Series Summary: When a freak accident lands you in some trouble, the local fire department and a particularly handsome firefighter come to your rescue. Dean Winchester catches your eye immediately with his charm and kindness, but being Chief Singer’s daughter could cause some serious problems. You and Dean have a choice to make: defy your father’s wishes and face the consequences, or go your separate ways…
Seven Things About Supernatural: 13x09 - “The Bad Place”
So hey. This episode?
Rarely do I come out of an hour of television feeling this satisfied. Like, levels of satisfaction that verge on tactile. Mother of pearl. January’s gonna be awesome, and I am ready, but I can maybe spend at least a little bit of it on the couch just basking in how great this mid-season finale is.
It’s “I forgive you for airing an ep on Thanksgiving” good.
So much more Jody this season, and it’s great, because this is how you set up a spinoff. You get people invested, you make room for it, and then you attempt to launch.
It feels wrong to laugh about how we keep seeing Jody “die,” what with Kim Rhodes’ policy on that, but I’m giggling anyway because the writers are dicks, and all of us are in on it, and oh gods please don’t let this be a trap.
Also, hey, Suite Life reference this ep. Robert Berens, we are so very onto you.
I feel like this is an episode that I don’t have the cultural literacy to fully discuss. Specifically, I’m thinking about the Native representation and culture angle, because I’m generally pretty pro-inclusion, but as someone who Watches While Pagan, I also know that the show can get a lot of things very wrong in the name of a) drama, and b) framing it in the show universe.
One thing that does stick out to me, though, is how both Derek and Kaia are positioned as Native people whose skills are demanded by non-natives. Derek’s an artist who grew up on a reservation, struggling to make ends meet, who is frustrated at the way people look and admire and don’t buy. Kaia’s from a broken family and – while gifted – seems to be separated from people who could have helped and taught her. Instead, she’s been shoved into an institution that doesn’t/can’t address her problems, that misunderstands and fails her.
Derek gets killed for his trouble – Jack himself might be sympathetic, but he transgresses some boundaries – and Kaia…
Well, Jack puts hands on her and rightly gets punched for it. She says no a lot this ep, and nobody listens. Dean even pulls a gun to get her into the car. And while we know that these characters are the heroes and understand the stakes, Kaia’s experience continues to be one of coercion and violation, mostly by white men.
What sets this apart a little is that I think the show pretty self aware about that. Dean pulling the gun on Kaia is shocking. It’s not pretty, it’s not heroic. It’s understandable, yes, because we know the stakes, but it’s also unmistakably violent. When the angels monologue at her, she’s frank about how their plan is dumb because she wouldn’t even get a milk carton if she disappeared.
It’s uncomfortable, and it’s supposed to be, I think. But I am also a white dude, and would be very interested in hearing other voices – and particularly Native voices – about all of this because this shit is hard.
Speaking of, I want to go back for a second and address that scene with Dean, because I saw a lot of people on Twitter upset about it and calling it out of character and…I’m not so sure.
It’s not good or nice. We’re not supposed to like it. But consider that moment in the parking lot, when Dean and Sam catch up to Jack. He shows them a Mary who is wounded and weak, trapped in a cage that punishes her every time her body starts to falter.
Until now he’s been letting this ride, assuming she’s gone. Hell, he’s been giving Sam all kinds of grief over this. And once Cas came back? He was happy. He let himself be happy.
And the show gives us this moment where the rest of the world blurs around him while that sinks in – the horrible, gut-rending, goddamn horror that his mom is in this situation because of him – and I don’t think there’s a person he wouldn’t pull a gun on if he thought it would save her.
So a major chunk of this episode’s emotional core is that scene in the Impala where Jack is sitting in silence, horrified and hurt that the brothers thought he could have killed Derek.
We get some amazing contrast between the brothers and how they approach using their words, but also Jack choosing his family (Castiel, Sam, and Dean), and Dean’s wholehearted acceptance of him into the fold.
It’s such a big moment, and – according to Berens – a scene we almost didn’t get. It’s the happiest accident, and it makes the whole arc of the episode where the Winchesters and their family are concerned just that much stronger.
Chuck bless us, every one.
And hey, let’s talk about Jack. Particularly how skilled and smart he is in some areas – research, for example – while he struggles with nuance, tone, and social mores.
Like, he says a lot of the right things, but his tone is peculiar a lot of the time. His face is either bright and shining or just a little creepy.
His arc continues to be about consent. He’s a child of rape, whose very birth was contentious, and whose powers can change minds in an instant. He is bad at boundaries – see how he piggybacks on Derek’s powers, how he expects Kaia’s assistance in return for breaking her out unto trying to physically force her to come with him – and both Heaven and Hell feel entitled to his power. His continued existence and self-determination is a Thing.
The fact of him – an enormously powerful who could Godzilla the world by accident – and whether he should be allowed self-determination is such a big, marvelous thing. Because he’s not human, but he is without a doubt a person, and he’s family.
He is our smol, inappropriately chirpy nougat son who knocks people out and fucks up doors just like his daddy, and I couldn’t be prouder,
even though he’s given up nougat for cocaine.
Oh, Patience. You know shit is getting real when Dean “Stay Out Of The Life” Winchester is calling. And this is so fucked up for you, what with your dad trying to stick you to The Plan – echoes of Kevin Tran again – in conflict with your new awareness of the world, how much you missed out on, and your actual ability to make difficult ethical decisions.
Your dad pulled a reverse John Winchester, and you deserve so much better. Fortunately, Jody. Fuck ‘em up, Patience. I can’t wait to see you kick ass.
This episode was goddamn cinematic as fuck.
Like, say what you will about angels being dicks – and they are dicks – that was some high-grade Walls of Jericho shit going down in those last scenes, and the Jack-and-Kaia opening of the worlds was fucking astonishing.
That whole location – which is apparently a derelict ferry and filmed entirely an on-site – is amazing, even if I’m trying to figure out where it’s supposed to be. (The angels had Minnesota plates, and there are shipyards on the lakes, so…)
Melted. Angel. Blades. Holy shit.
And dude, the Bad Place? With that footprint? We’re gonna get DINOSAURS. Sam and Dean are gonna fight DINOSAURS in JURASSIC FUCKING PURGATORY.
Bonus Thing #2: Hey, remember that fake President we had in-show for a little while? Yeah, that’s over, and as much as I am displeased by our current national nightmare, I welcome our return to a timeline where pointed social commentary works again.
Bonus Thing #3: Any bets on who the hooded figure is? I’m hearing Rowena’s name here and there, but S13 has been full of surprises…
Bonus Thing #4: Okay, but as someone also watching Dirk Gently right now, creepy boats in the middle of nowhere that have something to do with alternate realities are kind of my goddamn jam.
Seven Things About Supernatural: 13x03 - “Patience”
So let me just acknowledge that as a human, my week has been kind of hard, and I’m not 100% sure how objective I can be this week.
In any case…
Let’s rip the Band-Aid off and open with how I do not love Missouri’s death. Yes, we all knew it was coming the minute the casting news came back. Yes, it works within the text to advance the plot and give Patience now has an origin story that forces her to confront truths about herself and her family.
But fuck, I do not love how the “bring back beloved character just to kill them” thing has become reflexive for the show, and of all the writers, I hoped Bobo would subvert it. Damn it.
I get to some extent why the episode went there. As written, saving Missouri would have left the wraith without motive to go to Georgia at all, but let’s be real: that fatality is still a choice. We know from The Monologue™ later that a wraith doesn’t have to kill a meal, and non-fatal snack would have clued him in just as well.
Honestly, the only real thing that this death accomplishes that couldn’t be accomplished any other way was to isolate Patience in the sense that Jody is her only viable ally as she comes to terms with the way her father has been gaslighting her for years about her powers and keeping Missouri at arm’s length.
Even then, I’m not sure I’m ready to say that sacrificing Missouri is worth it. Yeah, people die on Supernatural, but I don’t like it.
I do want to talk about Missouri, though, because even though her exit pissed me off, I loved seeing her again, and there is a lot of tantalizing character stuff that gets dropped in this ep that I would have loved to see expanded upon.
Missouri wasn’t just a psychic. She was, at times, a hunter as well. That’s new and interesting and I wonder how it worked, given that her physical presence doesn’t jive with what we usually see in hunters. How long has she been out of the life? Since S1? Longer?
I’m also curious about Missouri as a mother. I get the sense that James’ upbringing was less nomadic, and that Missouri didn’t raise him the way Sam and Dean were raised. He’s visibly useless in a fight. At the same time, it’s clear he least grew up alongside the life, and knows a few things.
(James is, in a lot of ways, what Sam might have been if things had gone just a little differently.)
She knows, too, when she sends Dean and Jody to Georgia what’s going to happen. She’s gamed the whole thing out, and chosen the solution with the best possibility of overall success. It means sacrificing herself for her family – other echoes of Winchester family dynamics – and she faces it without fear or apology.
Which, while I don’t like the thing itself, is something I recognize as being pretty fucking badass within the text.
The show retcons her a little, too, in the sense that she’s a little less Tangina Barrons this time around. She’s using psychometry as a specific skill, and associated with magic that reads to me as being less coded with African disaporic practices.
We still don’t know why her son’s surname is Turner, nor how she ended up in Omaha. Maybe we’ll get more of that (and more of her) as Wayward approaches?
With all of the “good girl” and sniffing and hair-pulling, and even that shot of a wraith spike being driven into Dede’s neck, they sure are doubling down on all the rape imagery in this ep, aren’t they?
This does earn some side-eye from me – like, can we not with this trope, say, ever? – but I guess we can acknowledge how it correlates Patience’s first big encounter with the supernatural to Alex’s experiences in 11x19 in particular (i.e. the boyfriend turning out to be a vamp who acts out some things that are consistent with real life abuse), but also her exploitation as a blood slave/bait with her original abductors.
Yeah, a literally nameless monster with no obvious redeeming traits saves us some emotional bandwidth for everything else, but ugh. Gross.
Speaking of Patience, I think I’m going to like her a lot. She’s got this balance of self-assured talent and total blank slate in terms of what her life really is now. Her relationship with her father – which has clearly been so central to her life – has been irrevocably changed by the revelation that he isolated her from Missouri, and that he’s kept her in the dark about a big part of herself. Her life trajectory – which was up until now looking like valedictorian, elite school, etc. – is no longer as clear as it was.
There’s a lot the writers can do with that. Admittedly there are a lot of wrong turns they can take, too, but i’m interested.
Also, look at that red hoodie of family. Such red. Very hoodie.
So remember when last week I was like, “Dean’s angry honesty is awful, but at least it’s better than lies and omission?”
That sure paid off quick.
So here’s the thing about Sam Winchester: he’s complicated, and he’s a little bit of a cipher, and he’s both of those things because he absolutely hides things and lies when he thinks he needs to, or when doing that will help him get to what he thinks is a greater good.
The problem here, obviously, is that while his intentions are usually good, or at least aimed at minimizing conflict, it’ means he tends to do things that (justifiably or not) read as manipulative to the people affected by them (usually Dean).
So here he is with Jack – and I do think he genuinely wants to connect with Jack, and that Sam has real sympathy with them having some shared experiences being a “freak” – but there’s still an undercurrent of this being a partnership that will possibly net him a benefit, too.
He’s made no secret of this with Dean, justifying them keeping him around to try and open the rift again so they can find Mary, but he hasn’t been upfront with Jack about this really. He’s trying to play both sides, be the “right” Sam for each of them, and get what he wants from both Dean and Jack, and their dual confrontation at the end of the episode puts a lot of that out on the table.
Sam is justifiably angry at Dean for the extent to which he’s hurt Jack, but Dean calls Sam out for what Dean reads as manipulation and dishonesty, trying to couch his position in compassion when it’s actually selfish.
And both of them have valid points. Dean is visibly uncomfortable when his behavior toward Jack is called out – because, yeah, it was like that, Dean – but Sam has failed to be honest to Jack, and that lie is potentially going to destabilize the trust between Sam and Jack.
Dean’s grieving process is maybe the most intense we’ve seen from him since S2. He’s completely stone-faced in his room, in total contrast with the song he’s listening to. He is at least sticking to beer at the moment, but whether that’s because the show has given us Significant Beers or because he feels like he needs to be ready to fight with Jack in the bunker is up in the air.
When Sam puts Jody on the case Missouri calls them about, Dean’s first reaction is that Jody will get killed because they’re focused on Jack. Because, hey, that’s still raw, and he’s not going to let it go.
He doesn’t like leaving Missouri behind either, and hey, his instincts are spot on. (We didn’t like it either, Dean.)
Of the two, he’s also the brother more likely to be brusque and up-front, but he’s especially not sugarcoating anything, either to James or to Sam. That confrontation at the end of the ep is an explosion of emotion that he’s been keeping capped, processing on his own, but hell, if Sam’s going to push? He might as well just do what needs doing.
And hey, if we needed an ep to remind us that Dean does better emotionally when he has solvable problems and something in front of him, here you are.
OH JACK. Our nougat’s wrestling mightily with his nature this episode, and he really doesn’t have a single safe place to turn. Sam is sympathetic but pressures him. Dean is hostile. Kelly loved him, and believed in him, but his birth killed her. Asmodeus is clearly the enemy.
Like, no wonder this kid doesn’t leave his room.
And it’s great, you know, that when it’s evident that there’s nobody who can help him, he reaches out to the one person who was supposed to have his back, that his mom trusted, and that seems to be the key to making his angry uncles stop fighting: Castiel.
Bonus Thing: “You have an angel watching over you” is not the most comforting series of words on this series, Kelly. Just saying.
Bonus Thing #2: Ronson is a delight. Can we keep her?
Bonus Thing #3: So hey, that book Sam is reading? The Drama of the Gifted Child? That’s not a book about academically gifted kids. It’s a book for/about those who “survived an abusive childhood thanks to an ability to adapt even to unspeakable cruelty by becoming numb.”
Bonus Thing #4: So after last week’s incident with the Shedim, and this week’s Biggerson’s billboard in the background announcing the return of the Turducken Slammer, I can’t decide if I have amorphous concerns about things repeating, or that this is a sign that the theme is that our characters are in familiar territory and making new choices.
Bonus Thing #5: This is me, still laughing about Kim Rhodes’ tweet about Jody’s “death” in Patience’s premonition:
[transcription: “It just occurred to me… maybe the whole #wayward thing was just a complicated ruse so I would agree to film… nah. Prolly not.”]
So I just heard a rumor that wayward sisters is going to start with Jody calling Claire and saying “the boys are on a hunting trip and haven’t been home in a few days” and i just wanna crawl into a hole and die leave me be
Okay, so I just got a chance to watch that episode. Lemme just say, HOLY CRAP!
-So we have Kaia Nieves, aka awesome awesome awesome! I love what this show does, which is give characters doubts. I actually adore the fact that Kaia was not willing at first to help the Winchesters because it’s the “right” thing to do.
-Jack. Just everything he did this episode. He’s gone from lil’ baby nougat to badass, eager to please, TFW mirror Jack. And the cocaine line was pure gold!
-Sam, always the rational one. He was the one to basically say innocent until proven guilty about Jack. Like, “Hang on, Dean. Let’s talk about it. Maybe Jack didn’t do it.”
-I knew that lady was an angel as soon as she stepped outta that car! It’s funny how after 9 seasons of angels, you can tell what they are by their fashion sense.
-I know everyone was speculating what the hell Dean’s play was when he pulled out the gun on Kaia. I also know that either Bobo or Dabb confirmed that no, he was not actually going to shoot Kaia. As we’ve repeatedly seen, grief and determination make Dean stop pulling punches. It’s always been like that! When he lost Sam and found out he could get him back, he didn’t stop to think of the consequences. He just sold his soul immediately! He snapped at Bobby even though we know Bobby was the closest thing to a father he had at that point. So I think that, yes, it was a jerk move, but Jesus Christ, Dean was not going to pull the trigger.
-I hate most of the angels, but holy guacamole, the sigil blasting thing was cool. Synchronized grace smashing anyone?
-Jodi is the concerned mother. Jodi is always going to be the concerned mother. Jodi is probably, (don’t kill me,) definitely a better mum than Mary.
-Speaking of Mary, I do hope she and Jack will get on well these next few episodes.
-WheN WIll wE HeAR fROm cAS aNd LucIfER (Never thought that last one would be missed)