“Celebrating the Life of Asa Fox”
November 17, 2016
EMERSON, MANITOBA 1980
A boy runs through the woods. He steals quick glances over his shoulder, checking the distance between him and the dark figure pursuing him. The boy trips over a log and sprawls onto the ground. The werewolf hauls him up and pins him against a tree. Just as the monster is about rip the boy’s fool heart out of his chest a shot rings out. The boy’s face is spattered with blood.
Mary Winchester lowers the still smoking sawed off.
She drives the boy home in her sapphire blue Mustang. Cheeky Show. Mary tells Asa he’s going to be fine. And that the thing that attacked him was a werewolf. One that she’d been tracking for a long time. She casually says they had history. And that with the exception of the odd loose end, she’s officially retired from hunting.
“But if you retire, who is going to save people like me?”
The boy’s expression is earnest and his tone is frightened. Mary doesn’t have an answer to that question – for herself or Asa. She smooths down his hair before sending him inside to his mom. There’s not much she can do about the fine film of dirt that covers him or the bloody cut on his cheek.
Asa stops at the door and pulls a Polaroid camera from the leather case slung around his shoulder. He snaps a shot of Mary as she’s getting into her car. He pins the picture up on the bulletin board in his bedroom. Over the years he fills the board and the wall with clippings documenting strange deaths and occurrences. With each new case Asa writes Mary a postcard. He files them away in a small wooden box.
Asa is back in the woods. He’s older now than Mary was when she met him. He’s chasing or being chased by a monster. And then he’s strung up by the neck and left hanging alone in a tree.
It’s Sheriff Jody’s day off and she is going to spend it Netflixing and day drinking in her jim jams. Jody Mills is life goals. FACT. The knock at the door is an unwelcome interruption, but it’s Sam and Dean stopping by for a visit, huzzah!
“Wow, you look terrible. What’s wrong?”
Sam scrubs a weary hand over his face and says they just finished up a hunt in Brookings. This is purely a social call.
“You couldn’t take a shower first?”
Jody tells them Claire and Alex are in Omaha being angsty at a Radiohead concert. Yay! The hard forged bond from “Don’t You Forget About Me” has held and hopefully gotten stronger. Team Wayward Daughters! Jody offers to feed the boys, which they happily accept. Oh, and also …
“I killed Hitler.”
” … … … Thank you?”
Dean, still so proud. Jody, so nonplussed.
They all dig into pizza, and let’s just pause to remember that the last time Jody fed the boys, she also sent them home with leftovers. WITHER THE TUPPERWARE, WINCHESTERS? WITHER. THE. TUPPERWARE?
Anyhoo, Dean is less than enthused about Jody’s movie selection. She watches chick flicks? Jody reminds him that she is, in fact, a chick. Dean qualifies his statement. She’s a badass sheriff chick. She’s not a romcom chick … is she a romcom chick?
Through a mouth full of pizza, Sam says Dean is more of an animated Japanese erotica chick. Jody squeals “REALLY?!” and leans forward. The delighted, beaming smile on her face screams TELL ME MORE AND DON’T LEAVE OUT A SINGLE DETAIL BECAUSE IT’S GOING IN THE ARCHIVE.
Jody excuses herself to answer the phone before she can subscribe to Dean’s newsletter. Dean is mortified. How could Sam tell her that? It’s Jody, man. Sam tells him to be proud of his hobbies. “It makes you who you are.”
Jody walks briskly back through the room and goes straight to her bedroom to start packing. Her voice quavers as she tells them a friend of hers died. Asa Fox. The name pings. Sam thinks it was the guy Ellen used to tell stories about back at the roadhouse.
Sigh. I miss Ellen.
Jody confirms that Asa was a hunter. She tells them he rolled into town a few months back chasing a pack of ghouls. She smiles at the memory of him trying to convince her he was FBI Agent Fox Mulder. She helped with the hunt and he would pass through every once in a while after that. She says they would grab coffee … or something. Her voice catches as awareness that he’s gone hits her again. She whispers, almost to herself, that he was a good man.
She snaps back to business and says that the wake is that night and they’ll salt and burn the body tomorrow. “I can’t believe I just said that like it’s something normal.” Grief washes over her again. The boys are hurting just as much for their friend. Dean says they’re coming with her. Jody waves them off. She’ll be fine.
Sam says they know she will, but they never go to hunter gatherings. John always said they were trouble, so. Dean tells her she’d be doing them a favor letting them tag along. Jody gratefully acquiesces, but says they have to get cleaned up before they spend five hours in the car together.
Road trip to Canada! And I’m not even going to ask how they got across the border because I’m enjoying this episode so much. They arrive to find the wake in full swing. Dean comments on the size of the house. Jody says it’s the family home; Asa was just a guy.
They walk in and Jody is warmly greeted by Asa’s mother, Lorraine. Jody asks how she’s holding up. Well, her house is full of loud drunk hunters and her son’s dead body is laid out in the parlor, but she hasn’t slit her wrists yet, so.
Dean grabs a beer from the washtub in the kitchen. He’s wary of its lack of a label. “Well, that’s a red flag.” I guess we can add that to the list of rules: no dogs in the Impala; never take a joint from a guy named Don; don’t drink beer from bottles without labels. Make a note of it.
An affable lumberjack of a ginger fellow says nah, it’s fully safe. Bucky brewed it himself. Dean introduces himself and suddenly finds all eyes on him. He’s THE Dean Winchester? Randy laughs and says he’s been dead what, like four times?
“Yeah. It didn’t take.”
The squirrelly guy next to Randy asks if Sam is there too. He scurries away from the table before the ‘yes’ is out of Dean’s mouth. Bucky tells him not to mind Elvis. “He’s … Elvis.” Randy asks if Dean knew Asa. Dean says only through the crazy stories he’s heard. Randy and Bucky exchange a knowing glance. Oh? Like what? Dean offers the tale of taking out five wendigos in one night.
As soon as he says, “wendigo,” Bucky raises his glass and tells everyone to drink. Their “famous friend” just said the magic word.
Randy warns Dean to stop saying it or they’re not going to make it to morning. Dean awkwards that he didn’t know the rules. Bucky says if Dean thinks the stories about Asa are crazy, he should hear the ones they tell about him. Dean starts to wonder if John wasn’t right about avoiding other hunters.
Sam is in the living room puzzling over twins Alicia and Max Banes. They’re hunters who were raised by a witch. Max says their mom was a good witch. “Very Enya. It was the 90’s. Lots of crystals.” She taught Alicia how to hunt and Max how to seduce men. Alicia says the magic Max learned is actually more useful.
“Yeaaaaaaah, mostly the men thing.”
I like these two. They can stay. Elvis on the other hand … he inserts himself into their group and takes over the conversation. He says he’s got a friend who knows a girl who knew Garth, and he said that she said that Garth said Sam was possessed by the devil – Lucifer himself – and lived! Sam looks like he wants the floor to open up and swallow him. Max and Alicia sympathy cringe on the sofa and try to get Elvis to pump the brakes.
Elvis is like MY DESIRE TO KNOW TRUMPS YOUR SOCIAL NORMS. Sam haltingly says it’s really not that amazing. It just is what it is. And then he hits eject.
Sam finds Dean in Asa’s bedroom creeping through his things. Sam reports the disturbing (to him) news that people tell stories about them. Dean seems to be a bit more comfortable with their status as legends. Sam points out that being a legend didn’t keep Asa’s hunt from going sideways or prevent him from hanging from a tree alone in the woods.
Dean says there’s no better way to go than on the job. Sam asks if Dean really believes that. Dean is clear-eyed about the life they’ve chosen. He points at Asa’s wall of crazy. “This? Only ends one way.” Sam is silent, but eyebrows that he hopes there is a better way. No matter how committed he is to hunting, Sam is never going to give up that hope.
Hunters begin to drift off. Bucky tells a small group how Asa made them go roller skating after the ghoul hunt. Jody smiles, lost in the memory. There they were – Bucky, Asa, and Jody – all banged up with a bunch of ironic teenagers skating under neon lights. At least it was the three of them until Asa and Jody snuck off for some sweet, sweet alone time.
Dean walks in all, do tell! Sam is surprised. Jody didn’t tell them she was in a relationship with Asa. It’s her turn to come over slightly mortified. She stammers that it was just a casual thing. Lorraine isn’t bothered by the admission. She says Asa was always popular with the ladies. A chorus of voices agree. Max says their mom luuuurved her some Asa. She talked about him all the time.
Jody points out that she does have a life when the Winchesters aren’t around. And news flash – dating is hard. Preach, sister. She tells them not to be so surprised she would enjoy the company of a ruggedly hot man. Testify. Dean says that’s just not how they think of Jody. Jody is glad, “because honestly that would be weird.”
And I’m reminded of Kim Rhodes talking at DCcon about how hard Show tried to mom her up during her early appearances and her response, “I GET IT, I’M NOT GOING TO FUCK THEM.”
A latecomer arrives and hesitates in the hall. Lorraine calls out to them not to hover. The boys turn to see Mary looking uncomfortable and out-of-place. The three go into another room with Jody in tow. Dean is instantly hostile. Sam tries to be the buffer. He says Asa is a friend of a friend and gestures to the sheriff. He makes introductions and Jody’s brain liquifies at the word, “Mom.”
“Your mom? I thought you were …”
There’s a long, stunned silence punctuated by WOWs. Jody finally throws her arms around Mary. Yay! Hugging! Jody beams that it’s so nice to meet her! And then she sees the looks on the boys’ faces. Jody immediately downshifts and says she’ll give them some family time.
Dean asks Mary where she’s been. Sam looks like a little kid who’s just waiting for the fight to erupt. Mary keeps her tone light. She says she’s been all over. She went back to Lawrence for a few days. She’s been using John’s demonic day planner to retrace a few things, trying to catch up on what she’s missed. Dean says she could have just asked them.
She explains that most of the people she knew are dead. And then she remembered Asa. He was so young when she met him. And then she saw an article about his death. Dean can’t keep the hurt out of his voice. “So you’ll text us once a week – maybe – but you’ll drive all the way to Canada to see some dead guy?” Dean excuses himself to get some air.
Jody intercepts him at the door. Dean says he’s swell. Jody asks if that’s why he spent the entire car ride telling her in extreme, excruciating detail how he killed Hitler, but neglected to mention his mom was back from the dead? Dean shrugs it off as no big deal. Jody flat calls him out with a smile.
“That’s a lie.”
Because if she could have her son and her husband back – really back – she would give anything. Absolutely anything to have that. It’s painful for Jody to even contemplate, but she knows Dean needs to hear it. He needs to know that it’s okay to want his mom back. And that it’s okay to be scared. Because it would scare the hell out of her.
“Because what if I’ve changed? What if they changed? What if it just didn’t work out the way I wanted?”
You can see Dean’s wall crumbling. Kudos Jensen. Jody says if he wants to talk about anything, absolutely anything, she’s there.
Kim Rhodes y’all.
Mary grabs a label-less beer. Lorraine says it’s Asa’s favorite. Tastes awful. Mary tries to offer her condolences, but Lorraine cuts her off. Mary should be sorry. She’s the reason Asa didn’t become an astronaut. Mary is like, astronaut?
Lorraine goes into the cupboard and pulls out the postcards. She shoves the box at Mary. Mary simply says she saved a boy’s life. Lorraine scoffs. She says hunting was Asa’s whole life. Her tone is bitter. Asa never married. Never had a family. “And now … enjoy the wake.”
Man, Lorraine is hell on wheels. Sam follows Mary into Asa’s bedroom. She’s taken Lorraine’s words to heart. She says it’s all on her. Well, looks like Dean’s martyr complex is also genetic.
Sam is like Team Free Will! Asa made his own decisions – and helped a lot of people. Mary isn’t so sure. She isn’t sure of anything. She says everywhere she goes and everything she does just feels wrong. She takes a deep breath and tells Sam she’ll get used to it. Trying to convince him. Trying to convince herself.
Sam tells her she doesn’t have to explain. He gets it. She needs space … and so does Dean. He says Dean is just scared that they’re going to lose her again. That she’s going to walk away because they’re hunters. But Sam knows that’s not true. He points out that Mary saved Asa in 1980 – after Dean was born. Mary gives him this look that’s all like, look at you doing math. College boy so smart!
“Seems like you couldn’t stop then and I’m guessing you can’t stop now, either. This job … it’s in our blood.”
Sam takes Mary into the parlor to say goodbye to Asa. His body is shrouded, ready for the hunter’s pyre. Mary pulls the cloth back from his face. A spot of blood drips onto his forehead. Sam is like, that … seems … familiar … He and Mary look up to see Randy’s body hanging suspended from the ceiling.
Somehow they both manage to pull themselves out of the fetal position long enough to sound the alarm. Elvis comes into the room behind them asking why the water’s been shut off. And is that sulfur? The lights flicker. Bucky grabs Lorraine by the hand and heads for the door. He says it’s him. Jael. Crossroads demon. Hanging people is his thing. He’s the one who killed Asa.
Bucky and Elvis struggle to open the front door. Max tells them they’re wasting their time. He waves his hand to reveal Jael’s warding. The demon has trapped them all inside. Bucky fills them in on the backstory. Picture it! 1997. Yellow Knife. A possession case involving a First Nations girl got real bad and real bloody. Asa exorcised Jael, but not before the demon made the girl tie a noose around her neck and made Asa watch.
Dean is still outside with his flask, thinking about his life and his choices. He hears someone walk up behind him and growls, “Go away.”
“You’re not the boss of me.”
It’s Billie! Yay! Billie! She just stopped by to pick up Randy’s soul. Dean charges to the door calling for Sam. Billie purrs that he can huff and he can puff, but the house is on supernatural lockdown. The hunters inside can’t even hear him. Dean demands to know what the reaper did, but Billie says it wasn’t her. She doesn’t get her hands dirty. “Rules. I just clean up the mess.” She’s unmoved by Dean’s plea that hunters are dying inside.
Elvis points the finger at Alicia as being the possessed one. She was the only one not in the room with the rest of them when Randy died. Max says Dean wasn’t with them either. Sam doesn’t say that Dean has an anti-possession tattoo and really it is just shockingly unprofessional that none of these hunters is tatted up. It is a huge and glaring plot hole, but you know what? I’m going to allow it. That is how hard new writer Steve Yockey is kicking it in the ass with this episode.
Alicia denies that she’s the one possessed and then she’s like, yeah no it’s totally me. Jael says they’re going to have a good time and then vacates the meat suit. Sam asks if there’s anyone else in the house and Lorraine is like, *shrug*. Jody says they’re going to pair off and search the house because splitting up is always a good idea. IT’S NOT, STEVE YOCKEY. IT’S NOT.
Dean realizes Billie has a skeleton key and demands she get him in the house. She says it’s a one way ride … and he’s going to owe her one.
Blue-white light explodes behind the front door as Dean comes tumbling through it. He unsheathes Ruby’s Knife and asks where Sam is. Lorraine shrieks that he’s the demon! Kill him! Elvis’s eyes flip red. Well, if Lorraine insists. Jael pulls out Elvis’s giant honking hunting knife and slashes impotently at Dean. Dean gets that dead behind the eyes look that says this ain’t even his whole day. He tells Jael to go to hell. The demon says it’s a complete train wreck down there.
“No Lucifer. No Crowley. It’s messy.”
No really, Dean meant go to Hell. He begins Latinating the exorcism ritual. He stops dead when Jael snaps Elvis’s head around 180 degrees.
That’s going to leave a mark.
Lorraine’s screams bring everyone back together. Jael cuts the power and the hunters all reach for their flashlights. It’s a strangely funny moment. Bucky looks for candles while Dean suggests that MAYBE NOW WOULD BE A GOOD TIME TO MAKE A DEVIL’S TRAP. He tells Mary the trap is for them. “Everybody’s in. Everybody’s clean.” Whoever is left on the outside is the demon. Mary gives him an admiring smile. She says it’s smart. Damn right.
I take back my previous statement. Steve Yockey can split people up all day long if it’s done in service to Dean being smart, capable, and in control. Carry on, sir.
Mary wanders off alone to fetch the gladius from Asa’s bedroom. I have a bad feeling about this …
Sam uses ashes from the fire to build the trap. He tells Max it’s the standard pentagram. Nothing fancy. Max says he likes a Pentacle of Mars. “It’s got more character.”
Mary comes back into the room and Jody casually sidles up to Sam. What she’s about to say is awkward, but she thinks the demon is in Mary. Her whispers become more frantic as she tries to convince him of the danger. Dean notices and joins Sam in the circle, Knife at the ready. Jody goes into a full-blown panic, crying out that Mary is the demon! Kill her! Use the Knife! KILL HER!! KILL HER NOW!!!
Sam is like, heeeey … wait a minute … Jody wouldn’t tell me to kill my mom, would she? 12 seasons of heads injuries are starting to catch up with him. Jael laughs and breaks character. “Can’t blame a girl for trying.”
If Jody dies, we riot.
Jael was really, really hoping Dean would kill his mom. “Wouldn’t that be a riot?!” Dean grimly says it would have been super fun. The boys rush the demon and promptly get sent ass over tea kettle. Mary slips the gladius out of her belt and takes a run. Jael blocks the blow THANK GOD and Sam restrains his mother before she can press her attack. She struggles against him. It’s a demon. They kill demons. NOT WHEN THEY’RE WEARING JODY MILLS YOU DON’T.
Jael decides he’s bored now with fighting and mojos everyone to the floor. He says he’s heard so many stories about the Winchesters, and he desperately wants the Lucifer thing to be true. The demon straddles Sam and leans down into his face. “The idea that he left a meatsuit alive is just so deliciously weak.”
You know what else is delicious? How much fun Kim Rhodes is having being evil.
Jael tightrope walks around the edge of devil’s trap. He singsongs that he’s been in their heads and knows allll about them. For example, the twins, who are actually Asa’s children but were afraid to tell anyone. The demon traces a finger down Jody’s cheek. * tear *
And then there’s the grieving mother, who hated the fact her son was a hunter. So much so that she would hide his gear and sabotage his Jeep. Anything to keep him off the job. Not that it worked. Jael giggles that Lorraine should have tried harder, huh?
Jael turns his attention to Jody, disdainful of how much the others care for her. He cackles that Jody actually fantasized about a life with Asa. Bucky manages to drag himself up off the floor and throws himself at the demon. Jael grabs him by the throat and stops him mid charge. The demon coos that he was there that night. He knows.
“Tell them what you did. Tell them what you took from me.”
With Jael’s attention focused on Bucky, the mojo on the others begin to weaken. Sam quietly begins Latinating. Jael sends him flying, but Dean picks up the chant, followed by the twins. Bucky finally cries out that he killed him! He killed Asa.
Jael flings Bucky to the floor with a cry of rage. For a minute I thought the demon was going to rip the man’s heart out of his fool chest. Mary completes the exorcism, driving Jael from Jody’s body and casting him back to Hell.
Once they’re sure Jody is okay THANK CHUCK accusing eyes begin to turn on Bucky. He says Asa was just so stubborn. They were in the woods. Jael was taunting them. They didn’t have the gladius, but Asa wanted to chase the demon. Bucky thought they should go back. Asa called Bucky a coward and shoved him. Bucky shoved him back. Asa fell and hit his head. Bucky says it was an accident. He didn’t know what to do …
Bucky asks what they’re going to do with him. Alicia spits that they’re going to tell everyone. Every hunter they meet. “You like stories. This is the story everyone is going to tell about you. Forever.”
Three bodies burn on the pyre the next morning. Three mothers stand together. Lorraine tells Mary she was wrong. “Asa did have a family. He even had kids.” She seems pleased and excited at the idea of being a grandmother. She walks over to the twins to reintroduce herself. There is hugging. Yay! Hugging!
Mary apologizes to Jody for the whole slicing open her arm while trying to gut her thing. Meh. Jody says she’s had worse. She looks over at Sam and Dean sitting together on Baby’s hood. She doesn’t know what’s going on between Mary and her boys, but “mom to mom? They are good men. Best I’ve ever met.” Mary says she knows. They’re not the ones who are the problem.
Sam and Dean join Mary by the fire. Dean asks if she’s okay.
“She’s really not.”
Billie appears out of the smoke. She reminds Dean that he owes her one. She looks pointedly at Mary. “This one.” Billie says she’s a big believer in what’s dead should stay dead. “Laws of the universe and all that, so.” Mary’s eyes go wide. She says she didn’t ask to come back. Billie knows. And she knows that Mary hates it.
“The look in your eyes? I’ve seen it before. It’s a dead man’s look. Eyes that say no matter where you go, what you do, it feels like this world doesn’t fit anymore. Like you’re all alone …”
Dean snaps that she’s not. Billie’s gaze never leaves Mary. The reaper challenges Mary to tell her she’s wrong. Mary is silent. Billie softens and steps closer. Lisa Berry is just so good at walking the line between menace and compassion. Well played. Billie says she’s not here to hurt Mary. The Reaper is offering her mercy. A one way ticket back upstairs.
Mary asks how it works. Would Billie just kill her again? Billie says no. Reapers don’t kill people. “Rules.” Mary looks at her boys. Sam first and then Dean and sweet buttery Chuck for a heart stopping moment I was certain that Mary was going to ask Dean to kill her. I was sure of it. But then Mary makes her decision.
“Well then, I guess you’re just gonna have to wait.”
It’s Mary’s smile that makes it poetry. All of the kudos and well playeds to Samantha Smith!
Sam looks at his mom with admiration. Dean looks like he was expecting Mary to ask too, and is surprised she didn’t. Billie concedes with grace, but says if Mary changes her mind – if any of them change their minds – they know her name.
Sam is full of hope as he asks if this means Mary is coming home. She says she is … just not quite yet. She still needs time. Sam deflates but Dean seems to have reached a place of acceptance. At least for the moment. He asks if they can buy her breakfast. Mary accepts, provided there is bacon. Dean says there will be all the bacon. Because nothing heals a broken family like cured pork products. ALL HAIL BACON!
They walk back to the car. Sam has his arm around his mom. Off camera Jody calls out, guys? Guys I came with you. You’re my ride. GUYS??
Supernatural airs Thursday at 8:00 p.m. on The CW.