There is Something in the Closet
One of the perks of a long summer hiatus is the possibility to watch the occasional Supernatural episode without the curiosity and the passionate dread of waiting for new turns in the story. I try not to watch the seasons too often, as I still want to be able to spot something new or to feel as if the story was not completely familiar to me.
Upon watching Home again, after quite a while, I felt again drawn into its tragedy almost like at my first encounter with it, having to use a tad too many tissues for my taste! So, I had the idea of inviting you all to an Open Couch of episodes that have moved and continue to move me! The whole show does that, but some episodes have got under my skin in a way I had not exactly believed possible.
Lawrence, Kansas. The place where all began. It does never really end, does it? Wherever you go, you always take a part of your home with you, it seems, even in bad dreams!
But we don't know of the specific dreams, yet, that plague Sam's sleep. The episode begins with a lovely young woman living in the old Winchester house. We meet beautiful, caring Jenny, one of the saintly mother figures of the show that somehow resemble one another, it seem Mary, Jessica and this young lady seem to share a gene pool!
She kindly attends to her daughter's fears and barricades the doors of the closet where her sweet Sari thinks to have seen 'something'. It doesn't help, though. The same moment Jenny finds some family pictures of the Winchesters: John, Mary, Dean and Little Sammy' the flaming ghost appears in Sari's closet.
What a strong opening, and we are not really given a breather, as it goes on with a nightmare of this house! a nightmare Sam is having. After waking up he is still so spellbound by it some time later that he can't stop drawing the tree in front of the house, and neither an emptied, capsized fishing trawler nor West Texan cattle mutilations nor the Sacramento man who shot himself in the head three times blow up his skirt.
Sam knows this tree and goes on searching for the picture to make sure, as he has never lived in that house to remember it, he needs a picture to be certain! on a very shallow note (you will forgive me, won't you) â€“ this was the first episode I became aware that the once quite lanky young actor portraying Sam, namely Jared Padalecki of course, had been seriously working out, as the muscles playing under the skin of his defined forearm clearly indicated. (personally, I find forearms like that frighteningly sexy, and he seems to like it, too, as he tends to wear his sleeves rolled up just to the point to show enough but not to reveal too much).
I know where we have to go.
Back to the episode, ahem, shallow moment over for now, Sam scares the living daylights out of Dean by revealing to him for the first time the supposed truth behind his nightmares.
Sam: I have these nightmares.
Dean: I've noticed.
Sam: And sometimes they come true.
Dean: Come again?
Sam: Look, Dean, I dreamt about Jessica's death for days before it happened.
Dean: Sam, people have weird dreams, man. I'm sure it's just a coincidence.
Sam: No, I dreamt about the blood, her on the ceiling, the fire, everything. I didn't do anything about it, because I didn't believe it and now I'm dreaming about that tree, about our house and about some woman inside screaming for help. I mean that's where it all started, man. This has to mean something, right?
Dean: I don't know
Sam: What do you mean, you don't know, Dean? This woman might be in danger. I mean this might even be the thing that killed mom and Jessica.
Dean: All right. Just slow down, would you? I mean, first you tell me that you've got the Shining and then you tell me that I've gotta go back home? Especially when ...
Sam: When what?
Dean: When I swore to myself that I would never go back there.
Sam: Look. Dean, we have to check this out. Just to make sure.
Dean: I know we do.
This is episode nine of the first season. When I first watched it ages ago, it seems, on German Television, I was used to the horror elements of the show after episodes like Bloody Mary or Dead In The Water. But still, somehow, a part of me was hoping to not be overwhelmed by any emotional undercurrents that were already there, but this one scene had such an impact on me that I could hardly believe it. I had smelled the tragedy in the guts of this show from the first episode on, but I had â€“ in part â€“ hoped that I might have been wrong. But, I love stories like that. A shrink and a masochist. What a combination.
This scene is another testimony to the amazing actor Jensen Ackles already was at that point. As he speaks the line 'I swore to myself that I would never go back there' we see his fear, his pain, and hear it in his trembling voice, as if he wants to cry but gets a grip just in time, as he says 'I know we do', the most helpful Winchester strategy is often to defiantly pull themselves together in overtaxing moments â€“ concentrate on the job at hand (another horrific moment like that is to be found much later in Abandon All Hope as Bobby pulls Dean back to his reason on the verge of breaking down over Jo's lethal injury, and, of course, many more).
So, they visit Kansas, and Sam wins Jenny over immediately by telling her (sort of) the truth about who they are instead of Dean's speech that they were with! whoever! The puppy dog thing works best with a grain of truth, it seems. And Sam is, just as Dean, great with kids â€“ he wins Sari's trust at once, which is probably not easy as it is hinted at that her mother needed a fresh start after an obviously tough time (though we are not told what it was that she had to experience, but judging from her reaction to Dean's question why she moved to Kansas, it must have been rather unpleasant).
There are strange phenomenons in the house and a strange thing lives in the closet of Sari's nursery. And Sam panics. As often, when he gets into a state of panic, he gets passionate about the whole matter, angry and pressuring. Apart from that he's freaking Dean out more than he is willing to show, but enough to make him call his father - or at least try to call him while Sam is coming slightly down! (Oh Sammy, if you knew how well I understand that, you fictional character, you ! as it is my way to react, so often - I panic in moments that shake me. I feel like a pond full of boiling water for an hour or a day, and then I calm down, woman up and do what I have to do so solve the problem! And I'm so grateful that I am able to stay level-headed in a real crisis, again just like Sam! this might be one reason of many why I have felt so drawn to Sam from the beginning!).
'So if we're gonna figure out what's going on now, we have to figure out what happened back then and see it it's the same thing.' Sam declares, and Dean's strong 'Yeah' sounds a bit too much like trying to get a grip. And he does what Dean usually does when scared out of his wits - he withdraws.
'Dad, I know I've left you messages before. I don't even know it you get them. But I'm with Sam and we're in Lawrence and there's something in our old house. I don't know if it's the thing that killed Mom or not, but I don't know what to do. So, whatever you're doing, if you could get here. .. Please. I need your help, dad.'
Yes, go ahead Jensen, stick the knife in my soul and twist it ! Anyone out there who was not moved by this incredible and cruel scene?
Assuming that John knew his son and knew that Dean would never plead for help unless being really desperate. What kind of father would not come running the very second? As we later learn that John came to town, without informing his boys (I know, he wanted to protect them while searching for Yellow Eyes, plus he probably wanted them out of his way, I know, I know!.), I really want to slap Papa Winchester's face. I am right with Missouri, then.
That kind of evil leaves wounds.
Oh, Missouri, what a fantastic lady. I fell in love with her from the first moment. Apparently Sam did also, as we see that he likes her right away (maybe due to his already blossoming instincts born form psychic abilities he's not aware of yet) while Dean is, again, more of a sceptic and her target for motherly reprimand. Her introduction is a marvellous one - we meet a sweet lady who's not afraid to make use of the English language, but who is compassionate and warm - and a talented psychic with a knack for hex bags! our and the brother's first encounter of this kind!
She informs Sam and Dean about her early history with their father, about the evil she was able to sense back then, but the evil that is endangering Jenny and her little kids is of a different kind! Not being sure why the house is acting up now, Missouri is confused. Sam, connecting the dots correctly, is not that much. He feels that 'something is starting' with dad going missing, Jessica being killed, his nightmares!. The intended destinies of Sam and Dean begin to take their course! with little hints, tiny cruelties and at first undetected dangers as in this episode.
As they visit the house again and go up to Sam's former nursery and Missouri explains to Sam what this place was and that it might be the centre of the activities, it always seemed to me that Sam already knew that, that he felt it, and Missouri confirmed it for him, giving him another scare about the mysterious things that were happening to him.
The psychic teaches the brothers to make hex bags, and it's interesting that this time it's Dean who does the dirty work with the 'crossroads dirt, van van oil, angelica root and a few other odds and ends' while Sam watches. They learn, not without awe, it seems, about the danger Missouri detected in the house. And it's good they send Jenny and the kids away, because, indeed, they hardly survive!
The following scenes still keep me on edge, even after having watched this episode several times. Each of them works quietly, highly concentrated and if they are scared, we don't see it. In all likelihood, they stuffed their fear in some corner of their cortex to be capable of getting the work done.
The poltergeist and his fellows work meticulously, just as well. The knives in the kitchen almost skewer Dean, Missouri gets trapped in the cellar by some armoire and Sam become the victim of a nasty lamp ! I want to cry out 'Watch out Sammy!', but Kripke's grip is strong at my heart, and I am at his mercy, it seems.
This gets to me every time, damn it. Dean notices early enough what's going on while Sam does not. He is on the floor being strangled and not capable of loosening the wire, desperately trying to get the hex bag into the wall, getting weaker by the second and as Dean storms in, he is hardly moving anymore, his breathing only a rattling moan of panting! Every time I watch this, I feel my stomach clenching, as if I'm going to be sick any moment. But I'm not. I'm just not breathing. It seems I find breath again the moment Dean embraces his brother after saving his life. I am as relieved as I ever could be.
But, it's not over. Sam knows it. He does know it, but is not ready yet to accept this what will turn out to be his own psychic abilities - sensing that something is still going on. He might be afraid of what he is feeling and wants to cling to Missouri's statement that it was over. He does not want to be different. And yet he already feels that he is. And that might begin to frighten him beyond expectation.
And then, another small scene that moves me whenever I watch it - they leave the house and Dean helps Missouri down the stairs, a chivalrous young gentleman, well-mannered indeed, even after she made him clean up the mess they made.
Then, Sam's nightmare happens. Luckily Sam needed to follow his instincts and watch the house and he sees the exact images he saw in that dream. As Dean rushes to get Jenny, Sam takes care of the children, but then he stops in his tracks. I always wondered why. Did the ghost already grab him? Did he feel that he was not allowed to leave the house just yet? He puts the kids down: 'Take your brother outside as fast as you can. Don't look back.' - We heard those words before. In the Pilot. The same words John placed Baby Sam in Dean's arms with.
What's happening to me?
No, Dean can't lose his brother like that. Not in that cursed house. Not now after having begun to be brothers again. He's in panic while Sam is being thrown about the kitchen and pinned to a wall, not really scared but defiant and confused out of his wits, as he already senses who the flaming ghost is.
Mary. Their mother. As beautiful as an angel. She doesn't say much, only their names at first, and Dean almost breaks down. He remembers his mom. When she died he was old enough to remember her and to be thrown back into the cruelty of losing her and missing her for all those years. He is a kid again at this moment, a little boy, confused and in pain, longing for his mother, perhaps even more so as she just looks at him with so much love that it hurts to watch.
And Sam? Oh God, that scene is heartbreaking.
This is such mercy to be given this moment with his mother, meeting her for the first time, hearing her voice as she speaks his name, this lovely woman he was not allowed to remember, because she was taken from him so early in his life. He never hugged her, never knew how it feels to be kissed good night (or, well, was too young to remember). Those small gems many of us have experienced while growing up. One of my personal fondest memories of my early childhood is my father carrying me around (I might have been three or four), singing, and his happy face lit from the inside with joy. Sam probably never had something like that. Not with his mother.
Mary apologizes to Sam, as she surely remembers the deal she made that eventually led Yellow Eyes to their house and to Jessica. She does not explain to her younger son for what she is sorry, but her eyes speak volumes! If she has been a kind of ghost all those years, ready to appear now in a moment her children are in danger, she might have never found peace, entrapped in cruel memories of her own death and missing her sons. And now she's prepared to destroy herself to neutralize the poltergeist attacking her kids, and she might be sorry for that, too, as this move will keep her from finding them again. A move any caring mother would take gladly to protect the children she loves.
They are saved, and Sam somewhat bitterly realizes that it's over now. But he is left utterly confused, still hoping that his mom might be around and is painfully disappointed as Missouri confirms it for him â€“ that she is gone, too, that she did it for him and his brother. Knowing Sam's nature, this might add to his feelings of guilt! that his mother destroyed herself for him and Dean. Later he will learn that he is the centre of demonic plans, that his mother indeed died because Lucifer wanted him. Luckily, at that point, he does not know that, yet. He will find out in time, growing stronger by it. But the pile of wounds in his soul keeps growing constantly.
So is mine, becoming more and more enveloped by this story of the Winchester brothers who keep moving my soul more than I could have ever imagined.
The house they used to live in was not home. Not after it all happened. The memories will never leave them, but a feeling of home is not connected to those. Their home, as Chuck so beautifully pointed out in the last episode in the fifth season, has four wheels and a lot of scars inside and out, just as her inhabitants. The Impala. Perhaps the only constant factor in their lives.
Still, I hope, both, Sam and Dean, will one day get the chance to build themselves some kind of home. I doubt it, as hope in this show tends to stab you in the back, but I would love to see the brothers find some peace of mind, one day. One far day.