Keep Calm and Carry On
Directed by Phillip Sgriccia
Written by Andrew Dabb
“I never wanted this for you and Sam.” ~ Mary Winchester
It’s the one sentence that I knew we would hear in the season opening, and I wasn’t wrong. The big change at the end of last season was that the Darkness brought Dean’s (Jensen Ackles) mother Mary (Samantha Smith) back to life as a reward for reuniting Amara and her brother, God. I wasn’t really thrilled when this happened. I knew Mary wouldn’t be happy to find out that she had missed her boys’ childhoods and that they had become hunters after she did her best to escape that life. Her husband is long dead. My thought was that Sam and Dean were grown now and couldn’t make up for what they missed, and how sad it was going to be when she inevitably got fridged again.
In thinking about it over the hiatus, I realized that the show needs her. On of the things that Supernatural is short on is female characters. There are two main reasons for this: jealousy on the part of the segment of the audience that adores Sam (Jared Padelecki) and Dean, and steady relationships would make them appear to be less lonely and less self-sacrificing.
It’s not that there are never recurrent roles for women on the show. Last season we had Rowena and Amara. Amara (Emily Swallow) was the sister of God and the big baddie. Rowena (Ruth Connell) is literally a witch and the worst mother in existence. Neither were sympathetic characters. Charlie (Felicia Day), who was a recurring character on Supernatural from season 7 to season 10, was a well loved character. She was only interested in girls, though, and not a romance with the boys, having a sisterly bond with them. She also turned out to be a as much a sacrificial lamb as Kevin Tran (Osric Chau), the late Prophet of God. Mom Winchester should be a good strong female character that is not threatening.
Speaking of threatening, another female character was introduced at the end of last season. She’s from the London chapter of the Men of Letters and believes that Sam and Dean are responsible for the apocalypses instead of saving the world from them. She made herself immediately unpopular by shooting Sam at the end of last season.
Mary shows that she is no pushover right away by throwing Dean to the ground when he tries to touch her. An aikido move, I think. Dean manages to convince Mary that he is in fact, Dean. She remembers him as four years old. It’s a good thing that Dean is the one she meets first because Sam would have no memory of her. Dean not only remembers her from when he was little, but met her in the past and knows her story. He tells her about God’s sister and how Mary got there.
Meanwhile, Toni (Elizabeth Blackmore), the Woman of Letters from London, takes Sam to be fixed up by a veterinarian who she pays a great deal of money. It seems like an awful lot of trouble to go to when she shot him so casually.
Castiel (Misha Collins), having been thrown out of the bunker by Toni, hurtles through a billboard and skids into the ground like a meteor. A guy in a pickup truck sees him and thinks he’s an alien. Cas knocks the poor guy out, with a gentle touch, and takes the truck back to the bunker. He arrives at about the same time as Dean and Mary. Cas is surprised to see that Dean is still alive. Everyone is alarmed to find Sam gone and blood on the floor. Cas tells him about the woman and that she used a sigil on him. Dean finds a car going through a red light through traffic cameras they’ve hacked into, impressing Mary to no end. “Is that a computer?” she asks about the laptop.
My hopes that the Men of Letters will soon discover that they have made a monumental mistake are dashed. It turns out that they are into torture. They have Sam locked in a basement and tied to a chair. They want to know how they made the sun dim, and what levels of organization they have, and who else is involved. Organization? Sam, Dean, the King of Hell, an Angel, some time help from Billie the Reaper (Lisa Berry) and a handful of people who help them occasionally. One is a sheriff who is a foster mom for teenage girls who are victims of the supernatural.
The point is, Sam has nothing to tell them. He thinks Dean is dead, they’ve already invaded the bunker, and there’s no one to protect. But out of sheer stubbornness, he refuses to talk. He doesn’t try to persuade them, either, probably because the last time he did he got shot. It may not be defiance, it might be strategy. He may think that as soon as they find out everything, they will kill him. This impression is perpetuated by Toni describing what they do in England-that they get the monsters as soon as they arrive in the country, whisk them away, and kill them. (we see this on screen). This, by the way, reminds me of how they are about rabies in Great Britain. They have no rabies and are determined not to get any into the country. She also says he’s bad at his job.
She has a helper who looks like a Russian gymnast: Ms. Watts (Bronagh Waugh). Sam warns them that he has been tortured by the devil himself. Sure enough, he stands up to a form of water boarding and his feet being burned by Ms. Watts. Watts says that no one can stand up to that much pain and they should bring in the big guns. Toni is squeamish about doing that and decides to work on his mind and gives Sam a hallucinogenic injection. Watts takes off.
Crowley (Mark Sheppard) is looking for Lucifer. He appears to be burning through bodies at a furious rate. It takes a special vessel to contain Lucifer. Crowley kills two demons that refer to him as Lucifer’s dog.
Dean, Mary and Cas are following the trail. At one point, they are sitting at a roadside cafe and Mary looks around at all the technology in wonder. I think, however, she is looking at the boys playing games on their phones. Mary and Cas bond over this strange new world she has been brought into. They see the vet’s car and find out that he treated Sam. He has Toni’s phone number. On the road again, they get hit from behind by Watts. Mary is knocked unconscious. Dean and Cas fight her but she easily overpowers them and mocks them as well. She’s going to kill them when Mary comes up behind her and stabs her in the back.
This is the point where Mary breaks down, saying that she tried all her life to get away from this and didn’t want this for her kids. Dean tells her it’s okay, this is what they do, they save people, in a perfect Dean fashion. But after this you can see he worries about her.
They have the exact location from Ms. Watt’s phone.
Sam is alone in the basement and has slipped his bonds. He tries to find a way out but is plagued by hallucinations. Toni is watching from upstairs through a video monitor. Finally, in a fit of despair, he picks up a piece of broken mirror and cuts his own throat. Aha! I say. He’s faking it. Sure enough, Toni panics and runs downstairs. Sam grabs her and chokes her into unconsciousness but doesn’t kill her. This is a mistake because she comes to and gets up the stairs before he can with his shot leg and burned foot. She looks at him with new eyes after that. Probably because he doesn’t kill her.
Sam ends up alone and very banged up in the basement, curled up in a fetal position. Poor boy, he still thinks Dean is dead and no one is coming for him.
This was a good episode. However, I have some complaints about it. There’s a distinct lack of urgency in finding Sam. If they wanted a few quiet moments, they could have made an excuse for why they couldn’t move at that moment, like a tire repair or something . It’s not so bad on Mary’s part because she is still in future shock.
If Toni is being set up for redemption (she’s such a good mom!) it’s going to be hard to accept after her torturing Sam. I don’t like torture. I don’t like it when it’s done to the characters and I don’t like it when the boys do it. She’s not very different than they are, and they have done similar things, but it’s Sam she’s torturing. I also don’t like her petrified mindset, where she won’t move from preconceived notions and thinks her group is always right. It will be a long road for me to accept her redemption. And Watts needed to die. If not for burning Sam’s foot, then for denting the Impala.
I like that the Men of Letters, London Chapter, are more supernatural savvy and better trained than the boys. They should be, since Sam and Dean have mostly learned from the school of hard knocks. I think that the brass knuckles with the glyphs on them gave Watts a distinct advantage over Dean and Cas. Perhaps they were specifically for angels.
Next week Sam gets rescued, I hope, and it looks like Lucifer will have taken over Rick Springfield. That should be interesting.
Supernatural airs Thursday nights at 9/8c on the CW.