Supernatural "Mother's Little Helper" Review: Project Mayhem

By MaryAnn Sleasman

Mar 26, 2014

Supernatural S09E17: "Mother's Little Helper"

A Men of Letters episode marked Misha Collins' first turn behind the Supernatural camera in "Mother's Little Helper," and since we like Misha Collins and we like the Men of Letters stuff, the show gave us a good thing before cutting out for a brief hiatus (the Winchesters return on Tuesday, April 15). However, I'm a little uncomfortable with the motivation for Josie to let herself be possessed by Abaddon. Yes, it was selfless and done out of love and all that, but it also sends an uncomfortable message about the volatile emotions of love-struck women destroying all of the things. Charlie Bradbury was crowned the first "Woman" of Letters upon her admittance to the Winchester inner-circle, but in actuality, the first (that we're aware of so far) was Josie, Abaddon's current ginger meatsuit, back in 1958. It was implied that she faced the usual gauntlet of sexism and reluctance, even from Henry Winchester to an extent, so having Josie be the chink in the Men of Letters' armor that led to their downfall just seemed to reinforce the idea that yup, letting girls into the clubhouse was a bad idea.

I was also a little confused as to what Josie and Henry were actually supposed to be doing at the convent in 1958. The Men of Letters have always been pretty adamant about how they're NOT hunters, that hunters are morons, buffoons, the jocks to their nerd... but what Henry and Josie were up to at St. Boniface's looked a lot like hunting to me. 

WHATEVER. I'm done complaining. "Mother's Little Helper" laid out some mythology and actually managed to be kind of creepy thanks to Collins' attention to the unsettling, especially in the scenes at the convent in the '50s. Even before the body count started rising, as soon as Josie and Henry arrived, I got the sense that something was off, that something wasn't right and that the episode was missing the usual Scooby Doo vibe that Supernatural sometimes (most times) falls prey to, where the most recently introduced character who isn't a victim and who isn't a Winchester is probably the monster. Collins created a creepy atmosphere that wasn't corny. At times, "Mother's Little Helper" felt like a Season 1 or Season 2 episode, something from back when Supernatural actually occasionally freaked me out. 

In the present day, Sam discovered that Abaddon and her little helpers were stealing souls to build a demon army—something that Sammich understandably took kind of personally, given his experience with soullessness. Unfortunately, the humans who lost their souls in Illinois this week responded to their soullessness far less amusingly than Sam (who was actually pretty awesome/hilarious until he let Dean get turned into a vampire) and became Croatoan rejects, lashing out and bashing brains in and generally just causing a bunch of mayhem. 

While Sam did the hunting thing, Dean "researched" the bottom of a whiskey bottle, and then he researched the STD-laden facilities at the local dive bar, and then he convinced a hunter-who-wasn't-a-hunter not to try to shank Crowley in the men's room while the King of Hell shot up in a graffiti-covered stall. This blood addiction story is getting weird. Supernatural's obsession with addiction in different forms, however, is getting interesting. And weird. The addiction parallels worked well with Sam's demon blood arc (until they didn't), but giving both Crowley and Dean their own vices at the same time feels like overkill, especially because the Crowley segment is coming off as a hot mess. Is his human-blood addiction a problem or not? The message last week seemed to be that it is, but not really, considering how much of Crowley's time under the influence was played for kicks. This is the complete opposite of Dean and Sam's issues, where Sam's addiction was treated like the WORST THING EVER pretty much from the beginning and Dean's struggle to get ahold of himself—complete with shakes and stalling and self-medication through the wonder of alcohol—is fascinating, especially given how Dean has long considered himself a paragon of self-control (despite "raging alcoholic" being a definite character trait for at least four seasons now), particularly after his time in hell, where he experienced the ultimate loss of control when he got himself off the rack and started torturing souls. I'm sure that's just one more piece of baggage to add to the pile of awful that comes with bearing the Mark of Cain. I'm so excited to get a Dean story that doesn't suck. Now can we go back to the the bros being besties and not arguing over which brother is the bigger shithead? 

Speaking of besties: LOL Crowley. That whole thing with the fake-hunter test was off, mostly because I'm not sure what Crowley's angle is. Like y'all have pointed out in the comments, Dean didn't stop the hunter in order to save Crowley, he did it to save the presumably inexperienced hunter. Also LOL at the "I'm Dean Winchester." Given how unflattering the Winchesters' reputations are in certain hunting circles, not to mention the fact that they're both officially listed as serial killers to the rest of the world, just announcing that seemed kind of careless. ANYWAY, I agree, Dean wasn't trying to save Crowley, so Crowley getting all warm and fuzzy about it didn't seem to make a lot of sense, unless maybe Dean was acting out of protectiveness for Crowley and the scene just didn't successfully convey that, which could also be the case. 

No new Supernatural for the next few weeks, but when the show returns, we're poised to hit the road with both feet now that Dean and Sam are united (sort of) in their mission to take out Abaddon. It's not a full-reconciliation, but it's a something, and as you're well aware, I'm in the camp that thinks the whole Gadreel thing was nine kinds of effed up and shouldn't just be shoved under the rug with an apology and a season's worth of resentment, so this slow crawl toward forgiveness is okay. I hope to see more progress on that front, as well as some quality BLOODLUST DEAN and maybe a side of Crowley getting his shit together and being written consistently for like, an entire week. See you soon!


– Smart Winchester Sighting: Sam pre-recording the exorcism. Given his history of getting choked, gagged, and otherwise silenced during fights, you kind of have to wonder why they didn't think of that sooner. 

– So my cable package sucks and I don't get CW HD, but was Henry driving a 1950s Impala? I tried to read the logo when he drove past, because that would be awesome, but like I said, we're in the dark ages CW-wise up in here. 

What'd you think of "Mother's Little Helper"?

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  • xxSupernaturallover Apr 02, 2014

    Okay, everyone is saying Dean is lying.
    It's not really lying. I'm sure if you were in his situation, you wouldn't be able to be so open about it either- plus, the Mark of Cain is making him care less about stuff(emotions, he is more blank now for example) and is more focused on the Blade and killing Abaddon. The Cain is making him more colder now. Jensen ackles said Dean is thinking more like 'Okay, human or not ,I will kill you if you get in my way.' Dean was always cautious about killing humans- even when he did, he felt bad. Like how that evil creepy girl and the brother lived in the thing in the basement. Now he even looked like he enjoys killing- like when he killed that dude from the 'Thin Man' episode, he seemed to do it nice and slow.

    Dean is going more cold, it's overpowering him I believe. My conclusion- Like Cain killed Abel to send him to heaven and he goes to hell, Dean will do the same with Sam. Maybe Dean will go fully dark sided, or a new knight of hell.. I know I sound crazy- but it's kind of a thought.

    And if Sam dies at the end, it's going to be kind of lame. In season 6 when Sam fell into hell and was suppose to die, and the show ended, people were obviously sad it ended that way. If Sam dies again at the end of Supernatural, it will be off.. :\

  • jjkrock Mar 29, 2014

    So, the de-souled people in town who were still alive got their souls back. What happened to the souls of the de-souled people who were already dead – like the school teacher who committed suicide? Sam released all the souls that were in jars, but wouldn’t have a way of telling which one belonged to her. Her meat suit is dead, so her soul couldn’t go back into it. Did her soul just go into the veil with all the other recently departed?

  • jannel Apr 01, 2014

    The souls would have entered the veil.

  • jasonseet3 Mar 30, 2014 we really care that much? Does it matter do anyone?

  • jjkrock Mar 30, 2014

    Well, if Abaddon is running similar operations all over the globe and (theoretically) other hunters are finding these souls and "releasing" them, it could mean thousands of new souls trapped in the veil -- i.e. thousands more vengeful spirits going insane and creating mayhem. If something even worse happens to these souls, like they return to Abaddon anyway and become demons, that could mean she is successfully building an army of demons on Earth which probably won't end well for anyone. So yeah -- this could matter just a little bit.

  • ChicN Mar 30, 2014

    That's too interesting and too much interconnection between plot points. So,you know, forget about it.

  • MajLorne Mar 29, 2014

    The episode was pretty good, well given how the previous few eps have been a letdown overall that is. A few things though: I don't get it, Josie let herself get possessed, but it's not like Abbadon couldn't just kill her and take Henry. Also why would abbadon leave Henry alone without putting one of her demons in him to increase the chances of victory? Just a few strange stuff there.
    Anyway as for Josie, damn that sucks being a vessel to a knight of hell. I know the show doesn't really touch upon what happens to the vessels of the people that were possessed by a demon, angel, etc, but I kinda hope the possessed isn't still trapped in their own body the way the first meg was and had to live thru all the evil the demon did in their bodies. So I kinda hope there's a way to save Josie. She sacrificed herself and doesn't deserve a pointless death.
    I hate these long breaks. What is it that the Cw airs that they have to hold the final eps over? They had a bunch of fillers would it kill them to air more of the episodes that dealt with the current storylines sooner? I don't want to see repeats of previous episodes that i have seen already. If they need to reair past eps, then air them on the weekend when almost everyone else reairs their first run eps.

  • GreyMinerva Mar 30, 2014

    Erm... Isn't it pretty well established that people who are possessed are more or less aware of their surroundings, just trapped inside with no way to influence things?
    We've had the boys possessed and feeling bad about it afterwards, we had the serial killer who had once been possessed and wanted his demon co-habitor back, etc., etc.
    And angelic vessels remember.
    Occasionally they seem to be completely oblivious, but I think that would have to be a conscious choice on the demon's part, to leave them out of it.
    To have the meatsuit awake and aware and suffering through everything the body does must be icing on the cake for the demon; they LOVE tormenting people.

    So yeah, I think Josie at least started out aware. I also think that whatever part of her that was sane and human is probably long gone.
    Also, I can't QUITE remember what happened when she was resurrected - when Cas was brought back from destruction I believe his vessel was rebuilt, rather than restored, i.e. his host Jimmy Novak was finally dead and free - it's possible that New!Abaddon is a similar construct, no longer containing a human soul.

  • MajLorne Apr 01, 2014

    ok, fair points. I really started watching regularly from season3 and started watching a little of season 1 and 2.
    hem, good point about abbadon, i would probably buy that josie was freed when the vessel was destroyed and then rebuilt. Though it kinda makes the events of this episode meaningless about josie sacrificing herself if only abbadon remains. So given the inconsistencies i can't quite say for sure if josie is really gone. Also is it possible for a demon to merge with the vessel's soul? shrugs. Just so many questions... my main point is i don't want the guys to just gut abbadon at the end and that's it. I think josie if as a spirit or somewhere inside shows up at the end would make her death/redemption more meaningful than another victim.

  • MajLorne Apr 01, 2014

    also as for cas, i believe the vessel jimmy chose to sacrifice his soul so that his daughter would be saved (trade his soul for her return). So in that case jimmy chose to leave his body for cas to use freely.

  • GreyMinerva Apr 01, 2014

    Not that it's a 100% ironclad, but I found this page on Jimmy Novak which makes a case for Jimmy still being in there, although they DO make it clear that it's possible the human soul of the host was allowed to depart at some point during one of the MANY times that the vessel and "guest" was destroyed.

  • bkb_bkb Mar 28, 2014

    i forgot to add - maybe Dean will not let the power of the blade control him. He will be the one to have full control of the blade and his actions - like Cain.

  • GreyMinerva Mar 30, 2014

    Caine served as a warlord and commander for Hell, killing untold numbers. While it points to him being able to aim his homicidal urges, I'm not sure that counts as having "full control".

  • bkb_bkb Mar 28, 2014

    just a thought.

    Since Dean seems to be aware of the adverse consequences of the blade, maybe instead of the whole thing playing out like a junkie as Crowley suggested in the episode, Dean will embrace it like Cain did. Cain had lot of power I suppose because of MOC, yet he had full control over them. He stopped hunting when he fell in love, threw the blade in the deepest part of the ocean. He lived a quiet, though isolated, life.

    Maybe the MOC story will make Dean a special hunter, but (hopefully) not a full fledged Knight of Hell.

  • GreyMinerva Mar 30, 2014

    Caine was ONLY able to stop slaughtering in Hell's name BECAUSE he fell in love, i.e. found something strong enough to override the drive of the blade.
    I'm not sure Dean has something like that right now - he's managed incredible things out of love for his brother in the past, but their relationship isn't the strongest and most stable right now...

  • ChicN Mar 30, 2014

    [Celine Dion's Power of Love plays in the background]

  • ogechiwosu Mar 29, 2014

    Special hunter Dean. Very interesting.

  • VickeySimpson Mar 28, 2014

    It wasn't a impala. It was a Chrysler Imperial.

  • RichardCarlso Mar 28, 2014

    Everyone notice how easily Dean slipped back into lying to Sam? He isn't going to stop doing it, and Sam knows it.

  • js12 Mar 28, 2014

    Well, you could also look at it from a different perspective - what exactly has Sam done lately to deserve Dean to confide in him or even share anything even remotely personal (like the need to take a break from research, have a beer, shoot some pool and try to forget his shitty life and MOC for a couple of hours)?

    Sam's been slamming doors in his face for weeks, refusing to talk to him, sending verbal jabs his way every chance he got and basically broke his heart with his "I wouldn't save you" speech. So, you could say that Sam basically got what he wanted - a strictly business relationships (and the consequences that go along with it). Cause I don't know about you, but I sure don't share my innermost thoughts and fears with my 'business associates' or feel the need to explain what I do on my time to them :-)

  • VickeySimpson Mar 28, 2014

    I agree with you that Sam was being very cut off to Dean and broke his heat. I understand why Sam is upset with Dean but work it out boys. I did see that Sam is getting worried about Dean. The comment "be safe" was Sam being worried.

  • libra113 Mar 28, 2014

    I know a lot of fans want them to just make up and go back to business as useal but that is exactly why this pattern keeps repeating in the first place. If they are ever going to get to a point where this isn't going to keep being an issaue over and over again they need to REALLY deal with the issues, which is going to take time, and not just quick fix it just to make up. Just hang in there, the end result is going to make up for it.

  • zaggy7 Mar 28, 2014

    Hey, I finally figured out the hair!

  • libra113 Mar 28, 2014

    Sam is That Girl. Now it all makes sense. :)

  • ogechiwosu Mar 29, 2014

    Sam's hair is always entertaining.

  • ravipe007 Mar 27, 2014

    Just hope things to get really bad and effed up by the end of this season and that CW gives the show a nice and done series finale on the next one!

  • LucyBarker Mar 27, 2014

    "...but it also sends an uncomfortable message about the volatile emotions of love-struck women destroying all of the things"

    Oh come on. What exactly did it destroy? If she didn't volunteer herself, Abaddon would have just possessed Henry and probably killed Josie (or had some other demon possess her), and then used Henry's body to destroy the Men of Letters from the inside. In the grand scheme of things it makes no difference whether it was Henry or Josie. Not everything is a gender issue.

  • libra113 Mar 28, 2014

    that's true and as I know someone else pointed out here (know I read it somewhere) it's more likely she did it for Henry's family as much (if not more) than just him. Sure she loved him and he was part of the reason but not all. It's no different than all the other heroic sacrifices other characters have made in the show. Maybe they shouldn't have clouded the issue with the love thing.

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