My heart is still recovering from this one. It certainly didn’t set out as a heart breaker or one of those uber-dramatic, memorable Winchester scrapbook moment episodes; but then the episodes that make your breath catch and your stomach clench this early in the game, rarely do.
Evil, Ego & Magic: What a Combo
We’ll start simple and work our way to the big moments, so Rowena and Lucifer will open the review up this time. With Rowena and her spell, I expected one of two things to happen. One, that she would somehow bind Lucifer to the vessel and he’d be stuck at less power, at least for time, in which case she’d make her grand (or mega, if you prefer) escape. The other expectation was that we’d simply skip magic on Lucifer and our favourite red-wiccan would simply disappear in a puff and a few words of Latin. I suppose in the end it was a loose combination therein, though it was Lucifer who disappeared in a puff and the words weren’t Latin. When Rowena is behaving this sycophantic, she’s planning something. So, Lucifer has only himself to blame. PS – Rowena, the ocean is fab and all, but unless I’m mistaken, angel-wings aren’t water-soluble and his evil-eminence will be back in snap, no?
Which brings me to the ultimate issue with the entire exchange between Lucifer and Rowena. Looking at these scenes, there is nothing ostensibly wrong with them. After all it seems to be feeding this idea that Lucifer is so blinded by his on ego that he accepts Rowena’s sniveling and pandering as opposed to seeing the risks she poses. Lucifer is narcissistic, no doubt, that has always been his down fall – but he is also incredibly smart and leans much more towards maniacal manipulations that the “do or die” variety forces.
So, while I am okay for the moment swallowing everything Lucifer is tossing out; there is a fine line being walked with this incarnation of the character. Based on the previous versions, Lucifer should behave like he is the smartest, most powerful being in the room (think The End – “I win. So, I win.”) – and with good reason. Granted, he’s been knocked down a peg or two since those days, but I’d still like him leaning more that direction and a touch less like a teen on a bender, which is territory where I feel like we’re starting to encroach on. Thoughts?
Having said ALL that, I am enjoying watching Rick Springfield work – he is still giving Lucifer that pop and flair we’ve come to associate; despite the touch of petulance that seems to be a bit more than usual for the Lord of Darkness.
A Demon and an Angel Walk into a Police Station…
Where to even begin with this match up? It was simultaneously ridiculous and spectacular – though cut between the more intense moments/key family conversation of Sam, Dean and Mary it felt a touch out of place at times.
The sitcom known as Cas and Crowley, P.I. make a fun team because there are simply no doubts about their disdain and satisfaction in ridiculing one another – something even Cas got into with Crowley:
“..I think it's sweet. I thought your motivation was ambition and revenge, but now I know you just wanna save your mother.”
Their complete lack of synchronicity is a total contrast for the Winchester boys, despite Castiel’s best efforts to emulate his friends, down to the popstar alias (it’s the Aguilera/Spears fiasco all over again) and trying the make sure he looks the part. Despite all this, of course they end up speaking to Vince’s newly healed sister despite her efforts to turn them away because of Crowley’s zap and pop talents. One question that doesn’t make sense about this entire plot point – why did Lucifer heal this woman? Was there a deal we didn’t see when he took over Vince? It’s a minor thing, but it’s also a sloppy trail for him to leave in his wake. We also didn’t see mention of this sister during the Lucifer seduction of his shiny new vessel – at least not that I recall?
The entire Cas and Crowley storyline and their ultimate meet up with Rowena still feels very secondary, even by the end of the episode when Rowena promises to help them if and when they manage to corner Lucifer. The storyline is still lacking in critical momentum: yes, they want to re-cage Lucifer, but presently, other than making certain his skin doesn’t melt away, Lucifer doesn’t have much of a significant motive for us to be worrying about or our other characters to be invested in more than a slightly more-bad-ass-than-average hunt. The party should start soon – I hope?
Greedy for Babies
Okay, time to talk about the MoTW and our first family hunting trip in ages. Mary, after a haircut (thank goodness – and don’t we all wish for such talent with just scissors and a bathroom mirror?) finds a case and convinces her sons to get on the road. Here we see a few mother/son bonding moments, at least for Dean and Mary, as he shares his favourite snacks with her and finds they enjoy the classics too (in an amusing moment where Sam indicates for it to be turned down and Mary promptly turns it up). The snack sharing scene is sweet in that it reminds of little kids on the playground making friends by offering half of their cookie or to share their crackers; it means a lot to them and they want to share with somebody who means something to them.
We also experience a hesitant Sam, recognizing and far more prepared to acknowledge the state mom is in – and wanting to discuss it – versus Dean, in complete denial and determine to shove all the puzzle pieces of his new family together regardless of the fact that they obviously don’t fit.
The kidnapping ghost father was…mild…as far as ghost storylines go and just a bit fuzzy too. (But maybe I missed something on viewing – why was Lucas’ touch freezer-burning people?) Regardless, Mary’s “old-fashioned” hunting style work after the boys did the digital research and came to incorrect conclusions ended up being just the right way to save the day. Admittedly, I’m curious about the opening of Mary’s phone call to Lucas’ mother - how did she introduce herself and it ended with the mother grateful to have spoken about that sad story? Just curious.
The entire situation ends in the creepy, dilapidated house (because where else?) with a ghostly confrontation and Mary being possessed. Dean is faced with shooting her with rock-salt (Asylum flashbacks anyone?) but like mother, like sons – Mary did who the ghost for a few seconds and ultimately we get the satisfactions of the villain burning while the children’s souls move on – even Lucas, with a little encouragement from Mary.
In the end, this MoTW wasn’t much in the way of a hunt – mostly it was just a vehicle to illustrate both Mary’s similarities to her sons (stay put obviously means sneak out asap) and the distance she is experiencing in the world of 2016. And of course, the understanding she felt at the idea of losing a family, despite her sons standing beside her.
We also got to experience Sam and Dean’s telling conversation at the graveyard:
Dean: She's back. I mean, yeah, she's still working out the kinks. We're all still working out the kinks. But, I mean, can't we, for once, just not turn everything into a problem? You know, can we, for once, just have one good thing?
Sam: Mom's not a thing. Okay. Look, I'm happy, too, Dean. I am. I'm overjoyed. But...there's something about her. I mean, something's going on with her…she's struggling. I mean, she's trying to bury herself in hunting to avoid dealing.... Like mother, like sons.
Nobody Hurts Like Family
The final moments of this episode were unexpected, beautifully acted and emotionally devastating. Nobody can communicate so much without saying a word quite the way Jared and Jensen do as Sam and Dean – especially when those are painful emotions. And these final moments illustrate strikingly.
As Mary explains that she has to go, that she doesn’t fit, she misses John and her boys – Dean’s face goes through a spectrum: stunned pain, shock, betrayal – and finally lands in shut down. In the end, when Mary moves to touch Dean and he won’t look at her, instead backing away, you can practically hear the angry echo of “if you’re going to abandon your family, just go.” Knowing how much Dean has longed for his mother over the years, how lovingly he has kept the photo of his young self with his mom – well, even as I’m writing this, my heart hurts for him.
Sam, unlike his brother, has no angry-hurt; he is only empathy and sadness for his mother. This is equally crushing to watch. Sam saw this coming down the tracks and is hurting for his mom and his family. Sam does take the hug – but the real button on this scene? The flinch from Jared as the bunker doors close the final time on Mary’s exit. I’m pretty sure, as we sniffle and wipe away tears, we were right there with you, Sammy.
Mediocre monster of the week, comic relief was decent enough though ill-timed at moments and more detraction than attraction thus in this particular episode and the Lucifer story, well, again – okay but remains tepid. We’re at that place in the season where somebody needs to start to have a direction plan of some store – and, well, recaging Lucifer just isn’t packing that punch (at least not yet).
Family drama? That was the soul of this episode. Devastating, superbly acted with so little dialogue and leaves me wondering about the repercussions to each family member now that mama Winchester is taking her walkabout. I’m thinking angry/repressing Dean and sad/hurting Sam next week?
Thoughts and speculations below!