I loved “Into the Mystic”. The music was outstanding, or maybe I’m biased because it used some of my favorite oldie tunes. “Will you love me Tomorrow”, first recorded by The Shirelles (an African American female vocal group), was the first song by an all-girl group to reach No. 1 in the United States. It was their version that was featured at the beginning of this episode. The song was co-written and later recorded by Carole King, another groundbreaking female artist. I think that’s noteworthy in an episode that introduced two impressive, strong female characters. “Wonderful, Wonderful” is also a favorite song. Music adds so much to these episodes.
“Into the Mystic” was sweet, touching, healing, honest and real. It was also full of new plot threads.
New Strong Female Characters
First and foremost, Dee Wallace was outstanding as Mildred Baker. Her confidence, poise, humor and smile dominated her scenes. Her playful advances to Dean; her wise, motherly advice on life; her comfortable interaction and signing with her new friend – really everything about her performance – truly made this show a joy. Just as Nate Torrence (Skully) made “Just My Imagination” a superb hour of television a few weeks back, Dee stole this show. I truly believe that Robbie Thompson located this case just 15 minutes from the bunker to open the possibility of Mildred becoming a recurring character. It’s been a long time since the boys had a motherly presence in their lives – probably not since Ellen. Mildred also had an interesting back story. No one believed her when she saw a ghost ten years ago. She mentioned this experience in her first long conversation with the brothers, then she repeated it, in detail, when she talked with Sam. Something that is repeated twice is important. The only reason to give this relevant, intriguing history is to set up a story about Mildred’s past. Robbie is responsible for so many strong, female, recurring characters (Charlie and Dorothy to name two). I’m sure there will be a future hunt about the trauma Mildred experienced and the ghost that got away. All these things considered, I’m predicting we will look back on this episode years from now and fondly remember that this was when the brothers first met the Mildred, a new friendly light in their lives.
The second new female character that was introduced was Eileen. She’s a hunter and a MoL grandchild, just like the brothers. She became a hunter because a monster killed her parents when she was a baby lying in her crib, and she has spent her life tracking down the thing that killed her parents. She has trust issues, is isolated, roams around helping people, has a hunter’s journal from the hunter who raised her and her alternate profession would be a lawyer. Again, just like the brothers, in fact, she could be Sam’s doppelganger. Robbie expanded the Supernatural universe with another hunter, this time a woman with a disability and a lot of courage.
Sam: What about the Darkness? What about Cas?It’s interesting that Sam referred to their overwhelming foe, and his constant worry, as The Darkness but Dean replied with her first name, Amara. He called her Amara every time he talked about her. Dean’s connection to The Darkness is personal. He doesn’t see the threat as an “it” or an “entity” or a “monster”. He knows her, relates to her, is bonded with her, and his feelings are betrayed by his use of her name.
Dean: We’ve got zero on Amara. And Cas? Cas will be fine. He always is.
Casifer: The two of you are connected somehow by the Mark.No wonder Dean has a hard time sharing his feelings. He finally opened up …and it was to his archenemy. It makes me crazy that he can bare his soul to Castiel and he can’t admit the truth to Sam!
Dean: No, it’s more than that.
Casifer: Attraction? Oh, Dean… In the end, it may help draw her out. This may be a good thing… The next time you face Amara, you won’t be alone.”
The damage has been done, though. Once Lucifer heard the details about Dean’s encounters with Amara, he immediately concluded it has to do with the Mark. Is that just familiarity with the Mark, or does that hint at some prior personal experience with Amara? Dean feels the ‘connection’ runs deeper than the Mark. It’s more than bonding? Does Amara have some kind of siren power over her men? Dean was the Banshee’s victim. With all the elderly and ill available to her, it chose him as the most vulnerable. Is he being weakened by Amara? Is she breaking down his will power, his strength? This is an extremely important clue to their bond and Dean’s future. She said she can’t be resisted. Does that mean something more tangible than she is persistent and very charming? Does she have some kind of supernatural power over those she targets? Did an archangel also once find her impossible to resist?
The theory that Lucifer’s motivation is to join forces with Amara, not defeat her, gained some credibility in this episode. His intense curiosity (“tell me everything”) and his comment about being at Dean’s side implied he may try to use Dean’s bond to find Amara. Their entire conversation hinted (to me) that Lucifer is also drawn to Amara by his time with the Mark and when he heard or felt her release, he needed to find a way to reunite with her. The story that she (or rather her Mark) corrupted him and is the reason for his downfall, and that they were both caged to protect the world because they each have the goal to ‘do things differently’ than God is consistent with his current actions. Why would he care about protecting the world from her? Why would he care what happens topside at all? Since he was corrupted after her imprisonment, his actions the first time around were altruistic and loyal to God. His motivation now, after his loyatly was transferred by the Mark from God to Amara, is more likely to be with her, or to help her realize the dream world she and the Mark want. He could see himself as her #2, as he was originally to God.
One last thought on this: Casifer’s remark that the bond may help draw out Amara seemed to parallel Sam and Dean’s phone conversation about using Mildred as bait. We may be headed toward Dean being used as bait in the ultimate showdown.
Luci does seem uncharacteristically happy. Sure he is out of the cage, but whistling, enjoying nature, feeding birds?
“I come in peace brother. I’m not looking for a fight. In fact, I am your only hope at beating the Darkness. I heard you kids had your big shot at the title and you missed it. You don’t need to be afraid brother. I’m out of that awful, awful cage and I’m here to save you all”.
He heard this? Besides being able to pose as Cas, Lucifer has access to all of Castiel’s memories. That makes a bad situation worse. Lucifer knew the location of the bunker. He had Castiel’s key (or however Cas gets inside on his own). He has the brothers’ trust. They will eventually learn the truth but what will give him away?
Casifer’s betraying mannerism, his ‘tell’, is putting his hand on the shoulder of the person he is ingratiating himself to. He first laid his hand on the doomed angel in the park. Red shirt angel recognized him as Lucifer, so the archangel acknowledged his identity and was talking as Lucifer. Later, however, he held Dean’s shoulder as they engaged in an intimate conversation in the bunker. At that time, Lucifer was pretending to be Castiel, so in both personas he is playing the long con. He wants to gain people’s trust and get them as his ally (either as Cas or Lucifer). He is working hard to convince everyone that he is the new savior (“I’m her to save you all”). Isn’t that the very thing that the Darkness is trying to do – save the world from the suffering allowed by God? So the Winchesters are fighting against two universe-level powers that have a “God Complex” and believe their way is better - for angels, humans and creation. It was often said that the show couldn’t find a bigger threat than the apocalypse; that once that was averted, no other plot could come close to those stakes. The show rose to the challenge by doubling down. The brothers are now facing TWO apocalyptic evils, either of which will annihilate the world, and this time there’s a sleeper agent within Team Free Will. We surrender Show. You proved us wrong. This IS worse.
Lucifer was looking for something in the bunker, though. Although there’s no way to know now what it is, he needs something or someone. An inventory of the room he was tossing would probably be insightful. Maybe their clean up may make them more suspicious.
Curiosity: Since Lucifer didn’t fall from Heaven when its gates were closed, does he still have his wings? Can Casifer fly again? Maybe he will made a mistake and arrive somewhere too quickly, tipping off the brothers that it’s not Castiel. Just a clue to watch for.
Sam/Dean (No, the slash doesn’t have a double meaning!)
“Get it out of my Head!” That was what victims of the banshee screamed as they were being tortured to death. There is a double meaning in that plea for help. Did you notice the lighting over Sam’s bed when he was having his nightmare (one of the many reasons Supernatural continues to deliver the highest quality shows is Serge Ladouceur’s cinematography!)? Sam was still imprisoned in the cage of his feelings and guilt. These thoughts were in his head, plaguing him, and according to Lucifer’s “Ghost of Christmas Past” tour, these thoughts would hold him back from being the hero once again.
Dean: “Kind of nice to be back on a case, huh? Get your mind off of things?”
Sam needed to “let go” of his guilt, to “get it out of his head”, and he did so by acknowledging his feelings in his confession to Dean. This was cathartic for Sam. As is so often the case, forgiveness is available to us if we just ask for it.
I know a huge part of the fandom is elated that Sam apologized, but I was actually disappointed in the closure of this three year open wound. I’m happy that this issue can be put to rest, and I’m thrilled that Sam is no longer burdened with such disappointment in himself. Personally, though, I always felt Sam was justified in believing that Dean died in the leviathan explosion and there wasn’t any reason to look for him. When the moment arrived for Sam and Dean to talk about that pivotal moment in Sam’s life, I hoped Sam would have said something like, “I had reached my breaking point. 100 years in hell being tortured, being driven mad by Satan memories, then this happened, then that happened… I had every reason to believe you blew up and I was alone and I just …stopped.” I know that may be a biased Sam POV, but I would feel the same way if the situation had been reversed and Dean broke. I feel badly that Sam carried around guilt for what was essentially a very human limitation. Dean forgave Sam for not looking for him, but I always hoped the conversation would not confirm that Sam was wrong, but rather that Dean didn’t blame Sam to begin with. I had hoped Dean would have said “I’ve made my share of mistakes. You had no way to know what happened, and you needed a moment to regroup. I survived. We’re back. Move on.” Instead we’re left with Sam blew it and Dean forgives him. I would have preferred a more neutral resolution, and a recognition that even heroes break. I would have found that comforting and inspirational. As I said, I know a lot of people are elated with this conversation though, so I am content that at least the brothers finally (for the love of Chuck!) talked about something important and real. This episode gets credit for tackling REAL.
“In the Mystic” continued the long line of stories about how being traumatized as a child establishes the pattern of your life. In this case, it was Eileen whose life as a hunter was determined when she lost her parents, and her hearing, as a baby. She carries pictures of the parents she never knew because ‘they’re family’. It will be thrilling to finally learn what childhood trauma and family feud determined Amara’s fate.
Follow Your Heart/Long Life
Dean: Do you ever miss life on the road?
Mildred: Nah, I had my fun. “Do you want to know the secret to living a long and happy life?
Dean: Actually, yes I do.
Mildred: Follow your heart. You do that - All the rest just figures itself out.”
There are two potentially significant aspects to this advice. First, right now Dean’s heart will lead him to Amara’s side. Mildred recognized he was pining for some lucky lady. Does he really want to be with Amara? Is that his true feeling or her influence? If he gives in to his attraction to her and lets the rest ‘figure itself out’, we might have a very interesting twist in the story. He’s all about family, though. Maybe his heart will lead him back to Sam (again, no slash intended!).
The second interesting thread in this advice is the emphasis in this episode on a possible future for the brothers that doesn’t end in them dying on the job. This open conversation with Mildred about how to live long and happy life opens up a new line of thinking for Dean. He’s always been ready to die, and expected to die in a blaze of glory. He expected Sam would be the one to sit on a porch in his old age. On this case, though, Dean considered making a reservation at a retirement home (not that they would need it since they have the bunker). He was surprised, or rather concerned, when Sam’s response implied he expected them to die soon. Dean also told Sam that Cas would be okay, because ‘he always is’. Sam filed away the retirement home brochure with his most treasured items. All these actions imply a hopeful, open mind on the part of the writers as to the brothers’ future. I’ve told you many times that I see a happy ending for them, so I couldn’t be more thrilled with this latest optimism.
Those are my first impressions. Fill in the blanks and tug and pull at these threads! Let’s figure this out together!