caranfindel (caranfindel) wrote,

Initial reaction 14.15: “Peace of Mind”

THEN: Snakes. Michael. Donatello's soul, or lack thereof. Samwitch. Jack's soul spell. All the other hunters are dead. I am a Winchester!

NOW: A young man runs down a street (past a movie theater showing Scooby Doo, hee!) and into what seems to be a malt shop. He embraces the young woman working there and says he doesn't want to leave without her, but she says she made a promise, and sends him on his way. He doesn't get very far. He runs past the sign welcoming you to Charming Acres ("Where everybody's happy!") and into a convenience store, where his head explodes.

Title card!

Bunker. Jack is cuddling with Felix, the snake he rescued from last week's MotW. Cas comes to check on him, and he says he's good, but Cas disagrees. Jack tells him the snake doesn't feel well, and Cas thinks maybe he misses his monstery owner, and he's been through a lot of change lately. Just like Jack! Cas asks Jack if he has his powers back, because enough time has passed that they've had funerals for all the hunters and yet no one has asked him that yet. He thinks so, and demonstrates by levitating a pencil.

(I guess if they'd asked him earlier, and he'd shown them the pencil trick, they might have said "cool, how about you bring all these dead hunters back to life?" Would that have been a good thing or a bad thing? Discuss.)

He says he feels different, and Cas asks about his soul. The pencil drops to the floor. Ha, that's not symbolic at all. Jack doesn't know how much of his soul he burned off when he killed Michael, and he tries not to think about it. Huh. I wish there was someone, anyone here in the bunker, maybe even someone in the room here with Jack, who knew how to see if he had any soul left. But apparently there isn't. Okay then.


In the kitchen, Dean's eating a huge sandwich. Cas says he thought he was going to sleep "until the cows dragged you home," and there's a cute moment where Dean starts to explain and realizes it's pointless. He says Rowena called and is "not great, but coping." Cas tells him Jack claims he's good and asks about Sam. "He says he's good," Dean replies. "I think they're both full of crap."

Sam arrives at the bunker during this conversation and stops to unload at the map table and reveals that Dean is right, he's not good at all. He has flashbacks of the other hunters slumped dead at the table, and Maggie running toward him calling his name as she dies, and he's just so beautifully upset (hi, I'm Caranfindel and I have a problem) and on the verge of tears, and can I just say how much I appreciate that Show is not ignoring how traumatic this would be for him?

And not just because his trauma is so damn pretty.

Sam comes into the kitchen, brandishing his tablet, and tells Dean he found a case. Like, just now on his way home, apparently. Dean says they just did three hunts back-to-back and he needs a night off, and so does Sam. So, where was Sam coming from? Did he go on a hunt without Dean? Did they come home together, and Sam sat in the Impala looking at his tablet while Dean came in and made a sandwich?

Sam takes this in and completely ignores it and says "well, I'm leaving in ten." Dammit, y'all. Traumatized, driven Sam. I love it. I also love that his attitude is "this is what I need, so this is what I'm doing." Cas volunteers to go with him and tells Dean he should stay with Jack, because he looks up to him. "And his soul... you've seen this before."

Oh. Well. Yes, Dean has seen this before. Sam has LIVED this before. I wonder who would be the best person to talk to Jack about being possibly soulless? (And I also still wonder if there's ANYBODY in this bunker who is in a better position to detect Jack's soul. ANYBODY AT ALL.)

No, no, see, I was not great with Sam when he was, uh...

But Jack's soul isn't completely gone. At least, I don't think so. We just don't know how much is left?

Well, how am I supposed to figure that out?

I don't know! Just talk to him. Get him to open up.

Jesus. Okay. I do appreciate that Dean recognizes he didn't necessarily handle the Soulless!Sam situation well. But I'm having a hard time getting past the fact that CAS KNOWS HOW TO CHECK FOR THE PRESENCE OF A SOUL.


With the guys separated, I'm going to stick with Cas and Sam instead of going back and forth.

Cas and Sam drive up to the convenience store where the guy's head exploded. Cas is driving. I don't know why. I don't know why Sam doesn't have a car of his own. I don't know why Cas replaced the Pimpmobile, or why they're not using any of those cars in the bunker's garage. I don't know a lot of things. (I know Sam's in an overcoat and I like it.)

They think they're looking for a witch or demon. Sam yawns but says he's fine, because that's what they do, and Cas lectures him on needing to rest. "Can't," Sam says. "Just because I'm tired doesn't mean the monsters are gonna stop. Doesn't mean anything. Plus, we don't have as many hunters as we used to." Oh Saaaaammmmmy.

They introduce themselves to the clerk as Agents Scholz and Delp, which I immediately recognize as members of Boston, but it's not until halfway through the episode that I realize the title is a Boston song. Oh, you clever, clever show. They tell the clerk they're investigating "the incident," and he says "incident? that's what we're calling it?" and I have an out-of-body experience because I used almost that exact dialog in a fic (waves to Steve Yockey, who surely reads my LJ). The clerk tells them what happened and that the victim, Conrad, probably came from Charming Acres, a place he calls "weird."

Turns out Charming Acres is weird in a very retro way - it's like a town straight out of the 50s. Well-dressed people wearing hats roam its perfectly clean streets. "It's like we're stepping into a Saturday Evening Post," Cas says. He gets a funny look from Sam, and I don't know why, because surely Sam remembers that Metatron crammed all of that cultural knowledge into Cas's head. "I look at them after you fall asleep at night," Cas explains, and if I were a Sastiel shipper I'd point out that he says after you fall asleep instead of after you go to bed, suggesting that he doesn't just know when Sam goes to bed, he knows when he falls asleep. But I'm not, so I won't.

There's no cell service in Charming Acres, which is probably part of the reason why it's so charming; none of these people walking around have their noses in a phone. Sam gets out of the car and bumps into a couple - Justin Smith and his "foxy wife" Cindy. They don't know anything about a death, but they suggest the nice G-men ask around at Harrington's, the malt shop we saw earlier. Justin asks what Sam is holding, and is mystified at the answer. "Cell phone. A cell phone?" he muses, as they walk away.

"What was that?" Sam wonders. Cas answers "Maybe they're Mormon?" Hee!!!

Harrington's, where your first milkshake is free. Uh oh. Guys, never trust that. Sure, the first one is free, but that's how they hook you, and the next one will COST you. Sunny, the chick from the opening, is working behind the counter. Sam's doctor from "The Born-Again Identity" comes out from the kitchen and tells her to make sure they have more root beer, and she says she already sent the order. She then puts a couple of shakes on the counter for Sam and Cas. It's like she knew they were coming. Sam tells her they didn't order, but she says the first one's free. Don't drink that shake, Sam! But he does, and is surprised at how good it is. Cas just takes a whiff and calls it "delicious." Mmmm, smells like molecules.

(Sidebar: I'm not the only one who's watched "The Born Again Identity" enough times to immediately recognize that guy and remember his name, am I?)

Dr. Kadinsky comes back out and starts to make a request, but Sunny already knew what the customer wanted. It's almost like she's psychic or something. He introduces himself to the guys as Chip Harrington and calls them "the G-men I keep hearing about," even though they literally got out of the car three minutes ago. "It's a small town," he says. He's also the mayor, and says they're old-fashioned, but people here take care of each other. The guys ask about Conrad, who Chip thinks died of an aneurysm. "Oh, no," Cas says. "His head exploded. Like a ripe melon on the sun." The entire place goes silent, and y'all, I miss me some s4 BAMF Cas, but sometimes bumbling, socially awkward Cas is a delight. Flustered Sam is also a delight, as always.

Chip tells the guys where Conrad lived, so their next stop is Dowling's charming Victorian boarding house, planning to check for sulfur and hex bags. Mrs. Dowling knows who they are and is expecting them. "Small town," she explains. She shows them Conrad's room and tells them he was a nice young man. She only rents to men. Women living alone isn't proper. "Morals. Gotta have morals." She turns to Cas. "You know." I... I don't know what this means. Even on rewatch, I don't. At first I thought maybe she detected Cas was an angel. But now I just have to admit, I don't get it.

Sam asks for coffee as a way to get her out of the room so Cas can search it. He finds nothing of note except a few letters under the mattress. He tells Sam they're "surprisingly passionate." Passionate how, Sam asks, as he sips coffee from a teeny cup. "She spends quite a bit of time talking about shape and heft of his-" Sam interrupts just in time and says they should check that out tomorrow. Tomorrow, because he wants to spend the night here, and he probably needs some rest, and Mrs. Dowling is making pot roast. Cas is increasingly befuddled, and Sam is really getting into Charming Acres. And HE IS SO CUTE.

Meanwhile, over at the Smith's, Foxy Cindy is putting dinner on the table, while Justin is still muttering about a cell phone. "I bought a cell phone. In Houston. For my daughter." He suddenly remembers his daughter and asks Cindy who she is, and what he's doing here. She doesn't have a clue what's going on. He runs outside and, just like Conrad earlier, gets weird bulges on his face and then suffers a head explosion.

Morning in the boarding house. Cas knocks on Sam's door, but his room is empty. He goes downstairs and finds Mrs. Dowling vacuuming. She's wearing earbuds, so Charming Acres might not have cell phones, but it looks like they have mp3 players. She seems annoyed that Cas is there, but offers him some breakfast. He tells her he doesn't eat and says he's looking for his partner. "The very nice, the very tall fella? He said he's going for a walk. And a milkshake." Dammit, Sam, I warned you. IT'S THE MILKSHAKES.

But when Cas gets to Harrington's, they're just opening, and Sam isn't there. The music playing is the same thing Mrs. Dowling was listening to, and I don't know if that means anything. He's also got a huge bird crap on his car, and I don't know if that means anything, either. Maybe it's just supposed to be indicative of his day. He tells Sunny he's looking for his partner, and she says "the tall man" left when he heard what happened to Mr. Smith.

Smith house. Cas drives up and is greeted by a cheery, not-in-mourning, Foxy Cathy. She offers him a martini, which he declines. "I'm looking for my partner. The tall man." She doesn't know what he's talking about. "Hair? He has beautiful hair."


"This is complicated," Cas says, and the poor guy is just more and more puzzled. I don't usually appreciate a Cas-heavy episode, but I've gotta say, he's killing it. He sits down and Foxy Cindy screams NO! He jumps up and she sweetly explains "that's my husband's chair." Okay, so she is a little distraught over his death, but just handling it weirdly? Um, no.

I'm so sorry, but last night, his head... um... your husband, he died last night.

I think you're confused. Have you already had your martini today?

Cas continues to try to convince her Justin is dead, and then a familiar voice from upstairs says "Honey, is something wrong" and then...


Justin. Justin Smith.

IT'S SAM. SAM DRANK THE KOOLAID MILKSHAKE AND NOW HE'S ONE OF THEM. His hair is pulled back in a ponytail and he's wearing glasses and a cardigan with a tie (the same cardigan from "American Nightmare?" maybe) and I AM DEAD.


Cas thinks Sam is doing this on purpose, and when Cindy goes to make a martini, he asks him "who does she think you are?" But Sam absolutely believes he's Justin Smith. He requests three olives in his martini because "I'm feeling adventurous" and Cindy does a little mewl and he says "rawr!" and REALLY I CANNOT HANDLE IT. Neither can Cas.

Sam, I don't know what's happened, I don't know if this is a spell, or a curse, or what's happened, but you will SNAP THE HELL OUT OF IT.

Sir. You watch your mouth. If we cannot remain civil, then you can skedaddle.


That's not my name. Cindy, grab his hat.

I don't wear a hat.

(Honey, I don't think he wore a hat!)

Fine. Sir, using language like that. H E double hockey sticks. You should have your mouth washed out with soap.


Sam ushers him out the front door and lectures him with the Single Upraised Finger of Reasonableness and lord, I hope Jared had as much fun doing this as I'm having watching it. And I didn't like the brothers being separated AGAIN, but now I understand. There's no way Dean wouldn't have sucked down a milkshake. But since Cas doesn't eat, he's safe.

(Sidebar: Don't you think Sam would have shaved? Discuss.)

It's nighttime when Cas shows up back at Harrington's. He accuses Sunny of being a witch who brainwashed Sam and the entire town. She denies it, but he shows her the letters he found, where she begged him to leave. She tries to run, but he grabs her and does the glowy eyes and says "tell me, or I'll rip it from your mind" and hmmm, that's a nice flash of angry, protective-of-Sam Cas. Terrified, she confesses that "it's not me, it's him, he's out of control." And "him" is Chip, who is standing behind them with a few friends. Including Sam. Duh duh duh!!!

So you did this.

What, did you think it was the milkshakes?

Dammit, I did. I completely and totally fell for that. It turns out Chip is just psychic or something. The mill shut down and his wife died and his town was going downhill and he started hearing voice and he screamed "just make things better!" and then, wow, things became better. He wished there were more people at his shop, and there were. "I made everybody happy." And he murdered the rest. (Sidebar: Is this a political statement about people who wish we could go back to "the good old days?" Discuss.) He says his tricks never worked on Sunny, because she's too much like him, which explains why she knew the root beer needed to be ordered and the G-men were coming in - she's psychic too. He asks why his powers don't work on Cas, and Cas says "because I'm not human," and he has no problem accepting that.

Is it just me, or do these glasses emphasize the tilt to Jared's eyes?

Sunny runs outside and Chip follows. Sam and the other two guys stay to attack Cas. He tells Sam he won't hurt him, and gives him the Single Raised Finger of Reasonableness again and says "golly, I told you my name is Justin!" Oh, golly Sam, you're killing it. Cas takes the other two guys down pretty easy, but Sam knocks him to the floor, and he may have forgotten his own name but he knows where Cas keeps his angel blade. Cas, of course, is trying not to hurt him, and it's hard to defend yourself against someone who's trying to kill you when you don't want to hurt them, so all he can do is try to talk Sam out of stabbing him.

Fight this.

Why? I'm happy in Charming Acres. We're all happy.

Sam, I know you want to be happy. And I know what it's like to lose your army. I know what it's like to fail as a leader, Sam. But you can't lose yourself. You have to keep fighting. You can't lose yourself because if you do, you fail us, you fail all of those that we've lost. You fail Jack. Sam, you fail Dean!

And that does it. Sam jams the angel blade into the floor next to Cas's head (just like MoC Dean did) and takes of the glasses. Looks like he found himself.

Meanwhile, outside, Chip is telling Sunny that she's just as responsible for Conrad's death as he is, and she can't stop him, because in this town, he's God. Sam shows up to smack him upside the head. "No, you're not, believe me. We've met God."

"God has a beard," Cas adds.


Chip uses his powers on Sam and he gets the bulges that mean his head is going to explode and no, not his head! That's one of my favorite parts! Sunny finds her own power and stops him. "You want to be happy? Then be happy." She whammies Chip and he gets a blank look on his face and I'm pretty sure I've referenced the Ren and Stimpy Happy Helmet at some point, but I'm thinking about it again. Cas puts a hand on his head and says "She made him happy. Your father is trapped inside his own mind. He's in a world that - it's a beautiful world, but it's a place where he can never hurt anyone again."

Which makes me think (1) it's too bad this isn't a solution for all those "good old days" people, and (b) WHY CAN'T CAS READ JACK???? WHY?????

Never mind. Isn't Sam pretty? And tragic? And tragically pretty?

Now let's see what's happening in the bunker. Jack is trying to feed Felix a variety of different foods, but he won't eat. Maybe it's because he's on newspaper, which seems like it would be uncomfortable for a snake. Dean is adorably uncomfortable.

Have you tried bacon?

Do snakes like bacon?

I don't... I like bacon.

He also opens a box that appears to be leftover Chinese food but actually contains white mice. Hee! He invites Jack on a drive. Not a hunt, "more like a field trip." We see them driving through the night, with the snake riding in the back seat. Dean suggest Jack have a snack, but he says he's not hungry, so Dean says he should try feeding the snake. He gives him two packaged snack cakes - one devil's food, and one angel food. Oh, Dean, you are the least subtle person on earth and I adore you.

I don't think you have a firm grasp on what snakes eat.

Yeah, no. I always thought they were kinda cool, though.

Most people think they're dangerous.

Well, it's not the snake that's dangerous. It's the... bite

Is that a saying?

It is now.

Oh, god. Dean wincing when he says snakes are cool, watching Jack decide which cake to open, I'm dead. Jack finally chooses the angel food cake, and Dean sighs with relief.

But Lucifer was an angel, Dean.

They pull up to a familiar-looking house - it's Donatello's house! Jack doesn't understand why their field trip was to come here. "With this whole soul thing," Dean says, "we're worried about you. And when it comes to souls, or not having them, Donny here's an expert." Well, I guess that's true. I mean, there's another person who knows a lot about not having a soul, someone who lives a lot closer than Donatello does, but sure. Go ahead. Go see your expert. Donatello leads Jack inside, while Dean says he'll stay outside and keep an eye on the snake. Which means slamming the roof of the car for some reason to see what it does, and then moving as far away from the open window as he can. (Sidebar: who else expected Felix to escape and be roaming around inside the Impala?)

How to casually stay as far away as possible from the snake in the back of your car.

Inside, Donatello pours a couple of MASSIVE cups of coffee (seriously these are soup bowls, aren't they?) He swirls cream into his coffee and it looks like the milky way, which inspires him to say being soulless feels like a galaxy. "A very large, black hole... inside, empty. I feel nothing." But he tells Jack "Losing your soul doesn't make you bad, it doesn't make you anything. It's an absence. Of pity, and empathy. Or humanity."

Jack says he doesn't feel nothing, but he also doesn't feel the same. "Maybe I just don't know what nothing feels like. Mostly I just don't want Sam and Dean and Cas to worry." (Yes, I do love that he listed Sam first. Shut up.) But he also feels like he needs some time to deal with this on his own, and being on his own is never an option; there's always someone watching over his shoulder.

When I need to blend, I ask myself "what would Mr. Rogers do?"

Who's Mr. Rogers?

The best man I know.

Sam and Dean are the best men I know.

So, ergo, whenever you don't want them to worry, just think WWWD. What would the Winchesters do?

I can do that.

OH JACK. YOU SWEET BABY. You probably don't want to do what the Winchesters would do, though. It never works out well.

Meeting adjourned. Jack goes to sit in the car, and Dean asks Donatello if he has a soul. "I suppose the first question we must ask ourselves is, what is a soul?" This gets the eyeroll it deserves. Donatello says he thinks Jack is okay, and Dean asks if he's like him. "Oh, no. I'm a prophet of the Lord, but he's... Jack's probably the most powerful being in the universe. I mean, really, who knows what's going on inside his head?"

Um, I don't know, Donatello, but I do remember that when you first met him, you could tell he wasn't evil. You could detect evil. Did you lose that ability, just like Cas lost his ability to check for a missing soul?


In the car, Jack grins and waves like a sweet little nougat cinnamon roll. But the music, ah, the music is pretty ominous.

Aftermath! Dean says it looks like the snake enjoyed the trip and Jack says "It's hard to say; he's very guarded." I don't know if we're supposed to think he's being literal, or if he's making a joke. Either way, I applaud it. Dean asks Jack if he's okay and he says "it was... illuminating." He then heads into his room with Felix just as Sam and Cas come in. Dean asks about their trip, and Sam's annoyed that Cas told him about the cardigan and Foxy Cindy. Like, Sam, you KNOW Cas doesn't keep secrets. "He said you were really happy," says Dean, and oh, now I get it. Cas was worried about him. {sniff}

Cas goes off to see Jack, and Dean and Sam have this conversation.

Really happy, huh?

I mean, I guess I WAS happy, but it wasn't real, you know?

Well, not a lot of happy going on around here.


I hate this place right now. I hate it. Everywhere I look I see them. I see Maggie. I guess that's why I, uh, was so desperate to get out of here. Why I kept running us ragged. But I gotta stop that. I can't keep running, I... this is my home. This is our home. Dean, I think I just need some time.


OH GOD SAM'S FACE. When he breaks down and admits he hates it here, and when Dean pats him on the shoulder, and when he looks up, teary-eyed, and takes a deep breath, I CAN'T. I know this is the moment of angst we always expect at the end of a funny episode but this one is TOO MUCH. And how is it that we've had so much good emotional Sam this season?


I appreciate that they're making the death of the hunters Sam's trauma. It should upset Mary and Jack too, since they lived with them longer. But Sam feels responsible for them. He's the reason they're in our world. He told them they'd be safer here, and now they're dead.

None of this is okay, but all of it is wonderful.

Back in his room, Jack picks up his snake. "Cas says you miss your friend. You need help. Sam and Dean would help you, so I'll help you. I'll help you see your friend again. In Heaven." As Cas watches from the doorway, Jack does the glowy eyes and the SNAKE TURNS TO DUST AND NO, NO JACK, THIS IS NOT WHAT SAM AND DEAN WOULD DO, NOT AT ALL.

Well, that was a rollercoaster. The funny parts were wonderful, the sad parts were heartbreaking, the ominous parts were horrifying. Can we talk about Sam being so desperate to get out of the bunker, and so vulnerable to anything that feels like happiness, and Justin!Sam's frantic insistence that he is happy and wants to stay happy? About Sam overcoming Chip’s control when Cas mentions Jack and Dean? About Dean's cake test? About Cas actually carrying much of a storyline and being not only watchable, but enjoyable? About what the ACTUAL FUCK is going on with Jack?

And yes, the stupid parts were stupid, and the unexplained parts were inexplicable. I've chosen to handwave them. What did you guys think?

Remember, no spoilers in the comments, please!
Tags: 14.15 peace of mind, initial reaction, pretty, season 14, supernatural

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Posts from This Journal “initial reaction” Tag

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