‘Supernatural’: Mary Winchester is complete

Supernatural
“Absence”
April 11, 2019

THEN: “She’s fine.  Everything’s going to be fine.”

 

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NOW

“Mary Winchester is complete.”

Sam and Dean return to an empty Bunker.  They’re not concerned that they beat Jack and Mary back. They have no reason to be.

Dean raises his beer bottle in a toast to another miraculous Sam Winchester survival.  He’s relieved that Jack was there to heal Sam.  I mean, there’s only so much blunt force trauma the hair can absorb.

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Dean says that lately, it feels like they’d be up the creek without the kid.

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Sam chuckles and says Dean sounds a little bummed that Jack took care of Michael and Nick for them.  Is that a subtweet on Andrew Dabb?  BECAUSE DEAN MAY NOT BE BOTHERED ABOUT HOW MICHAEL’S STORY ENDED, BUT I AM.

When Jack doesn’t answer his phone—and they realize Mary’s is sitting on the map table, along with her car keys—they start putting out calls to friends. No one has heard anything.

Cas checks in late to the game, still catching up on the whole Nick raising Lucifer from the Empty thing.  His eye roll is all of our eye rolls that Lucifer is still a going concern on this show. Dean is like, yeah we’ve moved on from that, now we’re just trying to find Jack and Mary.  

And Cas wasn’t the first person they called, because?

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Cas reacts with barely disguised alarm when he learns that Mary was alone with Jack.  He tells Dean about Jack turning Felix the snake to dust.  Dean snarks that Cas was right to wait until they were already freaked out to tell him that their son is killing small animals.

“I don’t think Jack is well, Dean.”

ya think friends o really

Sam remembers that GPS is a thing and pulls up an app on his laptop to track Jack’s phone. Dean wonders if it will work LIKE HE DIDN’T USE GPS IN “BORN UNDER A BAD SIGN” AND “LAZARUS RISING” TO FIND SAM.  

Why are you trying to hurt me, Bobo?

They watch as Jack bounces across the globe from Nepal to Peru to Paris to Madagascar before finally landing, exhausted and spent, outside of the cabin in Oklahoma Longton, Kansas.

Jack is gone when they arrive some time later. Sam finds Nick’s crispy corpse inside the cabin.  Dean checks around back.  He walks into the woods and stops when he reaches a scattering of ash in the middle of what looks like a blast zone.

No.  No no no no no.  Those cannot be Mary’s ashes. I rebuke this scene. I refuse to believe that they just willy-nilly killed Mary offscreen and that’s how her story ends.

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Cas arrives at the cabin, but doesn’t immediately go in.  He thinks back on a memory of Mary, beat to hell, rewarding herself with a candy bar after a successful vampire hunt (as you do).  He remembers her taking a step back when he reached out to heal the bloody gash on her arm. 

He remembers how she admitted that she was still a little afraid of him.  She hadn’t been back that long—angels were still pretty new to her.  She tells him they should get back.  The boys will be waiting.

So, push pause.

Writer Robert Berens confirmed on twitter that this memory occurs after episode 12.3 “The Foundry” (which he also wrote), during the time Mary was giving herself some space.

Except that Castiel healed her in 12.2 “Mamma Mia” after they rescue Sam from Lady Cardboard.  Mary was comfortable enough with Cas in “The Foundry” to talk with him about fitting in and belonging. And she didn’t reconnect with her sons until 12.6 “Celebrating the Life of Asa Fox.”  

So what even is this bullshit retcon of a memory?

This episode is testing me.

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The scene is redeemed a small bit as Castiel remembers telling Mary how glad Sam and Dean were to have her back. That whatever she was still dealing with and however long it took, she should know they were happy.  Castiel told her that finally, they didn’t have to be so alone.

“Castiel, they were never alone.”

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Inside the cabin, the boys are trying to make sense of what happened. Dean cautions that they don’t know what happened.  He says they don’t know what Nick did, implying that Jack acted in self-defense. It’s shades of Dean defending Cas in “The Man Who Would Be King.”

Bless his heart for always wanting to think the best of the people he loves.

Well, maybe not always.  Castiel walks in.  Dean can’t look at him.  Sam gives Cas the sitrep and Dean repeats again that they don’t know what happened, but … if Jack did something to Mary … Dean looks at Cas and says his angel is dead to him.

That line should carry a huge punch, but honestly, it’s just funny to me. Because if I had a dime for everyone or thing that I’ve declared dead over the years … I still haven’t forgiven the winery that had the temerity to card me and my underage roommates in college.  It’s been 25 years and Prince Michel Vineyards? 

STILL DEAD TO ME. 

Dean’s worry and fear for Mary congeal into fury at Castiel for knowing something was wrong and not telling them.  Cas says he was scared.  He believed in Jack for so long.  He believed Jack was good.  That he could be good for the world.

“He was good for us.”

The angel’s faith never wavered and then he saw Jack kill Felix. Dean is DONE with hearing about the snake, but he doesn’t seem to realize that most serial killers start out by harming small animals.  THE SNAKE IS RELEVANT, DEANWARD.

Cas says that Jack’s action wasn’t motivated by malice or evil.  The boy simply saw a problem that needed solving.

“What he did wasn’t bad; it was the absence of good.”

Cas says he saw it, but they were a family.  And he didn’t want to lose that.

So he thought he could fix it on his own.  And, I just … how long has Cas lived here? How many disasters have occurred—the Leviathans, Purgatory, the angels being cast out of Heaven, Lucifer Part Deux—because Cas felt compelled to fix something on his own?

CASTIEL, STOP HELPING.

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Cas tells Dean he’s failed him.  And he’s failed Jack.  And … Dean snaps at Cas not to even say her name! Rowena calls before Dean’s emotions can fully boil over.  She says Jack’s energy is too unstable to use scrying magic to find him.  It was liking looking at the sun.

I felt that way the first time I met Jensen at a con.  Like looking directly at the sun.

Sam asks about Mary.  The line goes silent.  The words catch in Rowena’s throat.  Dean barks at her to say it! Rowena says she doesn’t know what happened, or where Mary is, but she can tell them with certainty that Mary Winchester is no longer on this Earth.

Okay, that’s fine.  Maybe Jack opened up a rift and zapped her into another Alternate Universe. HE ZAPPED HER INTO ANOTHER ALTERNATE UNIVERSE.

Bobs Burgers Tina Everything is Fine

Sam looks gutted.  Dean gets that expression that says, there it is.  There’s the other shoe he’s always waiting for to drop.  He walks away and leans against a kitchen chair.  You can see the tension building in his shoulders.  And then he picks up the chair and slams it against the wall.  

Splintered pieces of wood fly through the air. Sam flinches like a shot just went off.  He looks lost and frightened.  

“So what do we do?”

Dean quietly says they do what they always do when they lose one of their own.  They fight.  They fight to bring them back.  He says Rowena has the Book of the Damned and she’s resurrected herself more times than they can count.  Dean barks at Cas to go to Heaven and find their mother.

Jack has the same thought as Dean, but gets to Rowena first.  He snaps that he needs magic, but his voice goes small and quiet when Rowena asks why.

“I killed Mary.”

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The look on Rowena’s face.  She thought it was just her and Crowley who got bullshit off-screen deaths.  Jack quickly says it was an accident.  He didn’t mean to! He just wanted her to be quiet, he just wanted her gone, but only for a second, and … 

“I thought it.”

And now Jack needs Rowena to help him undo it.  Rowena has been dumbstruck this whole time. Now she carefully tells Jack that the magic she’s used on herself only works as a failsafe. It has to be prepared in advance.

Jack looks devastated but then swings back to manic. He snatches up the Book of the Damned.  Rowena agrees that there is a spell, one that Agnes the witch developed in prison to bring back dead companions. She says the Necromantiorum requires enormous power, although the ingredients are relatively simple.  Nothing that wouldn’t be readily at hand in the Bunker.

There’s a pounding at the door and Jack realizes that Rowena has been stalling.  She pleads with him to just talk to Sam and Dean.  They’re his kin!  Sam kicks in the door just as Jack wings away with Rowena.

They land in the Bunker.  They walk through the library and Jack glances down at a scarred section of floor.  He remembers Mary patiently teaching him a knife flip move.  He remembers telling her that when they got Dean back he was going to kill Jack for ruining the hardwood.  And Mary sliding the table over to hide the marks.

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Jack’s memory becomes Sam’s memory.  Sam and his grief beard remember Mary reassuring him when he worried he was neglecting Jack while looking for Michael.  He remembers her saying it was nice to know she wasn’t the only one with parental guilt.

Mary asked him how much he and Dean went through as children when she wasn’t there for them? She says even after Amara brought her back and gave her a second chance … things got complicated. 

“I got complicated.”

She tells Sam that her point is that parenting is always a struggle.  You always feel like you’re failing … but somehow your kids are amazing.  She gently takes Sam’s chin and turns his head to look at her.  She says somehow they’re literally the bravest, kindest, most heroic men on the planet.

And this is the point at which the flashbacks in this episode just made me angry.  Because why couldn’t we have seen these moments play out in-series before?

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Now, don’t get me wrong.  I’ve got nothing against a flashback per se. Show has adeptly used them in the past, but in this instance, it feels more like Dabb et al suddenly realized, oh shit! They hadn’t actually developed Mary as a character over the past three seasons.  And now that she’s dead, they needed to quickly gin up some cheap emotion. 

And that is some bullshit.

I’ve complained at length—at length—over the past three seasons about the missed opportunities to craft a compelling story for Mary. Her sense of alienation and grief over what she lost was a profound thing and should have been explored in Season 12—and it just wasn’t.  

Instead, Show kept shoving her offscreen for episodes at a time. First, because she needed “space,” then to work with the BMoL.  She spent the better part of S13 in the A!V and most of this season in Donna’s cabin. 

When Show was forced to write for her, it was to portray her as cold and aloof, ready to ditch her family at the drop of a hat. We never really got to see her develop a relationship with her boys.  Did she ever really get to know them?  She was in some ways always a ghost in their lives. 

Why did Andrew Dabb even bother to bring her back if all he planned to do was erase her?  Mary deserved better than that as a character and we deserve better as viewers.

One job, Dabb.  You had one job.

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Dean is spinning. His hopes were pinned on Rowena and now Jack has her. He doesn’t know what to do next so he turns his ire—and the blame—back on Cas. 

Sam has moved from hopelessness to regret and self-recrimination. He says it wasn’t just Cas.  They knew Jack was dangerous—they’ve always known. He says Dean more than anyone.  From the very beginning, Dean knew.

HOW IS THAT HELPING SAM? THAT IS NOT HELPING.

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Sam does not apologize for the raft of shit he gave Dean for being fearful of what Jack could become or for blaming Dean for how “messed up” Jack was in the beginning. 

Sam does take ownership for making the call to use Lily Sunder’s magic to bring Jack back. He says Jack didn’t ask for that. Sam made the decision for him. A decision Sam acknowledges Dean was adamantly against.

Dean does not point out that—once again, again some more—all of this could have all been avoided if SAM HAD LISTENED WHEN DEAN SAID NOT TO DO THE THING.  Instead, he says Sam didn’t know.  They didn’t know. Sam is like, EXACTLY WE DIDN’T KNOW.  

Wait, what? So they knew, but they didn’t know? Is this Schrodinger’s mea culpa?  

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Sam is also feeling guilt for taking off after the AV Clubbers died and dumping Jack on Cas, even though he says he knew something was going to happen.  He says he just didn’t know it was going to be this.

This moment would carry more, well any, weight, if I actually cared about Maggie and the randos. Or if we had seen Cas struggling to help Jack navigate living a life without his soul. It’s like there’s a missing episode between “Ouroboros” and “Peace of Mind” where they could have told that story.  

SHOW, Show.  Don’t tell. 

Never one to miss an opportunity to take a ride on the self-loathing train, Dean says he did it, too.  That he listened when Donatello said Jack seemed fine, but not when the prophet warned him about Jack’s power and that he couldn’t really be sure.  Dean says he just couldn’t see it.

Jack glowers and hovers while Rowena prepares the ingredients for the spell.  Is she done yet?  Is she done yet?  She keeps her cool and keeps to her task.  She tells Jack that she could have fought him at her flat—not saying that she would have won—but she didn’t, because she knows that they all want the same thing.  They all want to bring Mary back.

Jack unravels further when the hallucination that began taunting him at the cabin reappears. The devil on his shoulder is Lucifer or Nick or some mental mashup of the two.  Either way, WILL WE NEVER BE RID OF THESE CHARACTERS? 

Mary gets sent off to Donna’s cabin, we haven’t seen AV!Bobby in 84 years, Kaia Ren is still waiting to get her spear back, but Nick we can spend time on, even after he’s dead.

Fair play to Mark Pellegrino, but is he holding a member of Andrew Dabb’s family hostage in an undisclosed location?

Rowena completes the delicious spell salad while Jack paces and mutters behind her.  She says they have everything they need.  All but the last thing—Mary’s body.

Jack takes her back to the cabin.  He leads Rowena to the blast zone and the pile of ash that was once Mary Winchester.  When Rowena tells him it can’t be done, Jack snatches the salad from her and says he’ll cast the spell himself.

Rowena crouches down next to the boy and gently tells him whatever he brings back, it won’t be Mary.  Ruth Connell is just splendid in this episode and especially here. Kudos. Jack snaps at her to help him and Rowena refuses.  She says she won’t.  

Rowena has learned there are some lines that cannot and should not be crossed.  Also, she’s seen that episode of Buffy when Dawn tries to bring Joyce back.  She knows nothing good will come of this.

Jack seems like he might be reconsidering … but then his hand shoots out and he shoves Rowena hard in the shoulder, sending her crashing back into her apartment.  Rowena dusts herself off, collapses into an overstuffed chair, and calls Sam.  She tells him that in Jack’s present state, she fears he will bring back something terrible.

Jack gathers up a handful of ash and sprinkles it over the salad.  He drops in a lit match and walks in a circle around the smoking bowl, reciting aloud the necromancy ritual.  The sky above him begins to boil.

The boys pull up to the cabin. Jack sees the car and glowy eyes kills the engine.  Oh, he’s fucking with Baby?  I’m sorry, but Jack has to die now. That’s just how it is.  I don’t make the rules.

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Sam and Dean race to the blast zone.  Jack turns to face them. He looks shattered. He says it didn’t work.  He flutters away leaving behind a lifeless body.  Dean picks it up and cradles in his arms the thing that looks like his mother.

He remembers Mary resting her head on his shoulder.  They were in the Impala.  She was asleep, leaning against him.  Dean looked down at his mother and smiled.  Perfectly happy.  Perfectly content.

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Fuck this show, man.

Sam sits in the Bunker’s kitchen looking through the few photos the boys have of Mary.  

“She’s in Heaven. And she’s at peace.”  

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Cas joins Sam at the table. Dean stands behind them in the doorway.  Cas says he talked to Allie from The 100, who allowed him to see Mary’s Heaven.  There are two sets of dates on her door: 1954 – 1983 and 2016 – 2019.  When the boys make their final trip to Heaven, they’re going to need a bigger door.

Cas tells the boys that Mary is happy.  She’s with John and there’s no sorrow.  No guilt.  Just joy.

Sam says he talked to Rowena.  And she thinks that what Jack brought back is just an empty shell.  A replica. “Incapable of holding life,” she said.

The framing of this scene is interesting.  All three men are alone in their grief, but Sam and Cas are sitting across from each other at the table.  Their bodies are turned towards each other. Dean is holding himself apart from them, still standing in the doorway.

Sam wonders again some more what they do now. 

“What we always do.”

The three men stand by Mary’s pyre while a montage of moments tries to create some emotion and I feel nothing.  Nothing but angry that this is how the character that THIS ENTIRE SERIES IS BUILT AROUND is played out. 

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Castiel walks towards Dean but Sam puts an arm out to stop him. He shakes his head and rests his hand on the angel’s shoulder.  Not now. Give him time.  Dean doesn’t look at either of them.  He just stares into the fire.

The POV shifts to the Bunker and Mary’s initials scratched next to Sam and Dean’s on the library table.

This show can go to hell.

Oprah cut the bullshit

Supernatural airs Thursday at 8:00 p.m. (Eastern) on The CW. Whitney also watches Legacies and The Magicians. Follow her on Twitter @Watcher_Whitney.

2 thoughts on “‘Supernatural’: Mary Winchester is complete

  1. This was a terrible episode. All the ones with Mary are poorly conceived and just bad. I like the idea of having their mother in it, and the actress is fine, but the writing has always been terrible where Mary is involved. I hate to say this, but I hope this is the last of her, finally.

    1. Agree, it’s like they didn’t know what to do with her once they brought her back. I’ve started wondering if they’re going to somehow bring her back for the finale and I hope they don’t. It would turn her death into a gimmick when it deserves so much more weight. But gimmicks seem to be all Andrew Dabb has at his disposal.

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