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
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.
-- 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.
Mary: "And God's sister brought me back to life?"
Dean: "Pretty much. It's a lot."
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 Doux loves good television, especially science fiction, and spends way too much time writing about it.