That was the last word spoken in last week’s episode “Game Night,” and it was also the question all of us have been asking since: What happened to Mary?
Written by Robert Berens and directed by Nina Lopez-Corrado, “Absence” gave us the answer to that question and so much more.
Spoilers ahead, so beware!
This episode picks up where “Game Night” left off last week, as Sam and Dean are returning to the bunker after last week’s harrowing events. They look for Mary and Jack in the bunker but can’t find them. As they sit down for some beers, Dean mentions that Jack has really been a significant help to them lately, with healing Sam from his fatal blow to his head, ridding everyone of Michael, and handling Nick. As the boys toast to that, Dean tries to call Mary. And as his phone rings, the boys hear Mary’s phone vibrate on the other end of the table. Her phone is there, but she is nowhere to be found.
After placing calls in to Charlie, Jody, and Bobby, Sam says that Rowena has a spell that might be able to track down Mary and Jack. Cas then calls Dean and to get an update on things. He seems concerned that Jack and Mary cannot be found and were last known to be alone together. Dean asks him why he would be concerned about that, and Cas tells Dean the events that happened at the end of “Peace Of Mind,” when Jack sent Felix to Heaven to return him to his owner. Dean is understandably livid that Cas had not shared this info sooner.
Sam tries to track Jack’s phone online, and he and Dean see that Jack is flying: one moment, Jack is in Nepal, and a few seconds later, he is in Peru. He jumps to several locations all over the globe in a matter of seconds, and it is unclear as to why.
We then see an unconscious Jack lying outside on the ground. He is at the cabin where last week’s events took place. He comes to and has a flashback: several memories of Mary appear that showcase his relationship with her. His memories show her love for him, how she looked out for him, and protected him. His guilt over whatever it was that happened to Mary is palpable.
Jack then hears someone behind him. It’s Nick…or perhaps it’s Lucifer. Neither Nick nor Lucifer could possibly be standing in front of Jack right now, so “Nick” explains that he is a figment of Jack’s subconscious that has appeared to help him work through his massive problem of killing Mary Winchester. (Her death is unfortunately confirmed here in this scene.) “Nick” tells Jack that the sooner he confronts his role in Mary’s death, the better off everyone will be. Jack does not want to hear this, so he banishes “Nick” with his powers.
While Sam and Dean are driving, Sam tries to talk about Cas and Jack. He says that perhaps Jack did what he did to Felix out of a sense of kindness, and that perhaps Jack wasn’t wrong to do so. He tries to tell Dean that he is working through thinking about Jack having no soul, and Dean gets angry at that suggestion, because they have no idea if Jack has a soul or not. He tells Sam to drop it, and Sam then gets a notification that the signal on Jack’s phone has been lost.
The boys arrive at the cabin where Mary was last seen. Inside, Sam finds the burnt-to-a-crisp Nick. And outside, Dean finds several square feet of the same dust that Felix had been turned into when Jack disintegrated him. It’s a blast site.
A little later, Cas arrives to the cabin. But before he enters, he thinks back to his relationship with Mary. He recalls being on a particularly nasty hunt with her, in which she got injured. Cas offers to heal her, but she refuses. Cas asks her if she is afraid of him, and she says that she is. (So this memory took place shortly after Amara had brought Mary back in season 11.)
In a poignant moment in the flashback, Cas tells Mary that her boys are very glad to have her back. “Finally, they don’t have to be so…so alone,” he tells her. And Mary says, “Castiel, they were never alone,” letting him know that she appreciates his presence in their lives.
Cas enters the cabin where the boys are waiting. He looks around and sees dead Nick inside and is told by Sam that they have no idea where Jack and Mary are. In a not-quite-unexpected but harsh scene, Dean then turns to Cas and says that if Jack has harmed Mary in any way (or worse), “You’re dead to me.” Cas tries to explain his side: that he saw good in Jack and believed that, with the support of his family of Winchesters, he would ultimately choose to do good. Cas admits that he wishes he had spoken to Jack about what he did to Felix, but he ended up hurting and failing everyone around him.
Rowena then thankfully breaks up the tension with a phone call to Sam. She reports that she did as she asked and tried using magic to locate Jack, but tracking him was like “looking at the sun,” because his energy was so unstable. And regarding Mary, Rowena says with certainty that “Mary Winchester is no longer on this Earth.” The boys instruct Cas to find out what he can from Heaven, and they leave the cabin to head to Rowena’s, in the hopes that she has the magic necessary to bring back Mary.
At Rowena’s, someone knocks at the door. Expecting the Winchesters, Rowena opens the door, but Jack is the one standing there. She tells him that the Winchesters are looking for him and that she could call them to let them know where he is. He begs her not to and tells her that he needs magic or a spell, because he killed Mary. He says that he didn’t mean to, but he wanted her to be quiet and thought about silencing her only for a second. He wants to bring her back for the Winchesters’ sake, and for his. Rowena admits to Jack that her Book of the Damned holds a spell that could possibly work to bring back Mary. It requires enormous power, but any other ingredients can probably be found in the bunker.
At this point, the Winchesters have arrived to Rowena’s and are banging on her door. Jack realizes that Rowena has been trying to stall him to give the brothers time to arrive. In a fit of anger, he zaps Rowena and himself back to the bunker before Sam and Dean break through the door.
Later, Dean is still angry that Cas did not tell the brothers about Jack’s troubling behavior. But Sam reminds Dean that Cas isn’t the only one to blame. All three of them (Sam, Dean, and Cas) suspected that Jack could easily become dangerous. But they fell for him because of his good heart. Jack had become part of their family. Dean eventually admits that he agrees with Sam’s point.
Back at the bunker, Rowena is measuring ingredients for her spell while Jack paces frantically, wanting her to hurry. “Nick” appears again, and he makes fun of Jack for trying to bring back Mary, claiming that it won’t make things right. (Rowena only sees a one-sided conversation.) Jack pushes “Nick” away and checks in on Rowena, who says she has everything she needs to enact the spell, except for the last thing: Mary Winchester’s body.
At the playground, Cas has arrived to call on Naomi for help with information on Mary. Dumah responds instead and tells Cas that Naomi’s whereabouts are none of his business. When he asks her for help with bringing back Mary, Dumah asks him why he would want to interrupt her peace. She tells him that Mary died painlessly and completely, and she is now in Heaven in complete peace.
Jack has zapped himself and Rowena back to the blast site behind the cabin. Rowena realizes that there is no body and tells Jack that the spell cannot work without it. This angers Jack, and he begins the spell without Rowena’s help. When she tries to tell him that his “spinning” out-of-control disposition will negatively affect the spell and won’t achieve what he wants, Jack angrily pushes and zaps Rowena back to her place, throwing her into a desk. She immediately calls the Winchesters and tells them the danger that Jack is up to. They immediately race to the cabin to stop him.
As they arrive, there are storm clouds overhead, swirling. Jack has almost completed the spell. The brothers run to the blast site as the storm clouds disappear. Jack turns to them, heartbroken, and says, “It didn’t work.” He then disappears, leaving Mary’s lifeless body on the ground.
Dean rushes to his mother’s body, but he and Sam realize that Mary is gone forever.
Jack is hiding at some unknown location, and “Nick” appears to him. He tells Jack that he has forever betrayed the Winchesters and that they will never be able to trust him. “And you know what that means?” “Nick” asks. “That means you can never trust them.”
Back at the bunker, Sam is looking through old photos of him with Mary. Cas arrives and tells Sam that Mary is in Heaven and at peace. As Dean listens in, Cas explains that Dumah let him peek in on Mary’s Heaven. Cas tells the brothers that she is with their father and that there is no sorrow or guilt… only joy.
Sam tells the guys that, according to Rowena, what Jack brought back was only a shell, “‘incapable of holding life.'” So they prepare a pyre and give Mary Winchester a hunter’s funeral. The final scene of the episode shows the brothers’ carved initials on the bunker table, and ‘MW’ has now been added.
Next week’s episode is called “Jack In The Box” and will air on The CW on Thursday April 18 at 8 p.m. EST.