November 15, 2018
Jack is sitting alone in the Bunker’s kitchen. He takes a sip of coffee, testing to see if it’s right. He picks up the sugar dispenser and holds it over his cup for an 8-count (as one does, if you’re me). Dean walks in and is like, simmer down with the diabeetus, Wilford. Jack explains that, without his powers, everything tastes different. He can’t get his coffee how he likes it, so.
Dean is just back from an overnight run to check in on Mary and Bobby. Sam is with Charlie working a case. He said it couldn’t wait, so he asked Jack to stay behind and be there when Dean got back. Which seems kind of strange, since the Bunker is full of AV Clubbers. It’s not like it would be empty. But then again, I imagine Dean is still getting accustomed to his home being full of randos, so it’s a nice gesture from Sam.
Jack adds that Sam is worried about Dean. He says that no one blames him for saying yes to Michael. Dean is like, it is way too early in the morning for caring and sharing. Also, he blames him, so.
Letting go. It’s a work in progress.
A coughing spell comes over the boy of the camellias. He grumps that it’s an allergic reaction to sitting around doing nothing. Jack wants to hunt.
Pretty sure Dean was hoping Jack would say he wanted to play Putt-Putt or learn how to hustle pool. Dean allows that he’s gotten good reports of Jack’s work from Cas, but reminds the boy that an angel is an insurance policy on a hunt.
Well, sometimes. Remember when Cas was consistently a badass? Yeah, I wish the writers did, too.
Jack persists. He’s found a case in McCook, Nebraska—a victim with human bite marks on the body—and he wants to work it. Dean says he’ll check it out, but Jack wants to gooooooo. Also, they’re supposed to have a partner for all hunts now.
“We can be hunting buddies!”
Dean is like, 1.) never speak those words together again, and 2.) Jack is 12. He’s not backup. Jack meow meows his guilt over not killing Michael when he had the chance. Dean says Jack didn’t do anything wrong. The boy shoots back that neither did Dean, but that doesn’t make it any easier, now does it?
Dean would really just like to make and eat his breakfast taco in peace, but Jack has a head of steam now. He says he can’t just sit around the Bunker thinking about what he could have done differently and how he can’t do anything about it now. But he can do this. He can hunt. Just give him a chance.
Outside of Memphis, Sam and AV!Charlie are on stakeout, staring in silence at an empty bus shelter. Their shared sense of boredom is palpable, like they’ve been there for all of eternity, and will be there for another age. Time passes in inverse proportion to the speed of Sam’s fidget spinner.
Also, there’s an ad on the bus stop for Pete the Pestinator’s extermination company. FORESHADOWING!
Sam asks again some more if Charlie is sure this is the right place. She says four people have disappeared from the site, and—hands Sam a mason jar full off greenish-black liquid—it’s goo positive.
More time passes. Charlie pages through a stack of books trying to ID their monster. Sam frets about Dean. She reassures Sam that he’ll be fine. He’s got other friends, right? People he can lean on and confide in? Sam says it’s funny she should ask. Dean used to have a pretty damn good wingman—her.
AV!Charlie, is like nope. Actually, it wasn’t. Sam apologizes and says he just meant that he’s not surprised she survived the Apocalypse. Really? Because Charlie is. There’s a, ‘YOU DON’T KNOW ME. YOU DON’T KNOW MY LIFE’, edge to her voice and posture.
Charlie softens and explains that before the war, she was just a programmer at Richard Roman Enterprises, living her best life with the love her life, Kara. Charlie turns misty and wistful as she talks about her. Hints of the Charlie we know peek through. Kara owned a cupcake bakery outside of Chicago. Charlie says it was like something out of a storybook.
The memories sour as Charlie describes the start of Michael and Lucifer’s war. Something like a giant EMP went off over North America. Fried every bit of technology. For the first few days, people banded together, hoping that someone would save them. Charlie bitterly says that no one ever did. When the food ran out, people got mean. Mobs started forming. A lot of people died. Charlie fights back tears as she says Kara died.
“People are always the same when things go wrong—they lose it. One day the water gets shut off. The next day people are on fire. It’s a fact about society. It all falls apart.”
Sam quietly and with conviction says, “Not here.”
Charlie is just as certain in her response. “Not yet.”
Dean and Jack roll up to Dick’s Red Rooster Diner in McCook. According to his obituary, victim Winston Mathers loved having breakfast there every morning. Jack comments that it’s an oddly specific detail. Dean says no one ever knows what to put in an obit when a young guy dies. It’s a seemingly throw-away line that is deeply truthful and hurts my heart.
Dean flashes his badge at the waitress at the counter. Jack waves.
Agents Charles and Berry have a few questions about Winston, but my girl Wanda has a pocket copy of the Constitution, knows her rights, and IS. NOT. HAVING IT. Dean knows a patriot when he sees one. One with an appreciation for President Andrew Jackson. He hands her a few bills. Wanda says the person they really want to know about is town librarian Harper Sayles. Winston just started courting her.
Jack and I are both like, courting? Other than Duggars, who even uses that term anymore? Dean says courting is what you do before you start dating. Right. Jack gets it. Dating is the thing you do before the sex.
* RECORD SCRATCH *
It’s Wanda’s silent recoil that makes the moment poetry. She leans back across the counter and stage whispers to Jack that sometimes you just have the sex.
A montage of witnesses all agree that Harper Sayles is super sweet and very popular, but unlucky in love. Her high school sweetheart ran off on her, and since then, she’s lost a lawyer, a florist, the gym coach, and now Winston. She finds solace in her books. Romance novels. Heroes and damsels.
If you ask them, she’s bad luck. It’s a real shame.
Welp, it looks like they’ve got a case. That calls for pie.
“Pie is important.”
PRAISE BE, DEAN GETS SOME PIE!
I’m going to embroider that on a pillow. Jack ignores his pie (more for Dean!) He’s preoccupied by Wanda’s comment about courting. Dean promises that he’ll give Jack “The Talk” when they get home. Right now, they need to find Harper and find out if she’s human. He asks if Jack has ever read a romance novel?
Dean confronts Harper at the library. It doesn’t matter that she’s already spoken to the police, and doesn’t want to talk anymore about Winston’s death, she’s going to talk to him. This provides Jack the opportunity to step in as her white knight ally. Harper goes googly-eyed as the two men verbally spar. Dean gets into Jack’s dance space and tells the kid to back off. Jack stares him down.
“No, you back off … old man.”
The look of hurt that flits across Dean’s face is just * chef’s kiss *. Jack just took their bit of street theater to a place Dean wasn’t expecting. A hurtful place.
Harper is eating this outdated display of dominance and toxic masculinity with a spoon.
Dean, and what’s left of his dignity, exit the library. Harper looks at Jack all like,
And look, Jack is cute as a button, but I think we can all agree that when Dean Winchester says, “I’m going to need you to talk,” the only rational response is,
Clearly, this girl ain’t right.
Memphis. More time passes. Charlie is working her way through all of the books. She UGHs that she hates hunting. Sam compliments her awesomeness at it. Charlie shoots back that when your only other option is death by angel kill squad, you get good quick. And no offense to Sam and his personal calling, but who wants to be a hunter?
“This job … it’s just a lot of tears and death.”
Sam tells Charlie she said something like that to him once long ago. As soon as the words are out of his mouth he corrects himself. Not her. Our Charlie. And thank you. THANK YOU writer Steve Yockey for these scenes with Sam and Charlie and for making the distinction that she is not the character that we knew and loved. That dissonance hasn’t been conveyed as well with Bobby, but it really came through here and I’m glad to see it.
Kudos to Felicia Day for finding that sweet spot of making AV!Charlie familiar but also her own person. There’s a hardness to AV!Charlie that Our Charlie never had. Loss has sapped the whimsy out of her. War has rubbed all her shiny off.
So it’s not surprising when AV!Charlie says that Our Charlie was right. She’s glad this is her last case. Now that the AV Clubbers are settled, she’s going to go find a nice mountaintop somewhere (with good Wi-Fi) and just be for a while. But first, they need to kill the monster. Charlie thinks they could be hunting a musca, a man-fly hybrid.
A man-fly hybrid you say?
In the McCook library, Harper cheerfully announces that she has the perfect book for Jack in her
pantaloons apartment. While she’s in the other room fetching it, Jack prepares to test her for monstery tendencies. He puts a silver coin on the floor and douses his hands in holy water—although he manages to get most of that on the floor as well. GET A TOWEL MAN! THOSE ARE HARD WOODS!
When Harper doesn’t react, Jack coughs into his hand and says, “CHRISTO.”
Reaching back into Season 1 for that one, writer Steve Yockey! And you let Dean have pie? You sir, get a fruit basket!
Jack and Harper begin talking about their shared small-town roots. She says her high school boyfriend Vance wanted to leave McCook after graduation. She told him they didn’t need to. They could see the world in books! But he left anyway, leaving Harper alone and perpetually single. She tries to stay optimistic. Jack starts to get heart eyes, but the moment is interrupted by a 911 text from Dean.
Harper asks if he believes in love at first sight; Jack excuses himself to the bathroom.
He calls Dean and reports that Harper isn’t a monster but he is 99% sure that she’s in love with him. And if she is, he needs to know everything about sex.
You know, Jack has been on my nerves so far this season with the constant moping and sad sacking about being human, but damn if Alexander Calvert doesn’t just pull me back in on charm alone. He is a delight.
Dean insists that Harper is not in love with Jack and also her co-worker Miles is dead. His throat has been ripped out. They discuss the possibility that Harper is cursed—or that at least the men around her are. Dean instructs Jack to stay put just before he’s rushed by a snarling, unseen attacker and the call goes dead.
Moments later Dean bursts through Harper’s front door. Not sure how he knew where she lives, but I’m enjoying this episode, so I’m going to let it slide.
Dean throws the deadbolt and kicks a chair under the knob just as the snarling something begins pounding on the door. Dean says he thought at first it was a ghost—and then it punched him in the face. He notices the framed photo of Vance and decides they’re dealing with something in the undead wheelhouse.
Zombie Vance bursts through the door. Fight fight struggle fight. Dean yells at Jack to get Harper to safety and the two take off for the library. Harper creeps up to the front door to double check the lock just at Vance walks by. She unlocks the door and lets him in. Zombie Vance hands her the book Jack left outside on the bench and Harper melts. She pulls him into a kiss and wait, is this silly trollop going to try and make a go of it with her undead ex-boyfriend?
Jack is equally confused. Vance is dead. And stalking her. How is that going to work exactly? Harper is like, it works out perfectly, silly! Not for Jack, but still. Harper explains that she comes from a long line of necromancers. The ability to raise Vance from the dead came in handy after she killed him to keep him from leaving town after college. So now, she and Vance play this little game to keep the spice in their relationship and Vance gets the sweet, sweet human flesh he needs in order to maintain his own body.
“It’s first love. The best kind. Without baggage or compromise.”
Vance Scooby-Doo pursues Jack through the library and oh my Chuck, where is Dean?? Oh, there he is! He pops up out of nowhere and gives Jack a quick 101 on zombies. He says not a lot works on the undead. They need to get Vance back into his grave and pin him there with a silver stake.
Preferably while sliding into said grave.
Jack creates a distraction by professing his love at first sight to Harper. Eventually, he and Dean manage to clap silver cuffs on Vance and secure him in place. Harper decides that maybe now is a good time to finally see the world outside of McCook and scoots. Later, she pens a letter to Jack. She tells him that one day they’ll be together—after she kills him to avenge Vance and reanimates his corpse.
It’s going to be perfect.
Memphis. Darkness falls. Sam blurts out that Charlie can’t just leave. He says they’re hunters. It’s not so easy to walk away. He’s tried. Our Charlie tried. He doesn’t mention the part where he used emotional blackmail to pull her back into the life against her better judgment.
Kind of like now.
But this Charlie isn’t having it. She snaps that—again—she’s not his Charlie. This is her life. Her choice.
Charlie’s response rocks Sam back on his heels a bit, but further debate is halted. The musca is back. It snatches a victim from the bus stop as they watch. Sam and Charlie track it to an abandoned warehouse. It’s an ugly warehouse. A bug warehouse.
It’s teeming with buzzing flies. Sam swats at them with this gun hand and I’m briefly concerned he’s going to accidentally shoot himself in the face. The two split up, and I begin mentally preparing to flip ALL THE TABLES if Charlie doesn’t survive this hunt.
Charlie finds the victim—alive—piled among other bodies in the musca’s nest. The monster emerges, and wow. They are going literal with the man-fly hybridness. Fight fight struggle fight. Sam doesn’t have a lore approved brass nail dipped in sugar water, so he shoots the musca in the head. He and Charlie both walk away covered in fly goo.
On the drive home, Sam dips back into the manipulation well to convince Charlie that, despite all the tears and death, what they do is worth it. And that continuing to do it should outweigh her own mental and emotional needs. I mean, Charlie basically told Sam that she never got a chance to grieve the loss of the love of her life because she was too busy trying not to be murdered by angels. I think she’s earned the right to take a little time. Back off, man!
I don’t really get why Sam is campaigning so hard to keep Charlie from leaving. As recently as Season 11 he still had hope for something “more” in his life. Why is he begrudging Charlie the chance to find her own more? I would wonder if this is meant as a counterpoint to Michael, that while he’s building an army of monsters, Sam is building an army of hunters.
I would wonder if I thought that Andrew Dabb had any actual plan for the arc of this season and doesn’t just throw ideas at the wall and hope for the best.
At the Bunker, Dean pours himself a glass of sweet, sweet healing booze while Jack sips a coffee. Jack is like, so a silver stake through the heart … that’s love. Dean chuckles and says love can get crazier than that. He tells Jack he did good. Jack says he was also right, ipso facto he should be allowed to hunt!
Dean explains it’s not about being right. He says Jack is going to make mistakes. He does not point out the mistakes that Jack has already made. Instead, he tells Jack that what matters is how he handles himself after, and what he learns from them. Jack adds a third element—how to not beat yourself up over your mistakes.
Dean says he’ll talk to Sam about getting Jack out on more hunts and get him a crate of cough drops. Jack says he’s fine. And then he collapses on the floor while bleeding from his nose and mouth. That’s all part of being human, right?