I didn’t get to watch last week’s Supernatural episode live since I was on a plane flying to Jacksonville for a Supernatural convention when it aired. That meant avoiding spoilers until I finally had a chance to watch, which was well after midnight after the Saturday night concert at the convention, on a friend’s laptop in her hotel room. While we also lettered a sign for a photo op the next day. (Just a typical 2 am at a Supernatural convention…) This was a bit of an unusual episode and not a very emotional one for the most part for us, but it had some lovely moments. Maybe this review won’t be ten pages long like my usual ones though – I hear sighs of relief from out there!
The episode opens with a music video-esque montage of someone we don’t know breaking into Rowena’s apartment and trying to steal her magic supplies. It was well done but it wasn’t Sam or Dean or Cas and it’s the last season so time with them is precious and it went on way too long. At some point my friend Alana announced “oh, she’s gonna die” – and sure enough, she did. Just not quite quickly enough.
Cut to the bunker, Sam on his laptop, wondering if he’s hearing things. Dean in his dead guy robe – and hot dog pajamas because Dean Winchester.
Apparently Dean has been hiding in his room again, this time eating his feelings (and cereal) and escaping by watching the show that reminds him of his childhood, Scooby Doo. He’s still feeling pretty hopeless, locked into what he calls Chuck’s story of “Cain and Abel 2.0” and feeling like he’s just waiting for God to find them and make them kill each other. No wonder he feels so depressed and helpless, when you think of it like that. Sam, on the other hand, keeps researching and keeps trying.
It’s the dynamic of the entire season so far – the Winchesters take turns, one of them hopeless and the other trying to pull them out of it. It’s been the dynamic of the show as well, but now it’s intensified, alternating episode to episode in a way that sort of makes me dizzy.
Sam goes out for a jog (in the beautiful rainy Vancouver weather) and Alana and I stop what we’re doing to appreciate Jared Padalecki’s grace when he’s running.
My friend Alana: It’s like he’s floating!
Seriously, it’s a beautiful thing.
Sam sees his breath and senses something again, and then ghost Eileen shimmers into view with a “Hi, Sam.”
I’m a huge fan of Shoshannah Stern and I loved the character of Eileen so I’m happy to see her. As happens with just about everything this season, we all knew she was coming back. It would have been a wonderful moment if we hadn’t known though. Turns out the hellhounds that killed her dragged her to hell, so she’s back now that Chuck opened up the door. Eileen, as a hunter herself, understands only too well that if she stays as a ghost she’ll go crazy and hurt someone, and she will not go back to Hell, so she asks if Sam and Dean can possibly put in a good word and get her to Heaven.
Dean: Souls from hell can’t go to Heaven. I’m sorry.
Sam bristles, but Dean had to tell her the truth. It’s not like he doesn’t care – he tries to come up with some alternatives, including making a spell for an individual soul catcher that she can stay in safely. Sam agrees to go to Rowena’s apartment to look for the ingredients for the spell, but Dean decides to stay behind.
Dean: You’re like Rowena’s protégé. It’s a milk run.
Sam argues that this is important, that it’s the antidote for that helplessness Dean has been feeling, his contention that nothing matters.
Sam: We can do this. This matters.
Dean: That’s why you’re gonna kick it in the ass.
That has to be a deliberate use of beloved director Kim Manners’ favorite saying, and it made me a little wibbly for a minute there. Only for a minute though, because I was too busy saying nooooo Dean, go with Sam, no good will come of this!
He did not listen.
Sam and ghost Eileen go to Rowena’s apartment. Jared does a fabulous job here, mostly without any dialogue about it, showing us just how much Sam is still devastated by having to kill Rowena. He can barely bring himself to go inside. He’s also empathizing with Eileen, who has just been in hell.
Sam: I went to hell too a while back. You try to forget, but… it gets inside you. Talking helps.
Eileen: I can’t. not yet.
Every time we get some acknowledgement of Sam’s PTSD, I’m grateful. And he’s right, talking does help.
Sam signs to her, and she smiles.
Eileen: I’m impressed.
Sam studied up a bit after he met her, which…. Awwww. Sam Winchester is such a good bean.
They find Rowena’s real stash with ghost Eileen’s help, and it turns out that Rowena kept journals of all her spell work.
Sam’s clearly emotional as he reads one.
Eileen: You miss her.
Sam: I killed her. Her idea. She sacrificed herself to save us…. You ever feel like the punch line to some cosmic joke?
Eileen: Are you kidding?
She tries to hold his hand in sympathy, but of course her hand goes right through his, which is heartbreaking. Shoshannah is so good at showing us Eileen’s emotions, her face so expressive, and you can see that it’s breaking her heart too.
Sam realizes that the spell to bring someone back from the dead and make the spirit flesh is there, and that he can probably finish it.
Sam: Eileen, I can bring you back.
They get back to the Impala and suddenly Sam starts spitting up blood, collapsing to the ground. He pulls a hex bag from the wheel well, but it’s too late, the witches are coming.
Sam (signing to Eileen): My brother!
The witch mom (Keegan Connor Tracy. returning to Supernatural and doing a great job once again) makes clear what we’ve suspected – anyone who steps inside Rowena’s apartment dies. Except Sam! She left everything to him.
The witches make a voodoo doll type thing with Sam’s hair and use it to control him. Ouch.
We get yet another sibling parallel of sorts, since younger witch sib Emily actually resents her now dead older sister Jacinda. Sam tries to convince her to give him the resurrection spell ingredients instead of their mom, who will use it to bring Jacinda back, and for a minute it seems to almost work. Jacinda has done some pretty shitty things to her younger sister.
Sam: I get it, I have an older brother. When I was ten he put super glue in my toothpaste.
(I guess that’s why Sam was so pleased with himself when he super glued his brother’s hand to his beer bottle in Season 1)
Unfortunately younger sister Emily decides not to believe Sam.
Just as Sam is forced to gather all the supplies for the witches, it’s big brother to the rescue!
Dean comes in with a witch-killing-bullets-firing gun on the mom witch. Love me some smart Winchesters.
It’s a stand off as Emily squeezes the Sam voodoo doll. Suddenly ghost Jacinda appears and attacks Dean, who’s thrown to the floor.
But ghost Eileen appears just in time and stands between them.
Eileen: Not today, bitch.
Dean: About time.
Eileen gives him a victorious grin. Talk about a badass, I loved that moment!
There’s a fight, Dean manages to shoot Emily, and the mom witch viciously attacks Dean while ghost Jacinda attacks ghost Eileen.
This time it’s little brother to the rescue. As Dean writhes in pain, Sam tackles mom witch and forces some bespelled stuff into her mouth and says the right words and she expires.
I’m liking this Sam as Rowena’s protege thing quite a bit.
Dean jumps up and manages to torch Jacinda’s body, saving Eileen (though it took him so long to light his zippo that all of us watching were screaming at 2 am. Sorry, hotel guests)
Meanwhile, Cas is hanging out in another beautiful part of Vancouver lakeside, going by the name of Clarence and fishing a lot.
Cas: I had a friend who praised fishing for its meditative qualities.
So Cas is also hiding, and also still thinking about his falling out with Dean.
He hears that people in the small town he’s hiding in are missing, and heads to the Sheriff’s office, unable to stay completing out of saving people hunting things. The Sheriff is not exactly forthcoming, and asks to speak to Castiel’s supervisor. That means calling one of Bobby’s OG burner phones, and who has to pick up? Dean of course.
Cas looks like he’d rather call literally anyone but Dean.
Dean: Cas, Sam has been trying to call you. Did you listen to his messages?
Dean: I don’t know if you care or not, but Chuck is back on the board, so watch yourself.
In other words, Dean may be pissed and Cas may be pissed, but both clearly still care.
Cas goes looking for the missing people, followed by Mellie, the mom of another boy who has just gone missing. I like her, she’s no nonsense and determined to find her son. I think Cas likes her too. She also feels guilty, because she told her son to go out and get some fresh air and he never came back. Cas understands guilt about one’s son and how it feels to lose a child now, and he empathizes with Mellie. As they search, he confides in her a little.
Cas: I needed to step away for a while. My colleagues and I had a falling out with management. And with each other.
He also surprisingly tells her that monsters are real (like Dean abruptly did recently in a different episode) – and then they find Mellie’s son with a broken ankle but otherwise okay after having a run in with a monster. It’s a djinn – and also the cranky sheriff – and he shoots Cas twice, but Cas doesn’t back down. In fact, he gets to say a few very Misha Collins-esque lines.
Cas: It’s always you — you selfish little men in positions of authority. You take what you want, you take who you want. And you believe that your power will protect you. But your power won’t protect you from me.
Badass Cas is my favorite flavor, and he stabs the hell out of the djinn, getting thoroughly bloody in the process. Mellie and her son watch in sort of horror, and I’m reminded that on the day Misha brought his young son West to the set, that scene was being edited and thus up on the screen. Poor West probably had a similar sort of horror expression on his face watching his dad go nuts on some guy.
Cas manages to heal the boy’s ankle, though it clearly takes a lot out of him.
Mellie: It’s a miracle. Were you sent by God?
Everyone watching: Oh hell no.
Cas says no, and that it’s better if he doesn’t tell them too much. The experience has made him rethink his recent decisions though.
Mellie: But you’re leaving?
Cas: If I stay, nothing changes. Time for me to get back in the game.
That small win, and perhaps that moment of letting himself express all the rage he has bottled up over Jack, and Chuck, and Dean, are a pivotal moment for Castiel. His self-imposed break is over.
The penultimate scene was quite beautiful, as Sam attempts Rowena’s spell that couldn’t bring back their mom to bring back Eileen. I wondered at first why he had his back turned as she stepped into the tub, but I should have guessed that for some reason she had to come back naked – I guess it makes sense? Anyway, handy dandy towel and Eileen steps out of the tub, human and alive.
She holds Sam’s hand without it going right through this time, and falls into Sam, who holds her close. She signs a thank you, and as Sam leans down into the hug, Padalecki shows us just how much this moment means to Sam. Sam who has had to kill someone he cared about, and who has never been able to bring anyone back – this time he was able to bring back someone he cares about. It was a healing moment, and an important one for Sam. I took the title to refer to the fact that both the Winchesters and Castiel managed to have a “win” this time, something rare for them recently. Something they desperately needed, and that they needed right now – similar to the “golden hour” in which you can most effectively intervene after a crisis or a trauma. Hopefully it’s enough to bring them all back to life!
That brings us to the last scene, my favorite of the episode.
Later that night, after Eileen is asleep, Sam joins Dean at the map table.
The shadows look like bars, showing us how trapped Dean has been feeling.
He rolls a beer across the table to his brother.
Sam: Eileen’s asleep. She had a big day.
Dean: So did you. You some kinda witch now?
Sam: No, got lucky.
Dean: You did good today, man. I did jack.
Sam: You killed a witch – saved my ass.
Dean: (reluctantly) Yeah, I guess so.
Sam fixes his brother with a meaningful look.
Sam: You’re right, we don’t make the rules, we never have. But that doesn’t mean we can just give up. We have moves to make here. You think Chuck wanted me to shoot him?
Dean: (still struggling) Maybe that was part of the plan. I don’t know what’s him and what’s not and it’s driving me crazy!
Sam: We’ll find a way to beat him. We will. Because we’re the guys who break the rules.
Dean still looks skeptical, though he’s listening to every word Sam says.
Sam: But I can’t do it without you. Just like today I couldn’t do it without you.
Dean looks up.
Sam is dead serious, willing Dean to hear him.
Sam: I need my brother.
The episode ends and I reached for my first tissue of the night. The last scene was beautiful and emotional and rang very true. It was the same dynamic we’ve been seeing repeatedly, but Sam’s plea to his brother at the end may have been the most compelling argument yet. That is something that Dean Winchester cannot ignore, it’s hard wired into him and it’s one of the main reasons I love this show so much. Sam needs him. That means Dean will follow.
Unless we’re going to go against 14.5 seasons of canon, that is. I sincerely hope that’s not the case!
I loved having Shoshannah Stern back on my Show. She made Eileen a character that we cared about, and it was tough to lose her – especially grating to have that loss happen offscreen. Side characters die on Supernatural all the time, and I have no issue with that, but there have been a few that were killed off that were definitely a mistake. Eileen was one of them. She could have remained a fellow hunter and an occasional ally and she was a fan favorite. It was also important to many fans to have representation on their favorite show in such a kickass and inspiring way.
It’s half annoying that Show is trying to make up for its questionable decisions by bringing some of those characters back (Charlie, Bobby, Eileen, Kevin) and half oh fine I just wanted to see them again so okay. In this case, at least they brought back the real Eileen, not some AU version of her who was NOT her at all. I love the friendship between Sam and Eileen, and I hope it stays friendship, because an ongoing romantic relationship in the midst of where they’re at right now seems like a real stretch with only fourteen episodes to go. And for me at least, that’s not the lens through which I watch the show. It’s not that romantic tropes haven’t existed on the show, it’s that romance — narrowly defined — has not been the ongoing driver of the story (yes, Jess and her loss kicked it off, of course). That scene was clearly set up to be romantic – she got out of the tub naked for godsakes – and I love the affection between Eileen and Sam, that’s why I chose those particular caps. It could work at another time, but right now in the story, I’m not so sure. Show doesn’t have a stellar record of pulling off some romances (narrowly defined) in a way that makes sense (Amelia…cough…). As I said before this ETA: Your mileage may vary, of course. Ship if you want! I would never tell anyone which lens to watch a story through, because we all get to watch how we want, that’s what fiction is for and what makes it awesome. I guess we’ll find out where it’s going in the next episode, so stay tuned. I’m just happy to have Shoshannah on my screen again.
There’s trepidation about the next episode, which airs in two weeks after a pause for Thanksgiving here in the US, because despite what Sam said at the end of this episode about them needing each other, the brothers are hunting (or doing something) separately in the next episode. That’s rarely my favorite flavor of Supernatural, especially at this point in its tenure, but I’m staying optimistic that the episode will have a reason for that which makes sense and that it will be a good one. I understand why emotions are running high though – we only have fourteen episodes left with these characters, and it feels vitally important to get what we want most from them in the little bit of time we have left. Nevertheless, I’m trying to stay grounded and savor every moment I have with my favorite fictional characters ever. Fingers crossed!
Caps by kayb625
Gifs by sasquatchandleatherjacket and jaredandjensen
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