“The heart of a mother is a deep abyss at the bottom of which you will always find forgiveness.”
Honore de Balzac
When you take out the monsters, the angels, the demons or scores of other phenomena that have been an integral part of Supernatural for the past eleven seasons, the heart of this exceptional show is rooted in family.
The Winchester Family is the nucleus that has captivated viewers. When we first met this family on September 13, 2005, the “normal” family ideal of father, mother and children was soon destroyed by a tragic fire that claimed Mary Winchester’s (Samantha Smith) life. It wasn’t long before viewers learned that the fire wasn’t an accident but a demon’s calling card. Widower John Winchester (Jeffrey Dean Winchester) was transformed from a suburban dad to a revenge-obsessed warrior who trained his boys Sam and Dean (Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles) to hunt supernatural evil. Saving people and hunting things equalled a family business where the rewards amounted to lives protected rather than monetary fulfillment.
This militarily trained father whose tunnel vision was so focused on those things that go bump in the night didn’t have time to construct a stable home for his sons. Their Kansas homestead was replaced by seedy motel rooms and endless road trips in a classic 1967 Chevy Impala, lovingly called Baby. Oldest son Dean was an obedient lieutenant to his father’s intentions while younger son Sam became a rebel with his own cause. After years of having a volatile relationship with his father, a normal life was the siren song that Sam followed all the way to the Ivy League halls of Stanford University.
Sam Winchester was done with hunting forever.
Of course, forever has a short expiration date on Supernatural. Dean dragged Sam back into the family business as the brothers hunted a woman in white and searched for their missing father. Countless monsters later, dealing with their father’s death (as well as their own deaths), God, Lucifer, demons, angels, etc., these two wayward sons are still rising above the noise and confusion to carry on.
But now the brothers have added a new partner in the family business: their recently resurrected mother Mary, courtesy of God’s (Rob Benedict) sister Amara (Emily Swallow).
Family is the heart of Supernatural so there remains many tantalizing questions as to how this newly constituted trio will adapt to each other. After all, Sam, Dean and Mary may share blood, but at this point in their lives, mother and sons are virtual strangers.
Lest everyone get into an uproar, I offer the disclaimer that this article is forcused on Sam and Mary’s relationship. There are another set of issues with Dean and Mary’s relationship, but I wanted to examine Sam and Mary at this juncture. In addition, I will look at one focal point: Guilt and forgiveness.
With Mary’s return in Season 12, she confessed to Dean that she was concerned how she would be able to face Sam because she believes that it was her fault for bringing the Yellow-Eyed Demon into their lives. Way back in Season 1 in the episode Home, the spirit of Mary rescued her sons from a sinister poltergeist and later offered Sam an apology without further elaboration as to why she was sorry. Flash forward to the Season 4 episode In The Beginning where viewers see a young Mary, circa 1973 (Amy Gumenick) make a deal with the Yellow-Eyed Demon (Mitch Pileggi) in an effort to save young John (Matt Cohen) and to finally have a life free of supernatural hunting.
The present day: It isn’t easy for Mary to see her children ensconced in the hunting lifestyle that she so desperately wanted to flee. In addition, Mary has lost thirty three years of maternal bonding.
Unlike his brother who has faint memories of their mother, Sam Winchester was only six months old when Mary died. And while Dean and John spoke the same language when it came to their commitment to hunting, Sam and John’s relationship was strained.
Sam Winchester wears guilt like a second skin. In an earlier piece, I talked about how Sam is a tragic hero along the Aristotelian vein https://thenerdygirlexpress.com/2016/10/15/sam-winchester-as-a-tragic-hero-via-tdmiller820917-supernatural-jarpad/ .We know from the show’s history that Sam was fed demon blood as a baby (All Hell Breaks Loose, Part 1) and his demon blood addiction and Ruby’s (Genevieve Padalecki) machinations caused a serious rift between the brothers. Detoxing in Bobby’s panic room (When The Levee Breaks), Sam wrestled with both guilt and doubt despite listening to the encouragement of a hallucination of his mother who told him that he, not Dean, was the only one who could defeat Lilith. Because the road to Hell is paved in good intentions. Sam’s desire to defeat Lilith led to Lucifer rising.
Like mother, like son: Mary feels guilt and perhaps, will be seeking forgiveness from her boys. I feel that Mary is alot like Sam. In her youth, Mary didn’t easily embrace the Campbell hunting legacy. I suspect that there were many heated discussions between Samuel Campbell and his daughter where she rejected hunting.
While not the ideal way to cultivate a mother and son bond, could Sam and Mary’s guilt and their desire for forgiveness cement an understanding between them? Will Sam be able to communicate easier with Mary than he ever could with John? Where will the road lead Sam and Mary Winchester?
Supernatural Season 12 has only just begun yet I find myself fascinated with the various twists and turns that could arise.