Supernatural

Classic ‘Supernatural’ is back with American Nightmare

Classic ‘Supernatural’ is back with American Nightmare

Classic 'Supernatural' is back with American Nightmare 2016 images

This week’s episode was like a return to old school, classic Supernatural – and I am SO on board with that!  I watched the episode while at a Supernatural convention in New Jersey with a fellow fangirl, which meant a lot of shared exclamations during the ‘THEN’ opening.

Me: OMG psychic kids!

Both of us: OMG baby Sammy with bangs!

Then the episode went very dark very fast, which should surprise no one who’s ever watched Supernatural. Some poor woman gets flayed alive by an invisible force in front of a horrified priest and churchgoers and once again I’m a little queasy. Supernatural has been even more graphic than usual this season, and I think I flinched every time a new gash opened up on her back. OUCH.

Supernatural is also a rollercoaster of emotions, and this episode was no exception. I was still queasy when Sam and Dean strolled into the church dressed as priests, and suddenly I felt a whole lot better. Like, a WHOLE lot better. There’s a reason Priest Sam and Dean make frequent appearances in fanfiction, after all.

superantural american nightmare sam dean winchester priests 2016

Also? They look just as hot as they did as priests in Season 1. I approve of this as a recurring disguise.

Dean is grumpy, but I find it hard to care as long as he’s looking like that. He also pauses to look longingly at a mother and son, letting us know that Dean is still pining for his own mother (not that any of us needed that reminder).

We got a brief moment of humor as Dean calls Cas and finds out that he and Crowley are searching for Lucifer together.

Dean: One’s an angel, one’s a demon, and together they solve crimes…

It really does sound like the tagline of a questionable sitcom.

Almost immediately, we’re back at heartbreak though, as Dean texts his mother.  Is it weird to call you mom? Should I call you Mary?

Oh, Dean. How can you break my heart on such a regular basis for eleven plus years? OUCH.

He scoffs at himself, pushing the emotions down as only Dean Winchester can, and berating himself for being “a 13-year-old girl.”  All that emotional repression makes him grumpier than ever, as he boggles at Sam being a Vince Vincente fan and unceremoniously kicks the morgue attendant out so they can examine the flayed alive woman’s corpse.

Sam has noticed, of course, he has. He asks Dean if he’s okay, pointing out that he’s cranky.

Dean, still working the emotional repression and denial like a master, cuts his brother off mid-sentence. And later, tries to make sure Sam won’t bring it up again.

supernatural william macdonald american nightmare movie tv tech geeks

Dean: Maybe we should focus more on the case and less on the Dr. Phil crap.

Poor Sam. He’s got a lot of patience.

Next Sam and Dean visit Child Protective Services, where the flayed woman worked, which means we get them in their very attractive FBI suits. Dean is immediately put off by Beth, who now has Olivia’s job and is also a Wiccan. Definitely not a plus in Dean’s book. She cements his negative impression even more by commenting that working for CPS gains you enemies.

Beth: Sometimes what’s best for a family is to split them up.

Uh oh. That’s just about the worst thing you can say to Dean Winchester. He’s been struggling to keep his family together his whole life, and his own mother just refused to go along with the program. Wrong move, Beth.

The Winchesters find out about the ‘weird creepy Children of the Corn’ family who were one of Olivia’s clients and that they let their daughter Magda die of pneumonia rather than let her be treated.  Even though Dean is pretty much convinced already that Beth is responsible for Olivia’s death, Sam and Dean head out to the family’s farm.

Meanwhile, another hapless person is flayed alive; this time combined with some great music. I loved the music score this week, which didn’t have any of the silly “hey look, this is funny” instrumentals that I loathe.

Another wardrobe-induced shift from nauseous to OHHHHHH as the Winchesters get out of the Impala in form-fitting sweaters and slacks that seem tailor made to show off Sam and Dean’s … well, forms. Kudos, wardrobe.

As they walk to the farm, Sam tries again to bring up Dean’s emotional state, but Dean’s still defensive.

Dean: She bailed on us.

Sam: Think how she feels. We’ve both been there and needed time apart.

Dean: (resolute) And we both came back.

That right there is so important to Dean, and it actually suggests a lot of progress. For many years, he didn’t trust Sam to come back, never feeling secure about it. The fact that he can say that without any hesitation tells me that he believes it now – he trusts Sam to always come back. That’s a big deal, and I got a little emotional myself hearing it.

He’s not convinced about Mary, though.

Dean: She has zero interest in keeping this family together.

Sam: Sometimes families do better with a little time apart.

Dean: Who, the Mansons?

It seems like he’s refusing to hear Sam at all, but if you really think that, you don’t know the Winchesters. He’s listening all right. He always listens to Sam.

The creepy family doesn’t want trespassers, which they announce with a big sign on the closed gate. Dean gamely hurls himself over it, albeit awkwardly. Sam rolls his eyes (I’m sure of this although we can’t see it) and calmly goes around it.  Jensen is fabulous at pratfalls, and this one made me chuckle. It had all the earmarks of a not-scripted moment, which are always some of my favorites. And yes, turns out this one wasn’t scripted – it was a director suggestion, and Jensen went for it. They cut some of Dean’s reaction though, when he gave a look like “really, Sam?”  I enjoy those little moments so much.

Creepy family is creepy, sure enough.

Very creepy woman: Do you know God?

Dean: Oh yeah. We’re besties.

Dean helps the dad and the brother, who seem slightly less creepy than the mom, fix a wagon. The dad says a few things that push Dean’s buttons in a predictable way, saying “the things we do for family”. So , of course, ean kinda likes him – he’s saying the opposite of what Beth from CPS says, and it plays right into what Dean wants to hear right now. That blinds him a little bit to just how creepy the vibe I’m getting from this family is.

Sam, on the other hand, gets to have a one on one with creepy mom who let her daughter die. That’s one of Sam’s buttons right there – letting a helpless child die is not okay in Sam Winchester’s book. And he tells her so.

Sam: And your daughter? Was that God’s plan?

Sam is SO pissed, and that’s a version of Sam Winchester that I love.

Sam: God doesn’t care what kind of life you live, believe me.

(I love that he actually knows this!)

Sam and Dean’s disparate views on the situation, and the fact that both of their buttons got pushed in such different ways, put them on opposite sides of the case. I don’t think that’s happened very much, at least not this overtly. They argue over whether it’s Beth the witch or the creepy family, and Sam goes off with an EMF meter and Dean with his gun cocked.

“Fine, we’ll see who’s right!”

Sibling rivalry was definitely coloring that little argument.

sam dean winchester woods superantural american nightmare

Dean goes off to confront Beth, and Sam investigates the creepy family, which leads to some really scary and really disturbing scenes. I was so worried Sam would be found when he was hiding in the barn, and then my stomach was upset all over again when we find out what’s really happened to Magda.

Me: (possibly screaming in my hotel room) OMG it’s going all Carrie!!!

And it really was. The creepy mom is almost as terrifying as the mom in that classic film, and I felt as horrified as Sam did looking through the window. Jared showed us so much of Sam’s anguish without any words – he’s a special child himself, has always felt different and has suffered for it. Has punished himself for it even in the past. I think he empathizes a great deal with Magda as her mother guilts her into flaying herself horrifically.

Meanwhile, Dean goes to question Beth with his gun at the ready and I’m reminded that Dean Winchester is effing SCARY as hell when he wants to be. He’s also smart though, and he asks the right questions – and soon figures out that it’s not Beth after all.

As stubborn as Dean Winchester is, he can admit when he was wrong. He calls Sam (who has conveniently had no service for much of this time out on the farm) and admits that Sam was right. At that moment, Sam gets caught and is knocked out, with Dean yelling “Sammy!” into the phone and making my heart clench.

Sam wakes up some time later chained up with Magda, and tries to convince her that she’s not evil – and not the devil. I kinda love that he can tell her this from experience! Sam has so much empathy for her – he’s been there, misunderstood and terrified of his own power, that it having it might make his own brother think he’s a freak. No wonder he’s so determined to save Magda.

Like Dean, Sam has come a long way, though.

Sam: It didn’t make me evil. It just made me who I am.

gig morton elijah with jared padalecki supernatural 2016

It took him a long time to believe that, but he does now. I really love the subtle way this episode showed us such important things about the brothers, without beating us over the head with it. That’s good writing and I really appreciate it. Welcome to Supernatural, Davy Perez!

Sam is subjected to the most disturbing supper scene ever, as the crazy creepy mom tries to justify their treatment of Magda.

Crazy lady: Pain purges sin.

Sam: (who knows a thing or two about that subject): No. It doesn’t.

I had a very bad feeling about that bowl of stew long before the dad took a bite and keeled over after frothing at the mouth dramatically, and started screaming Noooooooo at the son when the mother tried to get him to eat it too. Magda intercedes with a good use of her psychic powers, but crazy lady has a big knife at the ready and stabs her son just like that. Sam convinces Magda to spare her mother, proving to us (and to him) that she can and will control her powers.

Rat Hell indeed.

I didn’t notice this on first viewing, but where the hell was Dean during all this? Was the Child Protective Services Office located three states away? Did Dean decide to take the scenic route?  Hmmm. Even Jensen couldn’t answer that one.

After a commercial break, it’s day light and they’re taking the crazy mom away and loading Magda into an ambulance. Dean has finally appeared after his exceedingly long drive.  Beth gives Dean her number, clueless of the fact that he was dead set on shooting her yesterday, and Sam gives Magda a pep talk. She lays her head on his shoulder, and that makes me like her very much. Which is always a very very bad thing with Supernatural.

Sam: You can do this. The power, it doesn’t control you. You control it.

Another important insight. Sam knows this now – about himself.

Beth lets them know that Magda will go to live with her aunt, on a big ranch with a lot of space.

Dean: (not looking at Sam) That’s great. Sometimes to figure things out, a person needs space.

Sam: (glances at Dean, who kinda sorta maybe not really glances back)

That’s the way the Winchesters tell each other the important things, and in the hotel room my friend and I are smiling because we damn well know it.

And then we’re treated to a Winchester across-the-hood-of-the-Impala talk, which is one of my favorite things in the entire universe.

Sam: Did you mean what you said back there?

Dean: Yeah, you were right. This whole mom thing…we just got her back and then she leaves. I hate it. But I get it. I guess I need to do some working through of that crap. I’ll try to be less of a dick about it.

Sam: Deal.

Me and my friend: (are beaming)

Winchesters talking to each other! All is right with the world!

Dean’s phone buzzes and he looks down to find a text from Mary letting him know that her phone died and she didn’t have a charger, and that’s why she hadn’t returned his text.

I’ll always be MOM. Tell Sam I love you boys.

Me and my friend: (are scrambling for the tissues)

The Impala drives off with her boys and once again, all is right with the world.

Except the episode is not over.

Crap.

Magda gets off the bus at a rest stop and I start screaming NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO before she has even walked into the restroom. BOOM. The mysterious man on the motorcycle who’s been tailing the Winchesters shoots her dead and leaves me open mouthed.

So this is Mr. Ketch?  I could not hate the British Men of Letters more.

Did I say I loved that this show is a rollercoaster? OUCH.

On the other hand, this is what Supernatural is about. There were a hundred times in the early seasons when an episode ended and the internet exploded with “Damn you, Kripke!”  Then we all counted the days until the next one.

Four, three, two…

EDITORS NOTE:

We had five interviews just from this Supernatural episode so any of the links in this article are for the interviews associated. The writer Davy Perez did a great episode breakdown too.

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@FangasmSPN

Lynn Zubernis PhD is a psychologist, a university professor, and a passionate Supernatural fan. She's the co-author of 'Fangasm Supernatural Fangirls' and her new book 'Family Don't End With Blood: Cast and Fans on How Supernatural Changed Lives' comes out next May. Her site is: fangasmthebook.wordpress.com

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