My review of last week’s Supernatural isn’t exactly what it would have been if I’d written it right away. That’s because the world of every Supernatural fan careened off its axis on Friday when it was announced that the Show would end after one more season. Most of us have been very emotional since, and when I went back to re-watch this episode, it was through a very different lens. A lens that has me wanting to cherish every last second of the Winchesters and company that I can get before this wild ride is all over. This may not have been one of my favorite episodes, but it gave me Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) on a hunt and an emotional story with Jack, and I’m feeling grateful.
‘Don’t Go Into The Woods’ was written by first-time writer Nick Vaught and Davy Perez, both of whom are avid horror fans, so we knew this episode would be heavy on the horror tropes. It started off like so many horror films do, with a young couple making out in the woods and hearing spooky noises. Which, for some inexplicable reason, they always think is the wind. When does the wind sound like that?? Instead of a monster rapping on the car window, we get the horror trope curve ball, since it’s the boy’s gruff dad – who’s also the town sheriff because of course he is. The young woman decides to give them space and go off to the bathroom, which is a shack in the middle of the woods and OMG WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT YOUNG WOMAN??? Even if it wasn’t scary as hell I wouldn’t sit down on the toilet seat like she does, btw. But she does, and the eerie whistling starts, and then we see the deformed clawed hand reach over the stall door. Cue screams!
That scene was nicely done, scary and disgusting and we didn’t get to see the monster which is always scarier anyway.
Cut to the bunker, where Sam is researching and starting to feel maybe a little bit better, though it’s clear the guilt over the AU hunters being killed is still there. Dean walks in to find Sam hunched over the laptop, and I get unexpectedly emotional because that’s such an iconic Winchester scene and SHIT we’ll only have 24 more episodes to get more of those! Where are my tissues?
Dean: Whatcha looking at? Porn? Sex tapes? Nip slips?
Sam: The internet is more than just naked people, you know that, right?
Dean: Not my internet.
Iconic Winchesters. I smile through my tears.
Sam shares the case and offers to go get Cas (Misha Collins), but Dean explains that Cas left that morning, feeling too cooped up and needing to stretch his legs. Sam asks about taking Jack, but Dean says no, that he’s gotten them in trouble before with his powers and he just got them back. Much to Sam’s disagreement, Dean doesn’t tell Jack the truth though, instead making up a fairly lame story about Jack needing to be there in case Mary comes by (why?) and them needing him to go on a supply run.
Jack, still trying his new strategy of not worrying Sam and Dean, agrees to do the supply run.
Me: Wait, so you think he’ll be less likely to get into trouble going into town ALONE??
But this is a horror movie, so I guess the bad decision fits, and we all know that what’s coming can’t be good.
Jack looks so eager to please as he says “I’ll do it” and it breaks my heart.
Winchesters in FBI coats and fed suits, and once again I’m hit by a wave of anticipatory nostalgia that I have to swallow down. The Sheriff (Adam Reuben Beech) isn’t nearly as moved as I am, not exactly wanting them there but reluctantly allowing them to examine the body of the murdered young woman.
This scene is also scarier than these scenes usually are on Supernatural, because as soon as they pull out the drawer, her arm falls off the side and hits Dean, who jumps back like he’s been electrocuted. Sam makes a face, incredulous.
Dean insists he has cat-like reflexes, can’t help it.
Me: Ohgod, I can’t lose them, this is painful…
Also, the body is seriously scary because her eyes are OPEN. *shudders* Nice work, someone.
The sheriff, meanwhile, lies to his son about what killed his girlfriend. The son is eaten up with guilt, much like someone else we know. Another couple of clueless kids hike into the woods and this time the guy gets killed, which prompts the sheriff to close the woods and bar everyone from them, including Sam and Dean.
Dean: We should probably do what he says.
Sam: Oh yeah, definitely.
So, of course, they head into the woods as soon as it gets dark. Love me some Winchesters.
The Sheriff surprises them and gets them at gunpoint, but Dean quickly overpowers him and turns the tables.
The Winchesters sense that he knows more than he’s saying, so they let him know who they really are and give him his gun back and ask for his help. The Sheriff tells them more about the Kojunta they’re hunting, which is a really morbid and gruesome story about a young settler whose family was starving to death – so he took extreme measures.
Dean: Like Donner party?
Me: That’s right, damn it, Dean is smart!
The Sheriff’s tribe cursed the young man to be a Kojunta, to wander the forest endlessly hungry.
Sam and Dean explain that they hunt these sort of things.
Dean: We kill them.
Sheriff: Just the two of you?
Dean: We know what we’re doing.
Me: That’s the story, right there. Oh god, where are my tissues?
The Sheriff says they should tell people what’s out there, make youtube videos or something, but the Winchesters shake their heads.
Dean: Knowing about monsters and fighting them are two different things.
Sam: No. People die. Even when they know how to fight, people die.
Oh Sam. Still so guilty.
The Sheriff’s son, also consumed with guilt, goes after the monster, and the Winchesters and the Sheriff go after Tom.
The Sheriff fills in the missing information – you can kill a Kojunta with a silver blade to the heart.
Sam: (pulling out a silver blade) Silver blade? Can do.
Me: (fans self) Competence kink, let me show you it.
We get wet boys in the dark in the rain in the woods running with flashlights. The monster tackles Tom in the old cabin, but his dad arrives in time to distract it and it attacks him instead. That gives Dean time to pick up Tom (in one easy motion, swinging him into a fireman’s hold, and is it hot in here?). Sam shows up and shoots the monster a few times, until it drops the Sheriff and attacks poor Sam instead, but Dean comes back and grabs its attention away from Sam.
Dean: Come on!
He lures it out the door, where the Sheriff is waiting to impale it with the silver blade. The monster melts into a disgusting pile of goo just as Sam staggers out the door, slightly the worse for wear but okay.
Dean: Whoa. Like full on Raiders.
The Sheriff checks on his son, and calls back, “He’s alive.”
Sam and Dean share a loaded look, then nod to each other. It’s all they need to say a lot of things. Job well done. We needed a win. Saving people, hunting things. The family business.
Me: Ohgod, I need another box of tissues…
Meanwhile, Jack goes into town and predictably gets himself in trouble. He runs into the three high school students we met in “Lebanon”.
Stacy and Max are continuing their romance and Eliot is obsessed with Sam and Dean and currently watching episodes of The Ghostfacers. They befriend Jack, who absolutely eats up their interest and tries to show off what he knows. He’s like every young teenager who desperately wants other kids to like him, and is willing to do whatever it takes to try to seem cool, and it breaks my heart. Oddly, the teenage clerks are allowed to sell him beer, but when they ask for ID, Jack looks perplexed.
Nevertheless, the kids invite him to hang out with them later.
Max: Do you ever hang out?
Jack: We have movie nights….Dean usually picks…
Me: Family movie night OMG. Where are my tissues??
Jack joins them at a remote cabin later that day, bringing some of the Winchesters’ books on monsters and demons. Max and Stacy flirt and part of me thinks aww that’s cute and part of me keeps wondering what the CW is doing with these kids and if they think we’ll just accept them as a replacement for Wayward Sisters. Except we don’t know or care about them so pretty sure the answer is an across the board no. Or perhaps the network just thinks the cast is too old and they need actual teenagers, which again, NO.
Jack: What’s that noise? (contemporary music playing)
Jack shares that Dean says that only classic music like The Who is any good (doesn’t suck ass) and Max snorts.
Max: That’s because Dean is also old.
That actually doesn’t do anything to make me like these kids, to be honest.
Jack wants desperately to impress his new friends, so he shows them an angel blade and tries to throw it properly. After repeatedly failing and feeling ridiculed, Jack is frustrated.
He finally taps into his powers and embeds it into the fence. When the kids respond with oooh and aahhh he’s thrilled, showing off by making the blade fly through the air in circles, faster and faster.
Eliot: (in awe) Are you a Jedi?
Jack: (so proud) Kinda.
Me: Uh oh. Oh Jack…
Of course, the kids become frightened and tell Jack to stop, but he’s beyond listening, lost in the heady thrill of being able to impress someone.
For some inexplicable reason, Stacy steps forward right into the line of the flying blade (to stop him? I don’t know) and gets stabbed right in the chest. She falls to the ground with a tearful Max leaning over her and begging her not to leave her.
Jack is devastated. Desperate to make it right, he manages to heal her, but the frightened kids still tell him to stay away. They walk away, leaving Jack alone and heartbroken.
My own heart broke for him too, and sunk at the realization that the Show really does seem to be sending him down the path to going darkside in some way. I’ve really liked the character of Jack, so that realization hit me hard and made me even sadder than I already was – and that’s really saying something!
Having finished their hunt back in story line number one, Sam and Dean have a talk with the Sheriff as his son is taken to the hospital, advising him to tell Tom the truth.
Sam: How about the truth? He’s your son, he deserves the truth.
Clearly Sam isn’t just talking about Tom.
On the way home in the Impala, Sam tells Dean that he’s not sure Dean lying to Jack was the right thing to do.
Dean protests: He said he was fine.
Sam: And how many times did we tell Dad we were fine just to make him happy?
Dean has no answer to that, and the glimpse of their difficult childhood makes me emotional all over again. Remember the 300th episode just a few weeks ago when we were all so happy?
They do tell Jack the truth when they get back to the bunker.
Dean: We were trying to be nice. Because we care about you. But because we care about you, you deserve the truth.
I love Sam and Dean in Dad mode.
Jack reports that he got the supplies, except for the beer.
Jack: I didn’t have ID.
Dean: You have tons of IDs!
Jack: They’re fake.
Dean: (is incredulous)
Sam just laughs fondly.
It would be a touching family moment, except Jack doesn’t tell them about the incident with the kids, just calmly promises them that he won’t use his powers without permission. Dean heads out to get the beer, and Sam sits with Jack.
Sam: So anything else happen?
Jack: No. Nothing.
Oh Jack. You really are a Winchester now.
It’s an ominous ending once again. I found that I liked the episode more on second watch. On first watch I was impatient with its slow pace, and with the focus on the teenagers. On second watch, I appreciated the emotion of both story lines more – and like I said, I just feel incredibly grateful to still have Sam and Dean on my TV screen.
Someone on social media pointed out a parallel that hadn’t struck me, but as soon as it did, it made me emotional all over again.
Supernatural Season 1: A less confident brotherly duo, on unsteady footing with each other, struggling with emotional baggage, go into the woods to kill a monster bent on eating human flesh. (Wendigo)
Supernatural Season 14: A confident brotherly duo, on steady footing with each other despite the emotional baggage, do the same.
Both with a guy named Tommy as a main character. That parallel may or may not be intentional, but it almost serves as a metaphor for how the show and the brothers have evolved. Also, fandom is brilliant, and I love this damn Show.
Four more episodes of this Supernatural season, and then we’ll go through the very last hiatus (hellatus) that the show will ever have. It will be a year of lasts, and I’m already thinking of buying stock in Kleenex.