Category Archives: Live Recaps

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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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.

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

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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[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


Like this column? You can help keep it going by contributing monthly via Patreon (which includes perks), making a one-time donation through Paypal, or buying us a coffee.


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.

A friend and fellow saltgunner, Mandi Gordon, is still trying to do a GoFundMe to get out of a tough situation following her grandmother’s death. Even if you can’t contribute, please consider sharing the link where appropriate. Thanks.

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


Like this column? You can help keep it going by contributing monthly via Patreon (which includes perks), making a one-time donation through Paypal, or buying us a coffee.


The Official Supernatural: “Peace of Mind” (14.15) 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.

A friend and fellow saltgunner, Mandi Gordon, is still trying to do a GoFundMe to get out of a tough situation following her grandmother’s death. Even if you can’t contribute, please consider sharing the link where appropriate. Thanks.

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cue title cards.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Credits


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

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


Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s badass.


The Kripke Years

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4

Season 5

The Gamble Years

Season 6 (with Kripke)

Season 7

The Carver Years

Season 8

Season 9

Season 10

Season 11

The Dabb Years

Season 12

Season 13

Season 14


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


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

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


[spoilers ahoy for several seasons]


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

‘Scuse me, I gotta go rewatch that.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Fun lines:

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

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


The Kripke Years

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4

Season 5

The Gamble Years

Season 6 (with Kripke)

Season 7

The Carver Years

Season 8

Season 9

Season 10

Season 11

The Dabb Years

Season 12

Season 13

Season 14


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


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

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

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

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

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

Cue title cards.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Far too many commercials on this stupid CW app.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, that happened.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Credits


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

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

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


Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Kripke Years

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4

Season 5

The Gamble Years

Season 6 (with Kripke)

Season 7

The Carver Years

Season 8

Season 9

Season 10

Season 11

The Dabb Years

Season 12

Season 13

Season 14


Like this column? You can help keep it going by contributing monthly via Patreon (which includes perks), making a one-time donation through Paypal, or buying us a coffee.