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Supernatural: Absence

"What he did wasn't bad. It was the absence of good."

I apologize for the lateness of this review. It probably won't surprise you that I didn't want to write about this episode.

That wasn't necessarily about losing Mary. It's over for her now, and in the best possible way. She's in Heaven, and she's even in a "special" heaven according to Dumah, which I took to mean that it's not just a simulation of John Winchester that she's with, that she and the real John are in heaven together. That was moving and lovely, especially after their brief, heartfelt reunion in "Lebanon." Plus, Mary was never happy back on Earth in the first place. Plus, unlike what happened to Nick, Mary's death was instantaneous and painless. She's happy and at peace. What more could anyone want for her?

The real tragedy in this episode was, of course, what Mary's loss did to Dean.

It's not like Sam wasn't suffering too, because he was. But until relatively recently, Sam had never known his mother at all. When Amara brought Mary back, it was an unexpected gift for Sam, a chance to get to know her for the first time. While he was clearly grieving and very upset about losing Mary, Sam was more concerned about how Dean was feeling – which was devastated, overwhelmed, and so furiously angry that he needed to direct it at someone. And deserved or not, that turned out to be Castiel.

As the shell of Mary Winchester burned at her hunter's funeral, Castiel wanted to touch Dean, to comfort him, and Sam wordlessly blocked Castiel's move. I think Sam was protecting both of them. Sam knew that if Dean attacked Castiel while he was so emotionally raw, it could have ruined their closeness forever. Sam also got physically between Dean and Castiel in the cabin, too. This is the sort of situation that can blast apart a friendship, pun very much intended.

Was Mary's death Castiel's fault because he didn't tell the brothers what Jack did to Felix the snake? Honestly, I don't think so. As Sam said, it's not like the brothers didn't know Jack was dangerous, and they are certainly aware of what being soulless does to someone.

This wasn't Jack's fault, either. He didn't choose to be the son of Lucifer. He didn't choose to lose his soul while trying to save his friends. He didn't intend to kill Mary. And now he has lost his entire family, all three of his adopted fathers. Not to mention the bunker, which is the only home Jack has ever known.

Last week's previews made me think that Lucifer had healed and possessed Nick's body again. I'm glad that didn't happen, that Mark Pellegrino was playing yet another role: Jack's subconscious, the submerged Lucifer-ish side of Jack. That was good writing because it gave Alexander Calvert someone to dialogue with about what he was really feeling. It's not a surprise that Jack realizes there is no coming back from this one, that he can never trust the Winchesters again. To give Jack credit, he really tried his best to bring Mary back, to fix what he'd done. Although during all of the scenes with Rowena, I thought Jack would end up killing Rowena, too.

(I also thought the spell ingredients Rowena put together would bind Jack or something. But no. She probably knows that she isn't powerful enough to do something to Jack.)

I wondered for a moment, and dreaded the possibility, that they were going to give us "The Monkey's Paw," a soulless, evil version of Mary Winchester. Thankfully, no. It was just her shell, enough to give us the emotional heaviness of a hunter's funeral. Better than an ash-filled blast site at some deserted cabin.

There were some lovely flashback moments, ones we haven't seen before. It was interesting that Mary initially wouldn't let Castiel heal her because she found angels creepy, but at the same time she was grateful to him for being there for her sons. I also liked the bit where Mary moved the table in order to hide the knife holes in the floor. That was very like Dean. In last week's episode, I noticed that they gave us a glimpse of the DW and SW initials carved into the table. The reveal that Mary had carved her initials there too absolutely choked me up.

This was a dark episode, and not just emotionally. Many of the scenes were filmed at night. The playground entrance to Heaven was deserted. The score was minor key. I wonder if it's not just Jack that isn't coming back from what happened. Is this the direction they're taking the final season? If so, I'm not certain I can handle it.


— The two sets of dates on Mary's door in Heaven was probably the only light moment in the episode: 1954-1983, 2016-2019. Which would make her only 33.

— The boys burned her body in a fork in the road. No special meaning in that, huh?

— I wonder what they did with Nick's body?

— I kept thinking of the Empty telling Castiel it would wait until he was perfectly happy and then take him. Right now, it seems unlikely that Castiel will ever be happy again.

— I also kept thinking of the Buffy episode, "The Body." Except I think this one was more like the Monkey's Paw episode after that one, "Forever."


Castiel: "You know, I'm no expert but I think most humans would bandage an open wound before stopping to eat."
Mary: "It's a scratch."
It wasn't a scratch. The food thing was what Dean would do. Obvious where he got it from.

Castiel: "I know you know this, Mary, but Sam and Dean, they're glad to have you back. Whatever you still have to deal with and however long it takes, you should know they're happy. Finally, they don't have to be so… so alone."
Mary: "Castiel, they were never alone."
That actually made me cry.

Dean: "If he did something to her, if she's... (looks at Castiel) then you're dead to me."
And that hurt.

Rowena: "Mary Winchester is no longer on this Earth."
Rowena has changed a lot. It was probably the gentlest possible way to tell the boys that their mother was dead.

Mary: (to Sam) "Parenting is always a struggle. You always feel like you're failing, and you look at them and somehow, they're amazing. Somehow, they're literally the bravest, kindest, most heroic men on the planet. Kids. They'll always surprise you."
I wonder if this wasn't just Mary telling Sam that he and Dean grew up to be incredible men. Was it a hint that Jack is redeemable?

Sam: "We fell for him 'cause he had a good heart, a good soul. Then he didn't."

Nick/Lucifer: "There's no going back. You realize that now."

This was an upsetting episode. I'm not going to rate it,

Billie Doux has been reviewing Supernatural for so long that Dean and Sam Winchester feel like old friends. Courageous, adventurous, gorgeous old friends.


  1. makes ya wonder whats going to happen in season 15 is jack gonna be the final villain or will the empty be the villain

  2. Matthew, I hope it's not Jack, but that seems like something the Supernatural execs would do. They have been known to rip your hear tout and stomp on it.

  3. One more thing in favour (or rather in defence) of Jack - he's so young. As he put himself, two years old. He still doesn't know his strengh and how to control it. As to his three foster fathers, all good intentions and staff, but they failed. That's the reason why Dean is beside himself with anger. He can't help but feeling guilty, and at the moment he is unable to carry this burden alone. Now I'm afraid for Cas, and when a fan is afraid it means a strong episode, oder? (does awkward attempt to joke count?)

  4. "I wondered for a moment, and dreaded the possibility, that they were going to give us 'The Monkey's Paw', a soulless, evil version of Mary Winchester. Thankfully, no."

    I was actually worried that Lucifer was going to return by somehow inhabiting her empty body. I'm pretty sick of that guy, so I'm not sorry that didn't happen.

  5. This was incredibly sad.

    (Did we ever get info on how John got into Heaven? The last bit I remember about his was that he was being tortured in Hell. Was he transferred?)

    1. Hey Josie I don't know if you ever found the answer to this question but in S2 Ep22 when the gates of Hell are opened John Winchester escapes Hell with the demons and helps the boys kill Yellow-Eyes/Azazel and then ascends to heaven

  6. I have a feeling Jack is going to wind up in that Ma'Lak box that Dean built for Michael, possibly voluntarily. On a side note, where is Bobby--shouldn't he have been at Mary's funeral? Or are we supposed to assume that everyone from Apocalypse World got killed by Michael in the Bunker?

  7. You did a beautiful job with the review and I am crying again. The whole episode just gutted me and I too was worried about a "monkey paw" move, but so happy that it did not happen. Thank you for your analysis about Dean, because I was having a hard time figuring out his mood besides the obvious.


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