You know what it’s like. Sometimes you just want your surrogate mom to leave you alone for a minute while you do some soul-searching (literally, because you might not have one anymore and also you might be kinda evil since your dad is The Devil, but you’re trying to be good for the sake of your surrogate brothers who definitely regularly kill creatures like you). But she won’t get out of your face with all her motherly concerns since you just burnt the dude whose body used to house your dad to a crisp! So you make her go away… permanently. With your mutant grace powers.
And that’s the story of how the nephilim Jack lost his membership to the Winchester tribe by accidentally offing their matriarch. And I’m of two minds on this. In general, I’m not a fan of fridging a female character just to push your heroes along on their journey, and that is absolutely what this is. Mary Winchester died as a definitive example of how dangerous the awesomely re-powered Jack truly is, and to set up the climactic battle between him and his former “family,” Dean, Sam, and Castiel. The only thing that can truly tear the Winchesters apart is each other, and the only way Sam and Dean would ever turn on Jack was if he turned on the family first. Worse, it’s a trope the show has been guilty of time and time again, with almost all their female characters.
But this is also a show where basically EVERYONE dies, and usually they return in some fashion or another — including Mary, who was already living on a miraculous 1UP. If anything, her reintroduction to the series was a weird sort of inverted fridging, where a female character who had been dead since the start is brought back to life just to eff with the main characters and give them a chance to explore new feelings. Namely, mommy issues rather than daddy issues. So is losing her again even a loss, or just a return to the natural order? I feel like I should be upset, because the show could use more strong female characters and because actress Samantha Smith pretty seamlessly fit herself into the cast as another badass Winchester hunter, but frankly I’m just not. The potential of Mary’s unexpected second life had kind of run its course, but the longer Mary was on the show the more I missed the Winchester Boys’ whole “Giant Clingy Orphans” vibe. Also, I’m still reserving my outrage in case the writers ever decide to sacrifice my goddess, Sheriff Jody. Sue me.
Of course, my ambivalence is beside the point because Mary’s death served its purpose: DRAMA. Castiel admits that he knew something was wrong with Jack since he witnessed that whole snake thing, but he kept it to himself and tried to find a solution rather than talking to the Winchesters about it (of course). Dean very much wants to hold Cas responsible for Jack’s actions, but Sam eventually makes him realize that they are all responsible for Jack in their own ways. They all knew he was dangerous — he’s literally Lucifer’s spawn, it’s not like they didn’t know this could go south! — but he also was just an innocent kid. They made the choice to treat Jack like their personal “Get Out Of Jail Free” card, letting him take care of Michael and Lucifer and Nick and even save Sam’s life. They got a lot of mileage out of his powers, and maybe this is the price they’re paying. But they also fell for him, and made the choice to treat him like family.
And as if to prove how related they really are, they all refuse to accept that Mary is dead and do the most Winchester thing ever: they decide to bring her back to life, by going to Rowena and getting her to pull a resurrection spell out of her Book of the Dead. Jack just happens to beat Sam and Dean to the punch and gets to Rowena first. She pretty quickly realizes that Jack is dangerously unstable, not because he’s evil but because he’s overwhelmed by guilt. Jack knows Sam and Dean will never forgive him for this, even if it was an accident — and he’s got a mental projection of Lucifer taunting him about it constantly.
So while the boys pursue a magical solution to Mary’s death, Cas pursues Mary’s soul by reaching out to his heavenly contacts. The angel Duma reassures him that Mary died painless and peacefully, and is now happily living in her own personal heaven with John — and even lets him peek in to prove it. Unlike many of the deaths on this show, we actually get confirmation that Mary is in a better place, and that resurrecting her would not be better for her. Which is why it’s a relief that for once, the Winchester strategy of fighting death doesn’t pan out. Jack’s spell fails to bring Mary back to life — or back as a zombie, which I was SURE was going to happen after hearing Rowena’s dire warning about botched necromancy. Instead, the episode ends with another hunter’s funeral pyre — and the promise of vengeance in the coming weeks.
Header Image Source: The CW (via YouTube)