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Sweatpants & TV | Supernatural, Season 14, Episode 18: “Absence”

Oh, Jack. What have you done? And what will you do now, in your attempt to fix it, when it just may not be fixable? Read on, and find out.

Home is Where the Heart Isn’t

Sam and Dean come back to an empty Bunker, wondering where Jack and Mary are, but otherwise celebrating Sam’s millionth near death experience. Dean admits that lately they would be up the creek without Jack, and I have to wonder: why are they letting Jack use his powers so much if they know it leads to the loss of his soul? Calling Jack a “Get out of Jail Free” card? Not so wise, it turns out.

Dean calls Mary’s cell and it rings, still on the table, which concerns them. Then they try Jack whose phone is in his pocket, ringing and ringing as he stares out into space, stunned by what he has done. And yes, I know he is being set up to become and unintentional big bad but all I feel is sorry for him. Because he’s a teen, and he lashed out at someone in his family that he loves, and it all went so much worse than he ever could have imagined it would have.

Globe Trotting

The boys call around but no luck finding Jack. Cas calls in, concerned that Jack and Mary are alone, and tells Dean about the snake, trying to express his concerns about Jack. Dean hangs up. (It’s just a snake, right? Oh, Dean. It’s so much more than that.) Sam and Cas track Jack’s phone and he is literally flying all around the world, lost and upset. He ends up back at the cabin, remembering Mary and how kind she was to him, and how he accidentally struck out at her. It’s pretty painful.

Jack’s subconscious appears in the form of Nick, and it torments him. He tells Jack he can’t come back from killing Mary—that he can’t run or hide from it. And even though it was an accident, Sam and Dean will never understand.

On Track

Sam desperately tries to figure it all out as he and Dean head for the cabin to find Jack, but Dean doesn’t want to talk about it. Jack’s signal is lost, and they have no clue what they’ll find there. All they find? Is Nick’s burned and tortured body and an angelic-looking blast radius full of ash. No Jack. No Mary. And seemingly? No hope.

Cas arrives, sitting in his car for a moment and reminiscing about how tough and loving Mary was. How he told her the boys were happy she was back and they were no longer alone. How she told him that they never were, recognizing his import to them. These flashbacks are pretty brutal. Mary obviously meant a lot to all of them.

In the cabin, Dean tries to gloss over what Jack did to Nick, but Sam keeps trying to get him to see the truth. Cas comes in and learns what happened and Dean tells him if something has happened to Mary? Cas is dead to him. Cas admits he was scared. Jack became family and he didn’t want to lose that. He thought he could fix it on his own and he failed them. Again, though he doesn’t say that.

Rowena calls, and she seems genuinely remorseful. Dean demands she say what she knows and it is this: Mary Winchester is no longer on this earth. Dean smashes a chair in frustration, as Sam looks sick and Cas looked pained. Sam wants to know what they do, and Dean answers with what they always do. He tells Sam that Rowena is the resurrection master who can help them, and demands Cas go to Heaven to find Mary. They’re going to bring her back.

Witch Way

Rowena opens to the door to find not Sam and Dean, but Jack. Jack is desperate and frustrated and scared, and Alexander Calvert does him a great service in the way he portrays that. As a mom? I just wanted to hold him and tell him it’s okay. Even though it totally isn’t.

Rowena tries to stall him, telling him her own resurrection spells won’t work as they are fail safes, but there are other spells in the book. When Sam and Dean knock, she pleads with Jack to talk to them—“they’re your kin”—but instead he spirits her away, determined to make her help him undo it.

Come Out and Play

Cas goes to the gate to Heaven in the playground and pleads for Naomi to answer him. She doesn’t, but Dumah does, snippy and superior as ever. She knows immediately who Cas is looking for and says that Mary is at peace. She died instantly—painlessly. She is in a special Heaven. “Mary Winchester is complete,” Dumah says, and it sounds sad but lovely.

Cuts Like a Knife

Jack and Rowena end up in the Bunker, where Jack has a flashback to Mary training him to handle a knife, and remembers her kindness and patience and her oh-so-lovely smile. Jack leaves the room, and the flashback becomes Sam’s, as he talks to Mary about being absent from Jack’s guidance as he searched for Dean.

They discuss parental guilt and Mary reminds him that all parents think they are doing a crap job and then their kids turn out amazing—like hers did. It’s touching and sweet and clearly breaking Sam’s heart.

Back at Rowena’s, Dean is upset with Cas, but Sam admits it was them, too. They knew Jack was dangerous. It’s on both of them. They wanted to believe the best in him because, and it is said again, he was their family. Neither of them knew it could turn out like this.

At the Bunker, Rowena admits that she wants Mary back too, and Jack battles his inner Nick even more. He is agitated, impatient, and his inner voice is beating him down, reminding him he should give up the fantasy of being able to feel.

Rowena is done, but she needs one last thing: the body. And that’s going to be a problem. Jack brings her to the cabin but Rowena admits she can’t—won’t—do it. She tells Jack what he brings back won’t be Mary and she won’t help him. So he throws her back into her flat and decides to do it himself. Rowena calls the boys and tells them of Jack’s state of mind. That they need to stop him—before he does something terrible. And Jack? Circles the blast site with the Book of the Damned, trying to do just that.

Jack Be Quick

Sam and Dean arrive in Baby, which Jack promptly (and literally) stalls for time. Jack sees Mary’s body, just as the boys find him, and turns to them, horribly broken and ashamed. “It didn’t work,” he says, his voice catching, and disappears.

Dean cradles his mother’s empty shell, remembering, so sweetly, the feeling of her at rest on his shoulder on a drive in the Impala, and Sam touches them both as they grieve on the ground.

Later, Jack is alone with “Nick” again, who tells him it is worse that he tried and failed. Sam, Dean and Cas will never trust him again. Which means he can never trust them either.

All I’ve Got is a Photograph

Sam looks through his memory box photos, reminiscing painfully about Mary. Cas comes, and tells him what Dumah said, as Dean looks on from the doorway. “You just gonna take her word for it?” Dean asks, and Cas says he went to Heaven, and saw that Mary is happy. She’s with John, and there is no sorrow or guilt, just joy.

The body they saw? Was just a duplicate, incapable of life, according to Rowena. And what will they do with it? “What we always do,” Dean says, and we cut to Mary’s hunter funeral, seeing flashbacks of her as they watch the flames.

Cas tries to console Dean, but Sam stops him, knowing it’s not the time. They all need to just feel their feelings of loss. Emptiness. Which we confront in an empty bunker whose table now bears three sets of initials: SW, DW and MW.

Ouch. That one really stung. And what will become of poor, sweet, broken Jack? It’s all right there in episode nineteen’s title: “Jack in the Box.” See you next week.

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About Barbara Doyle (229 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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