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Review: Supernatural 12×18 “The Memory Remains”

The Winchesters have got form when it comes to dealing with ancient deities, creatures which sit outside the show’s effed up version of Christian theology, and this week’s installment saw them dealing with a very bloodthirsty, goat-headed god by the name of Moloch.

It seems rather late in the season to be churning out Monster of the Week episodes, what with Lucifer’s spawn about to be birthed, Kelly under Dagon’s decidedly dodgy prenatal care, Cas missing, and the British Men of Letters out to remove the Winchesters and their uncouth ilk from the US hunting scene, which makes me think there will be threads from this year’s plots left dangling to be picked up in Season 13. Although the case of ‘Black Bill’ in Wisconsin was fed to the brothers by Ketch, posing as the recently deceased Mick Davies, as a ruse to get them out of the bunker so that the BMoL could move in and set up surveillance equipment, the events of “The Memory Remains” did very little to advance the mytharc.

Investigating the disappearance of a boy in a town with a history of similar incidents dating back over a hundred years, the Winchesters uncovered a dark secret. The town sheriff had gone into law enforcement to mitigate some of the terrible things his family had done to keep a captive god they owed their wealth to in blood sacrifices. Although the sheriff had put a stop to the abductions, keeping Moloch starved in his basement, his vengeful half-brother, jealous of the lifestyle his father kept his legitimate family in while his other son lived in poverty with his mother, started feeding the hircine idol with the blood of local teens again.

Family skeletons falling out of the closet and estranged siblings are staples in Supernatural, and Dean’s interaction with bad bro, Pete, provided an opportunity for a throwback to the ‘saving people, hunting things, the family business’ Winchester motto, as set out by Dean in the first season. Pete’s assertion that the antithesis – ‘hunting people, killing them’ – was his ‘family business’ prompted Dean to think about the notion of legacy, and whether he and Sam would be remembered for the work they do. It’s interesting that Dean was quite harsh with Sheriff Bishop, who was trying to make amends for the loss of life his family inflicted on the community over the years, but that he and Sam felt they would ‘leave the world better than they found it’, because whatever their intentions, the boys have definitely put the human race in peril many times over, often because they prioritise each other above everything else.

Supernatural --"The Memory Remains" -- SN1218b_0152.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Steve Boyle as Sheriff Barrett, Jensen Ackles as Dean and Jared Padalecki as Sam -- Photo: Diyah Pera/The CW -- © 2017 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Meanwhile Ketch and a crack team were crawling all over the bunker, rifling through the boys’ undies and bugging the place. Ketch also had a good squizz at Dean’s porn stash, and took a memento in the form of a stolen photograph of young Mary Winchester. Not creepy at all. Ketch lying to the boys about Mick’s return to London kind of begs the question, why not just try to take them out? Doctor Hess made her intentions clear last week, so why go through the rigmarole of obtaining more intel on the boys? The BMoL have access to the bunker and know the Winchesters’ movements, so what’s the point of keeping them alive? It may be that Ketch’s sudden attachment to Mary is guiding his hand towards leniency, but I can’t see Hess tolerating that, and Ketch was quick enough to put a bullet in Mick on her orders.

Ketch’s clandestine rummaging through Sam and Dean’s personal effects, while largely played for laughs, was made particularly uncomfortable by the moment at the close of the episode where, unaware they were being listened to, Dean and Sam carved their initials into the table, just as they did in the Impala all those years ago. The footage of them as children will never fail to give me goosebumps and traumatic flashbacks to Season 5 finale, “Swan Song”, so I’d be lying if I said I didn’t take a direct hit to the feels during this scene. But it felt slightly out of place in an episode which had very little emotional resonance otherwise. It seemed like the sort of thing I’d expect to see in the lead up to the last ever episode. I guess the point was that the brothers feel secure and rooted in this place, and wanted to leave a mark for the generations of hunters to come, so it underscored what a huge betrayal the violation of their home and privacy really is. But I wish the writing and story lines allowed for new moments of real and lasting emotion to be created organically, instead of relying on nostalgia for classic scenes.

Final Grade: B-

+ The grade would have been lower, but for the fact I’m a sucker for the bromance, and the initial carving is my Kryptonite.

+ I liked that the goat-head mask was nice and creepy whilst still being obviously a disguise, and that they didn’t feel the need to show the real monster in great detail. Just the suggestion of horns and hooves was pretty effective.

+ Kudos to Darren, who was unabashedly going to watch his friends get it on before he was rudely interrupted by his bff getting hammered on the melon by a goat creature. RIP, you pervy little stoner. I had a lot of time for you!

– Dean’s sexual conquest waitress didn’t even get a line. I mean, we all know what kind of treatment secondary female characters can often expect on Supernatural, but I thought we’d moved past them being passive, giggling fuck-jars.

– A moment which could have had real gravitas felt wasted in an otherwise unemotional MotW episode.

– The whole Moloch backstory was filled in by the sheriff’s monologue. In a medium where ‘show, don’t tell’ is probably the first rule of narrative, this was a big exposition dump.

Extra Thought: Dean was confident the Colt would kill whatever the monster was before Sam had a chance to look into the lore. The existence of a weapon that can kill pretty much anything negates the need for research and therefore does away with fifty percent of the story! That was very noticeable in this episode, and made the plot somewhat thin.

So what did you think? Did this goat float your boat, or was Billy plain silly? Sound off in the comments or on Twitter.

 

 

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Katie Young

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