Davy Perez joined the writing staff of Supernatural in 2016. His first writing credit for the series is season 12’s “American Nightmare.” Since that episode, he has written or been executive story editor for 30 more episodes, which include “Lily Sunder Has Some Regrets,” “A Most Holy Man.” and last night’s “Damaged Goods.” Before he worked on Supernatural, Perez worked on Fargo and anthology series American Crime.
Perez does not have as many Supernatural writing credits as the other writers featured in this week-long showcase. But this is precisely why I wanted to spotlight his work. His episodes are always memorable, because his writing delivers dialogue that can be heartbreaking with a moment of hilarity thrown in unexpectedly, or it can be relaxed and smooth and then suddenly interrupted by sheer terror. And it’s seamless and believable every time. He simultaneously gives the primary plot points the attention and care they require, while also portraying the characters we know so well in a light that is all his own. And the three episodes I have picked to review here reflect those talents.
Season 12, Episode 12 – “Stuck in the Middle (With You)”
In season 12’s “Stuck In The Middle (With You)” (which was directed by the beloved Richard Speight, Jr.), Mary asks her boys and her friend Wally for help with killing a demon. But we ultimately learn that she has lied to her family and is working on behalf of the British Men of Letters to retrieve the Colt from Ramiel, Prince of Hell. Her selfish and reckless actions endangered everyone around her, and she almost got Castiel killed in the process.
Perez tells this harrowing tale in a compelling way, all while matching the pace of Speight’s unique directing style. The opening scene at the diner grabs the viewer’s attention instantly, because the dialogue is hilarious and beautifully timed. Mary tries to keep everyone focused on the task at hand, while Dean imparts dating advice to Cas who is being hit on by the waitress. (The upside to dating a waitress, Dean shares, is that “they always smell like food.”) And while Sam is impatiently waiting to access the free wifi, Wally is ordering extra cheese on his burger to “carbo-load.” (“Cheese is not a carbohydrate,” says everyone at the table simultaneously.)
Once everyone agrees on their plan of action, the excitement does not stop. And, as is often the case with a Winchester hunt, things do not go as planned. Wally is killed, Dean saves Sam’s life with only a few seconds to spare, and Crowley arrives unexpectedly and throws a wrench into everything.
Nestled within this action-packed story, though, is a poignant morsel of writing that is unforgettable. As Castiel lay bleeding in a barn, his death seemingly imminent, he tells his family exactly how he feels about them, in no uncertain terms. And in this scene, Perez gifts Castiel with arguably the most heartfelt and beautiful words he has ever spoken on the series.
Look, thank you. Thank you. Knowing you, it…it’s been the best part of my life. And the things that…the things we’ve shared together, they have changed me. You’re my family. I love you. I love all of you. Just please…please, don’t make my last moments be spent watching you die.
This episode was thrilling, shocking, humorous, and heartbreaking. And it was Perez’s writing that made it such a successful roller coaster of a ride.
Season 13, Episode 6 – “Tombstone”
Another remarkable episode from Perez was “Tombstone,” the sixth episode in a season fraught with main character death, Nephilim angst, and alternate universes. This is also the episode that gave us Castiel’s “I’m your Huckleberry” and the term “Team Free Will 2.0,” which is a reference to the team of Sam, Dean, Cas, and Jack.
The boys (all four of them) go to Dodge City, Kansas, to investigate some grave robberies. Their findings lead them to discover that a ghoul is feasting on the dead and has assumed the identity of one of Dean’s favorite gunfighters, “Mysterious” Dave Mather, who died 130 years earlier. Mather is ultimately tracked down at the local mortuary and killed by way of decapitation.
In many respects, “Tombstone” has a lighthearted feel to it that is, in large part, thanks to Dean’s joy that his best friend Castiel is alive and back in his life. Sam’s spirits are uplifted seeing his brother so happy, and Castiel has some fun taking part in the investigation, adorably introducing himself to the local sergeant as “Val Kilmer.”
But during a shootout with Mather, Jack accidentally kills an innocent bystander, and this moment sends him off the emotional deep end. The guilt he feels from causing someone’s death convinces him that he is destined to be evil, like his biological father. The guys try to tell him that unfortunate events are just a part of the hunting life, but it isn’t enough to convince Jack that he is worthy of sticking around.
Certain that he will ultimately harm those that he loves, Jack moves them out of his way with his powers and leaves the bunker.
This episode is a great example of how Perez can expertly carry forward and expand a significant plot line, while at the same time present the characters we know so well in a unique way. The script was able to present a joyous and, at times, hilarious story, as well as convincingly deliver Jack’s upsetting turning point and shocking departure at the end. Perez balanced all of these necessary elements effortlessly.
Season 13, Episode 11 – “Breakdown”
Perez’s “Breakdown” has a “Monster Of The Week” feel to it, although there is no monster — at least, not one of supernatural origins. A network of deranged humans kidnaps victims and holds online auctions, so monsters can bid on the victims’ body parts. A distraught Sheriff Donna Hanscum (recurring guest star Briana Buckmaster) has learned that her niece Wendy is missing (the network’s latest victim), and she calls on the Winchesters to help locate her. Unsurprisingly, the boys rush to her side.
“New” Doug (Brendan Taylor), who we haven’t seen since season 11’s “Plush,” also takes part in this story, and we learn that he and Donna are now in a relationship and living together in Stillwater. Doug is also blissfully unaware of the truth about this world — that monsters are real, and his girlfriend is a proficient vampire killer. And this set-up gives us several funny moments, as everyone tries to navigate their way through their efforts to find Wendy, while keeping Doug safe and oblivious about nearly everything that is really going on.
Meanwhile, Sam is lumbering through a deepening depression that is a result of losing Jack, his mother, and Kaia. His behavior is conspicuously unusual for him: he stays in bed into the late morning hours, not wanting to face the day; he shows up late to an interrogation, which I have never seen him do before; and at times, he treats Donna with little concern for what she is going through, speaking to her in terse, blunt sentences without noticing how his words might be causing her more harm than good.
The entire episode is set at a frantic pace, and the ending delivers an unexpected gut punch so shocking, that fans today are still hoping to see some resolution to it, almost a year later.
Once again, Perez competently carries a major multi-episode plot point (this time, Sam’s struggle with grief and despair) with ease, while featuring our beloved characters in a new light. In “Breakdown,” he introduces us to a Donna that we have never met before — someone who is tormented and scared and almost without hope. She believes she is partly to blame for Wendy’s disappearance, and she has an apologetic tone when she asks the boys for help, which is downright heartbreaking to hear. She is also teeming with anger (understandably so), and the interrogation scene between her and the vagrant preacher is striking and scary. Seeing Donna – our adorable, happy-go-lucky, beloved Donna – drowning in anguish and hopelessness was difficult to watch.
But in the end, Donna finds Wendy alive, Sam is rescued by Dean from becoming a prized auction possession, and all is well….
…until is isn’t. Donna’s final scene could not have been anticipated by anyone. Frightened beyond belief after having been turned (albeit temporarily) into a vampire, and learning that he is in love with a monster hunter, Doug tells Donna that he cannot be a part of her life any longer. He does not ask her to change for him; rather, he leaves her to allow her to live her life as a “damned hero,” as he calls her. This shatters Donna into a million pieces, and we witness Doug walk out of the hotel room and, presumably, out of our lives forever.
Perez has given us only a handful of Supernatural episodes, but each one has thrived on his powerful and memorable writing style. Series regulars and guest stars alike are given dialogue and scenes that are simultaneously Supernatural and unlike anything we have seen before. And last night’s “Damaged Goods” was yet another illustration of Perez’s talents, where we saw the storylines of Donna, Nick, and Mary expertly weaved together with the primary Dean-versus-Michael narrative.
Stick around for the final part of our series tomorrow, where we will be exploring some of the best moments from Andrew Dabb!