“Keep Calm and Carry On”
October 13, 2016
“You gave me what I needed most. I want to do the same for you.”
Dean and Mary stare at each other. She’s wary and confused. He’s stunned. He approaches her and hesitantly asks if she’s really … real? He slowly reaches out a hand to touch her, to make sure she’s solid and not a ghost. In a blink, Mary has him face down on the ground in an arm lock with her bare foot on his neck.
Momma Winchester don’t play.
Mary demands to know the wheres and whos. Dean sputters that he’s her son. Mary spits back that her Dean is 4 years old.
“I was when you died.”
She gasps for air as the memories crash into her. Running into Sam’s nursery. Hearing his cry. Seeing the YED. She looks dazed. Dean begins rattling off dates and facts to give her some firm ground to stand on – and prove his own bona fides.
He says her name is Mary Sandra Campbell. She was born December 5, 1954 to Samuel and Deanna Campbell. March 23, 1972 she walked out of a movie theater in Lawrence, Kansas and right into a big Marine. “Knocked him right on his ass.”
The movie was Slaughterhouse-5. Imagine John telling Dean this story and Dean discovering that it was a book, too. And then reading everything Kurt Vonnegut ever wrote because it made him feel connected to his mom.
Dean says she was embarrassed but the guy laughed and suggested she make it up to him with a cup of coffee. They went to Maroni’s and talked and John Winchester knew the words to every Zeppelin song, so she gave him her number when he asked even though she new Grandpa Zombie would be pissed.
August 19, 1975 they went to Reno to get married. Mary’s idea. A few years later Dean came along. Then Sammy …
” … and then I burned.”
There’s been a hint of a smile in Dean’s expression, but now his face falls. He knows what that feels like, to remember your own death. Mary asks how long she’s been gone. Her voice is thick with emotion. Dean says 33 years. He can barely get the words out. It’s plain on his face how her absence has defined his life. He seems to be holding his breath.
Mary reaches out her hand and carefully places it on his chest. Her turn to make sure he’s real. She says his name. It reminds me of the scene in “Home” in Season 1. It’s a similar moment of recognition.
She puts her arms around him and gently pulls him into a hug.
Dean’s soul leaves his body.
A pickup truck drives along a dark country road. The radio starts to fritz. The driver notices a glowing ball of light in the black sky. The ball gets bigger and brighter as it streaks towards him. It crashes through a billboard before landing in an explosion of dirt, smoke, and sparks.
Castiel slowly climbs out of the impact crater. He asks the driver where he is. The man says Earth. Castiel full bodies I KNOW THAT. How far is he from Lebanon, Kansas? The angel brushes the dirt off of himself and initiates the sleepy time protocol on the driver. Castiel doesn’t have time for questions. He’s got three hours of road to cover.
“How did he die?” Dean and Mary are sitting on a park bench. She has his jacket around her shoulders. The sky is just turning pink. Dean says John gave himself up. “For me.” Mary smiles and tries to hold back the tears. She says that sounds like John. What doesn’t sound like the John she knew is that he was a hunter. She’s still trying to process that fact. And that he raised her children in the life.
“Yeah, he did.”
Dean knows how much this hurts her. They’ve had this conversation before. Twice. He knows it’s the worse thing she could ever think of. Mary angrily scrubs away a tear with the heel of her hand. Oh, girl. You don’t even know.
Mary changes the subject to her and Dean’s previous meetings … “when you traveled through time.” Twice. Dean says her memory was wiped, so. The third time Mary saw Dean was when she was a ghost, but she doesn’t remember that either.
Holy cats, praise the gods of canon and continuity! In “The Song Remains the Same,” Michael told Dean he would wipe Mary’s mind of any memory of either of them. Although I’ve always retconned the scene in “Home” as Mary recognizing Dean and apologizing to Sam for making the deal with YED. That’s my head!canon and I’m sticking to it. And I really do hope that Mary remembers the deal, because I need her and the boys to have a conversation about it.
The one part of this story that Mary seems most skeptical of is that God’s sister brought her back to life. Dean acknowledges that it’s a lot to take in. He says he’ll explain everything, but now he just wants to get her home.
Lady Cardboard knocks on the door of Dr. Gregory Marion. She needs his help. He says unless her puggle got hit by a car, it can wait until normal non 6 am office hours. Lady Cardboard pops the latch on the SUV’s hatchback. It slowly raises to reveal Sam, gagged and hog tied with a bullet in his left thigh.
You guys, I’ve been waiting all summer to rant about this. How – HOW – does the Sam from “Red Meat,” who was gut shot, bled out, suffocated, died, came back, KILLED TWO WEREWOLVES, hiked out of the woods to the car, drove himself to town, and then shot a third werewolf, how does THAT guy end up bound in the back of an SUV? HOW???
My can’t even just can’t with this plot point. It can’t.
Crowley has placed himself on Lucifer detail, tracking the angel as he bounces from one burned out vessel to the next. He hides out of sight as two demon cleaners arrive. This scene is most notable for episode hero Hormonal Demon Guy. While he isn’t currently a 14-year-old girl, he possessed one once. 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!”
Demon Jervis gawps dumbfounded at Hormonal Demon Guy.
Sam is in the basement of an abandoned farm house. He’s handcuffed and chained to a wooden chair. The chair is positioned over a drain in the floor. That was a plot point in a recent episode of Hawaii Five-0, so I know it means nothing good.
Not!Ricki Lake walks into the room and cattle prods Sam back to consciousness. Lady Cardboard soon joins them. Sam asks where they are. He’s just wondering how far he’s going to have to walk back to town after he kills them. Lady Cardboard smarms that before he murders them all, she does have a few questions. Sam laughs. After being shot and kidnapped he’s happy to help!
Lady Cardboard says she didn’t want to hurt Sam but he left her no choice. And really, wasn’t it always going to go this way? Sam is like, YOU DON’T KNOW ME. Lady C says they’ve been watching him and Dean for years. “Ever since you almost ended the world the first time.”
Sam asks the excellent question of WHERE WERE THEY??!? Lady C agrees that it’s a fair question. Some in the London Chapterhouse wanted to get involved, but the Old Men wouldn’t allow it. They thought it was overstepping. But the Darkness changed their minds. Lady C insists that they’re here to help. Sam scoffs and pulls at his restraints. Oh, yeah. He can tell.
Lady C is sorry not sorry for locking him up. But she promises that if he answers her questions he’ll stroll right out the door. Sam sizes up his situation and takes a pass.
“I’ve been tortured by the devil himself. So you? You’re just an accent in a pant suit.”
“What can you do to me?”
Lady C gives Not!Ricki the nod. She turns on the tap at the utility sink. Cold water showers down on Sam from the sprinkler rigged up above him.
Mary is suitably impressed when they walk into the Bunker, and surprised to learn that the Men of Letters aren’t just a hunter’s myth. Wait until Dean tells her about Henry. He compliments her on her new clothes. She says it’s better than walking around in her nightgown. I’m guessing they stopped off at a thrift store after Dean boosted them a ride home.
Her words trail off when she sees the blood on the floor. Dean pulls his gun and walks towards the library. He goes to Def-con 2 when he sees the banishing sigil marked out on the wall. He reaches under the map table and pulls out the gun hidden there. He hands it to Mary and tells her to stay there while he checks out the rest of the Bunker. I appreciate that he respects his mother’s abilities enough to not ask if she remembers how to use it.
Mary walks into the library. She relaxes as curiosity takes over. She snaps back to the job when she hears the door slam and feet on the stairs. She draws down on Castiel, telling him to put his hands up and get on his knees. Cas is like I HAVE HAD ENOUGH OF THIS DAY WHERE IS SAM?
Dean walks in on the stand off and quickly tells Mary it’s okay. Cas is a friend. The angel throws his arms around Dean in a bear hug. YAY! HUGGING!! Dean rolls his eyes … but then smiles and lets himself enjoy being hugged.
Mary is all like, huh. I guess he does wuv hugz.
Castiel peppers him with questions about the bomb and the Darkness but Dean puts him off. He’ll tell Cas everything, but first, where is Sam? “He’s not here?” And Dean goes to Def-con 3. Mary interjects to ask if Cas is a hunter. He says ‘no’ in a tone that says, TRENCH COAT, LADY. DO I LOOK LIKE A HUNTER? Dean tells her Cas is an angel.
“Capital ‘A’. Wings. Harp.”
“No, I don’t have a harp.”
Dean begins throwing questions at Cas. Between Sam and meeting his boyfriend’s not dead mom, Cas is just having A LOT OF DAY. He tells Dean there was a woman waiting for them, and confirms she was human. She blasted him away with the sigil. He doesn’t know what happened to Sam after that.
Dean asks what time this all happened before sitting down at the laptop. Castiel confirms for Mary that yes, that is a computer. “I don’t trust them.” Dean hacks into the traffic cams and gets a lead. That’s two! Two instances of continuity! And Smart!Dean! Thank you Andrew Dabb for remembering that Frank taught him how to computer in Season 7. Mary gawps at Dean like he’s speaking a foreign language.
“Welcome to the future.”
Dean flips on the garage lights. Mary stops and goes still when she see Baby. Well, the Impala is breathtaking. She reaches out, as hesitant now as she was with Dean before, not trusting that what she’s seeing is real. She lovingly runs her fingers along Baby’s gleaming hood. She says this was John’s car. She sighs that she’s still beautiful. Dean couldn’t agree more.
“Hi, sweetheart. Remember me?”
Mary grins and leans down into the open windows. Her gaze lingers on the back seat. Dean is leaning in at the window opposite her. He sees her expression change from wistful to saucy. The certain knowledge of why knocks the wind out of him in a pearl clutching gasp. Dean needs a Silkwood shower and ALL THE THERAPY. He says they should go.
Speaking of showers … Not!Ricki turns off the tap. Sam is hypothermic and shivering uncontrollably. Through chattering teeth he spits out, “Screw. You.” Lady Cardboard wonders if Sam thinks he’s being brave. If he thinks he’s the hero of this story? She says he isn’t. He’s just bad at his job. The way that he and Dean work, haphazard and random, still leaves people dead.
She tells him Chapterhouse London plans ahead. The use lore against their enemies. Every bridge, dock, and airport in England has been warded. The moment a monster sets foot in Britain, the Men of Letters know about it. Within 20 minutes, the monster has been picked up. Within 40 it’s dead. “There hasn’t been a monster related death in Britain since 1965 because we are good at our job.”
Lady Cardboard says Sam is a lost cause, but she’s hoping there are other hunters London can work with and teach. She wants names and locations. Dead drops and meeting places. An organizational hierarchy, which what? She says they’ve been watching Sam and Dean, but have they not been paying attention? There is no hierarchy. There was Bobby. And then there was Garth. Now there’s just a loose confederation of men and women learning as they go, doing what they can AND YOU CAN JUST STOW THE CONDESCENDING JUDGINESS, MISSY.
Lady C leans down into Sam’s face and says maybe, with all of them working together, they can do what the Winchesters never could. “Make America … safe.”
Sam isn’t really feeling her orange hued sales pitch, soaked and shivering as he is. He says maybe, she can go to hell.
Lacy Cardboard turns and gives the room to Not!Ricki. She fires up a blow torch and brandishes it in font of Sam. She asks if he’s really going to make her do this.
Jervis and Hormonal Demon Guy arrive at another house full of bodies with their eyes BURNED OUT OF THEIR FOOL SKULLS, EEEP! HDG complains that Lucifer was supposed to meet them there, but the angel fears his minions are being followed.
Based on the body count, Crowley guesses that his usurper is weak and running, still trying to recover from his dust up with the Darkness. Crowley says when he kills the devil … HDG bursts out laughing. Jervis snarks that Crowley was Lucifer’s dog.
“Even powered down he could kick your Posh Spice ass.”
You know, something about Crowley reads more Ginger to me than Posh. Anyhoo, the words are barely out of Jervis’s mouth before Crowley jams the gladius into his chest. He pivots and drops HDG. Aww. Farewell Hormonal Demon Guy. Gone too soon.
Dean pulls a license plate number from the traffic cam footage. They walk into the garage where Jamie Ross is doing maintenance on his SUV. Cas takes lead on the interview with Jamie Ross – meaning he head butts Jamie until Dean calls him off. Mary eyebrows at her son. “That’s an angel?” Dean is like, I know right? SOMEBODY FINALLY REMEMBERED THAT CAS IS A BADASS.
They run down the next lead. Dean makes a call while Cas gets coffee from the berry stand. The customer at the register next to him is purchasing a whole pie. PIE! WE HAVE PIE! SET CONDITION PIE THROUGHOUT THE SHIP! THIS IS NOT A DRILL!
Y’all, I bought a pie from my neighborhood bakery this past Thanksgiving. It was apple and pear, and when the girl told me it was also vegan, I thought oh, it will be fine. It was not fine. Not fine at all. THE PIE WAS A LIE.
Mary sits at a table looking uncomfortable and out of place. Cas hands her a coffee and says it must be difficult for her. He tells her his first moments on Earth were jarring. Mary says that’s one word for it. She’d heard of people coming back from the dead, ” … but to actually do it?” She can’t help but look at the family sitting nearby. “A lot’s changed.”
Dean joins them. He says the tail number Jamie gave them was for a plane with diplomatic registry. Its flight plans are sealed. “Unless you want to hack the State Department.” As that trail goes cold, a second comes into play. Cas calls Dean’s attention to the SUV pulling up to the veterinary clinic. Dean runs up on Dr. Marion who is just having a no good very bad day.
He tells them Lady Cardboard gave him a satchel full of cash to dig the bullet out of Sam’s leg. Student loans are a bitch, not to mention the gun Jamie had strapped to him. Dean has to hold Cas back. He tells the angel not to hurt Dr. Marion … not yet. Gregory says he didn’t get a name. After they were done the driver left and another woman arrived. That’s it. That’s everything he knows. Totally. Mary runs his response through her bullshit meter.
Dean is taken aback by his mother’s brutal response. She doesn’t have to tell Cas twice. Gregory squeals that he has a phone number. He says Lady Cardboard called a few hours earlier to ask about the sedative he gave Sam.
Not!Ricki slams the blow torch down on the worktable in frustration. Sam is unconscious again in the chair. His right foot is a mass of bloody raw meat where the skin has been burned away from the muscle. Lady Cardboard comes down the stairs. Both women are slightly in awe of Sam. Not!Ricki says no one can take that much pain and not break. What, did you think he was being figurative about the whole being tortured by the devil thing?
Not!Ricki says if Lady Cardboard wants Sam dead, she’ll slit his throat right now. But if she wants information, Lady C needs to take it to the next level. She needs to make the call. “Bring in Mr. Ketch.” Lady C is visibly shaken at the suggestion. Her brittleness goes crystalline. She spits that she doesn’t want that psychopath anywhere near her.
The two women contemplate their options. Lady Cardboard pulls out a large syringe. She says instead of breaking his body, they’ll take a crack at his mind instead. Which again, really?
Sam comes to again some more. He’s unbound on the floor and alone. The wound on his foot has been cleaned and bandaged. He winces and feels around on his neck at an injection site. Then he notices the surveillance camera up in the corner of the room. Lady Cardboard and Not!Ricki monitor him from upstairs. Lady C says Sam will be begging soon enough to answer their questions. Anything to make it stop.
Lady C’s phone rings. Dr. Marion does a terrible job of pretending to check on Sam. Dean grabs the phone from him before Lady C can hang up. She plays it cool, almost amused. She says she’d heard he was dead. She has the good sense to look worried when Dean gives her the Liam Neeson speech. Does she really think she can run from him?
“When I find you – and I will find you – if he is not in one piece I will take you apart.”
Lady Cardboard hangs up on him. There’s a tiny hint of fear on her face. She tells Not!Ricki they have a problem.
Dean snaps the cell phone in two. Which, according to Emma Peterson on twitter, was a real phone that had not been pre-broken by the props department. It only took them a few takes to get because at this point I think Jensen just actually is Dean Winchester.
And also, when I read over the summer that Dean was going to go all Taken, I again just could not. Dean going to extremes to get Sam back? There’s a new story we’ve never seen before. Again, I went back to “Red Meat” and Dean overdosing in order to make a deal with Billie the Reaper. When you go to that extreme, what’s left?
But after watching this episode, I am totally on board with Taken!Dean. Because that is how much I HAAAAAAAAAATE Lady Cardboard and Chapterhouse London. And how much I want her to die slow, bloody, and horrible, never to be spoken of again.
Sam probes the room, looking for a way out. He’s overcome by a high-pitched whine coming from inside his skull. He clutches his head and grimaces in pain. And then he sees a vision of Kevin. Empty eye sockets black and smoking. Sarah Blake choking on her own blood. Dean torn apart by a hell hound. Meg flaming out. Mary – and then Jessica – consumed by fire.
Baby roars down the road headed to the Bunker. A silver SUV T-bones them at an intersection. The passenger window is shattered and Mary is knocked unconscious. Dean tells Cas to help his mother while he checks the damage to Baby. The rear quarter panel is crumpled. DEATH! DEATH TO SHE WHO WOULD DEFILE METALLICAR!
Not!Ricki leans causally against the SUV’s bumper. She keeps her hands behind her back to hide the Enochian charged brass knuckles she’s wearing. She tells Dean he should be more careful with the location services on his phone. Fight fight struggle fight. Magically charged Not!Ricki hands both Dean and Castiel their asses without breaking a sweat. She even makes Cas bleed his own blood!
Mary is still out cold in Baby’s front seat. Well, I guess now we know where Sam gets his tendency to head injuries.
Dean and Cas are sprawled out on the ground. Not!Ricki picks up Dean’s gun. She tuts that she would have thought two strapping lads like them would have lasted a tad longer. She shrugs. You know what they say. “Good things come to those wh …” The business end of the gladius erupts through her chest. Mary is standing behind her like a boss. Dean looks up at her.
Sam sees another vision of Dean, broken and bloody from Lucifer’s “Swan Song” beating. He hears Dean’s voice saying he’s dead because of Sam. That it’s all Sam’s fault. That it should have been him …
Sam punches out the mirror on the medicine cabinet hanging over the sink. He picks up a large shard of glass and drags it across his throat. Lady Cardboard grabs the cattle prod and hurries down the stairs.
Sam is on the floor. There’s a pool of blood under his head. She approaches him with caution and uses the uncharged prod to poke at him. Sam turns and knocks the prod out of her hand. He’s on his feet in a flash with one hand wrapped tightly around her throat. He holds up his other hand to show Lady C the bloody cut on his palm. “Maybe you’re not as good at your job as you think.”
That’s also the same hand he cut in “Meet the New Boss” and the one Dean used in “Hello, Cruel World” to snap him out of an hellucination. And thus we have a continuity trifecta! Strongly played, Andrew Dabb. Well done!
Sam backs Lady Cardboard up against the wall and squeezes. She loses consciousness and falls to the floor. Sam doesn’t bother to make sure she’s out or tie her up because that would be too easy. Or maybe he used up all his smarts for this episode with the throat slash fake out. Anyhoo, Lady Cardboard grabs the cattle prod and, after a brief struggle, is safely back on the other side of the door again.
Cas and Dean push Not!Ricki’s SUV off the road. I really hope they took the brass knuckles before they dumped her body. Dean leaves Cas to cover the car with a single branch while he checks on Mary.
She’s sitting in the Impala staring at her hands. Mary may have been raised a hunter, but was she ever in a position to kill a human? And she’d been out of the life for 10 years when she died. These are hands that cared for her children. One of her last memories would have been of tucking them in to bed. Mad kudos to Samantha Smith for telling us everything Mary is feeling without saying a word.
Dean kneels down next to her. He asks if she’s okay. No, Mary really isn’t. She says she spent her life running from hunting. She got out. She never wanted this for them. Dean sits with her disappointment a moment. He tells her he gets it. He would feel the same way if he had kids. But he and Sam have found peace in the life.
“Saving people and hunting things, this is our life. I think we make the world a better place. I know that we do.”
Mary tries to take what comfort she can that her sons are big damn heroes.
Dean points the battered car towards Aldrich, MO. Mary sits in the back seat staring out the window. Dean looks back at her. He’s worried and wants to say something, but leaves her alone with her thoughts.
Sam sits at the bottom of the stairs, head resting against the railing. He breaths through the physical and psychic pain of his wounds. Lady Cardboard watches him with something that resembles pity. On the soundtrack Black Sabbath sings that the world is a lonely place when you’re on your own.
It’s the first episode of the Andrew Dabb era, and on the whole, I’m here for it. There were quite a few teaser clips and interviews floating around in the weeks leading up to the premiere. And for me, this episode lived up to the excitement and hype.
I love the chemistry that Mary and Dean already have with each other. It was lovely to see Dean supporting and caring for his mother. Samantha Smith was outstanding in showing us what Mary is feeling without letting us forget that Momma Winchester is a badass in her own right.
I’ve said before that my greatest fear is that Dabb brought Mary back just to kill her off again. It’s a possibility that’s too cruel to contemplate. My hope is that she’ll be given a chance to start over and live the life she always wanted. Maybe that’s what Amara meant when she said she was giving Dean what he needed – the chance to help someone he loves get out of the life clean.
The pie stand scene hinted at a friendship between Mary and Cas that I hope is developed. So much of the story of Supernatural is about absent fathers. It’s time these Lost Boys had a mother around.
We got a quick scene of Lady Cardboard calling her young son. Whether it was meant to humanize her or set up a parallel between Mary, I don’t care. So far there is nothing about this character that sings for me. She’s not cooly menacing like Billie. She’s not powerful like Abaddon. She’s not charming like Crowley. She’s not even someone I can love to hate like Zachariah or Metatron. She’s not having any fun. She doesn’t pop. She is as flat and beige as the cardboard for whence I have named her.
But hey, get used to her friends! The new title splash features the Men of Letters’ Aquarian Star, so I assume Chapterhouse London will be around for a while. I also assume Lady Cardboard is being set up to come around to the Winchester’s world view and help them fight against interference from London.
Just please. Don’t make her Sam’s love interest.
And next week we have Rick Springfield to look forward to! I love Mark Pellegrino’s Lucifer, but I have been a Rick Springfield fan since 2nd grade. I nearly fired Hawaii Five-0 in Season 1 when they blew him up in the cold open. So long live the new Lightbringer!
Supernatural airs Thursday at 8:00 p.m. on The CW.