“The Big Empty”
November 2, 2017
Mandroids. Laser eyes.
Dean has a case – a man seemingly murdered by his dead wife. He’s surprised that Sam is interested. He wonders if they’re going to leave “Damien” in a circle of holy oil to Netflix and chill while they check it out. Sam says no, they’re going to bring EJ with. Dean balks. He calls it adventures in babysitting the Antichrist.
Writer Meredith Glynn seems to be having a contest with herself to see how many one-liners she can cram into this scene.
Dean wonders if maybe Sam’s plan to bring Mary back isn’t working. He says again some more that Mary is dead. He scolds that the sooner Sam can wrap his head around that, the sooner they can all move on.
Is Dean saying he wants to move on from their mother?
The boys stare each other down. Dean doesn’t even know where to begin with that question. So instead, he simply says that right now he wants to kill some dead guy’s dead wife.
Sam insists that EJ needs to get out. They all do. He deploys the puppy dog eyes and pleads with Dean to just give the kid a chance … for him.
Sam knocks on EJ’s door and finds him watching Clone Wars on the laptop. EJ says he likes Ahsoka but he kind of hates Anakin. Sam muses that that’s probably for the best. He tells EJ they have a case and asks if he would like to join them. Sam really thinks it would be good for him. It might …
Get his powers working again? EJ finishes the sentence for Sam. And then parrots back Dean’s words. “So I can be your inter-dimensional can opener? You’re using me.”
Sam sits down on the bed next to EJ. He tells him about the floating space vagina and the Apocalypse world where Mary is trapped. EJ realizes that Sam wants to save his mother. He downshifts from resentment to understanding.
Sam says that he does care about EJ, can opener or no. He admits that he should have told EJ this and apologizes for the
lie omission. He does not tell EJ that Lucifer is in the Apocalypse world as well. I feel like that’s information that EJ should have.
EJ worries about going on a road trip with someone who can’t even look at him and wants to kill him. Sam is like, yeah that’s awkward. He tells EJ that Dean respects effort. So come along! Give it a try! It will probably be a disaster, but maybe not!
“Let’s go be the good guys.”
Madison, WI. The boys pull up in front of victim Wes Bailey’s house. EJ is flummoxed by the fake IDs. He thought lying was wrong. Dean’s not even going to dignify that statement. The EMF meter doesn’t give off so much as a peep, which rules out a ghost. Dean says they’ve got a revenant. To the cemetery!
Dean embraces EJ’s spirit of helping. He tosses the kid a shovel and tells him to dig. Sam immediately gets his panties in a bunch. He snaps that Dean is starting to sound like John with the drill sergeant routine. Dean flippantly asks if that’s a bad thing. I’m reminded of their conversation in “Jump the Shark” when Dean told Sam he was more like John than Dean would ever be.
Sam argues that barking orders isn’t the way to get through to EJ – but he should know that ‘hope for the best’ isn’t going to work with Dean either. Dean has always been the one who needs evidence, even in the best of times. It would be nice if the writers would remember, and would allow Sam to remember, that hey, they were confronted with an all-powerful being NOT TWO SEASONS AGO and LOVE TALKED HER OFF THE LEDGE.
I mean, if Dean needs evidence that EJ’s heart can be turned away from hate and anger, he need look no further than Amara. And what about Jessie from “I Believe the Children Are Our Future”? He was another being who could bend reality to his will, but was capable of making the right choices.
And I get that Dean’s grief and anger may not allow him to make those connections between Jessie and Amara and EJ, but it would be nice if Show could acknowledge it.
And as for getting through to EJ, Sam knows that EJ feels connected to Cas and thinks of him as his father. He knows that EJ was moved by Kelly’s message. Sam can use that! How many times has Sam and Dean’s connection to each other pulled them back from the brink? It allowed Sam to take control from Lucifer in “Swan Song”. It gave Dean the strength to say no to Michael in “Point of No Return”.
As Dean says in the “The End”, “We keep each other human.”
So I just wish the writers would give a nod to the show’s own history and use it to advance this story. The boys may remain in disagreement over EJ, but it would make Dean’s change of heart feel organic and would give them a better path back to center.
Anyhoo, the kid can dig, and they soon have Dead Wife’s coffin open. Erica’s body is still enjoying its eternal rest inside. She’s not a revenant but maybe not a ghost. They salt and burn her remains for good measure. EJ’s asks if Kelly could be a ghost. Sam awkwardly says no, they burned her body. Dean says that what gets burned stays dead.
Unless you’re an angel.
Castiel walks through what looks like the place Eleven went when she was in the sensory deprivation tank, but is presumably the Empty that Reaper Billie spoke of.
Castiel calls out into the void. He appears to be utterly alone, but can sense another presence in the Empty with him. The entity appears to be the consciousness of the Empty itself. He’s made himself to look like Cas because his true form would cause the angel to tear his eyes out of his fool skull. He woke up when Cas woke up and he DOES. NOT. LIKE IT.
So now there can be two Castiels with nothing to do! Yay!
And real talk – what is up with the voice that Misha is using for this character? It’s like Colonel Lanza from Inglorious Basterds is doing a Skeletor impression.
Not a fan, y’all. Not. A. Fan.
The Empty tries bludgeoning Cas with memories of his failures before just straight up throwing a beating on him. Cas refuses to stay down. He says he’s awake and he will stay awake – and keep the Empty awake – until they both go insane.
Unless the Empty sends him back.
When a second victim is killed in Madison under similar circumstances, the boys start looking for connections. They discover that both victims were seeing the same grief counselor, Mia Vallens. To the therapist’s office!
This should go well.
EJ blurts out that he’s recently lost his mother. It gets them in the door and Sam rolls with it. He tells Mia that Dean isn’t processing his grief. Dean insists that he’s good, because he knows that mom is dead. And he knows that she’s not coming back.
Sam tries to disengage. Dean is like you wanted to process. Let’s process. He accuses Sam of being delusional. He tells Mia that Sam won’t even admit that Mary is dead, because if he admits it – then it’s real. If it’s real, then he has to deal with it. Which Dean snidely says Sam can’t handle.
Sam rises to the bait. He spits that at least Dean had a relationship with Mary. He says Dean was the one she always called. Dean was the one she looked to for everything. Sam shouts that Dean had something with her he never had. And he’s not ready to accept that he never will have it.
Sam stalks out of the room and oh, these boys! THESE BOYS!
Now, I think Dean’s assessment of Sam is correct. Harsh, but correct. I mean, denial is the first stage of grief.
And Sam’s feelings are his and valid, but they’re also not fair. Not that grief ever is. But Dean doesn’t deserve the blame that shades Sam’s statements. He was four when Mary died. And after she came back, Mary wasn’t around long enough for either one of them to reestablish a relationship with her, so.
Mia is just starting to probe Dean’s anger when Sam bursts back into the room, gun drawn. He decided to poke around upstairs during his breather, and discovered a bathtub full of gooey bits of flesh and hair and teeth. He says that Mia is a shifter.
Mia is like, no! But, yes! But no, it’s not what you think! Mia explains that she uses her ability to shift into the people that her patients have lost. It’s a chance to see them one last time and say goodbye. Dean checks out her alibi for the night of Wes’s murder, and much to his surprise, it checks out.
Mia tells them she suspects another shifter, Buddy, is responsible for the murders. She says he likes hurting people – including her. He likes the look on a person’s face when they realize their life has been destroyed and they have nothing left.
Mia tells them what she’s doing now can’t make up for what Buddy – for what they – did in the past, but she’s trying.
After Dean rules out her staff, Sam starts sifting through security cam footage to see if Buddy could be posing as a patient. He hits yahtzee and goes to check it out. Sam has been gone for 10 minutes when Dean and EJ get back to the house. Dean thinks it’s strange that Sam didn’t call … BECAUSE BUDDY IS REALLY MIA, EEP!
Okay, no. But she is really judgey, asking if Dean can blame his brother for not wanting to talk to him. And you just simmer down, missy. They’re on the job. Sam could have texted.
While Dean is trying to get Sam on the horn, EJ asks Mia for a moment. She takes him back into her office and eats his face off BECAUSE SHE’S REALLY BUDDY, EEP!
Okay, again no. But I was really sure that time.
EJ explains that Sam and Dean aren’t his brothers, but that he did lose his mother. She died when he was born. He plays a few seconds of Kelly’s message for Mia. He says it’s all he has of her. He needs to see her … just once.
Mia tells EJ to close his eyes. She slips her skin. I hope she put some plastic down on that white carpet. When EJ opens his eyes, Kelly is standing in front of him. She sees that Jack is about to break down and rushes to take her ‘son’ in her arms.
EJ buries his face in
Kelly Mia Mika’s shoulder and whispers that he’s afraid. He wants so badly to believe that he’s good … but he admits that he’s hurt people. And while he knows that he should feel bad about that, mostly he just doesn’t feel anything.
And that’s why he thinks that maybe he’s a monster.
Mika locks eyes with her son and tells him it doesn’t matter what he is. “It matters what you do. And even monsters can do good in this world.”
The anguish melts from EJ’s face. It’s replaced with relief and hope. He asks Mika if she really believes that.
Mia says she has to.
Sam calls Dean and says he was too late. The real patient is dead and Buddy is gone. Dean hangs up and looks down on his double laying unconscious on the floor. Buddy smirks that that was too freaking easy.
Shifter says easy, I say freaking lazy. That is some hand wavy bullshit. And then Buddy marches into Mia’s office and cracks EJ in the skull with a fire poker. Kid goes down like a ton of bricks because apparently HE CAN WITHSTAND AN ANGEL BLADE TO THE HEART AND MULTIPLE STABS WOUNDS TO THE CHEST BUT NOT A BLOW TO THE HEAD.
Buddy peels off his Dean face and drops the bloody bits of flesh onto the hardwood. Mia probably should have installed tile throughout her house.
Dean comes to handcuffed to the fireplace. He tries to rouse EJ while Buddy berates Mia for daring to leave and start a new life without him. EJ says he can’t mind snap the cuffs. Dean says that Sam believes in EJ, and when Sam believes he’ll go hell for leather. He tells the boy has has to try.
Buddy gives Mia a choice – she can embrace her true nature and kill Dean and EJ or she can die. It’s not a choice Mia has to think about. She opens her arms and stares Buddy down. She calmly tells him to shoot her. She steps forward and presses her chest to the muzzle of Dean’s gun that Buddy is holding.
Buddy catches movement on the security camera. Sam is coming up the walk to the house. Buddy knocks out Dean again some more and holds a hand over Mia’s mouth. He aims the gun at the office door and waits.
Sam opens the door and EJ unleashes his sonic scream. Buddy is lifted from his feet but manages to get a shot off. EJ mojos a force field in front of Sam that deflects the bullet into the wall. Sam draws his own gun and kills Buddy.
Mia stands over Buddy’s body and sadly says she just wanted to help people. EJ tells her she did.
Later, back at the Bunker, EJ is in the kitchen getting a glass of water when Dean walks in. EJ goes still, like a prey animal trying not to attract attention. Dean grabs and opens two beers. EJ initiates an awkward exchange of heys. Dean walks over to him and says he did good today. Dean calls him by name, finally – for a moment – seeing EJ as a person.
EJ grins, pleased by the acknowledgement. I’m going to be pissed if Show pulls a bait and switch, because I really do like this kid. CAN’T WE HAVE ONE NICE THING, SHOW? JUST THIS ONE?
Sam is reading in the library. Dean hands him one of the beers and says he was out of line at Mia’s earlier. He apologizes for being a dick lately. Sam accepts his apology but does not offer any of his own.
This dynamic between the brothers – which is pretty consistent throughout the series – bothers me, but I get it. Sometimes to break the emotional log jam, a mea culpa has to be offered, regardless of how much (or little) responsibility a person bears for it.
Anyhoo, Dean reluctantly admits that maybe Sam is right about EJ. He says the kid tries. He has to give him that. And EJ saved their asses, so.
Sam wonders if Dean is right. What if Mary really is dead, and Sam is just in denial? The breath is knocked out of Dean. He tells Sam not to say that. He agrees that, yes, he’s been pushing Sam to admit it since it happened – ” … but don’t say that.”
“I need you to keep the faith. For both of us.”
Because right now? Right now, Dean doesn’t believe in a damn thing.
And then Castiel wakes up again. Only this time, he’s back on Earth.