Gosh it was good to have my show back. Just 2 weeks and I was already sad! We’re at the pointy end of the season, where any break feels like torture! Though let’s face it, any break at any time feels like torture!
I thoroughly enjoyed Ladies Drink Free - like, a lot. It was emotional, funny, tense and heartfelt, so much of the stuff that made me fall in love with Supernatural in the first place and that makes me keep loving it with all my heart. Plus it was a cool monster story with a lot at stake! Gotta love a stakes are high episode!
Claire has not always been a favourite character of mine, but she’s grown on me. These days I like her. I get her - I was probably once her, so maybe that’s why. I like that she’s all spit and vinegar and rebellion on the outside, but we know that on the inside, all she really craves is to find her place in this world. She lost her family in fantastical and tragic circumstances which couldn’t help but mould her existence and drive her path. Now she’s trying to find where she fits, and rebuilding her life with a new family - Jody and Alex…and of course, Sam and Dean. Family don’t end with blood… Claire’s story is the story of so many of our recurring characters, and the ever present powerful theme of our show.
One of the things that I’ve loved about Supernatural in recent years, is that they boys’ lives have been pepper with people who have become part of their wider family, like Jody, Alex, Claire, and Donna. It gives the brothers connections other than to each other (or now Mary). It gives them a haven away from the work if they ever need it, maybe even an ear, if they ever need that - but really, it just expands their world, and that’s a good thing for a couple of fellas who live in each other’s pockets!
Claire has had her ups and downs with Sam and Dean, I mean, remember that time she tried to have Dean killed? But even though she’s all sass and skeezer smart assed remarks, you know damn sure that she appreciates what those men mean to her life, even if it means almost losing it for her to admit it.
There were such lovely character beats and learnings throughout Ladies Drink Free, not just for Claire, learning a valuable lesson about life as a hunter, as well as learning to appreciate what you have, but also Mick, who went through a transformation that the brothers understand only too well.
Mick is part of a larger machine, one that has a code, a set of rules that all who work with them are bound to follow. Mick has been trained by the British Men of Letters, attending their form of Hogwarts (heh), a school called Kendricks. From all he has been taught, from all he knows from the arms length experience he has, monsters are evil and must die. Full-stop. No exceptions. It’s black and white. That’s what he’s been taught. That’s all he understands, or at least, understood. Once upon a time, a hunter named Dean Winchester felt very similarly about his job. His role was to kill monsters, that was how he was raised, and that’s what he did no matter what. But through many years in the life, through many encounters with monsters that are not evil, with his brother being touched by the supernatural, with himself being touched by the supernatural, Dean’s very black and white world has turned to all sorts of shades of grey. He understands that, just because you’re a monster, does not necessarily make you a monster - what you are, should not be the only thing that defines whether you live or die.
It took Mick’s exposure in the field, with a super complicated case to get a glimpse of this, and it took being around the Winchesters for about a second for him to being to understand this! The Winchesters heavily influence everyone they come in contact with! Their humanity is so profoundly evident, that I just don’t think anyone can withstand the power of it!
Mick got the life whacking him upside the head. He followed the rules of the group he works for and killed the monster - who happened to be a 16 year old girl. He watched her as she took her last breath, terrified, gasping on the floor…you could tell right there in that moment, Mick is not a killer by nature - he is not Ketch. And if he ever thought maybe he was, he knows now that he isn’t. He did not feel nothing when he killed that girl, he felt a hell of a lot, you could see it in his trembling hands. As they should.
But still, it took Dean’s take down, and watching how the brother’s work, their compassion and empathy for the victims…because Hayden was most certainly a victim, as was Claire…to see that the job, outside of his office, is not what he thought it was.
Yup, Sam and Dean, were basically, magnificent from whoa to go.
It was wonderful to have my favourite brothers back on my tele, and being so completely bloody awesome. So awesome. Both of them full to the brim with awesome. The brothers were so on point in Ladies Drink Free, and I liked how the story balanced out their individual moments. They were both so important to the side character’s development, as well as the story of the week. Sam had fantastic moments with Claire, Dean had fantastic moments with Mick, and both of them stood together, side by side again, talking as “we," which has been such an amazing theme this season. I will never not love when they talk as a unit! Sam and Dean both kicked ass, and I felt like it totally represented the equality that has settled down over their relationship.
I loved how Sam tried to have an adult conversation with Claire. He didn’t out her to Jody, but he tried to talk to her about why she was lying. Damn, he looked like such a grown up! It’s such a sad thing that those boys are never going to be parents, because they’d both make helluva good ones. They are both fantastic at talking to kids, in fact they’re both pretty fantastic and talking to anyone. Once upon a time, it was Sam who did the emotional one on ones, but over the years, Dean has also shown his ability to get to on a level with someone that helps them listen and understand.
Dean was smart in this episode and I love me some smart Dean! He can tell when someone is bullshitting him from a mile a way, and he totally had Mick’s number. The way he interrogated Mick while interrogating the guy in the bar. It was a beautiful thing, because we know Dean well enough to see that look on his face and totally know what he’s up to, Mick on the other hand, was just thrown of kilter, because he didn’t know quite what was happening - until Dean shoved him against a wall and told him in no uncertain terms.
For me, there has been two particularly interesting things happening this season with the brothers…Sam has been taking a much more front and centre role in their partnership, this is part of the equality I’m constantly crapping on about to anyone who will listen (including Jensen who had no choice because he was trapped in a room with me)! The, Dean calls the shots days are in the past, (well for the most part), and the brothers look to each other on a much more equal footing in how they approach their lives and their work. The other fascinating thing which I LOVE AND ADORE, and which has been happening for a few seasons, but has been particularly pronounced this season, is the character growth in Dean. Of course, part of that growth is his ability to let Sam take-the-reigns, and make suggestions and decisions that may not be going with the natural flow of Dean. But there has also been other areas where Dean has grown that have been wonderful to watch. He’s better at listening now, for example. He doesn’t dismiss things outright because they are not his first instinct. Dean’s gut can drive him - and not just for bacon cheese burgers - and it’s so amazing to see him listen to others, when his natural instinct through who he’s always been, instantly goes a different way. Not that I think Dean would be influenced if he truly believed he was right, but he’s so much better at listening to other’s points of view now, and taking those opinions into consideration. He’s so much better at listening to Sam and allowing them to make decisions together…and that has also given us the season’s we and us thing.
The other area Dean’s come leaps and bounds in is how he looks at hunting. He really does look at all the pieces of the bumper sticker now and, though it’s complicated the job and his life no end, he does not see his role, his world, his job, as black and white.
I mentioned a while back (I think), that Dean’s growth was the question I asked Jensen about in my meet and greet in Vegas. Jensen actually spoke specifically to the growth and change in Dean in his approach to hunting. He said it was something that particularly came to mind because he’d just shot a scene, in episode 16, where Dean talked about how hunting is not just black and white, and how he once thought it was, but now he understands that it’s not. So that scene Jensen mentioned to me, was the scene with Mick!
It’s something we’ve all known for a while, that the brothers’ once pretty cut and dried, monster/human job, has become a whole spectrum of greys as their world changed. But still, it was absolutely fantastic to hear Dean say it, “Well, here's a tip. Things aren't just black and white out here.” Dean didn’t see a monster, he saw the tragedy and sadness. He saw a kid, a grieving mother who had to bury both her children, and maybe a chance - like they gave Kate, like they gave Magda - that was lost forever.
We also had the scene where the brothers try to talk to Claire, before she turns, where Sam starts reading up on the possible cure and discovers that it might work… or it might kill Claire. Dean’s automatic instinct is to protect Claire, to tell her no, she cannot risk her life, he won’t allow it. Claire and Sam both point out that it is in fact Claire’s life, and so therefore she gets to choose…and Dean hears them, against everything that makes him who he is, he hears them and agrees because he knows they’re right…and that moment right there is a hell of a lot of growth for Dean Winchester, and I really loved it, a crazy amount. It was crazy good. Dean even checked before he forced the cure into Claire by jabbing a needle in her neck, that she absolutely wanted this. Everything around the curing of Claire was amazeballs. Meredith Glynn did a bang up job with how everyone handled the situation and the respect afforded Claire and how the brothers reacted to the entire situation.
Seeing a monster origin story playing out in front of his eyes, seeing a young girl facing an impossible situation and decision, and seeing how the brothers’ worked the job for the victim, not against the victim, changed how Mick saw the case, and I think it changed how he saw Sam and Dean. He helped them with the win, with the cure, and in the fight, and literally beamed as he watched the now human Claire stuffing stuff in her car. You know it was partly from the fact that the cure worked, but you also know he felt damn good that he helped to save her, after feeling damn bad about killing Hayden. It’s going to be interesting to see if this education changes Mick in how he handles his work at the BMoL.
There was also interesting little nugget about the werewolves and the BMoL. The werewolf in question, when having his evil guy monologue moment, talked about how his pack used to live in peace, not hurting anyone, then hunters with weapons he’d never seen before turned up and took out twenty of them just like that. Now he’s a pack-less wolf, trying to rebuild. So…maybe the BMoL tactic of kill all the monsters regardless, is doing more harm than good? It will be interesting to see if this plays any part in the story moving forward.
I loved that in the end, Sam and Dean allowed Claire to have her moment as an adult, to allow her the space to call Jody on her own terms, not being forced to like a child, and allow her to decide how much she tells Jody, whether she tells her about the werewolf incident or not. You get the feeling, they know that by giving her the choice, she'll make the right choice, and you get the feeling that Dean is well aware of how much saying that the brothers have Claire’s back, means to Claire. Those are Winchester words.
Then the brothers’ give Mick a second chance, but just one more. Really, they probably shouldn’t have, and I have a feeling they’ll regret it, but maybe they saw that if they could change Mick just the little bit they did on this case, maybe it’s worth continuing to work with him, maybe they see this as not just an opportunity to save more human lives, but also the lives of those supernatural beings that don’t deserve to die…because what if the BMoL go after Garth’s pack next? Hey…we all know it’s going to go tits up at some point, but I do like Mick and I totally liked his arc through this episode.
There were some other lovely little broments in this episode that were a lot of fun… Sam geeking out and Dean not having one single second of it. Dean’s delight at the three star hotel - such a creature of comfort is Dean Winchester. The mints being stuffed in Dean’s pocket, which according to writer Meredith Glynn, was a Jensen add. I did wonder when I saw that, I’m getting a pretty good sense of the moments that Jensen tosses in a little something extra to Deanify a scene! Dean’s skinny dipping and Sam not having one single second of it! Sam scooping Claire into his arms saying, “I gotcha, I gotcha”.
Protective Dean threatening that guy’s face if he ever touched Claire again…and then BOOM thumping him right in the nose when the brothers thought he was the bad guy - what would he have thought - "It's silver" Um okay. "He's human!" Um...what? I laughed out loud! The whole big brother vibe both boys had going on with Claire, I love how much they care for her and how they show it in so many different ways. And of course, the brothers’ uniting against Mick with Sam speaking for both of them, “We’re not angry, we’re done.” You preach it Sam! How I dig that we’re.
I was thinking how it's interesting that it was werewolves in the first case the brothers worked with a British Men of Letters. Werewolves seem represent the struggles of the job and the journey Sam and Dean are on as hunters. They are a group of monsters that the brothers have shown tolerance for on more than one occasion - because the monsters are often victims of other monsters. Madison, Kate, Garth - all of these creatures, once human, the brothers have helped, or at least tried to. It's like the werewolves represent the complexities of what the hunting job can be, and also show the brothers at their best, not just as kickass warriors, but as compassionate men struggling with the fucked up morality of some of the decisions they have to make.
I liked Ladies Drink Free a lot, for its monster of the week vibe, and its smart and witty script, but mostly for its solid character beats from all of our players. Jensen and Jared were, once again, at the top of their game every step of the way, but I also thought Kathryn and Adam both did a great job, because I came away liking and rooting for everyone…which is bound to be a problem later!
Thanks for reading!