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Congratulations to the person responsible for Sam's drunken letters to Stephen King, because you just got a massive shout-out in tonight's episode. After the boys salt and burn their father's corpse (as one does, of course), they crack into his voicemail and track down the source of a message John had been saving for four months -- a woman named Ellen who, with her daughter Jo, runs a roadhouse-slash-meeting-lodge for peripatetic gentlemen who shoot monsters in the face with rock salt. These lovely ladies, I'm told, will feature throughout the season, but tonight their primary role is to clue Sam and Dean in on some demonic doings at a local carnival. Seems a clown visible only to children (the brothers among them, apparently) finagles his way into the kids' houses late at night after they've visited the fair and eats their parents. Yet another reason never to reproduce. Quickly enough, Our Intrepid Duo figures out the carnival's supposedly blind knife thrower is responsible and, after a brief bit of hand-to-hellbeast tussling in a fun house, the guys dispatch the thing to the black beyond. There's also a lot of grief-related angst -- including one horribly painful scene in which Dean takes out his anger on the defenseless Metallicar with a tire iron -- but all that can wait for the recap proper. Line of the night? "I'm on it like Divine on dog dookie." Don't ask.
We start off with another "Previously on Supernatural" sequence of the same sort I cursed last week, but this one's so cleverly intercut over snippets of The Chambers Brothers' "Time Has Come Today" that the images and the song combine to make last week's episode seem even more entertainingly disturbing than it actually was. After a couple of clips of soon-to-shut-up-for-good Shut Up Daddy in action over lyric snippets like "Young hearts can go their way" and "The rules have changed today -- I have no place to stay," we hit the best bit at the end, where they jump forward to the part of the song where time seems to slow and attenuate as the guys just keep chanting, "Time!" at lengthening intervals, with blackouts hitting the screen each time they do so, until everything starts overlapping on top of each other: Time! "I will give you the [fucking] Colt and the bullet, but you gotta help Dean." Time! "You still need to sweeten the pot." Time! "Today's your lucky day, kid." Time! Dean gasps awake on his hospital bed. Time! "You watch out for Sammy, okay?" Time! John whispers something distressing in Dean's ear. Time! John's ready for his close-up, Ceiling Demon. Time! "Dad?" Sufferin' Sammy bleats. Time! Coffee hits the floor, Sam bellows soundlessly for help, and John's flatlining monitor begins to drone underneath the song. Time! "Time of death: 10:41 AM." Time! Sam and Dean vanish into the last blackout, from which emerges that huge, flaming "NOW." It creeps towards the screen before cross-fading into an...
...enormous red balloon that quickly pops to reveal crowds thronging a carnival midway in, as the title card notes, "Medford, Wisconsin." We cut through a couple of the rides and pan past a muscular and bald firebreather in gladiator gear before we're assaulted by a pair of mutely affable tramp clowns who entertain a pretty little brunette child with juggling and plate-spinning and such. "God, I hate clowns," the brunette's father mutters to the wife a couple of steps out of his daughter's earshot. "Always creep me out." "Shhh!" the mother, who's blonde and therefore will be dead before the opening credits, chides. "She likes them!" she continues, nodding towards the girl. Yeah. She likes them so much that the coroner's office is going to have to use a Dust Buster to vacuum up what little remains of your implants after tonight's Monster Of The Week is through with you. Ooops! Spoiler! After another spin through the fair -- during which we are treated to an unnecessarily lingering shot of a female contortionist's lower half -- Dad Of Nora checks his watch while Mom Of Nora tells the kid she has time for one last go. Nora glances around for a bit, trying to decide what to ride, and eventually opts for the Pagliacci clown standing off to one side. And if you think that joke was rude, you obviously haven't watched this entire episode. By the way, I typed this clown as a "Pagliacci" to distinguish his puff-ball-and-frilly-collar self from the two Emmett Kelly variations who'd been entertaining this child earlier, but a quick trip to Yahoo reveals that this guy's more of a cross between Bozo, the beloved alter-ego of late Chicago-based children's entertainer Bob Bell, and Pogo, the psyche-scarring alter-ego of late Chicago-based children's serial killer John Wayne Gacy. Seriously. He's got Bozo's hair and Pogo's makeup. This show is so sick and wrong. And I love it.