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Roundtable Discussion on Supernatural 11×12 “Don’t You Forget About Me”

Welcome to our weekly Supernatural Roundtable. We’re covering episode 11×12 “Don’t You Forget About Me” written by Nancy Won. Participating in this week’s roundtable are Stacy Miller, Michele Villery, Jackie Bojarski and Debbi Bach. We encourage feedback, so feel free to comment below as always. Here’s this week’s topics:

Claire/Jody/Alex:

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Michele: I really enjoyed the dynamic of these three ladies on the screen. Anytime I see Jody Mills on my screen I smile. Kim Rhodes is great as the kick-ass, no-nonsense Sheriff who over the years has turned into quite the hunter in her own right. She is now a mother figure to both Alex (with whom I really enjoyed in S9) and Claire from S10. I love how she was so proud of the young lady Alex has become. I did re-watch the episode because my initial thoughts on Claire’s character were meh. But, I have to say, I really do like how she’s progressed. She’s been through a great deal. If I were in her shoes, I think I’d act exactly the same way.

Stacy: I loved the dynamic between these three. I think the show was trying to get us to see that Jody, Alex and Claire are the female John, Sam and Dean. Claire took to hunting like Dean had when he was younger with a determination to eradicate all supernatural evil and save people, while Alex enjoyed the normal life that had eluded her. She had a home, school and a boyfriend. She had always felt like a freak (like Sam) and was determined to now fit in. But unlike John, Jody was there for both her girls. Cooking them dinner every night, picking Alex up from school and trying to make sure Claire continued with her education. She may not have been the girls’ birth mother but she was their mother in every way that mattered.

Jackie: Before I cast any judgment on this episode, I decided the re-watch it, to make sure that I was being fair. On my first watch, I felt that it was a rather lackluster episode that was more predictable than anything else. Upon watching it for the second time, however, I realized that it had more charms than I had initially thought.

I appreciated the opportunity to catch up with Jody and the girls, because more often than not, storylines such as theirs don’t get any resolution, as the writers don’t often get the chance to give them the attention they deserve–which isn’t surprising, seeing as how Sam and Dean’s story does, and should, be the first priority.

With all that said, I felt like the writer was trying too hard to recreate the dynamic of Sam and Dean in Claire and Alex. Like Sam, Alex wants to get as far away from the hunting life as possible (or, at least he did in season 1). Like Dean, Claire wants to hunt, although she isn’t really that good at it yet (no skilled, trained hunter would be randomly attacking people in the way that she is at the beginning of this episode). On one hand, this allows the audience a point at which they can begin to relate to the girls, but on the other hand, superimposing the boys’ personalities over the girls deprives them of their own individuality as characters. I hope in the future that the writers allow the girls to grow into their own people as opposed to trying to turn them into female versions of Sam and Dean.

One last thing before I move on to another topic. Probably my favorite moment of this entire episode was the scene in which Sam and Claire have a heart-to-heart. I feel like Claire lets her guard down around Sam more than any of the others because he treats her as an equal opposed to as a kid in need of constant supervision and correction. He understands where she’s coming from in terms of wanting to hide in hunting. It was this that made me realize that Claire reminds me a little bit of Sam after Jessica died: driven to seek revenge for the wrongs done to her and using hunting as a means to escape from the pressures of real life. In terms of character, this helped me understand Claire more; before, I didn’t really get her. I wouldn’t say that I like her at this point but I feel like she could grow to become an interesting character, as can Alex, if the writers invest time and energy into fleshing them out.

Debbi: I loved the dynamic between these three. It was very realistic in terms of how two traumatized teen girls would react to each other. Both have trust issues and the competition for Jody’s attention would be natural given their pasts. This competition seemed to be realistically portrayed and not overdone.

The interactions between Alex and Claire definitely reminded me of how sisters that age talk to each other (I am one of three girls – lots of sister experience). Jody, while maybe feeling a little out of her element, was great with both of them. I think she is a wonderful role model for them and at the end of the episode it was made clear that the two girls realize just how good they’ve got it with her as a guardian.

Kat and Kathryn did a good job at conveying their angst and their issues with trust as well as with assimilating into a ‘normal’ community. Despite the bickering between them – really well-played ladies – they are probably the only people who can understand what the other has faced and survived. I think if we see them again we will see them beginning to forge a very strong relationship with each other…perhaps as hunters themselves?

Vampires:

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Michele: Talk about Revenge. This plot was pretty much all about a vampire getting back at Alex for destroying his life. The custodian along with her boyfriend, pretty much lifted up Alex only to tear her down. It was sad and horrifying. Alex had finally come to terms with her own guilt for acting as bait for her former vampire family, this was the last thing she needed. Major Kudos to Nancy Won for delivering continuity from S9. It’s difficult to do that at times and this is the second time she’s executed it quite well.

Stacy: ‘Revenge of the Vampires’ could have been an appropriate title for this episode as a vampire sought revenge against Alex for ruining his life. It was interesting how the custodian held on to that portion of his humanity by wanting Alex to enjoy happiness before taking everything away from her. I actually felt sad for him as he was a decent guy when he was human whose life had been turned upside down. It was a cruel chain of events – Vampires kidnapped Alex as a child, Alex helped lure humans to the vampires, A vampire kidnaps Jody, Claire and Alex, and Claire and Alex (with Sam and Dean’s help) kill the vampires. But from this episode, I got the impression that Alex’s boyfriend had let go of his humanity when he became a vampire. He didn’t care about her at all and was only a tool in the custodian’s revenge. He had no guilt or remorse.

Jackie: It was nice to see vampires in the show again, since they are one of my favorite monsters of the week. I also think that including them in this episode provided some closure for Alex, who was having a hard time letting go of her past and moving on with her life. She still thinks of herself as a monster even though she was cured, so I hope that she is able to forgive herself after this episode.

Debbi: I liked the continuity Nancy Won gave this episode with Alex’s past catching up with her and playing havoc with her safe haven. It is very likely that a vamp was missing at the time the boys and Jody took out the nest and coming back for their ‘pet’ in retribution is certainly very vamp-like behavior. I also love that canon in SPN has vampires as dark and evil creatures. Definitely not YA romance material 😉

I liked Henry as a vamp and kind of pegged him as the perpetrator of the teacher’s murder, but I didn’t figure him for a vamp! I was also caught off-guard by the vamp janitor. He seemed too obvious and I figured him for a red herring. That was a nice bit of writing by Won. I felt terrible for Alex when she realized she’d been played but was also so proud of her for finding her inner strength and fighting for the life she wanted. It would be overdone if another one of her former nest-mates seeks her out, but I could see Alex becoming a hunter based solely on the fact that she wants to eliminate all vampires from the face of the earth.

Sam and Dean:

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Michele: Both Sam and Dean weren’t in this episode a whole lot, but a lot of the scenes they were in were great. The most hysterical scene was the dinner scene and the scene where Dean introduced “The Elvis” to Sam. I also enjoyed the scene where Sam talked to Claire. It was poignant and to me there was a parallel in terms of what Sam has gone through and Claire. Both had this thirst for revenge.  I enjoyed the comfort-level between Sam and Dean especially in this episode.  The joking, the kidding around.  It’s something we haven’t seen in a bit.  I loved it.

Stacy: I loved the brothers level of comfort in this episode. In their first scene as they talked about ‘The Elvis’ they were relaxed and playful. None of that ‘We have to save the world’ and ‘You lied to me so I’m having a hard time trusting you’ issues. Then when they arrived at Jody’s, they were like two little boys, excited for a home cooked meal. Though I’d think Sam would have better eating habits! Food hanging from his mouth? Didn’t he ever have dinner with Jessica? But my favorite part was Sam and Dean’s discomfort when Jody talked about sex and condoms. The looks on Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles’ faces were priceless. All they wanted to do was eat their chicken (not nuggets!). Which makes sense, I doubt whether John had ‘The Talk’ with his boys.

Jackie: First, can we talk about the hilarity that was that dinner scene? Seeing the boys squirm when faced with something like having to discuss safe sex at the dining room table was nothing short of delightful. I also loved watching how much the boys enjoyed that home-cooked meal, since unlike the girls, that was a privilege that they never got to have growing up.

Moreover, I thought that both brothers were well-written in this episode and were equally balanced. I found it amusing that Dean served the role as the stern one in regard to the girls while Sam played the part of the sympathetic, nurturing one. Dean would lecture while Sam would listen to their problems. It’s a dynamic that has existed since the beginning so it was nice to see it return in this episode. I did raise my eyebrow at first at how Dean was handling the teenage sex situation, but upon introspection, I can see why Dean would react that way. The most he did was send Alex and her boyfriend a knowing look; he didn’t try to stop them, and I think that’s because doing so could be seen as overstepping his bounds.

Debbi: The interaction between these two in this episode was fantastic. While there still are some secrets between them (Amara) they are moving back into a comfortable relationship with each other. They are more relaxed and able to tease each other without any hard feelings on either side, which has got to be hard given the last couple of years. This is something I’ve been hoping to see and I think that Nancy Won got the trademark Winchester snark just right.

The best scene was the family dinner and it was reminiscent of every family dinner I’ve ever had (sisters!). We got bickering, we got tattling, we got uncomfortable sex talk all while our two boys are trying their very best to out eat one another. This has to be one of the few home cooked meals these guys have seen in years and their competition for food was just so realistic. We know that in their past the guys have been hungry and that Dean did his best to make sure Sam was less uncomfortable than he was. That said, when faced with a feast all bets were off and I found this funny, a little sad and very endearing. I love that Jody kind of mothers them as well.

Sam’s talk with Claire was poignant and on point. From their shared pain at the loss of a mother figure to Sam’s admission (again!) that he can’t, won’t hunt without Dean at his side. Sam’s greatest strength is his compassion and I love it when we get to see that come through. It also should be noted that Dean realizes this is his brother’s strength as well. This is a step forward in their renewed partnership. The very best leaders know the strengths of their team members as well as they know their own and deploy them accordingly. I love seeing Dean’s growth in this area, he knew he needed to step aside and let Sam take point proving his trust in his brother’s abilities.

Wayward Daughters:

 

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Michele: I am mixed on this. On one hand it would be a great to see a bunch of women hunters (add in Sherriff Donna) have some great cases. Maybe also from time to time add Eileen in the mix as well since she’s a legacy. But on the other hand, I don’t think we know Alex and Claire’s characters well enough for them a carry on a show.  Strong, female main characters can definitely carry a show as The 100 has shown. But for these ladies, I’d like to see another episode or two before I get aboard the Wayward Daughters train.

Stacy: Can we get a Wayward Daughters spin-off with Jody, Alex, Claire and Sheriff Donna please? Yes, I did wish we had more Sam and Dean in the episode but in my opinion, that didn’t mean it was a bad episode. I know there are probably some viewers out there who are not a fan of Alex and Claire and I respect their opinion. But I feel these characters and the actors themselves have the potential to ‘Carry on Wayward Daughters’.

Jackie: I love the idea of a “Supernatural” spin-off but I’m not as quick to jump on the bandwagon as some others. I love Jody as a character, but I’m still on the fence about Claire and Alex, mostly because I feel like the writers are trying to turn them into female versions of Sam and Dean as opposed to allowing them to be their own characters. I really don’t want to watch a redux of the show that I’m already watching; if they’re going to do a spin-off, I would hope that they’d try to make the story as original and unique to that spin-off as they possibly can. As of now, I’m not so sure that they can accomplish this. However, I could be wrong. I’d be willing to give it a chance though.

Debbi: I assume this is referring to the wished for spin-off featuring Jody and her girls, but am not sure. My thoughts will address the spin-off idea. I think that if the CW wanted to keep a foot in the Supernatural ‘verse that this could certainly be a way to do so. It would be realistic that these two girls would decide to turn to the outlaw hunter life given that their personal experiences are making it so hard for them to ‘fit in’. It could also provide a vehicle for Ackles and Padalecki to continue playing Sam and Dean even after they decide their time on SPN is finished without a full season commitment to one project.

That said, there needs to be quite a bit of character development for both Claire and Alex. The little we’ve seen of them so far has barely scratched their respective surfaces. Also, would a show which features two kick ass girls fly? Buffy Summers and Clarke Griffin are two female leads who are franchise players, so female protagonists aren’t necessarily a strike out. A lot of the success of a Wayward Daughters spin-off would depend on the supporting cast and of course the writers.

Predictions:

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Michele: If this was a back door pilot, it was better than “Bloodlines”. I’d like to see more of the Claire we saw with Sam than the bratty, entitled teen we got in the first part of the episode.

Stacy: I enjoyed the episode and thought it was a good ‘back door’ pilot (better than the Bloodlines episode). I’d like to see Jody, Alex and Claire return in a future episode. But please Jody, invite Donna and her new boyfriend, Doug for a visit!

Jackie: This episode didn’t advance the main plot so I have no new predictions regarding what will happen, besides the fact that “Wayward Daughters” stands the chance of becoming a spin-off.

Debbi: No real movement on our main story arc (Amara) and no hint at what Cassifer and Crowley are up to so it’s hard to come up with a bunch of predications…. I will say that I predict we’ll see continued growth in the boys’ relationship with renewed trust on both sides as well as some new respect for the talents they each possess.

Will we see Claire and Alex again? That’s anybody’s guess, but I think that like Jody and Donna these two would could provide nice breaks in the myth arc and give us a few good MOW episodes each season. Of course if the CW does end up trying for a spin-off, I’d like to see them a few more times prior to their show breaking away from SPN. I think this will allow fans to develop a better relationship with these characters which will prove essential for the success of a spin-off.

Overall Score:

Michele: I’ll give this episode a B. It was a solid episode. Nancy Won did a great job of writing this, and I wouldn’t mind all of them coming back and adding Donna and perhaps Eileen and Mildred in the mix the next time.

Stacy: I’d give the episode a ‘B’. I would have liked to have seen more Sam and Dean. Also, even though I know why the writers chose vampires (because of the Alex’s connection), I would have wanted a larger supernatural threat. Hey, there’s always next time.

Jackie: I’d give this episode a B-. Although it had its good moments, the episode dragged and didn’t suck me in the same way that some of the others did. It wasn’t bad, per se; it just was kind of average.

Debbi: There is so much I liked and nothing that I outright disliked, but this did not excite me as much as some of the other episodes this season. I give Nancy Won an A for her script and I give the overall episode a solid B.

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