Or 'the episode that had Supernatural fans crapping themselves in the fear that their show would be forever ruined'. I guess 'Jump the Shark' was a snappier title. It's fitting, of course, that Dabb and Loflin choose to name their second episode of the season after the phrase given to the moment that a television show abandons its credibility and is no longer as good as it was, since it shows an awareness of the danger inherent in what they're doing here. The inclusion of a third Winchester brother veers dangerously close to the lamentable concept of 'retcon', re-writing the mythology of the show to suit a desired narrative twist (in most cases, something that acts as a last ditch effort to pump shock and surprise into a show), and when poorly handled, it spells disaster for everyone. Thankfully, this highly talented writing duo, who have an excellent handle on the motivations of the Winchester brothers (something that was a stand-out characteristic of their earlier episode, 'After School Special'), avoid this problem by handling the issue delicately and logically, presenting the viewer with something that is completely believable and ties in well with the history already established within the show. Another brother does not denigrate John Winchester's character in any way as he was without a partner, and his reasons for not informing his other boys are painfully obvious. It's a deft touch to have Adam Milligan be unaware of the concept of 'hunting', to show another side to John, a side that is able to be a standard dad and shows a considerable amount of compassion, given that he clearly wanted to spare the kid from the life that the rest of his family has had to lead. This, in turn, leads to some fantastic emotional interplay between Sam and Dean as they grapple with how to deal with their new brother and Jensen and Jared both rise to the occasion yet again. It's almost a shame that Milligan is written out of the show so fleetingly. I understand that this is the most sensible course of action, since the disturbance of the central storytelling structure is what cripples so many shows (two's company, three's a crowd... I'm talking to you, Scooby Doo - Scrappy?! Please!), and that this is executed in the best way possible by incorporating the kid into the supernatural element of the hour, but there's a whole wealth of possibility that is lost by laying him to waste. Plus, Jake Abel does an excellent job of displaying shades of Winchester determination, allowing you to believe him as the brother, while also making the character considerably different to Sam and Dean. And he's rather hot. Still, credit to Dabb and Loflin for surprising us all here: the knee-jerk critics bemoaned the transformation of a two into a three and they are proved wrong. The level-headed determined that, given the episode's title and the show's track record, this would turn out not to be a third Winchester brother and that things would be okay and *they* are proved wrong. Adam Milligan exists, he lived, he is a reality for Sam and Dean. And in that, the writing staff give us the best possible outcome of this most dangerous of plot devices.
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