Episode 09×19 Or The One with the Confusing Title
Happy Winchester Wednesday! Last night, we saw the return of Sheriff Mills, and our boys encountered the most dysfunctional family since, well, the Winchesters.
The episode lights up on a girl being dragged into jail. She’s locked up and left alone in the cell while an officer on duty leaves to check out a B&E, and someone we assume to be her abusive boyfriend comes fo rher. He tells her that there is nowhere she can go, nowhere she can hide where ‘they’ won’t be able to find her. Creeper, much? He becomes even creepier when he bares his fangs and we have the “oh shit he’s vampire Edward!” moment.
Then Sheriff Mills shows up and chops his head the f**k off.
It’s good to see a familiar face in Jody (she was last seen in that episode which shall never be named). This is familiar territory for the SPN family; one of the boys’ connections call with a case, and the Winchesters swoop in to save the day, killer classic rock soundtrack ever at the ready. It’s also one of the first times the boys have been back in Sioux Falls since Bobby’s death, and if that doesn’t kick your feels a little bit, go get tested because you might be a cyborg.
The boys and Jody discover that this girl has been missing for eight years and, judging by the bite marks on her neck, she’s probably a blood slave to a nest of vampires. So sayeth the Winchesters. Sam (who should have been a psychologist, according to the Diva), remembers that sometimes these victims have a vampy Stockholm syndrome. Remember the Alpha’s pet back in season 7? Well, after being raised by vampires, Alex/Annie/whatever-her-name-is views the nest as her family, and those bonds are hard to break.
After all, family doesn’t end with blood.
The boys leave to hunt down the nest, and Jody takes Ann/Alex to a cabin in the middle of nowhere, where they have a very honest discussion about choices and consequences. It’s a discussion we’ve heard before between the brothers (do you choose them–your family–or do you choose you?) but unlike other episodes that heavy-handed the parallels, Jody and Ann’s discussion is frank, honest, and relatable. Everyone slow clap for Robert Berens, who transformed his MotW episode into a well-written connection between the brothers and the people they save. Also slow clap for Kim Rhodes (Jody Miller) who does all her own stunts.
When the boys find the nest, they find Alex/Ann’s “Brother” and learn about the head vampire, who they all call “Mama.” And I second the sentiment I saw on Twitter last night:
Alex/Ann’s other brothers followed her scent to Jody’s cabin (that’s not creepy or anything), and drag their human kid sister back to Mama. Jody and the Winchesters reunite (seriously, all this driving would take way longer than the time lapses that appear on the show) and head to the nest, again, to save Alex. Ann. Whatever.
They’re all taken hostage, and while they were driving, Mama and her human daughter had a little talk about murder, guilt, and family. Turns out Alex/Ann was feeling guilty about the amount of killing her vampiric family did, and even more guilty about being the carrot being dangled in front of the rabbit. Mama reveals that she should have ‘turned’ Alex years ago, but didn’t because she wanted to watch her little girl grow up.
It’d be a sweet mother-daughter moment if you could forget all the murder involved.
By the time the Winchesters and Jody arrive, Alex is a vampire, and the discussion she and Jody had about choices really hits home when her vampy family chains up Jody and the brothers and intends to eat them. Even though she is now a “monster,” a creature that the Winchesters hunt and kill on a regular basis, she makes a new choice, and stops Mama from killing Jody. That theme from the midseason finale reappears: She did what she had to do. To be able to live with herself–now for all eternity–Alex/Ann cannot allow Jody Mills to die.
Meanwhile the Winchesters, through some clever sleight of hand by Dean, manage to take out the brother vampires, and the dark, enraged, homicidal Dean reappears again. But more on that in a minute.
At the end of the episode, Jody Mills takes in a newly-cured Annie, and everyone notices that Dean is a little off. Understatement of the century.
What This Episode Reveals About the Winchesters
We know that Dean has been a little kill-crazy since taking the Mark of Cain. We also know that his and his brother’s struggling relationship is only exacerbating that homicidal desire. What we are seeing here is a flip of seasons 4 and 5: Dean is the ‘vessel’ for evil It’s 2014, and if the thigh holster Dean was sporting last night is any indication, “The End” could still be brought about, just by a different brother.
Just keep that in mind, Dean-o.
This is another week where we learn a lot by what Sam doesn’t say. He doesn’t disagree with Dean when he says that they should kill Alex. He doesn’t disagree with Dean when he says that Sam wouldn’t save his life. He doesn’t disagree with Jody when she points out that something isn’t right with Dean.
We are missing insight into Sam’s mental goings-on. We now have a Sam who isn’t talking about his feelings, his ideas, or just the general f**k he gives about anything that’s going on around him. He’s at an emotional stalemate, and we all know that a man who doesn’t care about anything is a man who has nothing to lose. Dean may have the Mark of Cain, but judging by the stoic (and slightly haunted) look on Sam’s face whenever he looks at his brother, I can’t help but wonder if the showrunners are purposefully misleading us into thinking that it will be Dean who causes the inevitable shitstorm, but really, Sam has more going on than he’s saying.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the finale for this season ends up being as emotionally devastating as season 5’s.
The Big Picture
There are three themes that we’ve seen repeatedly this season.
The (Power of) Family
After the family bonding episode “Bad Boys,” we haven’t really seen our Winchesters interact in a positive way. They’re working together, sure, but they’re Grand Canyons apart, emotionally speaking. Yet a majority of the MotW episodes this season have put emphasis on family and relationships, and this week’s is no different. Jody and Annie’s relationship proved the importance of having someone in your life you can rely on, and the vampiric family was a not-so-subtle metaphor for the toxic, soul-sucking codependency that the Winchesters currently dance around in.
In the grand scheme of things, all we want is for the brothers to realize that while they’ll never be a “Leave it to Beaver” family, they can check some of this codependency at the door.
The Monster Gray Area
Since season 2’s “Roadkill,” the brothers have repeatedly encountered “monsters” who don’t fit into their definition of evil. Kate from “Bitten” is another such example, and last night’s family of vamps, while a little too homicidal to be allowed to live, were a close-knit group who seemed to genuinely care for Alex. Annie. Whatever. One of the great things about the MotW episodes is that they address the Winchester’s work ethic. It’s life or death for the boys, and how do you decide who lives and who dies?
With Dean’s growing rage, he may just become one of the monsters that they’ve been trained to kill.
“I Did What I Had To”
We’ve heard this phrase a lot this season, and Jody and Alex/Ann’s discussion about choices and consequences rings the truth bell right in our hunter ears. By allowing Gadreel to possess Sam, Dean did what he had to to save his brother, but now he’s not really paying up to the consequences (see: last week’s thoughts on why he’s not hunting down Metatron). Sam, on the other hand, is distancing himself from Dean because he feels like that’s what he has to do to break away from the cycle of codependency. Sam isn’t thinking long-term, about how a divided Winchester duo is weaker than a united one. This season finale is coming, and I have a gut feeling that some Winchesters (adopted or otherwise) may not make it out alive.
But let’s leave the Russian Roulette for SPN characters for another week and praise Chuck that Jody Mills survived.
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