Monday, 24 October 2016

Review - Supernatural 12x02 Mamma Mia

I absolutely adore the way our show is telling the story of Mary Winchester’s return. It’s real, and honest. It’s a complex situation with complex emotions and everyone’s feeling it. It’s happiness, but not just happiness, because there’s confusion and there’s awkwardness, there’s guilt, and there’s sadness born of the moments forever lost. Having their mum back is something both boys would have dreamt of, fantasised about over the years, what would it be like to have their mum with them…what would they say to her, what would they tell her?

Mary Winchester is like a myth to these boys. They never knew her. They’ve learnt about her as they’ve grown, they learnt about her real life as a hunter, about her family. They’ve heard stories and probably created stories of their own. Dean has some memories, but they’re memories of a small boy, built up through a life of pining for a mum taken from him in an act of violence that completely uprooted his life and forever changed his world.

Now she’s in their home, a real person, and the reality of having her back is bumping up hard against the fantasy. Dean doesn’t know how to talk to her, it’s not flowing naturally. He’s staying in the bunker with Mary to keep her safe, to help her adjust, scared of overwhelming her. It’s not what he’d usually be doing with Sam missing, but he’s dropped into protection mode, looking out for his mum, and relying on Cas to do the leg work for him as he takes the research chair. You can see it’s not where he wants to be. To me he looks confined and fidgety.

Dean doesn’t know how to act, or who to be around his mum yet, and he’s walking on egg shells. Even how he rushes to pull a chair out for her - he seems self conscious and hyper aware of her. He’s so damn happy to have her back, but it’s weird, and he doesn’t know how to handle it. It’s amazing, and wonderful, and totally and utterly outside of Dean’s comfort zone. 

Dean and Sam have been each other’s constant for years. For all their lives. They live in close quarters, sharing everything they go through as individuals and as a duo. There’s an ease between them that was hard fought for, that has come from years of learning to understand and accept each other. They’re in a particularly good place now, and it’s taken them a long time to get there. Now their lives have been completely disrupted by the return of their mum - sure, it’s a welcome disruption, but it comes with a whole lot of other feelings as well. 

The image of Dean sitting on the floor in the kitchen, looking at the photo memories of his mum that represent so much for him, was incredibly powerful. Even something small, like her meatloaf that he remembered eating and loving as a little boy, is different in reality. Mary didn’t cook. She bought the meatloaf from the Piggly Wiggly. Dean remembers her cooking wonderful dinners for him - the reality of the truth crashes up against the fantasy of his mum, and the idealised memories that he built up around her. He has to adjust these glorified memories of this woman who has lived in his imagination and in his heart, to the real thing, who is now living in the bunker with him. And he looks like he's struggling...

For Sam, having Mary there “fills in the biggest blank”. I cried my eyes out when he said that. Just hearing Sam say “Mum”, made me lose it. Sam’s told Dean how he dreams of his mum. When he hallucinated while coming down from the demon blood, it was Mary telling him she was proud of him that Sam created in his mind to help him cope. He has a gapping hole in his life where his mother never was. To hug her, to hold her like he did…a hug 33 years in the making. It was incredibly moving. The best. One of the great moments in the history of the show. Oh my gosh. But then, Sam lies on his bed lost in his own thoughts. All that they’ve missed out on, all the times they didn’t have and can never recapture, all the memories that will never exist, and all the things his mother doesn’t know about him - would she really be proud of him? (Of course she would Sam, you’re amazing.)

And Mary trying to rediscover her boys who are grown, self sufficient men - filled with guilt from not being there for them, filled with guilt for the choice she made all those years ago which started all of this for her sons; and with the death of her husband as fresh for her as if it had just happened yesterday, his words in her hands, learning what her death, what her decision did to the man she loved, what it did to her family. So much loss. So much lost time. So much heartbreak.

All three Winchesters separate from each other and yet joined in the bizarreness of their situation, joined in the confusion of so many feelings, struggling with their new reality. It’s the kind of storytelling a mature show, with carefully crafted characters can do. It was painful and beautiful and perfectly real.

Season 12 feels different - the Winchester’s story while big and earth shattering, is also so very small and intimate - it’s an internal, acutely personal story, and the show is not in a rush to tell it. I like that. It feels like a clean slate, and I really like that.

Sam once again displayed his incredible mental strength when he overcame Lady Toni’s mind control spell. Boy, of all fantasies to put into Sam’s mind! It truly did look like last week she was curious about him…maybe she was more curious than we thought! I guess she had to put him in a situation where he felt enough at ease with her that he would share the hunter secrets…whatever the hell they are! I realised immediately that it was all in Sam’s mind…it seemed like the cruelest kind of manipulation to me, but Sam, as he did last week, was able to identify what was reality and what was not, and break free.

The whole British Men of Letters thing is pretty intriguing. I’m not sure what they want, what their ultimate gain/goal is. They want to get the trust of the American hunters, but also believe they stand in the way of the British Men of Letters’ no more supernatural beings goal - if that is indeed their goal! Lady Toni’s methods, in this case, were apparently not sanctioned - though the mysterious Mr Ketch has now been activated, so I guess that Mick guy is going to be okay with it if we go the torture path (nooooo!) I felt like Mick was trying a difference tack when talking with the Winchesters, offering an olive branch in the hope that they would collude with the British Men of Letters rather than oppose them, or hunt them all down and kill them, which is probably how Sam and Dean are feeling about it all! But I’m not sure what they are trying to achieve/learn/gain from the Winchesters alone. And I sure as hell don’t believe them.

Toni said from the get go that they’ve been watching the boys for years, they know about Ruby and Benny, so they have plenty of information. They’d never have come across hunters so closely tied to heaven and hell though, that’s for sure. Pretty guaranteed their guys would not have hung out with God, or overcome Lucifer, wouldn’t have mingled with Archangels, gone to hell and back, purgatory, heaven. The Winchesters are the absolute, most experienced hunters they would have ever met, in every way - surely it would be better to have them on their side! Lady Toni is an arrogant cow - and I can’t wait until she is shown, just how expert these hunters she calls apes, are.

What’s really interesting of course is that these enemies - which they are most certainly are becoming, if not already are - are human. That makes things tricky in the killing department. We’ve seen the brothers kill humans before, and hand wave it away as humans can be monsters too, which is absolutely true, and each one deserved their death, but it’s still always a bit shocking when they take a human down. It’s a different kind of kill. Killing a vampire or killing Lady Toni, who has a family, who is a mum - these are totally different things, or at least should be…  It makes the stakes feel different, and it makes the stakes far more complicated. 

Sam seeing Dean, oh how I’d been busting for that, but of course they can’t have nice things! There’s barely time to register that his brother is real, let alone alive before Sam has to watch as Dean is beaten and sasses up a storm. Forever Dean Winchester, my heart, my smart mouthed beautiful son of a bitch that he is…sigh. When the brothers do have a moment alone, that brief interaction - just the “Dean!” “Hey” - said so much. Jensen and Jared can say a thousand words with just one look between the brothers. And those silent, or singular words are all they need to know exactly how the other feels. 

Sam’s thoughts kind of tumbled out all erratic, because he’s so damn shocked to see his brother, well kind of hanging, next to him that he almost can’t think straight to form sentences! He thought he was alone, probably expected to die, and then, there’s Dean. Everything is on Sam’s face. Everything is in Dean’s small smile and attempt to one liner their way back onto solid emotional ground. I love that the show can show their love in such subtle ways. The small moments are always the most powerful.

Then of course, Sam sees mum…. and Dean’s proud, “yeah” just says so much - he must have been dying for Sam to see his mum! Mary kicks some ass before Toni gets the upper hand with spell work (I like all this spell work being used, like the trap that grabbed Dean - reminded me of Magnus’ work), showing the boys what she’s made of. Maybe that will help Dean relax some…though probably not.

(included for hotness reasons)

Awwww I love the brothers having Mary back - even if I’m terrified where it’s all going, of what the heartbreak is going to be! Because surely we can’t just have happiness! There must be heartbreak coming!

Seeing them all having their family dinner was argh…my heart keeps exploding at the mere thought of it! Sam’s face of wonderment, Dean’s face of a four year old, Mary wanting to call the internet. It was cute, and awkward, and adorable and those boys, especially Sam, must have felt like pinching themselves. If I’m terrified it’s going to end badly, you can bet they are too. Pleaseeeeeeeeee don’t break our boys’ hearts again, Show!

We’ve never seen the boys talk about Mary’s choice to save John, the choice which cursed Sam and ultimately the whole family, though I've always assumed they did. Mary mentioned it to Dean, that she was scared of Sam’s reaction to her because of that deal, worried about facing him, because Yellow Eyes would never have come for Sam if it wasn’t for her. Dean didn’t get what she was talking about at first - even though he was there to see that fateful deal made - “what do you mean?”, he says, until Mary reminds him. How much Dean told Sam, we don’t know - we’ve not seen that conversation. We know Sam knows the demon dripped blood into his mouth - and I’ve always assumed he knew why, but Dean’s reaction made me question whether he does - whether Dean and him ever had that talk.

Meanwhile, things other than the Winchesters were happening - like Lucifer!

I’d been pretty damn excited to see Rick Springfield’s Lucifer and man, he did not disappoint. He…was…great! His Lucifer was scary! I haven’t felt scared of Lucifer for awhile, but this Lucifer is pissed off and scary and powerful, and Rick did an amazing job. As did VFX with the hideously acid burned face! And I LOVED seeing his wings!

I’m not sure what Crowley was thinking, he obviously thought that Lucifer was weaker than he actually was, so foolishly thought him and Rowena could control the devil. It’s unlike Crowley to make such a bad judgement, but I guess it was born of desperation and self preservation. Poor Rowena, just when she thought she was out, her son pulls her back in, and leaves her there! Damn, what a bastard!

I also want to say how much I’m enjoying Cas so far this season, he’s been written really nicely and Misha has brought a bit of bad ass back into him - which I love and I’m totally happy, and relieved to see. He’s got that deadpan Cas thing going on a treat. I can’t wait to have him team up with Crowley. The snark will be turned up to eleven!

So season 12 has got off to a rockin’ start with a two part opener, slowly peeling away at the complex and mixed emotions bringing Mary back into the fold has given rise to. For a show all about family, this is the ultimate story, their origin story coming home to roost. The fact that both the boys spoke of family and their commitment to each other to their mum, clearly frames what the Winchester boys’ story is all about, what the show is always about - the real story at the centre, while the other stories swirl around them. We get to see the brothers interacting as different people, as sons - there’s a softness in their voices, in their physicality when they speak to their mum, treating her gently, as if any minute they'll discover she's not real.

There’s a lot of ground for them all to cover - though I’m betting the boys totally vet what Mary knows about the tragedy that’s plagued their lives. Dean is trying to delicately explain to her that their dad was not the man she remembered, or the father she remembered - maybe reading John’s journal will shine a light on some of that for Mary.

It's all so complicated, and all so real.

It won’t be all smooth sailing ahead, we know that because…well…we know there’s no such thing as smooth sailing for the Winchesters!! But I’m totally on board for this ride, wherever it takes us and no matter how much it might end up hurting! 

Isn’t it just great to have our show back? 

See you next time, thanks for reading.



  1. Great review again Amy. I am loving this season already like you, but then I knew I would because they just don't disappoint. Maybe because I let them do the writing because it is what they do best and I just sit and enjoy our amazing actors who always deliver and never ever disappoint. There were some comments made where people were disappointed that they didn't get their bro hug but I think we got so much more. We got a Dean and Mary hug in Episode 1 and then we got the Sam and Mary hug in Episode 2 and I have to say, the Sam and Mary scene was just so damn moving and loving and gosh I felt the feels big time. I have to admit that I could have settled for an entire 42 minutes of just the Winchesters and been okay without the other side stories but you are correct in that the VFX guys did an amazing job with the acid effect. Poor Rowena caught under Lucifer's hand again and Crowley being his typical coward when it comes to Lucifer and his always underestimating him.

    1. I totally agree with you about the bro hug! We got so much more! I am consistently befuddled that there are some who need specific actions or specific words to be said when (to me at least) more often than not it is so much more powerful unspoken. The things those guys can say with just a look...holy moley!

      Love your review as always Amy!! There was sooo much emotion just rolling off of all of the Winchesters in this was palpable! One thing I did think though when Sam first saw Dean was that he may not have been immediately certain that it wasn't another hallucination. Like it took him just a bit to be sure. Dean's grin when Sam sees him mom = 💓. And Sam talking to his mom at the end = ugly crying!😭 So very very much in this episode! Our show continues to amaze!

    2. I lived it too and like you I saw that "deep abiding whatever" the boys have. When Sam said "I thought you were dead" And Dean kinda half smiles in that Dean way and says "I'm not sure I'm not" and Sam and he lookolooking and hard at each other...there's that watched communicate love. When Sam would do anything to stop her using that ice pick on Dean's eyes or ears and we see how visibly scared he is and Dean tries to be brave as always...that love shines thru. And Sam making that cute face to Mom about the pie? Like "Yeah Mom, he loves pie " Dean's probably not comfortable hugging Sam in front of Mom yet. My prediction is Mom goes back...somewhere at mid season and I'm worried how the boys, particularly Dean will handle that. It's just my prediction. Anyhow great review!!

    3. I lived it too and like you I saw that "deep abiding whatever" the boys have. When Sam said "I thought you were dead" And Dean kinda half smiles in that Dean way and says "I'm not sure I'm not" and Sam and he lookolooking and hard at each other...there's that watched communicate love. When Sam would do anything to stop her using that ice pick on Dean's eyes or ears and we see how visibly scared he is and Dean tries to be brave as always...that love shines thru. And Sam making that cute face to Mom about the pie? Like "Yeah Mom, he loves pie " Dean's probably not comfortable hugging Sam in front of Mom yet. My prediction is Mom goes back...somewhere at mid season and I'm worried how the boys, particularly Dean will handle that. It's just my prediction. Anyhow great review!!

  2. I'm pretty sure you know some Australian mind reading spell cause you've practically written down my thoughts exactly (as always, in better words). Amen, Sister!