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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!



CASE NOTES

– 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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