Supernatural Season 12, Episode 3
Posted by Dawn and Jaymee
Special guest comments by Rebecca Kovar
Welcome to the roller coaster. Episode 3 brought us up and down so many times that we probably should have taken some dramamine before watching. We have a new format this week as well, so expect less of a scene-by-scene and more of a reaction to the three plots: The Family Winchester, The Laurangel and Hardemon Show, and Rowena is Our Queen (long may she reign). And also, we’ve had a bit of a standoff this ep, so Dawn will be repping the side of I loved it, while Jay will be repping are you effing kidding me. And introducing Rebecca Kovar, our guest “referee” for this recap. So let’s get going. There will be ranting, and there will be spoilers almost instantly, so if you’ve not yet seen the ep, do head on over to cwtv.com and watch before you read.
Jay: As my heart is made of a solid block of ice, it’s fitting for me to go first. I was heavily disappointed in this episode and in particular the turn of events that left my counterpart Dawn achingly sad. After so much hope for our boys finally having some sort of semblance of a responsible parent, we are again cut up and left in bloody ribbons by Mary Winchester. I get it, you know, I get that she doesn’t know the John our boys do, that she cannot even FATHOM what he put them through, emotionally, mentally, physically, all the abuse they suffered; I get that she doesn’t understand the depths they need her to be the parent they never had, I get that! But honestly, I’m pissed. Not an explosive font of Mount Vesuvius pissed, but a cold, creeping, dread sort of pissed. I didn’t cry; I didn’t even blink (ok, I may have internally sighed). I was left aching and hollow and so very, very cold. I guess it all boils down to the fact that I truly believe that any parent, given the chance Mary has been given, would jump at the opportunity to get to know and love their children again, no matter what age they are. She hasn’t even tried. Spending her time reading Johns journal and one measly hunt, come on Mary! So to me this hunt was absolutely fitting for how the episode left me, ice frosted up the sides of my still beating heart, punching chilled blue blood through my veins leaving me disinterested and silent. Much like Dean when another Winchester turned their backs on him.
Dawn: Overall, I loved the ep. But I need to make it clear that I am very, very not ok with how it ended. If I stretch, and far, I can kinda understand Mary’s confusion and distress. As Stephen King once said and as SPN has suggested on more than one occasion, “Sometimes dead is better,” but I am not buying that as the case here. And let’s add a touch of logic as well. Yes, Mary, this is a terribly confusing world you’ve found yourself in; hell, the technological advances alone would leave any past time traveler’s head spinning. And I also get that you miss your husband (probably because you have no idea what a son of a bitch he turned into after you died, but I expect we will get to that at some point) and that while these are your kids, they are not your kids. You left children. You found men. That’s a kick to the chest, no doubt. But how in the hell could it be easier for you to learn, to assimilate, to at least start on the road to okay BY YOURSELF? You barely know how phones work and you don’t have one of your own. You have almost no knowledge base. So I am ready to take bets now on how long it takes for Rowena, Crowley, more Men of Letters, or the Morning Star himself to find Mary and snatch her up as bait. And we all know our boys will take that bait.
Reba: After an incredible start to the season, I was disappointed this episode was not as tight and smooth as the previous two. I did like the parallels between mothers going with their instincts and revealing their power while purposely flouting the wishes of the men. Agency, mad skills, and a bit of a mean streak were nice things to see in female characters. And then. And then they took both of those amazingly strong women off the chessboard. Sure, I can understand the reasons in both cases. I get that they are in situations that they didn’t choose which are uncomfortable on a lot of levels and involve dealing with parts of their lives they thought/hoped were over for good. As individuals, I am behind these women wanting to nope the hell out to do whatever it is they think they need to restore balance and calm and get to where they want to be. HOWEVER, because they insisted on these scenes being back to back, instead of making a strong point, it stole the power of the moments when they chose themselves over everyone else and/or the fate of the world. (More on what Mary’s decision says about her later.)
In general for this episode, the “hunt” was typical of something from mid-Season 2, where we were still — as a show, as a fandom, as actors, and writers — finding our sea legs. Remember, the show was originally envisioned as two brothers experiencing The X-Files-ish monster of the week adventures, with the family plot very secondary, and Season 2 was where things began to change. So this opening with its trope camera angles and shaky close-ups just felt typical, which isn’t something we ever expect from SPN, and very two-four-eight giant steps back from episode 2 and its all-consuming, emotion-infused scenes. SPN is always good at cutting from one storyline to another in an abrupt and unexpectedly dramatic fashion, and ep 2 did it in a way that all of our emotions revolted, rioted, and quivered throughout. Ep 3 didn’t quite manage as well.
Jay: Needless to say I had high expectations for episode three and I was left feeling
wanting, empty, and unsatisfied. The only saving graces for me were the beautiful moments of Crowley/Cas, Rowena’s sass, and Dean/Sam/Cas zen.
Dawn: I found some of the plot cuts to be a bit jolting, and not in a good way. Again, I still loved the ep overall, but the normal SPN cuts of drama, humor, drama, humor, DRAMA were really uneven in places, and it was hard to make those jumps as a viewer. But when they worked, goddamn, they worked.
Reba: The repeated focusing on the doll was not effective. We’ve seen scarier dolls—rooms full of them—and it didn’t feel like a real threat or even like it was connected to the actual mystery. The monster of the week plot was not really fleshed out. There was no explanation of how the ultimate monster did what he did, and no, “his grief was that powerful” is not an answer, when there is an entire mythology that covers this in Voodoo. Heck, similar mythology was covered in “Of Grave Importance” (S7 Ep19), so they had canon to fall back on.
The Family Winchester: Dean, Sam and Momma Mary
Swinging light; mildly creepy, broken, busted doll; and crying baby sounds aside, we were super excited to see Mary on a real hunt. We were not surprised however that she was attempting to bury all her emotions inside of activity. Gee, where have we seen that before?
It’s completely hilarious that it’s Sam who needs to point out to Dean what their mother is doing, because how many seasons have we watched Sam sit in the front seat of the Impala and convince Dean he was doing the exact same thing? And though it’s very courteous of Sam that he is attempting to include himself in the family dysfunction of “hunting ‘til I drop,” what Sam really meant to say, which was painfully obvious to all us fans was probably more like “I spent 11 seasons watching you do the exact same thing and trying to convince you that hunting yourself to oblivion wasn’t going to help you, Dean, deal with your emotions and feelings. And now I don’t want to watch our mother go through the same thing.”
Alas, he did not say that. But one great thing about the hunt is that it solidified Mary as the BAMF we knew she was, and it’s clear that the boys get their hunter instincts from her. Maybe John can have some credit for the weapons skills, since he was a military man and pretty much raised them to be the perfect hunters, we don’t really like giving him credit for anything because he was an abusive, neglectful, self-absorbed son of a bitch. But let’s hold off on that (for now) and get back to the point of why Mary is seeking out a hunt, aside from the obvious family trait of ignoring emotions.
Dean has confessed to Mary that this is their life; hunting is what they do. And Mary, for all of her confusion and discomfort our modern age, is trying to connect with her boys by doing what they do best, even though it was the very last thing she wanted for them. She is trying to see if she can be part of the family business, the one she turned her back on long before her death. It’s what John wanted for the boys, right? And Mary loves John and misses him, so in her head and heart, she trusts that he did what was right for their family after she was gone. Mary is seeing if this is something she can do, be with her boys, hunting, living their life with them. Picking up where she left off, except it’s 33 years later. Dean doesn’t hesitate in enveloping his mother into their fold, excited by the prospect of them all hunting together as a family, which is all he has ever wanted. It’s not what a normal family would be doing, but no one ever said our Winchesters were anything but dysfunctional. For Dean, this is like Mom taking them to Disneyland.
But it doesn’t work. For Mary, the hunting trip only solidifies that she is obsolete, that her methods and her approach to hunting are no longer valid, needed, or important. It’s clear she sees herself as slowing her boys down, and—worse for a mother, we suspect—she can’t help seeing them as her boys, “My baby Sam. And my little boy Dean.”
Dawn: I was clutching my dog and crying, at this point. I may have even promised my dog that it was okay that he wasn’t a puppy anymore because I still loved him.
Jay: I was not. I may have lost an eye from how hard I was rolling them at her.
Reba: I was sitting, mouth agape, as I watched Mary gut her own children. I get her being freaked out about her situation. She is, in essence, spending time with two grown men she doesn’t know at all. That has to be super weird. I was willing to allow her an adjustment period, as the boys also needed to deal with what is certainly a bizarre turn of events. But then she says, in essence, “I have to go because this is too hard.”
And worse than Mary’s pain was Dean’s. Dean and his resounding silence, Dean who never shuts up even when he really should. He is just silent. Shocked. Everything he ever wanted, everything he finally got, is walking out the door. The level of hurt is bone deep; it’s in the marrow. And when Dean took a step back, away from his mother, oh my Chuck. Two episodes of the joy of that reunion and now… All episode long, we saw how Mary and Dean are so alike, from their taste in music to their feelings on bacon. Dean was the happiest we’d seen him in a long time, possibly ever, so the fall from that height, from that kind of build up, yes it fucking hurt, and not just Dean but all of us. (Massive props to both writer Robert Berens and Jensen Ackles for that.)
DEAN NOD. Source: brothersinsync
And Sam? Sam, who never knew a mother? Sam, who has been looking for someone to take care of him and has made terrible choices in women as a direct result of that? Sam, who finally had a chance at the most impossible thing? His full-body flinch as the door closed behind Mary was a punch in the sternum. Jared Padalecki, add that to your Emmy reel.
Oh, and Mary cut her hair and Twitter went insane and yes, fine, it looks fucking fantastic on her even though nothing screams I’m lost, confused and having a second life crisis like a feisty new haircut.
And it gave us a nice Dean and Mom moment when Mary explains that long hair is potentially unwise for a hunter and Dean responds, “I’ve been trying to tell Sam that for years.”
Jay: It’s infuriating how obvious it is that Mary really isn’t trying to get to know Sam and Dean, how she is avoiding them, false smiles and distractions. Yes, things are different but if you really want to be here with them, then do it; you rebelled against your entire family for Chuck’s sake. You gave up on hunting to have a family. Well now that family needs you. You’re supposed to be strong. I’m only seeing fear, and weakness from you now. I mean for goodness sake, Castiel isn’t even human or related OR THEIR MOTHER and he’s never given up on our boys. He’s learned and adapted and taken each of his shortcomings with a head tilt and and urge to understand. Get it together Mary!
Dawn: Her leaving was really hard to take, even more so for me because she had to intone “I miss John” and John presses all my rage buttons. I KNOW she has no idea how bad of a father he was, and I kinda fear for her when she finds out, but yeah, I am fully on the “These are YOUR KIDS, FFS” train.
Reba: Okay, but she’s been reading John’s journal. It’s obvious the kids were with him sometimes, but not always. How does that not open up a world of questions for a mother? She has to already know that John didn’t give them a stable life.
Having the hunt involve child ghosts was fitting, and Mary’s ghost possession worked as well. It’s clear after the hunt is over and Mary is freed from that possession (by a crazy father who collects children’s souls, imagine that) that she has had some kind of revelation. It’s important to remember, as she states flat out, that before coming back, she had her perfect family: “Just feels like yesterday, we were together in heaven, and now… I’m here, and John is gone, and they’re gone. And every moment I spend with you reminds me every moment I lost with them.”
Dawn: Cold, Mary. That was cold. Even I felt slapped in the face. As if these boys haven’t had enough experience with feeling unworthy and undeserving, now their mother, their whole reason for this life in the first Chuckdamned place, just essentially told them that they are not enough. I’m glad you miss John so much, Mary, because that shit was worthy of his kind of parenting.
Jay: Couldn’t agree more. You’re speaking the words of my soul! And not for nothing, can someone explain to me how is Mary’s pretend family in heaven — the one all in her head, concocted by Heavens Might to give her a perfect little slice of pie — more important, or more wonderful, than her real family? Her actual real, living, breathing, [not some concoction of heaven], loving you, Mary, until they ache, family. You’re being given a chance no one else has ever had before and this is how you’re going to waste it! Pathetic. I need a motherfucking moment of GOD DAMN ZEN, because Mary is quickly approaching John in the “A+ parenting” section of my book.
Reba: Also, she took John’s journal with her! The last and most powerful and most useful goddamned thing they ever got from their dad, one that also contained pictures of Bobby, and there wasn’t even a single raised eyebrow. Heck, she could have asked and Sam could have said that he made a copy ages ago (or that you can buy it on Amazon…but I digress) so it was cool for her to take it. SOMETHING to acknowledge how very important that journal is to the canon of this show, the characters, the fans.
Mary’s statements create a mythos problem as well, though. How can her heaven have been that way, when we know that even Jimmy Novak had to wait for Amelia to pass before they could be reunited in heaven? So how could Mary have had her husband and her boys? It doesn’t make any sense. (Big glaring plot hole — we’re looking at you, Berens.) And because she can’t have them as she remembered them, she won’t take them as they are now, as adults who want her, need her, and who are STILL her children? Instead, she runs. Big freaking Winchester-sized surprise there. #NOT
Dawn: I cannot handle Dean’s expression or his nod. HE NODS. Because he is Dean, the one who understands everyone, the one who chokes down his emotions, still the good little soldier who does what is expected. His ultimate happiness is leaving, and he nods. As a long time Dean girl, I have never wanted to wrap my arms around him and just stroke his hair more than I do right now.
Jay: THIS, CHUCK DAMN IT, Dawn! ::incoherent wailing::