“Next time you hear me say that our family is messed up, remind me that we could be psycho goat people”. — Dean Winchester, “The Memory Remains”
One of my favorite episodes of Supernatural is season one’s “Scarecrow”, in which the Winchesters discover that an entire small town conspires to offer up unsuspecting visitors as a sacrifice to an orchard-blessing pagan god. The episode stands as a good example of an excellent stand-alone episode, not only because of the interesting twist on the sometime-hypocrisy of “good, old-fashioned small-town values”, but also because of the uniqueness of its monster-of-the-week: an eerily tall, reaper-like creature masquerading as a Gothic scarecrow. Not to mention that it featured one of Dean’s (Jensen Ackles) best lines, “I hope your apple pie is freakin’ worth it!”
It may just be me, but this week’s episode seemed to have a lot in common with that season one classic. “The Memory Remains” was also set in a small town, and concerned the mysterious disappearances of various visitors and townspeople over a long period of time. Like “Scarecrow”, the culprit ended up being a pagan god who promised wealth and economic success to those who supported his taste for blood. Not to mention, Dean mostly played the same role: he befriended a local girl, enjoyed the food, and supplied the comic relief. However, one could easily argue that all horror movies and TV shows are comprised of old ideas, just as “Scarecrow” shared some similarities with the Jeepers Creepers series of movies. Still, there were enough differences in this episode to set it apart.
In “The Memory Remains”, the pagan god seemed to take the form of a man with a goat’s head. The locals have heard about this legendary “Black Bill”, but mostly believe him to be an ominous myth parents told their children to keep them out of the woods. After a local stoner (Daniel Doheny) reports that he saw his missing best friend (Antonio Maryiale) ripped apart by this beast, the Winchesters are sent in to investigate.
Want to see the difference between seasons one and 12? Back in season one, Dean just shared some awkward chemistry with a local girl. This time, it’s deliberately implied that he spent the night with a waitress (Aliesha Pearson) whose name is only mentioned once. While Dean still loves the local food (even after visiting a bloodied meat-butchering plant), he’s now grown overconfident in his ability to destroy a pagan god, thanks to the Colt in his coat.
In season one, there was no doubt as to the identity of the main villains; they were the first couple whom the Winchesters’ met in town. This time, we wondered if the creature’s helper was the town’s seemingly lax sheriff (Steve Boyle), before we discovered that it was actually his class-envying half-brother (Ryan McDonald), who was previously introduced in the episode in another role.
In what has become a common complaint among Dean fans, however, it was actually Sam (Jared Padalecki) who saved the day by shooting the monster(s) while his brother was incapacitated. (In “Scarecrow”, Sam also saves the day by untying his brother from a tree.) All in all, “The Memory Remains” is one of season twelve’s better stand-alone episodes, but it still doesn’t hold a candle to “Scarecrow”.
In other news, Mr. Ketch had been texting the Winchesters in Mick Davies’ name, before telling them the events of last week’s episode made the organization request his presence in London. What’s more, he says that he’ll be working with them from now on, before adding, “I’d much rather be working with your mother”, a line that has resonances beyond the brother’s knowledge.
While Sam and Dean were in Wisconsin, Ketch and his minions searched, photographed, and cataloged everything in the Winchesters’ bunker, including Dean’s dirty magazines and cassette tape collection. (Life isn’t so glamorous for every member of the British Men of Letters, I guess.) He orders them to plant (horribly oversized) listening devices throughout the place, but is compelled to steal a childhood photo of Dean with his mother. Is it because he’s suspicious of the fact that she hasn’t aged in more than 20 years, because he’s obsessively in love with her, or a little bit of both?
Dean also has left multiple voice-mails for Castiel (Misha Collins), but hasn’t received any response. Shouldn’t the Winchesters already know by now that when someone they know doesn’t answer their phone, it’s time to organize a rescue mission? Regardless, we’ll have to wait until the next episode to see what Cass has been up to, for in the next episode, he returns to help the Winchesters in their fight against Dagon (Ali Ahn).