Last week’s episode of “The Winchesters” starts right off with the Dean Winchester narration.
Dean: Being a hunter means always being on the move. And no matter how hard you plan, no matter how hard you work, at a certain point we all run out of road. It’s what we do at those crossroads that define us.
The crossroads certainly defined Sam and Dean’s lives in multiple ways – literally, and at those points where a hard decision had to made, one that would impact other people too (or maybe even the whole world). Is Dean facing one of those decisions again?
Back to the story…
John shows up at the club house covered in blood, Mary asking in shock where he’s hurt. John echoes his eventual son (or is that really Sam echoing his dad….never mind…brain hurts…) in Born Under A Bad Sign, one of my favorite episodes.
John: It’s not my blood.
At least he doesn’t turn out to be possessed by a demon!
He is pretty traumatized by what happened to Kyle though, and feels extra guilty because he was a friend/one-time-date of Mary’s. Millie, of course, much like her eventual grandson Dean, believes her son no questions asked and helps him escape.
In a common horror trope (because it’s endlessly terrifying, playing on our very human need to be able to predict when there’s danger around us), there’s no way to know who the Akrida are controlling – which Lata suddenly remembers could be rectified by Maggie’s magic bracelet that can pinpoint anyone harboring a dark secret or “being a monster”! Why Lata didn’t think of this before and why Maggie kept it hidden is a mystery.
I mean, that could be handy, right? Carlos and Lata head off to search Maggie’s room for it, with a reminder to John from his meditation guru (aka Lata) not to forget to do his breathing exercises.
Lata later: He hasn’t meditated in weeks.
Fandom (and echoed by Drake Rodger on twitter): Most terrifying thing about this episode: John hasn’t meditated in weeks omg!
Mary to John (just as all Winchesters say when they’re in serious trouble): Hey, we’re gonna figure this out.
Lata and Carlos find some old photos of Maggie and Lata on their way to see Alice Cooper (I would have picked Bowie or Mott the Hoople or Lou Reed, but to each their own). And within a minute that photo and the resulting conversation quickly clues Lata in on where to find the bracelet. I really wish these kids had to struggle a bit more!
It’s in a box of Toastettes that’s Maggie’s private stash (in the rat poison box which seems like a terrible idea – hopefully she washed the box really really well!) I would say they must be super stale by now when Carlos eats one, but if they’re anything like Poptarts, they apparently last forever).
The bracelet is supposed to uncover your enemies’ hidden secrets, but unfortunately it immediately clasps itself around Lata – and some totally scary shadow monster locks them into the house and blows out all the lights. I do like that the show is learning how to be scary with the less is more rule.
They find out from the lore books (that are locked in there with them luckily) that if someone wears the bracelet who is harboring a dark secret of their own, the bracelet will force them to reveal it – or the shadows will consume them.
Carlos (incredulous): You have a dark secret? What, like overdue library books?
Carlos gets locked in a freezing cold room while a vision of Maggie confronts Lata and tells her that Maggie was hurt that Lata kept secrets from her, encouraging her to tell them now to save herself and Carlos. Lata confesses that the room he’s locked in was a part of her childhood home.
This show has a million ways to force its characters to spill the truth about their pasts – it’s Lata’s turn this week.
Carlos begs her to spill before they turn into popsicles, but she’s reluctant – which is hard to understand because they are literally going to freeze to death. But she does spill, the story of her housekeeper Sania who practically raised her.
Young Lata took some leftovers from a party and shared the tray with Sania in her quarters (where they’re currently locked up). Her father blamed Sania for stealing food and wouldn’t listen that it wasn’t her doing, and when he raised his hand to strike Sania, Lata hit him with the lamp currently in front of them.
Both Nida Khurshid and JoJo Fleites did an amazing job with this story line – they don’t get a ton of serious scenes, but they can pull them off really well when they do. Carlos assures her she didn’t do anything wrong, which honestly? She really didn’t! It seems like her father was the one with a dark secret, not Lata, even when she tells the rest. When her father told her mother what had happened, her mother didn’t take Lata’s side like one would hope she would have.
Instead, she said she was ashamed of Lata, that she shouldn’t have defended Sania instead of her family. It’s such a familiar story unfortunately and so traumatizing for young children, when even the “good” parent won’t protect you and takes the other parent’s side. Heartbreaking. The psychologist in me was nodding sadly.
Lata ran away that night – and her father locked Sania in her room on the coldest night of the year to pay the price, blaming her for making Lata disobedient. She froze to death in the room that night – the very room that Carlos and Lata are locked in now.
Nida Khurshid’s sobbing is entirely believable as she cries “I’m so sorry, Sania”, the guilt and sorrow held in for a very long time, and Carlos holds her.
Millie can’t reach them on the phone (hah, only a landline, I remember those frustrating days!) so she goes to check on them, finding them just after they’re released from the bracelet’s nightmare. It clicks off Lata, releasing her.
Carlos: I guess the truth really does set you free.
Lata: In more ways than one.
Meanwhile, Betty finds John and Mary before they can leave town because of course she knows where to look. She insists she’s trying to help and it’s a lucky thing that she’s the one who found them, and John goes with her without a fight.
I was surprised that Mary didn’t try to free John right then – she could probably have easily subdued Betty just enough for them to get away, right? They were already wanted by the cops anyway. That didn’t make sense to me at all.
Millie and Mary agree that Betty actually does care about John; Millie thinks maybe they can trust her and tell her the truth, then they’ll have a cop on the inside too, which seems like a good plan. They invite Betty to the club house and show her their “horror movie prop collection”, but Betty wants to blame Mary for all the “off” things that have been happening. (Understandable since one of those off things is also John breaking up with Betty – she’s only human, she has to have some feelings about that!)
Betty gets the ‘monsters are real’ talk, including the Akrida taking over Kyle and some cops. Betty has a tough time believing this, understandably. She leaves, concerned that John is being transferred that night – apparently, the Akrida can subvert all that pesky legal stuff I guess? Mary asks her to check Kyle’s neck for the telltale three marks, but Betty walks out.
John gets questioned by the cops, who are possessed by the Akrida of course. Drake Rodger does a great job not letting the cop get to him, jumping to his feet only when the Akrida reveals itself and taunts him. He’s very much the badass John Winchester we know and (sometimes) love in this scene, and reminiscent of his son Dean too. The cop slaps down the photo of that future son and demands to know who it is.
John: I have no idea who that is.
We find out in this episode that John was also a POW – how long was he gone??
Akrida cop: I’m gonna leave you to sit in your sad little thoughts and feelings.
Mary regrets her life choices to not try to rescue John when they only had Betty to deal with (me: that’s what I said, Mary!), and heads to the police station, determined to break John out before the transfer. Really, why didn’t she just knock out Betty and run off with John earlier, which would have been so much easier than breaking him out of prison!
John is still playing the annoyed but grudgingly admiring Akrida cop.
John: I’ll tell you everything. The guy in the photo is Jeff Beck. That’s one of his aliases, he also goes by Eric Bloom, and lately by Levon Helm…
The cop punches him.
Very Dean Winchester, John. I guess that’s where the boys got the idea!
He taunts the Akrida right back, saying that he played his hand – that clearly that guy is a threat to them.
John: Roxy said nothing of this Earth can harm you, so if he’s a threat to you, well, that would mean he’s not of this Earth. Which explains why you look like a scared little baby.
Me: Ahhhhhhhh my AU theory is hopefully right!!!
(Though I guess that could also mean he’s not of this Earth because he’s in Heaven…)
Of course, that also means John isn’t of any use to them anymore, so the prison transport is about to get into a fatal car crash. As he’s being taken out, however, John is still sassy.
John: Whoever that guy is? I hope he gives you hell.
The entire fandom: OH HE WILL!
John manages a final head butt before they drag him out, again very Dean Winchester.
Betty tries to intercept Mary’s mission to save John, Mary throws a punch and sets off a fight.
Turns out Mary was just trying to distract her long enough for…
Carlos (popping up out of nowhere to snap the bracelet on Betty): Drugs should be legalized.
They tell Betty they need her help, that she needs to take a look around now that she can see monsters. It apparently works, though in an odd way since I’m not entirely sure what Betty sees or why she believes that instantly this time.
Or how Mary knew that Betty was going to be “pure of heart” enough to not get stuck in a flashback – they could have conceivably been putting her in a lot of danger. Betty apparently doesn’t have any dark secrets luckily.
They confront Akrida cop as they try to toss John in the van, Millie throwing some punches of her own with “that’s for Kyle! That’s for my son!”
I love Millie. Well played, Bianca Kajlich.
Betty is now their cop on the inside, so that all worked out. To make their escape look real, she asks Carlos to “give it to her” – much like the punch in Folsom Prison Blues to make Sam and Dean’s escape look believable. Betty’s tough.
Betty and Mary bond over wishing they didn’t know about monster club and over both looking out for John, which I give her a whole lot of credit for. She didn’t seem to want the breakup with John, so her bonding already with John’s new girlfriend is something that must be challenging for her and is maybe happening a little too easily. It seems John’s right when he says she’s a good cop though.
Lata tells Carlos one more thing, not because of the bracelet this time, but because she’s learned something from the bracelet experience and doesn’t want to keep things from her friends. That her parents are still alive. She says she’s sorry for not telling them the truth, and once again JoJo Fleites makes what Carlos says in return poignant.
Carlos: As far as I’m concerned, your parents are dead to me. I still have nothing but love for you.
He’s pretty sure John and Mary will feel the same.
And then he says something really important.
Carlos: If you need time to tell them your story, take it. Because it’s your story to tell.
When JoJo Fleites gets the chance to do some serious scenes, he’s really good – that was a lovely scene between Lata and Carlos and some nice dialogue.
John and Mary finally manage to leave town. They drive, John reliving Kyle’s death – both of them determined to “find this guy” in the picture.
Two more episodes left, so I’m guessing they find him fairly soon. The question is, what will his story be when they do? And how will the fandom feel about that reveal? Has the show ‘played itself’ by showing its cards little by little or will that be an effective strategy?
We’ve had secrets revealed and revisiting (and working through) the traumas of your past as the route to being free of it in almost every single episode. Being trapped by your past and the possibility of breaking free of that is the theme of the show. Does this apply to Dean too?
It’s a theme that resonates with me as a psychologist, but I wonder exactly how it will play out in this show. We’ve also had people being stuck in alternate realities in many of the episodes, which I’m assuming is a clue to what is actually happening to Dean – but again, we don’t know exactly how. Is he stuck somewhere (physically or mentally) trying to find his way out? Is Sam?
Stay tuned to find out on “The Winchesters” 1.12 The Tears of a Clown!