Supernatural: Keep Calm and Carry On

"Welcome to the future."

Strong, effective, emotional.

For the serious fans of this show, it's all about the Winchesters and their tragic lives. This episode began with Dean's subdued but deeply emotional reaction to the resurrection of his mother, explored Mary's difficulty in adjusting to her new life-after-death situation, and gave us Sam still fighting to survive while in a state of utter despair.

I was surprised at how perfectly Mary fit in. After (symbolism alert) discarding the nightgown she died in and dressing in clothes that were exactly like what her sons wear, she slipped back into the life of a hunter with remarkable ease. And how lovely was her reunion with the Impala? That was my favorite scene in the episode because it was almost entirely without words. After greeting it with "Hello, sweetheart," Mary looked at the back seat of the Impala and her face reflected her memories, including what must have been some hot ones. I loved how Dean looked at her face and at the car and totally got it, and how uncomfortable he looked. Jensen Ackles and Samantha Smith completely sold that scene with their expressions. I was so touched that I almost started to cry.

But as the episode progressed, I could feel the melancholy overtaking this situation. All Mary had ever wanted was for her boys to have normal lives, and of course, it's too late for Dean and Sam to change that now. Mary looked around at the computers and cell phones and at Dean, a grown man full of sadness and trouble, and it was so hard for her to handle. Yes, it would be wonderful to see what an exceptional man her little boy had become, but this was not a happy reunion, and Mary was not happy to be back on earth. Let's also not forget that from Mary's perspective, she just lost her husband, a man she loved deeply, and she will never get to see her sons grow up. She's also homeless; the bunker, while cool, is not a home. After Mary killed Toni's minion to save Dean, she stared down at her own hands as if she could still see the blood on them. This won't turn out well. Of course, when has anything turned out well on Supernatural?

Even Castiel, this frighteningly powerful angel who hangs out with her sons, would seem alien to Mary. They did such a good job with that scene in the bunker, because I kept seeing Castiel not as we know him and love him, but as Mary would see him. It didn't make him look good.

I have to give Andrew Dabb, our new showrunner, a lot of credit for skillful writing. That opening conversation where Dean told Mary about her own history, how she met and married John Winchester, and what happened with the time travel and ghost incidents, worked beautifully as both a re-introduction to Mary as a character and a way of addressing Dean's previous interactions with her during the entire course of the series. It enabled us, the viewers, to dismiss the details and immediately go for the emotion in that reunion scene. When Mary tentatively hugged Dean and his face reflected his confusion, I was genuinely moved.


Moving on to the Sam portion of the episode, does anyone else hate the English British Men of Letters as much as I do? I find Toni's point of view so confusing. So what if they were able to lock down their part of the world? How dare she criticize? Okay, I totally get that from the outside, the Winchester brothers look incredibly reckless and dangerous and very much like they're causing apocalypses left and right. Even though we know they're not.

But Toni's unnamed minion was actually enjoying torturing Sam. I hate seeing the boys suffer. Cattle prod, freezing water, burned foot, drugs, and all the while Sam still believed that Dean had died saving God and the universe. Even in a state of utter despair, hallucinating visions of his mother's and Jessica's deaths, Sam still resisted Toni and fought to survive. She asked him if he thought he was the hero of this story, and of course, he is. Sam won... almost. Was Toni slowly gaining some respect for Sam in the end? Will she eventually become a Winchester ally?

And then there was Crowley, who is following a trail of Lucifer's burned out vessels in order to take him out and regain Hell. Not much there yet, but I loved the two minions and the bit about possessing a fourteen-year-old girl. It's detail like this that makes Supernatural such an enjoyable and layered show.

Bits:

-- This season's logo is a burning Men of Letters symbol. Big hint about what this season will be about. (Here's a link to the wonderful wiki page that has all of the Supernatural title cards.)


-- Have they used "Bad Boys" before? I don't recall.

-- Castiel's very Smallville arrival was in front of a billboard for Mystery Spot. But the season three episode "Mystery Spot" took place in Florida, and the poor guy that Castiel left unconscious and truck-less by the side of the road said they were only three hours away from Lebanon, Kansas.

-- Samantha Smith (Mary) was terrific, but I kept wondering how old she was. According to her tombstone, Mary Winchester died at 29, and in the pilot episode, Samantha Smith was 34; now Smith is 46. She should be younger than Dean, but looks older. Not important, though.

-- Toni and her minion were talking about bringing in "Mr. Ketch," but reluctantly since Toni said he was a psychopath. I'm sure we'll meet him later.

-- Brass knuckles with sigils. Cool.

-- I don't remember seeing the bunker's garage before, but honestly, after eleven seasons, it's all starting to run together.

-- Great choices for the music. It emphasized the sad and mournful feel of this episode.

Quotes:

Mary: "And God's sister brought me back to life?"
Dean: "Pretty much. It's a lot."

Minion: "Whatever."
Other minion: "Whatever? What, are you a fourteen year old girl now?"
Minion: "I mean, not right now. I possessed one once, but it didn't work out. A lot of feelings and urges, and ugly snot crying about how Julie's with Craig Castle now even though he's total bae, but she's like a busted bitch on ice. Hormones, dude."

Sam: "I've been tortured by the devil himself. So you, you're just an accent in a pantsuit."

Mary: "Is that a computer?"
Castiel: "Yes. I don't trust them."

Toni: "Maybe with all of us working together, we can do what you never could: make America safe."
And I'm sure the resemblance to a certain presidential candidate's campaign slogan isn't coincidental.

Other Minion: "Lucifer will lead us to glory. As long as he's out there, Hell will never follow you."
Crowley: "Well, like they say, duh."

Dean: "Saving people and hunting things, this is our life. I think we make the world a better place. I know that we do."

You never know what you're going to get when a new showrunner comes on, but Mr. Dabb clearly knows what he's doing. Three out of four pantsuits,

Billie
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Billie Doux loves good television, especially science fiction, and spends way too much time writing about it.

7 comments:

Mallena said...

Jared P, with his powerful portrayal of Sam's courage and despair was the VIP of this opener. Mary will look a lot better once she cuts her hair and gets better clothes. It will be interesting to see if she is going to act like she is 29, or if they will just gloss over that detail. It took awhile for them to find the garage, but they have used it several times. Dorothy's bike was shown in it, and they washed Baby there. I liked this opener and I'm looking forward to S&D teaching those Brits what happens when someone or some thing messess with the Winchesters. Can't believe you got this review up so fast, great job.

Patrick said...

Lovely review Billie. This episode was fantastic. I liked the measured pace, and the quieter feel to it. It reminded me a lot of the Season 4 premiere. Mary & Dean's reunion was played perfectly, and it's clear that Mom coming back into their life isn't going to be all celebration & hugs. I'm immediately scared that she's going to die again before the season is out, because a) this show likes to gutpunch us right in the feels, and b) a female character on this show appearing in more than one or two episodes of the season? When have they EVER lived a long life?

Billie, pretty sure we saw the garage in the episode with Dorothy & the Wicked Witch, Dorothy's motorcycle was down there. Hasn't there also been a gag about Dean washing Baby in short shorts? I literally LOL'd during Mary's reunion with Baby, when Dean realized what sort of memories she was recalling. I wonder what the odds are that Dean was conceived in that backseat? :)

When the Castiel-meteor hit, at first I wasn't sure if it was Castiel landing after the blast ward was triggered, or if we were seeing Lucifer touch down after being ripped out of Castiel. We've never seen the other end of that blasting ward, we just knew it sent them "away". It's gotta do more than just fling them, there's got to be some kind of residual juju that keeps angels from just BAMF-ing back.

LOVED the new logo, reminds me a lot of the one from Season 10 with the white pentagram.

Billie, it's not just you, the Brits Of Letters jumped right to the top of my S--t list. They were like all the worst aspects of the Watchers Council from Buffy. Great, they managed to lock down their islands from whatever monsters try to reach their shores. Good for them. Meanwhile the effing APOCALYPSE is happening across the pond, and apparently they knew all about it, but didn't lift a finger? Not to mention the Leviathans, the Darkness? And NOW they decide to come to OUR home, and instead of approaching peacefully, offering to help the US hunters organize and be more proactive, they go straight to kidnapping, torture, and trying to impose their will? I'm with Sam, "Screw. You." Someone needs to remind them what happens when a bunch of authoritarian Brits tried to control a bunch of rowdy Yanks. I mean seriously, how stupid are they? They torture one of the best hunters around, and then expect the other ones to simply make nice and go along? I not only want the Brits Of Letters to be physically thrashed, I want them humiliated. I want to see the look on their faces when they realize just what an idiotic strategy this was.

OK yeah, they struck a nerve with me. :)

Anyone else hoping Mary gets to meet Jodi at some point this season? I think Mary's gonna need to hear from someone(a human, Cas doesn't count in this case) about what fine men her boys grew up to be. And now I'm sad that she likely won't get to meet folks like Bobby or Ellen(yes, anything can happen on this show, but still...)

This is the first time in a very long while that I'm actually current on Supernatural during a season, and I can't wait to see where they go this year.

Heather1 said...

Patrick, I thought of Jodi as well. Your idea is a good one.

You know, I've said it before but maybe not in this exact way: Supernatural gets it. Some shows have their own story to tell and if fans catch on, great. But the shows do their thing, regardless. Other shows try to pander to what they think viewers will like, and it comes off lame. Supernatural is that rare show that understands and knows its fans. But it doesn't pander. It almost feels, at this point, like the show and the fans are all in it together. I've always sort of felt this way... but what crystallized it for me was the episode, "Fan Fiction". And now, because of that... I can only call it... mutual trust... we follow the Winchesters wherever they go. I can even live with a bad episode or two... or a strange direction. They are friends I will follow, even if I think they are making a wrong turn here or there. But this episode was not a wrong turn. I started to get so worried when Mary called that British minion... that she wouldn't live through the episode even. Or that she would leave. And that it would happen before she and Sam get a chance to see one another.

And please, if she does go to meet/stay with Jodi... I don't want anything to happen to Jodi!!

Heather1 said...

Meant "killed" that minion. Arrrggghh... auto correct.

Anonymous said...

First of all, please allow me to add my thanks for your reviews and this entire site. I feel like I can listen to friends harp on (like me!) about this show. I don't go nuts for too many things, but boy, oh boy, I love just about every aspect of this show, and I appreciate the insights of you and other fans.

And speaking of, kudos to the writers for creating a marvelous reunion scene for Dean with his mother, a heart-wringing cliff-hanger for Sam, fabulous, fabulous lines for Castiel (I don't trust them either, Cas) and thoughtful, calculating steps for Crowley. (I can't wait for this trail to start showing off its scenery!) I'm so exciting. I didn't care very much for the last season,but this one promises a grand return to the reasons we all love the show. (And I am thrilled with the British Men of Letters as the antagonistic force! Bring back the Thule and I will be in high heaven!

Anonymous said...

Oh dear. I meant that I'm so excited. Not exciting. (Blush) Fumble fingers...

434444334 said...

What if this is there last season O.o

I feel like it could be