The Morning After

Suspenseful and emotional. Supernatural’s “Nightmare Logic” achieved the rare feat of captivating viewers with both action and affection, alternating between unexpected twists in the case and genuine, believable, poignant character development. It engaged viewers’ minds and hearts, a trait that was Supernatural’s hallmark for so very long but hasn’t always been realized in more recent seasons.

"Nightmare Logic" was written by Meredith Glynn. Looking back at my reviews of her prior work, I realized that masterfully intertwining Supernatural’s immensely deep characters and mythology is quickly becoming Meredith’s signature style. At the risk of repeating myself, here is what I wrote for about Meredith’s last three episodes:

“Unfinished Business” [13.20] also added another superb episode to Meredith Glynn’s “win” column. As the author of “The Big Empty” (13.04) and “Regarding Dean” (12.11), Meredith’s best writing seems to come through in close character studies, when an actor must portray either multiple aspects of, or another version of, himself. [...] I loved every minute of Gabriel’s, Kevin’s and Jack’s journeys in this episode.

 

I LOVED Supernatural’s 13.14 “Good Intentions”! It was about relationships, choices, regrets, loyalties and a whole bunch of other gooey stuff that I love, all set in an action-packed hour of fantasy adventure! This was an excellent example of the emotional resonance that gives Supernatural its heart, preventing it from becoming a trite,  apocalyptic drama. Meredith Glynn, the writer of this episode, is quickly becoming a treasured Supernatural writer.  Author of “Regarding Dean”, which delved deeply into the essence of Dean as a person and his relationship with Sam, and “The Big Empty”, which was a fascinating study of Castiel’s character, Meredith has delivered yet another episode that moves plot lines forward through character realizations and growth.  In fact, it contained a moment I believe is pivotal to the series.   

 

That was cute! Supernatural’s “The Scorpion and the Frog” [13.08] was the comedic repose before the intensity of Jack, Mary and the fate of the world hanging in the balance returns in next week’s mid-season finale. Written by Meredith Glynn, whose last episode “The Big Empty” was unanimously praised by The Winchester Family Business reviewers (and most fans from what I saw) is on a roll with popular, well written stories.

Get the idea? I’m not sure why Meredith’s talent hasn’t been at the forefront of social media buzz and online commentary from the SPNFamily (from what I’ve seen at least), but I think I just became the president of her fan club. We need to start talking about her as a linchpin in the writing team. Am I wrong on this?

Did "Nightmare Logic" give us another moment that will be pivotal to the season? Let's examine the story's threads to see what happened that was so important.

Dream Worlds

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Djinn: I thought when you showed up with that ridiculous "Historic Society" story that you -- he was testing me, making sure I kept up my end of the bargain [i.e. deal].

Dean: What bargain? Stop!

Djinn: Find somewhere quiet, set up shop, kill as many hunters as I can.

Dean: And in return, he'd give you an upgrade.

Djinn: It's what he does. What powers do we really have? Trapping our little flies, weaving our poisonous webs inside people's minds. It's all so

limiting.

The concept of dream worlds was threaded throughout all of season 13 and again at the beginning of this season. The presence of the djinn is significant in that their power is literally to create a dream world that captivates their victims while they slowly drain them of their life force. The importance of dream walkers (Dark Kaia) to the story is obvious, but less so for dream worlds. One radical theory is that everything we’re seeing is a dream that Dean has conjured up while he is still under Michael’s control! Do you think that’s what’s happening? Are we “inside people’s minds”? An intriguing idea that fits all the facts! Would Supernatural really do that to us?? Give me other theories as to why there is still so much emphasis on dream worlds! I’m still on board that Castiel is “dreaming” in the Empty, but at the moment that plotline seems less important or relevant. What other ideas do you have? I’m scandalized to even think this might all be Dean’s dream, so let’s presume there’s another explanation and we’re all firmly planted in reality. Why then was this particular monster chosen? 

Say What Now?

14 5 Djinn Dean Michael cr ackles is best

The Djinn found something inside Dean’s mind, and that "something" literally repelled him away from Dean!

Djinn: You -- You're --

The obvious conclusion is that the djinn found Michael lurking deep within Dean, watching, waiting to emerge and repossess Dean, eradicating all of Dean’s efforts to forgive himself and move on.

Djinn: You think I'm the only one, the only trap? He made dozens of us, just out there waiting for you and your family.

Dean: You don't know my family.

After the djinn read Dean’s mind, the djinn referred to Michael as separate from Dean, i.e. he made dozens of traps. Obviously Dean is in control of his body now so it’s logical that the djinn would see him and Michael as separate entities. I don’t think that one word is conclusive evidence one way or another on Michael’s presence. The new information was that Michael is specifically targeting his enemy. It is equally logical that Michael would lie low until his “traps” have had a chance to do their job and make the world safer for him to move about unopposed. Is he hiding in Dean?

Identity 

[Thank you to Lisa Magnum (and I think someone else a few weeks before) for recognizing this Thread that evolved from Disguises/Imposters]
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Dean: Traps for Hunters. Friggin' awesome.

Sam: Dean –

Dean: I know, I know. Not my fault. It's Michael. It's all Michael [a clue about the “Dean’s Dream World” theory??]. You know, I've been trying to -- not forget, but to move on from what I -- from what we -- from what he did. And I got to be honest, I was -- I was starting to feel like myself again. Almost.

Is Dean the ultimate “trap for hunters”? He certainly is part of the inner circle that Michael fears most. Some fans thought all along that Michael is still within Dean. I wasn’t one of them, and although I’ll admit the djinn’s reaction has me wavering, I’m still not convinced. Is it too obvious? Is there any other possible explanation of what he found? The djinn was trying to dig up Dean’s worst nightmare. Certainly that would be Dean failing somehow and causing the death of the three people he loves the most: Sammy, Castiel and his mom. That shouldn’t shock the djinn though. So we’re back to just speculation and waiting!

Let’s look at Sam, then.

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Mary: Look, don't listen to Bobby.

Sam: Um, maybe he's right, you know? I encouraged her. Maybe he's right about me, about everything.

Mary: Sam, watching you these last few weeks, you know what I've been saying to myself? "This is what he was born to do.” If Bobby can't see that, then it's not the only thing he's been missing lately.

Sam: I wasn't gonna mention it. None of my business, but it did seem like you'd gotten pretty close lately.

Mary: Yeah, and I thought so, too. Maybe, but since we've been back, things have changed.

Sam: Changed how?

Mary: We're hunting all the time. He won't take a break, not even for a second. There's something on his mind, and he doesn't want to talk about it.

Sam: Have you asked?

Mary: Bobby's not open like your dad.

Sam: Wait. Like my dad?

Mary: Okay. At least he's not like your dad was when I knew him.

Sam: Right.

Mary: Bobby's got walls, big ones. I just don't know if I can do that if I even ever put myself out there again. I shouldn't be talking to you about this!

What a beautiful, insightful conversation that shows the beginning of a relationship between Mary and Sam. There’s something special about hearing praise, pride and encouragement from a parent. True, Mary doesn’t have the insights about her son that come from years upon years of guiding him while he was growing up, but she is finding that bond again that she felt for him as an infant. She’s learning about him as an adult, the way all parents have to let go of childhood images and see the person their child has become.

I completely agree with what Mary said about Sam. After Bobby began to deal with his own grief and guilt, he reiterated that Sam is a natural leader and brilliant hunter. Even Dean chimed in. I LOVE that last week Dean acknowledged Sam as “chief” (I didn’t get to say that since I didn’t write my usual review). This week, Dean repeatedly called Sam “the best” and praised him for doing “better than his best” at training the hunters.

Dean: Well, I talked to Maggie. Says she can't wait to get back in the saddle.

Sam: Really?

Dean: Well, she learned from the best, huh?

Ok, I got goosebumps when I heard how proud Dean is of Sam. Dean, Mary and pseudo-Bobby all told Sam how good he is at his job and how proud they are of him. It’s about blessed time that boy got recognized for the incredible man he’s become!! (There are those goosebumps again!)

I’ve said many times that my vision for Sam’s future is combining the intelligentsia of the Men of Letters with the practical field knowledge of hunters - teaching, mentoring, organizing and leading smart hunters, until the day that he and Dean finally rid the world of all monsters – which IS going to happen! Sam is the new and improved Bobby. The central coordinating hub or “main office” as he put it, armed with the latest technology. Sam’s empathy extends to all the people he brought back, though. That’s a lot of rookies to care for all at once.

14 5 0058 Maggie hunting

Although way out of line, I also have to agree with Bobby that Maggie should not have been hunting on her own. If Sam and Dean, with all their brawn and experience, always hunt together, why oh why would Sam send Maggie out by herself?? 

14 5 0051 Maggie afraid

Mary maybe, but rookie Maggie? She's trying to establish her own identity as a hunter but courage does not have to equal stupidity. That might be a lesson learned for Sam. 

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All these life and death decision are weighing on Sam. We’re all worried about what might be waiting to ambush Dean, but I’m just as worried about how frayed Sam is becoming. 2 hours of sleep a night? He’s obsessed Sam again, trying to keep everyone safe and take the lead on finding both Michael and a weapon against Michael while his brother is not yet himself.

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Mary’s revelations about Bobby also contained a few references to things being in people’s mind (for example, in Dean’s mind). They put up “walls” that keep others out, or themselves locked in. Mary and Sam repeated the reference to walls and not being open in the next piece of their conversation.  Is this callback to season 13's thread referring to the guilt that both Bobby and Dean are internalizing, or is it more subtly referring to this whole scenario being in Dean’s mind?

Family

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It was so welcome to see bonding time between Mary and Sam. Thank goodness someone got around to writing a talk between those two! “Nightmare Logic” delivered a generous helping of touching broments between Dean and Sam as well (thank you very much!!).

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There were also all kinds of parallels between Sasha Rawling’s and Dean’s childhoods – dead mom, dad who threw himself into his work, worshiping child who wants just to please and be noticed by the dad.  Dean’s advice was interesting: “Let it go.”  That’s something he’s trying to do a lot of these days.

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I also love the blossoming romance between AUBobby and Mary. I nearly had heart failure when it looked like DreamDan might kill one of them!  No one is sacred on this show and there were a few minutes when I really thought we’d lose at least one of them! Thank Chuck that didn’t happen!!  

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I’d like to focus on AU Bobby’s backstory, though.  Daniel Singer and his remaining parent together said goodbye to his mom. He then bonded with his dad through hunting, and they used it as a means to run away from or deal with the grief of the mom’s loss. Eventually, the young man got separated from his dad - the older, more experienced soldier, - was taken by Michael’s army, and presumed a casualty of war. The dad tears himself up with guilt because of it. This entire scenario parallels Jack and the trajectory of his life with Castiel (or Sam or Dean). Jack got thrown into hunting as a young man and has never stopped seeking revenge for the harm that monsters do to this world. Is this story foreshadowing that Michael and/or his army will capture Jack in this world's "angel war"? The foreshadowing is unmistakable. Do you see it too? The curious thing about this is that they never found Daniel’s body, opening up the possibility that he is still in the AU world being tortured or brainwashed. Season 16’s plotline maybe? 

 

Communicating/Talking

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Dean: What are we talking here? [later] If we could just speak with the owner.

Mary:  Boys. Um We, uh -- We need to talk.

Bobby: We’re gonna need to talk to him.

Mary: Bobby and I were talking her through it…

Sam: Can we talk to the groundskeeper, please?

Sasha: if we’re talking textbook workaholic with toxic narcissistic tendencies…

Mary (to Bobby): You can talk to me.

Sam: So, I know things are crazy right now, but you got to listen to me. We got to stay safe, use the buddy system. All right. Spread the word.   

Bobby: Listen, those things I said before –

Sam: Bobby, forget about it.

Bobby: No, no. I - This job is no picnic. I don't know that I ever really had it in me. But you do.

This episode was filled with heart-to-heart talks: Mary and Sam, Bobby and Dean, Bobby and Mary, Bobby and Sam, Dean and Sasha. The curious detail that differentiated references to "talking" was that the dialog emphasized both granting permission and the urgency of talking. Phrases like “you can”, “we need to”, “you got to”, “can we”, “doesn’t want to”, “shouldn’t be”, etc. all qualified communicating as something that must be agreed to by all involved parties. Dean not being able to “talk to” Michael (or visa-versa is Michael is lying dormant right now) immediately jumps to mind as the implication of this new emphasis. I suspect you can come up with more layers of meaning though, given time to consider it more deeply. This feels significant to me so play with it a bit if you will.

Time

Mary: We'll -- We'll just be a few weeks. As soon as Bobby's back on his feet –

Dean: Hey, I know.

Mary: If you need anything -- anything, I'm just half a day's drive –

Sam: Mom, go. All right? Be happy.

Are all the numbers and time references subtext for a countdown clock, ticking away toward the inevitable catastrophe that they all dread?

Impressions

14 5 0235 Doorway
 
"Nightmare Logic" was beautifull directed by Darren Grant. The shots in this episode deserve a review all their own. They significantly added to the emotional intensity and cinematic beauty of the storyline.
 
14 5 0217 Landscape
 
No, this isn't a realistic view of a roadway between Kansas and Oklahoma. That journey is flat, flat and more flat but this scenery is so majestic and the lighting so perfect, that detail gets a handwave with a big thank you from me. 
 

14 5 0086 Hunting Class

I also can't shake a nagging feeling that I'm missing the significance of the episode's title. Do you have any ideas about the phrase, “Nightmare Logic”? Where was the logic in it all? Michael’s logic in setting traps then lying low? Bobby’s logic that his son’s supposed death was his fault, and Dean’s logic that Michael’s traps aren’t his fault? This feels important so I’m interested in your theories.

In the meantime, we’re left with

  • Tighter bonds between Sam and Dean and Mary (hallelujah!). I can never, ever get enough of this!
  • Mary and AUBobby taking time to deal with grief and loss. That’s ok by me. It’s about time somebody dealt with loss in a healthy way and this relationship is good for both of them.
  • Sam hearing that he is a darn good leader. FINALLY and Amen!
  • More than a little cause of worry about our li’l bro pushing himself too hard. Obsessed Sam is never good.
  • More evidence that Dean is on borrowed time, and that all Dean’s efforts to “feel like himself” will be shattered in a split second when Michael reasserts himself. Ugh.
  • New traps for hunters (and an interesting mention of Garth!)
  • Possible foreshadowing of a new reason to worry about Jack (remember the coughing up blood problem?)

I’m going to go watch this episode again because it’s magnetic and it’s pulling me in. Anyway, it’s your turn. What are your theories on the threads I found?

- Nightsky 

You can read all my prior Threads reviews (and other feature articles) on my Writer's Page.

 

Transcript quotes courtesy of: https://www.springfieldspringfield.co.uk/view_episode_scripts.php?tv-show=supernatural&episode=s14e05

Additional screencaps courtesy of: http://www.homeofthenutty.com/supernatural/screencaps/

Thank you to Wednesday and Ackles_is_Best for the gif.