“Patience” focuses on the core themes we’ve seen in Supernatural for over a decade. The series may be labeled as science-fiction for award shows uncertain where to place it, but ultimately Supernatural is a family drama set against a backdrop of monsters, angels, and demons. Whether it’s the Winchesters reacting to a nephilim based on their own feelings of loss or a wraith attack revealing long-kept secrets, Supernatural is still about family.
Pleased to meet you
“Patience” was directed by Robert Singer and written by Robert Berens. Berens has written several episodes which served to highlight a guest character on Supernatural. In “Alex Annie Alexis Ann,” Alex Jones was rescued from a vampire nest, later to become a foster daughter of Sheriff Jody Mills (Kim Rhodes) and a reoccurring character. “Girls, Girls, Girls” provided a formal introduction to Rowena, a powerful witch with a surprising family history. “The Executioner’s Song” follows Cain’s journey of family and blood, revealing that the road to Hell truly is paved with good intentions. Berens creates guest characters with depth, making them interesting and sympathetic, even during a single appearance, such as with Delphine in “The Vessel.” It seems fitting that the writer that brought together Sheriff Jody Mills (Kim Rhodes) and her first of her wayward daughter would introduce Patience Turner (Clark Backo), who is reported to be a part of the Wayward Sisters upcoming spinoff pilot.
The episode opens and closes with Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) in conflict. Director Robert Singer maintains a steady pace in “Patience,” moving between Sam trying to help Jack (Alexander Calvert) to use his powers, while Dean and Jody pursue a wraith.
At the bunker, Dean is burying his grief in beer and the Rolling Stones’ “Rip This Joint,” Sam brings Jack the recording Kelly made for him. Sam watches from the doorway, hoping the video will nurture the good in Jack. In the recording, Kelly speaks to her son:
“Jack, don’t let anyone tell you who you’re supposed to be. Because who you’re supposed to be isn’t fate, it isn’t me, it isn’t your father. You are who you choose to be. And I know you’re going to be okay. You are going to be amazing. Because you have an angel watching over you.”
So much for the angel plan. Jack doesn’t have a good angel or a bad angel on his shoulder with Cas dead and Lucifer in the alternate world. Yet it seems as if Sam and Dean are serving those angel/devil roles for him. Sam keeps telling Jack that he’s good, while on the other hand (shoulder), Dean conveys his skepticism about Jack’s true nature at every turn.
Missouri Moseley (Loretta Devine), who the boys met back in Season 1, calls the Winchesters. A young woman that Missouri considered a daughter (Chelsey Reist), also a psychic, has been killed by a wraith (Jon Cor). Sam send Jody to take care of the case. Dean doesn’t want to hang out at the bunker with “the Antichrist” as Dean sarcastically refers to Jack, even though he met the actual Antichrist back in Season 5. Dean heads off to join Jody and Missouri.
When she realizes that her son James (Adrian Holmes) and granddaughter Patience are at risk, she sends Dean and Jody to help them. The wraith comes for Missouri, but she’s expecting him. She may not be able to change her fate, but she won’t give him the satisfaction of screaming. Introducing Patience through an existing character, makes her feel more significant than a one-off character. Because her grandmother cares about her, it makes us care a little bit more about her fate.
Patience doesn’t realize she has her inherited her grandmother’s sight until Dean and Jody explain why the wraith is after her. Dean isn’t in the mood to be tactful.
Jody: “All we know is that he stalks psychics.”
Patience: “Psychics? Then what does he want with me?”
Dean: “What do you think?”
When she is captured by the wraith, Patience uses her psychic powers to help her rescuers. Though we would have liked to see Jody play a more important role in this episode (does Dean always have to be the one to kill the monster?), she gets her moment when they say good-bye to Patience. When Patience wonders if she should just forget everything she experienced, as her father wants. Dean agrees:
“This life, hunting monsters, there’s no joy in it. There’s nothing but pain, horror, and death. So if you get at chance at normal, you take it.”
Jody pulls Patience aside, away from the grief-stricken Dean, to remind the young woman that it’s her own choice what she does, offering her own support if needed.
We were expecting a more Jody-centric episode, but perhaps it’s too early for that. Making the two stories center around Dean and Sam did serve to balance the episode. We’re just going to assume the editors cut out some of Jody’s dialogue from the episode to make more room for the boys’ conflict.
Sympathy for the Devil’s Son
Sam is desperate for Jack to learn how to use his powers. Move a pencil today, open a rift into another world the next. All the practice only serves to frustrate Jack. Even though Kelly told her son that he’d have the choice to be good, Jack seems to be buying into the idea that he must be evil. He tells Sam, “I’ve already done bad things and no matter how hard I try and I can’t do the one good, stupid thing you want me to. So I must be evil like Lucifer.” Jack asks Sam why he wants to help him. Sam may want Jack to open the rift to save his mom, but he also can identify with what Jack’s going through:
“Because I know what if feels like to feel like you don’t belong. To feel like there’s this darkness inside of you. To be scared of who you are and what you can do. Dean, Cas, my family helped me through that. So now I want to help you. Because you’re not evil Jack.”
When Dean comes back to the bunker. Sam is not happy about how Dean has been treating Jack. Sam believes they can overcome Jack’s potential nature by nurturing what is good is him. Dean’s threats are only creating self-doubt in Jack. Sam has it out with his brother. Unfortunately, Jack is listening in. These guys are really blowing it as surrogate parents.
Sam: “I didn’t end bad. When I was the freak. When I was drinking demon blood.”
Dean: “C’mon that was different.”
Sam: “Was it? Because you could have put a bullet in me. Dad told you to put a bullet in me. But you didn’t. You saved me. So help me save him.”
Dean: “You deserved to be saved. He doesn’t.”
Sam: “Yes he does Dean, of course he does.”
Dean eventually reveals why he’s so angry at Jack. Sometimes it seems as though being angry is the only way Dean can express any emotion at all, but the story provides an explanation for his behavior towards Jack. It’s less about the potential danger Jack poses to the world and more about what Jack represents to Dean. Dean’s anger is a manifestation of the grief he feels about losing his mother and Cas.
Dean: “I know you think you can use him as some kind of inter-dimensional can opener and that’s fine. But don’t act like you care about him. Because you only care about what he can do for you. So if you want to pretend that fine. But me, I can hardly look at the kid ‘cause when I do all I see is everyone we’ve lost.”
Sam: “Mom chose to take that shot at Lucifer. That is not on Jack.”
Dean: “And what about Cas?”
Sam: “What about Cas?”
Dean: “He manipulated him. He made his promises – said paradise on earth. And Cas bought it. And you know what it got him. It got him dead. Now you might be able to forget about that, but I can’t.”
When Jack whispers Castiel’s name, we suddenly see Cas (Misha Collins) laying on a black surface in a completely dark space. He begins to move. It’s not clear where Cas is, but we’re betting it’s the Empty–the place that Reaper Billie threatened to send the Winchesters when they died. The Empty is a place from which it’s supposed to be impossible to get resurrected. But the impossible has never stopped the Winchesters before.
“Patience” was a measured episode, leading to a dramatic end. In “Patience,” Supernatural had several significant intentions: Ramping up the conflict between Sam and Dean, introducing Patience Turner, and revealing that Castiel is somewhere in the void. We kind of love it when the boys let loose and really have it out. During these intense scenes, Padalecki and Ackles make the anger and the hurt feel palpable. In “Patience,” Supernatural gives us a solid Monster of the Week story that is much more about family than it is monsters.