It's official. I don't like Jo. I don't hate her yet, but if it keeps up this way that is definitely going to change.
There were parts of this episode that were better than I could have expected, and parts that were far, far worse.
In summary, I'm hoping that we've seen the last of Jo for awhile (perhaps forever). This episode left a very bad feeling in my mouth, the likes of which I don't recall since the Killer Truck From Hell in Season 1.
It can't all be the actress here. I'm not impressed with her portrayal, but I'm even less impressed with how she's been written. Some of us felt she needed to be more of a person and less of a Love Interest Anvil. This is the episode that should have changed that, and though we know more about her now I have less love for her than before.
The opening fight with her mother... was it badly written, badly acted, or something else? So heavy-handed and unconvincing, and I didn't like Ellen's actress in ANY part of this other than on the phone and in the Impala. These two did NOT play off of each other well at all-- the mother/daughter chemistry just didn't work for me, and that undercut those key scenes severely.
I'd assumed somehow that Ellen and Jo were also Hunters, but that they did it less frequently. Finding out that Ellen was not a Hunter was less of a jolt than finding out that Jo was a Hunter wannabee-- with no experience at all. Gah. All of her arguments to her mother about it, and the followup later, were so immature. Is the character really young? I don't think canon's ever said. But she'd coming off in the 17-19 age range, and I'd just assumed she was older. Squicky.
The fake-girlfriend moment with Dean was awkward instead of funny. Most of her scenes with Dean were weird and awkward. The unexpected pleasure was Dean coming at her from the perspective of maturity and telling her to appreciate that she has a choice in life, and that she has people who want better for her and care about her. I love that side of Dean that we so rarely see (the phone conversation with Sam in "Scarecrow" was another memorable instance of it).
On the other hand, although her research was smart and her methods as skillfully devious as Sam and Dean's, having her turn out to be a scared little girl that needed saving by the big men... ugh. Why, Kripke? If you're serious about her, be serious. Don't flag down chauvinism in one moment and then justify it in the next. Just ugh.
Here are two points that stick with me, regarding her character. First, when you meet the two brothers and you have issues of "self" and are looking for support... Dean is not the brother you go to. He has his good moments, but he's not the listener. That's Sam. Second, and this is the big one, this episode reduced Sam to a SIDEKICK in his own show.
That is never going to go over well with me.
And on other random nits, having Dean steal big pieces of machinery and specialized vehicles was straining my disbelief the first time. Doing it twice is out of bounds. Quit it. Not to mention that I don't buy for a single second that the cement won't sweep the rocksalt away just as easily as water. A terrible idea with very little justification.
I want a break from the Roadhouse, Kripke, and everyone in it. I don't mind a mini-arc detour, but this idea is watering down your show. Time to let it go. :(