The Morning After
That was unexpected – and when I say “that”, I mean everything about The Winchesters 1.10 “Suspicious Minds”. A mad scientist Men of Letters (MoL) recluse was actually a necromancer with a golem? Possessed Kyle, who at first seemed to be a pivotal Akrida strategist, was actually disposable as a sacrifice to frame John? Dean is the Akrida’s primary target!! “What???” was my reaction multiple times throughout the hour as I scrambled to realign my understanding of exactly which Supernatural callbacks were being used in this episode and where this story was going!
Title Thread, “Suspicious Minds”
Let’s start with the Men of Letters throwback who appeared out of nowhere.
Hobbes: My name is Porter J. Hobbes, Men of Letters identification number 22-8, and I used my key to come here to help you… with the task at hand, of course. Killing the Akrida queen.
Mary: His bona fides check out.
John: No Akrida marks.
Mary: Holy water?
John: Drank the whole glass. Thanked me for it. Guy's definitely human. Think we can trust him?
As soon as Hobbes said he experimented on monsters, I was reminded of Doc Benton from Supernatural 3.15 “Time is On My Side”. Was Hobbes his mentor or protégé (depending on this mind bending timeline)? I was immediately suspicious, as were John and Mary. But, just like them, I started to let down my guard. His answers checked out.
Hobbes: I was a neurosurgeon until a very charming gentleman named Mr. Glass recruited me into the Men of Letters. I was honored to serve as their master physician. I was brought in to experiment on the minds of monsters… I singlehandedly designed and built the laboratory to conduct my research experiments. I was mostly tasked with turning monsters into watchdogs to guard our more secure locations.
Does anyone remember if Mr. Glass was mentioned in the Supernatural episodes about Henry Winchester’s MoL initiation? I’m guessing he was, and if so, that’s another tether to the mothership timeline that makes me smile.
Hobbes eventually slipped up, making John and Mary suspicious that he wasn’t telling them the truth. Turns out he was really an insane necromancer trying to plant the consciousness of his wife in Mary’s body. That threw me back to 8.13 “Everybody Hates Hitler” and the Thule Society. I didn’t make the connection between that episode and Aaron’s golem fast enough, but it seems those who study or fight the undead need large, clay sidekicks.
Sure enough, up pops his golem! Surprise! While a nice piece of continuity and probably a bit of a fan Easter egg, the addition of a random golem to the story was a bit jarring.
The next shocking twist of this episode was learning that the Akrida know about Dean, and everything they are doing to manipulate John, Mary and friends is to get to Dean.
Akrida conversation: The Hunters. They were useful when we needed them for monster essence, but now they're a problem. With that ink on their skin, we can't even take them over. So why haven't we cracked their skulls open? Because the queen thinks these pests may still be useful. Namely, leading us to this bastard. The queen believes he's a Hunter himself, and by all accounts from our spies in the field, he's the reason the Hunters' merry band got together. He needs to be eliminated. But how? We don't even know who he is. I have a plan. We just need to spill a little human blood.
So Dean not only altered events for John and Mary, his mere presence is now altering the actions of the Akrida. Kyle deciding to kill himself and frame John was the cliffhanger twist that had me yelling “NOOO!” at the TV. But why did he do it? To distract the group because they are getting too close to the Akrida queen and a threat to their invasion? To smoke out Dean, since the group seems to be important to him? Or is it to weaken the group so the Akrida can more easily kill Dean?
Anger, Violence and its Aftermath
The groundwork had been laid for John to be suspected of a violent crime. He admitted last week to having a rap sheet. Betty said that she was suspicious of Mary and worried that she was leading John back to his “old ways”, presumably involving his anger issues and tendency toward violence, which had obviously been established as a core part of his traumatized personality. Even his mother looked at him with suspicion when she found him hovered over the body of a romantic rival.
Regardless of the painstakingly detailed buildup to John becoming a murder suspect, his set up was still a shock that annoyed me. It’s Henriksen all over again! I hated it when Sam and Dean were thrown into prison for crimes perpetrated by their Supernatural enemies, and here is history repeating itself (or setting a precedent depending if your perspective is within the story or on the outside looking in). The only way out of this is for Betty to learn the truth about possession (like Henriksen did) then working with the Winchesters (again, like Henriksen). It would also make sense if she meets the same fate as Henriksen, because that would explain why she was never mentioned as part of John’s “old hunter friends” network in Supernatural.
An interesting side note that may or may not be important was that the Akrida were blamed for the America MoL’s extinction.
John : Do you know what happened to the Men of Letters?
Hobbes/Wilcox: My best guess: the Akrida. Shortly before my retirement, they had returned. We managed to push them back to their own world.
Mary: With the Ostium?
Hobbes/Wilcox: Indeed, but we suffered severe casualties. They retreated, but some of them remained hidden. Including...
Mary: The queen.
Was this just the assumption of one man, or did this really happen? Did Abaddon’s secret get carried into the future with Henry, or is this an AU where the Akrida wiped out the MoL?
Shedding the Past,
and Give Them What They Want in a Way They Don’t Expect,
and Title Threads!
A clue to whether this is an AU may have been given to us in a conversation that tied together several threads from the entire season thus far.
Carlos: Everything in my emergency stash. Now, when are you gonna tell me what the vein juice is for?
Lata: It's for a ceremony involving blood magic. It's how we're gonna get Roxy to remember, then forget, her Akrida memories.
Carlos: Aren't spells usually Ada's thing? I mean, did she teach you how to do any of this?
Lata: Close, but no. Tony did… He's been educating me. He's been using his knowledge as a djinn to teach me a technique to induce a type of meditative state. Like magical hypnosis allowing a person to access their buried memories. It works in two parts. First, we excavate Roxy's memories, then two, we erase them. At least, that's the hope. Never actually done this before.
Jackpot! Lata now knows a way to erase all their memories, or at a minimum John, Mary’s, Millie’s and Samuel’s memories, of everything that has happened in this timeline!!! With their minds wiped, the Supernatural timeline is completely intact and events can take place as we originally were told they happened.
Imagine this: The group eventually succeeds in defeating the Akrida. For a reason yet to be revealed but probably involving Dean, the group decides that their knowledge of these events is either too painful to retain, or it jeopardizes the future. So, Carlos and Lata wipe just the Winchesters’ and Campbells’ minds, or all of their minds, of all of these events. With the Akrida defeated, there is no need for Mary to continue hunting so she begins that “normal life” she’s been wanting for so long. She happens to go to a movie one night, and bumps into a soldier returned from war. His name is John Winchester. They were fated to meet, fall in love, marry and have two sons. Cue Supernatural.
The reason for the mind wipe in this theory is still a mystery. Originally Roxy thought she’d want her memories wiped because the Akrida took everything from her – they basically stole her life when they stole her body. To some extent, the same has happened to Mary, John, Carlos and Lata as their lives were derailed by the hunt for the Akrida. Does something happen that is so painful, they choose not to remember it? Do Carlos and Lata die in the hunt? Is that why we never heard of them in Mary’s Supernatural story? If so, Tony could do the memory wipe ritual.
Lata: Hey, hey. Do you feel that? Yeah? Then you are right here. You are not trapped in your memories. You are choosing to be brave and fight back.
But in the end, Roxy chose to retain her memories. She decided she would best get her life back if she took control of events and helped rid the world of the Akrida once and for all.
Roxy: I don't want you to make me forget.
Lata: Wait, you don't want to erase this hellish ordeal from your brain?
Roxy: You guys have a plan to take down these Akrida bastards, right? Then I want to remember. I want to remember that I helped you. I want to know that my memories helped knock these bugs back to wherever the hell they're from.
So my bet is that the group makes the same judgment call, but their memories must be wiped to protect the future. Maybe it is Dean who convinces them that they all, including him, need to forget everything to restart his timeline. That would make this entire series a reality that was necessary to “knock these bugs back” but that no one remembers.
Roxy: Where I do I know you from?
Lata: We've crossed paths a few times, although you might not remember.
We met Tony in the episode “Legend of a Mind”. This episode is titled “Suspicious Minds”. We can surmise these two titles together foreshadow that the mind is the key to this puzzle piece falling into the right place in the Supernatural universe. Wilcox’s motto, “Everything in its place” was repeated twice in this episode. It’s another clue that this set of events has to be put in, and stay in, its proper place in the Winchesters’ story, separate and apart from the events of the future.
Carlos: Just like all lovers of yore, alas, it is time to officially end things with Anton. And forget what I need to forget.
But Carlos changes his mind.
Carlos: You know, how could you hold out on me like that? And not just about your dream tryst with Tony, but also this whole thing about your memory-erasing abilities. In my hour of need. [reference to time]
Lata: Carlos, you're not seriously asking me to erase Anton, are you?
Carlos: You're saying you'd help Roxy, but not me.
Lata: No, because given your fear of intimacy, a "get out of jail free" card does not count as help.
Carlos: Okay. Honest truth? If I'd known you could before, I probably would've asked. But seeing Roxy choose to live with her memories of the Akrida and hearing her say she'd be okay in spite of it made me realize that sometimes the things you want to forget are probably the things you shouldn't. And for me that's Anton.
Maybe Lata ends up with Tony, and Carlos ends up with Anton. They separate from John and Mary, but remember them fondly as the Winchesters are then freed to follow the original chain of events with this chapter of their lives erased from their minds. That’s a very exciting possibility!
Parents and their Children
But then there’s Dean’s view of events:
Hunting and happy endings don't usually mix, so when you get your chance, you got to ask yourself, "How far will I go to get it?"
OHHHH!! Is Dean trying to get that happy ending for Supernatural that he didn’t get the first time around? “How far is he willing to go” to give Mary and John, and he and Sam, normal lives with happy endings (however you define that for them)?? That would rewrite Supernatural, but the producers have all said they are not undoing anything at all in the original story. So what did Dean mean by that?
It seems he is definitely changing the decisions that both John and Mary make in the future:
John: So Porter, or Jack, did all that just to resurrect his wife.
Mary: He gave up everything, all so he wouldn't lose Dorothea.
John: Things we do for love.
Mary: It's not love… Jack was only thinking of himself, of what he wanted. It didn't matter if it cost him his humanity to get it. That'll never be us, right?
Yet, that is exactly what they both end up doing. Mary gives up all chances of a happy life when she is faced with losing John. John gives up his job, friends and normal life as a dad of two boys when he pursues revenge of the thing that killed his wife. It will cost him his humanity. So they must not remember the lessons they learned from Wilcox.
Does this version of events all become fragmented memories for John and Mary – nightmares that they don’t understand?
Lata: I know this isn't easy, but the things you're remembering, they aren't bad dreams. They're real.
Roxy: I thought I was going crazy. That was the only explanation.
Carlos: No. No one here thinks you're crazy. But we do want to stop this from happening to anyone else, but in order to do that, we need you to tell us exactly what you remember.
Roxy: I can't. It's all fragments and pieces. And I don't want to remember anymore… All I want to do now is try and forget.
Lata: If you help us, I can help you forget all of it.
One of the many unexpected twists in this episode was in… set decoration. Notice the bedspread and drapery valance in Roxy’s motel room.
(the 2nd bedspread is on the floor)
They are the EXACT fabric of the Trickster’s jacket in 1.08 “Hang on to Your Life’!
Surely that cannot be for budgetary thriftiness. I think it introduces the possibility that this whole affair is one of the Trickster’s altered realities, ala “Mystery Spot”, or that he somehow helps them rearrange realities in the end of it all!
The out of left field “twists” in this episode would be just his style!
The Last Word
Lata: Every person we freed from the Akrida's control had one of those monsters in their head, right? If they still have memories from that time, perhaps one of them might be able to help us.
One last surprising twist I haven’t yet mentioned was the excellent acting by Bridget Regan as Roxy. Her prior depiction of the disconnected, apathetic Akrida leader was stereotypically maniacal, so I was pleasantly shocked by the emotional power of her portrayal of a broken, scared Roxy. Her performance sold those scenes, notably strengthening the episode. She pulled me into understanding every bit of Roxy’s terror. It was a stark reminder of how superior acting can elevate a script from being just words spoken to empathetic experiences for an audience.
“Suspicious Minds” was a sneaky episode. It was filled with twists that seemed to be pulled out of thin air to fit the convenience of the plot, yet upon reflection, were subliminally consistent with stories we know so well from Supernatural. I was engrossed in watching it, even though it repeatedly jumped ahead two spaces without asking, “Mother, May I?” It had delightful banter between Lata and Carlos inserted between convincing acting, but the undercurrent of the music/sound track detracted from, rather than helped, scenes. All in all, I believe "Suspicious Minds" contains the strongest clues yet as to what Dean is doing in this timeline, definitely feeding fans' suspicious minds and making this episode pivotal to moving the story ahead.
I realized in writing about this episode that how the Akrida are defeated isn’t at all the mystery I care about. I’m curious, but I know they’ll somehow be banished from the Earth. I also know that John and Mary will eventually be together. Instead, the mystery that is totally engrossing my mind now is, "What is Dean doing?" How is all this tied to Supernatural? Young John, Mary Campbell, Carlos, Latika, Millie, Ada and Samuel might be our guides on this trip, but the ultimate destination has to be March 23, 1972 when John meets Mary for the first time, again.
I’m enjoying this adventure so much, I don’t mind the little bumps along the way. I may suspect one theory over another, but the fun is seeing how it all comes together in the end - when it all comes back to Sam, Dean and Supernatural.
What did you think of this episode? Please share your thoughts below!
Screencaps by Raloria@livejournal. Images courtesy of The CW.
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Quotes courtesy of TV Show Transcripts