In “The Foundry,” the Winchesters are still adjusting to their family reunification. If Supernatural has taught us anything about returning from the dead (and there have been a lot of lessons), it’s that rebirth brings a sense of alienation. Coming back from Hell may be hard, but coming back from Heaven creates a void that’s hard to fill. These complex feelings create a backdrop for what Supernatural does best—a horror-filled ghost story.
The Family Business
“The Foundry” opens with a scene both funny and scary. When a hipster couple finds a creepy doll in an abandoned house, even they realize it’s a bad sign. The spooky abandoned house with a hidden basement (there’s always a hidden basement) makes for a great setting for this Monster-of-the-Week story. “The Foundry” included some great special and visual effects, such as the children’s souls rising to Heaven and the rapid aging of Lucifer’s vessel.
It was fun to see Mary take the lead as agent Shirley Partridge and eventually solve the case, though in between those moments Mary’s sense of disaffection remains. Sam sees his mother struggling, but Dean tries to ignore it. Mary’s lack of knowledge about the modern world reinforces her feeling that she has no place in it. We eventually learn that Mary struggles with more than understanding the internet, but also with being cast into a world where her husband is dead and her boys have grown into hunters. When she tells the boys she has to go, it breaks our hearts.
A Tale of Two Stories
Mary uses the humorous pseudonyms Partridge, Cassidy, and Bonaduce to introduce the three Winchesters. Then we learn Castiel is using the name Agent Beyoncé, giving Crowley the opportunity to be introduced as Agent Z. We love the use of clever names in Supernatural, but to have two storylines with silly names felt more over the top than parallel process. We’re meant to see how Cas attempts to replicate the Winchesters’ investigative techniques, but fails. Instead, the two subplots knock up alongside each other clumsily. Both were good storylines on their own, but the Winchester ghost hunt and the angel-demon buddy flick could’ve each had their own episode to give these narratives room to breathe.
If there had been more time to explore the Winchester family business, we would have liked to have seen more interaction between Mary and Sam. Sam seems relegated to play second string to Dean, even when it comes to their mother. Sam was the one who never got the crusts cut off his sandwich, yet the emphasis is on Dean being in denial about Mary’s struggle. It felt the same when Chuck was around—Sam had prayed to God for a lifetime, but all the big moments and conversations were between Dean and Chuck.
We see the similarities between Dean and Mary, but not between Sam and Mary. Even when it comes to the music playing on the radio, Mary doesn’t acquiesce to her younger son’s request. Sam still appears to be the outsider, just as he did with Dean and John. Perhaps the series will explore the Mary and Sam relationship later, after Mary works things out on her own. Then again, perhaps Sam has never needed John or Mary like his brother does, because he’s always had Dean looking out for him.
Something Old, Something New
“The Foundry” was written by Robert Berens and directed by co-showrunner Robert Singer, though it had the feel of being written and directed by people far less familiar with the show. When Mary eats the cold bacon in the morning, we immediately understand that they’re showing us the family resemblance between Dean and Mary, but Berens decides to state the obvious by having Dean state, “Wow, we are so related.”
There are moments in both storylines that don’t feel quite right. The awkward dance at the truck between Castiel and Crowley felt more silly than funny. During the hunt for Lucifer, Castiel mockingly tells Crowley, “No, actually I think it’s sweet. I thought your motivation was ambition and revenge, but now I know you want to save your mother.” Since when is Castiel sarcastic? It seems like a lack of character continuity, or perhaps we’re meant to believe that Lucifer left a lasting mark on Castiel’s vessel.
As new showrunners, perhaps Singer and Andrew Dabb want to bring something different to the series. As well as the script and line delivery, there were camera shots and music we aren’t used to on Supernatural. Yet, most of the episode felt very true to the characters and the series. It was fun to hear Dean commenting on his mom cutting her hair short so the bad guys can’t grab it with, “Wow, been trying to tell Sam that for years.”
Does the motorcycle Dean admires in the start of “The Foundry” provide foreshadowing of future events? Does it belong to Dorothy (of Oz) or perhaps to a British Men of Letters? It was nice to have a break from the British Men of Letters storyline. Let’s hope they don’t pick up that season arc storyline anytime soon. Finally, one of the highlights of “The Foundry” was how great it was that Rowena didn’t need rescuing. We love seeing a strong female character who can take care of herself.
Overall, “The Foundry” represented what we love about Supernatural—a well-done horror story, emotional family scenes, and funny moments between characters we love.
See our recap of “The Foundry” here.