Every Episode Counts Now and I’m Emotional: Supernatural ‘Don’t Go In The Woods’

 

My review of last week’s Supernatural isn’t exactly what it would have been if I’d written it right away. That’s because the world of every Supernatural fan careened off its axis on Friday when it was announced that the Show would end after one more season. Most of us have been very emotional since, and when I went back to re-watch this episode, it was through a very different lens. A lens that has me wanting to cherish every last second of the Winchesters and company that I can get before this wild ride is all over. This may not have been one of my favorite episodes, but it gave me Sam and Dean on a hunt and an emotional story with Jack, and I’m feeling grateful.

‘Don’t Go In The Woods’ was directed by John Fitzpatrick and written by first-time writer Nick Vaught and veteran writer Davy Perez, both of whom are avid horror fans, so we knew this episode would be heavy on the horror tropes. It started off like so many horror films do, with a young couple making out in the woods and hearing spooky noises. Which, for some inexplicable reason, they always think is the wind. When does the wind sound like that?? Instead of a monster rapping on the car window, we get the horror trope curve ball, since it’s the boy’s gruff dad – who’s also the town sheriff because of course he is. The young woman decides to give them space and go off to the bathroom, which is a shack in the middle of the woods and OMG WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT YOUNG WOMAN??? Even if it wasn’t scary as hell I wouldn’t sit down on the toilet seat like she does, btw. But she does, and the eerie whistling starts, and then we see the deformed clawed hand reach over the stall door. Cue screams!

That scene was nicely done, scary and disgusting and we didn’t get to see the monster which is always scarier anyway. The entire episode that took place in the woods was very dark, like old school Supernatural, and that added to the scary factor.

Cut to the bunker, where Sam is researching and starting to feel maybe a little bit better, though it’s clear the guilt over the AU hunters being killed is still there. Dean walks in to find Sam hunched over the laptop, and I get unexpectedly emotional because that’s such an iconic Winchester scene and SHIT we’ll only have 24 more episodes to get more of those! Where are my tissues?

Dean: Whatcha looking at? Porn? Sex tapes? Nip slips?

Sam: The internet is more than just naked people, you know that, right?

Dean: Not my internet.

Iconic Winchesters. I smile through my tears.

Sam shares the case and offers to go get Cas, but Dean explains that Cas left that morning, feeling too cooped up and needing to stretch his legs. Sam asks about taking Jack, but Dean says no, that he’s gotten them in trouble before with his powers and he just got them back.  Much to Sam’s disagreement, Dean doesn’t tell Jack the truth though, instead making up a fairly lame story about Jack needing to be there in case Mary comes by (why?) and them needing him to go on a supply run.

Jack, still trying his new strategy of not worrying Sam and Dean, agrees to do the supply run.

Me: Wait, so you think he’ll be less likely to get into trouble going into town ALONE??

But this is a horror movie, so I guess the bad decision fits, and we all know that what’s coming can’t be good.

Jack looks so eager to please as he says “I’ll do it” and it breaks my heart.

Somewhere out there, there’s a clip of the gag reel that shows what was really on that list, and makes me feel great empathy for Alex Calvert trying to keep a straight face. Just another day on the Supernatural set…

Next up, Winchesters in FBI coats and fed suits, and once again I’m hit by a wave of anticipatory nostalgia that I have to swallow down. The Sheriff (Adam Beach) isn’t nearly as moved as I am, not exactly wanting them there but reluctantly allowing them to examine the body of the murdered young woman.

This scene is also scarier than these scenes usually are on Supernatural, because as soon as they pull out the drawer, her arm falls off the side and hits Dean, who jumps back like he’s been electrocuted. Sam makes a face, incredulous.

Sam: Seriously?

Dean insists he has cat-like reflexes, can’t help it.

Gifs by itsokaysammy

Me: Ohgod, I can’t lose them, this is painful…

Also the body is seriously scary because her eyes are OPEN. *shudders*  Nice work, someone.

The sheriff, meanwhile, lies to his son about what killed his girlfriend. The son is eaten up with guilt, much like someone else we know. Another couple of clueless kids hike into the woods and this time the guy gets killed, which prompts the sheriff to close the woods and bar everyone from them, including Sam and Dean.

Dean: We should probably do what he says.

Sam: Oh yeah, definitely.

So of course they head into the woods as soon as it gets dark. Love me some Winchesters.

The Sheriff surprises them and gets them at gunpoint, but Dean quickly overpowers him and turns the tables.

The Winchesters sense that he knows more than he’s saying, so they let him know who they really are and give him his gun back and ask for his help. The Sheriff tells them more about the Kohonta they’re hunting, which is a really morbid and gruesome story about a young settler whose family was starving to death – so he took extreme measures.

Dean: Like Donner party?

Me: That’s right, damn it, Dean is smart!

The Sheriff’s tribe cursed the young man to be a Kohonta, to wander the forest endlessly hungry.

Sam and Dean explain that they hunt these sort of things.

Dean: We kill them.

Sheriff: Just the two of you?

Dean: We know what we’re doing.

Me: That’s the story, right there. Oh god, where are my tissues?

The Sheriff says they should tell people what’s out there, make youtube videos or something, but the Winchesters shake their heads.

Dean: Knowing about monsters and fighting them are two different things.

Sam: No. People die. Even when they know how to fight, people die.

Oh Sam. Still so guilty.

The Sheriff’s son, also consumed with guilt, goes after the monster, and the Winchesters and the Sheriff go after Tom.

The Sheriff fills in the missing information – you can kill a Kohonta with a silver blade to the heart.

Sam: (pulling out a silver blade) Silver blade? Can do.

Me: (fans self) Competence kink, let me show you it.

We get wet boys in the dark in the rain in the woods running with flashlights. The monster tackles Tom in the old cabin, but his dad arrives in time to distract it and it attacks him instead. That gives Dean time to pick up Tom (in one easy motion, swinging him into a fireman’s hold, and is it hot in here?). Sam shows up and shoots the monster a few times, until it drops the Sheriff and attacks poor Sam instead, but Dean comes back and grabs its attention away from Sam.

Dean: Come on!

He lures it out the door, where the Sheriff is waiting to impale it with the silver blade. The Kohonta melts into a disgusting pile of goo just as Sam staggers out the door, slightly the worse for wear but okay.

Dean: Whoa. Like full on Raiders.

The Sheriff checks on his son, and calls back, “He’s alive.”

Sam and Dean share a loaded look, then nod to each other. It’s all they need to say a lot of things. Job well done. We needed a win. Saving people, hunting things. The family business.

Me: Ohgod, I need another box of tissues…

Gifs itsokaysammy

Meanwhile, Jack goes into town and predictably gets himself in trouble. He runs into the three high school students we met in “Lebanon”.

Stacy and Max (Zenia Marshall and Skylar Radzion) are continuing their romance and Eliot (Cory Gruter-Andrew) is obsessed with Sam and Dean and currently watching episodes of The Ghostfacers. They befriend Jack, who absolutely eats up their interest and tries to show off what he knows.  He’s like every young teenager who desperately wants other kids to like him, and is willing to do whatever it takes to try to seem cool, and it breaks my heart. Oddly, the teenage clerks are allowed to sell him beer, but when they ask for ID, Jack looks perplexed.

Jack: ID?

Nevertheless, the kids invite him to hang out with them later.

Max: Do you ever hang out?

Jack: We have movie nights….Dean usually picks…

Me: Family movie night OMG. Where are my tissues??

Jack joins them at a remote cabin later that day, bringing some of the Winchesters’ books on monsters and demons. Max and Stacy flirt and part of me thinks aww that’s cute and representation is good and part of me keeps wondering what the CW is doing with these kids and if they think we’ll just accept  them as a replacement for Wayward Sisters. Except we don’t know or care about them so pretty sure the answer is an across the board no.  Or perhaps the network just thinks the cast is too old and they need actual teenagers, which again, NO.

Jack: What’s that noise? (contemporary music playing)

Stacy: Music?

Jack shares that Dean says that only classic music like The Who is any good (doesn’t suck ass) and Max snorts.

Max: That’s because Dean is also old.

That actually doesn’t do anything to make me like these kids, to be honest.

Jack wants desperately to impress his new friends, so he shows them an angel blade and tries to throw it properly. After repeatedly failing and feeling ridiculed, Jack is frustrated.

He finally taps into his powers and embeds it into the fence. When the kids respond with oooh and aahhh he’s thrilled, showing off by making the blade fly through the air in circles, faster and faster.

Eliot: (in awe) Are you a Jedi?

Jack: (so proud) Kinda.

Me: Uh oh. Oh Jack…

Of course the kids become frightened and tell Jack to stop, but he’s beyond listening, lost in the heady thrill of being able to impress someone.

For some inexplicable reason, Stacy steps forward right into the line of the flying blade (to stop him? I don’t know) and gets stabbed right in the chest. She falls to the ground with a tearful Max leaning over her and begging her not to leave her.

Jack is devastated. Desperate to make it right, he manages to heal her, but the frightened kids still tell him to stay away. They walk away, leaving Jack alone and heartbroken.

My own heart broke for him too, and sunk at the realization that the Show really does seem to be sending him down the path to going darkside in some way. I’ve really liked the character of Jack, so that realization hit me hard and made me even sadder than I already was – and that’s really saying something!

Having finished their hunt back in story line number one, Sam and Dean have a talk with the Sheriff as his son is taken to the hospital, advising him to tell Tom the truth.

Sam: How about the truth? He’s your son, he deserves the truth.

Clearly Sam isn’t just talking about Tom.

On the way home in the Impala, Sam tells Dean that he’s not sure Dean lying to Jack was the right thing to do.

Dean protests: He said he was fine.

Sam: And how many times did we tell Dad we were fine just to make him happy?

Dean has no answer to that, and the glimpse of their difficult childhood makes me emotional all over again. Remember the 300th episode just a few weeks ago when we were all so happy?

They do tell Jack the truth when they get back to the bunker. Dean listened to Sam, as he always does now.

Dean: We were trying to be nice. Because we care about you. But because we care about you, you deserve the truth.

I love Sam and Dean in Dad mode.

Jack reports that he got the supplies, except for the beer.

Jack: I didn’t have ID.

Dean: You have tons of IDs!

Jack: They’re fake.

Dean: (is incredulous)

Sam just laughs fondly.

Also, why so pretty, boys?

Gifs itsokaysammy

It would be a touching family moment, except Jack doesn’t tell them about the incident with the kids, just calmly promises them that he won’t use his powers without permission.

Dean heads out to get the beer, and Sam sits with Jack.

Sam: So anything else happen?

Jack: No. Nothing.

Oh Jack. You really are a Winchester now.

It’s an ominous ending once again.

I found that I liked the episode more on second watch. On first watch I was impatient with its slow pace, and with the focus on the teenagers. On second watch, I appreciated the emotion of both story lines more – and like I said, I just feel incredibly grateful to still have Sam and Dean on my TV screen.

Alex Calvert did an amazing job in this episode, making me feel for poor Jack even more than I already have. And Sam and Dean in dad mode will never get old. I loved how seamlessly the brothers worked together and how well they communicate with each other now – both with words and that unspoken Winchester conversation they do so well.

Someone on social media pointed out a parallel that hadn’t struck me, but as soon as it did, it made me emotional all over again.

Season 1: A less confident brotherly duo, on unsteady footing with each other, struggling with emotional baggage, go into the woods to kill a monster bent on eating human flesh. (Wendigo)

Season 14: A confident brotherly duo, on steady footing with each other despite the emotional baggage, do the same.

Both with a guy named Tommy as a main character. That parallel may or may not be intentional, but it almost serves as a metaphor for how the show and the brothers have evolved. Also, fandom is brilliant and I love this damn Show.

Four more episodes of this season, and then we’ll go through the very last hiatus (hellatus) that the show will ever have. It will be a year of lasts, and I’m already thinking of buying stock in Kleenex.

Caps by kayb625

–Lynn

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6 thoughts on “Every Episode Counts Now and I’m Emotional: Supernatural ‘Don’t Go In The Woods’

  • Nice review. I agree with pretty much everything, except I’m glad they’re taking Jack down a dark path because at least they’ll have a story for him next year that doesn’t take away from the brothers. Of course, I’m pretty sure that means he’ll just end up killing them and I don’t want the boys to die. If anyone has earned the right to live peacefully ever after on fifty acres of land in Montana away from everything it’s Sam and Dean, but everyone on the writer’s staff seems to be on the, “We can’t have them survive the series” train, so…yeah. I know a lot of fans have always felt like obviously they HAVE to die, but I don’t agree with that. Their story doesn’t need to end one way, with two still very young and vibrant characters dying, and it doesn’t give me much to look forward to for the final season.

    I found the idea that the only thing Dean uses the Internet for is looking up porn irritating (and more evidence that they should have hired writers for this season who have actually watched more than a couple of episodes to pick up characterization beyond the surface level stuff), and the “We shouldn’t lie to Jack” felt like particularly manufactured angst, but hey, at least they let the boys share scenes and a case and talk to each other. Not that they had dialogue that was in any way meaningful except for the bit in the car. More evidence that they’re using writers who don’t know the characters and are giving the Js bare bones stuff to work with and just expecting them to fill in the rest, when neither of them have had any development since Carver left. They’re just spinning their wheels. I still don’t understand why the writers are acting like Sam would be the only one impacted by the AU hunters’ deaths. Dean may not have had a relationship with them, but he still is the one who got knocked out so Michael could get out. We’ve seen nothing of that yet, and I wish we would. But I loved the guest stars in the A plot and the fact that the guest characters were well crafted, fully thought out individuals. It made me very nostalgic for the days when Sam and Dean got to save people, hunt things, and exist together on the same screen while (gasp) TALKING to each other.

    Alex did the best he could with Jack’s story line, but I don’t know why they thought anyone wanted to see Max and Stacy again. They are terrible, horrible girls, and I don’t care that they are in love or whatever. I was genuinely disappointed when Jack healed Stacy instead of killing the other two kids to cover up for what happened (something that would have been a *real* twist). She was stupid and tried to run with knife flying through the air. That’s called a Darwin Award and they should have let her win it. I don’t know why Eliot, who seems to be a really nice kid, would want to hang out with two such awful girls. Clearly neither of them consider him a friend, and it’s not like he can hope to date either of them, which – let’s be real, at the age they’re supposed to be is the PRIMARY reason boys are friends with girls. Don’t create teenage characters and then ignore how teenagers actually behave and what really motivates them. It’s like the writers are more concerned now with showing the audience some utopian world of how teenagers “should” behave rather than acknowledging how they “actually” behave. Yes, it’s entirely possible that a sweet teenage boy would be friends with girls who respect him and treat him like a person they care about. It’s unlikely a sweet teenage boy would be friends with girls who treat him with open disdain unless he has some hope of romantically pursuing them, which in this case he doesn’t. It’s like the mostly male writers on this show were never teenage boys or something.

    I also don’t know why the remote cabin where all the kids go to hang out has heat or electricity when no one seems to live there. It was just further evidence that the show has completely lost its way under Dabb.

    Hopefully they announce in the next month or so that they’ve got one of the former show runners secured for the final season so Supernatural and Jensen and Jared can have the ending they deserve. I’m going to return to my weepy puddle in the dark corner now, where I expect to remain for the next year.

  • After your excellent review I have to rewatch the episode. Didn’t really like it too much on the first run.
    Thank you, Lynn!

  • First Lynn, thank you so much for pulling together a review with such dedicated professionalism, despite the news that our beloved show cannot go on forever.

    Next, I can hand wave so many things for the love of this show, but I’ve found my line. THE GANG,Arrghh! I wanted to think of something smart or clever to call them, but the word I came up with was … Horrible. I tried, I did, but those Kids are the worst,,they have been actively or complicitly involved in in what amounts at best to ungrateful and self centred meanness to , at worst, bullying the new kid. The jibes at his musical tastes and his surrogate family were cruel, unjustified and downright ungrateful, especially given the fact they stole Dean’s car and got themselves into trouble in the first place, not a hint of appreciation or understanding their lives were at risk, or they are not so smart as they liked to think they are, they were the engineers of their own misfortune and Jack is not to blame in any way, however they closed ranks and tossed Jack aside when it blew up in their faces. Do not bring them back, ever, Jack deserves real friends, not bullies who criticise and belittle him.

    Did Dean make a mistake thinking Jack was safe at home doing a bit of shopping? Yes, but what parent has not made mistakes in an effort to loosen the ties? Does this make Jack bad? no it doesn’t, sometimes life can be a steep learning curve that you have to get to grips with yourself, your parents can’t make all the choices for you. We learn both good and bad habits from observing our parents. Jack’s surrogate family all have their good and bad points and he is soaking it all in like a sponge, as a two year old would, he’s not sure of the right choices yet. But bad choices do not make Jack evil, even if he is soulless, Jack is a smart kid, he reads a lot and could make the distinction between right and wrong using logic and reason, in much the same way as Donatello gets by. Picking the wrong friends got him into trouble, not the fact he is inherently anything, either good or bad.

    It seems that for the guys communication is blossoming, they talked, they disagreed, they reasoned and calmly discussed , they apologised .Go Team Winchester ! Dean in particular did well to own his mistake by being the one to admit to Jack the reason why they left him behind, a thing in the past that wouldn’t have happened without grudging angst. Sam is doing better and it was so nice to see him smile again. We need more happiness in their lives and here’s hoping that the writing team and J2 can find a very creative solution for the endgame, which leaves the Winchesters together in a happier place, they have earned it and we have earned it. No cop out please!

    The legacy of this show is very important, the charitable work, the support networks, the friendships, everyone has something to take away and cherish, forever, whatever happens, what ever people say Supernatural is not “just a TV” show, its so much more.

  • I would love the very last episode to have Chuck reward the Winchesters for all the lives they have saved and all the world ending catastrophes stopped by bringing back John. The four Winchesters can then continue to hunt as a complete family for once. No one dies except the monsters. This leaves the future for some Winchester movies.

  • Although, like every other Supernatural fan, I was a bit surprised by the final announcement, I’ve been expecting it since episode 300 and I tried not to let it change my opinion of this episode so I haven’t watched it since.

    My first thought at the end was -well the bunker was great while it lasted but thanks to Jack (not on purpose ) it’s going to be abandoned. Once the kids tell people (someone will believe them) the boys will have to leave.

    To me, this whole episode was about lies. Dad lies to his son, Tom. And lies to the Winchesters. Dean lied to Jack about why he shouldn’t go on this hunt. All the little lies Jack tells the teenage car thieves-yep still pissed about Baby, .Then Jack says he couldn’t lie about his age to buy beer but he can lie to Sam? Lies, lies, lies I’m just glad that Sam and Dean don’t do that anymore. Except for saying “they’re fine”.

    It will never be one of my favourite episodes and Adam Beach’s role wasn’t as good as it should have been but, the general the boys are hunting monsters was kind of funny .

    As always, I enjoy Lynns’ review but didn’t totally agree with it. Unusual.

  • This March at ICFA I listened to a presentation on how “apolitical” SPN is, with this season’s briefing for the alt universe team including the actual president as an aberration. I wonder if the possibility of Jack going darkside is moving in the direction of more political resonance. In an age when some of our so-called representatives are acting like cartoon villains, it might be important to think more about how monsters are created. Some of them are created bit by tiny bit, one lie here, one omission there. Kind of like Jack right now.

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