THEN: Once again, we enter the Wayback Machine, and watch Roy and Walt murder our boys (does that mean one or both Winchesters are going to be murdered in this episode?) And some other things, culminating in the bunker being an excellent fortress and/or tomb. Come along, Mary.
NOW: Mary's killing hunters and I don't particularly care, except that she gets a text listing her next victims, which includes Jody Mills and suddenly I do care; I care quite a lot.
The guys where we left them last week, locked in the bunker. Dean's throwing switches, Sam's talking about the garage and air vents, and Toni's pointing out why every option he suggests won't work. But she doesn't know who she's dealing with, does she? Dean says what we're all thinking - let's kill her to save on oxygen. But she says since she's the one who programmed Mary, so she's the only one who can deprogram her. Neither brother really believes it, but Sam seems to think they have nothing left to lose by keeping her alive. (Oxygen, Sam. That's what you have to lose.)
Actually, she's fairly useful, because knows an awful lot about the bunker. Like the fact that there's a manual override that would undo everything Ketch did. And it's outside the bunker. You know, if these guys happened to know anyone who wasn't actually in the bunker with them, maybe that person could activate the manual override. Huh. Too bad they don't have phones, and even if they did, they don't know a single person on the outside. (Seriously. Did Ketch say something about blocking cell phone signals? Is praying to Cas really no longer an option?)
Sam suddenly realizes they have access to all sorts of spells and stuff, and maybe they should try that. And, being Sam, he finds a spell that might work - except it requires the blood of virgins. You'd think the MoL might have some of that in a vault somewhere, but instead, Sam suggests they "fake it" with a purification spell. Won't be the first time they've re-virginized themselves, right? Toni refers to purfiying the blood and then using it in the spell as "two-step magic," which I guess it is, and she seems maybe a tiny bit impressed. Maybe you're finally realizing how awesome the Winchesters are, huh? Unfortunately, Ketch installed some kind of magic blocking, so the spell starts to work but then fails.
Day two. Dean says it's time for brawn, not brains. He points out the one wall in the bunker that's made of nothing but concrete, and behind it is an old sewer pipe (ew, how old, and does that mean unused?) that leads to the surface. They're going to "straight up Shawshank this bitch." In one of my favorite scenes in this entire episode, Dean heaves a sledgehammer at the wall and gets a faceful of concrete chips in return. "Goggles?" says Sam. "Goggles," agrees Dean. It's my second favorite scene ever that features Dean and a hammer.
My caps aren't very good, because it was so dark, but this scene demands to be capped.
There's hammering and then there's removal of outer shirts and more lucious hammering and I could watch this for a really long time. Then they stop for a break, with the wall barely scarred, and I could watch this even longer. I'm going to transcribe most of this conversation because it's just that good.
We'll get there.
No. No we won't. We're not gonna hit dirt for three days. Two if we're lucky. I know you feel it. The air, it's thin. And it's getting thinner... How did this happen?
All of it.
Yeah. You know, it wasn't long ago, I thought we had it made. We saved the world, we got Cas back, we had Mom back. I mean, it wasn't perfect, but still, we had 'em. And now.
Now they're all gone. And Mom, what they did to her... I just fell for their company line, man. I saw what they were doing and I thought, hunters on that scale, working together, how much good we can do. And once I was in, I just followed. Cause it was easy. Easier.
Easier than what?
Easier than leading... Is this how you pictured it? The end?
You know it's not. I always thought we'd go out, like, Butch and Sundance style.
Yeah, blaze of glory.
Blaze of glory... Son of a bitch.
Marvelous things about this scene:
- Huffing and puffing and sweaty single-layer Winchesters.
- Sam's soft voice and expressive face.
- Goggles? Goggles.
- Dean's palpable despair, especially when he talks about losing Cas and Mary.
- Sam thinking about what they did to Mary and knowing more about it than Dean could ever know, because he knows what they did to him, he knows what they're capable of, he knows how that feels.
- The Winchesters calmly facing their inevitable death together.
- Dean's smirk when he realizes what his blaze of glory is going to be.
- That flash of Sam's arm when he puts his hand up behind his head.
Basically, all of this is gold.
What part? All of it.
And more good stuff is coming, because yes, my dearest friends, it's finally time to break out the grenade launcher. (Is it ridiculous that they had access to it? Are we supposed to believe that this one time, they parked the Impala in the garage, even though we saw them coming down the stairs from the front door? Does any of that even matter? I've decided not!) Toni calls it a "colossally stupid idea," and Dean agrees. "Yep! Big, beautiful, and dumb." She points out that he could bring the whole place down and kill them all, and Dean and Sam are all, "yeah," because they literally do not care any more. They exchange a look that I will never get over, and then Sam drags Toni off, and I'm pleased to notice she's in handcuffs now. She continues to complain, calling them lunatics, and I'd like to point out to her that being dragged off by a sweaty Sam Winchester in a v-neck grey t-shirt while wearing handcuffs might be some people's biggest fantasy, okay? Then Dean points the grenade launcher and says "Okay beautiful. Yippee kay-ay, mother-" and BOOM.
After the explosion, Sam leaves Toni behind and fights his way through the dust. He finds a big hole in the wall, and a set of rungs on what is apparently the old sewer pipe, but no sign of Dean. Then the hole collapses in a shower of rubble, and whatever way out there may have been is now filled with debris. And no Dean. Sam wanders the bunker, coughing and calling for Dean, and I'm confused about exactly where he's going, and how he ends up in the hallway. I must not know the layout of the bunker very well, because I really don't know why he's suddenly in the hall. He finally collapses in the war room, and I'm going to handwave any architectural anomalies because this is pretty awesome. Then the lights come on and the fans reverse back to their normal operation and start sucking dust out of the air and a door opens and Dean limps in with a huge freaking injury to his leg. "Hey, lunatic," he says, and my heart explodes.
But my happiness is instantly erased because we cut to Jody's house and Mary knocking on her door and I am not okay with this, I am not even remotely okay with any of this.
Somewhere in the Impala, Dean cuffs Toni to the door while he and Sam go through a pile of cell phones, looking for one with a charge. Too bad they don't use the same phone Mary does, or the one Bobby did, because those hold a charge for years. Also too bad that they don't have a phone charger in the Impala. Seems like that's at least as useful as a grenade launcher. Dean finds one that works, and calls Garth to warn him to take his wife and hide. Although he calls her Bess and I thought her name was Amelia, because I remember a whole LJ conversation about yet another Amelia. Maybe Amelia was just a different member of that pack. But I digress. Sam finds another phone that works, but isn't able to get hold of Jody. And my heart stops.
Other things that make my heart stop. That hair. That face.
They drive into the night and burst into Jody's house and oh god there's blood on the carpet I don't want to watch this I don't want them to find her body and... oh. She's sitting in her living room, with Alex, nursing a bruise on her face. And Mary's tied to a chair. Well, okay then!
Alex works on Dean's leg, and I remember she's a nursing student, so this is a nice touch. He sits looking sadly at his mom and Jody comes over and pats his arm and he reaches up to grab her hand and they do a little hand-hug thing, and it's so natural and so affectionate and dammit, there goes my heart again.
I don't think I'm going to survive this episode.
Mary makes a snarky remark and asks if she's too different from the Mary he knew. Then she says "too much the same," and my interpretation on first watch was that she was saying she and Dean are too much the same, because if you missed all the reminders this season, Dean is a killer. But now I'm not sure what she meant.
Then Sam enters with Toni, which means she's been cuffed in the car the entire time Dean's been getting his leg patched up and drinking his first pain reliever. He tells her to "do your thing," and she admits she can't actually deprogram Mary after all. "The Mary that you know, the good Mary? She's hiding. Behind impenetrable psychic walls." Basically, Mary can't be saved.
Such pretty, pretty despair
Dean's all, okay, I only kept you alive for one reason and that reason is gone. He's prepared to take her out to the back yard and shoot her, which would be awkward, considering it's the Sheriff's back yard. But Mary's phone rings (apparently Mick was the only hobbit, because Ketch is labeled with his own name) and Toni points out that the BMoL are going to find out the Winchesters are alive, and they can either run or die. "Or we fight," says Sam.
Cut to a small group of hunters gathering in Jody's living room. There's a knock on the door and Sam pleasantly greets... Walt and Roy. Okay, I guess that's why we got that part of the "then." Dean's a lot less pleasant. When they say "we haven't seen you guys since..." he says "since you killed us." I love it. One of them (I can't remember who is who and I don't care enough about them separately to find out) asks if Sam's going to tell them what they're doing there, which means they were summoned to a meeting at Jody's house, and just came. And either (1) they knew the Winchesters would be there, and came anyway, or (b) they didn't know, and weren't particularly surprised to see them. Let's all handwave this together, shall we?
Sam starts to explain to the room. "My brother and I, we, um... No. You know what. I called you here, because people, our people, are being slaughtered. And we're next." Sam has decided to lead, guys. He explains what the BMoL are up to, with their recruitment tactics and their flashy gear and whatnot. "Most of you had the good sense to turn them down," he says. "I didn't." And his little nod, at that point, is exactly like the little nod he gives in 5.01 when Demon!Bobby tells him to lose his number. That same I'm a bad person and I've done something awful and I accept the consequences nod and it breaks my freaking heart. I want to hug him and remind him that he turned Mick Davies and he would have turned all of them; given enough time and patience he would have turned every one of those Brits into a Sam!Girl. I know this.
I have mixed feelings about Sam's actual speech. He says the BMoL want to decide who gets to live and die, which is... exactly what the Winchesters do, isn't it? I mean, their criteria is different, but they're still making that decision. I wish he had stuck to the point that that the BMoL are indiscriminate in who they kill, seeing everything in black and white and not recognizing shades of grey. On the other hand, he's giving this speech to people who literally murdered him as punishment for something he did, so. That's awesome. And Dean looks so proud of him.
When they get ready to go storm the castle, Dean says he's not going because of his leg injuries. Sam says he'll take a "jacked up Dean Winchester" over any ten hunters, gesturing toward the hunters he's actually taking, and they're probably saying "dammit, we're right here, we heard that." But they know it's true. I mean, two of them are Roy and Walt, for god's sake.
"I saw you," Dean says. "You're ready for this. You show those sons of bitches who's boss." Dean's gonna stay and save Mom. "Look, if she's in there, if our real Mom is in there somewhere, then I'm gonna try and find her, bring her back." Sam swallows, because he knows I love that, and Dean looks around to make sure no one's watching them and says "c'mere" and gives him a hug, because he knows I love that, and tells him "you come back" and oh, god. "Promise," says Sam, and then they do "bitch"/"jerk" and I know this is blatant fan pandering. I know bitch/jerk wasn't even a thing, wasn't ever intended to be a thing, until we made it a thing. But I love it, and I love the way Sam has a hard time looking at Dean, just like at the end of S11 when they hugged goodbye at Mary's grave, and I love the way Sam looks down and quickly walks away and Dean looks sad and anxious and alone and okay, it just works on me, all right? They know where my buttons are and they're pushing them hard tonight. There's also a nice little Kim Manners shout-out when Alex tells Jody to "kick it in the ass."
They are well and truly kicking me in the ass.
Dean then visibly shoves all his emotions down, because he knows I love that (they both know me so well, don't they?) and instructs Toni to get him into Mary's head. But she can't do it without her gear, which is at the BMoL bunker. But perhaps she could cobble something together.
Speaking of the BMoL bunker! Dr. Hess is giving instructions to her crew, telling them to not leave any witnesses when they go after their hunter targets. Bystanders, family members, everyone is fair game. Ketch looks anxious, and grabs a techy person to locate Mary, and keep it between us. Oh, look, Mary's in Lebanon. I know there was some discussion earlier about whether Ketch really has feelings for Mary, but let's not forget, he stole Dean's picture of her. I don't think he's simply trying to prevent a valuable asset from being re-stolen. I think he really does care for her, as much as he can care for anything that isn't a prohibitively expensive Scotch.
In the bunker, Mary is tied to a chair and Toni says she's going to go round up the stuff she needs. Dean doesn't want to let her out of his sight, but she doesn't see the point.
Need I remind you that my organization left me to die? At this point I'm not on anyone's side but my own. So I'll help you try to save your mother, and when the dust clears...
Will I let you go?
I'd like to see my son again. I'm not asking for a pass. I'm asking for a head start.
Aw. She seems almost human. Dean agrees, and uncuffs her. But let's talk about this. Did her organization leave her to die? I don't think so. I think it was only Ketch, going rogue. I think it's entirely possible that Dr. Hess was told she'd been killed in action, and would have welcomed her back if she'd known the truth. But (spoiler alert) we'll never know.
Do we care? Nah.
At the BMoL bunker, we see the minions suiting up and weaponizing themselves. I'm going to stick with Sam's side of the split storyline for now, rather than going back and forth.
When Sam's raiders arrive at the bunker, we see a few minions outside with guns, but the ones Hess sent would already be on the road, wouldn't they? Oh, apparently they're all still in that meeting room. She sends them on the attack and there's a gun battle outside. The raiders break into the bunker and there's more shooting, apparently resulting in the deaths of everyone except Sam, Jody, and half of Walt&Roy.
Hess manages to lock herself into the conference room/war room/whatever, and she's speaking to someone on the computer. She tells them to "open a portal" and get her out of there, and that's interesting. The BMoL can travel through portals? Why did Toni take a plane? But the person on the other end says they don't have the resources for an "extraction." And it wouldn't matter anyway, because the door bursts open and Sam comes in and when she reaches for a gun, he uses his big voice and says don't because he knows I love it.
Hess tries to talk her way out of it. "Listen, Dean." I guffawed at that, and then I wondered if it was supposed to highlight that Sam isn't normally in the leadership position, since they decided to make that a thing in this episode. She tells him that cutting his ties with the BMoL right now would be a big mistake, and shows him a file with surveillance photos. Of Lucifer. She tells him Crowley let him out, and now he's dead. Sam's clearly thrown by both pieces of information. Lucifer's tracking down his baby, Hess tells him, and he can't face that alone. He needs the BMoL.
The man on the other end of the computer, presumably one of the Old Men of the BMoL, says "listen to her, boy," and maybe being called boy is too much. Sam looks scared and indecisive but then, as Jody and half of Walt&Roy eye him closely, he takes a deep breath and says "pass." Sam shoots the computer, Hess reaches for her gun, and Jody's all oh no you ain't shooting Sam Winchester you British piece of trash and plugs her right in the forehead. As Sam's surviving raiders drive away, the BMoL compound is destroyed by an explosion. I'd hoped a grenade launcher would be involved in the eventual downfall of the compound, but this is good too.
Yes, this is all very good.
Meanwhile, at the bunker, Toni has hooked Mary and Dean up to some kind of machine. Lucky thing she found a compatible piece of electronic equipment in a bunker that had been locked down since the 50s. (Let's do the handwave again!) She tells Dean that, since he hasn't had the training he'd need to find his way into Mary's psyche, she's going to drug him instead. And she was lucky enough to find a compatible hypnotic drug, too (handwave). She injects the hypnotic/sedative into both of their necks, with a slight pause for Dean to sneakily handcuff her to the table, and then he's out.
He wakes up in the living room of a house that's unfamiliar to me. There's an empty kitchen, and when he turns back to the living room, there's a crib. With an adorable baby inside. "Sam," he says, with a tiny sad almost-smile that shatters whatever remains of my heart. Mary comes in, wearing her perfect-mom sundress, and tells adorable baby Sam to take his nap. Dean follows her into the kitchen, where she's feeding Young!Dean a sandwich with the crusts cut off. Adult!Dean tells her they have to leave, she needs to come with him, but she can't hear him. Or won't? He grabs her arm and she pulls away, and he realizes she's choosing to be where she is. She tells Young!Dean that she only wants good things for him, and will never let anything bad happen to him. Adult!Dean stares at her in disbelief and finally says "I hate you."
"You lied to me," he says. "I was a kid! You promised you'd keep me safe, and then you make a deal with Azazel." Which is unfair, since she made that deal six years before he was born, but I see his point. As they stand at baby Sam's crib, Dean tells her how she ruined his life, because Dad was a shell and Dean had to be a father, and a mother, to keep Sammy safe. "And that wasn't fair, and I couldn't do it. And you want to know what that was like? They killed the girl that he loved. He got possessed by Lucifer. They tortured him in Hell. And he lost his soul. His soul. All because of you. All of it was because of you."
So let's think about this. Let's think about Dean, pouring out his fractured heart, telling his once-sainted mother how broken he was as a child, but it all comes down to Sam. What they did to Sam. Because Dean still doesn't think he deserves Mary's love. He thinks of this in terms of "I had to be Sam's mother and father and I wasn't good enough so bad things happened to him." Oh, Dean. Let's not think about this any more, because it's breaking my heart.
But we can still look at it, because it's gorgeous.
In the real world, Toni observes the two unconscious Winchesters. Back in Mary's head, Dean tearfully tells her he hates her, but he loves her, because he can't help it. And he understands, "because I have made deals to save the ones I love." Dammit, we just heard Dean (1) use the word "love" twice in one speech, and (b) indirectly use the word "love" in relation to Sam. He forgives her, and tells her they can all start over, if she'll fight, if she'll look at him.
Just as she looks at him, Dean is ripped out of the dream state. In the real world, we see the leads from the not-from-the-50s machine being ripped off his head. By Ketch. Dean slowly comes around and sees Toni dead on the floor with her throat slit. I wonder if she would have been able to defend herself if she hadn't been cuffed? We'll never know. Ketch and Dean fight, but Dean's still coming off a sedative and is also pretty seriously wounded from earlier, so he's having a hard time. Ketch enjoys pounding on him, so he keeps it up for a while, taunting him with the news that Mary never talked about him at all (because Ketch knows where people's buttons are too). Dean does manage to put up a defense and they have a fairly brutal fight (I hope that table wasn't the one they carved their initials into, because they'll need to redo those on a different one).
But when he calls him stupid, Ketch has had enough. "I may be many things, but I'm not stupid," he says, and pulls a gun on him. A teeny tiny gun, I must say. Dean stands there, facing his death, but there's a shot and Ketch grabs at his arm. I first thought Toni must have survived, but it's actually Mary, standing behind him with a gun, just like when she killed Toni's minion at the beginning of the season. "I knew you were a killer," Ketch says to her. "You both are."
"You're right," Dean answers, and Mary blows him away.
Aftermath! The bodies have been covered but not removed. Dean limps into the room with a bottle of expired pain meds and sees Mary cleaning up. He tells her she doesn't have to do that, and she says that all of this is because of her. Which is true. She apologizes for being distant, and says she was trying to make things right, but from a distance, because being there with her boys, seeing what she'd done to them, was too much for her to deal with. Dean tells her that everything that happened to them made them who they are. "And who we are? We kick ass. We save the world." Yes, my sweet baby. Yes you do. She's afraid Sam won't forgive her, though. Sam conveniently enters and tells her she doesn't have to be scared of him, even though I don't think he even knows about her demon deal so how does he know what she's scared of, and wraps her in a big hug, planting his chin on top of her head because, let's all say it together, he knows I love that. Dean holds Sam's shoulder and says "glad you're back, man," which is code for I love you,and decides he needs to get in on this hug too.
And who can blame him?
So. Wow. I liked this one so much more than I expected. There were certain things that happened to push all of my buttons: single layers, hugs, heartfelt talks, calm bravery in the face of certain death, Sam struggling to breathe, Dean gleefully causing mayhem, revenge, intelligence, and badassery. And hammers. But my favorite thing was probably that there was so much love. Between Jody and the Winchesters, between Mary and her sons, but mostly between Dean and Sam. These two, they can put so much in just a look, let alone a hug or a heartfelt talk. There was just so much heart in this episode.
What does all of this mean for the future? Well, the outreach chapter of the BMoL is apparently destroyed, and apparently we'll never learn Ketch's tragic backstory. It also looks like Sam and Dean will never learn about Magda. But the Old Men are still there across the pond. And The Code still demands that anyone who kills a BMoL gets a death sentence, so maybe they'll be back in S13. But most importantly, it means 12.23 is going to be reserved for the Lucifetus. Yay.
Please keep in mind that some people might not have watched both episodes yet, so let's still keep spoilers for 12.23 out of the comments. And of course, please don't mention anything you knnow about S13. Wild-ass speculation and wishful thinking is welcome; nay, encouraged. Thank you!