The fifth episode of “The Winchesters” starts with an unlucky councilman having terrifying nightmares he can’t wake up from, waking up from one into another into another until he finally wakes for real only to fall to the floor screaming and holding his head. Ouch.
And then, we’re at the Winchesters Garage…
Dean Winchester words of wisdom for the day:
Spending a lifetime hunting monsters takes its toll. There comes a time when you gotta let out that pain inside you. If you don’t it’ll eat you alive.
Well, Dean Winchester should know. But easier said than done for most of the characters on OG “Supernatural” and this prequel!
The episode is mostly about our merry band of young hunters trying to figure out who’s turning people’s brains to mush (surprise, it’s the Akrida), but the more personal story running parallel is John and Mary trying to figure out if they like each other and if they have the courage to talk about it if they do. John’s working on a motorcycle that Millie bought Henry for his birthday – and then he left two weeks later.
John offers to teach Mary the ropes, which she pretends to go along with until he realizes she already knows, taught by her parents so she “wouldn’t be faced with a starter that won’t catch while escaping a pack of werewolves.”
John says she could work at the garage after she leaves hunting, but Mary confides that she may leave Lawrence too when she leaves hunting, which John doesn’t take all that well – but doesn’t say anything. Millie is glad John’s taking a little break and spending time with Mary, though he insists it’s “not like that” with Mary.
Then Mary finds the councilman’s case in the newspaper (which I love that it’s always in the actual newspaper) and they head to the ‘Clubhouse’ (which I hate because it makes them sound too much like kids playing at something instead of hunters). Anyway, they read about the poor guy who died in the opener, of a massive brain trauma that came from the inside and turned his brain to mush.
They go undercover as supporters of the councilman, whose secretary tells them he’d changed in the last month – very angry, not eating, nightmares. Drake Rodger looks oddly good in a should-not-be-attractive short-sleeved mock turtleneck, which is quite an accomplishment. Lata thinks it sounds like a djinn, so the team goes to check out abandoned warehouses in their 70s bell bottoms (except John damn it).
They do indeed find a djinn who easily outruns them with some impressive acrobatics, which was a very cool scene, and Lata realizes that Ada knows him.
Lata: Ada, who is he?
Ada: He’s my son.
I was spoiled for that reveal, but otherwise I think I would have been quite shocked!
Apparently, her son Tony is half djinn. Ada tells the story she’d kept hidden: She fell in love with a djinn named Ali who thought he could use his powers for good, but eventually his hunger to feed took over and he was found by hunters and killed. She was determined to save her baby and hoped he wouldn’t inherit his father’s urges or powers, so she hid the truth.
When he was seventeen, the djinn marks started to show, and then he walked into her dream and saw that she was terrified of him, and he ran before she could explain anything. Poor Ada – though I’m not sure why she didn’t tell him as soon as the djinn marks started to appear. Denial, I suppose. Fear.
John is unmoved by Ada’s story, clinging to the good old ‘he’s a monster and we have to hunt him’ thing. Ada says Tony will come back to get his father’s necklace that he left behind and pleads for a chance to talk to him first.
John still looks skeptical, but Lata reminds Ada that her son is only half djinn, and Carlos offers to stay there with her in case he comes back, sending John with Mary to the police station. They have some awkward car conversation about relationships, which is clearly about their relationship, but no one wants to say that out loud.
John has a better idea, bringing lunch to officer and ex-fiance Betty to ask her questions. He finds her painting in the backyard – a painting of St. Miguel that was her mother’s, patron saint of law enforcement. (Also known as Michael?? That’s a “Supernatural” relevant painting for sure.) She tells him she thinks the councilman’s death is suspicious too, and that there were two other victims.
John leaves and if I were Betty I’d be like, huh? He came over here for literally 2 minutes to bring me a French dip sandwich??
Mary calls John Soldier Boy again as he walks back to the car, and it will never fail to be amusing because of The Boys. They have a half tension-filled and half flirty banter, John accusing Mary of being not very easy to talk to and Mary insisting that’s not true.
Ada and Carlos wait for Tony to return, and Ada confides that she feels she failed Tony.
Carlos says she did the best she could in an impossible situation.
Tony visits Ada in a dream (though neither she nor we know it’s a dream at first), saying he’s angry, insisting he hasn’t hurt anyone and upset that his mother is scared of him and doesn’t believe him. He’s hurt that she didn’t tell him the truth and that he had to leap from dream to dream not knowing how to control it, seeing too much suffering and loneliness.
It struck me because I’d just finished preparing a lecture on therapist burnout and compassion fatigue, which is essentially what Tony is talking about here. I really hope the character recurs!
Anyway, Tony says he refused to feed at first, and that now he’s helping people in their dreams, feeding just enough to get by and only giving a guy a headache as a result. He also says that he started hearing a sound in his head recently and was drawn to Lawrence and that there was already another monster inside the councilman’s mind that was controlling him – Tony tried to help.
Tony: It was like a giant bug. And if you and your hunter friends really want to do some good, go find Derek Fisher, because the monster in control said he’s their next victim.
I’m rooting for Tony tbh.
When Ada tries to touch his face, she realizes he’s not really there; he doesn’t trust her that much.
Lata corroborates Tony’s story with the x-ray of the councilman’s brain, showing three stinger holes and ewww. The Akrida are literally giant bugs and that’s…weird.
Mary lets Ada know that Lata confirmed Tony’s story. (Ada is a plant person and no wonder I like her so much). Look at that beautiful set!
She feels guilty that she saw Tony as just like his father and now is worried she’ll never see him again and get a chance to do it differently. Mary asks about Ada and Ali – would she follow her heart again if she had the chance, even if she was scared? She says yes, it’s just part of falling in love, and of course, we all know Mary’s talking about her and John, though we haven’t seen much in the way of sparks between them yet. John overhears but walks away.
They go after Derek, pretending to be building inspectors, and JoJo Fleites gets a chance to show off his comedic chops. They surprise Derek, who understandably asks who the heck they are.
Carlos: Building inspectors.
Carlos: College building inspectors…this is our first building.
I laughed out loud. He tells Derek it’s not up to code.
Derek: I know it’s not up to code, I was hired to fix that.
And then the Akrida turns up, looking like a B-movie giant bug that I can see wayyyyy too clearly, and they all run away as it almost gets them.
Derek: What the hell was that thing?
Mary gets knocked down and collapses, apparently not unscathed after all, and John sees the telltale wounds on her neck that says the Akrida got to her instead. Uh oh. Mary asks them to tie her up, saying she doesn’t want to hurt them. Carlos does, trying to use a little humor again.
Carlos: Hey, you got a safe word?
Lata: We need a supernatural brain surgeon.
Ada: Like Tony…
Carlos urges her to just tell her son the truth, and Ada goes after Tony, finding him on the bus out of town. She apologizes to him, saying she was wrong for not believing in him. He doesn’t exactly forgive her, but he comes back with her and tries to help save Mary.
Tony: Our nightmares are rooted in trauma, they take shape in our darkest memories. Mine are about turning into my dad. The Akrida hide their stingers in the place the person’s deepest darkest fears exist.
This show is doing a bang-up job of creating monsters who get inside its characters’ minds as a way of getting us inside those characters’ minds, gotta say.
But Tony needs a volunteer to go in, someone she feels connected to. Of course, it’s John.
Tony says he’ll immediately be in Mary’s mind, so “Someone’s gonna need to help John.”
Lata: Help him with what?
Carlos: On it. (punches him in the face)
Much like Sam punching Dean to knock him out to go into Charlie’s memories to get her out. This episode also reminds me of “Supernatural’s” Dream A Little Dream of Me, Sam and Dean taking dream root and ending up inside each other’s dreams reluctantly too.
John successfully ends up in Mary’s mind, where she’s stuck in a bad dream. They’re in Mary’s house, with a lot of smoke and eerie music.
A locked door is probably the place she needs to go, John figures, saying she can’t fight her trauma but she can face it.
Inside is young Mary and someone she killed, who was just a kid himself, part of a werewolf pack her family hunted. Mary gets a chance to comfort her younger self, distraught because the boy changed back into human form.
It’s definitely a trauma, but apparently not the core trauma that Mary doesn’t want to face – poor Mary has really been having a run of having to face her own traumas recently. If I were her, I’d be trying to keep everyone else the hell out of my brain at this point!
They try another room, Mary reluctant to face it, John there to convince her. She’s convinced fairly quickly; he kicks in the door and little girl Mary lies in bed, looking scared.
Mary explains that unlike John’s parents and most other kids’ parents, her parents told her that the monsters she was afraid of were real, and that one day it would be her job to kill them. This is the night they told her that, as she hides a knife under her pillow. Mary punches a hole in the wall, angry. (I actually thought she was looking for the Akrida spikes because she didn’t seem angry until that moment).
Mary: I was five, John. Five! Every door to every other future closed that night forever.
John empathizes and validates but reminds her that the doors aren’t closed forever. Asks, what would you have wanted to hear, when you were five?
John is a pretty good therapist because that’s a common question if your adult self is going to try to console that wounded child self.
Mary tells her younger self it’s okay to be scared, that you can’t be brave if you’re never scared. And that eventually, it will be okay, that she’ll find a way to open all those doors that were closed for her that night. Her younger self shows her the talons, and she plunges the knife in and comes back to reality. That was definitely easier than I thought!
Mary to John (still holding his hand): Thank you.
Me: Someone should thank Tony! (who looks exhausted and drained from the process)
Mary thanks John for being there with her, and John tells her that she probably should leave Lawrence, that she deserves that fresh start – and that he’ll give her the bike, so she can go anywhere she wants, just like she always dreamed of.
The supernatural monsters they’ve encountered in the last few episodes have really given John a lot of insight into Mary’s childhood traumas – much more than most of us would know about someone we just met a short while ago. He clearly empathizes, trying to do the right thing by encouraging her to get out. Mary’s ambivalence about all of it – including John – is also clear.
Lata and Tony have a bit of a connection starting up, and Tony gives them a little more intel on the Akrida – that they’re talking about collecting an essence from the remains of rare monsters.
Lata: So we’ve also been doing the Akrida’s dirty work…
Ada gives Tony a ride, and he asks Lata if he can write to her, and the two of them are kinda adorable. I really hope we see more of Tony – possibly in part because he looks a lot like my son, so I may think he’s extra adorable, but also because he’s such an interesting character as part human and part “monster.”
I mean, look at them!
While John was helping Mary face her childhood trauma, Carlos and Lata have figured out the Akrida are hanging out near a radio tower and that would be a good way to send out a signal to lure rare monsters there. Back at the clubhouse, they go over blueprints and broadcast licenses and find Roxanne as the common denominator.
Carlos: You thinkin’ what I’m thinkin’?
Me: What I’m thinking is that Carlos’ outfit is freaking amazing.
Nina Simone’s “Put A Spell on You” starts to play as we see Roxanne spinning the record. Her assistant says the young hunters are gonna be a problem, but Roxanne isn’t worried. She shooes him away and lets the music play, unconcerned.
I really liked some parts of this episode, particularly the Tony and Ada story line, and the introduction of Tony as a hopefully recurring character. I always enjoyed the episodes of “Supernatural” that looked at the world of ‘monsters’ as nuanced and shades of gray instead of black and white, and watching Sam and Dean struggle with that (with John still being pretty black and white at that point, I think, and passing a lot of that viewpoint on to Dean at least at first). I’d enjoy seeing these young hunters wrestle with that too, and Tony would allow that.
I’m still not feeling as many sparks between John and Mary as I think I’m supposed to be, and the Akrida being literally giant bugs isn’t inspiring as much horror about them as I think I’m supposed to feel either. I’m ready to get out of poor Mary’s head too! (But it seems that the Campbells were arguably even worse at parenting than John Winchester eventually turned out to be, judging by terrified five-year-old Mary gripping her big knife instead of being able to go to sleep).
It feels like a big gap that we haven’t actually seen any of Mary’s family yet, and don’t have much understanding of who they were – I think I’d be more invested in her story if we did.
Let’s see what this week brings – a new episode of “The Winchesters” airs Tuesday on the CW with Art of Dying!