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Sweatpants & TV | Supernatural, Season 12, Episode 4: “American Nightmare”

Place your bets: witch or ghost? In this week’s episode we go old school and New Testament when Sam and Dean investigate cases of stigmata and an off the grid family who believe they are following the word of God himself (and no, not the gospel according to Winchester.)

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I Have the Touch

How about that “Then”, huh? Our boys, when they looked like BABIES. It’s been a long while since we’ve thought about the Sam that has powers (demon blood induced or otherwise) so how cool was it to see him again, even briefly. I love when the show flashes back to early episodes. It was cool enough to almost take the sting out of seeing Mary leave Dean again. Almost.

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Bless Me, Father(s)

I cannot think of a way to describe the sight of Sam and Dean in the collar that wouldn’t make my old Catholic School librarian damn me straight to hell. Stigmata is scary and gross, but if investigating it leads to our boys dressed in all black, making us all think about committing a seriously cardinal sin? I’m in. God forgive me, I’m in.

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The Devil You Know

The whole exchange after church was a good one. My heart broke a little when Dean texted Mary, asking her if it was still okay to call her Mom. Ouch. But I immediately got a little comic relief seeing Dean’s reaction to Cas and Crowley pairing up (“That’s right—one’s an angel, one’s a demon and apparently they solve crimes.”) and his reaction to Sam’s apparent sort-of liking of Vince Vincente’s music (“I hate you so much right now.”) These little parlays between the boys always make for a good episode. More, please.

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Fed Up

And then we got Fed suits! Man, I love it when the Winchesters have to play dress up. Dean is as curt to the coroner as he was to the stigmata seeing priest, and Sam, being Sam, notices that he’s acting a little “cranky.” Dean blows him off to investigate the vic’s corpse and it turns out that not only is she bearing the marks of Christ, she also has a skull full of “goopy mush.” So what does that? The boys don’t know, but Dean wants to “focus more on the case, and less on the Dr. Phil crap” and find out.

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The Dyin’, The Witch and The Wardrobe

The boys investigate the office of the stigmata afflicted, deceased, former social worker Olivia, and see that the woman that has replaced her at Child Protective Services, Beth, is a Wiccan. Dean thinks that makes it a bigger slam shut than the Impala’s trunk. That is, until there’s another victim in a grocery delivery boy, and what he has in common with Olivia? A family called the Petersons—both of them visited their almost Amish abode. And thus, so do the boys. Dressed up in social worker outfits. And they look SO CUTE in their little Mr. Roger’s sweaters I could die. Thank you, wardrobe department. This episode is filled with enough costume changes to provide visuals for many pleasant daydreams to come.

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Witness

The Petersons are old school religious. Like, not Amish but pretty damned close. So close, they apparently let their daughter die of a treatable condition because it was God’s will. Mrs. Peterson asks if the boys know God, and man, do they ever, amirite? Dean helps Mr. Peterson fix the wagon (not a euphemism) while Sam gets the lowdown about what brought the Petersons to God. Apparently, Mr. Peterson wanted to leave society behind to protect the kids and Mrs. Peterson heard the word of God himself telling her to live a simpler life. Eventually Mrs. Peterson pushes Sam too far telling him that God has a plan for everything and Sam tells her that it wasn’t God’s will that killed her daughter—it was her. That gets them a walk to the door. Even the sweaters don’t help. Apparently the Petersons have no interest in knowing who are the people in their neighborhood.

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One Way or Another

Sam’s theory is that the dead daughter, Magda, is a ghost, striking out and killing as revenge. Dean thinks that Beth the social worker is a witch using spellwork to take people out. But, as Sam would say, GET THIS! Beth is clean and Magda isn’t dead at all! She’s locked in the basement, by her mother and forced to self-flagellate as her mother attempts to cast the devil out of her. Because Magda? Is a psychic, just like our Sam used to be. Minus the demon blood, of course. And minus any concept of control.

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Guess Where Sam Is? Come On, Guess.

While Dean is discovering that Beth is more “the Goddess is alive” than magic is afoot, Sam goes to search for Magda the not so friendly ghost. Sam hides in the barn while Mr. Peterson and Magda’s brother, Elijah, discuss Magda’s “evil” nature, prompting Sam to go look for her. And find her, he does. Unfortunately for Sam, his phone goes off, and it’s Dean. He tells Dean Magda is alive, but before he can get out much more he ends up on the bad end of Mr. Peterson’s shovel and guess where that leads? To Sam. Tied up (eventually to a chair.) Again. Sigh. Must be a day ending in “day.”

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Psychic Hotline

Sam tells Magda that she’s not evil. She’s just psychic, and she hurts people by accident, trying to control their minds to get them to help her. Sam tells her that he was once psychic too, and he definitely knows she’s not the devil. (Like, definitely not.) Before Magda can believe him, they are told it’s time for supper, and it turns out that the stew has a little more than herbs and spices in it. It has rat poison, which kills Mr. Peterson quickly. Before Elijah can eat it, Magda psychically throws his spoon away. Unfortunately, when Mrs. Peterson attempts to stab Magda, she runs Elijah through instead, while Sam, watches, horrified. Magda attempts to turn the knife on Mrs. Peterson, but Sam stops her, begging her to control herself, which she eventually does. The whole scene is tense and comes to a sad but satisfying conclusion, in that Mrs. Peterson ends up in jail, but Magda ends up alone. I must say, this whole episode had excellent pacing and plot development. Bravo to new season twelve writer Davy Perez!

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Playing Ketch

Sam tells Magda that she’ll be okay—that her power doesn’t control her, she controls it, and that she can call him any time for support. Dean (after collecting Beth’s number) confesses to Sam that he knows he’s been a dick about Mary leaving, but that if Mary needs space it’s okay. And then Mary texts Dean back. “I’ll always be MOM,” she says. “Tell Sam I love you boys.” Awwww. Looks like we’re ending on a sweet note. OR ARE WE? Of course not. We’re ending on a touch of big bad, as British Man of Letters Mr. Ketch “cleans up” after the Winchesters by shooting Magda dead in a public bathroom. And we don’t know who he reports to but it’s clear: he’s going to be a hell of a problem for the boys down the road.

So what does Mr. Ketch’s hop across the pond mean for our boys? Maybe we’ll find out more next week in episode five, epically titled “The One You’ve Been Waiting For.”

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About Barbara Doyle (154 Articles)
Barbara Sirois Doyle is a Contributing Editor for Sweatpants & Coffee. She is a writer, mixed-media artist, and, most important, a wife and mother to her boyos three. She is a voracious reader, unapologetic uber-geek, and lover of all types of music, from Public Enemy to Rachmaninoff. If she's not watching Supernatural or Doctor Who, she is likely trolling the internet for amusing cat photos. She takes her coffee light with no sugar.

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