November 8, 2018
THEN: “It was just a wish. I wished for Mom to live. That Mom never died, we never went hunting and you and me just never uh… you know.”
Dean pauses in the doorway of the Bunker library where Sam is holding a morning briefing with the AV Clubbers. Dean seems amused; Sam seems embarrassed and quickly breaks up the meeting. It feels at first like Dean is busting chops, but it’s not like he can just come right out and tell Sam that he’s proud of him. Approval is something they each got so rarely from John that they don’t know what to do with it. So Dean has to tease.
The boys walk together to the kitchen in a rather lovely tracking shot while Sam’s phone chirps away. He says it’s just hunters checking in. It’s one of several new practices he’s put in place, including the wearing of body cams so the AV Clubbers can learn from each other.
It also provides a starting point when one of the hunters—Maggie—doesn’t check in. And okay, let’s just talk again about Maggie. She wasn’t one of Bobby’s soldiers. She was just a girl looking for a safe haven in the Apocalypse. And even if she felt called to hunting, why on Earth is she out hunting alone? Remember how concerned Sam and Dean were when they learned Charlie was hunting on her own? WHY??
Anyhoo, Maggie’s footage shows her entering a crypt—ALONE—to confront a ghoul—ALONE—and getting jumped by said ghoul. Sam’s mind immediately goes to worst case scenario. Dean just as quickly tries to reel his brother back from that edge. He says they don’t know anything yet; they’ve still got a shot at bringing her home.
Claremore, OK. The boys check out the crypt in the Rawling family’s private cemetery. They find drag marks but no other sign of Maggie. They’re prevented from further investigation by the groundskeeper. He is aggressively disgruntled by their presence on the property, and looks like he’s a hair away from beating them to death with his gardening rake.
Sam quickly concocts a story that they are misters Harrison and Byrne from the historic preservation society, there to survey the grounds and house for a new historic site. The smiling man who greets them at the door could not be more delighted at the news. Neil is a bit confused though that the city would send out four people.
Sam says it’s fine. He just wishes Mary and Bobby had checked in with the “main office” before coming “all the way” out there after their “rugaru hunt” in Texas.
Bobby says he doesn’t need permission and the main office is run by a bunch of idjits.
Dean silently murders Bobby with his eyes while Sam looks like he’s just been roshambo’d.
Mary pulls Sam aside to explain that she and Bobby were coaching Maggie through this first solo hunt. She says Maggie was excited but nervous … as she would be, having only been in this world and in the game for a few months at most.
Dean calls them into the next room where their ghoul, Mr. Rawling, is very much alive, human, and in a coma. Dean wonders under his breath that if he’s here, where’s Maggie?
Oh, she’s just dangling from her wrists, toes barely touching the floor, being slowly bled out by a djinn.
As the hunters regroup to kick around alternate monster theories, Bobby lights into Sam for sending Maggie on a job she wasn’t ready for. Which fair, but calling Sam a shitty leader is a box of salt too much.
Mary sets them back on task to look for Maggie. She gives Sam a buck up camper speech as they walk through the woods. She tells him that leading hunters is what he was born to do.
I’m sorry, what? Maybe that line was intended by writer Meredith Glynn as a general statement about Sam’s leadership abilities. But in context, it read to me specifically in relation to hunting. And we know that the worst thing, the very worst thing, that young Mary Campbell could imagine was her children being born into the same life she was.
And then she bemoans to Sam that things seem to be cooling off with Bobby, and she’s not sure she’s up to breaking down his walls (even if it does mean getting into his pantaloons), while Sam silently prays for the ground to open up and swallow him in its cold, dark embrace.
Dean and Bobby find a creepy shed (that, alas, was not on the RussBus Locations Tour). Dean goes inside to check it out while Bobby decides he’s just going to trot off into the woods to follow some rando. Bye, Dean! Bye!
Also, this shot of Dean in the shed is serving up some Season 2 promo stills realness and I am here for it.
Dean finds a dead body and is attacked by Mr. Rawling’s monster doppelgänger. Dean stabs it with a hunting knife; the doppelgänger explodes in a cloud of powdery gray ash.
Meanwhile in the house, Rawling’s adult daughter Sasha is attacked by some thing that looks like a vampire, but that’s not possible because vampires aren’t real.
“You hunt monsters. You hunt monsters?!”
“Oh good, you told ‘em.”
Dean walks in with the news that there’s a dead guy in the shed. Sam pulls a badly burned fake U.S. Forest Service ID from his pocket. It’s one of several IDs Sam and Mary found out in the woods. Dean confirms the match.
Something is killing hunters.
Seriously, they need to put a bell on that guy.
Mary exits stage right to find him. The boys process all their new information out loud while Sasha and Neil gawp and wonder if this is what going mad feels like. Sam floats the idea that they’re dealing with manifestations, and calls back to psychic Fred Jones from Season 8’s “Hunteri Heroici.”
And a big ol’ fruit basket to Meredith Glynn for showing the boys brainstorming, calling back to a past episode, and not tying herself into knots trying to explain the reference.
Sam goes to check out the attic and finds Maggie still strung up from the rafters. She swims back into consciousness and warns Sam that it’s here … it’s here. It’s not until her eyes go wide with fear and focus over his shoulder that Sam understands what she means.
He turns just as the vampire looms out of the shadows. He stabs it with a machete and it explodes into dust.
Bobby is out tromping through the woods where he’s confronted by a young man with empty black hollows where his eyes should be because they’ve been BURNED OUT OF HIS FOOL SKULL.
The man is AV!Bobby’s son Daniel and their reunion is not joyful. He pummels the holy Hello Kitty out of Bobby before staking him to a tree with a gladius. Daniel raises a second blade, intending to crucify his father, just as the angels in the Apocalypse!Verse did to him.
Mary finds them and opens fire on Daniel. Her bullets have no effect, even though steel blades seem to make these manifestations go *poof* on contact. Instead, Daniel attacks Mary, Bobby PULLS THE GLADIUS FROM HIS OWN FOOL SHOULDER, and uses it to destroy Daniel.
Dean stays with Sasha and Neil. Between sips of sweet, sweet healing booze, Sasha cares and shares her lingering feelings of resentment and abandonment stemming from the death of her mother. Her father wasn’t there; 12-year-old Sasha was the one who found her.
Dean offers some words of hard-won advice. He tells Sasha to let it go. He says there’s nothing she can do now about the past. It’s just baggage. Let it go and she’ll feel a lot lighter.
Sasha asks if that’s what Dean does. I was expecting his reply from Season 10’s “The Things We Left Behind,” when he told Cas that was the opposite of what he does. Or for Dean to deflect like he did in “Halt & Catch Fire,” and say he relies on whiskey and denial. Instead, he considers a moment and says he tries. Every day.
Okay, Dean’s words make total sense in the context of him forgiving Mary in Season 12’s “Who We Are,” and letting go of his resentment for her deal and her death inadvertently put on him.
But saying that he tries every day to let things go?
Dean Winchester, the Mayor of Self Flagellation Town?
The guy who just last episode told Sam he was never going to get over Michael? Although maybe Dean actually took his brother’s words to heart and is trying to forgive himself. I would love to think we might actually see that play out this season. That would be huge. Character development! How does it work?
Sasha and Dean check in on Mr. Rawling. Dean notices the blood bags hanging along with the bags of saline and something pings. Is Neil giving Rawling a transfusion? Cool, cool … hey Sasha could you go … make Dean a sandwich?
Sasha is like, bitch what did you say to me? Dean cuts his eyes at Neil and silently mouths, “Go.” Don’t need to tell her twice. Dean admits to Neil that it took him a minute, but he’s seen that rig before – when he was hooked up to it.
Neil’s eye flash blue and markings bloom across his face. He smiles and says he’s only hunting hunters because Dean told him to. He asks if this is still part of the game. The test. Dean realizes that Neil is another of Michael’s souped-up monsters.
Neil evil monologues that the djinns’ powers are so … limiting. They trap their little flies and weave their poisonous mind webs. Now with one touch, he can read minds, see nightmares, and bring them into the world.
He says Maggie’s nightmares were much more interesting that Rawling’s fears of dying unloved and unmourned, alone with his own regret. Maggie’s fears are rooted in what vampires did to her family. He says it’s quite a place she comes from. And Bobby … the djinn gives a faux shiver at the things slithering around in his mind.
Neil has been slowly walking closer to Dean. He smugs that the gun won’t do him any harm and he doubts Dean has a knife dipped in lamb’s blood, so. Dean’s like, yeah, but a bullet at close range just above the knee will slow you down.
It really doesn’t though.
Neil gets Dean by the throat and pins him against the desk. He wouldn’t dream of harming Michael’s favorite monkey suit, but he is curious … “What are your nightmares?”
Neil’s hand glows with crackling blue energy as he claps it on Dean’s forehead. Dean’s eyes roll back in his head. With a gasp and a strangled groan, the djinn’s gleeful, malevolent grin slides right off his face. Neil stumbles back from Dean. It’s almost like the images in Dean’s head physically repel him. When Neil looks at Dean now, there’s confusion—and fear—in his eyes.
And I mean, Hi. Have you met Dean? His mind is a not a place to be tread lightly.
Up through Season 9, I would have said Dean’s worst nightmare was losing, or being abandoned by, the people he loves. But after the Mark of Cain, being a demon, Amara, and now Michael, Dean’s greatest fear is losing control—losing himself—and becoming a blunt instrument used to hurt people.
Dean’s a little flummoxed by the abrupt halt to the djinn’s attack, but he quickly recovers. Pummel, pummel, punch. He quips that he doesn’t have a blade dipped in lamb’s blood, but he can improvise. He grabs a heavy, pointy eagle’s head bookend from the desk and uses it to cave in Neil’s fool skull. The djinn smiles up at Dean through the blood. He knows the game is still afoot. Does Dean really think Neil is the only one? The only trap?
“He made dozens of us. Just out there. Waiting for you … your family.”
Dean growls that Neil doesn’t know his family before delivering a final crushing blow. And then he unloads his clip into Neil’s face for good measure.
And still a fruit basket for Meredith Glynn, but one that’s mostly cantaloupe, because 1.) while I love smart!Dean and the Season 2 call back, 2.) a knife dipped in lamb’s blood probably doesn’t kill a super djinn, and 3.) I kind of call shenanigans that just bashing its head in would.
The next morning. Sam and Mary are presumably salting and burning Neil’s corpse. Dean disconnects Rawling from the blood bag. He tells Sasha her father should come around once the djinn’s poison clears his system. He says she might even get the apology she’s been waiting for since her mother died. Sasha chuckles and says you can’t change the past, right? Her father wasn’t there for her then, but she’s here for him now.
At the Bunker, Maggie is swallowed into the embrace of happy and relieved AV Clubbers. Dean tells Sam he did this. “You got her home.”
Mary hustles Bobby past the crowd and into the infirmary. She takes Sam’s advice to try and find out what’s behind his walls. Bobby tells her that Daniel was his son – AV!Bobby only had the one boy. But just like our Bobby, his wife didn’t die natural. He and Daniel buried her together. Hunting together got them through.
When the Angel War started, Daniel followed his father into service as a member of Bobby’s platoon. At some point they were separated. Bobby says he doesn’t even know what the angels did to Daniel. They never found the bodies.
“I’m the one that brought him to war. I’m the one who sent him to die.”
Bobby’s grief and guilt are palpable. It’s like you can see the physical weight of it pressing him down. Jim Beaver, y’all. Killing it.
Bobby says he always thought the war would take him, too. It hits Mary why he’s been hunting at such a punishing pace.
“It ends the same.”
Mary says he is not allowed to give up on her in a tone of voice that makes it an order, soldier. Then she softens and tells him they’ll find a way, together.
That way seems to start with a few weeks at Donna’s cabin? The key is under the garden gnome, btw. I don’t know, this scene just felt weird to me. I think it was Mary’s emphatic instructions to Dean to, CALL ME IF YOU NEED ME. Attentive mom just isn’t on brand for her. But off they go with the boys’ blessing.
So, I was pretty sure last season that Sam, Dean, and Cas were going to spend 10 or 12 episodes killing themselves to collect the ingredients for the rift spell only to have Jack, Mary, and Bobby pop back through the floating space vagina all like, “Michael’s dead and Bobby is your new dad! What did we miss?” I guess I was half right.
The boys get on the horn to put the word out in the streets about Michael’s army. Dean checks in with Garth. Aww, Garth. And yay! Confirmation that he survived the British Men of Letters.
Now let us never speak of them again.
I’m a little surprised though that these calls are just now being made. Granted it’s only been a few weeks, but supercharged monsters that can’t be killed by the usual means seems like news you’d want to get out there. Although now there’s the added wrinkle of traps laying in wait specifically for hunters. Good times.
I’ve also seen some speculation that Dean could himself be a trap. That Michael is either still lurking inside or he left behind a sleeper trigger. File that away for future reference.
Dean cuts Sam off before he can say it’s not his fault. He tells Sam that he has been trying to move on … “from what I … from what we … … from what he did.” Clearly, it’s a work in progress, but Dean says he was starting to feel like himself again. Almost.
Sam says they’ll work harder, but Dean pushes back. How? Sam is barely sleeping and running on empty as it is. Sam concedes to getting a few more hours of shut-eye a night, before saying they’re going to find Michael. And when they do, they will kill him. They’ll find a way. Dean simply says, “I hope you’re right.”
Supernatural airs Thursday at 8:00 p.m. (Eastern) on The CW. Follow Whitney on Twitter @Watcher_Whitney.