"Slice Girls" Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW

“The Slice” Girls is a perfectly serviceable episode of Supernatural.  It was an enjoyable one, but in the greater arc of the season there is little that it moves forward.  It’s clear that the writers, Eugenie Ross-Leming and Brad Buckner, are providing an inversion of the Amy Pond storyline from earlier in the season — giving Dean a moment of hesitation in killing a monster while Sam ends up pulling the trigger — but was it a necessary inversion?

As always, Ackles and Padalecki act the hell out of the material they are given, elevating a rather mediocre script, and director Jerry Wanek makes some interesting shooting decisions, especially during the Lydia/Dean seduction scene in the Cobalt Room.  That said, there were some jarring moments that didn’t feel true to the characters, and there’s yet another hint that Bobby might actually be the ghost haunting the boys.  I’m still hoping that will not be the case, as it seems a decisive misstep, not only because of the type of man Bobby Singer was, but also because the audience knows just what happens to souls left behind — thanks to the Eric Kripke penned season two opener, “In My Time of Dying.”

Sam’s moment where he mocks Dean for keeping Bobby’s flask felt out of character.  What in the world would make Sam think that Dean would ever carry around a picture of Bobby as a memento?  Of course he would keep the flask; that pays homage to both Dean’s character and his relationship with Bobby.  The argument for this random moment could be that Sam is worried about Dean’s drinking, but it is disingenuous that Sam would criticize Dean for his choice of keepsake.  Sam has historically expressed his concern about Dean’s drinking by doing just that, simply stating his concern about Dean’s drinking.  Sam is the brother who can talk about emotional things — Dean’s the one who blows it off and changes the subject.

At its core, the biggest failing of the episode is that the situation with Dean and his daughter is not a true mirror of the Amy Pond episode.  Will Dean leave this episode with a stronger sense of the complexity of killing monsters?  No.  This is not a monster, this is his daughter.  Yes, it’s only been his daughter for three days, but killing Amy Pond and killing Emma is nowhere near the same thing.  The relationship between the characters is different.  Emma was part of Dean — they shared a bloodline.  Amy Pond was a long-lost acquaintance, reliant on Sam’s good nature and trust.  Or at least, if I were Dean, this is how I would argue that killing Emma was not analogous.  Besides, Dean has learned this lesson before — season two, episode three, “Bloodlust,” written by Sera Gamble.  Dean knows things aren’t black and white; he knows it’s situational.  When Dean is upset, when his world is completely askew, he behaves rashly.  When Dean behaves rashly, monsters end up dead.  It’s still unclear why this lesson is the one that he has to learn over and over and over.

The need to put Dean in a situation that teaches him about his behavior and choices prevented the episode from capitalizing on what it could have been.  There was much more material to be mined from the fact that Emma was the only Amazon to have hunter blood running through her veins.  There were hints, initially, that she was rejecting the Amazonian indoctrination.  It turns out that this was simply a way of tricking the viewer into believing she wouldn’t kill Dean, but it could have been much more profitable to make her a living and unknown quantity in the Supernatural universe.  Instead, we get more Dean-torture-porn.  While Ackles is a master at manifesting the incredible pain and suffering of his character, at this point it feels like the writers’ room is simply coming up with ways to emotionally torture him.  It’s like living through the “Mystery Spot” episode, except that Sam doesn’t wake up every morning with all of the events of the previous day erased.

Here’s hoping that clowns usher in a stronger Supernatural experience.