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The Morning After

Hmmm. Only two episodes left in The Winchesters first season, yet half of “You’ve Got A Friend” was spent on a monster of the week story. Surely learning about Latika’s past couldn’t be important to defeating the Akrida, or learning why Dean is meddling with his parents’ fates. Or is it?

One thing I’ve learned from closely studying Supernatural plotlines for so many years is that the most innocuous Monster of the Week (MoTW) stories often have the most important myth arc developments buried deep within them. Latika and Carlos being unexpectedly thrust into Lata’s past seemed jarringly random – again, like so many of the other plotlines, character appearances and artifact discoveries we’ve witnessed this season.  I found myself impatiently anticipating the point of their psychological and literal journey into her relationship with her parents. I really like Latika as a character, but can we get to Dean, please?! I want to know why Dean is in the past! Lata’s deep, dark secret had been hinted at in earlier episodes, and I’d love to hear all about her sad story, but can we please put that on a backburner until we figure out what’s going on with Dean?!

Then I realized I needed to pay closer attention. Latika was probably telling Dean’s story.

Shedding the Past

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Ever since Latika’s phone call to India in 1.03 “You’re Lost Little Girl”, we’ve known she was lying about her parents being dead:  

Lata: “Just tell Mom I’m safe. That’s all she needs to know.”

She was obviously keeping a secret about her past from her friends. It was a curious teaser about her backstory and how she came to be in their group, but I figured we’d learn about her past eventually – say, maybe in season 2. Surely, rounding out her character wasn’t important enough to spend time on it in season 1. So why did the writers dedicate half of this episode to Latika?

Maybe it was to explore how secrets can imprison us in an altered reality until we choose to be freed by the truth.

Carlos: The Akrida could be controlling anyone at this point. Unless someone has some sort of X-ray specs or a truth serum that makes people spill their secrets

Latika: [Maggie] told me she had this bracelet that could pinpoint anyone harboring a dark secret, like being a monster. Maybe it could work on the Akrida.

Mary: Why did Maggie never tell me about this before?

Latika: I don't know.
Carlos: Looks like Maggie was keeping secrets herself.

(later) Carlos: Okay, you know, why did Maggie keep this damn bracelet a secret?... Okay, uh, not to doubt your genius, but the room where people have three meals a day is Maggie's secret hiding spot?

So cousin Maggie had Wonder Woman’s Lasso of Truth bracelet to compel people to own up to their past. Okay, not exactly, but close enough.

Latika: Well, according to legend, it was made by Erebus, the god of secrets and shadows, as a tool to give to his followers to uncover their enemies' hidden secrets.

Carlos: So you just put the bracelet on and presto, monster-vision?

Latika: … "Whosoever wears this bracelet must be pure of heart. Should they harbor a dark secret of their own, shadow spirits embedded in the bracelet will force the wearer to reveal that secret, or the shadows will consume them."

Carlos: Wait, so what you're saying is that you have a dark secret?

The word “secrets” was mentioned 20 times in the story. That’s too often to repeat them all here, but its emphasis could mean that someone besides Latika is keeping an important secret. Dean is the most likely culprit. He kept his identity and purpose a secret from John, and more to the point, from us. He has been teasing us with narrations all season but hasn’t come out and told us his secret mission. The Akrida are especially anxious to learn his secret. Is his the secret we all need to hear?

In Latika’s case, Shadow Demons, reminiscent of one of Supernatural’s season 1 masterpiece episodes (“Shadow”), transport the person keeping a secret into the scenario they have been so desperately ignoring, hiding, or running away from. As another callback to “You’re Lost Little Girl”, and so many other episodes this season, the consequences of Latika’s secret was yet another alternate reality, or parallel dimension, that monsters create for their own purposes.

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To reiterate the point, Carlos reminded us of another alternate reality they visited.

Lata: Of course, I believe John, it's just...

Carlos: It's like Mars Neto all over again.

1.04 0550 both

Mars Neto was the god who sent John and Carlos into their worst nightmares in 1.04 “Masters of War”.

Give Them What They Want in a Way They Don’t Expect

All season we’ve tracked mind altering realities and trapping people in their memories as the thread of giving us what we want in ways we don’t expect - and can't quite figure out. Latika’s experience makes the pattern of monsters using painful memories and nightmares of our past to alter reality even more unmistakable.


Trapped in a Reality of Past Memories

Artifact Power/ Sacrifice Needed to be Freed

1.01 Pilot

John remembers the nightmares of war


1.02 Teach Your Children Well

Victims were tricked by a (tree) monster into seeing the person they dreaded most from their past, i.e. their worst memory/ nightmare.


1.03 You’re Lost Little Girl

Victims were transported by a monster (Bori Baba) into an alternate reality/dimension.

Victims had to give up/destroy their most treasured possession to be freed

1.04 Masters of War

Victims were transported by a monster (Mars Neto) into a reality of their worst memory/ nightmare

Monster’s artifact had to be destroyed to be freed

1.05 Legend of a Mind

Victims were trapped by a monster (Akrida) in a reality of their worst memory/ nightmare locked deep within their minds.

A “key” had to be found; Assisted by a dream walker, Mary had to face her childhood memory to be freed.

1.06 Art of Dying

John is possessed/ trapped by the monster’s (ghost) nightmare of his death.


1.07 Reflections

A séance enables the group to reach into the past to another dimension/ beyond the veil (to talk to Henry)

An artifact of the past enabled crossing dimensions.

1.08 Hang on to Your Life

A god/monster who can create alternate realities (Trickster), made victims’ dreams come true.

The dream had to be forsaken/ sacrificed to be freed. An artifact trapped the monster.

1.09 Cast Your Fate to the Wind


An artifact sees the future

1.10 Suspicious Minds

Roxy is having nightmares of when she was possessed.

A dream walker’s magic spell makes her relive her memories to be freed of her past.

1.11 You’ve Got a Friend

Victims are transported by a monster (shadow) into an alternate reality/dimension of their worst memory/ nightmare.

An artifact see the truth. They need to face their memory to be freed.

I believe we'd find an equally strong correlation with people being possessed/ mind altered each episode, a fate very similar to living in a reality of your worst nightmare, 

Facing our Traumas

John: They clearly know about me, about my past. I—

Mary: Your past does not define you, And they showed their hand.

Maybe Mary’s right and the past doesn’t define a person, but until a person is freed from its pain, it holds them back from finding peace and living their truest selves.

Dean: Being a Hunter means always being on the move, No matter how hard you plan, no matter how hard you work, at a certain point, we all run out of road. It's what we do with those crossroads that defines us.

Dean's saying that the choices we make before we die define us. Yet, from every episode thus far, it seems the past alters a person's reality until they choose to free themselves of its grip on them. 

Carlos: Well, I guess the truth really does set you free.

Latika: In more ways than one.

Latika was freed from her childhood trauma by telling someone about it. Frankly, as childhood traumas of hunters go, I was expecting something worse. Latika was clearly not responsible for her friend’s death. That was unquestionably her father’s fault.  Yet, traumas of our childhood tend to grow in our minds over time, paralyzing us with the terror we couldn’t process at a young age.

Lata’s childhood trauma paralleled Mary’s childhood nightmare in “Legend of a Mind”. Mary wasn't physically harmed when her dreams were taken away from her by her family’s legacy of hunting. In fact, no one died or was hurt in that moment. But Mary couldn’t free herself of the prison that imposed on her life’s options. She was emotionally held hostage by a secret she couldn’t reveal.

Is it a coincidence that monsters were able to use childhood memories against both of them? Is a childhood nightmare haunting Dean? What “truth” will set him free? The truth of how his parents met? Who will that truth free - him, his parents, or us? Whose altered reality are we seeing?

Akrida cop: I'm gonna leave you to sit in your sad little thoughts and feelings. If you ever want to taste freedom again, you're gonna have to talk. Ball's in your court, Marine.

Someone needs to spill a secret… and it seems that someone is Dean.

1.10 0279 Dean

John: It means that you played your hand. See, if you're willing to go through all this to find him, then, well, that guy, whoever he is, is a threat to you. And your former leader, well, when she was in control of Roxy, she said that nothing of this Earth can harm you. So if he's a threat to you, and nothing of this Earth can harm you, well... that would mean he's not of this Earth. Which explains why you look like a scared little baby. 

Akrida Cop: Well, you've shown your hand too, Winchester. Because if you don't know anything, then you're no longer of any use to us.

What does that mean?? Does it mean Dean’s from Heaven, so not of any Earth? Or that Dean’s not from this Earth, but rather is from a different Earth? Clues and teases! And all this talk of showing your hand? Are the writers telling us they've already revealed what's happening and we just haven't understood yet? This is torture!

Title Thread – You’ve Got A Friend

Besides reiterating that memories of the past can alter our present reality, “You’ve Got a Friend” circled back to close a few plotlines of prior episodes. We finally met Maggie in this episode after “Masters of War” first had them search her room for clues to their hunt. Using her collected knowledge once again, we have to assume she told Latika about the bracelet because Maggie knew her friend was harboring a painful secret.

Maggie: You haven't changed, Lata. You still hold everything close to the vest.

Lata: Where did you take my friend?

Maggie: Oh, I think you know exactly where he is, deep down. But you're holding back your secrets like always. And that's why you're seeing me. I was always the one you'd talk to. But not about everything.

Lata: That's not true
Maggie: you know it's true. Whatever I am is right. I'm a figment of your imagination. You lie to me, you're only lying to yourself. And you know that sweet, loving, dear old Maggie shared everything with you, and it hurt her, knowing you never shared your own secrets in return. This is your chance to right that wrong. Don't make the same mistake twice. Or you and your friend won't ever see the sun again.

Maggie wasn’t around to help Lata face her truth, but Carlos picked up where Maggie left off, offering support and a friendly ear to free Latika from her self-imposed prison.

1.10 0756 kyle

“Masters of War” was also when Mary learned that Kyle had been investigating mysterious deaths at vet clinics. Everyone had to come to terms with his death in this episode, having lost him to the Akrida in last week’s cliffhanger climax to his place in the story.

Millie: I told them, "I don't know" and "Who's Kyle?" Mary, I'm sorry. John told me that the two of you were friends.

Kyle needed to die to be freed from the prison of his possession.

1.03 0083 betty

Completing her journey to knowing the truth, “You’ve Got A Friend” also converted Betty from the innocent friend introduced in 1.03 “You’re Lost Little Girl” to a hunter ally. She was a true friend to John, helping him escape his unjust imprisonment. She joins Roxy, Carrie and Ford (who Carlos mentioned again in this episode) in volunteering to be allies in the fight against the Akrida.

Akrida cop: Can't you see I'm trying to help you? I'm trying to be a friend here. I know you didn't kill Kyle.

And whether they know it or not, the bedraggled monster club has a friend in Dean. His involvement in all this is a secret, even to them, but he’s the best friend they’ll ever have against the Akrida.

The Last Word

“You’ve Got a Friend” was a solid, interesting and well done MoTW story. The episode tied up loose ends and reiterated themes that have been emphasized all year, strengthening the consistency of the overall story.  Both John’s and Latika’s plots also gave us additional clues to what reality we’re watching - if only we knew how to interpret those clues.

I just wanted more. I want to know what’s going on with Dean. There are only 2 episodes left in the season, maybe in the series, and we still don’t know how to fit this story into the overall saga. I’m enjoying these characters more each week, and it’s enriching the backstory of Dean’s parents and his heritage that I love so much from Supernatural, but it’s so hard not knowing if this is real or it it’s Memorex. Are we peering into another snow globe?

I tell myself “Truth will out” in John’s situation, and “Patience is a virtue” for Dean. The strategy of making me watch every week for clues to the universe is certainly working! I don’t want it to be over but I’m dying to know the answer we’ll only know at its end. Good things come to those who wait?

At least we’re in this together. Till then, you’ve got a friend.

 - Nightsky

What did you think of this episode?  Please share your thoughts below!

Some Screencaps by Raloria@livejournal. Images courtesy of The CW. 

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Quotes courtesy of TV Show Transcripts