Category Archives: Supernatural reviews

Supernatural: Season 10


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Contribute monthly via Patreon (which includes perks), make a one-time donation through Paypal, or buy us a coffee

My collected recaps and reviews of 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.

Here are all my live recaps and reviews, from here and from Innsmouth Free Press, in one, handy-dandy spot, for Season 10. I will add to them as I go along until the season is complete, then compile them in a Codex. Since I’m doing this on my own time, the more donations I get on Patreon or Ko-Fi, the faster I can do the recaps and reviews.


Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.01 (Season Premiere): Black

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.02: Reichenbach

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.03: Soul Survivor

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.04: Paper Moon

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.05: Fan Fiction

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.06: Ask Jeeves

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.07: Girls, Girls, Girls

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.08: Hibbing 911

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.09: The Things We Left Behind

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.10: The Hunter Games

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.11: There’s No Place Like Home

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.12: About a Boy

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.13: Halt & Catch Fire

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.14: The Executioner’s Song

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.15: The Things They Left Behind

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.16: Paint It Black

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.17: Inside Man

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.18: Book of the Damned

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.19: The Werther Project

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.20: Angel Heart

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.21: Dark Dynasty

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.22: The Prisoner

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 10.23 (Season Finale): Brother’s Keeper


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.


Supernatural: Season 9


We need your help!

Contribute monthly via Patreon (which includes perks), make a one-time donation through Paypal, or buy us a coffee

My collected recaps and reviews of 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.

Here are all my live recaps and reviews, from here and from Innsmouth Free Press, in one, handy-dandy spot, for Season 9.  I will add to them as I go along until the season is complete, then compile them in a Codex. Since I’m doing this on my own time, the more donations I get on Patreon or Ko-Fi, the faster I can do the recaps and reviews.


Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 9.01 (Season Premiere): I Think I’m Gonna Like It Here

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 9.02: Devil May Care

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 9.03: I’m No Angel

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 9.04: Slumber Party

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 9.05: Dog Dean Afternoon

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 9.06: Heaven Can’t Wait

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 9.07: Bad Boys

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 9.08: Rock and a Hard Place

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 9.09: Holy Terror

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 9.10: Road Trip

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 9.11: First Born

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 9.12: Sharp Teeth

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 9.13: The Purge

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 9.14: Captives

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 9.15: Thinman

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 9.16: Blade Runners

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 9.17: Mother’s Little Helper

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 9.18: Meta Fiction

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 9.19: Alex Annie Alexis Ann

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 9.20: Bloodlines

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 9.21: King of the Damned

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 9.22: Stairway to Heaven

Column: Gods and Monsters: Recap and Review: Supernatural 9.23 (Season Finale): Do You Believe in Miracles?


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.


Merry Christmas!


We need your help!

Contribute monthly via Patreon (which includes perks), make a one-time donation through Paypal, or buy us a coffee. I posted reviews here of North Carolina ghost story books, and notes about my research all month long in October on Patreon.

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

Hey, guys. So, I’m currently working on getting together pages on here with links to my old Innsmouth Free Press recaps and reviews from previous seasons. This is in preparation to doing some catch-up on seasons I haven’t yet reviewed (most of seasons nine and ten, up through halfway through season twelve). Eventually, I’ll put out Codex collections of them all.

As I do so, I’m cooking a pot roast and rewatching season three’s “A Very Supernatural Christmas,” as I do every year. Check out my old recap and review of that episode here.


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: “The Spear” (14.09 – Christmas Finale) 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. I’m posting reviews here of North Carolina ghost story books, and notes about my research all month long on Patreon.

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

Can’t load up Facebook, which is annoying. Let’s get started. I doubt I will get this done tonight, as today was a day, ending with trying to get home on a flat tire (in the pouring rain, of course) by pumping it up at various places on the way home. Gotta get in to the garage early tomorrow to get it patched up.

Anyhoo, rather standard recap of The Road So Far starting with a rather awesome Dean monologue out of nowhere:

I know what it’s like to see monsters. And I know that when they’re gone, they never really go away. But me and my brother, we’re the guys that stop the monsters. We’re the guys that scare them.

Cut to Now in Kansas City, MO, to “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” (never been a fan, especially of the Mel & Kim version that hits the British airwaves every December). Sounds like the Brenda Lee version.

It’s also the soundtrack on a particular floor of an office building, where everyone is being slaughtered by hyped-up werewolves. One of them then comes in to tell an elegantly dressed woman, whom he addresses as “Michael.” When he asks why Michael picked this floor, Michael just says, “I liked the view.”

Another werewolf brings in some recruits and among them is Garth. Michael recognizes him due to Dean’s memories and said he had been Dean’s friend. Garth says that’s all water under the bridge. He has a daughter now and he wants to be on “the right side” in the coming war. I’m rolling my eyes a bit, even if it’s a Garth-undercover-for-TFW thing, because the acting in this scene is pretty bad. I’m amazed any scenery was left unchewed, by anyone.

Cue title cards.

Jack is eating cereal (not the healthy kind, either) in the kitchen in the middle of the night when Castiel comes in and catches him. Jack asks Castiel not to rat him out to Sam about the cereal. Castiel asks why he’s up to so late and it comes out that Jack is still recovering from resurrecting. Castiel says that’s pretty normal (well … no, it’s really not, but it is for these guys). Castiel calls it “a rite of passage.”

Jack worries that his mother isn’t safe in Heaven from the Empty. Castiel calls Naomi “complicated,” but willing to fight to keep the souls in Heaven safe. Because that worked so well last week.

Jack also wonders why Castiel doesn’t want him to tell Sam and Dean about the deal he made. Castiel says he doesn’t want to burden them and also, he figures that with all the crap currently raining down on them, he won’t be giving himself permission to be happy any time soon.

It also turns out that Castiel stole the “secret decoder ring” from the cereal box.

Meanwhile, Sam is conversing with Garth, who is indeed spying for TFW. He says they want to “change” him by having him drink blood mixed with Michael’s grace. He claims he’ll be able to spit it out (don’t think grace works that way, Garth).

Garth has to hang up (and uses Bobby’s old “balls” line that I sure don’t miss as he goes in to get the change). Dean walks in just as Sam gets hung up on and reassures Sam that even though Sam was the one who recruited Garth for this mission, it won’t really be Sam’s fault if the mission goes sideways. Um, no, Dean. I’m with Sam. It will be his fault. But hey, maybe we’ll lose Garth this week. I’m okay with that. Early Christmas present.

TFW 2.0 gets a video call from Ketch, who boasts about liberating the egg they used on Lucifer two seasons ago from an Eastern European dealer, then having to mail it to the Bunker. It’s going to arrive, but a bit late.

Okay, so one new-used tire and a morning of Expensive Fun in the Rain with the Auto Shop later, let’s get back to this, in between bouts of math problems. Lots and lots of math. I have a Trigonometry final on Wednesday.

So, we have a new ragtime piano transition riff.

Back to Garth, with the other volunteer, who is all excited about his powerup. The head werewolf woman (who acts like a baddie extra in another CW show and that’s not a compliment) comes in and hands each of them a vial of glowing archangel grace. Garth tries to fake it, but when Michael walks in, he has to swallow. This ups his hearing, but what else has it done?

Michael is Evil Overlording about tracking down EVOL!Kaia and killing her, then getting the Spear (again, works for me! Not an EVOL!Kaia fan, either). This version of Michael probably won’t stick around long, but even so, I’m just not feelin’ her. I don’t think it’s the gender change because I actually miss Lanette Ware as Raphael and kinda liked her better than Demore Barnes (heresy, I know). I wish they could bring her back or that she’d at least stuck around a bit longer. Poor Raphael has gotten no mention-love since exiting at the end of season eight. Didn’t even have a counterpart in the alt-SPNverse.

But this version of Michael … I’m not even sure it’s the actress. Felisha Terrell is hitting all the notes she’s supposed to be hitting, at least on the surface. It’s just that Michael has never actually been a Dick Roman kind of villain, certainly not when Christian Keyes or Jensen Ackles was playing him. But this version is basically a female Dick Roman in a pantsuit and I’m very meh about that.

So, the other part of Michael’s plan (I’ll admit that it was such a lame retread that I ignored it at first) is to distribute upgraded monsters throughout Kansas City, and kill or turn the entire population on Michael’s signal. First of all, we know this never works because second of all, it’s been tried many, many times by villains on the show and it’s never worked. Like, ever.

The closest anyone ever got to doing this in such a short amount of time was in “Croatoan” back in season two and that was a small town in the middle of nowhere that had been cut off from the rest of the world. It just makes the SPNverse’s most powerful archangel look lame for even thinking up this plan. Especially with monsters that, for all of their upgraded powers, can be killed by a simple beheading.

So, Garth gets a call to TFW2.0 while they’re planning to go after the egg, which is stuck for the holidays in a postal depot (while this isn’t technically a Christmas-themed episode like “A Very Supernatural Christmas,” it is set right before or during Christmas). He warns them about the intended assassination of EVOL!Kaia. Sam is nonplussed.

And just like that, after almost half a season riding shotgun and being the wind beneath Sam’s wings, Dean just straightens up and takes over. It’s effortless and even a bit startling to everyone else how he does it, yet they fall right in behind him, anyway. Dean decides to split the team up – Sam and Jack will go get the box; Dean and Castiel will go hunt souped-up monsters and retrieve the Spear. Or at least prevent the monsters from taking it from EVOL!Kaia.

Off Dean and Castiel go in the Impala, on a road trip past those same sheep from that overhead shot that the show has been using for … what … 14 seasons now (it first showed up in season one or two)? When they arrive at what looks like a labyrinth of crushed trash, Castiel notes that the tape deck was broken (since when does Dean allow anything to stay broken on the Impala?), but Dean “didn’t complain once” about the lack of his favorite music.

Dean admits that he never realized before how horrible it must have been for Castiel and Sam, being possessed when they said yes to Lucifer. Dean hates that alt-Michael “tricked” him (I dunno, Dean. It’s not really a trick if it’s your only option left to save the world) and he won’t rest until he’s killed Michael, himself.

Back to Sam and Jack, who are breaking into the postal facility. Jack demonstrates a new skill – he can use a lockpick now.

Back to the trash labyrinth. Near the center of it, Dean and Castiel, who have armed up, enter a grotty old warehouse and then creep around a labyrinth of moldy boxes inside. Dean finds EVOL!Kaia’s camp in the middle, with an iron pot that’s still warm. As Castiel comes up to the same spot, they both hear a door slam to the outside.

Castiel is worried about the lack of monsters in the vicinity. Maybe they got E!K already? Dean thinks she’s “in hiding,” since she would have fought back and the camp is laid out neatly. But it begs the question of this being intel from inside Michael’s camp (and Michael has laid traps before), so what’s going on?

What’s going on is that when Sam and Jack leave the vicinity of the pilfered post office, with a strangely light box, Sam gets bonked on the head by one of Michael’s low-rent monsters, then sees Jack get kidnapped by two more of them (apparently, the extras budget was so low for this episode that despite Michael’s boasts of having upgraded thousands of monsters, we see the same four redshirts with bad teeth over and over again – lame). Then Michael shows up and melts the magic egg in front of Sam. While monologuing.

Ugh. Yeah, I don’t care if it’s the acting or the writing or what. I am officially over this version of Michael. Get a new meatsuit or something.

Oh, and then she knocks Sam out for real. Because Sam doesn’t already have stock in MRIs, already, or anything.

Back in the warehouse, Dean and Castiel are wondering what’s going on when they get a call from Garth. Nobody can get hold of Sam and Jack. As soon as Garth hangs up, he hears Michael fly in. Michael decides it’s time to…uh…talk with Garth. This won’t end well.

In the warehouse, Dean gets poked in the back by E!K. Some terrible sorcerer-in-a-Saturday-night-low-rent-Syfy-flick acting from her end ensues. Dean cuts it short by leaning into her Magic Spork and telling her to put up or shut up. He has family in danger and Michael’s about to murder thousands of people. Dean doesn’t have time to mess around with E!K and her stick. Either she can give up the spear or she can kill him.

Behind Dean, Castiel is making it pretty clear that if E!K takes Option #2, Castiel will kill her right afterward. Whoo, that glare could blister paint.

E!K decides to make a deal – she’ll give up the spear if they have Jack send her home. Dean lies and says that Jack can still do that, while Castiel looks surprised, and E!K buys it hook, line and sinker. At first, she wants guarantees, but Castiel points out that she’s not giving them guarantees, either. Clearly, she’s lying to them and has a new reason to go home. She admits as far as that she has her own people she wants to protect (presumably on the other side). I continue to fail to care about her storyline and look forward to its being wrapped up sooner than later.

Eventually, she gives up the spear, swearing she will kill Dean if he doesn’t bring it back. Ha, I say. Ha. Then she disappears.

Dean gets a call from Sam, in which Sam admits that Michael ambushed them and took Jack. This conversation is weirdly repeated before and after a commercial break, for reasons I don’t quite get. Sam drives off to Kansas City, as Dean says he and Castiel are coming to meet him. Castiel warns Sam not to go in alone. I’m sure we all know what Sam’s current plan is.

Meanwhile, Jack is being brought into Michael’s boudoir by the underwhelming low-rent werewolves who need to piss off  back to Legacies. They leave. Michael, who is standing the near the window, turns round and proceeds to bore Jack and the audience half to death with endless monologuing about the Grand Low-Rent Werewolf Plan, how things went for Kansas City in the alt-SPNverse, how they’re kin because they’re powerful beings with no limits (assuming Jack will eventually get his powers back), how Jack is too young to understand time and on and on and on and blahblahblah.

I’m sorry. That was just so hideously dull. Where was I?

Oh, yeah. Jack says that “Sam and Dean and Castiel will come for me.” Michael shrugs this off, so I guess the Really Obvious Trap Michael set is just that. Michael leaves.

So, remember when Castiel told Sam to wait? Sam didn’t wait (oh, come on, you didn’t think he would, did you?), possibly because he can’t get hold of Garth. The first werewolf he bags on camera is the guy who bonked him on the head at the post office, after he sent off the recruit who came in with Garth to infiltrate a church service. The second one is that annoying woman who kept tandem chewing scenery with Michael earlier and gave Garth his dose of archangel grace. Yay, Sam. My hero. Two of the more irritating redshirts at almost one go.

Sam enters the office where Jack is tied up and cuts him loose.  They hear footsteps and it’s Garth, apparently okay (but obviously not and Sam should have realized that). They get down to the parking garage with some rather ugly blue-silver Christmas trees.

As Sam and Jack come out of the elevator, Garth convulses. He still has his mind, but Michael is in it and has control over his body. Michael makes Garth wolf out, and attack and even flip Sam, but Sam is eventually able to choke Garth out. When Dean and Castiel arrive, they tie Garth up and dump him in the Impala’s trunk.

Castiel heals Jack, while Dean plays (badly) with the spear and TFW2.0 gets ready to take on Michael with the spear and an angel version of the demon cuffs, which may (but probably not) work on an archangel.  Jack is apprehensive, seeing as how he was just kidnapped, like, an hour ago and they’re going right back up there. Sam and Castiel reminisce about the obvious signs that this is a trap (including the obvious lack of monster guards or Michael coming down to check up on Garth’s interrupted signal). Dean just smiles because yes, obviously, it’s a trap. Duh. Good to all be on the same page now.

Off they go into the trap, Dean in front, to the tune of Movement IV from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony (that big choral moment all the car commercials use since Die Hard used it 30 years ago – damn, I feel old, now). Okay, I legit laughed out loud at that.

Upstairs, Michael is waiting impatiently and doesn’t look nearly as sure as the face the archangel shows to the world. But then Michael senses someone and says, “There he is.”

“He” apparently turns out to be Castiel, whom Michael beats to a bloody pulp before dragging him back to the room with the view. Sam and Jack show up, and get choked out.

This may (or may not) distract Michael as Dean attacks with the spear from a closet. Michael gets into a fight with Dean, and even manages to disarm him and choke him a bit, while monologuing that Dean’s initial “yes” was a “mistake” and that therefore, everything Michael now does is “all on you.” Which is creepy and rape-y and not actually true, but there you go. Sam gets the spear back to Dean and Dean is able to slash Michael.

“Trust me,” Dean says. “That’s gonna leave a scar.”

But then he hesitates (partly as Michael, or perhaps Michael’s vessel, looks afraid). We see the same double vision, some flashbacks to Dean as Michael, and then a really quick and weird one of Dean standing in a bar, playing bartender and looking confused. And then, the camera slides back to Dean’s face. It’s no longer Dean behind the face, though. It’s Michael.

Castiel senses it first (he should; according to canon, he should have seen Michael enter Dean’s body) and calls out to Dean. “Dean” then breaks the spear in half and turns around, eyes glowing.

By this time, it’s pretty obvious to all off TFW2.0 that Michael is back in the house. Unfortunately. And Michael is determined to rub it in.

Michael: When I gave up Dean, you didn’t think to question? To ask ‘Why’? Dean was … resisting me. He was too attached to you [cut to Sam], to all of you [wider shot of all three of them]. He wouldn’t stop … squirming. To get out, to get back. So, I left. [picks up a drink of whisky] But not without leaving the door open … just a crack.

Castiel: Why wait?

Michael: To break him. To crush and disappoint him so completely that this time, he’ll be nice and quiet for a change. Buried. And he is. He’s gone. [drinks down the whisky]

And now, I have a whole army out there, waiting, ready for my command. Ready … for this. [snaps fingers]

Credits

So, that’s it for new episodes for now, though the show returns on January 17 and we already have a promo, which gives away a pretty large spoiler about how this cliffhanger resolves. We can discuss it in the comments if you like, but I’ll try to keep the following review free of future spoilers. Or not.

The show exited 2018 with a 0.4/2 and 1.43 million. This put it below the DC shows this week, who had a big crossover event that netted all but Legends of Tomorrow, Riverdale and Black Lightning (which weren’t in the event) in the 0.7-0.8 range, but comfortably above other CW shows in audience, including Legends of Tomorrow,  Riverdale and Black Lightning, with whom it tied in the demo. Honestly, even if it weren’t the only non-tie-in show on the network, with 13 and a half seasons of eagerly watched content across several streaming platforms, it would be ridiculously safe.

Review: This episode ended up being All About taking Michael down. In the process, it showed both the strengths and the weaknesses of the storyline and the character (at least, the alt-SPNverse version).

Jensen Ackles knocks it out of the park as Michael. The stillness, the coldness, the smugness and arrogance, the self-assuredness, all of these are the direct opposite of Dean’s fire and passion, his joie de vivre, his doubts and fears, his heroism; his ability to be humbled without breaking, to get back up no matter how many times he’s knocked down, to step back and let others take the stage; and his huge capacity for love.

Michael’s biggest strength as a personality is also his greatest weakness – he’s full of self-confidence, a born leader who’s sure he will always win. He’s also cocky, which gets him into trouble, over and over again, in this new alternate reality, especially when it comes to his chosen vessel, whom he does not know or understand at all.

I’ve probably said this in the past, but horror, of all the genres, is the one that most often uses monster metaphors for emotional states, for the human condition. In Sam’s case, Kripke was interested in the idea of Sam having superpowers and how it felt to be hunted for being the next step in human evolution. The audience, on the other hand, really latched onto Sam’s alienation from his family, of feeling that he had tainted blood, a tainted inheritance. Sam’s mixed feelings between settling down with a “normal” life and embracing the Family Business for good also showed the conflicts of growing out of adolescence into adulthood.

Dean central metaphors were clearer and brutally different. While there’s certainly a familial resonance, and he has grown beyond his being frozen into childhood parentification, the monster metaphor for Dean is mental illness. Always has been, probably always will be.

Some of the monsters are internal and some are external. Dean has a lot of rage due to seeing his family get torn apart, his mother burned to death, his father turning into an embittered person who had little time for his eldest, his brother growing into a puppet king of Hell. But in Dean’s case, as many of his demons are real, actual demons from Hell as they are bugs in his head. And Dean has grown very strong, madness and all, feeding on his own rage over the years, but also his great love. Dean has a powerful rage, but he has an even mightier heart.

Dean’s first two lines of monologue in this episode could as much be about his internal demons as his external ones: “I know what it’s like to see monsters. And I know that when they’re gone, they never really go away.” That line from “The Time Warp” in Rocky Horror Picture Show has frequently come to mind this season with regards to Dean’s journey – “Madness takes its toll.” It does indeed.

I’ll admit that when EVOL!Kaia was going on about how she’d kill Dean if he didn’t give her spear back in one piece, I had to laugh and thought of Dean’s line from season three’s “Malleus Maleficarum”: “You wanna kill me? Get in line, bitch!”

At the end, when Michael made his little speech about keeping Dean down – frankly, I think the show lost an opportunity not using The Rolling Stones’ “Under My Thumb.” It was exactly that psychology – the evil, entitled, abusive ex. How dare Dean fight back? How dare he say no ever again after the one time he said yes? How dare he try to leave the relationship? Watch me use your own hands to murder everyone and everything you love, Dean. And it’ll be all your fault.

Possibly the most bizarre aspect of that dynamic this episode was when Michael tried to woo Jack with the idea of growing eternal with him, knowing full well the entire trap this episode was set up to ensnare Dean for eternity, the person Jack most looks up to and emulates. Is Michael really so detached from human emotion that he doesn’t think about the effect wearing Dean’s face for centuries would have on Jack? And that’s even assuming Jack has centuries left. There doesn’t ever appear to have been an archangel Naphil before and the regular angel variety don’t seem to live very long.

There’s a part of Michael that I think resents that Dean has feelings for anyone but the archangel he was bred to house for the next billion years or so. And Michael definitely has underestimated Dean. Without getting too far into that promo for next episode, I think it’s very interesting that Dean knew about the angel cuffs, but Michael didn’t. Didn’t even mention them, let alone take steps to destroy them.

It seems possible that just as Dean has been resisting Michael and forcing him to avoid doing certain things, even to make certain mistakes, he has also been able to hide things here and there from Michael. Michael isn’t nearly in control as much as he thinks – or, at least, as much as he claims. Michael has the tail of the tiger and the ride is rougher than he anticipated.

This is the tension that makes Ackles’ portrayal of Michael so damned fascinating (and why I hope the writers will resist the urge to let anyone but Dean off Michael in the end). It’s the tug of war between an archangel and his vessel. We got some of this with Sam and Lucifer, but by the time Sam said yes to Lucifer, he had been buttered up for a long time (even a lifetime) as special and wonderful by Lucifer’s demon minions. I think the hardest thing for Sam wasn’t become Lucifer’s vessel (as we see with Nick’s storyline, Lucifer makes a connection with his vessels that they miss if they survive his departure). I think the hardest was Sam rejecting Lucifer long enough for Lucifer to tire of his vessel (or see him as ruined enough) to abandon him for other victims, and then having to deal with not being the Special One, anymore. It’s taken a while for Sam to get used to, and learn to like, being “only” human.

But Dean was never seduced in this way. His was a very rough wooing, He was beaten down all his life, told he wasn’t special. And now, Michael wants Dean’s body (and Dean’s memories, which Michael perceives as part of Dean’s body and therefore Michael’s too) while locking Dean away, apparently now in some weird dream of being a bartender in a midnight bar. Of course Dean fights back. Why wouldn’t he? But to Michael, this is an affront, an insult, and he cracks down harshly.

But Michael’s hold over Dean is not nearly as secure as he boasts. If you woo Dean, he distrusts you. If you beat him, it just gets his blood up. He understands fighting very well.

So, Dean distracts Michael and prevents him from killing people Dean loves. Michael makes a lot of excuses, but this elaborate plan he lays out in this episode shows that he is less sure and confident than he makes out. Rather than a victim who is simply overwhelmed and turned into a puppet for Michael, Dean appears to be Michael’s match, even if he doesn’t really know it yet.

That, however, is precisely why Michael doesn’t work when played by other actors. Whenever someone else plays him, whether last season or even this episode, this critical tension is lost. Michael becomes nothing more than a generic villain, a petty tyrant in his own world turned freebooting pirate in this new one. His external plan – to get all humans turned into monsters, or make them into cattle for those monsters – has been tried before, more than once, and never succeeded. It’s nothing new and seems a bit lame for a being who is some 14 billion years old.

People talk about what a great villain Lucifer was and yes, before he was played out, he was. But that’s because Lucifer personally oversaw the destruction of Sam and Dean’s family. And Michael was Lucifer’s older brother. The problem is that this isn’t our Michael. It’s a Michael from an alternate timeline. He was our Michael up until the point Mary decided not to bring John back. And then he wasn’t. He was never the Michael who oversaw Dean’s birth and the destruction of Dean’s family. He’s just a would-be conqueror, trying to take advantage of a cosmic loophole.

Is this Michael not aware that Heaven is about to fall and render his conquest moot? Does he simply not care? Surely, he’s aware of the existence of the Empty Entity. All of these things seem like a larger story than Michael’s low-rent monster army.

Michael’s war for Dean’s body against Dean is interesting because it’s Dean. And it’s interesting because it’s a metaphor for Dean’s own battle with his madness, just as Demon!Dean and MoC!Dean was. The rest of TFW2.0 is now in a Saving Dean storyline and that’s what makes their part in it compelling. Michael separate from Dean? Not so much.

Finally, I’ve seen spec about how TFW2.0 will manage to kill Michael now. Well, they didn’t have either the egg or the spear when they killed Lucifer for real. But there is one way left. Alas, only Dean can do it (unless they bring out the other Michael from the Cage). Only an archangel can kill another archangel, with an archangel’s blade. If Dean could regain control of his body while Michael was still inside, he could stab himself with Michael’s blade. As we saw with Nick and Lucifer, it might not even kill him. Or maybe they could figure out a way to steal Michael’s grace (Michael knows how). But that all would depend on Dean and Dean being able to regain control of his body from Michael.


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The Official Supernatural: “Byzantium” (14.08) 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. I’m posting reviews here of North Carolina ghost story books, and notes about my research all month long on Patreon.

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

Recap of Lily Sunder’s story, as well as one of Jack’s predicament so far.

Cut to Now and a closeup of Dean looking devastated. He’s in Jack’s room with Sam and Castiel, who are looking after Jack. Jack says that maybe his early death was “meant to be” and Dean gets even more upset, going out into the hallway.

Even though Jack tells Sam to tell Dean “it’s okay,” Castiel goes after Dean and insists he come back in because Chuck forbid anybody take any emotional breaks or anything. I see Castiel’s back to his usual “Berate Dean” form.

Dean does return, but even though it’s only been a minute or so, Jack has died. Sam announces it and we get a closeup of Dean that looks … determined.

Cue title cards.

Outside, Castiel talks about “making arrangements” and Dean says that a wake and a “Hunter’s bonfire.” When Sam walks off, Castiel wants to go after him, but Dean tells Castiel to let Sam be.

Sam packs a bag and takes off, while Dean leaves a voicemail for Mary and Castiel moons about Jack’s room. Castiel sees Sam leave, but, per Dean’s instructions, doesn’t stop him. Dean is upset, since he didn’t mean to let Sam leave the Bunker. They follow Sam, who has left in the Impala, and find him sitting next to Baby.

Dean at first thinks Sam made a deal. In a flashback, Sam says he was trying to chop down trees to build a pyre. Sam admits that he feels utterly inadequate. Dean and Castiel reassure him that he’s not. Castiel claims that Jack’s death doesn’t feel “natural.” Oh, Castiel, honey, since when has anything about Jack been natural?

Sam asks what they should do. Dean suggests a wake (i.e., a heavy-duty drinking and reminiscing session montage about Jack set to The Allman Brothers Band’s “Please Call Home”), so that’s what they do.

Sam bows out first and then Castiel. As Castiel leaves, Dean asks, “We did all we could, right?” Castiel doesn’t even pause, just walks out. Dean pours himself another drink, and toasts Jack (wondering where he is, because there was some debate due to his Naphil status), but looks thoughtful.

Cut to Jack by the Impala on a bright, sunny day, eating a burger. He’s with the Brothers and Castiel, and Dean is outlining a hunt they’re on (while he and Sam bicker). But in the middle of teaching Jack how to read a map, Dean starts to glitch and the sun appears to blink. Jack is in heaven, but something is seriously wrong.

Jack walks out into the boring white corridor that has become the Heaven set (I really miss the night road version of the Axis Mundi, just saying). Everything is flickering. And then he gets chased by a black goo monster. Remember the Leviathans or the Empty Entity? Like that.

Dean wakes to a terrible hangover (Ackles sure milks that stuff) and voices in the other room. Sam and Castiel are talking to a woman with a black eyepatch. An older woman. Remember Lily Sunder from season 12? Her. Only, played by a different actress because, as Dean crassly tells her, “You got old.” As in, very quickly.

So, in other words, they recast her. I’m okay with this because I will take Veronica Cartwright (who played a witch-hater in both The Witches of Eastwick and late, lamented Eastwick the series) over Alicia Witt any day. Maybe Witt wasn’t available. Or maybe they wanted to change up the character’s look.

So, Sam got the idea sometime during the wake the night before to call Lily and see if she could help with deciphering Kevin Tran’s notes from the Angel Tablet. The idea is that maybe they can find a way to bring Jack back (since he’s half-angel).

The Angel Tablet, as we know, was broken along with Dean’s human life at the end of season nine. Kevin had transcribed the entire thing but into incomprehensible scribbles that only a Prophet could understand. And (as Dean points into in an understandable rant about Lily not exactly being their friend due to having tried to murder Castiel during their previous encounter when she was seeking revenge for her daughter) Donatello is obviously not going to be any help in his current state.

Lily suggests that she could use her knowledge of angels to decipher the tablet, which is why Sam called her. Unfortunately, it turns out she can’t.

“Well, thanks for stopping by,” Dean snarks. Nope, Dean doesn’t ever hold grudges forever, or anything.

Lily says she has a second plan. She can use her magic to resurrect Jack. Her magic draws on the human soul (and she only has a tiny sliver of hers left). If they can find a way to resurrect Jack, Jack can say a spell that will use a very small part of his soul to keep his body alive. Dean doesn’t like it, but Sam is for it and Castiel says that if he can find Jack in Heaven, he can pull his soul back down long enough for Jack to revive and say the spell.

But Dean is suspicious of Lily and calls her out on her motives. She admits she has a price. After killing “a lot” of angels (funny, I only recall two), she’s pretty certain she’s bound for Hell. She wants to change her destination.

Dean wonders how they’re going to make that happen. Summon Death? Billie’s not liable to be too helpful. Castiel gives up a new piece of information on How Things Work in the SPNverse – Death and her Reapers don’t decide who goes where. Since Chuck left, that job belongs to Anubis. As per Egyptian mythology, Anubis weighs a soul against a feather on his scales to decide where it goes after death.

Sam points out that in the mythology, Osiris was supposed to do that. Dean adds that they already met Osiris (and Sam put Osiris in a coma for the next few centuries) in “Defending Your Life” in season seven. Castiel handwaves this by saying that Heaven “passed over” Osiris as their new soul judge for some unknown reason in favor of his son Anubis. Though a pagan god, Anubis doesn’t work for Heaven. He works with Heaven.

So, they decide to summon Anubis and force him to change Lily’s fate. Lily is surprised at their sang-froid, but Dean says they’ve summoned gods before (and killed them).

Dean is not actually thrilled by this plan, having issues with the idea of Jack drawing on his own soul for power and also not finding Lily the least bit trustworthy. Sam says it’s worth it if it saves life.

Okay, let’s stop the presses for a sec, here. Everyone involved in this appears to be under the impression that Jack is in Heaven, even though they weren’t sure before. If Jack were in the Empty, I could understand the desperate desire to bring him back, even if it’s still an incredibly dangerous thing to do. But as far as they know at that moment in the episode, Jack is in Heaven and effectively enjoying Paradise. So, why are they dragging him back down to earth to have him live on his own vampirized soul again? I’m with Dean – that’s a bit creepy.

Anyhoo, the plot is at that moment conveniently turning in favor of making this moral dilemma irrelevant because Jack has entered his mother’s heaven (she starts off as a little girl playing ball with her dog). At first, Kelly is thrilled to see him, until he explains to her that she’s in Heaven, which means that they’re both dead.

Dean is drawing the trap when Lily hands Sam her angel grimoire (“the instruction manual”). On the pretense of getting some last-minute items, Sam leaves the room with an unspoken signal to Dean to go apologize to her. Dean sort of does this, but then takes the opportunity to call her out on her motives.

Dean astutely notes that she has intentionally stopped using her magic, is allowing herself to get old and die, even though she fears Hell. Lily admits that when she swore to kill Ishim, she was fine with using up her entire soul to do so. But as it turns out, she was left with a final “sliver … a whisper” of soul. She knows that her daughter May is in Heaven and desperately wants to be reunited with her if she has any soul of her own left.

In Heaven, Castiel is looking for Jack, and finds piles of goo and dead angels. Well, one dead angel, Azuriel. Duma wakes up and tells him they were attacked by the black goo, but she remembers nothing else. Castiel tells her he has to find Jack, but she’s afraid to be left behind. They go to Jack’s Heaven together, finding the scene Jack left when he exited his Heaven, sans characters.

Naomi shows up and identifies their enemy as the Empty Entity. It’s the one that has flung open all of Heaven’s doors (even the ones Metatron had closed) and left them vulnerable, able only to send out a distress signal on Angel Radio. It’s seeking Jack, perhaps because Jack is half-angel. Naomi insists they have to give Jack to the EE (she also calls it The Shadow) to appease it, but as she does so (and Castiel says no), she is attacked from within by the EE and overtaken.

There’s a wee retcon here. Naomi says that Heaven has “46,750,000,000” human souls, but in season five’s “Dark Side of the Moon” (which Dabb co-wrote, so you’d think he’d remember), Ash claims there are about 100 billion. So, which is it, Show? That’s a pretty large discrepancy.

Back on earth, Dean is lighting candles while Sam is saying a spell in Ancient Egyptian (sounds like, anyway) and Lily is cutting her hand to let blood drip inside the circle. Anubis appears suddenly, without fuss, inside the circle with a briefcase.

Anubis is … okay, I was disappointed by Osiris, who was a bit of a nutcase (apparently, Adam Glass didn’t like writing him, so that would explain why that episode sucked). But I like Anubis. Sean Amsing balances him just right (which is appropriate, all things considered). He’s impressed to meet the Winchesters, finally, saying he usually operates behind the scenes and allows Death and the Reapers to do all the face time, so he’s never met the Brothers, even though he’s weighed their souls many times. When Dean snarks at him, Anubis finds this charming (“just as advertised”) rather than insulting.

He calmly asks why he’s there and Lily steps forward. At first, Anubis hesitates, calling her request “unorthodox,” but figures that since he’s already there, he might as well grant it. He pulls out an abacus (amused at Sam’s confusion) and takes her hand. The abacus has black and white beads that zip up and down. When they settle, there are a few white beads at the top, but most are black and at the bottom. Anubis sadly tells her he’s sorry. She’s going to Hell.

At first, the Brothers threaten to keep him in the circle (he can be imprisoned in a ring of palm oil) or even kill him if he doesn’t change Lily’s fate. Dean even notes that God could make an exception.

Anubis says that’s not the way it works. Humans make their own fates depending on their own actions on earth, summed up at the moment of death. No one can change her fate save Lily herself and if the Brothers try to keep him there or even try to kill him, the only thing they’d accomplish is possibly changing their own fates (i.e., that their actions would be unheroic). Reluctantly, Sam gives in and lets Anubis leave.

In Heaven, Castiel and Duma are walking through Kelly’s colorful garden. Castiel is sure Jack is there, in his mother’s heaven.

Jack and Kelly are inside a house. Jack is peering out the front door, telling her that if an attack comes through it, he will distract whatever it is so she can run. Kelly just tells him she’s not running.

Jack is surprised when he hears Castiel’s voice and greets him warmly (but Castiel is an angel; why is Jack surprised that Castiel could find him in Heaven?). Castiel apologizes to Kelly, who tells him he has nothing to apologize for.

Castiel explains that he and the Brothers have found a way to bring Jack home, and the cost of the small piece of his soul. But Castiel also adds that the EE is looking for Jack in Heaven. If he leaves Heaven and goes back to earth, it will stop attacking Heaven. Castiel explains the EE is looking for Jack because he’s half-angel.

Duma then shows up and it turns out (yeah, shock-twist, not so much) that she is still possessed by the EE and now the EE knows Castiel’s plan. Oops.

In tears, Lily wants to bail, even though Sam begs her and says that Jack is their son. Dean is more cutting, using her previous confession against her, saying she must have so little soul left that she is not even human, because no one with a human soul who had gone through what she did with her daughter would do this to them.

Lily glares at Dean hard enough to peel paint off the Impala, but she comes back. They set things up with Jack’s body and she starts chanting the spell.

Upstairs, EE/Duma kicks Castiel and Kelly around a bit, then starts to take Jack. EE is apparently upset, still, about being woken up and dearly wants to see Castiel “suffer.” EE/Duma also sneers to Jack that the Empty is worse even than Hell because it’s “nothing.” Except that the EE was quite happy before it woke up, so how would it feel that way?

But EE/Duma savors the victory a wee bit too long, so that Castiel hears a prayer from Dean saying they are ready with Jack’s body for the resurrection. So, Castiel gets up and makes a deal with EE/Duma. He says that he was the one who woke the EE up, and the EE might have to wait a long time to get him. But if it takes him in Jack’s place, he will go “willingly” and “now.” EE/Duma is okay with this, with one alteration – it will come and take him when it feels like it, when he’s finally happy and he “feel[s] the sun on your face.”

I guess the EE will be waiting a long time, then.

Castiel agrees to the deal and the EE releases Duma, blasting up into a ceiling vent. Duma wakes up, confused, and Jack is upset about Castiel’s sacrifice. Castiel says that Sam and Dean are trying to bring him back right at that moment and that Castiel owed it to Kelly to save Jack.  He also begs Jack not to tell them about the deal they made. Jack agrees, because secreth and lieth have always gone so well on this show.

Jack says goodbye to Kelly, who says she will be waiting for him. Castiel puts his hands on the side’s of Jack’s face, which glows, and the Jack wakes up on the table in the Bunker (as Lily stops chanting and starts in surprise), deathly pale and coughing, but breathing. Sam quickly hands him the spell to heal himself, which Jack does with much hacking and choking. His eyes glow briefly and he asks in wonder if that is his soul. Dean asks  him how he feels and Jack realizes he’s healed. Dean hugs him and Sam manfully squeezes his arm.

In the background, Lily has been clutching her chest and backing away from the table. She sits down offscreen in a chair. When Dean turns to her to thank her (Sam does, as well), she is lying dead in the chair. The spell took the last bit of life out of her.

Lily finds herself in Anubis’ office, which is a 40s noir style set-up in a clock tower (pretty cool design). Confused, Lily asks what she’s doing there. In response, he pulls out his abacus and takes her hand again. This time, most of the white beads end up at the top.

Anubis asks Lily if she realized “what the spell would cost you”? She doesn’t answer (though her look says she did). The implication is that not only did she suspect it would cost her her life, but even the last sliver of her soul (since her spells were powered by her soul). By giving these up, she appears to have restored her soul and also won passage to Heaven because Anubis tells her, “Say hello to your daughter for me.”

In Heaven, as Castiel is exiting Kelly’s, he encounters Naomi. Naomi thanks him for saving the angels, even if he didn’t make his sacrifice for them. As a “reward,” she offers him what the angels know about alt-Michael’s location.

Downstairs, Jack is enjoying a burger (no doubt made by Dean) with the Brothers and Castiel. Dean tells Jack that Castiel got intel on alt-Michael. Castiel says they still don’t know where EVOL!Kaia is, or her Spork (though I’m guessing it’s with her), but they’re one step closer. Dean calls a clink of glasses over the prospect of taking down Michael once and for all.

Credits

Ratings went up a bit this week on this one, which is somewhat unusual for December (Christmas ratings for non-holiday shows tend to be dire). Perhaps fans wanted to know what happened to Jack. The show got a 0.5/2 and 1.53 million, which put it in second for the week on the network in both demo (tied with Arrow) and audience.

The promo for next week (which is the Christmas finale) is up. This will be the last episode until January 17. Since the show is only 20 episodes long this year and so far, they’re going with the usual number and spacing, it appears that we will have some looooonnnnger than usual mini-hellati in spring. They’re basically stretching 11 episodes out over 4 months. I’ll be doing some catching up with older seasons during those lacunae.

Review

So, the review. This episode obviously wasn’t going to kill off Jack (though, for a bit, they teased that it might turn out the way things did for Bobby in season seven, which would have been awful), but in order for it to have the necessary emotional weight, someone recurring needed to get thrown under the bus.

Castiel’s not going anywhere, either, but his deal will throw the usual spanner into the works when the time comes. And the time may come sooner than later (albeit I still think everyone else was distracted, with reason, by the horrific shiny of Jack’s illness from the fact that Dean is definitely not okay – with potentially cosmic consequences). Depends on where they go with the Michael storyline, which they finally revived this week, and how fast. I can’t decide if the EE will be the Big Bad for this season, with alt-Michael reluctantly recruited to fight it, or will be reserved for another season (yes, people, there will be another season – did you see those ratings?).

Since none of the regulars was going anywhere, the return of a guest star was required. Well, we technically got more than one, though Kelly didn’t leave Heaven. And while Duma and Naomi’s exits were teased, Heaven only lost one redshirt angel (sorry, Azuriel, or whatever your name was!).

So, hello again, Lily; goodbye, Lily. Initially, I was perfectly okay with this. I found Lily Sunder mighty unsympathetic in her first appearance. Not only was she up against Ian Tracey’s Ishim (yes, I know Ishim was whackadoo and jealous of Dean’s friendship with Castiel, but it was Ian Tracey. Sue me), but she was played by Alicia Witt. I’ve noted in the past that I’m not a huge fan of Witt. I fact, I just realized she’s actually been irritating me since the 1980s, as she played my favorite character not very well in David Lynch’s version of Dune. Yeah, she was a kid back then, so it wasn’t her fault, but she isn’t now.

But I liked Cartwright. She brought a twilight sadness and guilt to Lily Sunder that the character needed to hook us into her story arc. We still had the foundation of a frenemy we had met before as an enemy, whom the Brothers (well … Sam) called in desperation, but with more emotional pain and less angry snark.

Lily wasn’t just a sacrificial character the show threw under the bus to give Jack’s resurrection emotional weight. She was a character whose ending had been left undetermined in the previous episode. There was still a story to tell about/for her and the episode did a pretty decent job of doing so. Yeah, a lot was packed in, but Lily’s journey was never ignored or given short shrift. Her decision was pivotal for the episode, but made perfect sense for her. Anubis was right – only Lily could change her own fate.

The thing was that Lily was a very selfish character in her first appearance. One understands the concept of revenge. The entire reason the Brothers are so powerful in the first place is because of their familial quest for revenge for their murdered family. We hear a lot of demons and monsters and angels and gods make snarky references to the Winchesters’ violating the Natural Order, but the Natural Order destroyed their family, for generations, made them products of a eugenics program going back possibly billions of years, caused them untold misery. Why would they feel any loyalty to that? Excuse me, but the sheep get to fight back.

But the Brothers have always had the Family Business motto to project that mission outside themselves. It’s always been about more than just their needs. Though John gradually lost his way, he also saved a lot of people. And though Sam could be a lot more selfish than Dean (and Dean could be downright violent, albeit otherwise the most altruistic Winchester), Sam has always perceived saving others as a way to redeem the darkness he feels inside him. And, of course, there’s Mary, who could never quite stop hunting because there would always be innocents needing help.

Lily, on the other hand, didn’t care if innocents got hurt on her mission. She had no empathy for the vessels the angels she killed inhabited. Just collateral damage, as far as she was concerned. She couldn’t care less that Ishim was about to kill Dean. To her, that was just a convenient way to stall Ishim until she could get to him and kill him. She even got herself into her original predicament by summoning Ishim and messing with forces she didn’t fully understand.

Yes, she loved her daughter, but she then used May (and May’s death) as an excuse to become darker and darker over time. In Lily’s case, her use of her soul to fuel her power was really a metaphor for her gradual loss of humanity over time.

And it made sense that Dean would be the one to call her out on it. Sam gets moral tunnel-vision and often is willing to work with some shady people, doing shady things, without looking hard enough into what’s going on (this goes all the way back to, oh, “Faith”). I especially wasn’t too thrilled by how Sam brushed off the realization that Jack was in Heaven and that they would be yanking him back down to earth if they resurrected him, having him power his body with his own soul just to survive.

Dean doesn’t buy into that as much. Dean wants to know the hidden moral cost before he plays the game (and Dean was the one who questioned the soul battery idea for Jack). Sam had the idea of calling Lily but it was Dean who knew how to find her true motivation and bring it out.

So, Lily desperately needed redemption. The fact that there were any white beads in her favor the first time shows that she did manage to do some good, and that allowing herself to age and die was a promising start. But she needed something else, something where she set aside her selfishness for good and all. That involved sacrificing her life to save Jack.

By giving Lily a real story of her own, the episode made it possible for her sacrifice to anchor Jack’s return. A life for a life, but in Lily’s case, sacrificing herself is exactly what her story needed to end well.

I also liked Anubis. This felt like a do-over of the botched Osiris story in season seven and even of Kripke’s original idea of gods as just human-eating monsters. Anubis was not a monster. Nor was he an angel. He was an actual pagan god but a benign one. Don’t think we’ve ever had that before.

Yeah, it was sort of a retcon that basically ignored the Fates (“My Heart Will Go On”) and previous pagan god lore, but I’m okay with that. I didn’t like the Fates, anyway. Plus, the idea that all pagan gods were evil and dependent on the power of their worshipers (especially the whole “Hammer of the Gods” massacre) never sat well with me. And yes, I’ve read American Gods, and no, I didn’t like it. I felt it was disrespectful toward pagan religious systems (aside from being overlong and hideously boring at times).

Anubis has a place in the SPNverse, a critical place. He has basically replaced Chuck as the person who decides where human souls go when they die. Except that he doesn’t decide – the humans do. That was the twist. Anubis is just the psychopomp.

I also liked the way the actor played him. Anubis wasn’t going to put up with any crap, but at the same time, he understood the emotional stakes (fitting for a god who weighs human souls against a feather) and was willing to cooperate as far as he could.

He wasn’t mean. He wasn’t cruel. He felt compassion for Lily, even though he hardly ever had interactions with humans. He didn’t so much as balk at giving Lily a final accounting (after all, he did say that he normally only did it at a person’s death) or congratulating her when it turned out well. If anything, Anubis is a much nicer and kinder god than Chuck. Go figure.


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The Official Supernatural: “Unhuman Nature” (14.07) 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. I’m posting reviews here of North Carolina ghost story books, and notes about my research all month long on Patreon.

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

I have a confession to make. As much as I love this show, I have really come to hate Nepotism Duo scripts. I tend to drag my feet on recapping and reviewing them because they are so. Damned. Boring. The pacing is usually rushed on the important things and endlessly show on the unimportant things. And half the time, their stories are pretty offensive, brain-dead, and constantly contradicting themselves and other Show canon.

So, let’s get started.

Brief rehash of Jack’s story, focusing on how he lost his sparkly powers and is now sick.

Cut to Now and Nick sitting in an office in front of a nice stained-glass window, speaking to someone offscreen (behind the camera). Remember this speech from Psycho Debbie in Addams Family Values? It’s kinda like that:

Nick is confessing about killing his neighbor, while waving a bloody knife around (so his audience is likely either not real or dead). He says the really disturbing part is that he had “feelings” afterward of pure enjoyment. That’s a problem. But at the same time, he deserves to find out what happened to his wife and baby.

He starts talking about forgiveness and as he gets up, we see he is speaking to a priest. A dead priest. Who’s had his throat cut and has been crucified in a doorway. Nick pats the corpse on the chest, saying the priest should have just given him what he wanted, and leaves.

Cue title cards.

Y’know, I always wanted to find out what Nick’s backstory was and who killed his family (Kripke sure as hell didn’t care). But I always worried that the writer who decided to do it might take the cheap and easy route, and “blame” it all on Nick by having him conveniently go psycho. That way, nobody, either writers or audience, would have to deal with the uncomfortable cognitive dissonance of Nick’s years-long suffering over the course of the show, while the Brothers “failed” to save him.

The thing is that the Brothers didn’t fail at anything. They had no idea Nick had even said yes or been possessed until nearly halfway through season five and thought he went bye-bye at the end of the season. By that time, they had reason to believe that should Lucifer, say, be forced to leave his vessel, there wouldn’t be anything left to Nick anyway (which appeared to be the case after Sam said yes). Nor did they resurrect Nick or steal his body in season 12 – that was Crowley.

So, having Nick be an innocent victim of Lucifer wouldn’t have been a problem for the audience retaining sympathy for the show’s protagonists. The Brothers are innocent victims of Lucifer, too. The fact the show chose to have him go psycho in his “roaring rampage of revenge” was simple laziness and lack of imagination on the part of the writers. Oh, yay.

But those title cards are still nice.

Cut to the Bunker, where Jack is lying in bed, coughing up blood, while Castiel tries to heal him. It doesn’t work, which is what Castiel tells the Brothers, who are waiting out in the hallway, Dean a bit more loudly than Sam.

They hear a noise in the room and rush in to find Jack on the floor, seizing. Jack’s lying on his side, which actually is a good position for a seizure (less likely to choke), so Sam picks Jack up so he can choke for real and so the audience can see his face.

At that point, the three of them drag him to the ER, where Dean bosses everyone around. Or tries.

The nurse takes an awfully long time arguing with Dean over Jack’s personal information, even though there’s blood on Jack’s shirt (ugh, Nep Duo, do you think you could possibly have done a little research on medical procedures?).

Anyhoo, Jack collapses (which speeds up the process) and is rushed into a room, where the doctors can’t figure out what’s wrong with him or even stabilize him very well.

Meanwhile, Nick is meeting in a diner with a friendly female reporter, who investigated the murder of his family. He tells her the neighbor’s dead. Nick gets a little strange when she first turns cagey about having dropped the story. When he presses her on which cop covered his case, she mentions a guy who retired afterward and is doing private security up on Montauk.

The Brothers quickly conclude that the hospital is doing Jack no good (saying “all his systems are shutting down” is unhelpful and pretty non-medical, makes him sound like a computer). So, they check Jack out and Sam calls Rowena.

There’s a cute scene in which Rowena arrives at the Bunker, all perky to help … Dean (ha, knew she had a little torch for him). Sam had lied to her. When she finds out that it’s Jack (more specifically, Lucifer’s son), she’s equally ready to bail. Jack shows up and basically sweet-talks her into staying. Poor Rowena. Such a sucker for a wee magical bairn.

Unfortunately, she’s not able to cure him, though she can diagnose what’s going on. As a half-human/half-archangel, Jack’s body exists in a stasis kept by his grace. Take away the grace and his body starts to eat itself. Castiel offers his grace, but Rowena says Jack needs archangel grace.

As they talk, Dean gets dizzy and has a dissociative episode in front of everyone that no one whatsoever sees. I get they’re all worried about Jack, but it happens right in front of the whole group. Jeez.

Somewhere else at night, Nick is hanging outside a nightclub in the city. He strikes up a conversation with a girl outside using her phone, while hiding a knife from her. But when she refuses his invitation to go somewhere quiet, and instead suggests he come inside the club, he chases her away while holding back from killing her. Then he has a dissociative episode very much like Dean’s in the previous scene.

At the Bunker, Jack wants to go on a roadtrip and is packing when Dean walks in. To Jack’s suprise, Dean is fine with the idea of Jack living a little before he dies. Jack is tired of being “special” (he says people came to expect he’d be around forever, but perhaps that was not to be) and just wants to have a taste of life, so Dean agrees to go with him to Vegas.

Sam, Rowena and Castiel are all on the phone to various people when Dean comes out with Jack and the two of them announce this after we find out the only lead (via Ketch) is a shaman the LoL used to use. Sam asks if Dean thinks this is a good idea. After some hesitation, Dean says yes. Sam looks concerned, but neither he nor anyone else has noticed that Dean just had another dissociative episode right in front of everybody seconds before.

Well, alrighty-then. A dying baby Naphil and a slightly-more-insane-than-usual salty Hunter are off to Vegas. I’m sure this will end well.

After visiting Rollin’ Thunder Burger Barn, Dean impulsively decides to teach Jack how to drive. Fortunately, Baby’s an automatic (or this could get really interesting), so we get a cute montage of Jack learning how to get up to highway speeds, to Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s “Let It Ride” (my God! More Classic Rock!).

At one point, Jack blurts out, “It’s like I’m you!”

“No,” Dean says with a weird look on his face. “It’s not … eyes on the road!” And yet, you can see he’s touched by Jack’s enthusiasm about being out on the road with him. I don’t think Dean is used to being hero worshiped. Claire’s OTT adulation freaked him out, too.

Back at the Bunker, Castiel decides to go off alone to meet with the shaman (something-something about spreading out their resources; it’s not made very clear). He comments that Dean seems especially upset about Jack’s illness and that they can’t cure it. Sam tells Castiel that Dean was rough on Jack initially (well … um … yes, for the same reason Rowena’s reaction made perfect sense. He is the son of the Devil) and he thinks Dean feels guilty. He also says that while they have both “lost people” before, “this feels different.” Castiel says that’s maybe because it “feels like losing a son.”

The scene is a bit sappy (but hey, somebody noticed Dean’s feelings for once). Too bad nobody has yet noticed that Dean is slipping again.

Dean and Jack stop off to eat. Dean asks what Jack wants to do and suggests going to a local bar to hook up with a girl. Jack has another idea, so they run with that.

Meanwhile, Nick is showing up on the doorstep of the former cop who investigated his family’s death. The man is clearly paranoid and tries to slam the door on Nick once he realizes who he is. But Nick busts his way in, grabs the man by the throat and says they should “talk.” I’m sure this will involve lots of violence.

Jack has decided to go fishing. With Dean. He was inspired by Dean telling him once that he went fishing with John and it was “the happiest moment” Dean ever had with his father. Dean hedges that he “never said that,” but Jack says, “It was the way you said it.” This seems to be a callback to Dean’s fishing dream at the beginning of season four’s “The Rapture.”

Jack tells Dean that he doesn’t see happiness in going to exotic places, but in the smaller moments, specifically spending time with Dean, that if this is it for him, this is how he wants to spend it. The subtext is pretty heavy that Jack sees Dean as his primary father figure. Kinda sucks for Castiel (Sam was always more the responsible uncle).

Meanwhile, Castiel is meeting with the shaman, who lives in an old trailer. And is a Russian named Sergei. Sergei makes a ring of holy fire blast up around Castiel and comes out armed, but then they go inside and talk.

As far as I can tell, this is supposed to be a male version of Baba Yaga. I don’t really get why Baba Yaga is male in this version.

Sergei claims to be a healer, but comes off as very dodgy. Anyhoo, he pulls out a box and turns out to have some archangel grace from Gabriel. Gabriel had traded it for a cloaking spell to hide him (the time he hid out in Monte Carlo). The grace alone won’t heal (or, according to Sergei “restart”) Jack’s body. It also requires an intricate spell. He will accept no payment except for an IOU from the Winchesters (because that is considered valuable now in the magical world).

Meanwhile, Nick is beating up the ex-cop, who is tied to a chair, so yep, we got violence. Nick talks about killing the neighbor, but he also supplies some extra info we didn’t hear before. The neighbor had said he saw a police officer leave the house after the murders, but there was a cover-up. He mentions the reporter, who told him this guy was the one who was seen leaving the house.

The ex-cop finally confesses that he doesn’t remember what happened. He ran into a guy who called himself “Abraxas,” then has no further memory until he woke up with blood on his hands.

Nick realizes the guy was possessed. At first, it appears he may let the guy go, since he was actually just an innocent host. But then the bloodlust takes over and he kills him, anyway, beating him to death with a hammer. He looks agonized afterward. Also, covered with blood.

Back at the Bunker, Castiel admits that Sergei was dodgy, but this is what they’ve got. So, they do the spell and Jack drinks the archangel grace (I didn’t catch the first word, though it’s probably supposed to be “gratia” for grace,” but the Latin basically says that it will restore the person to how they previously were). At first, he appears to get better, but then he becomes much worse.

Furious, Castiel calls Sergei, who is getting stoned, and finds out the spell was experimental (um … yes? Wasn’t that obvious?). When Castiel threatens to find Sergei and kill him if Jack dies, Sergei tells him good luck doing that. I roll my eyes a bit over this exchange.

At the very end, Nick has gotten drunk while still in the dead cop’s house and admits that he enjoys killing and doesn’t want to stop. He’s lost without being Lucifer’s vessel (yes, yes, I know. Anvils for Dean). Just in case we were thinking the writers hadn’t gone sufficiently lazy with Nick’s storyline, Nick prays to Lucifer for help and Lucifer, very improbably, wakes up in the Empty.

At the very end, Rowena is doing a sort of read over Jack (there’s a hilarious BTS video that explains why Jack is smiling while asleep and dying).

Dean blames himself, but Sam and Castiel both say that Dean at least made Jack happy, which is more than anyone else has been able to do, lately. When Rowena finishes, they ask what she can do and she says they can only sit vigil while Jack dies.

Oooh, cliffhanger.

Credits

I’ll do a review-ish tomorrow night. Tune back in here for it and ratings info.

So, the promo for this week is here (the Christmas midseason finale is next week and, as usual, they’re actually stopping a bit short of halfway, even though the season is shorter this time).

Ratings were a 0.4/2 and 1.49 million in audience. This tied it in the demo for second and made it second (solo) in audience for the week on the network.

Review

What to make of this one? It has some good ideas, with nothing too terribly offensive. There are some scenes where the actors took the opportunity to chew the scenery and did really well.

Mark Pellegrino knocks it out of the park communicating Nick’s pain and confusion, and newfound bloodlust. The scenes between Dean and Jack were heightened by the easy chemistry between Jensen Ackles and Alexander Calvert. I doubt that the show will kill off Jack (they need all the actual break-out popular new and younger characters they can get), but Calvert got across a heretofore only implied notion that Jack was originally intended to be a mayfly person, with huge superpowers but not destined for a long life.

Ackles, on the other hand, got to explore a new (and surprising for Dean) dimension of his character in which Dean realized that not only did Jack look up to him as a father, but loved him as one, perhaps even more than Castiel or Sam. We even got a callback to season four with the two of them fishing.

I also got a giggle out of Rowena being easily lured back to the Bunker by Sam because she thought Dean was in trouble (he is, but nobody’s noticing that, yet). I thought she had a wee torch for him. And even a cursory glance at the last third of season ten would explain why she doesn’t trust Sam, even if we hadn’t had the reveal late last season that Sam is her fated nemesis.

Nor did I have any problem with her refusing to help Jack at first. Lucifer may not have been able to kill her permanently, but he sure did a number on her and it makes sense she’s still traumatized. If it’s okay for everyone to be freaked out just by having Nick around, it’s okay for Rowena to be freaked out by having Lucifer’s son around. It would be out of character if she weren’t.

And in all fairness to the Nepotism Duo, these character moments didn’t entirely come out of nowhere.  Jack has been emulating Dean as a model of behavior since the very beginning of last season, even when Dean was outright rejecting him. Dean certainly has more experience of actual fathering than either Sam or Castiel. And Dean did warm up to Jack enough by the end of last year to make his sacrifice to Michael about saving Jack as well as Sam.

And the thing with Nick (which is a rather obvious hint of what Dean may face in the near future as a former vessel) made some sense, too. I mean, he’s been Lucifer’s vessel since season five. There was bound to be some serious and probably permanent damage.

But a lot of this stuff popped back up out of nowhere, leaving unanswered questions behind. Why does Jack emulate Dean when he started out apparently modeling himself on Castiel? And why not emulate Sam, who accepted him first of the two brothers? Jack’s motivations confuse me here.

The concern between Sam and Castiel over Dean’s feelings was nice to see – finally. But at the same time, when the hell did this all come up? That’s a huge change of heart for those two characters since even season 11.

Since when do they feel concern for Dean and his feelings, and explicitly tell him things are not his fault, without getting angry at or exasperated with him? Since when do they feel bad for him rather than fear him when strange supernatural symptoms happen to him?

Why the sudden switch after Dean was possessed by Michael? That’s another big unanswered question that I don’t see being answered. I see it just being left as a big plot/character arc hole.

Also, it was quite exasperating for everyone to natter on about how concerned they were about Dean when they didn’t even notice him going dissociative right in front of them. The Show didn’t match the Tell there.

I totally get that the main emotional focus is on Saving Jack, who is the character dying and therefore in immediate peril at the moment, but when another character is looking openly vertiginous in front of everyone, especially as he’s about to go out driving in a car with said terminally ill person, maybe notice that, guys and gal? Jeez.

As for what’s happening with Dean, obviously, it’s related to Michael. I’ve seen theories that it was related to the sensation of drowning Dean talked about when he was possessed by Michael, that it was Michael reasserting himself. There are some problems with that theory (even if it’s plausible enough for this writing crew).

First of all, there’s simply no reason for Michael to hide out intentionally inside Dean and act as a spy in the Hunter camp. Michael is so powerful and already so aware of what’s going on that he really doesn’t need to do that.

One could argue that Michael has been hiding inside Dean after being wounded by the Magic Sparkle Stick, but again, that doesn’t really sound like Michael and still doesn’t answer the question of why/whether he would be hiding out. Trapped and unable to leave? Sure. Intentionally remaining in hiding when he just could take over? Not really Michael’s style.

Second, Nick had the same vertigo as Dean and if that penultimate (and really annoying) scene in the Empty is any indication, Lucifer is definitely not inside Nick, at least not right now. So, the foreshadowing still leans toward it being an aftereffect. A really, really nasty aftereffect. I’m not saying the writers couldn’t go that route of Michael hiding out, rather than being stuck or being elsewhere (they’ve gone in far dumber directions), just that it doesn’t exactly make me go, “Ooohhh, that makes so much sense!”

Speaking of that penultimate scene, ugh. I’ve seen some theories, as well, that it’s another character (Crowley, say), but I doubt the writers will be that creative. They’ve been mighty uncreative about Nick’s storyline so far, so I don’t expect them to swing for the fences now.

They could have had the killer of Nick’s family be an “ordinary” human, or a monster, or a pagan god, something we didn’t expect. But nope, it’s probably what we thought – some demon killing Nick’s family to motivate him to say yes to Lucifer, even though that makes no damned sense when at that time, Sam was all set to become Lucifer’s vessel (Nick’s wife and baby had been dead for a little while when Lucifer came to him and that Lucifer found him immediately after escaping from the Cage). It’s linear and it’s a retcon and it means we are probably going to get stuck with Lucifer all-friggin’-over again. I hope that won’t be so, but yeah, it probably will.


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.


Supernatural: Season 14


We need your help!

Contribute monthly via Patreon (which includes perks), make a one-time donation through Paypal, or buy us a coffee. I’m posting reviews here of North Carolina ghost story books, and notes about my research all month long in October on Patreon.

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

Here are all my live recaps and reviews in one, handy-dandy spot, for Season 14.


The Official Supernatural: “Stranger in a Strange Land” (14.01-Season Premiere) Live Recap Thread

The Official Supernatural: “Gods and Monsters” (14.02) Live Recap Thread

The Official Supernatural: “The Scar” (14.03) Live Recap Thread

The Official Supernatural: “Mint Condition” (14.04) Live Recap Thread

The Official Supernatural: “Nightmare Logic” (14.05) Live Recap Thread

The Official Supernatural: “Optimism” (14.06) Live Recap Thread

The Official Supernatural: “Unhuman Nature” (14.07) Live Recap Thread

The Official Supernatural: “Byzantium” (14.08) Live Recap Thread

The Official Supernatural: “The Spear” (14.09 – Christmas Finale) Live Recap Thread

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


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.


Supernatural: Season 13


We need your help!

Contribute monthly via Patreon (which includes perks), make a one-time donation through Paypal, or buy us a coffee. I’m posting reviews here of North Carolina ghost story books, and notes about my research all month long in October on Patreon.

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

Here are all my live recaps and reviews in one, handy-dandy spot, for Season 13.


The Official “Lost and Found” (13.01 – Season Premiere) Live Recap Thread

The Official “The Rising Son” (13.02) Live Recap Thread

The Official “Patience” (13.03) Live Recap Thread

The Official “The Big Empty” (13.04) Live Recap Thread

The Official “Advanced Thanatology” (13.05) Live Recap Thread

The Official “Tombstone” (13.06) Live Recap Thread

The Official “War of the Worlds” (13.07) Live Recap Thread

The Official “The Scorpion and the Frog” (13.08) Live Recap Thread

The Official “The Bad Place” (13.09 – pre-Christmas finale) Live Recap Thread

The Official Supernatural: “Wayward Sisters” (13.10) Live Recap Thread

The Official Supernatural: “Breakdown” (13.11) Live Recap Thread

The Official Supernatural: “Various and Sundry Villains” (13.12) Live Recap Thread

The Official Supernatural: “Devil’s Bargain” (13.13) Live Recap Thread

The Official Supernatural: “Good Intentions” (13.14) Live Recap Thread

The Official Supernatural: “A Most Holy Man” (13.15) Live Recap Thread

The Official Supernatural: “ScoobyNatural” (13.16) Live Recap Thread

The Official Supernatural: “The Thing” (13.17) Live Recap Thread

The Official Supernatural: “Bring ’em Back Alive” (13.18) Live Recap Thread

The Official Supernatural: “Funeralia” (13.19) Live Recap Thread

The Official Supernatural: “Unfinished Business” (13.20) Live Recap Thread

The Official Supernatural: “Beat the Devil” (13.21) Live Recap Thread

The Official Supernatural: “Exodus” (13.22) Live Recap Thread

The Official Supernatural: “Let the Good Times Roll” (13.23 – Season Finale) Live Recap Thread


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.


Supernatural: Season 12


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 research all month long in October 2018 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. 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.

Here are all my live recaps and reviews in one, handy-dandy spot, for the second half of Season 12 (after the IMdB boards went bye-bye). I will fill in the first part of the season, after I catch up with seasons 9-11.


Recap and Review: Supernatural 12.01 (Season Premiere): Keep Calm and Carry On

Recap and Review: Supernatural 12.02: Mamma Mia

Recap and Review: Supernatural 12.03: The Foundry

Recap and Review: Supernatural 12.04: American Nightmare

Recap and Review: Supernatural 12.05: The One You’ve Been Waiting For

Recap and Review: Supernatural 12.06: Celebrating the Life of Asa Fox

Recap and Review: Supernatural 12.07: Rock Never Dies

Recap and Review: Supernatural 12.08: LOTUS

Recap and Review: Supernatural 12.09: First Blood

Recap and Review: Supernatural 12.10: Lily Sunder Has Some Regrets

Recap and Review: Supernatural 12.11: Regarding Dean

Recap and Review: Supernatural 12.12: Stuck in the Middle (With You)

The Official Family Feud (Ep. 12.13) Recap Discussion Thread

The Official The Raid (12.14) Recap Discussion Thread

The Official Ladies Drink Free (12.16) Recap Discussion Thread

The Official The British Invasion (12.17) Recap Discussion Thread

The Official “The Memory Remains” (12.18) Live Recap Thread

The Official “The Future” (12.19) Live Recap Thread

The Official “Twigs and Twine and Tasha Banes” (12.20) Live Recap Thread

The Official “There’s Something About Mary” (12.21) Live Recap Thread

The Official “Who We Are/All Along the Watchtower” (12.22-12.23 – Season Finale) Live Recap Thread

Articles

Supernatural: Why the British Men of Letters Just Don’t Work


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.


Review: Supernatural: “Let the Good Times Roll” (13.23 – Season Finale)


We need your help!

Contribute monthly via Patreon (which includes perks), make a one-time donation through Paypal, or buy us a coffee.

My collected recaps and reviews of season one, which first appeared on Innsmouth Free Press, are now up (with a few extras) on Kindle and are currently on sale through this Friday (May 18). 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. Just FYI.


[lots o’ spoilers ahead]


You can find the recap thread for the episode here.

So, it finally happened. Dean Winchester said yes to the Archangel Michael. Well, more accurately, he said yes to an alternate version of Michael from another timeline. Sort of. With conditions. Which alt-Michael totally ignored after agreeing to them. But more on that in a bit. As well as some (hopeful?) predictions for season 14.

There was a lot of crashing-and-burning in this episode, by several characters. The biggest, of course, was Lucifer, whose crash-and-burn couldn’t have been more literal after Dean stabbed him with an archangel blade in the middle of being mega-smote (we always knew Dean was tough, but jeez). Lucifer had been on an extended storyline the past two seasons (post his sorta-reconciliation with Big Daddy) of having his power reduced, being unable to kill either Sam or Dean, being downgraded almost to human, and fathering a Naphil child. The implication from various bits of dialogue between him and the Brothers was that Chuck wanted Lucifer to learn something about the humans he had always so despised.

Well, Lucifer didn’t learn a thing. Or if he did, he threw it all away at the end and chose power. Personally, I was okay with this because I didn’t care much for Lucifer’s redemption tour in the first place. The way he tried to discredit and gaslight Sam, a human being he had cold-bloodedly twisted and tried to destroy for his own purposes since before birth, was just nasty.

Sure, ideally, a character should be dynamic and change and grow, but some characters are defined by their inability to grow, their flat and static nature. If Lucifer, a 14-billion-year-old archangel, hadn’t learned to be selfless and loving by now, it realistically wasn’t going to happen in a few months or a few years, or even a few centuries. As an extremely powerful and protean creature who was older than this universe, Lucifer arguably could change if he wanted to, but he never wanted to. Whenever he claimed to be turning over a new leaf, he was so clearly lying that he could only have fooled someone as young and naïve as his own son, Jack.

It was time for him to go. Permanently.

supgoodtimes

Jack, too, had a crash-and-burn, and he, too, fell due to hubris. But unlike his father, who was hubris embodied, Jack had good intentions and found his power a great burden. The road to Hell, as they say, is paved with good intentions. The more he tried to help people, the more he made mistakes that seemed to make things worse, at least to him.

In reality, it was more that the results were mixed. Jack was discovering that it’s much easier to break than to build and that raw power can only do so much, especially if one lacks wisdom. We saw Jack become more and more frustrated in the episode, culminating in his realization that everyone else was right about his bio daddy. Jack then made a critical error and lost all his raw Naphil power to Lucifer in one terrible, game-changing slash of an archangel blade.

But in the tossing back and forth of Jack’s power like a soccer ball, we got to see Lucifer and Jack’s responses to it, and they contrasted sharply. Whereas Lucifer became drunk with power, rose to a great height, and then crashed to his doom, Jack seemed relieved to be shorn of his power.

Jack then made the decision Lucifer should have made, which was to sacrifice himself out of love in hopes of saving Sam and the rest of the world. That he was saved at the last minute (since the writers clearly want to keep him as a regular now) doesn’t change the magnitude of his choice and sacrifice.

supgoodtimes2

I’m sure that the writers will waffle and drag out the question of whether or not Jack ever gets his power back, but the usual pattern for any recurring-character-not-named-Dean-Winchester (or Sam pre-season six) is that they are never as naturally powerful again as they were early on. They might get some temporary upgrades by stealing someone else’s power, but their own, personal power does not come back. And Dean’s gradual upgrades have been balanced with an expansion of the heavy burden of his Family Business.

I was relieved to see the writers didn’t go the cheap, Kripke-approved route of upgrading Sam for the umpteenth time. Jared Padalecki got some nice opportunities to act this season as Sam slowly (and finally) opened up about how much the mere existence of Lucifer topside again terrified him. Never mind that Sam and his own chronic battles with hubris were the reason for both of Lucifer’s escapes from the Cage. Sam still gets to be afraid of Lucifer and Padalecki ran with it.

Fortunately, the writers forced Sam to be fully human in his final confrontation with Lucifer. That somehow made Sam’s vindication when Lucifer turned out be – yup – evil, after all, that much sweeter.

Sam willingly chose to go with Jack (however impulsive the gesture) when Lucifer kidnapped his kid. Sam then faced off against his former torturer and lifelong nemesis without even the certainty that the immunity Chuck had given him and Dean against Lucifer was still in effect. That, my droogs, takes guts. Sam pretty literally had to face his (almost) worst fear, knowing full well that he didn’t have any power to oppose Lucifer, to save either himself or Jack.

Sam didn’t even think about finding a way to regain his old powers, perhaps knowing they were too corrupting to oppose Lucifer effectively. For once, Sam made it all about the person he was trying to save and not about himself, which actually made Dean’s penultimate insistence on Lucifer’s defeat being a group effort sound fair this time round. That was a huge step forward for Sam. After over a decade of self-absorption and self-pity, Sam became a truly self-sacrificial Hero.

Weirdly enough, not too many fans noticed.

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Dean also fell (both literally and figuratively) into darkness, but Dean’s fall was qualitatively different from that of Lucifer and Jack, which made it even more tragic, if not in the Classical Greek sense that was for Lucifer and Jack. Lucifer and Jack sinned through hubris, with different results. Lucifer flew to a great height and then crashed to earth. Jack was fooled, lost his temper, and lost his powers. Once humbled, he then chose to die for family – his adopted family, not his creepy bio-dad.

Dean’s fall was the saddest because it occurred without hubris. Dean, motivated by desperation and his chronic low self-esteem, finally embraced his destiny and his doom. Some fans fault Dean for this choice, as Dean’s choices always get picked apart and slammed by various quarters of fandom. This is likely fostered by the illusion that Dean had some better choice. Dean is a character who may rail against fate, but in the end, he always plays the hand he’s dealt, the best way he can. But the writers invariably give him the worst possible cards, which invariably forces him into some horrifically self-destructive choice he never in a billion years would have made on his own, if he had any better options.

Of course this is fun to watch, and makes for great drama, which is why the writers keep doing it, but come on, people. Give the guy a break because the writers never do. The only reason he said yes to alt-Michael was because there were no other options at that point except to wait to die along with the rest of the world, knowing Sam and Jack would die (mostly likely horribly) first.

Dean’s self-esteem is low, but it ain’t that low. If he could have found another way (as he did in the red-herring gas station scene early in the episode where he temporarily saved everyone from alt-Michael via a cunning plan and some holy fire), he’d have done so. Having Castiel stand by, wringing his hands over the decision (a one-angel Greek Chorus was basically all Misha Collins got to do this week), didn’t make that decision any less necessary. In the end, Dean made the best bargain he could. That Dean always puts others first, without thinking, is the true superpower he uses to save the world. But that doesn’t mean he loves making those choices. Or that they don’t hurt.

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Though there were a lot of directorial problems with that climactic fight with Lucifer (Bob Singer’s really losing his touch), Jensen Ackles’ acting wasn’t one of those problems. He acted the hell out of it all, from Dean’s bargaining with alt-Michael all the way up through his final scene as alt-Michael. There’s a reason why fans on social media have been screen-capping and giffing the hell out of Dean’s entrance as an archangel (sans the silly Ten Commandments-style music), alt-Michael’s takeover, and alt-Michael at the very end.

But in between the big moments, Ackles keeps it going. After Dean falls to the church floor, he immediately forces himself to get up, jaw set. If you look at Dean in the background as Sam and Jack are investigating to see if Lucifer is really dead, Dean’s shoulders are heaving and he is clearly in distress.

This leads directly into Dean’s valiant effort to make everything okay one last time for his family before he becomes locked in a deadly struggle for control with alt-Michael and has his body taken over. Even the lines of strain as he fights smooth out in that transitional moment when he straightens up, blank-faced, after losing this second, internal battle. This moment is one of the most heartbreaking in 13 seasons of a show that regularly deals in tragedy. Ackles’ portrayal of Dean being taken over by alt-Michael is chilling, a moment of true horror. Even without the gruesome, Leviathan-like sound effects.

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Some fans have asked why Dean didn’t have an exit plan for dealing with alt-Michael after dealing with Lucifer. There’s the point that Dean didn’t have any other “good” choices besides making a deal with alt-Michael at the moment he said yes. But also, if you watch, Dean is still clutching alt-Michael’s archangel blade the entire time after he kills Lucifer. The logical fallback plan would be to stab himself with the archangel blade once he knew Lucifer was truly dead. Since he had an archangel inside him, suicide ought to have done the trick. It takes an archangel to kill an archangel. Nobody said it couldn’t be the same archangel.

So, why didn’t Dean do this? Well, remember that Lucifer had just smote him. No, Lucifer didn’t get the chance to finish the job, but we saw Dean screaming in pain before he stabbed Lucifer, following Sam’s “Wind beneath My Wings” moment of tossing him the archangel blade. Lucifer scrambled his brains pretty good. Lucifer had also just been beating on him and Dean was dazed.

While it’s true that Dean had an archangel inside him, so he could take more damage than usual, he was up against a charged-up fellow archangel, and he was in the driver’s seat. Dean probably took more of a beating than alt-Michael did and was still dazed afterward. That, and reassuring Sam and Jack, distracted him from immediate suicide, and alt-Michael took advantage of that distraction.

But one might ask, why would alt-Michael need Dean to be distracted in the first place in order to take over? Isn’t the archangel, not his vessel, usually the one in charge? Well … not necessarily. And probably not in this case.

Here we are getting into projections and predictions for next season. It’s really important to remember that Dean’s “yes” was conditional, that the dire consequences of breaking deals has been reiterated time and again the past couple of seasons, and that alt-Michael himself used exactly the same words Dean did later in the same episode (“We had a deal!”) to protest Lucifer’s breaking of their pact. Shortly thereafter, Lucifer ended up karmic toast.

It’s not exactly rocket science to think that might be some foreshadowing for how things pan out for alt-Michael’s betrayal of Dean. These writers are not subtle. They also tend to leave big plotholes. We may never find out, for example, why alt-Michael was so enthusiastically determined to beat Dean to death when he already knew Dean was the Michael Sword. That seems counterintuitive, but never mind.

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So, what deal, exactly, did Dean make? It was pretty simple – he would let alt-Michael in and be his “sword” if, and only if, alt-Michael took an extreme backseat and let Dean be in charge. Alt-Michael might be able to advise, but Dean would make all of the decisions.

We know that Dean is under direct watch by a Reaper, Jessica. She can’t interfere, but she can report back to her boss that an interloper from another timeline is curb-stomping Billie’s (and Chuck’s) designated caretaker in this timeline and trying to take it over. We already know that Billie wants to “fix” that kind of bleed and is unlikely to take kindly to alt-Michael’s crossing over to conquer a world not his own.

We also know that Billie!Death firmly believes in honoring deals (on top of rigidly maintaining the Natural Order). She’d be the first to point out to alt-Michael that he had a deal with Dean and the deal means that as long as they share Dean’s body, Dean is the one in charge. It’s a way for the storyline to continue after Dean has regained control over his body, and possibly for Dean keeping alt-Michael as a prisoner inside. Dean could effectively continue being an archangel (the Michael Sword is sentient and runs the show), while being unable to manifest or use those powers most times because then he’d risk losing control to alt-Michael again.

What makes this storyline more possible is that there is the awkward wrinkle that Billie’s not liable to feel very kindly toward the refugees from alt-Michael’s timeline, either. Or Jack. So, that sets up a dilemma for Team Free Will and even Dean (as he fights back against alt-Michael’s possession), because they won’t be quite as eager to accept any help Billie offers – or even contact her – as they might, otherwise.

In addition, the presence of the refugees is likely to complicate any rescue efforts for Dean (and it’s really unlikely that Dean will not survive this storyline. Really). TFW 2.0 will be anxious to save Dean from alt-Michael and expel alt-Michael from Dean’s body without harming Dean (or, at least, I certainly hope they will, but more on that in a moment). The refugees who’ve already suffered under alt-Michael are going to be a lot more sanguine about Dean’s fate. As long as they can take out alt-Michael permanently, they’re liable to see Dean’s death as tragic, but necessary. He made a decision (however much under duress). He alone faces the consequences.

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This will set up direct conflicts between Sam and them, of course, but also Jack and them, and between Mary and alt-Bobby, between whom a romance of sorts has been brewing, especially in this episode. Even Rowena, seeking redemption, is going to want to help save Dean, but alt-Charlie? Not so much.

Let’s say the writers don’t take the obvious and stupid way out, that they really want to drag this storyline on a bit (which, Bob Singer’s past ohgodohgodohgoddeanhasamytharcstorykillitwithfire kneejerk reactions aside, they really should want to do rather than wrap it up quickly and scramble to fill up the rest of the season with … something). A Saving Dean storyline has plenty of inherent conflict. The people who can mostly likely deal with alt-Michael are going to be divided on at least three fronts (TFW 2.0, Billie and her Reapers, and the alt-SPNverse refugees), so there will be some natural infighting there.

Dean himself can be portrayed pretty easily (and inexpensively) in his interior struggle to regain control as trapped in a nightmare version of a concentration camp in the alt-SPNverse. Regardless of whatever happened to alt-Michael’s previous vessel, Christian Keyes could return and play alt-Michael inside Dean’s head, taunting and tormenting him (one possible reason Keyes has suddenly joined the Creation con circuit). That would leave Jensen Ackles off the hook for playing against himself all the time, while also giving him a chance to play alt-Michael in the external SPNverse scenes.

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Dean could, for example, initially “wake” in the season premiere in a grotty cell with his hands cuffed behind his back, dazed and trying to piece things together, while alt-Michael makes plots and comes into conflict with TFW. I’ve seen fans argue that alt-Michael would put Dean in a paradisiacal fantasy world, but that would probably be more expensive to film (when they’ve still got that alt-SPNverse set to use) and wouldn’t fit the horror theme of the show. It’s more likely alt-Michael will torture Dean, however much that might be stupid in light of its giving Dean a reason and a way to fight back. Alt-Michael is sufficiently arrogant that he’d go that route, anyway, so it’s at least in character.

Once Dean remembered what happened, he would have a dilemma – does he try to expel alt-Michael, only for alt-Michael to find another vessel (or return to his old one if the poor guy isn’t already dust) and continue with his plans for multiverse domination? Or does he try to regain control and hold alt-Michael prisoner inside his own body? Or is there a way to toss alt-Michael into the Cage (though that’s been damaged, so it might not work) or even kill him in a way that won’t kill Dean permanently?

Yes, killing himself to kill alt-Michael would certainly occur to Dean, but folks, the show is just not going to let Dean kill himself permanently. So, a Harvey (yep, that’s both a James Stewart/giant pooka/rabbit and a Farscape reference) storyline seems pretty likely after the first few episodes, or maybe even half a season, if we’re lucky.

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The thing I dearly hope will not occur, though, is the writers continuing with their gratuitous Dean abuse. I’m thinking of stuff like “Soul Survivor” in season ten, where we see Sam strap down a very psychotic, demonized Dean in a dungeon, drug him up with consecrated blood against his will, and force him into a semblance of what Sam feels is “appropriate” sanity – and this ugly assault is apparently rewarded and condoned by the writers (the Nepotism Duo in this case. Shocker) by the end of the episode. I’m also thinking of Dean’s lifelong struggle with suicidal ideation. Remember how he outright committed suicide early last season and no one, not even Death, was surprised?

Dean is a popular fantasy character who has struggled for 13 seasons with severe mental illness. Suicidal levels of depression and low self-esteem, occasional bouts of psychosis, alcoholism, self-medicating, self-harm, social and separation anxiety, a total inability to fit in with “normal” society, and (of course) rampant PTSD, he’s got ’em all. Many people in this world look at a fictional character like Dean, who feels their same pain and despair, and take hope from the way he keeps soldiering on and being a Hero, even when he stumbles, even when he just wants to lie down and die.

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But writing a character like that involves taking responsibility for the message one sends. Too often, the show has generated some pretty ugly subtext through the way characters treat Dean and take advantage of him. Just as the writers have not done a particularly stellar job of portraying Sam’s own issues (Sam’s mental illness and addiction storylines seem to exist, going all the way back to Kripke, solely to prop Sam up as the woobiest woobie Hero ever), the way they have portrayed the responses of people around Dean to his mental health issues has been … kinda gross.

This needs to change.

It’s not just that it’s problematical for your lead actors to have launched a mental health charity (Always Keep Fighting) while your show writers continue to treat mental illness as a character flaw when it comes to Dean (talk about undermining your cast).

It’s not even that some fans agree.

It’s bad enough to hear people refer to Dean’s sacrificial act in this episode as a mistake or a flaw, that Dean “gave in” and “let” alt-Michael trick him, that that’s just Dean. That he’s always looking for ways to be self-destructive and that this isn’t heroic at all. An act that would be seen in any other character as putting the needs of literally everyone else over their own selfish survival is perceived in Dean as just another Thursday. As weakness, as not fighting his own darkness hard enough. “Sloppy, needy Dean,” as a demon once put it.

What is worse is to do it now, in the middle of a national debate about suicide, especially in the wake of the recent suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. Over and over, plaintively and sometimes angrily, friends and families of loved ones who have committed suicide, as well as survivors, point out that depression is not a mistake or a lack of moral character. It doesn’t make you weak if you feel despair and cannot see your way out of it.

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Supernatural desperately needs to change its tack on how the characters around Dean respond to his illness. It’s unrealistic for Dean to recover magically from something he’s suffered from all his life. That would be like expecting Tyrion on Game of Thrones to grow six feet tall.

But the writers can certainly change how they have characters respond to it and put Dean on a slow road to some kind of recovery. No more mean-spirited rants like Sam’s at the end of “Metamorphosis” or “The Purge.” No more of characters incessantly choosing anyone else over the needs of their own, clearly traumatized child standing right in front of them (Mary in season 12 and just a few episodes ago, lookin’ at you). No more “beating some sense” into Dean, or expressing how disappointed the character is in Dean for something that is really that character’s fault, the way Castiel has done over and over again.

Look, I get it. Trauma is drama and bad guys are gonna bad-guy. Angels and demons and monsters who resent Sam and Dean getting in the way of their smashing up the joint will always trash-talk the Brothers. No one expects either Lucifer or Michael (any version) to treat Dean (or Sam) well or do anything but tear away at his self-esteem. They’re the villains.

But it’s way past time for Sam and Mary and Castiel to stop disappearing up their own backsides whenever the black water threatens to pull Dean under. And while I appreciate that Jody wants to help and Claire thinks Dean is awesome, damage and all, it’s not helpful to keep ragging on Dean that he needs to treat himself better. He knows that. He just doesn’t have the first clue how to do it.

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Yes, it’s uncomfortable when someone you love seems locked in a death spiral, but the writers could be improving all of their recurring good-guy characters by having them stop projecting all their own crap onto Dean. Look at Jack – he doesn’t do that. He worships Dean. Yet, the show still managed to establish a relationship with interesting conflict between the two of them.

In fact, a Saving Dean storyline, where Dean is absent for a while (unlike Demon!Dean or MoC!Dean, who was basically just Dean with his anger and bloodlust externalized as a magical metaphor), could conceivably give the characters the story space needed to deal with that without trashing Dean even more. Ackles would still be in the story (he’s not going anywhere; he gets to play alt-Michael now), but Dean the character would be elsewhere, fighting a new battle. The other characters would get a chance to truly miss him and fight to get him back in a way that heals him rather than tears him down.

I think this is a really important thing for the writers to put at the top of their checklist this summer. This is a chance for them to change up a tangle of character arcs that has become toxic and unhealthy even to watch. It’s a way for them to truly represent and join the debate on mental illness (a debate in which their cast already has a voice) in a productive way. It’s time to grow up, Supernatural writers. Do it now.

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Fun lines:

Castiel [listening in on a pack of redneck werewolves]: They’re talking about whether Kylie Jenner would make a good mother. The consensus is “no.”
Dean: Yeah, well, that’s why I’m a  Khloé man.

Alt-Michael [being tortured by Jack]: Lucifer, we had a deal!

Lucifer [to everybody]: I’m not currently the bad guy here.

Lucifer [compelled by Jack to tell about Maggie’s murder]: She saw me when I was scouting out the Bunker. She saw me and she screamed. So, I crushed her skull with my bare hands. And it was warm and wet, and I liked it.

Alt-Michael: This is the end … of everything.
Dean: No. What if … what if you had your Sword?
Castiel: Dean, no!
Dean: I am your Sword, your perfect vessel. With me, you’d be stronger than you’ve ever been.
Alt-Michael: Oh, I know what you are.
Dean: If we work together, can we beat Lucifer?
Castiel: Dean!
Dean: Can we?
Alt-Michael: We have a chance.
Castiel: You can’t!
Dean [to Castiel]: Lucifer has Sam. He has Jack! Cas, I don’t have a choice! [to alt-Michael] If we do this, it’s a one-time deal. I’m in charge. You’re the engine, but I’m behind the wheel. Understand?

Jack [to Sam as he’s about to kill himself]: I love you. I love all of you.

Lucifer [to DeanMichael]: You let my brother in.
DeanMichael: Turns out we have something in common. We both want to gut your ass.

Dean [to alt-Michael inside him]: We had a deal!
Alt-Michael [to Dean after taking over]: Thanks for the suit.


Next: I’ll be finishing my live recap of “Funeralia” this week. I’ll try to catch up with the recaps of the rest of the season and do reviews over the rest of the summer.


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