‘Supernatural’: I don’t feel free

Supernatural
“Atomic Monsters”
November 7, 2019

THEN:  “Becky, it’s all real.” 

“I KNEW IT!”

NOW

The sound of gunfire echoes through the Bunker. The hallways are bathed in the lockdown red light of things that are NOT GOOD. A demon comes sailing into view, followed close behind by Dean and kudos to director Jensen, stunt coordinator Rob Hayter, and one-shot camera operator Brad Creasser for this kick-ass scene.

Dean has a beard and is wearing a keffiyeh style scarf similar to AV!Bobby’s. Mmm … scarf and scruff … and a reminder that Scruff!Dean is the third hottest Dean, behind Unhinged, Murderous Mark of Cain!Dean and Purgatory!Dean.

He stalks through the Bunker handing demons their asses and shooting them in the face with angel blade bullets. He’s supported by a small tactical team and this really feels like AV!Dean … but that’s not possible because AV!Dean was never born. 

Huh.

Dean eases into a doorway and scans the bodies that litter the kitchen. He hears a rasping, labored breath and kneels by the man’s side—it’s Benny.  

IT’S BENNY!!

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He gives his friend his most sincerely reassuring smile. He says Benny is going to be okay. Benny knows he isn’t.  

“I’ll see you on the other side, brother.”

SPN_Benny smile

More bodies in the map room and one man waiting for Dean—Sam.  He says he knew that Dean would come looking for him. He supposes that after Sioux Falls, Dean had to. 

You guys. YOU GUYS. Kim Rhodes and Jim Beaver recently filmed an episode together.

If Jody doesn’t survive this season I will burn Andrew Dabb’s house down build another one on its ashes and then burn that one down.

Burn this mother down

Sam simply says that Jody and Bobby tried to stop him.  And he will not be stopped. Dean tries to get through to his brother. He says it’s the demon blood.  Sam has to fight it!  Sam’s tone takes on an edge. Why would he do that? A tight smile flashes across his face. It’s the smile of someone trying not to lose their temper … because that’s when things get messy. 

Sam kills the last of Dean’s men—WITH HIS MIND—as his brother pleads with him.  Please … please … Sam’s eyes flip black. He snaps his head to the side. There’s the sound of the crunching crack of vertebrae and Dean falls to the floor.

SPN_Sam Bullet Vision

Sam jolts awake with a long gasping breath. He’s in his bed in the Bunker. 

Was it a dream? 

One of Chuck’s discarded story drafts? 

A vision of what’s to come?

Just a weird dream is Sam’s answer to Dean later over breakfast. Note how Sam pauses in the doorway, as though to reassure himself it was just a dream. That the bodies in the kitchen were never really there. Could never be there. 

Dean keeps a keen eye on his brother. He tells Sam he’ll feel better after he eats something. Dean points at a plate of bacon—veggie bacon. Sam is taken aback. He agrees he’s been asking for it … and reminds Dean that every time he has asked for it, Dean’s response has been,

“I don’t want of that hippy, Sarah McLachlan grass eater crap in the Meat Man’s kitchen.”

Meat Man

Sam declines Dean’s delicious not!meat and says he’s good. He can barely make eye contact as he says it. Dean calls him out. No, Sam’s not. 

Jack. Rowena.

Her name sticks in Dean’s throat. He says she knew what she was getting into–what needed to be done. He says it knowing it doesn’t temper the loss or Sam’s guilt. When words fail, Dean turns to action. He pushes his tablet in front of Sam. Cattle mutilations and a dead girl in Beaverdale, Iowa. It sounds like their kind of thing. Dean suggests they check it out.

Sam demurs. Dean insists. He says they need this. It’s what they do when the body blows feel like they just keep coming. They work. He claps Sam on the shoulder—his godshot shoulder—and Sam jumps. Hey, maybe now would be a good time to mention that that wound hasn’t healed AND ALSO THE DISTURBING VISIONS OF DEATH AND NOT GOOD THINGS.

Sam says nothing. He takes a bite of veggie bacon … and spits it back out as a wave of horrible realization washes over him.  It’s real bacon.

“You’re damn right it is. MEAT MAN!”

Man covered in meat_meat man

Sam interviews the high school principal about the victim, Susie Martin. They’re interrupted by the Whitmans. They’re so sorry about what happened to Susie, but is her vigil any reason to postpone Friday’s lacrosse game? They have a scout coming from Yale. Mrs. Whitman says Yale is son Billy’s first choice and if he doesn’t get in it will be the end of the world!

Sam, speaking with the voice of experience, points out that the end of the world is the end of the world. Mrs. Whitman suggests having Susie’s “little prayer thing” during the game’s half time. Sam looks like he’s seconds away from shooting the Whitmans on general principle. Principal Bailey shuts them down instead with a quote from Supreme Court Justice Nicki Britton: “No.”

nopecat

Dean is waiting for Sam in the parking lot. He’s leaning against Baby’s hood eating a bag of pretzels. He eats a lot in this episode. That’s a solid Season 1 call back. He tosses Sam a small glass specimen jar.  There’s a single vampire fang inside. Dean says the coroner determined Susie had no defensive wounds, suggesting she didn’t fight back. Sam thinks she may have known her killer—and lucky them, Susie knew everybody.

A kid in a beaver mascot costume zips by on an electric scooter. Dean watches as they pass and declares them awesome. And thank you writer Davy Perez and sweet baby Jebus for not turning this scene into one where Dean ogles the cheerleaders. Because dude is 40.  Gross. 

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The boys check out the site where Susie’s body was found. For a girl who was killed by a vampire, there is a distinct lack of blood. The boys agree she was killed someplace else and dumped there. Dean comments that the local police are freaked and don’t know how to deal. Sam ruefully says that’s their job—to carry the weight of what’s really out there and shield civilians from the truth so they can go back to their white picket fence bubbles. He watches as a mom jogs by pushing a stroller. His tone takes on a sour edge.

On first watch, this seemed like a very S1 conversation. One that didn’t bear repeating 15 years later. But now I see it for the state of mind commentary it’s meant to be. After Rowena, Sam’s hope of finally being free has curdled. Even if Chuck is gone, the monsters aren’t. Maybe he’s beginning to wonder if what they do even matters.

Dean slips the flask from his pocket and takes a sip. He clearly always has it on him, but when was the last time we saw him drinking on the job? That seems significant. Stick a pin in it. 

Dean points out that Sam has wanted to live in a town like this—Lame. Normal.—ever since he was little. Sam says they don’t get normal. And the people who live here just make him angry—the smallest inconvenience is treated as the end of the world. He scoffs that they have no idea.

Before Dean can say anything Sam’s phone rings. It’s Vice Principal Bailey. Another girl, Tori Taylor, has gone missing.

In another safe, normal, white picket fence neighborhood a dad loads up his two kids for a day out on Lake Michigan. His wife follows him out with motion sickness pills for Rodney, Jr. His wife is Becky.

His wife.

IS BECKY.

And spoiler alert, y’all.  Becky got awesome.

Also, Rod and Becky are growing corn in their front yard? 

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Rod pulls out of the driveway and Becky sees Chuck standing on the corner. Her eyes go wide and she marches back to the house. Chuck hurries after her pleading with her to wait. He needs to see her. He just wants to talk. He says it’s been a rough couple of weeks. Becky bluntly tells him she neither needs nor wants to see him and whatever is going on with him isn’t her problem. You set those boundaries, Becky! She turns away, but Chuck reels her back in when he bleats that he has nowhere else to go.

While she gets him a glass of water, Chuck ponders her maquettes with bemused curiosity. There’s a scale model of Lil’ Levi’s gas station from Episode 10.03 “Soul Survivor,” the Devil’s Gate in Calvary Cemetery from “All Hell Breaks Loose—Part 2,” and one of the sheds from the Singer Salvage Yard complete with Bobby and Baby. And yes, Becky makes them. She proudly tells Chuck that she runs the most successful Etsy site for unofficial Supernatural merchandise in the country. Probably the world.

Chuck is chuffed that Becky is still “obsessed” with his work. Becky corrects him—her work. She admits that yes, she was obsessed with the stories that Chuck channeled, and it took her to a dark place.  What she did to Sam … Becky shudders at the memory of kidnapping, drugging, and mind-raping Sam in Season 7. But, she says after some pretty intensive counseling, she realized she wasn’t in love with the real Sam Winchester; she loved the character. 

So instead of reading Chuck’s stories, she kept writing her own. Ones where the guys didn’t have to hunt monsters all the time. They just sit around and do laundry and talk.

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Becky says that’s what people like the most anyway. Well, Chuck would disagree on that point. He says people like monsters.  Becky shuts him down with a clipped, “Meh.”

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Did I mention that Becky is awesome? 

Also, can we talk about how Becky is not only able to acknowledge what she did to Sam, but sought treatment, and did the hard work to become a person who can have healthy relationships in all aspects of her life. Did … did Becky get honest to Chuck character development? Is that a thing that actually happened?

spn_charlie-is-this-real-life

Anyhoo, Becky says her writing developed an online following but it wasn’t paying the bills so she started making the handcrafted miniatures. And now here she is.  Cool, cool … Chuck is still hung up on the monsters thing. Leviathans, is he right? They’re all teeth!

Becky has stopped listening. This was supposed to be her catch-up day! She has billing to do, orders to fill, three AU fic deadlines breathing down her neck, and her country’s 500th anniversary to plan.  She’s swamped! So if Chuck wants to talk—talk fast. 

And not about Leviathans.

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Chuck admits he’s had a falling out with the Winchesters. He can’t even say their names. He just silently points to the Funko pop figures on Becky’s mantle. He says he turned to his sister for help, but she rejected him, and now he’s just … stuck. So he thought he’d come see his Number One Fan in the hope that Becky could help make him feel “big” again.

Chuck seems so sweetly, contritely sincere … but Becky is not here to fluff his ego. That’s not her anymore. Becky says that she is married to an amazing man and has two great kids, but most importantly—she likes herself. For the first time in a long time, Becky likes herself.

“So I DON’T. NEED. YOU.”

And kudos again to Davy Perez and actress Emily Perkins. When Eric Kripke, blessed be his name, first created Becky in Season 5 she was this sweetly obsessive character seemingly intended as both a nod to and a gentle poke at the fans. In Andrew Dabb and Daniel Loflin’s hands in Season 7, that poke wasn’t so gentle. Becky was written as a joke. Sad and pathetic and driven to extremes because crazy fangirls, amirite? But this Becky knows her value and has learned how to channel her energy and passion into healthy outlets. Go Becky! Team Becky!

Chuck hangs his head. He acknowledges that Becky doesn’t need him. He sadly says that no one does. And he’s happy that she likes herself … because he kind of hates himself right now. Chuck says he just doesn’t know what he’s doing.  He feels so lost …

For a minute, I actually thought this might be a redemption arc for Chuck. Spoiler alert—it isn’t.

Well played, Rob Benedict.  Well played.

Chuck’s display of vulnerability is enough for Becky to forget those unfulfilled orders and unwritten fics. She’s here to help! She sits down opposite Chuck and brightly asks, what makes him happy? Chuck says writing. Creating.  The answer seems so obvious to Becky.  Chuck has to write!

writing is hard spn supernatural chuck

Chuck moans that things are different now. He used to be able to see Sam and Dean in his head. It was all just there. And now it’s gone. Becky wonders if it’s because Chuck lost his prophet power. He vagues that it’s something like that while absently rubbing at the hole in his shoulder. Becky gives him a rousing ‘buck up, camper’ speech, telling Chuck to stop hiding behind procrastination and distraction, stop self-sabotaging and doubting and just write. She says Chuck can do it; the only question is will he?

Chuck is kind of amazed by this new Becky. He wonders how she learned all this?

“I’m a writer too, Chuck.”

Chuck is inspired! An idea seizes him! He sits down at Becky’s laptop and opens a new document. Okay, that’s not exactly what Becky meant, but he shushes her. WRITING!

Dean and his cunning dress boots interview Toby the beaver mascot. Sam is skeptical, but Dean warns him to underestimate the mascot at his peril. He says Toby has access and knows a lot about cheerleaders, in a mostly not creepy way.  According to Toby, Susie was head cheerleader with Tori as her second. With both of them gone, Veronica is next in line to be queen bee.

The boys confront Veronica in the gym as she’s practicing her eulogy for Susie. The smiles on their faces don’t reach their eyes. Sam pulls the syringe of dead man’s blood from his pocket … and then they both notice that Veronica has braces. She can’t be their vampire. The only thing the boys are ganking today is a teenaged girl’s self-esteem.

They review security cam footage of the parking lot, watching as Tori is dragged away by a masked figure. Two minutes later another car drives by. Zoom and enhance yields a license plate that leads the boys back to the Whitman family.

Billy answers the door and dad Henry shoos him upstairs. Sam goes to investigate noises in the garage and finds cheerleader Tori. She’s bound and gagged and being drained of blood. Henry says he’s willing to go quietly with the agents but pleads with Dean to leave his family out of it. Dean pulls a machete from his belt. Yeah. They’re not FBI. 

Sam carries Tori into the room. He’s followed by Janet Whitman. She’s holding a gun. Dean says he wasn’t expecting that. Right? I was very confused at this point. Is the dad a vampire? Is the mom a witch? Is somebody a djinn? WHAT IS HAPPENING?

Billy comes downstairs and Dean is like, your dad is a vampire, so. He supposes Henry had a recent run-in with something big and mean. That Henry tried to survive on cow’s blood but eventually upgraded to humans. Dean asks how he’s doing? In the ballpark? Sam realizes it’s not Henry who was turned, but Billy.

Billy admits to it but says what happened with Susie was an accident. Her blood was just so loud. He says he couldn’t stop. So he told his parents who chopped up Susie to make it look like a wannabe Bundy and then to avoid anything like that happening again, they kidnapped Tori to be Billy’s personal blood bag. 

Billy, the boys get. These people are crazy. 

Henry insists that it wasn’t Billy’s fault. He’s a victim, too! Dean is still trying to process the fact that Henry was just going to let him chop off his head. Henry supposes the boys don’t have children because if they did, they would know. They would know you would do anything for your child. You would die for them. 

Janet, still holding the gun, adds that you would kill for them and bury the bodies out back under the peonies. 

Janet is hardcore.

This scene is, of course, meant to evoke Jack, but I immediately thought of Emma, Dean’s Amazon daughter. And of Ben. 

Oh, Dean knows.

Billy knows he doesn’t want any of that. He knows that the normal life his parents are fighting so hard for him to have isn’t possible. He says he killed someone he loved—and he’ll do it again.  He can’t control the hunger. So Billy tells them what is going to happen. He says they’re going to take Tori to the hospital before she bleeds out completely. Then they’re going to tell the police that he kidnapped her and ran away.

Billy looks at Dean and takes a step towards him. Sam’s body language reads like he’s squaring up for an attack, but Billy has accepted what has to happen next. He says they’re going to go for a ride. 

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“That’s how this works, right?”

The mournful opening chords of “Sounds of Someday” begin to play, and y’all.  Have you listened to Radio Company’s new album? It’s legit good. And I’m not saying the opening track “Cannonball” made me tingly in my lady bits, but I’m not saying it didn’t.

Chuck paces while Becky reads his draft. She slowly removes her glasses and fixes Chuck with a look. Her face breaks into a beaming smile. It’s so good! In fact, it’s inspired her to get back to her own work.

If Chuck had any emotional maturity he would know that’s his cue to GET OUT.

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But he doesn’t. He says it’s a first draft. Becky has to have some notes. Just one. She heaves a sigh.  Okay, if she has to give one note … the jeopardy is feeling a little thin. Low stakes. The villains don’t feel dangerous. Not to mention there’s no classic rock, no one even mentions Cas, the climax is a little stale, the villain’s monologue isn’t one of Chuck’s best … Becky looks up and stops talking. Chuck’s expression has gone stony. He’s glowering at her. All his awkward, nice guy energy has evaporated.

Rob Benedict has gotten really good at being a villain.

And you know, it’s like I used to tell one of my former bosses—if you don’t want my opinion then don’t ask for it.

Of course—SPOILER ALERT—my former boss couldn’t blow people up WITH HIS MIND.

Chuck barks at Becky to move. He sits back down at the computer. She wants jeopardy? She wants danger? Oh, Chuck will give her danger.

He grins in anticipation, but there’s no smile from Becky when she finishes the second draft. She looks traumatized by what she’s just read. He can’t …

“I did.”

It’s just an ending, and Chuck doesn’t know how he’s going get there, but he knows where he’s going. He can already see the cover. He says it will be just a gravestone that reads, “Winchester”.

“The fans are going to love it.”

Becky looks disgusted. She says it’s awful. Horrible! Hopeless. What Chuck does to Dean … What he does to Sam! Chuck counters that the story made Becky feel something. So that’s good, right?

The sound of the front door ends further discussion. Becky quietly tells Chuck he has to leave, but nah … Chuck is good.  He kind of likes it there. Rod walks into the room mid-puke story and stops short when he sees Chuck. Chuck snaps his fingers and Rod evaporates into nothing. Another snap takes Becky’s children. She reacts as though Chuck has just literally reached into her chest and pulled her heart out.

Chuck tells Becky not to worry. Her family isn’t dead. They’re just … away. Oh and also, he’s God.

He’s a dick who officially needs to die now. I loves me some Rob Benedict, but that’s just what needs to happen. 

Becky shouts at Chuck to bring them back before downshifting to pleading. She tearfully says he can’t do this. A smile tugs at the corners fo Chuck’s mouth. This is the drama he tunes in to. This is what keeps him coming back to his favorite show. Another snap of his fingers and Becky is gone. Chuck says he can do anything.  He’s a writer.

And Becky is a small business owner.  She has orders to fill. What about her buyers? What about Becky’s seller rating? WHITHER BECKY’S 5 STAR SELLER RATING??!?

SPN Angry Becky

The boys drive through the night. The case wasn’t what Dean expected, but he says again some more that what they do matters. He gives Sam’s words back to him—they do the ugly things so that people can live happy. Sam sarcastically says, “Lucky them.” Dean echoes him and Sam realizes that Dean means it. It’s a nice call back to their Season 1 campfire conversation in “Wendigo.” When Dean told Sam that he did the job to help spare other families from what they went through. 

But now that they’ve been through it and back again several times over, Dean has another reason. He says they do the job for Jack. And for Mary. And for Rowena. They owe it to anybody who has ever given a damn about them to keep putting one foot in front of the other, no matter what. And now that Chuck is gone, they’re finally free.

“I don’t feel free.”

Sam says what they’ve done, what they’ve lost—that is what he’s feeling. He can’t forget any of them. He admits he still thinks about Jessica. And sometimes it’s like he can’t even breath … 

But maybe tomorrow. Maybe he’ll feel better in the morning.

 

Supernatural airs Thursday at 8:00 p.m. (Eastern) on The CW. Follow Whitney on Twitter @Watcher_Whitney.

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