The Morning After
There is so much to say about Supernatural 13.3 “Patience”! Themes of death, grief, controlling power, family, friends, and teens discovering their talents and exploring how they feel about themselves in the face of conflicting input from the people in their lives, all combined to create a multi-layered, engaging story. The long overdue return of Missouri Moseley and the spectacular surprise return of Castiel added the excitement of loving reunion to the story as well. “Patience” elicited a full spectrum of emotion ranging from enraged fury, stemming from two notable issues with the episode, to emapthetic sympathy, to surprised elation. Overall “Patience” was another great season 13 episode!
I, as well as the entire Supernatural family judging from comments, continue to be extremely impressed with Alexander Calvert as Jack. His plotline would have been a trite power-child story if it had not been for his talented portrayal that pulls the audience empathetically into Jack’s turmoil. This week, young Clark Backo joined the cast in her premiere appearance for the Wayward Sisters pilot. In the title role of Patience, I was also very happy with her character. Throughout the story I was intrigued with her spunk and intelligence. I would have liked to have seen more conflict in her as she tried to process the advice from her dad, Dean and Jody at the end of the episode, but overall I was drawn into her story. I was also taken in by such a strong, positive portrayal of a family of color. I know Supernatural has cast minorities before, but they’re usually background characters such as townspeople, or unnamed demons or angels. There have been a few notable characters such as Rufus and Gordon, but in contrast this family unit is fairly stable with a nice house, good job and great grades in school. Ironically, I thought, “there’s nothing wayward about this girl!” I was deeply moved by one of Clark’s tweets during the evening:
This is the most amazing thing I have ever read. And it is the biggest reason why I am here today. ❤️ https://t.co/NhOgwZ2v7u
— Clark (@ClarkBacko) October 27, 2017
It was very telling that I noticed how unusual this portrayal was for Supernatural (or TV in general). I’m happy they are taking a step in the right direction. So far, Supernatural’s season 13 has made a lot of the right moves with interesting stories, plotlines that are moving forward with purpose and at a very welcome brisk pace, and an emotional punch that is genuine – well most of the time at least.
Half-way into the episode, I was stunned when once again a strong, beloved woman was brought back into the story just to be killed. I was enraged when Missouri died because her death felt so unnecessary! She didn’t go with Dean and Jody because she said she would just “complicate things”. Stay in the car then! My guess is that she had to be killed to motivate Patience to enter the hunting life later down the road. All hunters supposedly need a family tragedy to drive them to give up normalcy and enter “the life”. Without knowing how Patience ends up with Jody, I can’t really comment on that yet, but I loved Missouri!! She would have been a wonderful background character! It may end up being justified but for now, this part of the story was infuriating. (sorry, there aren’t any good close-up screen caps of Missouri available yet. This at least shows how much we all loved her.)
As if to make up for it, we were giving our first glimpse of Castiel coming back to life! Hurray and hallelujah!! The plot thickens! “Patience” also included three short, powerful and important conversations between characters. With so many stories unfolding at once, we’re already tracking multiple Threads! It’s too early in the season for this much depth (not complaining!)! So let’s get started looking for Threads!
Who am I and Why do You Care?
Free Will vs Fate and the Will of Others
The process of self-discovery, of discerning one’s gifts, interests, values, strengths, weaknesses, allegiances and place in the world, is a confusing, often excruciatingly emotional time in people’s lives. The teen years especially are notoriously difficult as young adults must decide for themselves who they are and what they want to do with their life. At less than a week old and harboring the most powerful abilities imaginable inside of him, Jack is facing these tough life questions. Is he evil or good? Is he worthy of people’s love?
Recognizing Jack’s need for affirmation, Sam gives Jack his mother’s video.
Hello Jack. I’m your mom. I guess I should tell you I always wanted to be a mom. I played with dolls, I was that kind of girl, and daydreamed about my baby…. Jack don’t let anyone tell you who you are supposed to be because who you are supposed to be isn’t fate, it isn’t me, it isn’t your father, you are who you choose to be. I know you are going to be okay. You are going to be amazing.
A mother’s love is often key to a person’s feelings of self-worth. Jack was not only robbed of that, he feels responsible for his mother’s death. My heart breaks for Jack. Even though Kelly told Jack that he would save the world and that his light would shine above all others, he can’t bring himself to believe her.
Jack does have positive reinforcement from the one person who has been kind to him, Sam, but unlike Kelly, Sam is first and foremost worried about Jack gaining control over his powers.
Sam: We need to help Jack learn how to control his powers.
[later] Jack: Train me? to what?
Sam: I’ve seen what you can do Jack. You’re powerful but you have to learn to control it, to focus.
Jack: So I don’t hurt anyone anymore. …I can’t. I’m useless.
Sam: All right. All right.
Even though contolling powers is the pressing priority, I believe Sam genuinely cares about Jack.
He sees Jack as a sweet kid who needs to be cared for, who wants to do the right thing, and whose redemption may be in bringing back Mary and Castiel. Dean, on the other hand, sees Jack as the anti-Christ, the most evil, most dangerous being on earth. That’s quite a conflicting image to try to reconcile!
While Kelly and Sam’s words are comforting and may eventually make a difference to how Jack feels about himself, Dean’s ever-present anger, resentment and hate is overpowering Kelly and Sam’s tenderness.
In probably the most powerful few minutes of the episode, Dean accuses Sam of only caring about Jack because of what Jack can do for Sam:
Dean: I told him the truth. See you think you can use this freak but I know how this ends, and it ends bad.
Sam: I didn’t.
Sam: I didn’t end bad! When I was the “freak”. When I was drinking demon blood… you could’ve put a bullet in me. Dad told you to put a bullet in me but you didn’t. You saved me. So help me save him!
Dean: You deserved to be saved. He doesn’t.
Sam: Yes he does Dean! Of course he does!
Dean: Look I know you think you can use him as some sort of interdimensional can opener and that’s fine but don’t act like you care about him because you only care about what he can do for you. So if you want to pretend, that’s fine. But me? I can hardly look at the kid. Cause when I do, all I see if everybody we’ve lost.
Sam: Mom chose to take that shot on Lucifer. That is not on Jack!
Dean: What about Cas? He manipulated him, made him promises, said paradise on earth, and Cas bought it. And you know what that got him? It got him dead! Now you might be able to forget about that, but I can’t!
At least Dean is starting to acknowledge his grief. That’s better than drinking himself into a stupor.
In this grief, though, Dean is blinded to his own motivations for wanting to kill Jack. Yes, Dean wants to protect the world from the imminent danger he feels Jack poses, but killing Jack might also be a chance to avenge the deaths of Castiel and Mary. Dean needs to blame someone for the crushing grief he is experiencing right now and Jack is the most logical scapegoat around.
Patience is also a teenager facing an identity crisis with no shortage of well-meaning friends and family trying to influence her choices. Patience has a dream of her friend pressuring her to be an athlete on the volleyball team instead of a straight-A, Advanced Placement honor student. In a foreshadowing of her future, Ronson talks about an alternate life for Patience:
Ronson: If only we had a killer setter on the team, some secretly athletic bookworm to carry us to victory. You’re freakin’ Wonder Woman. It’s such a waste!
Ronson wasn’t motivated so much by what Patience wanted or was best at doing but rather by how she could use Patience to improve her own life. She begged Patience to break away from her dad’s choices for her and use her athletic talents instead of her academic skills. All she could see is how a winning volleyball team would alleviate the pain of a critical coach.
Patience’s dad was also guilty of using Patience to ease his own pain. His decision to cut her off from her loving, nurturing grandmother was supposedly to protect his daughter from the chaos and danger in Missouri’s life but really he was using Patience as a weapon to hurt his mom. Missouri hadn’t prepared him for his wife’s death, so, like Dean, Mr. Turner turned his grief into hate and used Patience as a tool to lash out at his mom. The wife’s death was not Missouri’s fault. It wasn’t connected to hunting and even if she had seen it accurately (or told her son the truth if she had seen it accurately), there was nothing Missouri could have done to save the woman, yet Patience and Missouri paid the price for Mr. Turner’s grief.
Just as he believed at the time he was doing the right thing, Dean also believes he is right, but their intentions are not pure and in grief neither of them are thinking clearly. There was nothing Jack could have done to save Kelly or Cas or Mary. Jack didn’t ask to be conceived. That was Lucifer’s decision. We also don’t know yet why or how Jack opened the breach, but it was Lucifer that took Cas, Crowley and Mary away from Dean, not Jack. Jack and Patience are just pawns being used to ease someone else’s pain. Dean accuses Sam of trying to use Jack but in a way, just like Ronson, Dean wants to use Jack too to ease his pain.
Jody was the one person who told Patience that she had to make her own choices. In the second important conversation, and one that conspicuously set up the Wayward Sisters pilot, Jody offered to help Patience be her own woman:
Patience, Wait… I may be out of line here but… you don’t have to listen to him, to either of them if it’s not what you really want. I had a daughter, I guess — Claire — and I asked her to stay in line, to fight who she really was ’cause I thought it would keep her safe. It didn’t work. It never does. Your gift… you know, maybe you’re right. Maybe it’ll go away. But if it doesn’t, you try to force it down to make someone else happy, you will only make yourself miserable. It’s your choice. But if you ever need someone to talk to or someplace to go… my door’s always open (hands her business card). – [Thank you for NJSPNFan for this transcription from Amazon Video]
The wraith in the story was the personification of this human desire to use other people for personal gain.
You’re probably wondering why I didn’t drain you on the spot… Psychics [are] different. It’s a rush. I become clearer. Everything become clearer, strong and focused. You’re young and healthy. With you I can really stretch this out. I’m going to feed on you and feed on you.
(Nice call back to wraiths feeding in mental wards by the way).
There was one selfless person in the story: Missouri.
Missouri: I’ll stay behind and say my farewells to Dede.
Dean: I don’t like that at all.
Missouri: You don’t have to like it. You just have to do it. You save my family, you hear me Dean Winchester?
Dean: Yes, ma’am.
Missouri: Good. And thank you.
Presumably she saw her own death, yet she sent Dean and Jody away to protect her family. Did she feel Dean and Jody couldn’t protect both her and Patience and she wanted all their attention to be devoted to saving her granddaughter? Maybe, but within the context of just this single episode, her death was senseless. Thinking ahead, Patience would hardly turn to Jody as a mentor or surrogate mother figure if strong, wise, powerful psychic grandma was around, so maybe Missouri’s death will have greater meaning eventually. For right now, though, it seems Supernatural is following the Disney model of young, impressionable heroines’ mothers (and now grandmothers it seems) having to be removed from the family before their daughters can explore their full potential. Will Missouri’s death be enough to make Patience into a hunter? Patience’s mother died years ago from a normal illness so dad was able to raise Patience in a normal life. Missouri was killed by unnatural forces though. One has to wonder about dad’s longevity then. Does he have to die (like John Winchester died) before his child uses her powers to fight the supernatural?
What does “normal” now look like for her? Just like Sam, Patience is a gifted student who hates anything that would make her stand out from the crowd, or be “not normal”. She rejects the truth that she has supernatural powers:
Jody: All we know is that he stalks psychics.
Patience: Psychics? Then what does he want with me?
Dean: What do you think?
Patience: No. I’m not… I get déjà vu sometimes but that’s normal. I’m normal.
Dean and her dad think that normal is a better way too.
Jody: and your gift?
Patience: I talked to dad. He thinks I should just put it away. Get back to normal. Maybe he’s right.
Dean: He is.
Being normal, feeling like a freak, being scared of powers – Jack and Patience’s journeys both parallel the road already traveled by Sam. I am SO happy he brought that up to Dean! In the third powerful dialog of the episode, Sam finally talked about his powers and his past. It’s about time someone brought that up! Now can we please have Jack ask Sam about the details Jack overheard when the brothers were talking? A source of endless debate in the fandom is whether Dean saved Sam or Sam saved himeslf (a sore point for some in this episode and a subject on which I will remain safely silent ), but regardless, let’s please continue to acknowledge that Sam had powers and is at the center of both these teens’ stories!
Last week, in “The Rising Son”, I noted the use of words that denote fear. They’ve again appeared this week, so I’m thinking this is the beginning of another thread this season. In Sam’s heart-to-heart talk with Jack, Sam mentioned and admitted fear:
Sam: after everything that’s happened, you’re probably scared to use your power.
Jack: Sam, why are you being so nice to me?
Sam: Because I know what it feels like to feel like you don’t belong. To feel like there’s this darkness inside of you. To be scared of who you are and what you can do. Dean, Cas, my family helped me through that. So I want to help you because you’re not evil Jack.
James even admitted fear:
When I was a boy and my mother was out on a hunt, I got so scared.
Do you remember this being a thread before now? I am thrilled that it is being incorporated as a strong emotion that motives actions other than fight or flight!
Let’s talk a moment about the one Asmodeus clue.
Sam: Jack when you did use your powers, what was it like?
Jack: It was like breathing, blinking. It just happens.
Sam: even with Asmodeus? That just happened?
Jack: No. He made me. It was like, like he was in my head.
So Jack can be controlled by an outside power. Asmodeus can’t be more powerful than Jack or he wouldn’t have needed him so desperately but in Jack’s inexperience or youth, Jack is susceptible to being “possessed” or overpowered. If a Prince of Hell can do this, certainly Lucifer would be able to control Jack. That is not only ominous, it is one step closer to the parallel of Sam, and all his powers, being controlled by Lucifer! Sam is using his experiences to gain insight into Jack.
Jack: It’s make sense if I’m evil.
Sam: Why do you think you’re evil cause when I look at you, that’s not what I see.
Jack: Dean see it. … Mom said I could be good, that I had the choice to be good, that it was up to me but she’s dead because of me. I’ve only been on earth a few days and I’ve already hurt people. I’ve already done bad things and no matter how hard I try, I can’t do the one good stupid thing you want me to. So I must be evil, like Lucifer.
The reason Jack couldn’t move the pencil was because it was something that someone wanted of him. It wasn’t what Jack wanted at all. He hasn’t yet learned what he wants, or recognized that his powers are at his disposal for the things he chooses to do. All he had to do was think of how much he wanted Castiel back, and his powers granted him that miracle. Choosing one’s destiny was mentioned in reference to Mary, Jack and Patience. It is surely going to be an on-going Thread.
Right vs. Wrong, Good vs. Bad /Evil
Almost every character mentioned good and right, bad and evil. Here are a few more examples:
Sam: Before you were born, your mom left you a message. I know you have a bunch of questions. Hopefully, this is a start… Right. Yeah, here, I”ll… Just push this button right here.
Missouri: Sam Winchester? It’s good to hear your voice.
Have you seen a pattern where people say right to reinforce good, or to hint at something we know to be true? Listen for it on rewatch.
In the season’s premiere, I noted that Jack was studying the grout in the jail cell’s wall. It was as if he was examining or listening to something there. When Sam walked in on Jack’s room in this episode, Jack was doing the exact same thing. This is now significant. I have the impression that Jack is trying to understand “walls” between spaces, like he’s trying to learn about the “wall” between this world and the alternate world. The grout that he fingers is much like the rift between the two worlds – a thin crack between barriers. Is he listening to someone or something? Is he learning or remembering? What do you think? Theories? It seems like the words “the wall” were also in the song that Dean was playing in his headphones. Can anyone track down that song and those words?
Patience: She walked out on me and dad right after mom died.
Dean: OK, this woman you’re describing, that walked out on her family, that’s not Missouri at all.
Last week, Dean told Jack that Lucifer was evil because he turned on his dad. The strong family theme is likely going to climax when Jack has to decide who his family is. What do you think?
With the exception of Missouri’s death (which I hated with the fire of a thousand suns), I thoroughly enjoyed “Patience”. The word was more than a girl’s name.
It stood for the patience that Sam must have with Dean and Jack, the patience that Jack and Patience must have in exploring their powers, the patience parents and children must have with each other… and the patience we all must have until next week when we get to see Castiel again! I hope you liked “Patience”! Let us know in the comments and help us decipher all these threads!
Additional Screencaps courtesy of http://www.homeofthenutty.com