Supernatural “The Foundry” Review (Season 12, Episode 3)

When Supernatural dropped Mary’s return on us at the end of last season, I wasn’t entirely sure how I felt about it. I’ve said before that Mary is a pretty one dimensional character, and she was only really supposed to be the impetus for the Winchesters getting into the hunting life. That being said, the summer gave me an opportunity to consider just how much of an emotional journey it would be for Sam and Dean to get to know their mother as adults despite her having been absent most of their lives. I thought it might be interesting to watch her attempt to navigate not just the 21st century, but also the world of Sam and Dean. I thought that’s what the powers that be were going to give me this season, but alas, it looks like I may have gotten my hopes up too high. But let me not get ahead of myself.

Mary’s return has been difficult for all the Winchesters. Sam and Dean have lived without Mary almost their entire lives, so they have a rhythm and a language she knows nothing about. To their credit, Sam and Dean do try to include her but just as with everything else, they have different approaches to trying to make Mary feel welcome. They both see that she’s having a difficult time adjusting, but they have different approaches to dealing with that as well. Dean, who has always buried himself in hunting, was completely on board with letting Mary work through her issues via the hunt. It doesn’t really work out in the end, and I believe Dean knows that, but at the same time, he’s always been a man of action as opposed to a man of words. Sam, on the other hand, has always been one to try and talk things out. He’s worried about Mary and it’s pretty clear he wants to talk to her, but for once in his life he doesn’t really know how. He gave her John’s journal in the hopes it would help her feel more included, but it seems to have had the opposite effect. It reminded her of everything she’d lost, and looking at grown up Sam and Dean made that even worse. She missed out on their entire lives, but for her, they’re still her babies.

I feel like the show is retconning with that throwaway line about Mary hanging out in Heaven with John and her babies. Ash said back in season five that he’d been unable to locate either John or Mary in Heaven even though he’d been looking for them. I suppose you could argue that just because Ash couldn’t find them doesn’t mean they weren’t there. That’s true. But I still feel like they could’ve just left that line out entirely and it wouldn’t have changed the impact of her statement to Sam and Dean. At any rate, let’s just put that aside for the moment. I’m not particularly surprised by Mary’s decision to put some distance between herself and the Boys, but I am kind of disappointed that the show brought on the separation so quickly. We haven’t spent any significant time with Mary attempting to integrate herself into Sam and Dean’s lives. We’ve had a few moments of her being unfamiliar with current technology and a couple of nice individual moments with Sam and Dean, but we haven’t seen the new Winchester family unit attempt to live and work together. So the fact that Mary decided to leave at this juncture fell flat for me.

That’s a problem that the show has had in it’s storytelling for several seasons now. They resolve some story points entirely too quickly while allowing some that should be resolved quickly to play out for way too long. For example, the Demon Dean storyline only lasted three episodes despite there being a wealth of dramatic ground for the show to mine had they given it more time to play out. How demonic will Dean go? What impact was knowing Dean was a demon having on Sam? How much of the real Dean remained in there while he was allowing more and more of his dark side to come out and play? How far is Sam willing to go to bring his brother back? Those are just a few directions that story could’ve taken, but it would’ve required the show to invest some time into it. The reason Sam’s demon blood addiction storyline worked so well back in season four was the amount of time dedicated to exploring it. We got a chance to see Sam go through many different stages of his addiction from believing that he had complete control over it to suffering through the pain of withdrawal during detox. None of that could’ve been accomplished if the show had only given that story point an episode or two. The same is true of Mary’s return. Three episodes of Mary being back in the Boys’ lives isn’t enough time to truly explore what her return means to Sam and Dean. And it actually hasn’t even been three episodes. It’s only really been just this episode since they’ve only just got Sam back. I’m not saying I wanted to watch Mary and the Boys sit around the bunker and have chick flick moments all the time. But I would’ve liked to see them work a few more jobs together and put her old school experience up against their new school experience. I would’ve liked to see Mary and Sam attempt to get past their awkwardness and allow Sam to get to know the mother he never had but always wanted. I would’ve liked to see Mary and Dean discover all the other things they have in common. Basically, I wanted to show to spend some time showing me why Mary’s decision should impact me the same way it impacted Sam and Dean. That’s not to say that Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, and Samantha Smith didn’t completely nail that scene though. They absolutely did. Honestly, it was the strength of their performances in that scene that provided the emotional punch I otherwise probably wouldn’t have felt. Especially Jensen Ackles.

Mary’s decision was difficult for both Sam and Dean to accept, but I think it was even harder on Dean. Unlike Sam, Dean has memories of his mother and he’s carried those memories with him and protected them for the past thirty-three years. Mary’s death was in all likelihood the genesis of Dean’s abandonment issues, but over the years he seems to have come to the conclusion that her leaving was different because she didn’t have a choice in the matter. She was taken from him against her will, and as much as that hurt him, he’s been able to cope based on that truth he’s created. However, Mary’s decision to leave this time was her own choice. Even though Dean may intellectually understand her reasons for leaving, it still feels like abandonment to him and that completely flies in the face of the truth he’s created for himself. It also reinforces the idea he’s been living with most of his life that if he lets anyone get close to him, they will eventually leave him. At first, Dean didn’t seem like he wanted to get too close to Mary, but in this episode he started trying to open up to her a bit. And just when he thinks it might be alright and they might be able to have a relationship, she decides to walk away. I foresee Mary’s decision causing Dean to close himself off even more than he normally does, and Jensen did a fantastic job conveying Dean’s hurt and anger. Jensen also did a wonderful job of showing Dean consciously close himself off, build up his walls, and put his armor back on. It was truly great work.

While all of that was going on in the Winchesters’ lives, Castiel finally got a line on Lucifer and headed out to find him. He bumped into Crowley, who was also still looking for Lucifer, and they teamed up to try and locate their prey. They were too late to actually get their hands on Luci, but they found Rowena at Vince’s cabin where she explained that she’d handled the situation. At least temporarily. The Cas/Crowley match up was supposed to be played for laughs, but a lot of that fell flat too. It felt like they were trying too hard to find the funny instead of allowing Misha Collins and Mark Sheppard to let their natural chemistry work. I’ve watched the episode twice now, and I’m still a little unclear on what exactly Rowena did to Lucifer. Maybe y’all can help me out on this point. I couldn’t tell whether Rowena destroyed his vessel, whether she trapped him in a decaying vessel and sent him off to Timbuktu, or whether she’s just left his essence floating out in the ether somewhere without the ability to get back to another vessel. Either way, he’s gone for the moment. It’s clearly not a permanent solution though, and when he finally gets back, he’s gonna be pissed.

Overall, this was an ok episode. There were parts I enjoyed, but unfortunately the whole wasn’t greater than the sum of its parts. I’m still having a problem with the fact that Sam was held captive and tortured for several days and no one has said anything about it. I thought maybe they would address it in this episode, but it’s like it never happened and that’s a problem. Sam no doubt has massive PTSD from his time in The Cage, and the fact that Lady Toni was doing her best torture master impression has to have brought back at least some nightmares or flashbacks. Cas may have healed the physical wounds, but Sam’s still gotta deal with the psychological ones. Not that I want Sam to suffer more, but the narrative needs to acknowledge that Sam endured Lady Toni’s torture and it’s ok for him not to be ok. Now that Rowena has temporarily handled Lucifer, I’m not entirely sure what Cas’s journey will be this season. Perhaps he’ll still be hunting Lucifer. I don’t know, and it’s kind of a problem when a character doesn’t have a clear path to follow for the season. I would like for Cas to get something interesting to do and an opportunity to grow and learn from his mistakes. He can’t do that without a clearly defined journey. So what did y’all think of this week’s Supernatural?