“I wasn’t sure … I didn’t know what I was until about 1952 or ‘53. I knew that I loved very much my roommate at college, where I had had my first lesbian experience. But it wasn’t until I was a camp counselor in West Virginia that I had the experience that gave me some notion of what my life was about to be all about. I was sitting on a hill … and I was reading a letter from my roommate, the lover of my life, the very first lesbian relationship that I’d ever had. Her parents had taken her off to Scandinavia because they had found out the nature of our relationship. She had written me a goodbye letter, and I was sitting there on Vesper Hill, looking out over the beautiful Greenbrier River, crying like a baby, because I didn’t think there was anybody else in the world like me. I had never heard the word ‘lesbian.’ I had never dreamed that there was anybody else who had any kind of orientation like I did or who loved the way that I did … Suddenly a shadow fell across the paper, and I looked up, hiding the letter, into the face of the camp bugler, a rather butch-looking woman that I had had some questions about. She was standing up there and she was toking on her cigarette … and then she sort of squatted down beside me. And here we were, the two of us, sitting there looking out over the beautiful Greenbrier River. And then she puts her hand on my shoulder, she takes another toke off of the cigarette, and she blows it off and she says, ‘We are growing in numbers every day.’”
Today was a first for me; I discovered after work that I’d locked my keys in my car! However, I have AAA and told my co-workers to go home as I’d be perfectly safe inside the business.
I opted to leave the lights off as there was plenty of light from the shopping center outside, so I could see out without being seen myself and didn’t even feel alone as there were hordes of shoppers passing by the entire time.
The tow company had warned me it would be close to two hours before they could come unlock my car, so I settled in comfortably to browse Reddit, of course. But you and I both know that a retail worker can never get too contented, right? Dun dun DUN!
I’d been there for one hour and forty minutes past closing–yes, a full 100 minutes–when IT happened. A seemingly normal man appeared, but little did I know that inside his common-looking head lurked the brain of an idiot.
He approached our front door with the large sign stating CLOSED in giant letters right before his face. The lights were off, and the business looked empty of any staff. But what did this lummox do? Reached forward anyway to yank on the locked door. And when it failed to Open Sesame him into paradise? Why, he pulled on it for a good ten seconds, rattling it violently! Finally he stepped back in defeat, staring in disgust and disbelief, shaking his dull head at the notion of our bidness being closed 100 minutes after the closing time that we’ve had since we opened in 2003.
Meanwhile I cowered in the dark, aquiver with shock and shame, my faith in retail humanity (alas, an oxymoron!) simply shattered.
This episode was all about the legacy inherited from the past, and the legacy the Winchesters will leave for the future, because everything about this episode was about the fact that those are not the same thing.
Even the title, The Memory Remains, hints at the fact that even if we think we’ve moved on, locking the family secret up in the basement and pretending like it might just go away without actually addressing it and dealing with it isn’t a tenable situation.
For Sheriff Bishop or for Sam and Dean.
Back during s8, after they first discovered the bunker and their status as “Legacies” of the Men of Letters, Dean used to be so gleeful announcing the fact to anyone and everyone. Prometheus, Aaron Bass, pretty much everyone. It was something he was proud of, based on his experiences in 8.12 with Henry. Plus heck, for the first time in his life, Dean had a proper HOME, someplace safe and secure he could truly call his own (or so he thought).
He and Sam have scoured the archives of that bunker over the last four years, used its resources, and hosted such illustrious house guests as God himself. But now, after meeting the British branch of the Men of Letters, Dean’s a lot less inclined to claim that Legacy status with them. Whatever they may have been in the past, he doesn’t really care for what they are now.
Same for Sheriff Bishop. He hadn’t thought there was anything wrong with his family legacy until his father died and left it to him… and he discovered the literal monster in his basement, and what was expected of him to carry on the family legacy.
His family had essentially owned the entire town of Tomahawk, employed most of the residents at the meat packing plant, and the rest of them at every other shop and restaurant in town. But Bishop couldn’t bear the idea of carrying on his family’s legacy, of sacrificing people to Moloch in exchange for their wealth and power. So he stopped. Just bolted up Moloch’s prison, boarded up the house, and hoped the god would starve to death without him feeding it.
Sort of like Mary thinking she could just walk away from hunting. Even little Asa Fox had said that to her in 12.06:
Asa: But if you retire, who’s gonna save people like me?
But then Mary died, and her children were drawn into hunting because of it. They hadn’t known that it was also their legacy, left over from the deal she made with Azazel in 1973. And she hadn’t known that her chance to get out and try to have a normal life with John meant that she basically got her ten years before everyone would be dropped into hell. She hadn’t wanted that life for them, but by making that deal she guaranteed they would.
Now she’s back, but she doesn’t really get that Sam and Dean have made their own legacies. They’d never known they were picking up hers until long after they’d made it their own. But to Mary it doesn’t look that way. It looks like they just picked up where she’d left off. And she wanted to end that legacy for her family.
But it also parallels to Sam and Dean themselves.
Sheriff Bishop’s half brother inadvertently rediscovers the family secret after Bishop had kept it hidden for more than twenty years, and having always been the “outcast” from the family (as the illegitimate brother), he finally saw in Moloch a way to have everything his brother hadn’t even cared about, and had been selling off bit by bit.
He learned about his family’s legacy and bought into it hook, line, and sinker, bastardizing a much beloved Winchester family slogan and making Dean blink in shock in the process:
Pete: And hell, I’m a Bishop. That’s what we do, right? Hunting people. Killing them. The family business.
The legacy Bishop had tried to bury, because he hadn’t known any other way to end it, was dug up started up all over again.
Thanks to Sam and the Colt, Moloch is now dead, and Bishop’s left with his dead half brother to deal with. He tells Sam and Dean he’ll deal with it, because it’s his legacy.
All the while back at the bunker, the MoL had been meticulously examining every inch of the place, pawing through Dean’s personal possessions, and Ketch took one of Dean’s oldest and most treasured possessions, his picture of Mary. And they’d been looking for the Colt, not getting how closely Dean (and now Sam) have been tied to the history of that gun dating all the way back to that moment Samuel Colt handed it to Sam in 1861. That gun is a part of Sam and Dean’s legacy in a way that’s NOT part of the MoL.
But going forward, what would they want their legacy to be? Would they be remembered? (well, there’s still the whole Supernatural book series and its fans, and the fact that it’s the Winchester Gospel, and a musical was written about their lives, and there’s fans of the books who continue to write fanfic long after the books stopped publishing, and they’re online now and nothing ever gets erased from the internet…)
But in a real, tangible way, this goes all the way back to 3.02, when Dean told Lisa he wasn’t sure what he was leaving behind in the world besides his car, and she replied that he’d saved Ben’s life, and that was definitely something big to leave behind. Sam replied with nearly the exact sentiment now; that the people they saved were their legacy.
Dean learned in 2.20 what it would be like in a world where all those people he and Sam ever saved had died instead, if they weren’t there to hunt them, and it’s been nearly ten more years of saving people since then on top of that.
But the bunker? They could find a way to make that THEIR legacy instead of a legacy of the Men of Letters. They claimed it just like they claimed Baby as theirs when they were kids. The monster might still be lurking in the basement there still (or at least the Men of Letters bug is still lurking under the library table), but they’re working on a way to kill that evil old god of sacrifice too.