Nothing like getting back on the horse to get your feet under ya, eh? And last week on Supernatural that is exactly what the boys do after Mary heads off on her own in “American Nightmare”.
After a (really long) “Then” sequence featuring Baby Winchesters and every psychic the show the boys have ever encountered, we open to a woman walking down the aisle of a beautiful, ornate church, only, rather than getting married, she’s suffering from Stigmata before our very eyes. Stigmata, if you didn’t know, is the phenomenon of people suffering the wounds of Christ’s crucifixion. Ouch. So she is being whipped and “speaking in tongues” before collapsing on the floor of the church. Welcome to the nightmare.
One perk of this super religious-seeming death is that we get to see Sam and Dean as priests again. Yay! No one can rock the clerical collar like they can, but seriously, someone else needs to pick their names as “Father Penn” and “Father DeNiro” question the priest who witnessed the gruesome death. Not surprisingly, the guy is reluctant to spill the details of the woman’s (Olivia) death, having been ridiculed and mocked and generally having a hard time of it as of late, but Sam and Dean assure him that, being “old, OLD school” priests, they can take what he dishes out. So finally he tells them about how Olivia (a very good person) was attacked by a demon, though there was not black smoke or sulfuric smell at the time. Sam, smarty pants that he is, can tell that she was speaking Aramaic, not Hebrew, when the shaky priest repeats her words.
After talking to Cas, they determine that it’s not a rogue angel and likely not Lucifer messing around with them. Also, Cas lets them know that, firstly, Lucifer is in the rock star/douche bag (depending who you ask) Vince Vicente as his new vessel, although Row Row sent him to the bottom of the ocean; and secondly, that Cas is hunting the devil alongside Crowley. YAY for communication! And, like I said last week: I would watch the shit outta the angel and demon solving crimes. Give me at least one episode. We all know Jensen and his wife are having twins soon. PERFECT timing for an extra week or two off! Yes. Let’s go.
So, while Sammy is looking up translations for the Aramaic phrase Olivia cried out as she was whipped to death, Dean texts his mom. Well, Mary. He’s not sure he can call her MOM anymore and I roll my eyes hard enough to give myself a headache. Yes, I understand he’s hurt, but you’re a grown ass man, Dean.
Sam voices his own concern over Dean’s mental state after Dean was rude and short with the medical examiner, in addition to not stopping the car for Sam to pee. Dean says he’s fine, just dealing with Mary leaving. Yeah, doin’ a bang up job there, bud. While looking at Olivia’s corpse, they find that she suffered not only Stigmata, but a mushy, gooey brain. Yum. Not knowing what causes all of that, the boys head off to her workplace to find more clues, and not have anymore Dr. Phil moments.
As it turns turns out, Olivia worked for Child Protective Services, and one of her employees is already moving into her old office and burning a candle for positive energy there. Said employee, Beth, is Wiccan, and Olivia was her boss. Not a shock that working for CPS gives you a lot of enemies, and we get some super on the nose commentary about how sometimes the best thing for families is to be apart, even if they can’t see it that way. My head probably hurts as much as Olivia’s did by the end of this episode because holy shit did we get beaten over it with families and space and etc this week.
Dean decides that Beth must have done it, which makes sense, with the zero evidence they’ve uncovered about her, but hey, who needs proof? Not Dean, who is ready to put some witch killing bullets in her now. Sam talks him down from outright murder until they find some evidence that Beth killed Olivia for her job. Meanwhile, a young man carrying some soon to be ruined produce suffers the same fate as Olivia, but at least he gets some okay tunes to die to.
The next day, Sam finds only one cross match between the produce boy’s route and Olivia’s cases, and it’s, according to Beth, a super scary, super religious family named the Petersons. They are so old fashioned, she says, that when their daughter Magda got pneumonia, they refused to let a doctor see her, saying whatever happened was God’s will. Welp, God’s will was apparently that Magda should die, so ya know. Them’s the breaks.
They’re off to visit the Petersons, dressed in sweaters like the CPS agents they’re pretending to be. They are forced to leave Baby behind, however, as the road is blocked by a gate and “No Trespassing” sign. Obviously they ignore it, and Dean “Old Man” Winchester climbs over the gate while Sam walks around it. The look Sam gives Dean is beautiful and maybe my favorite part of this otherwise frustrating episode. While walking up to the house, Sam again tries to talk to Dean about Mary’s leaving and how that’s clearly affected Dean. Dean again brushes it off, even after Sam points out that there have been times that the brothers needed time apart. Dean thinks that she won’t be back. After all, she hates the way they were raised (like any mother would), hates that they’re hunters, and hasn’t returned Dean’s text (because he is a 13yr old girl). While they’re walking away from the Impala, a familiar motorcycle is stopping by it. The rider checks the plates and drives off.
Our boys get to the farm and inform Mr. and Mrs. Peterson of Olivia’s death. They’re saddened to hear she died, even if she was a Papist. While they’re there, Dean is enlisted to help fix the buggy, where he learns that this is not how the Petersons always lived. Abraham used to work as a computer programmer, but the outside world was so full of corruption and distractions, from cell phones to TV shows, that they left all that behind. Dean seems to see some merit in this as they and Elijah (their son) fix the buggy’s broken wheel. While Dean is having this nice moment of simplicity, Sam and the rest of us are getting creeped out by Mother Peterson, who is talking about the accident that nearly killed her, and caused her to hear “God’s voice” telling them to live a life of simplicity and her pain will go away. It hasn’t, but hey she manages, alright? After Sam tells her that the delivery boy is also dead, her reply of “God has a plan” pisses him off. Lady, Sam knows God and not in the metaphorical sense. And God’s not sitting around, watching what people do and giving a shit. Of this Sam is certain. That and the fact that God didn’t kill Magda, the Petersons did.
On that note, they’re kicked off the Peterson’s property. Sam and Dean are at odds about what is causing the deaths: Dean says it’s an ambitious witch, Sam thinks it’s a pissed off ghost. Dean thinks the family is weird, but good people; the rest of the word has eyes and sees they’re creepy as fuck. They decide to split up and “see who’s right.” Meanwhile, Mother is watching her husband and son fondly, before she heads down to the padlocked basement where her daughter is singing hymns. Mother asks why she killed those people, slaps her around a bit, and makes her self flagellate while begging for forgiveness and trying to heal her evil soul. Sam wins. Creepy as fuck. Elijah sees all this through a window in the basement, and brings his concerns to his dad.
Elijah and Abraham are discussing the predicament they’re in of having a devil spawn and the sister who is being abused, but they have it backwards. Magda is their cross to bear, and Mother is doing God’s work. This would probably be amusing to Sam, having known both God and the devil, but he’s hiding in a stall, narrowly missing being caught while snooping around with a silent EMF reader.
While Sam is playing Scary Hide and Seek, Dean is playing Creepy Date Who You’re Pretty Sure Is A Serial Killer. He pops by Beth’s office, hanging out in the doorway and asking how she likes the new job while covertly holding his beautiful gun behind his back. Seriously. This gun is perfect and I have heart eyes all over for it. Not surprisingly, Beth hates the new job. I don’t blame her, being the boss sucks. She complains about it convincingly enough that Dean figures she’s not killing people to climb up the government employee ladder and calls Sam.
Sam answers, freaking out at having seen Magda and her mom through the basement window himself, and they talk over each other until Sam is held at gunpoint and then knocked out. He wakes up in the basement with Magda, who proceeds to tell him she’s evil and that the devil works through her, while Sam tries to convince her otherwise. She’s not evil, she is psychic, like he was. Magda can hear people’s thoughts and is telekinetic. She tried to send thoughts to Olivia and the produce boy in the hopes that they would help her, but things went awry and they died. Sam tells her she can learn to control it, but she just calls him evil, too.
Upstairs, the Parents of the Year watch as Sam’s phone again lights up with a call from Dean. This won’t work (duh). They have to go tonight. So, a little later, Elijah and Abraham come to the basement. Yay, time for a nice family dinner! I mean, Sam is tied up still, but he’s been kidnapped by worse, right? Mother Peterson is a little too anxious for the family to eat her stew, and Abraham makes the mistake of tucking in right away. Sam, meanwhile, tries to convince the family that Magda isn’t evil, but special, and that pain doesn’t purge anything it just causes more pain. While they’re debating philosophy and not eating, dear old Dad falls over dead in his stew. Apparently they have decided that they’re gonna go on a shitty family vacation. To Heaven. I feel like killing your whole family isn’t going to get you where you think it will, Mother. She tries to get the kids to eat, Sam tells them not to, and soon Magda uses her power to throw all the bowls against the wall. Mother tries to then stab Magda, but Elijah gets in the way and gets a knife to the gut for his trouble. Soon Magda has control of her mother’s hand and nearly makes her stab herself before Sam talks her down. So, Mom goes to jail, and Magda is sent to her aunt in Cali.
Heading out, Dean admits that he’s been a heel and that sometimes people need space. He hates it, but he gets why Mary left. He gets a text from Mary then, telling him that she forgot a charger and that of course she will always be Mom. Sam tells him that it’s the right idea to let Magda go, since she didn’t know what she was doing, and now she has Sam’s number to call if she needs help. Sadly, he won’t be hearing from her any time soon, since Mr. Ketch of the British Men of Letters shoots her in a rest stop bathroom because the Winchesters “couldn’t finish the job.” Okay, I’m done with you now, BMoL.
BAMF: ummm…. Cas and Crowley? I’m imagining their buddy cop sitcom and it’s helping me through this ep.
Look, I love me some “humans are the monsters” storylines, and I know it’s the first episode from new writer Davy Perez, but it’s really hard to sell me a fucked up family as your baddies after the Benders. That season one episode was terrifying and a lot to live up to. Dean’s behavior this whole episode was frustrating to me, too. I understand you’re hurt and have a shit ton of abandonment issues, but sheesh. Maybe I would have felt less frustrated by it if it hadn’t been so heavy handed with the whole “Even family needs time and space!!” message.