Supernatural 9.17 Review: “Mother’s Little Helper”

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I hope you all appreciate the labor of love I’ve had to go through tonight. With my both my tv and internet down, I had to travel twenty miles to my aunt and uncles apartment to catch tonights show and to write this review. Remember that when you decide to disagree with me on anything.

The episodes starts off with one of the shortest cold opens in recent memory. A woman murders her husband for comments regarding meatloaf, and then it ends, cutting to the Supernatural title cards. It didn’t really tell much about the episode, and I didn’t really understand or like it as a result it. A bit nitpicky, I know. But still.

Sam brings this case to Dean, who is totally uninterested. He is focused on finding Abaddon and killing her, while Sam believes they should also do other things. Dean cold-shoulders the hell out of Sam, which fits with both the Mark of Cain and Brotherly Angst arcs, but it still sucks to see them apart.

So Sam goes it alone. His investigation into the murder of the man in the cold opening leads him to a group of people who are acting very aggressive. One teenage boy stabs the knife into the hand of a family friend at a diner, and Sam is forced to knock him out to stop him. The investigation leads to a woman named Julia, who was a nun at the convent just outside of town. She remembers this kind of stuff happening before; all the way back in 1958, when the Men of Letters came to town.

Henry Winchester and Josie go to the convent to investigate the two murders by a nun named Sister Mary Catherine. Josie is still Josie; she has yet to be possessed by Abaddon, and she and Henry have a surprisingly close relationship. It’s a really cool bit of backstory, to see these two people who genuinely liked each other and worked hard together to get into the Men of Letters together tear each other apart. It must’ve been horrible for the both of them.

Also, quick tangent: there is a lot of pushback against gender norms and sexism in this episode. Collins (who directed the episode) is known for his political stances, so I wonder if he had a hand in putting some of that stuff in, or if Adam Glass (the writer of this episode) did it himself. Regardless of whose idea it was, I really liked it. It added an interesting dynamic to the show that I think its been lacking, and I hope they continue in this vein.

Sister Julia is captured by Abaddon and her forces, who are posing as nuns in the convent. Herny and Josie bust in and save her, but Henry is knocked unconscious. Abaddon is going to take Henry’s body and investigate and then destroy the Men of Letters organization, but Josie trades spots with Henry, therefore becoming Abaddon. It’s a cool bit of origin story, though I thought Josie gave up way too easily to Abaddon and her forces.

After Julia is done telling her story, Sam goes and investigates the old convent. He and a member of Abaddon’s legion fight, and it’s revealed that Abaddon has been stealing souls from people (explaining the aggressive and violent behavior). She plans on turning them into demons for her own demon army (a plan in motion since at least the fifties) to take over Hell. She has “factories” all over the world, stealing souls and creating demons. Sam manages to break free of the demon attacking him (using a really cool bit of trickery with a phone recording), and sets free all of the souls.

While all of this is going on, Crowley and Dean are having a moment, or two. Dean spends the majority of the episode in a bar with Crowley, shooting the breeze and snarling at one another. Crowley is trying to get Dean to accept the Mark of Cain for what it is, to give in to the feelings that Dean experienced when fighting Magnus from before. It’s all a little strange, and off-kilter, though in the best possible way.

This episode was Misha Collins Supernatural directorial debut. It was a really interesting bit of work for him. I thought much of the episode was shot in a way different than before, but I could be biased about just noticing these things because I knew he directed this episode.

Regardless, the episode was really well done, particularly the third act of the episode. There is a really cool shot of souls returning to their owners and the way its shot is just remarkable. Plus, the music was just on point the whole episode. There’s a really awesome shot of Sister Julia being menaced by Abaddon in the past and then combined with a shot of her staring off into the distance in the future. Just really great.

I was really rather impressed with this episode, both for the quality of the acting and writing, and the very excellent directing by Collins. I would love to see Jared Padalecki direct an episode now; would be a cool perspective.

That’s all for tonight, folks. We’re off for a few weeks, so enjoy the hiatus. See you soon.

[Photo via Cate Cameron/The CW -- © 2014 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved]

Hunter Bishop is an aspiring television writer and novelist who spends too much time on the internet. Come visit him on Twitter @Hunter_Bishop!
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