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THEN:  Jack handling the snake.  Flashbacks of Dean nervously freezing as giant yellow python glides over his shoulder.  Michael in Dean’s head.  Dean getting knocked unconscious.  Donatello the prophet getting his soul sucked out by Amara.  Rowena talking about the power of the soul.  Jack defeating Michael.  Jack’s eyes glowing and wings spreading their shadow on the wall.

NOW:   Running feet.  A terrified young man dashes down a sidewalk at night, past a movie theater advertising a Scooby Doo matinee, a bowling alley, and a record store, up to a diner where he bangs on the door, calling for Sunny.  A cute young woman in a pink waitress uniform opens the door, and they hug.  The girl tells the desperate boy that she can’t.  They share a kiss before he dashes away.  A large billboard is displayed on the side of the road depicting a cheerful family – dad, mom, son, and daughter all in 1950s garb down to the dad in a suit and hat – advertising Charming Acres, five miles away, “Where everyone’s happy.”  The youth runs past the sign and up to a gas station minimart.  He dashes inside, asking for a phone from the startled clerk, then grabbing the employee’s phone when he’s slow to respond. As he stumbles away, he begins to clutch his head.  There’s  a shrill ringing sound.  He collapses, then BOOM!  His head explodes.  “Dude?” ventures the clerk.  “Do you need help?”  He walks around the counter and sees the body sprawled on the tile, the upper part a disgusting mess of blood and tissue.  Suddenly a gooey chunk of flesh falls from the ceiling to plop on the floor,  and the clerk promptly bends over and upchucks.


Jack is in his bedroom holding the snake.  Castiel knocks, coming to check on him, but Jack says he’s good.  The title “Peace of Mind” appears.  Cas mentions that the hunters’ funerals have been completed.  Unsure of what to say, he asks about the snake and muses that it might not be doing well because it’s gone through a lot of change in a short period of time.  It might miss its owner.  Cas asks if Jack has his powers back.  “I think so,” replies Jack, making a pencil float in the air with a simple move of his hand.  As it loops and twirls, he adds, “I feel different now, not like before.”  “And your soul?” asks Cas.  Jack allows the pencil to drop.  He doesn’t know how much of his soul is left.  He’s trying not to think about it.  He turns away.  Behind him, Cas leaves, still worried. 

Dean is making a gigantic sandwich and takes a huge bite.  Cas, entering the kitchen, remarks that he should sleep until the cows drag him home.  Dean starts to correct the idiom, then gives it up, instead sharing that Rowena isn’t great but is coping.  He adds that Sam says he’s good, but he’s full of crap. 

Sam is in the map room of the bunker.  As he looks at the table, he pictures two hunters slumped over the table, their blood pooling around their heads.  Everywhere he looks, he sees their slaughtered bodies and hears their frightened dying screams.  He winces at the painful  memories.

Dean is still chomping his sandwich when Sam enters, declaring he’s found them a case in Arkansas.  Dean says they need rest; they’ve had three back-to-back hunts.  Sam replies that he’s leaving in ten and exits the room.  “Not good!” observes Dean sagely to Cas.  Cas suggests that he go with Sam while Dean takes time with Jack, especially as he’s dealt with soullessness before.  Dean is reluctant, saying he wasn’t that good at it, but Cas says that Jack looks up to Dean.  After, Dean can sleep until the cows come home.  He DID know the right phrase!

Sam and Cas, in their FBI suits, pull up to the gas station in Arkansas in a big, ugly, gray boat of a car.  What with the exploding heads, it’s probably a witch or a demon.  As the approach the store, Sam yawns but insists he’s good.  Anyway, he can’t rest.  There are still lots of monsters, and now they don’t have as many hunters.  They approach the clerk with questions about the incident.  He gasps, “Incident?  Insane!”  Poor Conrad Martin.  The spot where he’d died is cordoned off with some cones and the ceiling tiles above have been removed.  “He was probably from Charming Acres,” comments the clerk.  “He had that look.  It’s weird.”  So of course Sam and Castiel head for Charming Acres. 

When they reach the town, the can barely speak from surprise.  Happy people fill the sidewalks, couples strolling arm in arm, women in dresses, men in suits and hats, waving cheerfully at each other.  It’s like they’ve stepped into a Saturday Evening Post, remarks Castiel.  When Sam eyes him, he defends himself saying that he looks at them sometimes when the Winchesters are asleep.  “They’re very soothing.”

Sam can’t call Dean to inquire about the town; they have no bars.  They step out of the car, nearly bumping into a couple, Justin and Cindy Smith on their way to a bake sale.  “What’s that?” wonders the man, noticing what’s in Sam’s hand.  “The cell phone?” asks Sam.  The man’s face wrinkles as if he fails to understand.  “Cell.  Phone.”  He knows those words separately but can’t comprehend how they go together.  The blonde wife, complete with upswept blonde hair, perfect make up, and a Stepford smile, urges them on.  “Maybe they’re Mormon,” Castiel guesses.  Cheerful, old-time music greets Sam and Cas as they enter the diner.  (“I’m getting Fall Out vibes,” observes my daughter.)  The small establishment is full of cheerful guests and smiling servers.  One, Conrad’s girlfriend Sunny, happily places two large milkshakes in front of them, warmly informing them that the first ones are free!  Sam takes a sip through the straw – “Wow!”  The diner’s owner, a cheerful, short, round-faced man, introduces himself as Mayor Chip Harrington.  Yes, their town is a little old-fashioned, but they take care of each other.  “What about Conrad Martin?” asks Sam.  Sunny, at the shake machine, stiffens.  That was sad; the mayor heard it was an aneurysm.  “No,” clarifies Castiel baldly, “his head exploded.”  When he’s met with skepticism, he clarifies, “Like a ripe melon on the sun.”  The diner freezes in silence for a moment.  Sam tries to smooth things over and gets the name of the place where Conrad had been staying. 

They pull up in front of a large pink boarding house.  Sam can’t believe Cas said what he said, but Cas insists that it was an apt metaphor.  “Next time, be less apt!” advises Sam.  Cas remarks how strangely picturesque everything is.  The door is answered by a cheerful African-American woman in a dress and pearls.  She knows they’re the federal agents because everyone’s talking.  It’s a small town.

Dean walks into the kitchen, confused as to whether Jack is conducting a science experiment.  Jack has the snake’s cage on a table and has several small bowls in front of it with various types of food.  He’s trying to find out what the snake might like.  “Have you tried bacon?” asks Dean.  “Do snakes like bacon?” wonders Jack.  Dean doesn’t know.  “I like bacon,” he adds.  Characteristically on the search for food, he opens a small white Chinese food container, only to see two small white mice.  He quickly closes it back up and puts it down.  He offers to go on a drive with Jack, but Jack turns it down.  As Dean goes off to cook some bacon, Jack leans down toward the snake.  “Do you like bacon?”

Back in Charming Acres, the owner informs them that she only rents to young men.  It wouldn’t be proper for young women to stay there alone.  “Morals!” she says.  “You know,” she adds, with a look at Cas.  She leaves the room to get tea, Sam following her after exchanging a nod with Castiel.  Cas searches the room without finding anything of significance until he lifts the mattress and finds a few letters which he proceeds to read.  Sam reenters holding a dainty cup and saucer.  Cas explains that he’s found some love letters to Conrad from Sunny, letters which are surprisingly passionate.  But when Cas suggests their next step, Sam demurs.  They can do it tomorrow.  It’s getting late.  He probably needs rest.  Anyway, the owner is cooking a pot roast!  He smiles with joy at the thought.

In a lovely, refined home, Justin Smith is still repeating the words “cell phone” to himself.  “Is something wrong?” asks his still perfectly-coiffed wife.  It’s suppertime, but the man meanders restlessly down the hall.  “I bought a cell phone,” he realizes.  “With my daughter.  My daughter – ROSE!”  He turns to eye his wife.  “Who are you?  What am I doing here?  This isn’t my house!”  A sudden shrill ringing begins.  The man yells for help.  Large bumps begin to swell on his face.  Panicked, he runs away from his wife, down the path to the street,  but before he reaches it, his head explodes, and his body falls to the ground.  “Honey?” calls his wife, the slightest crease of concern across her perfect brow.

Dean has gotten Jack on a road trip.  The Impala drives through the dark, Dean with a cautious eye on the snake in its cage in the back seat.  Jack says he’s not hungry, but Dean hands him some snack cakes anyway.  One is angel food cake, the other devil’s food cake.  Dean awkwardly tries to downplay his dislike of snakes because it’s not really the snake that’s dangerous; it’s the bite.  He asks Jack to try one of the snack cakes, watching him worriedly as Jack wavers between them.  When Jack picks the angel food cake, Dean breathes a quiet sigh of relief.

At the boarding house, Cas goes down the hall to knock at Sam’s door.  When no one answers, he enters to find an empty room with a bed that hasn’t been slept in.  “Sam!?” he calls in concern.  Heading downstairs, he tries to get the attention of the owner, who’s running a carpet sweeper over the rug and dancing along to cheerful oldies music through her headphones.  She tells Castiel that his partner, the tall one, said he was going for a walk and a milkshake.  Cas drives to Harrington’s, the diner, only to find it closed.  No one is inside except Sunny who is fixing the napkin holders and salt and pepper shakers on the tables.  When Castiel asks about his partner, she says, “Who?”  The tall man, Cas clarifies.  Sunny is acting nervous.  She asks if Castiel has heard what happened to Mr. Smith.

Cas pulls up in front of a large lovely white house.  The lovely blonde woman with the upswept hair answers with a charming smile; she’s dresses in a floral frock and offers to get him a martini.  Cas asks about his partner.  She smiles uncomprehendingly.  The tall man?  Hair?  He has beautiful hair, Cas finally specifies.  She keeps looking with wide eyes and a pleasant, confused smile.  Cas is about to lower himself into a chair when she shrieks, “NO!” He leaps erect, and she graciously apologizes that that’s her husband’s chair.  Cas tries to commiserate with her about her husband.  He’s so sorry how he died last night.  “I think you’re confused,” replies Mrs. Smith. 

As they argue, a man’s voice comes from a nearby room:  “Honey, something wrong?”  Sam enters the room.  His hair is slicked back, the length gathered in an obscure little knot at the back of his head.  He is wearing glasses, a dress shirt with tie, and a dark cardigan sweater.  He kisses and hugs Mrs. Smith and suggests that their guest stick around because she’s made pot roast.  Then he asks for a martini.  Cas tries to explain that this is not his house, that something terrible has happened, but Sam is more concerned over the number of olives in his drink and playfully saying “rawr” to his wife.  “Your name is Sam Winchester!” Cas says in exasperation.  Is this a spell or a curse?  Snap the hell out of it!  At that, Justin Smith becomes upset.  He begins to escort Cas from the house, telling the woman to get his hat -- “I didn’t have a hat!” says Cas – and saying he should remain civil.  He shakes a disapproving finger at him, shocked that he’d say “h – e – double hockey stick” and reiterates that his name is JUSTIN.  The door closes, and Castiel turns away in frustration.  “Double hockey stick?” he wonders aloud.

Dean takes Jack to see Dontello, who cheerfully welcomes Jack into his house while Dean remains outside leaning against the Impala’s hood after nervously checking on the snake (and sliding a little further toward the front of the car, away from the back seat).  Jack asks Donatello, who’s preparing coffee in his kitchen, how he lost his soul.  "God’s sister ripped it from me," says the prophet.  “It was not my best day.  Not my worst day either.”  “How’d you feel?” wonders Jack.  Donatello eyes the coffee swirling in his cup as he adds creamer and stirs.  “The galaxy,” he remarks.  It’s spinning, sparkling and beautiful, but at the center is a very large black hole.  It’s the same with him.  He’s bright and shiny, though not really so much spinning, but inside he’s empty.  “So you feel bad,” comments Jack.  “I feel nothing,” responds Donatello.  “It doesn’t make you bad.  It’s an absence of empathy, of humanity.  How do you feel, Jack?”  Jack doesn’t know.  He knows he’s not the same, but he doesn’t want Cas and Sam and Dean to worry.  “Families worry,” Donatello tells him.  “I need time and space to figure things out on my own,” says Jack.  Donatello says that when he doesn’t know what to do, he asks, “What would Mr. Rodgers do?”  “Who’s Mr. Rodgers?” asks Jack.  “The best man I know,” answers Donatello.  “Sam and Dean are the best men I know,” says Jack.  “Then ask yourself WWWD,” Donatello tells him – “What Would the Winchesters Do?” 

When they go back to the Impala, Dean talks to Donatello alone about Jack:  “Does he have a soul?”  “What is a soul?” muses Donatello.  Dean is not interested in philosophical speculation so Donatello says that Jack is probably OK.  He also adds that it’s hard to tell because Jack is probably the most powerful being in the universe.  Dean glances back at the car, where Jack, sitting in the front seat, waves at him with a smile.

Sunny is prepping tables at Harrington’s when Cas approaches her, accusing her of being a witch and brainwashing the town.  He knows she’s outside all of this because he’s found her love letters to Conrad.  Sunny tries to run, but Cas steps in front of her.  “Tell me or I’ll rip it from your mind.”  His eyes glow blue, and he raises a hand threateningly over her head before she blurts, “He’s out of control!”  “Well, now, that’s not very nice!” says a voice.  The mayor has entered the diner, flanked by three men including Sam, who shakes his head disapprovingly at Cas.

“You did this!” Cas accuses.  The mayor casually takes off his gloves and sits down, explaining that the mill shut down, the town started to die, his wife died.  The world was getting worse.  People weren’t happy.  He heard voices.  One night he hollered at them, “Just make things better!”  The next morning, he thought, “I wish there were more people in the diner.”  He got to the restaurant and it was full.  He realized he could make people be whatever he wanted.  He grins.  I made most everyone happy.  “You murder them!” Cas accuses.  “I’m protecting my home!” the mayor defends himself.  However, his powers had never worked on Sunny; she’s like me.  He is confused why his abilities haven’t worked on Castiel.  “I’m not human,” says Cas.  Sunny runs from the diner, and the mayor follows her.  The three men begin to close in on Cas.  “I won’t hurt you, Sam!” says Cas.  He easily handles the men who try to rush him, twisting one’s arm and avoiding the blow of another.  Outside the mayor and Sunny, his daughter, have a heated exchange.  He accuses Sunny of killing Conrad herself because of what she’d told him.  Inside the diner, Cas flips Sam over his shoulder when he rushes him, then incapacitates the other attackers.  But then Sam wildly flings himself at him, barreling him into the ground.  Sam snatches the angel blade from Castiel’s sleeve and holds it over the supine angel.  “Fight this!” Cas commands as Sam looms over him.  “Why?” Sam counters.  “I’m happy!”  Cas passionately exclaims that he knows what it’s like – to lose an army, to have your followers die, to feel you’ve failed as a leader.  “But you can’t give in to this or you fail us!  You fail Jack.  You fail DEAN!”  Sam hesitates, then plunges the sword down.  It quivers in the floor next to Castiel.  Sam takes off Justin’s glasses.  “Sam?” asks Cas.  “Cas?” Sam replies, finally himself. 

“You’re a monster!” Sunny declares to her father.  “I’m GOD!” he responds.  “No,” says Cas, who’s come outside with Sam.  “God has a beard.”  The mayor uses his power to hurl Cas away, then is about to blow up Sam’s head.  His face begins to swell with huge lumps as he slumps forward in pain.  “Stop!” shrieks Sunny.  Her father falls to the ground with the power of her word, but looks at her with triumph.  “See?  You’re just like me.”  “No!  You hurt innocent people!” Sunny insists, then thrusts out her hand.  “Then BE happy!”  The mayor freezes where he is on his knees on the ground.  “What’d you do?” wonders Sam.  “He’s trapped in his mind,” Cas explains after examining the immobile man.  “A beautiful world where he can never hurt anyone again.”  “GOOD!” states Sunny. 

Back at the bunker, Dean comments that the snake might have enjoyed the trip.  “It was illuminating,” says Jack.  Dean isn’t sure how to respond.  As Sam enters, he asks how Arkansas was.  “It was weird,” Sam answers.  “I heard you wore a cardigan,” says Dean.  Sam looks accusingly at Cas.  “And had a wife,” adds Dean.  “And were really happy.”  “Thanks,” Sam tells Cas sarcastically.  “I’m going to go see Jack,” Cas says and exits, leaving the brothers alone in the map room.  “I guess I was happy,” Sam tells Dean, “but it wasn’t real.”  “There’s not a lot of happy here,” admits Dean.  “I hate this place right now,” Sam reveals.  “I see them.  That’s why I was so desperate to get out of here.  But I can’t keep moving.  This is my home.  This is our home.  I just need some time.”  Dean has been quietly listening.  “OK,” he says, giving him a shoulder slap and walking away.  Sam breathes deep.

Jack lifts the snake.  It curls around his hands.  “I’ll help you see your friend again in heaven,” he says calmly, even compassionately.  The snake turns gray and crumbles to dust.  Cas peeks in at the doorway as the snake utterly disappears.


QUESTIONS - I had lots of questions this time, but I thought there were some interesting topics presented in this episode.  You may answer all of them or just pick your favorites! Let's chat!:  

  1. So often in Supernatural, Sam and Dean have been trapped in dream worlds created to soothe or pacify to manipulate them.  What are some of these instances?
  2. Would you like to live in Charming Acres?  Why or why not?  Would you want to live in a more peaceful world even if it weren't real?
  3. To help his soulless self make decisions, Donatello asks what Mr. Rodgers would do.  Do you have a guide that helps you make moral choices (even if you do have a soul)?
  4. How DID Mayor Harrington and his daughter actually get their power?
  5. The title was "Peace of Mind."  "Carry On, My Wayward Son" states "there'll be peace when you are done."  Both Jack and Sam tried to find peace by not thinking about what was bothering them.  What's the best way to achieve peace of mind, for them or for yourself?
  6. Have Sam and Castiel ever had a physical fight?  What did you think of how Sam responded to the death of the AU hunters and to Cas's words to his mind-controlled self?  
  7. Jack stated that he was helping the snake but actually killed it.  Does this make you worry about the state of his soul or about the choices this very young but immensely powerful nephilim could make?  
  8. Charming Acres was a place where "Everyone's Happy."  This reminded me of the world Cas saw when he touched a pregnant Kelly Kline, the world Jack was supposed to create.  Cas and Kelly seemed to think this was a good thing, this happy world that Jack, the Savior, could bring about.  Do you agree?

Read more of Emberlast's amazing episode recaps and speculation questions! Visit her Author Page to get Episode links! Recaps for seasons 9 to 13 can be found on Bookdal's Author Page!