Season 12, Episode 20 “Twigs and Twine and Tasha Banes”
Written by Steve Yockey
Directed by Richard Speight, Jr.
This may be their Mother’s Day episode because it was certainly about hunter children and their mothers.
Tasha Banes (Alvina August), mother of Max (Kendrick Sampson) and Alicia (Kara Royster), drives up to the Mountain Slumber Boarding House in Wyoming. She has an odd encounter with a grumpy woman (Linda Barlow) and a normal encounter with a harried clerk or innkeeper (Tim Carlson). Tasha does a reveal spell which leads her to the basement where she get stabbed by someone off screen. Looks pretty fatal.
Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) are not happy about what happened with Cas (Misha Collins), to say the least. Dean points out that it takes some major mojo to take over Cas before you’re even born. When they get the call from the twins, which was meant for Mary (Samantha Smith), Dean is not thrilled about helping them. Sam talks him into it by saying ‘Their mom’s on a hunting trip, and she hasn’t been home in a week.” This is almost identical to the words Dean used in the very first episode when he asked his brother for help in finding their father.
Ketch (David Haydn-Jones) is beating the crap out of Mary, who is shackled to a chair. Then we see that Mary is there watching, and Ketch says if the shifter thinks this will affect him, he’s wrong. So it’s not Mary! They faked us out! It’s a shapeshifter. Mary gets the call from Dean telling her they are going to go help the twins but she doesn’t answer because it’s killing Ketch’s mood.
The boys meet up with the twins in Rock River, Wyoming. Dean and Max bond over the car (and the grenade launcher) and Sam and Alicia bond over being left out. Mom Banes and Max are both natural witches. Alicia didn’t get the magic. Sam tells her about Dean and their dad bonding over hunting, but has trouble explaining their mom. (She was dead for three decades. Just tell her.)
When they get to the inn, Tasha Banes is there and just fine. Max is smug because he didn’t think anything was wrong and thought Alicia was overreacting. I immediately suspect a shapeshifter or rakshasa. They have a lovely evening. Tasha breaks a finger while opening the wine and snaps it back into place without anyone noticing.
Ketch is revved up over the torture and tries to talk Mary into going off into a dark corner. She reminds him that their fling was supposed to be a one time thing. Yes, torturing someone who looks like Mary turns him on. This is not a good thing in anyone. Mary’s not happy about the torture. She was sure that the shapeshifter wouldn’t betray its family. Ketch says that anyone who doesn’t think torture works has never been under the knife. I’m not at all surprised that he’s been tortured by the BMoL. He ends with a jab about her calling Dean back lest he think mommy doesn’t love him. Jealousy over children is also a very unattractive trait.
Dean and Sam find Tasha’s body in the basement with her heart cut out, along with the innkeeper and the weird guy (Paul Rogic) from the basement. Unfortunately Max, who was on his way out for a date with the waiter from the vegan place, comes upon them with his mother’s body. He runs back into his house and confronts his false mother. He uses a reveal spell and she tells him that it’s the lady upstairs.
Meanwhile, Mary has overheard a conversation that leads her to Mick’s body. She snoops around more and finds that they have surveillance on Garth, Eileen, Claire, Dean and Sam. Ketch catches her and they have a knock down drag out fight. “You’re a psychopath,” she says. Well, duh. It took her long enough. This fight is really interesting. Mary breaks or dislocates his right arm right away. He says he can protect her if she plays nice. It only makes her more angry.
I particularly love when she pulls out brass knuckles and he says that they are enochian brass knuckles and only work on angels. She says brass knuckles are brass knuckles, and hits him with them. It reminds me of Dean saying that decapitation kills most things. The fight should not have ended the way that it did. If both fighters are equally well trained, the larger, stronger fighter will win. Of course, you have to take temperament into account too. He is thoroughly beaten when he zaps her with the tazer.
Max runs upstairs and Dean follows him, while Sam and Alicia fight the innkeeper and the guy on the missing poster. They confront the old lady, who is a witch, and Dean tells her that craft time is over. She shows them that she made a doll of the twin’s mom out of tree twigs and Tasha’s own heart. She also wants someone to take her power, which is in a ring. She sold her soul to the devil a long time ago and knows she’s out of time and doesn’t want to go to Hell. She also tells him that her dolls will die with her but if he takes the ring they can keep their mom forever. Max is still trying to decide when Dean shoots the witch-but not soon enough to keep Alicia’s mom from stabbing her downstairs. The look of shock and betrayal on Alicia’s face is horrifying.
Max has lost his whole family. The boys give him a few platitudes and leave. He then does just what I expected him to do, and what they should have expected him to do. He uses the ring and makes a doll out of Alicia. He then torches the room, magically, giving his mom and Alicia a hunter’s funeral.
It could be, of course, that they knew what Max will do but allowed him to make his own decisions.
The last scene is Mary in irons, in the same chair that the shapeshifter who looked like Mary was in. Lady Toni is there. Ketch looks uninjured but the Men of Letters are not above using magic in their own self interest. Their fakeout becomes real by the end of the episode.
There’s a lot to talk about in this episode. The setting was beautiful. That house was wonderful. The sitting room that they were in was gorgeous, and supposed to be part of Tasha’s room? Not the main room, but part of her suite. The house was also a great metaphor. It had the lovely, homey interior with a few creepy antique dolls sprinkled throughout, the basement of horror where the secrets were kept, and the old witch upstairs like a spider in the attic.
I liked the twins and their mom a lot, so it was sad to see the family torn apart. One of the things I like about them is that they are good witches. If werewolves and vampires can have groups that are striving not to harm humans, there should also be good witches. Most witches in Supernatural are powerful, evil and downright unsanitary. Rowena has sometimes been helpful, but can’t really be considered good. There are three types of witches. There are borrowers, who get their power from a demon in exchange for their soul. The witch in this episode is of that type, and the twins tell Sam and Dean that their mom was looking for a borrower that was killing people all over Wyoming. Max and Tasha are naturals, who were born with power. There are also witches that learn by studying, whether on their own or taught by someone in the Grand Coven. The Winchesters and the BMoL use magic that they’ve learned, although they would never call themselves witches. Max may or may not have acquired the penalties of the witch’s bargain. He certainly is sliding down the ramp towards evil, though.
Evil or not, the Men of Letters, London Chapter, would want Max and Alicia did, because they are American hunters and because Max is a natural born witch. Alicia, of course, is no longer human.
The boys are envious of how close knit the Banes family is. They both have unrealistic views of their mother; Dean because he remembers the mom of young kids and idolizes her, and Sam because he must hold an idealized picture in his head of the mother he wished he’d had. In this episode, Mary does not compare very well to Tasha in their eyes.. But remember, Tasha’s already dead at that point. So the show is saying that a poppet made out of branches and string and given life by an evil witch is a better mom than Mary. That’s pretty harsh.
The shapeshifter bears some explanation, too. In the past, we’ve seen that shapeshifters change in very messy ways. However, we have seen incidences where the Winchesters have encountered shapeshifters that can change instantly and without drama. It could be that this one is a pureblood, or one that is close to the alpha shapeshifter in lineage. The alpha shapeshifter is dead, however, so it’s not him. Shifters can read minds of those that they shift into, so the shapeshifter may know something about Ketch. It said it did when it changed into him. It will be interesting to see if that comes up again. Of course, I don’t even know if the critter is still alive.
I think I know what Mary’s fatal flaw is. All heroes have them. It’s not love or compassion. It’s being too brave. There were a couple of points in this episode where duplicity would have been a better choice than fighting. Ketch was practically begging her to lie to him. A little subterfuge would have been more effective. Mary walks around like nothing can hurt her. I don’t know if she was always that way. It does remind me of Dean. But it could be a result of having knowledge of death and having no reason to be afraid of it.
It was good to see who they had surveillance on, because now we know Garth and Eileen are still alive. We haven’t seen Garth in a long time, probably because the actor’s been busy on Z-Nation. It’s bad because the BMoL has decided that American hunters have got to go.
Supernatural airs on the CW at 8pm/7c on Thursday nights.