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Roundtable Discussion on Supernatural 12×4 “American Nightmare”

Welcome to another Supernatural Roundtable! We are discussing episode 12×2 entitled “American Nightmare” which was written by Davy Perez. Joining this week’s roundtable are Michele Villery, Debbi Bach, Kelly Silva, Emy Cee and Elisabeth Schweitzer.

As always, we love reading your feedback; please feel free to leave your comments and join in the discussion below! Here are this week’s topics.

 

Sam:

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Debbi: Oh, do I love Sam Winchester!  Jared Padalecki once again plays the shit out of the character and makes us want to cry for him and cheer for him all at the same time.  He was so inspiring as he comforted Magda and tried to be so understanding with Dean.  Despite all his conflicts with John while they were growing up over wanting a normal life, Sam is finally comfortable and confident in his own skin, and that makes me so happy.

Of course, the big question that should be tickling at the back of everyone’s mind (I mean, there was no subtlety at all) is ‘how much of Sam’s power(s) are still lingering in Sam’s mind and in his blood?’  I would love to see Sam gain at least partial use of the power bestowed on him by the yellow-eyed demon and even see him using demon blood has a performance enhancer.  It is a part of his legacy, like it or not.  Keeping my fingers crossed that Dabb and the rest of the creative staff have given us this episode as a foreshadowing of the future with Sam.

We also see the presence of a very young Sam, the young adult who didn’t understand his abilities and was afraid of them, afraid of what he was becoming.  I noticed as I watched that this was echoed not only in the dialog and actions of Padalecki on the screen, but also in Sam’s current haircut.  He definitely looks like a 12 years-older version himself and I think it really complements the storyline.  Well done make-up and hair as well as Dabb and the producers.  Nice symmetry and one of the reasons that makes Supernatural so easy to love.

Michele: Can I just say how amazing Jared has been this season. Both he and Jensen are always great, but Jared has been knocking it out of the park, and this episode was no different. Not only was Sam playing role reversal regarding helping Dean deal with Mary leaving both of them, but he also gave the speech we ALL wanted to hear last season about God.  He was angry, hurt and just done in his speech.

I also thought it was interesting that Sam said he still sees things. He may need help with Demon Blood, but his understanding and sympathy with what Magda was going through was touching and brought me back instantly to early seasons of the show. (So did those priest costumes). Sam is now very comfortable in his own skin.  He has come to terms that this is his life, he is content and happy and wants to help people.

Please, Andrew Dabb, let us see some of Sam’s powers return. Sam’s chat with Magda in a way was foreshadowing that.

Kelly: This was another great Sam episode.  I love the banter between Sam and Dean about Vince Vicente and his conversation with Dean about how irritable he was since Mary had left.  We’ve come to expect this from Sam and he never disappoints.  Sam was spot on when he realized that the Peterson family was at the root of the deaths of Olivia and the delivery boy.  Sam having been through so much in his life could connect with Magda on level that no one else could.  Even when he was captured and tied up at the dinner table and just witnessed Mrs. Peterson killing her husband and trying to kill her son, he pleaded for Magda to control her powers and not kill her mother.  Jared Padalecki has been amazing to watch this entire season.

Lis: The voice of reason in the world of insanity. Can we take a moment to recognize how great of an actor Jared is? Man, that scene at the dinner table was intense! I love that they brought back the man with the “special” children. I know Sam felt guilty he didn’t know about Magda so he could have helped her like the others, but I am happy he was able to make a positive (albeit short) impact on her life.

But really, how many more times can Sam take a head injury? I feel like he gets hit in the head every episode.

Emy: I was so excited to see that the Sam Winchester Psychic arch has returned this week. This reminder of what has happened from past seasons till now was really excellent and really needed in my opinion. When I saw that the episode title was American Nightmare I knew it was going to be a crazy episode, and I slightly wondered if there would be a nod to the election, and in a way there kind of was. I wonder if Sam saw himself in Magda this week, which is also a sad thought. 🙁

 

Dean:

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Debbi: Oh, grumpy Dean – you are both funny and sad.  Jensen Ackles uses his expressions better than anyone else to telegraph his thoughts and it doesn’t take someone as sensitive as Sam to know that he’s still bothered by Mary’s ‘defection.’  I have often wished we’d have a better handle on the timeline in the show – i.e. how long has it been since Mary took off…it would sometimes help understand the character’s actions and reactions, but we don’t…. Despite his angst over Mary leaving, Dean is still very much about the business of hunting and even though both he and Sam were off base on the cause of the current spate of supernatural occurrences, he is still able to pull it together and make the save.

I kind of loved grumpy Dean’s further irritation at the thought of Crowley and Cas hunting for Satan as a team.  I love the pairing, so any allusions to it make me smile.  Plus, mentioning it in this all Sam and Dean episode helps keep the stories relevant and tied to together.  Also, loved the squabbling between the brothers about the musical IQ of Vince Vincente – that is a truly classic bro moment and a throwback to some of the earliest episodes.  Well done, Davy Perez – you are a great addition to the SPN family.

Michele: Hello, Grumpy Dean! Jensen’s facials in this episode were fantastic. I completely understand what Dean is going through. He is a mix of emotions due to Mary leaving her sons…yet again.

I loved the throwbacks to early seasons where the boys squabbled about cases and who was right and wrong. I liked the Vince Vincente stuff at the beginning as well. I laughed out loud.

Also, Dean, you could have walked AROUND the fence instead of over it. Davy Perez did a fantastic job of catching the nuances of both brothers in this episode. Well done and welcome to the SPN Family!

Kelly: I have to give kudos to Jensen Ackles.  He played Dean perfectly in this episode.  He is still reeling from Mary’s departure in the last episode.  His text to Mary was heartbreaking in a sense you could almost see four-year-old Dean asking if he should still call her mom.  He sends the text and waits for the reply that doesn’t come.  Dean always portrays this thick skin, but he is so easily hurt by his love ones.  He is quick to blame Beth for the death of Olivia because she is a Wiccan and was promoted to a higher position.  However, we all know that things are never that easy for the Winchesters.

Lis: I loved that we got to see Dean’s comedic side again, even if this wasn’t a comedic episode. He can always bring out laughs with just a smirk. Also, I am going to have to do a few extra rosaries this Sunday because seeing Dean in his priest outfit gives me the vapors.

Emy: Dean broke my heart, he is so upset about Mary, and he let his guard down. Sam and Dean really proved in this episode that they need to rely on each other because when they don’t work together, nothing seems to go right.

 

Mr. Ketch:

Debbi: So, the ultimate BMOL torturer and clean up man finally hits the scene and in a nightmarish kind of way.  It seems that the BMOL are most definitely cut from a different cloth than that of the Winchesters.  This could build into a truly epic showdown.  We saw a glimpse of Ketch’s motorcycle in last week’s episode, and it seemed to be prominently placed and definitely a clue for what was to come.  I had personally thought that perhaps the bike belonged to Vincente and in this case, I’m happy to be proven wrong.

Ketch is still pretty much a mystery, outside of the fact that he’s working for the BMOL as assassin/clean-up man, so I’ll be interested to see how his storyline progresses and am anxious to get a look at this new and unknown threat to the Winchesters

Michele: Ketch is a mystery. He apparently is some sort of cleaner for the UKMOL. Man, their chapter is a twisted one. The Winchesters solved the case, and Magda is fine. There was truly no need to kill her. She was a child that most likely would have never been a threat. In fact, she could have been of use to them one day. When the Winchester’s finally meet him, this will be ugly and interesting, and I have a feeling, he won’t last long at all.

Lis: A British spy stalker/murderer for hire? I am just confused about this weird code of ethics and protocol the British men of letters live under and expect the boys just to know. The American men of letters died out years ago. If they were so concerned about the American monster situation shouldn’t they have tried to build up the men of letters instead of following around hunters?

Kelly: So it’s official.  The British men of letters do everything by the book.  No exceptions, no hope for redemption.  A monster is a monster no matter the situation.

Emy: I am in a fight with Mr. Ketch, and we are not going to be on speaking terms for a while.

 

Magda:

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Debbi: I don’t think anyone with a heart could have watched Magda’s humiliation and subjugation without flinching and without their eyes watering.  This poor child was subject to some horrible abuse by those who should have protected her.  It’s easy to say that this situation wouldn’t happen in real life, but I’m sure that there are more cases of this kind of horror than we hear about.

I loved how Sam was able to break through her pain and protective emotions to help soothe her and to help her to see the reality of her situation.  I was hoping to see Sam demonstrate some of his talents – maybe by releasing his bonds, but it didn’t make the scene any less powerful.

When Magda finally realized, she did indeed control her gift and was not a puppet for Satan; I wanted to cheer.  I loved that she acted to save her brother from their mother’s horrific ‘Jim Jones’ moment and that instead of stabbing that sick woman (she so deserved it) Magda was able to rein her power in…. Very, very powerful scene and powerful moment for both Magda and Sam.  I’m very sorry that Ketch killed her off, but it is a useful plot device to piss Sam off

Michele: If anyone understood what Magda was going through, it was Sam. He has (and he acknowledged it that he still sees visions) some gifts of his own. The showdown between Magda and her mom was so well done that it reminded me of the book Carrie, where Carrie stood up to her own mother while dealing with her own psychic abilities. It was an emotional, powerful scene. I’m so sad and angry Ketch killed her off. But, on the other hand… Ketch unknowingly just pissed off Sam to the point where he’s a dead man walking.

Kelly: My heart went out to Magda.  A young lady who is psychic and was warped by her parent’s beliefs.  When she reached out to Olivia and the delivery boy she wasn’t trying to kill them but wanted to make contact with them.  Sam being psychic had the empathy and compassion to reach Magda and help her understand she can control her powers.  In the end, the real monsters were Magda’s parents who used religion to punish Magda and were even willing to kill themselves and the whole family to beat the ‘devil’ that was supposed to be guiding Magda.

Lis: I LOVED Magda! I wish we could have had more episodes with her. She would have been a great, strong female recurring character. Plus I would have loved her to meet a real angel and have Cas put it out of her mind that she was evil. It would have been pretty incredible to have Magda defeat the actual Lucifer, right?

Emy: Poor Magda deserved everything. Her family keeping her in the basement convincing her that she was Lucifer was so scary because it seems like something that might actually happen. I saw that Sam and Magda had a lot in common- Magna was almost a metaphor for me of Sam when his wall got removed. The ending is why Mr. Ketch and I are fighting.

 

Telekinesis:

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Debbi: I think I’ve made my comments about this in regard to the episode above.  One further note, I do believe that there are a very, very few people who can do things like this with their minds.  So much of how our brains work is undocumented, and there is so much extra space in our heads that while I don’t discount the possibility of a psychic phenomenon completely, I’d have to have really solid proof of said abilities.

Michele: Telekinesis always interested me. I do think the brain is powerful and is capable of doing amazing things. I have an open mind because we don’t know yet what the brain is fully capable of.

Kelly: It’s a shame that people who have telekinesis are so misunderstood in this series.

Lis: Wow, Magda was incredibly strong. I was confused how the stigmata appeared on Olivia if Magda didn’t have her hands and feet impaled, but I really loved the telekinesis in this episode.

Emy: Bringing back the telekinesis and bringing the vessel talk full circle was fascinating. The monster of the week being human nature perfectly countered the notion that sometimes it takes a supernatural strength to dig deeper into the mind.

Predictions:

Debbi: I think Sam still does have his demon-gifted abilities and that he’s had them locked up in a safe place in his mind.  I’m not sure what it will take for him to break them out again, but I think we may see that happen at some point this season.  I also think that Sam will continue in the role of ‘older brother’ when it comes to Dean and their mom.  Sam seems to understand what Mary is facing far more than Dean does.

We have obviously not seen the end of Mr. Ketch and the BMOL – I predict an epic showdown at some point.

Michele: I think we should be ready at some point for some epic show down between the UKMOL and the Winchesters. Maybe, this will be the thing that brings out some of Sam’s gifts? I’d hate to be Ketch when Sam finds out what he did to Magda. He’s a dead man.

Kelly: I believe the Sam and Dean will get wind of Mr. Ketch and I’m sure they won’t be as unprepared as in previous episodes.  I think Sam and Dean may be joining Cas and Crowley in their hunt for Lucifer.

Lis: I hope we get some better explanation as to why  the BMOL are so concerned with Dean and Sam actions as opposed to actually doing something to help the men of letters succeed

Emy: I am hoping that Cas and Crowley will circle back, with Mary to take out this BMOL. As far as Big Bad’s go, they are up there with Zachariah for me. I’m REALLY looking forward to more fantastic writing from Davy and Dabb; this was an incredibly strong episode.

 

Overall Score:

Debbi: This was a very, very solid MOW episode with a number of good connections to the Winchester’s past.  Everyone brought their ‘A’ game, and I would definitely not mind watching this episode again.  I give it a solid A.

Michele: A

Kelly: A

Lis: A!

Emy: A

2 Comments

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  1. I’m really starting out dislike the expression “Grumpy Dean.” It used to be reserved for the times when Dean complained about Sam replacing the beers in the coercion with smoothies, or when Sam finished off the coffee before Dean got up. That made sense, and it was funny. But when it reaches the point where Dean expressing feelings of hurt and loss because his mother left them (however temporarily) after a 33 year enforced separation is laughed off as “Grumpy Dean,” I think it’s time to retire the phrase.

    I wouldn’t give the ep more than a “B” myself. It was an improvement not the first two eps of the season, but the writer lost track of a lead character for an entire act; that’s not good writing in my book. Also, a golden opportunity to explore more of the boys joint past with regard to AWOL parents and CPS was reduced to a single grimace on Dean’s face, in favor of allowing more time for Monster Mom to rant at Sam, and Mr. Ketch to stop and read Baby’s plate.

  2. I do not want Sam’s psychic abilities to come back. The brothers need to be on equal terms, not one more powerful than the other. I like the monster of the week storylines , except when they go back to making Dean look stupid as this episode did. If you had never watched the show you would think that Sam was the elder brother. What I didn’t understand is why Magda killed those two people and in the stigmata fashion. Plus, doesn’t anyone think that Magda would need some therapy before being turned lose on her own?

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