The title of Supernatural’s 12×13 episode is a bit of a misdirect. It was assumed the family feud in “Family Feud” would be between Mary and the brothers since Mary has been working with the British Men of Letters behind Dean and Sam’s back. If we want to take the word “feud” at its direct definition — from Merriam Webster Dictionary, feud: a mutual enmity or quarrel that is often prolonged or inveterate (see inveterate 1); especially : blood feud <Because of a family feud, they did not see each other for a decade — then the only real feud in this episode is between Crowley and Rowena. “Feud” has a negative connotation to it. I pictured shouting, name-calling, cold shoulders. Lies. Typical Winchester drama. Instead, the disagreements between Mary and the brothers come to a head during a conversation. Though Mary has been lying for a few episodes, she came clean to the brothers, an action Sam and Dean have failed to do in previous seasons. What’s more, Sam and Dean agree to hear their mother out when she asks them if she could explain. Hello, character development.
I joked last week I didn’t need a supernatural explanation for why Mark Pellegrino is able to reprise his role as Lucifer, but we got one anyway. Crowley explains to a tied up Lucifer that during “LOTUS,” when the Winchesters were attempting to send him back to hell via that weird egg thing, Crowley was in the other room interfering with the spell. He had found Lucifer’s old Nick vessel a few years back and was able to direct Lucifer from his return journey to the cage and back into that old vessel. Kind of weird Crowley’s just been holding onto this dead body for a few years, but then again, he is Crowley. It’s such a pleasure to have Pellegrino back. No one plays the devil with such charisma and joy than he does. It seems he’ll be sticking around too, since Crowley also explained that with a fair bit of magic, the Nick vessel should stay permanent (yeeeeah, if this is the case, season five now feels overly dramatic, doesn’t it?) Even from his position as Crowley’s prisoner, he’s sure to be planning some form of escape and/or damage. Crowley’s taunting of Lucifer is interrupted by a phone call from the Winchesters, who need his help with their ghost hunt.
Ah, yes. It’s back to good old ghost hunting for the Winchesters, who use the age old excuse of “our current over-arching story Kelly Kline is in the wind because we need to stretch this season out to 23 episodes, so let’s distract ourselves with this random monster-of-the-week episode and hey, we haven’t had a ghost hunt in awhile, let’s do that, what do ya say? It will clear our minds har har har.” However, this ghost hunt is a little different in that it involves someone they know — Gavin MacLeod, aka Crowley’s son. I have a slight confession to make. I missed the entire back half of season 10, and I believe it was those episodes that dealt with Gavin and Rowena’s son. If I get something wrong, let me know. So Gavin was supposed to die on this ship called The Star, but was kidnapped by Abaddon and brought to present day. Thinking he left on the ship without her, Gavin’s girlfriend Fiona stows herself away on the doomed ship only to not find him and drown as the ship sinks. Fiona is our ghost for this episode, who is targeting teachers as punishment for the teacher who refused to help her on the ship when she was being raped by the ship’s crew.
Excusing the terrible motivation for this ghost (the targeted teachers feeling like a bit of a stretch), the cold open murder scene was genuinely interesting. I wouldn’t go so far as to say scary — Supernatural hasn’t been scary in a long while – but this cold open felt fresh. The ghost’s arms coming up through the bed and not through the closet was able to play with our expectations. It’s nice to see the show messing around with different ideas for those scenes. They can get tedious. However, the rest of the murder scenes aren’t quite as fun and fall into a paint-by-numbers execution. Another aspect of ghost hunting that gets repetitive, especially 256 episodes in, is the solution. We’re all practically expert ghost hunters by this point, so we know the drill — salt and burn the bones, and if the bones aren’t an option, find an artifact that is keeping the ghost tethered here. In this case, it’s a locket Gavin gave Fiona. But the Winchesters don’t go that route. Unlike Crowley and Rowena, Gavin is a good person, and so agrees to be sent back in time so he can be on the ship when it goes down, so as to be with Fiona, thereby ensuring she doesn’t become a vengeful ghost. Rowena is all for the idea, but later she tells Crowley it was payback for him killing her other son. She wanted him to suffer a death of a child like she did. Hence, our family feud. This resolution kills two birds with one stone: gets rid of the ghost and gets Gavin back to his own time, something I gathered the Winchesters were trying to do in season 10. Because of this, I’m not entirely sure Sam and Dean’s motivations for this idea can be considered completely altruistic.
The B-story for “Family Feud” involves Kelly Kline and Dagon, the princess of Hell Ramiel referred to last week. Dagon is making an appearance a lot sooner than I expected, but it’s not unwelcome. Like her brothers Ramiel and Azazel, Dagon has yellow eyes, but her interests in the goings on in hell fall more in line with Azazel than Ramiel. She tracks down Kelly and convinces her hell has her best interests at heart, and not heaven. She promises to protect Kelly’s baby, which soldifies Kelly’s trust in her. Dagon presents an interesting argument to Kelly. The world isn’t so black and white as it may seem (something the show has been dabbling in for a quite a while now). Heaven isn’t filled with the saintly beings one would expect, as Kelly learns when two angels try to kill her. This isn’t new either. Season four did a nice job in making the angels into enemies as well. Angels are bad, and demons are not as evil as they may seem. But Dagon takes it a step further. She puts the Winchesters on the same level as the angels, telling Kelly they also want her dead. It’s an interesting angle to take, especially with the influence the British Men of Letters have on this season, painting the Winchesters in a selfish role. The audience may be aware that the Winchester’s stance on what to do with Kelly is a gray area (they may be gung ho on finding her, but I’m not totally convinced they know what to do when they do find her), but as far as anyone in show is concerned, the Winchesters are hell-bent on righting this wrong.
I really enjoyed the end to this episode. The Rolling Stone’s “Play With Fire” plays over a montage of Mary and the brother’s conversation and Dagon escorting Kelly somewhere. The last shot is of Lucifer, still tied up, but with a smirk forming on his face. He whispers “Dagon” and then it cuts to black. If that isn’t ominous, then I don’t what it is. Here’s to no more Rosemary’s Baby references and a clean agreement between Mary, Sam, and Dean.
Supernatural airs Thursdays at 8/7c on The CW.