I think this was the episode I knew this season was going to be amazing, because not only did we get backstory on Mary Winchester but we also get answers to questions regarding the Winchester family line, how history tends to repeat itself and fate cannot be changed. Something big is going down, something the YED knew about and had plans for, something involving the Apocalypse, this supposed endgame for the demons, a big upcoming battle. Plus, we've been waiting rather impatiently for more background about Mary and her statement to Sam in the S1 episode "Home"; it had something to do with the YED, but as it appears it goes more than just that.
First, I got to mention the show did an amazing job with the time transitions between present time and the 1970s. They didn't have to go full-on outlandish and over-the-top with everything to make it seem like the 70s, instead it was the small things (clothes, hair, music, even the cars). Just subtle things so that you know you're in a different era, but it's not completely obvious.
Secondly, Amy Gumenick. I don't think anyone would disagree when I say that she was a perfect casting choice as the younger version of Mary Winchester. She did an absolutely amazing job in her role, being completely adorable and sweet but also fierce and kickass when she needed to be. Definitely all the qualities and traits Mary would have had, and it was awesome just seeing it. From the fight between her and Dean after successfully doing the sneak-up approach from behind, to her working with her father on hunts (mirroring how Sam and Dean will do so later in their lives with their father) and even confronting the YED. Just, completely awesome all around. It's no secret that I love Mary, even before this episode I loved her, and here we're given a clearer picture of who she was before she died, before she married John, who she really was and just seeing it through Dean's journey precisely how things were and how everything got started into their family curse.
Finding out that Mary came from a family of hunters and was one herself was definitely a surprise to me, a pleasant surprise at that. It also raised a lot of questions regarding her and John's relationship and how sometimes you just cannot fight destiny.
"In The Beginning" reveals to us that Mary really wants to escape the hunting life, that she wants to get married and run off with John and never look back. She tells Dean this as kind of a secret, and it's uncanny because that is precisely what Sam tries to do when he goes off to college. But instead is inadvertently drawn back into the lifestyle underneath unfortunate circumstances. While it is uncertain, after making the deal with the YED to bring John back in exchange for something else in ten years, if Mary told John the entire truth about her past or even how she explained what happened after we last see them, embracing each other after witnessing her father's dead body on the ground. Although, going back to season one, John's first entry in his journal is that he visits the psychic Missouri who tells him the truth behind Mary's death. It's hard to really say how much he knew prior to that, if Mary kept her hunting past a secret or only revealed certain things and he never questioned them, but it makes one wonder how John got into the hunting business in the first place. If it was coincidental or he was just destined to become a hunter, to train the boys so they could be prepared for this upcoming war as its been previously said it was foretold.
Speaking of which, it's also so interesting seeing young!John before he became the hardass hunter we know him to be. So much youth and innocence. Must've been a shock to Dean seeing his father without the knowledge of hunting or everything else he's been accustomed to over the years. I loved their interactions, Dean being kind of flustered trying not to mess things up, getting him to buy the Impala instead of the Volkswagen van (which lol, could you imagine the Winchesters in something like that?) Also, gotta love the dismissed mocking comment about John and what if he were a hunter by the Campbells. Oh, if only they knew.
Also, Mitch Pileggi as Mary's father, Samuel Campbell. I have to say he was absolutely fantastic in both roles he had to play, the father and the YED. The latter of course is what I was thoroughly impressed by, because I actually believed it was the YED. Kudos to you, Mitch Pileggi.
Oh, and I have to mention the confession and forewarning scene between Dean and Mary, when she confesses her love for John and that she wants out of hunting for good, this is when Dean starts choking up and gives her a warning about not getting out of bed the night she'll be killed. Prompting of course, events that are about to come, but I found this scene the most heartbreaking of all of Dean's emotional scenes this season. It was truly heartfelt because he loves his mother, always had and always will, and this was his final shot at perhaps saving her life. It was a touching moment and you have to give major props to Jensen because he nailed it here. Just nailed it, and I got teary-eyed all over again just the same as I first watched it, dammit. Not gonna lie. Marvelous scene.
Now, by rewatching this episode I am constantly trying to figure something out.
When Castiel went ahead and bent time for Dean to actually see what happened all those years ago, were they truly back in time or was this a dream-time-travel of sorts? Giving Dean a chance to walk around and witness but it wouldn't change anything, even if he revealed who he really was? Of course, nothing could have been prevented as it was inevitable anyway, but it makes me wonder because if present time Dean did actually go back in time and alter things a bit in order for the Winchester legacy to take hold. This would make things very mind-boggling, time-travel is confusing as it is with all the paradoxes and those kind of complications. It kinda feels a bit like Terminator, in a way; going back in time to protect the past to protect the future, even though this was just a 3-D visual for Dean to see what he needs to see, to hear and witness the truth about his family and how everything got started.
This was obviously an order from Heaven so Dean could watch out for his brother. I recall being puzzled at Castiel's first cryptic warning of "you have to stop it", but after the episode we understood precisely what he means. Stopping Sam from using his powers, from going down a dark and destructive path. We know that Dean has been suspicious of his brother, and we know that this continues throughout the season and we do see the downward spiral Sam is heading towards until he hits rock bottom later on in the season. Since we know of the angel's true intentions, this is just Castiel following his orders. Telling Dean what he needs to know, which in truth he does.
But his line – "So stop it...or we will" – is almost as threatening and cryptically sinister as the previous episode of threatening to send him back to Hell. These three episodes into the season show us that yes, Castiel is an angel of God and that yes, angels are fierce and hardcore and not to be trifled with at all. But it also keeps us questioning about what is really happening and where it's all going. I appreciate that from the show, keeping it ambiguous, keeping us guessing.
I also believe, as I mentioned earlier, this is perhaps the starting point of when Castiel started showing his sympathies towards Dean; really starting to feel that connection with him and perhaps growing attachment. There are tiny subtle moments that indicate this theory of mine.
ONE: At the start of the episode, Castiel is sitting on Dean's bed. Slashy goggles aside, it makes for a nice contrast to how Castiel appeared to Dean in the previously episode, like a shadow in the dark lingering, leaning against the counter in a distant, business-like kind of way. Now, he's up close and personal. He also hints at knowing what Dean is dreaming about, and it's not known how long he sat there watching him, but it wouldn't seem unlikely he was there for longer than a moment. There's also his expression in this scene, especially when he looks down before telling him his cryptic message. I don't know if I'm just wanting to see this or not, but his features soften a bit.
TWO: The scene when the two of them are in the car, there's a moment when Dean is explaining his reasons for wanting to stop the deaths of his mother and his father, Castiel is looking at him rather pensively. It's just a small thing, but it seems like Castiel might actually be considering that if things could have changed, he probably would have allowed him to. If he could.
THREE: After Dean witnesses his mother sealing the deal with the YED, Castiel appears by placing his hand on his shoulder, and there's clear indication of sympathy written all over his expression, as if he's silently saying "I'm sorry you had to see that" to Dean. And when we cut to Dean's expression, just the way he looks at Castiel as though he's relieved to see him and perhaps silently acknowledging those sympathies, is just omg. There are no words exchanged, just those looks. Says a lot in that one moment, I think.
FOUR: Back in the motel room, everything from the moment Dean awakens where we are focused on Castiel's closeup on the right side of the frame, where he looks kind of mournful. We then see him turn to face Dean, and his expression is still slightly softened when discussing what Dean had seen (which of course next he then eyes the bed next to them, obviously showing that Sam is not there with them, but of course our dirty slashy minds must go there...) Though when he starts talking about Sam and what Dean needs to prevent, for him to "stop it", his expression hardens. He doesn't look directly at Dean while he's grabbing his jacket to go after his brother, and when he finally does it's to emphasize the "or we will" part of his final warning. In turn, Dean glances over and just stares at Castiel, perhaps out of fear of what that threat truly means, but maybe in the understanding after what he'd seen, there is definitely something more to what is happening and perhaps he needs to trust this angel just a bit.
Understand, these are my own interpretations of these scenes, I'm only fanwanking my theory here. But it does seem plausible that Castiel would become a bit more familiar with Dean Winchester that he would start becoming a bit empathetical thus his emotions for this particular human begins, in a sense.
I would have to say "In The Beginning" was a fascinating episode because of the background information as well as a unique kind of an episode where we travel back in time and see things for how they once were to where we are now. Putting things into perspective, it makes a lot of sense, never mind a few holes to fill up about the hows and whys. Knowing that Azazel had some kind of plan for a particular endgame, and from "Lucifer Rising" we now understand why precisely what that endgame has been all along. With the deal making, picking of special children, how Mary's inevitable deal and sacrifice started the chain of events leading us to what is happening now. It was simply a wonderfully put together episode, in my opinion. Having to go back and retrace the steps, thinking about those kinds of continuities and tying it all together. That is what I essentially loved about season four, all those dotted clues given to us over the seasons is now finally getting connected, bringing us to the ultimate showdown that is the freaking Apocalypse.
Next episode I'll be rewatching and metaing will be "It's The Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester", and since we only have exactly two weeks from now before the new season starts, I'll probably write/post them a bit faster.
I am completely addicted to listening to "O Death" from the S5 promo, already you can get the feel for the season and what's at stake. It's dark, menacing and ominous, and completely creates that apocalyptic mood. Gives me chills every single time I listen to it, just omg. TWO MORE WEEKS PPL, TWO MORE WEEKS!