This episode of Supernatural was a marked departure from the rest of the season. I don’t mean in terms of story; the development of the arcs were all there and really on point. What differentiated this episode was the difference in emotional center. Usually it’s one of the Winchesters, though Dean is the more popular lens to view the show. Both Winchesters offer unique perspectives: both bring self-loathing to the table, but offer drastic differences in what they see as the endpoint. Sam’s is usually more optimistic because he never fully accepted the fact that he will die a hunter, and Dean has. Anyways, that’s not the point.
Jody Mills is the center of this episode, and Kim Rhodes is more than up to the task. Every appearance she’s made on this show has been A+, and her toughness and Bobby-ness is what this show lacks. The Winchester boys clearly care about her; as soon as he called about the incident at the police station, they came running. But this episode wasn’t about the Winchesters and Sheriff Jody Mills having an adventure. It was about trust and pain and love and filling holes that can never be filled. These three people have lost everything, and then some. And yet they keep giving back, keep fighting the good fight, keep trying to save those who can be saved. They don’t always get it right, but even if they get it wrong, they’ve at the very least done something.
Here we go.
The episode begins with a young woman being chased by a vampire. This vampire is named Cody, and he’s come to take her back to the nest. Jody intervenes and cuts his head off, but the girl is strangely subdued; she doesn’t thank Jody or anything, and even acts a bit “feral”, as the Sheriff says. Come to find out, the young woman is an abductee, who was taken from her home at the age of six by vampires and used as a minibar by the vampires for the past eight years. She has layers and layers of bite marks on her neck; they’ve been feeding so long it’s left a permanent impression. It’s a really striking visual, for several reasons: one, the scars on her neck are really just *one* scar; all of the damage is done in one place over and over again. Why? Would the continually bite in the same place? Is it easier to sink your teeth into some place that’s already been bitten? Did she always offer up that side of her neck? Did they not want to ruin her, to damage her in other places? It’s just strange.
The young woman’s name is Annie, we come to find out. After she was kidnapped, though, her ‘momma’ (the sire of all her vamp family) changed her name to Alex. As Sheriff Mills notes, it’s a pretty strange change. The names are so close, it seems like you would just leave it as is. This comes up later in the episode, and it further illustrates the brains that Jody posses. She picks up on things that both Winchesters missed, and it eventually saves her life. Alex, as she prefers to be called, has run away from her vamp family (vampfam? fampily? VAMILIY! YES) and is trying to set out on her own. They chased her down, though, with her ‘brother’ Cody finding her first, and that is the vampire Jody kills. Even though she ran from the vamily, she still loves them in a Stockholmy sort of way, and that’s the reason she doesn’t thank Jody for saving her.
Through some clever investigating (and very quick investigating; tell me, Sam, how did you identify like eighteen possible vampnest potentials in the time that you left Alex in the interrogation room to the computer at Jody’s desk?) they narrow the list down to only a few possibles in the small town that Alex fled from. Sam and Dean leave to find the nest and wipe out the vamps before they come back and kill everyone looking for Alex. Jody, prudently, listens to their advice and takes Alex out of the station and into a cabin her parents owned outside of town.
At the cabin, things aren’t going smoothly. Being there reminds Jody of her lost son and husband, and Alex’s flippant attitude towards her loss just piles on. Jody is clearly hurting, and, of course, rightfully so. This scene with Alex and Jody really affected me for reasons I cannot explain; I’ve never suffered the kind of loss that Jody has, or had my life ripped apart like Alex’s. But the kind of rage and guilt and incredible loneliness that is cooped up inside them, I can relate to that, no matter where it comes from. We all can. Seeing the hurt in Jody’s eyes as Alex dismisses her son and husband as dead really dug into me deep. Kim Rhodes was so powerful this whole episode, but that particular moment was especially poignant.
Anyways. Jody and Alex bond after that initial rough patch. Jody makes her a sandwich and covers her up with a blanket, and they seem to be on their way to something more. Unfortunately, in their search for the vampnest, Dean and Sam have turned up something really unpleasant: Alex is a willing lure. She of her own free will lures human beings to their incredibly painful and bloody deaths. Granted, these men are pedophiles and rapists and other awful sorts, so their deaths are played as sick as others might be, but its still pretty brutal. The look of pure satisfaction on her face as she lead another mouse into the Lion’s Den was chilling. It made me wonder if she had been abused, and if that’s why she had lived with her grandparents instead of her actual parents. That was the implication that I got, but it was never brought up.
Dean and Sam find out this bit of pertinent information as they torture one of the vampires, another ‘brother’ named Dale. Dean is unmerciful, beating the thing badly and generally threatening him with all sorts of badness. After they drag the name out of him, Dean chops his head off with grim determination, and without hesitation.
An interesting thing to note: the vampires learned where Alex went by murdering the bus station employee for selling her the ticket and lying about it. When I watched that scene, it was kind of a bummer; it my notes I wrote “another innocent dead.” It seems strange that I would be so invested in this one throw-away character, but I think it speaks to the larger mythos of the show. No matter how many people Sam and Dean save, someone is always going to die. They can never win, only push the baddies out of the room and barricade the door. But it never holds. They’re fighting against a million billion years of supernatural evolution, and, really, it’s only the two of them. The other hunters in the universe haven’t stepped up at all. Many times it feels as if the Winchesters are the only people who fight back. Even though I love Supernatural and show with violence (because they’re usually more interesting and honest), it’s numbing to watch the bodies pile up.
ANYWAYS. Dean and Sam tell Jody what’s up, but its too late; the vamily has already arrived. They break into the house and steal Alex, dragging her out of a window as Jody gives chase. They knock Jody unconscious, and leave her on dirt in front of her cabin. Sam and Dean arrive sometime the next morning, resulting in a cool, blurred shot with muted audio as Dean and Sam rush up to her. Kudos to the director on that one. There is a tense Mexican-standoffish moment between the three. Dean holds little sympathy for Alex, saying she has more blood on her hands than some of the monsters they’ve killed. Sam backs him up, though less drastically, and Jody tells them, basically, to stick it up their ass. She comes with them to protect Alex, and they got to the vamily abode.
At said abode, Alex is given a choice: become a vamp and be truly apart of her ‘momma’s’ family, or stay a human. There is a certain twisted logic to ‘Momma’s’ argument: she let her stay a human because she wanted to watch her grow up, but put her through pain and suffering as a lure without thinking about how it affected Alex. She offers to turn her, to take away the pain, and make them a family. By the time Jody finds her in the basement, groaning in pain, she’s made her choice. Alex chose Alex over Annie. She is one feed away from being a vampire.
Sam and Dean, meanwhile, are captured by vampires as they explore the nest. Dean is knocked unconscious, and Sam is strapped to a chair and drained of his blood. They ask him which one of them killed their brother, and Sam won’t tell them. After they’ve drained Sam, they attempt to drain Dean, but he attacks them, and then kills them. There is a really brutal moment when Dean has one of the vampires against the wall, about to cut his head off, and screams at him, “Look at me, bitch!” before he cuts his head off and drops the body. Dean composes himself pretty quickly, but the damage is done.
Meanwhile, Jody has been captured by Momma. Momma wants Alex to feed and take her place at her side as a vampire, but she refuses. Momma taunts Jody with the loss of her husband and son, saying she was using Alex to fill a hole. And the fact of the matter is, Momma is right; Jody was using Alex to fill the black hole left in chest from the loss of her son and husband. But so was Momma; that was the reason of the name change, from Annie to Alexis. Once, Momma had been a momma, and she had a baby girl then, too, and now Alex was her new daughter. Momma goes to kill Jody, but Alex injects her with dead man’s blood. Jody grabs the blade, and tells Alex not to watch. Jody cuts Momma’s head off right as the Winchesters come down the stairs.
Afterwards, they’re at Jody’s cabin. Sam and Dean used the vamp cure from back in season six to heal Alex, and she’s gonna stay with Jody until she feels better. Sam and Dean apologize for doubting her judgement about Alex, but Jody agrees with them; her judgement was clouded, and she was trying to fill that hole. But she’s getting better. Sam and Dean then leave, and Jody goes back into the house. She and Alex have a great, emotionally charged talk and Jody tells her that she’ll give Alex whatever she wants from her. It’s a really beautiful moment between two people searching for a home and finding it in one another. They both get a second chance at lives they never got to live.
This whole episode was just on point. Dean’s mytharc was properly developed; you see the cracks in him start to form. Usually he always supports the underdog kid, but the Mark of Cain is starting to take control of him again. It seems like it comes and goes, worse one day than the next, and that reeks of addiction and disease. Sam and Dean were on the same side, for the moment, and things were better. Maybe there is some healing going on, and that’s only good for them and the show. This episode passed the Bechdel test with flying colors and it was so, so much better for it. I’ve always been a bit reluctant to criticize what many saw as a lack of respect for female characters on this show, because I’ve always thought they did a better job than most gave them credit for, but regardless of all that, they did a great job with it tonight.
Four more to go. See you next Sunday.
[Photo via Credit: Katie Yu/The CW — © 2014 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved]