Supernatural: American Nightmare
November 4, 2016 3:54 AM - Season 12, Episode 4 - Subscribe

Sam and Dean investigate a case of stigmata that leads them to a religious family that lives off the grid. Meanwhile, Dean struggles to accept Mary’s decision to spend some time on her own.
posted by cfoxhi (10 comments total)
I thought this was quite a good episode. Interesting case with an unexpected twist. I really like the stand alone episodes that are done well.
posted by cfoxhi at 3:55 AM on November 4, 2016 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I don't have a ton to add here. I agree that it was a good standalone case. Overall, the show really feels like it's back in its groove.
posted by mordax at 1:43 PM on November 4, 2016 [2 favorites]

I felt so bad for the poor psychic girl. She finally gets out of the damn basement, and then boom, bullet to the head. I know that was just to set up Mr. Catch as a scary threat, but as a viewer it felt a little too cruel given what we'd seen her go through.

Maybe it would have worked better if the husband was out of the picture. The mother worked as a kook and the son worked as a confused, conflicted kid, but the dad read as this relatively reasonable, compassionate guy and it kept seeming weird that he was buying into his wife's batshit craziness.

Dean seemed awful kill-crazy about the social worker lady. I get that he was upset about his mom, but he was scarily ready to off some lady without being 100% sure she was a witch. I have no idea why she gave him her number at the end, because when he showed up at her office after closing (I guess he was trying to goad her into witching out, before he shot her?) his behavior read as super creepy, kind of a serial killer/rapist vibe.

There was a lot I did like about the episode. As a "monster of the week" it worked fine, mostly. But the stuff that didn't work for me really didn't work. (I think I'd bump it from a B to an A- if the psychic girl had made it to CA. She really deserved some kind of happy ending, instead of bleeding to death on a restroom floor.) They kind of spoiled the psychic aspect with the "previously" opener though. Thanks to that I had the girl pegged as a psychic a lot earlier than I was supposed to.

I was wondering if this was the episode where they were finally going to deal with whether Jesus was really a thing. It's so weird how they've side-stepped that for all these seasons, with all this other biblical stuff flying around.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:43 PM on November 4, 2016 [3 favorites]

I liked this episode, and appreciate the "previously" because I had actually forgotten about Sam's psychic abilities. Plus, as noted in the last thread, the lore and history of this show is so dense, it's easy to forget some of the story arcs (like Mary making a deal with yellow eyes to bring John back to life).

I agree the Dad seemed way too normal to allow this shenanigans from going on - which the writers play into with Dean clearing the family after spending time with the Dad and Sam suspecting them after spending time with the Mom.

We're supposed to hate that she didn't get a happy ending. British MOL take a salt the earth mentality towards all thing supernatural while American hunters tend to be more of a case by case basis (think Bobby and his half changling that he let live in a closet or Sam and Jewel Staite, or Dean and Benny). That's the central theme of this season I think. Are all things of a supernatural basis evil and should be eradicated or are they potentially redeemable?
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 3:58 PM on November 5, 2016 [3 favorites]

I liked the call-back to Sam's psychic abilities and I think it would be interesting if the show went there again (I suspect not). I'll admit, thought, I thought it seemed a bit weak that he was all, I'm psychic too! You can definitely control your powers! Except he hasn't been psychic in, I don't know, like 10 years? (Maybe 7 if you count the demon blood stuff) and him having had any control over them was pretty debatable. He seemed a bit in over his head here despite the parallels.

I also thought Sam seemed a bit "off" when he was giving the mother a piece of his mind for refusing her daughter medical treatment, like, Season 1-level Angry Sam (before his return to the hunting life ground him down some). Considering he was supposed to be undercover, it was totally not appropriate for him to react the way he did; the idea of someone being forced into being an outsider lifestyle by their parents seemed to have hit a nerve. I think this will probably come up again with Mary and her reaction to her kids being raised in the hunter lifestyle against her wishes.

I wish psychic girl had lived too! Supernatural's world seems a lot bigger when there are all of these characters that we know are out there who could we could possibly run into again. It makes me sad that they are just killed off for plot expediency.
posted by eeek at 4:31 PM on November 5, 2016 [2 favorites]

Yeah, I thought Sam seemed off when he went off on the mother too. That could have very well led to the dad giving Sam a punch in the eye, and certainly guaranteed the family wouldn't cooperate with the bros anymore. As the episode went on Sam's outburst made a little more sense, him being the bleeding heart and all, but Dean's fixation on killing the "witch" just kept seeming wrong. I almost wondered if he was under a spell or something. Come to think of it I remember thinking that Castiel seemed unusually bloodthirsty in the premiere. We've seen a few weird aggro outbursts lately!

I totally get that killing the psychic girl was supposed to make Mr. Catch super scary. But the poor kid's life was so, so grim, kept prisoner in the basement, tortured by her own mother, driven to such crazy despair that she's lying there on the floor with her flayed back bleeding while she sings about the joy, joy, joy down in her heart. That is some dark shit, even for this show, and she just seems like this innocent kid suffering for no reason. And to give her just a glimmer of hope, only to snuff it out... it felt like too much, like somebody stomping on a sick puppy.

I also thought it was odd that Dean didn't tell Sam about the sweet text from Mary at the end, but this is a tiny secret compared to a few seasons ago when the bros were always keeping these HUGE, toxic secrets from each other, so that's progress I guess. (You just know that a season or so back somebody in the writers' room wrote *NO MORE SECRETS BETWEEN SAM & DEAN* on the dry erase board, and thank Chuck for it.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:55 AM on November 6, 2016 [1 favorite]

I was up since 3 a.m. this morning because of you know what. I decided to catch up on some television. Watching an episode called "American Nightmare" featuring Christian bigotry and the devil did not fucking help.
posted by jenfullmoon at 8:52 AM on November 9, 2016 [1 favorite]


Sam and Dean introduce themselves as Fathers Penn and De Niro. This is a reference to the 1989 movie We're No Angels, starring Sean Penn and Robert De Niro.

Sam and Dean's fake identities are Jim Morrison and Ray Manzarek, respectively the singer and keyboard player for The Doors. It is unusual for the Winchesters to provide full names of real people, so this may be a reflection on the "off the grid" nature of the people they are investigating.

Mason City, Iowa, was the hometown of Meredith Willson, and the inspiration of the town, River City, in his hit play and movie Music Man.

The autopsy report says the corpse's skull was filled with a gooey substance. The corpse is shown with the skull intact and all the hair in place. In order to make the determination noted, the skull would have had to be opened which would necessitate cutting the scalp.

Crucifixion stigmata occur after being nailed up, so the holes in the feet wouldn't be present during the whipping; also, nails through the palm, sometimes even the wrist, won't support a body without having the limbs roped to a support, and/or having the feet propped on a support, all of which are only occasionally portrayed.

Around 5 minutes in, when Dean is texting Mary, it is fairly obvious that Dean isn't actually the one typing. For example, the question mark appears without him switching to symbols, and even after the message has finished, he continues to type.
posted by orange swan at 9:31 AM on January 10, 2022

It is nice to see Dean in a sweater occasionally. He wears it well.

Dean cannot convincingly go undercover as a priest; Sam can, more or less.

When Dean was looking at the mother and her son in the church, I was wondering if it might be reminding him of Lisa and Ben, but it was probably a mommy issue moment for him.

Dean was way too gung-ho to kill Beth the CPS manager before he had evidence of her guilt. Sure, she was Wiccan, but that's considered white magic, isn't it? It felt like he was projecting his rage with his mother on her, which is really ugly. And I'm usually called Beth so it messed with my head a little to have Sam and Dean talk about who was going to kill Beth, and to have Dean say, "I'm on Beth."

Sam tells Magda she can learn to control her abilities, which made me wonder how the psychics in the Supernatural universe learn what they need to know. Is the information they need online? Will they be able to track down other, more experienced psychics who can mentor them? If Magda could kill two good people whom she liked and was hoping would help her in such a horrible way without even knowing it... she may not have been able to learn to control herself in time to prevent more tragedies. Still, I agree with Sam and Dean that she deserved a chance. If her aunt had been kind and sensible and Magda had had a good, safe, normal life with her, that might have done a lot to help her control her abilities.

I absolutely hate poor Magda's fate, even though I know it's meant to show us how ruthless the British Men of Letters are. Their modus operandi is so much more removed and esoteric than Sam and Dean's. The Winchesters get personally involved in each case, and learn about the supernatural beings involved, and it makes them more willing to cut the principled ones some slack when it seems warranted, whereas the British Men of Letters gather information from a distance and tell their agents, or the hunters who work for them, "Go to X, and eliminate Y."
posted by orange swan at 9:50 AM on January 10, 2022

Don't know why I missed including this quote, but here it is:

Dean: [talking to Sam about Crawley and Castiel] They're hunting Lucifer together. That's right – one's an angel, one's a demon, and apparently, they solve crimes.
Sam: Are they having any luck?
Dean: Kind of. So Lucifer, the Lord of Evil, Angel of Light, is now the Master of Butt Rock. He jumped into Vince Vincente.
Sam: The rock star?
Dean: The douchebag. Guy used to roll with purple hair down to his butt and a spiked codpiece.
Sam: It... it was the '80s.
Dean: The what?
Sam: Uh... it was the '80s.
Dean: What, are you defending him?
Sam: No, I'm not... I mean, his third album was kind of... not horrible.
Dean: I hate you so much right now.
Sam: Anyway, he's the Devil now?
Dean: Well, I mean, he was always kind of the Devil, but, yeah, now it's official.
Sam: Where is he?
Dean: Rowena blasted him to the bottom of the ocean.
Sam: Why?
Dean: I don't know. Why do you love Vince Vincente?
posted by orange swan at 4:37 PM on January 18, 2022

« Older Legends of Tomorrow: Abominati...   |  Pitch: Wear It... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments