Last week we watched Sam temporarily resume his role as Lucifer’s beanbag chair, Dean fret over whether wants to kill or kiss Amara, and Cas say “oui, entrez” to Lucifer. Oh yeah, and then Casifer immediately killed Rowena. She was a mildly entertaining character who had her wicked, wicked fun, but ultimately, I am not too broken up over her demise. Her and Crowley’s completely overwrought familial (at times, inching toward Oedipal) melodrama had become wearing. Alas. Onward!
We open in Ireland thirty years ago, where a father is attempting to put his baby to sleep by playing her Carole King’s “Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow”. His wife comes home to the tranquil scene and they bask in their warm love and shared happiness…until the father hears a terrible scream, audible only to him. He is able to communicate as much to his wife between bouts of agony, and she immediately gets to work, expertly throwing ingredients into a bowl in way that lets us know she’s not new to this, she’s true to this. Too late – her husband, driven mad by the screams, is bashing his head repeatedly against the wall, as a horrifying floating woman with similarly gravity-defying hair materializes, unleashing the sounds only he can hear. When he collapses to the ground in a pool of blood, the monster begins to snack on his brains, and then notices the screaming baby. The mother is able to narrowly stop her from attacking by banishing her, but having been tossed about by the monster, dies right beside the crib. The baby cries on and on, ears dripping blood. Title credits. That baby needs therapy.
Can I just say, this was a glorious throwback to the monster-of-the-week episodes of old, the ones that kept me up at night and gave me awful nightmares? Congratulations, SPN. You still got it.
Casifer is in a beautiful park, feeding baby ducks with a beatific beam. To be honest, despite the inherent wtf-ness of his plan, I am glad that Cas has decided to once more fling all caution and common sense to the wind and invite Luci in. (Starting to reconsider his place in Ravenclaw, though…) Let’s be practical: he’s already been no. 1 on Heaven’s shit list for a smooth two seasons, Sam is seemingly tapped out in regards to the devil, and Dean is too preoccupied with his Bad Romance with God’s sister. Someone had to do something, and Cas, ever fretful over his purpose and usefulness to the brothers W, is just the person to do it.
Also, I’m happy to see Misha get to branch out and have some fun playing the part of a baddie again. I love Cas, but he’s been pretty dour and boring lately.
Naturally, a lower-level angel is tracking him, and Casifer lures him into the wood to declare his grand intentions to save the world from their mean old auntie before killing him in a bloody explosion. Welcome back, Luci.
Sam is slumping around the bunker and bathrobed-Dean is concerned. Apparently, not venturing outside “for a couple days” means it’s time to sound the alarm. To me, that’s a successful weekend, but okay. Sam isn’t ready to share his Luci-inspired inner turmoil, so Dean attempts to galvanize him with news a of possible case nearby. A man in a retirement center was found with his head bashed in, although no one had been in or out of his room all night. Doesn’t that sound fun? Sam’s all, sure, whatever.
Dean and Sam arrive at Oak Park Retirement Living, the swankiest old folks’ home you’ve ever seen. Being practically octogenarians themselves with all the lives they’ve lived, it’s no wonder that Dean is practically chomping at the bit to get him and Sam on the waitlist. Sam quips something like, “yeah, probably sooner than later” with a bit too much fatalistic angst for Dean’s tastes. Concerned Brother Look.
Inside, they talk to Arthur, the heartbroken manager of the retirement home whose wife recently left him. “A series of emojis,” he explains, is how she broke the news to him. He then laments that he should have used “the poop emoji” in response, continuing this show’s grand tradition of dragging out jokes that were not very funny in the first place. It’s almost endearing. As he is filling the boys in on the details of the case, a foxy resident of the retirement home, Mildred, saunters by, winking suggestively at Dean. What’s up with her, I wondered, suspicious and distrusting. Must be up to no good!
Dean and Sam trudge to the nearest graveyard to burn the bones of the deceased, believing the violent disturbance to be an angry ghost, despite the fact that we’re only ten minutes into the episode. Dean taps out out and leaves Sam to finish unearthing the coffin, too weary to complete a task he once plunged into with youthful vigor. Like butter scraped over too much bread, eh, Dean?
Naturally, the monster that is not a ghost comes back the same night to shriek at Arthur until he slams his head into a window and plunges to his death. This time, Mildred is there to witness the whole bloody affair, and is able to describe it to Sam and Dean the following day. “We believe you,” Dean reassures her, and she nearly melts in lustful gratitude.
Sam is distracted by a cleaning lady nearby, Marlene, who turns out to be hard of hearing. She has no new information for Sam, but we very quickly realize that Dean and Sam should probably limit the shop talk when there is a lip reader around. She catches Dean tell Sam that it won’t be much longer until “feeding time”, and is visibly disturbed. They later learn that the creature is indeed a banshee, that they attack at night and prey on the vulnerable. The question is, which of the boys will it eventually target? Mopey Sam, with his post-Lucifer stress disorder? Or conflicted Dean, with his dangerous ambivalence toward the biggest threat they’ve ever faced?
Before we can find out, Sam learns that Marlene is on vacation – so who, exactly was he talking to before? He sees her duck down a hallway and gives chase, only to have her attack him with a spell that binds him in place. She is wielding a golden blade, the only instrument that can kill a banshee, positive that he and Dean are the very creature they’re hunting. “We’re on the same side!” Sam protests, offering his palm for her to cut as proof. When his skin fails to sizzle, she breaks the binding spell and tells him her real name and story. Eileen Leahy, the baby whose parents died at the hands of a banshee who then made her go deaf thirty years ago. A familiar tune, no doubt: an orphaned child seeking her parents’ killer, thirsty for revenge. Sam warns her against hoping for real closure, wisely reminding her that it “won’t bring her parents back”. He would know!
Meanwhile, Dean is back at the bunker, where Casifer has totally trashed the library, looking for a spell to him take down The Darkness. Of course, Dean has no idea who Casifer really is, and confesses his strange attraction to Amara, his inability to kill her like he knows he should. Casifer is intrigued, and tells Dean that perhaps this could be used to their advantage. With uncharacteristic affection, he puts a hand on Dean’s shoulder, promising that the next time he faces her, he won’t be alone. Dean agrees, but seems uneasy. And I scream, HOW DO YOU NOT NOTICE YOUR BFF IS POSSESSED BY THE DEVIL YOU ARE A TERRIBLE FRIEND but he ignores me, like he always does. Rude.
Dean hightails it back to the retirement center before nightfall so that the gang is ready for the banshee’s arrival. Sam and Eileen are having a lovely conversation, exchanging intimate details about their passions and dreams, how much hunting has screwed with their heads and engendered nearly insurmountable trust issues, you know, touching stuff. It’s a necessary scene, one that introduces a new and wonderful character to the mix, and also one that reminds you how freakin’ much Sam and Dean need more friends. The best moment of the episode occurs when Dean returns and starts talking to Sam while Mildren and Eileen sign a conversation about the boys behind their back (“You can have the tall one. I’m not much of a mountain climber anymore,” Mildred generously offers, to which Eileen counters, “You sure you don’t just want them both?”).
Their debrief ended, Mildred wastes no time in grabbing Dean’s hand and leading him to a couch, where they sit and take in the view. Dean, not being accustomed to nice things, is understandably confused, until Mildred points out the gorgeous sunset, the importance of slowing down and taking in moments like these. She tells Dean a bit about her past (singer in a Patsy Cline tribute band) and Dean is charmed.
“Ever miss life on the road?” he queries.
“Nah, I had my fun,” she replies. (MESSAGE!)
She goes on to advise him to “follow his heart”, dotting the final i and crossing the last t on this episode’s theme. But are we really expected to believe that that road leads to Amara? I see that relationship ending in a very dark place. (Bad-um-chh. Folks, I’m here all night.)
Mildred gamely attempts to get frisky with Dean, because you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. We are able to enjoy adorably flustered Dean for a few precious seconds before Moaning Myrtle on bath salts returns, and – shocker – Dean is the one forced to endure her screams. The team flies into action, literally, as Sam and Eileen are thrown backwards by the angry banshee in their attempt to dispatch her. Dean is doing the dance of the banshee’s victims and slamming his head against the wall, and it’s looking grim until Mildred gets Eileen’s attention and frantically signs for her to toss the blade. Eileen does, and Mildred is able to slash her hand and smack it against the pre-painted sigil on the wall, which binds the banshee in place. Eileen finally takes her revenge, the banshee exploding in a cloud of black soot, and poor Dean needs some Motrin, STAT.
The time has come to say goodbye to Eileen and Mildred, who are so wonderful that I am torn between wanting them to come back and hoping they don’t, for fear that they’ll only meet their untimely end for the crime of being female characters on Supernatural. (Where is the lie? You can’t find it.) Sam asks Eileen how it felt, getting her long-awaited vengeance, and she shrugs, “Felt like just another kill.” Smell that, Eileen? It’s existential despair. Welcome to the life of a hunter.
Mildred shocks Dean by confessing that she’s known all along he was “pining” for someone else. “She’s a lucky girl,” she beams, while the audience gags with horror (oh, is it just me?). She stands with Eileen as the boys walk away, sighing in appreciation at Dean’s retreating form. “They look even cuter walking away,” she signs to Eileen wistfully. The thirst is so, so real. MILDRED IS ALL OF US.
We close this episode with Sam and Dean having their requisite heart-to-heart, in which Sam reveals that since Luci’s fun little trip down Sam’s memory lane, he’s been rehashing his greatest hits of fuck-ups and been stuck on the fuck-up-est of all, leaving Dean to rot in purgatory. Dean, in classic Dean form, waves away the transgression he spent nearly all of last season pissed as hell about and tells Sam he’s already forgiven him. “We’re together now, that’s all that matters,” he concludes, effectively encapsulating the entire reason the world has gone to shit, yet again, and they are left to fumble around in attempting to pick up the pieces, again. Awww.
Sam briefly questions why Dean would be the banshee’s final target: wouldn’t that mean that he is somehow vulnerable? Dean evades him smoothly with a nonsensical response and Sam, apparently too exhausted and relieved by his sudden absolution, is all, “K, hakuna matata,” and lumbers off to his room. We watch the boys get into their lonely little beds as Warren Zevon croons about “the narrow space between these bars…down on Prison Grove.” And we wonder: when will they escape their respective prisons and finally find the ending they’re hurtling towards? When that final foghorn blows, what home are they coming to? I don’t know, but considering Dean’s pensive, thousand-yard stare in the final shot of this episode, I just hope it’s somewhere…well-lit.
If you catch my drift.
Next week: Dean, thankfully, has noticed Cas is not totally himself. And Casifer is having a ball. What’s gonna happen when the boys find out Luci’s topside and riding their best angel friend like a prize Kentucky derby? Giddy-up!
Carla is a writer, teacher, and proud Slytherclaw. Her work has been published in The Toast, McSweeney’s, Potluck Mag, and Luna Luna Mag. Follow her @carlawaslike for more Supernatural rants and desperate dispatches from the middle school trenches.