Maybe it’s something about being in Season 12, but Supernatural has been pretty fearless this season about being controversial. Last week’s episode, written by Robert Berens, continued this season’s tradition of pushing boundaries and putting fans through a roller coaster of emotions. All in an episode that was well written and paced – and in which a helluva lot happened!
Most of what happened had to do with the ever more entangled relationship between the Winchesters and the British Men of Letters, but threaded throughout all that was the painful struggle that Sam and Dean and Mary are going through trying to figure out who they are to each other. The episode picks up where we left off, with Mary confessing her lies and Sam and Dean hurt and angry. Because they’re played by Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles, that means their emotions are right there on their handsome faces, and mine are already spilling over as I grab for the tissues.
They are SO HURT. I can’t stand the pain I can see on their faces. Sam is trying to stay calm, but Dean is about to explode, he’s so angry. How many years did he spend wishing that he had his mom – and even more compelling for Dean, wishing that Sammy had his mom? Both of the brothers want things for each other more than for themselves, and I think this is one of those times. Dean must have desperately wished that Sam could have that, and now it’s possible – except Mary just cannot be that mom.
Dean: How about you try being our mom?
Mary: I am your mother, but I am not “just a mom.” And you are not a child.
Dean: I never was.
Me: (sobbing on the floor)
All the kudos to Berens for writing that line, and to Ackles for delivering it with three decades full of emotion, because it SLAYED me.
More kudos for Dean reverting to calling his mother ‘Mary’ instead of ‘mom’. It cut her just the way he knew it would, and it said so much about how hurt he was. So hurt he wanted to take away her power to hurt him and Sam some more by refusing to see her as his mother.
That entire scene was masterful, and intensely painful. We find out that Mary’s motivation for hunting with the BMoL is that she does indeed believe they can rid the world of monsters – which was what most fans assumed. She seems to want a monster-free world as much to assuage her own guilt for how her sons ended up hunters as to keep them safe, but there’s no reason she can’t be both, I suppose.
Samantha Smith gets her turn to shine a little later as we see Mary perhaps finally realizing how much she’s hurt her sons, trying to get them to answer her texts and to forgive her.
Of course, in true Winchester fashion (like Dean’s text to Sam in those dark dark Amelia days), Mary then deceives Sam again to get him to come to the BMoL compound, telling him she needs his help. Sigh, Mary.
Sam does go, his longing for his mother and his love for her still clearly there beneath his hurt and anger. She tells him he can get out, that he can go to school the way he’d planned to.
I sat there shaking my head though, because I just don’t think that’s Sam anymore. He says as much, reminding her that he chose this life. And really, what would Sam and Dean do if they weren’t hunters? It’s their purpose in life, it gives them something to fight for, something that makes them feel pretty damn special. It’s brutal and dangerous, but it’s what they know – and what they’re damn good at. The Winchesters in a monster free world would be like The French Mistake – a monster free world that Sam and Dean elected to leave, where they knew they didn’t matter.
The BMoL compound reminds me of either something from Star Trek or Dark Angel, but I will grudgingly admit it does look impressive. Sam refuses to even sit down, but he does hear them out. And they apparently have made a lot of progress in ridding the area of vampires. (Long way to a monster free world, though, Mary…)
I loved Sam in these scenes – his strength as he refuses to be drawn in, his calm consideration of just who these people are who tortured him so horribly not so long ago. Jared Padalecki did an amazing job, conveying so much with just a look or a gesture.
Meanwhile, the other Winchester brother is going through struggles of his own. He takes some of his anger out on Sam at first, yelling at him to “pick a side,” but I think it’s only an expression of his extreme frustration. He doesn’t know what to do with all that anger without the violence of a hunt, and he knows himself well enough to know that.
Dean: You find us a case… I need to hit something, NOW!
Then out he goes for a drink. No, drinks.
Sam goes off to save Mary, and Dean goes out to get alcohol. When he comes back, he’s cooled off – he calls for Sam with “Lucy, I’m home…” and then finds the note Sam stuck on the lamp. Is that the Winchester equivalent of a bulletin board?
Did anyone else feel very unsettled indeed when Mr. Ketch showed up at the bunker? Of course it makes sense, it’s a Men of Letters bunker, so Mr. Ketch would know about it. But ewww, I did not like him there. I suspect Dean let him in because Ketch already knew plenty about the bunker, and because Dean is wondering what makes him tick. What better way to find out than to drink with him (and all the better if he’s buying)? Dean, much like Sam is doing in parallel, sits back and engages in that same sort of calm consideration.
Ketch gets under his skin though, when he says he understands Dean’s need to get out there and kill some monsters.
Ketch: You’re a killer, Dean Winchester. And so am I. You can’t go too long without hunting, punching, etc. or things get ugly.
Ketch equates the two of them, even though it makes me cringe. And really, the two are worlds apart. Show tells us that without even needing words, which I always find brilliant.
But killing vampires? Dean is down with that. The unlikely duo (did it remind anyone else of Dean’s initial affinity for Gordon, also a psychopath in the guise of a hunter?) – anyway, the unlikely duo head off to the vamp nest, only to find it empty except for one newly made not very scary vampire. Ketch decides to beat her up instead of kill her, and Dean visibly flinches watching. He wants to kill monsters, yes, but he doesn’t get off on torture the way at least some of the BMoL do.
So, almost empty nest. Hmmm. Didn’t that seem a little convenient? Mr. Ketch just didn’t seem all that surprised. Hmmm.
The vamp nest is empty because the Alpha Vamp himself has arrived to save the day (played by the absolutely awesome Rick Worthy). I am SO loving that Show is bringing back so many fan favorites in Season 12. Worthy made the Alpha Vamp a character we cheered for when the Winchesters let him live, just because he was so damn fascinating. I was sad to see him taken out now, though another glimpse of badass Sam F—king Winchester I will never ever complain about!
Before that epic moment, the BMoL are woefully outsmarted and outfought by the vampires, all their fancy toys proving not very useful. Sam and Mary are the ones keeping Mick alive, and then Mary asks Mick to go get ‘it’ and holy crap, Sam’s face when he sees the Colt!
All the awards in the world to Jared for the riot of emotions that crosses Sam’s face in that moment. Mary stole it from Ramiel? Now Sam knows what we know, that the whole hunt that got that other hunter killed was a set up and based on a lie. There is a world of hurt on Sam’s face as that sinks in.
Sam remembers how to make the bullets because of course he does, he’s Sam F—king Winchester, and then he shoots the Alpha Vamp right in the head. It was such a powerful echo of the time when Dean shot the YED, and Show even gives it to us in slow mo to play up the parallels even more. With modern day VFX this time.
That was such a great moment that it took me a while to start scratching my head and going hmmm, isn’t that convenient? The Colt would have been useless to the BMoL without those bullets, and who is the only one who knew how to make them? The guy who coincidentally is standing right there needing to save his mom’s life. Hmmm.
I don’t know if Show is thinking that deeply, but there sure were a lot of possibilities for twists and turns and surprises that eventually will come to light in this episode. I guess we’ll see. There were a fair amount of ‘did Ketch bug the bunker while Dean was out?’ hypotheses flying around social media at any rate.
It’s also a bit of a Hmmm that Peirce the corrupted hunter was giving information to the vampires. How did he end up in that situation? Was he playing any other sides? Is Ketch really taking him away to torture him? Hmmm.
The ending was a surprise in itself, and I’m not sure it was a good one. Dean and Mr. Ketch show up after Sam has already saved the day. Mick seems overwhelmed by the whole thing, his triple PhD colleague lying dead on the floor. But Sam, without any more urging, announces “I’m in.”
Me: Huh??? What are you doing, Sam???
At first I was incredulous. It’s not like the BMoL were all that impressive, after all! It’s Sam who saved the day, with a little help from his mum. And they’ve done so many awful things… Then it hit me. Sam and Dean (and Mary, for that matter) don’t KNOW they’ve done awful things. They don’t know Mr. Ketch killed that poor girl Magda in cold blood. They don’t know what “that psychopath” Mr. Ketch has done – we don’t either, but we know it must be bad.
The uncomfortable problem is that the pov of the Show right now is like the omniscient pov in a novel. We, as the viewers, know all these horrible things about the BMoL. But the Winchesters don’t. If they’re believing (and it’s a big if) that Lady Toni was rogue and not following orders, seeing the good things that the BMoL are trying to do might be enough to convince Sam to give them a try. It’s uncomfortable and frustrating for me though, because I know more than Sam does about the BMoL. And I don’t believe for a minute that Lady Toni was just ‘rogue’. Yeah, they sent her back, but they seemed more irate that her methods didn’t work than that she used them.
Either Sam makes a reasonable decision from the facts that he has, or he’s decided it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the BMoL at any rate, but he says yes.
Sam: You’re saving the world. I want to be a part of that.
I don’t like that he says yes without consulting Dean, but his ‘give me some time’ seems to indicate that Sam won’t be going behind Dean’s back as much as trying to convince him to come over to that side too. I know some fans felt that this was Sam ‘choosing a side’ that wasn’t Dean, but I didn’t see it that way at all. Sam and Dean are in a good place with each other, neither of them very sensitive to the other’s ribbing. They both called the other out for leaving without letting their brother know where they had gone, and they didn’t do it in anger but with a reproachful smile that said hey, I care about you, don’t do that to me.
At least I hope that’s what’s going on. I’m not at all in the mood for Dean feeling betrayed by Sam and Mary, his only family. Dean has been very hurt by Mary’s lies and by the feeling that she didn’t just want to get away, she wanted to get away from them. He has a hard time accepting people’s decisions when he thinks they’re bad ones, as Sam has certainly learned a time or two. Yet when he thought he was going to lose Mary, he came running without a second thought – it’s family, and that will always mean the most to Dean Winchester.
Dean: I know it’s not your job to make us lunch or kiss us goodnight. When I thought you were in danger, that’s all that mattered.
One last little quibble – it really struck me when Mr. Ketch brought Pierce out and implied that he was going to be tortured, and Sam and Mary both said ‘good’. I get that he’s a bad bad guy and he doesn’t deserve to just head home, but torture? Of a human? That doesn’t seem like something Sam Winchester would be down with. Was it the emotion of the moment, that Pierce had almost gotten his mom killed? I don’t know, but it bothered me. And a lot of other fans too. It’s a tiny thing, but yeah.
That was all wiped out by the previews for next week though because holy crap, Dean in glasses!!!!! That is NEVER not a good thing.
One thing I’ll say for Supernatural, even in its twelfth season, I can’t wait to see what happens this week! What did you think of this episode? And where do you think the story is going??
Thanks to @kayb625 for capping!
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