Okay, so initially, I was skeptical. I mean, that goat-headed creature in the promos was a tad low-rent compared to some of the things we’ve seen from the team at Supernatural. And I wondered if now was really the best time for the boys to be engaged in this kind of one-off hunt, given all the exciting plotlines we have dangling in the water. Well, I have never been so happy to be wrong. "The Memory Remains" was fantastic! Fresh, engaging, emotional and fun too- the perfect timing for this piece of the puzzle to be laid.
Break and Enter
Sam and Dean are off on the road after “Mick” gives them a job leading to a town where killings have resumed after a 20-year hiatus. Hmm. In reality of course, Ketch wants them out so he can move in. There is a lot to comment on here, so I’ll try and be succinct.
First, the BMoL sweeping the Bunker wasn’t nearly as ominous as it could have been portrayed, which was a good choice (in my opinion) and helped maintain the balance between peril, action and humour that was present through the entire episode. We had shots of Ketch looking at Dean’s Busty Asian Beauty magazines combined with the uncomfortableness of the family photos (more on that later). The whole experience made me feel anxious, because the boys' home was being infiltrated and of course, this was the aim. So, mission accomplished.
All of that said, I can’t help wondering if the Winchesters weren’t aware in some capacity or another that someone had been (or would be) visiting the Bunker. Are there secret cameras? Motion sensors? After all they’ve been through, particularly after that information that Mick handed them about the keys and ease-of-access all MoL personnel have to the Bunker, I can’t believe they would leave it unmonitored as such. Honestly, part of me kept waiting for Dean to discover the bug/pluck it out from under the table upon walking into the room. Of course, if they’re expecting it to be there – they’d leave it and speak selectively. Making the statement about Ketch being creepy even more funny if they suspect he’s listening. Thoughts?
Black Bill aka Moloch
Like I said in the beginning of the review, this was my one hang up with the episode: the goat, or Satyr if you prefer. Visually this creature appeared to be ridiculous and it’s MO matched – a hammer? Come on. Fortunately, our writers are more clever than that. Though a Satyr was the actual killer, in the sense of physically ending the lives of the humans involved, he wasn’t truly the MoTW in this story. In fact, it was a much more complicated story than it appeared and the journey to discovery was enjoyable.
There were some red herrings in this story, notably the sheriff of course but there was the excess aspect to Dean’s consumption that seemed to receive extra focus- this viewer was certain it would play a part somehow. Particularly when looking at the first two victims: one plucked from the “make out” point and the other known to overindulge in pot. Surely gluttony and lust were key to this story? Even Sam came up with Pan and his descriptive delights:
“Satyrs are creatures of uncontrollable lust. They would lead people to the woods for massive orgies…And when the fun was over, the satyr would, feast upon the flesh of his victims until his belly was full to bursting with their moist, slippery meat.”
Alas, nothing came from this, besides the amusement of watching Dean flirt wordlessly with the waitress and then eat (to his horror) Sam’s green eggs (haha) the next morning.
The true story was unexpected and candid upon discovery of the well-outfitted murder room at the Sheriff’s mansion. Sheriff Barrett, an apparently disinterested jackass with no concern for his citizens or the employees of his family companies, turned out to be the hero. And the plant manager working to save the town’s income was actually our black hat, making the sacrifices to Moloch as part of the family legacy.
The goat-creature that we were privy to on screen was of course Pete in costume. The astute visual team at Supernatural made the decision not to show us Moloch in his full, bracing form. Instead it’s up to our imaginations how he really looks, with only shadows of claws and horns. Even in the end when the beast is killed, it’s a striking image of the familiar glowing vein effect we’ve come to associate with the Colt before the creature puddles into a red mess between Sam and Dean – all without showing his full figure. Having been underwhelmed by gods and demi-gods in the past, this was the best decision. It also left the focus on the human elements in this story which is what it all comes down to in the end: the greed and gluttony of the family who harnessed Moloch in the torture chamber all those decades in the first place. The symbolism of Pete as the “man behind the monster-mask” can’t be overlooked in that sense.
The Colt has become a new and recurring star in recent episodes. Of course, it’s “kills-anything” status means it won’t stick around too long after it fulfills duties as required in that messy Lucifer-demonic Baby situation. In the meantime, however, it sure is a handy little tool to keep close, to the disappointment of Ketch and relief of both Sam and Dean on this particular adventure.
One of the visual highlights of the episode (and there are a few) comes when Dean heads to the upper levels of the mansion to explore, leaving Sam and the Sheriff in the basement. Of course, the “monster” is there and in a collection of interesting shots using mirrors and doorways, Dean ends up fighting with him and ultimately being kidnapped. After Dean had been taken by Pete and Sam and the Sheriff escaped the basement room, I wondered what had happened to the Colt? I knew we’d seen Dean lose hold of it, but surely Sam would have gone upstairs and checked those rooms for Dean – he must have it. Right? Or did Dean still have it and I was misremembering? Suspense – it’s a wonderful thing. These moments were executed very well, in timing and visually.
The exposition moments between Dean and crazy Pete weren’t the usual ‘I’m going to kill you and here’s why’ (not that they often are on Supernatural) – instead we had a story involving a half-brother and discovering the family’s supernatural secrets (umm…) which unlike his brother, he was very interested in maintaining, murder be darned.
“That’s what we do right? Hunting people. Killing them. The family business.”
Ryan Garfinkle executed this role to a tee. Pete had the necessary hints of crazy, but not out of his mind – he planned and executed his endgame. Also, one of my favourite moments is the nod to the “Family Business” which Dean makes a face at. Well done, team!
In the end of course, Dean is trapped with Moloch and Sam is able to save him using the Colt, which melts said god into a puddle of goo. All in the nick of time.
“Colt. Dusts anything.”
Another great brother moment here, after Moloch liquifies and Sam praises the Colt. Dean, who has been mostly swagger and confidence throughout the episode is now exhausted relief. And, it’s a nice change for Sam to be the one using the Colt to slay the beast.
As they leave, Sheriff Bishop tells Sam and Dean he’ll clean up the mess, after all – this is his legacy.
One significantly lasting impression from "Memory" is that of Ketch and the well-known picture of Mary with a young Dean. Now, this particular picture has appeared many times throughout the series and last season was one of the portents to Amara’s later “gift” of Mary’s resurrection. Is it an omen here as well? We know that Ketch has an…affection for Mary, of some kind. Good, bad or otherwise it’s hard to determine at his time. I am struggling to read the expression in that final scene as anything other than creepy, though I want to say it suggests Ketch will become an ally in later days – a heart growing three sizes and all that. Any thoughts on this?
Leaving a Mark
The final scenes of this episode had such an impact, they almost don’t need to be spoken about other than to say: watch it and be moved.
There are so many levels, so many ways to look at the exchange between Sam and Dean in the Bunker at the table. First, the foreshadowing: will their home last much longer? Hard to say, but maybe the boys need to be back on the road again. I’ve loved that they have a home, truly, but it’s starting to feel a touch crowded with the BMoL being what it is. Any thoughts on that?
Second, the legacy itself. We already know there is a Winchester gospel! Aside from that, there is no doubt that the Winchesters will have an enduring legacy. They will be remembered through legend, through family myth passed down in the people they’ve saved and through hunter lore. Nevertheless, this conversation – and the carving ultimately - will go down as a top Winchester moment in the series that not only looks to the future of a world where Sam and Dean are gone but calls back to another beautiful moment in the series.
“What do you think our legacy's gonna be? When we're gone, I mean, after all the stuff we've done, you think folks will remember us? You know, like, a hundred years from now?
“…guys like us, we're not exactly the type of people they write about in history books, you know?.. But the people we saved, they're our legacy. And they'll remember us and then I guess we'll eventually fade away, too. That's fine, because we left the world better than we found it, you know.”
Bracing, powerful, engaging and emotive with a sense of humour and artistry. This was an unexpected hit with a uniquely human monster of the week granting some insights into our heroes and even into (one of) our villainous characters. "The Memory Remains" was a wonderfully personal episode that left us on a brotherly moment between Sam and Dean, reminding us once again what the Winchesters are all about: saving lives and family. Without a doubt, rewatch material.