Supernatural – Season 11 Episode 11
“Into the Mystic”
Supernatural slows down significantly from the heavy duty Lucifer moments to bring a familiar case of the week as the Winchesters hunt a Banshee terrorising a retirement home.
Doesn’t everyone love an old fashioned case of the week? It lets the narrative slow down while characters reflect on certain things without boring everyone with nothing going on. When the show returns to the formula that defined so much of the early seasons the results are mixed but this outing manages to be a really entertaining one.
The case itself feels pretty routine and predictable from the beginning. Sam and Dean don their FBI disguises, investigate and ultimately end up stopping whatever is doing harm. This one felt slightly more unique than others as the female characters introduced were very notable. Too often Supernatural has young and beautiful women of a similar age to the Winchesters help them out on a case or be the next intended victim so having an older woman in Mildred (Dee Wallace) and a deaf woman in Eileen (Shoshannah Stern) gave the episode a different feel than most.
Hanging around an old folks home provides plenty of opportunity for comedy such as when Mildred has the hots for Dean and isn’t shy about showing him. It makes him feel uncomfortable around her but only because he quite likes the idea and isn’t really sure what to do about that. Jensen Ackles is always great at showing Dean shuffling in discomfort. Lots of comedy is mined from Sam and Dean admitting who is their favourite member of The Golden Girls cast. The sign language conversation between Mildred and Eileen over which brother they could have was particularly hilarious and the reprise of it as Mildred enjoyed walking them away made me chuckle too. Dean’s reference to stealing viagra being a “dick move” was the absolute highlight. I’m shocked that it got past the censors and was actually allowed in the episode but I’m glad it was.
Mildred is a fun character as she is really carefree and clearly enjoying her golden years. At an early point in the episode I felt that she seemed a little suspicious and expected her to be in some way responsible for the Banshee attacks but I’m glad I was wrong as it would have been too predictable.
Eileen is an interesting character as her backstory resembles Sam and Dean’s in some ways. She was raised by a hunter after a Banshee killed her family and has been on the trail ever since. Her competence level is high and she bears a tangible connection to the Banshee as it is the cause of her deafness. It also makes her immune to the shrieking which definitely comes in handy. It’s refreshing to have a deaf character play such a significant role while having plenty of agency. I’d like to see her return in later episodes.
Beyond my suspicions of Mildred’s involvement the episode managed to subvert expectations in another way by setting Mildred up to be the intended victim because the Banshee only goes after vulnerable people. To have the Banshee’s target turn out to be Dean was a clever twist and raised questions as to what that significant vulnerability is. There are plenty of options these days so it could really be anything. As a side note, the Banshee looked really cool. It’s rare that this show turns in impressive visual effects work so this was good to see.
Sam and Dean deal with some lingering issues while hunting the Banshee. The retirement home setting allowed the show to address the concept of mortality in their lives. It has been a recurring theme all season now that resurrection for them is apparently off the table so it’s interesting to see them consider their future. Sam seems positive that they won’t live to see their golden years which is informed by his recent experience with Lucifer and how hopeless the situation seems at this point. He believes what Lucifer is saying and doesn’t think that Amara can be stopped without him. Of course, as far as Sam and Dean are aware Lucifer is still trapped so they are on their own in taking Amara on. The scene where he opens up about the guilt he felt getting on with his life when Dean was trapped in Purgatory was really well done and was a nice callback to an earlier season showing that events have profound psychological effects on the brothers.
Dean isn’t being entirely honest with Sam. He doesn’t tell Sam about the connection he feels to Amara. It’s unclear to him whether it’s simple lust, love or something even deeper. It’s a big problem that he is willing to admit to himself but I’m not sure why he’s keeping it from Sam. I’ve mentioned time and time again that I’m really tired of plot being dragged out by Sam and Dean lying to each other. I thought this season had gotten rid of that completely but apparently not. How many times can this really happen?
He does feel comfortable confessing it to Castiel/Lucifer which is sort of baffling in a lot of ways. I think it had more to do with how awkwardly written the scene was as it made no sense for Dean to simply start confessing. I was impressed by Misha Collins playing Lucifer pretending to be Cas. It’s a complicated thing to pull off and he did it well. Cas’ mannerisms were intact but there was an uneasy quality to them as Lucifer struggled to get into character. They weren’t so off that Dean would easily notice which I found to be wonderfully subtle. I look forward to seeing more of that before Sam and Dean inevitably find out.
A relatively basic episode of this show that had enough interesting and unique qualities to keep it from feeling like simple filler.
The case itself felt relatively routine in the execution as it’s nothing that we haven’t seen before on this show. This case felt slightly more unique as the supporting characters were an older woman named Mildred and a deaf woman named Eileen.
Hanging around the old folks home gave plenty of opportunity for comedy such as Mildred’s obvious attraction to Dean. Jensen Ackles plays the discomfort with more than a hint of curiosity really well and lots of comedy is mined from Sam and Dean admitting their favourite member of The Golden Girls cast.
Mildred is a fun character as she is carefree and clearly enjoying her golden years. At an early point I was sure that she would be responsible for the attacks but I’m glad I was wrong as my expectations were subverted in a good way.
Eileen is interesting as well as her history is reminiscent of Sam and Dean’s. She was raised by a hunter after her parents are killed and is seeking revenge on the thing that did it. Her competence level is high and she bears a tangible connection to the Banshee as it caused her deafness. It’s refreshing to have a deaf character play such a significant role while having plenty of agency.
The episode cleverly subverted expectations in another way by setting Mildred up as the intended victim and having it turn out to be Dean instead. It is established that the Banshee exploits vulnerabilities so it opens up the question over what Dean’s specific vulnerability is.
Sam and Dean deal with some lingering issues while hunting the Banshee. The retirement home raises the question of mortality. It has been a running theme through this season and it’s interesting to see that Sam is positive that neither of them will live that long. He doubts that they can stop Amara after his encounter with Lucifer. The scene where he confesses his guilt over getting on with his life when Dean was in Purgatory was really good as well. It shows that events have a profound psychological effect on the brothers.
Dean isn’t being honest with Sam. He hasn’t opened up about the connection he feels with Amara. It is a problem for him and he’s unsure if it’s lust, love or something deeper but the fact that he won’t tell Sam is immensely frustrating. I thought that this secret keeping had been dealt with but apparently not.
He does open up to Castiel/Lucifer which baffled me as the scene was so awkwardly staged that it made no sense for Dean to start talking about it. Misha Collins did a great job of playing Lucifer pretending to be Cas. The mannerisms were right but there was something noticeably off about them but not so obvious that Dean would be made aware. I look forward to seeing more of that before the inevitable reveal.