Welcome back to another year of Supernatural “Threads”! Each week, “Threads” examines the words spoken by the characters in our favorite drama to understand deeper meanings and uncover underlying themes in the complex saga of Sam and Dean Winchester. Some “threads” are obvious and some span several years, but others are subtle, hidden in dialog that would otherwise be overlooked. I remain as spoiler free as possible and share with you my first impressions of each episode so we take the journey of discovery together as we unravel Supernatural’s secrets!
The Morning After
First I have to shout as loudly as possible: That was absolutely AWESOME!! Supernatural’s season 13 premiere “Lost and Found” was the best of what Supernatural can be. My heart is still bursting with joy at being reunited with the emotionally vulnerable, breathless storytelling that captured my loyalty many, many years ago. While the title “Lost and Found” obviously refers to the void faced by the story’s characters, I can’t help but believe it also refers to finding the emotional connection that was lost in so many of Supernatural’s episodes in recent seasons. For me, Supernatural found its center again, the emotional depth that embraces and envelops, tying me irrevocably to Sam and Dean Winchester. Superb acting conveyed the raw emotion of grief so fresh and deep the mind cannot yet process what has happened; and the terror of being thrust into a dangerous world, completely alone, without the loving guidance or protection you were promised.
Underlying the impact of “Lost and Found” was a script by Andrew Dabb that didn’t back away from powerful, emotional moments. Jared and Jensen excel at elevating those scenes to their greatest empathetic potential, but we already knew that. The surprise was newcomer Alexander Calvert, who delivered a convincing introduction to Jack.
His performance was critical to the audience’s buy in to the season’s myth arc. Guest star Rob Raco, who played Sheriff Barker’s son, Clark, was also outstanding in his supporting role. His attempt to diagnose Jack’s spacey demeanor was hilarious! I truly enjoyed watching their interaction, which is a huge compliment since neither Sam nor Dean were in the scene! During WFB’s Live Tweet, I suggested that Clark looked and acted like a young John Travolta.
Online fans then added that Jack looked like Titanic’s Leonardo Dicaprio.
How much more hearthtrob can be crammed into one show (not complaining!)??
“Lost and Found” was also scored with classic rock and roll. I don’t know if Supernatural’s producers appreciate how much of the show’s bond with its audience comes from the music! The music’s lyrics and rhythms pull me into the Supernatural world and prime my emotions for the onslaught of the next hour. In season 13’s premiere, Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters” was absolutely perfect. We need to get those lyrics into a review (or comment… anyone??)
So the episode was a resounding success as far as I am concerned but did it sow any seeds for season 13’s myth arc? Let’s take a look at its threads.
Alone Again, Naturally.
Exposed both literally and figuratively, Jack’s initial nudety portrayed the vulnerability of the three main characters of the episode. Sam, Dean and Jack were all left confused and alone by those crucial seconds when Crowley and Kelly were sacrificed, Jack was born, Cas was killed, and Mary was taken.
Whatever security the brothers felt being surrounded by their mom’s newfound love, the supportive comfort of their best friend and their pain-in-the-arse-but-still-saves-the-day frenemy Crowley was ripped away from them as abruptly and mercilessly as Jack had been torn from the safety of his mother’s womb. They each struggled to comprehend the lonely reality and grief that was thrust upon them. Dean’s fervent, desperate prayer to God conveyed his inner pain:
Dean: Ok Chuck, or God or whatever. I need your help. You see... you left us... you left us. You went off. You said the Earth would be fine because it had me and it had Sam but it's not, and we're not! We've lost everything and now you're going to bring them back. Kay? You're going to bring back Cas, you're going to bring back mom, you're gonna bring them all back - all of them, even Crowley! 'Cause after everything you've done, you owe us you SOB so you get your ass down her and you make this right, right here, right now. Please. Please help us.
The parallel to season one when Dean walked beside a building, next to a washroom, to phone his dad and plead for help is heartbreaking. After everything he and Sam have been through, Dean feels abandoned once again, in charge of a situation he doesn’t feel he can handle. Years later, with the weight of the world again on his shoulders, Dean “phones” a more powerful “Father”, God. When no one miraculously appears to alleviate Dean’s responsibility, he reverts to his tough guy shell and the two things he understands how to do – do the job and protect his brother. Just as Jack’s powers lashed out uncontrolably when he was scared, Dean’s need to take decisive action took over to shield him from the unbearable truths he didn’t want to feel. This version of Dean is ruthless, dangerous and impulsive but I totally get it.
As the flashback so aptly showed, he is reliving the recurring nightmare of losing his mother, only this time it is compounded by the loss of Cas. This Dean is familiar, and while his determination to kill without mercy scared me, the shoot first ask questions later attitude was true to his character. It was the right reaction for him, and Jensen portrayed it with the depth of understanding cultivated by being Dean day after day for 12 years.
Sam’s reaction was also pure Sam. His instinct was to take a minute, figure things out before acting and to give everyone the benefit of the doubt.
Sam: Can we just talk about what happened back there?
Dean: Sure. Which part? Let’s see, Crowley’s dead, Kelly’s dead, Cas is… Mom’s gone and apparently the devil’s kid hit puberty in 30 seconds flat, oh, and almost killed us.
Sam: Yeah, because you tried to shoot him.
Dean: I tried to shoot the monster, Sam. That’s kind of what we do.
Sam: But we don’t know what he is yet Dean and I had it under control.
When the unthinkable happened, Dean immediately turned within himself. He became the oldest sibling without a parent, the person who never had anyone else to protect or guide him, the abandoned child left alone to fend for himself and his family.
In his shock, Sam also reverted back to his younger self. He turned to his big brother to help him process what had happened.
Sam: What about Cas? Is he really dead?
Dean: You know he is.
Sam leaned on Dean, asking questions to which he already knew the answers, asking for hope that might delay his grief. Reflecting years of studying his big brother, though, Sam gave Dean the space he needed to be gruff and unilateral. Sam sat in the Impala next to a soldier on a mission of death but Sam didn’t chastise or lecture Dean. He pushed back on Dean, suggesting patience and control, but he let his brother process at his own pace. At the end, when it was obvious that Dean had made a decision, Sam still questioned but ultimately deferred to Dean’s judgment:
Sam: Are you sure about this? I mean, it’s Cas, you know? Maybe we can bring him back, like you said.
Dean: No, we can’t.
Sam: Chuck did; God did. So maybe if we prayed to him… or…
Dean: You don’t think I tried that?
After the emphasis in 12.22 “Who We Are” that Sam was ready to be a leader, it is curious that he so easily slipped back into following Dean. I think in this situation it made sense for both his and Dean’s characters and the brothers’ history and relationship, but I wonder if the question of who is really in charge will become a recurring theme. What do you think? Dean has seen Sam mature and knows from experience that Sam does what he wants to do.
Free Will vs. Control
When Sam was trying to be the peacemaker and see their mom’s point of view (season 12), Dean yelled at Sam to “pick a side”. Obviously the brothers have opposing views of Jack now too. That chasm is surely going to widen as Jack explores his powers and has to defend himself against future attacks or perceived threats. But just as Dean can’t control Sam, even united the brothers can’t control Jack.
He is deferring to them right now because he has no one else in his life and Sam has been kind to him (mostly) but Jack has proven that he can toss them aside any time he wants.
Dean: He’s still the devil’s kid. He’s still evil. He still brainwashed Kelly and Cas and even if he hasn’t gone Big Bad yet, he will.
Sam: You don’t know that.
Dean: Yeah, I do ‘cause when have things ever gone right for us?
Will Sam be able to convince Dean of Jack’s goodness and if not, will they be able to control him while the brothers debate the issue? In addition to the questions of the brothers controlling each other or Jack, the larger issue may be can Jack, Dean or Sam control themselves?
Jack: I was scared and when I get scared things happen. I can’t stop them.
Sam: … and your powers. Did she teach you those too?
Jack: No, I don’t know why these things happen. It’s like I’m me but not me.
Does that remind you of the Mark of Cain controlling Dean?
The rest of Jack’s conversation with Sam was equally troubling.
Sam: Jack, before you were born you opened up a door to another world. Do you remember that?
Sam: could you do that again?
Jack: I don’t… I have to find my father… My father is Castiel. My mother said Castiel would keep me safe. She said the world is a dangerous place. That’s why I couldn’t be a baby or a child. That’s why I had to grow up fast. That’s why I chose him to be my father.
Jack stopped himself from talking about the alternate universe. Why? He chose to change the subject away from dealing with Sam’s questions to focus on what was most on his own mind. Then he said he chose his father. That implies a great deal of self-awareness as well as self-perceived power. Is there an evil side in Jack? If so, will he choose to be good? Can the good inside him subdue this evil side, or is Dean right that evil always wins? The following clue may tilt the scales in Dean’s favor.
The Dawn of Darkness
That tag line was buried in the CW’s promotion poster for this season. It caught my eye because it is so ominous. What does that mean?? If it is important enough to be on their season promotions, why weren't those words even hinted at anywhere in this episode?? Does that mean that Jack will bring darkness, or that the darkness of the alternate universe will invade Sam and Dean's reality?
Here I go again being the eternal optimist, but I don’t believe Jack is inherently evil. I’m with Sam that Jack’s just a kid and that his goodness can be nurtured and preserved. Sheriff Barker seemed to share this compassionate view. Her mentoring comment to her deputy contained the title of the episode, so perhaps her message is meant as the moral of this episode’s story:
Sheriff Barker: There’s no such thing as weird. Everyone is normal in their own way.
Clark: Totally normal.
Sheriff: Hope those are alright. Just pulled some stuff from the Lost and Found. Everything fit?
The absence of the words dawn or darkness in this script was itself very telling (and encouraging for the Jack-Can-Be-Saved believers)! Who do you think is right?
Right vs. Wrong, Good vs. Bad
Just as in the past several years, the words right, wrong, good and bad were used repeatedly throughout the episode. Here are just a few examples:
Dean: Look, maybe your right…. I’m going to call Jody, check in and see if she can help us put out a nationwide APB on a creepy, Satanic, nudist.
Sam: yeah, right, good.
Dean: Good is not the word I would use. [later to Sam in jail] We’re good to go.
When the angels attacked them in the jail, Dean said to the Sheriff,
Dean: No! That won’t do jack against her.
DrunkLadyAngel: He’s not wrong.
The brothers seem doomed to be locked in an eternal debate of virtue and the right thing to do!
Fire and Burning
Also carried over from last season’s episodes that focused on Lucifer (and maybe even a few seasons before that?), there were a multitude of references to fire and burning in “Lost and Found”. Dean dreamt of Mary burning in the present day, then the image morphed into her burning on the ceiling over 30 years ago. Jack referenced Dagon’s demise:
Jack: I remember when the bad woman burned. I remember the universe screamed.
When all the action was over, Dean asked Sam about Jack:
Dean: How’s the kid?
Sam: He’s gonna be alright. I mean angel radio sets his brain on fire…
Then outside the fast food shack, the drunk customer’s LONG story about her college roommate was curiously ominous:
DrunkLadyAngel: Becky… would take things and break things and piss people off no matter who it hurt. It’s like the whole world was just Becky to her, you know?
Dean: so you punched her poster?
DrunkLadyAngel: …and lit most of her stuff on fire. I got issues.
What do you think of Becky = Lucifer? In the past year or two, Lucifer has often being accused of, and maybe even admitted to, wanting to break and burn and destroy because he could. Everything is about him, much like this description of Becky. Later in the sheriff’s office, DrunkLadyAngel clarified that she meant Dean was Becky:
DrunkLadyAngel: He’s [Dean’s] Becky. You take things and break things and piss people off and just do whatever you want no matter who it hurts.
The curious part is that the angel burned Becky’s worldly possessions. Aside from fire being symbolically associated with Lucifer, might fire be a way to control or defeat him? Since I dismiss the analogy that Dean is the unthinking weapon of mass destruction, I believe there’s a clue related to Lucifer somewhere in Becky’s story! What do you think?
There are so many more layers to “Lost and Found” but let’s stop here and examine the theories and themes I found so far. We have all week and three more reviewers who can dig deeper, but for now, add to my theories, point out their fallacies or add your own ideas. Let’s weave together the threads of Supernatural Season 13!
Some screencaps courtesy of http://www.homeofthenutty.com