‘The Winchesters’ Recap: Season 1, Episode 12 “The Tears of a Clown”

17 Min Read
Eliot Brasseaux/The CW

In this week’s episode, John and Mary are on the run after Kyle’s death, and their vacation of sorts has left them feeling everything but honeymoon bliss as they face the reality of both their futures. Meanwhile, Lata and Carlos stumble upon a case that is nothing short of nightmare fuel, involving a circus clown and a magical ticket to his creepy funhouse. Ada continues her search for the magic that can stop the Akrida Queen and receives help from a familiar character.

Clowning Around

The episode begins at night in Fort Wayne, Indiana, as two teenage boys sneak into the grounds of a traveling carnival after closing hours. The two friends couldn’t be more different. One is noticeably worried about snooping around the closed lot, while the other is upset because it’s his last night in town. When the two boys enter the grounds, the more eager one comes across a strange admissions ticket and, out of curiosity, picks it up for closer inspection. However, something sinister is in the works. In the distance, there is a strange giggling and carnival music, but even stranger; he is the only one who can hear it.

The teenager follows the music and stumbles across a vintage circus tent labeled Limbo’s Hall of Happy with a clown dressed in black and white waving him in. When his friend catches up, he can’t see the tent or the clown. The boy with the ticket follows the mysterious clown unconcerned as he finds himself surrounded by whimsical stripes, carnival lights, and exciting promotional posters. Immediately his eyes move to a set of doors, home to a maze of funhouse mirrors, which seemed fun until he realized he couldn’t get out. The boy panics as he looks into a mirror and sees his face painted like a clown.

The Lies We Tell

The scene jumps to John and Mary returning to their motel room in mid-discussion over the mysterious man (Dean), and everything seems fine between them until Mary asks John how things are going with him. The simple question sends John over the edge. John is worried about the murder charges hanging over his head and doesn’t want to talk about it or think about it. Mary is concerned that John seems too cavalier over the entire situation, only adding to her worry about his mental state. The conversation becomes more heated when Lata and Carlos return to the motel room, halting the discussion. The gang does their best to ignore the awkwardness in the air, with Mary asking if they found any information about their mystery man, but sadly nothing. There is good news. Carlos and Lata discovered a new case involving a boy named Wally Gorman, who disappeared at a traveling carnival two nights before. They agree to investigate, though John isn’t excited to put the Akrida on the back burner.

The scene goes to Ada, who has been on a tedious search for the magic that could help them stop the Akrida Queen. Ada approaches the door of an old warehouse, and before she can knock, a woman greets her. Ada gains access and enters a room similar to a speakeasy. There is drinking, gambling, and other witches trading magical goods. Ada approaches a group of witches in the middle of a poker game. When one player gets up, Ada asks to take her seat. In reality, it’s not a game she is looking for; it’s magic. They know who she is and don’t bite at first, thinking Ada has nothing to offer them, though they give her a chance.


The gang arrives at the carnival, hoping to find clues about their missing kid and mysterious ghost clown. Mary spots a clown performing tricks for an audience, and the group asks him some questions. They approach the performer, pretending to be interns at the Fort Wayne Examiner. The performer had already talked to the paper and the cops and had little interest in speaking to more reporters. Their persistence pays off, and the performer shares with them one theory, which is told more like an urban legend. He believes the kid is the latest victim of a clown named Limbo, who goes from carnival to carnival, pitching his tent titled Limbo’s Hall of Happy, luring victims inside, never to be seen again. The spooky story is enough for Mary to decide it’s a good idea for the group to split up. John, who is still mad about their argument, gives Mary the cold shoulder and leaves for the motel with Lata, leaving Carlos and Mary to team up at the carnival.

All or Nothing

The poker game is heating up as Ada risks all her magic. Unfortunately, there is no payoff for her as she loses everything. Ada pleads with the other witches to borrow magic, but with no luck. Sensing the desperation coming from Ada, one witch at the table realizes it isn’t a poker game she seeks. Ada admits to knowing the game had a way of attracting powerful magic. She hoped it could help her stop the Akrida Queen, but according to the other witches, the best way to gain enough magic would be to join a coven. They offer a deal with Ada. She can stay and play, but she needs to make a Nightshade seed grow with pure magic, no water or dirt. The earth witch takes on the challenge, and while she comes close, she ultimately fails. Ada leaves the game when a woman cloaked in a hood offers her help. When asked who she was, the mysterious woman removes her hood, introducing herself as Rowena.

Ada returns to the clubhouse with Rowena, who agrees to help her with the Akrida under the guise that Ada returns the grimoire the Men of Letters stole from her. It quickly turns out that no such thing happened, and Rowena just needed Ada to get her past the wardings. While the other witches dismissed Ada and her power, Rowena knew of her true potential, and what she wanted was the demon trapped she had trapped inside her planet.

Ada tries to understand why Rowena wanted the demon. Her first instinct was to think she had malicious intent to pit both sides against each other. Rowena quickly shut her down. She wanted it for more personal reasons. The demon trapped inside Ada’s planet has information about her son (Crowley). Ada, knowing all too well the bond between a mother and child, tells Rowena she can have the planet if she gives her the magic she promised. Rowena doesn’t take the deal and tries to leave with the planted hellraiser, anyway. Ada bites back, using her magic to physically and figuratively root Rowena in one spot. Rowena, in return, uses her magic, knocking Ada out.

Eliot Brasseaux/The CW


Returning to the motel, John and Lata search through all the lore they can to find information on the clown Limbo. The two friends hadn’t spent time together in a while, and Lata found it the perfect time to check in with John. But despite her best efforts, he still kept his wall up.

Mary and Carlos continue their search of Limbo at the carnival grounds, only to come up empty-handed, or so they thought. Mary notices a strange man following them, and when Carlos attempts to look, the stranger spots him and starts running, causing Carlos and Mary to go after him. The scene returns to the motel, where Lata finds information about Limbo. They learn his real name is Jerome Haskins and that he was part of a traveling carnival in the Midwest during the 1920s until the Dust Bowl and Great Depression. According to the legend, Haskins searched for an occultist to trade his soul for dark magic that would give him a spell to forget all his problems and let him be happy forever. Meanwhile, Carlos and Mary finally catch the man following them and learn that he also knows about Limbo. The man tells them Limbo took his little brother Roger 30 years prior.

The gang comes together as they sit down with the man they now know as Clarence. Clarence was 18, and his brother Roger was 10 when their parents died. Clarence, being a teenager and not knowing how to help his little brother work through his grief, Clarence took him to the carnival. Clarence thought it would help cheer Roger up. However, Roger got upset and ran off, and Clarence couldn’t find him. A little girl told him she had seen Roger vanish. The conversation with Clarence caused a light bulb moment for Lata, who realized the common thread between Wally and Roger was their anger and grief and that those two things could be what attracted Limbo to them.

Night has fallen at the carnival, and Mary and John are finally working the case together and still can’t stop themselves from arguing about their relationship and how John is handling the stress of his situation. Knowing what they know about Wally and Roger, they unknowingly put themselves in Limbo’s path. Mary decides she has had enough of the conversation and walks off. Coming across an admissions ticket to Limbo’s tent, Mary goes off to find the clown, leaving John behind. It’s not long after Mary finds the tent and, on the walkie, informs John she is going in without him. This plan doesn’t sit well with him, and John hurries to catch up with her, but as soon as he arrives, it’s too late, and Mary disappears into thin air.

Free Admission

John returns to Lata and Carlos at the motel to inform them what happened to Mary. While time was running out, Lata found more information on the occultists and their spell on Limbo. They learn his happiness results from a mirror enchanted with dark magic. Limbo can only maintain that happiness by spreading it to others, making it fragile. If at least one person in his troupe can embrace reality again, it will destroy Limbo, setting his victims free. Now that they knew how to stop Limbo, they needed to figure out how to get admission. That’s when Carlos remembers he has old Limbo merchandise with all the information Clarence gave him, including an admissions ticket to Limbo’s Hall of Happy.

Limbo’s Hall of Happy

Carlos, John, and Lata return to the carnival, which is packing up. The three of them figured out they would receive admission if they held onto the ticket together. Inside the tent, it instantly attracted John to the doors leading to Limbo’s mirror. The door shuts, trapping John inside. Lata and Carlos attempt to go after him, but the door won’t open. Limbo appears to the hunter, taunting him. The hunter tries to force Limbo to tell him where he put Mary, but his threats and anger don’t work on him. The clown treats the situation like a game, leading John into his mirror of happiness. Mary appears to John, already under Limbo’s spell, forcing John to look into the mirror. On the other side of the door, Carlos and Lata find themselves in a hopeless situation, unable to get to John or leave the tent altogether, and to make things worst, Limbo’s troupe has them trapped, along with Limbo, John, Mary by his side.

Now with killer clowns after them, the only thing they could do was hide, and the only available location was a clown car, of all places. But they weren’t safe there either. Hiding in the back seat was a child clown. Carlos realizes the child is Roger, Clarence’s brother, frozen in time. The other clowns surround them, pushing on the car and breaking the windows, but that doesn’t stop Carlos, who talks to Roger. Carlos can connect with the little boy by talking about his parents, reminding him of his brother Clarence, who never stopped looking for him. By doing so, Carlos could pull the boy back into reality, breaking Limbo’s curse and setting his victims free.

The episode ends with Ada waking up from her unconscious state with Rowena offering her tea to restore her energy. Naturally, Ada is suspicious and asks why she is still there, to which she replies she tested Ada. She wasn’t there just for the demon but to see if she was powerful enough to join her coven, and she passed. Rowena also explains that the Akrida was too powerful to fight on her own and finally offers the magical crystal needed to go up against them. The only catch? Ada will also need to give up a part of her soul. But that’s not all! Millie shows up at the carnival site. A witness came forward, able to clear John’s name. The good news doesn’t last because back at the clubhouse, they figure out that the Akrida invasion has already started.

Winchester Stupid Count: 1

If you have been following The Winchesters podcast, On The Road Again, you’ll know of our newest segment. All season, we’ll be keeping track of moments our lovably hardheaded Winchesters have thrown themselves into danger or made some questionable decisions, knowing them the count will be high by the end of the season. Without ado, this week’s incidents include:

  • John and Mary argue in the middle of their hunt for Limbo, unknowingly stepping into his trap and getting into trouble.

The Winchesters drop new episodes every Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET on The CW. You can find more coverage of the show here, and be sure to check out On The Road Again, Nerds & Beyond’s podcast covering all things The Winchesters!

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By Kailin
Kailin is an avid book reader, and full time nerd. When she isn't writing for Nerds and Beyond, she is writing fan fictions, online role playing with her friends and binge watching her favorite shows. Her first fandom started with Buffy The Vampire Slayer and her life was forever changed. The 100 and Supernatural are her biggest obsessions. You can find her on twitter @kailinmaurine
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