The brains and the brawn. The nerd and the grunt. Study up, and slash first – ask questions later. I’m talking about Sam and Dean, right? Not so much. I’m talking about Alex and Claire, who are basically what the boys were when they were teenagers, with a grouchy but lovable caretaker. Does this make Jody Bobby? I can see the parallels. And in her case, like Bobby’s, family don’t end with blood.
1. Thank You. Thank You Very Much.
Apparently, Dean found a burger even more tempting than the ones he makes himself. “What the hell is that?” Sam asks. It’s The Elvis, and it’s a bacon cheeseburger between two glazed donuts, and it makes him so happy that I’m starting to think Dean has substituted food for love. Dean’s utter adoration for burgers and pie have been a running gag for a long time now, and there’s no exception to that charm here. The reaction to the burger kind of imitates their life philosophies as well. Sam’s thinking about his future – he’s not about to spend a lifetime outsmarting monsters just to croak with clogged arteries. And Dean? He lives in the moment. Especially if the moment is sandwiched between sweet, sweet pastry.
2. Jody FREAKIN’ Mills!
I know, I know. I have that reaction every time. But can you blame me? The woman can run the police force and cook a hell of a chicken. Jody has become a mom again, trying to bask in the glow of a settled, studious, popular Alex while corralling a rude, belligerent, danger-seeking Claire, and her wayward daughters are keeping her hella busy, what with the birth control pills and the suspected monster killings. I love Jody as a badass mother…no, really, as a badass mother…and when her fostering includes feeding and caring for my boys? That makes me love her even more. Another reaction I always have when I see our favorite Sheriff? For the love of God, SPINOFF, PLEASE!
3. Family Dinner
Does anyone else love seeing how much the boys enjoyed Jody’s home cookin’? From Sam so delighted he has chicken skin hanging out of his mouth to Dean shoveling in mashed potatoes like someone’s going to take them away, it was adorable to see the boys indulge in such simple, good food that didn’t come in a takeout bag. The girls may have found them odd and just a little bit gross but I thought it was sweet, seeing the boys also benefit from the love and care that Jody has to give. I was just surprised she didn’t finally use her mother voice on Sam and tell him to slow down and use his napkin.
4. Time to Have “The Talk”.
Of course, things got super weird at dinner when they found out that the “backup” Jody needed wasn’t the shootin’ kind – well, not the pistol type anyway. She wanted Sam and Dean to be big brothers to the normal life-seeking Alex, and provide her with the male perspective on sex. You could practically see the boys sweat that one out – Sam’s silence and Dean’s strangled “What?” showed how little family life of any kind the boys have had with women, and Claire? Totally sitting there with a chicken-eatin’ grin on her face, while in the end Dean calls the whole thing fun as Alex and Sam sit, mortified. I found the whole thing hilarious and I wish we could see more of this blended family in the future. After all, the guys have gotta eat, right?
5. No, Really. Time to Have “The Talk”.
The whole reason the boys are there in the first place is that Claire called them out to investigate some disappearances in town that she insists are supernatural. Jody worries that the reason Claire spends all her time trolling for cases and reading the lore is that she’s hiding in it because she doesn’t have anything else (ahem, sound familiar, boys?) Dean sends Sam to talk to Claire and he tells her he understands her need to hunt – of course he does – but that she has a chance for a real family, home and school now and she should take it. Sounds like he is asking her to take advantage of all he never had, and I think he’s talking to the wrong daughter. Maybe Dean should have taken that chat upon himself after all.
6. Big Brother is Watching You
When Alex’s favorite math teacher is killed and run up the flagpole, Claire comes to join what the boys are finally considering a case. She asks, rather loudly, about whether they are dealing with demonic possession or ghosts and calls the boys out as “fake FBI” before Dean finally plays the big brother Jody asked him to and calls her out on her crap by defending mom. He reminds Claire that not only is Jody the kindhearted soul who cared for her in her hour of need, she’s the Sheriff, and she’s not about to hand clues over to a teenager in front of a crowd. I loved Dean showing how he feels about Jody by demanding Claire respect her for both of her roles and all she has given. And more parallels ensue when Dean derides what Alex (and Sam) love:
Dean: She did you a huge solid by taking you in. She got you set up at school…
Claire: I don’t wanna go to school.
Dean: Nobody wants to go to school, Claire! It’s school!
Of course, school and a normal life are all Alex wants, and all Sam once wanted too. But Claire? She’s Dean, all over. She’s a hunter through and through who fights her broken heart over the loss of her parents by chasing the bad things that go bump in the night. Nothing Dean can bark at her is gonna stop that. And speaking of Big Brother Bad Cop, Dean’s stare at Alex’s boyfriend and their plan to “hang out” was classic. Claire may have rolled her eyes and walked away but I know if I saw that look? I’d understand that the pearl handle and the shovel were not far behind.
7. True Confessions
After her teacher’s death, Alex tells Henry about her past – well, as much as she can, anyway. She tells him that there are awful things out there, and she used to be one of them. She knows she has done unforgivable things, acting as a lure for a nest full of vamps, and though she spares Henry that part of the full confession, she tries to let him know she’s bad news. It’s Sam, all over again. Trying to be normal, feeling like a freak. Little does Alex know how haunted – haunting – her past really is.
8. Clean Up
Sam’s instincts are on point about Richard Beesome being squirrely. Turns out that that weird-ass janitor has a fake social security number and a fake address and oh, yeah – he’s a vampire. Alex’s cute boyfriend Henry? Also a vamp, turned precisely to track her and keep her where Beesome wanted her, because he was once baited by her and her innocent vibe to become the meal for the nest, and now he’s going to take the ones she loves, too. Another parallel as we see Alex learn that you can’t outrun your past, and, no matter how you try, once you have been a part of a supernatural life there is no more “normal” to be had.
9. Pool Party
Richard and Henry take all three girls to the abandoned pool house, intent on making Alex suffer by making her watch them kill her family. Jody tells Claire she was right, and again I am reminded of how much Claire looks and acts like Dean as she sasses and snarls at the vamps, refusing to give in to fear or intimidation. Alex, like Sam, finds her normal life truly stripped away. She finds out that Henry never cared for her at all. That he was there to build her up and make her happy. Make her feel normal. So that when Beesome killed her she had everything to lose. Claire insults Henry and you can see that no matter how she got there she cares for Jody and Alex. Alex offers to work for Beesome as bait, to save Jody and Claire’s life. Even with a broken leg and a bruised face, Jody tries to talk the vamps down, screaming that they stop hurting her girls. These three really are a family. A fact that makes it all the more shocking when Beesome tears into Claire’s throat. Surprisingly, though, it turns out that Claire helps to save the day in more ways than one – she takes Beesome down long enough to let Dean decapitate him and she spares Alex the killing by taking Henry’s head off herself. One “sibling” sparing another and trying to keep her life at least a little normal. Where have we seen that kind of devotion to family before?
10. Breakfast of Champions
Alex and Claire make Jody breakfast, trying to thank her for what she has done for them. Alex apologizes to Claire and Jody for putting them in harm’s way and finds their forgiveness immediate and without reservation. Jody tells Alex, as Claire looks longingly on, “That’s what’s so scary about family. It gives you so much to lose.” As Sam and Dean leave, Claire confesses to Dean that she knows that Jody would have given her life for her, and she knows how valuable that is. She promises not to hunt “like a dumbass” and excitedly says that Jody is going to teach her how to investigate and follow up leads. Also? “She thinks I’m gonna get myself killed.” Sam talks to Alex, who is still determined to go to school on Monday. Alex promises to get her life together and move on, because she wants nothing to do with hunting. Sam knows all too well how that plan will fail, but, standing there with Jody’s homemade leftovers, he lets her have her little dream for now. Jody and Dean walk toward Baby; Jody saying “As long as everyone wears a condom we’ll be fine.” “I want that bumper sticker,” Dean replies, and we enjoy a sort of happy ending, where the monsters and The Darkness still exist, but all five of this friendly little family of theirs live to fight another day.
Next week, for episode thirteen (“Love Hurts”), you are on your own, friends, because I will be on a family trip. In New England. In February. (Claire may no longer hunt like a dumbass, but apparently I vacation like one.) See you in two weeks, when we discuss episode fourteen, “The Vessel.”