The last episode of The Winchesters was special in an unexpected way – the entire cast and EPs Jensen and Danneel Ackles took to Instagram to do a live reaction video every time there was a commercial break in the episode’s airing. It was frankly insane and chaotic and thoroughly enjoyable as I went back and forth between watching the show, watching the cast and grumpy “old man” Jensen commentate, and trying to tweet a little myself.
I wish the Supernatural cast had done more of that back in the day!
At one point an ad for Walker Independence (from EP Jared Padalecki) came on and the whole cast of The Winchesters started cheering and saying what a great show it is.
Jensen: All in the family!
The cast also complained about Drake Rodger’s smelly farts, prompting Ackles to reminisce about Supernatural.
Jensen: It’s like Jared 2.0…
Okay, back to the episode – which had a great opener. A woman runs through the woods, falling, frightened, limping in the dark forest. She takes refuge in an old barn, starting to draw some protection sigils on the door, but the lights begin to flicker and then – in true horror movie fashion – she thinks the sound she heard was just a bird and shrugs, relieved.
Of course that is when she gets suddenly pulled up to the ceiling and turned into a bloody mess. That was a scary opening though – in the dark like it should be!
Cut to Lata, chanting ‘I am at peace’ as though she’s trying to convince herself of that, which is what happens to me sometimes when I try to meditate so I can relate.
Interrupted by Dean Winchester: Hunting has a way of changing a person. After a while right, wrong, good, evil, they all start to look the same. And then it makes you start to wonder, who’s really the monster here, them or me?
You’ve certainly personified that question from time to time, Dean Winchester.
Lata as her friends argue in the next room: I am at peace….I am deeply annoyed!
John wants to keep searching for the Akrida, Carlos doesn’t, accusing John of being obsessed.
Carlos: Mellow out, amor.
John: The fate of the world is literally at stake!
Very dramatic, John! Carlos suggests that maybe John should come with him to see Dr. Z, who’s really been helping him, but John isn’t interested in either that or meditating with Lata. Their arguments (and Carlos stealing Mary’s robe) are interrupted by the “hunter line” ringing – it’s a landline in a phone table! Mary answers, and they head out to help a retired hunter named Tracy who used to hunt with Mary’s mother back in the day – and who just found another hunter friend Darla dead in her barn. (I wonder if Darla is named after Jensen’s aunt?)
John questions that a hunter successfully retired, since Mary says it’s so rare and Carlos told him early on that the only thing worse than how it starts for a hunter is how it ends.
Carlos: Okay so I embellished for dramatic effect, are we really gonna act surprised by that?
Mary says it’s part of why she thinks she can do it too. Tracy calls Mary ‘Cricket’, much to the amusement of her friends. They think at first it was the werewolf Darla was hunting that killed her, but soon realize it was something else. Mary is envious of Tracy no longer being comfortable around death and dead bodies, which was a great line that makes it so clear the toll that hunting takes on a person – something we don’t always think about as fans of the Supernatural universe.
Tracy tells Mary that this isn’t the first time her parents have separated – when she was little, she stayed with her ‘Aunt’ Tracy when they were ‘on a break’. Tracy says that Mary should start looking out for number one. Mary says she’d like to finish school, college maybe. Tracy says she never had any regrets about leaving hunting – except that she didn’t get out sooner.
Tracy comes into the barn and says everything’s ready, and the episode takes a very serious turn.
This was my favorite scene of the episode, though the hardest to watch also. John asks “what’s ready?” and before Carlos can answer my heart leapt into my throat. Ohgod. Oh no. It’s gonna be a hunter’s funeral, isn’t it? I know it’s been two years since we watched Dean Winchester burn on that pyre, and I know we ended with both Winchester brothers happy in Heaven, but that scene of Sam Winchester giving his brother a hunter’s funeral, Miracle whining at his side, is still too tender to revisit. Especially when I hear ‘Brothers In Arms’ playing over it in my head.
But I digress. It is indeed a hunter’s funeral, and there’s no way The Winchesters doesn’t know what that’s going to do to all of us. We don’t even know Darla, so we don’t care about her, but our own memories are still raw enough to make it incredibly painful – and we can see the effect it has on these young hunters and on Tracy. The show is smart (cruel?) enough to play ‘Joan of Arc’ as Tracy tenderly cleans her friend’s body and says goodbye and damn it, it’s too close, especially once she’s wrapped in a sheet and it looks too damn similar.
Tracy holds out the lighter…like Sam did…
Okay, that hurt a lot.
Tracy doesn’t have anymore lore books, but offers Carlos the use of her Harlequin romances at least. Not my thing, but you go, Carlos.
John wants to try to capture whatever unicorn monster this is to lure the Akrida in, but Lata points out that the only thing that can harm them is the Men of Letters box and they still can’t get that to work. Carlos and Lata go see a friend of hers who’s a monster identification specialist. On the way, Lata asks if Carlos thinks she’s a liability as a hunter because she’s a pacifist and doesn’t do the fighting part. I admit to being not so sure about that part myself – I mean, she doesn’t actually carry a gun or knife or whatever, but she works with three people who enact all kinds of violence on other creatures, facilitated by Lata. Is that some kind of ethical stance that makes sense? It doesn’t entirely to me.
Carlos is skeptical about Lata’s friend when the front of his store is full of taxidermied animals, which yep, I’m with you Carlos.
Carlos: What kind of weirdo likes to stuff dead things…
Upon seeing the very handsome and charismatic Anton…
Carlos: I loved ‘Psycho’…
He’s adorably smitten and totally flustered. As in, he can’t actually say a damn thing.
JoJoFleites sells all of that fluster believably. I cannot help but feel affection for Carlos and to be rooting for him.
Anton figures out it’s a soucouyant, a Caribbean vampire witch. Tracy says that’s impossible, that it was her last hunt with her team, Darla, Rob and Mac, that they killed 3 of the 4 and the last got away. Mac got impatient and went into a cave after it, which collapsed – she thought it was killed.
Apparently not, because it shows up at the door at that moment, once again in broad daylight and looking way too clear for my taste as it staggers around threateningly.
John impulsively wrestles with it on the front lawn until Mary slices off its arm and it runs away. In broad daylight. I have the unwanted reaction to have to smother a giggle every time that happens. I need monsters in the dark – that opening scene, when we didn’t even see the monster, was so much scarier!
Carlos has to sew up a shirtless John, distracted because he keeps thinking about Anton. Much to John’s dismay because ouch, distracted. And everyone gets a shirtless Drake Rodger.
Tracy says that Rob went back recently to retrieve Mac’s body and give him a hunter’s funeral, but they never heard from him after. Uh oh.
John is gung ho to go behead it or stab it in the chest, but Mary isn’t.
Mary: Pump the brakes, soldier boy, I wanna play this safe.
I smirk every time she calls him Soldier Boy.
He goes outside to whale on a heavy bag, not appreciating’s Mary’s protectiveness. John is chafing against not being able to DO something, wanting an opportunity to let all that anger out.
Mary tells him that everyone is worried about him, especially Carlos after what happened with Neto. She asks him to talk to her, after she let him walk around inside her head and see everything.
John: Want in my head? Fine. This morning we cremated someone who used to be a hunter just like you. Every moment is another moment that you could die. I will not be the person to wrap you in a white cloth and send you out in a blaze of glory!
Mary: So you’re doing all this for me…
She says that Millie told her how he runs toward danger any time, and says she doesn’t appreciate him using her to avoid his own issues.
I’m not entirely sure what the show is telling us about John here. He hasn’t really tried to talk Mary into leaving hunting immediately, so where is this sudden guilt and protectiveness coming from? I think she’s right to see that as an excuse, that this is not about her. But what is it about? Are we supposed to believe that John has had anger issues all his life? That he’s always looking for a fight? Is that because his father left or is it some kind of personality trait? I’m assuming Millie meant that it’s rooted in John’s feelings of abandonment thanks to Henry’s disappearance, but I wish we’d had some more digging in there. Because this is John Winchester, and we’ve seen a later version of John whose life was ruled by his quest for revenge, I’m very interested in this John’s struggle with anger and where it will lead him.
We also seem to see the roots of John’s protectiveness of Mary in this episode, which makes sense in the canon we know, but is almost unexpected at this point in John and Mary’s relationship. They haven’t known each other for very long, and while we see that they care about each other, we don’t yet get any sense that they’re destined to fall madly in love (or be manipulated into it, for that matter). Mary is similarly protective of John by the end of this episode, but I think I would have preferred a slower burn than that, so I could really buy them making these big decisions for each other. I believed it always with Sam and Dean, but we had alot of lead up and they had a whole lifetime of being brothers even before we met them.
Anton and Lata figure out that the monster’s arm is filled not with blood, but with ectoplasm. It’s a ghost, a vengeful spirit that possessed the soucoyant.
Turns out the cave in that killed Mac wasn’t an accident – Tracy and the team killed him.
This they did not see coming!
Tracy says they knew Mac was ‘a dark soul’ but he was a damn good hunter. Rough childhood, abused by his dad, bullied, hoping hunting and killing real monsters would free him from the other kind of pain he’d experienced. (Intended perhaps as a parallel to John and his pain, not of abuse but of abandonment). When that didn’t happen he turned to dark magic, became more violent, more aggressive – stuck in a cycle of violence.
Lata: You wielded him like some kind of weapon?
Tracy claims they tried to help him, but it all caught up with him and he snapped, got paranoid, eventually attacked Darla. They were afraid of him and so they killed him.
Tracy: We didn’t have a choice.
Lata: Violence is always a choice.
Knowing the real story contaminates Tracy’s reason for leaving hunting for Mary, as Tracy apologizes. John goes back to the barn alone for some reason, which is clearly a bad idea. The monster attacks him, then the ghost leaves the zombie monster and gets absorbed right into John as the zombie monster disappears.
They find him in the barn.
Not!John: I’m sorry, tall dark and angry can’t come to the phone right now.
Drake Rodger does a good job channeling all those memorable Supernatural possessions that have come before this, from Yellow Eyes to Lucifer.
Mary doesn’t let Tracy shoot him because – well, because it’s John – telling him she knows he’s in there, that he has to fight – a time honored speech from multiple episodes of Supernatural. Mac insists that John is along for the ride and that’s why he picked him, insinuating that John’s anger is making the possession easier. He tosses Carlos and Mary around easily and then approaches Tracy menacingly, strangling her against a post.
Mary pushes him off and they fight, John brutally throwing Mary against a wall. She tries stabbing her finger into his wound ala possessed Sam to Dean in Born Under a Bad Sign but he’s impervious, throwing her off again.
Mac: All I’ve ever known are clenched fists, learned that from my old man.
Tracy raises her rifle to Mary’s pleas not to, saying she has no choice, when suddenly Lata throws herself between them.
Lata: Yes you do! More violence isn’t the answer, not when you’ve spent a lifetime with it.
She tells her own story then, of her father returning from the war violent and angry. Of how she tried to make herself small so the violence wouldn’t find her, but it did. How she felt powerless – until she felt angry. Until she acted on that anger just like her father, and hurt someone, and then decided to choose peace instead.
Mac: I chose my team, but they turned their backs on me, because it was easier.
Tracy explains she was scared, she didn’t know how to help him when he needed his family. She apologizes, says she’s here now.
Lata: It’s not too late Mac, you can still break the cycle.
He stabs the knife in the ground and smokes out, leaving John on the floor. Mary sighs with relief – he’s alive.
Carlos to Lata: You did it!
I don’t think that’s going to work with most of the monsters they encounter, but Nida and Drake did a good job with the tense confrontation and the intergenerational violence story made sense here for Lata to tell.
Tracy decides to go back to hunting to try to make her wrongs right, much to Mary’s dismay. She insists that Mary is better than her, that she’ll be able to get out “the right way”.
The next scene of Carlos tearful because Anton touched the severed monster arm and they’re about to burn it is a bridge too far for me – he’s not a fourteen year old, after all. A small quibble, but I don’t want Carlos to become a caricature instead of a real fully rendered individual.
Anton leaves him a note and I do enjoy how excited he is about that – I hope we get to see Anton again, they’ve got a lot of chemistry.
John wakes up to Mary sitting with him, without much memory of what happened. John is ready to talk though, saying that she was right, he’s wrestled with anger his whole life. That the fight with Neto woke it up for him, and that he has been using hunting as an excuse to avoid the problems he doesn’t know how to fix. He doesn’t want to end up like Mac.
Mary: That’s not gonna happen, I promise. I still wanna get out of hunting, but it’s not gonna be at your expense. You mean too much to me.
(I suppose that’s some of what the John Winchester we knew in Supernatural was doing too – it was partly his blind need for revenge, but it was also that he threw himself into hunting as an excuse to avoid coming to terms with Mary’s death or dealing with the emotional needs of the boys left behind with him.)
Lata goes back to trying to meditate, and this time it’s John who interrupts her, to say thank you and to ask how to not live in the anger and the violence.
He joins her for some meditation, and then Dean Winchester’s voice made me literally jump – I wasn’t expecting another voiceover.
Dean: Hunting’s not for everyone. You have to be strong, stay sharp, make tough decisions. And it’s not easy. But then again, the righteous things never are.
I cannot shake the fact that Dean doesn’t sound like Dean in these voiceovers. Not his voice, but the things he’s saying, I have a hard time imagining Dean waxing wise and poetic like that, even from Heaven if that’s indeed where he is. ‘Righteous’ has all kinds of connotations in the world of Supernatural, most of them not positive – so I’m not sure how exactly he’s using that word here. Are hunters righteous? It’s not all that black and white – that’s what the voiceover that kicked off this episode said, after all.
The episode ends with the foursome finding the Akrida – the radio tower, that is.
A new episode airs on Tuesday, so we’ll see what happens when the team finally goes after the big bad!
You can read all about how special the ‘mothership’
Supernatural is, to the actors and the fans, in Family
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