There is a quote that captures a sliver of the human experience: “Everybody you meet is fighting a battle of which you know nothing about.” We all have struggles. Some of them are the stresses of every day life. Some are catastrophic, such as a chronic illness. Sometimes it is easy for us to become wrapped up in our problems that we forget that others are facing their own battles---even those we love. We might think we know a bit about it, but we don't---not really. Sometimes we need to hear the story or to experience something similar to truly understand. In “Mother's Little Helper,” we see several battles play out. It also gives Sam and Dean a chance to taste each other's battles in a bit of a role reversal---helping them to recognize one another in new ways.

Let's look at some of these battles.


We see our first battle when the school teacher comes home to cook supper for her husband. We don't know, at this stage, that she's been robbed of her soul, but we can tell that her husband's comments have struck something in her. She tells him, “You know how hard I work all day, and yet you criticize me.” This is her battle---feeling under-appreciated and stressed by her job and home life. Her reaction is harsh and brutal as she beats her husband's head in, telling him in a faux cheerful voice, “We're having meatloaf with potatoes and broccoli and lots of good things.”

It's our first clue that the inner battles hidden from us are going to become visible.

As Sam investigates the incident, he stops at a diner. Another customer---one we had seen walking on the road and attacked by our mysterious supernatural force---comes in to sit at the counter, too. He grabs a handful of mash-potatoes and shoves them into his mouth and snarls at everyone. We know that he's had issues with his mother, citing a fight with her to his girlfriend, but now there's something terribly wrong with Billy. He's cold, harsh, and cruel to the waitress---also fighting her own battle. Sam knows her battle, calling it out by telling Billy, “She's working hard.”

That matters not to Billy. When the waitress asks what's bothering him, he snarls, “You, my mom, him,” and glares in particular at Sam. Before she can call his mother, he viciously stabs her hand, almost with glee.

Much like the school teacher, Billy's inner battle has been broadcast---although not explicitly.


Sam visits Billy in the jail, asking him what he is. Billy responds coldly, “Clear.” This triggers alarms in Sam's head, and he asks Billy why he's behaving this way. Billy replies, “You think there's a why? No. It's because I want to. And I can.” After the encounter, Sam checks in with Dean, talking over the case with him. He recognizes this behavior---recalls acting just like it once. It leaves him to conclude that perhaps these people are robbed of their souls---but why?

These soulless victims are taking their inner battles and turning them outwards. It's one response to what has happened to them. Without their souls, all inhibitions and conscience is gone. They have no reason to fight it in silence or alone---there's no reason not to air the grievances and punish those that set them off---even if they are the littlest of things. This is humanity reduced to its basest existence without societal controls.

But they are not the only battles being waged within the episode.

We watch, in flashback, a similar case being investigated by Henry Winchester and Josie Sands. It is before they were to become full fledged members of the Men of Letters---the last act before that fateful initiation. They go incognito to the nunnery---St. Bonaventure---and there they encounter the Mother Superior and Agnes.


They're led by a young nun named Julia to the room where one of the sisters committed suicide after becoming unpredictable and violent. There is blood still coated on the walls---along with an unusual crest---a calling card of the Knights of Hell.

We learn a bit about Josie and Henry here---and of their battles.

Henry speaks to Josie about his inner turmoil about joining the Men of Letters. Part of him feels selfish. This could be a dangerous job---and it could rob him from his family, Millie and John. He's emotional as he whispers these fears to Josie. In the process, he utters, “I don't expect you to understand. You don't have a fam-- ”


This remark exposes one of Josie's battles. We're not told what happened to Josie's family or where they may be, but we can tell just by the hurt look on her face that this is a battle she faces everyday. She has chosen to join the Men of Letters for a reason---perhaps it is connected to this exchange. Was her family robbed from her by a supernatural force? We're not sure. But this isn't Josie's battle---not really.

As they continue to investigate what happened, they end up bursting into a room full of tied up victims---and demonically possessed nuns. Both Josie and Henry employ exorcisms to purge them. They act quickly to stop their menace---all for two of them that is. Before they can turn their attention to those tied in the chairs, Mother Superior and Sister Agnes enter the room---and it's obvious that they, too, are demonically possessed.

Henry attempts to begin the exorcism again, his voice rising and falling with the Latin incantations. It fails---and the Mother Superior flings him against the wall, knocking him completely out. It is this that allows her to turn her attention to Josie---and we are certain we know just who possesses the Mother Superior: Abaddon.

Abaddon has no problem zeroing in on Josie. She has no issue in tugging out Josie's battle, all from how the young woman responds to Abaddon's attempt to possess Henry. Josie's soft, “Take me,” gives the Knight of Hell all the ammunition she needs. She now knows what Josie battles every day---and all in secret. She's in love with Henry Winchester, even if he's a married man with a son at home. Abaddon taunts the young woman, saying, “He loves you, too, you know. Like a sister. ”


Josie truly does love Henry---and for that she'll end up possessed by Abaddon.

But what of the witness that saw all of this occur? What became of Sister Julia? What battle did she fight that no one else knows about?

As Sam is looking over security camera photos, he overhears an old woman arguing with an officer about the demons being back. She is adamant that he do something, telling him, “Those demons are back. I'm telling you, it's happening all over again.” Sam quickly steers her away and sits down to talk to her about the situation.


It turns out that she is Sister Julia---just no longer a nun. She tells Sam everything she knows, exposing her battle for the first time in over fifty years: that she kept quiet all this time. Julia has carried that burden around, never allowing anyone else to know what she saw that night---or what evil it wrought.

What she gives him in information allows him to see the case through, however. He tracks down the van that has been spotted picking up various individuals that have since been rendered soulless. It leads him to the long since abandoned convent---and to Sister Agnes---the very same one from 1958.


He finds himself confronted with the jars that hold the souls of the victims---and it is here that he learns why they've been gathered. Sister Agnes tells him that Abaddon is creating a demonic army that will be loyal to her alone. If they can take the souls now, convert them to demons here, and take them out of Hell's equation, they won't be caught up in the politics of Hell itself. They will only know one master---Abaddon.

Sister Agnes would like nothing more than to make Sam her next victim, but instead has to face a recorded exorcism. It leaves her trying to strangle Sam while pulling out his soul or to stop the exorcism recording. She chooses the latter, only to have Ruby's blade embedded into her back.

As Sam returns to Julia, he learns of her most secret battle: her shame. Julia may have been fighting the battle to stay quiet all these years---but the shame attached to that is far greater. It forced her to leave the order. She tells Sam, “I had betrayed our flock, God, myself. It was and still is my greatest shame. ” It is a heavy burden---one she fought alone and no one knew.

Sam tells her, “Well, what you shared with me saved lives. And I couldn't have done that without you.”


We can tell, in the last shot we see of Julia, that this isn't nearly enough for her to let this battle go. She is haunted by her last sighting of Josie---now possessed by Abaddon---telling her to keep things quiet. She was the only one to see what had happened---she was the only one to know the truth. If she had told Henry then what had happened, she could have warned him somehow that Josie wasn't herself anymore---it possibly could have prevented the Men of Letter's massacre. Perhaps knowing that she's now helped Sam to right what went wrong then will help her---in time---to put this battle to rest.

But what of Sam and Dean? What battles are they facing in this episode?


Dean is facing the effects of the Mark of Cain and the First Blade---it is making him obsessive to find Abaddon. He won't let it rest until he's found the last remaining Knight of Hell and killed her. Even with Sam prodding him to step back a bit, he won't let it go. He will continue to look over the same information until he can discover a location. He's so driven that he won't accompany Sam along on his hunt. In some respects, this is the first instance that the Mark and Blade have isolated Dean, too.

This only hides his inner battle---one that he's not necessarily hiding as well as he believes. Once alone, we see that he's stalling more than researching. He is obsessed, yes, but it's by the flashback to holding the Blade---to killing Magnus with it---and to the feelings that it dredged up inside him instead. His whole body hums with it---his hand trembles to hold the Blade yet again. In response, Dean tries to take the edge off by drinking and calling Crowley only to hang up on him.

Finding himself unable to face the research any longer, he chooses to follow Sam to Milton---but not to help on the case.

Rather, Dean holes up in the local bar, nursing beers and playing pool. Crowley joins him---if only to be the little devil on his shoulder. He wants to goad Dean into finishing his hunt for Abaddon. He wants Dean to give into the feelings that the Mark of Cain and the First Blade stirred up inside. It's the only way that he'll get Dean to use it on Abaddon and make way for Crowley's return to the throne of Hell.


Crowley calls Dean out on exactly what's eating at the elder Winchester. The battle Dean fights isn't so secret or hidden. It's clear that he's frightened by what might happen to him. This is a supernatural force changing him, shaping him, and he's not sure what that means. What will he become by the time this is over? Who will he be? Does he want to go through with it? Should he?

Dean wants to remain who he's fundamentally always been---and yet he's feeling the shifts inside him that are changing that ever so slightly. It's why he's so adamant with Crowley about who he is---that he's nothing like Cain. He tells the King of Hell, “When I kill, I kill for a reason.” Crowley isn't buying it for a moment. He knows that Dean and Cain are much more alike that the elder Winchester would ever like to admit.

It's one battle that Dean fights. He doesn't want to become Cain. He's terrified that by the end of this experience that he may end up just like the Father of Murder. He can feel the Mark and Blade begin to shape him into its dark purposes, and he doesn't like what that exposes for him. The idea that he could potentially use that First Blade as Cain did isn't far from his mind---and he knows that if he gives in he could be forever lost.


It's why, when Crowley's decoy hunter makes a move towards following the King of Hell, Dean intervenes. Crowley misinterprets this action. He sees it as Dean saving him---but this action exposes the real battle Dean's waging inside: saving himself. He sees Jake as a younger version of him. Certainly this is due to the fact that Crowley's fed the demon language that would push all of Dean's buttons---like “grow a pair” or “I got a kid sister”---but it's much more than that.

Dean knows that he's in way over his head. He feels that it is far too late for him. He's already lost---but Jake doesn't have to be. He could be saved as he, Dean, can't be. Dean sees this as a chance to start over, to go back, even if it isn't for himself.

His battle is one to fight for his own identity---who is Dean Winchester now? What humanity can he hold onto as he is changed more by the Mark and Blade? This is a battle that Dean has never fought before---not really. We saw brief glimpses of this when he revealed that he had tortured while in Hell. He admitted to “liking it.” Hell had changed him---but not like this. The Mark and Blade are making a a fundamental change within him---one that he isn't certain he can control.

Dean's always been one to take action, to shoot first and ask questions later, to protect everyone he loves no matter the consequences, and to care deeply even if he masks it under a bravado. The Mark and Blade could change that and it makes him afraid. He may deny this to Crowley, but we can see it all over his face as he does so.

Dean sees a darkness coming for him. He can feel it closing in on him---and he's battling to save himself from it.

What of Sam? What is he battling?


In the beginning of the episode, we can see it clearly on his sleeve: Sam's afraid for his brother. He shows his inner battle by how he speaks to Dean---by the concerned expressions on his face. He wants to coax his brother to joining him on the case. He feels that Dean needs a break from the hunt---that “maybe there are better ways to spend our time than just spin our -- ” He can see Dean slipping further away here---teetering on the edge of complete and utter obsession.

And yet, Sam will not force Dean to go with him. He will give Dean the space he is asking for and go on the case alone. Even so, we can still see that he's battling his fear for Dean at every turn. In every conversation he has with Dean when he checks in, we see his inner battle written on his face.

This is most apparent after his first call back to Dean. He asks his brother how the work is going---and as he hangs up we can see how emotionally distressed he is before he has to slip his professional face back into place. He's terrified that he's losing his brother and that there's not much he can do to stop it. This is something new for him.


We see it again when he tells Dean to “be safe,” after informing Dean that he thinks that these people are soulless as he once was. Sam doesn't want Dean to do anything reckless---such as finding Abaddon and going after her without him. He may not be able to see his brother in these calls, but he can tell that his brother's being affected by something.

Sam has never had to go through this. This isn't like trying to find a way to break his brother's deal. Dean was still Dean---even if he didn't like that Dean was almost running towards death for the majority of that year. This is a new experience for Sam. He's seeing something change his brother into something that he's afraid he may not recognize.

It's clear that Sam's also still feeling affected by what the Mark and Blade did after Dean killed Magnus. He can still see his brother holding it---and remember how difficult it was to reach Dean to stop him from rampaging. Sam's afraid that he may lose the battle not only against these forces changing his brother---but against his own fear about it.


When Sam comes back from his case, we see him resolve to help Dean find Abaddon as quickly as possible. He knows how important it is after he's learned her plans---and yet we can still see he's battling his fears about Dean as he glances at his brother. As he sits down with the research, we see him trying to center himself---knowing that his fear for Dean will only get worse before it will get better. It is his battle---and it's possibly one that Dean isn't aware of just yet.

So what does this mean for the brothers? How do their battles impact one another?

It is clear that this is a role reversal for Sam and Dean. In the past, it has always been Sam that has been changed by a supernatural force while Dean must watch from the outside. Sam was the one that had demon blood and visions. Sam was the one that was rendered soulless. Sam hallucinated Lucifer. Sam endured the Trials. Dean had to watch the visions even when he didn't understand them. He had to learn the dark truth about the demon blood fed to his brother---and watch it become an addiction. He had to watch his brother be soulless. Dean had to watch time almost tick away on Sam as his hallucinations of Lucifer nearly killed him. He also had to watch his brother become sick from the Trials.

It is poignant that Sam recognizes these people as soulless---as this is a metaphor for his role reversal with Dean. Sam is seeing---from the outside---what he was like in part as a soulless being. He's seeing how it changed him fundamentally. It also stands in as metaphor for Dean's story, too. He's looking at losing himself---and seeing himself become nothing more than a brutal killer with no conscience.

But what does this role reversal mean for the brother's fractured relationship? How will this help them heal or will it only make matters worse?

This role reversal may do the one thing that all their talking hasn't been able to do: help them see the battles the other has been fighting all along. Sam and Dean may be side by side and in each other's living spaces for the majority of their lives---they may face the same foes and the same fates together---and yet they have both been waging individual wars that the other hasn't completely been aware of or understood.

This is their chance to really learn what the other has experienced all these years.


For Dean, he is finally learning what it's like to be manipulated by a supernatural force. This is the first time he's really having it fundamentally change him or threaten his identity. He's facing something that he's never had to before---and he's not quite sure how to cope with it just yet. This may help him understand what made Sam so angry about Gadreel and his choices about ending the Trials.

Dean has never really had to fight the battle Sam has to have an identity. He's always known who and what he is mostly. He's the good son. He's the hunter. He saves people. Dean has always known his purpose in life. It's been drilled into him since he was four years old, and he's never really deviated from that path much. To face what the Mark and Blade are doing to him may give him a window into the battle Sam has fought his entire life: to find out who he is and to keep himself human.

Conversely, Sam will also learn about Dean's battles---one's he's had hints at but never truly experienced---even in the year he failed trying to save Dean. He wasn't charged with protecting his brother the way Dean was. It's never been his responsibility the way Dean has always taken it to be.


In “Mother's Little Helper,” we see Sam take on Dean's tendencies to mother hen, to hover, to continually try and gauge how Dean is doing. He is concerned that his brother may drift from him, become distant, and do something that he can't stop.

While Sam may be facing this new battle---he knows something about Dean's current struggle. He's been consumed by a supernatural force that tapped into his rage. He's felt how addicting that can be. He knows how easy it is to fall into its pitfalls. It's possible that Sam may be able to recognize in Dean what he's experienced himself. It may be that experience that saves them both in the end. It's that experience that will help them fix what Cain and Abel couldn't---and allow them to emerge as better brothers for their efforts, too.

At the end of “Mother's Little Helper,” we see Sam and Dean working together towards one battle---and that's a good thing. Because they're now seeing things from the other's perspective, it's possible they may come to a richer relationship. It may allow each brother to approach their necessary discussions with a clearer understanding of the other---to know the battles they face, and the ones that they previously knew nothing about.


Marilyn Norry played the Mother Superior possessed by Abaddon. She was wickedly frightening. She may have begun as a stern and harsh nun shown to us by her introduction looking at Josie and Henry's forged paperwork, but we could tell she was a force to be reckoned with from the start. As we see Julia watch her from a distance as she tortures others in the convent, we see how cruel she really is. Norry sells us on her performance best, however, when we see that she's really Abaddon underneath the wimple. The Mother Superior strolls in and we just know that she's Abaddon just by how she carries herself. Norry plays the character differently than Huffman, and yet we can sense all the danger and appeal that Abaddon brings in her primary form here. She's confident, powerful, terrible, and frightening beyond belief. As she moves to possess Henry and is pulled back by Josie, we see her cruelty reach new heights as she taunts the young Woman of Letters-to-be. There's glee in her voice as she tells Josie that Henry loves her as a sister. And as Josie tells her that Abaddon has permission, there's a dark tenor in Norry's voice as she says “Abaddon takes what she wants and right now she wants everything.” She may have played the new Queen of Hell briefly before transferring to her more recognizable face, but we were sold on her from the moment we saw her.


Sister Agnes brought the Catholic school nightmare nun to the screen with skill. She had all the sternness and harshness that marks what most think when they picture a nun. It wasn't just the wimple, either. she had some haughtiness around here---especially when Agnes goes toe to toe with Sam Winchester. She put all the mocking into her voice as she taunted Sam. As they fight, we see less of the nun and more of the demon inside, especially as she viciously chokes Sam. She also shows the demon's frustration during Sam's recorded exorcism, fighting to either keep choking Sam or to stop the recording. There's pure rage in her expression---only to be matched by shock as Sam stabs her with the demon killing blade. She may have played only one demonically possessed nun, but she was powerful while on screen.


Jenny O'Hara played our ex-nun, Julia. She comes off as no-nonsense when we first meet her in the police station---all from Sam's perspective. O'Hara gives Julia strength in her emphatic insistence that these are demons returned to finish the work they had started years ago. As Sam pulls her aside, we see her skepticism show well. O'Hara has Julia side-eye Sam, surprised that he's not mocking or coddling her “delusions.” Even though we don't know until the end that Julia kept quiet until now, O'Hara shows that there's something bothering Julia by body language and vocal tone. O'Hara also makes Julia a good partner with Sam, helping him fill in blanks he needed to solve the case. Once it is over, we see the bittersweet relief that this has been stopped---and yet O'Hara gives us Julia's heartbreak when she tells Sam that not speaking up was her greatest shame. It makes for a poignant and powerful moment that lingers long after viewing.


Gil McKinney returns as Sam and Dean's paternal grandfather, Henry Winchester, with all the optimism and charm we remember from his introduction. Pairing him with the actual Josie Sands is a stroke of genius. McKinney connects brilliantly with Huffman---and it shows in every scene they share. We see it best when they first arrive at the convent. The young Julia defers to Henry after Josie asks to see the sleeping quarters of the now deceased sister. McKinney shows Henry's amusement at Josie's frustration well---and yet we can also sense that he agrees with his partner. When they burst into the room to save the victims, we see Henry take action. McKinney delivers the exorcism with gusto, and while he ends up knocked out, upon waking as Abaddon wearing Josie's face tells him they won, we see that optimistic joy light up his face. McKinney makes Henry a great addition to the show, showing all the hope and optimism he had before that fateful night. Henry's charming and likeable from start to finish---and here's hoping we can see him again down the road in some other flashback.

Alaina Huffman played a dual role of Josie Sands and Abaddon with finesse. We see her as the human girl before she was corrupted by the demon and we can see the courage, heart, and vulnerability in her as she works with Henry as her partner. We can tell that she connects with McKinney's Henry brilliantly, making the pair a formidable team. Huffman conveys all of Josie's apprehension wonderfully---particularly when she expresses her frustration about the nun not addressing her or her discomfort in dealing with them. She shows her tenacity when they work to exorcise the demons---and when we see Abaddon in the room make her move towards Henry, we know what Josie will say before she says it. The way Huffman delivers the line “take me” is heartbreaking and powerful. The fear is all over her face as she faces true evil in Abaddon, and yet she won't back down or try to stop what will happen. Even when we see her crushed by Abaddon's taunt, we know she'll stick to her decision for Henry. Once she is turned into Abaddon, Huffman instantly flips a switch, and we see the demon we've come to know---she becomes the Queen all over again with a cruel and pleased smile. We also know how intimidating she can be in just her presence, even when she's riding in a car away from the convent. Huffman makes us invest in Abaddon---and makes us fear her, too.


Mark Sheppard plays a much more demonic Crowley in “Mother's Little Helper.” He's still indulging his human blood habit, but it doesn't show nearly as much here. He's snarky, witty, and manipulative at every turn. Sheppard shows this in just how he pulls the strings on Dean---he points out that Dean's lying to his brother for instance. Sheppard gives Crowley all his charm here---even if we know we shouldn't like him. He makes all of Crowley's goading seem borderline cruel. It's easy to tell in how he delivers these lines that Crowley is trying to hurry Dean along so that he can return to his role as the King of Hell unopposed. When we see the bait and switch revealed with the “hunter” Jake, Sheppard shows us all of Crowley's glee in his expression. When Dean calls him on his lie about indulging his blood habit, Sheppard shows Crowley being sheepish yet unashamed all at once. We can tell, more than ever, that Crowley's starting to revert back to that crossroads demon we were first introduced to---one that has no problem getting a Winchester to do his dirty work for him. It'll be interesting to see just how Crowley's story moves forward---will we see more of the old Crowley or more of the humanized Crowley as we move towards the end of the season?

Misha Collins doesn't appear in this episode as the awkward Castiel---instead he makes his debut behind the camera as the episode's director. He took the script, penned by Adam Glass, and translated it beautifully to the screen. Camera angles, lighting, and the littlest of details captured the story, making us invest emotionally into “Mother's Little Helper.” We saw it in so many shots. Collins captured Dean's struggle with the Mark of Cain in brilliant close up shots on Ackles---his shaking hand and his haunted expressions for instance. We saw great shots of Sam watching others throughout---Billy check name at the dinner and Julia at the police station---all before approaching them. It allowed for us to see the story through Sam's eyes. Collins also set up suspenseful shots at the convent, first in the flashbacks and then again when Sam tracks down the van. We get great views of Julia watching Abaddon and her demon horde attack those they've kidnapped. When Henry and Josie burst in, Collins makes sure we get a great shot of their grand entrance. Collins also shows us how the convent has changes since it was disbanded in great attention to detail that makes us on edge for Sam. It's run down, and dark---the shelves with the soul jars standing out as a bright beacon. As we see Sam and Agnes tussle, Collins makes sure we get great back and forth shots between Sam and the demonic nun that add to the tension. At the bar, Collins sets up a poignant shot with Dean watching the other “hunter,” and we can't help but see it through Dean's eyes, too. As the camera shifts from Dean to the demon, we're drawn in by close ups on the face and the fiddling with the knife. Once the brothers are back at the Bunker, Collins makes certain to give us great shots of the brothers as they exchange words---and prepare to dig into finding Abaddon sooner rather than later.


Jensen Ackles gave us a subtle and powerful performance in “Mother's Little Helper.” We can clearly see how much the Mark of Cain is truly starting to affect Dean---it is in every word and gesture. It marks all of his body language. Ackles conveys how hard this is becoming. He captures this best after Sam has left on the case and we see Dean turn to the bottle. It doesn't seem to soothe the elder Winchester. Instead, we watch him tremble from what has happened and his own fear. Ackles gives us all of Dean's stalling tactics from calling Crowley to shuffling papers to playing pool. There's a tension in all of his body language. It's clear in how Dean sets up his pool game and takes the chalk from Crowley. Ackles really makes our hearts hurt when we see Dean approach the demon masquerading as a hunter. He conveys all of Dean's anguish and loss of innocence---of hope---as he earnestly tells him not to go after Crowley. We can tell, in how Ackles delivers these lines, that this isn't about “saving Crowley.” It's about saving a version of himself he feels no longer exists. Ackles also shows us Dean's guilt when he's caught bald-face lying by Crowley. It's in the tense jaw and the shifty eyes. We see this come back when we see Sam and Dean reunited---as if we can see the physical barrier Dean is trying to build while Sam is trying to tear it down. It's in the down expression and avoidance of looking at his brother. We really are starting to see the Mark truly affect Dean on every level here, and it is making for some powerful performances out of Ackles. With the season quickly coming to a head, we know that it's going to get darker for Dean---and that Ackles will give us emotional performances.

Jared Padalecki gives us a compassionate and smart Sam in “Mother's Little Helper.” We see him try to gently coax Dean out of the Bunker to help on the case---and yet he's not going to push his brother too far. Padalecki shows us, though, that Sam's not going to simply back down. He's emotionally charged in the first phone call back to the Bunker---conveying all of Sam's worry and anxiety with his heartbroken expression and soft voice. As the case thickens, we see Padalecki strike great chemistry with O'Hara. We can almost see a bond forming in every scene that they share. He puts all his sympathy into Sam as he patiently listens to her story---and uses that information to solve the case. Padalecki takes the fight to Sister Agnes, and as he does, we see him forced to use intelligence over his brute strength. It's a powerful scene as we watch him struggle to pull up the exorcism on his phone, and yet we cheer the action because it captures all of Sam's smarts in one gesture. At the end, we see Padalecki's Sam reconnect with O'Hara's Julia---and it strengthens his own resolve. When he returns back to the Bunker, Padalecki shows us that Sam has been changed by this experience. His speech to Dean about having to stop Abaddon is moving and powerful---and it's all in how he delivers it before sitting down to do what Sam knows best: research. The deliberate action punctuates the performance beautifully---giving us a striking image to end on.

Best Lines of the Week:

Julia: I'm an ex-nun, sweetie. Complicated is my middle name.

Henry: This -- our work... it's a noble calling, isn't it? I mean, yes, there's risk, but, gosh. I feel the fool for doubting it for even a second.

Crowley: Unless Abaddon likes 10-cent wings, stale beer, and the clap, I doubt that she's here.

Josie: No, because I went to Catholic school and I have a lot of pent-up anger.

Dean: Demons don't take leaks. Next time you want to shoot up, why don't you find a better excuse?

Sam: Well, uh... At this rate... Should only take a couple million years. Have fun with that.


One side note: Psych ended its 8-year run, and it would seem that Supernatural put its own goodbye message into “Mother's Little Helper.” On Psych, Shawn and Gus drive a Toyota they call the “Blueberry.” It is their version of Baby. Well, look at this screencap here, and you'll see one! Who knows, maybe Shawn and Gus were on the case, too! Or perhaps it's just a PsychOUT. I was with Psych from the very first episode to the very last. Farewell, Psych. Thank you for all the laughs these past eight years. You'll be sorely missed.

When the show returns so do our angelic serpents: Gadreel and Metatron.


Comments  

Alice
# Alice 2014-04-03 21:23
testing
cheryl42
# cheryl42 2014-04-03 22:03
Alright here goes. Yay I finally get to say thank you Far Away Eyes for your review. As always a wonderful read. I am not so sure about Dean and the "hunter". Dean seemed to be struggling with knowing he needed to kill the King of Hell for all of the reasons that he stated to Jake and knowing his only means of gaining access to the Blade was through Crowley. I think Crowley has Dean right where he wants him. But what these bad guys always underestimate is the power of the love between Sam and Dean. It always saves the day.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2014-04-03 22:27
Thanks so much to Alice for getting comments back up and running!

Thanks, Cheryl, for your comment.

Oh, I'm certain that Crowley does have Dean where he wants him---and that Dean did need to save Crowley in order to get that Blade---but I do think that Crowley only saw that aspect. He didn't see that by having "Jake" use all the same buzz words Dean uses that he'd make Dean think of himself, even subconsciously. Dean knows he's stuck between a rock and a hard place. On one hand, he'd love to stab Crowley in the gut or use the Blade on him, on the other he knows he can't until he actually holds the weapon in his hand and /or has killed Abaddon.

And I absolutely agree about Sam and Dean. Crowley's been wise enough not to underestimate them in the past, but I think he might not be that smart this time to remember that. He sees them at a disadvantage, so he thinks they won't pull together. That'll be his big mistake.

Thanks again.
LEAH
# LEAH 2014-04-03 22:42
I really enjoyed this piece Far Away Eyes. The examination of all the battles both internal and external! You do have a way of looking at things from an angle that makes me think. Thanks for that. I am both excited and scared to see the rest of the season unfold. I do think Sam will play a huge part in bringing Dean back from the dark place he is headed. Also I saw a few days ago that Julia was named after Jules of SuperWiki. That's nice! It was fun talking to you on the cbox. I hope you will still come and visit.

(PS-keep warm:) )
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2014-04-03 22:52
Thanks for the comment.

I'm glad you liked my examination of this episode.

I'm excited and nervous about the ending of the season, but it's going to be a fun ride, I think. I also look forward to seeing how Sam will pull Dean back from what the Blade/Mark will do to him.

I saw that Julia was named for Jules, too. It's awesome that they put those things into the show. Very awesome.

It was great to see people in the Cbox, too.

Thanks again!
mary9930
# mary9930 2014-04-04 07:31
Thanks Far Away Eyes. Your reminder that Dean enjoyed torturing in hell makes the Mark of Cain all the more foreboding. Granted there were tremendous pressures influencing him but Dean made that choice on his own and liked it. When in Rome or more specifically, when in hell .....

I wonder if they will bring that up in the current storyline. Speaking of storyline, I love where this is all going. The role reversal as a way to save/improve the brothers' relationship makes me very happy. Shame on me for doubting Carver.

I absolutely love the role reversals & what each brother can learn from this.
amyh
# amyh 2014-04-04 08:51
Love your review and your interpertations . They are thought provoking. I have doubts - serious doubts - as to weather Carver can repair the brothers relationship. As i see it its not just that the boys have to walk a mile in the others shoes but Carver HAS to give Sam his agency back. He HAS to give Sam his POV back . And he has to allow Sam to help/save his brother but without throwing away his own morals and hard won lessons to fit Deans idea of what love is.

And Crowly can't be melded into Deans next new shiny Supernatural buddy whose become a brother to him. Although, I'm sort of expecting that to happen.

I'm confused as to why you think Dean followed Sam to his job? That really makes no sense to me. Especially as Crowlyy doesn't remark on it.
debbab
# debbab 2014-04-04 09:21
I do not think Dean went to Milton. He walked from the bunker into the local town, which we have seen in outside shots from time to time. Magnus must have protected the bunker from human detection since nobody in town ever questions Dean's appearance. He has been seen walking back from town with groceries in a bag in season 8. I am not so sure that Crowley has not kicked his addiction and is just using it as the excuse to test Dean's commitment to "the plan" with Jake.
nappi815
# nappi815 2014-04-04 10:08
so very glad to have the site at full function again....thanks to alice and all involved who worked so hard to get us here. :)
thank you farawayeyes for another thought provoking review. I agree with your take as it's my take as well. I think the chance to walk in each other's shoes is exactly what they need to finally get the boys to understand where the other is coming from, to experience what the other has experienced so that they can finally "see" ea other for the first time. it will only bring them closer as brothers and strengthen their bond. I can see now where carver has been heading since he took over. He was there when the boys issues started to take full force. When he returned, those issues still have never been fully explored or resolved. Since his return, I've seen the progression to the resolution of these issues and though it was a bit rough in the first half of s8, I can see why it was necessary and where it's all headed and i'm excited for it.
I do have my own theory regarding sam and dean though and what I believe to be part of their motivations. for sam, my belief was confirmed in the great escapist. sam always wanted normal because he tried to run from what was inside him. he was cursed with db and he felt different. he wanted out of the life so he can be safe. if he lived normal he could feel normal. he didn't have to feel like a freak and he didn't have to feel tainted/unclean , unworthy. but there' s a little more to it regarding sam. sam was made to feel this way because of a deal his mother made. he was an infant and had no control. he couldn't stop any of it. sam never fully had control of his own life because there was always a higher power there to manipulate and use him. his father brought him into the hunting life. it was never a quest for him. and it's understandable as he never had any connection to his mom. he even said if it wasn't for a photo, he wouldn't even know what mom looked like. as a child, sam tried to talk to dean about his mom, but dean yelled at sam, telling him to never talk about mom...ever. sam had no memories of a mother at all, not even ones shared by his father or brother. so it was easy for me to understand why sam never wanted any part of it. why he never was invested in it. damn, I digressed, to continue: even when he was at Stanford, he wasn't really in control as demons were still manipulating him...hell his prom date was a demon. control is very important to sam when dean allowed gad to possess sam, he again lost control...first of his own destiny and then of his own body. this was done to him not by a demon, but by his brother....that 's why sam said he couldn't trust dean. they were broken. but it doesn't take away sam's love for his brother. I think for sam, he fears his dark side, that's why having control of who he essentially is is so important to sam. he's always had to fight the supernatural to stay human.
for dean, I think he too fears his dark side. I think he always has, since s1. I wrote my theory in nightsky's thread, but what it boils down to is dean's fear and lack of trust in himself. he admitted to being scared of the things he would do for john and sam back in devil's trap. yed even taunted dean telling him that he needed them more than they needed him. Gordon first impression of dean was that he was a killer, like him. dean admitted to embracing the life. a life which on the one hand is heroic as it saves lives, but on the other hand it also takes lives and not only monsters. he tortured and enjoyed it. he embraced purgatory and felt free and pure, his own words. I think the reason dean goes to extremes to save sam, to want sam by his side hunting, is in part yes, because he loves his brother very much and he knows the world I far better off with him in it. but as I said in the other thread,, I also think sam is in part right when he said that dean does it for him, so he won't be alone. I totally believe that dean feels that he will become what he became in the end. I think he lacks the faith in himself to trust that his goodness would triumph over his darkness. sam is his lifeline to his own humanity. that's why I think dean got all pissy with sam in the first half of s8...why the very thought of sam wanting normal scares him...because if sam isn't by dean's side, then dean can easily lose himself. in essence, dean has always fought a natural force within.
now dean is facing not his own fears of losing his humanity from himself but by losing it to supernatural means....someth ing that sam has always had to live with. I think this will give dean a new perspective and understanding where sam is concerned.
for sam, well, he's in dean's shoes now..he's the protector. he's not the victim anymore here, his brother is. he gets to see through his eyes, what dean has experienced every time something supernatural affected sam.....it's also his chance to save dean the way he never really got to before. I think for sam saving dean will be a chance to redeem himself to his brother for always failing him and a chance for him to gain dean's trust, which he thinks he doesn't have.

just the way i see it......i'm very excited to see how it all plays out.....
lkeke35
# lkeke35 2014-04-04 12:24
BTW: Far Away, I absolutely love this review. It is, the finest review EVAH! That I agree with almost every line in it, has no bearing on my opinion, of course.:)

Nappi: I like this very much. You continue to have some very interesting views on this topic and I look forarward to reading your responses as well.

I'd given a lot of thought to why Dean doesn't want to be alone and this was one of my suppositions, too. It continues to amaze me that the brothers always seem to have the highest opnion of each other, whie doubting themselves. Dean has always believed Sam is all that's good for the world and good for him. Sam has always looked up to Dean as a hero and mentor. It's tragic that neither one of them really knows this about the other and does not believe it of themselves.

I can see where Carver is trying to go here this season. Since First Blood we have had one episode after the other outlining each brothers position, and where they are emotionally. In The Purge, feelings and thoughts were released - purged. In Thinman, the brothers got a baseline understanding of where their thoughts are for each other. The Kevin issue was resolved in Captives, so that's not in the way right now. But Mother's Little Helper is where Carver begins to lay out the foundation of what Sam's goal is (his new maturity and saving Dean) this season, and where Dean is heading.

I too, am very excited for the rest of this season.
Lilah_Kane
# Lilah_Kane 2014-04-04 12:09
Good thoughts again Far away eyes.

Like you said, it is clear that the brothers are walking in each others shoes and I would like to stretch it also to the actors Ackles and Padalecki. I can't remember where I read it or heard it but in this nine years run it's really exceptional that Dean is the one being "possessed", turning bad. And there was a reason for it. Ackles I think said somewhere that he doesn't like Dean to be possessed. At least not long if it happens because it is not Dean. And Padalecki on the other hand jumps on everything the writers give him because he likes it. It gives him a lot of ways to play Sam.

In many interviews Ackles has also said that how things are now with the brothers and with Dean are affecting his body and mood because well, he loves the series, brothers and his character. He really cares what happens when camera is on even though they might goof around with Padalecki when cut is yelled. So I am appreciating what Ackles is doing and hoping he won't exhaust himself by it. Anyway, I think this is a rare treat and in a way the actors are also walking in each others shoes at the moment.
Sylvie
# Sylvie 2014-04-04 12:30
Thank you Far Away Eyes. This episode was soooo good, congratulations go out to Misha for directing something that had so many elements and doing it so bloody well! I kind of like the fact that Dean is finally finding himself the one "possessed" if you will by something supernatural and Sam having to be the one to save him. It's a nice reversal and I cannot wait to see how it turns out. I have butterflies in my stomach over the whole thing and think that season nine will end on yet another great cliffhanger to bring us into season ten.
lkeke35
# lkeke35 2014-04-04 12:52
Okay, the response button isnt working right though. I dont have the energy to rewrite it ,so...

What I said was, I agree with every word Far Away has wriiten and Nappi is aso right on target as well.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2014-04-06 14:19
Quoting Mary9930: Thanks Far Away Eyes. Your reminder that Dean enjoyed torturing in hell makes the Mark of Cain all the more foreboding. Granted there were tremendous pressures influencing him but Dean made that choice on his own and liked it. When in Rome or more specifically, when in hell .....

I wonder if they will bring that up in the current storyline. Speaking of storyline, I love where this is all going. The role reversal as a way to save/improve the brothers' relationship makes me very happy. Shame on me for doubting Carver.

I absolutely love the role reversals & what each brother can learn from this.

Thanks for the great comment.

I'm not sure if we'll see them mention Dean's time in Hell with this storyline, but that history is certainly there. Dean has always shied away from truly embracing that, but we've seen him flirt with it at various points through the series since his stint in Hell. I think that the First Blade and Mark of Cain will take that foundation and do things with it.

The role reversal is an intriguing story for me. I'll be curious to see where it leads us for the remainder of the season and how much we'll see the brothers have to go out of their comfort zone. I think it'll give us some great insights into both brothers for sure.

Thanks again!
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2014-04-06 14:29
Quoting amyh: Love your review and your interpertations . They are thought provoking. I have doubts - serious doubts - as to weather Carver can repair the brothers relationship. As i see it its not just that the boys have to walk a mile in the others shoes but Carver HAS to give Sam his agency back. He HAS to give Sam his POV back . And he has to allow Sam to help/save his brother but without throwing away his own morals and hard won lessons to fit Deans idea of what love is.

And Crowly can't be melded into Deans next new shiny Supernatural buddy whose become a brother to him. Although, I'm sort of expecting that to happen.

I'm confused as to why you think Dean followed Sam to his job? That really makes no sense to me. Especially as Crowlyy doesn't remark on it.

Thanks for the comment.

I think that the brothers will be able to fix their relationship as they work through this. I'm not entirely sure just how they'll do that just yet, but I think this development is a good one for that effort. I think both brothers have to look at not only themselves and their roles in things, but at how their brother feels/thinks about things. It might be the only way for both of them to see the other's POV---giving both of them their own agency within their brotherhood.

I don't see Crowley being Dean's new "friend." I think he's that devil on Dean's shoulder egging him on, yes, but I don't think Dean likes it or how it's making him feel. Dean feels a little trapped knowing that Crowley has the Blade and that he needs the demon until he finds Abaddon. I don't think he trusts Crowley at all, and I'd be surprised if he truly started to do that. He might become defensive over Crowley at times, but I see that more as fear for himself and the situation than any actual feeling for Crowley. He knows they need him, but he doesn't like it.

The only reason I feel Dean did follow Sam is due to the bar name. Sam is in Milton, Illinois for this case while Dean goes to a bar named "The Milton." I could be wrong, but there's some thought that this bar is in that town, even if it's not directly mentioned by Crowley or Dean. It really struck me that the bar had the same town name, so unless they say otherwise, I feel that Dean did follow.

Thank again!
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2014-04-06 14:34
Quoting debbab I do not think Dean went to Milton. He walked from the bunker into the local town, which we have seen in outside shots from time to time. Magnus must have protected the bunker from human detection since nobody in town ever questions Dean's appearance. He has been seen walking back from town with groceries in a bag in season 8. I am not so sure that Crowley has not kicked his addiction and is just using it as the excuse to test Dean's commitment to "the plan" with Jake.

Thanks for the comment.

Given the bar name, I lean towards thinking that Dean did follow Sam, and given the type of bar I'd be surprised if they asked too many questions about any of their patrons. That being said, it is possible that Dean did not, but until it's said otherwise I tend to see him following Sam, even if he doesn't say or do anything while there.

As for Crowley, I think it is possible that he's lying about still using. It wouldn't be far fetched to think he's keeping up the appearances of using human blood. He is a liar, after all.

Thanks again.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2014-04-06 14:42
Quoting nappi815 so very glad to have the site at full function again....thanks to alice and all involved who worked so hard to get us here. :)
thank you farawayeyes for another thought provoking review. I agree with your take as it's my take as well. I think the chance to walk in each other's shoes is exactly what they need to finally get the boys to understand where the other is coming from, to experience what the other has experienced so that they can finally "see" ea other for the first time. it will only bring them closer as brothers and strengthen their bond. I can see now where carver has been heading since he took over. He was there when the boys issues started to take full force. When he returned, those issues still have never been fully explored or resolved. Since his return, I've seen the progression to the resolution of these issues and though it was a bit rough in the first half of s8, I can see why it was necessary and where it's all headed and i'm excited for it.
I do have my own theory regarding sam and dean though and what I believe to be part of their motivations. for sam, my belief was confirmed in the great escapist. sam always wanted normal because he tried to run from what was inside him. he was cursed with db and he felt different. he wanted out of the life so he can be safe. if he lived normal he could feel normal. he didn't have to feel like a freak and he didn't have to feel tainted/unclean , unworthy. but there' s a little more to it regarding sam. sam was made to feel this way because of a deal his mother made. he was an infant and had no control. he couldn't stop any of it. sam never fully had control of his own life because there was always a higher power there to manipulate and use him. his father brought him into the hunting life. it was never a quest for him. and it's understandable as he never had any connection to his mom. he even said if it wasn't for a photo, he wouldn't even know what mom looked like. as a child, sam tried to talk to dean about his mom, but dean yelled at sam, telling him to never talk about mom...ever. sam had no memories of a mother at all, not even ones shared by his father or brother. so it was easy for me to understand why sam never wanted any part of it. why he never was invested in it. damn, I digressed, to continue: even when he was at Stanford, he wasn't really in control as demons were still manipulating him...hell his prom date was a demon. control is very important to sam when dean allowed gad to possess sam, he again lost control...first of his own destiny and then of his own body. this was done to him not by a demon, but by his brother....that 's why sam said he couldn't trust dean. they were broken. but it doesn't take away sam's love for his brother. I think for sam, he fears his dark side, that's why having control of who he essentially is is so important to sam. he's always had to fight the supernatural to stay human.
for dean, I think he too fears his dark side. I think he always has, since s1. I wrote my theory in nightsky's thread, but what it boils down to is dean's fear and lack of trust in himself. he admitted to being scared of the things he would do for john and sam back in devil's trap. yed even taunted dean telling him that he needed them more than they needed him. Gordon first impression of dean was that he was a killer, like him. dean admitted to embracing the life. a life which on the one hand is heroic as it saves lives, but on the other hand it also takes lives and not only monsters. he tortured and enjoyed it. he embraced purgatory and felt free and pure, his own words. I think the reason dean goes to extremes to save sam, to want sam by his side hunting, is in part yes, because he loves his brother very much and he knows the world I far better off with him in it. but as I said in the other thread,, I also think sam is in part right when he said that dean does it for him, so he won't be alone. I totally believe that dean feels that he will become what he became in the end. I think he lacks the faith in himself to trust that his goodness would triumph over his darkness. sam is his lifeline to his own humanity. that's why I think dean got all pissy with sam in the first half of s8...why the very thought of sam wanting normal scares him...because if sam isn't by dean's side, then dean can easily lose himself. in essence, dean has always fought a natural force within.
now dean is facing not his own fears of losing his humanity from himself but by losing it to supernatural means....someth ing that sam has always had to live with. I think this will give dean a new perspective and understanding where sam is concerned.
for sam, well, he's in dean's shoes now..he's the protector. he's not the victim anymore here, his brother is. he gets to see through his eyes, what dean has experienced every time something supernatural affected sam.....it's also his chance to save dean the way he never really got to before. I think for sam saving dean will be a chance to redeem himself to his brother for always failing him and a chance for him to gain dean's trust, which he thinks he doesn't have.

just the way i see it......i'm very excited to see how it all plays out.....

Thanks for the great comment.

I think you're right on with both brothers. Sam has wanted out or normal because he wants to be in control of himself and as long as he stays in he fears/knows he won't have that. And he's never had to see it manipulate Dean the way his brother has. This gives him a chance to see what it's like to have a supernatural force threaten his brother in a fundamental way---not just Dean's life, but who he is. I think you're also right when it comes to Dean. He's always wanted to be able to point at something and say "That's why I do this," and it's almost always been Sam that he points towards. Without that reason, he's no better than some serial killer or the monsters he hunts---at least in his view. I think the fact that he's now facing some supernatural force trying to corrupt him, he'll understand not only his own battle with himself but the one that Sam's always fought. I'll be very curious to see how this all plays out for Sam and Dean in the end. They're going to have to face some things they've never done before from different footings. That's exciting story.

Thanks again.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2014-04-06 14:47
Quoting Lilah_Kane Good thoughts again Far away eyes.

Like you said, it is clear that the brothers are walking in each others shoes and I would like to stretch it also to the actors Ackles and Padalecki. I can't remember where I read it or heard it but in this nine years run it's really exceptional that Dean is the one being "possessed", turning bad. And there was a reason for it. Ackles I think said somewhere that he doesn't like Dean to be possessed. At least not long if it happens because it is not Dean. And Padalecki on the other hand jumps on everything the writers give him because he likes it. It gives him a lot of ways to play Sam.

In many interviews Ackles has also said that how things are now with the brothers and with Dean are affecting his body and mood because well, he loves the series, brothers and his character. He really cares what happens when camera is on even though they might goof around with Padalecki when cut is yelled. So I am appreciating what Ackles is doing and hoping he won't exhaust himself by it. Anyway, I think this is a rare treat and in a way the actors are also walking in each others shoes at the moment.

Thanks for the comment.

I think it's interesting to talk about the actors in this equation. They are having to stretch as actors as they play these different roles in Sam and Dean. I'm way impressed with how they're doing it, too. We're seeing Dean have to struggle with some things he's never quite had to do before and I think Ackles has totally hit every emotional note for me on it so far. I'm also enjoying what Padalecki has to do with Sam here as the man watching from the outside for once. It's going to make for great story and great acting from the both of them for sure.

Thanks again.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2014-04-06 14:51
Quoting Sylvie: Thank you Far Away Eyes. This episode was soooo good, congratulations go out to Misha for directing something that had so many elements and doing it so bloody well! I kind of like the fact that Dean is finally finding himself the one "possessed" if you will by something supernatural and Sam having to be the one to save him. It's a nice reversal and I cannot wait to see how it turns out. I have butterflies in my stomach over the whole thing and think that season nine will end on yet another great cliffhanger to bring us into season ten.

Thanks for the comment. I'm really excited about this role reversal and the great story going along with it. I think we will have a powerful cliffie to usher us into the summer hellatus and we'll all be biting our nails during it. I can't believe we only have six episodes left to go.

Thanks again.
Puck
# Puck 2014-04-16 20:08
I thought it was a well-polished episode all around!

Congratulations to Mischa! That was quite a treat, artistically visually and technically. Sam's action scene at the covenant was so much more suspenseful than they've been in a while and don't tell me you didn't start to crumble when Jensen showed Dean's growing anxiety and despair.
novemberschild
# novemberschild 2014-04-16 21:46
Finally I can make a comment. I really liked Misha's directing debut I thought he did an awesome job.
Far Away Eyes, I really enjoyed your section about Dean and his coming darkness, I think as the rest of the season goes on his darkness will come forward in a big way.