Tonight was one of my favorite kinds of Supernatural episodes: It was a monster-of-the-week episode that beautifully moved forward the larger plot, which, in this case, was Sam and Dean’s grief. By introducing a shapeshifter that was also a therapist, Sam and Dean were forced to face their feelings about mom. And then, to make things even better, we met a new character who doesn’t yet have a name but whom I already love. Let’s get into it…
We start with a case in Madison, Wisconsin, where a man is killed by his dead wife. Dean wants to check it out, and Sam suggests that they bring Jack along for a change of scenery. But Dean’s not feeling it. Instead, he wants Sam to face the fact that Lucifer has no doubt ripped out Mary’s heart. But Sam’s not ready to move on from mom just yet, and if Dean is dead set on killing “some guy’s dead wife,” then grief will have to wait. They’re hitting the road. And yes, Jack is coming. #HitTheRoadJack
Except Jack doesn’t want to go. Quoting Dean from the fight he overheard last week, Jack tells Sam he doesn’t want to be his “interdimensional can opener.” But Sam, ever the nimble parent, knows exactly how to react: He sits on the end of Jack’s bed and explains what happened when he was born, and how Mary is stuck in this other world. If Jack can get his powers back, maybe he can help them save her. But if he can’t, Sam tells him that’s okay too. As for the Dean problem, Sam promises to protect Jack before convincing him that the best way to earn Dean’s respect is through a little effort, so why not help them be the good guys?
Jack’s in! Even though he can’t fully grasp when lying is okay (like on a fake I.D.). He also doesn’t follow instructions well when Dean tells him to stay in the car, and he decides to enter a crime scene. But at least he knows how to dig up a grave! When there’s no EMF at the spot of the murder, the boys assume they’re dealing with a revenant and head to check the grave. And that’s where they find a body, which means it’s not a revenant. But if it’s a ghost, it would’ve shown up on an EMF.
So, while they try to figure that out, a second victim is killed by her dead son. That’s two ghosts in two days with zero EMF. Heading back to the police station, Sam finds a connection between the victims — they were seeing the same grief counselor — while Dean sends his intern on a food run. Jack returns with a couple of hot dogs in just enough time for the guys to change out of their suits and head to the counselor. This time, they’re posing as brothers who’ve just lost their mom. (I use the term “posing” loosely.)
It doesn’t take Sam and Dean long to turn this into an actual therapy session when Dean calls his younger brother “delusional” for not admitting that their mother is dead. And that’s when Sam loses his cool: At least Dean had a relationship with Mary. He was the one she always called. “You had something with her I never had,” Sam tells Dean. “And now I’m just supposed to accept that I never will have it?!” And there you have it. Sam isn’t being the optimist because he can be; he’s being the optimist because he has to be. The alternative is just too sad.
Sam storms out of the room to have a (very small) drink of water when he notices a privacy sign blocking off the upstairs. So naturally, he heads upstairs, and while Mia — the therapist – tells Dean that he’s aiming his anger at everyone in his life, Sam finds the leftovers of a shapeshifter. So he heads back downstairs and pulls a gun on Mia, who quickly admits that she’s a shifter before explaining that she’s never hurt anyone. She shifts into the dead loved ones of her patients to give them one final chance to say goodbye. But she doesn’t kill them. So who (or what) does?
Mia remembers an ex-boyfriend of hers named Buddy. Not only was he a shifter, but he liked hurting people. And using the security footage from her office, Sam identifies John Driscoll, a fairly new patient, as the shifter (a.k.a. Buddy). (Next: Castiel meets…Castiel?)