Horrible puns aside, this episode starts with vampires orchestrating an armored truck robbery by way of a car crash. The next day we see John and Mary going over the picture of Dean Winchester when they run into Kyle (Ryan McCartan). This sparks a conversation about their relationship status, but then Carlos chimes in over the radio with a case. The vampires were after a Men of Letters artifact—an amulet that can show the user their immediate future. Unfortunately, John touches the thing and sees himself being killed by a vampire. Diana (Austin Boyce), an expert on the amulet, gives the gang more insight into how it works but also sells them out to the vampires. The head vampire (Jared Wofford) gets the amulet and takes off with his crew. Worried about John’s safety, the gang benches him at the clubhouse with Millie while they go hunting for the clan, but this backfires, with John winding up in the exact place he’s fated to die. Despite a good effort by Mary and Carlos, John resorts to having Millie kill him so the head vampire can be incapacitated long enough to be defeated. This insane strategy works, and John is obviously brought back to life. But the twist ending is that Betty (John’s ex) and Kyle have begun a partnership of sorts, and Kyle, unbeknownst to Betty, is possessed by an Akrida!
Whew! What a cuckoo-bananas episode, right? As someone who watched the mothership series for all fifteen seasons and was highly curious about this spinoff, I can honestly say the back half of this first season is definitely not playing it safe. Episode 9 packs a lot of plot into an hour, but not all of it is necessary or even good.
My main problem with this episode is the story, which was also my main problem with the last episode, but this episode doesn’t have the advantage of Carlos being the center of attention or Loki making a fabulous cameo appearance. Whereas those two elements, plus the acting all around, really saved the last episode from being trash, this episode doesn’t have those advantages to cover for its weak story.
The idea of a vampire cult that worships gods of fate and tries to get a magic amulet in order for them to rule better is… shaky at best. Yes, the series takes place in the ’70s, so a cult is in keeping with the times, but still. Granted, Diana does her best to make the case for it, and I’ll admit the mob mentality of it does have a ring of rational, but overall? Eh. I feel like this would have been a fine opportunity to bring in a new threat—perhaps a rival to the Men of Letters who use the amulet to build power and dominance… but sure, vampires acting like the mob or the royal family works too, I guess.
The secondary story of Betty is also paper thin until the very end, where it is revealed that Kyle and her have formed some kind of weird partnership. This is mildly amusing because Kyle is pro-Mary and Betty is pro-John, but ultimately, this twist came out of fucking nowhere and nearly snapped my neck it was forced into play so hard. The big problem here is just the randomness of it. Betty hasn’t been heard or seen since that one episode where she essentially existed to create a barely-there love triangle with John and Mary (before they were officially a thing). I mean, I get that Betty is the type of Supernatural throwaway character who will occasionally resurfaces from time to time like Garth or Sheriff Jody Mills, but who knows if she’ll actually become that. This is literally her second appearance in this series, and frankly, it feels extremely forced. It might be because this whole time the gang has been going off to active crime scenes and investigating weird shit and Officer Betty’s nowhere to be seen, so why is she around now?
Kyle seemed like he was going to be a bigger player when he originally showed up and then straight-up disappeared. Yes, he showed up in one other episode after his initial debut, but mostly he was given the part of plucky reporter who benefits off the wacky adventures of our Scooby gang. Here, he has returned, somehow started up a working relationship with Betty, and gotten himself possessed by the Akrida. Uh… the fuck?
Which brings me to my final grudge against this episode: John’s stupid sacrifice. John’s plan to kill himself in order to force the vampire to drink dead man’s blood is insanity. The fact that Millie agrees to this plan is insanity. The fact that Mary and Millie manage to bring him back from the dead is insanity. Are you sensing a pattern here? Hell, the only purpose this craziness serves is to 1) resolve the fate John saw, 2) give Mary an opening to reveal her and John’s relationship to the gang, and 3) allow Millie a shot at emotional growth. Notice I didn’t include “help Mary kill the head vampire,” because we already saw her kill five other vampires without any real problem, and she 100% did not need the assist. In John’s defense, he didn’t know she killed the other vampires, but another strike against him is that if Mary had been killed by the vampires, he would have essentially fucked his mom over completely—unless, we assume Millie is perfectly comfortable decapitating a monster after it has just killed her only child. Mind you, this is a lady who has never fought monsters before, so while the argument could be made for a grief-fueled rage attack, it doesn’t necessarily guarantee her success.
The episode isn’t all bad though, despite the clunky vampire cult side of things. Carlos makes a fine argument for a vampire heist movie. The fight sequences are also fun and engaging from Mary’s one-woman show in the underground halls of the clubhouse to Carlos’ magnificent “holy-water-hair-commercial” move that helps her get access in the first place. Do I believe that Mary Campbell would be able to single-handily kill five vampires when it’s been shown that Sam and Dean struggle with less than that unless they’ve got some kind of ambush on their side? Fuck no, but I’m not gonna say it isn’t fun watching the lie. In their defense, shows of this nature have a very wishy-washy execution of the strength and speed of their supernatural creatures. One minute, a vampire’s backhand can break a man’s neck, the next it just throws our protagonist against a nearby wall—at which point the protagonist’s ability to endure physical punishment becomes conveniently elastic. Long story short? It’s a fantasy… don’t overthink it.
Overall, I’m not a big fan of this episode for a number of reasons. The one I haven’t yet discussed in full but hinted to is the acting. I wish more of the performances in this episode were up to snuff. The main gang does their due diligence, but the guest stars don’t really feel into it. The only one who I considered admirable in their effort was Javier Vazquez Jr.’s Diego—the armored truck guard who speaks to Carlos about his harrowing run-in with the vampires. Perhaps it’s because he doesn’t have much he needs to act off of, maybe he’s just a better actor than the rest. Whatever the case, I found it noticeable. The vampires are completely nameless killing machines, the head vampire doesn’t even get a name, much less a personality. Would it have killed you to include a scene of them praying to their gods of fate? Or even a cool heist planning sequence? No, instead we get these inane scenes with Betty and Mary, and Betty and Millie… no thanks.
Ah well, let’s see if they can’t improve next week.