, and the idea of an underground network of Leviathans who still have human day jobs offers up lots of possibilities.

Not the best episode, but not the worst, either. The most important thing is the light tone of Supernatural is still intact, and the season does not seem to be going off the rails at all.


Notes:


– Jensen Ackles directed this episode, his first since “Weekend at Bobby’s,” which was an impressive directorial debut. I’d forgotten this fact going into the episode, and was immediately wowed by the pre-credit sequence in the hospital. Then Jensen’s name popped up and I was all like, “Damn, this dude has skills.” He’s got a fallback career if he ever loses that handsome mug of his.

– I don’t watch Dr. Who, but I noticed some people taking exception to the “Amy Pond” reference on another website. Why?

– Will Amy’s son get his revenge on Jensen? Maybe sometime in Season 9?

– I always love Supernatural‘s references to Ackles’ and Jared Padalecki’s films. This time we got Ackles’ My Bloody Valentine 3D. Anyone see it? Is it any good? It’s a rom-com, right? Yes, I’m joking about the rom-com bit.

– Did anyone else think of Game of Thrones‘ Khal Drogo and Viserys when the Leviathan poured the nacho cheese over that guy’s head? There’s your golden crown!


Supernatural Season 7 Power Rankings


It looks like there’s an ominous theme so far… episodes are getting worse as the season goes on. Let’s hope the trend doesn’t continue.

1. “Meet the New Boss” (Episode 1)
Castiel got all righteous on those who didn’t respect The Good Word, and it was great.

2. “Hell, Cruel World” (Episode 2)
The Leviathans set up a buffet at a hospital after spreading into the water supply.

3. “The Girl Next Door” (Episode 3)
Via flashback, we saw Sam’s first kiss… with a monster! Then Dean killed her.


Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom

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