Supernatural: Those Corny '40s

After a solid return from the winter break, Friday's episode of Supernatural was simply an excuse to put Dean in a snazzy suit. "Time After Time" was mostly a one-off time-travel episode that gave Supernatural's writers a reason to visit the 1940s, a time when wiseguys said "See?" in that nasally, "my tie's too tight" sort of way. It's not a horrible idea for TV shows to zip back and forth through history—in fact, I endorse it—but when there's so little substance (i.e. reason) behind it, it's a Supernatural vacation not worth taking.

Here's the gist of what went down: Sam and Dean investigated a string of deaths and ran into Chronos, the God of Time (played by Jason Dohring, who was ultimately underused). He made juice boxes out of his victims to fill his engine with enough pop to bounce from decade to decade, and in the present day, Dean tackled/hugged him just as he was setting out for 1944. Giant flash of red light! Dean "rode" Chronos back in time and ended up side-by-side with Eliot Ness, one of the top hunters from his era. Meanwhile, Sam was remained in the present, where he totally stressed about Dean being lost in time and worked with Bobby's sexy sheriff friend to find a way to bring Dean back.

Eventually Sam whipped up a spell that would force Chronos to return to today, but he couldn't incant it until he knew the exact moment Chronos would be touching Dean, otherwise Dean would be stuck back in 1944... FOREVERRRR! Thankfully, Dean remembered the plots of the Back to the Future franchise and hid a note for Sam to find in the future, leading Sam to Chronos's 1944 girlfriend—who was barely alive in a present-day old folk's home. She thought Ed Sullivan was still on television, but had no problem remembering the exact time Chronos tried to kill Dean 66 years ago. Old people and their wacky memories!

Then the race was on to cast the spell in the present day before Dean got strangled in 1944, even though Sam could have cast that spell at any time and it still would have had the same effect on the past. Heck, Sam could have waited a week and enjoyed a little "Me Time," and also practiced the spell to make sure he got it right, because he was a little sloppy. Nitpick alert: Shouldn't he have written the time in military time, or at least added a "pm" to 11:34? Without that evening designation, Sam should have dragged Chronos away from the middle of his Eggs Benedict brunch to present day. Anyway, the spell worked, yay! Then Sam poked Chronos with a magic stick and Chronos died. But before Chronos's clock stopped for good, he gave the Winchesters some intel: "I know your future. It's covered in thick, black ooze. It's everywhere. They're everywhere. Enjoy oblivion." Well geez, I could have told them that.

I applaud Supernatural's effort to keep the episode lighthearted with wisecracks and Dean's constant geeking out over being partnered with Eliot Ness, but "Time After Time" cleaned out the Low-Hanging Fruit Store with jokes that were set up on a tee (okay, Dean doing math in his head to figure out what year he was in was funny). The episode also continued the lackluster material for Jared Padalecki as Sam, who was stuck in present time while Jensen Ackles hammed it up in a slick suit and rode around in your grandpa's wheels.

"Time After Time" might have had more of an effect had Supernatural not done something so recently in last season's "Frontierland" (when Dean AND Sam went back to the Wild West and partied with hunter and famous historical figure Samuel Colt). I'm looking forward to next season when Sam heads back to the '70s and kills disco demons with Diana Ross.

– Hot damn Jensen looks good in a suit.

– Dean! You're stuck in 1944! Stop geeking out and start taking things seriously!

– Did anyone else feel sorry for Chronos? Poor guy was just trying to stay with his best gal, and Sam and Dean had to go and kill him.

Supernatural Season 7 Power Rankings
"Time After Time" didn't add anything to Supernatural's season-long arc, and its standalone adventure should have been more than just an excuse to throw some 1940s flair into the show. It wasn't a bad episode by any means, it just wasn't good. That lands it toward the bottom of the list. Come on Supernatural, PLEASE dethrone "Shut Up, Dr. Phil"! Please?

1. "Shut Up, Dr. Phil" (Episode 5)
A pair of witches needed some couples counseling in a gory fun-fest that guest-starred Charisma Carpenter and James Marsters.

2. "Death's Door" (Episode 10)
Bobby fought for his life and delved into his past as he tried to deliver a message to Sam and Dean from beyond the plane of the living.

3. "The Mentalists" (Episode 7)
More standalone fun as the brothers investigated murders in a town full of psychics.

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

5. "Adventures in Babysitting" (Episode 11)
Sam and Dean coped with Bobby's death and met a fellow hunter's young daughter.

6. "Slash Fiction" (Episode 6)
Two Leviathans disguised themselves as Sam and Dean and took off on a cross-country shootin' spree!

7. "Hello, Cruel World" (Episode 2)
The Leviathans set up a buffet at a hospital after spreading into the water supply.

8. "Time After Time" (Episode 12)
Dean traveled back to 1944 and battled the God of Time with Eliot Ness.

9. "How To Win Friends And Influence Monsters" (Episode 9)
Hyperadrenalized cannibals and stoner sandwiches! Dick Roman's plan was sort of unveiled! And Bobby got shot!

10. "The Girl Next Door" (Episode 3)
Via flashback, we saw Sam's first kiss... with a monster! Then Dean killed her.

11. "Defending Your Life" (Episode 4)
Dean went on trial before Osiris because of the guilt he carries. Jo came back to blow him up!

12. "Season 7, Time for a Wedding" (Episode 8)
Too. Much. Becky. Larson.

Follow writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom