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Rewatch S12: Who We Are (12x22)

Second to last episode! Exciting times!

Went back to my old style for this one. It took me over two hours, so you better appreciate it! :P

Who We Are

So, even though this is a Berens episode and I think he's our most solid writer at the moment, there will still probably be some rewrites - because it's a myth-arc episode.

But, the beginning will stay the same - Mary killing Hunters, heading to Jody's.

Toni: "I'm the one that programmed your mother, which means I'm the only one that can undo it - and since I'm sure you want mummy back, you need me."
- So, I'm not sure it qualifies as a rewrite, or just possibly a missed opportunity. They set up Toni at the beginning with an emphasis that she was a mother. And here, she has taken their mother from them, and her bargain for life rests on her ability to return her. HOWEVER, there's no parallel ever shown, nor thread of acknowledgement ever hinted at, that Toni has any thoughts of motherhood, that there is any irony here for her, or any deeper thought. Now, maybe that's the point, that she's a mother who can love her own son, but destroy other families without a second thought... BUT, if that were the point, that should also be emphasized, and it should be emphasized in contrast to someone else. Is it in contrast with Jody? Who adopts all orphans that cross her path, even when they are only 10 years younger than her and grown men? Or is the contrast Mary, who, before she was brainwashed, wanted only to return to her boys - was only hunting in an attempt to serve their best interests, or so she thought. If those are our parallels and contrasts, then SHOW us that.

Toni stops being a mother when she comes back here, at the end of the season, and I think it's simply that they didn't know how to follow that thread through - moreover, we find out that her and Ketch were once lovers - what of the identity of the babies father? Was that an intent, but undelivered plot point? Why did Toni decide to bring a child intot he world, considering her job and the organization she works for? What happens to that child in her death? She uses it as a plea, later, to save her own life, but that's it. That's the extent of the significance of her child.

I mean, perhaps that's enough, perhaps Toni's fate as a mother is to serve as a tragedy - a mother who placed her work with the BMoL over the security of her child, and as a result left the child orphaned. A foreshadow and a parallel with Mary, who has left her own children orphaned before and may do so again. But, if THAT'S the case, should that be a lesson we actually promote? That your career should be sacrificed for your children? Supernatural is usually more progressive than that in its messsaging. So, I don't think that's the case either.

So, is there a rewrite here? Maybe there isn't. Maybe her motherhood IS what motivates her to help them restore Mary, and it is what motivates her to survive - even if she ultimately fails to do so.

Sam: "Goggles?"
Dean: "Goggles!"

- I absolutely love that ad-in - it's a moment of levity that we desperately need.

Dean: "We'll get there."
Sam: "No, no we won't."
[...]
Sam: "How did this happen?"
Dean: "What part?"
Sam: "All of it."
Dean: "You know, not long ago, I thought we had it made - we saved the world. We got Cas back. We got mom back. I mean, it wasn't perfect, but I mean, still, we had them. And now..."
Sam: "Now they're all gone."

-What I love about this isn't that Dean thought they had it made because they saved the world. He lists that first, but what he emphasizes is "we had them" - meaning, that he thought they had it made because they had TWO PEOPLE that loved them. They had TWO OTHER family members. Like, how heartbreaking is their life. It kills me.

Sam: "I saw what they were doing and I thought 'Hunters, on that scale, working together - how much good we can do here. And once I was in, I just followed - 'cause it was easy. Easier."
Dean: "Easier than what?"
Sam: "Easier than leading."

- I LOVE THIS SPEECH. Because it sets up SO MUCH POTENTIAL. Because it is so CRUCIAL to foreshadowing an actual positive spin on Sam's destiny - which is all Sam has EVER wanted to do. Sam wants to do good, and it always bites him in the ass - but that's because he tries to do good through means brought to him by seductive others. Ruby's seduction was both literal and drug-related, (get him hooked on the power of demon-blood, cloud his ability to reason his way out of it, keep him coming back with withdrawal, etc.) the BMoL were seductive in the fact that, just as Sam says here, Sam is nervous about leading - he has always bucked at authority - even worse than Dean, because at least Dean would obey John - Sam really only obeys Dean and his own reason - but what happens when Sam's the authority? It's the whole hippie who becomes The Man problem. How do you reconcile those two parts of your life? Isn't it easier not to?
- But Sam SEES the potential in hunters working together - but, to lead them himself is doubly-hard, since there is a LARGE section of the hunting community who either distrusts or, at least in the past, has openly wanted to kill Sam. There's a reason that Sam and Dean have been isolated from even their own community all their lives.
- Then, you add in the fact that Sam was SUPPOSED to lead an army of hell - open the gates, unleash the apocalyse. He was supposed to be a leader for the other side until Lucifer was set free. It's another reason why Sam might shy away from leading... it's also another reason why Sam might be GOOD at it. He was, afterall, groomed to be a strategist and tactician, whether it was intended or not.
- So, here, Sam actually recognizing that the IDEA was sound, but the leaders were wrong - that his fear of leading, caused him to trust leaders that did not deserve his subordination is HUGE.

Dean: "I always thought we'd go out - Butch and Sundance style."
Sam: "Yeah, blaze of glory."
Dean: "Blaze of glory. Son of a bitch."
*Dean gets the grenade launcher*

- I love it!
- Also, I love how they worked in J2's headcanon's here and made them the character's - because, I mean, they basically ARE.

Dean's knee gives me sympathetic pain.

And we know Garth is still alive.

Jody: "When she clocked me out of the blue, I thought she was a demon. I had no idea brainwashing could be so thorough."

Rewrite: Simplest rewrite here, since Eileen was alive last episode and was sent off to warn others. All that needs to change here is this line - "Thankfully your friend Eileen had just left two hours before, so I knew what might be coming - still, I had no idea brainwashing could be so thorough."

The little tap and hold that Kim and Jensen do in this scene, which was not scripted - and Jensen doesn't even look over surprised when Jody touches him, he just moves his hand up to hold hers for a moment... like, man, I love actors who know their characters so well, that they just move with them. Jody would comfort in this kind of overly masculine way, Dean would thank her, by prolonging the contact, being vulnerable in a small way, that's actually HUGE when it comes to the toxic masculinity that other heroes/shows might succomb to here.

Mary telling Jody that if she wants to mother her son, she's welcome to him. Jody doesn't need your permission, Mary.

Mary: "What's the matter, Dean. Am I too different than the mother you know? Too much the same?"
- Ouch.

Then of course, Toni admits she was lying - but then gives us a description of how Mary might be saved, though she doesn't think it's possible.

And they call the Hunters together. So, awesome.

Including Roy and Walt - which actually, because Sam has a good level of spit in him, spurs Sam into taking ownership of the situation. Into basically saying, "If you're going to work with us, you have to understand that you're working with *ME* that *I* am the one in charge - and you're either okay with that, or you're out." And it's brilliant.

Sam: "They want control - they want to sit somewhere in an office and decide who gets to live and who gets to die. And they've killed people, they've killed innocent people, just because they got in the way. But we know better - we know Hunting is just about killing. It's about doing what's right, even when it's hard. So we go by our gut, we play by own rules - that's why they want us dead, because we're the one thing they can't control."
- What's this called again? Politically, I mean? American exceptionalism? Or is this just Sam and Dean throwing the tea in Boston Harbour? I don't know enough about American political theory/history to make a comparison obviously - but it's there. Maybe this is why the show is oddly popular with republicans, even though I think the show is actually way more socially progressive than your average republican...or at least, more socially progressive than stereotype and the current state of that party. But I'll stop getting political, because I'm Canadian, so what the hell do I know.
- What I do love about this though, is that it also speaks to the idea that laws, that rules, should only be obeyed if they are just. Hunters - GOOD Hunters - go by their gut, they measure each situation based on it's own circumstance, each individual based on their own merits, and decide what justice, what mercy, and what punishment, needs to be mieted out. NOW, on the one hand, they are basically vigilantes because of this, and the justice of one might not be the justice of another - BUT, I mean, there's a reason that Sam and Dean are basically cowboys, and that's it. Only, you know, the modern conception of cowboys... not the historical fact of cowboys, who were mostly queer men of colour.
- More importantly thought - What I wanted was a greater reveal on that 'kill innocent people' thing - Sam and Dean never did discover that Magda died, that all those secret service soldiers were killed.

Rewrite: I don't know, at this point, how to put in that reveal, it would have had to have happened last episode - with the reveal that Hunters were being killed. Perhaps, that's another scene I'd have to put in somehow... them researching in an unbugged room, perhaps, finding the deaths, putting it together. At that point, it'd be an unneeded nail in an already sealed coffin, but it'd at least be USED. 

Dean's so proud of Sam when they flash to him after Sam's speech. It's lovely.

Sam: "I'll take a jacked up Dean Winchester over any 10 other hunters ANY DAY"
Dean: "Yeah, I saw you - you got this - you tell those sons of bitches who's boss."
Sam: "What are you doing to do?"
Dean: "I'm going to save mom."

- Love. I love that they put so much in... that Sam wants his brother with him, doesn't matter that he's limping. That he recognizes as soon as Dean says it, that he's not going to get what he wants - that he's not scared or disappointed, he's just accepting - that he trust Dean to save Mary. That Dean trusts Sam to lead the hunters. That of course they're both going to worry, but they also have full confidence in each other. I love them healthy.

And we get a "kick it in the ass" from Alex to Jody. And I cry a little.

And HUGS!!

Dean: "You come back."
Sam: "Promise."
Dean: "Bitch."
Sam: "Jerk."
Dean: "Yeah."

- I love them. SO MUCH.

Toni: "...and when the dust clears"
Dean: "What, I let you go?"
Toni: "I'd like to see my son again. I'm not asking for a pass. I'm asking for a head start."

- It's a good line, but it IS the only time that Toni being a mother is worked into the storyline. I just think we could have had more - but again, she's in the show so little, I can't think of a way to work more in either. So I can't blame them. I'll have to be satisfied with what we get.

Dean recognizes Sam even as a baby... mind you, I'd recognize my little sister. She was ADORABLE as a baby and we took so many pictures, there's no way that I could forget. :P

Dean: "Mom, we gotta get out of here, okay? You need to come with me. Mom? Mom! Mom? MOM!"
- Well, Dean's certainly got that annoying repetitive "mom" thing down that all kids do. :P

GUN FIGHT!! SAM AND JODY KICKING ASS! ASSKICKING BFFs FTW!

Dean: "You're choosing this."
[...]
Mary *to little Dean*: "I only want good things for you, Dean. I'll never let anything bad ever happen to you."
Dean: "I hate you."

- this episode rips my heart out in the best way.
- Mary IS choosing this. It's easier, as Sam alluded to early, to run from what you fear rather than facing it. What Mary fears, what she has ALWAYS feared, is how she failed her family. I'm sure her stay in heaven was much the same as this - easier, to dwell in the pleasant past than to face harsh reality and uncertain future.
- And Dean's 'I hate you' is so honest, and so UNDERSTANDABLE. Because by not facing reality, Mary isn't giving a chance for Dean to forgive her. She's not giving THEM a chance to move forward, into a brighter future. Rather, acting on her fear of it being a bleak future is ENSURING that it will be. She's choosing to abandon him, because she doesn't trust him enough not to abandon her. She's pretending that she HASN'T YET failed him, so that she never has to answer for the fact that she DID and she IS.

I always forget to track Roy and Walt through this firefight.

Dean: "You left us. Alone. Because Dad was just a shell. His perfect wife - gone. Our perfect mom, the perfect family - it was gone. And I- I had to be, more than just a brother, I had to be father, I had to be a mother, to keep him safe. And that wasn't fair - and I couldn't do it. And you want to know what that was like? They killed the girl that he loved. He got possessed by Lucifer. They tortured him in Hell, and he lost his soul. His soul. All because of you. All of it was because of you."
- Harsh.
- Okay, more seriously, this speech is masterfully crafted - because Dean lays out first how Mary's death most affected him, the fact that he was thrust into adulthood at age 4.8 (I did the math) - but then he doesn't EXCLUDE Sam from the suffering. It isn't a speech about how Dean suffered, it's about how Sam suffered most directly as a result of her deal. A deal she knew about even before their births, but failed to prepare any of them for - not even John. Dean was in hell too, but I like the fact that he really only sites his lost childhood, and then moves on to Sam - because that's just so IN CHARACTER, and it also includes both brothers in a scene where only one of them is present.

Dean: "I hate you. I hate you - and I love you. Because I can't- I can't help it. You're my mom. And I understand, because I have made deals to save the ones I love, more than once. I forgive you. I forgive you - for all of it. Everything. On the other side of this, we can start over, okay? You, me, Sam, we can get it right this time [...] I need you to really look at me, and I need you to see me. Please."
- Man, rip my heart out again.
- But this is also just beautiful. There's a few things I want to talk about...
- Firstly, the gift to start over - that's what Dean is offering Mary, but saying that first Mary has to LOOK at him and SEE him - that she has to acknowledge who he is as a person, rather than what she wants him to be - just as he's learned to do with her over this season. It has to go both ways.
-  Secondly, Jensen is right, in that it's this speech that tells you why Amara brought Mary back. I know some have criticized the writers saying that it shouldn't have been opaque to their lead until 22 episodes later why something happened - but I actually love that we're slow to come to this full understanding - that we had to sit with the "gift" for a while before we understood why it was given.
- I took it, from the start, as Amara returning the feminine that had been taken from them - and I think it's still that. But there's also the matter of giving Dean and Sam EXACTLY what they gave her - a chance to make amends with family.
- Say what you will, but Sam and Dean were actually both on good terms with their dad when he died (though Sam might not have felt that at the time.) AND, after he died, they had 23 and 27 years of memories to reflect on, in order to come to terms with their relationship to him, to understand him as a person, to decide to forgive his failings or not. To MAKE PEACE with his memory. With Mary though, they didn't have a memory, and so much about her had been revealed only after her death - and there was so much still not understood, how to reconcile a fleeting perfect memory with a hunter making a deal, a wife and mother keeping such deep secrets... what Amara gifted the Winchesters was a chance to speak to their mother, as Amara had spoken with God, and a chance to - as Dean does here - AIR GRIEVANCES. What I'm saying, is this is Festivus. Hahahah! I don't even like Seinfeld, but that was too good to pass up. Anyway, jokes aside, they need to have her stand responsible for her crimes, instead of struggling with their hurt while trying to keep her perfect in their memory... and it's not to stand responsible for her crimes so that they could punish her for them, but so that they could forgive her - or just feel that she ACCEPTED them.
- Trust me, I speak from experience, it makes a huge difference to your relationship when you have a parent who says "I messed up there. I'm sorry" instead of one that believes they never did anything wrong, and acts as though you accusing them of doing something wrong is completely uncalled for... especially when that parent has done a shit-ton wrong.

It's one of Roy or Walt who gets through the door to Hess for Sam.

The fight with Ketch is great.

Ketch: "I knew you were a killer. You both are."
Dean: "You're right."

- Aww, like mother like son.

Man, as much as I like the actor and the character could have potential. I wish that shot had stuck in S13. It's such a good cathartic moment for Mary.

Hess: "Listen, Dean-"
Sam: "It's Sam."

- Man, know your enemy, lady.

Hess: "Lucifer is back. Yes, Sam. All thanks to your good friend Crowley..."
- I could really do without Sam having to find out Lucifer is still alive and free again. Like, how many times does Sam have to hear that his worst nightmare is still walking the earth? I just want that to be over for him.

Rewrite: If I were to rewrite this, I would have emphasised how the BMoL are actually out of their depth when it comes to Lucifer level stuff. I would have snuck a line in here that indicated it - that indicated that Sam knew he didn't need them, that they were actually below him in skill - that they'd be more of a hindrance than help, even if they did play by his rules and not their own.

So, one of Roy or Walt makes it. Not sure which one.

Dean: "Mom, you don't have to do that. That's not your job."
- Awww, Dean. He's like an adult now, with his own house, that his mom doesn't have to clean.
- Seriously though, I like this line because it firmly establishes them as equals now - yes, still mother and son, but it establishes, with an offhand remark, that Dean is not expecting Mary to mother him.

Mary: "This, all of this, it's because of me."
Dean: "It's going to be okay."

- And this line kills me because that's what John told, WAY BACK IN S2, that Dean used to do for him - tell him it was going to be okay. Dean is MOTHERING his MOTHER, and I love him for it even as it breaks my heart.

Mary: "It's not okay. Since I've been back. I know I've been distant. Cold even. Leaving you, working with them - I was trying to make things right, just from a distant, because being here with you, was too hard. Seeing what I've done, to you, and to Sam-"
- Again, this is not dissimilar to God's relationship with the world. Distant, because seeing what he'd done... have I mentioned lately that I love how SPN's God is fallible? It just throughs a little bit of chaos in there.
- But really, what I want to talk about here is how Mary was trying to "make things right" by fixing something that wasn't actually broken. She saw what her choices had wrought, and she thought "I will make it so my boys don't have to be hunters", not taking the time to really look and SEE that being hunters had become a source of joy and purpose for her boys, rather than a source of pain. What was a source of pain was relationships with their parents that ended too soon - and that was remarkably in Mary's grasp to fix, but by FAR the more intimidating challenge - and so, she fled to a solution to a problem that didn't exist, because it was a solution that ALLOWED FLEEING.

Dean: "... The deal - everything that's happened since has made us who we are. And who we are - we kick ass. We save the world."
- This is always my argument against regret. What is, is. (Kaiidth, I believe the Vulcans say). The decisions I made have made me who I am. If I like who I am, why would I regret them? If I don't like who I am, then it's about changing the present, not the past. And yeah, we make mistakes, but without those mistakes, we wouldn't learn... It'd be pretty awesome if we learned everything the easy way, but realistically that's just not going to happen, and there are some things that we have to learn through pain and suffering.

Mary: "And Sam? I'm scared. What if he can't forgive me."
Sam: "Mom? You don't have to be scared of me."

- The thing that kills me about this, that is no doubt killing Sam. Is that this whole season has been framed as Dean and Mary angst - while Sam has been understanding-emotional-support for both of them... and this WHOLE TIME, Sam was actually the centre of the "problem" or rather, while Dean needed to reconcile with Mary, it was SAM that Mary needed to reconcile with, but Sam was entirely unaware. I mean, yes, I believe I complained early on that I wanted to be more aware of that struggle, but I kind of like that Sam is just so forgiving by nature that it never occurred to him that Mary might be frightened that he wouldn't be.

FAMILY HUGS!!!!!

The last time we were happy.

CUT SCENES:

Scene 4
Ketch getting text - informing him that their troops are coming. And informing Hess that Toni didn't survive the Bunker attack. And confirming the Winchesters were dead, even though they weren't!

Scene 33
Jody and Sam scoping the BMoL out and formulating a plan, before storming the gates.

Scene 43
Toni looking at the wired up Dean and Mary and adjusting things.
Ketch shows up! We don't have audio on what he says though, before it cuts out.

As usual, let me know your thoughts! This entry was originally posted at https://hells-half-acre.dreamwidth.org/553474.html.

Comments

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
supernutjapan
Feb. 12th, 2018 01:33 pm (UTC)
Beautiful. Loved reading :´)
hells_half_acre
Feb. 12th, 2018 07:21 pm (UTC)
Thanks!
borgmama1of5
Feb. 13th, 2018 05:04 am (UTC)
Man, season 12 was such a sucky season, and then you reviewed this episode, and you make it sound worth going through the whole season just to get this jewel!

There was so much implausible stuff that shaped this episode--the whole brainwashing thing just was super ridiculous to me--and yet, as you expertly analyze just why this episode is nearly perfect in showing what has been going on with Sam and Dean since forever, you made me want to try and forgive all the rest of the season's mistakes so I can love this episode...darn you :)
hells_half_acre
Feb. 13th, 2018 05:44 am (UTC)
It's actually not AS bad on rewatch, I've found, much to my surprise. It's... decent. The biggest problems really are just the villains, so if you ignore them and focus on the journey of our heroes - well, you end up with this little hidden gem of an episode being QUITE GOOD.

I see a similar thing happening with S13, which started off more promising, and has been pretty decent, but seems to be descending into stupidity once again when it comes to the villains. BUT, the journey of our heroes is good, if we could just focus on it instead.

Anyway, all that aside, it's EXTREMELY kind of you to say that my writings actually make you want to watch a season you didn't like again! That's a huge compliment.

khek
Feb. 13th, 2018 04:06 pm (UTC)
I still want them to hire you to keep them on track.

:)

Great rewatch!
hells_half_acre
Feb. 13th, 2018 08:22 pm (UTC)
I still want that too... ;)

Thanks!
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )