Jody Mills is back. So are her girls and a blast from Alex’s past. Throw in mashed potatoes, The Elvis, two brothers in long coats, Sioux Falls, and a couple of vampires, and you have “Don’t You Forget About Me”, an episode that could serve as a backdoor pilot to “Wayward Daughters Academy”, the fan concept for a Supernatural spin-off.
Lunchtime at the bunker: meet, “The Elvis.”
Sam’s research hasn’t turned up any leads on The Darkness. Dean on the other hand, has found exactly what he’s looking for. With much fanfare, he introduces… “The Elvis”, a bacon cheese burger with not one, but two glazed donuts where the buns should be, and you guessed it, Sam, is disgusted.
Awkward family dinner in Sioux Falls: “This is fun.”
A case falls into the brothers’ lap when Dean receives a call from Claire. She’s been hunting, with dubious success, but she’s convinced the disappearances she’s currently investigating are caused by a monster. Jody is pleasantly surprised to find the Winchesters in her living room and she throws more food on the stove for her guests.
Like Claire, she needs their help. Between her new foster daughter racking up felonies as an inexperienced, overzealous hunter, and Alex getting in deep with the most popular boy in school, she’s in over her head.
“Oh, we’re going there.”
The food is 5-stars but the brothers’ performance is less than stellar when Jody ambushes them with talk of birth control, STDs, sexually responsible behavior and the importance of suiting up, every time! No fear. Our boys are professionals, and they try again.
By the end of the episode, they’ve gotten through to Claire (kinda), separated Alex from her vampire boyfriend, and saved Jody and her Wayward Girls from the monster-of-the-week, a once good man out for revenge, after Alex Annie Alexis Ann fed him to the pack of vampires that cost him his humanity and his family. Safe to say the brothers earned their doggie bags, and that extra tub of sauce!
Overall grade: 6.5/10
There was a lot of good in this episode. I love Jody, and it was great to see her again. I felt warm and fuzzy when she exchanged hugs with the boys in the middle of her living room. It was like embracing an old friend. I also loved the family atmosphere. Sam − classy as ever − offering to help with the grocery bags, Jody, taking the extra time to make food for the boys, asking them to step in as big brother figures and having an honest and open conversation with Dean about the challenges of surrogate motherhood.
The meal was definitely one of my favorite parts of the episode, from the guys losing their minds over Jody’s cooking, to Jody (and her eyebrows) reacting to them, “It’s just chicken”, and the whole awkward conversation about Claire’s failed hunts and Alex’s love life.
I also like that the MOTW was connected to Alex’s past. His story is tragic and he didn’t deserve what happened to him. What he’s become however is harder to relate to and I suppose that is the real tragedy of his life: Alex’s kidnappers made him into a monster. Any shred of sympathy I had for him died when he cracked Jody’s leg. Goodness, not the leg again! Alex’s vampire mom did the same, and they both beat the daylights out of Jody, which is so hard to watch.
One thing that made me laugh, aside from that dinner and Dean’s attempts at intimidating Alex’s boyfriend (“Hang out, uh?”) was the teacher strung up from the pole. It did look like a dummy, complete with fake hands and doll hair but I’m gonna let it slide. Remember this? Yeah. Now let’s never speak of it again.
Back to the boys, I really liked the action scenes at the end. I usually don’t feel much tension in these scenes anymore but this one had me on edge. The monster was not just monologuing, as many do. He was suitably angry and violent. His sidekick also had a mean streak and they both derived much pleasure out of beating people with everything they could get their hands on. I was worried about Sam for a minute there but he pulled through, and Dean arrived just in time to give one of the vamps a clean haircut.
You know I always get shallow before I get deep serious so let me take a moment to acknowledge how fantastic the boys looked in their fed suits and “Out With the Old” coats. Now that I got this off my chest, I saw two interesting themes being explored with the brothers in this episode: food and parenting.
The boys, their food and mommy issues: “This bird is fantastic.”
“You guys eat like this everyday?”
Sam surprised me this episode. I’ve long studied Dean’s relationship with food and aside from the part that’s unhealthy (the devolving into overeating when stressed) and sad (the little boy who was hungry), it’s something I’ve always loved about the character. Like Ellie in “Trial and Error”, I like a man who can handle his meat, and is not prissy about food.
I never felt that Sam relished food. He eats for sustenance and health. One of the rare times I’ve seen him excited about a meal was when Dean presented him with a burger he made himself, in a “real kitchen”, in “Trial and Error”.
I have no doubt that Jody is a cordon bleu with magical ingredients in her spice rack, but I think there’s more to this. When have we ever seen Sam forget his table manners? He was chewing, sighing and moaning like his name was Dean.
I have a theory. It goes back to “Dark Side of the Moon”, “Time After Time” and “Trial and Error”. We have seen that while Dean’s love of pies goes back to Mary, Sam’s emotional link when it comes to the three elements that are food, comfort and mother is non-existent. In “Dark Side…” he reminds us that, unlike Dean, he “never had the crusts cut” off his bread”. In “Time After Time”, Jody threatens Sam with her mom voice, placing herself in a motherly role. Maybe Sam needs a certain dynamic to enjoy the less utilitarian side of food. If we look at “Trial and Error” and “Don’t You Forget About Me”, we see what these episodes have in common. Food made by someone Sam has accepted as a caretaker (Dean, Jody), made especially for him (Dean made the burgers for Sam as much as he did for himself / Jody made a chicken for Sam and one for Dean), in a place that qualifies as “home” (the bunker, Jody’s).
There’s nothing wrong with Sam’s commitment to health but it’s comforting to see him let go and devour a home cooked meal, once in a blue moon, and think that maybe, in the right circumstances, he can do it again.
Dean loving his food is never a surprise. I’m very much the mom from “The Klumps” clapping “Hercules, Hercules”, or Mary Winchester asking if her baby boy wants more pie, every time I see Dean enjoying his food (I don’t call him my son for nothing, folks). I get emotional at the silliest things, like him cleaning out the plate of mash potatoes because I like the idea that he’s never starving again. I am however, watching him like a hawk these days. In the last Winchester Report, I explained that I was worried about the control The Darkness is exerting over his mind.
If season 10 taught us anything, it’s that Dean becomes more voracious before some kind of explosion. He was pigging out before he hulked out in “The Things We Left Behind” and as the Mark was digging its hook into him, he was eating everything in sight in “Halt and Catch Fire”. The Elvis made me shudder, not for the same reason it did Sam, but because this strange combination reminded me of the Croissookie, some other “monstrosity” Mister Turducken was numbing his feelings with when he was on edge. So I’m waiting, and watching, and worrying about what comes next.
The boys and their parenting styles: “You need to act like you give a crap.”
“I’ll put Sammy on it. He’s better with the whole talky thing anyway.”
After the food, the second theme I see is the boys as role models/parents. Sam and Dean are equally gentle to children. Dean’s actually such a master in that domain, I call him the Child Whisperer. Remember how he helped Lucas Barr find his voice again in “Dead In the Water”? He is that good. The brothers’ styles start to diverge as the target gets older. We’ve seen it in “Jump the Shark”, in the ways they reacted to Not!Adam, Sam stepping into the big brother role he never gets to play, and Dean immediately turning into Father Knows Best.
“I’m not taking sides. I’m just trying to understand what’s going on.”
Sam starts off by creating a connection as an equal: “Looks like you and I have the same decorating philosophy”. He sits next to Claire in her room, at eye level, and speaks from personal experience, trying to remain impartial.
Another thing that allows Sam to talk to Claire as an equal is the one similarity they both share here. Claire is a young woman eager to head out on her “own” in part because she doesn’t fit into her family, a need Sam understands as it closely mirrors what he’s come to identify as his own urge to “run away” (“Point of No Return”, “Just My Imagination”). He has the same advice for Claire that he gave Gary, the wanna-be warlock from “Meat Swap”. There is great value in “a family, home, school”. Sam breaks Claire walls down gently, and the end of her conversation with him, I see no trace of defensiveness left in Claire.
“Oh, I’m not even near finished.”
Dean’s style is different. I call him Daddy!Dean and I believe that, on top of being an older brother, Dean’s been a dad since the age of four. Add to that the fact that he’s a natural leader, has a bossy streak and a sometime domineering personality, and his style is much stricter. He grabs Claire, interrupting her as she’s talking back to Jody, pulls her away from the group and proceeds to scold her. He’s towering over her and giving her immediate feedback on her bad behavior. It’s more demands and less negotiation, and it’s not bad in of itself because I believe Claire requires both: Sam’s gentle touch to look inward and think about her life, and Dean’s firm hand to shape up and understand that disrespecting a woman who does so much for her simply won’t be tolerated.
Best Sam moment / best quote: “get flat-lined by a double donut monstrosity”
“I’m not gonna survive hundreds of monster attacks to get flat-lined by a double donut monstrosity.”
Dean did say in “Dog Dean Afternoon” that Sammy had a delicate stomach and in “Yellow Fever”, he pointed out that Sam becomes “toxic” when he has a burrito. There is no telling what this cheese, bacon, beef and donut nightmare could do to Sam. The funniest part for me is that I like to find the weaknesses of our heroes. They’re big, bad, and built like cars, yet a plane ride and a clown can bring them to their knees. The idea that Sam Winchester, who survived the Cage, could be done it by a greasy double donut burger makes me giggle. Giant baby…
Best Dean moment: “…people walking away from me!”
Oh, dear. He was doing well there, setting Claire straight, laying down the law, and then he got into a staring contest with Alex’s boyfriend and got sidetracked. It’s okay, Dean. You did a good job and you put the fear of God into these kids. Yes… * pats *
They will slay any dragon but mention condoms at the table and they look like a moose and not-moose caught in the headlights. Those cute little faces…
I’ve been enjoying the cinematography of the show more than ever this season. I’ll probably analyze the symbolism of this scene later (I see The Darkness everywhere these days). For now, I just want to admire this gorgeous shot of Dean, with his machete and long coat, dark figure surrounded by blue, with the light, faded and broken in the background.
While this episode had a lot of Claire ‘My Favorite Facial Expression Is Eye Roll’ Novak, I enjoyed parts of it. That family dinner was everything: warm, fun, hilarious, uncomfortable, and apparently delicious.
I didn’t mind seeing Alex again (something about her bone structure makes me nostalgic of Rachel Miner aka Meg) and I loved seeing Sheriff Mills again. My poor Jody… Let’s hope this is the last time she tangles with vampires because they seem hell-bent on breaking her legs and I hate seeing her get hurt. This episode also gave me a whole new appreciation for her and the work she’s doing, helping two traumatized girls rebuild their lives at a a particularly sensitive time in their journey.
I would have loved seeing the brothers do a pilgrimage to Bobby’s yard, or even mention it after they got in the car. Sioux Falls is Bobby first, and he deserves a mention when they’re in his hometown. Or, “You got to know when to hold em” could have started playing on the radio while the brothers exchanged a smile. Don’t you, forget about Bobby.
While there was no epic broment per say (I think it’s my first report without one), Dean’s comment about Sam’s proficiency in “the whole talky thing” reminded me of his hilarious comment about Sam being better at the “whole sensitive verbal massage” in “Thin Lizzie”.
I especially loved the boys stepping in as big brothers using their own painful experiences to help a troubled youth, and I had a great time analyzing the way they ate in this episode.
It’s nice to see Sam relax and indulge, in a warm, caring and safe atmosphere, but I’m so worried about Dean that I’m looking for signs that he’s unraveling in every mouthful he takes.
I’m eager to see where the recent revelations about Dean, and his Amara Headache, are taking us, and I’m looking forward to the coming episodes. Here’s to hoping Amara returns very soon and has another “fascinating” encounter with Dean.
I’m still loving season 11. What about you?
XI : Winchester Brothers Report
11.01 “We Broke It, We Bought It”
11.02 “That Giant, Crazy Fart”
11.03 “And I have a fake badge”
11.04 “We’re home”
11.05 “That whole sensitive verbal massage”
11.06 “She overpowered me, end of story”
11.07 “What do you mean, killer bunny?”
11.08 “The family that showers together”
11.09 “If Sam’s not safe, it’s not happening”
11A Midseason Report Card “So, lock and key?”
11.10 “Sam can’t talk cause he’s waxing…”
11.11 “All that’s ever mattered is that we’re together”