We came back from a 2 week hiatus with The Chitters, a quiet episode – it wasn’t the jam packed mythology filled action of Hell’s Angel, or the scared out of your wits terror of Red Meat…it was character built episode that reminded us of what this story is really about, not monsters, or epic battles between Heaven and Hell, but family and loss and revenge, and the power of love and all that comes with it. It reminded us of the brothers’ history, what they have been through together, what they have overcome, and what they mean to each other, how their strength together is the thing that conquers all, how having each other’s backs is the thing that helps them triumph and sets them apart. And all this was shown through the mirror of a pair of new hunters. As we head into the final 4 episodes of the season, you know with a gnawing pit in your stomach that there’s a reason we’re being made to feel these feels…and it’s probably not good.
One of the things I love the most about this show, and which Supernatural does extremely well, is holding a mirror up to the brothers. It’s something that’s needed for both us, and them. Sam and Dean live such an insular life, tightly wound up in each other and inside themselves, sometimes the only way they can see the bigger picture of the thing that is them, is to see it through other’s eyes, sometimes to help them process their own experiences, they need to have other’s experiences shone back at them, sometimes to help them analyse a problem they’re too deep in to see over, they need to have a light shined on it from the outside. The show does parallels and mirrors brilliantly, and The Chitters was a great example of this, it also took me back to my personal feeling that the brothers’ relationship is the true mytharc of this season! And everyone and everything happening around them is about reflection and putting behind them past loss and hurts and personal demons. Bringing them back to the brothers we know they can be. There’s been so much talk of the future, Sam’s wistful thoughts about retirement homes, or settling down with a hunter, not running from the job, but focusing on a possibility beyond the job to something other than the die bloody scenario. And now we have 2 hunters doing exactly that.
The brothers have both tried and failed at having a “normal” life, but strangely, what they have now, a base with comfort and each other, is the closest thing they’ve had to normal since their mum died. It is a home, and there’s a layer of safe haven that comes along with that. They never expected to live this long…technically they haven’t, having both died on numerous occasions, so you can understand, that as they keep on surviving, that thoughts of possibly living through this thing are starting to simmer. I feel like the harmony between them is starting a shift in their thinking, maybe they can allow themselves to dream…just a little.
Right from the opening scene the Winchester feels were thick; the younger brother who didn’t fit in and wanted to get away, the older brother who just wanted to keep him safe. The desperation that Jesse must have felt when Matty was ripped away from him; the fear, then the hate that brewed inside, causing him to become a hunter. The need for revenge drives most hunters – at least it gets them started in the job. John, Bobby, Eileen…Sam and Dean in the early days – though they were different as they were born into it – and also there’s the whole vessels of the apocalypse thing! Now it’s just their life, one they've both embraced, with one shit storm after another…this rolling catastrophic horror show that’s kind of like a domino line…hit one thing down and it starts some horrible chain reaction!
I picture others hunters killing off a nest of vamps, killing a wendigo or two… errr Sam an Dean, losing souls, becoming demons, going to hell and heaven, fighting Lucifer and Leviathan and megalomaniacal angels and…um, yeah…okay...they’re a bit different!
I love when new hunters are introduced to our Universe. It colours in the Winchester’s world. I imagine a network of these men and women out there, hiding in the shadows, doing the job with no recognition, killing things that no-one even knows exist. Jesse and Cesar were lovely, well-rounded characters with a history that made you instantly connect with them, and a relationship that, after the penny drop moment, was simply allowed to be, without comment. I internally hugged the show for that.
When I realised that Jesse was the kid from the teaser, I was instantly onboard. I instantly cared. I cared about Jesse and Cesar. I could see their love. I could see how Cesar supported Jesse in his fight to get some kind of closure. These characters felt complete and whole from the get go. That’s some good writing and some good acting right there. I didn’t want to let them go. And I was terrified they were going to die. Good on you Supernatural for surprising me on that front.
I always worry when the brothers separate, that never seems to go well! But I enjoyed both of the conversations Sam and Dean had with Jesse and Cesar.
Dean and Cesar talking about loss that never goes away is something the Winchesters understand all too well, as is revenge and how you have to get it, even if you know it’s not going to fix anything. The Winchester’s lives were built on revenge, they understand its destructive power, it’s a heartache too familiar. Dean’s seen the people he loves most be tortured by it – as he’s been tortured himself.
Loss and revenge have been a theme of the show since its very first moments, and these themes also ties through to the mytharc of the season – the other one with Amara and Lucifer. Amara, who was betrayed by her brother, feels that pain all too acutely as she seeks out God, for revenge or acceptance or an apology, I’m not sure which she truly wants! I’m not sure she knows. Lucifer carries the sting of rejection by God too, and even through his sassiness and devil may care attitude (excuse the pun), you can’t help but see that there is pain and anger and hurt at the root of all he is. The need for revenge can cloud your judgement; it can strip you of control. It’s interesting that revenge was such a big theme in this episode.
Sam and Jesse also talked about loss, framed through Jesse’s loss of his big brother and the fact that his big brother turned into something no longer human. Every word Jesse said about Matty seemed to resonate on Sam’s face. Sam has dealt with the loss of Dean – more than once - and the not human thing. He’s been through that and knows that agonising wound it leaves on your soul. Once again, this also ties into the season arc of Dean’s apparent bond to Amara, the fact that the Mark of Cain still seems to exert some power even when removed, and what that will all end up meaning in relation to Dean and The Darkness.
I have started to feel like maybe, because of that bond, because of the Mark of Cain tie, maybe Dean will be the one who must wield the Hand of God against Amara. If so, these conversations hold even more poignancy…especially at the end, when Jesse and Cesar give Matty a hunter’s burial, and Sam admits he used to be terrified that John and Dean would not come back…and that even though he tried to think what to do, he just felt lost. I don’t think anything’s changed much, even as a grown up Sam was lost when Dean was thrown into Purgatory. That fear has never gone away…what if Dean doesn’t come back - and we saw Dean face that in Red Meat, and saw what that still does to him. But Dean said, that they always came back, every time… I hope he’s right. I wasn’t sure if this made me feel optimistic or more scared! But I sure as hell felt like the conversation was there for us to pay attention to. And my heart broke for a young Sam holed up in some motel room, worrying that he’d never see his family again. Damn. It was amazingly powerful moment, and another heart clenching insight into these guy’s childhoods. I can’t stand the thought of Sam and Dean being apart from each other ever again.
The brothers’ relationship this season continues to be an utter delight! There’s a return to playfulness that’s a joy to watch. There’s lightness to Dean in his interactions with Sam that boils down to what Jensen said about Dean knowing that Sam has and will always have his back. No more doubt. It’s changed him, it’s changed them both, that admittance and acceptance that they BOTH will do anything for each other. The relationship is more balanced because of it. Their discussions, even when at odds are discussions now – even if they get loud. There is an understanding that seems to be growing…it’s like they’ve finally opened up to who their brother is, and who they are and with that, there’s a harmony that can only make them stronger. It will also make any tragedy befalling one of them even more gut-wrenching - they've come so far.... meep!
Dean sitting on the edge of the desk teasing Sam about his foray into weed was unbelievably adorable, and the fact that you could tell Sam loved it made it even better. “You’re an idiot,” says so much more than you’re an idiot!
I loved Etta flirting with Sam and Dean enjoying it – even if Sam didn’t pick up on it straight away. His eyebrows were a treat when he realised what was happening!
I loved the little domestic moment – Dean obsessively researching for a change as Sam chastised him while eating cereal. I hope they do kick karma back. They’re owed a win.
In the end, Jesse and Cesar did the job that started it all, and looked to their future beyond hunting, something Dean had no intention of stopping, no matter how much the brothers needed their help. He wasn't going to spoil their finish line...
Somewhere inside me it gave me a glimmer of hope…because I think somewhere inside Sam and Dean it gave them a glimmer of hope…even if they wouldn’t acknowledge, or admit it. It’s that little nugget of maybe there’s a different ending out there that’s been touched on more than once this season. But as Jesse and Cesar drove away, we knew the immediate future for both sets of hunters was a very different one, and the aloneness of the Winchesters filled the final moment. They’ve still got work to do. Maybe they always will.
The Chitters was definitely a monster of the week episode, with a new critter and some nice horror themes delivered by The Blair Witch director Eduardo Sánchez, and written by Nancy Won, who is most definitely a keeper. There were lovely performances from everyone involved, especially Jensen and Jared (as usual) but also Lee Rumohr and Hugo Ateo who played Jesse and Cesar respectively – I connected to both of those characters more than I would have expected for episodic players. But like any good episode of Supernatural, there was so much more going on than what was happening on the surface. Themes of family, loss, revenge, love and putting the past behind you and moving on. The Chitters had a hell of a lot of depth. I found it emotionally fulfilling. But these deeply satisfying bro feels, these moments of harmony and even happiness, these small glimmers of hope, at this point in the season, fill me with dread. I’ll just hang on to Dean’s words that he always comes back…I have a sneaking suspicion I’m going to need them.