If only you believe like I believe baby, we’ll get by
If only you believe in miracles, baby, so would I
BWAH!!! I do believe Supernatural has once again out done itself in turning an obscure pop culture abomination into a funny joke that everyone gets to be in on. I can’t believe that I’ve got a Jefferson Starship song now ringing in my head and don’t have the desire to pierce out my eardrums with a pencil. Now I can laugh. It’s Asia’s “Heat of The Moment” all over again!
I mean, how great is that closing scene? I didn’t agree with all of director John Showalter’s choices (aka the extreme closeups between Dean and Eve as the latter melted away) but that scene is nothing short of brilliant. The closeup of the record flipping onto the jukebox, the really bad signature Jefferson Starship coming on (Who called “Miracles” especially since “You Sexy Thing” from the teaser had the line, “I believe in miracles”), and the slow pan forward of the camera toward Castiel from the POV of the visitor approaching the seething angel, highlighting the full and eerie carnage of dead bodies from the earlier showdown. It’s Crowley! Now that’s how you do a shocking reveal. Gotta love that demonic sense of humor through his choice of music. The king lives. It’s a miracle! (Ding! Yes, for every miracle, an angel gets his wings).
Yes, the Jefferson Starships have invaded and as Dean put it, “they’re horrible and hard to kill.” I’m not sure what I found better, the whole sorted plot of Eve turning this town into her animal testing lab because demons (and angels) are messing with the natural order or the fact that Sam and Bobby so easily started calling them “Starships.” Was I supposed to bust out in tearful laughter when Sam is fearfully fighting for his life against these monsters with his hands cuffed behind his back yelling “Jefferson Starships!”? Honestly, I spent a lot time in the 80’s making fun of that atrocious band, so to see them spoofed so brilliantly a few decades later, I do have to wonder if writer Adam Glass was a fellow tortured kindred spirit back then.
My intense amusement inside, I do need to look at “Mommy Dearest” critically. There is little to find wrong. The purpose of this episode is to unravel plot and shock us with some reveals. Job well done. I’ve been mildly receptive to the new writers this year, for I don’t think they’ve found the true heart of this show or best captured characterization but Adam Glass did something right here. He got the call to pull off a rarity this season, all four main characters together on an adventure. Dynamics between Sam and Dean are rough enough, throwing in Bobby and Castiel could result in a lot of noise. What we get is perfect synergy instead.
It isn’t just the character dynamics though. Blending all that seamlessly with a Monster of The Week plot is something that many of the scripts have struggled with this season. Usually one side does much better than the other. Not here. From beginning to end, “Mommy Dearest” has the perfect mixture of strong dialogue, plot twists, story flow, character angst, and humor. First, a Monster of the Week opening that ended up being more interesting than filler, a guest casting stunt with a familiar face, even if Lenore met her quick yet merciful demise, and without too much plot unfolding the guys are off for their showdown. In those slower scenes, attention is kept by delighting fans with bits like cranky Bobby cursing at Sam for getting him an iPad instead of a “real” computer (what, like the Windows 3.1 system he was seen using earlier this season?) and having Dean pick on Castiel over his latest misfortune. Oh, and naming a whole new monster race on a bad 70’s/80’s pop act. Heck, just the visual off all four guys enjoying a meal in a diner becomes my fan fiction miracle (ding!).
This episode of sorts had a classic return to form. Dean Winchester again is confident, wise cracking, bad ass leader of the bunch, with a bit of recklessness thrown in. I loved his joyful recollection of Sam chopping off Gordon’s head with razor wire. Is that big brother pride or what, not to mention an awesome shout-out to continuity (come on Sam, take it as a compliment!). He’s put in charge of handling the Phoenix ashes, gets the honor of naming the new monster race (naturally a classic rock reference), and of course coming up with the simple plans. Isn’t it always true how Dean’s most effective plans have been the simple ones? Go in swinging. Okay, drinking the Phoenix ashes is trickery at it’s finest, even if it meant he had to spend a few moments as a Starship himself.
This story went for a theme of the universal impact of a mother’s love. Mess with the natural order and momma gets mad! I thought Eve’s story and rationale for coming to earth, because Crowley started attacking her children, made perfect sense (being a mother myself) and is sympathetic. Still, she did want to turn all of humanity into monsters to spite one evil prick (okay and one misguided angel as we find out), so she had to go. Deaths never stick in this show though. Remember, where do all souls go when they die? They have to go somewhere. I envision her back in purgatory with her children and she can always be pulled back should the writers get bored sometime in season nine. But for now, she’s gone.
Sticking with the mother’s love though, what happens when Mom is out of the picture? Simple, it’s brothers left to honor the memories of their mother. Families stick together. A while back, Jasminka did an article on this site about how being orphans have really impacted Sam and Dean. I like the creative choice of dwelling on that through finding the recently orphaned brothers. Sam and Dean’s intense heartache is shown in a way that hasn’t been done before. Both instantly let that pain of their own loss come through while remaining subtle and understated. It’s shown by using these actors strengths, selling a whole life story with pained expressions. Eve hit home when she transformed into Mary for the point was clear. Mary sacrificed herself for them. In the end, the same thing happens to Eve. If anything that’s going to make her children more defensive and filled with revenge. You know, following the same path of the brothers Winchester. I don’t think killing Eve will do them any favors and has set them up for far more trouble.
Oh Castiel, what have you gotten yourself into? Souls give angels power and that power is apparently needed to win a war in Heaven, but what do demons get with souls? Just more power? In following the bouncing ball, are Crowley and Castiel dividing up the souls they get from purgatory? Was Lenore just another soul for Castiel to harvest? Eve knew that Crowley’s line about taking over real estate in Purgatory was a lie, but she obviously didn’t know the greater plan. Apparently we don’t know either. What does Crowley get in return if Castiel wins the Civil War in Heaven? Yes I know, these could be answers we’ll get next week, but something about this battle for souls isn’t fitting. How did Castiel get into this mess? How will he get out of it? In the previews for next week’s episode, could he be praying for a miracle? (Ding!)
Of course Dean didn’t want to believe that Castiel is up to something. How could he considering all they’ve been through? I love how Dean has officially become the one to make the call to Castiel (nothing like having an angel up your butt). I wasn’t surprised that Bobby thought it was plausible either. It was Sam’s reaction that caught me off guard. I have to wonder, when Sam told Dean and Bobby “It’s probably nothing,” does that mean he remembers something? Is this the very first clue of the crumbling of that wall in his head? You know that Sam and his miraculous (ding!) resurrection from Hell has to play into this grand plot somehow. There are no coincidences in Supernatural. So, in the end, do Sam and Dean end up grateful (for the resurrection) or disillusioned (over the betrayal) with their angel friend? Will he get the forgiveness that they’ve given each other or become another foe they need to kill? I’m sure that’s what the next three episodes are all about.
I do have a criticism, but it isn’t with the plot. Julia Maxwell as Mother of All is not a menacing villain by any stretch of the imagination. I didn’t realize how un-scary her little evil smirk was until I saw the one of Granny Goodness on the Smallville trailer for next week. Now that sends shivers down my spine! This Mother of All is not a very convincing overprotective mother who’s a really pissed off that her children are being bumped from the natural order. She more reminds me of a princess who got dissed at the prom. Samantha Smith makes a far creepier Mother of All and that’s why the scenes with the Mother worked in this episode. She really had me scared for the boys, especially when she bit Dean. Good choice there to bring Samantha Smith back.
Onto next week and the “downfall” so to speak of Castiel. Or redemption. Either or. It’s an Edlund script and he also makes his directorial debut (I can’t wait to critique that!). It’s bound to be loaded with drama. As for “Mommy Dearest,” I give it an A-. It’s only knocked down because Julia Maxwell needs to take some horror acting workshops (that and a few directorial choices). An A+ though on script and plot twist reveals. After what we’ve seen so far this season, that’s a miracle! (Ding!)