Season 12, episode 6 “Celebrating the Life of Asa Fox”
Directed by John Badham
Written by Steve Yockey
A good standalone episode. The boys and mom Winchester get together again and we get to meet a whole motley crew of hunters.
A boy runs from something that is hunting him in the woods. At the last minute he is saved by a shotgun blast. A blast from a sawed off shotgun with a pistol grip. Very illegal. And probably packing silver, as well, because the thing that was chasing him was a werewolf.
Mary (Samantha Smith) saved him in 1980 in Manitoba. Mary drives him home. The house is great. It looks like a hobbit mansion. She tells him she is quitting, and he asks who will save the boys like him? She has no answer for that. The boy, Asa Fox (Shaine Jones), takes a picture of her as she leaves. There’s a montage of him growing up, teaching himself to be a hunter, and writing postcards to Mary that he can’t send because he has no address for her. No matter, because she was dead four years after she met him.
Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) stop by their surrogate mom Sheriff Jody’s (Kim Rhodes) house on their way back from a hunt. The girls are at a Radiohead concert in Omaha. Yay for the Radiohead shout-out. Dean is anxious to tell Jody he killed Hitler. Jody gets a call that a friend of hers died. Asa Fox. The boys decide to accompany her to Canada to the funeral.
Their dad didn’t take them to hunter gatherings. You have to wonder what he would think was so wild that he couldn’t bring his kids… However, given the events of the episode, it makes sense.
Sam and Dean find out that they are famous and people tell wild stories about them. All the ones I heard were true. They don’t appear very comfortable with it. Dean doesn’t brag about killing Hitler. They meet a pair of twins, male and female (Kendrick Sampson and Kara Royster), whose mom was a witch, but a good one. So score one for them for another example of a witch that’s not evil. They meet his best friend, Bucky (Mac Brandt). Another friend, Randy Bull (Darren E. Scott). Asa’s mom (Laurie Paton). Elvis (Billy Wickman), who is geeky and very impressed with Sam. It turns out Jody was a little more than friends with Asa.
And then, in walks Mary Winchester. Jody has the most normal reaction to this I’ve seen so far. She is thrilled! And amazed. She gives her a big hug. She sees that things are not okay with her and the boys, so she leaves them alone together. Dean looks at his mom with a look that I can only describe as hungry. But he feels rejected again, so he goes outside.
The two moms, Mrs. Fox and Mary, have a talk. She blames Mary for getting Asa into hunting. Mary protests weakly that she saved his life, but all she sees is another little boy whose life she ruined by getting him into hunting. Sam tries to explain Dean to his mom. He knows that Dean is just scared that he will lose her again. They both go to say goodbye to Asa. There’s blood on his forehead. It’s dripping down from the ceiling, where Randy Bull’s body is. I don’t know why demons are so obsessed with ceilings.
Bucky says it’s a demon named Jael, with whom Asa had history. They find they are locked in with a warding, and the water is off.
Dean is outside and he runs into our old friend Billie the Reaper (Lisa Berry) who says she just collected a soul and everyone inside is going to die. Dean runs for the door but can’t get in. He realizes what she did. She says she will let him in but it’s a one time thing and he will owe her one. He agrees without asking. He’s terrible at making deals. He’s the one who sold his soul and only got a year before it was collected.
In a flash of white light, Dean comes barreling through the door, convincing Elvis that he’s the demon. But it’s Elvis that’s the demon. Jael turns Elvis’s head around and abandons the body, so now they don’t know who the demon is in.
They create a devil’s trap but the boys quickly figure out that the demon is in Jody, who is trying to get them to kill their mother. The demon knows everyone’s secrets but the Winchesters’. The twins came to say goodbye to their father. Asa’s mom hated his hunting so much she would sabotage his car. Jody dreamed of a life together with Asa.
AND-the big reveal-Bucky killed Asa during a fight about whether to pursue Jael or not. Asa hit his head on a rock, which is an ignominious end for a legendary hunter. Bucky decided to blame the demon by staging the hanging, which is the demon’s modus operandi. The demon seems not to mind that he got blamed unjustly. It’s just mad that it was denied the kill. The three Winchesters try to complete an exorcism, and between the three, they do it. The demon burns a hole in the floor on its way to Hell.
Lorraine Fox is happier because she realizes her son had a full life and she now has grandchildren.
Billie the Reaper accosts them on the way out and offers Mary a chance to go back to Heaven. Sam looks terrified but Dean looks like he was expecting it. Mary asks if the Reaper is going to kill her, but Billie says that’s against the rules. Mary says “You’ll just have to wait.” I guess she’s not suicidal.
Billie shakes her head. “Winchesters.”
It’s good to see some resolution of the separation between the boys and their mother. Now that she has clearly chosen them, and life, in front of them, they should be more confident that she will stick around.
I cannot count now how many times now Billie has helped the Winchesters even though she gives them grief every time she sees them. She didn’t have to warn Dean and she didn’t have to help him get back inside. They should have an episode where they have to help her.
And Dean. Dean runs towards trouble, just like firefighters and cops. But when he tried to get in the house, he yelled for Sam. When he got into the house, he asked where Sam was. What about his mother? Is it because she’s not his responsibility, the way Sam is?
This episode was full of family relationships and drama, both with the Winchesters and the Fox family. There are very real reactions and interactions within an unreal situation. The other hunters and their back stories both verify and deepen the ongoing mythology of the series. This is the kind of depth that I was hoping Kripke could also create in his new series, Timeless, but it doesn’t appear to be happening that way. Garth and Ellen were both mentioned in passing. I would love for them to mention Bobby, but if they did, I missed it.
A quibble: how in the world did they get weapons into Canada? It looks like they’re driving the Impala. I don’t know how they could have gotten through border security. We don’t actually see them using anything but the demon killing knife, which might pass, but surely they didn’t leave the guns at home, did they?
As far as being a locked house mystery where you don’t know who the murderer is, it’s not the best. Sam and Dean shielded themselves from possession years ago with tattoos. Of the others, you don’t really know them well enough to care. I’m glad the twin sister survived being possessed and that both she and the brother survived, but you only really worry about the demon being in Mary Winchester or in Jody Mills. So there’s some competition between biological mom and surrogate mom. But it lacks the kind of tension and paranoia that the X-Files episode “Ice” had, for example.
In the next episode, Lucifer appears to have found his way from the bottom of the ocean and solved the aging spell, because Vincent Vincente is back.
Supernatural airs on the CW on Thursday nights at 9pm/8c.