'Supernatural' season 11 episode 5: "Thin Lizzie"
Rather than “Thin Lizzie,” this episode should have have been titled “Thinly Veiled” because the apparent ghost of Lizzie Borden acted as an excuse to further the season plot arc, despite the promise from head writer Jeremy Carver for a standalone episode (monster of the week).
A couple checks into a room at the former home of Lizzie Borden (famous for axing her parents) only to be brutally murdered. Sam (Jared Padalecki, “Gilmore Girls”) presents the murder to Dean (Jensen Ackles, “Smallville”) as a potential case, but Dean is hesitant. He facetiously accuses Sam of just wanting to indulge his “fetish” for serial killers, a topic Sam has expressed interest in before. Apparently non-supernatural killers are fascinating for monster hunters. But the death looks suspicious enough that Dean agrees to check it out. After leaving Cas (Misha Collins, “24”) behind to marathon “The Wire” on Netflix, they head out to the Lizzie Borden Bed and Breakfast Museum.
After bribing the owner (Thomas Jones, “Alcatraz”) for information about the murder, the brothers check in for the night. This dismays Dean who, surrounded by lace, dolls and old perfume bottle, feels trapped in a “doily coffin.” The two split up to investigate the house and discover that all the apparent ghostly activity (flickering lights, EMF readings) is faked for the tourists. Yet, while searching Dean encounters a man with a tripod taking photos of the house.
Later that night the owner of the Bed and Breakfast’s mother (Glynis Davis, “Stargate Universe”) is murdered. The brothers pull out their FBI badges and get to know the local law enforcement, Detective Madsen (Claude Knowlton, “iZombie”), who tells them that the man Dean saw earlier is a ghost enthusiast named Len (Jared Gertner, “Submissions Only”).
Dean goes to visit Len while Sam goes to visit a new crime scene: The father of a young boy, Jordie (Finn Wolfhard, “The 100”), was killed right outside his house, while Jordie and his babysitter Sydney (Tess Atkins, “Continuum”) were inside. Jordie’s mother (Tracey Power, “Eadweard”) returns, only to kick Sam out of her house before he can question her. Meanwhile, Dean discovers that Len is not just your average Lizzie Borden “superfan.” He is, in fact, soulless, having had a run in with Amara (Yasmeene Ball, “The Tree that Saved Christmas”) earlier that week. Unlike other victims of Amara’s “soul suck,” Len hasn’t gone on a murder rampage. Instead, he has just lost his passion, feeling like he is going through the motions of everyday life because he doesn’t know what else to do. He even sold his entire Lizzie Borden collection. He describes it as “playing the part” and “faking it till you make it, or feel it,” behaving similarly to Sam when he was soulless in season 6.
Sam and Dean aren’t sure what to do about Len. They don’t know how to save him, and he hasn’t done anything yet to make him a threat. Empathizing with Len’s condition, Sam is reluctant to tell Len the truth because being told that his soul has been eaten and that they don’t know how to get it back isn’t exactly comforting. Sam also relays the cold shoulder Jordie’s mother gave him, offering her as a potential soulless killer. When the brothers can’t find the mother they call the babysitter, who points them towards where she might be: the house of her “special friend.”
When they arrive at the location, Dean tells Len that Amara sucked out his soul and handcuffs him to the Impala so he can’t get into trouble. Len seems comforted by the knowledge. The house Sydney sent them too is suspiciously quiet upon entrance. Dean discovers the bodies of the mother and her “special friend” before getting knocked out. Sam finds Jordie locked up in a closet, but he isn’t given a chance to free him before he finds himself with a shotgun against his back. Plot twist: it's the babysitter.
Sydney promises to make the brothers an offering to Amara. She explains that she met Amara outside a bar after she’d just been dumped. Amara touched Sydney’s hand and made her feel like “ecstasy orgasm chocolate cake.” Amara promised to help her then took her soul. Since then Sydney has felt free, free from hurting and sadness. After losing her soul she no longer suffers from nightmares or painful memories of her abusive parents. Dean distracts Sydney while Sam makes a rush for a weapon, but before he can, Len sneaks up behind her and kills her with her own ax.
Sam makes sure that Jordie has family to stay with and promises him that he will survive this and be all right. Len explains to Dean that he ripped his hand out of the cuff just to see if he could do it. Then he saved the brothers, not out of individual moral imperative, but because of social expectation. He knows that if he isn’t stopped soon, he will be the next one to kill. Dean refuses to shoot him, proving that Dean has turned a corner from last season. In season 9 Dean shot an innocent young man because Dean believed that the boy would grow up to be a killer like the rest of his family. Dean struggled against his own inner darkness and for a long time felt believed that once one is infected, their fate is sealed. He felt justified in putting the boy out of his misery before he could hurt others. Now, having been saved himself, he is willing to hope that Len can fight the darkness inside. Instead, Len decides to turn himself in for all the murders, hoping that prison will stop him from hurting anyone.
The brothers ponder Amara and the Darkness and what their next move is. They agree that the best course of action is to follow the trail of soullessness and try to figure out what Amara’s end goal is. The brothers drive off, unaware that they are leaving Amara behind. She steps out of the bushes to watch them drive off, promising that she will see Dean soon.