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Episode 12 crossed the mid-season point in season 11's 23 episode series. Curiously named “Don’t You Forget About Me”, I have to wonder what else in season 11 are we being told not to forget? So after a quick review of this stand-alone story, let’s revisit some of the season’s earlier threads to see if they now have deeper meaning.

s11e12 144 dinner jody

Let me start by saying that overall I enjoyed “Don’t You Forget About Me” (DYFAM). Kim Rhodes’ Jody is such a joy!

s11e12 116 dinner shock

She can order two macho, massive hunters who just faced off with Lucifer to “Sit. Stay.” at the most awkward dinner ever! Her retorts are witty and she is courageous yet real – I just love her! I honestly don’t know how the writers could work her into more than one episode a season, but I never tire of seeing her.

s11e12 112 dinner Claire s11e12 150 dinner smile

I also really liked Claire in this episode. I thought Kathryn Newton’s acting was solid, portraying various moods in several different situations. I loved the way her face lit up at the dinner table when she was teasing Alex. Claire’s sassy, tough exterior served her well in the face of impending death at the hands of monsters, yet she was sweet and comforting when Alex felt guilty about the pain she had brought to their family. I know Claire isn’t popular, but I felt her character had depth, realistically portraying a young woman who had been abandoned, possessed, traumatized, used, introduced to the horrors of the world way too soon, and on her own for a long time. I would actually like to see her grow and develop both as a hunter and as a young women who is turning her life around, giving it purpose based on Jody’s, Sam’s and Dean’s examples and understanding mentorship.

The episode wasn’t perfect, though. The vampire backstory and premise were believable but Alex’s character came across as shallow.

s11e12 585 closing

Her closing declaration that she needs to get away from the people whose lives revolve around monsters was jolting and unsupported. The episode also lost valuable time to unimportant scenes. The introductory “Then” seemed to go on forever, followed by a rather boring and unconvincing scene that lingered way too long on the teenage couple in the car debacle. The episode also stalled during the donut sandwich monologue (which set up how much the boys enjoyed Jody’s dinner but didn’t deserve that much dialog), a woodpecker meme that wasn’t funny and repetitive flashbacks, all of which wasted time that could have been put into the hunt or character development. The obligatory and standard “Cas and the Darkness are MIA” excuse is also wearing thin. Five minutes of the aforementioned filler should have been sacrificed for a heartfelt conversation with Jody about Dean’s current emotional confusion or Sam’s recent brush with it getting “very real” in Hell.  That is the kind of bridge between episodes that these serious myth arcs and a well-established character like Jody deserve. Since Nancy Won is a relatively new writer, I am willing to give her a hall pass on missed opportunities, but the writing team should have shored this up for her. In balance, though, seeing Jody again, Claire's development, the outstanding humor at the dinner table, and everyone working together equally as a team to defeat the bad guys redeemed the show. The episode also wasn’t totally without its double meanings.

Love or Lore

s11e12 167 kitchen talk

Sam and Jody both talked about Claire using hunting to escape the loneliness of her life. In describing Claire’s life to Dean, Jody unknowingly held a mirror up to Sam and Dean’s lives. The parallel wasn’t lost on him:
Jody: She doesn't have any friends. She spends all her time trolling for cases and reading lore.
Dean: Sounds kind of creepy when you put it like that.
Jody: You know, I've got nothing against hunting, but if she's hiding in it because she doesn't have anything else, I'm just -- I'm worried about her being so alone.

Sam reiterated the warning about trying to find cases to avoid facing uncomfortable truths (another thread of the season).
Sam: You wouldn’t be the first hunter who was trying to escape something.

Besides the reference to hunters needing to ‘escape’ things (cages and spells for example), the cautionary message about staying busy when the more important things in life are harder or more unpleasant to do, or face, would have remained a vague adage if last week’s “Into the Mystic” had not focused so much attention on Dean’s increasing concern with his attraction to Amara. Usually Dean is the ‘one night stand’ kind of guy, with Sam seeking longer relationship. Surprisingly, it was 11.04 “Baby” that slipped in a subtle message about the two brothers exchanging roles in this regard. It was Sam who had an impromptu fling in the back seat of the Impala, to the surprise (and delight) of both Dean and the viewers. Afterward, Sam brought up the topic of more serious commitments to love:
Sam: You don't... Ever want something more?
Dean: I'm sorry, have you met us? We're batting a whopping zero in domestic life, man. Goose eggs.
Sam: You don't ever think about something? Not marriage or whatever. But... Something?

Suddenly, Dean is the one thinking and feeling something more serious about a woman. It’s the wrong woman and disastrous circumstances, but still he can’t sleep because of the undeniable tug at his heartstrings. Mildred even commented on it in 11.11 “Into the Mystic”:
Darlin'... If there's one thing I've learned in all my years on the road, it's when somebody's pining for somebody else. Oh, don't try and hide it now. Follow your heart. Remember? I don't know who the lucky lady is, but I am damn sure jealous.

In last week’s Threads review, I categorized this thread as Follow Your Heart. That’s the phrase the episode hung on that message, but given the emphasis in both “Baby” and DYFAM on love being the antithesis of the hunting life, it’s beginning to look like Amara’s attraction to Dean may, intentionally or unintentionally, distract him from his singular focus on defeating monsters.

normal Into the mystic 637 normal Into the mystic 643

Last week we also looked at the thread “Get it Out of My Head” but it wasn’t until after posting my review that I realized that this plea for help applied to Dean as well as Sam. Dean was desperate to stop thinking about Amara, so there were two themes in one episode pointing at Dean’s love life. Rowena’s revealing confession that she thought love would make her weak also contributes to the warning that our heroes must choose between being strong, resolute hunters or love. Together with Jody and Sam’s reflections on hunting versus love, it looks like Dean’s ‘attraction’ to Amara will gain in importance. If we search the season’s episodes with this lens, are there other examples of missing, needing or avoiding love?

Sacrifice, Searching and Separation

s11e10 197 Luci Sam

In 11.10 “The Devil in the Details”, the viewers were reminded of Sam’s big “Swan Song” sacrifice, when Sam averted the apocalypse. Lucifer complimented Sam, saying this was one of his greatest moments:
“You were willing to do the hard thing if it meant saving the world. That's not you anymore. You've gone soft, Sammy.”
One of the outcomes of this sacrifice was that the brothers ended up separated. Lucifer continued to judge that Sam was wrong in choosing his brother over the good of the world when Sam chose to stay alive, with and for his brother, rather than close the gates of hell. The moral of this story from Lucifer’s standpoint was that Sam was wrong in choosing love over leaving his brother alone. Lucifer also categorized the time that Sam chose love with Amelia over ‘hunting’ for Dean in Purgatory as a mistake, saying
“Whatever happened to the Sam Winchester who was bold, decisive, and ready to sacrifice for the greater good?”
Lucifer’s harshest criticism was releasing the darkness in order to save Dean, or in other words, to keep the brothers together.  The underlying message of these four examples wasn’t trying to get Sam to be the hero again, but that Sam was:

1) right when he chose to die for the greater good, separating the brothers (“Swan Song”)

2) wrong when he didn’t choose death but kept the brother’s together despite the greater good (“Sacrifice”)

3) wrong when he wouldn’t let Dean die but instead chose to keep the brothers together despite the greater good (“Brother’s Keeper”). Dean made this same choice, by the way, when he chose to keep the brothers together and didn’t kill Sam, despite the greater good being served by Sam’s death and Dean’s banishment

4) wrong when he didn’t look for Dean after the brothers were separated.

All of these choices signaled that the right choice is for someone to be separated from the ones they love for the greater good. This theme was hinted at weeks earlier in 11.05 "Thin Lizzie" when Len sacrificed and separated himself from society to protect the greater good. Sam confirmed that he received the message loud and clear,
“I’m ready to die and I’m ready to watch people I love die.” (11.10)
The second half of the message was that after they’ve died or disappeared, the survivor should search for them. Again, Sam was the voice of this lesson in 11.11 “Into the Mystic”. Viewers were so distracted with the long-awaited apology that we missed the underlying decision and foreshadowing that the right thing to do is to search for the missing:

normal Into the mystic 611

“I should have looked for you. I should have turned over every stone.” He showed me things. It was like a highlight reel of my biggest failures. I should've looked for you. When you were in Purgatory, I... I should've turned over every stone. But I didn't. I stopped. And I've never forgiven myself for it.

s11e10 262

Separation was also foreshadowed by Billie, both in her first appearance in 11.02 "Form and Void" when she introduced the idea of the void, and in 11.10 when she repeated that she was going to send one of them to the void:
“I'm just gonna make sure that when you die, you stay dead.”
Being cast into nothingness has even been subliminally suggested by season 11’s episode titles. Several emphasize leaving one place and entering the unknown: “Out of the Darkness, Into the Fire”; “Form and Void”; “Our Little World” (which implies there is a larger world somewhere); “Just My Imagination” (often envisioned as an infinite, gray unknown); “Into the Mystic” (subtly close to “into the mist” or a vague, undiscerning nothingness). Other titles emphasized the brothers being separated: “O Brother Where Art Thou?”

Curiously, Dean’s response to Sam’s apology referenced their separation as well:
Dean: “All that matters now, all that's ever mattered, is that we're together” (11.11)

The dichotomy of being together versus being alone has also been explored by several characters. When Cas volunteered to investigate Amara’s smiting, he said, “I’ll go in alone” (11.10) as did Jody in her quote above about Claire.

What if the brothers do stay together, as Dean suggests? What if they sacrifice themselves and are banished together, leaving Cas alone? Alternately, might the boys end up separated again with the survivor hell bent on ‘turning over every stone” to find his brother? John Winchester sacrificed himself Dean, then Dean sacrificed himself for Sam. Curiously in 11.08 "Just My Imagination", Sully told Sam,
“You’re not Dean, you’re not your dad. You’re Sam and Sam is so awesome”. 
I think Sully is telling us that Sam can make a different decision that either Dean or John, maybe a smarter decision, and not necessarily have to blindly sacrifice himself to save those he loves.  However it plays out, it seems fairly clear that one or more people are going to make the ultimate sacrifice, and someone is going to be left alone, committed to a search and rescue mission.

Heroes and Hostages

A corollary theme to sacrifice and separation is the concept of being a hero. In "Just My Imagination", Sam told Sully he was his hero:
Sam: You know, it's... pretty awesome, how you help everyone around you.
Sully: Doesn't always work out, but... I try.
Sam: Ever think... Maybe you're a hero to me? One thing I've learned -- heroes aren't perfect.

Sully also explored this idea by categorizing Sam’s “Swan Song” sacrifice as heroic,
“Come on. You're a hero. Sam, you saved the world. I keep track of my kids. And you did really good, Sam.”

Sully and Sam discussed Sam not sacrificing himself, but Sam reminded us of the times he failed to be the hero and that he isn’t that person anymore:
Sully: Ever think... About running away anymore?  
Sam: I did. Um, I mean, I have. But not in a while. Not anymore.
So in addition to Lucifer telling us the “right” and “wrong” choices surrounding sacrifice and separation, we were clearly told that sacrifice is heroic.

There has also been a curious repetition of hostage taking to achieve a goal. In "Just My Imagination", twin sister Reese held Dean hostage, telling Sam he had a choice, “You give me Sully, I give you your brother”. A third person, Sully, neutralized that threat by offering his life in exchange for the hostage.


In 11.10 "The Devil in the Details", Lucifer held Dean hostage, again telling Sam he had a choice,
“All right, Sam. I'm gonna make this real easy for you. You say the magic word... ...or your brother dies, And we both know you won't let that happen.”

Again, a third person, Castiel, neutralized that thread by making himself the object of Lucifer’s rage, then giving his life for Sam’s (and Dean).  Then this week, the two vampires in “DYFAM” took Jody and Claire hostage to hurt Alex.

s11e12 474 Alex tiedup

Yet again, Alex offered her life for the lives of the hostages. That’s at least three repetitions of a hostage scenario. Have there been more? It makes me wonder who will end up being Lucifer’s or Amara’s hostage, and who will sacrifice their life and be separated from the ones they love to save to save those in danger. 

Traumatized Children and their Families

Obviously, Alex's traumatized childhood coming back to threaten her family was yet another example of the past influencing the future. We have explored this theme thoroughly in so many episodes. Surely, it will mean something for Amara, her brother and the world they are fighting over.

Jody said,
“That’s what’s scary about family – they give you so much to lose.”

Season 11 is hurtling us toward heartbreak.



# Jen 2016-02-07 18:51
Interesting read Thank you Alice. Its amazing how when you take certain sections of a episode, the words or the actions and put them together as you have you come up with a story within a story.
The episodes are very multi layered and a good ear/and eye like yours picks them out. The underlying story this season is worrisome. We appear to be at a cross road, is it to be a one brother sacrifice or two brother sacrifice. Metatron said that "In order to make this world god had to make one sacrifice, god betrayed his sister The Darkness and locked her away forever" close to the words ??
This is similar to what Billie says about the empty, and the underlying story this season. The question is -- 1 brother or both or someone else Castiel / Crowley ????
# nightsky 2016-02-08 04:55
Hi Jen, This is Nightsky. Actually, I write Threads, not Alice. I'm so happy you enjoy them. No matter how many layers I find within the episodes, I always think of more that I missed! That's why these comments are all so interesting. You all find so many more angles! For example, you remembered Metatron saying that God betrayed his sister. Rowena betrayed her son. I wonder if someone is being set up to be betrayed? Are there other examples of people being betrayed this season? I'll start listening for that.
# Jen 2016-02-08 05:29
Sorry Nightsky I knew that but I must have been reading Alice's reveiw just before yours
Betrayal was a word used to described this season in various producer, storywriters interveiws. I have been thinking about all the things we have learnt and discussed and speculated thus far this season.
We are all aware that ep. 23 ends in a major cliff hanger, usually involving one of the boys. We have had Castiel becoming god but otherwise either Sam or Dean or Both. We have all speculated that this season will end the same. Its all been done before with the following season starting with either brother trying to save Sam or Dean or saving each other - what could they do different.
I'm putting bits and peices together we are starting to see reoccuring themes
Love, Family. reconnection, guilt, forgivness, doubt, trust, one life for another and Best of all Sam & Dean slowly finding each other again. This clensing is happening for all our characters but I don't see it with Dean Dean is still struggling mainly because of his connection to Amara. (Sorry I'm trying to explain my theory)
Dean has always from S1Ep1 been shown to have a darkness within, when he took on th MOC, and when he became Demon Dean this darkness was what guided him. He loved purgatory because he didn't have to fight this darkness it felt pure, he tortured souls in hell and admitted to "loving it"
Amara is the image of darkness - like a vessel to hold the darkness we saw after she was smited by the angels and was knocked unconcious she couldn't contain the darkness, and it wasn't till she woke and fed that she was able to take back the darkness. What if its The Darkness that Dean is attracted to not the vessel What if the Peace, the queit and no guilt like purgatory is what Dean craves and in the end betrays Sam and locks him away in the empty ?? Sam being the Light - the opposite betrayal to god the light betraying Amara the darkness
# nightsky 2016-02-09 10:58
What if its The Darkness that Dean is attracted to not the vessel What if the Peace, the queit and no guilt like purgatory is what Dean craves and in the end betrays Sam and locks him away in the empty ?? Sam being the Light - the opposite betrayal to god the light betraying Amara the darkness
The imagery and parallel of that is very compelling. You did a great job thinking through that! I could totally buy that the story might set that up to happen. I have to go the other way though. As you pointed out, at the end of S10 Dean betrayed Sam (tricked him temporarily). I could see the reverse now happening (because the show routinely makes the brothers reverse roles): Sam betrays/tricks Dean to lock him away with the Darkness because
1)Dean/MoC/Amar a threaten the world
2) Lucifer emphasized Sam needing to make the touch decisions and be the hero again,
3) Sam saying he is ready to see the people he loves die,
4) him being the one who decided to let out the Darkness (not knowing what it would be),
5) Sam was willing to die at the end of S10 "to lock Dean away where he couldn't do any more harm" so he may decide he just needs to follow thru on putting Dean "somewhere else"
6) Sam would get another chance to "look for" Dean, redeeming himself for the Purgatory lapse

This all works, except we have to work the hostage thread into the final showdown. Cas is Lucifer's hostage, so to free Cas and save the world, Sam betrays Dean? OR Sam is Amara's hostage (to get her way with Dean) so to save Sam, Dean betrays Cas and sends him (and Lucifer and Amara) to the void? Then the boys have to 'look for ' Cas? That would play well to the Destiels, plus Dean's prediction of "all that matters is that we're together" would be fulfilled. Better yet, Lucifer betrays Castiel and doesn't defeat Amara. Lucifer holds Castiel hostage (keeps his vessel) to get something the boys want/need. Dean & Sam betray Castiel (or Castiel sacrifices himself) to pitch Lucifer and Amara into the void.
Phew. They don't pay me enough to figure this stuff out.;)
# Didi 2016-02-09 12:29
6) Sam would get another chance to "look for" Dean, redeeming himself for the Purgatory lapse

I really hope show doesn't go there. Hasn't Sam done enough to prove his love for his brother? If anyone could use a redemption arc, it's Dean. At this point, I think he's tried to kill Sam more often than he's tried to save him. Where's Dean's guilt and sorrow?
sugarhi 15
# sugarhi 15 2016-02-09 08:58
it seems to me that it is possible to go another way. Betrayal is a thread, but I find the more dominant thread to be love/family. Show has demonstrated the boys stronger bond. Jensen said that Sam will start to be taking the wheel, which leads me to believe that Sam will find out one way or another about Amara's hold on her brother. Sam is smart too. I can see Sam totally coming up with a plan to defeat Amara. I don't necessarily it means sacrificing either one of them. Luci noted that Dean can use the 'attraction' to draw Amara to them. Does Luci want to meet up with Amara to defeat her or unite? Would the betrayal therefore be Cas on the boys....for saying yes in the first place and then using them for his and possibly her own means?

What if Sam and Dean catch on that it's Luci but keep it to themselves? What if the boys turn the tables on Luci and use him to their advantage? Amara was tricked into her trap. She had said it herself. He tricked me. Seems maybe Amara could be like her brother...teach ing luci the art of trickery/betray al?

What if Sam figures out a plan that would trap luci and amara into the empty? what if the boys use trickery and deceit? I wouldn't consider it a betrayal, but Amara in her warped mind could think of Dean's ability, which I believe he has, to use the attraction against her as a personal betrayal. And if the boys send Cas into the empty, the boys can feel like they betrayed Cas by sending him there....if of course that's the way to go.

I watched Soul Survivor yesterday and I think those who mentioned Dean's darkness has a valid point. While Sam was trying to save Dean he kept going on and Sam did say notice, that Dean didn't want to be saved. He liked the disease. Sam had mentioned it to Cas and Cas replied that he understood. That it was easier. Sam has been coming clean this season, unburdening himself of his long buried guilt. I have no doubt that dean might have buried some guilt as well. it's this guilt that weighs him down, it's why it's easier for him to be dark. He's held hostage by this guilt and it betrays him....maybe Dean needs to have a confessional of his own. Ask Sam for forgiveness for the one thing Dean might feel the worst about and let it go.....once unburdened he would be free as well, and I don't think amara will have the hold on him she does now.
# Didi 2016-02-09 12:39
"Seems maybe Amara could be like her brother...teach ing luci the art of trickery/betrayal?"

Luci doesn't need help in the art of trickery and betrayal. He can do evil all by himself. I'm not even sure that Amara is the big bad this season. I think Luci might be the big bad.

In his recent interviews, Carver seems to be very ambiguous regarding the idea that Amara is the big bad. I can't recall off the top of my head what he called her exactly, but it wasn't the big bad. Lilah and Percy both posted the interview.
# AlyCat22 2016-02-09 00:40
Ah! As in - one of the brothers is going to have to BETRAY the other in order to save the world? Maybe TRICK their sibling into the Empty. Making the ultimate sacrifice of the brother and of themselves? I don't know if that's what you meant or not but the idea of betrayal between Sam and Dean is one I hadn't thought of until just now. Ouch. My heart. That would be sad beyond sad.
# Didi 2016-02-09 02:02
AlyCat, I agree. Ouch my heart too. Betrayal is such a strong, sinister word. To me betrayal implies malicious intent. If one brother ever knowingly betrayed the other, while not being under the influence of anything supernatural like MoC or demon blood... I just don't know if their relationship could ever recover if betrayal ever became canon. How would they be able to move forward after something so heartbreaking?
Barbara Maake
# Barbara Maake 2016-02-09 07:27
If one brother ever knowingly betrayed the other, while not being under the influence of anything supernatural like MoC or demon blood... I just don't know if their relationship could ever recover if betrayal ever became canon
I agree Didi. I just don't think such a betrayal could ever occur on the show. And I think while the groundwork is being laid now for some kind of sacrifice (because hey, this is SPN after all!) I think there will be nothing underhanded about it. Sam's mindset in particular has been established very clearly- he will sacrifice himself, and perhaps Dean, to save everyone else. He has also been very open with Dean so far this year about his renewed determination to change the brothers' MO and focus on saving all of the people. Therefore I'm still thinking he may have to choose between Dean and the world, but that Dean will concur with his decision. However, if he ever used trickery to betray Dean I will be pissed because that would fly in the face of how he has been portrayed this season and of the person he is at core. Likewise, the only way I could see Dean ever betraying Sam would be if his connection to Amara impelled him to do so. And I will be pissed if that happens, because that would demolish HIS core quality- that of treasuring Sam above all else. Sure, Dean came close last year when he tricked Sam into meeting him so that Death could kill him, but he simply could not follow through because Sam trumps everything for Dean. Just as the strength of the brothers' bond enabled Sam to take control back from Lucifer in SS, I would hope that Dean can draw on the bedrock of that bond to shake off Amara's influence. So I'm on board with the idea of one brother ultimately having to sacrifice themselves or the other brother, but if this occurs in the context of trickery or betrayal the show better have a darn good explanation, one which has nothing to do with hitting a dog!;)
# nightsky 2016-02-09 10:39
nothing to do with hitting a dog!;)
:) LOL!!!
# Didi 2016-02-09 12:54
I'm with you - no hitting a dog. No shitty Sam redemption story lines either. Feels like the last few years it's been Supernatural - the Ongoing Redemption of Sam. I'm so over the Sam redemption arc. I posted above, in response to Nightsky, that I would love to see a Dean redemption arc. At this point, it feels like he's tried to kill Sam more often than he's tried to save him. Where's Dean's mea culpa?
# Dana 2016-02-09 13:36
That would be great. I've been holding my breath for a Dean redemption arc since he drop-kicked Sam into the cage in SS. I'm beginning to turn blue now so I should probably just let it go, but I would love a little mea culpa for Dean.
# Jen 2016-02-09 06:09
You explained it so easy nightsky And my heart breaks at the thought as well. Betrayal seems to be a big issue this season Its a thought alas a horrid one. Sorry girls :(:(:(:(:(:o
# BookLady 2016-02-07 20:18
What I find interesting is that Jody saw goodness in Alex's willingness to trade her life, that Dean saw strength in the brothers being together, that Sam said he could hunt without his brother having his back even when he let him down, that Cas has repeatedly tried to work with his brother and sister angels and continues to work with the brothers Winchester, that Crowley sought a brotherhood with demon Dean and was hurt by his mother's refusal to love him - these are a recognition of the importance of relationships, especially love. But, Lucifer and Rowena saw love as weakness, as making the wrong choice. They sought power, but not love. Lucifer didn't understand that Sam was able to overcome him and make the right choice because of his love for his brother. For our heroes, love makes them bigger than themselves. It makes them powerful.
So, why is Amara seeking her brother? Is she trying to regain power? A connection? Was his decision to sacrifice her an act of love or a search for power? And, will her connection to Dean and his to her be something that makes both or either of them stronger or weaker?

Thanks for your thinky thoughts, Nightsky. Always a pleasure to read.
# nightsky 2016-02-08 04:57
You're welcome! I liked your observation that even Castiel continues to reach out to his 'family' (brother and sister angels). I hadn't really thought of it that way. Very interesting. Family don't always end with blood, again.
# percysowner 2016-02-09 13:43
I suspect it's a typo on your part, but Sam said he wouldn't do it without his brother, not that he would or could.
# sugarhi15 2016-02-07 22:57
I liked this episode. I know it was your basic MOTW vampire episode, but I felt it more than that. I guess I looked at this episode thread from a different perspective. I thought that this episode managed to tie in with the current myth arc as well as focusing on what this show has always truly been about.....famil y. Show did a wonderful job paralleling the family theme of Jody and the girls with Bobby and the boys, although Bobby was missing, I felt his presence throughout the episode, after all it was Bobby who coined and epitomised the notion that "family don't end with blood".

I love Jody. Since the day we met her, I found her to be a wonderful and important presence in the boys lives. She even had meaning for surly old Bobby who actually envisioned a life with her when all was said and done. She's a strong character who, like the Winchesters, has suffered loss through the supernatural. She has a connection to both of them, most especially Sam, that is organic and special and very much needed. I always look forward to her visits. She provides the boys with a much needed maternal presence that they never really had and often can use. It's a reciprocal relationship too. The boys have not only shown her that monsters exist, but they've shown her how to take care of herself. She's also learned from watching the Winchesters, not only how to fight but to fight for family, a family she now has, in part because of Sam and Dean.

I loved how the episode began. It wasn't Sam searching for a case, it was him goofing around on the computer, giving the impression that it's not all about hunting 24/7. A quick mention of the Darkness and Cas and then the boys were just being the boys, acknowledging other important things like a heart attack inducing burger. Much to my amusement this anomaly had Sam appalled and not daring to risk his life on a calorie induced death sentence after managing to survive a life time of monster attacks, while Dean just sat in awe of mind blowing meal named after the "King" himself. I always love the moments when the guys get to be just guys. It really was a treasure of a broment in my book.

I found it quite telling that Claire called on the boys without a moment's hesitation. What's more is how instantly the boys responded to her call. The entire dinner scene was the high point of the episode. It said so much. It was funny yet in a way a little sad. Bittersweet I think is a good word. The simple joy of a home cooked meal brought such humour and yet a little sadness too. It was just a reminder of what the boys never got to have as kids. When the conversation went to talking about sex, I laughed so hard I might've peed a little. LOL. No seriously, it was funny. It was tender too and not just in Jody's attempt to guide Alex, but in Jody's inclusion of the boys. They wanted to bolt, but she made them sit and stay in her best mom voice, and they did. It wasn't all about getting the male perspective here and a little backup, it was more that Jody considers them family and they should be part of the conversation. They opted for being excluded, and she wasn't having it. Again, the family motif that family doesn't end in blood.

I loved the conversation between Jody and Dean in the kitchen and I really appreciated Dean when he told Jody he'd get Sam to talk to Claire. It just felt like recognition from Dean that if anyone can understand Claire it's Sam, because Dean acknowledges that Sam has been through it himself. It wasn't that Dean was passing the buck, he just knew that Sam could relate with Claire more in this instance. Kudos Dean, you are getting wiser as you get older. Dean gets his moment with Claire as well.

I also adored the conversation between Sam and Claire. He is always so patient and empathetic. He can get anyone to talk about anything, well almost anyone. Yes I'm talking about Dean LOL. It may take a little longer but yes, even Dean Winchester isn't impervious to the magic of Sam Winchester and his ability to listen and understand and get people to talk to him. If anyone gets Claire it's Sam. He gets it, he lived it and I thought he handled her perfectly. He didn't try to talk her out of hunting, he just reminded her that hunting is all consuming. It's like the Mafia, once you're in you're in for life. There's no getting out. Even if you try, it always pulls you back in. He just wanted Claire to consider what she has right now, school and a family, and to treasure it and keep it, because once you choose life as a hunter, that simple life is gone. She didn't roll her eyes, she really listened to what he had to say. It was a very touching scene.

As in for the tie in to the myth arc. Did anyone else see the parallel between Sam and Alex? Alex had really got herself together. She was doing great in school, she was dating the high school hottie, she really changed for the better, putting her past mistakes in the rearview mirror. Then her mistake comes back to haunt her and try to take everything she's worked so hard to achieve away, by manipulating her into once again feeling her buried guilt for her past mistakes. Isn't that what Luci tried to do to Sam?

Sam of course had the strength and courage to see Luci for what he was truly doing and didn't break. Luci did manage to bring up Sam's long buried guilt though. Sam managed to face this demon though, he didn't run from it or bury it deeper, he unburdened himself of guilt and with the love of his family, his brother, he no longer bears that weight. He's free. He gave both himself and Dean a gift by bearing his soul. Another broment which exemplifies what family is truly about. I hope that Alex can do what Sam managed to do and I hope that she recognises that she now has family who understand and forgive her for her past mistakes.

I enjoyed the ending as well, the joy in life as simple as leftovers and extra sauce because Sam wasn't sharing. I guess some things are just too good. It was an ending with hope. Hope for Claire and hope for Alex. t also was a pleasant reminder that family isn't necessarily something you have to be born into to have.

The constant thread of SPN from the start has been love. Love has always proved to be what keeps the Winchesters strong, unbeatable and the bad guy's inevitable undoing. Luci sees the bond of love as weak, as did Rowena. But's it's their lack of love that proved their weakness and their undoing. Luci had pointed out to Sam that his greatest moment of weakness came when Sam broke. It was the moment he gave up. Sam ran from the life that killed all he loved. Sam sought refuge in a normal existence. But Luci always saw Sam as his vessel. Luci wanted Sam because he was smart, strong, well trained...thank s to his daddy. Jess was killed because Sam was ready to get married and become a lawyer. Jess' death ensured Sam's life as a hunter. A vessel worth occupying when the time came. Luci saw love as a weakness....Sam broke because he loved his brother and he lost him. But the truth is love saved Sam. Love got Sam through. Love enabled him to survive. It was Sam's love for his brother that brought him back to him. It's love for his brother, his friends, his new family, that will give Sam the strength to beat the D and Luci once again.

Regarding what Mildred said to Dean, to follow his heart. Dean's cry of pain from the banshee was to get it out of his head. Amara is in his head. Mlldred told Dean to follow his heart, Sam is in his heart. The love they share will always have Dean follow his heart...his love will always bring him to Sam. Amara doesn't know this. She cannot even understand such a concept. Her hold is not as strong as she thinks. Her lack of understanding the love these boys have for one another will be her undoing.

I also thought that in regards to the hostage connection....i t was more metaphorical. Each one of them held hostage by their guilt or their feelings of feeling left out, or their fears. Love in every instance helped to set the hostages all ties back to love and family and what's always proven to be the Winchester's strongest bond. The people that enter these boys lives are witness to this bond and strive for it as well. The people who enter these boys lives become part of their family.
# nightsky 2016-02-08 05:14
Show did a wonderful job paralleling the family theme of Jody and the girls with Bobby and the boys,
Excellent! I saw the parallel of Alex & Sam's lives but the guilt part hadn't hit me yet. I didn't see Jody & Bobby. I like that.
Amara is in his head. Sam is in his heart. Mlldred told Dean to follow his heart
Very nice!! I rearranged your sentences because I had not thought of it that way!
Regarding hostages, I agree it is also metaphorical and I love your analysis that love freed the hostages. I am not convinced that is all it is though. I think it may also be literal by the end of the season.
# njspnfan 2016-02-08 10:21
Nice recap of the first half of Season 11, Nightsky. For me, this episode was one of the weaker ones of Season 11 but overall I've enjoyed this season a lot more than Seasons 9/10.

Needless to say, free will has always played a huge role in the show but now we have Castiel losing his free will by saying yes to Lucifer; I just hope we get more of the backstory of why Castiel felt he had to say yes; the setup in that episode, with everyone drawing attention to Castiel's uselessness and being the proverbial expendable Star Trek crew member seemed forced and rushed.

Dean being drawn to Amara/The Darkness and her blissful-ness which, at least to me, seems to be the antithesis of free will. This is a big part of why he's so rattled by Amara; he likes the feeling of calm / bliss in her presence. Dean has been drawn to darkness before; his time in hell when he started torturing others and when he became a demon. In both cases, he liked it, just as he likes the feeling when he's around Amara. Dean has been able to fight this before, snapping out her thrall when she hurt Sam but, in their next encounter, his attempt to kill her with a knife was half hearted at best. Going out on a limb here to say that, in their next encounter, Dean won't be able to escape Amara's thrall.

Sam has also been rattled by his stroll down memory lane with Lucifer but, by emphatically telling Lucifer no and apologizing to Dean for not looking for him, seems to be trying to deal with it. With Castiel and Dean both compromised, are things being setup for a repeat of Season 5, where Sam had to step up and take the lead when Dean falters? He is the only one of the three truly acting of their own free will.
# Mallena 2016-02-08 11:06
Great review, it's wonderful that you can pull out so many meaningful thoughts from an episode that others might dismiss as filler. I also loved surgerhi's comments, the brotherly love and unity is so great this season after so many seasons of conflict. There can be drama and outside forces out to get them, they don't need to fight each other.
# spnlit 2016-02-08 16:43
I also really liked Claire in this episode. I thought Kathryn Newton’s acting was solid, portraying various moods in several different situations. I loved the way her face lit up at the dinner table when she was teasing Alex.
I think the smile was the actor's and not the character. What was that big bright pretty smile for? Where was the appropriateness in the scene? Was she happy? Claire was pissed that Alex wanted to just have a normal dinner and talk about normal life. So Claire sarcastically stated okay lets talk about normal life and ratted out Claire about wanting to have sex with her boyfriend. The only reason Claire would smile is because she felt smug knowing she accomplished her task at embarrassing Alex and enjoyed the discomfort of the men at the table. This was not fond teasing. There was no sign that she was friendly towards Alex.

Claire’s sassy, tough exterior served her well in the face of impending death at the hands of monsters
I thought it was unrealistic that she was so strong and had no real reaction or fear when she was bit by the vampire. It was just as unrealistic as her kill of the angel with Cas, Sam and MOC Dean all unable to accomplish the task together. All she did was sneer and act overly tough when she cut off the vampire's head.
yet she was sweet and comforting when Alex felt guilty about the pain she had brought to their family
She had one line: Something about it was a Vamp, you were a kid you had to do it. Claire is now the grownup? She is about one year older than Alex. This was the new Claire, after she made her kill, proved everyone wrong and is now getting what she wants; Jody to give hunting lessons.
I did not see any character development. She was rude and obnoxious to Alex until her one line of attempted comfort. She was ungrateful, sarcastic to Jody. She was only concerned about herself. Angry because she wanted to hunt and no one believed; feeling left out and a bit self centered about coming to the Jody and Alex show late. Did we see her doing anything to fit in? She does not want to. She does not want normal . She just wants to hunt. Her responses to Dean when twice he talked to her about showing respect to Jody and not making her life a living hell was " I did not ask her to do anything for me and I promise to hunt responsibly. " Did she apologize, did she express any insight?- No. She was happy that Jody will give her something she wants- hunting lessons.
The episode wasn’t perfect, though. The vampire backstory and premise were believable but Alex’s character came across as shallow. Her closing declaration that she needs to get away from the people whose lives revolve around monsters was jolting and unsupported.
I think Alex's feeling about wanting to get away from the monsters and hunters was supported. Alex was kidnapped by vampire mom Celia and her nest, and renamed Alex. She was used as a blood slave and as a lure, bringing unsuspecting victims to the nest for her family to feed on. She ran away out of guilt for what she was doing. But, she was torn too- she loved the vampire family she grew up with. Think how a kid who is raised with abuse still loves their parents and family. Alex was turned into a vampire but saved by Sam and Dean before she fed. She was almost a monster. Despite her love for her vamp mom, she pumped her up with dead man's blood so Jody could kill her. Alex then goes down the hard road of trusting Jody and making a huge effort to become normal. She was doing well in HS with Jody's love, support and encouragement. Then a new person moves in- Claire. From what we see, Claire wants to hunt and nags Alex quite a bit about her "normal life". Alex's carefully built normal life is shattered by the past a past she is well aware of as she attempted to tell her boyfriend. Alex is confronted face to face with a monster that was a real man with a real family that was turned because of her. So maybe Alex sees the person behind the vampire. Just as she was the person behind the vampire family. Maybe she feels like a monster too. So, I think it is supported that the only way Alex is going to survive is to cling to her normal life and not be around monsters and monster killers (constant reminder of the killing of the family she had once belonged to and loved and the fact she is a monster that needs to be killed and the monster/ people she helped create). This all could have been developed more clearly in this story if it still was the Alex and Jody story but there was too much going on. The show wanted to make this episode the Claire is a hunter story along with the Wayward Daughters - Jody wants to be a mother to two young persons story with a little Sam and Dean visit and provide some every day domestic support.