The Road So Far: Mary Winchester (1, 2, 3, 6, 9, 12, 13, 14, 17)
It’s that time of year. We’re barreling toward the end of Supernatural Season 12 at full speed. There’s only 5 (gasp) episodes left. Ahhhh! It always amazes me how fast it all seems to go by. Feels like it was just October when we first got rolling and here, the season finale is already looming on the horizon.
That being the case, it feels like the perfect time to recap what’s happened so far. I haven’t started it yet, but I’ll be doing a full S12 rewatch before we hit the finale. (I just started my rewatch!) And I really do mean hit it, because it’s always like that – a giant wall of angst for our favorite characters that will, as usual, leave us all hanging. It’s called Hellatus for a reason.
But – we’re not there quite yet, so let’s review:
Season 12, a few bits of it at least, started in Season 11, with 11.23 Alpha and Omega. Written by Andrew Dabb and directed by Phil Sgriccia, A&O was the culmination of a very large, epic storyline. Season 11 stands as one of my favorites out of them all. There were barely any eps that were meh for me and several that were just knock outs; Baby, the Vessel, Red Meat, Don’t Call Me Shurley to name a few. Kind of amazing for a show churning through it’s 12 year. Anywho, Chuck and Amara worked out their differences thanks to some smart thinking on the part of one Dean Winchester. Lucifer was yanked out of Cas and cast to the wind. And as a reward to Dean from the Darkness, Mary Winchester was brought back to the land of the living.
Some reward that turned out to be. I’m still on the fence about Mary, but I digress.
In 11.23 we meet one Lady Toni Bevell and get our first glimpse of the British Men of Letters. We see Lady Toni and a typical hunter’s wall of info – except our boys, Sam and Dean, are the subject. Uh oh. The lady is being sent over to the US to deal with ‘the situation’, leaving her son and nanny behind at the behest of an unknown ‘elder’ on the other end of the phone. Lady Toni refers to her caller as ‘sir’, and that’s about all we know about the people in charge. Anyway, the BMOL don’t like what Sam and Dean have been up to, so they’re sending this gal to look into it and them. Uh oh. She arrives by private plane, but we don’t see her again until the end of the ep where Sam, thinking that his brother is dead, returns to the bunker with Cas, who is promptly blown away by the angel banishing sigil. Lady Toni, who had a freakin key to get in (ack!) has a few words with Sam about how badly the old men think the boys are managing things, and then she shoots him. Cut to Dean discovering … Mom? And the long, awful hellatus ensues.
Jump forward to October 13, 2016 and we’re back with Keep Calm and Carry On.
First up; Mary Winchester.
Mary, Mary, Mother Mary. Oh how you’ve fallen from that pedestal Dean, and we, put you on. It starts out well enough, after the initial shock to both the boys, and her as well. I can imagine it was horribly difficult for her to come to terms with being so suddenly alive, only to discover that her once very young boys she was mothering up in heaven are now grown men and worse – they are hunters.
Right out of the gate, there are problems. Dean doesn’t know how to talk to her. He loves her. He’s beyond happy to see her, but he’s at a loss as to who she is. The mother he remembered is not this woman, who is a kickass hunter in her own right and not a traditional mom at all.
Dean meeting her again, and convincing her who she is, and the ensuing hug which starts the season was an unbelievably heart-warming, make you go through a whole box of tissues moment. The look on Dean’s face as he held his mom and was held by her was like a healing balm. Here is this woman he’s idolized his entire life, living and breathing. It felt as though a piece of him that was destroyed when he was such a small boy was instantly fixed back into place. For a little while, he was that little boy again as he sat and talked to her.
Later, after Sam’s rescue and he goes to her room in the Bunker another giant, gaping hole is filled in for him. Here’s a woman he’s never known except through is father and his brother. He gets to hug his mother for the first time in his life. Having her there fills in the biggest gap of all, he tells her. And our hearts are filled with joy and happiness.
Well, you know that wouldn’t last. Of course you did. This is Supernatural we’re talking about here. We don’t get nice things.
Mary struggles with the life, with her boys being grown, with them hunting, with technology, with feeling like she doesn’t belong, and really, she doesn’t. But she’s stuck here, like it or not. Ultimately, she can’t cope and she does something that tears her boys apart right along with us. She leaves them.
This was so not the Mary I think many of us expected. Like at all. How could she? Her sons have been without her their whole lives, and she just up and leaves them? What the hell, Mary?
Sam is more forgiving and understanding than Dean, but they both decide to give her the space she ask for. She keeps in touch by phone that she’s learning how to use and the feeling of abandonment are eased a little. Not much, but a little.
We catch up with Mary again many episodes into the Season with Celebrating the Life of Asa Fox, 12.06. She shows up at a hunter funeral that the boys and Jody are attending – where we learn in a most amusing fashion what a legend the Winchesters are. There’s a bit of a twist on the idea of legend because Mary’s, according to the mom of the dead hunter, is not so great. The mom, Lorraine Fox, does not hold Mary in any kind of esteem, at first, blaming Mary for her son’s life of hunting and therefore his death as well. And then Billie the Reaper shows up at the end, after the funeral, telling Mary that she has a way out. Mary doesn’t take it. This ep further compounds Mary’s feeing of not belonging and feeling like she can’t do anything right. We also find out this ep that contrary to popular belief, Mary kept hunting, tying up lose ends, even after her kids were born. She can’t seem to give it up. (This shouldn’t really come as a surprise to anyone because NO ONE gives it up completely.)
That’s new info and turns out to be important because … Mary gets back into hunting, and in a big way.
The next time we see Mary, who keeps telling Sam and Dean that she still needs just a little more time to get herself together, is after the mid-season finale, in Ep 9, First Blood.
This was one of the best episodes of the season, in my view, with Sam and Dean escaping their prison – though they did so making a really bad deal with Billie the Reaper – and the whole chase through the woods was just epic. So was their ambush of the special forces team that pursued them. This ep shows what total BAMFs both Winchester are, but it also shows their humanity – which will also be a big factor as the season progresses from this point forward, because their humanity is what makes them vastly different and vastly better than the Brits.
But back to Mary – Cas calls Mary for help finding Sam and Dean who have been missing/locked up for 6 weeks, two days, and ten hours, which coincidentally is about the same length as the mid-season hellatus. Oh show. You crack me up. Mary starts to blame Cas for the predicament and her lost boys, but as Cas points out she hasn’t been around to be of any help. She and Cas set out to find them, but Cas gets a phone call from Dean first. Relief! Her boys are all right. But she and Cas end up enlisting the Brits to help extract them from harms way – help they didn’t end up actually needing exactly. They extracted themselves, from one kettle of trouble into another … with Billie the Reaper. To stop Billie from taking one of her boys, Mary is prepared to sacrifice her own life and is about to when Cas kills Billie and breaks the deal for them.
I think this is a big turning point for her. She sees and feels the danger her sons are constantly in, and the things they do to get out of it, so when Mick from the BMOL offers her a different way – a way out of constant hunting, a life free of monsters – she takes the deal.
Mary next shows up in the epic and amazing Stuck in the Middle (With You) 12.12. But not in a good way. We discover through the course of the ep that she’s now lying to her sons, (so she’s definitely a Winchester), she’s working with the BMOL and has been since the last ep she was in, and the mission she’s on is to retrieved the mystical, magical Colt. And she never tells the boys about it. She pulls them into the case under false pretense, gets the inexperienced hunter (Poor Wally) killed in the process and nearly gets Cas killed when they are surprised by another yellow-eyed demon – Ramiel, a Prince of Hell like Azazel, the demon who killed her. She doesn’t come clean until the next ep, Family Feud, that carries over into the next ep, the Raid and even then she doesn’t tell them the whole truth about the Colt.
The Raid was another excellent ep, full of plot pushing storylines and BAMF Sam Winchester. But at the beginning of the ep, Mary is officially on the outs. Dean tells her to get out of the Bunker. He’s having none of it, so hurt and distraught that she lied to them (and they still don’t know about the Colt).
Sam stands shoulder to shoulder with his big brother, but he’s more forgiving of Mary. It makes sense too. Sam doesn’t have the same experiences as Dean, having never known his mother until now, or the same preconceived view of her. He gets that his brother is hurt though and treads carefully – which means he doesn’t tell Dean that he’s meeting up with Mary at the BMOL HQ.
Sam, I think, gets a little dazzled by the techno whiz bang this HQ presents, but finds out fast that they are vulnerable. The Alpha vamp is incoming. It was heartbreaking to see when Sam learns about the Colt and the depth of Mary’s deception is unveiled. He lets that go though, in the face of what’s coming. He also gets on board with Mom and that the Brits might have something with their methods. He takes it a step further and starts taking cases from them, without telling Dean. And Dean himself comes around when he fears that Mary is in danger, setting aside anger with her, and races to the HQ, only to arrive after the fact. He even gets on board with taking cases from them when Sam comes clean, so thankfully that secret didn’t last long. Whew.
The last Mary ep so far is the British Invasion where unknown to everyone involved it all goes massively sideways. Mary gets closer to Ketch than I ever imagined she would and we see a little chink in his armor with her when she makes it clear to him that their romp in the hay doesn’t mean anything. Kinda cold.
Mary is nobody’s fool. She’s shrewd. She knew Sam and Dean wouldn’t go along with the plans to take the demon who turned out to be a Prince so she found a way to work around that (as distasteful as it was with the lying and all). She may not know the significance of the Colt either (and still doesn’t?) so her handing it over doesn’t mean the same thing to her as it does to us, and Sam and Dean. She’s seen first hand that the BMOL have advanced hunting methods that seem to work and aid in her efforts to make the world a safer place. She also comes from a hunting background that was at the time the same black and white moral ground that the BMOL fight from. Kill all the monsters. She may only just be starting to see things a little differently after almost killing Jody Mills. Mary is out there taking down a lot of monsters so her boys won’t have to.
I want to believe that this is her intention and the reason she keeps hunting with the Brits. She’s seeing progress with them. But, I’m wondering if she isn’t sizing up the BMOL from the inside and won’t end up being the first to realize that things are so very not good. There’s a hit out on her boys now after all, and maybe herself too. I think Ketch may meet his match in her should he decide to go after Sam and Dean and she finds out about it.
As is very often the case with Winchesters, where their intentions are good and true, the methods very often make matters worse. It’s baffling that she doesn’t spend more time with her sons, getting to know them, but on the other hand maybe it’s still too painful for her to see them grown, in this line of work, when hunting was the last thing she ever wanted for them, and being around them must surely remind her of all the time she’s missed. Instead of making up for that lost time, she seems still stuck in that past, where she remembers them as little boys. She’s focusing on the wrong things, trying to right wrongs that can’t be, and missing out on the here and now.
Mary remains an enigma to me. It’s very possible that she won’t survive the Season. I hope she does, for Sam and Dean’s sake. It would be beyond cruel to have her brought back, only to be taken away again – particularly since they’ve really not been given the chance to come to know her. There’s more I want to know too. I want to understand her reasons for her behavior. I want to see her let go of the past that is gone and grasp the present with her two sons as they are now.
This is Supernatural though, and we don’t get nice things.