caranfindel (caranfindel) wrote,
caranfindel
caranfindel

12.04 Initial reaction: American Nightmare



U-Verse description: Sam and Dean visit a farm and consider different career options.

THEN: Oh. Oh my goodness. We're going way back to season 2 for this, guys. (Ellen!!!!!!!) We're talking about the psychic kids. We're talking about Sam's powers. We're talking about Sam's powers. (We're also looking at sweet baby season 2 Sam and Dean and my god, those boys were adorable.)

NOW:

A Catholic church (of course, all churches on TV are Catholic). A woman comes in, bearing stigmata and sobbing. Whip marks appear on her back and she repeats something that sounds like we're all guilty, Allah but probably isn't that. Then she falls over dead.

Title card!

And now we're back in the church and we're watching two pairs of long legs in black pants walk up the aisle and fuck, guys, does this mean what I think it means? Oh fuck yeah. Priest Winchesters, everyone. This episode already gets an A. They're Father Penn and Father DeNiro (heh) and they're here to bring completely inappropriate joy to my dark little priest-kink heart, and to talk about Olivia Sanchez, the recently deceased.

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Bless me fathers, for I have sinned, and am continuing to do so even as we speak, according to some people's definition of sin.

Dean is pretty rude to the actual priest, and gets some concerned and annoyed looks from Sam. Also, I've got to say, as much as I love the scruff (which is a lot), it's really out of place here. Priests wouldn't walk around looking like this. Nor would FBI agents. I really think the guys need to do at least an occasional realistic shave.

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On the other hand, this right here could make me convert to Catholicism.

The priest is surprised to find Fathers Penn and DeNiro don't think he's lying, and that they have weird questions about black smoke and the smell of sulphur, and that scrumptious Father Penn recognizes that Olivia's last words sound like Aramaic. (Sidebar: It always amuses me when characters can remember and accurately repeat things said in languages they don't understand, because I'd be all, "sounded like she was saying ob-la-di ob-la-da; maybe she's a Beatles fan.")

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Also, let's talk about Sam's hair. It kind of looks like he pulled a Mary and cut it himself and it's rough and scraggly and dear god I love it.

As the guys leave, we see that they've actually been having this conversation in front of church members. Okay then. Dean watches a little boy lighting a candle with his mother and gets all kinds of feelings over it.

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And Dean's feelings, and Sam's concern over Dean's feelings, almost kill me dead right here.

Cut to a lovely shot next to the Impala, where Dean checks in with Cas and discovers he's working with Crowley. And then texts his mom and asks if it's okay to call her "Mom." Excuse me, I'm just going to sob over here in the corner for a little bit. He waits for a response and refers to himself as a 13-year-old girl (hee!) and quickly puts the phone away when Sam shows up with coffee.

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The tongue. The lip bite. You're welcome.

Dean fills him in on Team Casley ("one's an angel, one's a demon, and apparently they solve crimes") and tells him that Lucifer's last vessel was Vince Vincente ("the rock star?" "the douche bag!"). We learn that Sam was actually a fan of his third album, even though he had purple hair down to his butt and a studded codpiece (after all, it was the 80s) and there are so many things to love about this scene. Sam's little headshake of disbelief when Dean tells him Team Casley is hunting Lucifer together. The way Sam tosses his tablet before he hands Dean his coffee. "I'm a 13-year-old girl." Dean's disbelief and disgust over Sam's appreciation of Vince Vicente's seminal third album. The gorgeous lighting. "I hate you so much right now." The freaking car. Every expression on Sam's face.

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Guys, we're less than seven minutes into this one. I think I'm in trouble.

Sam, meanwhile, confirmed that Olivia's last words were, in fact, Aramaic, and they translate to "Save me, oh God." Save me from what, Dean asks. Oh, wouldn't you like to know.

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Actually, probably not.

Cut to the coroner's office, where we get this cool shot that looks like it was taken from a security camera.

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Sadly, the boys have changed out of the priest outfits.

Dean continues to be a dick, and when Sam asks if he's okay, he says "peachy," which is a nice bit of continuity from back in S10, when he told Jody the same thing (and was not, in fact, anything close to peachy). Sam comes right out and says the thing I think he's not going to come right out and say, which is that Dean's been "cranky" since Mom left. Dean ignores him. They discover that not only did Olivia have stigmata, but her skull was "filled with a goopy mush."

Their next stop is Olivia's office, where they discover that her coworker Beth has taken over her office. And is a wiccan. The boys exchange a subtle but significant glance at that. Beth asks if it's true that Olivia killed herself, which is an odd rumor considering the manner of her death - why would you suspect suicide and not murder? They learn that she had bad headaches and many enemies because of her work - oh, she works for Child Protective Services. "You don't make a lot of friends when sometimes what's best for a family is to split them up." Whoah! Step aside, kids, because an anvil is about to fall. Dean, of course, is disturbed by this sentiment and immediately puts Beth on the naughty list.

As the guys leave the office with all of Olivia's case files (which seems like it wouldn't be legal but whatever) Dean declares the case solved. Obviously the witch killed her boss in order to get the bigger office. He's ready to take Beth out and call it a day. Sam points out that they don't have proof yet, although he'll be happy to shoot her if she is the culprit. "Oh, no no no," Dean says, "I'm definitely shooting her." Because it's personal. Bitch don't respect families, yo. (And according to all our headcanons, Dean probably had some very real backstory to make him hate and fear CPS, so... yeah.)

Later, at a grocery delivery loading dock, a delivery man dies the same way Olivia did.

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Another nice shot and some weird funky music... it's like we're going Tarantino here.

Smart!Sam cross-referenced the dead guy's delivery route to Olivia's case files and found a match. I love Smart!Sam. Dean calls Beth, even though he thinks she's the killer so you'd think Sam would be the one to communicate with her, and she informs him that the Petersons are "all the way" weird, "off the charts religious." She suggests that they're watching the family simply because they're off the grid and homeschooling their children, and I hope I misunderstood that, because it would be illegal. Oh, okay. They're keeping an eye on them because their daughter Magda died of pneumonia since they refused to get medical treatment for her.

One costume change later, they show up at a "no tresspassing" sign on a rural road. And if Priest!Winchesters wasn't enough, now we've got Sweater!Winchesters.

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Thank you baby Jesus.

Dean awkwardly climbs over the gate (what happened to athletic gate-hopping Dean?) while Sam simply walks around it with a little smirk. They find that the nearest utility pole has been chopped down, which isn't really an appropriate way to get yourself off the grid, Petersons. As they walk to the house, Sam brings up the subject of Mary again. "What about her?" Dean says. "She took some cash, took a cell phone and doesn't answer. She bailed on us." Sam points out that she's been through a lot and probably just needs some space, just like they themselves have done in the past. Dean is concerned that since she hates that they were raised as hunters, she might have just decided to walk away altogether. He says "she has zero interest in keeping this family together," which quite frankly isn't her responsibility, Dean. Sam repeats that sometimes families need time apart. Oh, Sam. You are not going to get through to him.

They find the dad, Abraham, and introduce themselves as new case workers James Morrison and Ray Manzarek, which is (a) a little unwise considering the age of their suspect, and (b) completely appropriate because they light my fire. Heh heh. Both Petersons are saddened to hear of Olivia's death (and do a cute simultaneous crossing of themselves) because, even though she was a Papist, at least she believed in God, unlike Beth. Mom Peterson asks if they "know God" and Dean's all, oh yeah, we're besties, he's a lousy houseguest but he does make great pancakes. Hee. Sam's unamused. Son Peterson comes in and whispers in his father's ear, which leads Abraham to ask if one of the Winchesters can help him with something, thus conveniently splitting the brothers up so they can get two completely different views of the family.

But first, we cut to the Impala, still sitting out on the road, and oh crap, it's a motorcycle, it's THE motorcycle, it's a man in a blacked-out helmet on a motorcycle and he's stopping to check the tag on the Impala and I knew it, I knew that motorcycle was significant. Okay, we all knew it. But I'm taking credit.

Back at the farm, Dean is helping Abraham and his son fix a wagon wheel. Abraham says they dropped out of the world because of shopping and consumerism and people sitting in front of screens "watching fake people do fake things."

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Jensen is not amused. Jensen is glad people enjoy watching fake people do fake things.

He and Gail (who must be Mom) didn't want that for their kids so they left it and now they're out here sweating their butts off because "the things you do for family." As Dean helps, he looks impressed by their father/son camraderie and togetherness, because of course he does, because he's Dean Winchester and family is everything.

Back in the house, Sam admires photo of the family back when they were on the grid. You can tell because they're standing in front of a car. And also because I don't know how you'd have printed photos if you refused to use electricity. I guess you could ride the buggy into town to a photo studio. He calls them a "happy family" and Gail says no, they weren't happy, they were miserable, because Dad worked all the time and drank a lot and the kids spent all their time on cell phones and Mom was overmedicated but God showed them a better way. Heh. Sam thinks otherwise. Sam knows otherwise. Gail says she almost died in a car crash, and lived in constant pain and then one night she heard God's voice telling her to "live a life of simplicity and humility and all your pain will be taken away." Sam asks if the pain has gone away and she replies "I get by," which means no, it has not. So. Why is Gail still sticking to this life of simplicity and humility?

Sam tells her about the dead delivery boy, and she coldly says "I see," which seems to translate into ah, this is news to me but it confirms something bad that I've been suspecting. Sam questions her and she responds that God has a plan for us all, which is really the wrong thing to say to Sam Winchester, who knows that this is generally not true, and when it occasionally is true, it's an awful, awful plan and you should not go along with it. He's visibly uncomfortable and asks if what happened to her daughter was also God's plan. She says it was. Sam becomes beautifully angry and tells her God doesn't care what kind of life she lives, "trust me," and you can definitely trust him on this, Gail. His face looks like he's remembering the cage, and oh, how cruel and ironic is it that Sam met God and it caused him to lose all of his faith? I'm going to go back to my corner and cry a little bit more.

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Do you think Sam ever tells himself "I can't believe I went to Hell for these assholes?"

The next time we see the boys, they've lost the sweaters but they seem to be parked at the same spot, so I don't understand what's going on here. Did they leave and come back? Did they change clothes at the car after being kicked out of the Peterson house? Sam assumes they're looking for Magda's ghost, since obviously this messed-up family is the problem, and Dean assumes they're going to kill the witch, because obviously this family is "good people" and couldn't be the problem. So they split up and Gail watches her husband and son lead a couple of very pretty horses around their pretty barnyard (because this episode is all about the pretty) and then she goes inside and things are about to get considerably less pretty. Because we go down into the basement and see a girl - Magda, in fact - chained up on the floor with a whipped back (which I assume is stigmata, like Olivia's and the delivery boy's) singing "I've got the joy joy joy joy down in my heart." And that's ironic because she's not joyous at all, and also that song will always, always make me think of Rod and Todd Flanders (and why didn't they have Biblical names like Abraham, come to think of it?)


I could only find this in Spanish, but honestly, that only makes it better.

Gail creeps down the basement steps and informs Magda that she killed the woman and the boy and she has let the devil out! He's doing his work through you! It would be pretty cool if poor Magda actually was Lucifer's vessel, but she's not. Her mother hands her a whip and she starts flogging her own back (so, not stigmata) and praying in Aramaic while her brother watches, horrified, through the basement window.

After dark we see Sam, with his flashlight and EMF meter, creeping into the barn. I guess this is one place where you wouldn't have to worry about stray EMF signals. He hears the door open and quickly covers his flashlight with his hand rather than turning it off, possibly because that would make a click and he doesn't want to make any noise, and I'm impressed at how clever he is. (Spoiler alert: Um.) It's Abraham coming into the barn with lanterns and horse food. His son (who finally has a name, Elijah) shows up and tells him "Mom's with Magda," and their ensuing conversation conveniently informs Sam that Magda's alive, that whatever Mom is doing to her is "God's work" (which means it's awful!), that the devil is apparently involved, and if anyone knew she was alive, they'd come for her. Vague threats about "what she can do" and what Abraham would have to do are made. Well then! (I also must point out that by the way these lanterns don't flicker at all, you can tell they're battery-operated. The devil is a deceiver, Abraham.) (Also, Sam spends some time with a horse, and this makes me happy.)

Sam gets out his phone and uses his flashlight to look at it, because I guess it ain't one of them new-fangled big city phones that lights up on its own, and sees that he has no signal. (Also, his lock screen is the MoL star, which is kind of geeky, Sam.) Maybe he'll pick up a signal on some other part of the farm. Who knows.

Cut to Dean, sneaking up on Wiccan Beth, who is working late and burning the positive energy candle on both ends. He would be creepy as fuck even if he weren't holding his gun behind his back. He finds out that she hates having Olivia's job, that no one wants this job, and he suddenly realizes that he may have jumped to the wrong conclusion and decides not to kill her after all. Whew.

Back on the farm, Sam looks in the basement window and sees Gail praying or chanting in Aramaic as Magda flogs herself, and this is a very thin window, so he can hear her quite clearly. And when his phone vibrates, because he suddenly has service, she can hear it. That's one loud vibration. Sam answers his phone and tells Dean Magda's alive, and then Elijah and Abraham show up because it turns out all these damn Petersons have, like, ears or something and heard him talking. Dean hears Sam trying to convince Elijah to not shoot him and then recognizes the sound of his brother being struck unconscious, because he's heard it often enough.

Sam wakes up in the basement with Magda, although she says that's not her name; she's the devil. Sam, of course, knows better. "No, you're not, you're really not."

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And he would know.

Magda demonstrates her telekinesis for Sam, and he explains that she's simply psychic. And this is interesting:

I have powers too. I get these visions sometimes, and I can move things with my mind.

You can do that?

Well no, not any more, I think.


Ooooh! Is this a hint of something to come? It's not like we needed to reminded of Sam's psychic past in order accept the idea of a psychic now. So why are they bringing it up? Why are they even suggesting that Sam might not have lost his powers? (Yeah, I know. I'm undoubtedly wrong about this meaning anything.)

Magda tells Sam that if he's a psychic, he must be evil. She's evil because she hurt people by trying to make them hear her thoughts. Oh, poor girl. Sam tries to convince her that she's not evil, and that this is something she can control.

Upstairs, Abraham and Gail watch Sam's phone ring. Gail announces that someone will be coming for them, and they need to leave quickly. So Abraham and Elijah come down to the basement and fetch Magda and Sam. Sam gets to sit at the table and Gail puts a bowl of stew in front of him but I guess he won't be eating, since he's tied to his chair. He tries desperately to convince the Petersons that none of this is Magda's fault. Gail has Magda tell the story of how she caused a wreck because she wanted a new cell phone. Well, clearly this episode shows us that cell phones are the cause of many evils, so I guess Gail has a point. "Pain purges sin," she says. Sam insists that it doesn't, and it's nice to hear. I hope he realizes this applies to him as well. But he's sad and bewildered and so, so concerned for Magda, and it just hurts.

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Let's just look at pretty candlelit Sam for a while. That will make everything better.

Abraham takes the first bite and starts foaming at the mouth and then falls face-first into his dinner, because it turns out it's full of rat poison. So they can enter Heaven as a family. I don't think Abraham knew that was what Gail meant when she said they need to "leave" quickly. Whoops. She instructs her children to eat, and Sam tries to convince them not to. When it becomes clear Elijah is going to take a bite, Magda screams "no" and stops him with her evil mind control. Dishes start flying and Gail grabs a knife to stab her devil child, but Elijah jumps in front of her and takes the knife in the gut. Magda tells Gail that she is the devil, and forces her to turn the knife on herself. Sam begs her to stop and tells her she can learn to control it, and she stops at the last minute.

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And Sam ends up huffing and sweating, so yay! Happy ending!

Aftermath. Mom is carted off to jail, or the nuthouse, yelling that her daughter is the devil. CPS Beth is there, and she tells them Magda is being sent to live with an aunt who has a ranch in California. Lots of space. That's great, Dean says, because sometimes a person needs space to figure things out. Whoa. Is this a little bit of character development there? Beth then asks to speak to Dean privately, which conveniently lets Sam and Magda have a moment. Sam tells her that she's going to be all right, even though it doesn't feel like it right now. The last time we heard Sam give this pep talk, it was after Amara caused the death of a boy's mom. I wonder how that turned out.

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But I have to admit, if he looked at me like this, I'd believe everything he said.

He tells her "The power, it doesn't control you. You control it." I love that Sam continues to believe this. He tells her to call him if she ever needs anything, and she puts her head on his shoulder, and she should say "I could use a ride to California." She really should.

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Daaaaaawwwww/

As they walk back to the car, Dean tells Sam he made the right call by letting her go. Wait. It was a call? Killing a psychic teenager who accidentally killed people because she was imprisoned and tortured by her parents was even an option? Who would think otherwise? He also tells him that Beth had pulled him aside because she totally wanted to hit that. Because she didn't know he was planning to shoot her. Dean finds this kinda hot. I'd be a bit reluctant to pursue a relationship (or even an incident) with someone I had planned to kill for all the wrong reasons, but, no kink-shaming here. But I find it kind of disturbing that we're ignoring the fact that Dean was ready to straight-up murder that woman without any proof that she was guilty. I'm gonna shame him for that. He then admits that, regarding the Mom situation, "I hate it but I get it." He says he's working through it (more character development!) and promises to be less of a dick about it. Then he gets a text from Mary saying her phone had died, but things are good, and she wants to be MOM, and to tell Sam she loves them. I guess cell phones aren't evil after all! But he doesn't say a word to Sam. How is that being less of a dick, Dean? Explain this to me. Grrr.

Carrying on. They drive off down the scenic road and this was a nice episode, wasn't it? Pretty music, pretty scene, pretty boys, happy ending. Let's just end it here, okay? (No, I've never seen Old Yeller, why do you ask?) This was a great episode. So much pretty. Two costumes beyond the fed suits. Dean coming to terms with Mary's situation. Sam giving someone the support that only he can give. An exciting hint about Sam's psychic past. No Casley to take up valuable Winchester time. Also, it was nice that when the boys split up, Sam wasn't written out of the plot, as usually happens. Yep, this ended on a high note.

Oh, for Christ's sake. Okay.

The music suddenly turns a little sinister and it's night. A bus pulls off at a bus stop and this must be Mary, right? She took a bus? She's arrived somewhere? Oh, no. It's Magda. They made her take a bus to California? No one could come pick her up after losing her entire family? That's cold. She heads for the bathroom, and apparently she's the only female on this bus because no one follows her. Oh, wait. Someone does. Someone with a motorcycle. And a gun with a silencer. Oh no no crap don't do this, Show, don't do it. Oh. They did it. Magda's dead and the man on the motorcycle is, in fact, Mr. Ketch, and he tells someone on the phone that he "cleaned up the Winchester's mess... as suspected, they couldn't finish the job." Well, fuck.

Okay, it was still a good episode, albeit with an unexpected tragic turn. What did you think? Please, no spoilers in the comments!
Tags: 12.04 american nightmare, initial reaction, pretty, sam's hair, season 12, supernatural
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Posts from This Journal “initial reaction” Tag

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