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Retro Recap and Review: Supernatural 9.10: Road Trip


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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: Dean recruits TFW to get Sam out of his angel-possession in the wake of Kevin’s murder.

Recap: Medium-sized recap of Dean’s deal with Ezekiel/Gadriel (leaving out entirely the part where Dean promised Gadriel a favor, so don’t expect to see that brought up again. Ever) to save Sam from Trialberculosis, the whole Fallen Angels plot, Castiel regaining temporary angelhood via some stolen grace, and Gadriel killing Kevin last episode. We end on Dean’s plaintive “Kevin?” to Kevin’s dead body.

Cut to Now, where a stone-faced Dean is burning Kevin’s body … alone. Returning to the Bunker … alone, to find Kevin’s stuff and cell phone (with a wallpaper photo of himself and his mom on it) on the table where he left them. And having a massive nervous breakdown to Bob Seger’s “The Famous Final Scene” in which he tosses the cell phone and papers all over the place. And the lamp. And the chair. At the end, he looks completely lost and confused, as if he just came out of a fugue state – and devastated.

Cue season nine title cards with burning angel wings. Have a feeling those will be more-than-apt this week.

Cut to a rock star named Corey in a full-black shiny-leather suit walking down a hallway before a sold-out concert with his handler (this is where Amazon Prime’s thumbnail for this ep comes from and as you’ll see in a minute, it’s wildly misleading). She’s telling him his song lineup as he enters his dressing room. He’s supposed to keep it clean.

Gadriel is in there, still wearing Sam. When the rock star sees Gadriel, he sends the handler packing with a slurred “Bitch, did I stutter?” Charming.

Inside, Gadriel calls the angel wearing the rock star “Thaddeus” and Thaddeus recognizes Gadriel. No love lost there. Seems Thaddeus was one of Gadriel’s guards up in Heaven and enjoyed his job a wee bit too much. It even seems he tortured a close friend/lover of Gadriel named Abner.

Thaddeus is cocky and trash-talks a lot as he goes for his sword. Too bad Gadriel’s a lot smarter than Thaddeus gave him credit for and already found it in his guitar case. Thaddeus tries a last-minute heel-face turn and apology, but Gadriel kills him in the middle of begging for his life. Enjoys it, too.

Back at the Bunker, Dean is packing everything for all-out war when Castiel shows up. Being, as ever, a little slow on the subtext count, Castiel mistakes Dean’s smile (which has as many teeth as a Megalodon shark), and comment on Castiel’s reclamation of the trenchcoat, as warm and welcoming. Then he sees the smashed lamp and papers on the floor – and the absence of Kevin – and clues in that something is very wrong. Note that Dean didn’t clean any of that up.

Over a drink (when not?), Dean spills completely about his deal with Gadriel to heal Sam, and how it resulted in Kevin’s death. Unsurprisingly (in other news, the ocean is really wet), Dean blames himself completely, while wanting “Ezekiel” dead, deader, deadest. Castiel is sympathetic, but honestly? His response is a little too tepidly “I could have to you so” (since he never actually did) and therefore less-than-helpful.

Castiel does point out that if Dean kills “Ezekiel” (they don’t yet know Gadriel’s real name or backstory), he kills Sam. Dean allows that he knows that, but killing Sam is better than letting a possessing angel burn him out.

What little control Dean has over all that internal screaming starts to falter as he faces this hard reality. He starts to verbally flagellate himself, calling himself “stupid.” Castiel gets him to stop spiraling for the moment by pointing out that he was “stupid for the right reasons” (i.e., that he went with what limited options he had). This is actually pretty kind and it gives Castiel an idea – what if they could get inside Sam’s head and get to Sam directly? Then Sam could kick “Ezekiel” out.

Dean wonders how they could possibly do that with “Zeke” in charge. Castiel brings up Alfie (without mentioning that he’s the one who killed him) and what Alfie told him about “the demons” (i.e., Crowley) who were able to access his angelic programming. Oh, and guess who they currently have downstairs, chilling in the dungeon?

Dean and Castiel visit Crowley. They get straight to the point about what they want from him, in exchange for human blood (from Dean, to feed Crowley’s addiction), but that doesn’t mean they’re terribly forthcoming on anything else. Crowley has to guess from their ominous silences and the odd blurted-out statement from Castiel that Kevin is dead, Sam is in the wind, and a whole lot has been going on while he’s been stuck in the Hole (and he doesn’t even know yet that none of it has anything to do with Abaddon). As usual, he fields it all with a cocky smile as if he’s the smartest man in the room. But even though the script has Dean and Castiel act a bit plot-stupid just to get Crowley up to speed quickly, Crowley’s Smartest Demon shtick is already wearing a bit thin at this point in the show.

Case in point: When Crowley snarks that the reason Kevin is dead is because no mere human ever survives very long around Dean Winchester (and that he tried to warn Kevin to run), the pretty obvious subtext is that of late, the reason for that has been that Crowley’s the one who murders ’em. The pained scoff Dean makes indicates that even though the dart hits home emotionally because he’s so raw, intellectually he knows Crowley’s full of shit.

Even so, Dean’s patience is thin and he cuts the banter short, agreeing to a deal – Crowley can go on the road trip with them to find Sam, albeit in cuffs. But of course, “Zeke” has the Impala, so Dean has no car (um … what about the cars in the Bunker basement?). Fortunately, Castiel still has his wheels (a 1978 Lincoln Continental – a pimpmobile), which ran out of gas a few miles down the road. They head there with a gas can and as a suspicious looking woman and her dog watch from the sidewalk, they get in. Since the show is not subtle with its classic car/rock call-outs, they ride off to “The Royal Scene” by Dude Royal (thanks, Tunefind!), Dean driving, Castiel and Crowley bickering in the back. By the way, Crowley still has no idea that the angels have fallen or lost their wings, so he doesn’t understand why Castiel has a car. And neither Castiel nor Dean chooses to enlighten him.

Metatron is having a martini in a place where Gadriel’s former vessel is tending bar. The nameless vessel does a double-take when Gadriel walks in, wearing Sam, and Gadriel stares back at him uneasily. Metatron comments on how odd it is for an angel to encounter a “former vessel, like looking in a funhouse mirror.”

Gadriel gives him a bag containing the Angel and Demon tablets, and Metatron looks pleased. He claims that he gave Gadriel the assignment to kill Thaddeus because he knew Gadriel would enjoy it, so Gadriel doesn’t question it. Gadriel is more hesitant about having followed the order to kill Kevin. Metatron is all mellow as he says he turned off the mechanism in Heaven that creates Prophets, so no new ones with Kevin gone.

His mellowness evaporates when he finds out that Dean is still alive. Andrew Dabb wrote this script and his clumsy writing shows in this exchange. Upset, Gadriel rightly points out that Metatron never said anything about killing Dean. Metatron whines that “sometimes, you have to kill your darlings” and that Gadriel should have “shown some initiative” to prove he deserves to be Metatron’s second in command, but this makes Metatron look careless. The fact that Dean Winchester is still alive is clearly such a problem that it makes the other (quite large) things Gadriel has done already for Metatron pale in comparison. But if Metatron had wanted Dean dead that badly (and we’ll see later that he really did), he should have said so. There simply is never a good reason given in the story for why he was so coy and left it to chance like that, so it becomes a big plothole.

Needless to say after this display of ungrateful petulance from Metatron, Gadriel is not at all thrilled to hear he has to go kill someone else. But he’s already in too deep and he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed, either, so Metatron’s guilt trip works on him. He can’t course-correct now.

Back at the house where Castiel’s car broke down, the woman who saw TFW leave has predictably been possessed by a demon. We see her lift a bowl of dog blood (ugh, Show, what is it with you and killing off cute little dogs?) to make a call to Abaddon. Alas, she isn’t terribly observant, only saying that “Crowley is on the move” and not noting the demonic handcuffs that were under his coat or anything like that. Or that Dean and Castiel were with him.

In the foyer of a business called Waldroff Financial, Crowley is sitting on a bench between Dean and Castiel, and bickering with them. He tells them that he has a plant there named “Cecily” who is a demon. Also, the firm is a front for the NSA. Cecily uses their listening devices to find marks for the CRDs.

Cecily is willing to see only Crowley, who walks into her office (hiding his cuffs), while Dean and Castiel are forced to wait outside. In the office, Cecily demonstrates immediately that she recognizes both Dean and Castiel (which makes you wonder how safe it was for them to enter an NSA front). She considers Castiel “hot,” but only now he’s an angel again. Crowley is taken aback. Once again, he’s brought up short by how behind the eight-ball he is. She tells him about how Castiel stole new grace and angeled up again, aside from not having wings. She also claims that she’s not a fan of Abaddon, who doesn’t care about anything but fire and brimstone. Crowley seems to buy it, which is rather odd.

Outside, Castiel is trying to listen in, but the room is warded. Cecily is telling Crowley that she learned what she did from finding a satellite to “tune into angel radio.” Don’t worry – we won’t hear about any more of that after this.

After trying to talk her into breaking his cuffs off (she says only a key will make it happen), Crowley finally gets down to business and asks about the Impala’s location. He also finally figures out that she’s playing both sides. Chagrined, she admits it, but gives him the info, anyway.

Crowley comes back out to tell Dean and Castiel that the Impala ran a red light in Somerset, PA. Off they go as Gadriel arrives in that town to kill his next target. That man turns out to be the vessel for Gadriel’s old friend Abner. Abner is playing the father to Alexander’s family. The vessel wasn’t a good dad, so Abner is making up for that. When his vessel’s little daughter comes out, he introduces her to Gadriel as his old friend (apparently, Thaddeus’ insinuation was just a homophobic insult). Then he asks Gadriel to come back later after the daughter and her mother go out.

Later, they sit in the living room. Abner has changed. He used to be angry and “petulant,” but since falling to earth, he’s gotten over it. He clarifies that the amount of time he spent in Heavenly prison was seven centuries, which doesn’t jibe terribly well with the whole “Garden desertion” storyline, but I guess he was imprisoned a lot later than Gadriel. Or something. Dabb’s not good with timelines.

Abner tries to tell Gadriel that he can use being on earth for a new start and Gadriel appears to think about it. But when TFW arrive at the house later that night (Dean looking relieved and upset to see Baby again), they find Abner dead on the floor with his throat cut. So, Gadriel made his choice. Again.

Gadriel is in the kitchen, washing Abner’s blood off his hands, when he senses Dean behind him. Dean has an angel blade. Gadriel is arrogant enough to tell Dean that he shouldn’t have come after Gadriel spared him. Dean coldly tells him that he shouldn’t have expected to kill Dean’s friend and walk off inside Dean’s brother, and not expect Dean to come after him.

Gadriel TK’s Dean into a bookshelf, knocking him out, but of course it’s a trap. Castiel is standing on Gadriel’s other side. When Gadriel turns around, Castiel cold-cocks him.

Back at Cecily’s office, she is telling Abaddon about her talk with Crowley and spilling everything. Cecily unwisely admits that she is playing both sides, so Abaddon kills her with an angel blade. Dead dog, dead cheeky female ally. Sounds like a Dabb script.

Somewhere in an abandoned building, Gadriel wakes up, chained to a chair. He is defiant, at first, and claims he can rip Sam apart from the inside. He even claims he has Sam locked in a happy dream of being on a hunt with Dean. He suggests Dean can just end this by putting an angel blade through Sam’s heart. Instead, Dean calls Gadriel out on betraying him and Kevin (Gadriel looks ashamed), and has Crowley stick big needles in Sam’s head.

Dean watches for a while, but then has to leave. Castiel follows him out. Dean admits that he’s struggling with watching Crowley lobotomize his brother and begs Castiel to talk about anything else. Castiel gives him the short version of how he powered up again. Dean apologizes to Castiel for kicking him out of the Bunker. Castiel apologizes to Dean for believing Metatron. Dean asks if that means they’re “dumbasses.”

Castiel: I prefer the term “trusting.”

At that moment, Crowley calls them back in. He twirls a needle and a catatonic Gadriel starts speaking Enochian. He says his name. Castiel recognizes it and realizes that he didn’t recognize Gadriel before because Gadriel has been imprisoned “since the dawn of time” for “letting Lucifer into the Garden.” Dean guesses he means Adam and Eve (even though Eve in this story is the mother of monsters), but it’s more likely “Garden” means “Creation.” But who knows? It’s a mystery. And a Dabb script.

Castiel gets mad at Gadriel and shakes him, but Dean pulls him off. Twirling another needle, Crowley wakes up Gadriel, who is still defiant. He claims he can hide Sam from them for years, if necessary. Dean’s next idea is to have Castiel possess Sam, too, but Castiel can’t do it without permission. Crowley points out that demons don’t need permission. Crowley renegotiates for his freedom, so Dean has Castiel burn off Sam’s anti-possession tattoo. Dean threatens him and then Gadriel threatens him, but Crowley is cocky about his chances. He blows red smoke into Sam’s mouth after Dean gives him his and Sam’s secret “go word – Poughkeepsie.” Castiel asks Dean what will happen if the plan doesn’t work. “It’ll work,” Dean says, with more determination that he seems to feel.

Inside Sam’s head, Sam is in the Bunker, researching a case. “Dean” is in the kitchen, getting beer. Sam is shocked when Crowley shows up, even more so that Crowley knows the Winchester safe word. Crowley tells him he’s been possessed by an angel and that in possession, even though the angel has Sam locked away in his mind, he can remember everything. Sam then has a quick set of flashbacks that ends with killing Kevin.

Crowley tells Sam that he has to cast the angel out. Unfortunately, Gadriel (in the form of his first vessel, the bartender) shows up at that moment and proceeds to kick Crowley’s ass. But not until after a big rant about how he’s going to be the Hero who leads the angels back to Heaven and demons like Crowley will always be cowards. Crowley stands his ground and punches Gadriel to gives Sam time to get up to speed.

Sam interrupts Crowley’s ass-whupping by attacking Gadriel. There’s a fight that Gadriel at first appears to be winning (pointing out that Sam might die if he leaves), even as Crowley exhorts Sam to cast him out. Abruptly, Sam gets the upper hand by clobbering Gadriel with a statuette and gives him his marching orders. Gadriel is forced to leave in white, glowing smoke and returns to the bar where Metatron is waiting and his vessel works. His vessel gives verbal consent again and is repossessed as all the glass breaks in the bar. Metatron recovers from his surprise to ask, “Let me guess – Winchester trouble?”

Back at the monastery/warehouse/whatever-it-is, Crowley blasts out of Sam, as well, and back into his usual host body (which looks dead without him). Castiel and Dean fuss over Sam, prompting Crowley to snark that he’s “fine; thanks for asking.”

There are headlights outside as Abaddon and several demons show up in a fleet of black cars (why didn’t they just teleport?). Crowley tells the rest of TFW to run while he holds her off. Dean makes it clear he still doesn’t forgive Crowley and will kill him on sight should they meet again.

Crowley: Yes. I know. I love you, too.

Yes, he really did say that. Yes, we know now he really did mean it, even if Dean didn’t know (then) or care (pretty much ever).

When Abaddon shows up, Crowley plays on the hesitation of her minions to attack him on her orders. The results are mixed, with Abaddon coldly telling him that Hell doesn’t care what he thinks. They can duke it out for the throne, if he likes.

Crowley disagrees. He says it’s more like a campaign for “hearts and minds.” He figures that many demons followed Abaddon because their King was missing and she’s strong (“and immortal, for the moment”). But he also thinks she’s stupid and he has a feeling Hell won’t all go her way with him back on the board. He then snaps his fingers and disappears, leaving Abaddon highly annoyed.

On a misty dock, Castiel heals Sam’s surface wounds and tells him it will take some time, and stages of healings, to fix the rest of his internal “burns.” Dean, who has been standing nearby, then approaches Sam and lets him cut loose.

And, unfortunately, Sam does. He’s a big ball of pissy manpain about being “tricked” and having had his body used to kill Kevin, and how he was ready to die half a season ago. He shows no sense whatsoever of how Dean might be feeling (at the very least, he should notice that Dean had to burn Kevin’s body all alone).

So, he’s a little discomfited when Dean cuts his rant off at the knees and repeats Crowley’s words about how he (Dean) is responsible for Kevin’s death, that he’s toxic to those around him, that anyone who gets close to him dies and horribly. He’s going to hunt down Gadriel and kill him, but it’s better if he does it alone. All of Dean’s self-loathing pours out and it upsets Castiel, even if Sam is pretty stony about it all.

Sam tells him to go, but cryptically says that’s not why … why what? Why Dean is leaving? Why Sam is mad at him? Don’t expect an answer because once again, it’s a Dabb script and it’s just there so Sam can be an asshole as Dean walks away and drives off in the Impala in the rain.

Credits

Review: “Road Trip” was originally the spring premiere after the Christmas hellatus for season 9, following on the cliffhanger of the Christmas “midseason” finale. The writing is somewhat better for this episode than “Holy Terror,” but that’s admittedly a pretty low bar. It suffers from all the usual problems that are now front and center with Andrew Dabb (who wrote the episode) as showrunner and even at this point in the series, it was clear that Robert Singer was phoning it in as director. The kindest word you can give for either the script or the direction is “workmanlike.”

Character arcs within the episode are often poorly set up. Gadriel and Sam’s actions and dialogue in particular frequently make no sense. Metatron doesn’t seem to know what he wants, even as he’s laying out his big manifesto lines (he’s an awful Big Bad). And Dean and Castiel are handed the Idiot Ball a few times in a lazy attempt to get Crowley up to speed. Abaddon is also … not quite as scary-impressive as she usually is. “Perfunctory” is the word that comes to mind for her practically-a-cameo two scenes. The show almost forgot her the last several episodes in its obsessive focus on the fallen angels storyline, which rapidly went nowhere.

What saved this episode was the acting (particularly Jensen Ackles and Mark Sheppard) and what makes it still important is that it’s the prequel to the really major mytharc plot that is launched the following episode. But yeah, “First Born,” it’s not. The hand-off from one mytharc (Sam’s angel possession arc) to the next (Dean’s grief and revenge quest) is clumsy and incomplete. It is there, though, especially on second watch.

Speaking of second watching, it’s fairly easy to miss on first watch (while you’re trying to get the plot points, and chuckling at Crowley and Castiel’s mutual sniping) how close to the bleeding, screaming edge Dean is in “Road Trip.” Sure, there’s the obligatory breakdown to a mournful tune by Bob Seger, but that is actually the high point of Dean’s stability in this episode. At the end of his burst of rage, he looks lost and devastated. It’s a brief of moment of clarity before he disappears down a rabbit hole of corrosive self-recrimination that ends in his going off on his own to take (continuing) brutal revenge on Gadriel after Gadriel has been forced out of Sam.

Internalizing Crowley’s nasty jibe earlier in the episode about being responsible for Kevin’s death (because Hell forbid Crowley ever take any responsibility for his own horrible actions), Dean says he’s going off alone because he is “poison” to everyone (everyone human, anyway) around him. But there’s got to be the factor in there that at that moment, he really can’t bear to look at the face of the person who killed Kevin, even if that face is his brother’s and Sam wasn’t in the driver’s seat. He’d never admit. It’s doubtful he can even think it, consciously, but that’s how his PTSD-driven reliving of Kevin’s death would work.

I said before that I wasn’t thrilled by how the show fridged Kevin to motivate Dean – and I’m still not. But it’s mitigated somewhat by how, even though Kevin was translating the Tablets for the Winchester Brothers, he also had his own special destiny, and his own storyline, as a Prophet. And Dean’s role in that storyline, up to when Kevin died, was the same as his role in Sam’s mytharc plots – to be the wind beneath Kevin’s wings. He essentially stepped into Mama Tran’s shoes and took care of Kevin – cooking for him, cleaning up after him, tending to him when he was sick, protecting him. So, it makes sense that Kevin would grump and chafe at Dean’s “smothering” the way he did with his own mother, yet ultimately trust Dean so completely that he never saw Gadriel coming. The Bunker was safe because Dean was there – until the moment it wasn’t.

And it therefore also makes perfect sense that Dean would blame himself for Kevin’s death, even though it came out of left field and Dean already knew how long the odds were for Kevin’s long-term survival. In that sense, Dean as a character was about supporting Kevin’s story and not the other way round. It wasn’t until Kevin died that Dean was left floundering, grasped onto rescuing (or being forced to kill) Sam from Gadriel, and finally went after Gadriel for revenge. So, aside from the legit complaint that PoCs usually get stuck with supporting and guest roles, rather than lead roles even in their own stories, the story is pretty solid in not following the usual fridging cliches for those two.

Dean didn’t grieve for Kevin because Kevin’s death bruised his ego (as usually happens with fridging, where fridged characters are something that the Villain takes away from the Hero, rather than people in their own right). He grieved for Kevin because they had a friendship in which Dean was protecting Kevin. Because you grieve for someone close to you when they die, especially through violence and especially right in front of you while you can’t do anything about it.

The same cannot be said for Kevin and Sam. Sam expresses a lot of upset about having his body used by Gadriel to commit murder, but that’s about the extent of his giving any size of a rat’s ass about Kevin. In making it all about his own manpain over being “forced” to kill Kevin (even though no one – literally no one, not even Crowley – in Sam’s vicinity is blaming Sam for it), Sam shoves Kevin right out of the story of his own death. It becomes all about Sam, not all about Kevin, and it’s quite irritating.

It’s not really that big a surprise. Sam has never been especially close to Kevin. He did abandon him for a year between seasons seven and eight, after all. I think Sam’s ditching Kevin and his own brother to unknown fates so he could “retire” for a year made it pretty clear to Kevin that whenever push shoved, Sam would always rank his own needs over Kevin’s safety.

Part of the problem is how half-assed Dabb is about the question of how much Sam was aware all season. Up through last week, the assumption was that Sam was aware most of the time and that the only time we saw Gadriel fake being Sam was right before he knocked Dean out to go kill Kevin. But the way Dabb writes (and Singer directs) the montage of Sam remembering being possessed by Gadriel, it indicates he’s been off in Gadriel’s dream world this whole time, since the hospital in the season premiere.

That sounds overly complicated. We’re supposed to believe that Gadriel, an angel so out of the loop for so long that he should have almost no clue how to deal with humans aside from the memories he’s gotten from his two vessels, was able to mimic Sam so well as to fool Dean from the jump? I don’t buy that. And I don’t think it’s great storytelling to have had Sam so completely absent for nearly half a season, either.

Regardless, neither Sam being usually aware or Sam being off with the fairies for ten episodes justifies his pissiness at the end of this one. I get that he’s shell-shocked and trying to get up to speed (a bit like Crowley earlier on in the episode), but acting as though Dean set him up to be magically violated (in future episodes, there are even hints it was like rape) is right out of bounds. There isn’t any evidence that Sam suffered from Gadriel’s possession until he kicked him out. And I think Dean having to juggle everyone else’s needs for ten episodes, being forced to watch Kevin murdered by his own brother’s hand (if not by his own brother), and then having to chase Gadriel down and neutralize him/rescue Sam by forcing him out are way beyond sufficient punishment for having “tricked” Sam into saying yes to an angel to save his life.

Then there’s Crowley. I was a bit surprised to find that Crowley’s obsession with Dean caught fire this early. I mean, yeah, there’s next episode and yeah, he was always more focused on Dean than Sam (he’s in rare form this week ragging on Sam the “Big Baby”). But it was less clear earlier on, more like his usual banter, which was quite harsh in, say, season six. We even get a bit of this early in the episode, when Crowley claims that people die around Dean.

But that line is also an indication of the transitional nature of Crowley’s relationship with Dean in this episode (as is Crowley’s snark at Abaddon that she’s immortal but only for now). Crowley wants Dean to himself. Trying to call shotgun on their road trip (so he can sit beside Dean), bickering with Castiel, the jibe about Kevin (whom Crowley himself tried to kill, because Crowley wants Dean for himself), and covering TFW’s retreat (ostensibly just to bait Abaddon and sow dissension in her ranks, but there’s far more to it than that) all bring attention to his desire to be around Dean, to be respected (if not loved) by Dean, even when it’s not the smartest decision at that moment. But this is really the first time Crowley gets out on a limb for Dean. Yeah, he’s desperate to get out of that dungeon, but still.

And it’s not really unwise for Dean to let him go, either. Crowley being out there, giving Abaddon trouble, is a good thing for TFW right now. Hell being distracted by a demonic civil war means a Hell that’s not at full capacity to wreak destruction on earth – and we already have a taste of how destructive Abaddon is. If Crowley’s willing to do that, then it’s not necessary for now to neutralize him again. Cry havoc and let loose the dogs of war.

Now, I know that Mark Sheppard wasn’t thrilled by this new human blood storyline, as he felt it made Crowley weak. And it did. Dean became Crowley’s weakness. But I disagree that it was a bad storyline. Stuff that can be fun to act isn’t always good for the story. Crowley being a one-note villain who snarked at everyone and pretended to be the smartest person in the room (because he never actually could be within the context of the show) wasn’t good for the story. He was a weak villain on his own in season six and the story had to resort to his killing off (usually female) friends of the Brothers to stay a relevant threat.

That got old. If they wanted to keep him around, the writers had to do something different with him. This was it. And it worked because it gave him more dimensions and made him less predictable. It gave him growth (or decay, depending on your point of view). A Crowley who wasn’t always for Crowley, but who also had no idea about a healthy relationship or healthy boundaries, was a more interesting Crowley than the original version.

The irony here is that Crowley seems to believe that by helping Dean, he will win Dean’s trust and favor, if not yet his love and devotion. But Crowley has framed his help as a quid pro quo deal. The problem with quid pro quo deals is that they leave the relationship in the same position as before the deal – in this case, with Crowley still an enemy who murdered the Brothers’ friends, tortured Kevin, and once blackmailed Dean into working for him.

Crowley already negotiated the benefit he would get from the deal (his freedom) and it did not involve Dean liking or respecting him in any way. So, of course, Dean didn’t. He didn’t renege on any part of the deal (he did let Crowley go). Crowley had unrealistic expectations, whether because his mind was clouded by his human blood addiction from the Trials or because, as a demon, he’s just that narcissistic.

Technically, it’s canon (or it was while the archangels were in charge, Heaven had angels, and the Apocalypse hadn’t happened yet) that demons can only unleash their full powers with a deal. Azazel made this claim to Dean about Dean’s deal to save Sam in “All Hell Breaks Loose, Part 2” and Crowley posited it to Bobby in season five. But it doesn’t change the fact that Dean’s agreement with Crowley was still a deal, so from Dean’s point of view, no gratitude was expected or likely to be given. Dean can certainly be treacherous and cunning, especially if you back him into a corner, but he played it straight with Crowley this week, just as he played it straight with Gadriel for nine episodes. That’s why he’s pissed.

Finally, there was Castiel. I wish he’d had more to do before Dean went on walkabout, but I guess there was infodump to drop and mytharc to move forward. The demon crush thing was cute, but went nowhere due to her being killed off immediately after. I was hoping to see some exploring of Castiel’s human adventures with Dean, but even though Dean did explicitly ask Castiel to bring him up to speed, the writing itself didn’t dwell on it for very long. After that, Castiel mainly served as sidekick and Greek Chorus. I felt Dabb could have written him better, but hey, at least he was sympathetic in this episode.


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 9.09: Holy Terror


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[spoilers ahoy for several seasons]


Tagline: Castiel is captured by one of the angel factions and tortured, while Kevin hits a major milestone in his translation of the Angel Tablet.


Recap: Quick recap of Metatron’s spell to cast all the angels out of Heaven, which includes taking Castiel’s grace and turning him human. We also get a quickie of Dean’s deal with “Ezekiel,” Kevin working on the Angel Tablet, and the boring plotting of the fallen angels to take over the earth and get back to Heaven. Or something.

This is a Nepotism Duo episode, so buckle up, because it’s gonna be a rough (and frequently tedious) ride.

Cut to Now. A bus load of Gospel singin’ girls from the Melody Ministry Glee Club roll up to a roadhouse full of bikers in Caribou, WY. When they enter, the bald leader of the bikers is upset, saying “You shouldn’t be here.”

“We have as much right to be here as you do … Brother,” the obnoxiously pert blonde leader of the glee club sneers back. Both sides are angels. Angel blades come out and there’s a big fight. The glee club wins, massacring everyone in the biker bar, then leaving, covered with blood and all perky. They sing, “I’m Gonna Let It Shine,” as their bus rolls out.

Cue title cards.

In the Impala at night, Dean is driving and asking Ezekiel about Sam’s condition. Ezekiel claims that Sam is better, despite the reveal last week by Vesta that he was barely alive without Ezekiel’s angelic support. Dean is losing confidence in Ezekiel’s weekly progress reports. Ezekiel is unhappy that they are investigating “angel business” (the Doomed Teaser Bikers), but Dean points out this is the Family Business. If they don’t investigate it, Sam will get suspicious.

Grumpy, Ezekiel goes back into dormancy with a flash of eye light. When Sam comes back out, he’s confused that they’re so much closer to their destination. He says he’s getting a lot of missing time lately. Dean, of course, tap-dances that Sam is still recovering from nearly dying at the beginning of the season. Sam doesn’t quite buy this, which, to be honest, kind of puzzles me. We know Dean is lying, but the Trialberculosis was supposed to be inevitably fatal. Why doesn’t Sam buy the idea that it’s going to take him a while (less than half a season so far) to recover?

Anyhoo, the Brothers arrive at the biker bar, dressed as FBI agents. They are surprised to find Castiel there, also dressed in a suit, among the real law enforcement officers. Castiel had heard the news and feels obligated to help. The Brothers think that’s a bad idea (for various reasons, not all of them questionable), but Castiel is just too happy to see Dean (sorry, Sam and Dean) again to notice their reservations. And Ezekiel waits until Castiel has walked off to give Dean an angelic version of Sam’s bitchface.

There is speculation that the angel hit was by Bartholomew (one of the leader)’s gang, but someone else could be involved.

Cut to a scruffy guy named Malachi meeting with Bartholomew’s obnoxious top aid in an empty parking lot. Malachi is not pleased to hear that Bart didn’t bother to show up. The glee club girl is with Malachi and the hit on the biker bar was a hit on Bartholomew’s gang.

Malachi says that Bartholomew will live to regret demonstrating disrespect by not showing up for the meet. He punctuates this by killing Bartholomew’s team with an angel sword.

At a local bar, the Brothers are hanging out with Castiel. Sam is happy to see Castiel, Dean apprehensive. Castiel tells the Brothers that April (the Reaper who tortured and stabbed him to death during the last Nepotism Duo entry) told him Bart’s plan was to gather together as many angels as he could, reverse Metatron’s spell, and go back to Heaven. This triggers a creepy mutual reverie between him and Dean about how “hot” April was. Because of course it does. These writers are so inappropriate.

As Castiel goes off to get more beers, Ezekiel pops up and chews Dean out for letting Castiel hang out with them. This time, Dean really pushes back and challenges the angel on why he has such a problem about Castiel being there. Ezekiel calls Castiel a “beacon” to other angels (despite now being human) and that when Ezekiel agreed to help Dean with Sam, he “chose sides.” This now makes him unpopular with “certain angels.”

Dean shrugs this off, saying that Castiel’s now hated by every angel, but he’s still in there, helping TFW. “So, what makes you so special?”

Castiel interrupts this by coming back with the beers. Ezekiel stiffly says he’s going to “get something from the car,” but he’s really fleeing outside for some air and to think. Too bad that as soon as he does, he encounters Metatron, who says Ezekiel is an angel, all right, but he’s not Ezekiel. Ezekiel looks pretty horrified.

In the bar, Castiel says he noticed that Sam looked uncomfortable and asks if Dean has told Sam why he made Castiel leave the Bunker. At this point, Dean (who clearly has been having reservations about trusting “Ezekiel”) comes clean to Castiel about the angel deal he made and the real reason he’s keeping Castiel at arm’s length.

Out in the alley, Metatron calls “Ezekiel” by his real name, Gadriel (no, I’m not using the show’s spelling, “Gadreel,” because that’s the only time it uses the Arabic spelling convention instead of the Hebrew and that’s dumb). Gadriel gets all tense when Metatron asks him why he’s pretending to be Ezekiel. Gadriel says it’s because Ezekiel was a “good and honorable” angel and Metatron immediately points out that’s the opposite of how Gadriel is perceived.

It turns out that Gadriel was deep inside a heavenly dungeon (and had been for a long time) when he was cast out onto earth with the other angels. Metatron twists the knife when he details Gadriel’s crime – he was supposed to guard the “Garden” (the earth) and not let “evil” (probably Lucifer) enter it, but he failed.

Gadriel looks really distressed, so it’s probably not good that Metatron tells him about his big plan to let a few angels back into Heaven (because Metatron is lonely alone up there) and he wants Gadriel to help him. Yeah. ‘Cause that worked out so well for Castiel.

Back at the Bunker, Sam (now back in the saddle) tells Dean that the biker gang were born again Christians and hooked up with Bartholomew’s group. There’s a new angel gang in town and they’re worse than Bart’s.

At a campfire at night, Malachi’s smug glee club lieutenant is recruiting new idiots for vessels. But as the bodiless angels mass above, she’s stabbed from behind, and the vessels all smote, by a sneak attack from Bartholomew’s forces.

Underneath a bridge in daytime, Metatron is bemoaning about having lived (i.e., hid) among humans for so long. Gadriel practically talks himself into following Metatron by calling Metatron the new God. Metatron only somewhat demurs.

Somewhere in a cabin, Castiel is kneeling down (and assuming other positions) to pray to someone unspecific for help. He gets no answers. Hours later, he has to give up.

When he goes to turn on the TV, he hears a voice from outside telling him to plug it in. When he opens the door, he finds a short, blonde woman in a Park Ranger outfit. She is an angel named Muriel. She heard his prayer. At first, when she recognizes him, she wants to turn away, but he manages to talk her back inside, pleading with her for information.

At the Bunker, Kevin has hit a dead end. He thinks there may not be any information about the spell Metatron used to clear out Heaven. Kevin runs across a section that Metatron appears to have hidden in an indecipherable code, even from Prophets.

When Sam comes back (from having been used as Gadriel’s vehicle to go talk to Metatron), Dean tells him about the campfire attack, which was in Utah. Dean also found a witness who saw the glee club angel and her bus leaving the biker bar.

At the motel, Muriel is skeptical about Castiel’s claim that Metatron set everything up for the angels’ fall and Castiel was an unwitting participant. Despite her caution, she’s surprisingly forthcoming with Malachi’s name, since both Malachi and Bartholomew are rounding up unaligned angels and torturing them into submission or killing them if they won’t. Too bad that in the middle of their chat, Malachi’s henchangels show up. They beat up both Castiel and Muriel, and bring them to Malachi’s dungeon, where Malachi tortures Castiel himself.

Malachi doesn’t believe Castiel when he says he has no useful intel, so he has him tortured some more, then has Muriel killed. Damn. Muriel’s about the only new character I liked in this mess. Figures these loser writers would kill her off.

Afterward, Malachi claims he’s just following Castiel’s “example” of killing other angels. One of the names of the angels he claims died in the Fall is Ezekiel. But Malachi, being an “anarchist,” is too stupid to see the wheels suddenly turning in Castiel’s head. He leaves him with the henchangel who killed Muriel.

However, when Castiel asks for “a quick death,” the henchangel instead wants him to contact Metatron in order to be raised back to Heaven.

Castiel appears to play along, totally channeling Dean Winchester at his wiliest. He gets himself unchained. It doesn’t really matter if this is just another form of torture because Castiel is playing the other angel and gets the drop on him. He then cuts the henchangel’s throat and steals his grace, before smiting him as his first re-angeled act.

Whistling “I’m Gonna Let It Shine,” Malachi comes downstairs to find all of his henchangels in the dungeon dead (and poor Muriel still a doornail).

Dean talks to Kevin in the Bunker, while looking for Sam. Kevin says Sam went out. Kevin comments that Sam has been “doing that a lot” and we see the wheels turning in Dean’s head as he wonders who is doing that, Sam or “Ezekiel”?

Dean then gets a call from Castiel, who tells him he’s escaped Malachi and angeled back up (however temporarily). He also outs “Ezekiel,” saying that he’s dead.

Dean comes up with a plan quickly, hitting a sleepy Kevin up for a spell that can suppress an angel long enough to talk to the vessel (and let the human expel the angel), but not telling Kevin what it’s for.

Meanwhile, Gadriel, unaware he’s been outed, is meeting again, in broad daylight, with Metatron. He agrees to be Metatron’s second in command. Metatron blows some sunshine up Gadriel’s ass and Gadriel tries to believe it. But he’s not too thrilled when Metatron gives him the name of an enemy who must die first as a test, a name on a piece of paper. Gadriel balks, but he does take the Post-It note and looks conflicted.

Back at the Bunker, Kevin has cobbled together a spell from the Angel Tablet and some research he dug up in the Men of Letters archives. Now they’ve been drawing angel suppression sigils all over the walls. When he asks Dean what’s going on, Dean says he can’t really tell him and to trust him. Kevin grumps that that always bites him in the ass (but, in all fairness, Kevin’s been very volatile and unhelpfully unpredictable in his reaction to negative news in the past).

Sam comes back and Dean asks him where he’s been. Sam says he was on a beer run.

Dean quickly uses one of the sigils (which does work because we see it smoke and burn) to suppress “Ezekiel,” then tries to fill Sam in on the deal he made and that Ezekiel lied to him. Sam gets mega-pissy about it and clocks Dean one, knocking him out. Then he goes out into the Library where he … smites Kevin in the middle of Kevin worrying that Dean is “off” somehow. Dean rushes in in the middle of it, but can’t stop Kevin dying. Gadriel slams him up against a post.

Gadriel then proceeds to monologue about how he overheard Dean and Kevin talking, then “altered the spell” (to do what, exactly, since it did do something?). He faked being Sam and says that Sam is gone. Rubbing salt in the wounds, he says Kevin would have died sooner than later, anyway, and drops the Post-It note Metatron gave him on Kevin’s chest. It has Kevin’s name on it. He also takes the Angel and Demon tablets. After a little hesitation, he leaves Dean behind, alive, to call Kevin’s name, mournfully. But Kevin, his eyes burned out, is quite dead.

Credits

Review: Some mytharc episodes remain relevant on rewatch years later because they have canon that’s still in active effect, or they introduced important recurring characters, or they had some great lines/storylines/characters that are memorable and beloved by fans.

Then there are episodes like “Holy Terror.” The only reason at this point to watch “Holy Terror,” really, is because it’s the episode that kills off Kevin Tran. Every angel character in it besides Castiel is dead and gone for seasons now. The whole storyline has been wrapped up and rendered pretty pointless, since the surviving angels returned to Heaven. The war between them over who got to go back to turned out to be mainly just a cruel and manipulative con by Metatron. Yeah, that’s a bit spoilery. Oh, well.

The Nepotism Duo (Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross-Leming) are in their usual smug, California liberal mode here, thinking they’re being so woke when they’re instead condescending, misogynistic and pretty borderline racist. Three female angel characters get fridged in this episode, three, and two of them we only met this one time. Granted, I only liked one of them (Muriel), but that’s part of the problem. Not only do these female characters exist solely to motivate male characters (Bartholomew, Malachi and Castiel, respectively), but two of them are so thoroughly obnoxious that I pretty much guarantee you won’t mind they die only a few minutes after they show up. And I’m sure y’all won’t be too surprised to hear that the only sympathetic (or even interesting) one was the one fridged to motivate Castiel – Muriel.

And then a fourth character gets fridged this week. It’s Kevin, of course, and he is killed off to motivate Dean. As if Dean needed any more motivation, but the idea is to send Dean off on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge:

Now I quite like Dean’s RRoRs, which are always full of “bloody satisfaction,” but I quite dislike when the show fridges women and people of color to put him in that mindset. This one is especially egregious because the intent is also to make Dean look bad.

The idea here (spelled out by Kevin’s claim that trusting Dean “always” backfires on him) is that Dean doesn’t protect Kevin sufficiently from “Ezekiel” and that’s why Kevin dies. The general idea in the first half of season nine is that the deal Dean makes with Ezekiel (i.e., Gadriel) is a bad one and poisonous to everyone around him. But that would only be true if Gadriel were an evil character.

Gadriel is a lot of things that aren’t so great (notably, gullible and selfish). But when he acts ashamed over his backstory and hesitates over killing Kevin, we realize that overall, his intentions are, if not strictly honorable (would he have ever left Sam willingly? One wonders), at least relatively benign toward Dean and Kevin up to that point. He really doesn’t want to kill Kevin and he ends up not killing Dean, even though that really would be the smart thing to do. It’s not as though Dean is just going to let this go.

Up to this episode, the worst thing Gadriel has been doing has been forcing Dean to force Castiel to stay away when Castiel really needs the protection of Dean and the Bunker the most. And Dean really has no choice in this matter. Granted, it sucks for Castiel, but then, if Castiel hadn’t been so gullible with Metatron, Gadriel would still be in prison and the other angels would also still be in Heaven. So, Castiel is not exactly innocent in this whole situation, just because he’s now human. Dean’s dealing with the situation Castiel dropped on him as best he can. But also, Dean’s decision isn’t bad in and of itself. When it turns bad is when Gadriel is corrupted by Metatron, which is not something Dean had any information to predict. That comes right out of left field for him.

Another thing that seems unfair about Kevin’s accusation is that, aside from the fact that he’s really not that good at protecting himself and being out on his own, Kevin himself is toxic to his loved ones. It’s not him, personally, but his role as a Prophet that kills his girlfriend and her roommate and his mother (at least, apparently she’s dead) and even the angels that were supposed to protect him on earth. Kevin is not safe to be around. He could only be protected by someone as high-level as the Brothers Winchester and even then, all three of them knew his lifespan wasn’t liable to be long. Yeah, they have him working for them, but they’d have taken him in, anyway, or found him a safe place to stay. They’ve done it for others.

Sam is practically nonexistent in this episode, even though Jared Padalecki is in more of it than Jensen Ackles. In fact, Sam is practically nonexistent for a lot of the story in the first half of the season. We’re supposed to be sympathetic toward his plight, but he comes off as so clueless about his condition, and not especially interested in exploring what’s going on, that it’s hard to sympathize with his over-the-top outrage when he finally finds out. Which, despite the initial tone of Gadriel’s fakeout near the end, does not actually occur this week.

The show wants to blame Dean because it Tells us that Sam would never, ever, ever want to be possessed by an angel, and that it’s a violation akin to rape (a topic on which these two writers are exceptionally tone-deaf, as the example of April the Reaper makes clear). Except that Sam never has any such traumatic experience to that effect. He remains oblivious for so long because it’s not an awful experience at all and Ezekiel does heal him up a fair bit. What Sam will end up feeling guilty about is his body being used as a tool in Kevin’s death and that’s not the same thing as rape. Especially when that “guilt” becomes just another way for Sam to blame Dean for not letting him go (ie., die) at the beginning of season nine.

Yes, from a philosophical point of view, Sam would hate the idea of being possessed by an angel again after the whole Samifer deal. Yes, Dean’s is a reckless act, with consequences. No, it’s not the smartest thing he’s ever done. But for much of the season, when Dean is scrambling to keep Gadriel happy and everyone else safe, he is out on a limb. But he’s also, when under duress, forced to do things he wouldn’t otherwise do because his loved ones are being held hostage.  It’s hard not to feel empathy for that. It’s harder to feel empathy for Sam acting as though he had a lobotomy half the time and being in LaLa Land.

I have to admit that Gadriel isn’t my favorite role for Jared Padalecki. While I’ve never been a huge fan of Tahmoh Penikett, I thought he did well in the role. Penikett played him with a sort of desperate earnestness. Padalecki somehow didn’t take that up. His version of Gadriel seemed stiff and prissy, instead, and I found that distracting.

Weirdly enough, I found him more convincing in Gadriel’s scenes with Metatron (who is a whole other kind of dumpster fire this season) than in his scenes with Dean. Go figure.

Finally, there’s Metatron. Oh, dear. When we first encountered him in “The Great Escapist” in season eight (Ben Edlund’s final episode for the show, at least so far), after a couple of mentions in previous episodes since season seven, he seemed like a puckish and spunky, if rather frail, old man. A bit like later Prophet Donatello, except that in Metatron’s case, it’s a mask, a con job, and not just because he’s an angel.

This does not make the desperate gullibility with which angels like Castiel and Gadriel choose to believe him look sympathetic. Their blindness is too willful, their excuses too ludicrous, the damage they cause in his name too great. True, Bartholomew and Malachi are no better, but the fact that the angels are willing to slaughter each other (and hapless humans) in their name, as much as in Metatron’s, simply because that would-be leader is an angel, doesn’t make any of the three choices look smart. And it’s not as though joining a faction increases your angelic lifespan.

Metatron is actually quite ambitious and vindictive. In fact, despite his professed love for their stories, he doesn’t really like humans and looks down on them. Nor does he give a hoot what his grand Bond villain schemes do to any part of the SPNverse, let alone Heaven and Earth, and certainly not what they do to individual angels and humans. When he orders the assassination of Kevin Tran, there’s nothing personal in it. He’s just tying up a loose end.

But once his plan exceeds his wildest dreams, he becomes even more ambitious. Initially, it appears he wanted revenge on the angels when he cast them out of Heaven. Now he wants their worship and adoration (having found revenge to be more empty than he’d anticipated). In this episode, he hesitates to aspire to wanting to be like God, but give him time. His ego can encompass that, too.

Fun Lines:

Kevin [to Dean] I always trust you. And I always end up screwed.

Dean: Oh, come on – always? Not always.


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The Official Supernatural: “Moriah” (14.20 – Season Finale) 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. 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.

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Longish recap to “Carry On Wayward Son” that teases us with a bit of Dean!Michael before boring the crap out of us with how terrible the entire Jack storyline was.

Cut to Now and that cliffhanger some optimistic fans were all abuzz about last week, with Jack busting out of the Ma’lak Box. Yeah, about that. Jack whines that TFW lied to him, tosses them into some bookshelves (I really hate that he trashed their archive, but at least the library upstairs is intact), and … anticlimactically flies off.

Yeah. I know. That’s what you waited a week for. Sorry.

In the aftermath of getting themselves up and dusting themselves off, and handwaving why Jack was able to bust out of the unbustable box (I doubt we’ll get anything more satisfying than that), Dean recovers first. He says they need to find Jack fast before he hurts anyone (else) and gank him. As far as locating Jack, Sam says that praying’s out now, for obvious reasons (I dunno, Sam. Jack’s pretty gullible. He might actually fall for that one twice).

Castiel gets pissy and tries to pick a fight with Dean (the world is not Twitter, Cas), but Dean shuts him down cold. Dean gives Castiel some much-needed home truths about how he always thought raising Jack was too dangerous, but no one listened to him. How Castiel knew Jack had broke bad, but he chose to stay quiet because he wanted the fantasy of a happy family so badly. After the past two weeks, Dean doesn’t have to add, “And now Mom’s dead.”

Furious, but unable to come up with a blistering retort (I’m sure he’ll think of one a week from now), Castiel shoves past Dean and stalks out the door.

Sam is upset, but Dean points out to him that as much as they cared about Jack, he’s a monster now and he’s hurting people. They have to stop him. Yeah, Sam. Starting thinking like a Hero again, for once. Save some people. Hunt some things.

Where’s Jack? He’s in a crowded public place. People are sitting around having inane conversations, in which he detects (or thinks he does, anyway) a lot of lies. He gets the “brilliant’ idea of making everyone tell the truth. Because that’s bound to end well.

Meanwhile, Sam is following up (by phone) on Dean’s idea of recruiting Rowena for a locator spell. She thinks it’s “dangerous,” but she’s in.

Dressed as FBI agents, the Brothers enter a tech company for facial software. This somehow leads to Sam responding to Dean’s usual grumping about “nerds” that Dean is the biggest nerd of all and he even watches Jeopardy every night. Which, okay, cute, I guess, but it seems very out of place.

Dean then introduces himself to the receptionist and says he’s looking for “the Devil’s son.” So, I guess that anti-lying mojo is working on Dean now.

Dean scampers off to Sam, who is being puzzled by two coworkers admitting to each other that one is sleeping with the other one’s wife and the other one doesn’t care. Dean asks Sam who his favorite singer is (Sam always says Elvis, but Dean knows that’s a lie) and Sam is shocked when he’s forced to admit it.

At that moment, all Hell breaks loose in the office as various people start admitting their biggest grievances to each other. I kinda like the lady who’s going around, stealing staplers and gloating, “I’m the Stapler Queen!”

The Brothers quickly step into a conference room, where a TV announcer on the wall is reporting on Trump having just made a full and public confession about his tax records and connections to Russia. Also, seems he made a deal with Crowley. Oh, and her co-anchor confesses his love or her. Seems the spell in question is universal.

Now that he’s been forced to confess that his favorite singer is Celine Dion, Sam’s fully on board with tracking Jack down before he does any more damage.

Meanwhile, Castiel is in an alley, trying to talk to a demon about going to Hell and studying the Cage. The demon refuses, but a voice behind Castiel changes and ups the entire game. When he turns around, he sees Chuck. Chuck allows that TFW might just be boned.

Chuck says he came because of Castiel’s prayer (in the warehouse, when he found Joshua’s new version of the Amulet). And because Jack has become “a problem.” Because of course he did. [eyeroll]

Meanwhile, Jack is knocking on his grandmother’s door and barges his way in. He doesn’t notice the signals that she doesn’t want him around. He says he wants to talk more about Kelly. Well, he gets a lot more than he bargained for when his grandmother reveals she knows he lied to her before (karma sucks, doesn’t it, Jack?). She screams at him, demanding to know what he did to her daughter and is Kelly dead?

Jack, still having no learning curve, gets mad. His eyes glow yellow and he shouts, “STOP!” Because of course he does. Why would he accept any consequences for his own actions? He’s miserably failed at that so far.

Back at the tech office, Dean is discovering that the internet has gone awfully quiet, save for those folks admitting their lives aren’t nearly as neat as they claimed. Sam is using face recognition software to locate Jack. Out in the office, mayhem continues as Castiel and Chuck show up.

Chuck goes into a little rant about how people need to lie. “It keeps the peace.” He says he’s a writer and writers lie, so he should know. In case that sounds vaguely familiar, that’s this episode’s writer, Andrew Dabb, riffing on the late, great Ursula K. LeGuin (“a novelist’s business is lying“) and sucking hard at it.

Chuck and Castiel come in to a shocked Dean and Sam. Ignoring Dean’s questions at first, Chuck sits down with a guitar for a song. Dean, channeling half the audience (at least), grabs the guitar and smashes it, Pete Townshend-style, on the floor. When Dean gets in Chuck’s face, Chuck gets mad, but it doesn’t let him off the hook. In fact, it unites Sam and Castiel remarkably quickly at Dean’s back, especially once Chuck snaps them back to the Bunker.

Chuck starts burbling on about being a deus ex machina, but it falls on stony ground. Sam says he’s with Dean – he wants answers. And Castiel just looks pissed off. Yes, he looks like that a lot this episode.

Chuck is “charmingly” vague about questions where he’s been. When Dean asks him about Amara, he claims she was with him, at least most of the way, and is currently in Reno. No one believes him. Finally pinned down (or so it appears) on the question of why he’s here now, he says he only shows up for actual apocalypses, not ordinary stuff (like the Leviathans, or the “weak” LoL) and Jack is an apocalypse. For proof, Chuck waves a hand and we hear a lot of paranoid radio chatter from around the world.

By the way, we just saw Jack exit his grandmother’s house in a hurry, leaving the door wide open and Grandma nowhere to be seen.

Castiel asks if Chuck can fix it. Chuck says sure. He snaps his fingers and says, “Fixed … like it never happened.” Dean tests it by saying “Celine Dion rocks” and then assures everyone that yep, they can lie again. Back in the tech office, all is normal again, and a guy is ranting about someone stealing his yogurt while another guy is sitting at his own desk, eating said yogurt.

Chuck then fangirls Jack and his powers a bit (because of course he does). He then says Jack has to go, but Chuck can’t do it (for reasons), though the Brothers can. And he has just the thing. A silvery, rather creepy-looking pistol appears on the map table.

Chuck says the gun will kill anything. He says he’s thinking of calling it “The Equalizer” or “The Hammurabi.” The stony silence from the other side of the room deepens. Dean picks the gun up as Sam asks why Chuck didn’t bring it to them before. He says he just invented it, that’s why. Sam asks how do they know it will work? Chuck says of course it will work. He made it.

Dean says there are no bullets. Chuck technobabbles about “balance” in the universe and quantum bubbles and stuff. Sam (who is just so very done at this point with Chuck, after fangirling him for near a decade and a half) tells him to “get to the point.” Chuck says that whatever happens to the person/being you shoot, also happens to you. And since he can’t die without the entire Multiverse dying, he can’t use it on Jack.

Castiel asks why Chuck can’t just give Jack his soul back. Chuck claims it’s complicated, that souls are complicated. Castiel says, well, maybe they can just put Jack in the Cage until they find another solution (because I’m sure that would work as well as the Ma’lak Box).

Dean cuts him off by saying there’s no other way, while holding the gun. Castiel snarls that Billie said that Dean had to go in the Ma’lak Box, too, and look how that turned out. You know, I get that Dabb thinks he’s acknowledging that loose end here, but that somehow makes it worse that he knew perfectly well he was dropping that plot and chose to give us this load of horseshit, instead.

Also, we’re halfway through and so far, almost nothing has happened except a whole lot of infodump.

Chuck starts muttering angrily about how the previous Death was much more hands-off and Billie is too active for his tastes. That makes me just a little bit suspicious because why would he care?

Anyhoo, Dean tells Castiel to suck it up and deal or “walk away.” Castiel walks away. Meanwhile, Jack is walking down the street, remembering that he probably killed his grandmother.

In the next scene, Sam comes in on Dean drinking. Dean has already decided he will be the one to pull the trigger and die, along with Jack. Sam starts to whine that Jack is still saveable, that he did all those things because he didn’t have a soul. But Sam doesn’t seem to get that Jack can’t get that soul back, so that’s irrelevant. Really, how many people – how many women who are mothers to him – does Jack have to murder before Sam admits that maybe Jack needs to face some fucking consequences for once?

I mean, I really hate Sam in this scene. He is so casually misogynistic, so casually dismissive even of the death of his own mother, just so long as he can play Daddy to Jack. And on top of that, he’s busy guilt-tripping Dean about killing himself to kill Jack, because he’s “already lost too much.” Wow. Sam is breathtakingly selfish, isn’t he?

Anyhoo, Castiel has driven to some cemetery, where Jack flies in behind him. Castiel turns and hugs him. I am so very over Jack. Can’t he just go away forever now?

Back at the Bunker, Sam comes out into the Library to find Chuck playing with the archangel blade. Chuck asks Sam where he got it (as if Chuck wouldn’t know) and Sam just says, “Another world.” Sam asks Chuck about the other realities. Chuck says he’s “lost count … one’s in reverse. One’s in all-yellow. And one is just all squirrels.” So, all Deans, then?

Sam brings up that alt-Michael claimed Chuck made and discarded these worlds like “failed drafts.” Chuck claims that this Sam and Dean are the “most interesting” of all the Sams and Deans in the Multiverse.

Back to the cemetery, Jack is telling Castiel about his visit to his grandmother. He says she told him he killed Kelly, which he did. He says that used to bother him, but he doesn’t feel anything, anymore (except that both the script and the acting Show him feeling all sorts of things). We get the rest of the flashback, in which she saw his glowing eyes and exclaimed, “What are you?!” In the flashback, Jack has a moment of clarity and “runs away,” instead of hurting her. Castiel is all proud of him, because I guess the many other people Jack’s killed don’t matter.

In the Library, Sam asks if Chuck is watching them all the time and Chuck gets all creepy-nostalgic and says, “Yeah.” With a smile. Like his smile when Castiel stormed out. I don’t like that smile. Chuck says, “You’re my favorite show.”

Sam says that if he had Chuck’s power, he’d … well, what, Sam? Your track record with superpowers blows chunks, dude. Chuck says he can’t intervene. Only Sam and Dean can: “You’re my guys.”

Then he says something really humiliating for Sam, even as Sam guesses (but is it accurate?) that Chuck is afraid of Jack and knows where Jack is – he points out that Dean has already left to go kill Jack.

At the cemetery, Jack is still claiming that killing Mary was an accident. He claims to try to “do the right thing,” except for being “led astray” by Duma. He admits that whenever he tries to do things right, he screws up.

Castiel, like the kind of indulgent parent who needs a good talking-to from Supernanny, keeps saying that if only they could go away somewhere and “fix this.” This show has done such an excellent job of ruining Castiel this season, all in favor of blowing sunshine up Jack’s ass.

When Dean shows up with the gun, though, Jack tosses Castiel across the cemetery and kneels down so Dean can shoot him.

Castiel gets up and starts yelling at Dean, even as Sam is running through the cemetery, yelling at Dean (there doesn’t see to be any concern from either of them for Dean, just Jack), and Jack says, “I understand.”

Jack admits that he’s a “monster,” even as Chuck shows up and Sam realizes that Chuck is “enjoying this.”

But Dean hesitates and then, he tosses the gun aside.

At that moment, Chuck gets mad. It’s not how “the story” is supposed to go. This is a case of Abraham and Isaac, “of a father killing his son … it’s epic!” At that moment, Sam voices all of his growing misgivings throughout the episode about Chuck – “He’s been playing us, all our lives.”

Chuck: Dean, no offense, but your brother is stupid and crazy.

Castiel is pretty pissed (yes, I know, but he actually gets angrier in this scene), but it’s Dean who gets a really ugly look as he realizes he was being set up for assassination. That’s probably the most interesting part of the episode – that Chuck wanted Dean to die, but couldn’t – or wouldn’t – do it himself.

As he’s losing control over the situation, Chuck tries to bully-entice Dean into picking up the gun and shooting Jack by offering to bring Mary back and claiming that “the kid is still dangerous.”

Dean, realizing he’s been played, steps back from his greatest temptation, saying “No. My mom was my Hero. And I miss her. And I will miss her every second of my life. But she would not want this. And it’s not like you even really care.”

Dean gets a good rant going (why not? Everyone else got one this episode) about how Chuck has always known what was going on even back to the first apocalypse. He could always change it, but chose not to. Sam backs Dean up, though he does kinda step on Dean’s groove a bit.

But what happens next is interesting because Chuck basically ignores Sam and tries to shmooze Dean. It’s only when Dean tells him to go the Hell that Chuck decides he’s done. He snaps his fingers. And guess what? He’s totally capable of smiting Jack by remote. Easy as pie.

Dean tries to stop him, but gets knocked through a tombstone. Sam picks up the gun and shoots Chuck (the Dramatic Reenactment we get after commercial is embarrassingly cheesy), but it just bounces off Chuck and hits Sam in the shoulder like a real bullet.

Chuck: Fine. That the way you want it? Story’s over. Welcome to the end.

And Dean finds himself in the dark in the graveyard. It’s suddenly night. Sam and Castiel are still there. Sam’s still been shot, though he’s okay. Jack is dead, his eyes burned out of his head.

Dean says, confused, that Chuck said only the gun could kill Jack. “He’s a writer,” Castiel says, kneeling by Jack. “Writers lie.” Watch out for those anvils, kids. They’re heavy this week.

But alas, we’re not done with Jack Sue. To the tune of Motörhead’s “God Was Never on Your Side,” Jack wakes up in the Empty to meet the Empty Entity itself (which makes a benediction over him and chuckles) and Billie flying in for a chat. Because of course they do. [eyeroll]

Back on earth, the Brothers and Castiel witness souls blasting out of of glowing rifts in the ground. Castiel infodumps that they are souls from Hell. Shouldn’t they be demons, then? But instead, we have the Woman in White (from the Pilot) accosting a motorist, John Wayne Gacy’s ghost showing up at the door to a kid’s party (even though his thing was young gay boys), and Bloody Mary (also from season one) appearing in a mirror in the room of two young girls. Which, again, is nice and all, but the WiW and Mary really ought to be demons by now. Really.

Also, in the midst of exploding tombstones, zombies appear to menace the Brothers and Castiel. It’s all epically stupid as Castiel pulls out his angel blade and Dean grabs some iron from a rusty gate, handing some to Sam. All to Classic Rock we apparently couldn’t afford most of the season. The zombies converge on the three of them.

Credits.

Ratings for this week were pretty bad and didn’t experience the usual season finale bounce, with a 0.3/2 and 1.30 million. Even so, the show still far outstripped most of the other shows on the CW, which can’t even muster 1 million at this point.

No preview for next week, obviously, since that won’t be until October.

Review

Well, this was quite terrible, wasn’t it? Not to mention dull. There was a great deal of talking and very little action. One character (Rowena) was mentioned for a bit and then dropped. Another character who had been prominent the past few episodes (Fauxifer), and who should have been around, was simply forgotten. You may have noticed that almost everything (except for the office set) occurred in the Bunker or that graveyard. I guess Classic Rock and some zombie makeup’s too expensive to justify the cost of any decent fight choreography, or, hell, anything happening beyond a whole lot of infodumpy dialogue. Don’t bother to get excited about the biblical implications of the title, since they were spelled for all of a hot minute.

On Twitter, I compared it to a mess of moldy spaghetti tossed at the wall. They actually started the season with a good premise (Dean possessed by alt-Michael), but then floundered because they basically didn’t know what to do with it. I can pretty much guarantee you that if they flubbed the Michael storyline, the same writers will flub the EVOL!Chuck storyline because the problem will remain the same – the Big Bad is too Big and too Bad for Our Heroes to vanquish. It was actually easier with Michael because they had Dean and Dean was fighting from within, but nope. They went the very stupid Soulless!Jack route, instead.

Also, those who have been crowing about getting to see the same old MOTWs the Brothers had previously vanquished, again, think very hard about how well it’s gone of late with this current writing crew and old, iconic characters – very old and very iconic characters – that they brought back. For example, those who were looking forward to seeing Chuck again, just how happy are you today?

This show needs new showrunners and new writers, stat, but it’s probably not going to get any at this point in the game. And that’s too bad. The show deserved a better final season than it’s probably going to get. I really hope I’m wrong, but … well … it’s not as though this season finale was good. It also actually managed to make “Swan Song” look even worse. Didn’t think that was possible, but there you go.

But before we get into why, let me just put forward this spec. Let’s say that those of you who are thinking Chuck wasn’t really Chuck this episode (as opposed to written completely out of character, though both things can be simultaneously true) are correct. Who is this Chuck, then? Could it be he’s the Empty Entity? His characterization is more appropriate for that character, last we saw it, don’t you think?

But, you may ask, who was the being (beside Death) who greeted Jack in the Empty? Some have speculated that it was Gabriel, but I have another idea. What if it was Chuck?

This would explain a lot of things and might even make Jack less of a Gary Stu (since he’d be the first of TFW, such as he is, to arrive in the Empty, so Chuck and Billie are just taking what they can get). It would explain why “Chuck” was so much more nihilistic than before. Mind you, I think he always had that potential, and that’s why I hated the idea of his being God in the first place, but his demeanor and attitude toward the Brothers has either changed or he’s just being more honest. Or he’s not Chuck.

It explains why he would play mind games and try to get TFW to kill Jack when he could have done it at any time (you could argue that he killed Jack because Jack was the biggest threat to him, but if Jack were any kind of threat, Chuck wouldn’t have been able to smite him like that). It explains why he had a beef with Jack in the first place. There’s never been any indication Chuck gave a rat’s ass one way or the other about Jack, seeing as how he did nothing about his birth, the alternate universes, or any of that.

The Empty Entity, on the other hand, wanted Jack in the Empty just a few episodes ago. It explains why he was so moody (Chuck was a lot of things, previously, but moody was never one of them). It explains why he was so not-so-secretly sadistic (which we know the Empty Entity is). It even explains the nature of the new gun, the rant about “balance” (since when did Chuck care about that?), the strange absence of Amara, the changing Jack’s spell of compulsive honesty back to quotidian lying, and the sudden rage toward Billie and her “meddling.”

What it doesn’t explain is why Chuck (or “Chuck”) wanted Dean dead, too, because that was as cold-blooded an assassination attempt (of Dean) as this show has ever done. Or why Chuck didn’t just flat-out kill Dean when Dean refused, but had no problem killing Jack. And alas, even if the above theory is correct, that doesn’t mean the writers will do it any justice, whatsoever.

Which brings us back to the review.

There was some nice acting, especially from Jensen Ackles. And Jared Padalecki got something substantial to chew on with Sam’s growing realization that Chuck was a rotter. This particular journey actually fitted Sam best, since Sam is the brother who has had the most faith in God, has prayed to Him, and has had the most faith in Him. Dean has always been angry with God (and even began the series as a sort of atheistic pagan who didn’t believe in a universal deity, let alone a benevolent one). There’s more dramatic charge in Sam coming to this conclusion after a lifetime of belief and devotion, than Dean, since Dean’s already naturally inclined toward it. I mean, Dean was right all along about Chuck. Go figure.

Unfortunately, the acting can’t save the writing (or the direction). You’ll note that I didn’t mention Misha Collins or Alex Calvert. It’s not because they’re bad actors, but because they basically get nothing of substance to do here. As I said in the recap, Castiel spends most of the episode pissed off (usually at Dean) and poor Calvert is once again stuck with Telling the audience that Jack has no emotions (because he has no soul) while clearly Showing (due to the writing and probably the direction) that actually, Jack’s biggest problem is his emotions and his utter failure to control them without hurting someone. Over and over and over again.

I continue to believe that Jack is unsalvageable as a character. This episode just drove home why. So, no, I wasn’t thrilled to see his Speshul Sparkly Self waking up in the Empty and being visited by two Very Important People. I think he has just gone too far as a character, trampled too many moral lines, killed too many people, to come back from that.

Even Jack’s biggest stans implicitly acknowledge he has something he’s done to the main characters that may not be forgiveable when such fans try instead to transfer that moral charge onto blaming Dean (who is the current surviving victim of Jack’s rampage least likely to indulge him with a forgiveness he really doesn’t deserve). Somebody’s gotta pay, so if it’s not Jack, it’s got to be his “unreasonable” victim. Essentially, it’s just an extension of fans who bought the idea (put forward by Jack himself) that Mary caused her own death by making Jack mad (which, as I said a couple of weeks ago, is Abuser Logic).

Unfortunately, the show itself is at its most emotionally dishonest when having other characters deal with Jack (there’s also that bullshit “Writers lie” thing, but we’ll get to that in a minute). Dean’s character is the least muddy in his emotional arc, though we see his actions through a glass darkly and he has a last-minute change of heart that’s poorly mapped. Having Jack have a sudden and unlikely epiphany (after nearly fridging yet another biological mother figure) that he’s EVOL is, of course, emotionally manipulative, intended to woobie Jack, handwave Jack’s crimes (and they are crimes) to this point, and make Dean look like a big meanie. Again, Abuser Logic.

Less understandable are Sam’s (and especially Castiel’s) overly indulgent attitudes toward Jack, even to the point of ignoring the horrible things Jack has done, including to people they loved. It doesn’t help that the show has written Sam and Castiel for two years as invested in fostering Jack as much as for reasons of pride and ego as for altruism. But even that low bar doesn’t excuse their throwing over a 14-season and 10-season obsession (respectively) with Dean in favor of a character they’ve known for a hot minute, relatively speaking, and who is the son of their worst enemy. I don’t buy that and the show doesn’t even try to make it look plausible. Dabb & Co. just Cousin Oliver it all the way down the line.

So, let’s wrap up with that idiotic “Writers lie” theme. As I said before, it probably comes from a quote by Ursula K. Le Guin, “A novelist’s business is lying,” which this quite-thoughtful essay on her speculates comes originally from Picasso’s quote, “Art is a lie which makes us realize the truth.”

Now, Picasso was, by all accounts, a pompous asshole (and probably an emotional vampire), but he was a talented asshole and in this case, he’s quite right. Great writers don’t just lie to lie. They lie to get at important truths they might not otherwise be able to articulate. I’m going to quote myself from Twitter again (sorry), this time in response to Andrew Dabb’s nonsense about how “writers lie.”

Me: Bad writers lie. Average writers lie pretty. Good writers engage audiences with the truth. Great writers inspire others with the truth.

Also, in context, Le Guin isn’t just saying that writers (well, novelists) lie. She said it in her forward to The Left Hand of Darkness (not my favorite of her books, though I did love some of her others), in response to the idea that science fiction writers should write predictions of the future in their stories. Le Guin was saying that we writers actually are using science fiction to comment on our present. We’re not seers. Don’t put us on a pedestal. We can only present our own, personal truth.

Which is pretty much the opposite of writing a show where the God character is a douchey alter ego to the shallow and self-indulgent writers. That is a cheat, a mean spirited prank on the audience, and poor repayment for our support of the show. Don’t forget that these writers see us all as Becky Rosen.

See you next week with a retro review.


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: “Jack in the Box” (14.19) Live Recap Thread


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Quick recap of what a raging dumpster fire of a storyline this whole Jack thing has been of late.

FYI, my part of the state is under a major tornado watch and we’ve had warnings for hours. So, if my power goes out, it goes out. Sorry.

Anyhoo, cut to Now and … hey, remember how there was a whole storyline involving the Hunters Sam organized and trained from the alt-SPNverse who got killed by Michael and then Jack killed him?

Yeah, well, the Bunker is now filled with beer-swilling Hunters whom we haven’t seen for weeks because reasons. Some of them are even survivors from the alt-SPNverse (though no alt-Charlie, because I guess she didn’t care about Mary). Who got massacred besides Maggie a few weeks ago? Who knows? Buck-Leming sure don’t remember.

Yep. It’s a Nepotism Duo episode. I’d better go get some booze.

It’s a Hunter’s wake for Mary. Remember that female Hunter from back when Jack was so sick, who I was hoping would survive? She’s there. Let’s hope these two louses don’t redshirt her.

Dean, Sam and Castiel come in, and Dean gives a speech thanking everyone for coming. As Sam broods beside him and Castiel looks mighty uncomfortable, Dean acknowledges that Mary knew and touched a lot more people than her immediate family, people who might want a space to grieve for her. He praises her Hunting skills while getting some chuckles for talking about her stubbornness and her inability to cook. He just about makes it through the speech without breaking down. Then he and Sam and everyone but Castiel toast her.

Jack, of course, is conspicuously absent. And unmentioned.

The gathering is abruptly and bloodily broken up when a hatchet sails through the air and lands in the head of one of the Hunters. The wielder turns out to be alt-Bobby, fashionably late, and the victim a Wraith-in-disguise with whom Bobby and Mary had tangled during their last Hunt. The body is unceremoniously dragged off while Bobby explains that the Wraith probably stopped by to gloat (and also to search for victims, I’ll bet. This could have been a good MOTW, but ah, well).

Castiel notes that Mary would have appreciated a monster showing up at her wake to get ganked. When Sam comes in, Bobby asks how he is. Sam says not so good. When Bobby asks how Dean is (as Dean comes in to pack up Mary’s photos and such from the wake), Sam says he’s not sure. Bobby says that maybe Dean is like him and doesn’t like to cry in public.

Sam asks Dean if they shouldn’t open a bottle of whiskey and “talk about Mom.” Dean just looks at him as if he’s got five heads and says, isn’t that what they’ve been doing? It’s always struck me how Sam is a bit cold and doesn’t deal with people well emotionally when they’re right in front him. He did a similar thing with John – basically fighting with him when John was alive and then getting all maudlin about him once he was gone. He was similarly arm’s-length with Mary. Even when they were hanging out, there was a part of Sam that seemed detached.

So, not a huge surprise that he’s now getting maudlin over her photos with Bobby, while Dean is nowhere to be seen.

Just as Bobby is starting to ask what Jack did, Dean walks in. Sam and Bobby invite Dean to have a drink when he says he needs one, but he says he needs to go do some stuff alone. Sam says they need to talk about Jack. Dean says they will – later. He leaves.

Bobby gets back on-topic. He says that he liked Jack and even fought with him, but if Jack has truly lost his soul, then he’s basically “Lucifer” now and there’s only one thing to do. “An unstoppable monster who don’t know right from wrong gets put down – or the closest we can get to it. And anybody who don’t know that needs to go back to school.”

Castiel objects, saying that Jack didn’t know any better, or intend to kill Mary, while Sam looks pensive, but Bobby’s not impressed. Neither am I, to be honest. Bobby’s right. Bobby leaves to go gather the mob with pitchforks. We may or may not see him again this week.

Cut to a random warehouse, where Jack is remembering his last conversation with Mary and how it turned out. Jack moans for her to come back, saying that he needs her there to tell him “what to do.”

Fauxifer shows up (because I’m sure we were all just gagging to see this character again). He starts nagging Jack that the Winchesters never loved him, but he is part of Jack’s “DNA” and in that sense, he’s “real” (I’m still suspicious that this is the real Lucifer, or maybe Michael, who is slowly taking Jack over from the inside). Anyhoo, despite his rather weak protests, Jack gives far too much credence to Fauxifer’s claims that his bio daddy loved him. Last time Jack talked to his bio daddy, Lucifer stole his grace and was standing by, smiling, while Jack was stabbing himself to death.

Then again, this entire “soulless” storyline where Jack doesn’t feel any emotions makes no damned sense when Jack obviously does feel emotions and lots of them. In fact, his anger and guilt are precisely what are making him so dangerously unstable at this point. Well, that, and his pride and arrogance.

Jack thinks he can go back to Sam and Dean, and explain to them that Mary’s murder was “an accident.” Fauxifer tells him that they “hate” him (which is about the only thing I agree with Fauxifer on, since Dean certainly does) and that “they don’t even want you as their pet, anymore.” Then he disappears.

Cut to a no-dialogue dramatic shot in the woods at night, of Dean sitting on a stump, sobbing uncontrollably. It’s great acting, but it only lasts 33 seconds, which ain’t long enough by any stretch to save this episode.

Also, I can’t help feeling a bit salty about the story Jensen Ackles told that he had to sit in the woods, freezing, for take after take, because the shot was “cinematic.” Everyone else get to film indoors, but not him. Gee, I wonder why he wants to quit, seeing as how the show has been pulling this crap on him from the beginning.

Anyhoo, this is a pretty important scene, however short. Fauxifer makes it sound as though the Winchesters are petty and sick of Jack, that they tossed him away like a broken toy as soon as he made an honest mistake.

But this scene shows the devastation Jack actually caused. That he took a mother away from her sons (after they’d lost her at a young age and gotten her back after many years). And now one of those sons is sitting on a stump in the middle of the friggin’ woods, crying inconsolably, wounded beyond measure by Jack’s actions.

Jack has wings. He could find Dean, talk to him alone, if he really wanted to make amends, but he’s not there. He was conspicuously absent at Mary’s wake and he’s conspicuously absent here.

Now we go up to Heaven, where Castiel is bugging Duma about where Naomi is. Um … last week, Castiel had to beg just to speak to Duma at the gate of Heaven. Now he can just walk in? These writers, I swear. Get yer canon straight, Nep Duo.

When pressed, Duma claims that Naomi screwed up by “allowing” the Empty Entity into Heaven, so the angels (well, Duma) locked her away. Now Duma is running Heaven because apparently, these same writers have forgotten that Duma got possessed by the Empty Entity during its time in Heaven. Also, the fact that Heaven can’t afford to lose any more angels because there are hardly any left is not mentioned. In fact, Heaven doesn’t see to be suffering any more power outages at all.

Oh, and according to Duma, there are no more archangels because apparently Buck-Leming even forgot about “our” Michael in the Cage.

These two writers give me such a headache.

Castiel beats around the bush a bit and then admits he’s trying to find Jack and that Jack has burned away all of his soul (remember when Jack’s soul and grace needed to exist in balance or he’d die?Yeah … the writers don’t).

Duma thinks this is ironic. Castiel keeps blabbing, admitting that Jack has fled the Winchesters, who are very, very angry with him (Duma notes that this is indeed something to fear), and that he’s become very powerful since killing alt-Michael, but that he needs “guidance.” Duma just walks away, saying “See what I can do.”

Castiel finally gets a look of dawning comprehension that maybe trusting Duma, of all people, with such information wasn’t the smartest choice he ever made.

In the Bunker, Sam is working on his computer when Dean comes in. Dean deflects any question about how he’s feeling. Sam mentions that “Bobby and his crew” are looking for Jack. He and Dean need to find Jack before –

“He kills them all?” Dean asks. Sam looks uncomfortable and says he doesn’t know.

Sam then says he’s been thinking about Mary (see? Arm’s length). He says that most people don’t know how the SPNverse works, that they have to operate on faith. He and Dean know how things really work, that God and angels are real, and so is Heaven.

Dean: God writes paperback books in his underwear, okay? And angels are dicks.

Sam persists, saying that at least he and Dean know Mary is “in a better place” with John.

Dean: Hmm. You know what else? There wasn’t even enough left of her to even try to bring her back.

Yeah, Dean’s not putting up with Sam’s “Try to Look on the Bright Side of Life” approach this week. Did the Nep Duo even notice this episode would be coming out on Maundy Thursday?

Still hanging out in the warehouse, Jack gets a visit from Duma (who somehow found him and was able to get there really quickly without wings. I’ll bet the Nep Duo just plain forgot). Duma is oily as salad dressing. Cleverly leaving out the fact that she refused to let Castiel bring Mary back to earth, she claims that Mary’s death wasn’t his fault. Her mask starts to slip when she goes off on a little rant about how everything was fine until God left and then it all fell apart. But Jack has a “glorious destiny” getting Heaven back on track. Sure. As a battery, maybe.

Jack, being Jack, is dumb enough to believe her.

The first visit on Duma’s intended itinerary is to visit a skeptic who writes atheistic tracts. Duma calls this heresy. Jack’s (truthful) claims that Heaven exists and Jack’s grandfather is God makes the guy laugh. Duma says he can save himself by writing a recantation of his works. The guy, of course, refuses and goes to call security.

At that point, Jack TKs the guy’s phone off the desk. Then he turns the guy into a pillar of salt. While smiling pleasantly. Duma, out of focus behind him, looks a bit uncomfortable, but no omelets without broken eggs, I guess.

Incidentally, for those of you still arguing whether Jack committed murder when he killed Mary, what he does to this guy is murder. And it’s his second. He tortured Nick to death, remember? And he enjoys it.

Castiel goes back to the Bunker and tells the Brothers about what Duma told him, how Heaven is going to help find Jack. Written like a complete moron, Castiel insists to the skeptical Brothers that Heaven is as worried about Jack as he is, but gets worried when Sam pulls up a news story about Doomed Previous Scene Skeptic. Castiel then hands off the Idiot Ball to Dean so that he can infodump for the audience about Lot’s wife being turned into a pillar of salt. Other fans have already pointed out, repeatedly, that Dean mentions that story when first meeting God. So, yeah. Idiot Ball.

Castiel then claims that “no ordinary angel” could turn a human into a table condiment. Hmm, really? ‘Cause I seem to recall Balthazar using a proto-Hand of God to do just that to Raphael’s vessel in season six. But silly me – whyever would these two writers, who are being paid thousands and thousands of dollars to write this script and oversee the Writers Room, actually bother to watch their own show?

Sam moves on to another victim, this time a woman (a fake faith healer) who fell into a crack in the earth and was killed. If anyone’s keeping count, that’s now four murders on Jack’s roster and I’ll bet he enjoyed that one, too. Castiel identifies this one from the Book of Numbers.

Dean says, well, either Chuck’s back (which he doesn’t see happening) or it’s Jack.

Cut to Heaven, where Duma is dodging around Jack’s questions about how impressed and happy the Brothers will be (I just want to note that so far, Jack doesn’t seem to have mentioned Castiel even once – just Sam and Dean). Anyhoo, Duma has more ambitious plans. She wants Jack to make angels. She admits that Jack is not as powerful as God, in that he can’t just “make them out of thin air,” but he can “forge” them out of the souls of “predisposed” people. I’m guessing she means humans who were bred to be vessels. Damn, I miss Dean’s Michael storyline.

Jack thinks this is fine, still smiling. Duma takes him to God’s throne room, saying that his “grandfather” (Chuck) used to sit there and listen to people’s prayers. The Nep Duo apparently forgot that any angel can hear human prayers, from anywhere. Seems Jack can’t hear them unless he sits on Chuck’s throne and “concentrates.”

As he listens, he hears a prayer group full of potential victims – sorry, Christians – praying in thanksgiving to God. They all look perky and dumb. Because these writers despise Christians just as much as they do atheists. They’re equal opportunity in their smug contempt.

As they’re wrapping up, and the woman leading the group says that the Pastor is coming by, Jack flies in. Jack looks more and more insufferable. He starts in on a spiel about whether they were sincere in wanting to go to Heaven and become angels. The latter is actually heretical and the Nepotism Duo would have known that if they’d watched the priest’s speech to his dead colleague in “Houses of the Holy.” Oh, but I forgot – these two can’t be arsed to watch their own show, let alone pay any attention to other writers’ canon.

Anyhoo, the group all agree they’d love to see that, like a bunch of bobbleheads. Jack’s eyes then glow and thunder rumbles outside. Everybody looks confused more than scared and they gasp in awe when Jack shows his wings. When he tells them to “come with me to Heaven,” they’re all for it. Because they’re Plot Stupid.

The Pastor makes the mistake of walking in at that point and getting into an argument with Jack. Jack makes worms eat him from the inside, then takes the group to Heaven.

Oh, but I forgot – Jack’s just a poor, misunderstood woobie. [all the eyerolls]

The Pastor fortunately survives, but he’s in the hospital when the Brothers show up in their FBI suits. They get the whole story from him. He also says that Jack said “he was carrying out Heaven’s orders and that I wasn’t a believer.”

Castiel looks upset and when they come back out of the room, he quotes from the Bible about worms. Oh, and the Pastor didn’t survive, after all. After they leave, he gets eaten up by more worms.

Back at the Bunker, Dean says they only have one option. He shows Sam the Ma’lak Box. Dean says that Jack has to go in of his own free will, but they have to trick him. Sam has issues with “lying” to Jack, because I guess he’s okay with letting Jack fly around, murdering innocent people on Heaven’s orders. Oh, Sam, you never change.

Well, Dean’s not interested in listening to Sam’s nonsense this week. He tells Sam that he has to be the Judas Goat because he’s always stood up for Jack, but Sam has to be willing to do it. Dean’s not going to force him. After some intestinal discomfort, Sam agrees.

At the Heaven’s Gate playground, Castiel approaches an angel wearing a homeless black guy at night in the rain (sure are a lot more angels left than there used to be). Calling him Aramiel, Castiel says he needs to get into Heaven. Aramiel (shocker) tells him he’s banned again, then pulls out an angel blade.

Well, up in Heaven, Jack is turning humans into “angels” without a single issue about the fact that he’s basically doing the same thing to them that happened to him. Is what this is like how Lily Sunder used her soul? That’s not gonna work out too well and these people won’t last long. But then, who even knows if these writers remember all that complex stuff that was only a few episodes ago.

Aramiel shows up in the middle of the process, to the annoyance of Duma. She fakes enthusiasm when Aramiel is tossed aside and it turns out Castiel frog-marched him into Heaven. Jack is all smiley to see him after pretending he didn’t exist for most of the episode.

Castiel asks to see Duma outside. Like a moron, she goes. I’m sure this will end well. Out in the hallway (I really preferred the more naturalistic imagery of season five’s “Dark Side of the Moon”), Castiel admits that he forced Aramiel to tell him about Duma’s big plan to “solidify” her control over Heaven by using Jack. Castiel keeps going on about how Jack is just a child who needs guidance (I am so sick of this line and it makes Castiel look really stupid).

Duma goes off on her own megalomaniac rant about how she’s making Heaven great again. Then she makes a huge mistake – she threatens to end the heaven of Mary and John. When she asks what Castiel is going to do about it, he just stabs her.

Not that I’m going to miss Duma or anything (she was pretty bland), but isn’t Heaven already about to collapse onto earth with billions of souls due to a lack of angels? And if humans having their souls ignited into grace can become angels, why not use the billions of souls already in Heaven instead of looking on earth? God, this is all so very, very dumb.

Back at the Bunker, Sam is having doubts that “it” won’t work. “It” turns out to be praying to Jack. He prays some nonsense about how “bad things happen,” but the Brothers are willing to let bygones be bygones and please come back home.

Castiel is upset when Jack disappears from Heaven. Jack appears in the Bunker. Jack goes off on a fatuous speech about how he’s “helping Heaven purify the world.” About how he’s making new angels. He’s smugly proud of himself, but then declares that he missed Sam and Dean.

Dean is smiling, but it has an edge, while Sam warily paces behind him. Only Jack would be dumb enough not to notice that Dean wants to rip him to shreds (Castiel’s written like a complete moron this week, but even he would notice).

It’s all Dean can do not to rip Jack apart when Jack refers to Mary’s death as an “accident” and actually starts to veer into blaming her for her own murder. When they call him on it, he admits that no, it was him, but still tends to swerve into Blaming the Victim.
Jack is really hateable in this episode, looking smug and proud of himself, while claiming to feel regret for Mary’s death.

The Brothers spring their plan on him to go into the Ma’lak Box until they can fix his soul and dial down his powers. So he can’t hurt anyone (again, they don’t say, but it’s there). Dean lies to his face and so does Sam, about how the box is a temporary solution and they’ve got a more permanent one they can use why he goes into the box. When he asks how long it will be, Sam says, “Not too long.” The smile Dean gives Jack is just like Michael’s.

Well, Jack is dumb, so he gets in the box and lets them close the door. Dean does that and locks the locks. Remember that Dean made the box, so he’s the expert on it. Sam looks conflicted because yeah, Sam doesn’t really care that Jack’s a murderer of innocents.

As soon as he gets in, Jack has second thoughts and calls out to them outside the box because … well, it’s dumb. Afterward, they have that drink Sam talked about at the beginning of the episode and Sam feels bad. Dean tells him that they always knew “it was a long-shot with him.”

Inside the box, Jack starts to get upset, especially when Fauxifer appears to him and mocks him for being so dumb. It’s hard to tell through the colossally incompetent writing (Jack, for example, supposedly having no emotions while clearly operating on them), but it seems that if Jack’s subconscious were that smart, he’d never have been so dumb throughout this episode in the first place. So, I’m still leaning toward Fauxifer being real.

Castiel comes back, declaring that Jack is not really bad because Duma was manipulating him (conveniently leaving out the part where he killed her), and they have to find him. The Brothers tell him Jack is in the Ma’lak Box and they’re leaving him there.

Castiel gets mad because hey, only he gets to keep secrets and betray family (like Duma), amirite? While they bicker, Fauxifer gets Jack to bust his way out of the Ma’lak Box (because let’s just blow the shit out of even more canon). Jack blows up half the Bunker and as TFW rushes to the Dungeon, they find Jack, with glowing eyes, coming out of the smoke. Or maybe it’s Jack. Who even knows at this point?

Credits

Just FYI, since the Brothers are still here next week, you can expect this cliffhanger to get resolved as limply as the one where Jack “killed” Michael and re-upped his powers.

Ratings this week were down again (apparently, the general audience isn’t particularly wild about this storyline) to 0.3/2 and 1.28 million.

The promo, synopsis, photos and such are here.

Review

While watching “Jack in the Box,” I couldn’t help thinking that Padalecki, Ackles and Collins must have gotten this script not long before they called it quits – and wondering if this was the final straw for them. The writing’s that bad. If they looked at it and believed it wasn’t going to get any better (because they’d be stuck with these two incompetents for executive producers, not that Dabb’s much better), then that could have been it for them. If so, I’m sorry, but they may have a point because this episode was boring and incoherent in equal measure.

I really don’t want to watch this show if Jack is in it this year. I was already disenchanted with him weeks ago, but this was the final nail in the … uh … Ma’lak Box, as it were. Jack’s characterization was all over the place (ranging from devastated to smug), the Brothers were barely in the episode (especially egregious, since it should have been All About their grief, not woobying their mother’s murderer), and everyone got a turn at the Idiot Ball – except that Castiel got an extra few turns. At this point, I think Jack needs to fuck off back to the Land of Terrible Writing – sorry, the Empty – and never return.

I mean, it’s only one more season, so I can slog through it, but I’d really rather not do it that way. I’d like a good final season. I don’t see that happening as long as we’ve got Cousin Oliver/Scrappy-Doo around.

I’m reminded of a line from the movie Bull Durham, from a character who just came out of pitching a disaster of a baseball game: “It was like pouring gasoline on a fire!” That was this episode in a nutshell. I can’t even with Castiel, who was written like a complete moron and utter hypocrite. Not only does he slaughter yet another angel sibling (while babbling about the importance of family for how many episodes now?), but he lies about it to the Brothers and keeps insisting that they give Jack more and more rope. Boy, everybody forgot all about Jack wanting to kill Dean while Dean was possessed by Michael awful quick.

The writers have Sam, Dean and Castiel bicker over what is a really a pretty clear (though bleak) choice for no other reason than fake drama. What’s especially disturbing is how dismissive Sam and Castiel are of the murders Jack commits in this episode of innocent human beings. What happened to “saving people,” guys?

Castiel wants to believe that Jack would never have committed them if Duma hadn’t been manipulating him. But no one (as far as we know) was manipulating Jack when he murdered Nick and Mary, and the moment when he actually started to blame Mary for her own death, in front of her sons, was so very punchable. If Dean still had the Mark, Jack would have been nothing but a wet spot of blood on the floor after that, Nephilim powers or no.

Duma and her death represent two very unpleasant patterns in this storyline. First, there is the way Jack is treated and fawned over like spoiled royalty. Jack constantly puffing up over being Chuck’s “grandson” is especially ludicrous, considering Chuck made it clear in season 11 that he considers all of his creations his children – and that he prefers humans over angels. If anything, Jack is an extra step away from God, not toward. The funny thing is that this episode actually showed emphatically (again) that Jack is not God because he cannot create – he can only distort and destroy.

The overall effect makes me want someone to come in and knock him back down a peg, and I’d really prefer it be Dean. Too bad it didn’t take the first time, when Lucifer stole his powers. It’s infuriating to see almost everyone in-story blame Dean for not being “tolerant” when Jack is running around loose, murdering people and enjoying it. One of those victims was Dean’s mother. He has every right to be devastated, angry and vengeful. Just what show do these writers think they’re writing or some fans think they’re watching?

That’s a really frustrating part of this storyline. Jack supposedly was learning all these things about morality over the past two seasons and as soon as he “lost” his soul, he promptly forgot them all. His learning curve was completely erased. If Jack really can’t learn enough about being good to be able to navigate at least some way without a soul after two years, then he’s not really redeemable. And if he’s not redeemable, then Bobby and Dean are right – he’s gotta go.

The other pattern is disturbing in light of the justifications some fans want to give for Jack (vociferously, even). Jack is a cute little white boy who hurts people when he gets angry and then expects to be forgiven when he feels “sorry,” afterward. Sure, that’s not an abusive pattern, or anything.

His entire storyline has been propped up by discarded female characters. When they’re not being fridged to forward his storyline (like Kelly, Dagon, Maggie, Mary and Duma), they’re being threatened and diminished (like Kaia, Stacy and Rowena), or they’re being his mindless cheerleaders (like Duma and Mia Vallens). Dean gets blamed a lot for what happens to these characters, but it’s Jack who actually damages and discards them when he’s done with them. Some of these characters are Women of Color, too. Or LGBT.

I’m really tired of storylines where women only exist to prop up some boy.

And yet, there are fans who will excoriate the show (i.e., Dean) for being sexist, misogynistic, homophobic, even racist, while praising and defending Jack to the skies. I talked last week about the misogyny aimed at Mary as a character, how some fans (even female fans) were happy to blame her death on herself. This is a clear and unfortunate case of how invisible internalized misogyny can be, even among people who believe they are “woke.”

I sure hope the season finale (next week) doesn’t suck, but that hope may be forlorn. It’s not looking good. I’m almost glad the show was only 20 episodes this season.


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: “Absence” (14.18) Live Recap Thread


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We start with a recap of Jack’s Boring-Ass Super-Baby plot (including a bit about Jack declaring himself a Winchester), and of Nick trying to call Lucifer back from the Empty, and then what happened at the end of last week.

We then cut to the Brothers entering the Bunker, calling for Mary and Jack. I am so very sick and tired of the old “Meanwhile, back at the ranch” nonsense this show likes to pull, where they build up a tense cliffhanger and then cut away to something that completely drains off that tension.

Anyhoo, the Brothers are pretty okay with Mary and Jack’s absence (see what I did there?) – perhaps more than they should be, considering the way Jack zipped in and out after healing Sam – and counting their lucky stars over being grateful to Jack. At least, until Dean calls Mary and her phone buzzes next to her backpack at the end of the table, which they somehow managed not to notice until now. (Also, where the hell is Donatello? You know, the guy they spent last week rescuing?)

So, they call Jack.

Cut to Captain Dumbass himself, hearing his phone ring, and discovering (this is how many times now?) that great pride goeth before a very great fall.

Cue title cards.

Sam is calling around, trying to find Mary and Jack. He just got off the phone with Rowena (who says she has a finding spell in action) and had previously talked to Bobby, Charlie and Donna. Dean just got off the phone with Jody. Nobody has heard a thing.

Dean gets a call from Castiel, who is horrified to hear that Jack is out alone with Mary. Castiel tells Dean about Jack killing the snake and Dean hangs up on him. Dean tells Sam about the snake, but downplays it as not a big deal. His hanging up on Castiel says otherwise.

Sam decides to track Jack’s phone. They find out that Jack is flying all over the world to different places. Cut to Jack, who is back at the cabin where he fried Nick and did whatever to Mary (who still hasn’t shown up yet). After some flashbacks to remind us that Jack and Mary spent half of last season together in the alt-SPNverse, Jack is accosted by a familiar figure – Nickifer. Turns out he’s not real (or claims not to be). He’s just Jack’s Id. Or something.

I don’t know what kind of hard-on this show has going for Lucifer, but I wish they’d stop now.

Fauxifer lets the cat out of the bag – Jack has killed Mary. Jack claims it was an accident. Fauxifer says that’s wrong. Why isn’t Jack calling the Winchesters if he truly believes it’s something he can take back?

Jack yells at Fauxifer and makes him disappear. I’m sure that won’t last.

In the car, on their way to the cabin (which they’ve managed to pinpoint thanks to Jack’s phone), Sam dithers, trying to figure out what’s going on with Jack. Dean can’t take any more white noise and tells him to shut up.

They arrive at the cabin, late at night. Sam looks inside while Dean searches around outside. Sam finds a very dead Nick in the cabin (nice reaction shot from Jared Padalecki). Sam calls to Dean, who has found something potentially far worse – a whole part of the surrounding area that is nothing but gray ash. I’m guessing that ash is the mortal remains of one Mary Winchester.

Castiel in his car is having a flashback (these are in black-and-white) to hunting vampires with Mary. Mary miscounted the number of vampires and got beaten up (she has a black eye), but she took care of the third one. She’s eating while scratched up. When Castiel offers to heal her, she demurs. She admits to being still wary of angels and new to this resurrection thing.

Castiel tells her that Sam and Dean are happy to have her back, that finally, they’re no longer alone. Mary smiles when she looks at him, saying “They were never alone.”

Castiel enters the cabin while Dean is showing no regrets over Nick’s death and Sam is waffling. Sam mentions the ashy “blast site” to Castiel, saying it was angelic.

Dean gets upset at Castiel and says that if Mary is dead, “you’re dead to me.”

Castiel tries to explain, with tears, that he was worried about Jack, but didn’t want to screw up their family. He says he doesn’t think Jack is evil, but that he now has an “absence of good.”

Dean just gets mad all over again. It doesn’t help when Rowena calls. She says she can’t track Jack because his energy is “too unstable, like looking at the sun.” She also has really bad news: “Mary Winchester is no longer on this earth.”

Neither brother takes this well (for that matter, neither does Castiel). Sam looks broken, while Dean turns away, gripping a chair and then smashing it against a wall.

Dean then turns back and he’s cold. When Sam asks what will they do now? Dean says, “What we always do when we lose someone – we fight.” He points out that Rowena has the Book of the Damned and has resurrected herself. Maybe they can resurrect Mary again.

Castiel says they don’t even know where she is, so Dean snaps at him, “Then go to Heaven and find her!”

Meanwhile, Rowena is getting an unexpected visitor – Jack. She tells him that Sam and Dean are looking for him (he’s been ducking their calls).

Jack says he needs magic and admits he killed Mary. He says he just wanted her gone, just for a second, but that’s all it took. He wants Rowena to help him “undo it.”

Rowena admits that her usual way of resurrecting herself requires being put in place beforehand. Jack mentions the Book of the Damned. Rowena allows that there is a spell. Agnes, the witch who created the book, did so in captivity. She brought back her friends (who starved to death with her) via a spell called the Magicae Necromantiorum.

When Jack asks her about the ingredients, she says they’re “simple” and can be found in the Bunker, but the spell itself requires “great power.” Then Dean starts banging on the door, calling for Rowena (why would he be that dumb? Come on) and Jack realizes Rowena was “stalling” him.

Rowena tries to reason with him, telling him “they’re your kin.” But Jack is committed to going Full-On Stupid. He grabs her and flies off just as the Brothers bust in.

Castiel, meanwhile (or later on, because it’s daylight and Rowena got kidnapped at night), is at the playground that is the stairway to Heaven. He calls out to any angels who might be guarding it, but no one answers. He tries angel speak and calls Naomi’s name. No response.

Jack has arrived back at the Bunker with a captive Rowena in tow. He walks past a spot with knife marks. He has a flashback to Mary teaching him to throw knives (while Dean was gone and possessed by Michael). The flashback continues after Jack leaves as Mary and Sam (who just came in and still has the hiatus beard) have a heart-to-heart. Mary apologizes to Sam for being a lousy parent and says he’s been an “amazing” son.

We cut back to Sam. It turns out the latter half of the flashback was his. He’s still in Rowena’s office. Dean is pacing around, trying to figure things out.

Dean is still angry with Castiel. Sam, for once, admits that he has as much responsibility as Castiel, if not more. He says that Dean had warned everyone last season that Jack was dangerous and was ignored (nay, ridiculed, even, y’all). Sam says he made the call to bring Jack back from Heaven. And after Maggie and the other alt-Hunters died, Sam bailed on everyone. Sam knew Jack was dangerous, but he had also become family, so Sam ignored it.

Dean sits down and tries to comfort Sam by admitting Donatello tried to warn him, saying Jack was so powerful that it was impossible to tell if he was really okay. But he ignored it.

At the Bunker, Jack is impatient (also looking strung out), but Rowena tells him the spell takes time. She points out that she could have “fought” him before, even if she probably would have lost, but she wants the same thing he and the Brothers want – to bring Mary back.

Fauxifer shows up (Rowena looks around, but can’t see him) and badgers Jack about how he doesn’t really feel guilt or other emotions, anymore. Jack gets angry and Fauxifer disappears again. Rowena says she’s done. They now need only one thing – Mary’s body. Jack looks a little horrified. Yes, Jack, where is Mary’s body?

At the playground, Castiel refuses to leave until Naomi shows up. An angel then does appear, but it’s not Naomi. It’s Duma. You know … Duma. The angel who wanted to use Jack to create more angels. Duma. The angel who was possessed by the Empty Entity. So, it’s kind of interesting that she’s an even bigger bitch than ever.

Duma claims that Castiel’s mission (bringing Mary back) is pointless. Mary is “at peace.” She died “painlessly” and “instantly” and all that jazz. She calls Mary “complete.”

At the scene of the crime, Rowena is still trying to get Jack to tell her where Mary’s body is. Yeah, it’s that charred spot Dean found. Yuck.

Jack says he’ll do the spell himself. Rowena says magic spells don’t really work that well without concentration, which Jack doesn’t have. She says that whatever he brings back, it won’t be Mary.

Jack slams her back into her office – literally. As she calls the Brothers and warns them about the ugly side effects of necromancy-gone-wrong (as if they need that lesson), Jack does the spell himself. A big, pink, glowing, donut-shaped cloud appears overhead. Wind starts to blow, just as the Brothers show up in the car. The Impala’s engine abruptly dies.

The Brothers get out and run toward the site. They arrive just as the pink cloud disappears. Jack is looking down at something, then turns back to them. He says, “It didn’t work” and then flies away.

Mary (or a body that looks like her) is lying on the ground, but she’s dead. Dean runs to her and picks her up. Sam crouches down besides him and cries.

We get one more flashback to Dean and Mary in the car (from last episode?). It’s the shortest one of all. Mary is asleep on his shoulder and Dean smiles.

Then we cut back to the present and reality, which is the show fridging Mary Winchester, Family Matriarch, all over again. Classy, Show. Classy.

Cut to Jack in some random warehouse, being “commiserated” with by Fauxifer. Fauxifer tells him that Castiel, Sam and Dean will never trust him again and now he can’t trust them, either.

In the Bunker, Sam is looking at photos of Mary. Castiel comes in. He says that Mary is in Heaven and “at peace.” He mentions that he spoke to Duma, not Naomi. Duma did eventually let him in and he saw Mary’s heaven. She’s with John. Castiel tries to sugar-coat it, but it’s basically just their parents abandoning the Brothers all over again.

Sam says he talked to Rowena and that Jack only brought back “an empty shell,” a “replica.” Sam wonders what they will do now.

Dean, who has come in, says, “What we always do.” And that turns out to be a Hunter’s funeral. We get a montage of Mary in life as Sam puts one of her photos on the fire. Castiel tries to go to Dean, who is just standing off to one side, staring at the flames, face hard and deadly cold, but Sam holds him back.

There’s a final shot of the initials Sam and Dean carved into the table, with Mary’s now also carved in (they weren’t near the beginning of the episode).

Credits

Ratings for this week went up a bit to a 0.4 and 1.47 million. I guess people were more interested in Mary in death than life.

The promo, etc. for next week is up here.

FYI, the entire season up to this point is now available on Amazon, as well as a season pass. If you’ve been buying episodes as you go along, it appears that the season pass is free.

Review

What the hell was that?

I keep reminding myself that this part of the season, even in my favorite seasons, was usually pretty damned bad. If it wasn’t, it was because the season had “ended” prematurely with a satisfying conclusion and then gone on too long to a cliffhanger for the next season. But damn, it’s been tough to remember that this season. So many wasted opportunities. So many poor writing decisions. So much crap.

And now they’ve fridged Mary. Again. Once again, a female character was killed off in support of a (much younger) male character and his storyline. Which wasn’t any damned good in the first place.

Fandom’s response was rather strange. There was a lot of talk from the usual quarters about what a wonderful goodbye and tribute it was (it wasn’t). There were fans who didn’t like Mary, anyway, and had no problems articulating their indifference to her fate. Then there were the Jack (and even Lucifer) stans who tried to justify what Jack did by saying Mary caused her own murder (by badgering Jack). Blame the Victim is totally a thing in some parts of our culture, especially if the victim is a woman, older and not following a path of traditional femininity.

So, fandom misogyny (much of it internalized) was definitely a thing when it came to opinions on Mary. But that was influenced by the misogyny (some of it internalized) in how she was written. So, let’s look at that, first.

Mary was brought back at the very end of Jeremy Carver’s tenure as showrunner. A fair bit of ink has been spilled speculating how much of the end of season 11 Carver was still involved in. Considering how well it hung together (in retrospect) and how Mary was treated in subsequent seasons, I’m gonna go with “quite a bit.”

Dabb&Co. never seemed to know what to do with Mary. They acted as if she were the character equivalent of anthrax. Hell, they acted as if she were the equivalent of Bela Talbot and we all know how that turned out (by the way, Whiskey Cavalier has its own issues, but it’s a pretty decent show).

Thing is, Bela was just an annoying antagonist/love interest for one season. Mary is a core character of Supernatural. She’s the first one we ever saw on the show and if we do get a Butch-and-Sundance ending with the Brothers in Heaven, she could well be in the last shot, too. So, intentionally screwing her up is a whole lot more problematical. Makes me wonder if this stellar writing decision was the straw that broke the “Fuck, let’s just make next season the last” dromedary’s back. The timing would be about right.

I suppose one could argue that Carver dumped her return in the remaining writers’ laps and left them to figure it out. That would, however, ignore the part where Dabb, Buckner, Ross-Leming and a few others had been around for most, even all, of the Carver years and surely were on board when this idea was originally floated. So, let’s not cry too hard for them, Supernatural fandom.

The sad thing is that Mary was never really allowed to outgrow her roles as wife and mother (in that order), even though doing that retconned her background from season four’s “In the Beginning.” As many were the problems that prematurely sank Grimm, those writers did at least introduce the title character’s Grimm mom as a true badass who, underneath her cold exterior, cared about her son very much. Even if they, too, didn’t know what to do with her and fridged her later (told you that show had problems).

Supernatural kept Telling us that Mary was a great Hunter, but most of the time, it Showed her as a Damsel in Distress, or a supporting Mom character, or somebody’s girlfriend. Samantha Smith may be getting a bit old for Katniss-style heroics, but that didn’t mean they had to make Mary look weak, either.

Imagine if, instead of getting dragged all over charred hill and yon by Lucifer in early season 13, Mary had bailed on him early, and hooked up with alt-Bobby and the Resistance. Imagine if, instead of basically falling into John’s arms when they were reunited in “Lebanon,” she had given him a brief, fierce kiss, then the bitchslap of all bitchslaps, followed by a hotly worded speech along the lines of “What the hell did you do to my boys? You forced Dean to replace me as Sam’s mom! I’ve been dealing with your parental fallout for two years! I died for three decades! What was your damned excuse?!”

Now don’t tell me that the parts of fandom that were pissed off at her for not standing up for Sam and Dean, for abandoning them all the time (especially Dean) after she got back, wouldn’t have forgiven her a whole lot for such a speech. Sure, the John stans wouldn’t have been happy, but when half the fandom thinks your Lead Characters’ Mom character is worse than their abusive Dad character, you gotta do something to right that morality ship. I mean, come on.

This is where we get into the misogyny from fandom. Fandom has often been extra-hard on female characters. Yeah, some of that was down to crappy writing, but some fans are also just plain willing to give equivalent male characters a whole lot more rope. John is a complete son of a bitch to his sons, even when he’s trying to half-ass apologize to them in “Lebanon,” but he’s just misunderstood. Mary can’t cook worth a damn and she’s the WORST MOM EVER. Crowley is a vicious misogynist and unapologetic opportunist who tortures and kills for fun or boredom, and he’s just a little boy lost. Rowena tries fruitlessly to bring back her son, after regretting screwing him up, by trying to kill Death (which is pretty badass) and she’s a NARCISSISTIC EVOL HOEBAG.

This is, of course, not to say that when a female character is hated (coughLadyBevellcoughcoughIhadtolookuphernamebecauseIgotsousedtocallingher”TheTwat”coughcoughcough), it’s always because the fans are internalizing misogyny. Some female characters are just plain poorly written. Some are even intended to be hateful. Ruby, bless her demonic heart, was both.

But Mary is one that exists at an intersection between bad writing and bad expectations. There are male characters who have been written just as poorly (or worse) as Mary, but have been forgiven and become beloved, either/both by the writers or by the fandom.

Speaking of, there’s Jack. Woof, talk about bad writing. Poor Alex Calvert has done a lot to make Jack palatable, even relatable and likable, over the past two seasons, but the character has a lot of problems. Most of them stem from Jack’s ongoing role as a Cousin Oliver/Scrappy-Doo, Super Baby Variant. What that boils down to is that Jack is a walking Gary Stu.

Think about it: Jack is almost immediately accepted by the lead characters. They even treat him as their son. In fact, their own mother treats him more like a son than her own kids. He has special, sparkly powers that make him more powerful than any of the other characters in the story and give him a special, sparkly destiny. He has a special, sparkly birth and ancestry (and a special, sparkly connection to the show’s #1 Supervillain). He has a Savior Complex. He is (or at least feels) frequently misunderstood.

Conclusion: He’s a Gary Stu.

This makes it doubly, even triply, unlikely that he can come back from this, since it knocks him right off his Gary Stu pedestal. Murdering Mary is quite bad enough. And it was murder, not an accident like the guy who got knocked into a pole last season (in “Tombstone”). Jack is quite capable of not using lethal force, yet chose to use it. However brief the impulse, however much he regrets it now, he intended to kill in that moment, therefore it’s murder.

I suppose it’s possible Dean might eventually forgive Jack murdering Dean’s mother (these writers would probably have Sam waffle), but it would require better writing than we currently have, at least on the mytharc level. And it would probably take longer than the show has left. And it leaves aside the part where no one in TFW (not even Crowley, who sure tried hard) has ever actually killed his or her mother, yet Jack has now done it twice – first with his birth mother and now with his surrogate mother who was in the alt-SPNverse with him for months last season. It’s a TFW point of no return.

Now if Jack had stuck around and accepted the consequences of his reckless actions, maaaayyyyybe it would have been different. But he didn’t. He ran. And how he’s letting his darker side dictate his choices and talk him into believing he wasn’t the one to blame.

The show argues that Jack gets whiny and flails about and pins the blame on others because he’s lost (most of?) his soul and can’t feel emotions. But Donatello isn’t like that. And there were episodes of exposition about how Jack had to live in a balance between his soul and his grace, that if he lost one or the other, he would die. So, if he’s lost his soul (or even most of it) shouldn’t he just drop dead? That balance is gone.

Let’s not get into how the writers forgot that once Jack “ate” Michael’s grace, he no longer needed to drain his soul to fuel his powers. Yet, they had characters continue to worry that Jack was still draining his soul.

Further, Jack clearly does feel emotions throughout the episode. He’s shocked, horrified, depressed, angry and ashamed – otherwise, he wouldn’t have bothered to run (well, fly) from Sam and Dean. Also, since he has angelic grace (and angels definitely feel emotions), his angelic side ought to at least be feeling emotion. He’s not only human. He’s half-human and half-angel (AKA sparkly Gary Stu powers). The show wants to have it both ways with him, which, again, is a sign that he’s not only a Gary Stu, but a Creator’s Pet.

It doesn’t help that this is a repetitious storyline (pillaged with almost no filing off of serial numbers from the Dark Willow storyline in Buffy the Vampire Slayer) that shows Jack as a slow learner and someone who will pretty much always go with his pride in his powers even over love and concern for others.

Jack has already accidentally killed someone while using his powers. He regretted it. He lost his powers due to being stupid. He regretted it. He got some semblance of his powers back for use as life support. He abused it and ignored every warning not to do so. This past episode, right before he murdered Mary, he murdered Nick. It doesn’t matter that Nick really deserved it. What matters is how much Jack enjoyed it.

One might argue that Dean and Sam have killed a lot of people, some of them human, and often thoroughly enjoyed it. But they’re fundamentally different from Jack in a couple of ways. For a start, they have learned from those experiences to have different limits.

For example, in last week’s episode, Sam nearly strangled Nick to death. It seemed Plot Stupid for Sam to stop when he did, “allowing” Nick to smack him over the head with a rock. But on top of strangling being a deeply personal and vicious way to kill someone, it has especially ugly and troubling undertones for Sam. This is the way Sam nearly killed Dean near the end of season four, before going off with Ruby. The show never directly referenced it (say, by replacing Nick’s face for a second with Dean’s), but whether or not the writers intended it, that is part of show history and the subtext is there.

Sam learned that that was a hard limit, that he crossed it, that it damaged his relationship with his brother for a very long time, and that he doesn’t want to do it again, to anybody. Not really. Not even if it gets him smacked upside the head with a rock.

The other thing is that they don’t have Jack’s powers. Right now, Jack is like Anthony in the short story-turned-Twilight Zone episode “It’s a Good Life.” He can do almost anything (well … except for bringing Mary back to life; or reconciling with her sons) to almost anybody and he is addicted to it. He has a White Knight attitude a light year wide, but the reality is that he uses his powers because they feel good. He wants his powers to be good because that’s an excuse to use them.

Much has been said about his lack of impulse control due to being, in age, still a toddler. But that isn’t actually an argument in his favor. The world shouldn’t have to wait until he grows up and gains some wisdom if that radically increases the chances that the world won’t still be there once he does.

Really, I think the only way Jack can stick around past the end of the season (or next season’s premiere, if they do a cliffhanger involving him) is if he’s rendered powerless again. And even then, that would be … another repetitive storyline. One could still argue (especially after Fauxifer showed up) that Lucifer is possessing him. The possibility that this is all some Michael plot (Michael hated Mary whenever he bothered to think about her and it would be another way to break Dean) also remains strong. But I don’t think that would help Jack, since Jack is still making decisions as himself, just really crappy and unsympathetic ones.

As you may have noticed, Sam, Dean and Castiel got short shrift in this episode, despite it being Sam and Dean’s mother whose death created “absence” in their lives. Dean is furious with Castiel and some Destiel fans are up in arms about it. I say, hey, at least Dean isn’t trying to get Death to reap him this time. So, they’re better off than that. There’s a bit of Xena-hating-Gabrielle-after-Gabrielle’s-daughter-murdered-Xena’s-son from Xena: Warrior Princess in this conflict, though the serial numbers are better-filed-off. Castiel feels bad. Dean doesn’t want to hear it. Sam, for once, is playing referee.

But I think they’ll eventually reconcile.

Finally, I found Duma’s appearance to Castiel … unnerving. When last we saw Duma, she had just been possessed by the Empty Entity. She’s always been a bit cold and dodgy, but that was on overdrive this week. Her language in reference to Mary (“Mary Winchester is complete”) reminded me of the Empty Entity. And I was suspicious that Naomi never showed up. Makes me wonder if the EE never actually left Heaven.


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: “Game Night” (14.17) Live Recap Thread


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Ugh. I’ve been putting this off because various things, but also, I just can’t even with this stupid Jack plot. Anyhoo.

Recap of said boring-ass plotline. Also a brief recap of Anael and a longer one of Nick, which shows how terrible it is. Then back to Jack’s boring-ass powers plotline.

Cut to Now.

Donatello is baking cookies and such. He has a nice kitchen. The doorbell rings. When he answers, he’s attacked and tied to a table to the tune of “Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head” (the theme song from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid). The still-unseen figure injects him with something.

Cue title cards.

Cut to the Bunker, where Mary and Jack are setting up a “game night” for Dean, while Sam is out getting food. Jack is concerned that Dean isn’t enjoying it because he’s in the other room, yelling at the game. Mary just says that Mousetrap was Dean’s favorite game when he was a kid, as Jack pops popcorn.

Mary then asks Jack how he’s feeling and Jack says that “everyone keeps asking me that.” He also acts like a brat, calling her concern “annoying.” Yeah, have I mentioned how much I don’t like Jack with superpowers? Such a smug little jerk.

Game night is interrupted by a voicemail Dean gets from Donatello. Donatello is begging for help then breaks out into what sounds like Enochian. Dean decides to head out with Mary to help Donatello because he can’t get hold of Sam (whose voicemail tells the caller that if it’s an emergency, they should call his brother. I kid you not). He leaves Jack with the voicemail to run for Sam (to see if Sam can decipher it).

Meanwhile, at a honky-tonk diner, Anael (Sister Jo) is entering and sitting down to a table with Castiel to the sound of Jackie Stewart’s “Maybe Tomorrow” from 1968. Castiel has a gift for her – “16th century Burmese blood rubies, 5 carats.” Castiel admits that they’re “lightly cursed,” but not in any way that would affect an angel like Anael. He also admits that he wants to trade for something – her help in contacting God.

It turns out that Anael had once been Joshua’s right-hand angel (yeah … still salty about the way they killed him off). Chuck only ever spoke to Joshua, but Castiel says Anael knew things about how they communicated. He tells her about how Jack killed Michael (yeah … still salty about that, too) and burned off most of his soul, possibly all.

Everyone’s ongoing concern about the state of Jack’s soul confuses me. After acquiring Michael’s grace, can’t he just use that now?

Anael guesses (correctly) that Castiel needs to find Chuck because only Chuck can restore a soul and that the Winchesters don’t know he’s there, talking to her.

At first, Anael won’t help, insisting that because Chuck always spoke to Joshua, not the other way around, she doesn’t know how to contact Chuck. But when Castiel starts to take back the rubies, she coughs up one bit of info. It turns out that after the Fall (end of season eight), Joshua “placed a long-distance call” to Chuck and Chuck actually answered. At least, that’s the rumor. She wasn’t there, but she knows who was and can take Castiel to see them.

Back at the Bunker, Sam is upset that Dean and Mary left without him. Dean tells him over the phone that it’s fine. Sam insists it’s not. Sam, you gotta get over this attachment disorder thing, really.

Anyhoo, Sam says the voice message isn’t Enochian. Dean notes that it was as if Donatello was “speaking in tongues.” Sam says he thinks it’s Ancient Hebrew. He and Jack are working on a translation.

In the car with Mary, Dean notes that Sam “sounds stressed.” Mary points out that he and Jack do, too. She says she wishes she could do more and Dean tells her she is, just by being there. Mary mourns that she should have been around more since she came back, but that she can be “closed off, hard.” Dean shrugs and says, “That’s where I get it from.”

Mary adds that she’s “grateful” for the second chance. Yeah, that’s never a good sign for a character. She might as well write out a Hunter’s will.

Back at the Bunker, Sam suddenly realizes that Donatello is quoting from the Bible – the First Book of Peter, verse 8. I facepalm at this really obvious gaffe in the writing because that book is originally in Greek, not Hebrew. Too bad, too, because the verse is a good one (it was part of a Templar regulation about hunting lions): “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour, whom resist steadfast in the faith.”

Anyhoo, Dean and Mary arrive at Donatello’s house to find a voice recording of him pleading. It’s left on the table he’d been tied to previously. Out of the kitchen (as Dean and Mary snap up their weapons) comes a very smug Nick.

Dean cuffs Nick and interrogates him, while Mary searches the house. The house is empty of Donatello, though Mary finds the hypodermic. Nick claims he injected Donatello with thallium and that he will die within a day. Basically, he says, he did for kicks and to get the Winchesters’ attention. He has a livestream on his phone of Donatello, tied up in some random warehouse (couldn’t they trace that? Nick’s no computer genius). Dean threatens Nick, but Nick doesn’t care.

With an eyeroll that most of the fandom can totally sympathize with at this point, Mary asks, “What do you want?” Nick says he wants to talk. Of course he does. Dear God, I am so over this storyline.

Cut to Castiel and Anael pulling up at a place called Orlando’s Emporium. It turns out that Methuselah lives there. He gave Joshua shelter after the Fall. At first, he won’t cooperate at all, even when Castiel threatens to burn down the building. But when Castiel lets his eyes glow, Methuselah suddenly realizes they’re angels (really? He couldn’t have figured that out earlier? He’s Methuselah). But all he’ll tell them is that Joshua used a “thingamajig” that is somewhere in the warehouse.

Back at the Bunker, Sam attacks Nick as Dean and Mary are bringing him in. Dean tells him, not yet. They have to find Donatello first. Later, in the Library, they try to figure out what Nick’s game is. Sam offfhandedly says there’s an antidote to thallium, Prussian Blue. Well, yeah, but that doesn’t reverse the damage the thallium does in the meantime. Jeez, show. So many stupid mistakes.

Dean goes to interrogate Nick in the dungeon. Sam wants to go with him, but Dean tells Sam he’s too angry and would kill Nick offhand. Also, Show, last time I checked, Dean is the master torturer here. You know, Alastair’s star pupil?

After Dean leaves, Mary talks Sam down. Sam is upset because he let Nick go and a cop is now dead (pretty sure Nick just beat that cop up in the hospital). Mary tells Sam that it wasn’t a bad choice and that he let Nick go because “you felt for him.” Nah, Mary. Sam’s right. Letting Nick go was a dumb move.

In the warehouse, Castiel and Anael talk about Chuck as they look for Joshua’s “Bat Phone.” Anael is skeptical that it will make any difference or that Chuck will respond. She says that before she came to earth, she truly believed. But once she came down, she saw how flawed humans were, but also how Chuck refused to help them. When she asked Joshua why, Joshua said that God didn’t like to “meddle.”

Anael insists that she prefers to “meddle” (i.e., help). And that’s why she walked away from being Joshua’s assistant. Castiel reminds her that she’s always said she does it for the money and she retorts, “Then you haven’t been paying attention.”

She claims that she’s “happy” and doesn’t need Chuck or Heaven. Castiel says that sounds “lonely” and points out that Chuck has brought him back several times. Anael points out that Chuck bringing back one angel, while letting millions of people die “screaming” every day doesn’t exactly make Chuck a cuddly god.

She’s got a point, Cas.

Back at the Bunker – down in the dungeon, to be exact – Dean is beating on Nick, though so far, without much luck. He does, however, get something out of him when Nick goes off on a little rant about how they have something in common. They were both possessed by archangels. Nick asks Dean, doesn’t he miss the power? I guess Nick doesn’t know that Dean was strong enough to hold Michael prisoner for a while inside his own head. That’s power.

Erhmagerd! A dropped plot we’ve all been wondering about! Watch quick, ’cause this doesn’t last long.

Dean shrugs it off (or appears to), but he does get something out of Nick – Nick wants to talk to “my son.” Alone.

Back in the Library, Mary doesn’t miss the Freudian slip of Nick calling Jack his son, as it were. Jack is willing to talk to Nick (I like the little hesitation Calvert puts in as Jack tries to figure out what the right emotional response is), though Dean thinks it’s a terrible idea. But Sam weighs in that Donatello is dying, so it’s worth a shot. I’m with it being a terrible idea.

Jack goes to talk to Nick and demands to know where Donatello is. Nick tries to get into his head and is more successful than he was with Dean. He claims to Jack that Lucifer loved Jack. The dumbest part is that Jack appears to be moved to almost believe it.

This is totally idiotic. I get that Jack is young, but he must still vividly remember how Lucifer stole his grace and then stood by grinning as after he manipulated Jack into trying to kill himself. Jack surely whined about it enough earlier this season. None of that rhymes with love.

Jack gets mad and attacks Nick who … headbutts him? He bloodies Jack’s nose. Jack heals himself, then leans over Nick threateningly as his eyes glow yellow. But in the end, the Brothers are in the car, with Jack in the backseat still snarking. Because of course someone would do that after being beaten half to death.

Back at the warehouse, Anael wants to leave and grumps at Castiel. She calls Castiel out on his “real reason” for seeking out Chuck – that Jack’s soul is gone for good and Castiel can’t do anything about it.

Just as she’s getting ready to leave, though, Castiel finds a pendant that looks like Dean’s amulet. He tries it and prays to Chuck, but nothing happens. Anael snarks about being “always right” afterward, but is otherwise sympathetic.

Castiel admits that he’s going to have to go back and tell the Brothers. But he tells Anael she’s not always right. Just because Chuck isn’t around, that doesn’t mean they’re alone. Anael snarks some more, but looks a bit thoughtful.

The Brothers arrive above a warehouse where Donatello supposedly is (boy, it was snowy in Vancouver when they filmed this). Dean goes in alone, telling Sam to shoot Nick if anything happens to him. Once Dean is gone, Nick starts trying to worm his way into Sam’s head. It’s just as tedious and boring as it sounds. He so needs to go. He starts singing when Sam’s phone goes off and used the distraction to drive Sam out of the car so that he can work on his cuffs with a safety pin, or something. I so don’t care.

Meanwhile, back at the Bunker, Jack realizes that syringe Nick used has residual grace in it, not thallium. You know, yet another plot convenient power for Jack. That’s the call Sam gets.

Sam pulls a gun on Nick and orders him out of the car. He demands to know why Nick injected Lucifer with grace. Nick did it to have a conversation with Lucifer (because something-something-prophet stuff), who had woken up in the Empty. Lucifer told Nick how to get him back. Nick claims that demons helped him and gave him shelter after he killed the cop (do they mean the one in the hospital or the one who was possessed into killing Nick’s family? This is not made clear), that they want Lucifer back as badly as he does. Again, there’s some real plot amnesia going here, since Lucifer did absolutely nothing for the demons while he was ruling Hell.

Sam and Nick get into a fight, while inside the warehouse, Dean finds Donatello and gets attacked by demons. Dean takes care of them with relative ease (while Donatello works himself out of his rope bonds), but Sam has a much harder time finding Nick. Sam eventually gets the drop on Nick and starts to choke him, but then stops for some inexplicable reason. Nick then, somehow, despite being nearly choked out, manages to grab a rock, smack Sam over the head with it, drag him around and beat him up a bit, and brag about how Sam was once Lucifer’s “perfect vessel,” but not so much now.

Yeah, there’s a lot of stupid in this episode.

Sam escapes Nick by locking himself in the car and blowing the horn. Dean hears it and runs out of the warehouse, calling for Donatello to follow him, up to where Sam is … um … dying. From a head injury. Sure. That would be like when Dean was comatose a few episode ago from a head injury, right? And I bet it will last about as long.

Dean calls the Bunker, while Nick runs away and flags down a car. He yanks the driver out and then roars off to an abandoned cabin (in shirtsleeves, in the snow. Yes, I know).

Dean is freaking out because Sam is fading and the ambulance isn’t there, yet. Mary and Jack want to help, but as Nick burns his shirt with Jack’s blood on it and makes a spell to summon Lucifer, Jack cries out in pain that his blood is “burning.” Oh, look, a convenient plot weakness. [eyeroll]

Mary claims that this whole Nick plot was All About Jack. This isn’t really true. It was really All About Lucifer. Jack was just a convenient way to get Lucifer back.

Anyhoo, Nick is all ecstatic as Lucifer starts to come out of the Empty to possess him, but Lucifer takes a bit too long savoring it. Jack and Mary show up, and Jack sends Lucifer back to the Empty. Jack then burns Nick to death from the inside, while Mary yells at him to stop. Yeah, I’m totally over Nick, but that was pretty harsh. A quick bullet would have been better.

Dean is trying to keep Sam awake, while Donatello stands by, wringing his hands. But Sam dies, saying “All your life, you always put me first.”

At the cabin, Jack is confused by Mary’s horror, but she masks it and sends him to the Brothers, where Jack heals Sam. Jack insists that “it’s over” and Nick will never be a problem again. Sam looks surprised, Dean conflicted.

Jack flies back to Mary and tells her Sam is all healed. Jack insists that Nick was “a bad person” who “deserved” to die like that. Jack creepily asks her to absolve him by saying it’s okay. She tells him she can’t, because it’s not. She says that it’s not his fault, but the Jack she knew wouldn’t have done that (can’t say I agree. Jack from season 13 was totally in love with his powers and making people he deemed “bad” pay).

Even more creepily, Jack asks her if she’s going to tell the Brothers and she hedges. Around this point, Jack starts to get a massive headache, accompanied by angel voice, and starts to run away from her. For some unfathomable reason, Mary gets written plot-stupid and goes after him, badgering him about what’s wrong (even though she was scared of him, like, 30 seconds earlier).

Jack shouts at her to leave him alone and then “Go away!” Mary seems to disappear (sent off somewhere? Sent to the cornfield? We don’t know) and as the screen goes black, we hear Jack say in a small voice, “Mary?”

Credits

Ratings for the episode were a dismal 0.3/2 and 1.25 million, which may actually be a new low for the show (in audience, anyway), but is still pretty good for the CW this spring.

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

Review

[sigh] With this wildly inconsistent episode, I need to keep reminding myself every season, at this point in the season, that this point in the season almost invariably sucks out loud. And boy does it ever this season. Doesn’t help that the episode count is shorter this year and they don’t seem to have done much to compensate for that.

This show always has big cliffhangers and then some great and hopeful beginnings of seasons after the cliffhanger resolution (well, okay, season three didn’t start out so well, or season six, but that may have been because there was no real cliffhanger for seasons two and five). Then it usually has a compelling midseason finale and resolution, and then we get a long, slow, boring slog back up to the season finale cliffhanger. And boy, has it been a slog this season.

The thing is that the alt-Michael storyline, for all its many faults, was very compelling – probably the most compelling storyline (let alone mytharc) they’ve had in years. And Jensen Ackles acted the hell out of it, too. Michael was powerful, wily and terrifying. Not only did he have cosmic-level abilities, but he was also old and wise and quite insane. He was arguably the most frightening villain the show ever had (Amara was older and more powerful, for example, but she wasn’t as wise and, in the end, didn’t turn out to be insane). Too bad the show seemed to have no clue what to do with him.

Now, when I say insane, I don’t mean necessarily that Michael became unstable when he turned against humanity. Chuck’s attempts to get the angels to share human morality and love for humans was always imperfect at best and tyrannical at worst. Angels are not humans. For all their age and wisdom, they just don’t get, for the most part, why Chuck loved humans so much (Castiel and Anael being exceptions that prove the rule). To them, it just looks like blatant favoritism and Daddy tossing them aside for the bright and shiny new baby (kind of like how annoying much of fandom finds the writers’ incessant fascination with new guest and recurring characters over Sam and Dean’s story). And who knows? Maybe they’re right. The story is from the viewpoint of two human characters, after all.

So, what I mean is not that Michael is insane because he’s angry with humanity. The atrocities he committed in the alt-SPNverse are pretty much par for the course with this show’s angels. It’s that he lost hope after Chuck still didn’t show up at the end of the alt-SPNverse’s apocalypse, after alt-Michael killed alt-Lucifer, as he believed Chuck wanted him to do. Only then did he become fatally obsessed with killing Chuck, with cosmic parricide. It’s interesting to note that regardless of whether Michael won or lost his apocalypse, he still ended up nuttier than a 14-billion-year-old fruitcake.

It does occur to me that with this Castiel-searching-for-God-again storyline, were Chuck to return, that would be precisely what alt-Michael stated he wanted the most out of anything just seven episodes ago in “Nihilism,” and that he was willing to burn down the entire SPNverse to get to Daddy and kill him.

We also know that Michael has pulled an apparent defeat and disappearing act once already, before revealing it as a devastating trick in “The Spear.” And there’s also the fact that Nick is a rank amateur when it comes to using grace. Michael fed grace to his monsters in order to see through their eyes and use them as his puppets. And what did Jack just do three episodes ago? Eat a whole lot of Michael’s grace. Which just happened to miraculously restart Jack’s powers when Gabriel’s grace not only didn’t work, but made Jack sicker. Jack’s hearing angel voice right before he does whatever he does to Mary could be Michael taking over. And, of course, there’s the bit a few episodes ago with the snake – Michael’s idea of ‘mercy’ has always been death.

There is also Nick’s odd (and aborted) conversation with Dean about “missing” Michael (which Nick does not repeat with Sam, despite his rant about Sam originally being Lucifer’s intended “perfect vessel.” There’s a lot about that in this episode). Dean’s reaction is pretty deadpan, but then later in the episode, during his fight with two demons (and it’s a good fight), he is able to push away a demon’s superstrength at a critical moment in the fight. We also see him eerily calm the entire time, taking the two of them apart with relative ease.

We know that Dean is stronger than he used to be, and certainly better able to use martial arts moves against creatures that have more physical strength, but that seemed a bit more than usual. The look on Dean’s face after Jack heals Sam and says that he’s taken care of Nick, is more ambiguous, darker, than simple gratitude. One could even argue that the mind games Nick plays with TFW 2.0 are reflected in the episode title, “Game Night.”

Alas, this possible subtext is overshadowed by the thunderingly loud and overt text of Jack’s Shiny Superpowers plot bodily shoving aside the Dean!Michael plot. At one point, we actually have Mary declare that the entire Nick plot is All About Jack (it’s really not; it’s actually All About Lucifer; Jack is just a pawn). So, even if this is all leading up to Michael returning and using Jack as his puppet (and the coda to this episode does strongly hint at that), the sidetrack into Jack Done Gone Wrong won’t be any less tedious and frustrating. Besides, what we get in this episode is a repeat of late last season, with Lucifer using Jack as a pawn to get out of whatever mess he got himself into this time (because apparently, what’s dead really doesn’t stay dead, anymore, and Nick even lampshades that this week).

Jack, as I’ve said before, isn’t exactly bright enough to notice this. He gets mighty arrogant about his powers, especially when fed the abundant amount of praise and fear the story supplies. He doesn’t work so hot as a central character because of it.

Worse, yet, that’s not the only example of recycled drama in “Game Night.” We have Sam dying while Dean is upset (Sam died three episodes before the end last season, then was brought back by Nickifer). We have Sam getting a major head injury that is suddenly scary and horrifying after a decade and a half of the two brothers getting their skulls rung like bells. Just three episode ago, Dean was in exactly the same situation, until Michael somehow snuck out of his head (and healed him, I guess) without exploding him (or did he?).

It doesn’t help that Samantha Smith and Alexander Calvert are saddled with such poor writing that it makes them look like worse actors than they are. Or that Mark Pellegrino (normally a very good actor) has basically been phoning it in for well over a season. His version of Nick this season is almost indistinguishable from his version of Lucifer last season. I’m very disappointed because, as I said at the beginning of the season, I always wanted a storyline of Nick returning and figuring himself out post-Lucifer. Unfortunately, the show took the cheapest and least satisfying route by giving him archangelic Stockholm Syndrome, and turning him EVOL.

There’s also an awful lot of plot stupid throughout, enough for everyone to get a turn at the Idiot Ball. Nick manages to get on everyone’s last nerve (and by “everyone,” I mean the audience) as characters get more and more irritated with him in-verse, but don’t do the sensible thing and kill him. Mary is written like an emotional Gumby and is ridiculously solicitous of Nick’s continued existence, considering he kidnapped her the last time she saw him. She tells Sam it’s not his fault that he let Nick go to kill “that cop” (it’s not made at all clear, but I guess they mean the cop who killed Nick’s family while possessed, not the one Nick knocked out in the hospital). Well, yeah, actually, it is Sam’s fault and he should feel guilty, especially considering how Nick has spelled out that he killed a lot more than just the cop. But this show always has problems letting Sam feel the consequences of his actions for longer than five minutes.

But then she turns around and is utterly horrified at Jack killing Nick and then badgers him about it. Now, I get why the way Jack kills Nick is Very Bad. Lilith and the Stynes thoroughly deserved their fates, but Sam and Dean killing them was still an ugly, frightening moment. Jack using and enjoying his powers while torturing Nick to death may be no more than Nick deserves, but it doesn’t bode too well for Jack’s moral development, if we’re to go by the show’s track record.

Even worse is whatever Jack did to Mary. If Jack really did think Mary into the cornfield, he’d better watch his back. That is a point of no return and Dean would crawl back from the Empty through clouds of broken glass to kill him. It would be completely out of character for Dean to forgive him Jack murdering his mother, however much Sam might waffle over it.

About the only two things that might make Jack still salvageable as a member of TFW 2.0 is if he only sent Mary somewhere and didn’t kill her (entirely possible, if spoilers are any indication) or if it turned out it wasn’t Jack, but Michael using Jack’s body to kill Mary. Even then, either would be a dicey situation and I don’t know that Jack would ever get Dean’s respect back.

On the other hand, having Mary get in his face like that was writing her like a complete moron. Also, she’s a core show character, no matter how much some fans may hate her, and it’s highly questionable to fridge her twice. What happened to that commitment to diversity and feminism, CW? Come on!

Don’t even get me started on how Jack still has emotions, despite apparently having no soul, or how they’ve completely wasted both Mary and Anael as characters by reducing them to cheerleaders and consciences for the guys. Yeesh. And a woman wrote this episode, too.

Some have questioned whether Nick is really dead, since Pellegrino is in next week’s promo. I’ve got one word for that – Fauxifer. Characters can be complete doornails on this show and still come back as hallucinations (Azazel in the season six premiere, anyone?). But I do have to ask – is anyone going to find about Nick’s poor ghost wife and help her move on, already? I think it’s time.


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 9.08: Rock and a Hard Place


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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: Sam and Dean get a case where members of an abstinence group go missing.


Recap: Recap of some weird stuff, like the time the Brothers encountered a group of humanoid “dragons” who were kidnapping young virgins as hosts for Eve (remember her?) in season six. We also get a recap of Sam’s angel-healing and the angel fall mytharc, Crowley’s blood junkie plot, and Jody Mills’ entire storyline up to that point (save for her involvement with Bobby).

Cut to Now in Hartford, SD. A young woman is coming out of a diner. It’s night. She leaves some food for a sleeping drunk, but as she starts walking home, she’s stalked by something unseen. No matter how she tries, she can’t shake it. She tries hiding under a car after she drops her keys (with a mini-TASER), but the thing chasing her is large and strong enough to pick up the car. It blazes out blue fire that encompasses her. Afterward, we see it drop her through a manhole in a cellar.

Cue title cards.

Dean comes into the Bunker kitchen to find Sam asleep at the table. Dean, as he eats breakfast, brings Sam up to speed on Kevin (who is translating offscreen) and Crowley (whose human blood addiction makes him vulnerable to the Brothers’ own mind games). This is right after Crowley told them that Metatron’s spell for expelling the angels from Heaven was irreversible and they’re still trying to confirm it.

At this point in time, it’s not entirely clear if Dean is aware of Crowley’s growing obsession with him, but already, Dean is coldbloodedly manipulating him through it. Dean gleefully talks about how they can use Crowley’s addiction against him. Considering the episode recap showed at least one of Crowley’s many, many victims (he nearly killed Jody just to get at the Brothers), it’s hard to feel sorry for him.

Sam is … uh … sleepy and can’t understand why he’s so tired all the time. Dean knows (Ezekiel healing Sam from his Trialberculosis from last season), but he, of course, ain’t talking.

In light of how ugly this gets down the road, I want to point out that Sam will be somewhat disingenuous later on in how he was fooled and lied to. I get some distinct subtext in this scene that Sam could very well see something is up and push the issue, but chooses not to explore it because he is okay with the way things are. I also have to say that as much as Sam tries at certain points in the show to be solicitous of Dean’s needs, he can’t nurture Dean the way Dean nurtures him. And nobody else can, either.

At this point, Dean gets a call from Jody Mills (damn, I’d forgotten she was in this one) because this is an MOTW, not a mytharc episode, and we’ve just worked our way through bringing the mytharc up to speed for the week. Say goodbye to the mytharc for now.

This being season nine, there’s still a bit of formality between Jody and the Brothers. She calls him by his first name, but introduces herself by her full name. He calls her “Sheriff Mills,” but Sam calls her “Jody” when Dean puts her on speakerphone.

Jody tells them about Doomed Teaser Girl and says a guy (probably the homeless guy the girl left dinner for) witnessed someone picking up an SUV to capture DTG. DTG is only one of four recent kidnappings. Behind Jody, as she mentions that usually the worst crime this little town somewhat outside Sioux Falls ever gets is cow-tipping, a tow truck guy tips the SUV back upright on all four wheels. Ha. I see what you did there, Show.

The Brothers agree that it’s strange and come on out. There’s a road trip montage to generic soundtrack rock in broad daylight. The Brothers arrive in FBI suits. Dean gives Jody a hug and mentions her bad date with Crowley. She laughs it off, but Dean then shows some concern that maybe she should wait a bit before getting back into Hunting. She demurs, saying more knowledge is better protection.

Then she gets down to business. The first person to disappear was a pastor. Another two were an engaged couple who were abducted from a locked house. DTG, a waitress, is the fourth. They were all members of Good Faith Church, a local congregation. Jody mentions in passing that her own church (which she joined after Crowley tried to kill her on their date last season) was horrified about it. No one wants to be next, I guess.

Sam speculates out loud to Dean that it could be angels, which surprises Jody. Turns out she wasn’t aware they’d fallen? Really? Didn’t the Brothers put out an APB about that a while back?

Inside the diner, Jody introduces them to the homeless guy from the teaser. He tells them DTG’s name was Honor. He’s shy and deferential. He tells them about the shadowy figure that lifted the SUV and the blue fire. Then, he says, Honor disappeared.

Dean gives him some money and thanks him, then they MOTW-speculate after he leaves. Not an angel, after all. Dean figures they should go undercover by joining the church.

Cut to the Brothers being interviewed by the person in charge, Bonnie. She’s all perky. When Sam expresses some mutual reservations he and Dean have about joining, regarding the disappearances, she reassures them that security has been beefed up, so not to worry.

Dean asks her if she was close to the people who disappeared. She says yes. They were all part of the same chastity group, APU (Abstinence Purifies Us). When Sam asks if they can sit in on it, she says it’s church members only. Dean is horrified when Sam volunteers them for it and the church.

As Bonnie goes to get the paperwork, the Brothers quietly speculate whether virginal members are being kidnapped by dragons (per season six). When she comes back with a Purity Pledge, though, they’re a bit flummoxed. Dean points out that you can only be a virgin once (coughthat’snotwhatyousaidbackinseasonfour’s”MonsterMovie”Deancoughcough). After an uncomfortable pause, she says that you can still pray to God and renew your vows of chastity to become a “born again” virgin until marriage. Well, alrighty-then. The Brothers sign. She then pronounces them “both virgins.”

Down in the tunnel, Honor is using her Taser to light her way around. It turns out she’s in an old nuclear fallout shelter. She hears noises and whips around with the Taser, begging them to stay away from her.

At the group, the Brothers are the only men there. The group has a mix of women, ranging from gorgeous and dressed up to plain and dressed like nuns on holiday. The leader is a beautiful blonde whom Dean can’t seem to stop staring at. Bonnie is also there.

A girl named Tammy stands up to overshare her poem about abstinence, but the leader gently steers her away from it. She suggests that they instead hear from the new members  – Sam and Dean.

Asked first, Sam says he’s looking for a fresh start, since none of his relationships ever turn out well. “He ain’t lyin’!” Dean agrees, with a snort. We know, of course, that Sam means his girlfriends always end up dead, evil, or both.

When asked about “what set you on the path away from sin?” Dean goes into a roundabout explanation of how he just loved sex, especially all the foreplay to orgasm, but he’s all done with that now because it was “too sticky.” In the process, he (inadvertently?) brings all the women in the room to orgasm without even touching them, much to Sam’s disgust. Barbara also shakes her head in disgust.

Afterward, Barbara tells Sam that she’s worried about Honor, who was her “favorite.” As soon as Barbara goes to chastise an overweight member for stealing cookies from the refreshments table, an indignant Tammy insists that Honor is not what Barbara thinks she is. But as Sam eagerly follows this lead, it soon becomes clear that Tammy’s standards for sin are rather low, namely that Honor didn’t bake her own cookies for the bake sale and is therefore going to Hell.

Meanwhile, Dean, who has told Sam he thinks Suzy (the lead counselor) looks familiar, talks to her. She insists they’ve never met, but offers to get him some books on how to stay true to one’s chastity vows from her house. Dean points out (correctly, albeit with ulterior motives) that it’s not safe to be out alone right now for the members, what with some of them disappearing. So, he chaperones her on home. Let’s just say that Suzy doesn’t protest much.

Back at the motel, Sam tells Jody one bit of info he did get from Tammy – Honor and the missing pastor slept together. Jody has some info, too. The betrothed couple got it on, as well, albeit together. Later, the girl was crying about it, while the boy assured her that it didn’t count because it only lasted 30 seconds.

Jody also says the witness (the woman’s mom) later heard a crash and saw a flash of blue light. Sam figures that at least dragons are now out of the picture. Jody is surprised that dragons even “are a thing.”

Later, Jody admits that she started going to church because she felt lost after the past few years, what with losing Bobby, and her husband and son. You could say Crowley was just the last straw.

Sam allows that people need to look for comfort. Jody points out that he and Dean have each other and Sam looks uncomfortable. This is not a point in the show when Sam is willing to admit any real emotional connection to Dean, let alone dependence.

At Suzy’s house, Dean is in full-on seduction mode, not helped when she takes off her jacket, revealing a skimpy wifebeater/camisole underneath. He is, though, nonplussed when she starts to cry out of worry for her friend and asks for him to pray with her (which he does as best he can), and when she piles a bunch of books about chastity into his arms. But it’s when he’s in the middle of finally answering a call from Sam (he’s been dodging them) that Dean spots some old porn tapes in a top drawer that feature Suzy and he realizes how he knows her.

When she comes back out of her office, Dean tries to hide his discovery and doesn’t seem to know what to do with his face. Lines (in Spanish) from her film keep slipping out of his mouth. At first, he seems a bit smarmy, but when Suzy drops the Holy Counselor act and looks ashamed, he reassures her that no one knows who she is in Hartford and she has nothing to be ashamed of. She says the girl she was back then was “horrible.” Dean insists (with absolute sincerity; I mean, look at his life) that he’s seen many horrible things and her films (and body) weren’t one of them. To him, she was one of the “good dreams.”

Suzy is pretty turned on. Validation is a powerful thing and we know that as wolfy as Dean can be, he’s not just feeding her a line. He genuinely appreciates her work and doesn’t see her as a slut for it. She comes on to him and Dean sure doesn’t say no, in Spanish or any other language. They get it on to a mariachi band on the soundtrack. Sadly, it cuts off right after Suzy jumps Dean’s bones.

Down in the monster’s lair, Honor finally locates a lamp and lights it. She finds the pastor she’d slept with and the two fiances. The latter are pretty cranky, saying they’ve been starving to death. Also, the boy, Neil, is a selfish dick. They’re interrupted in their squabbling by the hatch opening and blue fire. Once it’s gone, the hatch has closed and the pastor has disappeared. They hear a scream overhead. He’s being eaten.

At the motel, Sam (correctly) realizes that people are being taken because they are violating their vows of chastity – and that if Dean has been gone an hour, it’s because he’s making time with Suzy. Sure enough, at the apartment, as Dean and Suzy are rather regretfully leaving (Susie admits she really missed sex), they are attacked by blue fire and knocked out. Sam and Jody don’t get there in time to rescue them, but Sam does find Suzy’s porno video and realizes they’ve been kidnapped.

In the cellar, Honor gets some more lamps lit, but the girl fiancee is so thirsty that she scratches the brick walls until her nails are raw and bloody, then licks her fingers (this scene is pretty nasty). They hear the hatch open up again, then find Suzy and Dean. Susie wakes up, then shakes Dean awake. Dean climbs up into the hatch and questions everyone while trying to get it open. Neil is singularly doom and gloom. Dean looks exasperated.

The MOTW took Dean’s phone, but he has another one and is able to make a brief call to Sam. Suzy suggests to Dean, ashamed again, that maybe they’re getting what they deserve from God. Dean reassures her that whoever or whatever is doing this, it’s not God.

Neil tries to suggest that they give up Honor (who has a sprained ankle) next time the monster comes to buy them time. Dean slams him against a wall and suggests they give up Neil instead. This shuts Neil up and wins an impressed smile from Honor. Later, Honor and Susie share a rueful moment over being only human, and Honor helps Dean with his attempts to open the hatch by supplying some scissors as a makeshift screwdriver.

Back at the motel, Jody finds their MOTW: Vesta, Roman goddess of the hearth. She was always wreathed in blue fire and she killed those who broke their vows of chastity. The historical Vestal Virgins (who were buried alive if they broke their vows) get mentioned. Oak stained with virgin’s blood will kill her.

Jody and Sam visit Tammy, who goes on a big rant about “devil worship” while refusing to help. Impatient, Jody punches her in the face, giving her a bloody nose, and then gets the blood with a handkerchief. When Tammy threatens to “call the cops,” Jody retorts, “I am the cops, lady!”

After Dean’s call, Sam tells Jody he heard a train whistle on Dean’s end. They locate an abandoned farm outside Hartford. Inside the barn, they look around, very quietly. Not quietly enough, though. Right after he finds the hatch to the fallout shelter and calls down to Dean, Sam gets caught by the MOTW and tossed across the barn. He’s knocked out.  Jody gets caught by the MOTW, but not knocked out. Vesta turns out to be Barbara.

Jody smart-mouths Vesta/Barbara and gets punched a lot, then strapped down to Vesta’s makeshift altar. Seems Vesta has come down in the world since “that hippy from Bethlehem” spoiled her game. She likes livers and normally “weaker” ones than Jody’s. When Jody tries to stab her with the oak weapon, Vesta takes it away from her. But just as she’s about to stab Jody, Sam wakes up and attacks her from behind. Jody still gets stabbed in the shoulder, but not fatally.

Vesta attacks Sam, but realizes that his liver is “no good.” She wonders out loud how he is even still alive (this sure is news to Sam). Her distraction proves fatal when Jody stabs her from behind.

Meanwhile, Dean has been breaking his way out of the cellar and manages this just as Sam and Jody finish with the MOTW.

Later, back at the motel, Jody is in a sling (they sure beat her up a lot). Hugs all round and then she leaves. Afterward, Sam wants to know what Vesta meant about there being “something wrong with me.” Sam worries that he will never be “all right,” despite Dean’s attempts to reassure him.

Dean finally starts to cave and confess to Sam, but Ezekiel comes out and warns Dean not to tell Sam and risk Sam rejecting the angel. Though Ezekiel casts it as a friendly warning, it comes off as sinister. Dean is forced to lie to Sam when he comes back and tell him vaguely that everything will be fine, somehow. Sam doesn’t really believe him and leaves, looking suspicious. Alone in the room, Dean looks conflicted.

Credits

Review: This one caused a brief kerfuffle when it first came out. There was a rather large “debate” about the seduction scene between Dean and Suzy, and whether or not Dean “sorta raped” Suzy by “ignoring” her boundaries. Other than that, I don’t recall it being terribly memorable.

Rewatching it, I found it a mildly intriguing MOTW with some icky subtext, paper-thin characters, and rushed pacing – all par for the course with a Jenny Klein script. This is the same writer who gave us Meg’s clitorectomy scene in “Caged Heat” back in season six. She’ll give us “#Thinman” later in season nine, then three more in seasons ten and eleven before mercifully going on to other shows. It’s unfortunate, because the episode does have several female guest stars. It just doesn’t do very much with them.

Regarding the infamous seduction scene, I agree with those who say it’s set up more like a parody of a porno (specifically, the show’s Casa Erotica porn series) than anything realistic. We even get bad Spanish, terrible Mexican stereotypes, and mariachi music on the soundtrack. But that’s where I get off the noncon bus (though I sure wondered about Neil and his girlfriend; didn’t sound as though her first time was much fun).

What little we get in the writing (especially the scene between Suzy and Honor) indicates that Suzy is actually pretty conflicted about her new life and new pledge. Granted, the episode itself is so busy sending up the Abstinence Movement, with its mean-spirited message and attendant stereotypes, that Klein does little to fill out the female characters and their motivations. But Suzy does have some. And they appear to be that she actually still quite likes sex. She just doesn’t like being shamed over it. So, when Dean finds out her past and reassures her that she’s an “artist” not a slut, she’s quite happy to jump his bones and has no real regrets immediately afterward.

If anything, I’m a bit bothered by how having so much of her story be from Dean’s POV (male gaze) obscures what a lousy abstinence counselor she is. By no means do I think that anyone deserves to be sexually assaulted for what they wear or how they act (nor do I think Dean would have done so, anyway). But from Suzy’s POV, she’s basically doing the sex equivalent of waving a bottle of liquor under a newly dry alcoholic’s nose. Taking off clothes, walking around in a skimpy camisole, leaving her porn tapes out in the open? How’s she supposed to think that Dean, who’s just confessed to still being really attached to sex, isn’t going to go out and have a one-night stand or at least masturbate after all that?

Even though we know that Dean is just going undercover, and has no intention of honoring his “pledge,” Suzy doesn’t know that. And having her act like that on top of Dean’s speech at the group meeting (in which he unconsciously makes it pretty clear he’s a great lay) is suspicious, to say the least. If she’s not seducing him, then having (very brief) second thoughts when he finds the DVDs, just what in the hell is she doing?

I’m guessing that once the Brothers gave the surviving group The Talk about monsters, Suzy instituted a certain loosening of restrictions in the Church. Most of the reason they were following them was fear of God’s wrath and shame about sex.

But that’s a big part of the problem with this episode. We get more resolution about Jody’s new war wound (boy, this show loves to beat her up) than we do about the group of civilians she and the Brothers just rescued. I would also have liked to have found out more about Honor. She was quite scrappy, despite her sprained ankle, and left behind a sympathetic witness due to her generosity. That may have saved her life. But nope. The show couldn’t be bothered to wrap any of that up.

Jody’s in a weird spot in this episode. It’s still fairly early on in her relationship with the Brothers. They’re friends now, but at the same time, still a bit formal with each other. There’s probably more they could have done with her relationship with Sam in this one, besides her having turned out a bit religious after her near-death experience thanks to Crowley. Alas, Sam falls down the angel possession mytharc hole in this one and it’s never even properly explained why he feels so exhausted.

One odd note – aside from the Chinese god in season five’s “Hammer of the Gods,” whom Dean kills, all of the pagan gods have been killed by Sam or a guest/recurring character. This week, Jody got the kill.

Finally, the MOTW had potential, but she didn’t fit well into the American Gods-inspired straitjacket the show has for pagan gods. Lindy Booth (of Warehouse 13 and The Librarians fame) does her best to give Vesta some bite, but mostly, the goddess is a dud. The research on her actual mythological background is okay as far as it goes, but the show fails to do anything creative with it and the discovery of what kills her is tacked on at the very end of a rushed expositional scene.

Especially confusing was what kind of humans Vesta actually preferred to eat. She talks about eating virgins back in the day, but Vestal Virgins only got buried alive if they broke their vows and the people she targets in the episode also broke vows of purity. Yet, she’s focused on virgins. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense.

Fun Lines:

Bonnie [when Sam signs him and Dean up to join her church]: Well, I’ll be a squirrel in a skirt!

The Group: Stay strong. Stay pure.

Suzy: And you, Dean? What set you on the path away from sin?

Dean: Uh, hard to say, exactly. Yeah. Sex has always felt – I don’t know – good, you know? I mean, really, really good. Uh, but, uh … sometimes, it just makes you feel bad, you know? You’re drunk. You shack up. Then, it’s the whole morning thing. You know, “Hey, that was fun.” And then, “Adios,” you know? Always the “Adios.” But, you know, when you get down to it, what’s the big deal, right? I mean, sure, there’s the touching and the feeling all of each other, my hands everywhere, tracing every inch of her body, the two of us moving together, pressing and pulling … grinding. Then you hit that sweet spot, and everything just builds and builds and builds until it all just … [splooge noise from Dean. Sam gives him a dirty look]. Yeah. Uh … but the whole thing was just a little too, uh … sticky. So, uh, I got my “V” card back! The end.

Suzy: What am I supposed to say, “Oh, hey! I used to be a porn star! Let’s pray”?


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: “Don’t Go in the Woods” (14.16) 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. 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.

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

Gotta admit that I’ve delayed starting this recap in large part because of the news on Friday that next season will be the show’s last. It’s not entirely unexpected (we are in season 14, after all), and we do still have 24 episodes left after this, but still. As Eva put it on last week’s discussion thread, there was some ugly crying going on in that retirement video.

So, let’s get to it and no, I won’t finish this tonight, but I will be done in time for this week’s episode. Which will be 24 episodes from the end. Yeah.

Recap of the season so far, basically, with an emphasis on those annoying teens from the 300th episode and far too much emphasis on Sam’s angst, the ongoing obsession about Jack’s powers and loss of soul, and nothing whatsoever about the fact that Dean was, just recently, possessed by an archangel. Or Billie’s books.

Cut to Big Creek State Park in Polk City, IA and a young couple making out in a car in that icky, ostentatious, PG-13-soft-core-porn, “Look! We’re teens having sex!” sort of way that makes you want them to be a slasher killer’s next victims. You know, all suction lips and pecking at each other.

Anyhoo, the girl (it’s always the girl, isn’t it?) gets nervous right before the ritual Shedding of Clothing moment and says she hears something. The boy, who of course is not thinking with his upstairs head, says it’s nothing, just the wind. She points out that eerie whistling outside ain’t the wind.

Great. I would decide to start recapping this after midnight.

The boy decides to go out and investigate, but when he opens the door, there’s a policeman right outside. Said cop turns out to be both the town sheriff and the boy’s dad. And he knows the girl, calling her “Barbara” as she buttons up her blouse. Awkward.

Barbara tries to sneak off while father and son have a tense chat about the son being out on his own, getting up to shenanigans. Barbara says she’s going to the bathroom and they let her. She thinks the bathroom is gross (it’s … basic in that somewhat isolated campground sort of way. But she ignores the flickering lights and sits down in a stall, anyway. Then she hears the whistling again. Inside the bathroom. She doesn’t really react until she hears something heavy crunch into the bathroom and reach over the stall. Then she screams.

Dad and son (named Tom) rush to save Doomed Teaser Girl. The dad sees something shambling off in the woods, but loses sight of it when he stumbles and falls over a tree root (of course he does). Then he hears his son shout and rushes to him. Tom has found Barbara. Her chest has been torn open and she’s dead. Guess her namesake was from Stranger Things, then.

Cue title cards.

It’s morning. Dean walks in on Sam sipping coffee and on a laptop. Dean suggests Sam is watching porn. Sam suggests that there might be other things on the internet besides porn.

Dean: Not my internet.

Dean has a point, not only because he’s caught Sam watching porn before (“Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things”), but because Dean has never been as uncritically impressed by the internet, and spending a lot of time on it, as Sam.

Sam brings Dean up to speed on Doomed Teaser Girl. Turns out she’s not the only dead person in that park, though most of them go missing. Dean wonders if Sam isn’t up for her, since he’s still grieving and Sam insists he’s fine. Naturally, no one whatsoever asks if Dean is fine because hey, no big deal on being the Cage for a pissed-off archangel for a few episodes, amirite?

Sam wants to bring Castiel along. Dean says Castiel took off to do his own thing with … something. Sam wants to bring Jack, but Dean doesn’t think it’s a good idea. He mentions the security guard Jack accidentally killed, seeing as how Jack “has his mojo back” (and boy, I sure didn’t miss it). So, they go tell Jack they’re going on a hunt, without him, and Dean gives him a grocery list to tend to that involves a lot of beer. Jack is reading. How, exactly, is Jack able to read, anyway? Let alone languages besides English?

Of on the road the Brothers go. They talk to the sheriff, who is played by Adam Beach. If Beach looks familiar, it may be because he played one of the few sympathetic characters in the movie Cowboys & Aliens and is a First Nations actor who’s been in a bajillion Canadian productions.

Anyhoo, the sheriff is cagey and doesn’t see why the “FBI” should be involved in a local hiking tragedy. He claims that coyotes killed the girl. But they do get to intimidate him into letting them check out the body (Dean plays Bad Cop).

The injuries on the body are odd. Not only are her arms and neck slashed up, but she also has burns.

Meanwhile, in the most boring B story ever, Jack is finding out that the minimart grocery store is closed when those assholes from the 300th episode show up, even as the boy is streaming the Ghostfacers (remember them?) and their theme song.

The kids try to chat Jack up, who at first completely blanks any ideas about the supernatural and tries to walk away. They follow after him. Wow, these kids really are obnoxious, aren’t they?

So, remember the brunette who was always encouraging others to do larceny? Turns out she has keys to the mini mart. So, she can help Jack out with his problem if not being able to get into the store.

Over in Iowa, the sheriff gets a visit from his son. The kid is having flashbacks to seeing his girlfriend dead. He wants to talk to Barbara’s parents. The sheriff tells him that’s a bad idea. Tom believes it’s his fault. His dad tells him that’s not true and that everyone just needs some time.

Cut back to Jack … shopping. Which is as dull as it sounds. The two girls are speculating that Jack must be lonely hanging out with some “old dudes” (please, Show, lose the goddamned ageist jokes before you go out, ‘kay?). Meanwhile, their Boy Friday is geeking on Jack and Hunting. The girls suggest a movie night. Jack says he does movie night with the Brothers. Dean always picks the films. After lying that he’s 22 and not 2, Jack gets carded. Aren’t these kids supposed to be teenagers? So, why card him when it’s not even legal for them to sell him beer in the first place?

Meanwhile, Sam thinks he’s found the MOTW (oh, thank God, a horror plot!). It’s a “Kohonta.” Basically it eats humans, partly by “spitting up stomach acid” on them.

Later, at night, a young couple is hiking (and another age joke). Then they hear whistling. The man suggests they head back, but when he turns around, he sees someone shadowy lurking in the shadows. When she turns her flashlight on it, it has a wormy-looking face. She screams, and both she and her boyfriend run. Unfortunately, he gets his ankles grabbed and he’s knocked flat. Then the monster appears above him. It drools acid on him and eats him.

Cut to the sheriff, looking through the folder that holds Barbara’s crime scene photos. Tom wants to go after the “animal” that killed her, while the sheriff tries to figure out what he saw that night. A deputy comes in and tells the sheriff about the hiker couple.

Meanwhile, the Brothers are interviewing the girl, who made it back to civilization and she tells the about the whistling. Her boyfriend is still missing.

The sheriff shows up and pulls everyone out, claiming he’s not going to go in after a “rabid coyote” (actually, hunting down a rabid coyote before it bit anyone else would be a major priority, but that’s some bad hat, Harry). The Brothers try to persuade him to “let” them go in to investigate and he insists no one goes in without his say-so (don’t you love it when this episode’s writer, Davy Perez, makes zero effort to do more than the most basic research on things like emergency medicine and law enforcement procedures? I sure do). The Brothers just nod their heads and you know they’ll just go in, anyway.

Back to the two girls (who are in high school because one of them is studying for her SATs). They flirt and giggle, but their bud would rather they do it in another room. Jack arrives with a bunch of books about monsters. Pretty sure Sam and Dean would object to that. Heartily.

Jack asks about the music they’re listening to and says he likes The Who. The girls make condescending noises about this and when Jack notes that Dean always says newer music “sucks ass,” they make yet another age joke at Dean’s expense, which also leads to a home schooling crack from one of the girls.

Show, if you are trying to get the audience to like these kids as potential cast for a spinoff, you are doing a piss-poor job of it. Also, the constant cutting away from what is turning out to be an old-style, very creepy MOTW plot to this dreck is making the pacing of the episode suffer horribly.

The boy asks Jack a question about demons and Jack explains that demons are black smoke that possesses people. The girls are smugly curious, so Jack shows them an angel blade. Jack demonstrates some moves, not all of them good, and the girls are even more smug. Seriously, does anybody really like this new and unnecessary group of redshirts?

Back to the MOTW, the Brothers are in the woods at night, trying to figure out how the find the MOTW and also how to kill it. The sheriff gets the drop on them, but only temporarily. After asking him about the Kohonta (and his denial), Dean disarms him.

Aaaaannnd we are back to Jack trying to demonstrate throwing and angel sword like Dean. Unable to do so, he resorts to TKing it. I’m sure this will end well. The kids are impressed at first, when Jack starts whipping the angel blade around, but then they start yelling at him to stop and the brunette (Lord, she really is a moron, isn’t she?) runs right into it while attempting to flee. The blonde screams at Jack to get away from her, even after Jack heals her. Then they all run away after yelling at him some more to stay away from them, including geek boy.

I really hate these brats. I hope they don’t come back. I’m afraid they probably will, though, since they’re in the same town. Ugh.

Back to the Brothers (gee, I hope we’re sticking with this storyline now). The Brothers are asking the sheriff about the Kohonta. He says he thought it was just a local legend until Barbara died and he saw the thing. Cue a cheesy flashback. The sheriff says there was a white family that came in early in the Colonial period. They had a bad winter. Only the son survived – he ate his family and then went after the sheriff’s Native American tribe, whistling. So, the tribe cursed him to eat or have his body eat itself, and forced him to be confined to the woods. But since then, people have forgotten about the curse and now wander in the cursed woods.

The Brothers give the sheriff the Talk. His first reaction is anger that they’ve kept monsters a secret from the world. He thinks they should go public. Dean says it doesn’t work that way. Sam tells the sheriff that even when people know about monsters and how to kill them, they still often end up dead.

At that moment, the sheriff’s son calls him, saying he’s going into the woods to hunt the “coyote.” The sheriff begs the Brothers for help and the three of them go looking for the son, hoping to find him before he finds the MOTW. Well … that’s not quite how that goes.

The kid is investigating an old cabin when the MOTW knocks him through a door and knocks him out. The sheriff goes after it and fights the monster, but gets bitten instead. Sam shoots it, but is also attacked. Dean rescues the sheriff, then discovers that the MOTW really hates his flashlight. Dean lures it out onto the porch, where the sheriff stabs it in the heart. It then … uh … melts.

The sheriff checks on his moron of a son. Sadly, the kid is still alive. They have a brief heart-to-heart and the sheriff reassures his son (who is being carried off in an ambulance) that everything’s fine.

The sheriff talks to the Brothers and Sam tells him he should give his son the Talk. Yeah, I’m sure that’ll turn out well. Dean doesn’t think so. Sam thinks they should be honest with Jack. Dean says Jack said he was “fine.” Sam gets pissy (some things never change) and says that they as kids always told John they were “fine” and they were lying. Except that Wee!Sam never exactly held back about his negative feelings with John.

Anyhoo, after they return to the Bunker, they explain to Jack that they wanted to wait before taking him out on a Hunt until he had control back over his powers. Jack is honest about why he couldn’t get the beer (no legit ID), but lies to Sam about using his powers while they were away (Dean has gone to get beer). There’s an ominous whoosh on the soundtrack as we go to black.

Credits

Ratings for this week were a standard 0.4/2 and 1.46 million in audience. That’s rather low compared to past seasons of the  show, but it’s downright fabulous compared to the rest of the network. The CW’s gonna miss this show.

The promo and synopsis for tomorrow night’s episode are here.

Review

With the announcement that the show was ending coming right after this episode came out, I had mixed feelings. I’ve been watching this show a long time (my first, and nearly last, first-run episode was “No Exit” waaaaayyyy back in season two). I’ve been commenting on (season three) and reviewing it (season four) almost as long as that. That’s over a decade of being an active saltgunner. I can’t say I’m ready to let it go right this moment. Maybe by this time next year, when we’re a month away from the end of the show real, I will be (Lord knows I’ve got other things in life to do), but not right now.

So, I will continue to do these recaps and reviews until the end (and if there’s a spinoff, I will at least try it out with recapping and reviewing). And I will catch up on the retro recap/reviews of seasons 9-12. I’ll try to get the Codices for the rest of the seasons out by the time the show ends (at least on Kindle), but a lot depends on how much time I’ll have between now and then. Gotta feed the kitties and pay the bills.

It’s kind of funny that people still want to see these. When I started out doing these live recaps on IMDb, practically no one was recapping shows (reviewing, sure, but only the first few seasons and not with blow-by-blow action). Now, recaps are a standard thing. Thanks for sticking by mine and I’m glad you’re enjoying them so much.

But back to the review.

As I said above, getting the announcement on top of this episode gave me a lot of mixed feelings. This show’s biggest weakness has always been its writing and I mean that at the showrunner level: character arcs, pacing, pointless retcons, dropped plots, that sort of thing. That’s been true of every showrunner. Sometimes, the writing is great. Sometimes, it’s terrible.

This season, it’s been all over the place, as though no one is really at the wheel. We had a great, thrilling and satisfying mytharc episode (“Nihilism”) just six episodes ago. “Don’t Go in the Woods” had the potential to be a great old-school Supernatural MOTW, even if the MOTW in question was basically a fake, localized version of a Wendigo. From Iowa.

I did quite like how the episode took Adam Beach’s character (the sheriff), acknowledged the actor’s Native American background in the script, and incorporated it while avoiding Vanishing Native American or any Angry PoC tropes. The sheriff narrates the arrival of the Colonial family over a century before as new neighbors who happened to be European, who had a really bad winter, and who had a Bad Seed who attacked the locals already there after killing and eating his own family.

The sheriff also acknowledges that it maybe wasn’t the best idea for his ancestors to give in to their desire for revenge and curse the guy to a horrible immortality as a sort of monster-ghost rather than just kill him. In their defense, though, they were a thriving community at the time and couldn’t have known that their culture would crash so badly within a few generations that important knowledge about the dangers of those woods would be lost and discredited.

Sadly, every time the episode built up a little creep, it cut back to the utterly stupid bilge that was the B plot involving Shiny!Powers!Baby!Jack and the kids nobody ever needed to see again from the 300th episode. Now, I get that early MOTWs of the show had equally rushed and flat backstory (go rewatch, say, “Bloody Mary,” for example) and one-shot characters whose motivations didn’t make a whole lot of sense. But that was 13 seasons ago and the show has improved on that score quite a bit. The only excuse for the lack of background here was the “necessity” of shoving in a mytharc-y B story in a minor key. Said subplot had a completely different mood from the A story, that also utterly ruined the pacing of the entire episode.

These kids … dear Lord. Perez isn’t a very good writer in the first place (his side characters are paper thin, his characterization of the Brothers is dated and awful, and he can’t be arsed to do a lick of actual research), but the way he and new writer Nick Vaught write these kids sets a new low.

I get the impression the show is trying to portray these three as worthy successors to Sam and Dean, by showing them as low-level grifters. Unfortunately, while younger characters like Alex, Claire and even Kaia had reasons for stealing and lying to get by, these kids don’t. They have comfortable homes and lives. The two girls live on Planet Lesbos where no homophobia exists in their version of the Midwest. Meanwhile, their geeky male bud just sits nearby and complains about their making out instead of avidly watching. Is he gay, too? Who the hell knows? The show doesn’t seem to know or care, either.

So, their stealing the Impala, mocking Jack and the Brothers, making ageist jokes, and sitting around getting drunk in an abandoned house with all the amenities just makes them look like entitled little sociopaths. Someone sure has a big grudge against teens, while trying to write them at the same time. Ugh.

Another problem here is that the episode clearly wants to set up a debate between whether it’s better to lie or to be honest about unpleasant truths, then come down hard on the side of brutal honesty. The sheriff’s story with his son, Jack lying to Sam, Sam complaining to Dean about lying to Jack, these all point to that conclusion with their unpleasant consequences and bleak implications.

But then you have the kids’ reactions to Jack showing off his powers. In the first glow of discovery, they eagerly pump Jack for info about the super-secret underground lair he lives in with the Brothers. And in the first glow of finding friends who at least look his age, Jack happily obliges.

Then, as they lose interest, the girls become mocking bullies, while the boy (Eliot) grows ever more geek-obsessive. Finally, when the reality of the dangers of the supernatural world sets in, they freak out and reject its representative (Jack) – blindly and violently. Sure, this is an obvious lift from the Creature’s story in Frankenstein. But it also flatly contradicts the message of the rest of the episode, instead supporting Dean’s ongoing assertion that most people cannot handle the fallout from the Talk.

There’s a line from “Ghostfacers”  that’s very appropriate, considering the kids are practically mainlining Ed and Harry’s videos early in the episode. With Sam leading up the lesson so his brother can tee it off, Dean tells the Ghostfacers at the end (when they still want to sell their story as a TV show) that the only thing telling the world about the supernatural gets you is “a straitjacket. Or a punch in the face. Sometimes both. “

Unfortunately, there’s no evidence from the script for this episode that the writers intended this kind of twist or ambiguity in their subtext. We really are supposed to believe that honesty is the best policy, just as we are supposed to believe that the Brothers’ Secreth and Lieth will lead to Jack’s going darkside. Except that it’s too much honesty and his own naivete that get him rejected in the first place!

The cold, hard reality is that this storyline is a massive snooze button slapped for random reasons in a random spot in the season on the entire Dean!Michael storyline that was going somewhere scary like a freight train … until suddenly, it wasn’t. But the state of Jack’s soul is not really all that up in the air. Obviously, he still has a hefty chunk of it. Otherwise, he wouldn’t have gotten into this mess in the first place and it wouldn’t have left him with hurt feelings.

You can’t have it both ways, Show. Either Jack has enough of a soul left to feel pushed to the dark side by rejection or he doesn’t have a soul and therefore, doesn’t give a hoot. And if it’s the latter, then this already-crappy B plot was completely pointless.


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


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Getting used to this new “look” on WordPress since I upgraded everything. Apologies for the delay. We had some technical difficulties with the site over the weekend. [cracks knuckles] Let’s get to it.

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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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: “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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