Review: Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid
Season 5, Episode 15
Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid
Summary: So it’s a stormy night in Sioux Falls, South Dakota (which many will recognize as Bobby’s home town) and we see a had come out of a grave, followed by a fairly dirt-caked zombie. Cut to a redneck in a trailer watching TV. He hears a jiggling at the door and goes to check it out only to find nothing there. He shuts it and sits down, but it then flies open. He investigates, turns around and is confronted and attacked by the aforementioned zombie. Cue title card. Sam and Dean walk in to a diner to interview a man who claims to have seen the attack and meet Sheriff Mills (a possible reference to Jim Beaver’s character in Harper’s Island) who asks to talk to their supervisor whose voice she then recognises as Bobby’s. The boys talk to Bobby about the attack and he claims to have investigated it and come up with nothing but on the way out of town they discover the freshly filled grave and find no body in the coffin. While checking out the zombie’s house they find him and take him outside to “kill” him but are caught and arrested by the Sheriff. Bobby bails them out of jail and while at his house they meet Bobby’s dead wife Karen who has also risen. Bobby tells them that death is behind it. While Dean keeps an eye on Bobby and has a talk with Karen, Sam goes to investigate the other people who have risen, the first of which he finds has turned and started killing. They tell Bobby about this who knowing what they want to do tells them to leave. At the car Dean tells Sam to go get help from Sheriff Mills while he takes care of Karen. When Sam gets to the Sheriff’s house he finds that her son (who was also one of the zombies) has turned and killed her husband. This forces him to kill the boy, and her to accept that they are dangerous. Back at Bobby’s Karen has also begun to turn and she tells Bobby he has to kill her. As Dean is coming inside he hears a gunshot and finds Karen dead and Bobby holding the gun. Sam is gathering the town’s people to help them fight the zombies but also finds that Bobby isn’t such a hero in the town’s eyes. While loading the car with ammo Bobby and Dean are attacked and in a shootout between them and the zombies are chased into a cupboard inside. When the zombies get into the cupboard they have to fight them off until Sam and the Sheriff come and kill the rest. The episode ends with Sam burning the dead bodies and then he and Dean finding Bobby where he is burning his wife and he tells them the real reason Death came to South Dakota.
There is a lot of thought involved when a show decides to use zombies. What type of zombies will they be? How can they be killed? Etc. I personally love these zombies. So far throughout the series there has been 2 types of “zombies”. First there was the zombie that was raised in “2.04 Children Shouldn’t Play With Dead Things” who was completely aware and almost like a living human, then there were the Croatoan virus “zombies” from “2.09 Croatoan” and “5.04 The End”. This episode chose to go with the former and have their undead fully aware. They had even worked their way back into society and the town had accepted them. One theme of this episode was zombie ethics. As Dean was preparing to shoot one, the Sheriff appears and tells him just because he’s a monster, it doesn’t give him the right to shoot him. That leads to a brilliant quote:
“I can’t believe you were going to shoot me”
”You’re a zombie”
”I’m a taxpayer”
It was a good idea that got you thinking, “If zombies really did come, what rights would they have?” Although those ethics were thrown out the window once the zombies started turning and attacking the down.
The Horseman Death (Who is still yet to be seen) was, of course, the one behind the raising of the dead. Like Revelations states, the dead will rise in the final run of the apocalypse. Why in Sioux Falls, South Dakota you ask? That was my first though too. Turns out Death doesn’t like the way Bobby has been helping the Winchesters deny they’re destinies and he’s decided to take action, sending a plague of the dead to his town to deliver him a message.
This leads me to Bobby’s role in the episode. It was a fairly emotional episode for him as his wife Karen (who was killed by Bobby himself, as explained in “3.10 Dream A Little Dream Of Me”) is one of the dead, brought back to life. Bobby’s reaction to this was the same as the rest of the towns. It was his wife and so he went along with it. He even chose her over the boys when they told him she had to die. But panic set in when she collapsed and he realised she was turning. As she was lying on the bed slowly turning, she told Bobby he would have to kill her again. At the end of the episode, as he watched her body burn, he delivered a heart wrenching line:
“She was the love of my life… How many times do I gotta kill her?”
Needless to say, Jim Beaver’s (Bobby) acting this episode was superb (as it always is), but this episode was so much more. Not only would this part be hard for anybody to play, but given Jim’s past, it would have been that much worse and yet he still soldiered through and delivered a great performance. As stated in his autobiography “Life’s That Way” his wife Cecily died of lung cancer in early 2004. Having to then put himself in the headspace of “How would I feel if my wife came back to life” would have taken a huge emotional toll on him and he even said via his twitter that it was one of the most emotional episodes he’d done. This performance just heightens my respect and admiration of Jim as an actor and as a human being.
Usually I’m not very good at reviewing stand alone episodes (hence why there isn’t one for “5.11 Sam, Interuppted” and “5.12 Swap Meat”) but even though technically it didn’t have much to do with the mythology, it still had just enough to make it reviewable as well as having the amazing work that Jim did. Sorry for the lateness of this review, I’ve just gotten a bit lazy but hopefully 5.16 and 5.17 will be up within the next couple of days.