Let me start off by being incredibly superficial. In "Mother's Little Helper," written by Adam Glass and directed by first-time director Misha Collins, I HATED Sam's hair. Usually it isn't a distraction, but WTF? That slicked-down, unmoving 60s flip? There were scenes that were meant to be intense, but I wondered, "why is Sam's hair in place when he's fighting an evil possessed nun?"
Sorry, Sam, Marlo Thomas wore it way better. Maybe this was Misha's revenge for all of the shit Jared Padalecki has given him over the years. Misha, it worked. That thing never moved!
"Mother's Little Helper" is a song by the Rolling Stones about housewives downing tranquilizers to get them through the day. Big thing in the "Mad Men" days. Let's get meta: the title means nuns, addictions of all kinds, addictions being little helpers, etc. I feel so smart now.
"Mother's Little Helper" is a solid episode. It benefits from focusing less on the Winchesters and more on the flashbacks of how Henry Winchester and Josie teamed up to solve a case--which ended in Josie letting Abbadon take her meatsuit. Since the Winchesters are unkillable and many episodes involve tying them up when you know they're going to break free and save the day, it lowers the stakes more than the show seems willing to admit. Having Josie and Henry working a case is a breath of fresh air.
THEN: The whole season up until now, with extra Men O' Letters.
NOW: A teacher comes home, where her husband is watching tv. "What's for dinner?" he calls out. "Meatloaf." "Again?" he whines. Big mistake, mister. His wife picks up a huge candle-holder and beats him to a bloody pulp, while saying: "Meatloaf" (WHACK) "with mashed potatoes" (WHACK) "and broccoli!" (WHACK). I giggled like a moron through the whole thing. 'Cause I'm married.
At the bunker, Dean is sifting through papers. He looks like angry crap. Sam enters with a possible case--people in Milton, Ohio are going Godzilla on other people for no apparent reason. But Dean declines to accompany him.
OH.MY.GOD. SAM GETS TO WORK A CASE BY HIMSELF. That Dean lets his brother drive off alone in Baby means serious shit is going on in Dean's head.
"Dean, come on, I'm busting out the empathy here."
"Go fuck yourself."
As soon as Sam is out of the door, Dean sneaks a bottle of the hard stuff out and takes a swig. His hand shakes uncontrollably as he remembers holding the First Blade.
Dean contemplates the hair growing on his palms.
When Sam arrives in Milton, he goes to the diner. Billy, a local man stabs a waitress in the hand with a knife. Sam goes to the police station, where the cells are full of people acting crazy. The woman who beat her husband into "ground chuck" has hung herself. When he finds Billy, he splashes him with holy water. However, instead of burning, Bill charges the bars. There's something in Billy's affect that reminds him of Soulless!Sam (great use of flashbacks). Someone is harvesting souls.
At the police station, an elderly woman is trying to talk to the desk clerk about the crazy. "Don't patronize me, you little turd," she snaps. And is instantly my favorite character in this episode. She pegs Sam as a Man O' Letters. “I say demons and you don’t bat an eye when everyone else around here thinks I’m nuts on toast.”
It seems the same thing happened in 1958. Julia* an ex-nun who was at the local convent when Josie and Henry turned up. Jenny O'Hara, who bears a remarkable resemblance to Shirley MaClaine, plays Julia. AND SHE DOESN'T GET KILLED OFF!!
"I used to wear my hair like that!"
I immediately recognized her from "House" episode in which she plays an older woman who almost hooks up with a young dominatrix before she has a seizure.
At the time that she was a novitiate, so were Henry and Josie. (Reviewers note: why why why do writers always begin exposition dumps with "why are we here again?".) They are working in the field prior to be initiated into the soon-to-be-massacred Men of Letters.
"Do you truly understand the word of God? Here, have a pamphlet."
Long story short: Mother Superior is possessed by Abbadon! Josie and Henry goes to a nun's room, which has carvings on the walls that Josie remembers as "pre-Enochian." (What? Has she turned into Kevin?) This is the same as Sam not recognizing Enochian on Baby in the last episode. Mother Superior is a piece of work who has "I Am Evil" on a plaque on the wall behind her.
Back to the future! Dean is dutifully drinking himself to death when Crowley turns up. Seems Dean had dialed him but hung up.
Symbolism time! The devil on Dean's shoulder!
Dean tries to ignore Crowley, who taunts that Dean is scared of the feelings the Blade stirred up in him. But that Dean is jonesing to touch it again (no, that's not a metaphor). Crowley hangs out with Dean and dialogues a whole lot with many gay entendres. Tell me again, why was Crowley in bed with a woman last week and why did he enjoy Asian porn? And is it wrong that this was the best part of the episode for me? I have got to get some serious help. If Sam's hair had been better...
"Have you seen Sam's hair? He looks like a girl's school graduate circa 1963."
"Go fuck yourself."
Crowley goes to take a piss. While he's in the mens room, a young hunter prepares to take him out. Dean warns the hunter that many dire things will come to pass if the hunter kills the demon. Uh, Dean, have you noticed that very few dire things have come to pass these past few years when demons get killed? The hunter was a plant by Crowley to see if Dean would protect the deposed King of Hell. It worked. Crowley has embraced his addiction to human blood* and he encourages Dean to give in to his need for the blade.
Back to 1958! Julia awakes in the night, gets banged on the head, and ends up in the basement, where she, Josie, Henry and some random woman are tied to chairs. Random woman is dragged into another room, where bright white light streams through the panels. There's some more stuff, then Mother Superior reveals that she is Abbadon. She thinks Henry will make a mighty nice meatsuit. Josie begs Abbadon to take her, because Josie is in unrequited loooove with Henry.
You'll be sorry...but you'll have fantastic hair. Unlike you-know-who.
So Abbadon takes her brand new meatsuit. She plays Josie convincingly when the unconscious Henry wakes up. He thinks all of the nuns are dead, but Julia knows what really happened. They drive away in a huge black Chrysler Imperial.
Sam goes to the now-abandoned convent (which apparently was shot in an actual abandoned convent! Cool!) and finds a demon nun who has been harvesting souls. Like angel grace, they twinkle away in stoppered jars. As we learned way way back in Season 3, demons were once human, when Ruby 1.0's history was recounted. These souls will be twisted into demons to form Abbadon's army, and similar operations are going on all over the place.
Nitpick here: what's the difference between the souls trapped in the veil and the ones the demons are harvesting? Might not some of those souls choose becoming demons rather than trapped in God's outer office with no magazines?
Sam and Demon Nun fight. When she chokes him as he exorcises her, he tosses his cellphone on the ground--with a recorded exorcism! As she smashes the phone, Sam plunges the demon blade into her back. His hair hasn't moved at all. In fact, one side hangs down in over-gelled strands. Damn you, Misha!
Sam opens the jars of souls, and there is a lovely scene of the souls, like white fireflies, returning to their owners. Who are all now stuck in jail for having committed heinous crimes they don't remember committing. Sorry, folks, collateral damage. Talk to Jerome, who's still in that storage locker from "Captives."
(When Sam got his soul back, it was pushed into his body by Death. Sam screamed like a motherfucker, but nowadays souls are new and improved and they slide in ever so smoothly. But if I kept caring about continuity, I'd end up like one of those poor bastards in jail, beating my head against the bars.)
Sam bids Julia goodbye and returns to the bunker. He's 100% with the program now. So back at the bunker, he grabs some folders, slams them down on another table, and starts reading.
In unison: "Go fuck yourself."
Next time on "Supernatural" : Metatron in a swanky dressing gown! Dean in the shower! And...uh...some other stuff. See you in two weeks.
*Julia is named after the administrator of the invaluable Supernatural Wiki, at http://www.supernaturalwiki.com. Check it out.