Two great episodes in a row, Season 13! I loved this week’s Supernatural episode for all the reasons that I love the Show itself. There is nothing more iconic Supernatural than one brother losing – and then saving — the other, and that’s exactly what happened in ‘The Thing’. There’s also nothing more iconic for this Show than the Winchesters being brothers, and we got that too – the balance between the humor and the emotional was exactly what I most love about this Show. Thank you, Davy Perez, for writing such an entertaining and satisfying episode.
The episode was chock full of protective Winchesters, which is my favorite flavor. Sometimes they were protecting a monster-god who was going to turn around and try to eat them, but that’s in keeping with the mistaken identity theme that Season 13 has had going from the start. This time it was Sandy Porter – well, the young woman who used to be Sandy Porter and is now the god Yokoth (Magda Apanowicz). I have to hand it to Yokoth, she played an alarmingly realistic version of woman-who’s-mysteriously-awakened-after-100-years. I suppose she was just biding her time until she figured out who to eat and who to breed with (Dean Winchester because of course it is) but she did a great job of it, looking all mystified and damsel-in-distressy. Sam and Dean, good guys that they are, totally fall for it.
After the opening scene in which Sandy is sacrificed to the tentacle monster by the creepy chanting robe wearing people (shout out to the VFX wizards who made a tentacle monster genuinely SCARY), Sam and Dean are in the bunker trying to find that elusive last ingredient so they can open a rift of their own and get Mom and Jack back. Sam, ever the diligent researcher, has fallen asleep on the table. So Dean, ever the considerate big brother, proceeds to affix derogatory post it notes all over his back.
Jensen Ackles is so good at the subtle facial expressions as Dean tries hard not to wake Sam up, shaking his head no no no when Sam stirs and then resuming his little game when he falls back to sleep. When Sam does wake up, Dean not so casually pretends he was doing absolutely nothing – Sam is clearly suspicious, because he knows his brother, but can’t find anything amiss.
The fact that Dean is playing this little game only for the benefit of the two of them somehow made it even more endearing. The reminder that no matter what else they’ve been through, Sam and Dean are still and always brothers, was so very welcomed.
The Winchesters check the MoL archives (which aren’t as gigantic and impressive as I expected, to be honest…) with Dean throwing up his hands and announcing sarcastically “I love books!”
He continues to tease Sam as they research, breaking up the monotony by acting like he found something only to say “Nothing” when Sam demands to know what he found. Oh Dean.
Sam heads back to his room eventually and finds the post it notes all over his back, and yells for Dean.
Sam: Are you serious?
Dean: Oh yeah, hilarious – I found it!
Smart!Dean kept on researching despite his protests about hating it, and now they know where to look for the Seal. (Dean can’t pronounce capitulum but come to think of it, how many of us can?) I don’t particularly like the bit that Show does where Dean can’t pronounce things, since we know he’s proficient with Latin, but in this case, I’ll let it slide. I did like his immediate “yeah” when Sam explains that it means chapter house, like he knew it all along. Also Dean may not be keen on sitting down and doing research all day, but he DOES read books – that’s canon. He’s proficient with Greek myths and nuanced readings of Vonnegut, after all.
Best part of that scene?
Dean’s triumphant “Jinkies!” and Sam’s bitch face in response.
Sam: You’re gonna stop saying that eventually, right?
Dean: I don’t know. Probably not.
I loved the call back to last week’s episode and the boys being so absolutely in character. Of COURSE, Dean would still be saying Jinkies!
The Winchesters drive to Rhode Island and find the ‘hidden’ entrance, which requires them to swing down through a manhole cover and drop a dozen feet or so into the underground bunker – which means we get some A+ gifs of Jared Padalecki and Jensen doing their own stunts. Like, really well. Competent Winchesters kink, check. This episode checked off a lot of boxes.
The interior shots in this other Men of Letters bunker are gorgeous, the lighting just right to set off our boys coming down the hallways with their flashlights. It all looks pretty familiar, except that the seal on the doors is a bit different, so there’s a mystery here for sure.
Dean notices some old photos, including one of Sandy Porter, and Sam finds the book about the Seal – and then someone is screaming for help and the boys are taking off down the hall. It’s in their blood to save people, and maybe that’s why they don’t think about it too hard when Dean realizes the woman chained to the alter is none other than Sandy Porter, who should be over a hundred years old but doesn’t look a day over 25.
They take Sandy to a back roads diner that is also an iconic Supernatural thing — unfortunately most of the time very bad things happen at these iconic diners on this Show. This time is no different. Dean is sweet, putting on the juke box for Sandy, and the brothers banter about their divergent food tastes.
Sam: I’m watching my cholesterol, and you should be too.
Dean: I’m watching my cholesterol….go up.
Meanwhile, we see that chef Marco is alarmed by Sam and Dean and Sandy, drugging Sam and Dean’s food — and his arm that has that odd MoL symbol as a tattoo. Uh oh.
An innocent young man who should probably have been wearing a red shirt expresses concern when he sees a bunch of creepy looking people in hooded robes surrounding the diner.
Guy: Hey, something weird’s going on….
The internet: That could be the description of every Supernatural episode ever…
Sam offers to go back to the other bunker, but Dean stops him.
Dean: No, I’m not letting you go back there by yourself!
It’s the first time in the episode that Dean goes into protective big brother mode, but it won’t be the last. Iconic Winchesters, check.
Before the Winchesters can investigate further, Sam passes out, much to Dean’s alarm.
Dean: Sam, hey hey…
That’s what the Winchesters say to each other when one of them is hurt and the other is worried, and the continuity and the familiarity of it brings tears to my eyes every time.
A fight breaks out and holy crap do we ever get badass Dean Winchester! With Sam out of commission and vulnerable, Dean takes on the whole group of them, kicking and punching and even grabbing a tray from the kitchen to bash one of them.
From the other room, Sam wakes up groggily and calls out for his brother.
Dean: (in the middle of the fight) Sammy!
If anything is iconic Supernatural, that is it right there.
The robed people manage to put a hood over Sam and take him away. Dean is saved by Sandy stabbing the guy he’s fighting with, and immediately runs out into the front of the diner calling for his brother.
He wastes no time trying to get Sam back. In fact, he starts building bombs.
Dean: They took my brother. I’m gonna get him back.
Yep, iconic Supernatural, 100%. I’m a happy fangirl.
The people who took Sam turn out to be Men of Letters legacies too, except that their grandfather went a little off the rails and decided to try to make over the world to be less violent by summoning a god from another dimension to start over. Which promptly ate him and anyone else nearby. Shockingly. So they shut the god up in the bunker and Marco (Carl Montoya) and his sister Ophelia (Tiffany Smith) have been keeping her locked up there ever since.
Poor Sam and Dean inadvertently let her out. Oops.
Marco and Ophelia: All she wants to do is eat….and breed.
Me: Oh I can see where this is going…
Meanwhile, back at the diner, the clueless red shirt kid is heroic and goes outside to investigate – and promptly gets eaten by Sandy with her tentacle tongue. Ewww.
Dean rushes outside when he hears the guy’s scream, and Sandy turns her tentacle tongue on him. Fade to black.
Sam and company return to the diner only to find it’s too late, Sandy has definitely eaten.
Waitress to Sam: Stringbean! You’re not dead!
Sam: Not yet. Where’s my brother??
Once again, iconic Supernatural. Don’t waste my time, I need to find my brother!
Marco and Ophelia: She got food in her belly….
They also get the unforgettable line “If she’s not feeding, she’s breeding….”
That explains why Dean’s body isn’t there with the other hapless patrons.
Cut to Dean chained to the altar.
Me: I think I read this fic…
Sandy complains to him that her mate was supposed to come through the rift with her but it closed before he could.
Dean: Oh my god that’s tragic…it’s like a Hallmark movie…with tentacles…
Only Dean Winchester is still a smartass chained to an altar by a god monster.
Sandy: I like you, Dean. You’re strong and I enjoy looking at your face.
Dean: You’re makin’ me blush…
Me: Gods on this show always have good taste.
Sandy/Yokoth informs Dean that because of those attractive attributes, he’ll be allowed to be the host for her mate – which Dean does not appreciate.
She does the spell and the rift opens, and down come the tentacles as Dean lays there bound and chained and honestly I’m pretty sure I’ve read this fic more than once and I have to wonder how much fanfiction Davy Perez has been enjoying. (Which is definitely not a criticism)
Dean is cagey enough to dodge the tentacle with the sucker on it because he’s Dean Winchester, and in bursts Sam to the rescue. Dean picks the lock, Ophelia recites the spell and Sandy’s mate is sucked back up through the rift, enveloping her and taking her back through with him. So I guess they can live happily ever after? Though perhaps hungrily since they apparently ate their way through most of that world.
Sam and Dean make meaningful eye contact.
Sam: (rushing toward his brother) Dean?
Dean sees Sam and manages a smile.
Dean: Glad you could make it.
Which is Winchester for thank Chuck you’re okay.
I love you Davy Perez for letting Dean Winchester utter the words “tentacle porn – not that there’s anything wrong with that” but I still want to know how much fanfic you’ve been reading. Also, don’t stop.
Ophelia hands over the Seal to them, warning them that the rift will only stay open for 24 hours.
The Winchesters return to the bunker, back to teasing each other but still a bit shaken up by the other being in peril.
Sam: You sure you’re all right?
Dean: For someone who was three seconds away from being an interdimensional booty call…
Like I said, fanfic.
What happens next ties together the two threads of the episode, the other one of which is Asmodeus, Ketch and Gabriel. Asmodeus (who makes my skin crawl, which I guess is how I’m supposed to feel but ewww) is out to mess with Ketch’s head, pulling a power play to put him in his place. He keeps calling Ketch to come and then making him wait, an insidious way of demonstrating his superiority – so well done it made my blood run cold. Meanwhile Asmodeus is forcibly (and painfully) extracting grace from poor Gabriel and shooting up with it, which explains why he’s so powerful. Richard Speight Jr. doesn’t have a single line in the episode, since Gabriel’s lips are sewn together, but he does an amazing job of conveying Gabriel’s terror and pain. He is so clearly traumatized, it’s in his eyes, in his constant flinches, in the little involuntary noises he makes. Richard does it so well it was painful to see, almost too realistic.
When Ketch gets past the demons who are distracted by cat videos and bursts in on Asmodeus, the power play accelerates into using force – as power plays so often do. Asmodeus beats Ketch up, which was terribly graphic and violent and disturbed me more than violence on this show usually does because it was couched in such a realistic scenario of abuse, and then taunts him, while Gabriel looks on.
Asmodeus: I own you. You get in line, boy.
This character is reprehensible, I’ll give you that, Show. Jeffrey Parise, you’re making me feel a little ill. Which I guess is a compliment.
He tells Ketch that he can see the fear and regret in his eyes, that he knows that Ketch secretly wants redemption – and that he’ll never have it
I’ve been expecting a redemption arc for Ketch, but I still don’t feel good about that. He did some truly unforgiveable things and I don’t think the Winchesters would forget about them. The whole Sam being tortured thing? I don’t think Dean could ever forgive that. I don’t think I can either. David Haydn-Jones does a good job here though, making Ketch a more sympathetic character than he has been in the past.
Asmodeus has pushed Ketch too far apparently; he decides to break out Gabriel, taking away Asmodeus’ drug of choice, and the two escape together – though Gabriel is clearly afraid to leave (also a disturbingly realistic abuse scenario). I did think it was a little odd that Asmodeus left a beaten up Ketch in there with Gabriel, almost an invitation to take him…. hmmm. If this is an Asmodeus plot to infiltrate the bunker, I guess we’ll find out in due time. He is a shape shifter, after all.
That brings us to the Winchesters, back at the bunker.
Sam: Now all we need is an archangel…
Enter Mr. Ketch – and Gabriel. The Winchesters pull their guns in sync.
Ketch: This is the only safe place I know.
And so he wants to stay there. (I mean, who can blame him??)
Sam says no, but Dean is quick to say yes – to anything that will get Mom and Jack back. Once again, Dean calls the shots and Sam goes along, but clearly not so comfortably. That was a bit of a role reversal, since it usually seems like Sam is the one to say we need to put the past aside, we need this, and Dean to say no way.
One of my favorite little moments is Sam removing the stitches from Gabriel’s mouth. He’s so gentle doing it, shows so much compassion. Even to the archangel that was responsible for killing his brother hundreds of times in Mystery Spot. Oh Sam, I do love you.
The last scene is masterful – like I said, exactly what Supernatural is all about. Dean wants to waste no time using the ingredients to open the rift, and that makes sense to me. Their mother could be on the verge of death – every minute counts. But when Sam says he’ll go get his things, Dean once again says no, that he’s going alone.
Ketch announces that he’s coming too, since he’d rather be not on this Earth so Asmodeus can find him.
Sam: Fine? So you want Ketch to go and not me?
Sam is so much the little brother there, so obviously hurt by what Dean said.
Dean: I don’t care if HE dies, hell I’m kinda rooting for it…. If something happens to me, I need you to come and save me and Mom.
Sam looks so stricken – he just almost lost his brother to a tentacle monster, and now Dean is heading back to the AU, back to certain danger.
Dean (softer): I know you don’t like this, I don’t expect you to. But this is the way it’s gonna be.
He says it with empathy, but also with finality. You can see Sam struggle – Jared shows us this brilliantly – and finally nod almost imperceptibly. Dean can read his brother, half nods back. There’s sadness and regret in his eyes – it’s clear he doesn’t want to leave Sam behind but he also doesn’t want to risk him – and then he heaves his pack over his shoulder and Sam does the spell.
Sam: Twenty-four hours.
Dean wordlessly clasps Sam on the shoulder, the look exchanged between them saying all they need to say to each other more clearly than words ever could, and then he steps through the rift with Ketch.
Sam and Gabriel stay behind, and the look on Sam’s face tells me that he’s every bit as worried as I am.
I was surprised at Dean’s decision to go through the rift alone, and at his insistence. I guess it makes sense that they couldn’t leave a traumatized archangel behind in the bunker alone (or with Ketch), and I definitely get the sense of urgency – it has annoyed me multiple times this season that they’re not like WE HAVE TO GET TO MOM NOW! But it still was difficult, even if I am a fan of Dean’s protectiveness when it comes to his little brother.
And of course, we all know that nothing good ever comes from the Winchesters being separated – looks like Castiel is going to be the voice of reason where that’s concerned next episode.
I sort of shook my head at the end because this episode felt like it was way closer to the season finale – like they were already ramping up to the big showdown, but it’s only episode 17! That probably means we are in for something very very epic (in fact I got to watch some filming a week or so ago and I can say that we are definitely in for something very very epic…) I am stocking up on tissues and wine and blankies and pie now!
Who’s with me??
Check out Supernatural 1318 Bring ’em Back Alive trailer above.