Whew! What a relief. I was really starting to think that “Supernatural” had forgotten what it was truly about. Thank you John Bring and Phil Sgriccia for reminding everyone.
While I'm not going to go as far as calling "The Memory Remains" a series classic or even a totally brilliant hour, it was a most welcome hour. The last few weeks have been disconcerting so for this episode to address some of those issues itself makes it extraordinary. Who knows, I might even watch this again someday. There are very few episodes in this season where I can say that.
My biggest issue with of the last few weeks was aptly addressed in this MOTW episode. Welcome back Sam and Dean to the center focus of the story! We really missed you guys. No matter what great plots they give the supporting characters, the show centers around Sam and Dean and their relationship. It’s what has always made this show extraordinary. How refreshing though was it to see a creepy, suspenseful, engaging MOTW hunt on top Sam and Dean actually dominating the story? It felt pretty damn good. Sure the story was a little formulaic at first, even ludicrious when it focused on the local urban legend of "Black Bill," but eventually it built up into something interesting. There wasn't a cartoon villain in sight, and this was a story about a guy with a goat head killing people! That synopsis had cheesefest written all over it. Somehow though, it added up.
How? One of my other recent criticisms has been how poorly the horror aspect has been done. There was no suspense to the threat, no fright in the pit of your stomach. This week remembered the basic elements needed for horror. It all starts with tone, something that “The X-Files” maintained all through it’s run, even in the weak years. Horror is grim. It’s not supposed to be a guy just getting slashed and then show trademark blood spatter on the wall. The setting is dark and ominous. The cinematography sets just the right mood. The victims are stalked and terrorized slowly before meeting their horrific end. They were scared to death and I felt it! I felt the terror when dude #1 was a sitting duck, mashed against that tree via inescapable barbed wire. I felt the terror when dude #2 was trapped in the meat locker, unsuspecting Sam and Dean outside, waiting anxiously for his inevitable end at the hands of one very creepy God in between all those racks of meat in the freezing cold.
I was also at the edge of my seat when Sam cautiously approached the grate in the basement, looking for the supposedly trapped God underneath. I have no idea why since we knew he wasn't in there, but the way the whole slow build was shot freaked me out. It helps that this episode was shot by Phil Sgriccia who Is no stranger to terror and suspense on SPN. He’s been there since season one and remembers what it was like. It’s great to see that in that in season 12, he's still got it.
Establishing that dreaded feeling early was vital to the confrontation at the end when Dean was trapped. Of course I knew that Dean wasn't going to die. But I was still really nervous that he was put into the meat locker of doom strapped to a chair, being stalked in the dim red lighting, knowing that even with a meat hook for a weapon that wasn't enough to take out this blood-thirsty God. Predictable as Sam's last second save was, it was still freaking exciting to watch. It just goes to show, tone means everything. Not enough attention is being paid to tone every week and it's showing. The episodes are less scary and more melodramatic now. I adore this strong reminder of how it's supposed to be done.
This episode left me uneasy in other ways too and that was the foreshadowing. Sam and Dean, carving their initials into the table was both sweetly sentimental and strangely ominous. Since we know Sam and Dean aren't going to die, could it mean they're setting up a scenario where they have to abandon the bunker or destroy it? The fact that the British Men of Letters can get in there so easily hints that could happen, as well as the fact that Sam and Dean's key allows them to enter any bunker in the world. Unless the British Men of Letters are destroyed, I don’t know how Sam and Dean can stay in the bunker living productive lives.
There was also the parallels between the sheriff and Pete and Sam and Dean. Two sets of brothers both on different sides of the spectrum when it comes to a God of sacrifice. Come on, Pete’s comment even cemented the polar opposites. "I'm a Bishop. That's what we do, right? Hunting people. Killing them. The family business.” (LOVE Dean’s reaction to that comment). Could that symbolize the division between Sam and Dean and the British Men of Letters? It’s a bit of a stretch, but the question is, who will be sacrificed in this ordeal? My money is on Mary. I have a feeling something big is coming down and no one will come out unscathed. Or, maybe Sam and Dean and Ketch will blow away together in a dark and white cloud and spend eternity together. (You caught me, I’m being facetious. I’ll stop.)
The sheriff was a good man who was protecting a horrible family secret. He had to put an end to the horrors his family was inflicting with Moloch. He’s the one that has to clean up the mess when things go wrong. Could that be some thinly veiled symbolism that Mr. Ketch is in the same position? That he was really feeling something when he killed Mick and that what he did was wrong? His search of the bunker resulted in some careless errors on his part. Putting the bug under the table where it can easily found? Taking the picture of Mary? That’s bush league and he’s not bush league. Of course he just could be a psychopath that doesn’t care either. There’s not enough evidence yet.
Since I’ve moved onto Mr. Ketch, the B story was light and tolerable. I at first wondered what happened to the "eliminate them" order from last week and why Mr. Ketch didn't show up with guns blazing, but then I remembered Mick's whole speech a few episodes ago where he mentioned that they like to do surveillance on their targets and study them before going in for the kill. So they're treating Sam and Dean like they would a pack of monsters? Interesting. I wonder what they hope to accomplish by doing that. Personally, I was more interested if anyone found the secret as to what makes Sam's hair so shiny! I need to know that secret.
As I said, I don't like Mary's chance of survival after Mr. Ketch found the picture of her and four year old Dean. Cat's out of the bag I guess. I’m just not sure if it’s coming at the hands of Mr. Ketch or someone else. Somehow though, that doesn't bother me so much. It's hard to fret over an unsympathetic character, no matter how important that person is in the lore. Bringing her back is proving to be a huge mistake and a risk that doesn't seem to be paying off. That's no slam on Samantha Smith though who's done a wonderful job. It's all been in the writing. But I'm straying so excuse me. The fact is, the whole thing didn't detract from the main story yet moved things forward. That's a win in my book.
The real highlight though? The slam dunk that cemented this episode in the plus column for me? Sam F***ing Winchester storming in with the colt and saving the day. Fantastic!
"The Colt. It dusts anything."
All and all an enjoyable hour and a nice diversion until the supposed real action starts. I try to avoid comparisons to the old days so not to invite comments that the show isn’t like it was in the early seasons, but let’s just call this “old school.” That means that the show remembered it’s roots while keeping it current.
Odds and Ends
We had a Busty Asian Beauties sighting! As I mentioned in my article, Ten Great Running Bits in Supernatural, we haven't had a Busty Asian Beauties sighting since season 10! They can check that one off the to do list now. We're satisfied until at least next season.
I loved when Mr. Ketch addressed that long standing fan curiosity about the telescope. You can't see anything through it! Too bad, I was half hoping it worked.
For those keeping track, we can mark this 12.18 as a "Dean got laid" episode. Man, when was the last time that happened? Part of me thinks it was earlier this season but honestly, I can't find it. I don't recall it happening at all last season, unless you want to count Dean and Amara undressing one another with their eyes. Help me out fandom! Someone out there has to know it. For the record, Sam's last roll in the sack was last season's "Baby". Working on those night moves...
Best quote is courtesy of Dean Winchester: "Next time you hear me say our family is messed up, remind me that we could be psycho goat people."
The Red Headed Monster
This week, the monster is playing very concerned citizen. Consider this more of a public service announcement. Someone very near and dear to us has been missing. Have you seen this person?
Okay, not so much a person as an angel in a human vessel. This being is about six foot tall, wears a blue suit, white shirt, dark striped tie and a beige trench coat. He hasn’t been seen since early March, and he’s supposed to be one of the principal cast members of the show. His goes by the name of Castiel (appropriately the angel of Thursday) but honestly he responds to a variety of names...
Cass (psst, don't say that name around any fan girls. You'll be lynched!)
His friends have noticed he’s gone, but their worry has been relegated to “Where’s Castiel? Oh well, he won’t answer his phone. Let’s work a case.” How does that happen?? I mean, he's like their best friend. They've even called him family!!! They should be turning over Heaven, Hell and Earth trying to find him!!! ARGHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!
Ahem. Anyone with a shred of information (and I’m not talking next week’s preview), please share to help ease the monster’s mind. We clearly don’t like where this is going and we are really, really starting to worry. Thank you.
Overall grade, a B+. A little slow at the beginning but for those who stuck it out, it all did lead to something. I'm so grateful! Enjoy your week break before we get into the final stretch.