“Peace of Mind”
March 14, 2019
THEN: “You’re keeping the snake?”
Team Free Will 2.0 is each processing Michael’s defeat and death in their own way. Jack is dealing by wearing all black, bonding with Noah the gorgon’s snake, Felix, and moving pencils with his mind.
Castiel frets over how much—if any—of Jack’s soul is left. If only there was some way they could check and know for sure …
And I know Show goes out of its way to pretend that Season 6 doesn’t exist, but tell me that the shot of Jack holding Felix isn’t a deadass hint that Jack’s soul is gone and he’s totally going dark side.
Cas shares his concerns with Dean, who seems to be eating his feelings. All that crushing guilt of not being able to keep Michael contained has just been slapped between two pieces of bread and smothered with mayo and bacon.
Cas thinks Dean can help Jack navigate his questionable soul status, given Dean’s experience with Sam during the season that shall not be named.
Or, you know, just have Sam talk to him?
Sam is grieving the loss of the AV Clubbers and using a steady stream of cases to bury the trauma of their deaths. I would be more invested in Sam’s pain if Show had actually spent any time on these characters. Other than Maggie we didn’t really get to know any of them. And how much did we really see of Sam interacting with them?
I’m actually more curious about Mary and AV!Bobby’s reactions. I mean, Mary was prepared to stay in the AV and abandon her sons for these randos. And these were Bobby’s people. He was the one who kept most of them alive in the AV.
But all of this suggests that I care about the AV Club, which I don’t, moving on.
Cas tells Dean he’ll join Sam on the latest case in Arkansas. He suggests Dean spend time with Jack and try to get him to open up. Dean is like,
He questions why Jack would even talk to him, and it’s like all their bonding in “Unhuman Nature” never even happened.
Sam and Cas investigate the death of Conrad Martin, who, as the kid in the convenience mart describes it, “went all Scanners.” Cas asks Griffin to clarify—was it more Scanners 1, 2 or 3?
Wait, did … did writer Meghan Fitzmartin remember that Metatron downloaded all of his pop culture knowledge into Cas in Season 9? Did that just happen?
Griffin directs them to Pleasantville, just a few miles down the road. He warns them that it’s a little … weird. They find a town that, to Cas, seems to have been plucked right out of a Saturday Evening Post. Sam is like a what in the who now? Cas says he looks at them sometimes after Sam falls asleep at night.
“They’re very soothing.”
They question a couple on the street, Justin and Cindy Smith. Good golly gosh, Justin hasn’t heard about any deaths, but tells them to check at Harrington’s Malt Shop across the street. Be sure to try a milkshake!
Justin notices Sam’s cell phone and is confounded when Sam tells him what it is. Cindy drags him away and I was sure she was a witch or a god or somehow responsible for the town’s shenanigans.
Spoiler alert: she’s not.
She does tell Justin they need to hurry on to the bake sale because her cakes are getting cold—which I would certainly hope they are! Otherwise, the frosting is going to slide right off those suckers.
Jack is in the Bunker’s kitchen trying to find something that Felix will eat. He tells Dean the snake seems sad. Dean’s energy during this scene is weird and awkward, as though he’s never had a conversation with a person, much less with Jack.
As they talk, Dean picks up a takeout container and gives it a sniff. He opens it and shudders at the sight of the two small live white mice inside.
I note this, one: because I love any time we see Dean’s need to be tactile and sniff, touch, or taste his environment; and two: because I love snakes. They are legit the coolest. There is a photo of me holding a boa constrictor at a child’s birthday party and I look like a crazy person, such is my joy at handling this snake.
But to have a snake big enough to be worth having you have to feed it mice and I’m not trying to have frozen rodents next to my ice cream.
Anyhoo, Dean asks Jack if he’d like to go for a drive. Not a hunt, just a field trip. They drive through the night and Dean offers Jack some car snacks. Jack isn’t hungry, so Dean suggests Jack try feeding the snake some snacks. I am vexed—VEXED!—by this. Car snacks can’t be healthy for the snake. These dummies have the ability to research obscure bits of lore but can’t Google, “what do snakes eat?”
Jack contemplates the snacks. He holds two packages containing cream-filled cakes. One angel food. One devil’s food. WHICH ONE WILL HE PICK??!? WHICH SNACK CAKE WILL DETERMINE WHETHER JACK IS GOOD OR EVIL??
He picks the angel food. Dean heaves a sigh of relief.
Sam and Cas take a seat at the busy malt shop’s counter. Sunny Harrington immediately places shakes in front of them—vanilla and strawberry, respectively. No, they didn’t order them, but the first one is free, and everyone loves them. YOU WILL ASSIMILATE.
Sam takes a sip, and Chuckdamn,
Cas sniffs at his but doesn’t drink it. Probably because it would taste like molecules. Also, that shake is fully a cursed food. Calling it!
Sunny seems to have a preternatural ability to anticipate patron orders. Mr. Harrington says he would lose his mind if it wasn’t for that girl. FORESHADOWING! Chip introduces himself—Sam and Cas must be the flatfoots he keeps hearing about. Cas is like, we’ve been here for five minutes.
Chip smiles and says it’s a small town. Folks in Pleasantville are a little old fashioned, but they take care of each other. It’s awful what happened to Conrad. The police said he died of an aneurysm. Cas corrects him.
“Oh, no. His head exploded.”
“Like a ripe melon on the sun.”
With that vivid bit of business concluded, they call next at Dowling’s Boarding House to sweep for sulphur, hex bags, the usual. The door opens before they knock.
Ms. Dowling shows them into Conrad’s room. Such a nice young man. Shame what happened to him. She says he’d only been in town for a few weeks. She tells Sam she doesn’t have people coming through her establishment, only young men. The very idea of young women living on their own! It’s not proper. Morals, she says, and looks pointedly at Cas. Cas is like,
Sam asks Ms. Dowling for some coffee, leaving Cas alone to search the room. He finds a cache of love letters written by Sunny hidden under the mattress. Sam and his tiny teacup think that is definitely a lead they should check out. Tomorrow. Cas and Dean have been telling him he needs some rest and Ms. Dowling is making pot roast for dinner, so.
Cindy Smith carries a platter into the dining room while Justin searches through drawers while muttering, cell phone … cell phone … to himself. It suddenly comes to him. He bought a cell phone in Houston for his daughter, Rose …
The illusion of his fake life shatters. Justin pulls off his Buddy Holly glasses. He finds himself asking, well, how did I get here? This is not his beautiful house! This is not his beautiful wife! He flees from the house, crying out for help.
And then with a POP, his head explodes.
Dean and Jack arrive at their destination—Donatello’s. Dean skulks outside with the snake while the prophet and the Nephilim talk. Jack asks Donatello how he felt after Amara ripped his soul out of him. Donatello stirs his coffee and pours in the milk. The liquid swirls like, “ … a galaxy.”
Donatello says that our galaxy is all bright and shiny and spinny, but in its center lies a very large black hole. It’s the same for him. He’s empty inside. Jack tries to understand. He says Donatello feels bad.
Donatello says he feels nothing.
It’s a statement of fact. He places no judgment on it. It simply is.
Donatello adds that losing your soul doesn’t make you bad. It doesn’t make you anything. It’s an absence—of pity. Of empathy.
Donatello asks Jack how he feels. Jack doesn’t know. He knows he doesn’t feel nothing, but he doesn’t feel the same, either. He says maybe he just doesn’t know what nothing feels like. But mostly, he just doesn’t want his three dads to worry. And he wants them to stop hovering and give him time to figure things out.
Donatello says when he needs to “blend”, he thinks about the best man he knows and asks himself, “What would Mr. Rogers do?” Jack says Sam and Dean are the best men he knows. Donatello is like, Yahtzee! WWWD? What would the Winchesters do?
Oh, oh honey no. That feels like terrible advice. Jack would be much better off watching the Mr. Rogers documentary and letting his neighbor be his North Star.
Of course, Jack would also be well served to ask himself what would Dean not do, and then not do the thing. So many disasters could be averted if people would simply listen when Dean says not to do the thing.
Cas knocks on Sam’s door the next morning, but Sam isn’t in his room. Cas tells Ms. Dowling he’s looking for his partner. She clarifies that Cas is talking about the very nice, very tall young man. Cas full body eye rolls that yes, that is who he’s looking for.
“Over it” Cas is and remains my favorite flavor of Cas.
Ms. Dowling tells him of Justin’s sad demise and Cas follows Sam to the Smith home. Cindy invites him in and offers him a breakfast martini. Cas says he’s looking for his partner. Cindy looks at him with an expression of complete, blank incomprehension.
The tall man?
Hair? Cas says he has beautiful hair.
A symphony of doneness plays across Castiel’s face. He tries as delicately as he can to tell Cindy that her husband is dead. Cindy bursts into a peal of laughter. Is the agent drunk? Because her husband is fine.
Sam walks into the room and Castiel’s reality unspools. This. This must be what going mad feels like.
Sam is wearing a cardigan, the Buddy Holly glasses, and has his hair pulled back in a low pony. THE HAIR, YOU GUYS, THE HAIR! I CANNOT WITH THE HAIR!
He also thinks his name is Justin and has no idea who Cas is. The angel slowly realizes that something terribly, terribly wrong has happened and it is a delight. This whole scene—Jared and Misha with the able assist from guest actress Kimberley Shoniker—is just *chef’s kiss*.
Cas becomes increasingly alarmed. He’s not sure if this is a spell or a curse but Sam will SNAP THE HELL OUT OF IT!
Sam gasps! He will thank Castiel to WATCH. HIS. MOUTH! If can’t remain civil then he can skedaddle. When Cas persists in calling him Sam, “Justin” decides it’s time to show his guest the door. He calls out to Cindy to grab Cas’s hat.
“I DON’T WEAR A HAT!”
Sam primly tells Cas that he should have his mouth washed out with soap before slamming the door in his face.
Later that evening, Cas goes to the malt shop to confront Sunny. He accuses her of being a witch, of brainwashing Sam, and doing something to the entire town. He tosses her love letters on the counter as evidence. Cas notes that, in between her steamy, erotic musings, she begged Conrad to leave town. Was she afraid that she would hurt him?
Sunny professes her ignorance and innocence. Cas goes all angel glowy and threatens to rip the truth from her mind. Her father appears backed by two townies … and Sam. Chip guffaws. Did Cas think it was the milkshakes?
He might not have, but I totes did.
Chip explains that when the mill shut down his town started to die. Then his wife passed. The world just kept getting worse until one day he screamed, “JUST MAKE THINGS BETTER.” And things got better. Because Chip figured out that he had the power to make people do whatever he wanted.
So Chip remade his town. He gave everyone new names, new lives. He made them happy. The ones who fought it, well … the mayor had to protect his home. He says Sunny knew enough to play along, but his tricks never worked on her. They’re too much alike.
Cas says Chip’s mind control doesn’t work on his because he isn’t human. Chip is like, cool, cool. And then sics his two henchies and Sam on the angel.
And Cas … Cas beats the crap out of them? He takes on all three men at once like this ain’t even his whole day?
SWEET JEBUS DID MEGHAN FITZMARTIN REMEMBER THAT CAS IS A BADASS?
Is this real life?
Sam blindside tackles Cas and takes him to the floor. He snatches the gladius from the angel’s sleeve, and how did he know it was there? I guess there are some things even Chip’s mind control can’t totally erase.
Cas tells Sam to fight it as they struggle, but Sam is happy! Can’t Cas see how happy Sam is?? Cas says he knows what it’s like to lose an army. He knows what it’s like to fail as a leader.
Cas tells Sam he can’t lose himself because if he does he fails Jack. He fails Dean. He fails all of those they’ve lost.
I was waiting for Cas to name check Maggie and I was going to flip a damn table.
Although I do like when Show actually allows characters to support each other through shared trauma. I don’t think they do it nearly enough. They’ve all been through some shit. It’s nice when they remind each other they aren’t alone in having gone through some shit.
Sunny flees the malt shop followed closely by her father. He tells her she’s responsible for Conrad’s death. For telling him the truth. For staying. Chip says she’s never even tried to stop him. Sunny spits that she made a promise to her mother not to leave her father, but he’s a monster.
Chip says he’s a god.
Sam pulls Chip away from Sunny. He says, no. Chip isn’t a god. They’ve met God.
“God has a beard!”
Chip mojos Cas across the street and hits Sam with the psychic melon popper. Sunny yells at her father to stop. She said, STOP! Her father jerks up short and slowly collapses to the ground but he is delighted! See, he told her! Sunny is just like him!
Sunny says, no, she isn’t. Her father hurts innocent people. If he wants to be happy, then BE HAPPY. Chip gasps and his face goes slack. He sags like a front yard blow up Santa that’s had its air let out.
Castiel places his hand on Chip’s head. He says Sunny has trapped her father inside his own mind in a beautiful world where he can never hurt anyone again. He can also never feed, bathe, or otherwise care for himself, so here’s hoping Sunny can physic him into a good long-term care facility.
Dean and Jack get back to the Bunker just a few minutes ahead of Cas and Sam—but Cas has already
thrown Sam under the bus filled Dean in on Sam’s out of body experience.
“I heard you wore a cardigan.”
Cas scurries off to check on Jack and no one mentions the grieving, traumatized, emotionally abused young woman with the Jessie the Antichrist-like power to shape reality to her will that’s been left behind in Arkansas to pick up the pieces of all the lives her father destroyed.
I’m sure it will sort itself out.
Dean focuses instead on how happy Sam seemed. Sam supposes he was, but he says Chip’s reality wasn’t real. Dean looks around the map room and says there’s not a lot of happy going on there.
The loss hits Sam all over again. You can see something break inside of him. He spits that he hates the Bunker right now. He hates it. Everywhere he looks he sees Maggie and the others.
Every refuge these boys have ever had—other than Baby (so far)—has been taken away from them. CAN’T THESE BOYS HAVE ONE PLACE ON THIS PLANET WHERE THEY CAN FEEL SAFE? WHY CAN’T THEY HAVE NICE THINGS?
Sam admits he’s been running them ragged on cases as an excuse to avoid the Bunker. But he says he has to stop. He can’t keep running.
“This is my home. This is our home.”
Jack is in his room with Felix. He tells the snake that he needs help getting over the loss of his friend. Sam and Dean would help, so that’s what Jack is going to do. He’s going to help. He’ll help Felix see his friend again.
And then he turns Felix to dust and sends the snake’s soul to Heaven.
Which, given that Noah the Gorgon is now in Purgatory, I can only imagine the confusion of both the angels and Felix when he suddenly shows up.
Watching from the hallway, Cas is like