American Nightmare bears the faint specter of of the Jim Jones Massacre, in its religiously maniacal mother, who is determined to rid her psychic daughter of the evil she believes is infesting her.
This episode was kind of hard to watch because of the gore. I’d just finished watching a Black woman be whipped on Legends of Tomorrow, so following that up with explicit images of another woman being flayed, and suffering from Stigmata, was a double blow for me.
Olivia, a Social Worker, walks into a church bearing signs of stigmata, and collapses. I have to admit I had a completely different idea of what this show was about. I thought it was going to be about a religious cult, and since Olivia was dressed a bit like a Mennonite, I thought things were being confirmed. Boy, was I wrong.
I had all kinds of feelings watching this episode. How horrible to realize, in her efforts to reach out for help, Magda ended up killing her potential rescuers. I did love Sam’s talk to her about how she wasn’t evil, referencing himself, and I’m glad to see he’s come to terms with that part of his life. The writers confirmed that Sam doesn’t know if he still has psychic powers, and that was interesting. Sam’s talent now seems to be forming connections to people and I like the one he forged with Magda, how she came to trust his word, even laying her head on his shoulder at the end.
I was more than a little pissed off to see Mr. Ketch kill Magda at the end of the episode. She goes through a lifetime of pain and misery only to escape, and then catch a bullet. Okay, we now know for sure that the British Chapter of the Men of Letters is sh**. At this point I’m chomping at the bit to see Ketch get his a** handed to him by the brothers, Crowley or even Cas. If this is how their chapter operates, they deserve whatever they’re going to get. The only drawback is the Winchesters might end up paying some horrible price.
The theme this season is to be smaller and more intimate. Dean is still reeling from Mary’s departure. His text to her asking if she is still Mom, was heartbreaking. He just wasn’t taking that well at all, but I like how Sam, as usual, is looking out for Dean’s feelings when he gets like that. And Mom’s response to him was perfect and went a long way towards making things better for him. I’m okay with the writers wrapping up a lot of his angst in just the one episode, because I don’t like the long, drawn out, soap opera stuff. That just annoys me.
My favorite moments are Sam and Dean arguing about Vicente, and that scene at the gated farm. Sam is in defense of the singer, while Dean tries to taste-shame Sam, yet again. I’ve never been comfortable watching Dean do that to Sam, but its perfectly played here, and Sam gets his revenge when they visit the farm, as he just stands there watching Dean struggle over this fence. Watch Sam’s facial expression as he just walks around the side of the gate. No offer to help or anything. Dean’s look of annoyance when he sees Sam on the other side of the fence is priceless. I laughed out loud. Sam gently tapping Dean with his little red folder is too cute.
Dean insisting that the Wiccan is to blame, and her complete derailment of his intentions, along with Dean’s facial expressions, was a nice touch, and I’m okay with the 180 Dean pulled at the end regarding his thoughts about Mary. Its also nice to see Smart!Sam again. I hope he stays for a while. He did impress me with his interpretation skills in the church. Go Sammy!
Although I wouldn’t be surprised to see Dumb!Sam make a return in the next couple of episodes, as once again, Sam got hit over the head and tied up. That’s what you get for being a smarta**, Sam!
I do have to mention that the brothers were looking especially foine in their FBI suits. I always love it when they go Full Fed. They’re not bad as priests either, although I got the clear impression that the real priest just wasn’t buying the brother’s act, because of Mr. StubblyHandsome. Dean looked like a male model pretending to be a priest. Sam wasn’t much more believable, and I thought that was hilarious.
I could’ve done without Magda’s mother devolving into a ranting loon at the end, as that often seems to be how Christians are often depicted in Horror media. Contrast that with the piety and reserve of the churchgoers at the top of the episode.
I liked this episode. Once again, its not great, but its definitely far from bad.