Supernatural Twofer – Unforgiven & Mannequin 3: The Reckoning

I’m going to hit the last two episodes in a twofer review because I watched them back to back and they sort of worked that way, especially with the linked ending and opening scenes between the episodes. They were an interesting reflection on the boys were while they were apart and who they’ve become, and whether they want to be somebody different now. And thankfully, the “Mother” arc was tabled for both hours.

Last week’s episode, “Unforgiven”, began funnily enough with a “Now” that was actually a year ago. Sam and Samuel are in a warehouse and Sam is emptying his gun into several unseen victims while Samuel just stands by, disapproving, but not stopping him. Sam is stoic, despite bleeding severely, and as they leave, a deputy pulls them over, demanding the location of his sheriff and calling BS on the men’s cover as agents. Sam responds by beating the deputy unconscious and then he and Samuel drive away, leaving the deputy lying in the road.

Cut to the present and Sam isn’t telling Dean about this flashback. He gets a text of map coordinates and when they look into it, they find out a handful of women are missing so they head to Rhode Island to investigate, with Dean warning that if anything seems remotely (i.e. more than usual) off-kilter, they will bail. When they get to town, Sam has flashes of arriving there with Samuel. The flashbacks reoccur throughout the episode as the boys investigate the missing women and realize a) soulless Sam was a slutty son of a bitch and b) the victims in the current case are all women Sam slept with when he was there before.

A run-in with the deputy nets Sam a jail cell and the sheriff (Roy)’s wife, Brenna comes to see him, demanding to know what happened. A distraught Sam tells her he genuinely doesn’t know. She lays it out for him that he and Samuel told Roy and her straight out who they were and what they did. Sam convinces Brenna that he wouldn’t be back there now if he did remember but he believes he can help her sort it out. She lets him go and then another of Sam’s paramours disappears.

Dean puts the six degrees of Sam together and Sam goes to Brenna for the case files from the previous year. Sam and Dean “Memento” the thing and very sadly figure out that the supernatural being on the previous case was an Arachne (human spider), and Sam used Roy as bait. He was captured, Sam and Samuel caught up with him and the other male victims too late, killed the Arachne, and then Sam decided the men, including Roy, couldn’t be saved, so he shot all of them and then burned the barn where they had been held.

About the time Sam is piecing this together, a spidered version of Roy shows up at home and tells Brenna to call Sam. Sam and Dean arrive and are promptly webbed up, but with Brenna’s help, they kill Roy, who, before he dies, gleefully tells Sam that all the women he kidnapped are out there somewhere, in the process of being spidered, as all of the men were before – the gunshots and fire hadn’t been fatal to any of them.

A devastated Sam walks a devastated Brenna to her door and then he and Dean return to their hotel. Dean fumbles for a way to comfort Sam that he’s not that guy anymore but Sam’s not having it. They fall silent and then Sam collapses into a seizure with glimpses of being on fire and Dean races to him in a panic.

This week’s episode, “Mannequin 3: The Reckoning” picks up at that moment, with a distraught Dean pleading with a very still Sam to wake up. Sam finally does, but he doesn’t share all of what he saw. He and Dean head outside and talk about how to manage this and Dean is emphatic that Sam stop tapping his memories. He instead encourages him to push them down and let them spill out in bursts of violence and alcoholism, which he says works for him.

He segues to discussing a new case in New Jersey, where a janitor was killed in a locked college lab, which we were privy to a scene of, so we know that the anatomy dummy was involved. They go investigate and don’t find anything shady about the victim. A second victim is killed at a textiles factory, and this time we actually see the mannequins landing the blows. It turns out the factory lost a female employee to a disappearance a while back, so Dean and Sam start looking at that and when Sam visits with the girl’s sister he discovers she had been a mousy gal (the surviving sister isn’t) but they were very close because they lost their parents when they were young. Sam looks through photos and sees that the janitor also worked at the factory, so he starts investigating there.

He’s solo for a while because a fairly desperate Ben has called Dean home, claiming Lisa is unwell, behaving strangely, and locked in her room. When Lisa opens the door dressed for a date, the jig’s up and Lisa and Dean finally have a sitdown. She essentially tells him that she is really trying to get over him and knows that he can’t come home, which he agrees with. He goes to talk to Ben and that goes less well, as Ben says he had grounds to call Dean because Lisa was about to have her third date with a doctor and he knows what that means. He calls Dean out that he won’t come home, and Dean tells him very matter-of-factly that he’s not somebody who can sit at their dinner table because of what he does and that if he comes home, he condemns Ben to that life, which he can’t do.

Back on the case, a very skittish interviewee, Jimmy, sets off bells for Sam, who arrives at the factory just as Jimmy’s about to be killed. Sam realizes the gal is haunting the mannequins, salts the place down. and gets the pitiful scoop that Jimmy and the first two victims played a prank on the missing gal, leading her to believe she had a secret admirer. When she showed up for her date to find a mannequin and tried to leave, one of the guys grabbed her arm and she hit her head on a table. Jimmy started to call the police but the others freaked so they buried her in the woods instead.

Sam pronounces Jimmy an idiot but goes to salt the bones anyway. Afterward, he tells Jimmy he’s safe, and Jimmy goes home to his own dolled-up mannequin (discuss), who comes to life and kills him. When Sam goes to talk to the sister again and finds out she was in each place where the murders occurred, he realizes a part of the missing girl is still alive. The sister admits she has one of her sister’s kidneys, so they’re sort of hosed about what to do, and then the missing girl’s ghost possesses the Impala, tearing around an empty parking lot after Dean. The ensuing crash crunches the Impala and sends glass shards into the sister, killing her. As she dies, the ghost appears, apologizing as she burns up. We close with the boys working on the car and discussing that this wasn’t a case for the win column. Sam tells Dean he’s glad he has his soul, and thanks Dean for that, and reassures him that he has his back.

The first episode was extremely dark but surprisingly not as graphic as it could have been (thank you). Jared Padalecki got to bring his A game – vacillating between soulless Sam in the flashbacks and an extraordinarily remorseful soulful Sam who can’t forgive himself in the present. Kudos there. The second episode flipped some of the heavy lifting back to Jensen Ackles as Dean was once again torn between his past and present (and future). The story arc in the second episode was also thankfully less grim than I expected, even though it didn’t end well. I was holding my breath that the guys at the factory hadn’t assaulted the missing girl. I was glad they didn’t go there, and glad for a break in the big bad arc with two straight-up monster (ish) stories.

Next week, we get a reverse half somersault meta episode from Ben Edlund that looks more “Hollywood A.D.” than “Changing Channels.” Yay!

Photo Courtesy of The CW

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