Supernatural: Peace of Mind
March 15, 2019 6:32 AM - Season 14, Episode 15 - Subscribe

Jack plays with his snake and Sam and Castiel go visit Pleasantville.

Okay, longer rundown than that:

Sam and Castiel investigate "Charming Acres," a place where everything is the 1950's once again. Sigh. Sam, however, falls prey to whatever vibe is going down there and the next day, he's suddenly become "Justin Smith," married to the recently widowed Cindy. Why is Cindy widowed and has no clue that she's even been widowed? Because her husband started to notice something was wrong when Sam mentioned the word "cell phone" and his head exploded. People's heads tend to explode once the 1950's effect starts to wear off, apparently.

Cas is immune to this sort of thing and eventually figures out that Mayor Harrington has mind control powers and has been brainwashing everyone into going back to the 1950's "where everyone's happy." His daughter Sunny also inherited his powers and doesn't like how this has been going (plus her boyfriend's head just exploded too), so she ends up using them on her dad to lock him inside his own happy fantasy so he won't hurt anyone again. Sunny sounds like a useful character to bring back in the future a time or two before the show kills her off, I think.

Sam was susceptible to this because he's depressed after all the hunter murder and doesn't want to go back home these days. Hard to argue that point.

I hate the 1950's. Why is the 1950's always Pod People Stepford Time? Was it really like that? I doubt it.

Best line: "God has a beard." It's funnier in context.

In other news, Jack is concerned about his new pet snake, and apparently nobody knows how to look on the Internet to figure out what to feed snakes (hint: not bacon, not angel cake, not devil cake), so no wonder your dang snake doesn't feel good. Though frankly, how can you tell? It's a snake. They don't exactly make expressions or emote or do anything besides lie around ANYWAY. Seriously, you think snakes are going to be an exciting pet, but every dang snake I see is just lying around looking bored off it's non-ass.

Anyway, Dean brings him to Donatello to see if Jack seems to be having any ill effects from more soul loss or something, but Donatello says he's the most powerful being now.

When they get home, Jack decides to follow Donatello's guiding protocol for him of "What Would Winchesters Do?" (merchandise pending, I'm sure) and ....disintegrates the snake. WTF. DUDE, JUST FIND A FUCKING VETERINARIAN ALREADY.

Best line: "So you took this snake in and it gets to go on road trips?"

Recap at
posted by jenfullmoon (14 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I hate the 1950's. Why is the 1950's always Pod People Stepford Time? Was it really like that? I doubt it.

No, of course the 1950s wasn't really like that (even for white people!) but we're all still dealing with the cultural legacy of Leave It to Beaver, which basically epitomizes that totally unrealistic view of the 1950s.

I was...a little underwhelmed by the fact that nobody seemed at all curious about the source of these (apparently hereditary?) powers. Also, there wasn't really any explanation given (at least that I caught) for why Sam was able to snap out of it and not have his head explode. Obviously they just wanted to tell this neat story and weren't going to let fussy plot details get in the way but the fact that they didn't even bother to toss in a little bit of handwavium kind of annoys me.

I did laugh at the question about whether the head-explosion was more Scanners 1, 2 or 3 though.
posted by mstokes650 at 1:10 PM on March 15, 2019 [2 favorites]

Weird energy to this one. B-. It felt off and seemed kind of first draft-y.

Both Sam and Donatello became cold sociopaths when they lost their souls (although they seem to be trying to reboot Donatello as kind of a cozy, nice sociopath now) but Jack doesn't seem that different from normal. It seems like he still cares about his family and even when he dusted the snake it came from a misguided attempt to do the right thing. Killing the snake seemed more dopey than evil. Why the heck would he think the Winchesters would do that? And why would he think the gorgon guy would be in heaven? Jack should know better than that by now. Maybe he burned off some of his brains instead of his soul!

Why did Dean leave Jack alone with Donatello? I mean, they know Donatello has no soul and he's betrayed the brothers before. Why wouldn't Dean stick around to make sure Donatello wouldn't give Jack shitty sociopathic advice, or try to use Jack for his own ends somehow?

I had the mayor pegged as the villain the instant we met him, so I would have liked some twists there. Throw us some red herrings, show! I didn't have a problem with the mayor having crazy mind control powers, or with the nature of his powers being unexplained. But there was one bit where he tossed Castiel like 25 feet, and that seemed like some whole OTHER power that has nothing to do with mind control. If you can control minds to shape an entire town to your will, you can explode people's heads AND you have telekinesis, you're getting into some crazy supervillain stuff. It'd seem like they'd really want to keep in touch with the waitress daughter character, because if she can do everything her dad could do she's basically a demigod.

I was impressed by all the set dressing and costuming they put into the fifties town, but I was puzzled by some of the anachronisms. Why was the movie house showing Scooby Doo of all things? Why did the boarding house lady have earbuds? The mayor was really arbitrary about what modern stuff he'd allow and what he wouldn't.

I'm not sure what to make of how he treated the POC. It would have been more obviously sinister if all the POC were stuck in menial jobs, acting like 1950s stereotypes, or if there were no minorities at all, but instead they were all stuck acting just like the 1950s sitcom white people. It was almost progressive in some twisted way, compared to the depiction of minorities in media of that era, and I think I would have preferred to have the racial aspect be more pointed somehow. You've got this old white guy turning a whole town into his own Pleasantville, and that could be a lot more horrifying than this was. I also would have liked to have seen people snapping out of it, after he died. There could be a hell of scene when they all remembered who they really were.

Despite them being on the same show forever we don't actually see Sam and Cas hang out together that much, so it was nice to see them go on an adventure even if the results weren't fantastic. Ah, well. Next week it looks there's an actual MONSTER monster, somebody in a rubber suit. Yay!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 4:21 PM on March 15, 2019

Yep, we're going Buffy season six. Jack's going to attempt to fix the world by detroying it, and they're going to have to kill him.
posted by sarcasticah at 5:32 PM on March 15, 2019

"Also, there wasn't really any explanation given (at least that I caught) for why Sam was able to snap out of it and not have his head explode."

I *think* Sunny stopped her dad before he went full blow on Sam. He just didn't get to finish. I concur on handwavium though.

"Killing the snake seemed more dopey than evil. Why the heck would he think the Winchesters would do that? And why would he think the gorgon guy would be in heaven? Jack should know better than that by now. Maybe he burned off some of his brains instead of his soul!"

Yup. More dopey/well meaning than evil sums up Jack. Maybe he thinks the Winchesters would put someone out of their misery, I don't know. But Jack never seems like the brightest bulb since he's like, however many months old as is.

"It'd seem like they'd really want to keep in touch with the waitress daughter character, because if she can do everything her dad could do she's basically a demigod."

posted by jenfullmoon at 8:10 PM on March 15, 2019

This show doesn't have a lot of episodes where Dean's around but not really contributing anything to the plot, which they deal with kind of hilariously as Dean himself just kind of taking his hands off the wheel. Take the kid to hang out with Uncle Sociopath, diagnose his soul by snack cake, snakes probably like bacon (man he could go for some bacon), just whatever, whatever all the time.

On the one hand, I can appreciate that Donatello understands that Mr. Rogers is a good source of moral clarity for him but a meaningless one to Jack, so just sending him to watch some Mr. Rogers on YouTube isn't going to help that much. But "oh yeah just do whatever you think Sam and Dean would do. vaporize a housepet, probably" feels like the kind of thing a bored sociopath would tell a dumb superpowered child as a prank on the rest of the universe.

Sam seriously needing a vacation from both the bunker and his brain makes a ton of sense, but it sure would land better if they'd bothered with establishing any of those characters or Sam's relationship with them like 10% more than they ever did.

Jack seems to be acting on the assumption that his soul is effectively gone. I can't remember anymore when or how Sam figured out about his own soul, but not caring that he was soulless and wanting to keep it that way was a big part of his deal back then (along with not sleeping ever and being a human lie detector.) I'm sure Jack's experience will be different, for plenty of reasons, but I wonder how much he actually knows or suspects, and how much is him not trusting himself.
posted by jameaterblues at 9:42 PM on March 15, 2019

Tiny note for me: it was fun to see Bill Dow again. He always cracks me up.
posted by mordax at 6:17 PM on March 16, 2019

It's not clear to me what souls actually do. I suspect it's not clear to the writers, either, but it would be interesting to have some episodes exploring that. Cas doesn't have one, and he's good. Maybe an angel's grace serves the same purpose? But when Cas lost his grace it only seemed to affect his physical health and his powers.

Borrowed grace didn't work long-term for Cas, so does that mean Jack is on borrowed time using Michael's grace? Could having Michael's grace make him take on some of Michael's characteristics? It never worked that way when Cas took some other angel's grace. Having his own grace was vitally important to his health but completely unimportant in making him himself, which is the opposite of what you'd expect.

The main thing having a soul seems to do for you is get you into heaven. (Or hell.) Having one means Jack can be with his mother someday, so it would be a shame for him to have lost it, even if he can get by with just a grace.

Angels are clearly not completely amoral, but they do seem prone to drastic, ends-justify-the-means plans, Cas included. Maybe souls temper that kind of thinking. So maybe sarcasticah is right that Jack's good intentions will end up threatening the world.
posted by Redstart at 8:05 AM on March 17, 2019 [1 favorite]

I suspect maybe there is a difference between having a soul and then losing it (like Sam, Donatello, and now maybe Jack), versus never having a soul in the first place (like the Angels).

But I agree, the show has never really been explicit about what exactly it means not to have a soul. I suspect the closest we've got to an answer is that it really depends on the person. Based on what we've seen on the show, it seems like it turns people more or less into psychopaths when they lose their soul, meaning they no longer have empathy, and they don't really feel emotions. At most, they have memories of what those feelings were like.

Remember that one off character who lost his soul to Amara? I think it was the episode where they went to the Lizzie Borden house. He no longer felt emotions, but he still was able to conceptualize right and wrong to the point that he ultimately turned himself in for murder to prevent himself from hurting anyone else. Even Donatello seemed to be doing pretty okay until the Demon tablet turned him evil. But Sam was pretty dangerous without a soul.

Even Dean, when he got completely taken over by the Mark of Cain and became a demon, mostly just wanted to get drunk and sing karaoke.

Of course, there are people who are psychopaths (no empathy/feelings), and not all of them turn into serial killers. So I guess maybe not having a soul is sort of analogous to that.

Borrowed grace didn't work long-term for Cas, so does that mean Jack is on borrowed time using Michael's grace?

Perhaps the rules are different for archangel's grace? Or for an archangel/nephilim using archangel grace?
posted by litera scripta manet at 10:19 AM on March 17, 2019

I also felt like there was a lot of plot points they didn't care to cover with regard to the Charming Acres mind control, since it made for a nice little hunt they can always pull out as the A plot for any episode. And they can always call back Sunny for something in the future. I doubt we'll ever get an explanation for where those powers came from.

I was also confused why Dean wanted to leave Jack with Donatello to talk. I guess he wanted to give them their own soulless brothers moment.

- Bill Dow, who played Chip Harrington, previously played Dr. Kadinsky in 7.17 The Born-Again Identity.
- Even though Dean is afraid of snakes and the flashback shows him afraid in 4.06 Yellow Fever when confronted by the large pet python., in reality it was Jared (who plays Sam) who was scared of the python.
posted by numaner at 4:54 PM on March 18, 2019

Oh, so THAT's why the brothers were split up for this episode! Snake cooties!
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:26 PM on March 18, 2019

Why did the boarding house lady have earbuds?

Not quite the anachronism you think it is. I had a little crystal radio with a single earbud headset my grandfather gave me in the 80s and which he'd had for decades. They weren't as popular, but they were around.
posted by solotoro at 4:53 PM on October 30, 2019


Castiel: [sees Dean in the kitchen eating a sandwich] Oh. Thought you, uh, were gonna sleep until the cows dragged you home.
Dean: [with his mouth full] That's not the -- Never mind.

Justin Smith: Say, what's that you got there?
Sam: My cellphone.
Justin Smith: Huh. Cell... phone.
Cindy Smith: Honey, my cakes are getting cold.
Justin Smith: [walking away] Cell phone. A cell phone?
Sam: What was that?
Castiel: Maybe they're Mormon?

Castiel: [looking around him at Charming Acres] This is...
Sam: Yeah.
Castiel: It's like we're stepping into a Saturday Evening Post. I look at them sometimes after you fall asleep at night. They're very soothing.

Sam: We're here about Conrad Martin. I don't know if you heard...
Chip Harrington: I have. Poor kid. You know, the police came by. They said something about an aneurysm or something?
Castiel: Oh, no. His head exploded.
Chip Harrington: Wh-- I'm sorry?
Castiel: Like a ripe melon on the sun.

Sam: "Like a ripe melon on the sun"?
Castiel: It was an apt metaphor.
Sam: Okay, well, maybe try to be a little less... apt.

Dean: What, you setting up a science project?
Jack: I'm trying different foods for the snake.
Dean: Why?
Jack: I think he's sad.
Dean: Oh. Have you tried bacon?
Jack: Do snakes like bacon?
Dean: I like bacon.... Well, anyway, you and the, uh, snake want to go for a little drive?
Jack: You mean a hunt?
Dean: Uh, more like a field trip.
Jack: Okay.
Dean: [awkwardly] Yeah. Good. All right. I'm gonna make some bacon now.
Jack: [to the snake] Would you like some bacon?

Sam: [he and Castiel have been searching Conrad Martin's room] What'd you find?
Castiel: Love letters that were under the bed. They're from Sunny.
Sam: Sunny. Sunny, the milkshake waitress?
Castiel: Yeah, and they're surprisingly passionate.
Sam: Passionate how?
Castiel: She spends, uh, quite a bit of time talking about the -- the shape and the heft of his --
Sam: Okay! Got it, yep, passionate.

Sunny: I promised Mom that I wouldn't leave you, but you're a monster.
Chip: No. No. In this town, I'm God.
Sunny: No.
Sam: No. You're not. Believe me. We've met God.
Castiel: God has a beard.


Sam and Castiel took the names of Tom Scholz and Bradley Delp of the band Boston as their FBI cover. The name of the episode, "Peace of Mind" is after a Boston song from their first album.

This episode was filmed in the same location as Once Upon a Time's Storybrooke.

In the opening scene, the marquee for the movie theater has a sign for a $2 showing of Scooby Doo, a possible nod to "ScoobyNatural" (ep. 13.16).

In Harrington's shop, note the pale green milkshake machines. That mint green hue was THE kitchen colour of the 1950s. The Hamilton Beach 40DM triple spindle commercial immersion blender was the workhorse of almost every shakeshop. A slightly updated HMD400 is still the standard milkshake machine.

Chip Harrington, who runs Harrington's diner, is also the mayor. This is probable nod to Back To The Future's Goldie Wilson, who works at a diner and later becomes mayor.

This is the first episode since season 2 where an individual had all the same powers as Andy, who first appeared in the episode "Simon Says" (ep. 2.5). The antagonist in this episode Chip Harrington can, like Andy can control peoples thoughts and project images into peoples minds to make them do or say whatever they want. Andy was killed by Ava in the episode, "All Hell Breaks Loose Pt. 1" (ep. 2.21).

The movie that Castiel refers to is about a group of psychics who kill by making people's heads explode. The first Scanners movie was directed by David Cronenberg.

After Mr. Smith awakens from his daze, he looks around and says, "This isn't my house," an allusion to the Talking Heads song "Once In a Life Time".

Cindy Smith complains her "cakes are getting cold". This would not have been the case, as the cupcakes are frosted. Cupcakes should never be frosted when warm, as this will prevent the frosting from sticking (and might cause it to separate, depending on its composition). Likewise, baked goods should not be covered when warm, as this traps moisture on the surface and encourages mold.
posted by orange swan at 11:46 AM on March 30, 2022

Pleasantvilles are always so pretty to look at it, but I would hate to live in one. The repression and conformity would get old fast.

I agree with others above that this script needed more development, and should probably have included an explanation of how Chip and Sunny got their powers.

I'm with Dean on barely being able to be around that snake, or the mice Jack had on tap for its food. I can't BEAR rodents or reptiles.
posted by orange swan at 11:49 AM on March 30, 2022

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