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My collected recaps and reviews of season one, which first appeared on Innsmouth Free Press, are now up (with a few extras) on Kindle. The Kindle version is available through Amazon and is on sale through this Friday. The print version is also up. If you buy the print version, you get a Kindle copy thrown in for free. I also get paid if you get it on Kindle Unlimited (for free), read the Kindle version, or lend it to a friend via the Kindle Owners Lending Library. Reviews also help with sales. Just FYI.
Apologies for not getting to this one until now. Also, next week, I’ll be busy Friday and Saturday, so I likely won’t get to that one until Sunday.
Okay, so let’s get started.
Recap starting with Maggie (the most useless DiD ever) then going through the Michael storyline and Dean’s speech to Sam about ending all monsters. FYI, there is a wee spoiler in there that, tied in with the title, will tell you right away what the MOTW is. Sorry.
Cut to night in Claremore, OK, where Maggie is walking through a forest all alone. She enters a graveyard and approaches a crypt with the family name “Rawling” across it. She sits down and pulls something out of her backpack. It turns out to be a bodycam that she reports into before clipping it on and entering the crypt.
Okay, why is Maggie Hunting, let alone by herself? The last time we saw her on a Hunt, she nearly got her team killed and that was with a group. Is she by herself or did some other moron think this was a good idea?
Also, we already found out that bodycams, or any cams, are a bad idea from “Ghostfacers!” They’re distracting to whoever is using them and the footage risks outing Hunters to the general human world, which is not a good idea.
Anyhoo, Maggie breaks into the crypt, believing she is Hunting a ghoul. By herself. With no backup. Okeydoke.
As she walks around the crypt, looking for opened coffins, a wavering machete in her hand, she is attacked by a snarling old man/ghoul.
Cue title cards.
Cut to the Bunker, where Sam is giving some newbie Hunters from the Other Side a lecture on Hunter safety before sending them off. As Dean walks in on them, Sam automatically glances to Dean for feedback. Dean chooses, instead, to take a backseat. As the meeting breaks up and Sam walks off with Dean, Dean’s main comment (aside from seeing Sam do coordinating with Hunters as “adorable”) is that Sam is not getting enough sleep. Yeah, one thing Sam really ought to be doing is having someone play dispatcher on shifts for Hunter check-ins, rather than trying to do it all himself. Yeah, I used to run a rescue squad. You gotta learn to delegate that stuff.
Sam discovers that one of the Hunters (he infodumps that he has 20 out there, including our four non-redshirts Castiel, Jack, Mary and alt-Bobby) “missed check-in.” It’s Maggie. So, now we know which moron sent Maggie out on a Hunt all by herself. Yay, Boss Sam.
So, Dean is trying to call Maggie, while Sam calls up her body cam and some random redshirt wanders past the Library. Sam infodumps that the body cams automatically upload to a server, which I’m sure could never get hacked by hostile parties, or anything. So, yeah, Sam’s responsible for that swift decision, too. Dean doesn’t call him on it, just infodumps about the reasoning behind it. They get the teaser for the episode.
Sam starts to tailspin in self-recrimination. Dean yanks Sam’s head out of his ass by agreeing it looks like a ghoul and it’s time to go find out for sure. Meanwhile, Rando Redshirt dude wanders around in the background, checking the wastebaskets, or something.
Off the Brothers go to Oklahoma. That is a rather odd background on the obligatory Impala-on-the-road shot. Did they bluescreen that?
In the graveyard, Sam infodumps that it’s all owned by the same family, which Dean notes is awfully convenient – for that family.
Sam says Maggie was investigating a report by some local kids that they were attacked by a “walker” while they were studying. Sam even outs it as an explicit The Walking Dead reference.
“I know what a Walker is, Sam,” Dean calmly replies. As they approach the crypt, Dean notices some beer cans in front of it and dismisses the “studying” excuse with that adorable half-laugh he always used to do back in the day. Ackles is having fun plumbing his old Dean tics toolkit these days.
Inside, they find disturbed dust and scuff marks, but no blood. Dean theorizes that the ghoul might have dragged Maggie off to feed on her later, and that she might still be alive. Either way, they have to find the MOTW and kill it.
They are hailed from the entrance by a guy in a gardening suit with a rake and accused of trespassing. Sam smoothly states they’re from an historical society and Dean follows up by asking where the local family mansion is. They guy leads them to it and introduces them to a rotund, smarmy grad student type who burbles over the idea of an historical society turning the family manse and graveyard into an official historical site. It’s obviously a lot more complicated than that, but this is just a Winchester cover story, anyway, so let’s roll with it.
The guy, named Neil, lets them in and comments that there seem to be an awful lot of people there from the “HBC.” Turns out Mary and Bobby showed up to investigate, too. Bobby is pretty sarcastic about Sam’s attempts to pull rank, so Mary takes Sam off to talk to him about Maggie, while Dean stays behind to interview Neil, with Bobby.
Neil says he’s not part of the family. He’s Mr. Rawling’s “nurse.” When Bobby asks to interview Old Man Rawling, there’s a snag. Old Man Rawling is in a coma.
Mary tells Sam she and Bobby came to check on Maggie because Maggie was “nervous about her first Hunt.” (Oh, hon, she shouldn’t have been out Hunting, period, not to mention alone.) They were texting with her when she suddenly went radio silence, but Mary admits she and Bobby should have let Sam know. Well, yes, there isn’t much point to all these high-tech improvements if y’all don’t use them to, y’know, stay in touch.
Something is awry with Old Man Rawling. He’s in a coma surrounded by blood transfusions and yet, he’s the ghoul from Maggie’s body cam footage. Meanwhile, Maggie is underground somewhere, trussed up and being drained of her own blood. Big hint about the MOTW, there.
A woman with groceries walks in, looking totally unimpressed by the new people in her dad’s room. Neil introduces her as Sasha, Old Man Rawling’s daughter. After a little banter, she throws them out.
At the Impala, the Hunters chew things over. Bobby says he tested OMR and he had no bites, so probably not a ghoul.
Mary speculates shapeshifter, but Dean points out that ‘shifters don’t generally do graveyards. Sam thinks maybe demon, but Bobby points out that demons aren’t generally so patient as to put their hosts’ bodies back in their beds after taking them for a “joyride.”
Dean notes Bobby’s irritability and calls him out on it. Bobby admits he has a problem with Sam sending Maggie out on a Hunt alone. He says she wasn’t ready and “a real leader” would have noticed this.
Mary breaks things up by going on reconnaissance with Sam and having Dean go with Bobby. I get she wants to give Sam a pep talk, but why stick poor Dean with Bobby? Sheesh.
Also, I don’t agree with Mary that it’s not Sam’s fault. It really is. Yeah, Sam’s moping over it isn’t helping, but Sam should have clearly seen how unready Maggie was back in the season premiere bar fight and kept her back for longer. I mean, come on, it’s been only a few weeks since then. No way Maggie turned into Hunter Sue in that time and Mary (the one who had to hand her an angel sword and tell her to get out there during the bar fight) knows that better than anyone.
Instead, Bobby is made to look like a big meanie for pointing out that Sam’s leadership skills need a little work. They do. Sure, he can get better, but he can’t get better if other characters’ keep holding his hand.
Bobby asks Dean if he was too hard on Sam. Dean’s response is rather noncommittal, saying that Sam is “doing his best.” But Dean also notes that Sam is overdoing it and not sleeping enough.
Sam, meanwhile, asks Mary about her relationship with Bobby. She says things were going fine until they got back home (for her). Then Bobby closed up and all he ever wants to do is hunt. Sam tells her a little about “our” Bobby, that his wife was possessed and he had to deal with it himself (um…was Sam not aware of Rufus’ involvement in that?). Mary asks if Bobby ever had kids. Sam says no.
Then they find an old campfire and Mary spots something.
As Dean and Bobby find the cabin from The Blair Witch Project, Mary and Sam find burned IDs in the fire. They’re a Hunter’s IDs. Bobby is distracted by someone in the woods and goes to follow him. Dean enters the cabin (which is full of animal furs and skulls) and discovers the body of the Hunter in the IDs. He’s then attacked by OMR, but when Dean stabs him, OMR (who is still in the hospital bed, while his daughter sits nearby) explodes into ashes, covering Dean. When Bobby comes back, he snarks at Dean’s appearance as Dean asks him where he went.
Back at the manse, while going through her father’s papers, Sasha hears a noise of breaking glass and footsteps upstairs. She goes to investigate, thinking it’s Neil, but she instead finds a half-open door to a dark room and a ravenous vampire. Screaming, she runs, but when she trips and falls, nothing comes after her.
As Neil acts all solicitous over her, Sasha is later interviewed by Mary and Sam, and immediately guesses she saw a vampire. This leads to her and Neil getting The Talk.
Dean walks in with news from “the shed.” Sam quickly fills him in about the attack. “Oh, good. You told ’em,” Dean says conversationally. The matter-of-fact way they confirm the identity of the Hunter Dean found is a hoot as it’s filmed almost from an outsider’s POV. They look utterly terrifying when they drop the “normal” mask like that.
Mary goes to check on Bobby (whom Dean says stayed back to get something from his truck), but can’t find him. Meanwhile, the Brothers formulate a theory, right in front of Sasha and Neil, that OMR is somehow psychically manifesting images of himself. They interview Sasha a bit more and it turns out the noises she thought she heard came from the attic. Sam goes up there, while Dean stays back to guard Sasha and her dad.
Sasha pops a benzodiazepine while Dean sharpens his machete. Neil has gone…somewhere. Sasha asks him to stop and then points out the insanity of Dean’s very presence there. Dean asks her if she’s okay and she brushes it off. At first.
Dean shrugs and sheaths his machete, but then Sasha opens up as she also downs some whiskey. Her father was a workaholic who was never home, said he was doing it for the family. But her mother had a family history of depression and killed herself when Sasha was 12. Sasha found her. Sasha “worshiped” her father when she was a kid, but now is bitter because he never expressed any regret over not seeing his wife was suicidal or being around for his family.
This is a huge John Winchester anvil. There was an earlier one in the woods, when Mary said Bobby wasn’t “open” the way John was and then has to admit she means the way John was before she died as Sam snorts in disbelief.
Dean offers Sasha some advice – “let it go. You’ll feel a lot lighter.”
“That what you do?” Sasha asks.
“I try,” Dean admits. “Every single day.” It’s a heartbreaking moment of pure honesty.
Upstairs, Sam finds the darkened doorway Sasha discovered. It leads to a room with unfinished walls (no drywall) that leads to a stairway that goes up to the attic. Very strange layout, that.
In the attic, he find Maggie, trussed up. She tries to warn him as the same vampire that went after Sasha attacks him. Sam stabs it and it, too, explodes into ashes. Needless to say, despite his and Dean’s theory, Sam’s a bit confused.
As Sam gets Maggie down, Maggie apologizes for screwing up. Sam reassures her that she didn’t (well, she did, but now is not the time).
We cut to the woods, where Bobby finds a young man with his eyes burned out, angel-style. Dialogue identifies this young man as Bobby’s son Daniel. Daniel beats up Bobby and then impales him against a tree with an angel blade. He tells Bobby the angels crucified him “piece by piece” (uh…that’s not really how crucifixion works, but okay), but when he’s about to kill Bobby with another angel blade, Mary shows up.
Mary shoots Daniel, but unlike the other monsters, Daniel doesn’t disappear (plothole, y’all). Instead, he knocks Mary down and starts choking her out. This gives Bobby the strength of ten Grinches. He manages to yank out the angel blade impaling him, while dangling from the tree, knocks Daniel down, and stabs him with it, after apologizing. Daniel bursts into ashes. Yeah, it’s as stupid as it sounds. Also, I’m getting tired of Mary having to be rescued all the time. She’s a competent Hunter, Show, come on.
Inside the house, Sasha and Dean enter the room where Neil is tending OMR. Dean suddenly, really notices the blood bags and has an epiphany. He calmly asks why Neil is giving OMR a blood transfusion for a stroke and Neil blathers something about how “it keeps his iron up.”
Dean asks Sasha to make him a sandwich. She’s confused at first until he mouths, “Go,” and she realizes he needs her to get out of the line of fire because Neil is the MOTW. She skedaddles. I like Sasha. She’s sassy.
As she leaves, Dean pulls out his gun and aims it at Neil. Neil at first professes to be confused until Dean explains his reasoning. He says he only just recognized the set-up Neil has OMR in as one he was once trapped in, too.
We then get a brief flashback to Dean’s nightmare flash of being trussed up by a djinn in season two’s “What Is and What Should Never Be.”
“You’re a djinn,” Dean says. I love me some Smart, Deductive Dean.
Neil smiles and reveals his djinn face and glowing eyes, but then flips the script really strangely by saying “But you knew that, already…didn’t you?”
As Dean interrogates him about why he’s killing Hunters (and Neil the Djinn sure is chatty), Neil reveals that he thinks Dean is Michael (until Dean tells him otherwise). Michael has altered him and offered him a deal for more power: “Find somewhere quiet. Set up shop. Kill as many Hunters as I can.”
The upgrade Neil got was fairly impressive. With a single touch, he can now read minds, extract nightmares, and give them physical life – the projections Dean and the others have been dealing with. OMR is afraid of dying along and unloved, Maggie of the vampires that murdered her family, and we just saw what Bobby feared.
Neil keeps edging closer to Dean, saying Dean can’t harm him. Dean proves somewhat otherwise by shooting him in the leg. Angry and hurt, Neil charges Dean and uses his power on him. He claims he won’t “hurt Michael’s favorite monkey suit, but I am curious – what are your nightmares?”
But whatever he finds inside is a lot more than he bargained for. It tosses him back out as he stammers, “You…you’re….”
Dean wastes no time taking advantage of the djinn’s confusion. He attacks Neil and slams his head into the table. “You know,” he comments, looking just like Demon!Dean, “I don’t have a knife dipped in lamb’s blood – but I can improvise!” Spotting two bronze bookends, he grabs them and beats the djinn’s head in, but not before Neil defiantly claims that “there are dozens of” Hunter traps of Michael’s, lying in wait “for you and your family.”
“You don’t know my family,” Dean replies coldly, before dealing the fatal blow and then disintegrating Neil’s head with his gun, held in bloody hands.
Later, Dean removes the apparatus from OMR, while giving Sasha a crash course in helping a djinn victim recover. As Dean leaves, she reassures her waking father that she’s there for him.
The Brothers drive home and return Maggie to the Bunker, where a bunch of redshirt Hunters I’ve never seen before and care nothing about cheer her return.
Dean cheerleaders Sam about bringing Maggie back. Meanwhile, Mary bandages up Bobby and gets him to tell her about Daniel. After the angel war kicked off, Bobby was given a “platoon.” He and his son had taken care of the thing with his wife (which went the same way as in the SPNverse). Daniel was part of Bobby’s platoon, but on one mission, they got separated. Daniel and his group were captured by angels (Bobby assumes) and never seen again. Bobby is left to speculate what really happened and since they crossed over to here, is trying to get himself killed. Mary tells him she won’t let him do that. After talking with the Brothers, she gets an offer from Donna via them of Donna’s cabin (what happened to Rufus’ cabin?), so she and Bobby can try a little normalcy for a while. So, that’s Mary and Bobby off for a few episodes.
Before they leave, though, Bobby is yet another character who gives Sam a pep talk about being a leader. But hey, at least Dean gets an explanation from Mary this time and is allowed to give her “permission” to leave.
The Brothers then put out the word to other Hunters about the “new, supercharged monsters.” After, Dean tries not to blame himself (and has lots of trouble with pronouns), while Sam insists he’ll just sleep less than before so they can find and kill Michael, even though they don’t know how to do either one.
Okay, now I am truly curious about what happened with Michael. There were heavy hints this week, especially in the scene with the djinn, that Michael is still inside Dean, but, for whatever reason, is currently dormant. Dean seems unaware of this, but he also appears to be fully in control. At least for now.
The theory I like best is that Dean somehow reasserted control, but has no idea that he did, let alone how he did, and has Michael trapped inside his own body. Remember that while Michael may have intended for Dean to become just his vessel, Dean is a powerful agent of the Natural Order in his own timeline, in his own right, which means other beings like Chuck and Amara, but especially Death, are apt to get involved if alt-Michael tries to stay in control of Our!Dean for too long. There are, as Death always likes to say, consequences for that sort of thing, especially since Michael broke his deal with Dean.
Perhaps, as it appears Michael was able to assert himself at the end of last season partly due to Dean’s being smote by Lucifer, Dean was able to reassert himself after Michael was wounded by Kaia’s Magic Hockey Stick (or maybe Michael overused his own grace in his experiments, which contradicts how precious he was about it last year). It could also be that because Dean’s deal with Michael was conditional on Michael letting him be in control, that is a natural condition Michael must constantly fight in order to dominate Dean. And when the djinn looked for Dean’s nightmares, he found Michael.
This doesn’t really explain the djinn’s final words, but I suspect the writers were just going with the ridiculous cliche of the expositional Final Curse. Folks, most people are too busy dying for that nonsense and it lessens the horror and severity of death. Enough, already.
Also, if the djinn found Michael, he may also have realized that Michael was imprisoned inside Dean, which meant he was dealing with Dean when he spoke his final words. Or something.
So, this is a version of Dean Done Come Back Wrong/There’s Something About Dean. Honestly? I’m okay with it. Ackles is acting the shit out of it and it’s a true mystery. Let it go all season.
Also, I loved the callback to “What Is and What Should Never Be.” The show has never allowed Dean to feel his trauma before over being violated by the djinn like that, so it’s nice to see him use it to figure things out about the MOTW, and have the show lampshade it with a flashback to that episode and that particular scene.
I’m far less into the Sam the Leader storyline. I know that Sam needs something to do, and since Dean has the mytharc, that makes Sam the wind beneath Dean’s wings. But this storyline is unconvincing. It suffers from the same problem just about every Sam storyline going all the way back to the Pilot suffers from – the writers never trust that the audience will care enough about Sam to just give us the story. They always Tell us how to feel about Sam’s story rather than Show us.
So, we have characters throughout the story holding Sam’s hand, listening to Sam’s problems, Telling Sam (and us) that Sam is really a great leader (even when it’s clear he is not). Dean’s leader storylines are great because we see all the fight and struggle to convince others to follow him. For Sam, all the whining about lack of sleep aside, it’s a walk in the park. That’s boring to watch.
Another problem going back to Kripke (but especially evident in the Nepotism Duo scripts that suffer from plotting so bad that they LOL!canon their own canon five minutes after they established some within the same script) is a tendency to present us with a major Sam change (usually, though not always, a heroic one) rather than develop it. I have no issue with Sam starting out not-great and developing into a great leader, but to skip a few weeks and be Told he’s brilliant already is just plain lazy writing.
I don’t quite get why Dean is sitting back and letting Sam lead. Okay, actually, I do kind of get it. Just as Bobby was correct in calling out Sam’s awful decision in letting Maggie go hunt alone (even if the show then forced him to backtrack and apologize for stating the flaming obvious, and letting Sam feel and understand the consequences), Dean hanging back and letting Sam do this is very much of a Dean Leader thing to do.
Problem is, I’m not sure that the likes of the Nepotism Duo, Robert “Insert PC snark instead of story here” Berens, Davy “Linear Plotting 101” Perez, and Andrew “Let’s pillage every inappropriate comic book plot I can remember” Dabb are aware that this is basically Dean leading this group of redshirts who only know him as a supervillain through teaching his brother how to lead.
Speaking of the redshirts, their lack of character development is not good. The Bunker is infested by a bunch of one-dimensional characters I don’t have any emotional attachment to whatsoever (and from the sound of things on Twitter, neither do a lot of fans). Even the ones who get a little development, like Maggie, are boring and kinda of annoying.
It’s another case of a plot that would be fine it if weren’t being treated like 5-minute rice. Spreading out their involvement with other Hunters and using the Bunker as a base of operations for Hunters? Fine as a plot spread out over an entire season, or more. Doing a cheap time jump and presenting it as a fait accompli? So not okay. It reminds me of how the Roadhouse initially came across in season two – an abrupt change in tone that threatened to screw up the show’s basic franchise plot and everything fans liked about it.
I’m going to (possibly) go against the grain again and say that I don’t actually have any problems with a Mary and Bobby pair-up. The writers have floundered a bit with her since they brought her back. First, they had her in conflict with her sons, avoiding them because of her own guilt over how their lives turned out following her death. That made her look unsympathetic, especially toward Dean.
Then they had her off in the alt-SPNverse, mothering Jack. That, too, was not so successful in making her sympathetic, largely because she was using Jack as a substitute for her grown-ass sons.
This week, though, shows why Mary and alt-Bobby could work. We see her actually seeking advice and validation from her sons in figuring out what’s going on with Bobby and whether or not to proceed in a relationship with him. Rather than being in conflict with her, they are her allies.
Sure, there were flaws in it. I didn’t like that we had an extended conversation between Mary and Sam when, again, until the time jump, she was much closer to Dean, but hey, at least she got to talk to Dean at the end and seek “permission” to leave for a while, which he calmly gave. Still waiting on that conversation about his possession by Michael, though.
And I really wasn’t thrilled to see her used, yet again, as a DiD to motivate Bobby. That was annoying. But overall, I’m okay with it.
As for the “But she was with John first” stuff, we did have her defend John a bit to Sam, while acknowledging that he changed (not for the better) after she died. It’s not as though she’s forgotten about him. And JDM’s got another show, with little interest in coming back to this one, while Matt Cohen is both too busy and not the right period to come back as John. So, Bobby it is.
Promo next week is up. Alt-Charlie’s back – ugh.
Ratings for the show were down a bit, still 0.3/1 and 1.43 million in audience. Don’t think Legacies is doing Supernatural any favors. Still a tad salty about the CW picking that up over Wayward Sisters.