This episode, titled “American Nightmare” and written by new writer Davy Perez, begins at a church in Iowa where people are praying. A young woman comes in, staggering toward the altar, as we see stigmata appear on her hands and feet and she seems to be beaten by an invisible force. She shouts out in what appears to be an ancient language and falls dead at the priest’s feet.
Sam and Dean impersonate priests to interview the priest. At first he’s reluctant to say anything but then shares the story of what happened and says she was shouting in Hebrew, but Sam notes that it’s Aramaic. Outside Dean talks to Castiel on the phone and then after hanging up, texts Mary, who doesn’t reply. Dean tells Sam about the devil being in Vince and Dean judges Sam’s taste in music, which apparently includes a love for Vince Vincente. Sam has a book and says it was Aramaic that Olivia, the victim shouted, and the words mean “Oh god, save me.”
They go to the coroner and realize that Olivia suffered stigmata like wounds. They then go to find out more about Olivia from her assistant at the Child Services Department. The assistant says that Olivia was suffering headaches the day she died. They ask if Olivia had enemies and the assistant says that part of the job is getting death threats. The brothers continue investigating as the episode switches to a grocery delivery guy who suffers the same fate as Olivia.
Sam and Dean pursue information about the Petersons who are an extremely religious family. Olivia’s assistant tells them about how the oldest daughter died of pneumonia because the family refused treatment or help. They go to the family’s homestead. Dean climbs, very clumsily, over the fence as Sam walks around it. They notice that the family has cut down their electric pole. As they walk down the driveway, Sam tries to get Dean to talk about Mary and also reassure Dean that she will be fine, that she just needs space. Dean remains skeptical. As they near the house, they encounter the father of the family. Inside the house, the boys tell the mother and father about Olivia’s fate and they bow their heads, the mother noting that they liked her even if she was a Papist. At least she believed in God. Their son comes into the room and interrupts. The father looks to the brothers and asks for their help.
The camera pans to the Impala as a mysterious motorcycle drives by.
Back at the homestead, Dean is helping the father and son repair their buggy wheel. The father explains that they cut themselves off from the world because it’s screwed up. Back in the house, the mother gives Sam some lemonade and they talk about what the family was like before this, which was the typical contemporary stereotype – distracted kids, overworked husband, drugged wife. Sam confronts her about the daughter’s death and the father shows up and asks them to leave. Back at the Impala, Dean thinks Olivia’s assistant is responsible. Sam insists the family is weird and the daughter’s ghost is out for vengeance.
As the camera pans over to the mother, she enters the house and she starts singing a song and we find out that the daughter is alive, lying almost catatonic on the basement floor. The mother tortures the girl and we see that she is inflicting the same wounds on her daughter that the others experience. Outside the father and son are being watched by Sam, and Sam overhears them talking about the sister/daughter, Magda. Dean’s investigation, meanwhile, reveals that his impression of Beth taking out Olivia to get her job is erroneous.
Back at the Peterson house, Sam is on the phone with Dean telling him about Magda when he gets caught by the father and son and gets knocked out. Author's note: I'm so surprised Sam doesn't have Walking Dead level head trauma by now.
Dean stays on the phone calling for Sam as he barrels out of the driveway. The next thing we see is Sam awakening in the basement with Magda, who is singing quietly. Magda says that Magda is not her name and that she is the devil. Magda shows Sam that she can move things with her mind and he tells her that she’s not the devil, she’s just psychic. Sam says he’s psychic or at least he used to be. Magda says he’s evil too. She tells him that she tried to reach out to both Olivia and the delivery boy but instead she killed them. Sam says it’s not her fault. Father and son come down and announce dinner.
At the dinner table the parents explain how they are trying to help the daughter. The father suddenly keels over after eating a bite of food and the camera shows rat poison on the kitchen counter. Sam is asking what the mother has done. She yells at her son to eat the food but Magda forces the spoon out of her brother’s hand. She can’t stop her mother from stabbing her brother, though. There is a showdown then between mother and daughter and Magda wins.
In the final act, Magda’s mother is being carted away, as she shouts that her daughter is the devil. Magda is being treated in the ambulance and tells the brothers that she’s going to live with her aunt in California. Beth, the Child Services woman, gives Dean her number. As the brothers head back to the car, Dean admits that the Mary situation has been troubling him and he’ll try to not be a dick about it. His phone beeps and a message from Mary appears. She writes that her phone died but that she’ll always be Mom and she loves them.
In the final scene of the episode, the mysterious motorcycle man follows Magda into a rest stop restroom and shoots her with a silencer. Mr. Ketch, we find out, is cleaning up the Winchesters’ mess.
Thoughts, Spec, Questions
1. What do you think about the episode?
2. Do you suspect Mr. Ketch is the big bad for the season?
3. Do you think Dean is getting more comfortable with the Mary situation?
4. Do you judge Sam for his 1980s hair metal love? *note: there is only one right answer to this one and it’s ‘no because hair metal rocks, Linda’*
Leave your thoughts, etc. below!