Significant Mothers of Supernatural, Part One:
We survived again! Officially less than one week to go in this long, long hiatus. My goal during Hellatus was to contribute more than the one measly piece I did, but that clearly didn’t happen. The one thing everyone knows about me (and my family) is that we have ridiculously bad luck and thus, as usual life had other plans for me, food poisoning being at the top of the list (seriously, one year we rented a cottage on our first vacation in nearly seven years – and EIGHT tornados touched down where we were staying). So, when the many crises were abated, I sat down to write one article and instead found myself with multiple points of interest, leading one article to become one of three instead. So here we go: Part One of the Mother series.
Mother is a word that we use in many contexts. It can mean the woman who birthed us, or Mother Earth, or it can be used as a verb, such as “you’re mothering me” or it can be an adjective to describe a relationship other than parent-child. The world of Supernatural has explored many mothers throughout the series, good and bad, both desperate and strong. For the most part, these have been powerful characters with a significant role to play, regardless of their actual screen time. That said, this article trilogy intends to explore the significant maternal figures on the show.
First, I’ll start with the Honourable Mentions. These were individuals who were mothers in some senses, but their specific impact on going-ons and/or character development wasn’t as strong. Note that none of these are in order of favouritism, but rather appearance:
Andrea Bar, Dead in the Water
Andrea, mother to Lucas, was a great character in the fledgling episodes of Supernatural. She was a mother in every sense of the word, protective of and unfailingly loving toward her son, but also, in the way she “mothered” her father by bringing him lunch, for example. She didn’t make my list because while it’s true she’s a mom, her character didn’t have an impact on the boys that was Lucas as well as her father the Sheriff. Lucas affected Dean and Sam emotionally where the sheriff was at the heart of the case. So while I liked the character, Andrea is not on my list of Significant Moms of Supernatural.
Mrs. Rouke, Faith
Mrs. Rouke, a.k.a. Layla’s angry mother is the individual who inspired thoughts about the many shapes and sizes of mothers who have come and gone in the Winchester’s lives. Mrs. Rouke, as with a few other mothers, posed a problem for me when deciding whether or not she was significant enough. Mrs. Rouke interacted with Dean few times throughout the episode though at one instance she confronted Dean about why he was chosen to be healed instead of Layla, adding to Dean’s long list of reasons to feel guilty about his existence. Despite this, after extensive debate, I’ve decided to leave Mrs. Rouke off the final list, though it was necessary to include her in the honourable mention for the characterization of protective mother.
Susan Thompson & Grandma Rose, Playthings
This episode is one of my favourite Supernatural episodes for no explicable reason, so I had to include it somewhere. Playthings had two key mother characters: the inn owner Susan and grandmother “poke-her-with-a-stick” Rose. Again, despite physically being mothers and having their own role to play in the plot, these two did not dynamically affect our boys.
Of course, there are many other mothers or mother-figures in the day-to-day cases of the Winchester brothers (for example: Hailey Collins of Wendigo), but none beyond the preceding two and subsequent four demanded vital mention, in my opinion.
Significant Moms of Supernatural;
The four individuals who made the following list not only satisfied the Mother definition in some way, but also had a significant impact on the brother’s lives, directly or indirectly (my list, my rules, mwahaha!).
Missouri Mosley, Home
This one, I am sure, makes the list for obvious reasons. For her part, Missouri set John Winchester on the path to understanding the world of hunting, per his journal entry and some twenty-two years later aided his son’s in identifying the spirit of their dead mother in their childhood home. Missouri’s individual treatment of the boys throughout the episode provides each with strength they need to get through. For Dean, she uses a tough love approach that allows him to use his age old coping mechanism of wit and sarcasm. With Sam, Missouri has a gentler touch, softly coaxing him and giving him the empathy and warmth he needed at the point in his life – treatment that a mother would bestow on a hurting child.
Alice Miller, Nightmare
Alice is the one individual who did not directly impact Sam and Dean but who couldn’t be left off the list because of the crucial purpose she played in episode fourteen of season one. Recall that Alice is the stepmother to one Max Miller, another of Azazel’s psychic children who slayed his father and uncle using his demon-given powers. Alice’s role involved standing idly by while her step-son was severely abused by her husband and brother, Max’s uncle, it was her inaction that prompted Max, after eliminated the direct threats to his person, to seek revenge on she who failed to save him, Alice. This was the vision that led Sam and Dean to the Miller household for another visit. It was on this visit that Max locks Sam in a closet, during which time Sam has a vision of Max shooting Dean in the forehead. This motivated Sam to, for the first time, use telekinesis to unblock the closet door and get upstairs to save Dean. Thus, Alice’s role, though indirect, was as a catalyst for the first time Sam’s power manifests itself. It is at the end of this episode, when Sam tells Dean about moving things with his mind, that the first seeds of disturbance are planted. Alice was minute but terribly important in the lives of the Winchester brothers.
Tessa, In My Time of Dying & Death Takes a Holiday
Tessa was not an obvious choice for this list and toyed with whether or not she should be on it. In the end, I was won over by the motherly approach she takes with lost souls as well as the key encounters she has with Dean.
A reaper, Tessa collects the dead to take them to whatever or wherever the afterlife exists and it in this capacity that we meet the young woman twice. In the first instance, Dean is the wandering ghost and Tessa is soft and soothing in manner to connect with Dean, convincing him that moving on is the best course of action. Firm, but gentle, Tessa recognizes the fear in Dean over leaving his family to fight YED and talks him through it. I truly believe that if YED hadn’t intervened, Dean Winchester would have crossed over with Tessa in a short amount of time.
The second encounter with Tessa, she again uses the technique of warm motherly appeal to convince Cole to come with her, eventually succeeded. In this episode, she also restores to Dean his memories of his time as a hospital spook and imparts some wisdom on him about the heaven-hell tug-of-war he and Sam have fallen into. So, for her momesque approach to death and dying in both encounters and the impact of her presence, specifically on Dean, Tessa makes my list. Also, I really enjoyed the character.
Lisa Braeden, The Kids Are Alright
Lisa is perhaps the most significant person on this list because of her effect on Dean or more specifically, the effect of what she represented. Lisa and Ben Braden epitomized the family that Dean dreamt about most of his life. Ben was an awesome kid with a fabulous mother and she offered Dean a chance to pursue that life when she suggested he stay with them. In the end, the significance of Lisa and Ben to Dean earned Lisa Braden the final position on this list.
Okay, so that’s it for part one of the Significant Mother’s series. There are definitely many other characters that I toyed with adding to the list and who, in one way or another, constitute a mother figure on Supernatural but I tried to limit myself. I am curious though: who makes your list of Significant Mother’s One-Hit Wonders of Supernatural?
Check out Part Two: Significant Mothers of Supernatural Part Two – The Surrogate