caranfindel (caranfindel) wrote,

Initial reaction 14.18: “Absence”

THEN: I am a Winchester! Which means I do awful and wonderful things! Like saving Sam (Saaaaaammmm!!!) and torturing Nick and doing Something Bad to Mary! And possibly losing my soul! Whoopsie!

NOW: Sam and Dean are just getting back to the bunker after the events of the previous episode. I assume they've given Donatello a ride home (which, as we've established, is x hours away), but maybe they stuck him in a cab like they did with Claire that one time. Maybe they found a car for him back at the abandoned warehouse. Sam drops his bag on the map table and they both start calling for Jack and Mary, but aren't too terribly concerned about them not being there. "They probably just stopped for a bite on the way back," Dean hypothesizes, when they settle in the library with a couple of beers. Um. Jack zapped them to Nick's cabin, didn't he? So what is on the "way back?" Are they going to zap to a McDonald's first? What is important is that Sam is still wearing that orange plaid shirt. And they're both pretty unperturbed, even for them, about what just happened.

Here's to another miraculous Sam Winchester survival. Gotta say, man, if Jack hadn't have healed you... you know, lately, it feels like we'd be up the creek without that kid. I mean, first he takes care of Michael, and then Nick...

I know, and he even got the blood out of my new orange plaid shirt, which means I can keep wearing it for this entire episode.

Yeah, I been meaning to talk to you about that. You've been adding a lot of orange to your wardrobe lately.

Just this shirt and that one jacket.

It's more orange than anyone needs. Sure, it fits you great, but so does that red and black plaid. Why don't you wear that shirt some more? Or that solid black shirt you have?

Sorry, but you know I'm a Texas fan. You're just going to have to put up with the orange.

At least I think that's how the conversation went. I could be remembering wrong.

I'm just saying. It's a lot of orange.

The point is, Dean appreciates Jack and recognizes everything he's done for them. Dean pulls out his phone to call her and they hear a buzzing, which is her phone, on the map table, right to Sam's bag. Sam, I know you're recently back from the dead (or near-dead) but it does seem like you would have noticed the phone there. (Also, how close is the library to war room? This makes it look like the map table is practically in the library.) Her keys are next to her her phone, and it's not until this very moment that I realize they didn't know she and Jack zapped to the cabin - they must have thought she and Jack drove there. Because obviously they didn't have a lot of conversation about it. Even though they had a long drive back and it does seem like Sam would have called his mother and asked how their end went.

Anyway. They're perturbed now. Sam tries to call Jack and we see him, staring, ignoring Sam's call.

Title card! (ha ha, I forgot we were still in the Now.)

The guys are making phone calls to all their contacts, and Sam reports Rowena has a spell that might be able to track Jack down. Oh, I love that Sam calls Rowena for help. LOVE IT. Dean gets a call from Cas and gives him the scoop. "Were they together?" Cas asks. "Alone?" Cas looks more Cassy than usual, and then tells Dean about the snake. "I don't think Jack is well, Dean," he says. Dean hangs up on him, which seems kind of rude, but neither he nor Sam act like the snake story is particularly significant. Then Sam gets the brilliant idea to track Jack's phone. (Sidebar: Should Cas be able to use his angelic powers to locate Mary and/or Jack? Discuss.)

Sam fires up the phone tracking website and expositions that they should be able to track him as long as his phone has power. (Listen, guys. You need Find My Friends. Best parent app EVER. It locates him in Nepal, but then he immediately appears in Peru. "Jack's flying," Sam says.

Eventually Jack tires of Paris and Lima and Madagascar and and flops to the ground back at the Cabin of Death, next to Nick's stolen truck. He pulls out his phone, revealing a low battery (so much for that plan, Sam) and several missed calls and messages from the rest of TFW 2.0. He has some flashbacks to happier times with Mary, and then in the background we notice someone standing on the porch of the cabin. They're wearing jeans, and their face is hidden in the darkness, and I'm open to the possibility that Jack actually zapped Mary somewhere instead of killing her (and according to the 14.17 poll, some of you are also open to this), so for a second I think it's going to be Mary standing there. But no.

On the TV:


Hmm. Guess again. Hello, son.

At my house:



Sorry. I'm just really tired of him.

So, after Jack left to do more important things (Saaaaaaammmmmm!!!!), Lucifer made it back into the world? I mean, this is awful, but it would mean Lucifer is the Big Bad instead of Nick, so... not ALL awful? But it's not Lucifer either - "I'm your subconscious, or whatever," he says. Oh god, it's Hallucifer. Jack has his own version of Hallucifer, JUST LIKE HIS PRIMARY DAD. He's here to help, allegedly, though he doesn't seem all that helpful. "Buddy, you killed Mary Winchester. You cannot come back from that, and you know it." Well. I guess she's officially dead, then. Or is she? Where's the body? I mean, Hallucifer is just Jack's subconscious. So if Jack thinks he killed Mary, so does Hallucifer. That doesn't make it so. Jack tells Hallucifer that it was an accident, and he's all, sure, tell Sam and Dean that, I'm sure they'll understand. (It's funny because it's not true!)

Cut to the Winchesters, driving through the night. Sam expositions that Cas will meet them at the cabin (how do any of them even know where this cabin is?) and speculates that maybe Lucifer is behind whatever happened, not Jack. And maybe Jack thought he was being kind when he killed the snake. Because Sam is grasping for anything that exonerates his son (sob!). But Dean's not accepting it and doesn't want to talk about it. Then Sam's laptop or tablet or whatever he's using beeps with notification that Jack's signal has been lost. Uh oh. (So I guess that's how they found the cabin?) Oooh, yes, we actually get confirmation that it's in Longton "KA" (which doesn't exist and I suspect is supposed to be KS, SERIOUSLY, GUYS).

Longton KANSAS is 4.5 hours from Lebanon. In case anyone but me is curious.

When they get to the cabin, there's no sign of Jack or Mary or Hallucifer. Just the stolen truck. Sam goes inside and Dean looks outside and oh, who's going to be the one to find the body? First I'm sure it's going to be Sam, because there's a lumpy pile of blankets on the bed, but it must just be blankets, and Sam doesn't even look under them. He does find a body, but it's Nick, not Mary. And then I'm sure it's going to be Dean, because he comes across something disturbing outside and ignores Sam's calls. But what he found is... well, it's hard to see what it is in the dark. Apparently it's a blast zone. A big one.

Cas is sitting in his truck somewhere, having his own warm and fuzzy Mary flashback where she eats a candy bar after a hunt without washing her hands and refuses to let Cas heal her because she's still a little bit afraid of him. He tells her that, no matter what other things there are to deal with, Sam and Dean are glad she's here. "Finally they don't have to be so alone." Wow, that's a dumb thing to say. Mary agrees with me and says "Castiel, they were never alone. And if they were, me being here wouldn't fix that, since I'm always off doing other things." That's how I remember it, anyway. Reverie over, Cas gets out of the truck to face the music - he's at the Cabin of Death.

Inside, Sam is covering Nick's body. He and Dean have some concerned conversation about whether Nick deserved whatever Jack did to him and conclude that Jack must have made it as painful as possible or otherwise killed him in some inappropriate way. And there are very good, valid reasons for them to come to this conclusion. I mean, I can't think of them right now, after watching the episode twice and ruminating for several hours, but I'm sure something will come to me very soon. Let me just go check Tumblr again. I bet they're there.

(Seriously. Nick looks like he was burned out by an angel. That's all.)

They're surprised when Cas walks in, because they didn't hear his giant truck or see his headlights in the dark Cabin of Death. They tell him they haven't found anything except the blast site that looks like something "angelic, but bigger." Dean theorizes that it could have been Lucifer, but Sam points out that Jack said he took care of Lucifer, and I'm not sure why they've reversed their positions. Because in the car, Sam was the one who thought it might have been Lucifer. Script mix-up? Someone brought Jensen the wrong pages? Anyway. Dean says "If he did something to her, if she is... then you're dead to me." Pointing as Cas, because Cas knew something was wrong with Jack. Well, that hardly seems fair. When he first told you the snake story, Dean, you didn't think it meant anything at all. But NOW, all of a sudden, it was some ironclad harbinger of doom?

"I was scared. I believed in Jack for so long. I believed that he was good. I knew that he would be good for the world. He was good for us. My faith in him, it never wavered, and then I saw what he did. It wasn't malice, it wasn't evil, it was like Jack saw a problem and he solved it, with that snake. What he did wasn't bad. It was the absence of good, and I saw that in him. But we were a family and I didn't want to lose that..." And I'm going to stop here, because this is the most important part of Cas's speech. This is the core issue. Jack's not bad, he just might not be good either. He thought he was doing the right thing. And he's family. Is any of this familiar, Dean? Any of it at all? Cas also says that he wanted to "fix it" on his own, so he left and didn't tell anyone. Neither brother asks how he thought he was going to fix it, but I guess they'll get the story of the failed faux Samulet someday. Right now we just have Sam looking sad and guilty and Dean looking angry and guilty but mostly angry.

Sam's phone rings - it's Rowena. She says she was unable to scry Jack because "his energy is too unstable; it's like looking at the sun." And as for Mary? "I don't know what happened, or where she is, but I can tell you with certainty - Mary Winchester is no longer on this earth." At this point, I'm still ready to accept that she's been zapped to a different dimension. I mean, there's no body. But TFW accepts it as her being dead, and Dean starts throwing furniture and Sam is despondent and flinchy (and hoo boy, I love that combination.)

So what do we do?

What do we always do when we lose one of our own?

Bad things. Very bad things. He declares "we fight to bring them back." And they will call on Rowena, because "she's got the Book of the Damned; she's resurrected herself more times than we can count." (Not to quibble, but we've only seen her resurrected twice. You yourself have been resurrected more times than that, Dean.) He orders Cas to go to Heaven and find Mary, and orders Sam to tell Rowena they're on their way. Mmmm, angry bossy Dean. I like that combination too.

Another thing I like about this scene is that it's one of those times when Sam turns into the little brother. When he looks at Dean and asks "what do we do," because that's how this works.

So much to like.

We go to Rowena's place, and if you're wondering where she lives and how far it is from the Cabin of Death, you're not alone. She's working away on her spell, though it sounds like she says cumin so maybe it's actually a chili recipe, when someone bangs on her door. "That was fast," she says. But when she answers the door... oh god, it's Jack, and for the first time in this episode I actually feel some concern. DO NOT HURT HER, JACK. (Rowena, I apologize for not appreciating you when you first arrived on the scene. I adore you now and you must remain.) She pretends she doesn't know what happened, asking if he's well and telling him 2/3 of his dads are looking for him. He admits he accidentally killed Mary by just thinking it for a second and oh, imagine how horrible that would be, if the awful things that popped into your mind for one second actually came to pass. Or maybe I have more intrusive thoughts than y'all do. Anyway. "I need to undo it," he says. "You need to help me undo it." She explains that the magic she normally uses has to be in place before you die, so he suggest the book (I adore the way she says book>) and she tells him about the spell. It requires "enormous power" but simple ingredients that could probably be found in the bunker.

Someone bangs on the door again - it's Dean. Jack accuses her of stalling, but they only talked for like 90 seconds, so, okay. She asks him to talk to his "kin," but he grabs her arm. Sam kicks the door in (with hair in his face and yes it is hot as fuck) but it's too late - Jack has zapped her out.

Sadly, I have not found a gif yet, so this will have to do.

Cut to Cas at the Stairway to Heaven, calling for Naomi. No one responds.

Jack and Rowena appear in the bunker, and he pulls her along, but happens to notice some gouges in the floor. And now we get another flashback. Mary is trying to teach him how to handle a knife, and he keeps dropping it on the floor. She's all sweet and supportive and blah blah blah, and Jack says Dean will kill him for gouging the floor when they get him back, so this must be during the Michael!Dean period. Mary pulls the table over to cover the damaged floor, but who is that in the background? It's bearded Sam! Oh, long lost Beard of Despair! How I've missed you! (Is it fake? Is it real? Was this a deleted scene? Or did they plan for what was coming, and film this before he shaved it off? Does Jared just grow a beard that quickly? I DO NOT CARE.) He feels bad for not being there for Jack while he was busy looking for Dean, and then he apologizes for complaining to her. But she's relieved not to be the only one with "parental guilt." Because they went through so much without her, and then things were "complicated" when she got back. "I'm just saying, parenting is always a struggle. You always feel like you're failing, but then you look at them, and somehow, they're amazing. Somehow, they're literally the bravest, kindest, most heroic men on the planet." Well, this is true. Very true. And I'm glad she's giving Sam the praise and validation he SO deserves but come on, Mary. What do you know about parenting? You did it for four years. When did you feel like you were failing six-month-old Sam?


Fade to Sam. Interesting that Jack's warm fuzzy flashback turned into Sam's. (It's because Sam is his primary dad! It is known!) They're still at Rowena's, and Dean is still ranting about Cas not telling them about the snake. EVEN THOUGH DEAN DIDN'T CARE ABOUT THE SNAKE WHEN CAS FIRST TOLD HIM.

Cas, Cas should have told us. As soon as he saw Jack going Dahmer on his stupid snake, he should have told us.

Dean, it wasn't just Cas. We knew Jack was dangerous. We always knew. Long before he killed Michael. You more than anyone. I mean, from the very beginning you knew. But, you know, we fell for him, because he had a good heart and a good soul. And then, he didn't. And that's on me, too, by the way. I mean, I'm the one that made the call to bring him back. He didn't ask for that. I decided for him. And you warned me.

Oooh. Sam. No. Because:

1) Dean didn't KNOW from the very beginning. He was, in fact, WRONG at the very beginning, when he thought Jack was evil. Jack was not evil, and you insisted on giving him a chance, and YOU WERE RIGHT. Jack becoming "evil" in the future (and he's not even EVIL, he's just naive and untrained and too powerful for his own good) wasn't anything Dean predicted.

b) Dean didn't exactly fight very hard to stop Sam from bringing Jack back. Seems like most of his concern was that it wouldn't work, not that it was a bad idea in and of itself.

Then Sam says "You know, after Maggie and the other hunters died, I just left. I just dumped Jack on Cas and left." Well, I'm not a big fan of "Maggie and the other hunters" (reminds me too much of "Sting and the Police" and I don't know why Maggie - or Sting - were so damn special that they deserved to be singled out as the only ones in the group with a name), but I also don't have any memory of Sam leaving after Michael killed the other hunters. And when he did, he wanted to take Jack, but Dean wouldn't let him. But Sam says he knew something was going to happen and he's wallowing in guilt. Dean admits that he also knew there was a risk, because of what Donatello told him about not being sure. Well, thank Chuck for that. I'm glad Dean's not letting Sam shoulder all the blame for something that wasn't his fault.

Angry Dean and sad Sam, two things I adore.

Back at the bunker, Rowena is gathering her cumin and other ingredients. Jack's getting impatient, and she tells him that she could have fought him, but she didn't. "Because you want the same thing the boys want. That I want." This is a beautiful, beautiful moment, with Rowena wanting what "the boys" want, but it's interrupted by Hallucifer, who doesn't even know why Jack is doing any of this. "To ease your guilt? But you don't have guilt any more, do you, Jack? Admit it. You don't feel anything any more." Well. Everything Hallucifer says comes from Jack's head, so what do we think about this? Does Jack really not feel anything any more? I disagree. If he didn't feel anything, if he didn't want Mary back, if he didn't care about forgiveness, why would he even bother? So I think our boy does feel something. Rowena is disturbed by Jack talking to his hallucination, but she carries on and finishes the spell. They have everything they need except the body. Oh.

Stairway to Heaven. Cas isn't going anywhere until Naomi talks to him. Someone finally shows up, but it's Duma.

Where's Naomi?

Well, I'd tell you it's none of your business, but you already know it's none of your business. Naomi just gets paid more than I do, and we've already got all the regular guest stars in this episode, so we had to cut some corners.

At least that's how I remember it. She tells him Mary is at peace in "a special Heaven" and "is complete" and he should just let her be.

Jack takes Rowena to the Cabin of Death, but Mary's body isn't there. He thinks she should be able to complete the spell anyway, but she says she can't. He wants to do it himself, but she says he's in no shape, and "disposition affects execution." She tells him that whatever he brings back won't be Mary, and refuses to help him and OH I'M CONCERNED FOR HER AND HE REACHES OUT AND PUSHES HER and she just ends up being shoved back into her apartment. WHEW. She calls Sam and tells him what Jack is doing, and that it won't work because there's no body, and Jack has snapped and they need to stop him." Necromancy is a delicate art, unpredictable under ideal circumstances. In his state, I fear your boy will bring back something terrible." WELL, THAT'S ENCOURAGING. (Also, Rowena is hilarious in this scene.)

Jack sits in the corpse-less blast zone and performs the ritual and a huge swirling purple cloud appears overhead and I'm thinking, is this our out? Is Jack going to summon something awful, something that can be the Big Bad so he doesn't have to? Please? He notices the Impala nearby, and uses his powers to stop it in its tracks. Luckily it's just right outside the cabin. Sam and Dean run toward him, and we see him looking down at whatever he has summoned, but he doesn't look happy about it. Neither do the Winchesters. "It didn't work," he says, before zapping out.

Oh, the thing he brought back is Mary. Well, Mary's corpse, apparently. Dean holds her and finds her still dead, and he's sad and we get his flashback, which is just Mary leaning on him, asleep in the car, and then Sam comes and holds Dean as he holds Mary and everybody's sad, we're all sad, so terribly terribly sad and we get a crane shot and it's a very lovely scene but I can't help thinking um, correct me if I'm wrong, but we do have that missing piece now, right?

We're getting a lot of use out of the crane in this episode.

Jack ends up at some industrial kind of place, where Hallucifer tells him there's no going back. "Cas, Sam, Dean, they're never going to trust you again. And you know what that means. You can never trust THEM." And oh, this is Jack's head telling him that. Poor baby.

Bunker. Sam has his box of treasures and he's looking at the few remaining family photos. He looks up, full of hope, when Cas comes in. But Cas tells him Mary is in Heaven and at peace. Dean shows up in time to hear this, and asks if he's just going to take Duma's word for it, because she's a known liar and also might possibly be that dude from The Empty. He says no, he actually saw Mary's Heaven, and we see her door with the dates 1954-1983 and 2016-2019 on it, which of course begs the question of what Sam and Dean's doors are going to look like.

"We're gonna need a taller door."

(Stolen from @sugarjared on Tumblr.)

He says he saw her with John (way to bury the lede, Cas), and they're full of joy. But was it really John? Haven't we established that most people are in their own individual Heavens, and if she has a John, it's just an avatar? I mean, John's name wasn't on the door. And I expect Dean, at least, to insist they try to bring her back anyway. But Sam says Rowena told him that what Jack brought back was just an empty replica, "incapable of holding life." (I mean, I feel like that sometimes.) "So what are we supposed to do now?" he asks. And again, Sam is looking to Dean to lead them through this, and yet he's got to know what they SHOULD do. He's got to be thinking of Mary, safe and happy in Heaven, and of ripping someone (anyone, no one in particular, right Sam?) away from that and forcing them to continue on Earth just because you can't be without them. He's got to be thinking of that.

"What we always do," Dean says. And the last time he said that, in this very episode, it meant we do something awful, we throw our own lives away or make some horrible bargain or damn the world in order to bring her back. But this time, it just means that we give her a hunter's funeral. And Sam doesn't look like he was ready for that after all.

So Mary gets a very dramatic pyre, and a montage? Did anyone else get a montage? Ellen, Jo, Bobby, Kevin, Crowley? JOHN? ANYONE? A FREAKING MONTAGE? NO. Grrr. Cas tries to get closer to Dean and Sam puts out a hand and stops him. Also, Sam burns a photo of her and I don't know why.

Remember, you're dead to him, Cas.

And finally, we cut to the library table where Sam and Dean carved their initials and we see they are joined by a M.W. Um. What about John? Didn't he get to carve his intials? (NO. Those are only for people who get a montage.)

Also, now that I'm going back to get screencaps, it doesn't look like her intials were there at the beginning of the episode. So she didn't carve them, one of the guys did. And not Dad's? Cold, boys.

You know, last week, like, five or ten minutes before the end of the episode, I thought if Jack hadn't cemented his place in Dean's heart already, he's certainly there now. Because he saved Sam. No matter what else Jack did or is doing or will do, he saved Sam. And I want someone to point that out. I want Sam to say "no, I'm not ready to give up on him, and you realize the only reason I'm here to argue with you is because Jack saved me, right? And if he is soulless, he lost it by saving our asses, right?" (Is this because I watched "Clip Show" a couple of days ago and watched Sam frantically try to soothe Sarah as she died from Crowley's handiwork, and I want Jack to get the same kind of second chance that Crowley got? Maybe.) Now, I realize killing Mary is more awful than anything Crowley (or any other enemy-turned-frenemy) has done to them. But it was an accident. And HE SAVED SAM'S LIFE. Come on. That counts for something.

(Sidebar: We also learned, in that scene back in season 8, that Crowley's mother was a witch. {blows a big wet kiss to the Continuity Fairy})

So, how do I feel about Mary being gone? Here's the deal. This show, at its heart, is about two (or three) men who have a giant bleeding Mary Winchester-sized hole in their lives. Filling that hole does not make for good television. And the Show tried to make her interesting and edgy by playing against what we thought we knew about her (she can't cook! she can't stay away from hunting! she sleeps with both Arthur Ketch and New Bobby!), it tried to make her both a source of conflict and a source of comfort, and ultimately (as far as I'm concerned) it just failed. She was so much more effective as that siren song of the impossible apple pie life. I said it on Tumblr, and I'll repeat it here... the fact that they had to retcon all of these warm fuzzy flashbacks, instead of using actual clips, just shows how shallow these relationships were. There wasn't anything real to fall back on. And the way they spend these two episodes trying to make us care? It had the opposite effect on me. I'm glad to be shed of her.

But maybe that's just me. Maybe absence will make the heart grow fonder. We shall see. Come on and tell me what you think, and remember, no spoilers in the comments, please!

And never forget...

Tags: 14.18 absence, initial reaction, pretty, sam's beard, season 14, supernatural

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Posts from This Journal “initial reaction” Tag

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