Supernatural's season 12 began with the impossible, even in the realm of monsters, demons and angels: Sam and Dean Winchester were reunited with their mother, who died more than 30 years earlier, burning to death on the ceiling as a four-year-old Dean carried his infant brother, Sam, to safety.
Not only was Mary Winchester always idolized by her late husband and son so intensely, Madonna (you can decide between the Virgin and the pop star) would be jealous, it was later revealed that she, in true Winchester form, had made a deal to save her young John’s life, and that was why demon came for her and baby Sammy that fateful night.
But the Winchesters still aren’t ironing their best flannels and booking brunch at the nearest hunters’ bar for a Mother’s Day celebration 34 years in the making, and I can only gather my feels-starved frustration to wonder how it all went so terrifyingly wrong?
The amount of feels to be harvested from this reunion, fraught with love and betrayal, were infinite, and somehow, Supernatural has yet to truly cash in on the brilliantly orchestrated drama they created.
Here's how Supernatural has completely botched Mama Winchester's return...
Saving Sammy. The season started with Dean (Jensen Ackles) giving a nightgown-clad Mary a rapid download on the last 33 years of Winchester, but then the miraculous and one-sided mother-son reunion was quickly ended by the need to rescue Sam after discovering he was abducted and tortured by the British Men of Letters in the first two episodes of the season (which you may remember I had some strong feelings about). Even though Mary found herself wondering how she'd be able to face Sam (Jared Padalecki) after essentially putting him into the sights of the supernatural's most devious, the maternal bonding essentially ended there. After Sam was rescued, he sweetly offered John's journal as a way to "fill in the blanks" and hoped Mary could do the same. It was a heartrending moment decades overdue, but it was also one that was never capitalized on in the 19 episodes since.
Shellshocked. Anyone would need a minute to gather themselves after being burned alive on the ceiling by a demon and then being reborn by God's little sister three decades later to find her husband and all of her friends dead, and her toddler and infant sons now grown, seasoned and tormented hunters. Mary was understandably shell-shocked. After trying to hunt as a family trio in the spooky "The Foundry," Mary left to take some necessary time for herself but it has only allowed her to drift further from the boys’ lives no matter how much they begged her to come back.
Getting to hate you? The excitement revolving around Mary’s rebirth is that the sainted Mother Winchester would finally get to see the type of men her sons had become—the good, the badass and the ugly. Sam and Dean have thwarted the apocalypse a few times and have a foreboding reputation in both the hunting and supernatural worlds, and yet Mary, despite having John’s journal and diving face-first into hunting is still completely ignorant of how her sons have spent the past thirty years.
When directly confronted with the horrors of Sam and Dean’s lives, there has never been a reaction. In earlier episodes, Mary learned of Sam’s being possessed by a demon and a devil in “Celebrating The Life Of Asa Fox,” and it was never mentioned again. In the Rambo homage, “First Blood,” Dean confirmed that he’d actually been to hell, and Mary, who offered up her life in place of theirs, never so much as flinched.
Mary mentions that Sam had “left college” to return to hunting in “The Raid” but it’s never clear if she actual knew that it was because Sam’s girlfriend suffered the same fate she had by being burned alive on the ceiling.
Finally, in this week’s mystifyingly awful “There’s Something About Mary,” BMOL and sadistic sociopath Toni Bevell informed Mary that of John Winchester’s “abusive” past. “After you died, your beloved John was a man slowly going mad searching for revenge…the drunken rages, the weeks of abandonment, child abuse really.” And Mary, despite having John’s journal and unmitigated access to the sons she claims to love, seems utterly shocked.
Jumping The Betrayal Shark. So while Mary Winchester (played by a disarmingly sweet Samantha Smith) never got the chance to bond with her sons, she also wasted no time betraying them by joining forces with the very organization who had Sam tortured in the season opener and spent the entire season killing anything and everything that crossed their path. “Stuck In The Middle With You” found Mary dragging her children and another nervous hunter into a dangerous hunt to steal The Colt from a Prince of Hell. The consequences of the double-cross were epic. Not only was Castiel gravely injured, the new hunter was slaughtered and Sam and Dean were later brokenhearted to learn of this betrayal.
What’s the point of a family reunion if the family never actually reunites? One of the biggest issues with Supernatural’s season 12, is that Mary Winchester’s resurrection—one of the most jaw-dropping events in the show’s history—became nothing but a serious of appallingly sad missed opportunities. So her betrayal of working with the British Men of Letters, the very organization that thoroughly and mercilessly tortured Sam, only makes her hard to root for and virtually irredeemable.
One of the painful things that happens when someone dies is wondering how they would feel about milestones in your life or just events in the world. You wish they were there for special moments or are glad they aren’t alive to see terrible things. Supernatural has completely glossed over those emotional and extremely necessary moments, especially with Sam who was only an infant when Mary died and really only knows her from the romanticized stories his brother and father told him. Obviously, the show don’t have time to reference every single moment, but they need to put more emotional emphasis on the bigger reveals. Your son being possessed by the devil is definitely one of them. Your son going to hell is another.
As Mother’s Day approaches, and Mary is left in clutches of her former lover-turned-captor, Ketch, as a brainwashed enforcer, and I’m finding it hard to feel for anyone but Sam (who’s also mourning the loss for yet another beloved female hunter, Eileen) and Dean, who has desperately tried to reconcile this closed-off distant shadow of a woman to the sweet, soft loving mother he remembers.
Here’s hoping Jody Mills, Supernatural’s real badass mama bear, will knock some sense into Mary with either common sense or her fists. Find out on the two-hour season finale of Supernatural this Thursday at 8/7c.
Photo Credits: CarterMatt.com; TVLine.com
Small Screen Girl
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