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The Official Supernatural: “Peace of Mind” (14.15) Live Recap Thread


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Recap of Dean and Michael, and Jack allegedly killing and eating Michael last week (look, that’s what he did). Also, oddly enough, there’s a bit about Dean’s fear of snakes in season four’s “Yellow Fever.”

Cut to Now. A young man is running past a movie theater showing Scooby-Do, Stan’s Lanes, and Sam&Eve’s Records, and over to a soda shop called Harrington’s. He bangs on the door, calling for someone named “Sunny.” As stirring music arises, he tries to get her to go with him, but she says she can’t. So, he runs out of town, past a sign that says “Charming Acres” and into a convenience store. There, he has a problem, because even as he grabs the clerk’s phone to try to call someone, his head explodes. The poor clerk, trying to help him, throws up.

Cue title cards.

Cut to Jack cuddling the snake from last week as Castiel comes in to check on him. Castiel mentions that they gave the Hunters who were killed last week a funeral. Jack says the snake is okay, but won’t eat (if it won’t eat, it’s not okay). Castiel infodumps about Jack having killed Michael and eaten his grace. Does Jack have his powers back?

Jack TKes a pencil and makes an infinity sign (like the ouroboros of last week) with it in front of Castiel. He says he’s not sure, since he feels different than he used to. When Castiel asks Jack how much of his soul he “had to burn off to kill Michael,” Jack claims he doesn’t know.

Castiel wanders out to the kitchen, where Dean is eating enough for ten Whos, plus two. Castiel says he’s surprised, since Dean had apparently stated a desire to “sleep until the cows dragged you home.”

“That’s not – ” Dean starts, then decides not to pursue down that rabbit hole of malapropism. Dean says he was “putting away gear” when he got a call from Rowena. Castiel asks how she is and Dean says “not good, but she’s coping. At least she’s alive.”

Dean asks how Jack is doing and Castiel relays that Jack claims he is fine. Castiel asks Dean how Sam is doing and Dean relays that Sam says the same. “Personally, I think they’re both full of crap.”

[screech!] Okay, hang on here. How is Dean so calm and relaxed and … well … compos mentis? If Rowena is having a hard time “coping” with having been possessed by Michael for a hot minute, how is Dean in better shape than she is? Michael was ripping at the inside of Dean’s mind for weeks, even months, before now. Plus, the show just spent half a season demonstrating how being possessed by an archangel totally screws you up. Or was Nick’s storyline even more pointless than it looked at first glance?

And let’s not forget Michael’s threat just a few episodes ago that if forced out of Dean, he would leave “nothing but blood and bone” behind. Dean should have even less head left than Doomed Teaser Boy. Sure, Michael wasn’t technically forced out, but Dean had imprisoned him and if Zachariah was petty, Michael is downright vindictive. He could have turned Dean’s brains to mush on his way out with no one the wiser (especially with Dean’s head injury) and still taken Rowena over, perpetrated that massacre, and so on. In fact, it would have been much safer for him to leave nothing but scorched earth behind of his former vessel.

And yet, here we are, with Castiel and Dean talking about whether or not Jack and Sam are okay. What the hell, Show? Even if this is foreshadowing that Michael’s not really gone, it’s mighty weird.

Meanwhile, Sam is out in the main conference room/library, having flashbacks to the horrific deaths of a bunch of redshirts we never really cared about. This causes him to rush into the kitchen, where he says he’s found another case to do. This causes Dean to complain that they just did “three cases back-to-back” and that he wants some sleep. When Sam says he’s leaving in ten minutes, anyway, and stomps out, Dean comments to Castiel that yeah, Sam’s not in great shape.

Again, what the hell, Show? This clearly isn’t very long after the end of last episode. Why is everyone ignoring Dean’s inevitable archangel possession trauma? I get Dean trying to bury it, but not everyone else helping him do so.

Anyhoo, Castiel offers to go with Sam and suggests Dean talk to Jack. Dean complains that he didn’t handle Sam’s soullessness very well. I beg to differ, since Sam is not dead. So does Castiel and he leaves.

Off to Charming Acres Sam and Castiel go, Castiel driving for reasons unknown. They speculate whether the MOTW might be a witch or a demon. Sam is in his FBI suit. Sam is sleepy, but shrugs off Castiel’s concern that he is working too hard and that Dean is also concerned (again, Show, What. The. Hell?). Sam just says that monsters don’t sleep and that they have fewer Hunters than they did just a little while ago.

Sam enters the quickie mart and interviews the clerk who saw DTB die. The kid’s name is Griffin. Griffin points at a spot where the ceiling tiles have been taken out. Underneath it are a whole lot of wet floor signs. Griffin is freaked out that DTB (Conrad Martin) “went all Scanners,” but he also mentions that Conrad “had that look” like the people of Charming Acres. What does he mean by that? Well, when Castiel and Sam start driving through town, to jaunty 60s sitcom music, past people in 1950s clothing, the vibe is definitely the film Pleasantville by way of Riverdale. Castiel references The Saturday Evening Post, which he apparently reads and finds “soothing.”

Good thing Castiel and Sam are dressed the way they are.

Castiel suggests Sam cal Dean, but Sam says he can’t get any reception. As Sam gets out, he bumps into a couple, Justin and Cindy Smith, and starts to interview them. They’re on their way to a bake sale. Justin directs them toward Harrington’s, which is right across the street, and has no idea what a cell phone is. When Sam wonders what is going on, Castiel suggests they’re Mormon (yeah … um … not so much, Show. Think you were thinking the Amish. Or at least the Mennonites).

When they go into Harrington’s, they’re met by Sunny (from the teaser), who gives them complimentary milkshakes. Sunny’s father runs Harrington’s and is also the town mayor. He seems very friendly.

Yep. Shady as hell.

Sam and Castiel do some probing about DTB’s death that makes Sunny visibly uneasy. It is therefore very interesting that her father just blows it off. Well … aside from the part where Castiel corrects him on his softening the way Conrad Martin died (calling it an aneurysm), saying “Oh, no, his head exploded. Like a ripe melon on the sun.” This brings all chat around Castiel to a screeching halt for a hot minute. The irony here is that Castiel probably would know exactly how a ripe melon would look if deposited on the Sun’s surface (or, at least, the upper layers, since the Sun doesn’t have a solid surface). But no one knows that because he’s pretending to be human.

Outside, Sam calls Castiel out on his blunt metaphor, which strikes me as rather missing the point. But there you go. In fact, a they go up to a house to interview someone, Sam seems a lot more into the town’s ambiance than Castiel. I’m reminded of Dean’s “I’d blow my brains out” comment about living in suburbia in “Bugs.”

On their way up the steps, they pass a couple with a large dog. The woman is Asian. The woman who answers the door is African American. These are the first two people of color I recall seeing in this town which, so far, has been a blatantly white reconstruction of a fantasy 1950s small-town life.

Like Harrington, the woman knows who they are, saying that word gets around in a “small town.” The inside of the house is huge and looks an awful lot like the set for the Stynes’ mansion in season ten’s “The Prisoner.” In fact, I think that set might be for all of their Gothic haunted house scenes. It’s just that those scenes are usually a lot darker.

Finally getting back to the Bunker, we have Dean walking in on Jack trying to feed the snake. Jack believes the snake is “sad.” Dean suggests bacon because he likes it and gets a little wigged out when he opens up a Chinese takeout carton and finds two live mice (if you recall from “Yellow Fever” and “Hell House,” Dean is creeped out by both snakes and rodents). I can’t decide whom the snake represents, but I have a sneaking suspicion it’s actually Dean and that that’s not good.

Dean suggests they go on a roadtrip, but it’s not a hunt. It’s a “field trip.” Dean says he’s going to “make some bacon now” and Jack asks the snake if it wants some bacon. That snake is really cute.

Back to Weirdo Town, where Sam and Castiel are talking to the woman from the previous scene. She runs a boarding house where DTB rented a room. Seems he had only been living there a few weeks. Hmmmmm. This precipitates a rant from her that she only rents to “young men” because “young women” shouldn’t be living alone. “Morals.” She then singles out Castiel as someone who should know why. He doesn’t.

Castiel looks under the mattress and finds love letters between DTB and Sunny, very “passionate” (read: explicit) letters. Sam is uncomfortable about hearing this, but then starts to act strange (while sipping on tea made for him by the concierge), saying that they can wait until tomorrow to investigate the letters further and he could use a good night’s sleep. At the boarding house. Castiel is, to put it kindly, confused.

Meanwhile, Justin and Cindy are getting ready for dinner, but Justin is hung up on Sam’s reference to his cell phone. Then he suddenly remembers that he has a daughter, which confuses Cindy. Too bad he’s interrupted by the worst headache of his life. As he runs out the door, his face swells like DTB’s. Cindy comes out after him as he pelts down the lane, but then the top of his head blows off and he collapses.

Cindy’s response is very strange. She just looks even more confused and calls his name.

Meanwhile, Dean and Jack are on the roadtrip. Dean is driving the Impala. They’ve got the snake in the back, just in a little plastic case, no heater, because that’s every bit as healthy as feeding the poor thing bacon. Dean is denying that he’s afraid of the snake and Jack, despite going on and on about how the snake is “sad,” doesn’t pick up on Dean’s obvious fear at all.

Dean cleverly gives Jack two snacks to possibly give to the snake. One is an angel food cake and the other is a devil’s food cake. Dean notices that Jack hesitates over the devil’s food cake for a long moment before tossing it aside for the angel food cake.

I gotta ask again – why the hell are these two out and about on their own with no supervision after the whole Michael thing? Seriously.

Back in Weirdo Town, Castiel finds Sam’s bedroom empty with the bed made up (um, Castiel doesn’t sleep, Show, so how did he lose track of Sam like that?). Coming downstairs, he finds the concierge “vacuuming” enthusiastically to The Chordettes’ “Pink Shoe Laces” from 1959 (they’re the same group who gave us the most famous version of “Mr. Sandman” in 1954). In a conversation with some strangely hostile undertones on both sides, she offers him breakfast then tells him Sam “went for a walk and a milkshake.” When Castiel returns to Harrington’s, Sunny is there and the same song is playing. She tells him that Sam left Harrington’s when he heard about Justin’s death.

Upon arriving at the Smiths’ pink mansion, Castiel is let in by Cyndy, who offers him a martini. Cindy is downright Stepford, strangely and strainedly cheerful except for an Invasion of the Body Snatchers “NOOOOO!” when Castiel goes to sit down on a chair. She claims it’s her husband’s chair and insists that no, he did not die last night.

At that moment, Sam walks in, dressed just like Justin and acting as her husband, with Birth Control Glasses and a man bun (and a secret kinky sex life with his wife). Whoops.

Y’know, there are a lot of horror refs in this one (and Jared Padalecki has a blast playing this version of Sam), but I’m having a hard time getting into it. I mean, we’re halfway through and it took forever to get to this moment. Anyhoo.

Castiel tries to get Sam to snap out of it, but Sam is completely submerged in the Justin persona, right up to refusing to swear as he kicks Castiel out of the house (“H-E-Double-Hockey-Sticks!).

Having driven all night, Dean and Jack arrive at their destination – Donatello’s house. Donatello is happy to see them. Dean admits that he brought Jack there because TFW is worried about him. Dean sends Jack in to talk with Donatello alone, while he stays outside and babysits the snake. From a great distance.

Inside, Donatello gives Jack the CliffsNotes version of Amara eating his soul. Jack asks Donatello how it feels not to have a soul. While being distracted by the spinning creamer in his coffee, Donatello tells him it’s an emptiness, a lack of “empathy … humanity.” Jack’s not sure that he feels quite that big a hole, but he does feel “different” than before. He says he’s guided by Mr. Rogers. Jack says he’s guided by Sam and Dean, so Donatello suggests Jack ask himself, “What Would the Winchesters Do?”

Outside, Dean asks Donatello (after Jack gets in the car) what the “verdict” is. Donatello figures Jack is probably okay right now, but then randomly adds that Jack is also “probably the most powerful being in the universe.” I’m rolling my eyes really hard, and it’s awfully painful, since the show has already made it abundantly obvious that the Empty is far more powerful than Jack and – oh, yeah – pretty sure Billie is somewhere looking mighty sarcastic.

Back at Harrington’s, at night, Castiel confronts Sunny with her love letters to DTB, in which she “begged” him to leave town. He’s convinced she’s a witch who has ensorcelled the entire town. When she balks, Castiel threatens her with a soul scan, his eyes glowing white. Sunny blurts out that it’s not her, “it’s him.” And then there’s a voice behind them.

It’s Sunny’s father. And he’s not alone. He has other townspeople with him. One of them is Sam.

So, Harrington is just a small-time older psychic type who could hear other people’s thoughts. After his wife died, as the town shut down, he slowly discovered that he could manipulate people with his thoughts. First he made them come into his shop and then he “remade” the town. The few he couldn’t “change,” he murdered, but his daughter Sunny (who apparently really is his daughter) was always immune.

Harrington sics Sam & Co. on Castiel as Sunny runs out the door. He follows her. She accuses him of having killed her boyfriend and he, being a pretty classic narcissist on top of being psychic, flips it back on her, saying that her telling her boyfriend got him killed.

Inside, Castiel is beating the crap out of Harrington’s goons, but having trouble keeping Sam at bay (because he doesn’t want to hurt Sam). After Castiel roughly downs the others, Sam tackles him. But when Sam has enough latent memory to grab Castiel’s angel blade, Castiel takes the opportunity to talk him down.

Castiel tells Sam that he knows how Sam feels. He knows all about losing your army, failing as a leader. But as Sam hysterically insists that he’s happy, Castiel tells him that he has to fight the mind control. Otherwise, he will let down his friends, let down Jack, let down Dean. When Sam hears Dean’s name, he smacks down the angel blade, but it goes into the floor next to Castiel’s head. The mention of Dean’s name snapped Sam out of it. He’s himself again.

Outside, Sunny is calling her father “a monster” and saying she only stayed because she promised her mother. Harrington insists that, no, he’s really “God.” At that moment, Sam and Castiel come out and tell him they know for a fact he’s not God.

Sam: We’ve met God!

Castiel: He has a beard!

Harrington tosses Castiel across the parking lot because sure, why not invent new powers for our MOTW on the fly? It’s that kind of episode. Then he starts killing Sam.

At that moment, Sunny starts to find his voice and yells at him to stop. It doesn’t stop him, but she tries it again and this time, the echo reverberates. As Sam and Castiel crawl to their feet, Harrington unwisely crows over this, that she is like him. Sunny angrily tells him that she is “nothing like you. You hurt innocent people. You wanna be happy? Then BE HAPPY!”

She gestures and her father slumps down as if he’s had a stroke. Castiel confirms that Harrington is locked inside his own mind, happy but unable to “hurt anyone ever again.”

“Good,” Sunny says.

Back at the Bunker, Dean asks Jack how the snake is. Jack says he’s not sure, because the snake is “guarded.” (Again with the Dean parallels.) As Sam and Castiel come back in, Dean asks them how Arkansas was. It quickly becomes clear that Castiel already filled him in, much to Sam’s embarrassment. Not even Dean noting, rather clinically, that Sam seemed genuinely happy for a short time, helps with that.

But after Castiel leaves the room to go see Jack, Sam does open up about why he’s been hunting so much. He hates being in the Bunker right now because he keeps seeing the dead Hunters everywhere inside it. Sam admits that he has to “stop running” and that he just “needs some time.” Dean agrees.

Okay, hang on. Which brother just had a raging archangel inside his head? For months?

In his room, Jack talks to the snake. He mentions to it that Castiel said it missed its demi-god friend. He says he will help it be with its friend again, in Heaven (umm … gods don’t go to Heaven, Jack) and then turns the snake to dust. Castiel, watching from the doorway, looks pretty freaked out.

Credits

Ratings for the episode were 0.4/2 and 1.51 million, which is pretty good for the CW this spring.

The promo, sneak peek, etc. for the next episode (which is tonight) are here.

Review

Well … okay. I’ve commented before that there’s a way new writers come across in their first scripts, where they don’t seem to quite have the characters down yet, or they write the characters in a way that reflects their characterization from a specific season or storyline that decidedly isn’t the present one. Basically Spec-Scriptitis. This episode has that issue in spades.

It doesn’t help that the writer admitted on Twitter back in February that while she did binge the show for research, she put the first few seasons on in the background and didn’t pay much attention to them. This strikes me as ill-advised. Sure, the show is now in its 14th season, but it’s still got the same fundamental conflicts it had in its first three seasons.

The episode acts as though the concept of psychically talented people who can manipulate others with their minds is a brand-new concept to the Supernatural, while pillaging plot points from episodes like “Hunteri Heroici” and “American Nightmare” to an embarrassing extent. It’s as if we never had two entire seasons of Psykids (including Rosie in “Salvation,” who never was even tainted by demon blood, yet could apparently read minds), let alone nine seasons of Sam Done Come Back Wrong With Shiny Speshul Powers.

Sure, Jared Padalecki in a man bun, acting prissy, is hysterical. I’m all for Padalecki getting to break out of Sam’s stiff straight-man act and do some comedy – and yes, he’s very funny as “Justin” in this episode – but it’s only for two freakin’ scenes. That’s barely a taster. And it doesn’t explain why Sam is suddenly no longer immune to mind control when previously (with Andy in “Simon Said” and “All Hell Breaks Loose, Part 2”), he was.

Now, I’ve never made any bones about the fact that I actively loathed Sam’s Shiny Angsty Powers storyline and don’t miss it at all, but the fact remains that it happened and that background is a fundamental part of his character. If you’re gonna do psychic powers, Show, you gotta deal with the fact that Sam used to have some. I mean, the Jack’s Soul storyline brings up Sam’s soullessness, Dean’s dealing with it, and Donatello being soulless all in one episode, even though Sam’s soulless storyline lasted half a season eight seasons ago. Same thing with the Psykids storyline.

Was Sam only immune when he had demon blood? Was he only immune to Psykid powers? The episode’s only acknowledgement/explanation of these questions is to say that Castiel is immune to the mind whammy stuff (including the exploding head thing), simply because he’s “not human,”  implying that Sam isn’t immune because he is now fully human.

Yet, in the very same scene, Castiel is not immune to being TKed across a parking lot. The MOTW (just a “psychic” human bully with zero empathy for others) has powers that are wildly inconsistent and change to serve the plot. And the less said about what Harrington’s daughter ends up doing to him (aren’t they supposed to be immune to each other’s powers?), the better. I kept getting ugly flashbacks to the enthusiastic scenery chewing near the end of Star Trek‘s second pilot, “Where No Man Has Gone Before.”

It’s too bad, because there are elements in here (creepy Stepford town, exploding heads) from horror films of the 70s and 80s that could have been good, with better writing. But the writing just isn’t there. The A plot/B plot structure, while necessary, dragged the pacing down to a crawl and rendered everything paper-thin (and the  Dean&Jack storyline with Donatello was completely linear, including the “surprise twist” at the end). As soon as some suspense began to build, that part of the story ended, yet it seemed to take forever to get anywhere in the first place. I kept stopping and starting again with the recap because frankly, I was bored. Nice premise, terrible execution.

Also, the timing of this episode was dire. I was saying on Twitter that this is the part of the season where the dodgier and less-polished scripts come home to roost (“Family Remains,” “Criss Angel Is a Douchebag,” “Unforgiven,” “#Thinman,” like that). How that will affect the season finale when the season is now three episodes shorter should be … uh … interesting.

But anyhoo, that’s not what I mean by the episode’s timing. I mean that an MOTW focusing on Sam is all very good, and an episode where Sam and Castiel go off on a hunt together as the A story is fine, too – but not right after an episode that resolved a major mytharc plot for Dean. Or, should I say, didn’t resolve it and left it dangling like a hangman’s rope in a hurricane.

The episode focused about two-thirds of the time on Sam’s mainpain and PTSD over losing his Hunter crew, with the other third focusing on Jack and the tedious angst over whether or not he still has a soul.

Dean’s having just been possessed by a wily and terrifying archangel who already “left” him and outsmarted TWF 2.0 once, or even Billie’s death books for Dean, doesn’t so much as get a look-in. Nary a mention of the new canon, constructed with excruciating care this season, about Nick’s post-archangel-possession PTSD and how it turned him into a psychopath. Hell, we get more mention of and concern over Rowena’s brief possession by Michael than of Dean’s. Writing-wise, that’s embarrassingly bad.

Look, I get that this is an MOTW and that it’s meant to be lighter in tone than the previous mytharc. Fair enough. But this show has a very ugly history of dropping Dean storylines like a hot rock to focus on Sam mangst and this is precisely what this week’s episode appears to do. It’s irritating and unsatisfying, and no amount of Dean acting terrified of snakes and mice (however entertaining that is) makes up for that. And it’s not as though we get much of that, anyway.

Yes, Sam has had less story time of late than Dean (with all the focus on Dean!Michael), but that’s no excuse for ignoring basic storytelling logic. Wrap things up for a bit with Dean and Michael, and then do an episode about Sam and his PTSD.

As for Jack, as I said last week, SuperPowered Sorta-Immortal Jack is easily my least favorite version of him. I don’t care about this plot. I don’t care about the concern over his depleted soul. I just don’t care. It’s boring and ridiculous. Move the hell on, Show.

I rolled my eyes when Donatello was talking about how Jack was “probably” the most powerful being in the universe. Really? Donatello had his soul sucked out by Amara. He knows for a cold, hard fact that she literally contains multitudes. It is way out of character for him to perceive anyone but her as the most powerful being in the universe.

As for the meta perception of the audience, we already know for a fact that Jack is no match for the Empty entity, period, and I’m sure Death would like a word, as well. Plus, the SPNverse can’t exist without Chuck and Amara alive and in balance, so yeah, they’re more important and powerful than Jack.

As for his immortality, pretty sure any being the SPNverse has been trundling along perfectly well without for 14 billion years can be killed off simply and easily. Add in the fact that Jack, bless his heart, could probably be outwitted by a kitten and you have a character who decidedly is not the most powerful being in the SPNverse, and likely isn’t even close.

Finally, let’s talk about the snake. I’m not real happy about the snake. I figured that little cutie would either be killed off or relegated to some unseen plot corner of the Bunker at some point, but as I have said in the past, killing animals is one of my least-favorite (if not my least-favorite) horror tropes. It’s a cheap and unearned way to get some bathos and early Ominous Foreshadowing without taking the time and trouble to create a human character, instead. That’s precisely how it comes off here.

It doesn’t help that Jack’s premise that killing the snake will send it to Heaven (entirely probable in light of “Dog Dean Afternoon”) to reunite it with its owner is flawed. Pagan gods don’t go to Heaven. We don’t know if they go to the Empty, simply evaporate, or even end up in Hell or Purgatory, but they don’t go to Heaven. So, killing the snake and sending it to Heaven won’t reunite it with its owner, even if it were sad about his death, which seems pretty unlikely. Seems more likely it’s sad about the horrendous care for it in this episode (bacon, Dean? Really?).

A big problem is what the snake’s death is foreshadowing. Yes, obviously, it’s about Jack’s inability to tell right from wrong and to mistake mercy for cruelty, and so on. But it also seems to be foreshadowing Jack threatening or “mercy”-killing someone specific. Sam’s mangst seems to make him a candidate, at least on the surface, but Sam is nowhere near the snake plot this week and neither is Castiel.

Of the two who are nearby, there’s Dean, who’s left to mind the snake at times (and seems to be the only person who cares about it besides Jack, despite being terrified of it and having been severely injured by its previous owner). And then there’s Donatello.

Dean should be quite traumatized, considering he was in a coma with a major head injury last week and was keeping Michael locked inside his mind for at least a month. Unfortunately, aside from his phobias, Dean seems about the same as before, perhaps too calm and concerned about everyone else, really.

Then there’s Donatello. Is Donatello sad? Hard to say. He doesn’t have a soul, and it makes him creepy and dark under the bright surface. But sad? He himself claims he isn’t, that he isn’t any more capable of sadness than of empathy. Worse, if, say, Jack killed him now, that version of Donatello would be gone forever. The part of Donatello that was capable of having memories after death is now inside Amara, wherever she is. The body and brain we have now will most likely just pop out of existence like a soap bubble once they die.

So, does it seem likely, at least at first glance, that Jack will kill, or try to kill, Donatello? Yeah. Jensen Ackles said at a recent con that the Brothers would experience a loss toward the end of the season and that it would “hurt.” Of course, with this show, that’s like saying water is wet. They experience at least one major loss every season. And it could easily be another character, like Mary or alt-Bobby. Or it could be the Brothers have already experienced that loss with the death of the Hunters last week.

But the problem with this in terms of foreshadowing is that Donatello doesn’t have any contact with the snake in the episode. He never even “meets” it. Dean is the only other character besides Jack who has contact with the snake and the recap at the beginning of the episode tells us explicitly why he might be the human analogue for it (even to the point of “missing” his “master”). One could argue that Nick is more likely to miss Lucifer riding him than Dean ever would miss Michael, but Nick doesn’t get so much as a mention in this episode. Then again, we don’t know what kind of damage Michael left behind in Dean, since the episode makes no effort whatsoever to Show or Tell us.

So, either the foreshadowing for Jack trying to mercy-kill Dean is extremely anemic, or it’s missing critical pieces for Jack trying to mercy-kill someone else. The snake’s killing is obvious foreshadowing for something, but this episode did a terrible job of hinting what that might be.


The Kripke Years

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The Gamble Years

Season 6 (with Kripke)

Season 7

The Carver Years

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The Dabb Years

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Season 14


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The Official Supernatural: “Ouroboros” (14.14) Live Recap Thread


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Recap of Dean and Michael, and Jack’s boring lost-powers storyline.

Cut to Now. As a French pop song plays on the soundtrack, a man in Raton, NM is cutting up vegetables. He has a dead man, chest staked open, on his kitchen counter. He takes out the man’s liver, breads it, and fries it. There’s a snake (poisonous?) next to the dead man’s head. The cook picks up the snake, commenting that perhaps they can have a nice meal “undisturbed,” this night.

The dead man’s eyes are wide open. This makes things convenient for the man who killed him, as the cook plucks out of dead man’s eyes and pops it into his mouth. As his eyes turn to snake-like slits, he has a vision, in green, of Sam and Dean coming into the house, guns drawn.

He comments, “They’re coming again.” I presume he means Hunters, since there’s no evidence yet that he has crossed paths with the Brothers (let alone any explanation why he survived the encounter). Plucking out the dead man’s other eyeball (“a snack for later”), he slings the snake, called “Felix,” around his neck, puts on his coat, and goes out. We get a final shot of the dead man’s face, now with empty eye sockets.

Cue title cards.

Back to the nice house in New Mexico, where dinner is starting to burn. We see Sam and Dean enter the house in exactly the same way as the cook saw them. What he didn’t see was Castiel and Jack come in behind them. So, he’s not quite as smart as he thought he was. If they catch up to him.

Dean goes upstairs. Castiel and Jack go into the kitchen. Castiel groans at seeing the body and puts his fingers to its forehead for some reason. Jack looks at the dishes on the stove. He says, “He’s cooking body parts … again.”

Subsequent conversation as everyone gathers in the kitchen indicates that, indeed, the cook was referring to them previously. Seems they’ve been hunting him for a while and can’t figure out why he’s always one step ahead of them. Or why his victims never fight back, even though the latest one seems to have been still alive when the cook started slicing and dicing. The dead man’s name is Dennis Barron and it’s his house.

Dean guesses they’re dealing with witchcraft. In comes none other than Rowena, grumping that Dean is “always blaming witches.”

Dean: ‘Cause a lot of times, it’s witches!

He’s got a point, Rowena.

It turns out that Rowena was in the general locality when the rest of TFW 2.0 (oh, come on, people, she’s totally a card-carrying member now) called her up and asked her for help with a tracking spell. They’ve been hunting the cook “for weeks” and Rowena points out that her spell has gotten them closer than before, even if they just missed the guy.

Even so, they have no new clues until Jack picks up a snake cast the cook had previously stepped over and apparently forgotten. Dean comments that the cook may have a snake as a pet.

When Jack starts coughing, everyone stops and looks at him in concern. Jack insists he’s not dying. No one looks particularly convinced. Frankly, I’m more concerned about Dean being out on a hunt, looking for a killer who’s already claimed at least six victims in northern New Mexico. Dean’s on a psychological knife’s edge keeping Michael locked inside his head. Why, oh, why, is he out hunting?

Rowena, notes the blackened lips of the dead man (she hadn’t yet been at one of the crime scenes). Sam says there are also gray patches on the face. Dean snarks that they were concentrating on cannibalism and missing eyes.

Rowena does seem to love fight-flirting with Dean. I wonder if he realizes it? Oh, who am I kidding? It’s Dean. Of course he does.

Back at the motel, Rowena probes Sam on how Jack is not dying (since that was how he was last time she saw him) and how Dean is managing to keep Michael locked up. Sam hedges (saying, for example, that “Dean is Dean” and everything is hunky-dory until they find another way to trap or kill Michael) and tells her they need to get back down to the business of researching their hunt.

At a nearby diner, Dean is admitting to Castiel (which whom she’d been flirting at the crime scene) he’s glad Rowena’s also on the case. Cue the sneak peek in which Castiel asks Dean how he’s really doing. Let’s just say Dean is having a lot of migraines and it’s very distracting. Dean admits that he’s hanging on by his fingernails and barely sleeping. Castiel calls that not “sustainable.” Dean agrees and forces a promise out of Castiel to put Dean in the Malak Box and drop it in the ocean, if it comes to it.

Oh, and Jack is in the bathroom, coughing up blood again. He uses his soul energy to heal himself, which I’m sure will not end well. Oh, I so did not miss this dumb storyline.

When Jack comes back, Dean puts his mask back on and they get back to the case. Castiel calls the murders they’re tracking “ritualistic” and “liturgical.” When Dean and Jack exchange a glance, and Jack gets his usual deer-in-headlights look, an exasperated Castiel says, “It means ‘religious.'”

“Ah,” Dean says. “Yeah. See, that one I knew.”

Castiel speculates that it may not be a monster. It may be a human serial killer. Jack points out that anyone who would do the crimes they’re tracking is a monster, regardless of their species. Dean agrees.

They get a call that Sam and Rowena are on to something and head back to the motel. There, Dean gets a turn at confusing Jack, calling Sam’s infodump “an AV Club presentation.”

I gotta say that Ackles is nailing Dean’s world-weary, insomniac, I’ve-got-a-headache-the-size-of-an-archangel attitude very well this week. He’s a hoot and you just know something’s very wrong underneath.

So, Sam and Rowena have identified the monster as a Gorgon. Dean recognizes the name and cites Medusa. Rowena looks a bit shocked at this flash of erudition and Dean says he got it from the film, Clash of the Titans, which deflates her a bit. Whether that’s Dean practicing his usual self-deprecating sleight-of-hand about his education, who knows? Anyhoo, he easily infodumps the myth about the Gorgon’s look turning humans to stone. Rowena says this is an exaggeration. What Gorgons actually do is use snake venom to paralyze their victims and then eat them. And they like to go on killing-and-eating sprees every few months. This one has been cutting a swath of 17 people across the southern U.S., roughly along the old Route 66.

This brings up the issue of how the Gorgon keeps eluding them. Rowena mentions an obscure bit of lore that the Gorgon, by eating pieces of its victim, “can glimpse the future.” How are they going to catch a creature that can literally see them coming? No one has an idea.

Meanwhile, the Gorgon is stalking his next victim, a trucker, by pretending to be a desperate and hungry hitchhiker (well, he’s hungry, anyway) who’s willing to do anything to get a ride. Yes, that includes giving the trucker a BJ. But once they get in the truck, he instead starts with a kiss on the lips. When the trucker starts to get impatient about how that wasn’t what he had in mind, he becomes paralyzed in mid-word. There was venom on the Gorgon’s lips.

Pleasantly telling him it’s going to hurt, since it takes a while for the venom to make people numb, the Gorgon plucks one of the trucker’s eyes out and eats it.

This is one of those watch-through-your-fingers scenes at which Supernatural has long excelled. You know the trucker’s doomed, but he doesn’t – until it’s too late. And now we know the Gorgon’s modus operandi.

The next day, Dean and Castiel are at the truck, pretending to be FBI, talking to a young police officer, about the case. The trucker is inside, missing both eyes and, of course, dead.

After a nervous case of the giggles dies down, the policeman shares with them an important bit of information. There was a note on the body. It’s addressed to Dean. Dean manages to get it from the officer, who leaves, and read it out loud to Castiel.

The Gorgon says he sees Dean reading the note, alone, beside the truck, and talks about other fragments involving Dean, Sam and Rowena. But he never mentions Castiel or Jack. Sam realizes that they have an in. The Gorgon can’t see angels. They can use Rowena’s spell to track him and then Castiel and Jack can trap him.

Okay … but … Dean has an archangel inside him. How can the Gorgon see him? It’s a plothole, but there you go.

Meanwhile, Rowena says she should whip up an antidote to the Gorgon’s poison, just in case. And she has an idea about how to get the antivenin. She says, with an evil smile. Hmm.

Cut to a vet’s office. Rowena and Sam rush in, Sam holding a fluffy little dog. They claim that the dog is sick and ask for immediate help. They get the vet to take the dog right away by playing a bickering couple. They call him “Jack.”

The vet (well, vet tech) takes the pup into the back, takes his temperature by sticking a thermometer up his butt, and then leaves him on the table to go talk to the “loving” couple. Vets don’t just leave animals like that, but hey, this is a show that sits people up who are bleeding to death so they can do dying monologues. And has male Gorgons. Moving along.

When she goes back out to the waiting room, Sam and Rowena are gone (what, they wouldn’t even stick around to provide a distraction?). In the exam room, the dog turns into Jack, who fishes through the nearby medical shelf until he finds antivenin. When the vet tech comes back to the exam room, the dog is also gone.

Outside, Jack comments that he wishes he’d got the stuff before she’d taken his temperature and gets in the car. After a mutual double-take, Rowena quizzes Sam about Jack’s current condition. Mentioning in passing the transformation spell she did to turn Jack into a dog, she says she noticed some kind of energy “pushing back” against her, something parasitic. Now adjudging herself beyond curious and into “worried,” she demands Sam tell her what’s up.

When Sam hedges some more, she points out that using “mysterious” magic with unknown consequences is “a very on-brand me thing to do” and then further points out that “until very recently, I was the villain.” Ah, Rowena, how I love your willingness to call Sam a hypocrite.

Meanwhile, the Gorgon is monologuing to his snake and his latest victim, who’s tied up and crying in his condo. The Gorgon says he picks on men because women have become much more “cautious” of late. He also suggests that the man is hallucinating, which makes me kinda wonder if this is all in Dean’s head, or something. The man starts screaming for help, so the Gorgon paralyzes him and goes looking for the oven.

Meanwhile, Sam is checking in with Maggie (ugh). She infodumps about how the Gorgon can only be killed by beheading with a silver sword. Also, Mary is on her way back from a case in Oregon.

I just realized why the Gorgon guy looks “familiar.” They’re doing the Andrew Cunanan murder spree, hence all the gay predator vibes and the reference earlier in the episode to human monsters. I’m kinda eh about this idea. I’m not sure TV needs any more gay killer stereotypes.

Anyhoo, Sam thanks Maggie for all her help (oops, Redshirt Clean-up on Aisle 3 alert) and hangs up. He relays the info about the silver sword to the rest of TFW as Rowena wraps up her location spell and tells them the Gorgon is nearby, not moving. Dean wonders if they need to worry about “things” coming out of the Gorgon’s neck once they cut off his head. Sam scoffs that this is movie exaggeration, but legend actually has Pegasus and Chrysaor, among other things, springing out (you remember Chrysaor, right? The golden sword from last episode?). Also, as Dean wisely points out, “We can’t be sure.”

Anyhoo, when the Gorgon hears the doorbell, he tells the man he was previously torturing (who is either unconscious or dead), “I’m expecting anyone – are you?” Castiel kicks down one door and when the Gorgon tries to run, Jack appears in the other one.

The Gorgon chuckles and claims it’s not fair: “You’re not human.”

“And you’re a monster,” Jack says.

“Demigod, actually,” the Gorgon corrects him, while putting his snake in his satchel, which, strictly speaking, is true. I was wondering if the show would even remember that. The Gorgon further states that while he didn’t see him coming, he can “see” Jack now.

Anyhoo, while Castiel checks the Gorgon’s victim and gives him the antidote, the Gorgon tells Jack a story. Castiel helps the man out of harm’s way (so, yeah, he was unconscious, not dead). Meanwhile, the Gorgon says there was once a chicken whose eggs were constantly being eaten by a snake. Finally, there was only one egg left, but the snake got that, too. Unfortunately, for the snake, though the chicken had guarded the egg well, it was really a trap. The chicken had hard-boiled it and the snake choked to death.

When Castiel growls at him to get to the point, the Gorgon says, “I can’t tell if he’s the chicken or the snake.”

Castiel attacks the Gorgon and, after a brief fight, gets “kissed” and collapses. Furious, Jack blindly attacks the Gorgon and gets slammed into a cabinet. When the Brothers come in, the Gorgon only acknowledges Dean: “Hello, Dean. Wish I could say it’s a pleasure to meet you.”

Because TV fights are usually stupid, Sam attacks first (everybody really should just pile on the monster) and gets knocked down. Dean attacks and does best of all, nearly beating the Gorgon. But the Gorgon gets the drop on him and slams him into a cabinet – twice. Really hard. Dean goes down, unconscious.

Sam cries out in horror and attacks the Gorgon, but gets knocked flying. The Gorgon then grabs his bag and heads out into the hallway … where Jack slices off his head out of nowhere. Bye-bye Gorgon.

Jack rushes to Castiel, while Sam rushes to Dean. Jack tries the antidote out on Castiel (Castiel had it in his coat pocket), but it doesn’t appear to work. So, Jack uses his soul power to heal Castiel. This is quite stupid. If the poison actually worked on Castiel (why would it work on an angel?), the antidote should, too.

Meanwhile, Sam is discovering that Dean is in a deep coma and not coming out of it. TFW 2.0 rushes back to the Bunker, where Maggie asks if Dean is okay. Sam says no, that Dean has a head injury. For once, I can kinda understand Maggie’s confusion – the Brothers get knocked out all the time, often for hours.

Castiel can’t heal Dean because he supposedly can’t even get inside Dean’s head (yes, well, having an archangel inside does that). Jack offers to heal Dean the way he healed Castiel, but Castiel forbids it. Castiel says Jack has already burned off too much of his soul, already. I’m wondering why this didn’t come up on the hours-long car ride back. Crestfallen, Jack leaves the room.

Rowena sees Jack leave, but has nothing to offer save advice about washing Dean’s wounds (and a warning to Sam about how Jack is currently sustaining himself, now she realizes what it is). Really? Most powerful witch in the world and no healing spells? How about at least taking Dean to the hospital? They could treat him there.

Of course, Dean is unlikely to die any time soon with an archangel inside him, but more importantly, with Dean unconscious, what is that archangel doing? Maybe TFW should slap some angel cuffs on Dean just in case? But nope. Doesn’t occur to anyone. Not even when Dean convulses – and we get a flash of Michael beating on the inside of his cage – does Sam buy a clue.

While Rowena does research (they kept the Gorgon’s snake, by the way, and yes, it’s cute), Jack sits in his room and mopes. Castiel comes in to cheer him up. Jack is really shocked that Dean is so badly hurt: “It’s Dean. It was just a fight.” Castiel points out there’s always a “risk” when they go on hunts. Which brings us back to why the hell was Dean out hunting with Michael in his head, when there was a houseful of Hunters who could have been out there in his place? But nobody asks this pertinent question.

Castiel says that Sam and Dean are human, mortal, and that even the “brightest beings,” while they “burn bright,” they are gone before their time. Castiel says that Dean will wake up (ignoring Jack’s concern about Michael if Dean doesn’t) and then it’s best to appreciate the time everyone has together.

Jack wonders what the point is of being a “cosmic being” if everyone you love dies. Don’t worry, Jack – you’re not likely to outlive Sam and Dean. They’re the heroes of the show.

Jack mopes that he has powers, but can’t use them to help those he loves. He feels selfish. He also worries about the story the Gorgon told him (turns out he kept the snake). Castiel explains that the story is mostly about greed, but it’s also about “killing the thing you love to kill the thing you hate.”

This mopefest is interrupted by Dean screaming in the distance. Castiel and Jack rush to the infirmary to find Sam trying to calm Dean, who is pretty literally ripping the place apart, screaming “WHERE IS HE?!!” He doesn’t have his balance back, but he sure is pissed.

Sam tries to reassure Dean that he’s back in the Bunker (i.e., safe). Unsettlingly, Dean roars back, “I KNOW WHERE I AM!” He does not mean the Gorgon. Then he turns to them, looking devastated, and says five scary words: “He’s gone! Michael … he’s gone!”

We get a flash of the cage inside Dean’s head, with the door busted wide open.

Dean is horrified and at first, blames himself. But when Castiel tries to reassure him, Dean turns on a dime to pure rage at Sam: “I told you! I told you to let me take that coffin ride to the bottom of the ocean!” And yeah, he’s not wrong.

Alas, there’s no time for anyone to absorb that, as a scream of terror from another part of the Bunker alerts them just how wrong Dean is not. It’s Maggie. They rush to the library, where everyone is dead except for Maggie. She comes running to them, but is remote-smote (Michael’s signature power) right in front of Sam.

Out strolls Rowena, with blood on her neck. She says, “Hello, boys” and her eyes glow white. Michael.

Dean calls out Michael in his new vessel and Castiel tries to order Michael to let Rowena go. Michael snarks that Rowena is just fine, “sturdier than she looks,” and speculates that all the centuries of magic have made her a pretty strong vessel. Michael then monologues about why Rowena said yes (after an odd bit to Dean about how he must “appreciate” Michael’s choice of a new vessel in Rowena). It turned out Michael (played by Ackles inside Rowena’s head) threatened to kill everyone she loved in the Bunker if she didn’t say yes – well, after threatening to kill her, to which she laughed and said Sam was fated to do that. Yeah, we already kinda knew Rowena had a soft spot for the rest of TFW 2.0, but in the rest of this hot mess of an episode, the writers choose to drive this particular point home. I will admit, though, that I enjoyed Ruth Connell’s take on Michael.

Michael then says, “I had no intention of keeping my word, but I think she knew that.”

When Michael snarks that Dean should have done the Malak Box “while he had the chance,” Dean tells Sam to get the angel cuffs. Obviously, Michael doesn’t let them do that. He/she immobilizes and tortures Dean, Sam and Castiel (but ignores Jack for some reason). Jack then grabs an angel sword and calls out Michael.

Michael zaps Jack. Jack’s eyes glow and he zaps her back, releasing the rest of TFW 2.0. Michael shrugs that Jack is burning off his soul and it will be gone soon enough. There’s some lame zapping back and forth, bragging from Michael, and speechifying from Jack (in comparison, that dodgy wirework from last season’s finale is Emmy-award-winning), before Jack grabs Rowena and expels Michael from her. Then he apparently reduces the glowing light of Michael and his grace to a tiny stream that he inhales.

Then he turns around and declares he’s “me again” as his eyes glow.

Credits

Ratings for this week went down a bit to a 0.4/2 and 1.28 million (which may be a series low for audience). Even so, it came in second in audience and tied for second (with Supergirl) for demo this week. Go figure.

The promo for next week is up.

Review

So, that happened.

This show, bless its heart, has had a talent over the years for reinventing itself. Part of that, of course, stems from the show, at its core, being a meta commentary on the horror genre. As horror has changed, so has Supernatural. The other part has been its being a hybrid procedural, in which it had MOTW episodes and serialized episodes and ones in between.

Unfortunately, the thing with experiments is that they don’t all work. I don’t even know if this episode was intended to be an experiment, but damn, did it not work.

Were there enjoyable parts of the episode? Absolutely. Dean and Castiel’s cheerfully dysfunctional parenting of Jack while on the hunt was hysterical and it looks as though the show’s finally decided to make its MOTWs scary again. It wasn’t a total cringefest along the lines of “Bitten” or “Bloodlines.” The episode was still recognizably Supernatural. It was just an episode with some really serious plotting and canon issues.

Let’s start with the ending. I’d have called it a cliffhanger ending if next week didn’t look like a “normal” MOTW. Then again, this week was advertised as one, too, so there you go.

Jack … oh, dear. I actually quite like Jack, but I like very specific things about Jack. I like him when he is a member of the family (similarly, I like Rowena best when she’s a part of TFW and not so much when she’s a villain). That’s where Alexander Calvert’s bro chemistry with the rest of the main/recurring cast shines through. Jack as a budding Hunter, as someone who is learning how to love and how to strategize and how to navigate the world – in other words, Jack with character growth and a learning curve? I like that Jack.

Jack with superpowers I don’t like at all. And I really hate the incessant banging away at his cosmic beingness at the exact same time we get the “Jack is dying” plot. He’s not Schrodinger’s Naphil, show. Make up your damned minds. Either he’s dying or he’s immortal. He can’t be both.

The other problem is that Jack is sweet, but he’s dumb. I mean, I get why. He’s a baby. But the kid is less than two years old. Kumquats can still outwit him at this point. Look how easily Lucifer took him down and yet, here he is again, thinking he can just use powers to solve every problem. Because that’s worked out so well so far.

It is therefore quite insulting (on top of having Jack steal Dean’s storyline and all the canon carnage it entails, but one disaster at a time) and unsatisfying to have Jack kill Michael just like that. In fact, I don’t actually buy that Jack has killed Michael.

Yes, Jack with his powers is impressive, but on top of having cosmic powers, Michael is also old and wise and cunning. I’ve seen fans speculate that Michael got cocky and arrogant and eh, I don’t see it. Not with Jack, anyway. Michael’s been plenty arrogant with Dean, and it’s gotten him into plenty of trouble with his Chosen Sword, but he was still nigh-impossible to beat. He was one step ahead of everyone, nearly at all times.

If this character had been named “Lucifer” or “Crowley,” would we have believed he was truly dead? Oh, hell, no. So, it’s ridiculous to think that Michael is. And yet, the way the show has been with this character, I wouldn’t be very surprised if this really were the end for Michael. They’ve wasted this character so, so much.

The other thing that has me rolling my eyes (while simultaneously making me very suspicious) is that the last time Jack tried to restart his powers with archangel grace, it nearly killed him. Now, it just worked? Hmm. Hence that cliffhanger feel.

Speaking of dumb, damn, Sam, that Idiot Ball looked heavy this week (poor Castiel, despite getting pwned by the MOTW, still looked like a genius in comparison). The episode toyed a bit with the fact that none of this would have happened if Sam had backed Dean with the Malak Box. Or at least brought angel cuffs with them on hunts in case Dean lost consciousness or otherwise lost control (or even used them in the infirmary, jeez, Sam). The box option was tragic, but it was a sure thing, a sure way to save the world. But Sam had to have his world-saving cake and his brother, too, and just as Dean warned him, Michael got out.

Well, unless Jack resurrects them next week, I guess we don’t have to deal with the Sam-as-Hunter-Central storyline, anymore. Seeing as how they’re all dead (including Maggie – yay) and it’s Sam’s fault.

Or are they? There were various references inside the story itself to hallucinations and things not being as they seemed. For a start, this is the same writer who gave us this scene a mere four episodes ago:

Let’s all keep in mind that not once does Billie actually say Michael will kill Dean (and by the way, Rowena’s able to call Michael’s first bluff because of similar info Billie gave her). She says that Michael will escape his mind and use him as a vessel to burn the world, unless he goes into the box. Dean, as I pointed out at the time, will be immortal. He just will experience what Michael threatened Rowena with. And by the way, Michael can’t kill Sam if Sam is invariably fated to kill Rowena, so … yeah.

Well, Michael did escape Dean’s mind, but what about the rest? Michael indicated to Rowena that he had lost interest in Dean as his vessel. This … doesn’t pass the sniff test. It’s basically Michael admitting defeat with a mere human and Michael never does that. If the door’s closed, he finds a window, but he doesn’t just give up.

Also, if Michael was able to escape the cage inside Dean’s mind, that should have meant he could retake control of Dean’s body at that point. Why didn’t he? Dean wasn’t restrained in any way that Michael couldn’t deal with (no angel cuffs). Hell, even if we go along with the idea that he possessed Rowena, no way would he kill Dean that quickly. He’d kill everyone else slowly and make Dean watch. And it makes no sense whatsoever that Michael wouldn’t include Jack in that pain. He did at the beginning of “Nihilism.” You know, the episode written by the same writer.

I therefore have to wonder if some kind of mind-fuck is going on and if so, where we (and Dean) parted ways with the show’s reality. It makes no sense that the show, that the very same writer, would ditch carefully laid-out canon just four episodes later. In context with what we were explicitly told and shown four episodes ago, Jack killing Michael (or even successfully exorcising him) makes no sense whatsoever. Admittedly, this is a show that has ditched canon like a prom dress at an after hours party, but generally, it occurs at least half a season later and under different writer management.

But all this being some elaborate Michael plan to get Dean back under his thumb? That makes sense to me. Granted, it doesn’t make the plotting (especially the inconsistent and sometimes nonexistent foreshadowing and subtext) in this episode any better. But at least it tracks for the general storyline. I don’t get using the term “Ouroboros” (a symbol of a serpent eating its own tail, which represents eternity) for Jack getting his powers back. I do get it for Michael trying once again to “tame” his chosen vessel.

Finally, let’s talk about the MOTW. The actor, Philippe Bowgen (as the Gorgon, Noah Ophis), did a good job getting the creep across.  And the general idea of the Brothers chasing a killer over several weeks and several states, never quite sure if they’re even chasing something supernatural, was intriguing. Even though I had issues with the writing for him (all that endless monologuing, ugh, and then he gets killed off just like that, after delivering a weird story), and was skeptical of the gay predator angle, Bowgen sold it well, I thought.

At first, I wasn’t impressed by the idea that this MOTW could be so dangerous a fighter once cornered. The Gorgon is clearly a lowlife. There’s really no reason to run if he’s not afraid of the Hunters chasing him. Also, his focus on Dean was really strange.

Then I remembered the Djinn we had this season (“Nightmare Logic”). You remember him – Michael’s creature? Michael’s enhanced creature? What if Michael wasn’t just experimenting on monsters, but on demigods, as well? I suppose it’s possible the pagan gods will make a reappearance, more powerful than before, thanks to Michael’s tinkering. But that may just be wishful thinking.

Anyhoo, this is one of those episodes where the foreshadowing/subtext/whatever needed to be a whole lot clearer. I mean, if you’re going to have a Gorgon this week and mention Medusa, you really should also mention that you had a sword connected  to Medusa last week, because absolutely will the audience remember that.

I felt as though there was a lot of handwaving about the snake-and-chicken storyline, while things like the Gorgon’s strangely formidable defense and obsession with Dean (not to mention his just throwing everyone else about while intentionally knocking Dean out). I feel as though this storyline is like the Ghost!Bobby one in season seven, where it will get muddied and dragged out so long that by the time we find out what the hell is going on (or even that something is going on), we’ll be so irritated that it won’t feel satisfying.

But hey, maybe this will all make sense by the end of the season. I just hope it makes sense because it doesn’t suck.


The Kripke Years

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4

Season 5

The Gamble Years

Season 6 (with Kripke)

Season 7

The Carver Years

Season 8

Season 9

Season 10

Season 11

The Dabb Years

Season 12

Season 13

Season 14


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Retro Recap and Review: Supernatural 9.07: Bad Boys


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[spoilers ahoy for several seasons]


Tagline: It’s a blast from Dean’s misspent youth when a man who runs a boys home seeks the Brothers’ help.


Recap: Quick recap of Dean’s miserable childhood and the season nine storyline with Ezekiel to that point.

Cut to two teenage boys running from someone who is “right behind us” at night on a farm in Hurleyville, NY. They run into a barn and hide. A younger boy in glasses comes in and tells them to come out. He says the barn is “off-limits” for playing hide-and-seek. But he runs out of the barn when an older man comes in with a flashlight, looking for the boys and saying they’re missing curfew.

The man is cursing them under his breath and shouting at them that he’s going to use a belt on them, when his breath fogs up. Then he’s run over and impaled by heavy machinery that turns on by itself.

Cue title cards and Sam in the Bunker, looking for Dean and Kevin. He doesn’t find them. Just when he’s settling down with a book in the library, Dean’s phone buzzes. Sam answers it and claims there’s no one there named “D-Dog.” Dean comes in right then and grabs the phone from Sam. He tells the person on the phone (“Sonny”) that he will be there as soon as he can and hangs up.

When Sam asks him what’s up, Dean mentions a time they were in New York as kids while John was on a rougarou hunt. Sam remembers that Dean “disappeared” and that John sent him (Sam) to Bobby’s for a few months. When Dean reappeared, John said Dean had been “lost on a hunt.”

Dean now admits that was a lie. What got lost was the Brothers’ food money in a card game and Dean then tried to “buy” Sam food at a local mini-mart by stealing it. Caught red-handed, he was sent to a boys home on a farm in Upstate New York. It was run by Sonny, who knows about their profession and had Dean’s number on speed-dial. Turns out Sonny may have a problem of their kind that they can solve.

When Sam grumps about not knowing about this until now, Dean says he was 16 and has tried to forget about it.

Probably looking like a nut to Sam, Dean asks if Sam is too tired to come along and if “we” are okay with going to the Catskills. Puzzled, Sam says he’s fine (while rubbing his neck and yawning) and wonders why Dean keeps saying “we.” We the audience, of course, know Dean is talking to Ezekiel inside Sam’s head. Apparently, Ezekiel is okay with it because he makes no appearance.

The Brothers arrive at Sonny’s Home for Boys (a handmade sign by the road announces it), which is the large farmhouse in the teaser.  As they get out, Sam is confused about how John could have “lost” Dean for two months. Dean says that he didn’t. He found Dean immediately, but then decided to leave him there because Dean had lost the food money. Sam notes that Dean was only 16 and “made a mistake” and Dean tells Sam not to pile on John. Boy, times have changed a bit, haven’t they?

As they sort-of argue by the car, they’re watched by the kid in the glasses from the teaser.

When Dean knocks, a stern-looking woman wearing a honking huge cross answers the door. When Dean introduces them as “old buddies” of Sonny’s, she coldly and judgmentally asks, “Prison buddies?” Sam looks uncomfortable, while Dean says no and repeats his request to talk to Sonny. She lets them in, but insists they take off their shoes, first, because she just mopped.

As soon as she leaves, Sam snarks about Sonny being an ex-con and Dean notes that they are hardly ones to judge. In the living room, Dean seems to realize it hasn’t changed since he was there. He has a rather depressing flashback to being 16 (in 1995), in cuffs, being talked about in the third person by an asshole local cop about being caught shoplifting.

It’s possible the cop is less-than-sympathetic due to Young!Dean having punched him in the eye. He says that when they called John, John said to “let him rot,” but the judge is on vacation and they don’t want a teenager in “county,” so they brought the kid here. Just in case anyone was still thinking that John was somehow even within shouting distance of halfway decent as a father.

This line is especially relevant in light of the 300th episode, but also Dean’s recent comment that whenever Dean irritated/rebelled against him too much, John would “send me away.” And people wonder why Dean was so noncommittal about John’s half-assed apology in “Lebanon.”

Anyhoo, the cop leaves and Young!Dean practically blows him a kiss out the door. But Sonny (who is rocking the most awesome pornstache since Gabriel in Casa Erotica) points out that the cop took the handcuff key. But no matter. He knows another way to get them off.

As he’s unlocking Dean’s cuffs, Sonny notices bruises on Dean’s arms. When he asks about them (strongly hinting that Dean may have been abused by his father, or even the cop), Dean casually says it was a werewolf (referencing Dean’s story to Gordon about “embracing the life” at 16, in season two’s “Bloodlust”). Sonny doesn’t buy this, but he doesn’t push, either.

Dean asks Sonny what the place is and Sonny says it’s a home for wayward boys. They work the farm and learn useful skills. Young!Dean scoffs at this, but doesn’t outright disagree.

Back in the present, Dean smiles.

Sonny comes out. His long hair is now pulled back into a ponytail and the pornstache is graying. He hugs Dean enthusiastically and warmly welcomes Sam. When Dean says the farm looks great, Sonny admits it’s seen better days. The county prefers to incarcerate wayward boys now instead of reform them, so he only has a few there.

Dean quickly suggests that they talk alone, so Sonny asks the stern woman, Ruth, to go check on the boys. She doesn’t look thrilled (and Sonny rolls his eyes a bit at this), but she goes. Sonny then fills the Brothers in on Doomed Teaser Guy’s death. He says he’d never really believed the “mumbo-jumbo you boys are into,” but odd things have been happening of late – flickering lights, scratching in the walls, and so on.

Dean tells him they will investigate. He tells Sam to check the house while he goes out to the barn. Sam looks at the boys’ dorm and spots something familiar – what looks like a pointed star on a bedpost. Pulling several layers of tape off the bedstand, he finds “Dean W.”

He hears an odd whoosh and looks up. Pulling out a ginormous knife, he follows the odd noise to a whispering and finds Ruth kneeling by a bed, praying. Ruth says she knows why they’re there and says she was praying for the “ghost that haunts this farm to leave.”

In the barn, Dean checks out the killer tractor (which Sonny says wasn’t working even back in the day 18 years before when Dean lived there).

Dean hears a strange noise like sobbing and follows it. He enters a part of the barn with a low-hanging bulb that appears to be swaying by itself. When he stops it and turns around, he finds himself confronting the little boy from the teaser, the one with Coke-bottle glasses. They talk, as Dean literally gets down to his level by crouching and shaking hands with him. The boy, Timmy, has a superhero toy that “fights monsters.” After a bit of discussion about what little he remembers of Jack (Doomed Teaser Guy)’s death, which boils down to only remembering that the barn got very cold, Timmy gets concerned and says he has to finish his chores or Ruth will get mad. Dean lets him go. But now he has more confirmation that the MOTW is a ghost.

Back in the house, Ruth is telling Sam some history of the place. She says she worked for (or visited) the owners before Sonny, Howard and Doreen Wasserlauf. Howard was fond of corn liquor, which made him paranoid. One day, he decided that Jack (who already worked at the farm) was sleeping with Doreen and attacked them. Jack escaped, but Howard killed Doreen with a meat cleaver and got life in prison. He died a year ago and is buried in town.

Cue the Brothers digging up Howard Wasserlauf. Sam tries to probe Dean more about his time at Sonny’s. Dean claims he doesn’t remember much, but that no one abused him, so it’s all good. They dig down to Howard and light him up.

Back at the house, Ruth is having a bath to the sounds of “Ave Maria.” We start to realize that perhaps the Brothers have salted and burned the wrong vengeful spirit when the lights flicker and the mirror ices up. Ruth finds her breath fogging right before the shower curtain rips itself off the bar and lands on her. After a pretty nasty struggle (with Sonny trying to break in to help), Ruth smothers under the shower curtain.

At Cus’s Place, Dean is eyeing the waitress, a brunette thirtysomething named Robin, and trying to explain to Sam why he picked this place for a burger. Cue another flashback to Young!Dean and Sonny at the same table. Young!Dean is thanking Sonny for getting the charges against him dropped. Sonny says that stealing because you’re hungry doesn’t make you a hardened criminal, especially if you only do it once. He notes that John has vanished, so Dean can stay at Sonny’s as long as he likes. He’s doing well in school and has made it onto the wrestling team.

Sonny then asks Young!Dean about whether he’s into Satanism because he carved an Occult symbol into his bedpost and puts salt all around his bed at night. Young!Dean also happens to be wearing his horned amulet pretty prominently.

To get Dean to open up, Sonny tells him about his own misspent youth. He was in a gang and his loyalty then ended up getting him 15 years in the penitentiary. He tells Dean that a man should be able to stand on his own two feet and be himself, not just a part of some group. At that moment, teenage Robin shows up at their table and Sonny introduces her to Young!Dean.

Back in the present, Robin comes over to waitress the Brothers. She claims not to remember Dean when Dean tries to jog her memory (though it’s clear she does), then gets called away to another table. Upset, Dean leaves, even as a curious Sam is asking him all sorts of questions. Hmm, some bad blood, there.

Outside, Dean’s brooding is interrupted by a phone call from Sonny about Ruth’s death. They come over and Sonny tells them he couldn’t get through the door. Thing is, it wasn’t locked. “There are no locks on the farm.” Also, Ruth’s rosary is missing.

The Brothers quickly realize the ghost wasn’t Howard. Dean goes to talk to the kids, while Sam stays with Sonny. Dean finds Timmy being bullied in a depression against a cellar window by the two older boys who were hiding from Timmy in the teaser. Intimidating them with his fake FBI badge, he gets a little bit more information out of them about Ruth (even if it’s Captain Obvious that she was a “bible thumper” and a hard task master) and warns them off going after Timmy again. He then helps Timmy out of the hole and tries to give him some advice about how to stand up to bullies.

Inside the house, Sam is surprised to find a “hall of fame” for the house on the wall. Up there, Sonny points out a county wrestling championship for Dean from 1995. Sam is impressed.

Outside, the two older boys are mowing and raking the lawn when Robin shows up with a guitar (Dean had previously mentioned she used to come to the farm with her mother to teach music lessons). One of the boys makes a gross remark to the other about how he’d tap that. The other one makes a gross remark about how she’s too old to be attractive. Charming.

The lawnmower starts making funny noises, so the first gross boy turns it off and flips it over. Ruth’s rosary is caught up in the blades. He starts pulling grass out to get at the rosary as the other boy watches. Timmy, clutching his action figure, watches them from an upstairs window, as he did when the Brothers arrived.

This is a rather tense scene, as you just know that lawnmower is gonna start up at at the worst possible time. And it does. Blood and screaming ensue. But Dean later tells Sam that Gross Boy #1 only had to have a bunch of stitches. Damn. Was hoping for at least a missing limb. No matter. You won’t see either of them again in this episode.

Anyhoo, Sam has been digging into Timmy’s past. Timmy was found in a warehouse all by himself a year ago and has been running away from foster homes ever since until Sonny took him in.

Dean suggests demon possession, but Sam thinks it’s actually possession by a ghost. Dean’s unhappy about the idea of shoving salt down a little kid’s throat.

The Brothers go for another search. Dean tells Sam he’s taking the barn this time. Out there, Sam finds a hatchway up to the barn attic. There, he finds a small hiding place Timmy made. It includes a helpfully detailed, albeit childlike, cartoon strip of Timmy and “Mom,” Timmy and Mom in a car accident, Mom burning up, and Mom pushing Timmy out the window.

Inside the house, Dean finds Robin tuning her guitar and has another flashback to taking lessons from Teen!Robin. She’s asking him where he’s been. Young!Dean says his dad travels a lot for business and wants Dean to go into it, but he doesn’t really want to. He wants to be a “rock star” or a car mechanic. Dean calls cars “a puzzle” and that “when you’re done, they leave and you’re not responsible for them, anymore.” Dayum, that’s sad.

Young!Robin admits her father wants her to run the diner after he retires, but she wants to become a photographer and “see the world.” She then impulsively kisses Dean. This startles Dean, who tries to cover it up by claiming he’s kissed lots of girls before. Robin sees through this and suggests they keep practicing.

In the present, it turns out Robin is there for Timmy’s music lesson. Dean tells her that’s been canceled. He tries to warn her that she needs to get out of the house and she needs to trust him. When she scoffs, he realizes that she does remember him. She’s just mad at him for leaving her.

Cue some more flashback teen kissing to Journey’s “Stone in Love.” Robin worries that Dean will ditch her. He insists he’s not going anywhere and asks her out to the school dance. She accepts.

In the present, Dean tries to explain why he left, instead, then admits there’s no time for it. Grabbing her by the hand, he tries to get them out out the door, but it slams violently in their faces. Timmy appears with his toy and says he can’t “stop it.” Then a vase smashes against the wall behind them as Dean calmly asks him what he’s talking about. More stuff starts smashing around them, so Dean yells at Robin to run into the kitchen. Let’s just say Robin’s sure looking like a believer now.

Sam comes in the back door, but doesn’t realize what’s going on in time (even as Dean is yelling at him not to let the door shut) and gets locked in with them. The Brothers put a ring of salt around Robin and tell her not to leave it. She’s asking Dean what’s going on.

Timmy comes in and now says that he can’t stop her. Sam correctly guesses he means his mother. As Dean stares intently at Timmy, Sam asks the boy what happened. Timmy says there was a car crash in the woods. His mom pushed him out of the car to safety, but burned alive as the car exploded. He ran to an empty building and cried for his mother. She came back and she protected him, but she was different now. She was a ghost.

The Brothers zero in on Timmy’s action figure as being the object tying his mother to the earthly realm. It was a gift from his mom for his ninth birthday. But then a female ghost, covered in burns, shows up and knocks Sam across the room when he tries to get the action figure away from Timmy. Dean manages to grab it (Timmy lets out an anguished cry, since it’s the only thing left he has from his mother) and then burns it on the stove. But though the figure laughs in a sinister way as it burns, its destruction doesn’t free the ghost.

Robin has grabbed Timmy to pull him to safety inside the salt line, but then the ghost begins to blow the line away. Sam correctly guesses it wasn’t the action figure, so it must be Timmy. The Brothers have a quick discussion that maybe Timmy’s mother is trying to protect him, but she can’t recognize what is a threat and what isn’t.

At this moment, Robin snaps and runs out of the room. Dean chases after her, but she then runs smack into the ghost. The ghost slams Dean into the doorjam. Then she apparates into the kitchen and grabs Sam, who is trying to talk to Timmy. Dean runs in and, even though the ghost is also pushing him through a wall, continues Sam’s talk to get Timmy to figure out how to send his mother away.

Dean explains to Timmy that his mother’s spirit heard Timmy’s cry for help and came back to him. But being stuck on the earthly plane is “driving her crazy.” Timmy has to tell her to go away, to let her go. Dean tells him that sometimes, you have to put yourself first (something, of course, Dean would never do, but Timmy doesn’t know that).

Timmy stands up and, with some encouragement from a slowly suffocating Dean, gets the attention of his mother’s ghost. She turns around and holds out her arms to him, but he tells her she has to go away permanently. He promises he will be okay. As the char and rot flake off to reveal the original, human form of his mother, he tells her he loves her, too. Smiling through ghost tears, she vanishes in a haze of light. Timmy runs through the space where she had just been to Dean and cries in his arms. Robin comes in and sees it.

Later that night, as Timmy watches them from the front steps, Robin gets The Talk from Dean about The Family Business. Dean admits that he never became a rock star. Robin allows that she thinks he’s still “pretty rockin’.” She also admits she never thought she’d like staying a small town girl, but she’s actually pretty happy. She gives him a kiss goodbye and then goes in the house with Timmy.

Sonny hugs Dean and says he’ll miss him. Dean says he thinks Timmy will be fine with Sonny. As Sonny leaves, Sam asks Dean how he knew telling Timmy to tell his mom to leave would work. Dean says he didn’t, that it was a “total Hail Mary” (ironic, considering Ruth’s death to “Ave Maria,” on top of the intentional irony involving Dean’s deal with Ezekiel).

Sam admits that going into this case, he thought they would be exploring the “worst part” of Dean’s life, but instead, “it was the best. Why’d you leave?”

Dean hedges a whole lot, calling it only “two months.” He claims that it wasn’t “right” for him, but the longing gaze he gives the house after Sam gets in the car sparks another flashback.

This one is to the night of the school dance. Young!Dean is getting dressed up in a shirt and tie for his date with Robin. Sonny comes in and compliments him. But Sonny has news. John is there to pick Dean up, but he won’t wait. He says there’s a “job” and Dean knows what that means.

Sonny says the home turned his life around and it could turn Dean’s around, too. He’ll fight for Dean (against John, it’s implied), if Dean wants.

Outside, John honks the horn. Sniffling, Dean looks out the window to see Sam in the passenger seat. He turns back and thanks Sonny, but he has to go back to his family.

In the present, Dean finishes staring at the house, at what could have been, and gets in the car. A pensive Sam thanks Dean for always being there for him. Sam admits he’s been a jerk at times. Dean puts on a smile and pretends not to know what Sam means. He starts up the car and they roar off into the night.

Credits

Review

I’ve avoided this one for a while, since watching it the first time. I could say I don’t know why, since it’s actually quite a nifty old school salt-and-burn-and-angst episode, but I do. I think I’ve said before that I’m not really a huge fan of the episodes that flash back to the Brothers’ childhoods. These stories are invariably depressing.

Yes, Dylan Everett is good as Young!Dean (though I liked him better in “About a Boy”). Yes, the fact that Dean was able to reconcile with his first love Robin (Cassie who?) was sweet. Yes, I liked Sonny and could never figure out why he never came back. But this was still a tragedy without catharsis because we all knew Dean would always make the heroic sacrifice and go back to his family. And that’s depressing to watch.

I just shake my head at the fans who try to justify John’s behavior by saying “He did his best.” Of course he didn’t, people. He admitted that himself many times. He invariably put his obsession with Mary ahead of the welfare of their children. This was not some compulsion or dropping too many balls that he was trying to juggle in protecting his boys. He intentionally put his children into that life because it fit better with his plans for revenge. He could have done it very differently, and I’m sure his regrets were real, but he created that situation quite deliberately.

Ironically, the same fans who rush to give John every possible excuse didn’t seem nearly as enthusiastic about giving Mary a pass, or even any consideration, when she came back to stay at the end of season 11. People talk a good game about hating the genre trope of fridging female characters, but they don’t respond so well when that trope is negated or even reversed.

By no means am I arguing that the writing for her since she came back has been consistently stellar, but come on, people – there was plenty of crap writing for John, even when JDM was playing him back in the day, that made John even less sympathetic than he needed to be.

But Mary is the parent I see as actually having tried to do her best and that’s why I think her importance on the show rises above the inconsistent writing. She belongs there now, not least as a stinging rebuke to the way her husband and father put her up on a pedestal after her death and used a whitewashed plaster saint version of her to excuse terrible sins against her children. The only people who have (with justice) escaped that rebuke are her sons, who simply didn’t know her any other way.

While her bailing on them immediately after she came back was not the greatest response ever (let alone her misguided sojourn with the psycho LoL), it was very human and did make sense from a psychological point of view. She was confused. She had a lot of trouble connecting with these two strange men and connecting them to the babies she’d been torn from so violently. And she did come back.

She didn’t abandon them or let them down when they were children – she freakin’ died, people. She was murdered. She did let them down as grown adults, but since then, she’s tried to make up for it. So, what we’ve had since the end of season 11 is an actual relationship being (re)built with her sons.

We have seen her attempts to balance her Hunting life with her desire to have a “normal” life as far back as season four. They weren’t entirely successful, but her desire to protect her family from her old life was a real example of “doing one’s best.” Sure, it failed, but the point is that her goals were benign and relatively pure. She was putting her family first. Her keeping secrets was part of that.

John, on the other hand, always put his obsession with revenge over the raising and protection of his sons, and made it clear to them that they were part of the machinery he was using to find the Yellow Eyed Demon and kill it.

It’s interesting, then, that we have two analogues to both John (Sonny) and Mary (Timmy’s mom) in this episode. Sonny, of course, is the contrasting analogue: the Good Dad who praises Dean and gets him interested in healthy pursuits, who encourages him to go after his dreams, and who is solidly behind him 100%. Sonny exists as a foil for John.

Timmy’s mom, of course, has parallels to Mary. She dies in a fire (like Mary) and heroically pushes her son to safety. As a ghost (like Mary), she defends him and watches over him. And Timmy worships her, just as Dean worshiped his own dead mother. She’s even blonde.

But, as with a lot of Adam Glass scripts, the writing isn’t nearly as clever as the author thinks. Timmy has been in the child services system for a year. He says that he was on his way home with his mother when they had an accident and she died in a fiery crash. Everything we learn about him and his mother indicates that they were middle class. He never mentions his father, so his mom appears to have been a single parent.

Even so, Timmy was clearly well-loved and appears to have had a normal life before the crash. So, where are the relatives, friends, neighbors, teachers and coworkers who must have been looking for him and his mother after the accident? He didn’t run away that far – why did no one recognize him when his picture was put up on the internet (and probably on television)? Why weren’t he and his mother reported missing in the first place?

Then there’s Dean. One could argue that the only people who didn’t know where he was, and would be looking for him, weren’t human. But this would require ignoring Sam’s part of the story – that he was sent to Bobby’s for a couple of months. By bringing Bobby into it, the story not only tarnishes John’s character, but also Bobby’s. Supposedly, Bobby just calmly accepted the arrival of John and Sam, without Dean, and didn’t go looking for him. I’d like to have heard that conversation.

Similarly, I found Jack and Ruth’s characters to be so thinly developed that their deaths provided little more than a red herring and a bit of the show’s usual gore. They were stock “mean” characters. Why they were so bitter and hostile toward the kids was never clear. Also, if Ruth’s story is any indication, they should have been around in the flashbacks, if only by mention (Sonny even mentions Jack with familiarity to Dean in passing), yet there’s no sense of recognition from either Ruth or Dean when she meets him in the present.

Jack’s death I could understand, in that he was chasing the kids around and yelling at them. But even irrational ghost logic didn’t explain Ruth’s. If anything, Ruth’s theory that the ghost was the former owner would lead away from Timmy and his mom, so why did Timmy’s mom’s ghost feel threatened?

I liked the young actors in the story (well, the main two – Dylan Everett as Young!Dean and Sean Michael Kyer as Timmy). Kyer didn’t have to do much besides look cute and pensive, and cry, but he did it well. Everett got a lot of Jensen Ackles’ mannerisms and much of Dean’s snarky, outlaw sense of humor. Both Everett and Ackles had good chemistry with Blake Gibbons (Sonny).

The rather perfunctory (but cheerful) love interest (retconned into Dean’s first), Robin, got short shrift in the writing. Erin Karpluk and Sarah Desjardin (as Young!Robin) still managed to establish her as someone Dean would fall in love with and still hold a torch for decades later. If Karpluk looks familiar, that’s because she previously appeared in season one’s “Salvation” as the new mom the Brothers saved from burning alive on a ceiling. Similarly, Timmy’s mom was played by two women – Alika Autran under the burn makeup and Jen Oleksiuk as the memory of the “human” version of her.

There’s a whole lot of “What could have been” in this one. It’s a fairly important piece of Dean’s past, and I wouldn’t mind seeing Sonny again. But the episode itself has a lingering touch of melancholy and pain that doesn’t make it a favorite.


Fun lines:

Sam: So, Sonny’s an ex-con, huh?
Dean: What, and we’re angels?

Dean [about his time at Sonny’s]: I don’t really remember. Nobody bad-touched me. Nobody burned me with their smokes or beat me with a metal hanger. I call that a win.

Robin: Who are you?!
Dean: Right now, I’m the only thing keeping you safe.

Dean [to Timmy]: Sometimes, you gotta do what’s best for you, even if it’s gonna hurt the ones you love.


The Kripke Years

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4

Season 5

The Gamble Years

Season 6 (with Kripke)

Season 7

The Carver Years

Season 8

Season 9

Season 10

Season 11

The Dabb Years

Season 12

Season 13

Season 14


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The Official Supernatural: “Lebanon” (14.13 – 300th Episode) Live Recap Thread


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Rather quick recap of Dean’s “hunting trip” speech from the Pilot (good Lord, does Ackles look young and shaggy in that), John, Mary, and the situation with Michael stuck inside Dean’s head, up to this point.

Cut to Now.  Dean is walking up to a pawn shop called “Precious Pawn” and looking pretty cold. Sam joins him and they go inside.

The proprietor greets them with a 20% off offer. Sam says they’re there for “the good stuff.”

“The really good stuff,” Dean says, flashing a huge wad of cash. By this, since the protagonists of this show are a couple of exceedingly experienced and deadly necromancers, he obviously means magical objects, probably of the black magic variety.

Fortunately, there’s no demurring or beating around the bush. The guy just chuckles and leads them into a back room.  There, he leads them through the “basics” (including, among other things, a Hand of Glory), then gets into more esoteric (and expensive, of course) stuff like “Dragon’s Breath.”

The Brothers cut him off by saying they are looking for something “more specific.” They want the skull of Sarah Good, a poor woman who was executed for witchcraft at Salem in 1692.

The proprietor turns to a large safe and starts working on the combination lock. While his back is turned, Sam, for some strange reason, picks up a teddy bear on a shelf and starts to pull on the string. The man cautions him not to do that (yeah, Sam, why are you doing that?) and Sam puts the bear back as Dean gives him a disgusted look.

When the owner turns back with the skull, he starts in with some rather obvious bull about having bought the skull in an auction in Pawtucket.

“No, ya didn’t,” Dean says with a predatory smile, as the masks all come off. Game on, y’all.

Dean infodumps that the skull belonged to a Hunter named Bart Kemp, a friend of the Brothers, who worked out of Boston. Only, Bart’s dead. He was cut in half by someone and the skull was stolen, along with everything else he owned.

Well, the owner realizes the jig is up (since he’s the prime suspect). He grabs up the Dragon’s Breath and tries to flamethrow the Brothers. Sam ducks/falls to one side, while Dean is blasted to the other side of the room (though he does duck in time to avoid being flambeed). The owner then picks up a scimitar called a Chrysaor (who was actually the brother of Pegasus and a warrior with a golden sword, not the sword, and it wouldn’t have been a scimitar) that he says reputedly “can cut through anything.” Oh, and it’s the murder weapon.

But he’s stupid. As he’s monologuing and getting ready to swing at Sam, he turns his back on Dean. Dean shoots him from behind. As the owner falls, Dean says in exasperation, “They always talk too much!”

Afterward, Sam finds the owner’s account book and realizes he has a ton of cursed and magical artifacts. They’re not safe to leave there, so the Brothers will have to bring them back “home” (i.e., the Bunker). Dean, who is playing with the Dragon’s Breath, sighs in annoyance at the extra work and aggravation.

Remember when I’ve commented in the past that after a Hunter dies, other Hunters descend on his or her place and clean it right out? Yeah. Like that.

Cue title cards.

Cut to a brief shot of the Brothers passing a sign for Lebanon, KS, proclaiming it the geographical center of the United States.

Cut then to a group of the dumbest, most stereotypical teens possible. I mean, these kids are bone-stupid. And, unfortunately, they are talking about the Brothers, which means that annoying shenanigans are about to ensue. I’d really hopes this trope would have left with Adam Glass and Robbie Thompson, but I guess not.

Anyhoo, one of the boys is scaring the other kids with a story of having once seen the Impala and heard something thump inside the trunk and breathing (kiddo, you have no idea).

The kids are alarmed and intrigued when the Brothers choose that moment to pull up in front of their bench. As they get out, Dean is grumping about Sam’s discovery that every single thing in the teaser ledger (now all in their trunk) is lethal.

The Brothers go inside a bar, where they are greeted by a bartender who knows them and gets them their regular (“a double” of that, Dean corrects him). Sam then suggests that cataloguing and going over this new collection might provide Dean with some distraction. After some hedging from Sam, Dean gets out of him that he means Michael locked inside the cage inside Dean’s head.

Across the street, the boy is still revving up his friends, speculating about whence the Brothers come (well … originally, they’re from Lebanon, actually [sorry, Lawrence, but they are from Kansas]) and their weird friend in the trenchcoat and the innocent boy who is always hanging around with them.

Two of the kids leave, with one girl, Max, and the boy talker staying behind. One of the departing girls comments on how nice the car is, while touching it, and Max gets this look in her eyes. Because, you know, kids are always stealing cars, right out in the open, of people who scare them. Consider how likely it is, for example, for some kids from high school who haven’t gotten into any trouble to decide to just up and steal a car owned by a known drug dealer when he’s right across the street. Yeah, that only happens in Hollywood because kids like that end up dead and even at 15, you know that.

Anyhoo, while the Brothers are inside talking about a pearl, the Baozhu, that grants wishes (from one of the sneak peeks), Dean notices Max stealing his car.

The Brothers come roaring across the street, full throttle, which gives Talker Dude a lot more gossip to share later than he ever wanted (pretty sure he pees his pants). The Brothers are a little bit … larger than life. Anyhoo, doing Bad Cop/Psycho Cop, they get Max’s name out of him, but he claims she’s new in town and he doesn’t know where she lives.

But never fear, there’s the post office. Sam is striking out in there with the postal lady (who thinks he’s a pedophile for wanting a young girl’s address), but then Dean walks in. Turns out Post Office Lady knows Dean very well and has a wee crush on him (she has good taste). Dean asks her about her son, then shmoozes the address of Max’s mother out of her.

Turns out Mom works at a diner and she is pissed to hear what Max did, especially since Max was also blowing off school. The cook informs everyone that it’s Skip Day (February 7), where kids skip school to go have a party at an old house outside town on Route 36. He says that kids need to “blow off a little steam.”

Okay, yeah, kids in a small town get bored. But when we cut to said old house, none of the kids at the party seems the least bit bothered that Max just stole a very visible classic car, cleaned out the trunk, and brought the stuff into the party. There’s a big old difference between smoking some  pot and getting drunk in some woods, or going cruising in the ‘rents’ car and catching a porn film at the drive-in alongside a bunch of middle-aged Quebecois in steamy-windowed cars (um … too specific? I had a somewhat misspent youth. In the 80s), and stealing some local gangster’s super-expensive restored car. The former is minor stuff. The latter is a felony.

So, when Max’s friend (the one who commented the car looked cool and on whom Max is apparently crushing) thinks all this is hunky-dory, I’m a little shocked. And also disappointed that Dabb apparently still doesn’t know how to write teenagers.

So, yeah, at the party, the teens have actually cleaned out the backseat and have left all the dangerous occult stuff in the living while they go drink or huff glue or eat Tide pods, or something appropriate for kids of their low level of intelligence and street smarts. In the meantime, John Wayne Gacy’s old cigar box (which Sam specifically mentioned earlier) opens up and guess who/what comes out?

So, Mr. Serial Killer Groupie comes running over to the party (after insisting to the Brother that he had no idea where Max had gone) and tries to warn her. Max’s bud blows it off, saying “Max can handle herself.”

Yeah, not so much. One kid goes into the bathroom (this is an awfully nice place for some abandoned old building) and is washing his hands when his breath fogs up. He thinks this is cool, but then the mirror fogs up, too. When he wipes it off, he sees a creepy, rotting clown in the mirror, who then reaches out to attack him.

Fortunately, the Brothers roll up at that moment in a vintage old pickup (probably from the Bunker’s garage). Dean is most worried about the Impala not being damaged (well, Max is pretty stupid, so you can’t call her a driver with the greatest judgment on not damaging a vehicle), but Sam points out that the stuff they left in the backseat is gone.

At that moment, the boy from the bathroom comes running out of the house, very much alive but freaked right out. A girl runs after him, calling him Ethan and trying to get him to stop.

The Brothers don’t catch Ethan, but they do tag the girl. She says Ethan saw a ghost in the bathroom. A creepy clown.

The Brothers bust in with their FBI badges, clearing everyone out, including their groupie, who tries to linger. Dean starts looking around, asking Sam where they might find a killer clown. With a Shaking Finger of Melodramatic Fear, Sam points at the cigar box of John Wayne Gacy, which is wide open.

Sam starts to respond, but then his breath fogs. Dean says calmly, “We should burn that right now.”

Sam can’t get across the room fast enough to grab the box, toss it into a convenient nearby fireplace, and set it alight. Or, he would , if his lighter worked.

Dean, meanwhile, is amused at the cognitive dissonance Sam must be feeling because “you love serial killers, but you hate clowns.” But he starts exhorting Sam to hurry up when the ghost appears across the room from him.

At this moment, their groupie outside decides to go in for Stupid Plot Reasons. He arrives just as Dean is being tossed onto a couch on top if the cursed teddy bear Sam was playing with earlier and Sam manages to light up the ex-John Wayne Gacy. Max and her erstwhile crush also rush in and all three of them get to see Gacy Ghost go up in flames.

Afterward, instead of slapping them silly, the Brothers give them The Talk. And Dean tells them they have to keep it to themselves. Max’s squeeze is the first to agree.

Back at the Bunker, Sam realizes he’s found the pearl. He suggests calling Mary or Castiel, but Dean doesn’t want “to get their hopes up” and suggest trying it now. After some discussion, he holds the pearl, closes his eyes, and concentrates on his “heart’s desire” (“Michael out of my head”). The lights flicker and go out, and the red emergency lights come on.

Suddenly, a shadowy, armed figure appears. Sam takes a swing at it and gets knocked down. Dean, too, is knocked down. The figure aims a shotgun at them and threatens to shoot them.

Then the lights come on and the shadowy figure resolves into a very confused-looking John Winchester, their father.

John recognizes Dean first and then Sam. Then he asks why Sam isn’t in Palo Alto. Dean quickly figures out that John has gone through time and asks him what year he thinks it is. John just came from 2003. Sam explains that he thinks they accidentally “summoned” him.

The Brothers bring John up to speed in a dizzying recap of the past 12 and a half seasons. But he’s okay with being dead in the (nearish) future because he was able to take out YED for killing Mary.

Sam rather awkwardly tries to explain that one, but Mary shows up right then, saving him the trouble. As their surprised and delighted parents start making out right in front of them, Sam drags a dazed Dean out of the room.

Sam wants to analyze what’s going on and find the catch. Dean’s just so happy to get something he always wanted (his family back together) that he doesn’t care. He understands that there is some catch, somewhere, but he just wants to indulge this long enough for “one family dinner.” He stalks off, leaving Sam stuttering.

Sam comes out into the Library to find John looking through the books. John is amazed at the scope of the Bunker and Sam admits that he and Dean were initially “blown away,” too.

John says Mary is giving Dean the recipe for her Winchester Surprise (doesn’t Dean already have it from a few weeks ago?), and we do get a quick cut afterward of Dean taking a list of ingredients from her. Sam’s mention of Dean’s story to Mary about once trying to make it in a motel room gives John some negative nostalgia.

John tries to apologize and Sam admits that John “did some messed-up things.” But when John also rather sneakily brings up their last fight to guilt Sam, Sam admits that said conversation was “a lifetime ago” and he no longer really remembers what he said. What he does remember, vividly, and thinks about a lot, is seeing John dead on a hospital floor and never getting the chance to say goodbye. That  causes John to apologize again.

As Dean is heading out to get supper ingredients, Sam catches up with him and agrees that he was right to want one family dinner. Sam then asks if he can come along. Dean smiles wolfishly.

In town, however, they find that their lives as the Brothers “Campbell” have been upended by the spell. The liquor store guy no longer remembers Dean. Max calls Sam a “weirdo” when he says hi to her on the street. And the post office lady just glares and pulls the shade down when Sam waves to her.

More concerning, Sam sees a wanted poster for Dean, with his mugshots from season two’s “The Usual Suspects.”

Sam hurries over to Dean, who’s by the car, checking his phone. Dean has found a TED talk online by nuSam, now a lawyer, in which he goes on and on about kale and how one should achieve excellence by giving up all semblance of a personal life, including family.

Old!Sam is more concerned about the wanted poster, but Dean’s already hip to that, too: “I googled me, as well – lotta beheadings.” Sam speculates that John’s time travel “changed things.” Dean agrees, but he’s still hunting. It’s Sam who’s changed a lot.

Sam thinks they’re in “a temporal paradox” and that the old timeline is changing to the new one created by John’s arrival. The really concerning thing is what else might have changed.

At that moment, two angels are flying down to earth. Yep. Angels still have their wings in this timeline. Also, they’re familiar. One is Zachariah and flying in next to him is a factory reset Castiel whom Zachariah calls “Constantine.”

As the Brothers are trying to figure out how to tell John and Mary, Zachariah and Castiel are entering the diner where Max’s mom works and where Max and her friends are hanging out. Zachariah demands to know who is “messing with time,” saying that the angels have never been entirely able to read Lebanon, so they can’t quite figure out what’s going on. He then has Castiel show his wings (which explodes the lights in the diner) and threatens to have Castiel smite them.

Outside, the Brothers see the light from Castiel’s grace and realize bad things are going down. They rush inside and quickly evacuate the bewildered civilians before there are any casualties. Zachariah is confused at first, mentioning that John had disappeared a while back, which somehow fizzled the Apocalypse. Then he realized the Brothers were responsible and tells Castiel to kill them.

Dean tries to get through Castiel (but mostly gets beaten up), while Zachariah chokes Sam and demands to know what Sam did. Sam can barely speak, anyway, but as Zachariah leans closer, Sam is able to pull out an angel blade and stab him. Exit Zachariah. Again.

Both Brothers try to take on Castiel (who, for some strange reason, just beats them up rather than smiting them), but only Dean gets a lick or two in and it doesn’t do much. Castiel smashes Sam’s head into a table a few times and Sam is able to use the blood from it (while Castiel is distracted by choking Dean) to do an angel banishing sigil on Castiel.

Back at the Bunker, in front of a set table for dinner, Dean explains to John about Sam’s “temporal paradox” theory. He says that since John disappeared in 2003, Sam never got back into hunting and the Brothers never did all the things that they did, specifically, with releasing the Darkness and getting Mary back. Dean says that Sam thinks Mary “will just fade away.”

This makes the choice easy for John. He’s not going to stay in the future at the cost of Mary’s second life. He asks if Mary knows and we cut to Sam in the kitchen, explaining the situation to her. She asks how they’d reverse the spell. Sam thinks that destroying the pearl should do it, sending John back. Mary is upset that John probably won’t remember any of it. Mary starts to cry and Sam looks upset as the oven alarm goes off.

In the library, hearing the alarm, John “suggests” Dean go help Mary (’cause we all know who the real cook is around here). But as Dean is leaving, John stops him and does the same thing he did with Sam. He says he “never meant for any of this to happen.”

Dean thinks John means the spell, but John means pulling them into his revenge quest and having to continue it after his death. He tells Dean he’s “proud” of him and the man he’s become.

But, well, it’s John and he can’t quite let that go without adding in a backhanded compliment. He says that he just wishes that Dean had been able to manage a “normal life, a peaceful life, a family.”

Dean half-chuckles as if to say, Well, there went that other shoe.

But then he looks his father in the eye and says with fierce pride, “I have a family.”

John seems to realize he’s stepped over a line Dean didn’t draw before and asks what they do “next.” Dean says it’s time for dinner. Dinner is sad, at first, but then John suggests they be thankful for the time they’ve got. So, they do a toast and have a dinner montage to Bob Seger’s “Till It Shines.”

Afterward, as they’re washing dishes, Sam broods and expresses second thoughts to Dean about sending John back. Wouldn’t it be nice if John could at least remember it? What might he have changed? Instead, he’s just going to “go back to being Dad.”

Dean says, but why stop there? Why not send John even further back and nip the whole thing in the bud? He admits that he was very “angry” for a long time, and blamed both John and Mary. It would be nice to let “some other poor sons of bitches save the world.” But then he wouldn’t recognize “who that Dean Winchester is.”

Dean says, “I’m good with who I am. I good with who you are. Cause our lives, they’re ours. And maybe I’m just too damned old to want to change that.”

At the end, they all gather in the library and exchange goodbyes, including a big threeway hug between John and his sons, where he tells them he’s proud of them and loves them. Dean whispers, “Love you, too.”

John and Mary hold hands while Sam takes out the pearl. Everyone’s pretty much bawling by the end of it, especially Dean, who blinks and flinches when Sam breaks the pearl, but never looks away. John looks at Mary and then slowly fades. Mary and Dean look at each other. Sam has looked away and turns back. All three are crying.

In town, everything returns to normal, large and small. And the three teens are walking the streets, thrilled about the idea of monsters being in the world. Like a Scooby Gang. No, show. Just no. Bad show. [whaps writers with a newspaper]

The first sign in the Bunker that the timeline has returned is when Castiel comes in, looking confused at why everyone is crying. He’s back to normal, too.

In 2003, John wakes up in the Impala, off a causeway in the pouring rain. A phone call from Dean woke him. He tells Dean about how he just had “one hell of a dream … a good one.” So, he does remember. Sort of.

Credits


Ratings for the much-ballyhooed 300th episode and John’s return went up to a 0.5/2 and 1.64 million. JDM said in one of his EW interviews that he’d like to come back for a longer arc. With those ratings, which put the show comfortably in second place for the week behind The Flash, I’ve little doubt the show will now make that happen.

There’s a preview up for the next episode (on March 7) in which Jack appears to go psycho and try to kill Rowena.


Review

I had misgivings about this one, having just reviewed the 200th episode and been less than impressed. Also, I’ve never been a huge fan of John (shut up, back there in the peanut gallery; I’m busy speaking for Captain Obvious). I mean, just an episode or two ago, Dean was talking about John used to get fed up with him and send him away. Father of the Year? Not exactly.

And there were some very large plotholes, as well as an underbaked B plot that sucked life out of the A plot, some paper-thin characters, characters acting stupid to further the plot (like the Brothers not locking the Impala up on a busy street, with dangerous occult objects in plain sight on the back seat), and some low stakes for the first 15 minutes or so.

Biggest of the plotholes? This was supposed to be a way for Dean to excise Michael, safely, from his head. Yet, not once after Dean made the spell, or even after they unmade it, did Sam or anyone else ask Dean if Michael was still there. Yes, that’s right – the whole point of doing the spell was to get rid of Michael and we never found out if it did! Even with angels involved in the third act … nope. Nary a mention.

Speaking of angels, Kurt Fuller was snarky as always and Zachariah was suitably hoot-worthy. But not only did he get barely more than a cameo, but the show just had to have Sam “get” Dean’s kill of Zachariah from the 100th episode.  Dean’s kill of Zachariah was momentous, against all odds, and totally badass. Sam killing Zachariah this time? Just another kill.

The teens were pretty awful and belonged in another episode. I don’t know if it would have been a good episode (the Gacy ghost was pretty creepy but also easily ganked), but there simply wasn’t enough room to introduce any such characters properly here, let alone without choking off most of John’s family reunion plot. They were cannon fodder who never got killed off.

The story started off reasonably well with the teaser involving the creepy guy who was killing Hunters and stealing their stuff. A little more detail on his scam would have been nice, but the actor did a good job playing smart and dangerous (except when it came to turning his back on Dean, but a lot of people make that mistake).

Too bad the show has now decided that killing rival human magic workers is no longer a Big Deal as it was in seasons past. That was a missed opportunity for some subtextual unease about Dean, who, after all, has a murderous, genocidal archangel in his head.

But then the episode took a weird side trip with the teens stealing the car. I’ve talked above about how unrealistic this seemed, as written. Also, I don’t think making the larcenous teen a budding lesbian was such a hot idea. The CW likes to pride itself on being open about sexual orientation, but on its shows, it has an unfortunate tendency to write fake Diesel Dykes who look an awful lot like Lipstick Lesbians. It’s also really into having its (mostly male) writers give us the sexual awakening stories of Baby Dykes. Stereotypes, not people.

When it works and you get a dynamic character, you get Alex Danvers on Supergirl. When it doesn’t, you get cardboard cut-outs who are basically all about their sexual orientation and strident pseudo-feminism and whatever Unfortunate Implications sneak in afterward.

I’m also not wild about the idea of these kids being used for a new spin-off. Look, folks, Wayward Sisters had its issues, but all of the characters in it had been pretty thoroughly introduced with conflicts and connections to the Brothers and the supernatural world. We barely know Alex and the gang, but we already know they’re ordinary and dull. How long can a spin-off run on “Gee whiz! Sam and Dean are great!” stuff?

Also, why name her Alex? We already have an Alex. She lives with Jody Mills.

John’s intro this episode had me rolling my eyes a bit. Really? He’d be able to kick both his sons’ asses in their prime? I was never a big fan, especially, of the variation of SuperHunter!John and that’s what we get in his first few seconds in the episode.

Fortunately, that gets dialed way back afterward. I actually liked how John interacted with his family. I know some people were disappointed by his conversation with Dean, and as I said before, the writing could have been better overall. But I thought the actors more than made up for it by bringing in subtext and subtlety to an encounter that otherwise would have been a whole lot of linear writing and montages.

For example, John’s interactions with Mary clearly show a lot of chemistry between them and show us how much he missed her. But we also get, on her side, how much she missed him. It was a foregone conclusion that John would never sacrifice Mary to save himself, but I liked how Mary balked at letting him just slip away. This drove home, I think, that Mary really is a living and active main character again in the show, after having been dead for 11 seasons.

With lesser acting, John’s interactions with his sons wouldn’t have worked, as the writing is a bit flat, there. But the subtext is pretty amazing. Morgan, Padalecki and Ackles managed to nail the undertone of regret from an abusive parent about being unable to have broken the cycle with his kids before they were grown – and discovering that some mistakes can’t be fixed, no matter how badly you feel about them or how willing your children are to forgive you.

John in this episode is still John as he’s been written and talked about for 14 seasons. He’s just John as played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who is really good at evoking sympathy for the Devil in the most evil of characters. John isn’t evil, but he is very flawed. We see this as JDM plays him on his best behavior, but then he slips here and there.

So, for example, when he’s apologizing to Sam, he can’t help bringing up their last fight before Sam left for college. And in his apology to Dean, he manages to flat-out insult his eldest, evoking the Daddy’s Blunt Little Instrument/mindless attack dog image brought up in season three’s “Dream of Little Dream of Me.”

But the Brothers (separate from each other) respond very well. Sam tells John that their fight was a lifetime ago and he doesn’t even remember exactly who said what. That what he does remember is that he never got a chance to say goodbye to John when he died and that he’s not going to blow this second opportunity to do so. Sam doesn’t deny that John was abusive. He just makes clear that he’s over it.

Dean goes even further. When John started harping on an echo of his “I want Dean to have a home” theme as if Dean were a guard dog he wanted to rehome and not his son, I just thought, Oh, no, you didn’t! But Dean simply shuts him down by telling him that he has a home and a family, that he has a life. John’s dreams for Dean are no longer Dean’s dreams for Dean. Dean has his own dreams now.

This echoes the melancholy conversation Dean had a couple of episodes with Mary, in which he admitted that no matter how much he wished otherwise, the damage his parents did to him in his childhood, inadvertent and otherwise, can’t be undone. They can’t go back. To have a real parent-child relationship, they can only go forward. Later, Dean tells Sam that he doesn’t want to go back and undo everything. He’s okay with who he is.

Now, this is quite relevant to the elephant in the room (Michael) whose status during the pearl spell we never hear about. Nick’s post-Lucifer storyline may not have been stellar (an understatement, I know), but it did drive home the way angels manipulate the fears and resentments of their vessels to get them to say yes and keep saying yes, to isolate them from their human family and friends.

By saying that he’s okay with things as they are now, and that he is no longer angry at his parents, Dean disconnects a major button Michael could push to make him compliant (remember that if Michael takes over again, this will not mean Dean’s death – just everyone else’s).

The other remarkable thing is that Dean says all of this while firmly believing that his destiny in the near future is to end up in a coffin at the bottom of the ocean with an angry archangel, presumably until the heat death of the universe. Yet, Dean is not willing to give up even one of the steps that led him to that family dinner.

That’s badass.


The Kripke Years

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4

Season 5

The Gamble Years

Season 6 (with Kripke)

Season 7

The Carver Years

Season 8

Season 9

Season 10

Season 11

The Dabb Years

Season 12

Season 13

Season 14


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Retro Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.05: Fan Fiction (The 200th Episode)


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My collected recaps and reviews of season one, which first appeared on Innsmouth Free Press, are now up (with a few extras) on Kindle. The Kindle version is available through Amazon and is on sale through this Friday. The print version is also up. If you buy the print version, you get a Kindle copy thrown in for free. I also get paid if you get it on Kindle Unlimited (for free), read the Kindle version, or lend it to a friend via the Kindle Owners Lending Library. Reviews also help with sales. Just FYI.

Scroll down to find links to all of my recaps and reviews of all seasons up to this point.


[spoilers ahoy for several seasons]


Tagline: It’s the 200th episode and we’ve got the Brothers on a very light-weight case involving privileged schoolgirls doing a musical based on the Carver Edlund books based on the Winchesters’ lives. Hunting meets First World problems. Yay.


Recap: Recap that consists of someone typing out the title page to the show’s pilot on a computer.

Cut to Now, over a black curtain that opens up. It’s a living room scene with a very bad young actress reading a book. A “ghost” prop drops to the floor in front of her and lifts up. She screams.

The door busts open and two college-age women dressed as Sam and Dean aim pop guns at the ghost while “Dean” desultorily knocks off a quip. Somebody yells, “Cut!” and a young girl in a red prep school uniform, with an Asian sidekick in similar get-up (I kid you not) starts yelling at the girl playing Dean. “Dean” replies that she’s just doing it for college credit. A shoving contest ensues, whereupon the adult in the group, who is sitting in the seats, yells at them to break it up.

She tells them she’s fed up with all the girly “drama” and she’s going to the dean of the school tomorrow to shut down the production. After she leaves, the preppy girl, Marie, insists they continue until they’re “suspended.”

Outside, the teacher is bitching on her cell phone to some friend about how “Supernatural” is not theater “truth,” and tippling from a flask, when she gets kidnapped by vines in the bushes. A purple flower is left behind on the pavement.

Cue a title card of lit bulbs and Marie stating it’s not quite right – so we get ten years’ worth of title cards, instead.

Cut to Dean cleaning up the Impala, dressed in a dirty t-shirt and jeans. Damn, does Jensen Ackles have a nice ass (sorry!).

Sam exits their motel room, which is #200 (of course). He, too, is in jeans and a v-neck t-shirt. And it’s a nice, sunny day. And a downright slutty Gordon Lightfoot song, “Sundown,” is playing on the radio. Wardrobe just called and said, “You’re welcome.”

‘Scuse me, I gotta go rewatch that.

Anyhoo, Sam comments that Dean is “up early” (hinting that Dean still isn’t sleeping) and Dean cheerfully says he’s got a case. He tells Sam about Doomed Drunk Teaser Teacher. Sam is skeptical, but Dean says he’s going stir-crazy and needs a hunt. So, off they go.

They arrive at the school theater in broad daylight (there’s a nice flower bed next to the parking lot). They’re both in their FBI suits and Sam is on the phone (Dean driving) to a police officer. As Sam brings Dean up to speed on what happened to DDTT and brags about his brief career in high school theater, Dean sarcastically notes that consisted basically of running tech stuff backstage.

The Brothers walk into the auditorium and encounter instant life dissonance. One girl in makeup as Bobby Singer is practicing the word “idjits.” Another, dressed up as Castiel, is imitating Castiel’s suicidal holy oil molotov throw (“Hey, assbutt!”) at Michael in season five finale “Swan Song.” On stage, the girl playing Dean in the teaser is singing a song called “The Road So Far” about the Winchesters’ horrible life (with a heavy emphasis on how speshul Sam is) to a montage of season one, basically, acted in pantomime by other actors while another girl (the second-to-last Person of Color we’ll see in this episode) plays on the piano. Marie and her assistant are sitting in the front row until Marie calls a cut.

Sam looks bemused, Dean utterly horrified. But it does convince Sam that there’s a case here.

Marie comes rushing up to Sam and Dean, thinking they are “from the Publisher” (whoever that is). Sam introduces the two of them as FBI agents, but Dean almost spikes it (or perhaps successfully distracts the girls from the fakeness of their badges) by getting into an argument with Marie about the play being a musical, insisting that if there were going to be any singing in Supernatural, it would be Classic Rock. Marie’s assistant dryly calls the play “Marie’s interpretation” as Marie glares daggers at Dean, but then Marie semi-mollifies him by pointing out there’s a rendition of show signature “Carry On, Wayward Son” in the second act.

Sam then gets them both mad at him when he doesn’t know that song. He mightily drags things back on track by saying they’re there to investigate the drunken teacher (Miss Chandler)’s disappearance. The Brothers quickly get filled in that she’s been drinking a lot since her divorce the previous year.

Dean belts out, to Sam’s chagrin, “I don’t blame her. I’m gonna need fifty Jello shots and a hose-down to get this stink off me!”

Sam gets the name of the assistant (Maeve) and suggests she give him a backstage tour while Dean deals with Marie. As Marie and Maeve head back down to the stage, Sam comments about how charming the production looks, but trails off when he sees Dean’s look of utter disgust.

It’s a sign of the low stakes in this episode that it never once seems to occur to Sam that it might not be very safe for Dean to be wandering around alone with a kid who is irritating the hell out of him by way of mangling the most painful chapters of his life story. I mean, Dean was a demonic madman just two episodes ago and still has the Mark of Cain at this point. But nope, says Sam, let’s split up and do a tour. What could possibly go wrong?

So, Dean goes backstage with Marie and asks her about the props table (this being Dean played by Jensen Ackles, he naturally starts playing with them, to Marie’s horror). He then spies the two girls playing Sam and Dean, over by the prop Impala. Marie explains that they’re rehearsing the “BM Scene.” Confused, Dean asks if it’s the “Bowel Movement Scene.” Marie says no, it’s the “Boy Melodrama Scene.” You know, when they talk about their feelings.

That’s somehow lots worse, especially when I remember this episode was written by a guy. I’m also reminded that this was one of Thompson’s last episodes for the show and he may have already been on his way out, willingly or unwillingly. This episode has some in jokes that seem mean-spirited at the expense of the cast and crew he was leaving behind, in a way similar to “The French Mistake,” which Ben Edlund wrote when he was halfway out the door.

Dean comments that the two actresses are standing awfully close to each other. When he asks why, and says, You do know that they’re brothers, right?” Marie insinuates that it’s “subtext.” Dean then calls out to the two girls to back it up a step. Yeesh.

In the control booth, Sam is talking to Maeve, who is a little jerk. Sam tries to ask her about “weird noises” around the theater (per folklore, theaters are notoriously haunted) and she just brings up all the FX they can do. When he mentions he did theater tech in high school, she actually cuts him off so she can go answer a call. Woof, Maeve. Rude, much?

Dean, overseen by Marie, is looking around DDTT’s office. He finds a lot of half-empty booze bottles and a weird robot prop. It turns out to be part of the second act, in which Marie (dissatisfied with the way the story went in the books post-“Swan Song”) decided to write her own fan fiction – sorry, “transformative” fiction. Which involved robots. And ninjas. And Dean turning into a girl for a hot minute.

I guess we should be grateful MPREG (the trope of male pregnancy) isn’t involved. I actually wrote an MPREG novella once, but in my defense, it was original science fiction. There’s nothing wrong with MPREG. It’s the way the trope is used in media tie-in fan fiction, with the intent of making grown men act like teenage girls, that is cringey.

I know this is supposed to be a (not so) gentle poke at the show’s fan fiction, but this second act is starting to sound more and more like Act Two of the infamous cursed play The King in Yellow.

Dean then claims to have the inside track on the as-yet-unpublished later books. He basically does a rather heightened rendition of the story up through early season ten. Marie absolutely hates it and makes fun of it as bad fanfic. Dean is (not surprisingly, since it’s his life) pretty offended. Well, can you blame him? The entire school seems bratty and entitled.

Dean then notices that the two girls playing Dean and Castiel are hugging. Seems they are a couple. Of course they are. Marie goes off on a fond little rant about the s-e-x in subtext and how there’s Destiel in Act Two. Apparently, she thinks a thirty-something man who’s seen a ton of bad shit in multiple worlds needs to have gay subtext explained to him by a sheltered teenager in prep school. The straightsplaining in that speech is so nasty that I can’t help channeling Dean’s fourth-wall-breaking look of disgust at the camera.

Outside, Dean meets up with Sam (my, they look nice in those suits) and after some discussion about the weird shipping dialogue, they finally get back to the case. Sadly, there isn’t much of one. There’s no sign of supernatural activity at the theater or in DDTT’s office. Dean speculates she may be face down in a bar or a ditch somewhere. Note that we’re already almost 15 minutes in (sans commercials) and the Brothers aren’t even sure if they’ve got a case, yet. Even though inside, someone is doing a very bad play based on their lives. So, they get in the Impala and they leave.

Later that night, a girl named Maggie is bailing on Marie’s “little dictatorship” and threatens to go to the principal in the morning, but then she gets kidnapped by a monster that looks like a scarecrow, but has vine arms like those that kidnapped DDTT. Marie sees it.

The Brothers, having heard what happened, return to the theater the next day and interview Marie. Marie manages to make poor Maggie’s (how many friggin’ girls with names beginning with M are in this episode?) kidnapping about her own humiliation at not being believed. Charming.

Marie describes the monster as looking like the scarecrow prop in their play. The monster dragged Maggie behind a dumpster and then they both disappeared. Needless to say, neither the cops nor the school authorities believed her. She’s shocked to realize that ghosts might be real and Maeve even thinks she wants to believe.

Sam makes a tactical error by introducing himself and Dean. Sadly, Marie and Maeve are Very Very Stupid and respond with laughter and mockery. This makes no sense to me. If I thought someone were playing a joke like that on me after a traumatic paranormal event I witnessed, I might get angry. But I wouldn’t respond like these twits.

I so want to slap Marie and Maeve. Hard. And we’re not even quite halfway through.

Marie’s hung up on the idea that the Carver Edlund books are “works of fiction.” Maeve’s hung up on the idea that Sam and Dean are too old to be … well, Sam and Dean (the ageism in this episode is pretty darned bad). But Dean is finally able to get these two morons back on track by convincing them that he and Sam are Hunters and can help them. Maeve guesses they’re like The X-Files and Sam’s like, “Yeah, we’ll roll with that.”

So, the first theory (remember that we are halfway through and only now taking the MOTW seriously) is that the monster is a Tulpa, since Marie based her prop on a creepy scarecrow outside town when she was a “kid.” Um … she’s still a kid, so what the hell?

The big problem with Sam’s theory (which he himself admits) is that neither the books nor the play are popular, so where did sufficient belief to create the Tulpa come from? Sam is also hung up on the fact that another flower was dropped at the scene, but he can’t recall what it is.

Meanwhile, Dean has Marie take him to the boiler room, where the scarecrow effigy is. Marie is terrified of it; Dean, not so much. Marie helps Dean burn it.

But when they come back to the library, Sam says it’s not a Tulpa. It’s a goddess. A Greek Muse to be exact – Calliope, the Muse of Epic Poetry. Sam identified her via the flower left behind. It’s a starflower, also known as Borage.

Sam says that Calliope nurtures and protects an author she favors, using manifestations like the scarecrow that kidnapped DDTT and Maggie, until that author has “realized her vision.” Then Calliope eats the author.

Kinda wish Calliope had eaten Thompson before he turned in this script.

So, Marie doesn’t take this well. She freaks out and runs into another room, then hyperventilates into a paper bag. The Brothers and Maeve rush in after her and then Sam abandons Dean to go do research or something, leaving Dean to get Marie to buck up and get the show back on track. The plan is to lure Calliope out and gank her. Because if Marie tries to stop the whole show, more people will just get kidnapped. Or something.

Marie enthusiastically responds to this rousing speech by stating she’ll take her fictional hero – Sam Winchester – as inspiration and play him in the play. Yep. Marie’s a Sam stan, on top of everything else. Oh, and she’s got a version of Dean’s amulet that she calls the Samulet (always hated that name). Dean’s double-take reflects mine.

Marie gives herself a totally self-absorbed pep talk to the mirror that finishes with her saying she’s “gonna Barbara Streisand this bitch.” So much wrong with that. So, so much wrong. She later claims, with no intentional irony, she left Chuck out of the story because an author inserting himself into the story is douchey. Ugh.

The Brothers then change back into their regular flannel and Sam arrives to surreptitiously give Dean a stake of some kind that will kill Calliope.

Dean gives the cast a big backstage speech that actually works. Then they all do a group chant of “Ghostfacers!” that horrifies the Brothers before starting the play. [sigh]

Marie comes out on-stage to give a big, stalling speech of her own to the audience and the Brothers have Maeve bring up the music to shut her up. We get the “Road So Far” montage again as the Brothers roam the backstage, looking for signs of Calliope in the confusing mess of players coming on and offstage in makeup.

Sam then gets grabbed by the scarecrow, right in front of Dean, and disappeared into a wall. Dean runs frantically after him backstage, but isn’t in time to stop it.

Sam wakes up in a cellar with DDTT and Maggie. He still is holding his goddess-killing stick. It’s the school basement. Calliope shows up and TK’s Sam around a bit.

While the girl playing Castiel sings a lonely solo onstage (remember that “The voice tells me I’m almost out of minutes” scene from season 5?), Dean tells Marie to “stick to the plan” and keep going until the goddess shows up.

The goddess, meanwhile, is monologuing to Sam about how Marie’s play is terrible (especially that second act), but there’s something special about this opening night. Perhaps it’s because the real-life inspirations for the story are here (yes, she recognizes Sam as a Winchester). She guesses she’ll “just have to find out” by killing Sam and Dean.

Upstairs, during a montage recreation of Dean’s deal to resurrect Sam in “All Hell Breaks Loose, Part 2” at the end of season two (yes, I know that’s out of sync with Castiel being in the play at all), Marie sings “A Single Man Tear.” That is truly an obnoxious song that sends up toxic masculinity without actually critiquing it. The only good thing about the song is the juxtaposition with Dean, who is so intently looking for the MOTW that he doesn’t notice or care about the song’s lyrics or message, and there ain’t nearly enough of that.

Near the end of the song, Dean spots the scarecrow again and runs across the back of the stage, in full view of the audience, to tackle the scarecrow while Maeve fires off instructions to the crew.

Downstairs and stalling, Sam is getting Calliope to monologue about why she chose this story, in some of the most annoying on-the-nose dialogue ever about the greatness of the show. I mean, I love this show, but that kind of infodump doesn’t belong in the dialogue. Subtext, my ass.

Anyhoo, Dean’s fighting the scarecrow and getting his ass kicked, while downstairs, Maggie and DDTT come up with a pretty decent plan to distract Calliope (by whacking her over the head with a heavy book) and kick the magic stick back to Sam. Sam stabs Calliope in the back, right at the moment Marie gets into the fight upstairs and stabs the scarecrow, shouting “No chickflick moments!” The scarecrow staggers back, arms outstretched, then bursts into blue goo right at the moment its mistress dies in the same manner downstairs. The startled (and goo-covered audience) gives her a standing ovation. Dean tells her and the “Dean” actress to take a bow. The curtain closes on this.

Afterward, Maeve comments to Sam that this is usually when the Brothers exit stage left in haste. Sam agrees. Maeve then says he’d make a pretty decent Dean if he cut his hair. Sam looks exasperated.

Dean, meanwhile, is talking to Marie during the intermission about how they just have different interpretations of the same story. Marie gives him the Samulet prop and calls him “Dean,” making it pretty clear she’s finally figured out who he really is. Dean’s not sure how to deal with that late-hour validation. So, he just comments that he never needed the Samulet as a symbol for his love for his brother (though she does get him to take it), and goes to stand next to Sam in the wings.

As the curtain rises, Sam is startled to find the words taken right out of his mouth by the dialogue on-stage about how staying “cooped up” in a motel room or the Bunker or wherever isn’t such a hot idea and they belong out on the road. Turns out it’s the BM Scene.

The play continues with the cast singing “Carry On, Wayward Son.” One of them, according to Maeve, is playing Adam. That one sure makes the Brothers uncomfortable.

Finally listening to the song and music, Dean and then Sam are emotionally affected by it.

At the very end, in the real Impala, Dean puts the Samulet prop on the rear-view mirror as they drive off into the sunset. Or the sunrise. Take your pick.

In the coda, Maeve comes running down from the balcony to Marie to say the ticket they left for the “Publisher” was picked up. After some momentary confusion over whether Calliope came for her or the Publisher, Marie runs up to meet him. It turns out to be Chuck, whom we haven’t seen since the end of season five.


Review: So. This is the episode for which the show spiked the Demon!Dean storyline.

I never thought I’d see the day when Supernatural had an episode in which only the MOTW died (It wouldn’t really be a Supernatural episode at all if nobody died). And I certainly didn’t expect that episode to be the show’s 200th, not after the high-ish body count for the 100th.

For those wondering why I’m about to body-slam “Fan Fiction” when it’s just supposed to be a flaky lark, there are two reasons. First is that screwball comedy and farce of this episode’s type are difficult precisely because they’re supposed to be light. But if a souffle falls flat, it falls flat, and that’s a fail. Gordon Ramsay isn’t going to take pity on you and call it a nice try. He’s going to call it a hot mess. That was “Fan Fiction.”

Second, the episode itself is intended to be a milestone meta commentary on the show itself and how it’s perceived by the fans. This makes it, by its very nature, analytical. Analysis is designed to be itself analyzed. The funny thing is that the show itself has always been intended as a meta commentary on the horror genre, anyway, like its spiritual predecessor, The X-Files. So, there’s double the reason to take this puppy down to the studs and see how it measures up.

This was a bantam weight entry at best. It wasn’t the worst they’ve ever had (perhaps because there’s heavy competition for that spot), but a classic it also was not. And that’s too bad, though yay for the show making it to 200 episodes in the first place (and this week, it’s the 300th). Very, very few shows have managed it. In fact, only 40 scripted primetime shows out of over 120 thousand shows in U.S. history had reached 10 seasons (2 of them, Supernatural and Bones, were in their 10th season) the year this episode came out. Supernatural is currently one of only 14 scripted primetime shows to make it to 15 seasons. If it makes it to 16 seasons, that number will drop under 10.

That said, this came off like a rather lazy and self-indulgent effort, as well as yet another reason for Robbie Thompson, like Adam Glass, to stay far away from writing young female characters, especially female LGBT characters. ‘Cause he sucks at it and the result seems more like soft-core porn than flying the Rainbow Flag.

Also, the young actresses they got weren’t the greatest, even allowing for the fact that they were playing teenage girls, some of whom were playing (very badly) two grown-ass men.

What was especially disconcerting, in light of its total reversal on the show’s basic premise, is how it wanted us to sympathize with a bunch of privileged young (mostly) white girls who were appropriating the life stories of two white guys – who also happened to be poor, marginalized, underprivileged and – until recently – homeless most of their lives. Two people who also happened to have been brought up in an atmosphere where they lived in violence the way fish live in water. And who had made out of that unfortunate circumstance a heroic profession.

And on top of that, not only did these spoiled little brats think they had a right to critique those lives, they also felt they could rewrite the story any way they chose, which also meant making it as girly as they chose (keeping in mind that this script was written by a grown-ass white man, so the female characters were themselves walking stereotypes of Clueless Female Writers who couldn’t get inside the head of a man enough to write him well. O the irony).

It came very perilously close to the kind of cultural appropriation that makes blackface or running around in an “Indian” headdress with a tomahawk at Halloween offensive. About the one thing that “saved” it (more or less) was that the culture was a fictionalized version of many different bits of world folklore and the two protags having their lives appropriated were white. And male.

Even so, fictional as they are, I found myself feeling sorry for Sam and Dean Winchester. Dean, especially, got set up for a lot of mean-spirited laughs. Ackles dealt with it by just going out full-throttle goofy, while Padalecki went Giles-levels of deadpan. I’m not at all surprised that both of the leads were more than a tad horrified when they first got the script.

I’d say that this wouldn’t have ever flown with two minority protags, but then I’m reminded of how many times this kind of story has used minority protags in exactly that way. Somewhat dopey white characters getting life lessons from Wise Old Ethnic People while appropriating the WOEP’s life stories? Tragic Gay Best Friends for the Rich Girl Who Has Everything? Very common event in Hollywood. Hiyo, Silver.

This wouldn’t be so much of an issue if this viewpoint were simply presented as is, or even satirically, but it’s really not. By the time Dean is head-bopping at the end to a song about his mother being torched on a ceiling, it’s pretty obvious these kids are supposed to be imparting some kind of wisdom to Dean, and to Sam, after appropriating the story of their lives and rewriting it in a really crappy and self-indulgent way. The viewpoint itself is intolerant. Either you’re with the writer’s pseudo-PC beliefs or you’re a bigot.

One of the reasons why Hollywood TV writers doing riffs on their shows’ fan fiction almost always goes horribly wrong is the unexamined misogyny of a bunch of (mostly) sheltered white men whose main experience with writing women is action shows and superhero comics. I remember writing fanfic on Usenet in the 90s for Star Trek, Queen of Swords and Highlander (you can find it all here if you’re curious), and woof, was the “official” attitude horrible toward fans back in the day.

On the surface, it’s improved to where they now actively woo certain fans (while still freezing out others, thus creating fandom gatekeepers for the extra lulz). But the subtext is still one of condescension and mansplaining because you’re still stuck with the writer’s male gaze. Even women who write for television almost always do so according to male producers’ and showrunners’ specifications, and for a male audience.

The thing is that there’s nothing inherently wrong with fan fiction. Hell, a huge amount of historical fiction was nothing more than religious fanfic for a very long time (Biblefic, baby!). Sure, most of it sucks, but that’s true of most published writing, too, and some fan fiction is actually very good.

Writing in a preexisting universe, like any other writing exercise, can help you become a better writer. It can give you some extra space to learn other skills besides original worldbuilding. Plot, for example. Writing a good fan fiction story means learning to research canon and write convincing characters who give readers the same thing they look for in those same characters onscreen. That’s harder than it sounds. It’s about so much more than just filling in the gaps between scenes or episodes, or retelling a story when it turned out a way you didn’t like, or writing shipping porn.

But then you get into the part where so many of the fans writing and reading media tie-in fan fiction have been women (probably because not being the intended audience means you’re less satisfied by what you get from the canonical story), and the nasty attitude of showrunners toward those fans. And this episode, while purporting to be a love letter to those fans, too often crosses the line into mean-spirited mockery. It even commits some of the sins it mocks them for, distorting the Brothers’ characters and story to fit Thompson’s little segue into Meta Land. Apparently, if you are a “real” (read: usually male) scriptwriter on the show, you can write as much shitty fan fiction as you like. But little girls writing it for free? How dare they?

Fanshaming’s not cool, writers, especially when you get the fans in on it and internalizing it and turning on each other. These people keep your story alive and your jobs in play. Show a little respect.

Now I get that the basic structure of the MOTW episode is that the protagonists of the story (Sam and Dean) roll into town and must learn a new lesson every week while killing monsters. So, they’ve got to learn something, as well, from someone re-telling their story, however horribly. But that doesn’t mean that they should be getting lectures from civilians who have no clue what their lives truly are like. It seems to trivialize the risks of hunting monsters, as well as the tragedies.

Many fans have complained about this over the years. Yet, the show continues to do it as if the writers haven’t heard anything to that effect. I suspect that has a lot to do with network pressures to introduce characters who bring in a younger audience. Why do I think this? Why, because the show has done this before and so has the network.

In season three, the CW insisted on the show introducing two young (and attractive, it almost goes without saying) female characters as recurring guest stars. The show already had one introduced in the form of Ruby, the demon who would eventually lead Sam to start the Apocalypse. Under the gun to bring in another female recurring lead, they took a one-shot, Bela, and turned her into a recurring.

Personally, I liked Bela’s potential, if not the execution, until “Dream a Little Dream of Me,” when she tried to kill the Brothers by stealing the Colt and giving it to Lilith. This was solely to save her own hide. Even that could have been written more sympathetically, but the writers, by their own admission in the companion book for season three, hated having the character imposed on them. So, they did their level best to sabotage the writing for her from the get-go.

Ironically, the character that they really did like, Ruby, who also happened to be a Creator’s Pet, was even worse than Bela because her creator was so obsessed with her. She was so roundly hated that they had to recast her because Eric Kripke refused to write her out until the end of season four.

I was therefore unsurprised to see the network doing this again in season ten, by introducing – or should I say, having the showrunners introduce – a slew of new, young, female characters. After all, it is not the first time they tried this (“Ghostfacers” and, ugh, “Bloodlines”). And it wasn’t the last time, either, though “Wayward Sisters” was a hell of a lot closer to the original show’s concept than this episode. At least “Fan Fiction” wasn’t the (bad) sign of things to come that it looked like when it first came out. So, there’s that.

There is somewhat of a mystery about why they introduced these characters in the 200th episode (we never did see them again). I say this because the episode went to great lengths to introduce all of them (even if Marie was the only one who got any real development). Yet, there doesn’t seem to be a whole lot of plot gas in terms of recurring characters for someone like Marie. Okay, so she’s doing a play about Supernatural. Great. But then what? It’s not as though she is going to become a Hunter. And there are only so many times a haunting can occur at her school before it gets sillier than season seven of Buffy the Vampire Slayer with the Hellmouth and bad guys constantly coming to her town.

So, perhaps Marie and her little girl gang were not ever intended to be recurring characters, let alone the backdoor pilot material the network so desperately desires. It makes you wonder, though, why they were introduced in the first place. The very last people I’d think would be obsessed with the lives of Sam and Dean Winchester would be a bunch of sheltered prep school girls.

In addition, there are a few problems with the logic of the situation. Let’s all cast our minds back to the fact that the Brothers have been on the run from the law for most of their lives, almost as long as Bo and Luke Duke from The Dukes of Hazzard. In addition, Dean had been a wanted serial killer for nine seasons to that point. Not to mention when both he and Sam were framed as spree killers by Leviathans who looked just like them in season seven. These two have been on America’s Most Wanted list more times then Ted Bundy.

It is therefore a bit of a stretch to expect that a prep school for sheltered young girls would have no objections whatsoever to a bunch of their students doing a musical about these two serial killers. Even worse, they are two serial killers who are heavily into the Occult. It all defies suspension of disbelief just a tad in this post-9/11 world. I mean, would you really expect to see the same bunch of girls allowed to do a play like Springtime for Hitler or a sympathetic musical about the life of Charles Manson? Try so not.

The writing tries to both dodge and handwave this with a rant by the drunken schoolteacher, who is supposed to be the girls’ after-hours chaperone in the teaser, about how they are doing a musical based on a bunch of badly written books. Which is all very nice, except that the Brothers are real, and their reputations as wanted, vicious criminals are also quite real, within the context of the Supernatural universe. So, even if the teacher is mainly focused on the badly written books, she’d have to have been living in a cave not to have noticed that Sam and Dean, on whom the books are based, are very bad men, as far as she knows.

One could argue that because Chuck never uses Sam and Dean’s last names, it doesn’t matter and nobody is going to put two and two together to realize they are one and the same. However, in America’s litigious society, which is also very paranoid, the teachers would probably object amply because the Sam and Dean of the books could be confused with the “real life” Sam and Dean on the Most Wanted list.

Speaking of the teacher, we are apparently supposed to believe that she can just walk off and leave a bunch of teenage girls all alone in a theater in the evening with no chaperone. Never mind that she’s kidnapped while she’s leaving them alone; she should not have left them alone in the building in the first place. This, once again, shows that the writers of Supernatural, including Robbie Thompson, don’t always know what they’re talking about when it comes to some basic real-life situations. Certainly, it gives the impression that neither Thompson, nor anyone who vetted this script, has ever been a teacher.

I have to say that Marie is a truly irritating character. I could handwave a lot if she were more fun. Instead, she is an uptight little rich bitch who spends a great deal of time yelling at everyone else. To make matters worse, we are apparently supposed to believe that she is on a Hero’s Journey and that we are supposed to root for her. I so don’t want to root for her. I was rooting for the MOTW to eat her.

The episode also really, really tries to be PC, but fails miserably in a couple of places. For a start, what is with the token Asian character of the young woman who is Marie’s assistant? Also, to make matters worse, she just happens to be revealed at the end of the episode as the token Dean Girl.

Also, what is up with all the lesbian characters who are 1. lipstick lesbians, and 2. engaging in relationships with each other as part of a lifestyle? It makes you wonder just how hip Thompson really is to the LGBT community when he takes the number one accusation that is used against them – to whit, that they choose to be gay or lesbian or transsexual or bisexual, rather than that they are born that way and therefore can’t just stop doing it – and makes it sound as though choosing to do it is a great fashion statement and a growing phase.

Thompson honestly seems to think he is striking a great blow for LGBT representation on television by having two teenage girls who happen to be playing men – hot teenage girls, I might add – also be in a relationship with each other, on top of playing two men who are in a relationship with each other. I get that it’s all supposed to be very Victor/Victoria (which is a wonderful and very funny film on my short “I feel like crap; what shall I watch to feel better?” list), but even in Victor/Victoria, the characters who are gay are born that way and can’t help it. In fact, some fairly major plot points in the movie revolve around how incredibly dangerous it was to be gay in certain parts of the world in that time period.

Victor/Victoria makes no bones about showing how terrible and destructive homophobia was in the early 20th century. “Fan Fiction” does not make any effort whatsoever to show the equivalent for the 21st century. Apparently, the episode exists in a world all to its own where young women can choose to be lesbian with no societal consequences whatsoever. Can I live on that planet? Because it is not Planet Earth.

It doesn’t help that all of this is meant to be a goof on Destiel. On top of that, we have Dean being lectured by Marie on how to treat his brother. Never mind that Marie seems to be convinced that Dean and Sam are in an incestuous sexual relationship with each other (can’t leave out those Wincest jokes). So, I am pretty sure that Marie does not know nearly as much as she thinks she knows, not least because she has to be rescued from a pagan goddess who, up to that point, she had no idea even existed.

That said, I sort of liked the return of the Samulet. I didn’t like hearing it referred to incessantly as the Samulet. But I liked that it came back because I really hated the way they wrote it out in season five. I get that it was causing Jensen Ackles a lot of pain, but I wish it had been written out better, even if it did get a somewhat nice coda to its story near the end of season 11.

Before I wrap up this rant, I want to add a couple of things that are more positive. For one, the sets were really nice. I mean, they were really, really nice. This show’s saving grace has often been the crew who work tirelessly to make it look good on a low budget. It is rare that they screw things up. Granted, there are times when the writers write checks the crew’s talents (and budget) cannot cash. But in this case, they really came through.

For one thing, the sets look like the kind of thing you would see in a high school musical. Having played orchestra in the pit for a few high school musicals (bass clarinet, in case you’re interested), I can tell you that the sets often have to be the saving grace. Even cheap ones can look great if you have someone with a little artistic talent behind the scenes. In this case, the crew obviously did and they made it look as though Marie had a theater crew she did not deserve.

Second, while I did not care for most of the songs, I did think the voices, in general, were pretty good. And some of the young performers did quite well. I liked the girl who played Mary, for example, and the girl who played Castiel was also decent.

I didn’t care so much for the actresses who played Sam and Dean. I know they were supposed to be playing young college girls doing summer stock theater, but that doesn’t mean that I particularly liked their performances. And I also did not find them at all convincing playing men (contrast them, for example with the Hillywood sisters, who are much better at it).

It made me wonder, in fact, if the script itself had directed them to play Sam and Dean as stereotypically “girly” as they possibly could. In an episode where all of the guest characters were female, and we were supposed to have some pro-female Gay Pride theme going, it was disappointing to see all of the girls be frilly stereotypes. Once again, that is the kind of thing that can happen when a male writer thinks he knows women better than women know themselves and proceeds to mansplain feminism to them. Gee, that’s not condescending at all.

Finally, the stuff where the Brothers are getting ready for the hunt, and after they leave the hunt, is really quite good. I loved the use of Gordon Lightfoot’s “Sundown” (he’s one of my favorite singer songwriters, going back to my childhood). Baby has never looked better. I’m not sure Sam and Dean have looked better than in that scene, either. I also liked the final shot of their driving off into the sunset. Yes, it looks unreal, even stylized. But I’m pretty sure that’s the intent. I still liked it.

I wish they had done the Monster of the Week better. You would think that they could’ve written her as less underwhelming. I also wish that Dean had gotten the kill. I get, in retrospect, that they were drawing out the suspense of Dean’s first kill after being a demon. That doesn’t mean that tactic was satisfying in “Fan Fiction.” There were some good moments of Dean rushing around backstage during the climax where Jensen Ackles makes frantic work of it. But it doesn’t make the general proceedings any less silly.


Fun lines:

Dean [to Sam]: We got work to do. [slams the lid of the Impala]

Dean [to Marie]: There is no singing in Supernatural! If there were, it would be Classic Rock, not this Andrew Lloyd Webber crap!


The Kripke Years

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4

Season 5

The Gamble Years

Season 6 (with Kripke)

Season 7

The Carver Years

Season 8

Season 9

Season 10

Season 11

The Dabb Years

Season 12

Season 13

Season 14


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The Official Supernatural: “Prophet and Loss” (14.12) Live Recap Thread


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Contribute monthly via Patreon (which includes perks), make a one-time donation through Paypal, or buy us a coffee. You can still find my reviews here of North Carolina ghost story books, and notes about my folklore research on Patreon.

My collected recaps and reviews of season one, which first appeared on Innsmouth Free Press, are now up (with a few extras) on Kindle. The Kindle version is available through Amazon and is on sale through this Friday. The print version is also up. If you buy the print version, you get a Kindle copy thrown in for free. I also get paid if you get it on Kindle Unlimited (for free), read the Kindle version, or lend it to a friend via the Kindle Owners Lending Library. Reviews also help with sales. Just FYI.

Scroll down to find links to all of my recaps and reviews of all seasons up to this point.

[sigh] I so hate Nepotism Duo scripts. Anyhoo, let’s get started.

Paint-by-numbers recap of the Nick storyline and Dean creating the Ma’lak Box to get locked inside out under the Pacific.

Cut to a box on the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. Inside is a terrified Dean, clawing and banging at the lid as it appears to bow in from the pressure. Then the light on his phone goes out as his battery dies.

Cue title cards.

Dean wakes up, very wide-eyed and gasping. It was a nightmare. Sam comes out of the bathroom, looking concerned and apologizing for having woken Dean up. Dean says Sam didn’t wake him up. As a scream from his nightmare echoes in his head, he glances over at the wall next to his bed. It is covered with bloody scratches. He glances down at his hand, the one he was using in his dream to bang at the Ma’lak Box lid. His fingernails are torn and bloody.

I gotta give this to Jensen Ackles in the dream scene and this one. He is not afraid to look unheroic. In the coffin dream, Dean is red-faced and ugly-crying. Even afterward, he looks shell-shocked. It isn’t pretty and I’m curious to see how many fans will actually recap it on social media. The teaser is a classic horror trope of being buried alive, plus an undersea theme common to submarine flicks and Ackles milks it like a doomed Alfred Hitchcock Presents protagonist.

Sam (unknowingly?) twists the knife a bit by pointing out that what Dean proposes to do is far worse than death – Michael will keep him alive in that box “forever” – so of course Dean must be terrified. Dean says yeah, but it’s not as though he’s got any other options. Sam says, well, unless they can find a way to get rid of Michael first. Dean asks Sam if he’s got any solutions for that. Sam doesn’t. Dean goes into the bathroom, looking a little disgusted with Sam.

Cut to a young woman in some factory setting. She is tied up and gagged. A stone-faced young man fills a tank with water, pours something into it (salt?), then dumps her in. He briefly drags her out to cut up her arms, then drowns her. Afterward, he hears voices speaking in what sounds like Enochian. This is an obvious rip-off of the film Frailty, one of inspirations Kripke has acknowledged for the show. Can’t say I loved the film and I’m not too impressed by the homage, either.

Lu – sorry, Nick wakes up in a hospital bed. I guess he’s there for his knee (which Donna shot out from under him last week). This show has such magical thinking with medical stuff (particularly this episode’s writers) that it’s hard to tell how seriously it chooses to take a particular injury in a recurring character.

Nick is being tormented by a very unprofessional cop who is his bodyguard. As I recall, this guy last played the corrupt sheriff in the season 10 episode when Dean killed all the Stynes. The guy promises him that he will spend the rest of his life in prison and Nick whines that the devil made him do it (no, he actually says that). Ugh.

Cut to the sneak peek, with Dean trying to keep Sam on track with supporting him. They are in some wet forest, investigating a case. I think. Sam is being pissy instead of supportive and guilt-tripping Dean. I really want to slap Sam hard here. He knows perfectly well how dangerous Michael is. Michael already promised him a few episodes that “the last thing you’ll see is this pret-ty smile” as he tore Sam apart. It’s flat-out irresponsible for Sam to recruit TFW 2.0 to sabotage Dean and it’s exactly what he did in season 10.

And guess what Sam does as soon as Dean leaves the car to go to … the bathroom? Again. Anyhoo, Sam calls Castiel and they whine to each other about how even Rowena can’t find anything in the Book of the Damned.

Cut to the stone-faced young man again, this time in a car in the rain. He’s stalking someone in an alleyway, a man this time. Cut to the man tied up and with duct tape over his face, getting dragged into another convenient factory setting and getting his throat cut. The psycho chants about executing “judgment” in the land of Egypt, cuts up the guy’s chest and intones, “I am the Lord.”

Jeez, Nep Duo, you can’t even do villains right. So dull. And kinda cringey.

Cut to the Impala driving back in the night and rain, pulling something. Dean is driving, despite Michael’s banging on the inside of the Cage.

Dean apologizes to Sam for not always being the greatest brother (really, show? Really?! Did we not get enough of this tripe in the first five seasons?). Sam says that Dean was the only person who was always there for him.

Dean says that sometimes, he sided with John just “to keep the peace,” but that there were times when he seemed to disappear out of Sam’s life. These were when he had somehow angered John and John would send him away (a reference to “Bad Boys,” I guess). Wow. As if John couldn’t look any worse.

This seems a tiiiiiny bit outside of canon as outlined in earlier seasons, but it’s nothing to what a wanker Sam is about not wanting to hear it because it sounds like a “deathbed apology.” Dean looks devastated.

I sure hope the rest of the season won’t have me wanting to punch Sam in the throat nearly every time he opens his mouth. That could be wearing.

Cut to Nick praying to Lucifer (the cop thinks he’s praying to God). He manages to get the drop on the cop while asking him for a pee break. Then he beats him to a pulp. I am so rolling my eyes at Nick Sue this season.

On top of everything else, Sam decides to check out a case. Dean’s hesitant, at first, because that’s not what the trip is about (I’m not even sure what the trip is about at this point – getting the box back to the Bunker? What, Nep Duo?). But then he figures, sure, why not? “One last case for the Winchester boys.”

Sam gets pissy about Dean constantly bringing up his imminent entombment and I actually said out loud, “Oh, for fuck’s sake, Sam!” It quite confused my 18-year-old cat, who is trying to get me to give him his dinner.

Anyhoo, Sam mentions the two victims. The woman did indeed drown in salt water. They both had Enochian carved into them.

The Brothers visit the brother of the second victim, pretending to be FBI. He’s played by the same actor because they were twins. In the interview, he says his brother came out first and always tried to be his big brother (Dean’s getting a headache from all the plot anvils). Sam tells him the “graffiti” was Enochian meaning “I am the Word” (ah, so not “I am the Lord”).

Turns out the victim knew another guy, Tony, who had a tattoo that says “The Word.” Gee, I wonder if that’s our killer. What linear writing.

Dean calls Castiel for research and Castiel blurts out that Sam told him everything. Sam looks uncomfortable as Dean gives him a dirty look – yeah, Sam, you are that family member nobody wants to tell anything because it’s just like announcing it on Facebook. But he does get out of Castiel that Tony was supposed to become a Prophet after Donatello.

As Dean speculates whether Donatello is now dead (because that’s the only way a new Prophet can be activated), we get a view of Donatello on a ventilator in a hospital bed, where he’s been ever since Castiel turned him catatonic last season.

Far too many commercials on this stupid CW app.

Dean calls Donatello’s doctor, posing as his nephew.  Yep. Donatello’s still alive.

The Brothers now need to figure out how Tony got activated and why he is a-murdering innocent folk. The Brothers break into his house. They discover a room with walls covered in Enochian and containing photos of the dead victims. Sam reads some of the Enochian about Egyptians drowning in the Red Sea and “divine retribution” and killing of firstborns. Dean immediately makes the connection to the victims (the woman drowning in salt water like the Red Sea and the young man being the elder twin) and points to photos on the wall as possible future victims. Sam then susses out one that talks about fire coming out and consuming someone.

Cut to Tony pouring gasoline all over some poor dude while ranting about fire coming from God. He then backs away, pouring a line, and lights a match.

At that moment, the Brothers run in, guns drawn. Sam tackles Tony and starts to choke him out. Dean rescues the victim and tells him to run after cutting his bonds. The guy wastes no time obeying and quickly leaves the scene.

Dean actually has to yell at Sam to stop choking Tony and Sam lets him drop. But when Dean asks him if he’s Tony and Tony is unwise enough to challenge him, Dean punches him, hard.

Tony insists he’s doing the Lord’s will, but when the Brothers ask him what he’s hearing now, he realizes the voice has stopped. Sam says that’s because whoever he was hearing wasn’t God. Dean informs him that he killed three innocent people for nothing and punches him again.

After some flashbacks to the murders, Tony is in denial and tackles Dean for reasons not entirely clear, aside from getting Dean’s gun so he can shoot himself once Sam hauls him off Dean. The Brothers look upset for reasons not entirely clear, considering he was murdering people.  So, what if he was a Prophet? He was still, as Dean put it, “a psycho.”

So, that happened.

Afterward, Sam is talking to Castiel on his cell phone while they are continuing to haul the Ma’lak Box back in the longest coffin trek since Woodrow Call hauled his best friend’s body back to Texas in Lonesome Dove. Sam is worried that with Tony dead, some new serial killer Prophet is now awakening somewhere else, ready to start the crazy all over again. It feels like the end of the episode, but according to the CW timer, we’re only a little bit over halfway. Oh, dear, Nep Duo. Come on.

Castiel makes a comment with no ironic intent whatsoever about how the new Prophet was “malformed” because the Natural Order has been upset. Sam says he doesn’t know how to keep the whole process from starting all over again. Dean just tells him, “You know how.”

Nick breaks into his old house, which looks pretty darned good for having been boarded up and left as-is, sheet-covered furniture and all (people don’t really do that in real life). He starts having flashbacks to Lucifer’s manipulations because everybody’s having flashbacks in this episode.

But then something rather interesting occurs. His breath fogs up and when he turns to a mirror, it fogs up, too. Thar be a ghost about. Doors bang and lights fritz and guess who appears? Nick’s wife, Sarah. You know, the ghost of the woman in whose name Nick murdered all those people.

As this is an episode where nobody’s motivations make a whole lot of sense, though, Nick immediately thinks she’s Lucifer pretending to be his wife (as happened right before he said yes at the beginning of season five). Needless to say she’s hurt and I’m confused as to why we went through this whole storyline this season about Nick avenging his wife and child when he doesn’t actually care, after all.

After the commercial break (yes, I’m quite salty about being stuck with this stupid CW app), Nick asks Sarah why she’s still there. She tells him the obvious – “unfinished business” regarding her murder and that of their baby.

Crying, Nick tells her he missed her and she calls him a liar. He insists he found justice for her, that he found her killer. Sarah calls him out on his motivation for that, too (by the way, she’s a mighty solid ghost, per previous Nep Duo ghost entries). She says she was there as a ghost the night he said yes to Lucifer. If he truly cares more for her, then let him “reject Lucifer” and choose her, releasing her from the earthly realm.

Alas, despite all his blubbering, Nick can’t and leaves the house with her shouting after him that he’s become Lucifer. Nick agrees and says he’s going to find the “darkest” place he can find, wherever Lucifer is. I’m sure you’re all shocked.

Cut to the Happy Daze nursing home (y’know, with these two so close to retirement age themselves, you’d think they’d finally lay off the ugly ageism. Guess not). The Brothers are there to pull the plug on Donatello and the doc is all for it. Holy Irresponsible Spreading of Wrong Medical Knowledge, Batman! Uh, no, you do not pull the plug on people in a “persistent vegetative state.” And no, you cannot have practically no brain activity while still mumbling in your sleep. Bad writers! Bad, bad, bad writers! [Whaps writers on the nose with a newspaper.]

So, Castiel happens to be there, playing a Doctor Novak. Castiel gets pissy with Dean, even after Dean tells him to stop it and that he’s already having a hard enough time. It turns out Donatello was mumbling the same words that Tony heard. Somehow, Tony heard Donatello trying to reorganize his brain. Or something. Me, I’m wondering why the hell Donatello was off his respirator long enough to have his eyes wide open and mumbling stuff. But massive continuity errors are cool, amirite?

So, after months of ignoring him, Castiel decides he’s going to heal Donatello. This confuses Donatello’s doc who was just about to take Donatello off the respirator as part of discontinuing his treatment – except we just saw a video of him doing just that and Donatello really clearly breathing on his own. Because breathing on your own is how you form words.

Anyhoo, after some more random bitchery aimed at Dean, Castiel decides to operate. The Brothers hang out in the waiting room, in comfy chairs.

Dean asks Sam if he’s all right. Sam, employing some more neutron-heavy plot anvils, talks about Donatello being trapped between life and death (except, not really, because Donatello no longer has a soul). When Dean shrugs this off, Sam snaps, “Easy for you to say.”

“No, it’s not, really,” Dean coldly replies. Rather than realizing it’s time to back way the hell off, Sam sees this as a weakness to exploit, but Dean just tells him, “Nothing’s changed.”

Dean then has a Michael attack right in front of Sam, but Sam doesn’t even appear to notice.

Inside Donatello’s room, Castiel is doing his glowy-hand thing. He tells the Brothers he’s “searching for something,” but doesn’t explain what except that his eyes glow when he finds “it.” And Donatello wakes up.

But it’s not clear whether or not the machines are just keeping him alive so Dean … uh … turns them off. Yeah, yeah, I know, but we’re just rolling with the stupid at this point.

So, at first, Donatello appears to fade out, but then he wakes up with a dramatic gasp (through the ventilator that nobody bothered to remove). And then they give him glasses that were put on his bedside table, even though he was in a coma and didn’t need them for months and months. The only staff that bother to come in after his machines got turned off is the rather confused doctor. Dean fairly loudly adjudges it “a miracle.”

Cut to Donatello eating jello or pudding or something, and wanting buffalo wings. Dean tells him to take it easy and get up to speed slowly. Donatello doesn’t remember anything about being possessed by the Demon Tablet, but Castiel quietly assures Dean that this is the “real” Donatello, albeit still without a soul. All the other canon and worldbuilding and lack of research these writers bad-touched all episode, but that they remembered.

Dean goes outside, to find Sam getting sloppy drunk by the Impala. I can already feel the urge rising to punch Sam in the throat. It doesn’t improve in this scene.

Sam proceeds to go on a (inaccurate) rant not much better than the one at the end of “The Purge.” Sam accuses Dean of “quitting” and wanting to kill himself. Um, no, Sam. You yourself admitted earlier in this episode that Dean is not going to die. Regardless of how all this pans out, as long as Michael is inside him, Dean will live forever. It’s the world that is on a deadman’s switch if Dean loses control.

Really, what Sam is pissed off about is not that Dean is dying because Dean isn’t and all of the solutions Sam claims they could find, they could find with Dean inside the Ma’lak Box. Because Dean and Michael would still be alive inside it a year, ten years, a thousand, a million, a billion years from now. Maybe not sane, but they’d be very much alive. So, Sam isn’t upset about Dean dying. He’s mad that Dean is breaking up the band.

Anyhoo, Sam starts slapping Dean in the chest and then punches him, declaring that “I believe in us!” which is new, considering Sam spent the whole first nine seasons of the show trying his level best to get away from Dean, and not really something I buy. Dean stops Sam from punching him, so Sam tries hugging it out. This apparently works, as Dean relents and says, sure, they’ll look for some solutions.

But Dean then pulls back and says when – sorry, if – they don’t, he’s going into that box and Sam is going to let him do it. As Castiel walks up, Sam agrees. Then again, Sam agreed last week, too.

Off they drive in the Impala. Sam doesn’t look quite as triumphant as you’d think. Maybe the reality of what he wants is finally coming home to him.

Credits


Ratings for the show remained steady in the demo at 0.4/2 and dropped a bit to 1.40 million. This tied it in the demo at second for the week and put it second in audience.

The show has also been renewed for a 15th season. No word yet on how long the season will be. Let the hopeful hater speculation that it will be the last begin in 3 … 2 … 1 ….

The preview for next week is here, as is a sneak peek. That’s the much-vaunted 300th ep, “Lebanon,” and yes, I will do a retro review of the 200th ep this week (“Fan Fiction” from season 10). After that, we’re going to have a brief Hellatus. I think it will just be a week, but don’t quote me on that.


Review

My goodness, this one was just terrible. After the opening scene (which was a hoary idea even in the Victorian Era, and great mainly due to the Ackting and some nice CGI), things went downhill quickly. Linear plotting, inconsistent pacing, convenient coincidences, a very boring MOTW, plot holes large enough to drive that semi that totaled the Impala in “Devil’s Trap” through, lazy characterization, ageism, appalling and insensitive treatment of medical ethical dilemmas … jeez.

Okay, sure, Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross-Leming have written worse (like dog girls), but when that bar’s set so low it’s somewhere down with Dean’s nightmare in the Marianas Trench, that is not saying much. “At least they weren’t casually racist or misogynistic this week” is not a ringing endorsement of even a Nep Duo ep.

What the actual plan was for the Brothers regarding dragging the Ma’lak Box all over the countryside did not get much explanation. I guess they were heading west this week with the box to charter a boat? Yeah, that wasn’t explained very well.

Neither was the new Prophet’s motivation. The torture and death scenes came off as gratuitous, largely because the Tony character was written as such thin gruel. Aside from a few characteristics that sorta, kinda fit what Donatello was muttering, how did Tony choose his victims? Were they all people he knew? What did he even think he was trying to do? How did he justify it to himself? Why did he end up shooting himself (aside from the whole convenient writing thing) after Dean told him they were innocents?

Was it all part of some spell Donatello was muttering (and was it a leftover from the Demon Tablet)? Did Heaven have Donatello on speed dial (even though he’d apparently been activated by Amara, originally)? Or was Michael maybe trying to reach out through a Prophet to effect his escape? Obviously, Donatello’s mutterings will figure into something later in the season (that foreshadowing was neutron-star dense), but Tony’s entire character seemed random.

Speaking of random, again, with John obviously coming back next week (yeah, yeah, I know, spoilers), what the hell was up with Dean telling Sam that John would get angry with him and send him away for extended periods of time when they were kids? Especially in light of what happened in “Bad Boys,” that’s somehow even more horrifying than the hints that John smacked Dean around. It just seems so emotionally abusive.

It was therefore quite annoying for Sam to make the horrific and terrifying journey that Dean was trying to take All About Himself. And to have Castiel back him up with his own angel brand of pissiness just made me want to smack their heads together like a couple of coconuts. If would be one thing if they were only risking their own lives, but these two chuckleheads are ready to let the world burn just to keep Dean with them, being the wind beneath their wings until the day Michael manages to flip the switch. Which is cute and all, except not really. Actually, it’s quite horrifying.

This is a really, really, really important point that the show keeps obscuring by having Sam and Castiel throw the words “suicide” and “self-destructive” around. And I’m not just talking about the deeply offensive way the show continues to treat mental illness, when its leads have worked so hard to build a charity that includes a crisis hotline and is literally intended to help dismantle the toxic attitudes toward mental illness that the show’s writers too-often promote for giggles and drama plot coupons.

No, I’m talking about the part of the story where none of this involves Dean committing suicide. Dean is going to imprison himself before he loses control of that dark and genocidal archangel part of him. He is not going to die. He can’t die, actually, at least not right now. His choices boil down to: living forever inside a box with an angry archangel, but the world is safe, and living forever inside an angry archangel as he rips the world apart.

But either way, it’s living forever. It’s the world that’s in peril. From him. He’s got a gigaton thermonuclear bomb inside him and it’s ticking. And he can hear the clock.

They could, conceivably, stick Dean inside the Ma’lak Box now in a way that wouldn’t drive him completely insane (give him a Gameboy, or something), and then look for a solution. It’s not like Dean’s going to die. The Ma’lak Box could actually be a temporary solution, a sort of padded cell for Dean to stay until TFW: The Expansion Pack could figure things out.

But that doesn’t even come up because Sam and Castiel and even Mary (Jack was totally MIA this week) are so stuck on the idea that Dean musn’t go into the box, even though they could open the box back up at any time. Their intransigence just doesn’t make any sense except in terms of Sam freaking out at the idea that Dean might abandon him (as Dean hints in his conversation about John). It’s pretty gross that Dean has grown so much in this storyline, yet 36-year-old Sam is still acting like a pissy, willful, self-destructive adolescent. Grow his ass up, already, Show.

Finally, I guess I have to talk about whatever-the-hell-that-was with Nick, don’t I? I get that the show wants Nick to “choose” Lucifer (I keep hoping against hope that the show really isn’t going to bring Lucifer back, but maybe if they do, they’re planning to stick him in Nick and then stick Nick into the Ma’lak Box, with the idea that Nick won’t mind because he’ll be back with Lucifer. Which is all kinds of messed up and not in a good writing sort of way, either, but if it gets rid of Lucifer for good, I’m okay with that). What I don’t get is why they did it in a way that made his whole revenge quest for his wife and kid completely pointless. I mean, he killed a bunch of people in their names and then, when he encountered Sarah’s ghost (different actress, I think, and longer hair, and what’s with this show’s obsession with ghostly women in nightgowns?), he couldn’t even lie to her long enough to help set her free.

So, what was even the point of watching him do all that? Yes, I get that part of it was his discovering that he still missed Lucifer and that Lucifer fundamentally screwed him up. I get that. But there wasn’t even any sense of betrayal when the demon told him last week it was working for Lucifer when it killed his family. Not only did he not demonstrate any anger or guilt or pain over that, but the show didn’t even acknowledge that yeah, that would be a huge monkey wrench in his whole revenge plot.

Overall, that felt like a damp squib, a completely anticlimactic ending to a plot that took up far too much of this season as it was. I kept hoping his wife would rip him apart and then move on to the next world. Sadly, the Nep Duo aren’t good at writing ghosts, so she just flapped some doors around and chilled the air and screamed after him. Jeez, Nick, at least give Sam and Dean a call so they can release her.


The Kripke Years

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4

Season 5

The Gamble Years

Season 6 (with Kripke)

Season 7

The Carver Years

Season 8

Season 9

Season 10

Season 11

The Dabb Years

Season 12

Season 13

Season 14


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The Official Supernatural: “Damaged Goods” (14.11) Live Recap Thread


We need your help!

Contribute monthly via Patreon (which includes perks), make a one-time donation through Paypal, or buy us a coffee. You can still find my reviews here of North Carolina ghost story books, and notes about my folklore research on Patreon.

My collected recaps and reviews of season one, which first appeared on Innsmouth Free Press, are now up (with a few extras) on Kindle. The Kindle version is available through Amazon and is on sale through this Friday. The print version is also up. If you buy the print version, you get a Kindle copy thrown in for free. I also get paid if you get it on Kindle Unlimited (for free), read the Kindle version, or lend it to a friend via the Kindle Owners Lending Library. Reviews also help with sales. Just FYI.

Scroll down to find links to all of my recaps and reviews of all seasons up to this point.

Recap to this point of post-Lucifer Nick’s revenge storyline for his wife and son. Which has not gone quite in the direction he or anyone else in the story expected, even if some of it was quite predictable to the audience.

We also get a quick recap of Dean’s caging Michael last episode and Death’s revelation that there is now only one way Dean can stop Michael from using him to destroy the world.

Cut to Now and Nick torturing a CRD who used to run with Abraxas. He infodumps that he found out from another demon he killed (he has an angel blade) that Abraxas had been captured and imprisoned by a Hunter. He wants the Hunter’s name.

The CRD wants to make a deal, but Nick won’t deal. After some false bravado, she gives up a location. The Hunter is in Hibbing. You know … Donna’s neck of the woods.

For a moment, it looks as though Nick will spare her (even though we know he won’t). Then he stabs her in the eye. There’s screaming offscreen and black goo.

Cue title cards.

Cut to someone researching angels in the Bunker library. My personal favorite is Maria Prophetissima Historia Achengeli (The History of Archangels by the Highest Prophet Mary), right between Engineering Chemistry and something in Greek.

It’s Dean. He takes the book and also a power sander, some welder’s goggles and such, and wraps them all in a duffel bag. He’s not sneaking out the door (he goes to see Sam, next), but he is sneaking that stuff out the door, if that makes sense.

Sam is in the main part of the library, looking through The Book of Jubilees for stuff about angels. He asks offhandedly how Dean is feeling and Dean shrugs it off.

Sam reassures Dean that they will find something to deep-six Michael permanently. Dean doesn’t look reassured. Sam then suggests Dean dive in along with him, but then Dean drops a little grenade on him. Dean says he wants to go off on a road trip, by himself, to see Mary at Donna’s cabin. Sam, trying mightily not to give Dean all kinds of side-eye, especially after Dean firmly turns down his offer to come with, says sure. When Dean hugs Sam from behind and tells him “Take care,” you can see all the red flags popping up and all the red lights and klaxons going off inside Sam’s head. As well they should. This is Not A Good Sign.

So, of course, as soon as Dean leaves, Sam calls Mary. Mary says Dean cast it as a “supply run,” but she’s fine with any excuse. Seems Bobby has taken off for a bit, unable to deal with having his son’s death dredged up again by the djinn hunt a few episodes ago. Mary is cleaning guns while she talks, indicating she is downplaying this and giving  a signal example of where her eldest got it from.

Mary tries to reassure Sam that maybe Dean just needs his space. Sam appears to agree, even as he’s wandering into the room where Dean was and seeing that two books are missing – the aforementioned two about archangels and engineering.

Dean is in Hibbing, eating burgers with Donna and asking about Jody and the Wayward Sisters. Donna gives him a brief overview (Alex just killed two Vetala on a hunt), but she’s not fooled. She knows something’s up. She wades her way through a little flurry of questions from Dean about her life to try to figure out what Dean is doing there.

Dean is a little horrified when Donna explains that Sam has been oversharing (jeez, Sam, will you ever learn?) about Dean’s having been possessed by Michael – twice – and now doing a time-share/solitary thing with said archangel in his own head. He takes it pretty well, though – “What, does he got a freakin’ newsletter?!”

Dean shrugs off all the concern and then gives Donna a big hug. She looks concerned when he’s not looking. He looks unutterably sad, but pastes on a big smile as soon as he pulls back.

Off he goes to Donna’s cabin, where he hears shooting. It turns out to be Mary engaged in shooting practice.

Mary hugs him, all smiles, and Dean asks if he can stay a few days. Mary says sure, Bobby’s out on the road, maybe Sam can come by? Dean demurs, saying he’s “greedy” and just wants his mom to himself. He also claims to be “hangry” from being on the road (despite having just seen Donna and done synchronized burger-eating with her) and asks Mary to make him the one thing she’s actually good at cooking – Winchester Surprise.

Mary is a little surprised and horrified that Dean remembered she ever served it to him and John. Apparently, it’s so greasy that it’s a “heart attack on a plate.” Dean says sure, but it’s very tasty. So, she drives off into town to get the ingredients, calling out as she goes that yes, she will get pie (she almost takes a hedge out with that big pickup as she leaves the driveway).

But despite his loved ones’ concern, Dean is extra good at being sneaky. So, as soon as Mary leaves, Dean’s eyes fall on the barn nearby. And that is not a coincidence. He quickly goes to the trunk, gets out his duffle bag, and heads to the barn.

Inside, he sees two posters of half-naked cowboys and makes a comment about how consistent Donna’s taste in men is, with totally unconscious irony (really, those two should just bang like bunnies, already). As soon as he’s in the door, he gets a migraine attack from Michael beating on the Cage and screaming (I guess they must have done a bunch of takes with Ackles in costume to use over the next few episodes).

After he recovers, he notices an old 8-track tape and puts in a little The Guess Who (“No Time Left for You”). Frankly, I’m amazed that 8-tracks still play. Those things used to wear out like crazy.

We then get a montage of Dean welding, putting together … something shady. Rumor has it on Twitter that Ackles learned some welding just for this scene because of course he did.

A kid named Joe working at the store helps Mary put groceries in her car. He comments that she doesn’t normally buy food: “You usually only pick up whiskey, pumpkins and crossword puzzles.”

“Well,” Mary snarks, “Crosswords usually get better with whiskey.”

I legit laughed, though it would be nice if we saw some of Dean’s cooking skills again.

Later, poor Joe gets accosted by Nick, acting shady in a creepy, blue child molester’s van. Nick asks Joe where he can find Mary’s house, but Joe senses the danger vibes rolling of Nick and plays dumb. Then he makes a phone call.

Later that night, Nick gets stopped by a cop – Donna. She’s been looking for him.

Donna apparently doesn’t know who Nick is (though she does do a fingerprint check on him using a handy-dandy scanner), so I guess Sam’s newsletter could be more informative. She does know he was looking for Mary and that Nick’s van is stolen.

Unfortunately, the script calls for Donna to act stupid (and Nick to have a paper clip that gets him out of cuffs) and turn her back on him. There’s a fight after she gets the ID. She appears to get the upper hand, but then Nick uses her own taser on her. Ugh. At least she’s not dead.

Mary arrives at the house after dark, despite having left the store while it was daylight. Um … okay. Anyhoo, Dean comes out of the barn and acts casual when Mary questions why he was out there. He takes two bags from her and they go inside.

Dean says he has a surprise for her. He has set the table and suggests that maybe “two terrible cooks” can make something for dinner. This strikes me as downplaying his own skills considerably. So, guess who’s bringing out the Winchester Surprise casserole in the kitchen while Mary is out of sight on the stairs, talking to Sam, who fills her in on the missing books and other stuff from the Bunker?

Mary says she doesn’t know what’s going on, “but something is going on.” Sam wants to come right away, but she asks him to give her some time to talk to Dean. Sam says sure and as he hangs up, we see he’s in a car, speeding toward Hibbing. Ah, Winchester Secreth and Lieth. Where would this show’s plot be without ’em?

At dinner, Dean tells Mary (who isn’t hiding her concern very well) a story about how he and Sam tried to recreate Winchester Surprise on a hot plate in a motel room, with horrific results that freaked John out. Mary has an epiphany (which she expresses out loud) about how much of her sons’ lives she missed and how much their childhoods sucked after her death. Dean tries to fake sunny after that, but it’s hard and he chokes a little on the facade. He still manages to get across that he’s glad she’s back and alive, warts and all.

Mary tries to get Dean to open up, but Dean just says, “Everybody keeps asking me how I am. And how I am is I don’t want to talk about it. Please.” He doesn’t say it in a rude way, but it’s pretty final.

Later, Mary sneaks back down the stairs and past a snoring Dean on the pull-out couch. Out to the barn she goes, where she discovers an odd framework and the plans Dean is using. What she finds horrifies her. But when she leaves the barn, she immediately runs into Nick, who kidnaps her. Y’know, I like Mary, but I swear this show has her get kidnapped more times than Timmy on Lassie. It’s a bit embarrassing for an older female Hunter who’s supposedly one of the best there ever was.

Meanwhile, Dean is getting a call that wakes him up. Then he gets another call from another phone (this bit of continuity confused me). It’s from Donna, who just woke up in her cruiser from her tasing. Even though she doesn’t know who Nick is, she knows his name.

Dean rushes outside, gun first, and hears a sound. He spins around to find Sam. So much for Sam hanging back and letting their mother handle things. Sam has some explaining to do before Dean, methinks. But first, Dean explains that Mary is missing.

In his creepy candy van, Nick infodumps to Mary how he used demons to track her down. The demons are terrified of Mary and her sons, so they’ve taken to being anywhere the Winchesters are not. He also says he knows that Mary had an encounter with the demon that killed his family, Abraxas, after Abraxas and his partner (whom Nick killed in the teaser) killed most of a Girl Scout troup. Mary saved the lone survivor from Abraxas.

Mary says Nick could have just asked her, but he says she would have lied, anyway. She says she killed Abraxas and he says she just lied to him (though personally, I’d have lied to him, too, so I can’t fault here there). So, she admits what she actually did was trap him in an Enochian Puzzle Box when it appeared she was losing the battle. And yes, she knows where the box is.

So, Mary has Nick drive to her version of John’s Storage Locker, which is in Grand Rapids (Donna later claims it’s about half an hour away from Hibbing). The security guard is curious as they drive in.

Meanwhile, Donna shows up at the cabin to tell them she has an APB out on Nick that said he and Mary just arrived at Mary’s Storage Locker. She apologizes to Dean for letting Nick get the drop on her. Dean tells her it wasn’t her fault. Sam admits it was his (technically, didn’t Nick bail on the Bunker on Castiel’s watch? Albeit while Castiel was trying to juggle a bunch of stuff with Jack?). Anyhoo, Dean doesn’t look too thrilled with Sam, but they’re too busy going off to Grand Rapids to get into it.

Nick shoves Mary inside the locker and has her guide him around. She steps over a trip wire with a shotgun. Unfortunately, he notices it. She says the box is in the nearby lockers with sigils all over them. She won’t open them, so Nick starts doing it himself with a hammer. The very first one has a pickled head in a jar in it, the second a creepy doll in plastic. Mary looks unrepentant at Nick’s disgust.

The third one has the curse box. Nick wants Mary to open it, but she says it won’t do any good. A demon needs a host to talk with humans. Obviously, it can’t be Nick and it can’t be her because she has an anti-demon tat. Nick says ominously, “So, we’ll improvise.”

Meanwhile, Donna is racing, Code 2 (lights), with Brothers right behind her in a thunderstorm. Inside the Impala (Dean driving), Sam prods Dean into a rant about Nick (“He’s not a project; he’s not a freakin’ puppy!”) and how much Nick’s being possessed by Lucifer for so many years messed him up.

Sam tries the “That could have been me” defense (pretty sure Dean remembers just fine how you choked him half to death and ran off with Ruby, Sam). Dean is not impressed. Among the many anvils raining down about Dean’s own storyline with Michael, Dean yells that Sam has to learn when to let people go “when they’re past saving.”

In the storage locker, Nick has caught and tied up the poor security guard on top of a devil’s trap. Mary claims she doesn’t know how to open the curse box and Nick says, “I don’t like you.” She tries to jump him, but it doesn’t go well. She’s forced to watch as Nick can’t make out the puzzle, so he uses a drill on the box. Eventually, the box breaks, releasing the demon, which enters the poor security guard.

Abraxas immediately recognizes Mary, but doesn’t recognize Nick. At least at first. When he realizes who Nick is, he’s surprised Lucifer doesn’t have Nick “on lockdown” and isn’t especially upset to hear the Devil is dead.

However, Abraxas won’t say why he killed Nick’s family until Nick tortures Mary to death in front of him. Nick, being pretty far gone at this point, is about to do it when the Brothers and Donna come in.

Dean goes to untie Mary’s hands, but Sam isn’t quick enough to stop Nick from grabbing an angel blade, like a moron, and breaking the devil’s trap (after Nick has no good answer for why he kidnapped Mary and such).

The demon freed, he does what demons do. He breaks free of the chair, TKs everyone to the floor and monologues. His reason for killing Nick’s family? The really, really, really obvious one – Lucifer ordered it done to soften Nick up to say yes. Abraxas claims that Nick was a nobody, just a name in the phone book. We know for a fact from season 12 that there was more than that (since almost no human besides a Campbell can house Lucifer), but I guess that’s the best we’ll get now.

Why? Because after Dean starts saying the Rituale Romanum (and gets slammed into a shelf for his trouble), Nick just walks up behind the underwhelming Abraxas and stabs him to death. Inside his poor, innocent, terrified host.

Afterward, Nick gets a little wild-eyed as Mary and Sam close in on him, so Donna shoots him in the kneecap after Nick takes a swipe at Mary. Mary punches his lights out.

Donna drags a limping, handcuffed Nick out to her patrol car (better get his paper clip, this time, hon), while Sam follows. Dean takes Mary aside and asks her if she’s okay. She says yes, but, using her Mom Voice, tells Dean that he needs to talk to her and Sam about his science project in the barn, or she will tell Sam herself.

Sam asks Donna to let him talk to Nick. When he asks Nick why he did what he did, Nick says it was for revenge and insists Sam would have done the same thing. Sam doesn’t have a terribly good answer to that, except to tell Nick that he’s sorry he couldn’t help him. Nick is insulted, saying he never needed to be “fixed because I was never broken.” Sam begs to differ. He tells Nick that Nick hurt a lot of people and will see their faces every night for the rest of his life (from some bitter personal experience). “You can burn,” Sam concludes.

Back at Donna’s she shed, Dean shows Sam what he has wrought in the course of a stolen afternoon. He calls it a “Ma’lak Box” and it’s no coincidence that it looks like a coffin. He says it can contain anything, “even an archangel … especially an archangel.”

Sam is surprised, not because he’s never heard of one (he has), but because supposedly, no one could make it. Well, Dean figured it out.

Sam is horrified by Dean’s plan to be “buried alive.” Dean says that, no, he has to take it further than that. He’s going to take a boat way out into the Pacific and gets dumped off into the deep, inside the box.

Sam protests that there has to be another way. Dean tells him that if Michael gets out, the world is toast, and confesses that he can already feel the door inside his head giving way. After some bugging from Sam, he mentions Billie’s “visit” and says she gave him the “recipe” for the box.

Kinda making the same mistake Nick called him out on (making someone else’s tragedy about him), Sam is most upset about Dean saying goodbye to Mary and Donna, but not him. Oh, Sam. Some days, there just are not enough facepalms for you.

Evoking the time Sam motivated him to kill Death (and how well that didn’t work out), Dean says he was afraid Sam would talk him out of it and he refuses to be talked out of it this time. He says that Sam can either let him do this alone or help him. Sam, very quietly and very reluctantly, agrees to help.

Credits.


Ratings in the overnights (the finals aren’t out yet) for the episode were steady at 0.4/2 and 1.41 million, which tied the show for second in demo (with ArrowRiverdale and Roswell) and brought it in second for audience this week.

The promo for next week is up, as are the synopsis and photos.


Review

Usually, after a powerhouse episode like last week’s, Supernatural does a bit of a crash-and-burn, especially coming back from Christmas hellatus. But this one was reasonably good. Not on the level of last week’s (the direction was meh and Perez still struggles with basis stuff like continuity issues), but a reasonable coda that explained what Death told Dean, and how he responded.

It was also Deancentric and Dean-heavy, which was surprising after the workout Jensen Ackles got last week. I guess, now, learning how to weld is taking it easy in the acting department for him. Speaking of that montage to The Guess Who, that is never going to get old. Dayum, son.

And my biggest problem with his interactions with Mary were that they were too short. I mean, we finally see them hang out for the first time since he was inside her head in season 12, and then she gets kidnapped. Not that I’m overly thrilled with how they have Mighty Hunter Mary get her ass kicked all the time by gormless dudebros. That storyline can fade away as of now.

There was also some less-than-stellar worldbuilding with the demons. Abraxas was underwhelming (I did feel sorry for his very unwilling host; that was quite cruel of Nick), though his partner in the teaser was interesting. However, she wasn’t written or portrayed very canonically. She’s dressed in the teaser like a CRD, in the little black dress, and is eager to make a deal with Nick, but she’s a BED (her eyes are black). Also, CRDs didn’t used to hang out with BEDs. Is this a hint that Hell has gone to, uh, Hell in a handbasket and is completely chaotic and leaderless now? Or did Davy Perez just fumble CRD canon, big time?

I can’t say I was hugely impressed by how Nick’s Roaring Rampage of Revenge saga concluded. I will readily admit that I was (apparently one of the few fans) hoping to see Nick again since the season five premiere and was perky about the idea of finding out what happened to his wife and baby. Too bad the show went the easiest, cheapest, and most linear route possible with that.

It’s not just that it was freakin’ obvious to anyone Not Named Nick that if a demon had killed his family, Lucifer ordered it. I mean, duh. Nick spent years being ridden by Lucifer and was well aware of what Lucifer was capable of, how much control he had over Hell (think about it – Lucifer got Lilith to commit suicide-by-Sam while he was still in the Cage).

Why Nick even needed to ask Abraxas about the demon’s motivations, let alone put everyone in the room in danger and even be willing to kill Mary, just to get a text from Captain Obvious, I don’t know, but it made him look stupid. Nor did the offhand “Your name was in the phone book” comment explain how Nick was chosen if he wasn’t a Campbell. Which, apparently, he’s not. Like, really? Why does that even need to be a loose end at this point?

Part of the problem was that the Show of Nick’s motivations (that he was a gullible, damaged moron) was belied by the Show of Nick’s increasingly sociopathic plotting and killing spree, not to mention the epic amount of Plot Armor that got him from the Bunker all the way to Mary’s Storage Locker before being brought down by a shot to the knee from Donna. And don’t even get me started on how he was willing to kill everyone in his path, basically for jollies, but just stuck Donna back in her cruiser while she was out. I mean, I love Donna and I’m glad she didn’t die (especially at Nick’s hands), but that could have been plotted better.

Speaking of better plotting, what was up with the two cell phones and Dean waking up to find Mary gone and Donna calling him? That whole sequence was a hot mess.

The other part of the problem was that, instead of filling out Nick as a tragically damaged character who stumbled into a revenge spree after being frozen in time as a vessel for years, they gave him some weird dark side from Lucifer that turned him into a serial killer. A very enthusiastic, albeit slightly guilt-ridden, serial killer.

Regarding the question of whether Nick was a serial killer or a spree killer, serial killers have “cooling off” periods. While Nick was on his rampage, he did seem to take an awfully time at it and confessed he liked killing. So, it’s probable he’s currently a mix (having killed more than three people, already), but would evolve into a full-fledged serial killer if left unchecked.

Now, I get that the Anvils of Parallel Analogies have been falling thick and hard all season regarding Nick and Dean. And, at least in theory, I don’t have a problem with the probability that they are setting up a post-Michael storyline for Dean, already, after this one (which probably won’t resolve until the end of the season).

But there was no need to make Nick so one-dimensional and unsympathetic. Nick began as a sad sack. Having him kill his way through a bunch of Hell’s Not-So-Finest to find his wife and son’s killer – or better yet, through a bunch of scumbag humans and find out the killer was human – would have introduced some moral grayness to his quest that would have compelled at least Sam (Dean has been a little distracted all season) to examine how he has justified killing people like the possessed nurse he drained of her demonized blood near the end of season four, over the years. I mean, where’s that fine line?

I could even sorta, kinda handwave the neighbor due to Nick’s grief. But once he got to the cop and realized the cop had been possessed, and he killed him anyway, he was pretty much off the trail in terms of being sympathetic. Fine line? Try a canyon with Nick sailing over it without even looking down. And having him kill people who weren’t any threat to him at all, let alone possessed, was just gratuitous character assassination.

The writing seemed to want to make him a parallel of the Winchesters (Sam’s trying to explain himself to Dean in the car, for example). And he’d somehow picked up some things from them, even tracking demons, while remaining dangerously naive in other areas. But in order for it to work, he needed to be, well, less of a whiny, bloodthirsty git. And also, it didn’t make a whole lot of sense for Nick to be like that when Sam wasn’t, even though he, too, had been possessed by Lucifer and, technically, for a lot longer. Yeah, Sam failed Nick this season, but the writing made us so not care.

It didn’t help that Pellegrino’s version of Nick wasn’t terribly different from his version of depowered Lucifer last season (or even earlier). Nick wasn’t originally like Lucifer, but now he’s practically indistinguishable from him in mannerisms? How does that work? Look at Dean and Michael – they are radically different. All Ackles has to do is blink or smile, and you know which one he’s playing, even if the way he carries himself hasn’t already given it away.

Now, Pellegrino is a fine actor, and quite capable of doing distinctly different characters – just look at him on The Closer. And as I said above, Nick was originally a distinct character from Lucifer, even with just a few minutes of screentime. So, did someone tell him to play Nick that way and if so, why? And, please Chuck, don’t let it be because Lucifer never died or is returning or yaddayaddayadda, because please, no, to bringing that played-out character back.

Since Nick isn’t dead, I have a sneaking suspicion he might end up the one in that coffin, harboring Michael. And he might even like that. Because that’s the one part of the parallels between him and Dean that really worked.

Nick misses being an archangel’s vessel. Really, really misses it. He misses the power-by-association, the way Lucifer apparently tapped into his dark side (even though, previously, vessels were supposed to be just along for the ride and lending their bodies to the angel) and gave him the freedom to indulge it. He’s completely lost without his former master. Really makes you wonder what kind of fantasies Lucifer stuck him in over the years.

And the thing is, this isn’t all that unusual for a person, in a way. An angel’s vessel is effectively immortal as long as the angel inhabits him or her. They don’t age or suffer from physical harm. I’ve seen a lot of arguing against this point, but it’s true. It was true for Nick when he was possessed and for Sam. And now it’s true for Dean. You can’t kill a vessel unless you kill the inhabiting angel or force that angel to leave. And both are mighty hard to do.

Why does this work for Dean as a tragic storyline when it didn’t, particularly, for Sam, let alone Jack? Well, most of the time, when we think of immortality, we have a very limited view of it. It basically boils down to not ever having to face death. People then subconsciously pack in a lot of conditions they assume would go along with that, such as eternal youth and perfect health (and, of course, you’re totally hot). That’s the big appeal of the sexy type of vampire, after all.

While there certainly have been stories that explored what it felt to be immortal (usually just for centuries), it’s actually pretty hard to conceive of how it would feel to have everyone you know die, then their descendants, and your culture, then your species, and then even the entire natural world as you recognize it.

I mean, think about it – billions of years from now, if Dean’s plan goes through – the oceans will boil away and the Sun will gobble up the Earth, and that coffin will pop out like a grape. Dean and Michael will still be alive inside it. It sounds like a horrible fate when you put it that way.

But most people (at least on this show), faced with the immediate thought of living a few extra years without ageing or getting sick, are only thinking about not ever having to worry about dying. Not about how human (or sane) they’d be a few billion years from now. It’s just an inconceivable thought to them. Just look at someone like Rowena.

So, you look at someone who makes a demon deal, or says yes to an angel, or turns into a monster, or becomes a witch and steals other people’s souls to stay young, and someone like Nick is the norm on the show for human beings. That’s the kind of person who would say yes to being a vessel and wouldn’t put up a whole lot of resistance.

Even Sam, who quickly found reasons to have big issues with having said yes, was all for it before he did. Remember that when Sam put this same dilemma to Dean near the end of season five, and twisted Dean’s arm to go along with it, they still had other options, especially if neither said yes.

But Sam was sure he could control Lucifer (and look how that turned out). There was a part of Sam that wanted to be Lucifer’s vessel. Whether due to his demon blood programming or his daddy issues or just because Sam can be mighty pig-headed and prideful all on his own, sometimes, he actually saw that as something he’d be okay with. And we even saw Lucifer allow Sam to indulge some revenge fantasies on the demons who had manipulated Sam’s life, which Sam, to his shame got pleasure from. There was a part of Sam that craved the sensation of power, even if it was an illusion, at least for him.

Conceivably, Dean could still fly with Michael’s wings, and use an archangel blade and smite and use TK, just as we saw him do when he was in the driver’s seat in the season finale. It was made clear then that a vessel can use the powers of the angel or archangel inside him or her. It’s just that the angel is usually the one in control of the vessel’s body. But when the vessel is in control, they both can use the angel’s powers.

It’s that “both” that’s the problem. If Dean were to use any active powers (and even if he sustained a mortal injury that required a lot of healing), he’d be making a crack in the door that holds Michael. This is a clever way for the show to have Dean “be” an archangel, but still be active on hunts and not a total deus ex machina. For example, this week, Dean was using the Rituale Romanum (which hopefully would have saved the poor host) rather than smiting or TK. He’s accessed those powers before and could probably still use them, but the use would almost certainly let Michael out.

And that’s the difference with this storyline. This has never been a power trip for Dean; it’s been an ongoing nightmare. Dean is not okay with any of this. Dean said yes to Michael under extreme duress, not pride or craving power. He used Michael’s power to save his family. He locked Michael inside his mind to protect the world, not to exploit Michael’s power. He doesn’t want to lock himself into a coffin with Michael and get tossed into the ocean, even if all Michael ended up doing (admittedly, it’s unlikely) was stick him back behind that bar in a weird version of Heaven and not torture him for the next few billion years out of sheer rage (more likely).

And it’s not because he’s suicidal, as Sam accuses him of being, because it’s not suicide at all. It’s something far, far worse. It’s compulsory immortality. It’s living forever with his very worst enemy, inside a tiny box. Billions of years – and then the Sun pops you out of the disintegrating Earth like Dark Phoenix.

The one character who’s been hoping for an early, bloody exit all along is now staring down the barrel of possibly surviving the end of the universe, either by locking himself inside a tiny box and waiting it out for a few billion years, or stalling until the world-busting monster inside his head breaks out, takes over, and ends the world right now. It’s a horrible choice, but it’s Dean, so of course he’s going inside the box. It’s why Death trusted him enough to give him that book.

And because it’s Dean, because he’s not expendable (even in an in-verse, non-meta sense, and not that Jensen Ackles leaving the show would kill it at this point), because everything goes a bit haywire even when he’s gone in Purgatory for a year, the storyline will either break him out of that box or not put him in it, in the first place.

Remember the other parallel with Nick’s storyline – curse boxes are really strong, but they are intended to keep powerful things in. It’s not nearly as difficult to break those poisonous things inside them back out. That’s why Dean is having the coffin taken out and dumped in the ocean in the first place. He wants to take away any possible temptation, especially from Sam (who has an absolutely horrendous track record on this score).

Finally, there was Sam. Though not in this episode a whole lot, Sam got to deal with the consequences of his juggling too many balls this season and they were pretty major. Somewhat in Sam’s defense, Nick actually bailed when Castiel was there, but Sam had also left Castiel with a lot on his plate. Sam didn’t delegate as well as he could have in his first real leadership role and Nick was that one dropped ball that turned into a festering problem. That killed people.

Dean did not screw around in pointing this out to Sam. Nor did he hold back later on when Sam regressed a bit and whined that Dean was going to leave without saying goodbye (well … Dean did hug him). Sam came perilously close to reprising his mean-spirited speech from the end of “The Purge” in season nine. But a lot of water, and a dead Death or two, has gone under the bridge since then and Dean wasn’t cowed this time.

Dean didn’t bother to point out that Sam’s view of him as a selfish, suicide-obsessed madman who had to be watched like a hawk to keep him from harming himself was unfair (though it was and Sam was quickly forced to back down from that position. This time). He just cut to the chase – that he knew for a fact, thanks to Billie, that there was only one way he could keep Michael from escaping his control and using him to destroy the world. That he couldn’t afford to indulge Sam’s attempts to sabotage him with the world literally hanging in the balance. Yes, his sanity was involved, but it was about so, so much more than that.

So, Sam was, finally, forced to admit a part of his codependency he had always put on Dean and, eventually, agree to help. We’ll see how that all pans out this week, or for the rest of the season if the Nepotism Duo don’t manage to bring it all to a terribly messy and cliched conclusion on Thursday.


The Kripke Years

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4

Season 5

The Gamble Years

Season 6 (with Kripke)

Season 7

The Carver Years

Season 8

Season 9

Season 10

Season 11

The Dabb Years

Season 12

Season 13

Season 14


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Retro Recap and Review: Supernatural 9.06: Heaven Can’t Wait


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[spoilers ahoy for several seasons]


Tagline: Castiel is trying to fit into “normal” society as a newly minted human, with Dean’s help (yeah … I know), but this is complicated by the arrival of another fallen angel with a unique and deadly power. Meanwhile, Sam and Kevin try to get info about the Angel Tablet out of Crowley.


Recap: Recap of the season so far, with angels recruiting sleazy evangelicals to get hosts, Castiel becoming human, the resurrection and ascendance of Abaddon, Crowley being captured and turned partially human during the Trials in season eight, and Dean being forced by “Ezekiel” to make Castiel leave the Bunker, lest Castiel recognize him as an angel.

Cut to Rexford, Idaho at night. A man inside a shack is hanging up on a woman at a suicide hotline center. He goes to the drawer and gets out a gun. But when he sees a photo of a woman with a child on the mantel, he can’t do it. He puts down the gun.

He hears a noise and turns around. A shadowy man in a long coat, with a cross earring, enters the room. The first man thinks the hotline people sent him, but the second man only says, “You did.” He raises his hand over the other man’s head and a pink glow lights the first man’s face. As he screams, there’s an explosion and blood spatter covers the windows.

Cue burning angel wings season nine title cards.

Cut to daytime at a quickie mart (the Gas n’ Sip) where Castiel is working. He’s closely observing two dudebros making coffee, discussing sports, and high-fiving each other over tossing their coffee stirrers into the trash. He tries to imitate them. Predictably, this doesn’t go very well.

The newspaper delivery guy comes in and leaves, and then an attractive blonde woman who appears to be Castiel’s co-worker or supervisor comes in late (yes. the red lights frequently conspire against me, too). She appears to flirt with Castiel a bit (or at least, compliment him on his work ethic a whole lot) and Castiel is charmed.

After she goes into the back of the store, Castiel takes out the newspapers. The main headline shows a photo of Doomed Teaser Guy, who is “presumed dead” and is the fourth such disappearance that week. Hmm, could be a job for the Winchesters.

Cut to the Bunker, where Kevin the Prophet has had a breakthrough … of sorts. He’s trying to translate the Angel Tablet, but so far, he’s only been able to do so into an extinct language called “Elamite” (a pre-Alexandrian language “isolate” from southwestern Iran). And he’s only been able to determine one phrase, “falling angels.”

Dean is all “ugh” about having to read 24 volumes of an encyclopedia about dead languages, so guess how thrilled he is when Castiel calls him. Castiel is trying to fix a slushie machine, which is overflowing on him, when he calls, so he only gets out the basics before he hangs up. This is quite enough for Dean to pack up and head his way, acting shady with Sam about why Castiel left the Bunker in the first place and snarky with Kevin, who whines that Dean is “bailing on doing research.” Kevin, honey, that’s kinda your job, anyway.

At the quickie mart, Castiel is trying to hide from his boss that he’s basically homeless and not doing a very good job of it. Poor Castiel. He’s pretty awkward as a human, isn’t he? He’s going by the name of “Steve,” by the way.

She then appears to ask him over to her house for a date for the next night. Castiel says yes, but is rather confused by the request and goes back to trying to fix the HVAC in the ceiling.

Dean is on the scene, playing a cop and talking to the sheriff. The sheriff fills him in, first of all, that the “missing” people are all now confirmed dead. He tells him about DTG, who was chronically suicidal, a woman before him who had agoraphobia, and a married couple before that who were a slow-burning, acrimonious murder-suicide waiting to happen. All people who were very unhappy and had been for a long time.

After putting on some booties and gloves, Dean enters the house with the sheriff to find CSI people scraping a pink mist off of … well, everything. The sheriff says that if the tests come back like the previous crime scenes, it will turn out to be disintegrated human. Not just blood, but organs, skin, bone, even the clothes they were wearing. Neighbors were only able to report that they saw “a pink flash.” So, probably not suicide, unless these victims found the most novel way to check out, ever.

Dean calls the Bunker, where Sam tells him he and Kevin have nearly finished reading through the encyclopedia. Unfortunately, it didn’t tell them anything useful. Dean suggests they talk to Crowley (who is currently chained up in the dungeon), but not let him Hannibal Lecter them into any stupid deals.

Dean fills Sam in on the case, saying he has yet to find any EMF or sulfur, or anything else “normally” supernatural. Sam suggests spontaneous combustion, perhaps even the Nazi Thule, but Dean says the bodies were “vaporized” not burned.

Concerned, Sam suggests he should go out and back Dean up, but Dean quickly shuts that down, saying everything is fine. After he hangs up, he watches Castiel from the parking lot. He looks pensive.

Cut to a young girl walking out of a high school behind a bus. In tears, she tells a friend on the phone about how her dirtbag of a boyfriend just dumped her, publicly, in the cafeteria. At one point, she says, “I could just die!”

The shadowy man (no longer shadowy) from the teaser touches her shoulder, startling her, and says, “I can help with that.” As she screams, he raises his hand over her head and disintegrates her in a pink light.

Back at the quickie mart, Castiel is wishing a middle-aged woman luck on her lottery ticket with a little too much solicitude. He’s surprised and discomfited to see Dean next in line. Dean points out that Castiel called him.

Castiel insists that he is doing just fine as a “sales associate” at the quickie mart. He gets a little salty about Dean having asked him to leave the Bunker when Dean snarks a bit about his new job. Understandable, but Dean is also right that Castiel called him. There’s a Hunt afoot.

In the Bunker dungeon, Crowley is trying to deal. He claims he can read Elamite, but what’s in it for him? Sam tries to appeal to Crowley’s new-found humanity from his blessed blood cure at the end of season eight. Crowley’s not too impressed and snarks back at him.

Sam drops the compassionate act and cuts to the chase. He says that the only reason they’ve kept Crowley is alive is because Dean thought he might be “useful.” If that’s not going to be true, they might as well give him to Abaddon.

Pricked, Crowley asks for the paper with Kevin’s notes, but then he crumples it up and tosses in Sam’s face. So, Sam locks him up again and leaves.

At the quickie mart, Castiel is trying to explain to Dean how much more fulfilled he feels as a human sales associate than he was as a “failed” angel. Dean’s not buying it. When Castiel’s boss, Nora, tells him there’s a clean-up in the men’s room, she also mentions their “date” and Dean realizes Castiel is sweet on her. Dean snarks about his own propensity for strippers (since we’ve seen multiple times that he doesn’t actually pay to go with prostitutes), but seems to think it’s sweet.

Dean then gets a call and it’s about the Tragic High Schooler. He suggests Castiel come along. Castiel refuses at first, pointing out that he has no powers. Dean points out that he’s never had powers (oh, my, is this actual foreshadowing?) and calls Castiel a “Hunter-in-Training” when Castiel points out Dean is better qualified due to being a Hunter. Castiel then says that Dean said he “sucked” at Hunting the last time they went. Dean demurs, saying he said “there was room for improvement.”

The upshot is that Castiel agrees to go because his shift ends in five minutes and his date isn’t until seven, but first, he must clean the men’s room.

At the scene, Dean does a double-take at the pink mist on the bus and goes to interview the dead girl’s friend. Seems the friend was in the cafeteria when the incident occurred and found out when everyone rushed to look out the window.

It takes a little coaxing (and some odd attitude from her, considering it’s not actually a strange question from a cop) from Dean to get out of her that the girl had been upset over getting dumped and therefore, “bummed.”

Dean leaves her to go find Castiel, who has had a horrified revelation looking at the pink spatter and is bending over the Impala nearby, looking sick.

Castiel tells Dean he knows what happened. The killer was a type of angel called a Rit Zien (“hands of mercy” in Enochian). This is a type of battle medic angel that can heal other angels. But if the Rit Zien can’t heal, he/she will mercy kill.

Castiel notes that Rit Zien “hone in on pain” and speculates that this one is killing humans who are suffering now that he is stuck on Earth. When Dean points out that the teenage girl was only momentarily upset, Castiel replies that the Rit Zien can’t (or just doesn’t) differentiate between temporary and long-term suffering.

Dean says they have to take out the Rit Zien, to stop his killing spree.  Castiel says he can’t go along. Dean realizes Castiel is “scared” and also realizes that now Castiel is human, he feels helpless against the other angels. Dean gently tells Castiel to go on his date and live happily as a human. Castiel asks him to drive him back to the quickie mart because he doesn’t have a car.

At the Bunker, Crowley is starting to cave. He agrees to help, but he wants to make a call. To Abaddon in Hell. Sam and Kevin debate whether to allow it. Kevin’s against it, thinking Crowley will team up with Abaddon, but Sam thinks (probably correctly) that those two hate each other too much.

But first, they want to make sure Crowley can do what he claims he can do. They give him one paper of signs, which Crowley identifies as ingredients for a spell. He correctly identifies them as the ingredients for the spell Metatron used to cast the angels from Heaven. So, he’s legit. But he won’t go any further until he gets his phone call.

That night, Dean drives Castiel to his date with Nora. Dean insists Castiel prepare at least a little for it, getting him to lose his quickie mart vest and undo a few buttons on his white shirt. Dean then tells him to always open the car door for her, ask her a lot of questions (“because they like that”) and if the woman insists on going Dutch (i.e., paying her own way), “they’re lying.”

Dean then watches Castiel go up to the door (calling Castiel cutting a rose from her own bush a “nice touch”) and then drives away. But not before Baby is cut off by an old pickup truck pulling up and nearly backing into her.

This is an early Robert Berens script, his first. Unfortunately, it’s pretty obviously written by a guy and Berens writes Dean as more of a horndog than he normally is. It’s about to get worse.

Because once Castiel gets inside, he finds out Nora didn’t ask him out on a date. She asked him to babysit.

Now, single moms are usually pretty damned clear about whether they are asking a man to babysit or go on a date. Really. And Nora was not clear before. She made it sound like a date. A supposedly caring mother like Nora would not create such a misunderstanding and then leave her baby daughter with a guy she barely knows so she can go out with some other guy. It really undercuts Nora’s characterization so far and is a tiny bit misogynistic. Not cool, Berens. Not cool at all.

It doesn’t help that before she leaves, she tells him that the baby will sleep just fine, but then the baby starts crying. It’s not Baby’s fault – turns out she’s sick. Nora didn’t see that? Hmm.

Anyhoo, Castiel is able to calm the baby by rocking her and singing the theme to 80s show The Greatest American Hero (“Believe It Or Not”). Pretty cool, though also random. It’s never explained how pop culture- naive Castiel knew the song.

On the road, Dean gets a phone call and a very important bit of information from the sheriff – when they analyzed the DNA on the dead couple (the first victims), it turns out that they only found the wife’s DNA.

“The husband’s still out there,” Dean says, hanging up. He’s the vessel for the Rit Zien.

Back at the Bunker, Crowley demands that they use Kevin’s blood instead of Sam’s for the call, claiming that he’s already had Sam’s and wants to try something different. Kevin balks at first (because he still believes at this point that Crowley murdered his mother, on top of all the other horrid things Crowley did to him last season), but then abruptly agrees. Of course, this removes the concern about anyone realizing Sam has an angel inside him, which only Dean knows at this point.

However, when Crowley makes the call, he’s put on hold.

At the Sheriff’s Office, the sheriff explains that the husband was a religious nut who was obsessed with Buddy Boyle (the preacher in cahoots with a cadre of fallen angels this season), while his wife was “a hardcore atheist.” This pushed the marriage over the edge as her husband kept incessantly proselytizing her.

Dean gets a shock when he finds a photo of the couple in front of the husband’s truck, which is the same one that was blocking him when he was leaving Castiel off at Nora’s. He hurries back to the house.

Castiel commiserates with the baby on being a new human, but then realizes she’s feverish. He leaves a call on Nora’s cell phone before deciding he needs to take the baby to the hospital. But as he starts to leave, the Rit Zien shows up and blocks him from doing so.

Castiel calls the Rit Zien “Ephraim.” Ephraim is younger than Castiel and looked up to him in Heaven. But here on earth, Ephraim is obsessed with “cleansing” it of suffering – which means killing his way though the human population, basically. Castiel won’t let him pass to hurt the baby, but Ephraim says he’s actually there for Castiel.

In the Bunker, Sam is growing impatient, while Crowley is angry and humiliated at this obvious show of how much power he’s lost to Abaddon. He refuses to give up on his quest and, at the last minute, Abaddon calls back. We get a quick cut to her in an alleyway with a large knife and a very dead guy with a cut throat nearby (for the “call,” which requires blood in a chalice).

While talking to Ephraim, Castiel strips the thorns off the rose he picked before, cutting his hand and making a banishing sigil when Ephraim backs him up against a door. Ephraim goes on a big old rant about how earth is full of suffering and he has to stop it. When Castiel tries to tell him that earth is more complicated than Heaven, Ephraim says that Castiel is more in need of his services than he’d thought, that Castiel is hiding from giving aid to the other angels and that he’s had more failures than successes. It’s … well, it’s a rather tedious and disjointed rant, full of pride and madness.

Unfortunately, he catches Castiel in the middle of trying to slap the banishing sigil and tosses him across the room. Then continues to monologue. Ugh. Dean busts in with an angel blade, but gets slammed into a wall.

Abaddon’s conversation with Crowley is more fun. She horrifies him by telling him she managed to double his “projections” on souls reaped into Hell. How? She called in his CRD deals early. As far as she’s concerned, Crowley is just a “kennel dog” now, the “Winchester’s bitch.” She doesn’t care when Crowley tells her it will all “backfire” on her. She wants to watch it all burn.

Crowley abruptly ends the call by pushing the bowl away. Then he asks for the symbols, saying he keeps his bargains (implying that Abaddon doesn’t). When he reads out the spell and comes to the end, he brings up one big wrinkle – the spell is irreversible. They can’t put the angel genies back in the Heaven bottle.

At Nora’s house, Dean slowly comes to as Ephraim is getting ready to kill Castiel. Ephraim’s big beef with Castiel is that Castiel is choosing to be human, which means he must have already “given up.”

“You chose death,” Ephraim says, raising his glowing hand, just as a groggy Dean tosses the angel blade to Castiel, who stabs Ephraim, killing him. O the irony.

Afterward, Castiel apologizes to Nora for “overreacting” about her baby’s fever, that “a friend” (i.e., Dean) gave him a tip about using low-dose Acetominophen (um … you’d still need to go to the doctor or at least contact the parent about giving a baby drugs). Nora tells him the date didn’t work out, anyway, and that “the part that ‘overreacted’ is the part that makes you special.” Damn, Nora, you sure have a low opinion of men.

Castiel comes out to the Impala, looking sad. When Dean asks him where he wants to go, Castiel just looks even more morose and gets in the car. Dean looks taken aback.

Dean is upset when Sam calls him and tells him Metatron’s spell is irreversible. Surely, Crowley is lying. But Sam doesn’t think so. Yeah, that’s not depressing, or anything.

As he’s washing out the summoning bowl they used to call Abaddon, Sam realizes that one of the vials of Kevin’s blood is missing. Going down to the dungeon, he sees Crowley injecting himself with it. Crowley’s now hooked on human blood.

Dean takes Castiel back to the quickie mart. He apologizes for telling Castiel he had to leave the Bunker. Dean compliments him for “adapting” to human life.

Castiel thanks him, but worries about what Ephraim said about helping the angels. Rather than tell him the spell is irreversible (which is partly on Castiel for being fooled by Metatron last season), Dean spares him by saying that the angels aren’t his job to save, anymore. He’s human now. Dean and Sam will take care of it (the irony that Dean and Sam are human – okay, mostly – is glossed over a bit here).

Castiel goes into the quickie mart to open it up for the day. On the TV, an announcer is talking about the “meteor shower” that’s still puzzling everyone. Castiel looks sad and pensive as he stares out the window.

Credits.

Review: I didn’t much care for this one when it first came out. I found it forgettable and mildly annoying. It’s a bit better on rewatch, especially knowing what came later in the season, but a lot of the same writing problems remain.

This was an early script by Robert Berens when he first came to the show (his first of three for the season) and that’s pretty obvious. While some of the plot points about the Rit Zien are intriguing (particularly the battlefield medic aspect), they are shallowly introduced in a perfunctory, paint-by-numbers manner and never mentioned on the show again.

That MOTW never quite comes alive, despite a relatively high body count (and some very creepy, if understated, kill scenes). It quickly becomes impossible to empathize, either with the angel or his inhabiting human, after it turns out he said yes to an angel who then used his body to murder his wife, an atheist whom he had been emotionally abusing with religious fundamentalist beliefs. Yikes, that’s bleak.

The main performance is a bit underwhelming, too, but Ashton Holmes doesn’t get anything to do but rant disjointedly on the same two or three themes, anyway. And he barely gets any scenes. Tough for an actor to stand out under such conditions.

The main focus of the A story, of course, is on Castiel and how he is adjusting to being a human. I found it dull on first watch and depressing on recap rebound. Castiel is clearly unhappy with being human (and let’s face it, what we see of his human life sucks spectacularly in a stereotypical Rust Belt way).

His central conflict is also weakened by his being fully human. A large part of Castiel’s character conflict stems from his attempts to balance his perceived (and enforced) responsibilities to his heavenly kin with his newly found obligations to humankind, as evinced by his devotion to one specific human – Dean. Making him fully human takes away a lot of that tension and having other angels want to kill him doesn’t bring the stakes back up.

The flipping of tables from Castiel being the supernatural creature to human Dean, to Castiel being the human in the relationship and Dean being the supernaturally influenced, not-so-human-now Hunter who has to save Castiel from supernatural threats has potential. But aside from a few sad-sack exchanges between Castiel and a guilt-ridden Dean, the episode doesn’t explore this at all. And experience with the rest of the season tells me this is about as much as we’ll get. They will pull the trigger on not-so-human Hunter Dean down the road, but Castiel won’t be the same human character he is in this episode by then. That renders a lot of this episode’s conflict moot.

I also didn’t like the way the episode used his new-found human status to woobie Castiel. It’s not just that the show has always pulled this emotional and metaphorical switcheroo when it comes to humans and the supernatural. The Tell is that being human is a great thing and humans are special snowflakes of the SPNverse. But it doesn’t match the Show that humans are basically cannon fodder and food sources for the larger supernatural side of things. Humans don’t rate highly on the SPNverse ladder at all.

So, any episode that praises a supernatural creature becoming human as an upgrade in SPNverse status is a bit of an eye-roller. It only works with a demon like Crowley, since demons and most monsters are ex-humans and therefore actually lower in status than living humans. For the rest, not so much.

About the only thing humans get to do is go to Heaven at the end of their lives – assuming their souls don’t get demonized, monsterized, angry-ghostized, or eaten, first – where they are warehoused for eternity in their nicest memories. It’s not nearly as bleak as The Good Place ‘verse at this point, but the show’s hardly the rousing hurrah for humanity it claims to be.

But the real problem is that the episode has Dean feeling guilty about pushing Castiel out of the Bunker (at “Ezekiel”‘s insistence) and kicks Dean in the head for it, when Castiel’s being human has nothing to do with Dean’s choices, good or bad. The episode even touches (pretty hard) on the fact that Castiel feels responsible for the angels falling because he is responsible. Or at least partially responsible. Metatron tricked him into helping to create the spell that threw all the angels (except for Metraton) out of Heaven. That’s why Castiel is human in the first place.

Castiel’s becoming human has nothing to do with Dean expelling him from the Bunker (a bit like God expelling Adam and Eve from Paradise, innit?). It has everything to do with Castiel’s poor choices (which Dean even warned Castiel not to make last season).

In addition, Castiel has spent the entire episode moping about how he can’t be around angels because he’s afraid of them now and he’s poison to them. And he has a point (which Dean knows full well is true). So far, every encounter he’s had with angels this season has gone horribly awry. Not only have (what, four, now?) angels tried to kill him since he turned human, but in the process, they have all ended up dead. And it’s not as though there are tons and tons of angels out there in the first place.

It doesn’t help that out of the four angels who’ve attacked Castiel to this point, he’s ended up killing three of them personally (Dean killed the two Reapers). Yes, it was self-defense, but still. Castiel helped create a situation that nearly destroyed his people and also led to his becoming human, but also resulted in it being dangerous, for him, to be around angels.

So, even if Dean thought he could persuade “Ezekiel” to relent and let Castiel back into the Bunker, he couldn’t guarantee Castiel’s safety around “Ezekiel.” And if he warned Castiel about “Ezekiel” on the lowdown, Castiel would feel too uncomfortable about being around another angel to stay. So, there was no way for Dean to get Castiel back to the Bunker and have everyone be/feel safe.

Also, while it definitely looked harsh to Castiel that Dean had cast him out (and it appeared in the story, at least on the surface, that Dean had chosen Sam over Castiel), the more complicated reality is that Castiel put himself into this position of great danger (and harmed his own people) by working with/being duped by Metatron. There is a further angelic irony coming down the road that partially exonerates Castiel, but we’ll leave that one for a near-future review.

This makes more understandable why some fans of Dean would argue that Berens at least started out bashing Dean a tad gratuitously to make Castiel look better. This becomes even clearer when we look at the character of Nora, who also gets thrown under the bus to make Castiel look … well, not so creepy, I guess.

Nora is a classic case of dudebro writing. In simplest terms, it’s how guys frequently write women because they’ve never been women and how women often write women when they’ve internalized misogyny so much in a male-dominated field that they pitch mainly to an audience of men.

Think of the second part of the film, Death Proof. Now, Death Proof has a whole lot of issues with the way the female characters are written (and Tarantino doesn’t write dialogue for women nearly as well as he and his fanboys think he does). The one that stuck out for me, though, was in the second part when the second group of women leave one of their buds (who is passed out drunk) alone with a creepy mechanic who clearly has unpleasant designs on her person.

One could certainly argue that groups of women abandon each other to worse fates all the time and that’s true. But when they do, it’s intentional. They know perfectly well what they’re doing. We women are taught from a young age to be acutely aware of sexual threat in our surroundings. This is because society (and I’m talking globally, here) has a gnarly way of always managing to blame us if we get attacked (amirite, girls?). Men aren’t aware in the same way because they aren’t raised with the idea that someday, they may just “tempt” some member of the opposite gender to rape them – and that it will be all their fault.

So, the reason that scene made me go “Nahhh” wasn’t because the other girls left her to go test the car. It was because they didn’t even give it much thought. A real group of women, written by a woman aiming at a female audience, would have given that decision some serious thought, with dialogue to match.

Nora is a similar “Nahh” character. Not only is she a single mother, but she’s an attractive woman, still relatively young. Further, she spends a lot of time complaining to Castiel about how men are constantly hitting on her and seeing her only for her looks, by way of talking about how he’s “different.” So, it’s not as though she’s unaware of sexual threat in her surroundings. Seems to me she’s very aware.

Such a character would therefore be very, very clear about her intentions and boundaries around men, especially regarding inviting them to her house at night. That goes double for asking them to babysit a baby and triple for the baby being a daughter (sadly, some pedophiles prefer little girls that little). If Nora were a loving and conscientious mother, which most signs in the episode point to her being, she would never ask a guy, employee or otherwise, to babysit for her and make it sound like a date. Yet, in the episode’s dialogue, she is very unclear. And that made me go “Nahhh.”

I mean, I get why Nora doesn’t want to ask Castiel out, regardless of how nice she really thinks he is. He works for her. Dating him is totally inappropriate, probably against company rules, and would be a pretty big power imbalance on her part, considering she could fire him if it ended badly.

Then again, that’s also a good reason why she shouldn’t have him babysit for her, either. He may well risk his job by refusing, especially with Castiel not understanding the gray areas of consent in human interactions. He’s used to situations where you follow orders or you end up a pile of cinders on the floor.

But instead, Berens plays this as Nora friendzoning Castiel (which is a pretty misogynistic view of poor Nora) and then segues into Dean allegedly giving Castiel condescendingly chauvinistic advice. Except that Dean’s advice is really just “Treat her like a lady” and giving Castiel basic guidelines to follow (Dean knows from the whorehouse visit in season five how clueless Castiel is about dating rules). Even allowing for the outtakes in which Jensen Ackles got quite dirty in a (successful) attempt to make Misha Collins laugh, Dean’s not demeaning Nora. The writing is, through the entire set-up and humiliating downbeat payoff for Castiel. But Dean, as a character, gets made the scapegoat for it.

So, yeah, Berens didn’t start out well in this department and fans did notice.

Finally, let’s wrap up with the B story about Sam and Kevin dealing with Crowley and Abaddon. Now, I get that they needed something to do. Sam certainly couldn’t be left without a story all episode. Even so, it felt stuffed into an A story that both lagged and felt underwritten.

It’s too bad because Crowley got some nice lines and there was quite the tense confrontation between him and Abaddon. They could have done an entire episode on this cat-and-mouse game.

It’s probable at this point in the show that only Crowley was in denial about how little power he had left and how Abaddon saw him as no competition at all. But he still needed the wake-up call. So to speak. Also, Abaddon crackled with menace in her every scene, including this one. No redemption storyline for that Evil Queen.

I’d forgotten how irritating Kevin’s Nervous Little Dog shtick could be. It’s kind of a shame they never let  him grow out of it, since Osric Chau could have done a lot more layers with the character. Ah, well.

Sam was a little confusing, albeit it was nice to see Smart!Sam, no chaser all episode. The resolution of this B plot was that Metatron’s spell was irreversible and then everybody just sort of moved on with that. But in light of the fact that Ezekiel was inside Sam, watching the whole time, can we be sure that was true? Unfortunately, we never found out because Berens completely ignored that bit of possible subtext. Sam was all Sam this week.

All in all, not the best freshman script ever on the show.


Fun lines:

Dean [to Sam about talking to Crowley]: Just be careful. Don’t fall for any of his “Quid pro quo” crap.

Dean: So, you went from heavenly battles to nuking taquitos.
Castiel: Nachos, too.

Sam [to Crowley]: Our last encounter with Abaddon, she was pretty terrifying. Scarier than you’ve been in years.


The Kripke Years

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4

Season 5

The Gamble Years

Season 6 (with Kripke)

Season 7

The Carver Years

Season 8

Season 9

Season 10

Season 11

The Dabb Years

Season 12

Season 13

Season 14


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The Official Supernatural: “Nihilism” (14.10) Live Recap Thread


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Contribute monthly via Patreon (which includes perks), make a one-time donation through Paypal, or buy us a coffee. You can still find my reviews here of North Carolina ghost story books, and notes about my folklore research on Patreon.

My collected recaps and reviews of season one, which first appeared on Innsmouth Free Press, are now up (with a few extras) on Kindle. The Kindle version is available through Amazon and is on sale through this Friday. The print version is also up. If you buy the print version, you get a Kindle copy thrown in for free. I also get paid if you get it on Kindle Unlimited (for free), read the Kindle version, or lend it to a friend via the Kindle Owners Lending Library. Reviews also help with sales. Just FYI.

Scroll down to find links to all of my recaps and reviews of all seasons up to this point.

So, let’s kick off. We start with a Then recap of the storyline so far this season, with a focus on alt-Michael’s possession of Dean and Jack’s death/resurrection. We also get a brief recap of the Gadriel storyline from season nine.

Cut to Now.

We’re in Rocky’s Bar and the soundtrack is “Searchin’ for a Rainbow” by The Marshall Tucker Band. There’s a storm brewing outside and in comes a woman in a leather jacket with an umbrella.

It’s Pamela Barnes (wearing a t-shirt that says “To Hell and Back”), who’s been dead for ten seasons, so you already know something’s up.

It turns out she was out in the storm (which people are treating “like the End Times”) to buy limes so she and Dean can do shots of the House Special (“tequila shot and a beer”). Yes, Dean is there. He’s the bartender. And he owns the bar. Hence “Rocky’s,” as in “Rocky the Squirrel.” Yes, there are a lot of other Easter eggs in this scene that I am missing.

In conversation, they note that Sam and Castiel are doing a ghoul hunt in Wichita.

At that moment, a woman in a suit (like an angel) comes in from the rain, treating Pamela like the Help and making a snarky comment about the lack of customers (aside from one suspicious-looking drunk in a hoodie, passed out at the bar). She has papers for Dean to sign to sell the bar. Dean isn’t interested and, after offering her a drink (which she refuses), politely tells her to go away, saying the bar is the “nicest thing” he’s ever had and he’s not giving it up. The woman leaves in a huff.

Later, Pamela brings Dean a shot while he goes over the books (damn, she’s buff!). They talk about how Pamela has the latest in a series of dates. Pamela teases Dean that “you want what you can’t have” (her) and that he doesn’t really mind because “you don’t want me. You just like to flirt.”

When Pamela wonders why Dean isn’t willing to sell the bar when he’d get so much money for it, Dean says (looking and sounding an awful lot like Demon!Dean), “Sell? This bar? This is my dream.” And Pamela gets a funny little smile at that.

Later, Dean goes into a storeroom to get some beer when Pamela calls to him. The storm is still raging and the same song is still playing. As he comes out, Pamela tells him they’ve got “trouble.”

At that moment, the door busts in and an angry vampire who claims Dean and Sam took out his entire nest enters. The “drunk” on the bar turns out to be a fellow vamp. The latter attacks Dean. Dean drags him over the bar and stomps on him. Then he tosses a saltgun to Pamela, who shoots the second vamp while Dean pulls out a machete and beheads the first vamp. Then he beheads the second vamp.

Afterward, as she’s wiping blood off his face, Pamela comments that “the worst thing” about working at Rocky’s is having to deal with all the angry MOTWs who come looking for Dean and end up dead.

“Well, what can I say?” Dean says with a charming smile. “I’m famous.”

Cue title cards.

If the above sounded long, that’s because this is a very long scene, over six minutes long including the recap.

Cut to Dean’s eyes again, looking blank inside the office building from last episode. They glow Michael’s customary blue and then we have Michael again (Ackles is really good at those transitions). Having snapped his fingers, he is now back in his suit, albeit sans the coat. With a gesture, he causes manly cramps in TFW 2.0, making them sink to the floor in pain. Though the Evil Overlord Monologue may be equally painful, at least to them.

Michael snarks that hope is a funny thing, but they “never really had a chance.” He says he saw “everything” and we get blurry flashbacks to Dean watching Rowena fill in TFW 2.0 on Jack’s condition. He claims that his plan all along was to have them come there so he could get back his “perfect vessel” (AKA Dean Winchester) and EVOL!Kaia’s spork so he could destroy that.

As he monologues, Sam is pulling out a lighter and skidding it across the floor. Castiel attacks Michael to distract him (Michael easily tosses him aside after coldly saying “Don’t interrupt me”). This gives Sam time to light a holy oil Molotov Cocktail. It blows up in Michael’s face, though interestingly, it only affects him for a second or two (“our” Michael inside Adam was affected for several minutes and had to fly away to put himself out in “Swan Song”). But that’s enough for the double feint of Castiel coming back with the angel handcuffs and slapping them on Michael’s wrists. This little bit of choreography is a bit awkward, but hey, whatever works.

At first unimpressed, Michael says the cuffs can’t hold him. Well … they do. One could argue that this was part of Michael’s plan (kinda unlikely, since there’s no real advantage) or that Michael knew about the cuffs, but ignored them out of arrogance. Thing is, Michael is definitely arrogant, but he’s also very, very smart and he made plans for every other contingency TFW 2.0 brought to this point. And he got cuffed right in the middle of a speech where he unveiled his entire plan to trap TFW 2.0. So, I don’t think he knew about the cuffs.

The really interesting thing is – Dean did. So, whatever else Michael claims, his claim that he knows everything Dean knows must be a lie.

Sam tries to get through to Dean, but Michael just says, with fake courtesy, “Dean’s not home right now. Please leave a message.” I love this line. Oh, hell, I love half of Michael’s lines, anyway. Ackles just has so much fun delivering them.

We then hear police sirens and a helicopter, and Michael calmly reminds TFW 2.0 that he’s got monsters all over Kansas City, turning people. As Jack picks up their weapons and Sam locks the door to the room, Maggie calls Sam’s cell (yeah, I know. I just can’t with Maggie, either).

Maggie is freaking out. She’s driving a car full of Hunters whom she got together to deal with the monsters (per Sam’s instructions), but they’re overwhelmed. There are just too many calls and too many monsters turning too many people (instead of killing them).

She asks Sam where they are. Sam gives her the location and says they’ve got Michael (“Do you?” snarks Michael). He tells her not to worry about them, that they’ll figure things out. She and the other Hunters should go save as many people as they can.

Good idea, since those Hunters are all redshirts and would only end up dead around Michael, anyway.

Sam’s ad hoc plan is to bring Michael downstairs and stick him in the trunk with Garth, before driving away (I mean, what could wrong?). But this gets nixed when monsters start snarling outside the door, trying to beat it in. Castiel TK’s the doors shut, but that can’t last.

“I called them,” Michael says, with a fake-deprecating little shrug as TFW 2.0 rushes to reinforce the door. “It’s a party!” Did I mention how much I love Michael’s lines and Ackles’ delivery? Michael is such a bastard, but damn, is he funny.

Jack comments that none of them can fly (I guess Jack’s wings don’t work without his powers). “Well, one of us can,” Michael says cheerfully. Sam worries about getting “Dean” out of there. Of course, leaving without Dean, with Michael still inside him, would be disastrous. Assuming TFW 2.0 could even pull that off.

Sam gets a Hail Mary idea worthy of Dean. He calls Jessica, the Reaper, but gets a Reaper named Violet, instead. She politely explains that there is now more than one Reaper watching the Brothers. “It’s my shift. We have shifts now because you mess up so, so many things.”

Violet’s a keeper. Can she come back, show?

Sam wants Violet to fly them out of there. Violet points out that she can’t interfere, but she’s rooting for them.

Only Sam and Michael can see her. Michael analytically observes that “in my world, we locked Death away and enslaved the Reapers.”

“Lovely,” Violet replies, holding it together but clearly terrified of him (she swallows visibly). “Well, look at you now.”

Sam tries to persuade, claiming Death owes them a favor from “that Rowena thing,” but Violet isn’t impressed. It’s simply not within the rules or her powers. But then she shushes him as she appears to hear a voice. Then she agrees to his demand. Abruptly, TFW 2.0 and Michael are all transported to the Bunker.

To Sam’s query, she only admits that she’s not the one who did it. She then tells them, “Have fun” and with a last trade of bladed looks with Michael, she vanishes again.

They chain Michael to a post in the library. When Jack and Castiel wonder why he’s not in the dungeon, Sam points out that if the cuffs don’t hold Michael, the dungeon certainly won’t.

When Michael points out that he can hear them, they move away to whisper and he’s like, “Really?”

Sam tells the others that when Gadriel possessed him, the angel put him inside a dream world.  Crowley was able to bust in and show Sam how to cast Gadriel out. Alas, Crowley is dead (Michael would probably be above his pay grade, anyway).

Sam gets another call from Maggie, who is now at the office building. Sam explains that they’re now back at the Bunker and asks Maggie to pick up Garth and the Impala. Confused, Maggie tells Sam at the monsters have left the city and are heading west.

At this moment, Michael notes that the Bunker is points west of Kansas City. He’s calling the monsters to the Bunker.

Castiel takes Jack to batten down the hatches, while Michael calls cheerily unhelpful advice after them. Once alone with Sam, Michael insists nothing has changed. Either his monsters will break in or he’ll break loose and then “everybody dies.” And he will personally rip Sam apart, smiling a “pretty smile” that looks downright predatory.

Sam pulls out Lady Wonder Twat’s dreamtime rig from the best-forgotten LoL plot in season 12. He tells Castiel he’s going to go inside Dean’s head and try to wake him up so he can expel Michael the way Sam expelled Gadriel. Sam admits it’s not a very good plan (well, not least because once Michael’s out, he’s just going to find another vessel and start all over again), but they don’t have any others. By the way, the woman Michael possessed last episode is not mentioned this week.

We cut to a loop montage of Dean from the bar, running through the same scenarios with only slight variations. At the end, Dean looks up, confused, and almost remembers.

Jack gets first shift of guarding Michael, who proceeds to mess with his head. Michael completely shifts what he said before about wanting to recruit Jack as family and says he won’t ask again. I guess, now he has his “true” vessel back, he no longer cares.

Jack tells him that the Brothers will beat him. Michael snarks that Sam “is so far in over his head, he’s drowning” (true, but Sam has learned to swim before). With rather less conviction, he claims, “I’ve got Dean under control.”

Jack notes that “Dean is strong,” to which Michael retorts (again, protesting a bit too much), “He’s a gnat. I’m a god. Who would you bet on?” Michael insists that since he is “inside Dean’s head, I know everything.” But he didn’t know about the angel cuffs, now, did he?

Michael then does something vicious and almost gratuitous (though, considering much of his confidence about having Dean under control is likely bravado, he does need to divide and conquer). He shakes Jack’s faith in Dean by claiming that while Dean was devastated by Jack’s death, he was also relieved because Jack was just a burden to him, “a weak, helpless thing … a job, a job none of them wanted.” This is obvious bullshit, but Jack is young and naive (and vulnerable) enough to believe it.

Castiel walks in on the middle of this as Jack is rushing off, about in tears, and warns him that Michael is just trying to get under his skin.

Michael says he’s not lying and reminds them that he can still hear them.

Meanwhile, plucky Maggie is setting up a plucky roadblock of Hunters to keep the monsters away from the Bunker. I’m sure that will end well.

In the Bunker, on second shift, Castiel is now getting the patented Michael mindfuck treatment. After some insults aimed at how Castiel doesn’t measure up to his alt-version (who was such a panto villain that it’s kind of hard to take this bit of dialogue seriously), Michael asks why Castiel loves this world so much he’d die for it.

Castiel counters with his own question – why does Michael hate this world so much that he wants to destroy it?

Michael’s response is chilling: “Because I can.”

Michael explains that when he and his version of Lucifer fought in their world, they honestly believed the duel would bring back God, who would explain to them what the Plan had been all along and give meaning to their war. Instead, God never returned. There was no response to what they did, even after Michael killed Lucifer.

Michael now realizes (having access to Dean’s memories) that God – “Chuck” – never intended to return. Michael calls God a “writer” who created draft after draft. Michael believes that both his world and this one are “failed drafts,” that when God realized they were “flawed,” he simply moved on to a new draft.

Perhaps the most frightening part of this scene is the realization that Michael as played by Christian Keyes is a very different character than the version played by Jensen Ackles. This is not because of a lack of continuity in the acting or even writing, but because the character’s entire worldview was shaken and shattered, after some 14 billion years, once he entered his intended vessel and saw the truth (or, anyway, what he now feels is the truth) about Chuck’s involvement (and lack thereof) in the Amara saga. He saw that everything he had ever done for his father was pointless because Chuck would never return, never give him the answers he sought, never even love him as much as Lucifer.

In short, this ancient, subtle, dangerous being went insane. And became even more dangerous.

Ackles, here, has to evoke an entirely offscreen change in the character’s entire motivation and he gets it across very well. Michael’s mask of calm sarcasm slips and underneath, we see a volcanic rage to match Dean’s toward his own father. Michael says that his first thought was to outdo his father and become the new God. But then he changed his mind.

Now, he wants to burn it all down, world by world, timeline by timeline, until he can “catch up with the old man.” When Castiel asks what he intends to do then, Michael says, with bared teeth, “Even God can die.”

Meanwhile, Maggie and her merry band of hapless redshirts are failing miserably at even catching up with the monsters, let alone stopping them from reaching the Bunker. Also, her alleged right-hand man is looking mighty shady, especially after he disappeared into the bushes for a few minutes.

At the Bunker, Sam is still setting up the equipment for the dream machine. Jack tentatively suggests he could use his soul power to access his abilities to stop Michael somehow. Sam says Dean would never want to be freed through such a sacrifice.

Sam gets hooked up to the machines, as Castiel hooks up Michael (who says, “Cool science project!” and flirts with Castiel in a seriously creepy way). Michael then unsettles everyone even further  (if that’s possible) by claiming that out here, he may be chained up, but inside, he can do whatever he wants to them. Well, alrighty-then.

Sam goes in with Castiel and at first, they find … a dark, endless space. In fact, it looks just like the Empty set. I don’t know if that’s intentional subtext and foreshadowing or just a cheap budget, but yep, that’s what it looks like.

Sam is confused and has to confirm with Castiel where they are. Castiel has been inside Dean’s mind many times, but Sam never has. Sam then wonders where Dean is and Castiel replies, “Excellent question.” This confirms that this is not how Castiel normally found Dean’s mind in the past.

Castiel raises his hand, the center of which glows, and begins to search through Dean’s memories. There is a lot of screaming and, as Castiel notes, a lot of “trauma” and “scars.” Notable quotes that stand out are “We had a deal!” from the end of last season, Dream!Dean screaming “You’re gonna die! And this … this is what you’re gonna become!” from season three’s “Dream a Little Dream of Me,” and “Somebody help me!” from Dean suspended in Hell in the coda to season three finale “No Rest for the Wicked.”

Looking a little freaked out as he finally begins to process just how much trauma his brother’s been through over the years,  Sam acknowledges that “Dean’s been through a lot, but he’s strong!”

Gently correcting him, Castiel says that “You’ve both been through a lot and Dean is more than strong,” but what he’s really looking for is a way to follow a memory to where Michael has locked Dean away, “drowning.” In a cage, as it were. This means he has to scan through Dean’s worst memories, which isn’t exactly pleasant.

Sam then has a brainstorm (uh … as it were). Remembering Michael’s complaint from last episode that the reason he’d left in the first place was because Dean fought back so hard, Sam wonders if Michael isn’t actually torturing Dean, but doing the opposite. “Dean thrives on trauma.” (Well … I wouldn’t say “thrives,” personally, but it’s definitely his “normal.”)

Sam says that if he wanted to “distract” Dean, he’d do it another way. “Contentment,” Castiel guesses, correctly. So, Castiel starts looking through Dean’s good memories, not his bad ones. And yes, Dean has a few. “I think I’m adorable!” (from season three’s “Jus in Bello”), the “strippers” speech (from season four’s “Sex and Violence,” and it makes Sam a bit uncomfortable), the “posse magnet” speech (from season six’s “Frontierland”), and the “pie” complaint from season seven’s “The Girl Next Door.” Among others. Why, yes, I do watch this show a lot. Why do you ask?

Then they hit on Dean’s speech about not wanting to see the bar and Sam realizes it’s not a real memory. Dean has never owned a bar. This couldn’t have ever happened in real life. So, Castiel takes them there.

Sam opens his eyes to find himself and Castiel in the bar. Dean turns around and recognizes them, but doesn’t realize it’s not real. He offers them a beer (“Cosmic Cowboy IPA” is a beer sold by Ackles’ new brewery, The Family Business). Then Pamela strolls in and starts chit-chatting with them.

Castiel whispers (really, when are these guys gonna learn?) to Sam that Pamela is the psychic whose eyes he accidentally burned out. Sam retorts that she’s also been dead for years. Sam tries to tell Dean that this isn’t real and Castiel tells Pamela she’s a “complex manifestation of Dean’s memories designed to distract him” (I have a feeling she’s more than that, but we may be getting ahead of ourselves). Oh, and it’s still raining.

At that moment, the scene resets, with a very confused Sam and Castiel getting caught in the middle of Dean’s memory montage. When it comes back to the same setting, Dean and Pamela are in somewhat different positions.

When Dean echoes Sam’s question on what is going on, the montage kicks in again. Sam tries to explain that Dean is caught in a loop designed by Michael. This confuses Dean, who only remembers that “our” Michael is in the Cage and doesn’t seem to remember alt-Michael at all.

Pamela suggests that if this is all inside Dean’s head, he should be able to control everything, but turns into a joke. However, Sam accidentally creates a crack in Dean’s amnesia by reminding Dean that Castiel blinded Pamela (Castiel, uncomfortable, notes that it was an accident). When Dean looks at Pamela, he’s shocked to see she’s blind and has a flash of how it happened. Sam presses this advantage by reminding Dean she’s dead, too, which Dean also remembers (goodness, Ackles was a baby ten seasons ago!), as the music grinds to a halt. Pamela vanishes from the bar.

Dean is in denial, at first, though Castiel’s impassioned speech that this is just a dream and his loved ones in the real world need him shakes him more than a little. But it’s when Sam remembers “Poughkeepsie” that Dean is really shaken.

To refresh everyone’s memory, it’s the code word the Brothers had for “Drop everything and run.” It first popped up when Dean gave it to Crowley to tell Sam when Crowley went inside Sam’s head in “Road Trip” in season nine to get him to expel Gadriel.

When Dean, looking shocked, says, “What did you say?” Sam repeats it, looking triumphant. He’s hit the right button.

And indeed, he has. A montage of Michael memories, recent ones, ensues. Then Dean says, “I remember. I remember everything.”

The sound of clapping comes from the door. Guess who just walked in? Michael.

So, in case anyone was wondering why it was necessary to reduce the season to 20 episodes, this scene is probably a good hint. Ackles it playing two distinct characters for the price of one and remember how exhausting that was for him in season five’s “The End”? Yeah. But he pulls it off brilliantly here. This must have been quite the episode to film, especially on the road to recovering from the head cold/flu he had while filming the last episode. He’s in practically ever scene.

Dean tells Michael to get out of his head, but Michael tells Dean he doesn’t really want that. After all, Michael is Dean. He proceeds to mindfuck with Dean by mindfucking with Castiel and Sam right in front of him (sorry, but there’s not really a less profane way to put it). Michael, imitating Misha Collins pretty darned well, says that Dean only feels beholden to Castiel because Castiel “gripped you tight and raised you from Perdition.” Sadly, since then, Castiel’s been prone to making a lot of messy mistakes.

And as for Sam, well, Sam abandoned Dean with his dad and Dean, deep down, knows that Sam will always abandon him. It’s at this point that Dean starts to tell Michael to shut up.

I’ve seen some fans suggest that Dean doesn’t start protesting until Michael cracks on Sam because Dean doesn’t care as much about Castiel, but I don’t think it’s a Sam vs. Castiel thing. I think that for one thing, what Michael says about Castiel isn’t as on the mark as what he says about Sam.

Castiel makes mistakes, it’s true, but Dean has always still cared about him and it’s not because Castiel raised Dean from Hell (Dean even stabbed Castiel right after the angel uttered that first line in season four’s “Lazarus Rising”). Dean keeps Castiel around because Castiel is family. If there’s any darker motive, it’s also because Castiel is very useful to have around, an angel in Dean’s pocket, as it were. But an obligation? Not so much.

Sam, on the other hand, made a distressing habit of abandoning Dean, in many different ways, until very recently. The discomfort on Sam’s face is the Tell that Michael’s hit a sore nerve there. Dean loves Sam, anyway, which is why he comes to Sam’s defense. But it doesn’t make that one any less true.

The other thing is that this is part of a longish rant from Michael about how Dean feels, “deep down,” about the people he loves, in which Dean’s anger builds to boiling-over point. It’s much like the speech from Dream!Dean about John in “Dream a Little Dream of Me.” It’s not that Dean cares less about Michael insulting Castiel. It’s that the effect of Michael’s mean-spirited, gaslighting “truths” is cumulative and Dean gets really tired really fast of Michael “speaking” for him and damaging his relationships with those he loves. Remember that Michael keeps telling people that Dean’s big weakness is “love.”

Michael says, “You don’t need them. You don’t even like them. They’re not your family. They’re your responsibilities. They’re a weight around your neck. And deep down, you wanted – you were desperate – to get away from them. And that is why you said yes.”

Well, we know the last part, at least, is a lie, since Dean was pretty backed into a corner when he said yes and he did so, as Michael himself admits to Anael (Sister Jo) in the season premiere, for love.

But what is Michael’s end game, aside from Castiel’s dawning realization that he is stalling for time? Remember that Michael has said that he is angry with his father, God, for abandoning him. And though he chose to come over to this world, it’s true he is now a stranger in a strange land. He wanted love and he never got it. He was always passed over. But by Chuck, he is gonna keep the one thing/person he knows is his, by right and breeding and genetic engineering over billions of years. And that is his sword, Dean Winchester.

But why is Michael stalling? We cut to Jack, watching over everyone, as Maggie comes in with the other redshirt Hunters. She says the monsters are right behind her and everyone gears up for battle.

Inside Dean’s head, Sam posits that Michael needs his monsters to come and rescue him. Michael insists that’s not true, but Dean calls his bluff. Michael asks if that’s what Dean really wants and Dean says sure. Then Dean says Michael can’t do it. Castiel says that inside Dean’s mind, Michael is just a “mental projection” like the others.

Dean attacks first and gets smacked down. Sam and Castiel then get beaten up by moves Michael has pretty clearly picked up from Dean’s mind. In the Bunker, Michael is smiling. One big problem, of course, is that he can do more than one thing at once, be in more than one mind at once.

Sure enough, Maggie’s lieutenant turns out to have been monsterized while he went off into the woods. The other monsters bust in and Maggie’s redshirts are killed/beaten up in short order until only she is left conscious (did I not say that anywhere near Michael and they’d end up toast?). At that moment, Jack freaks out and uses his powers to disintegrate the monsters. But it takes a lot out of him because he tapped into his own soul.

Inside Dean’s mind, TFW 2.0 are still getting their asses kicked, unaware that Michael’s plan has suffered a setback outside. The only sign Michael gives that things are not going entirely his way is to warn them that even if they managed to “force” him out, he would destroy Dean in his wake, leaving “nothing but blood and bone.”

This would have been a problem, anyway, since they can’t afford to kick Michael out. He would be free. Dean then makes a split-second decision. Opening the storeroom door, he grabs Michael, who tosses him aside. But this is enough distraction for Sam to shove Michael inside, and for Sam and Castiel to slam it shut, before Dean comes up and shoves an icepick into the latch, creating a makeshift lock.

As Michael rages on the other side, Dean rather shakily assures Sam and Castiel, “It’ll hold – my mind, my rules. I got him. I’m the Cage.”

After everyone wakes up, Sam talks to Maggie, the redshirt exception who proves the rule. In an indication that at least some of the other Hunters survived, she tells Sam that “we” will clean up in the foyer. She also lets drop an interesting nugget of info – Michael’s monsters have all lost their focus and gone their separate ways. It appears that Michael no longer controls them.

Maggie also tells Sam about Jack using his powers and seems weirded out that he still can. Sam looks worried.

In the kitchen, Castiel is giving Jack a lecture on not using his powers, anymore. They burn off his soul and once it’s gone, it will be gone. Jack apologizes and Castiel softens his tone. He’s not mad. He’s worried. He knows what happens when someone doesn’t have a soul, anymore, and it’s not pretty. Jack utters the usual Famous Last Words: “It won’t happen again.”

Speaking of, Dean is in his room, telling the mirror, “It’s just you, it’s all you,” over and over again, as Michael rages against the door of the Cage inside Dean’s mind.

A voice calling his name startles him. He turns around to see Billie, holding a book. “So,” she says, “not all good news. I did say I’d see you again soon.”

When Dean grumps that she “could have knocked,” she says she figures Michael’s already giving him enough of a migraine.

Dean assures her that Michael is safely locked away, but she’s not buying it (well, she is Death). When Dean correctly guesses she was the one who brought TFW 2.0 to the Bunker, and teases, “You broke the rules,” Billie deadpans, “I took a calculated risk.”

But then she turns deadly serious (if that’s even possible). “I warned you,” she says. She told him not to travel between worlds, but he ignored her. Dean shrugs it off, saying that he had to rescue Jack and Mary, and the others they brought back.

A quick note: Normally, at least in the past, the show would have made this a rather vague “you” that referred, at the very least, to “Sam and Dean” or even to all of TFW, past and present. But this is not a plural “you.” This is most unambiguously a personal, singular “you.”

Billie does not appear to give a zombie rat’s ass that people like Kaia have been dreamwalking to other worlds for centuries, millennia or even tens of millennia. She shows no particular concern in this conversation even about Jack. She makes the warning (somewhat retroactively) specifically about Dean crossing over to an alternate reality. And only Dean.

But she doesn’t leave him, or us, in suspense as to why. First, she reminds him about his library full of possible (and probably past) deaths. Dean rather uncomfortably acknowledges he remembers it.

Billie tells him that an unsettling thing has now happened (she doesn’t specify about when the change occurred, just that it has). All of Dean’s death books now end the same way – with Michael escaping his mind, taking over, and using Dean’s body (and soul) to destroy the world. Well … all except one. Which she hands over.

Whatever Dean sees inside the book shocks him, because he says, “What am I supposed to do with this?”

“That’s up to you,” she says, and vanishes before he can ask any more questions.

Credits

Ratings for the episode came back with a 0.4/2 and 1.44 million viewers, which was pretty steady from the fall (also, SPN often starts out the spring with a dip and goes up a bit). This tied it for third in demo (after The Flash and Riverdale) and put it in fourth for audience (after The Flash, Roswell, and the 24th Annual Critics’ Choice Awards).

The preview is up and highlights continuity from this week. So, it may not be the MOTW the synopsis originally made it out to be. There’s also a preview up for the 300th episode (which will air on February 7 and yes, I will get a retro recap and review out of the 200th, “Fan Fiction,” before then).

Review

My, that was a long recap, wasn’t it, my droogs? Well, some episodes have more narrative meat than others and this one was a doozy of a bistecca alla fiorentina. Also, it was a Deancentric episode, a very Deancentric episode, and I do so love the Deansanity.

One of the most frustrating parts of this show is how often it hasn’t respected its own canon, right from the very beginning with creator Eric “Why give a decent ending to my own stories when I can drop them and just go on to the next bright and shiny?” Kripke. But one of the cool things about the show is when a good writer comes in, ties together a bunch of old and dropped storylines, and makes new and satisfying canon with them.

“The Man Who Would Be King” from season six fairly leaps to mind. I’d almost call “Nihilism” a version of that, except that Dean doesn’t really need to explain himself and Michael doesn’t care what anybody else thinks of him – except for Dean, of course. But it did tie a lot of dropped plots (Dean has so, so many) together into a satisfying new direction for Dean.

Not so much on first watch, but on recap watch, I actually began to feel sorry for alt-Michael. He is undoubtedly an unapologetic villain of the first water. And I don’t see a happy ending for him at the end of the tunnel (that light’s probably a train) the way I could see for Amara if the showrunners had the guts to go there.

He is a world-busting threat. And by “world-busting,” I mean that he intends to burn down the entire Multiverse. He’d probably bad-touch the Empty if he could, just to get back at Daddy. It’s quite a to-do list, but he seems well up to the challenge. So, he’s got to be neutralized.

But in a weird way, Michael works as a god-like being with massive Daddy issues much better than Lucifer. No one has ever loved Michael best. Michael was never spoiled. Michael was always loyal. Michael loved God with all his being. And then God ditched him.

And the worst part? Michael didn’t even learn the truth from Chuck directly. He had to find out once he got inside Dean. The moment of his greatest triumph to this point was the moment he found it was all pointless, that Daddy had ghosted him. Of course he went insane. We weren’t really aware of that until now, but we sure know now. Michael is totally bonkers.

Of course, it doesn’t help (though it’s fun to watch) that Michael is, by a large margin, the least human-like of any of the angels, including the archangels. Michael has been inside Dean’s head for weeks, knows full well why Dean said yes, but still doesn’t understand the emotion of “love.”

He gets filial loyalty. But he can’t equate it to what Dean feels for his family, blood-related and otherwise. Even his conversation with Jack from last episode may have been just manipulation. Or it could have been as simple as missing being in his vessel. Either way, Michael didn’t seem very interested in Jack this week, except as another way to break Dean to his will.

Because, while Michael may not consciously understand love in the human sense, may openly mock it, he sure gets how it feels to not have it. He gets loneliness, envy, jealousy, romantic covetousness. Every conversation he had with or about Dean this week screamed, “Mine! MIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNNNNEEEEE!!!!!” in its subtext. It was all about dividing Dean permanently from his family, not just to beat them and subdue Dean once and for all, but to make Dean Michael’s Precioussss forever and ever. And when a 14-billion-plus-year-old being like the Archangel Michael says “forever and ever,” he means it in cosmic terms.

According to all angel canon we know, therefore, this once again makes Dean immortal (as the showrunners only sorta, kinda admitted was true during the MoC storyline). Got an angel inside you, especially an archangel? You’re not dying any time soon. And by “any time soon,” we mean that baby black holes forming right now will age and die before you do. That the archangel is not currently in charge does not appear to change this canon in any way. And Dean won’t become technically mortal again until Michael’s outta there. I say “technically” because, as the end of this episode made clear, Dean’s too important to die any time soon, anyway. But more on that in a bit.

Michael’s insanity is probably why Billie warned Dean in the first place. It’s sort of Dean’s fault (albeit as an unfortunate byproduct of Chuck ditching Dean with basically Michael’s job), and alt-Michael happily took advantage of the entire situation, but if Dean had never said yes to alt-Michael, alt-Michael would never have found out why and how Chuck had abandoned him. Or at least, come up with a really devastating theory.

Does this theory hold water? Castiel protested that it didn’t, but from what we know of Chuck, yeah, it’s possible. Chuck’s a fan favorite, played by a fan favorite, and was originally introduced as a hapless nebbish Prophet being bullied by the angels. Rob Benedict was very good at playing Chuck as a slacker writer in way over his head. It’s hard to let go of that warm and cuddly identification with the character’s “humanity.”

But Benedict is also a good-enough actor to have shown us a darker side. Whenever anyone challenges Chuck on his “hands-off” strategy and calls him out for the deadbeat he is, Chuck starts to get pretty cold and nasty. And I think that’s when we start to see why Michael, Lucifer and Raphael were so messed up, and why Gabriel went into Witness Protection. Long story short, it’s doubtful Michael just happened to end up this way. His obsessive loyalty and sense of betrayal hint at what a tyrant Chuck may have been back in the day, before he decided to ride the pine and let Free Will go up to bat. Let’s not forget that Chuck’s next experiment after the archangels and locking his sister away was creating the Leviathans.

The show’s worldbuilding also has a pattern in which whoever/whatever is created first in a race of beings is by far the most powerful, the most unruly, and the most unpredictably dangerous. Michael, the Leviathans, Eve, Cain, even Dean all show this pattern. They’re experiments and experiments have a tendency to blow up in their creators’ faces. Chuck probably put a bit more splintery oomph into Michael than the other archangels and may well have preferred Lucifer because Lucifer couldn’t credibly displace Him or kill Him.

It’s probably not an exaggeration for Michael to say that he could replace God. Just in passing this week, he commented that he put Death’s entire administration under angelic control in his own timeline. We saw enough during the Apocalypse to indicate that was entirely possible. What is curious is how that compares to Dean.

Most of what Michael says about Dean, in particular, is airy bollocks. Sam and Castiel, for once, are smart enough to see through the MOTW’s claims (even if Jack is still young enough to get his head turned by them a bit) that Dean doesn’t love them and step up to the plate to save him. We even saw Sam squirm under all of the admiration from his new team, knowing perfectly well how many lessons he learned from Dean and how many times Dean came through for him when Sam was disappearing up his own ass or even abandoned Dean. I like this new, more mature, learned-my-lesson-on-that-score Sam.

Yeah, it would have been nice to see Dean get a chance to play Grumpy Old Hunter with the newbie Hunters, but one character can’t hog all the storylines and Dean is currently too much in god-mode to gear down to that kind of storyline very comfortably. The other Hunters respect Dean because Sam respects him, but to them, Dean is probably just Sam’s Scary Older Brother Who Holes Up In His Room All The Time And We’re All Okay With That. To them, Dean is borderline-MOTW. Very borderline.

Also, I got a bit of a giggle at Michael’s flirty jealousy of Castiel. Boy, that’s gotta be confusing for Castiel. I mean, Michael’s his big brother and all. But maybe angels work that out more easily.

Anyhoo, Sam and Castiel know Dean’s track record. They know he has always put others first, expanded their family, expanded TFW, in some surprising ways. And they know that as much as his own choices have led him to saying yes to Michael, there wouldn’t even be a world, several times over, without Dean Winchester’s unorthodox and ad hoc choices. This week, they chose to put their faith in Dean and Dean’s decisions.

That’s good because, as Billie made really clear in the coda, ten seasons after “On the Head of a Pin,” the SPNverse’s fate once again rests with Dean. Unless Dean can figure out how to make that one fate Billie gave him turn out right, the entire Multiverse is screwed and Dean will get a front-row seat to it. Michael claimed that Dean was a “gnat,” but Dean’s fate is now tied directly to that of the Multiverse. If that’s not a god-like power (or at least, responsibility), I don’t know what is.

The thing is that Dean appears to be in direct opposition to Michael. In power inside the narrative, all of Michael’s protestations aside, they are actually evenly matched and were at an impasse until the end of last week. Michael’s wiliness and billions of years of wisdom (“old age and treachery,” and all that) temporarily put him on top, and could again, but Dean’s relationships with his loved ones were what tipped the balance in his favor. Dean may have thought of locking Michael in the storeroom, but Sam was the one who shoved him in, Sam and Castiel slammed the door, and it was Castiel who noticed Michael was stalling in the first place. For Dean, love isn’t a weakness at all. It’s a significant advantage, one that Michael sought to neutralize by destroying TFW.

But why would these two be tied together like that? Well, remember what I said last episode about how in so many of the good stories, especially horror, the antagonist is a metaphor for the protagonist’s darkness? Just as with the Mark of Cain, alt-Michael is, metaphorically speaking, a dark aspect of Dean. But alt-Michael is an actual different character who wears Dean’s face and body. An actual alternate personality inside Dean’s head.

He also represents a somewhat different aspect than the MoC. The MoC represented Dean’s bloodlust and love of killing. Michael is a superpowered manifestation of Dean’s Daddy issues. He’s what Dean would be without TFW, without his family. He’s how Dean feels when his loved ones have let him down and abandoned him and stepped all over him and chosen others over him. He’s Dean when Dean’s ranting in season seven’s “How to Win Friends and Influence Monsters” about how being responsible for saving the world all the time sucks and he’s tired of taking away the SPNverse’s “belt and pins” so it won’t do itself in.

That’s why there’s such a resonance when Michael tells members of TFW that Dean finds them a burden and resents them for abandoning him, why they look so guilty even while Dean is pissed on their behalf. Like the shapeshifter in season one’s “Skin,” Michael identifies a leeeeetle too much with Dean’s dark side. Well, “our” Michael did a lot to create that dark side, so I guess that makes sense.

The whole idea of the new Cage was an interesting one. Michael created a part of Dean’s mind to lock him into (like a cage) and then Dean locked Michael inside that same part. Boy, that must have been a pretty strong cage in the first place. Tells you something about how strong Dean is, not just in containing Michael now, but in needing that kind of prison to be locked inside. And even then, Michael had to distract Dean to make it work. Of course I’m all perky to see how that turns out.

Lastly, there’s the question of … WHAT’S IN THE BOOK??!! What is the one thing Dean can do to stop Michael taking him over and destroying the world, Dark Phoenix style? Expulsion apparently isn’t a possibility, anymore.

Dean seemed to think it was far out, even for him. Billie was pretty deadpan about it, but there seemed to be a hint of “Yeah, I know this one’s weird, even for you, but hey, you’ve done pink satin panties, so I’m reasonably confident you’ll figure it out.” Gotta love how much snarky subtext Lisa Berry manages to fit into a stony look.

I suppose Dean could contact Chuck and/or Amara, somehow. But I think it’s too soon, still, after season 11 for these writers and there’s still too much story in play for this to be the last season without a whole lot of loose ends (even just one more season probably wouldn’t do it). And how would he even do it?

Recruiting the Empty, somehow, is a possibility and would certainly account for Dean’s WTF?! look, but they may be reserving the Empty for another season. We also still have Heaven’s imminent crash-and-burn in the background.

The most likely possibility seems to be a visit to the Cage and saying yes to “our” Michael there. Have them duke it out, or something. Or maybe chain alt-Michael to Heaven as a powerhouse. I suppose it’s possible Dean might find a way to talk Michael down, but after what he did with Amara, that seems redundant.

Anyhoo, we’ll know more next week.


The Kripke Years

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4

Season 5

The Gamble Years

Season 6 (with Kripke)

Season 7

The Carver Years

Season 8

Season 9

Season 10

Season 11

The Dabb Years

Season 12

Season 13

Season 14


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Supernatural: Season 8


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Contribute monthly via Patreon (which includes perks), make a one-time donation through Paypal, or buy us a coffee

My collected recaps and reviews of the first season, which originally appeared on Innsmouth Free Press, are now up (with a few extras) on Kindle. The Kindle version is available through Amazon. The print version is also up. If you buy the print version, you get a Kindle copy thrown in for free. I also get paid if you get it on Kindle Unlimited (for free), read the Kindle version, or lend it to a friend via the Kindle Owners Lending Library. Reviews also help with sales. Just FYI.


Recap and Review: Supernatural 8.01 (Season Premiere): We Need to Talk About Kevin

Recap and Review: Supernatural 8.02: What’s Up, Tiger Mommy?

Recap and Review: Supernatural 8.03: Heartache

Recap and Review: Supernatural 8.04: Bitten

Recap and Review: Supernatural 8.05: Blood Brothers

Recap and Review: Supernatural 8.06: Southern Comfort

Recap and Review: Supernatural 8.07: A Little Slice of Kevin

Recap and Review: Supernatural 8.08: Hunteri Heroici

Recap and Review: Supernatural 8.09: Citizen Fang

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 8.10: Torn and Frayed

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 8.11: LARP and the Real Girl

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 8.12: As Time Goes By

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 8.13: Everybody Hates Hitler

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 8.14: Trial and Error

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 8.15: Man’s Best Friend with Benefits

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 8.16: Remember the Titans

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 8.17: Goodbye Stranger

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 8.18: Freaks and Geeks

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 8.19: Taxi Driver

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 8.20: Pac-Man Fever

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 8.21: The Great Escapist

Recap and Review: Supernatural 8.22: Clip Show

Recap and Review: Supernatural 8.23 (Season Finale): Sacrifice


The Kripke Years

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4

Season 5

The Gamble Years

Season 6 (with Kripke)

Season 7

The Carver Years

Season 8

Season 9

Season 10

Season 11

The Dabb Years

Season 12

Season 13

Season 14


Like this column? You can help keep it going by contributing monthly via Patreon (which includes perks), making a one-time donation through Paypal, or buying us a coffee.