October 27, 2016
THEN: “You were good at this, weren’t you?”
Two hipsters who should spend more time studying horror movies and less time on their Yelp reviews and man buns walk into an abandoned house. Natalie follows the sound of a crying baby to a back bedroom. A crib sits in the empty room. A bare lightbulb flickers above it. She folds back the blanket but there’s no baby. Just a creepy, horrible doll.
The couple try to flee but the door slams shut, trapping them inside the room.
Mary sits alone in the library reading John’s journal. She turns a page, lets out a sigh, and cradles her head in her hands. I wonder if she got to the page about John’s other kid.
Castiel walks in. Mary wonders what he’s doing up. Does that mean Cas lives in the Bunker now? That makes me happy. He says he’s always up. Angels don’t need sleep. Mary wishes she had that problem. She closes the demonic day planner with a thunk and says she’ll give sleep another try.
Mary pauses as she walks out. She asks Castiel when it started to feel like he fit. When it felt like he belonged here. Castiel says he’s still not sure he does. He says with conviction that Mary does belong.
Morning. The boys discuss Chapterhouse London over breakfast. Dean asks Sam what he’s found on “her Majesty’s secret suck bags.” Virtually nothing. Sam says he scoured the Bunker and all he found was a single letter tucked into an old ledger. He unfolds it and holds it up. Most of it is redacted.
Castiel pokes his head in the kitchen. Dean offers his sunshine some coffee. The angel declines. He has to go.
He stops long enough to tell them he’s Cleveland bound to check out a possible lead on Lucifer. The boys offer backup, but Cas curtly shuts them down. He says the devil is free because of him. Finding Lucifer is his responsibility. He’ll call if he needs them.
“In the meantime, I think you’re needed here.”
Sam takes his meaning, but Dean has a confused. He says Mary is fine. I mean, sure she’s having trouble sleeping and seems withdrawn and shaky, but she’s still adjusting. Dean insists she just needs a little R&R and some good family time. At least that’s what he tells himself to keep the bone crushing fear at bay. Sam has doubts but doesn’t press the issue.
Mary walks in and makes a beeline for the bacon. Sam offers to fry up some more. What’s there is cold. Mary is like, and the problem is …? “It’s bacon.” Dean is delighted by his mother’s pro-pork stance.
“Wow. We are so related.”
Sam finally notices Mary’s short new do. She considers telling the truth – that she cut it herself in the middle of night to both physically and symbolically mark the transition into her new life. And girl, we have all been there. Instead she says because hunting. “Why give the bad guys the advantage of long, pullable hair, right?” Dean chuckles.
“I’ve been trying to tell Sam that for years.”
Sam ignores the joke (which is never not funny) and zeroes in on the hunting. Mary shrugs and says she found a case. Sam is gob smacked. He thought she was still struggling with the idea of the internet. Mary is like, oh I am. Trust. That’s why she had Dean pick up some newspapers. Dean quickly tries to shut down Sam’s appalled bitchface. Mary didn’t tell him she was looking for a case. She sheepishly says she wasn’t … she just found one.
It’s probably nothing. Mary just thought she would get out there. Stretch her legs. Dean quickly embraces the idea of a family hunting trip. Sam is slower to get on board. What about the R&R? Dean is like, she wants to hunt. Are you going to tell her she can’t?
Mary sits shotgun while Sam gasses up Baby. She looks thoughtful and maybe a little apprehensive. Dean is on snacks detail. He walks out of the store and casts an appreciative eye to the motorcycle parked by the ice machine. SuperWiki says it’s a Norton Commando and possibly a foreshadowing of Mr. Ketch.
Dean presents Mary with a selection of beefy treats in teriyaki, sriracha, and – his personal favorite – chili lime flavors. Mary grabby hands for the chili lime. She’s surprised to discover that it’s goodish. “Artificial. Kind of tingly.” Dean says that’s how you know it’s working.
He starts the car. “Born to be Wild” blares from the radio. Sam bitchfaces about the volume from the backseat. I find it both sad and hilarious that he is relegated to the back. Mary leans forward and turns it up. Sam’s eyebrows shoot up and over the back of his head. The look on his face says, ‘Oh Chuck. I’m outnumbered.’
Mary eats her jerky. Dean has never been happier.
They begin at the morgue. Mary takes the lead, introducing herself as Agent Shirley Partridge. Her partners Agents Cassidy and Bonaduce are new. She says she wanted their first case to have training wheels.
Sam questions why it’s taking so long for the coroner to file a report. Is there a problem determining cause of death? The coroner says he knows how the victims died, it just doesn’t make any sense.
Dean lifts the drape on one of the bodies. There’s a red mark on the arm above the wrist. It looks like a hand print. Dean asks if it’s a burn. The coroner says it’s frost bite. Both victims died of acute hypothermia in a 65 degree room. Their hearts were literally – and he means literally in the literal sense – frozen.
“Wanna tell me how to present that to the public?”
Castiel interviews Rick Springfield’s band mate Tommy. He says he’s seen all stripes of Rick Springfield, but glowing red eyes, throw a guy through a hotel room door Rick Springfield is a new one. Agent Beyoncé leaves his card and encourages Tommy to call if he hears from Rick.
Oh, Cas. So close.
“I guess that makes me Agent Jay Z.” Crowley and his umbrella drink are sitting at the hotel bar. He says fate has brought them together. They’re meant to work together. They made a “somewhat effective” team against Amara. And it’s been months since they’ve tried to kill each other, so. If that’s not enough to convince Castiel, Crowley has a solid lead. Rick Springfield has a sister.
The Winchesters check out the abandoned house. Mary tells Dean for the third time that yes, she’s got the hang of the EMF meter. “It’s analog. I’m good.” The meters whine and hum as they walk through the house. The boys go one way. Mary goes another. She ends up in the back bedroom. The light over the crib flickers. The EMF pulses in time with it.
Mary walks over to the crib despite the fact that the last time she was in this situation she ended up ON FIRE ON THE CEILING OF THE NURSERY.
Mary puts the EMF in her pocket. Her breath frosts. She appears to have neither salt nor iron at hand and I AM ABOUT TO LOSE MY DAMN MIND. She pulls back the blanket on the creepy horror doll. Dean calls out to her. She moves towards the door and it slams shut in her face. Mary struggles at the door while Dean goes at it with a pry bar from the other side.
On first watch I was annoyed that Mary was made to look like a rookie amateur in this scene. But now I think we’re meant to read her panic for the triggered reaction it is. There’s a part of her psyche that’s still in Sam’s nursery and always will be.
Mary steps away from the door. A small hand reaches out for her. She turns her flashlight on a dirty, sunken eyed tot. He bears more than a passing resemblance to four-year-old Dean.
The boys come crashing through the door. Sam grabs Mary while Dean swings at the kid with the pry bar. The ghost evaporates. Mary is left with an angry red burn on her arm, just like the house’s other two victims. She patches herself up in their motel’s purple bathroom and let’s just pause a moment to appreciate Show’s homage to the late, great, gone far too soon, seriously 2016 is drunk and needs to go home, Prince.
Princely played, Show. Princely played.
Although I have to wonder how the water pressure is in their room, because Sam’s hair looks like he didn’t get all the conditioner rinsed out.
Mary asks if the boys are ready to go knock on some doors. Talk to the neighbors. Work the case. They look up from their laptops all, knock on the who in the what?
“We still do that, right?”
Mary sounds mildly exasperated. Dean says they still do that. Sometimes. But calling the internet has made a lot of that legwork … obsolete. Sam doesn’t sugar coat it. He says he’s already found records of child deaths associated with the house going back to 1978. Mary tries and fails not to feel completely useless. She physically deflates a little. Sam reassures her that they’ll teach her the ways of hunting in the 21st century. It doesn’t really help put any of the wind back in her sails.
Castiel and Crowley arrive at sister Wendy’s house. He’s still driving the pickup truck although he’s no longer hauling the bales of hay. I kind of miss the hooptie. WHITHER THE HOOPTIE?
Cas pauses to straighten his tie and check his hair in the truck’s side mirror. This behavior seems so random and out of character, but I imagine it’s something Cas has seen Dean do countless times in the past. And so he’s internalized that that’s just what you do before an interview. That’s my head!canon and I’m sticking to it.
Cas knocks on Wendy’s door. She promptly slams it in his face. The angel needs to work on his fake cop game.
Wendy leaves a worried message for Rick Springfield. Crowley transmogrifies into the house and opens the door from the inside. He says she’s right – her brother is in trouble. Once Cas gets more than two seconds to look at her, he realizes Wendy has been recently healed. Crowley glances at the wheelchair in the corner and asks how she’s enjoying her walking around legs?
The gift Rick Springfield gave her, Crowley can take away in a …
Cas stays the demon’s snappy snap. He tells Wendy the thing that healed her wasn’t her brother. He thinks a part of her knows it was something old. Something evil. Cas reassures Wendy that they just want to help Rick Springfield. Crowley makes a credible attempt at arranging his features to resemble sincerity.
Wendy says Rick Springfield showed up out of the blue and fixed her. “But he did it cold, like it was nothing to him.” Almost like he was holding up his end of a deal. And I get that writers don’t typically confer with each other on story points, but shouldn’t there be a script editor who’s like, hey, last week Lucifer used Rick Springfield’s dead girlfriend to get permission but this week he’s using Rick’s sister and maybe retconning it in the previouslys isn’t the best way to resolve this conflict. Just saying.
Wendy also tells them that Rick Springfield has a cabin in Sagamore Hills and was accompanied by a red-headed woman. Castiel’s hair is all like COME ON!
Crowley says Cas is just mad he was the demon’s second choice for a Lucifer hunt team-up. Castiel taunts Crowley for not being motivated by ambition or revenge but by wanting to save his mommy. Crowley snaps that she’s a colossally powerful witch and the only one who can put Lucifer back in the cage.
I still maintain that Dean would have been smart enough to collect Death’s ring from the pile of dust before they left the cantina at the end of Season 10. And fine, maybe Book of the Damned magic somehow renders the key unusable, but AT LEAST ACKNOWLEDGE THAT A DAMNED KEY THAT OPENS A DAMNED DOOR TO HELL EXISTS. GAH!
Lucifer is starting to burn through Rick Springfield just like he did Nick. He hoped this vessel would last a little longer before going “all Keith Richards” on him. That’s why he needs Rowena to make the meat suit strong enough to hold him.
She whimpers that without the Book of the Damned she’s powerless, but Lucifer is confident that she’s got the whole thing memorized by now. If she refuses, he’ll snap her neck – and this time rip her head clean off.
Research detail. Sam thinks they’re dealing with mylings, vengeful child spirits whose cries for help lure adults to their deaths. The lore doesn’t say anything about frozen hearts. Sam brushes it off as insignificant. He says they all know the lore isn’t always 100%. Mary can’t shake the feeling that they’re missing something. She says the boy who grabbed her didn’t want to hurt her. He was scared.
Sam gently pooh-poohs his mother rather than helping her noodle out an alternate theory. DO NOT POOH-POOH HER, SAM WINCHESTER. YOU LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER. Dean strikes a moderate tone. He says salting and burning all the remains is the safe bet.
Mary comes over woozy all of a sudden. She flashes back to the nursery. Kissing Sammy good night. Seeing him in his crib (before she burst into flames). Seeing the face of the boy in the house. Hearing him ask for help.
She sits down heavily on the bed, cradling her burned arm. For a moment she looks disoriented, but quickly snaps back to herself. She shakes it off and says she’s fine. She’s fine. It’s fine.
Well. Now we know from which side the boys inherited their LYING GENE.
Sam suggests Mary stay behind while they dig. For a moment, Dean has a look on his face like she’s going to disappear if he lets her out of his sight. FORESHADOWING! But he agrees and leaves her with his phone.
She regards it with skepticism, before rejecting it for the land line. She places a call to the Registrar of Deeds and asks for contact information for the last known owner of the Murder Doll House. The man on the line asks why she can’t look it up on their website like everyone else.
“I’m not everyone else.”
Digging, digging, digging. Dean drops the match into the dead boy’s grave. Sam understates that it’s grim work before saying he’s worried about Mary. Dean tries to brush off Sam’s concern. It felt a little dickish on first watch, but Dean is just trying to hide his terror that it’s all going to go away again. He wearily asks if they can just not turn their mother’s return into a problem.
“Can we for once just have one good thing?”
Sam can’t let it go. He insists that something is going on with Mary and it’s more than just adjusting. She’s struggling. And she’s trying to bury herself in hunting to avoid dealing. He says that as someone with years of personal experience.
“Like mother, like sons.”
Morning. They return to an empty motel room. The weapons bag is missing because Mary somehow got herself to the Murder Doll House, and this time she’s loaded for ghost.
The ghost boy appears to her. She drops the bag and hides the pry bar behind her back. She says she talked to his mommy. She misses Lucas so much. The boy turns and points at the basement door. Oh, this seems bad. Lucas is waiting for her at the foot of the stairs. With effort he says, “Help. Us.”
Rowena marks out a Druidic glyph on Rick Springfield’s chest using ash from the hawthorn tree. She says it’s a hybrid spell of her own device. She smudges the air around him and tearily says she can be of value. Lucifer shrugs that they’ll see. It’s the answer Rowena needs to determine which way her wind will blow.
She places her hand on Lucifer’s chest and spits out the incantation. The glyph blazes with purple energy. Lucifer knows instantly that something … isn’t … quite … right. His skin begins to smoke. Rowena she sped up the decaying process.
“You thought Keith Richards was bad? Try Iggy Pop!”
She knows she can’t destroy him – not yet – but she can sent him far, far away. “Try finding a new vessel at the bottom of the bloody ocean!” With a cry, she zaps him out of the cabin in a blaze of purple light.
So … is that it? Are we done with Rick Springfield? Aww. I would have liked to see more of his Lucifer. Bye Rick Springfield. Here’s a dumbo octopus to keep you company.
Rowena is sitting on the porch sipping her tea when Crowley and Castiel arrive. If they’re looking for Lucifer they just missed him. She says she loathes that she let him out of the pit he belongs in. She seems sincere. But that doesn’t mean she’ll help them.
“That whole FBI pantsuit look? Not my hex bag.”
But, if they get Lucifer cornered and find themselves in need, she’s there.
Sam calls Dean’s cell. The boys are frantic. Mary calmly tells them she’s at the Murder Doll House checking out a hunch. And that the salt and burn didn’t work. The signal goes fuzzy as Dean urgently tells her to GET OUT of the house and wait for them.
Mary doesn’t listen. She’s doing the job. She asks Lucas what’s keeping him there. The boy points behind her to the wall. “Him.” The house begins to shake. Mary hot foots it upstairs. In one smooth move she baseball slides along the floor and comes up with the shotgun.
Her breath frosts and the ghost of Hugo Moriarty appears. He was the father of the first child to die. He mojos her across the floor and presses his hand to her chest. Mary struggles against him as the cold spreads through her. Dean calls out and Hugo blips away. Mary falls to her knees.
Dean helps her up and Mary elbows him in the face. Black ectoplasm runs from her eye. Sam goes for the chains at her feet. Mary mojos him into the wall. She gets Dean by the throat and backs him hard against the wall. The ghost speaks through her.
“My house. My children. Forever.”
The cold wraps around Dean’s heart. With what little breath he has left he tells his mother to fight. And so now every single member of Dean’s family has tried to kill him. Oh, Dean. But Mary fights. Dean collapses to the floor in a heap. Mary gasps out “basement” and grits at Sam to go!
Hugo reasserts control. Dean goes for the fallen shotgun. He aims at his mother but can’t bring himself to shoot. Hugo mojos the gun out of his hands.
Lucas points at the wall. Sam grabs a sledgehammer and starts swinging. He finds a skeleton hidden behind the plaster and lath. Hugo jumps out of Mary as his bones burn. The ghosts of the children he killed appear in a circle around him as his spirit is consumed. One by one theirs souls ascend in glowing white light.
A weary Mary trudges into the library. She tells Dean she’s okay. He apologizes if they made her feel sidelined from the case. He says it was her case and she kicked ass. Mary is like where you there? They saved her. That’s not the point for Dean. She was right. The ‘we should have listened’ is implied.
It seems to nag at Dean that they don’t know Hugo’s why. Mary sadly tells him she knows. She felt it when he possessed her. All of it. She says he went mad when his daughter was killed. He buried himself alive in his basement. Walled himself in and starved to death. That is a commitment to grief. When new families moved in, he coveted their children. So he took them, binding their spirits to his. It’s where he got his power. Mary calls him greedy. Twisted.
The ghost of Hugo’s feelings seems to linger with Mary. Dean tells her she’s okay. She’s home now. Mary says, “No.” The word slips out. It’s almost like she’s not aware she said it out loud. But then she admits to Dean – and to herself – that she’s not home.
Dean looks confused – and then there’s a flicker of fear. A part of him knows what’s coming because a part of him has been waiting for it.
“I miss John. I miss my boys.”
Sam walks in behind her. He says they’re right here. His smile is nervous. Mary tries to explain that she’s still mourning the children she knew.
“My baby Sam. My little boy Dean. It just feels like yesterday. We were together in Heaven, and now … I’m here. And John is gone. And they’re gone.”
“And every moment I spend with you reminds me [of] every moment I lost with them.”
I’m reminded of Samuel’s statement in “Caged Heat” that the boys knew how to live without Mary. They’d learned how over the years. They missed all of those moments too – just not all at once. Mary is left struggling against a constant tide, barely able to get her head above water before the next wave hits.
Although I am confused about her Heaven statement. Based on dialog from “Dark Side of the Moon”, I would have said no one ever remembers Heaven. So is this line a mistake, a retcon, or does it hint at something else? That maybe Mary hasn’t been in Heaven all these years. Because in that same episode Ash said he’d never been able to find Mary or John. It’s a detail to file away for later.
Mary says she thought throwing herself into work would help clear her head … Her voice trails off. The ‘BUT’ hangs over them. Sam finally breaks the silence, asking what it is that she’s trying to say.
” … … I have to go.”
I wrote in my “Mamma Mia” recap that I thought Mary’s struggle to reject hunting without rejecting her boys would be the central family conflict this season. I just didn’t think the breaking point would come so soon! That it happened so early in the season took me out of the episode a bit. I couldn’t enjoy the stellar performances from Samantha, Jensen, and Jared because I was so thrown off. But kudos to them and to writer Robert Berens, because I think we’re meant to feel like the rug’s been pulled out from under us.
Because that’s exactly what Sam and Dean are feeling right now.
They’re left speechless. They don’t argue. They don’t plead. Their faces speak more than pages of dialog ever could. Sam looks like he’s been kicked in the chest. The expression on Dean’s face says, ‘There it is.’ It’s the shoe he’s been waiting to drop.
Mary says she’s sorry. She looks anguished. She tries to soften the blow by saying she just needs a little time. She turns to Dean and he takes a step back away from her. He can’t look at her. He’s barely holding it together. His pain creates a physical barrier between them. Mary silently accepts it.
She picks up John’s demonic day planner and turns to Sam and hugs him. She says, “I love you. I love you both.” Dean nods his head and thinks, ‘Not enough to stay. It’s never enough to stay.’
Mary tucks John’s journal into her duffel and climbs the stairs. Sam watches her go and then turns back to Dean. Sam looks small and childlike and in need of reassurance from his big brother. Dean has none to offer. He’s already pushing this moment down to the place where Ellen and Jo and Bobby and Lisa and Ben live and burying it because that’s how he keeps going.
The metal hinges squeal as Mary opens the door. Sam flinches. The door slams shut. Dean doesn’t blink.
Supernatural airs Thursday at 8:00 p.m. on The CW.