Supernatural “The Memory Remains” (12.18) | air date April 13, 2017.
The Winchesters receive an email from “Mick” about a case in Tomahawk, Wisconsin, a town with a long history of unexplained disappearances.
Overall grade : 6.75/10
“The Memory Remains” was a mix of nostalgia, humor, melancholy, confusion and emptiness. A bit of a strange episode, and difficult to come to terms with. I have something of a symbiotic emotional relationship with Dean. I laugh when he does, cry when he does, hurt when he does, love the way he does, and disconnect when he does. If the goal of “The Memory Remains” was to make me feel as lost as Dean looked, sitting at that table in a bunker that’s no longer his, scrambling to hold on to something that used to make sense to him, mission accomplished.
The nostalgia, Part 1: “Black Bill is a local urban legend, dates back more than a hundred years.”
I love the MOTW formula, and I especially enjoy urban legends, something Classic Supernatural did very well. The first minutes of “The Memory Remains” reminded me of “Scarecrow”, one of my Top 10 favorite MOTW episodes ever. The unsuspecting prey walking through the woods at night. Grunting sounds, coming out of the strange creature that’s stalking them. A weird town, with strange happenings. A Sheriff who definitely knows something. In that old school vein, the freaked out witness, the creepy old house, and even, the perky young waitress who has a one-night-stand with Dean.
The humor, kinda: “A goat. Like meh-eh-eh-eh, goat?”
I love the many facets of Dean. The good, the bad, the scary. The lighthearted, humorous, sink-your-teeth-into-life hedonistic side, the genius, the skills, talent, sensitivity, the bossiness, devotion, intelligence, and the damage (self-destructive, impulsive, codependent, reckless).
It seemed at the beginning of the episode, that we were getting the fun-loving, lighthearted side of Dean. The one who can sum up any situation in one funny sentence (“So, we got a goat dude with a name like a pirate”), always has something snarky to say about rich people (“I mean what are they like, croquet’s all right, but you know what’d be great? Murder!”), doesn’t ‘waste’ time on research when there are conquests to be made (“Dusts anything. Work smarter, Sammy. Not harder.”), never lets Sam’s judgement, facts about ingredients, or gory details, deter him from enjoying a plate of heart attack (“Grow up, Sam. ‘Kay? Burger’s beef. Bacon’s pig. Soylent Green’s people, but this, this… this is Heaven.”), and gets insanely distracted by pretty women, thinks “massive orgies” are “nice”, and almost always gets the girl with his cheesy pick-up lines.
Like I said, love all those sides of Dean, but there was something else going on with on with him. Something brewing below the surface, and he kept my attention, all episode.
The confusion, Part 1: the Jazz interludes
Based on the previous episode, I thought the first order of business for the BMOL was : “exterminate.” I expected for hunters to start dropping, and for Sam and Dean to finally start putting two and two together. What we got, was Ketch doing full sweep of the bunker. Those wretched Librarians had their grubby hands all over it while Jazz was playing in the background (“Take Five” was playing the very first time we ever saw Ketch’s face (“LOTUS”)), a stark contrast to the tone of the rest of the episode, that only served to further highlight the violation the audience was bearing witness to.
“What’s going to happen to this place?”
I like, and don’t like the bunker.
I like that it’s beautiful and spacious and nice, because the boys deserve nice things and a place to call their own. I like the library because Sam loves it. I like the garage, filled with priceless cars, because Dean loves it. I like the kitchen where he started whipping up Cordon Bleu meals that had even Sam excited about carbs, because Dean was finally “nesting”, and happy to have a “real kitchen”. I like Dean’s room that he takes so much pride in. The room he made “awesome”. And his memory foam mattress, and also the “marvelous” water pressure in the MOL’s shower (because as we’ve known since “Bugs”, Dean enjoys a nice, long shower).
I don’t like that this supposedly impenetrable place keeps getting broken into. I don’t like that Sam got shot and kidnapped there. I don’t like that Dean died there. I don’t like that Gadreel killed Kevin there, leaving his soul to be trapped in the veil. I hate that the FrankenBenderSteins waltzed in and tossed the brothers’ stuff into a pile they were going to torch, until Cain!Dean came in and wiped the floor with their blood.
In “The Memory Remains”, what used to serve as the boys’ second home has become a symbol of a BMOL invasion that started the minute Toni Bevell inviting herself in, shot Sam and dragged him out of his house.
The confusion, Part 2: “Why don’t you figure out what the hell it is and I’ll figure out a way to kill it.”
I watch the show for the brothers. I consider them both heroes with a complimentary set of skills; a Dream Team on the field, and the best in the business. They both have brains AND brawn, and I want them both to shine… but there’s a problem this season. Season 12 has turned notorious Monster Slayer Dean into an ineffectual amateur, who ends up flat on his cute butt while someone else saves the day. Has Jensen noticed, because plenty of his fans have, and they’re taking the writers and showrunner to task on social media. Should this trend continues, the show will lose even more of its appeal to a part of the viewership that’s already hanging on by a thread. Something has got to give.
The emptiness, Part 1: “Think folks will remember us? You know like a hundred years from now?”
I believe Castiel told Dean in “The Monster at the End of This Book” that the Supernatural books would be known as The Winchester Gospels in the future, but I’ll let this slide, because what matters here, is what’s hiding underneath these questions, Dean’s suddenly asking himself about the meaning of his life and his place in the world.
“So now we’re reporting to low rent Christian Bale? Seriously? I don’t like that guy, he creeps me out.”
And Dean’s instincts are spot on. He doesn’t like working for the BMOL. Doesn’t like reporting to them. Doesn’t like Ketch. He doesn’t feel right about anything BMOL-related and probably the way, “their way”, seems to cast a judgement on many things he holds dear when its comes to his mission in life (I mentioned Dean somehow being cast as the obsolete hunter who was rejecting ‘progress’ by rejecting the BMOL, their innovation and their toys in “Ladies Drink Free”).
Dean has said several times that his purpose is hunting, with his brother by his side, and that all that matters, is for the two of them to be together (“Into the Mystic”). I believe that purpose, is the reason he continues to ignore his instincts and doesn’t say ‘no’ to Sam’s idea of partnering with the BMOL. He certainly had no problem declining, when it was Mary doing the asking.
Outside of the cute factor, I see the moment Dean tries a bite of Sam’s breakfast and hates it but says he will “deal”, as a bit of a metaphor for the way he’s currently attempting to deal with the BMOL Sam has embraced, even as it leaves a bad taste in his mouth.
I believe Dean was turning to the things that usually make him feel good in “The Memory Remains”, because he’s losing part of his identity, and feeling suffocated by this machine that’s trying to control him. Dean’s had his moments of doubts throughout the show but he at least he knew one thing: he knew how to do his job, and all his hard work wasn’t in vain because it helped him save people. I’ve always been one for brother unity, but I said it in “The Raid” and the “The British Invasion” Reports, and I’ll say it again. This is one time I wish Dean had let Sam go his own way. Let Sam and Mary take responsibility, for this dream they both share of escaping The Life, and for the predictable death trap it led them into.
Dean: “All you’ve ever done is run away.”
Sam: “And I was wrong. Every single time I did.” (“Point of No Return”).
I’ve never made a mystery of this: I love me some Sam, but I resent the part of him that wants to run away. I watch this show for brothers who hunt together and every couple of seasons, Sam stresses me out by trying to change the script. Well, he’s done running, and he done got creative. This time, instead of running away from Dean, he switched it up and decided to rope Dean in. I appreciate the change of pace, I do. I’m just discouraged, because of what I’ve finally come to recognize, is the reason Sam decided to blindly set up shop in the house of cards that is the BMOL (and it’s not just saving people): he’s ended up married to a monstrous organization that runs on the blood of humans, all in an effort to get to that finish line, where hunting becomes a thing he no longer has to do (still with this pipe dream after all these years, Sam honey).
The emptiness, Part 2: “The Family Business: what do you think our legacy’s going to be?”
The bloodthirsty organization, is a parallel to Molock.
Molock = the BMOL
Sheriff Barry Bishop = Mick Davies after the Winchesters (the one who doesn’t want to continue a tradition steeped in blood anymore)
Pete Bishop = Arthur Ketch (the psycho).
There is another, unsavory parallel at work here: “The Family Business”. The Bishop brothers have a family business and they have different ideas on how to proceed. Reminds you of anyone? I’m too depressed about this to go into great details about who I believe is being paralleled with Pete Bishop, albeit in a more indirect way than Ketch. I will simply bring up this moment I made a note of in “The Raid” Report:
Dean gets the “you’re a killer” speech, yet again, and somehow, he’s the one who stops Ketch when he goes Gordon Walker on the female vampire. When Ketch hauls the hunter off, saying that they have ways to deal with rogues, and that they aren’t “pleasant”, it’s Sam, who should know better, having experienced first hand the non “pleasant” ways in which BMOLs deal with hunters they have a problem with, who echoes Mary’s “good” while Dean looks a bit concerned.
And I will end this section by saying this: Sam currently serves a bloodthirsty god and I need for him to wake up and see the BMOL for the evil it truly is.
The nostalgia, Part 2: “Leaving our mark.”
I talked about my feeling that the boys might lose the batcave after last episode (“The British Invasion”).
Whether it goes up in flames or not, the bunker’s no longer theirs. I’m a sucker for Winchester moments and I loved the carving of the initials in “Swan Song”. The carving of the initials in “The Memory Remains” felt a bit empty. Dean carving his initials into a table in the bunker felt like a sad, last ditch attempt at holding on to something, reclaiming his space from invaders (literally and metaphorically), convincing himself that the mission he devoted entire his life to is still important, now that he’s become this inmate, who has to answer to The Big House, and get his gold paper medal after each day of successful hunting.
For the legend whose only master used to be the open road. It is a “Terrible Life” and it’s killing Dean slowly.
Best Dean moments
“Hiya, Sheriff.” There’s the guy I love. Badass, and he can smell BS from a mile away.
“Awesome. Was an awesome night. So awesome.”
Finally. I’m always clamoring for more flings for Dean. I was glad he was able to enjoy this one especially since he didn’t remember the one from “Remembering Dean”. A note on the waitress: we all know she’s only there to have a one-night-stand with the co-lead but her being presented as a googly-eyed blonde with no audible lines was unfortunate. I remember those gorgeous bartenders who used to go toe-to-toe with Dean and I’m thinking it’s not so hard to give these girls some level of personality, or a semblance of a functioning brain, even if they’re just passing hook-ups.
Dean pulling the Colt out of the gun holster. A bittersweet Dean moment. We saw his expression when he was finally reunited with the Colt (a Best Dean moment from “The British Invasion”). He even has it nice and cozy in a leather holster under the table. Bitter: will he ever get to use it this season? Sweet: you know what else is under the tables? That bug Ketch planted. I’m counting on Dean to find it sometime soon.
Best Sam moments
“Oh. Don’t do the hot coffee thing.” The little brother, dying of embarrassment while the big brother tries a cheesy line on the cute waitress. I especially like that Sam knows what pick-up line Dean’s going to use depending on the circumstances. Sam’s embarrassment reminded me of that other time he underestimated Dean’s charms and thought Dean using the expression “bar wench” would backfire (“Monster Movie”). Samuel, you described your brother as a “male model type” in “The Man Who Knew Too Much”. Have some faith in him.
Sam looking mighty entertained by his brother’s shenanigans. Dean did say he was a “joy to be around” in “Tall Tales”…
Sam rushing to Dean’s help. Like I said, they’re both heroes and I like to see them shine. I enjoy watching Sam kick butt, especially when he’s doing to rescue his brother. The issue, is balance.
Dean stealing Sam’s food. Just bros, enjoying each other’s company.
The initials. There’s a contrast between Sam’s smile and Dean’s more somber mood. Another bittersweet moment, but one they shared nonetheless. No matter what, Sam and Dean carving in their initials anywhere, and on anything, will always count as a moment.
“We left this world better than we found it.” Ah, this episode is parallel, foreshadowing and bittersweet city. It’s the end of “The Memory Remains” and Dean looks more disconnected than ever. Doesn’t change the fact that Sam’s words are true. The Winchesters have done some good in the world.
Best visual moment
Haven’t had one of those since Dean walked into that nest surrounded by a blue light in “Don’t You Forget About Me”, but I was struck by another “blue” moment that felt very symbolic in this episode. Sam and Dean going down into the unknown/the abyss/the basement. This fits with the idea that Molock is a representation of the BMOL. The brothers first thought the Goat Dude was the real danger just like they think what they already know about the BMOL is as bad as it gets, but the truth below the surface (underneath the iron bars) is far more sinister. So now we wait, for them to go down deeper, and stumble upon the BMOL graveyard.
Sam and Dean don’t know what happened to “Frodo” (Mick’s ID in Sam’s phone).
The man who killed Frodo, is sending the brothers out on hunts like errand boys, violating their space and spying on them, all the while he thinks up ways to kill them and daydreams about their mom.
The BMOL have invaded Supernatural, colonized the Winchesters and are now messing with Dean’s mind and I am sick of it and sick of them. There is a depressing undercurrent of melancholy and loneliness to Dean in this episode, as the floating piece that no longer fits into the puzzle, the lone character not completely hypnotized by the Big Bad. He seemed emotionally removed, especially at the end, and I’d like to believe this is going somewhere. Oh, it could go so many interesting places, but then I remember that Dean is currently in the hands of writers who don’t want anyone blinded by his light, and I go back to despairing.
I have but one prayer for Amara ― we all know Chuck can’t be bothered―. Give my beloved Winchester brothers back their show, where they can both be smart and be heroes, and if you were ever half as mesmerized with Dean as you said you were, please take back that poisoned apple you gave him as a “gift”.
“I’d much rather be with your mother… hunting.”
I don’t give a flying fig about Mary, but I hate that Ketch stole her picture from Dean. I guess we’re supposed to believe Ketch’s psychopathic little heart is developing room-temperature feelings for Mary, and maybe feeling a tad ambivalent about having to gut her children? Was that a fig flying? All I know, is that this gruesome twosome can go, them and that wretched cult they sold their souls out to, and if the bunker has to go down with them, oh well.
“Baby With the Good Initials”* is still here!
* Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” reference
The Winchester Brothers Report by Vee
Season 11: 11.01 to 11.23
12.01: “If he is not in one piece I will take you apart.”
12.02: “The only thing we had was each other.”
12.03: “Family hunting trip.”
12.04: “I hate you so much right now.”
12.05: “What do you think this is? Tickle party?”
12.06: “Where is my brother?”
12.07: “The brothers that rock together.”
12.08: “Impeach LOTUS, find Rosemary’s baby.”
12.09: “We’re the guys who saved the world.”
12.10: “I can’t see, did you get a plate?”
12.11: “It was everything. It was us, it was what we do.”
12.12: “They got gear, but they tried to kill my brother.”
12.13: “Where does that leave us?”
12.14: “Sammy? Lucy, I’m―”
12.15: “We hate them. Us. Together.”
12.16: “Either you get good fast or you get dead faster.”
12.17: “Did you break into our house?”