There are some complicated emotions to be had over “Twigs, Twine & Tasha Banes”. On one hand, it is way too late in the season to be having yet another monster of the week problem. On the other, the episode brings up a lot of important themes while still progressing the story outside of what Sam and Dean are doing. If it happened ten episodes sooner, it would be great without question, but so late in the season it makes you wonder what their intent for the final three episodes will be.
While Mary continues to hunt with Ketch, one of her phones rings in the bunker. Remember the brother and sister hunters/witches we met in the house of horrors a few episodes back? Well, their mom went on a hunting trip, and she hasn’t been home in a few days. Dean wants to stay home and sort out what the hell is going on with Castiel, but the boys head to the Banes siblings’ aid.
Things roll along quickly enough. They find Max and Alisha’s mother right away, which is always a good indicator that something’s wrong. Sure enough, the thing that they’ve found is just some odd doll creation with their mother’s memories. Things go to hell after the confrontation, and Max and Dean meet the woman behind it all. The witch controlling the situation has lived a very long life, but knows that she’s coming to the end of it. She seems to be all right with all that, but she gained her powers by selling her soul, and she’s not ready for hell just yet. Her goal was to pass on the powers to someone else so that her soul can be free. Max is just about to take the ring from the witch when Dean kills her. Max is a little upset because the witch’s death means that he’s lost his mother, but hey, at least he’s still got Alisha! Haha, just kidding. This is Supernatural. No one gets to be happy, ever. Alisha’s dead too.
While her boys are dealing with that issue, Mary’s got a problem of her own-- Ketch. The ever-creepy psychopath has been high on the evil-o-meter from day one, but he played as a sort of necessary evil for a few episodes in the middle of the season. Shooting Mick changed things up a bit for fans. Funnily enough, they changed things up a bit for Mary too! She finds Mick’s corpse, and then she finds the rooms tracking not only her boys, but all of her boys’ allies. Queue a pretty epic fight between the one-time lovers (gag). Mary beats the hell out of him, but he wins the day with a taser.
Basically, things end the way they always end for the Winchesters—shitty. Sam and Dean finish up with Max, leaving him to burn the bones of his family alone per his request. Mary’s now a captive of the British Men of Letters, and Elizabeth Blackmore returns to presumably deliver the same punishments she did to Sam at the beginning of the season. Our honorary Winchester, Castiel, is still in the wind with Kelly and the Spawn of Satan (new band name, called it!). We can all go ahead and assume that he and Kelly are both still crazy-pants by way of said spawn as well.
So, where does that leave us with the episode? The entire Banes family has something interesting about them. The mother and son are both witches, whereas Alisha has no natural gifts. The whole family is made up of hunters, but they have one hell of a healthy relationship compared to other folks that grow up in the life. The son, Max, is gay, but the writers avoid any sort of stereotypes with him. It’s a good little family with some great potential for future stories. The happenings of the episode only manage to solidify that, despite him using the witch’s powers to resurrect Alisha at the very end. Like Dean said: the Winchesters have done some shady shit to save their family. There’s really no way to rightfully judge anyone else for doing the same.
Let’s talk about this evil witch though, because she’s breaking some rules. Up until now, the rules of selling your soul have been standardized. You sell your soul, you get ten years, and then a hellhound comes and has you for breakfast. She says she’s lived quite a long life, so what gives? Presumably, the contract can be altered to any terms, but why change the game now, and why let it go unacknowledged? Then there’s her power ring. Dean killed her, which means her soul has gone to hell where it belongs. Why does the ring still have her power? Her soul was sold for that purpose, and she spent a long time trying to get rid of it. It stands to reason that power would be gone upon her death. Though, it clearly isn’t. Does that mean that Max has now entered some odd contract? Does touching the ring sell your soul? That’s not how that works. And how does he just know what to do? Seems like some complicated magic for him to just pick up from a brief description from the now dead witch. There are a lot of questions here!
All the same, there was some great Winchester introspection in “Twigs, Twine & Tasha Banes”. Season twelve has had a whole lot of growth where the brothers are concerned, and it’s been nice to see that theme continue instead of folding in on itself like it usually does. Before things unravel, Sasha talks to Dean about children putting their parents on a pedestal, and then growing up to find that they’re only human. It’s an obvious, but needed, connection to Mary that even Dean can make in all of his aloof glory. Things are never going to be perfect in their family. You’ve also got to wonder if Mary is going to make it out of this season alive.
Next week we’ll catch up with Crowley and Lucifer in an episode that will hopefully have far less side-story than this one. The British Men of Letters are going to try again to get a Winchester to crack, but they’re going to have a real, real bad day when the brothers catch up to them.