Last week’s Hitler romp was a bit of a misstep, but last night’s episode more than made up for it, with new writer Steve Yockey treating us to one of the most engaging standalone stories in a long time.
During the course of Supernatural’s twelve seasons, we’ve definitely seen our share of hunter’s funerals, but something we’ve never gotten a glimpse of is a hunter’s wake. That’s exactly what we get this week, when shortly after Sam and Dean arrive at Jody’s place for an impromptu visit (and another opportunity for Dean to brag that he killed Hitler), Jody learns that one of her friends, Asa Fox, has died. We learned in the cold open that back in 1980 (after Dean was born, interestingly enough), Mary saved Asa from a werewolf. Sam and Dean don’t know that, though–they just know Asa as the hunter who took out five wendigos in one night–and accompany Jody to the wake.
The hunters at Asa’s wake seem to have the same interests Sam and Dean do: old cars, alcohol, and classic rock (please tell me I’m not the only one who caught the fact that they chose “Man in the Box” to play during the wake). Sam and Dean mingle and meet their fair share of interesting characters, but most of the time, the attention is turned on them as the hunters explain how many stories they’ve heard about the Winchester brothers. Eventually, Mary makes her way into the wake, and Sam and Dean are stunned– this is the first time they’ve seen her since she left the bunker. This leads to awkward tension between Sam, Dean, and Mary, as well as an absolutely delightful scene where Mary and Jody meet for the first time.
After this, though, is when shit really starts to hit the fan.
When Sam and Mary go to pay their respects to Asa while Dean is outside, they notice that one of the hunters is dead, his throat sliced and his body trussed up from the ceiling. One of the other hunters, Bucky, recognizes the handiwork as belonging to a crossroads demon named JL, whose signature move is hanging his victims or slicing their throats. To make matters worse, JL is bouncing around from hunter to hunter and has warded the house so no one can enter or exit.
Small intersession here, but isn’t it weird that no other hunters have anti-possession tattoos? They can’t do a throwback to season one and say Cristo to figure out who the demon is? Apparently not–but we wouldn’t have gotten this episode if any of those things happened, so I’m not going to complain.
Anyway, while everyone else is inside, Dean is warded outside and runs into Billie the reaper, who explains that she’s there to reap a fresh soul. After a quick conversation and rundown on what’s going on inside, she agrees to send Dean back into the house with the knowledge that it’s a one-way ticket; she can’t get him or anyone else back out. JL possesses hunter after hunter until he finally ends up inside Jody. After a few splintered attempts at exorcisms, the hunters finally manage to get JL sent back to Hell, but not before he lets it slip that Bucky is actually responsible for Asa’s death.
The hunters decide Bucky’s punishment–they kick him out with the knowledge that his name will be blacklisted by hunters the world over, and that this story will follow him to his death, Once that done, Billie confronts Mary, telling her that she’s not there just to reap souls; she’s also there to take her back to Heaven.
I almost had a heart attack here. There’s no way this episode could end with Mary being taken away from Sam and Dean again, before they could even start having a mother and sons relationship, no way. Luckily, Mary is a Winchester, and when Billie explains that she can’t kill people, she comes back with, “Well, then. I guess you’re just gonna have to wait.”
It’s clear with her exasperated sigh of “Winchesters” that Billie isn’t at all surprised that Mary is refusing to go with her, and says that she’ll be ready when Mary–and Sam and Dean, while she’s at it–change her mind. Mary’s denial of Billie’s request makes her sons hopeful that she’ll come back to the bunker with them, so it’s a bit of a bummer when Mary says that she needs a little more time. We’re expecting the brothers, especially Dean, to be upset about this, and they definitely look disappointed, but then Dean offers up buying her breakfast as a peace offering, and I wanted to squeal with joy; I really can’t picture the episode ending any better.
Everyone’s acting was on point this week, but Kim Rhodes absolutely deserves the gold star. She manages to draw your eye toward her in even the smallest of scenes, and her turn as possessed Jody showcased just how goddamn good she is. But the one thing that really hit me the most was Jody’s ability to pinpoint exactly how Dean is feeling in regards to his mother being back, with only the tiniest of interactions between the two of them to go off of. She pulls Dean aside and tells him:
“If I could have my son and my husband back, I would give anything, absolutely anything to have that. And it would scare the hell out of me. What if I changed; what if they changed? What if it just didn’t work out the way I wanted? If you want to talk about anything, absolutely anything, I’m here.”
Once Rhodes delivered that line, I just felt my heart breaking. She’d managed to summarize everything we image Dean’s feeling in thirty seconds, and based on his reaction, Dean knows it. It shows just how well Jody knows her boys, and the poignancy of the entire scene itself is a testament to Yockey’s writing and Rhodes’ acting.
Now let’s just hope that Dean takes her up on the offer.