“Don’t Go in the Woods”
March 21, 2019
“Hey guys, Jared, Jensen, and Misha here, and we have some big news …”
Before we get to the recap, let’s talk about what happened the day after this episode aired.
I heard about it first (appropriately) from Dear Leader Therese. And my response to the news that Supernatural would be ending next year after Season 15 was,
You know, I’m okay with that. It’s time.
And don’t get me wrong. I love this show. I’ve easy written 3/4 of a million words about Supernatural since I started recapping it in Season 4.
Sweet Chuck, I’ve devoted 10 years of my life to this show.
My marriage didn’t even last that long.
But while Supernatural can still hit me in the feels and delight me with its creativity, it’s been feeling a little … directionless … these last few seasons. I’ve never wanted this show I love to hang on to the point of being worse than bad—of becoming boring.
So in my head, I thought it was time. And then I found myself in an impromptu support session that Friday night with two of my longest-term watching buddies and dear friends. And that’s when it really started to sink in of what it meant for Supernatural to end.
I’ve always been a fan, but I have been an active part of very few fandoms. Two, to be exact. LOST came first, thanks to Therese and the amazing community she nurtured at Tubular—first in the comments and then in our weekly LOST chats.
I still miss those chats, and the people, almost 10 years later.
Supernatural wasn’t supposed to be a long term thing. It was supposed to be my transitional show, filling the hole left in my heart when Buffy ended. But Supernatural found its own place in my heart. And I became a part of a new community. New friendships were made and old ones got deeper through our shared love of these characters and stories.
The family bonds—blood and otherwise—celebrated through Supernatural found their expression in the real world, too.
And as my watcher buddy TortieGirl put it, “it’s going to take the end of an era to understand fully what the era truly was.”
It’s going to be both a long-ass and a too short year and a half.
And since it’s never too soon to start thinking about a reboot, I thought I had a great idea—what if Show could come back as an anthology, like American Horror Story, with all the actors we know and love playing different characters each season and Baby as the one constant—but I think this guy’s idea is better.
nasa employee: oh hey u guys are back early
astronaut: moon’s haunted
nasa employee: what?
astronaut: *loading a pistol and getting back on the rocket-ship* moon’s haunted
— dustin Couch (@Dustinkcouch) October 30, 2018
10/10 would watch.
Sam is up early, and get this, he’s found a case. A young woman killed in an apparent animal attack outside Big Creek State Park in Iowa. A park where more than 50 people have gone missing over the last 70 years.
And this is why nature is terrible and you shouldn’t go out in it.
Dean agrees it sounds like their kind of thing and is ready for the two of them to hit the road—just the two of them.
Cas is in Branson, or on a riverboat, or wherever characters are being shoved these days when there’s no story for them. And Jack … well, Donatello says he’s probably fine and not a soulless monster, but it’s the nephilim’s powers that concern Dean. He says they’ve gotten them in trouble before *cough* a dead security guard says what he says nothing because Jack accidentally killed him *cough*
Dean just wants to make sure that Jack is right before they put him back in the field. Sam reluctantly agrees.
Jack is in the library reading up on the Haitian criminal code. Did they know it’s officially against the law to turn a human into a zombie? They did not, but it seems legit.
Sam says they’re heading out on a case and Jack intuits that they don’t want him to come. Dean jumps in and says they don’t want to leave the Bunker empty, in case Mary or one of the other hunters who wasn’t murdered by Michael call and need something.
Sam’s bitchface is like, WHY ARE YOU LYING TO THE BOY, DEAN? and honestly Sam, pick a lane. He and Cas were both pissy when Dean was blunt about Jack not coming with in “The Scar” and now he’s pissy at Dean for sugarcoating it. PICK. A. LANE.
Dean adds that the Bunker is in need of a restock and hands Jack a shopping list.
Beer is on the list, twice. I’m going to pretend this is Show’s way of acknowledging that Dean has lingering Michael issues to work through, too. Because as we remember from the Season that Shall Not be Named, Dean deals with trauma by shoving it down and letting it come out in spurts of violence and alcoholism.
The boys motor to Iowa where they interview Sheriff Adam Beach from a ton of credits, but mostly I know him from the movie Smoke Signals, SVU, and the first few seasons of Hell on Wheels. Sheriff Adam Beach is going all in on his story that coyotes killed poor Barbara.
He does not mention that she was his son Tom’s girlfriend and that both he and Tom were there when she was snatched from the gross park bathroom and killed. By coyotes.
The townie trio from “Lebanon” pull up to the mini mart after picking up lunch. Eliot is watching a Ghostfacers video on his phone. He says they’re really cool. Stacy says no. They’re really not.
Oh, we like Stacy. Stacy can stay.
Jack is waiting outside of the closed mini mart. Max recognizes him as that Bambi kid. Stacy smiles and waves a greeting.
Jack does enjoy meeting new people.
Eliot is still watching the video. When Ed says, “The Winchesters still suck ass, though.”, something pings in the boy’s brain. Jack lives with Sam and Dean! And they’re not here with him … Eliot excitedly asks if they’re off fighting ghosts. Jack is flummoxed by the question.
“What’s a ghost? I SHOULD GO.”
Max calls him back. She says it’s cool. They know. Jack lets out a relieved breath. He says he doesn’t like to lie. It makes his stomach hurt.
The girls watch Jack as he shops. Stacy says she feels bad for him. Max agrees. She supposes the Bunker must smell like beer, Kleenex, and Old Spice.
Sam is anal enough, and Dean domestic enough, that I imagine they keep things pretty tidy. I think the Bunker smells like gun cleaning solvent, gunpowder, lemony kitchen cleaner, and vanilla from the Glade Plug Ins that Dean has discretely placed throughout their home.
Eliot tells Jack that he’s reading up on ghosts and Jack shares that he’s been reading a book about zombies. Which are real-ish, but mostly disappointing. Jack says there are other monsters though. Vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters—he’s seen one of those—djinn, rugaru …
Jack chuckles to himself. Rugaru is a funny word to say. Rugaru.
Jack goes on. Wraiths, sirens, demons, ghouls. All sorts of things! And he knows about all of them. Eliot all but goes down on one knee when he asks if Jack will be his best friend.
Max asks Jack if he ever hangs out. Jack says they have movie nights on Tuesdays. Dean usually picks.
“I’ve seen Lost Boys like, 36 times.”
Max clarifies. She means with kids his age. Jack says, well, he’s two.
“I’m twenty-two.” That’s a good solid age and Jack is sticking with it.
The kids are like, whatever weirdo, come hang out with us tomorrow. I was concerned when I first read the synopsis of this episode that Jack was going to get hurt trying to impress kids that were mean and just wanted to make fun of him. And while the townie trio is bemused by Jack, they also seem to genuinely want to connect with him, seeing Jack as someone who’s a little lost and maybe lonely.
And I am living for the Eliot and Jack bromance.
A couple hikes through the woods at night. Sarah tells Fitz to ignore the creepy whistling that echos through the trees. It’s just the wind.
Oh, that’s not the wind.
Sarah runs off leaving Fitz behind to be eaten by Murder!Groot. The next morning, Sheriff Adam Beach rolls up on scene and orders EMS and Search & Rescue out of the park. Coyote did it! Wrap it up!
The sheriff is vexed—VEXED—to find Sam and Dean out tromping through the woods later that night. He and the tactical shotgun he has pressed to the base of Dean’s skull figure these boys don’t listen too well.
Dean asks if the word “Kohonta” means anything to him. Sheriff Adam Beach lies and says no. Dean is like, well, we gave you a chance, and neatly strips him of his weapon.
The clock is ticking, so Dean is just going to cut to the chase. Monsters are real and he and Sam hunt them. So, how about they try this again?
Sheriff Adam Beach is like, yeah it’s called a Kohonta and it’s basically a wendigo. It’s a tribal legend he hasn’t heard since he was a kid. He says his tribe bound Murder!Groot to the forest and marked the trees to keep people away, but that was a long time ago.
But it’s cool, the boys are here now and will take care of it. Rather than being relieved—as I think many civilians are—that he can let this be someone else’s problem, the sheriff is pissed. He demands to know why the boys don’t tell people. He says they should put it on YouTube! He’s angry at being denied the knowledge needed to fight back against the monsters.
Dean simply says that people don’t always believe when they learn the truth. The sheriff himself didn’t believe. Not at first. Dean adds that knowing about monsters and fighting them are two different things. Sheriff Adam Beach pushes back. Why do they get to make that choice for everyone? He asks them to imagine the lives they could save if more people knew!
I’m fascinated by this scene because I don’t know that we’ve ever really seen someone argue for trying to mainstream hunting. Kudos to episode co-writer Nick Vaught for bringing that discussion forward.
I’ve always been fascinated with the idea of Sam and Dean having this burden of knowledge that monsters exist and not being able to share it with the masses because of the consequences. #Supernatural #DontGoInTheWoods #SPNFamiIy
— Nick Vaught (@vaught88) March 22, 2019
I’m a huge fan of Mike Carey’s Felix Castor novels, where the supernatural is out in the open in a modern world set 10 years after the dead woke up and just started walking around again like people. I always thought it would be interesting for Show to take a similar turn where everyone knows about monsters and the boys have to adjust with working out in the open.
While I might be intrigued by that idea, Sam is having none of it. He’s been listening in silence to Dean and the sheriff, biting his tongue until he can’t. He says, “No.” He tells the sheriff it doesn’t work like that and says it in a tone that brooks no argument.
“People die. Even when they know how to fight, people still die.”
And Jared sells the hell out of this scene, but people have always died. It just doesn’t sing for me that losing the AV Clubbers would resonate so much more deeply for Sam than anyone else they’ve lost. Not to mention the fact that it doesn’t seem to have affected Dean at all. What happened to, ‘I’m never getting over this’? Because it seems like Show has decided he’s over it.
Sheriff Adam Beach’s cell phone buzzes. Son Tom is wracked with grief and guilt over Barbara’s death and he has to do something about it. He’s going after the coyote. The adults follow young Tom to an old cabin where Murder!Groot is trying to eat his face off. Fight fight struggle fight. Dean gets the kid to safety and then lures the Kohonta out of the cabin so the sheriff can stab it in the heart with a silver knife. That’s nice. That feels like closure for the sheriff.
And then the Kohonta melts into a puddle of green goo that they try not to get on their shoes.
Jack joins the townie trio at the old farmhouse where the kids were all almost killed by the ghost of John Wayne Gacy. He drops a stack of thick tomes on the table in front of Eliot. The boy eagerly begins sorting through the books.
Max and Stacy are snuggled up on the sofa. Jack joins them and, noticing the equally thick book Stacy is reading, asks her what the “sat” is. The girls are perplexed by his questions, but then Max gets it.
“You were homeschooled, huh?”
Yes. Yes he was, says Jack.
Eliot turns to a page with a woodcut depicting a demon. He asks if they really look like that. Jack says no. They don’t have horns. He tells Eliot that demons look like smoke. Unless they’re possessing a human. Then they can look like anyone!
Jack doesn’t pick up how uncomfortable that idea is making Stacy. He’s just so pleased to be sharing this knowledge with his new friends. And when Eliot asks if he’s seen a demon before, Jack proudly says he’s killed one.
In the womb.
WITH HIS FETAL MIND!
He doesn’t, but maybe he should have. Because Max isn’t convinced that Jack is telling the truth. She wants to know how Mr. Big Shot Demon Killer did it.
Max is kind of a shit stirrer.
And I like Max and Stacy together, but if we’re being honest, Max grows up to be the significant other who is late on their half of the rent, never does dishes, and swears they’re going to look for a job tomorrow.
Shit, I keep forgetting Max stole Baby, too. And we all know the price for defiling Metallicar.
The kids all tromp out to the backyard where Jack introduces them to the angel blade. No MAXWELLIFER, it’s not made out of angels, it kills them. Also demons. Eliot is all GIMME, leaving Stacy to be the voice of reason. She reminds Eliot of the time he almost killed himself with a slinky.
“He tried to eat it.”
Eliot tells Jack he was three. Jack’s no judgment, seems legit head nod makes the moment poetry.
Max gives the pot another stir, asking Jack how to use the blade. Uh …
Jack says there are some standard hand-to-hand combat moves, like the lightsaber swish or the overhand throw.
Only, when Jack tries it, the blade just clatters against the fence and thuds to the ground. The bored children scroll through their phones while Jack tries over and over and over again some more into the dark of night to stick the dang landing. He insists he can do it! Just watch.
Jack’s eyes glow golden. He summons the blade into his hand before burying it up to the hilt in the trunk of a tree. Eliot is delighted! His best friend is a Jedi! Emboldened by Eliot’s response, Jack pulls the blade out of the tree and sets it flying in a large, swooping figure eight.
Max and Eliot are enrapt by the coolest thing they’ve ever seen. Stacy is like, IS NO ONE ELSE CONCERNED BY THIS? WHY ARE YOU NOT CONCERNED? THIS IS HOW EYES GET PUT OUT.
The blade’s speed increases. Max tunes in to Stacy’s unease and tells Jack he can cut it out now. He insists they’re safe. He can control it, see? Max shouts at him to stop, but Jack is too consumed by the thrill of his own power to listen. AREN’T THEY HAVING FUN?
And then Stacy impales herself on the blade.
Jack crashes back to reality as Stacy crumples to the ground. IT’S ALL FUN AND GAMES UNTIL SOMEBODY GETS IMPALED. Max crouches by her side and tells Eliot to call 911. Jack is like, everything was fine until Stacy flinched! But he can fix it. He pulls the gladius from her gut and glowy hand heals Stacy’s wound.
Everything is fine now, right? They’re all good? Best friends forever? Max snarls at him that everything is not okay. Eliot tells Jack to stay away.
Young Tom is wheeled into an ambulance by EMS. He asks his father, DID WE GET IT? DID WE GET THE COYOTE? Sheriff Adam Beach is like, yeah son. We got it. We got the coyote. The sheriff doesn’t know what else to tell his son. Sam—who just minutes ago argued the merits of secrecy—is all MAYBE YOU SHOULD TRY TELLING YOUR SON THE TRUTH. HE DESERVES TO KNOW.
And I get that there’s a difference between telling people the truth about monsters as a concept, and telling an individual the truth about something they have direct experience of, but Sam’s tone is strangely self-righteous. Samrighteous, if you will.
Sam broods over the case as the boys drive home. Dean questions if telling young Tom the truth is the right call. He plays devil’s advocate, saying that knowing the truth won’t make the kid’s life any better.
“When in doubt, lie.”
OH, LIKE YOU DID WITH JACK, is Sam’s retort. Sam says they’re just avoiding what could be a bigger issue. Jack says he’s fine, but he’s a kid. How many time did they tell John they were fine when they were kids, just to make him happy?
YES, SAM. THIS. STAY WITH THAT THOUGHT.
And can we talk a minute about how out of their depth Jack’s three dads are? They’re raising a super powerful being with the impulse control of a toddler and the decision making abilities of a teenager. And they only seem to filter those things through the lens of hunting. I don’t think they appreciate how much he needs other people–other civilians—to help provide some balance.
Jack is back in the library where the boys left him. He’s sorting through books with an intense energy. He must be looking for some bit of lore that will tell him how to win back his friends. Dean says the hunt was disgusting and Jack says he got all the groceries—except for the beer. He didn’t have ID.
“You have tons of IDs!”
AND LIES MAKE JACK’S STOMACH HURT. That seems like a fine opening for a Very Serious Discussion. Sam sits down and says they need to talk about Jack’s powers. Dean admits they didn’t want Jack on the hunt because they didn’t want him using them. Sam sugarcoats the why, telling Jack they want to make sure he’s “comfortable” with them. Which isn’t a lie, but it’s not exactly the truth either, is is SAMUEL?
Dean apologizes for not being open with Jack. He says they care about Jack and, because of that, Jack deserves the truth.
Jack weighs their words, and considers Donatello’s advice, and asks himself what would the Winchesters do in this situation? The answer he arrives at is, ‘Tell the truth with every good intention of honoring it while also leaving out some key information.’
So he smiles and says he won’t use his powers without permission. Promise. He especially won’t use them to show off for his new townie friends and almost accidentally kill one of them, which is definitely not a thing that happened while the adults were gone. Honest.