Last Week on Supernatural: We reunited with flirty and fun high school Alex and obsessive, unhappy college dropout Claire in Sioux Falls. Gender-bent glimpses into Sam and Dean’s past, had they had the choice to hunt or pursue a normal life. Oh, and Jody continues being the badass we know and love, raising teenagers, fighting vampires, making ribs. (#WaywardDaughters spinoff, CW. The streets need it!)
We open in Hudson Falls, Ohio, where a married couple is getting ready for a night on the town. They kiss sweetly and the doorbell rings, spurring a growl of panicked annoyance from the wife that is all-too familiar to anyone with an infant: SHE’S GOING TO WAKE THE BABY! (Although, honestly, if you tiptoe too much around your kid when they’re sleeping, they’ll never get used to sleeping through noise and become even lighter sleepers. Pro-tip.) It’s the babysitter, and boy is she happy that Dan answered the door. A little too happy, as it turns out, because she pulls him into a deep kiss, confirming the ain’t-shitness I had only vaguely suspected.
“You’re telling her tonight, right?” she demands, to which he rightfully replies, “It’s Valentine’s day!” Like, GIRL. The wife comes downstairs and gives her a frosty hello, because of course she knows what’s going on (MAYBE FIRE THE HOMEWRECKING SITTER???) and they leave.
Staci is downstairs, watching TV while the baby sleeps, the gold mine of babysitting jobs. Something is stalking her, and there is a sudden close-up on a teddy bear perched on the shelf, which would seem random if you weren’t aware of the prevalence of Nanny cams, used to surveil child care providers in action. Finally, whoever has been approaching surprises her from behind, and while we can’t see their face, we know from her lack of fright that it’s someone she knows and trusts. That is, until they punch their way into her chest and rip her heart out. Ouch.
Bunker. Sam is combing the news for a case when Dean stumbles into the kitchen, hungover after a thorough celebration of Unattached Drifter Christmas. Ravenous, he performs the all-too familiar leftover hunt, fueled by pure desperation and lingering alcohol. He finds a Chinese food box and slurps its contents down before immediately spitting them back up, scattering rice down his front. It’s a pathetically endearing sight.
After the oldest and most obvious Mr. Right Now joke in the world, Sam tells Dean what he’s found: Ohio, young woman, found dead with her entire heart ripped out. “Like an ironic werewolf?” Dean grouses, not totally there yet. Sure. He is unsure why they are pursuing anything that doesn’t have Amara’s watermark on it, but Sam is insistent, and they take off – after Dean takes a shower.
The brothers arrive on the bloody scene to find a shocked, teary Melissa and cagey Dan. “How should I know?” he demands, when questioned about any former lovers Staci might have had, and Sam and Dean exchange emoji side eyes. Also, the teddy bear camera is gone. How strange!
Sam visits Staci’s corpse at the morgue while Dean pays a visit to Dan at work. He cuts straight to the point: “You’re shtupping the babysitter.” Dan quickly realizes duping this FBI agent won’t fly, so he admits to the affair and confesses that he was actually in love with Staci and would never hurt her. He pulls out the video from that night – surprise, surprise – and tells Dean that he was planning to erase the kiss before turning the video over to the police. Except for the part where he is identical to the heart snatcher. Dean takes the video and tells him to keep this on the DL, he’ll sort it out.
Dean reconvenes with Sam in the motel room to share what he’s learned, and we are subjected to hearing the word “shtupping” for the second and hopefully last time. (The offense is marginally lessened by Sam wearing the hell out of a white button up shirt.)
Before Dan can go home and enjoy a painfully awkward evening with his wife, a young woman steps off the elevator, making a beeline for his office. If you guessed Revenge of the Babysitter, you’re right: it’s Staci, completely whole and fresh as a daisy. Dan is understandably terrified and bewildered, but she isn’t really in the mood to converse. Punch, grab, yank. Dan is now heartless AND dead.
The boys quickly ascertain the identity of Dan’s killer, thanks to Gladys, the ridiculously attractive coworker. They seek out Jessica, who is now super sus. She seems panicked and jittery, but flat-out denies killing Staci or even wanting her dead. Hmmmm. Once the boys leave, however, she takes out a box full of hex baggy mischief and tries to call someone, to no avail. Whatever her plan was, it went terribly wrong, as she breathlessly explains to the answering machine. She didn’t mean for Dan to die. Sucks.
A few hours later, we presume, Jessica is attempting to calm her nerves with a glass of wine when there is a pounding on her front door.
“Agents, is that you?” she warbles. If only. Her dearly departed has returned, but she’s having none of that. Once he busts his way inside, she maces him before chucking a potted plant at his head and bolting out of the back door. She takes the boys’ standard offer to let them know if she needs help by barging into their motel room and locking the door behind her. Um, hi.
They’re spinning their wheels unless Jessica admits to her devilry. She bought a spell off of Sonja, her hairdresser, who moonlights as Samantha Stephens. A spell to reignite the love between Jessica and her roving eyed husband, sealed with a kiss. No one was supposed to die. Sam inspects the spell and discovers it is actually an Aramaic curse that is bound to the caster, through their heart. The creature is a qareen, not a shapeshifter, as they suspected, and once it has its sights set on you, it assumes the form of whoever you’d see by your side in the Mirror of Erised. Ridding yourself of the curse can only come about by passing it on, and if this is sounding familiar, that’s probably because you’ve seen the 2014 slow-burn thriller It Follows.
Dan shows up, and armed with their knowledge of the curse, and ever the self-sacrificing Gryffindor (is that an oxymoron?) Dean kisses Jessica full on the lips, thus drawing the qareen’s attention ire to himself. They hop into the car and zoom off, as Dan’s silhouette morphs into a woman. Three guesses who it is?
Once they’ve put enough distance between themselves and the qareen to figure out the next move, Sam is all, WTF Dean, do you always have to be the martyr? And Dean is like WTF, Sam, have you met me? And Jessica is like WTF, what kind of FBI agents have an arsenal in their trunk?!
They hatch a plan: find Sonja, the weird witchy hairdresser. Better yet, find where she’s keeping her heart, which is what is powering the qareen. They arrive at the hair salon, cutely called The Art of Dyeing (but not as cute as Curl up and Dye from Runaway Bride). Naturally, Dean has to point out the name after we’ve already seen and chuckled at it, because the jokes on Supernatural are as subtle as a brick to the face.
Once inside, things happen pretty quickly. Dean and Sam play Rock, Paper, Scissors to determine who will search upstairs for the heart, and Dean, after years of losing, finally wins. His joy is palpable and Sam is gloriously salty. While Sam is fiddling with the lock on the heart-in-a-box, its owner shows up and she is pissed. We learn that while she was once satisfied with punishing adulterous husbands, she’s moved on to killing the “foolish women who want them back” as well. “You’re practically a feminist,” Sam spits sarcastically, a rather risky joke for a show like Supernatural.
Meanwhile, Dean is face to face with what the show would like us to believe is his deepest, darkest desire – and it isn’t Daisy Duke. Despite Amara’s arresting looks, Dean is not the one to be taken in by pretty packaging. Qareen-Amara remarks that love in Dean’s heart is “cloaked in shame” and admonishes him to give in. Dean’s like, not today.
Upstairs, Sonja concludes her villainous oration and lobs an asphyxiation spell at Sam. His neck turns an alarming shade of red as he chokes, but Jessica steps in just in time to distract Sonja and give Sam time to shoot her. Ding, dong, the witch is dead. Sam stabs the heart just time, before Qa’Amara can finally land one of the heart-ripping punches she’s been throwing at Dean. She screams and dies in a rather anticlimactic puff of black smoke. And Dean is Not Okay.
In a surprisingly candid post-hunt heart-to-heart (ha), Dean tells Sam about Qa’Amara and the terrible hold she has on him whenever he’s in her presence. Sam doesn’t indulge his obvious guilt, asking Dean whether he thinks that obvious disparity in power makes him complicit, weak, or evil. Dean’s drowning in all three, and he admits that he probably won’t be able to get the job done, that Sam will have to be the one to take her down. It’s an uncomfortable reversal of their roles, but Sam presents a brave face for Dean.
It will be interesting to see Sam stepping up to be the savior Dean has always been. Let’s hope that when it comes down to it, Dean will be able to step aside and let him do it.
Next week: Time traveling shenanigans, Nazi Germany, and Casifer’s in hell and has Crowley in a cage. About damn time.
Carla is a writer, teacher, and proud Slytherclaw. Her work has been published in The Toast, McSweeney’s, Potluck Mag, and Luna Luna Mag. Follow her @carlawaslike for more Supernatural rants and desperate dispatches from the middle school trenches.