Last week, Supernatural ended with Cas and Crowley on a road trip, Sam and Dean alone in the bunker again, and my heart ripped out of my chest. Bear with me.
We open on some hipsters being hipsters, with their quail egg avocado toast and yelp reviews. While they walk down the street, they hear a baby crying in an old, abandoned, haunted-looking house. Naturally, they decided to go inside. The man calls 911 first, but doesn’t wait outside because this is, after all, a horror show. Cue more spooky baby tears, a creepy doll, flickering lights, and, a couple of dead hipsters later, we have “The Foundry.”
In the bunker, Mary is having trouble sleeping. Cas never sleeps so, of course, he’s the one to find her leafing through papers, trying to make sense of this new life she was thrust into. Their relationship is an interesting one, as Cas is the only one who can really relate to Mary, having been cast out of Heaven himself, and I’m enjoying seeing this develop. Dean and Sam’s time in Heaven doesn’t carry the same weight as Cas or Mary’s. They have no memories of the majority of times they were there, and the time they do remember, they were trying to escape. Cas and Mary share a nice moment, and Cas assures Mary that she does belong back here on Earth and with Sam and Dean, even if it doesn’t feel that way yet. Mary shows us her rebellious teen side by cutting her hair before finally heading to bed.
The next morning, Dean and Sam are eating breakfast when Cas comes in to inform them that he’s leaving and doesn’t have time for coffee. Dean asks “Sunshine” (aw) where he’s going, and Cas tells them someone was spotted with red eyes in Cleveland and he thinks it’s Luci. He rejects their offer to join him because he feels that putting Lucifer back in the cage is his responsibility, and also pointedly says they’re more needed here. Dean, ever observant, has no idea what the hell that means, so Sammy clues him in, telling him it’s about Mom. This is where Dean starts to frustrate the hell out of me in this episode. Sam tells him he’s worried about Mary, and Dean brushes off the concern, saying she just needs some R&R and family time. Dean, not everyone represses the shit outta their feelings, okay? Mary comes in and tells them that she found a case while combing through the papers. It’s up in Minnesota and sounds like it could be something. A baby’s cries are luring people to their deaths. It’s very clear, if you’re paying attention, that Mary wants to go do this hunt alone to “get her feet under her.” Dean is unfortunately not paying attention, and jumps at the idea of a “family hunting trip!”
And off they go. Dean introduces Mary to shitty beef jerky, admires a motorcycle (I would say “offhandedly”, but with Bobo Berens writing, nothing is offhanded), and Sammy is relegated to the backseat, where he gets to roll his eyes at not one, but TWO family members who want to crank up the Steppenwolf.
Meanwhile, Cas is hunting Lucifer in the Cas-iest way possible. He interviews Vince’s bandmate, who says that the glowing eyes wasn’t the weirdest part about his friend (ummm, okay?) but his superhuman, MMA strength is what was surprising. “Agent Beyonce (Oh, Cas)” hands over his card and thanks him for his time. Crowley overhears and stops Cas, suggesting he be Cas’s Agent Z (Oh, Crowley) and the two reluctantly team up in their search for the devil. What follows is a really cute little comedy routine as they go back and forth between the hood and window of Cas’s truck. I love Cas and Crowley together and am happy “Cassie”, as Crowley calls him, finally agreed to work together. They head off to find Vince’s sister, Wendy, who somehow believes their ridiculous cover names, even if she does slam the door in their faces. She calls her brother while Crowley demon-pops his way in and opens the door for Cas. Adorable, vain Cas, who checks his tie and hair for a good two minutes in the truck’s mirror. Wendy admits to being recently healed by Vince, but not also mentions that he didn’t seem to be himself. Yeah, no shit. His “self” didn’t have magic powers before. He healed her, coldly, and left with his redheaded groupie. She tells them where her brother was heading, and they hurry off, though not before Cas proves himself to be the sassiest angel in the garrison, Mocking Crowley for wanting to save his mommy rather than actually wanting revenge on Lucifer. Crowley denies it, saying he just doesn’t want Lucifer with such a powerful witch by his side. Understandable. Also I would love a Cas and Crowley buddy cop comedy. Get on it, CW.
In MN, Dean is being an overbearing mother bear with Mary while simultaneously denying that there is anything up with her. It’s as impressive as it is infuriating. The usual Winchester rhythm is off as all three pose as agents talking to the medical examiner, who tells them that he knows the cause of death, but it’s not easy to explain acute hypothermia and literal frozen hearts when the victims were in a 65° room. So much for training wheels, eh boys?
They head into the abandoned house, and the EMF readers are going off the charts. Dean asks Mary if she knows what she’s doing, and Mary reminds him that she isn’t completely helpless. The EMF reader is analog, and she was a hunter for years, after all. The boys (foolishly) let their mom go into a nursery by herself, and, as it tends to happen, things go awry. The door slams, and a little boy ghost grabs Mary’s arm, burning her. The boys get her out of there and head back to the motel. Mary is all ready to knock on some doors and do some investigating, but Sam and Dean have already found “all they need” on their laptops. Sometimes they talk to people, but the internet has made in-person canvassing pretty much obsolete, which seems to tell Mary that she is obsolete as well. Mary is clearly out of her element here and she knows it. Sam and Dean decide the deaths must be caused by vengeful child spirits over Mary’s objections that the little boy didn’t seem to want to hurt her, and in fact seemed scared. She is pretty much steamrolled by her sons, who decide that a salt and burn is in order. Mary then stumbles as she is struck by combined vision of her own death over Sam’s crib, the creepy crib in the creepy haunted house, and the little boy asking her to “help them.” Like a true Winchester, she tells Sam and Dean she is fine, but they tell her to stay and rest anyway, and head off to the cemetery without her.
While the boys are salting and burning the kids’ remains, Sam again tries to talk to Dean about his concerns about Mary. Dean still doesn’t want to hear any of it. He just wants to for once accept something good and not question it. But if ever there is a time for introspection and questions and concern, it’s now. She is trying to bury herself in work, but as with her sons, it doesn’t help. Mary is not adjusting. She is struggling, as Sam says, and Dean is the only one who doesn’t seem to see it. Mary spends her alone time at the motel calling the mother of one of the dead children. She learns, through actual human conversation, how the boy died and that he was in fact the ghost she saw in the house. When they boys get back to the motel, Mary and the weapons bag are gone.
Off in the cabin in the woods, Lucifer’s pissed that his vessel is deteriorating. He demands that Rowena cast a spell to make it last longer, forever, if possible, and threatens to kill her if she doesn’t. She agrees, like ya do, and works a spell on him. Not to preserve the vessel, but to speed up the deterioration. Lucifer’s vessel rots in front of us while he screams about his revenge, which will be tough to accomplish, since Row Row is sending him to the bottom of the ocean. Row Row is fucking going to Boca and NO ONE is going to stop her.
Cas and Crowley show up after the heavy lifting is done, and Rowena tells them that while she won’t help them hunt the devil, if they get him cornered, they can call her and she will send him back to the cage. Team Caged Satan!
Mary is back at the haunted house alone, and the little boy, Lucas, appears to her. She tells him that she talked to his mommy, who misses him a whole lot, and my heart cracks a little. He takes her to the basement and asks her to help them. Before Mary has a chance to ask him to clarify, her phone rings, because kids always call at the worst fucking times. She tells Dean and Sam that the salt and burn didn’t work. They immediately tell her to leave the house, and the phone cuts out. Mary asks Lucas what is keeping him here and Lucas replies that “he won’t let them leave,” pointing to the wall. A ghost adult appears, and Mary recognizes his face from an article about the dead children. He’s the father of the first dead child, and the killer of the other children.
By the time Dean and Sam get to her, Mary is back in the nursery, fighting for her life. The ghost (Moriarty) tries to kill her, but possesses her instead and she fights Dean, nearly freezing his heart. Like he did with John when he was possessed by Azazel, Dean is able to reach Mary in time, and she wrestles back control of her body long enough to tell Sam to go to the basement. Sam rushes down the stairs and sees Lucas, who points to the basement wall. Sam breaks the wall down while Dean still fights his possessed mother. In the wall is a skeleton, which Sam burns, releasing both Mary and the children. Moriarty burns, and the children go to Heaven, finally freed.
Back at the bunker, Mary explains that Moriarty went mad after the death of his daughter and walled himself up in the basement, eventually starving to death. But when new families moved into the house, Moriarty he killed the children to keep them with him. It’s tragic and heartbreaking, but not nearly as much as what comes next:
After Dean calls the bunker Mary’s home, Mary disagrees. It’s not home to her. And Dean and Sam are not her boys. She knows intellectually that they are her sons, but emotionally she misses her babies, and she misses John. Dean Sam has had 30+ years to adjust and cope with the loss of his mother, and Sam never knew any different. For Mary, it was yesterday. If Heaven is the happiest times in your life, then Mary’s life for the past three decades has been with her husband and sons. Her baby boys. Every minute with the grown versions is painful for her, because it just reminds her of everything she missed. With that said, Mary tells the boys that she needs some time, and she reaches out to each of them to say her goodbyes. It’s crushing to see Dean reject her touch and as he tries not to cry. It’s devastating to see Sam flinch when the door closes, but it was realistic and I think important for the show to do this. SuperWiki on Twitter said it might be the most feminist thing Supernatural ever did: Portraying a mother as a person. I completely agree.
It’s easy for us to be indignant on Dean and Sam’s behalf and say that, as their mother, she should want to not lose any more time with them. I understand the knee-jerk anger that Dean, and fans feel, but as a parent, if I lost my babies, I would go mad. This whole episode was about parents losing their children and the ensuing grief, and Mary’s deepest connection here was to a boy who was her little Dean’s age and who resembled the son she remembered. It’s heartbreaking and devastating for all of the Winchesters when Mary says “I love you both” and puts her own emotional well-being first. But I’m so proud of her for doing so.
Okay, I didn’t talk enough about how fucking AMAZING Row Row was this episode, but there was a lot of Winchester baggage in the overhead here. She kicked some serious fucking ass and is again in charge of her own fate. Fuck Yeah Row Row!