caranfindel (caranfindel) wrote,

Initial reaction 13.17: "The Thing"

THEN: History of the MoL. Hey, y'all, remember the Aquarian star? You'll need that for later. The bunker. Ketch. Asmodeus. Gabriel.

NOW: Except it's also "Then," because it happens in 1925. A weeping young woman is dragged into a chamber decorated with the Aquarian star, although the star has an added eyeball in the middle. So maybe it's some kind of MoL/Illuminati cross-functional team. The Aquarianati star. Anyway. The woman is dressed in full-on, costume party-worthy, cliched 20s flapper garb. Beaded dress, weird little feathered headband. I'm surprised she's not dancing the Charleston. And the people dragging her into the chamber are wearing dark red robes and chanting. We see the robed people crush a fruit that looks very much like the fruit Cas brought back from Syria (Hey, y'all, remember Cas? He might come up later. No, just kidding. He won't.) and add blood and something that looks a lot like angel grace. Well, that all sounds familiar, doesn't it? The woman is bound to a platform, the potion ingredients begin to glow, and the main chanter takes a pendant from around his neck. It glows purple and then sends a beam of purple light up to the ceiling, opening a glowing fissure and revealing a giant tentacle. The tentacle descends, the woman screams, and we all know what happens next even if we're not connoisseurs of tentacle porn, so let's just cut away here. Twenty-three skidoo, my friends!

Title card!

Bunker. Sam's asleep at the map table, and falling-asleep-over-research Sam is just so precious to me, guys. You don't even know. Or maybe you do. It's just such a little kid thing to do.

Look at the back of his cute little head!

Dean sneakily applies Post-it notes to his back. Dum dum, kick me, ass face, and I'm stupid. Which I guess could maybe be funny if there were any possibility that someone other than Dean was going to see these notes, but. Honestly, it's just weird. Sam wakes up, Dean innocently denies he's doing anything and asks what Sam is reading. Sam says he found something on the Seal of Solomon, but it's "weird." Apparently Solomon commanded his priests to "bind my seal," and it ended up in a jewel that was "of the cosmos." Smart!Sam hypothesizes that this might mean a meteorite. Cute!Sam wrinkles his little nose and looks sleepy and adorable. Dean looks thoughtful and gives us a nice profile. Good times.

Damn good times.

Dean recaps for us - they have the blood of the most holy man, they have the fruit of the tree of life, but they do not have the "kryptonite" which apparently is the Seal of Solomon, even after searching the entire bunker. Time to search the archives again, says Sam.

I don't know if we've ever seen the archives before. I mean, I'm sure we've seen this room. I'm sure it's also been the dungeon or something, but I don't think we've ever seen it dressed as the archives.

But we've all seen this in fanfic, haven't we? Is this how you pictured it?

Sam's voice is still sleepy-deep when he says "I'll go left, you go right," and they split up to go through the books. "I love books!" Dean exclaims sarcastically. Time passes, and we see Sam still has the Post-its on his back. Dean falls asleep sitting up (aw, he should have put his head down on his arms like Sam did, it's hella cute), Sam smacks the table to wake him up, they're both bored and frustrated, and it's a nice little slice-of-life scene. I like it. But apparently they're unsuccessful, since we see a frustrated Sam head into the... locker room? Is that what we call this room?

(Sidebar: Didn't someone come up with a floor plan for the bunker? Where did I see that?)

Sam catches a glimpse of himself in the mirror and notices the notes on his back. He can't reach them to pull them off, and he hollers at Dean, and he's going to have to take his shirt off, right? I mean, that's the only way you'll be able to reach them, Sam. And you can't trust Dean to remove them. Take your damn shirt off and pull those notes off.

Denied! Dean rushes in, but he's carrying a wooden box, and he announces "The men of letters found it! Solomon's treasure!" (Well, they didn't find a way to get Sam Winchester down to a single layer, I muttered angrily.) Sam forgets all about the notes as Dean tells him what the MoL found in 1917 - "a crystal that glowed with an unearthly light." Which is obviously the Seal of Solomon.

(Sidebar: I was annoyed at this point, because a very basic internet search showed the Seal of Solomon should be a signet ring, and why even bring up this thing that already has history if you're not going to use that history? Why make it a glowing jewel, Show, if it's already been identified as a ring? But on rewatch I caught that it had been "bound" into a "jewel," so I retract my annoyance. Carry on.)

According to the records, the jewel was taken to Capitulum Seven in Rhode Island, which is coincidentally where we were in the "Then!" Smart!Sam knows that capitulum is Latin for "chapter," and this is the name of the MoL chapter house. (Capitulum can also refer to part of the humerus bone. I'm not as smart as Sam but I do have Google.) He explains for the audience that, while there's only one bunker, there were smaller chapter houses - Capitulum 1 is in Jamestown, Capitulum 7 must be in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. (Sidebar: Are all the capitula back east? Is there one in every state? Is there a Capitulum 50 somewhere?) "Jinkies!" says Dean, very pleased with himself. Sam's not amused. "You're gonna stop saying that eventually, right?" Dean replies "I don't know. Probably not." Aw! I love it. That Scooby Doo adventure was so important to him. Let him have this, Sam.

I love the lighting in this scene.

Off the boys go to Portsmouth. The place looks deserted, and there's no visible door, but Sam finds something that looks like a manhole cover, engraved with that Aquarianati star. The bunker key fits (and remember, the BMoL taught us that all MoL keys work on all MoL properties, hello Continuity Fairy) and the cover is removed to reveal a dark underground tunnel. Dean drops into it first, and my immediate thought is how are you guys going to get out of there?

Luckily, the dropping-into-it part is visually interesting enough to distract me from that train of thought.

This is a really pretty scene, both the outdoor part (lots of nice overhead shots) and the dimly-lit tunnel.

They turn on the power, which reveals that Capitulum 7 looks very much like the bunker, with a few added sconces. And some books strewn about. Dean hangs a lampshade on that by pointing out that it looks familiar, and okay, the same people built these facilities, so.

Except for that, of course.

(Sidebar: The crew must have been awfully busy redressing the bunker set for this episode!)

They find a library that looks a LOT like their archives ("Great! More books!") and start their search. Dean finds a pile of photos and picks out one in particular, a young blonde woman in a very familiar 20s flapper costume. Her name (Sandy) and birthdate (1903) are written on the back. Sam finds some papers labeled "Solomon 1917," and knocks some other items off the shelf, which he ignores, and that seems out of character for Mr. Research. Seems like he'd be more careful around that stuff. The noise from the falling items (but not the manhole cover opening, or the power/lights coming on, or Sam and Dean's voices) seems to disturb or wake someone, because they hear a woman's frightened voice calling out. They follow the sound, break into the room we saw earlier, and there's our young flapper, bound to the altar, and ain't she the bee's knees?

(Sidebar: I may or may not have fantasies involving Sam and Dean that start out exactly like this. Don't judge.)

Dean asks how long she's been there, but she doesn't remember. He recognizes her from the photo and she confirms that she's young Sandy Porter, born in 1903.

Cut to Hell Adjacent. Let's just get the entire Ketchmodeus story out of the way, shall we? Ketch shows up, claiming he's been summoned, but Asmodeus's snarky bouncer says he's busy. Ketch asks if he has anything to read, and we see him reading a child's book (why is it here?) while the bouncer shows someone cat videos. Ketch takes advantage of the distraction of a cat in a funny hat to slip into Asmodeus's office, where he interrupts the Colonel himself, extracting grace from a whimpering Gabriel and injecting it into his own arm. Huh. I wonder what angel grace does for a demon? Asmodeus escorts him back out into the hall and tells him to wait.

When Ketch is finally admitted into the Colonel's office, Asmodeus tells him the Winchesters are gathering ingredients for a spell. Ketch reveals he already knows this, which angers the Colonel, because he didn't tell him. Thanks to poor Donatello, Asmodeus knows they were trying to open a portal, and he wants to stop them. He knows one of the ingredients they'll need is archangel grace. But mostly he wants to talk about "the nature of this relationship," because Ketch considers himself an employee (more of a contractor, really) and Asmodeus considers him a possession. Ketch decides he's done, and Asmodeus decides he's not, and beats the snot out of him.

Asmodeus gives himself another hit of angel grace, and we see he's got several vials prepared. He mocks Ketch for being "more wicked than any demon I know; and I know them all." Ketch points out that at least he still has a soul, but Asmodeus says souls are messy. And that Ketch claims he has a MoL code, but he works for a demon. And he thinks he's a cold-blooded killer, but he's full of fear, regret, and pain. "You want redemption, but you ain't never gonna get it. Your kind, our kind, we can't be redeemed. All we can do is spread our pain around. You don't know who you are, but I do. Which is why, no matter where you go, no matter what you do, you're mine."

I don't really care that much about Asmodeus's monologue, except that (1) it sets up Ketch's redemption arc, which I also don't care about but at least it's not Lucifer, and (b) it reminds me about the shifter who touched Ketch and shifted into his form, but without the British accent. Remember that? It was kind of a southern accent, similar to Asmodeus, wasn't it? Is that a story nugget that's going to be dropped and forgotten forever?

(Oh, and it also explains why Ketch would want to help the Winchesters. He needs Asmodeus gone.)

(Also, Mary.)

Asmodeus then apparently leaves Ketch in his office, which is absolutely what I would do with someone I didn't trust. Ketch sees Gabriel watching him and gets an idea. He drags the angel out of his cage, steals the New Only True Archangel Blade that I had forgotten about, and makes his escape.

While all this was going on, more interesting things were happening in Portsmouth. We see the guys replacing the manhole cover, which means we didn't get to see how they got back up to the surface. Either there's a stepladder left under the hole, or Dean gave Sam a boost, and then let Sam pull him out (because no, there's no way he would have let Sam give him a boost). Sandy is with them, wearing a plaid shirt over her spiffy little dress, and wait. Whose plaid shirt is this? The guys are still wearing their button shirts. They didn't bring a duffel into the capitulum with them. Where did this plaid shirt come from, and why did we waste a perfectly good excuse to have one of the Winchesters strip to a single layer. {sigh}

Sandy is having a hard time accepting that she's been underground for over 100 years, but isn't, like, freaking out over everyone she knows being dead or anything. "Welcome to the future," Dean says, as they put her in the back of their 50-year-old car.

Next we see them at Krispy's Diner, where Buck the customer is flirting with Amy the waitress, and Marco the cook is so silent that I wonder if he can actually speak. Marco gives Sandy the evil eye as soon as they walk in, but she's too entranced by the tableside jukebox to notice. (Sidebar: When I was in high school, there was a restaurant in town that had those little tableside jukeboxes. So much fun.) Dean takes note and plays a jaunty little tune for her. The friendly waitress who finds silent Marco so amusing comes to take their order.

Well, what's good?

People love the clam cakes, but if you ask me, you gotta try the stuffies.

Well, I don't know what stuffies are, but I'll take two. And the clam cakes.

I don't know why this amuses me so much, but it does. Sam orders water for everyone ("Well, that's exciting. Comes with lemon; you sure you can handle that?") and meatloaf for Sandy. But something less wholesome is going on in the kitchen. Marco pulls out his phone, revealing an Aquarianati star tattoo, and calls someone who has the same tattoo. "We've got a problem," he tells her. But she already knows, because she's in the room which formerly held Sandy. Yikes! Not so abandoned after all, was it?

Sandy starts getting a little more freaked out about being over 100 years old, and wonders why the guys aren't freaked out as well. If you watched the show, Sandy, you'd understand. She explains how she ended up on that altar - she met a guy who told her about his "secret club," which she assumed was a speakeasy. He called himself a "man of... books?" Close enough. Dean assures her that she's safe now, and again, Sandy, if you'd watched the show, you'd know that this means you are not safe at all. She remembers chanting, and light "like a rip in the air," which the guys immediately recognize as a portal. And then, of course, tentacles. "They were using me to feed it," she says. "The monster." Sandy jumps up, presumably to go to the bathroom, and Dean runs after her since he promised to protect her (ha ha no not really.)

Sam is extraordinarily pretty in this scene.

Marco watches her, then pulls a bottle out of his pocket (because most diner cooks carry a bottle of poison in their pocket) and doses some plates of food, then draws a curved blade out from under the counter (because most diner cooks carry their weaponry to work).

The Winchester discuss how they tested Sandy with holy water and silver (did you say Christo? I bet you didn't say Christo) and she passed, and why would the boring old MoL kidnap her and open a rift and feed her to a monster? (Boys, did the BMoL not teach you that MoL can be evil and not-boring?) And also, all the MoL are dead, so who's been keeping her?

Sam suggests that Dean stay at the diner with Sandy while he goes back to the capitulum, but Dean insists he's not going to let Sam go back there by himself. Because they don't do that. They stick together. (Spoiler alert: ha ha ha ha no.) He says they should take Sandy to a hotel, introduce her to television, and go back to the capitulum together. Then the waitress shows up with kale salad and lobster roll (no bun) for "Stringbean," and Dean's clam cakes and double order of stuffies, as well as Sandy's meatloaf. Hey, where is Sandy? Shouldn't we be concerned about her?

What we should probably be concerned about is the sinister red-robed figures that friendly customer Buck notices outside. He tells the Winchesters, because they seem like the kind of guys you'd tell, don't they? As soon as Sam sees them, he hears a high-pitched noise and acts like he has a headache, and guys, I thought they were doing it. I thought these people were sending out some kind of psychic vibes and Sam was receiving them. I thought we were getting Powers!Sam back. But once again my hopes are cruelly dashed against the rocks, because it turns out Sam had eaten some of his food, and the poison is kicking in. Sam's head falls onto his arm again (awwww!) just as Sandy comes out of the bathroom.

Four robed figures come in, and the lights go out. Marco comes out of the kitchen and attacks Dean, and one of the figures grabs Sandy, and there's one of those fights where people attack Dean one at a time. Sam wakes up and Marco puts a hood over his head and pulls him out of the diner with the help of another robed figure. Dean continues to fight the remaining assailants, and Sandy stabs one in the back. See? Told you she was the bee's knees. All the robed figures in the diner are vanquished, but there are still several outside, and Sam is gone.

We see Dean in the kitchen, pouring some kind of blue liquid (cleaning product? dishwasher soap?) into bottles and stuffing rags into them to make Molotov cocktails. The two waitresses and Buck announce that the landline and their cell phones are dead, so they can't call the police. Then they turn over a dead robed figure and it turns out he is the police, so there's probably no use calling them.

Outside, Sam's hood is removed to reveal he's been captured by Marco and the woman who was in the capitulum. They want the monster he stole from them. "Less a monster, more a god." Huh. They ask how he found their chapter house, and Sam tells them he's descended from the MoL. So are they! Their great grandfather was a MoL until he "went psycho" after WWI, seeing nothing but blood and violence in this world. He decided to summon a monster from another dimension to cleanse this world and start over. Sounds reasonable. If you're tired a blood and violence, summon a monster to bring paradise. What could go wrong?

In a flashback, we see the tentacle monster smack a tentacle over Sandy's mouth, leaving her with glowing purple eyes. Kind of like Rowena's. Hmmm. The woman, who I assume is Marco's sister, explains that the monster ate most of the MoL and tried to summon its mate, but they were able to bind it. The chapterhouse was closed down, and the remaining family has been watching over it ever since. So, I guess all those other people in red robes were cousins? "You're trying to tell me Sandy is a god," Sam says, "from another dimension?"

"All she wants to do is eat," the siblings tell him. "And breed." They don't know of any way to kill her, but they do know that if she feeds, they're all dead. Well, it's a good thing she didn't get to her meatloaf, isn't it?

I love the way Sam can be on his knees, hands tied behind his back, and still lets the people who did this know he's annoyed with them.

Back inside the restaurant, it looks like the robed figures outside are gone, and the waitresses convince Buck to go check. Why would he do that? Eh. I guess he wants to impress the chick he was flirting with. It's a mistake on his part. They're all dead, and so is he. Feeding time!

Inside, Dean hears Buck scream as Sandy feeds on him. He goes outside and gets a face full of tentacle. Ruh roh! Sam shows up to find him gone. The waitress tells him Dean went to check on Buck, who is clearly dead, as are all the others. But there's no sign of Dean. The MoL siblings tell him that if she fed on Dean, he'd be here with the other bodies, so she's on to her other goal - breeding.

Cut to Dean, waking up to find himself bound to that same altar.

Sandy, what the hell?

Sandy's dead. She's been dead for a long time.

Okay, I'll play. What's your name?

Oh, lord. I also love the way Dean can wake up chained to an altar and be his adorable flippant self with the monster who put him there.

(Sidebar: I may or may not have fantasies that start out like this as well.)

Also, I like the way he looks here, and not just because he's chained to an altar, okay?

She tells him the sad story of the MoL closing the rift before her mate could get through, and I can't catch either of these monsters names and I'm not going to try. "Oh my god, that's tragic," Dean says. "It's like a Hallmark movie. With tentacles." Bless him. Not!Sandy likes him too, and likes looking at his face (don't we all), which is why she's going to allow him to be her mate's host. She sets up the spell with the familiar ingredients, Dean makes a Ghostbusters reference, she does something that silences him, and she holds up the glowing purple pendant. Where did she get that? Why does Marco keep his knife and his poison with him at work, but not the precious Seal of Solomon? The rift opens and the tentacles descend. (Not normally part of my fantasies, but I can adapt.)

Sam and the remaining two MoL show up, and after Dean picks his own locks, he grabs the pendant and tosses it to Marco's sister (seriously, honey, you need a name). She utters the spell to close the rift, and before it closes, the tentacles of Not!Sandy's mate pull her back into the other world.

Aftermath! We skip over Sam explaining why they need the Seal of Solomon, but Marco and his sister seem to be okay with it. Marco explains that when you cast the spell, you need a guide - something that has been where you need to go. (So, who was the guide when his crazy grandpa opened that rift to Tentacle Porn World in the first place?) And the rift only stays open for 24 hours. I predict we'll see that in a "Then" pretty soon.

Back at the bunker, the guys are in a good mood about getting the seal. The only thing left is the almost impossible part; the archangel grace. Ketch recognizes his cue, and steps out of the shadows and shows the Winchesters that he brought them a gift - Gabriel.

Seriously, guys, you need to change the locks.

"He's dead," says Sam. "We saw him die."

"Or did you?" replies Ketch.

Huh. I assumed Gabriel had been recreated. If we're going with the Gabriel never died version of the story, that means Chuck didn't even know he was still alive. I mean, it would make sense that Gabriel faked his death and went into deep cover, and it wouldn't even be the first time. So I guess we're just accepting that Chuck doesn't know if an individual angel is alive or not.

Anyway. Ketch is all, heard you might need an archangel, and when Sam says they need his grace, Gabriel freaks out. As much as one can freak out, with one's mouth sewn shut. (I wonder if Speight got paid for a speaking or non-speaking role?) Ketch pulls out a glowing vial of grace that he stole from Asmodeus's stash when we weren't looking, and also gives up the New Only True Archangel Blade. All he asks in return is protection from Asmodeus. And to move into the bunker. Sam says "no," Dean says "deal," because this week it's Dean's turn to do the "enemy of my enemy" thing. Anything that helps them get Mary and Jack back is okay with him. Aw. I like that he included Jack in that.

Mmmm. Discord is pretty.

Next we see Sam gently snipping the stitches off of Gabriel's mouth. He asks the angel what happened to him, but before he can answer, Dean shows up with the ingredients for the spell - he's ready to go right now. But when Sam gets up to pack, Dean tells him he's not going. Somebody needs to stay at the bunker. Ketch enters and announces he's going with Dean, because it's easier to hide from Asmodeus in an alternate universe. "Fine," says Dean.

Fine? So you want Ketch to go, and not me?

I don't care if he dies. Hell, I'm kinda rooting for it.

Still, you can't -

No, I have to. It takes something that's been over there before to open up the right door. That's either you or me. So I'm gonna go. And if something happens to me, if time runs out, then I need you to come save me. And save Mom, and save whoever else. Okay?

It's safer if we go together.

Oh, there's no such thing as safer over there. You know that. I know you don't like this, okay? I don't expect you to. This is the way it's gonna be.


I mean, on the one hand, everything Dean said absolutely makes sense. If he can't save Mary and Jack in 24 hours, he'll need someone to come rescue him. But on the other hand, come on! There isn't anyone else they could leave behind? Someone who's also been to AU World? Someone neither of the Winchesters has even mentioned in this entire episode???

Yes, Sam, I'm angry too.

{All right. Deep cleansing breaths. Carrying on.}

Sam is mixing up the spell. Dean yanks out some of his own hair and adds it to the spell ingredients. "Something that's been there, right?"

OH WAIT ONE FUCKING MINUTE. So the "guide" can be HAIR? So Dean just has to leave a supply of his fucking HAIR behind and anyone can open the rift? But we still have to leave Sam behind????

{Cleansing breaths.}

Sam reminds Dean about the 24-hours, he says the words, the rift opens, and Dean claps him on the shoulder and goes through.

So! Many things I liked about this episode. One big thing I didn't like at all. What did you think? No spoilers in the comments, please!
Tags: 13.17 the thing, initial reaction, pretty, season 13, supernatural

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