When the worst possible thing happens, how do you move forward? How does it shape your life? And who do you become because of it?
In many ways, this week’s case is less interesting than the questions it raises when the Winchesters team up with a pair of hunters, one of whom lost his older brother as a child.
Gunnison, Colorado, 1989: Jessy and Matty trek through the woods and dream about moving to California as soon as Matty turns 18 and sells his coin collection — particularly because 12-year-old Jessy’s nursing a crush on another boy in a time and place that wouldn’t be terribly kind about that.
Shortly after Matty lets Jessy take a peek at the rare buffalo nickel he keeps in his wallet, Matty’s dragged away by a creature amid a flurry of noises. He’s never seen again.
And now we cut to the present, where Sam chides Dean for staying up all night.
“Sleeping is the new smoking,” Dean tells him.
“What? No, it’s not. It’s sitting. Sitting is the new smoking,” Sam corrects him.
“That can’t be right,” Dean says. Yep, I’ll take all my health advice from Dean, thanks.
Anyway, he didn’t sleep because he was worried about Castiel. Awww, puppy! Of course he was. Amara’s had Cas for a week, and Dean knows that she won’t hesitate to kill him if it furthers her beef with God and Lucifer.
Because Sam’s a good brother, he distracts Dean with the promise of a new case: A girl in Colorado was carried off by a green-eyed mutant creature, and when the girl’s traveling companion found her, she’d also turned green-eyed. So we’re off to Colorado!
In Gunnison, they meet the sheriff (a.k.a. Lt. Dualla from Battlestar Galactica). She tells them that six people have gone missing in the last 48 hours. Coincidentally, a dozen people vanished 27 years ago, and 27 years before that, eight people disappeared. Sheriff Dualla pins it on people getting fed up and leaving town. Naturally, the Winchesters are skeptical.
In his interview with the friend of the missing girl, Dean learns that they were at the tail-end of their marijuana tasting tour and that her friend’s attacker was naked, pale, hairless, and of indeterminate gender.
“Are you saying it was junkless?” Dean asks.
Yes. Yes, that’s what she’s saying. Then when the guys reconvene, we learn something interesting about the younger Winchester.
“Weed alone doesn’t conjure up that kind of scenario. Isn’t that right, Sam?” Dean asks.
“Dude, I was 19,” Sam says. “It was college. It was probably oregano anyway.”
Okay, can we just take a moment to picture 19-year-old Sam taking a hit of oregano? Also, Sam objects to Dean’s name for the monster of the week: “We’re not actually going to go with ‘junkless’ on this, are we?”
In more important news, the guys get a lead: a woman named Etta, whose husband was one of the dozen people who vanished. Etta tells the Winchesters that her husband was cheating on her, and he probably left town with one of his two girlfriends, who also disappeared that year.
Nevertheless, she’s ditching town for the time being. See, her grandma told her at the time that Pete got the chitters, which happens once a generation during the spring equinox. According to Gran, people have orgies in the woods and then disappear, and it’s lust that makes their eyes shine like emeralds. (At this, she casts her own gaze upon Sam, for she is a smart woman.)
Next thing you know, two kids walking through a skate park come across some kind of green-eyed orgy, complete with chitter noises. Only one makes it out alive, and she tells Sheriff Dualla and the Winchesters that she saw all the missing people there, green-eyed and attacking people.
At this point, the guys split up; Dean takes the woods, and Sam takes the skate park. In the woods, Dean’s jumped by one of the junkless but is quickly rescued by two men who are handy with knives.
They all convene at a local drinking establishment, where we learn that one of the men is Jessy, grown up and now a hunter who’s out to avenge his brother. His partner — in every sense of the word — is Cesar. (Dean wants to know what it’s like to settle down with a hunter. “Smelly. Dirty. Twice the worry about getting ganked,” Cesar says. Aaaand there’s your fanfic prompt, people! Go!) Jessy and Cesar have heard of the Winchesters, although they also heard that Sam and Dean died a couple of years ago. OH, YOU HAVE NO IDEA.
NEXT: One set of hunters finds their happily ever after
Thankfully, Jessy and Cesar have a handle on this week’s monster. It’s the Bisaan, a cicada spirit that hatches every 27 years, mates like crazy, lays eggs, and dies. They can’t reproduce on their own, so they climb into the mouths of human, and the chittering sound is a mating call. Since the Bisaan’s life cycle is at its end, they have to wipe them out tonight; otherwise, Jessy’s going to have to wait another 27 years. And when Cesar and Jessy disagree about how to proceed in the investigation, they split up. Dean and Cesar head to the woods to look for the burrow, while Jessy and Sam track down the sheriff during the 1989 disappearances, who abruptly quit investigating, then resigned and disappeared.
On their way to the woods, Cesar tells Dean that he knows revenge won’t fix what’s broken in a hunter. “But you’ve got to help him get that revenge anyway,” says Dean, who’s been down that road a couple of times. The good news is that the pair manage to find the Bisaan’s burrow in an abandoned mine, where the males are protecting the egg-laying females, most of whom are already dead. Cesar takes out one with a knife, while Dean uses a shovel, which is what he gets for digging up trouble. (Umm … sorry.)
Sam and Jessy locate former sheriff Cochran in his sad little shack, but the man refuses to discuss the old case until Jessy appeals to him: “I never got over what I lost that day, the one person in the whole world I loved the most.”
Turns out, Cochran has a similar story. He found the Bisaan’s lair 27 years ago, and in it was his daughter. She attacked him, and he killed her. Hearing this, Jessy’s livid that Cochran denied Jessy’s story 27 years ago. Cochran tries to argue that all the people were dead and dying, so what was the point? He let the townspeople think their loved ones had run off for big, bright lives. Only he and Jessy knew the truth.
Shortly afterward, Sam and Jessy show up at the mine to find Dean and Cesar fetching gasoline to burn the chitter maternity ward and end the 27-year cycle. Before they do, though, Jessy finds Matty’s body in a nearby pile of bones. His wallet’s still there with the buffalo nickel tucked safely inside. Jessy weeps.
As he and his partner build a pyre for Matty, the Winchesters decide to ask the couple to lend their fresh eyes and extra muscles to the Amara situation. Fresh eyes, extra muscle, all that. Oh, and this case of course stirred up some old memories for Sam, who confesses how lost he felt when Dean and John would leave on a hunt, wondering what he’d do if they didn’t come back.
“Look at Jessy. He turned out all right,” Dean says.
More than all right, actually. Jessy and Cesar had a deal that if they could finish this hunt, they’d retire to their place in New Mexico to raise horses. “It’s time to start living,” Cesar says.
Driving away, the Winchesters agree they couldn’t ask for help from two hunters who made it across the finish line.
So. Jessy lost his brother, the person he loved most in the world. It turned him into a tough, taciturn hunter. Yet he also found peace and a patch of land and a man to love. He completed his task, and he laid down his weapons. His story’s a sad one, but his ending is happy.
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The Winchesters? Their story is sad, and what kind of ending do we see for them? They’ve fought and bled and died for each other. The person Dean loves most in the world is still alive, as is the person Sam loves the most. So they’re lucky. But at the same time, they don’t have a finish line to cross. They don’t have that patch of land in New Mexico and the promise of horses. They’re never going to lay down arms.
Because Castiel’s missing. Amara’s on the loose. There’s still work to do.