March 2, 2017
THEN: “I have sort of been working with the British Men of Letters.”
“So where does that leave us?”
The burgers and beers sit untouched. Mary asks for the chance to explain. Sam is disappointed but willing to listen. Dean is visibly hostile. He turns and takes a few steps away from the table. He bites back all the angry things he wants to say. Where would he even begin?
Mary directs her argument to Dean. She says she’s not blind to who the BMoL are, but what they’re doing – “what we’re doing” – is a better way. Sam scrubs his hands over his face and rubs his eyes. He cuts her off.
When did she start working with the BMoL? Mary reluctantly admits that it’s been since before the lake house and Ramiel. The look on Sam’s face when he realizes how long their mother has been lying to them. But when she says it wasn’t Wally who brought her that case … OOF! Dean jumps right from the lie to the part where Castiel almost died.
As for Wally, Mary snaps that she’s the one who burned his body. She’s the one who told his wife. “I watch him die every night.”
Mary insists what she’s doing is for them. She reminds them she’s playing three decades of catch-up. Dean throws it right back at her. They’re not? The hostility falls away and the raw nerve of the little boy who lost his mom is exposed.
He says their whole lives, she’s been gone … and almost as soon as she came back, she left them again. This time, by choice. Dean says they gave her time. They gave her space when she asked for it.
“But you didn’t need just space. No, you needed space from us.”
The pain of that rejection is thick in Dean’s voice. Sam is huddled in his own silent hurt. Mary denies it and says she’s trying. Dean shouts her down. Maybe for once she could just try and be a mom!
Mary slowly and quietly says she is his mother … but she is not just a mom. And Dean is not a child.
“I never was.”
Dean just dropped the mike. If all of our hearts were the mike.
Dean puts the question to her – us or them? She spits that it’s not like that!
“Yeah, Mary. It is.”
Dean says she’s made her choice. “So there’s the door.”
Dean stalks out of the room. Sam pushes back from the table and stands. He tells Mary she should go.
When considering the tension between being a hunter and being a parent, Show has pretty consistently shown that it’s the parenting that suffers. I think back to Dean’s statement to Veritas in “You Can’t Handle the Truth” that he wasn’t a father because what he was good at was slicing throats. Because he was a killer.
And in terms of parenting, I think it’s more revealing to contrast Mary with Jody than to compare her to John. Both women were thrown into being moms to adult (or nearly so) children with whom they had no history. But we’ve seen that caring for Claire and Alex has helped Jody heal her own wounds. She had to open herself up to that, which is something Mary doesn’t seem able to do. She runs from it.
Mary shut down when the boys were sent to the Black Ops site. She went back to hunting because working cases was easier than facing the knowledge that she couldn’t help her boys. I wish Show had spent more time exploring Mary’s emotional state. It’s only one of the many, many flaws with the Black Ops plot line and episodes.
And think about Jody in “Asa Fox.” She’s hurting from losing Asa and the hope of a life she could have had, but she’s still able to reach out to Dean. He doesn’t want someone to fix him a sandwich (although that would be nice); he needs someone who’s willing to take the time to break down his walls and offer him the emotional support he needs.
The texts that Mary sends to Dean after he shows her the door all ask him to listen to her – but has she tried to listen to Dean?
THREE DAYS LATER
Mary and Mr. Ketch pull into the BMoL’s secure compound after a day spent killing monsters and playing with new toys. He hands off his gear bag to his colleague Serena. She reminds him that she has three PhDs. The BMoL should find a way to weaponize the death glare Serena gives to Ketch’s back.
Mary sits in her (literal) tin can quarters. She replays the Bunker argument while she scrolls through her many (unanswered) texts to Dean. She texts him again. She knows it’s not enough, but it’s all she has in her right now.
Mr. Ketch reports in to Mick. He says it was a bit boring, really. Another vampire nest terminated with no complications. He calls Mary’s performance excellent as always. Mick asks if she said anything about Sam and Dean. Mr. Ketch screams internally. As he’s said many, many, so many times, they don’t need the boys.
“We already have the best Winchester.”
Mick reminds Ketch that that isn’t a call either one of them gets to make. The old men want Sam and Dean on board. Where they go, the rest of the American hunters will follow.
Sam is sitting at his computer deep into his own head. Dean walks into the room and announces he’s found a case. “Dead guy in Akron.” Sam quickly flips his phone over, screen down. “Good morning to you, too.” Sam scans the story. He declares it not their kind of thing and shoots down Dean’s attempts to make it a thing. Dean growls at Sam to find them a case, “because I need to hit something. Now.”
An uncomfortable silence settles on the room. Sam asks if he wants to talk about it. Dean says not really. Sam waits while Dean rubs at a spot over his eye.
“What was she thinking, man?”
Sam doesn’t know. He’s struggling with Mary’s decision, too … but if they want an answer, he thinks maybe they should ask her. They’ve frozen her out for days. Considering that Sam wouldn’t talk to Dean for a good half of Season 9, that’s barely a blip on the radar. Dean says Mary lied to them – for months. He isn’t ready to talk yet.
“But it’s mom. She’s family.”
Sam insists that Mary must have a good reason for working with the BMoL. He says they owe it to her — Dean cuts him off. He grabs his jacket. He says he needs a drink. “No, I need drinks. Plural.” Sam looks at his watch and rolls his eyes. It’s mom drama o’clock somewhere. Before he goes, Dean calls Sam out on his whole “peace maker schtick.” He says it’s getting old. He snaps at his brother to pick a side.
This scene flips the script on the boys’ usual dynamic, and I really wish one of them had commented on it. Dean was always the one to play the middle between Sam and John, trying to manage and mitigate their conflicts. Dean was the one always willing to give John the benefit of the doubt. The one to say, “but it’s dad,” and insist he had his reasons.
The Bunker door squeals shut and Sam picks up his phone. He thumbs open the six unread texts from Mary. Five sorries and please talk to mes and one, the most recent, asking to meet and saying it’s urgent.
Mary is waiting for Sam outside the compound gate. She looks equal parts anxious and hopeful. He’s back to driving the Dodge Charger last seen being crushed by Castiel and another angel in Season 6.
I would hate on it, or question why he isn’t driving one of the vintage beauties sitting in the Bunker’s garage, but I’ve driven a Charger. I finagled a $9 upgrade from Enterprise for a trip between San Antonio and Houston. I figured if I was pulled over while doing 100 I would argue it would be a crime not to open up a car like that. In conclusion, I’ll allow it.
Sam is aloof and moderately curt. Mary recalibrates and launches into another apology. She says she messed up … but what the BMoL are doing is bigger than them. They have a real shot at a world without monsters.
“A world where you and Dean don’t have to hunt. Where you can have normal lives.”
A smile flickers on Sam’s face. It’s a pretty thought but, “I chose this life.” Mary says she gets it – but what if there was a different future for him? For them? She says that’s why she’s working with the BMoL. That’s what she’s fighting for. And she’s not trying to recruit him (even though she totally is) but he needs to know. Things are changing.
Clevah girl dangling the promise of safe and normal in front of Sam. It’s true that he’s come to “embrace the life” as Gordon once put it, but Sam has also never really let go of a hope for something more. It’s why he was willing to take on the trials in Season 8.
One of my all time favorite broments is from “Trial and Error” when Sam tells Dean that he intends to survive because he sees a light at the end of the tunnel. And that if Dean will let him, he’ll take him to the light, too. He says it again in “Freaks and Geeks,” expressing a hope for a “real life.” And as recently as last season in “Baby” Sam brought up the idea of wanting something more.
In contrast, “something more” is something Dean can barely even feature. And even after telling his mother that hunting is his life, I don’t think Mary really understands the degree to which Dean defines himself by hunting. I also wonder if she knows that Dean had a normal life, once. And how badly it hurt him to walk away from Ben and Lisa.
And Mary hasn’t exactly shown herself at being adept at assimilating back into civilian life. What makes her think her boys would have it any easier?
Mary leads Sam into the command center. He’s impressed with the tech and slick set up in spite of himself. Mary says the Brits talk like they’re roughing it. Sam shifts back into reserved with a soupçon of hostile when Mick joins them. He extends his hand. Sam is like hard pass. He’s seen enough.
Mick lures him back with an offer to sit in on the briefing. Doesn’t Sam wants to hear how the BMoL are going to exterminate every last vampire in America?
Mick makes the introductions around the table. Chief Tyrol from Battlestar Galactica who’s now a hunter out of Baton Rouge. Alton Morehead, BMoL head of R&D, weapons development, and spell work. Serena Coleman, head of security and surveillance.
Serena runs down the numbers on Phase I of Project Vee. They started their operation in the upper Midwest, where there were 241 vampires active in 12 states. She says they’ve killed all but 11.
And now they have Sam’s attention.
Serena explains that, unlike American hunters, the BMoL don’t treat vampire nests as discrete entities. Mick puts it bluntly – they don’t just charge in like John Wayne, guns a’ blazing. He says they wait and watch. They map out relationships. And once the BMoL have collected all their intelligence and learned everything they can, they go in and wipe the vampires out.
Sam doesn’t say anything about the innocent victims who are dying while the BMoL wait and watch. He doesn’t say it, but I really hope he’s thinking it.
Serena reports that the remaining 11 vampires have holed up near Wichita. And that within 24 hours they’ll all be dead and Phase I will be complete. Then it’s on to the rest of the country. “By the time we’re done, there won’t be a single blood sucker left in America.”
The meeting breaks up and Mick asks for Sam’s thoughts on their “little operation”. Sam’s silence does most of the talking. He notes with a hint of disdain that Chief calls himself the ‘Hunter King of Baton Rouge.’ He also says that a buddy of his – Rufus – worked with Chief.
I miss Rufus.
Dean comes back to the Bunker and a note from Sam. “Went out. Back later.” His moderately better mood sours when he finds the decanter and the bottle of whiskey both empty. He trudges back up the stairs to answer a pounding at the door. He thinks Sam has forgotten his key, but it’s Mr. Ketch who’s standing on the doorstep.
Dean is nonplussed to realize that their secret Bunker isn’t so secret to fellow Men of Letters. Ketch stops him before he can shut the door. Dean gives him a look that would have most men soiling themselves. Instead, Ketch squares himself up in the doorway and presents Dean with an unspeakably expensive bottle of barrel proof scotch.
Well, Johnny Blue worked with Rufus and this bottle gets Ketch through the door, too. Dean glares at Ketch over the rim of his glass. He savors his drink and the uncomfortable silence. He doesn’t need to ask Ketch any questions. Dean knows the BMoL are in America to recruit them. He says they already have his mother – he calls her “Mary” again – and they want him and Sam, too.
Ketch is quick to note that he doesn’t want the boys, but the old lads have taken quite a shine to them. Dean is like, and Lady Cardboard was the welcome committee? Ketch agrees that she is the worst. He says no one could have predicted that she would go rogue – no one but him. He calls her a neurotic, overreaching time bomb.
“We used to date …”
Right. Because it’s always the bitches who be crazy and now Mr. Ketch has put me on Lady Cardboard’s side and you can just add that to the top of the list of reasons he needs to die slow and bloody. That aggression just will not stand! IT WILL NOT STAND!
Ketch puts his cards on the table. He doesn’t care if Dean signs on or not. He doesn’t care if Dean lives or dies, but the BMoL is an excellent fit for someone with their inclinations.
“You’re a killer, Dean Winchester.”
That’s the second time this season someone has told Dean that. But Mr. Ketch doesn’t say it in judgement. He’s a killer, too. And he knows things can get a bit … ugly … when men like them don’t have an outlet. Something to track or trap or punch or gut. Like vampires, for instance. Is Dean interested?
Yeah Dean wants to kill some vampires. And if he plays nice, maybe Ketch will let him shoot the grenade launcher. Dean follows Ketch to the Wichita hideout. Ketch ignores a text from Mick and says there are 10 bloodsuckers inside, give or take. Dean slips a machete out of its sheath. He likes those odds.
Yeah you do.
But the building is empty. Ketch finds one vampire hiding down in the basement, weakened from the BMoL’s attack on her nest. He holds the machete to her throat and beams a toothy smile at Dean. He puts the weapon down and drops the vampire to the floor with a punch. He rains blows down on her before Dean pulls him off.
Mr. Ketch seems to be enjoying his work a little too much and it’s making Dean uncomfortable.
Dean kneels down in front of the vampire and quietly says she needs to tell them where her friends are. No, he won’t let her go … but he’ll make it quick. The vampire considers her options and says the nest is out hunting the hunters.
For all of Ketch’s talk of how they’re alike, this scene does a nice job of showing again how dissimilar the BMoL and the Winchesters are in their approach to hunting. Dean has always taken satisfaction from hunting, but I don’t think he takes pleasure from the actual kill. He’s always been wary of hunters like Gordon and Christian Campbell who do.
Times in the past when Dean has seemed to enjoy it, it’s been an indicator of just how dark his mental and emotional state is. Think back to his kill from “Alex Annie Alexis Ann:”
Fair play, that was awesome, but it was also out of character enough for Sam to call Dean out on it. Dean taking pleasure from a kill was used to signal just how strong the Mark of Cain’s hold on him was. And it’s interesting that in this scene with Ketch, Dean is wearing the Deanmon red shirt. He’s touched that darkness and he doesn’t ever want to go there again.
Also, Dean still didn’t get to fire the grenade launcher because Mr. Ketch is bullshit.
Mick’s team assembles their gear for the Wichita Op. No one is monitoring the security feeds. The don’t see the guard outside the gate get attacked. They are watching when the Wichita vampires drag the guard’s body over to the security panel and then stream through the gate.
The BMoL are still gawping in shock when Mary gets on the radio and orders all personnel to fall back. Sam says they need to go into lock down – now. It breaks the spell and the Brits start moving. Chief and Mick’s team secure the interior doors and retreat to safety. Sam grabs a machete and Mary follows him to the exterior perimeter.
They find two vamps eating a guard. Mary lops the head off one and Sam overpowers the other. He steps outside to see two more vamps incoming. He secures the outer door and stops Mary from killing the second vamp. They drag him back into the ops room. Mick is stunned by the attack. How did the vampires find them? How do the vampires even know who they are??
The captured vamp laughs. Their father told them. He’s come back to save them all. Serena says that’s impossible. According to their intel the Alpha vampire is in Morocco and has been for at least a decade. Sam says their intel is wrong. “I met him five years ago in Hoople, North Dakota.” The vampire taunts that they’re dead. They’re all dead.
Mary finally relieves him of his head. Alton recoils in horror. Mary shakes the blood off her machete all like, that’s how we do.
Sam blows out a hard breath and scrubs his hands over his face. The wheels just came off the BMoL’s sales pitch. Amateurs. He asks if Project Vee had any contingencies for a counter attack. That would be a no. Serena suggests using a spell to get a message to England. Sam cuts her off. He says they can’t wait for backup. Mary agrees. The compound wasn’t built for defense. She says the doors won’t hold for long.
Mary takes a deep cleansing breath and asks who in the room has ever killed … anything?
Chief is like, um … I raised my hand. I’ve killed stuff. He is ignored.
Sam orders a weapons inventory. They don’t have much to work with. A few guns. Three machetes. Three short blades. A length of rope. Alton says everything else is in the armory. Mary suggests setting off the AVD chemical weapon in the vents like a bug bomb. Mick asks if it will kill the Alpha. That would be a no. Sam half jokingly asks if they have anything stronger.
Mary shoots a look at Mick and simply asks, “Where is it?” Mick puts a large briefcase on the table and opens it. Sam’s mouth falls open and his eyebrows shoot up over the top of his head when he sees the Colt. The music swells to ‘Indiana Jones stealing the golden idol from the tomb in Raiders‘ as he picks it up. Sam is more than a bit overcome. His voice is a whisper. He asks Mick where he got it, but it’s Mary who answers.
“I stole it. From Ramiel.”
Sam’s shoulder’s slump. His eyes get misty. The air goes out of him as the full weight of his mother’s lies hits him. Mick says the gun doesn’t work. They don’t have any bullets. There’s a hint of panic in his voice. Sam pushes the emotion down and away and focuses on the job at hand. He says they’ll make bullets. He writes down the recipe. He says he got it from his buddy.
You got it from Bobby, Sam. Show a little respect.
Mary somehow knows who he’s talking about. I wonder if she knows how much she owes Bobby for the men her boys turned out to be.
Sam sets the Brits to their task while he, Mary, and Chief make a break for the armory. Sam opens the door and they’re immediately overrun. He holds off the vampires while Mary and Chief take an alternate route.
There’s a pounding on the door to the ops room just as Mick completes the incantation to spell the bullets. Chief comes in alone. He says it’s bad out there. Alton is still standing in the open doorway. There’s a squishing noise and he falls to the ground, dead. The Alpha Vamp is standing behind him.
“Pretty bad in here too, huh?”
Oh, Chief. Adama would be so disappointed! Serena rushes the Alpha with one of the short knives. He rips out her throat. Mick closes the case and scoops up the bullets. He struggles to make sense of Chief’s betrayal. He’s a hunter! The Alpha corrects him – Chief is his hunter. They have an arrangement.
“Alimony’s a bitch.”
The Alpha says he’s old. He likes to live quietly. And the BMoL have been making his life awfully noisy lately. They’ve killed so many of his children. He’s seen their work in England. He didn’t get involved, “because, well … it’s England.” But America? America is a different story. America is his home.
“And it is time you
Sam finds Mary sprawled on the floor of the armory. The AVD is next to her, crushed. She’s got a nasty gash on her forehead. He helps her up and they slip into the ops room as the Alpha is telling Mick how it’s going to be. He says Mick will make a call to his superiors in London. He will admit defeat. He will tell them to cancel the American incursion.
“And then they’ll watch as I devour you, live, on screen. Yes, it’s a bit messy, but sometimes one does have to make a point.”
Mary comes up behind Chief and clocks him in the face. Sam grabs the Colt and draws down on the Alpha. The vampire chuckles. He reminds Sam that there are five creatures in all of creation that the Colt can’t kill.
“I’m one of them.”
Sam calls his bluff. He says if that were true, he’d be dead already. The Alpha changes tack. He glances at Mary and Mick and says the gun can’t save all of them.
“Who said I was here to save all of us?”
Sam says he and Mary will walk away and they’ll all go back to the way things were. The ways things are supposed to be, killing each other in a fair fight. He offers Mick to the vampire in a show of good faith. The Alpha grins. This is a deal he can happily live with. Mary is horrified. What is Sam doing??
“Picking a side.”
Mick rushes at Sam and they appear to struggle for the gun. Mary takes a swing at the Alpha and he tosses her aside. He stares Sam down. He says they both know the Colt isn’t loaded. A smile tugs at the corner of Sam’s mouth. Is the Alpha sure?
The vampire runs a replay in his mind – which means we get a replay of the scene, too. It’s medium annoying that Show doesn’t trust us enough to know it was just theater and that Mick was really giving Sam a bullet. But I’ll allow it because the Alpha’s ‘I see what you did there’ realization is great fun to watch.
“Clever, clever boy.”
Sam cocks the hammer and pulls the trigger. The bullet slo-mo explodes from the gun as it is wont to do. It hits the Alpha square between the eyes. He smiles as he zaps out. The camera zooms through the hole in the back of his head and his body falls to the floor.
Farewell Alpha Vamp. Rick Worthy, you were a delight!
Mary comes back into the ops room to give the all clear. Mick is just standing there staring at the bodies of his team. He follows Mary outside. Ketch and Dean have finally arrived. Mick asks Ketch where he was. People died! There’s an accusing tone in his voice.
Ketch is like, people do that. He says he was just following orders. The old men want the Winchesters, so he made a play for Dean. It was working until Mick’s operation went sideways. “Better luck next time.”
Dean says they drove like a bat out of hell when he and Ketch learned the compound was under attack. Sam has a confused. Dean doesn’t give a rats about the BMoL and he didn’t know Sam was there, so … Dean looks at Mary. He says nothing else mattered.
Mary tries to apologize again some more, but Dean gives her a pass. He says it’s not her job to make his lunch or kiss him goodnight – even though it’s pretty clear how desperately he wants her to do those things. Or rather, he wants her to WANT to do those things. But if he has to settle he will, because Dean is nothing if not accustomed to living off whatever emotional scraps his family is willing to throw him.
Dean says Mary is going to make her own choices, even if he really, really doesn’t like them, and he’s just going to have to get used to it. “Okay, Mom?” It’s fine by Mary, because fuck it, why wouldn’t it be? She doesn’t have to do any heavy lifting, so.
And this is why Dean can’t have nice things, because everyone else is terrible.
There’s a jingle jangle of chains as Ketch perp walks Chief out of the compound. He says the BMoL have ways of dealing with hunters who go rogue. “They aren’t pleasant.”
It feels like maybe the Winchesters should take that as a warning. Just a thought.
Sam steps aside to talk to Mick. Mick is acutely aware of how much worse it could have been. He says it’s hardly an advertisement for the BMoL. Or his leadership. No, no those two things both kind of sucked.
But even so, Sam is in.
“The Alpha is dead. You’re changing the world. And I want to be a part of it.”
Well, to be fair, the Alpha is dead because of Sam. And maybe in spite of the BMoL. I don’t know that Sam really needs them in order to change the world. He and Dean have done a pretty good job of that on their own. And speaking of Dean … Sam tells Mick to give him some time.
Supernatural airs Thursday at 8:00 p.m. (Eastern) on The CW. Follow Whitney on twitter @Watcher_Whitney.