Supernatural – Season 12 Episode 18
“The Memory Remains”
Supernatural sends Sam and Dean on the hunt for a low level God as Mr. Ketch starts working towards his inevitable betrayal.
This is definitely one of those episodes where there isn’t a lot to say about what goes on. The case of the week is fairly standard as these things go with no real surprises and little in the way of depth. It wasn’t bad by any means but very little about it stands out as being something worth talking about as it does nothing to forward the main season arcs or develop the characters in any significant way.
There were a couple of things that stood out. I really liked how the Goat creature was handled. It was a blunt instrument as antagonists go with it’s main goal being to eat its victims but it was interesting to look at. I found it to be cleverly shot with more hints at the full creature which dialled up the mystery surrounding it while also covering up the fact that this show only has a modest budget for things like this. Working within its limitations is something that Supernatural has always been good at and this is a solid example of that.
Another interesting thing about the episode was the mastermind behind the Goat creature, Pete (Ryan McDonald). He wasn’t the greatest of villains but the fact that he was against what his brother was doing created an intriguing parallel between him and the Winchesters. He’s an example of someone who isn’t close to his brother and works to undermine him where Sam and Dean have spent all season being more or less on the same page so he serves as almost a “What if…?” for them. The fact that he reverses the famous “Saving people, hunting things. The family business” to “Hunting people, killing them. The family business” makes the comparison a little too obvious but it works well enough.
It feeds into Dean’s existential thinking at the end of the episode where he wonders what their legacy will be after their gone. Will other Hunters move into the Bunker and fight the good fight in their honour or will things change? Will they be forgotten? These are all big questions that can’t be answered. Sam is content with the fact that he will leave the world in a better condition than when he found it so anything else is a bonus to him. In an attempt to be remembered in some form Dean starts to etch his initials into the table and Sam follows suit. It calls back to them as kids carving their initials into the Impala and we see that intercut with them doing the same here. It’s a quietly powerful moment and lets the relationship between the brothers do most of the heavy lifting.
Now that they have the Colt back in their possession it appears that Dean is becoming somewhat overconfident. When Sam is telling him about his research he is more interested in a nearby waitress and seems very distracted even though he is listening. Having the Colt back appears to make him feel like he has become somewhat invincible. He points out that it “dusts anything” so isn’t really worried about a simple case. This doesn’t come to anything here but it easily could as the episodes go on though I’m not sure what. I just got the impression that it was foreshadowing something.
The B Plot involving Ketch mobilising a team to search the Bunker inch by inch to learn everything they can about the Winchesters is really underwhelming. Using comedic sounding music during these scenes suggested that the Men of Letters aren’t a threat worth worrying about and it doesn’t really make sense for Ketch to go down this route. When he pretended to be Mick and sent the Winchesters off on this hunt I expected him to use this as an ambush opportunity. Sneaking around really doesn’t seem like his style so it felt like a stalling tactic to remind us of their threat without actually doing anything with it.
I would have actually preferred if this plot had been done away with entirely and the reveal of the microphone under the table at the end of the episode had been our only clue that the Men of Letters had been in the Bunker. It would be far more effective and not subjected us to uninteresting scenes of them going through Sam and Dean’s stuff.
One thing to take away from this is that Ketch is definitely more affected by his one night stand with Mary than he let on. I suspect that stealing the picture will be the thing that clues Sam and Dean in on what’s happening and I’m hoping that will come sooner rather than later. Things have moved too quickly with this plot and there are certain things that would have been better with more time to breathe.
A solid if unremarkable episode that delivers a fairly standard case that somewhat lacks in depth. The use of the Goat creature is effective as we rarely see the whole thing which adds to the mystery surrounding it as well as covering up the budget constraints. Having the main antagonist being a brother who looks to undermine his sibling rather than work with him creates a fairly obvious parallel to Sam and Dean but it does the job just fine. The suggestion that Dean might be coming overconfident because of the Colt might go somewhere but also may not. Sam and Dean etching their initials into the table in the Bunker after Dean’s existential thinking about what their legacy will be was a nice moment and I liked that it was cut with flashbacks to them doing the same with the Impala.
The B Plot where Ketch mobilised a team to go through Sam and Dean’s stuff was fairly underwhelming. I found the use of comedic music baffling as it makes them out to be something not worth worrying about. This would have been far more effective had it been dropped entirely with the microphone under the table revealing that they had been around to the audience. It’s clear that Ketch isn’t as unaffected by his one night stand with Mary as he let on and I suspect the stolen picture will be the clue that points Sam and Dean towards the Men of Letters but we shall see. As threats go there’s a lot of work to do to make them worthwhile and I fear that it may be too late.