Category Archives: Season 14

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


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

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

Cue title cards.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yep. Shady as hell.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sam: We’ve met God!

Castiel: He has a beard!

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

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

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

“Good,” Sunny says.

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

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

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

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

Credits

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

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

Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Kripke Years

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4

Season 5

The Gamble Years

Season 6 (with Kripke)

Season 7

The Carver Years

Season 8

Season 9

Season 10

Season 11

The Dabb Years

Season 12

Season 13

Season 14


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


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

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

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

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

Cue title cards.

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

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

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

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

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

He’s got a point, Rowena.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“And you’re a monster,” Jack says.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Credits

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

The promo for next week is up.

Review

So, that happened.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Kripke Years

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4

Season 5

The Gamble Years

Season 6 (with Kripke)

Season 7

The Carver Years

Season 8

Season 9

Season 10

Season 11

The Dabb Years

Season 12

Season 13

Season 14


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cue title cards.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Credits


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

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


Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That’s badass.


The Kripke Years

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4

Season 5

The Gamble Years

Season 6 (with Kripke)

Season 7

The Carver Years

Season 8

Season 9

Season 10

Season 11

The Dabb Years

Season 12

Season 13

Season 14


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


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

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

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

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

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

Cue title cards.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Far too many commercials on this stupid CW app.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, that happened.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Credits


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

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

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


Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Kripke Years

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4

Season 5

The Gamble Years

Season 6 (with Kripke)

Season 7

The Carver Years

Season 8

Season 9

Season 10

Season 11

The Dabb Years

Season 12

Season 13

Season 14


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


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

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

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

Cut to Now.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cue title cards.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sam gets another call from Maggie, who is now at the office building. Sam explains that they’re now back at the Bunker and asks Maggie to pick up Garth and the Impala. Confused, Maggie tells Sam at the monsters have left the city and are heading west.

At this moment, Michael notes that the Bunker is points west of Kansas City. He’s calling the monsters to the Bunker.

Castiel takes Jack to batten down the hatches, while Michael calls cheerily unhelpful advice after them. Once alone with Sam, Michael insists nothing has changed. Either his monsters will break in or he’ll break loose and then “everybody dies.” And he will personally rip Sam apart, smiling a “pretty smile” that looks downright predatory.

Sam pulls out Lady Wonder Twat’s dreamtime rig from the best-forgotten LoL plot in season 12. He tells Castiel he’s going to go inside Dean’s head and try to wake him up so he can expel Michael the way Sam expelled Gadriel. Sam admits it’s not a very good plan (well, not least because once Michael’s out, he’s just going to find another vessel and start all over again), but they don’t have any others. By the way, the woman Michael possessed last episode is not mentioned this week.

We cut to a loop montage of Dean from the bar, running through the same scenarios with only slight variations. At the end, Dean looks up, confused, and almost remembers.

Jack gets first shift of guarding Michael, who proceeds to mess with his head. Michael completely shifts what he said before about wanting to recruit Jack as family and says he won’t ask again. I guess, now he has his “true” vessel back, he no longer cares.

Jack tells him that the Brothers will beat him. Michael snarks that Sam “is so far in over his head, he’s drowning” (true, but Sam has learned to swim before). With rather less conviction, he claims, “I’ve got Dean under control.”

Jack notes that “Dean is strong,” to which Michael retorts (again, protesting a bit too much), “He’s a gnat. I’m a god. Who would you bet on?” Michael insists that since he is “inside Dean’s head, I know everything.” But he didn’t know about the angel cuffs, now, did he?

Michael then does something vicious and almost gratuitous (though, considering much of his confidence about having Dean under control is likely bravado, he does need to divide and conquer). He shakes Jack’s faith in Dean by claiming that while Dean was devastated by Jack’s death, he was also relieved because Jack was just a burden to him, “a weak, helpless thing … a job, a job none of them wanted.” This is obvious bullshit, but Jack is young and naive (and vulnerable) enough to believe it.

Castiel walks in on the middle of this as Jack is rushing off, about in tears, and warns him that Michael is just trying to get under his skin.

Michael says he’s not lying and reminds them that he can still hear them.

Meanwhile, plucky Maggie is setting up a plucky roadblock of Hunters to keep the monsters away from the Bunker. I’m sure that will end well.

In the Bunker, on second shift, Castiel is now getting the patented Michael mindfuck treatment. After some insults aimed at how Castiel doesn’t measure up to his alt-version (who was such a panto villain that it’s kind of hard to take this bit of dialogue seriously), Michael asks why Castiel loves this world so much he’d die for it.

Castiel counters with his own question – why does Michael hate this world so much that he wants to destroy it?

Michael’s response is chilling: “Because I can.”

Michael explains that when he and his version of Lucifer fought in their world, they honestly believed the duel would bring back God, who would explain to them what the Plan had been all along and give meaning to their war. Instead, God never returned. There was no response to what they did, even after Michael killed Lucifer.

Michael now realizes (having access to Dean’s memories) that God – “Chuck” – never intended to return. Michael calls God a “writer” who created draft after draft. Michael believes that both his world and this one are “failed drafts,” that when God realized they were “flawed,” he simply moved on to a new draft.

Perhaps the most frightening part of this scene is the realization that Michael as played by Christian Keyes is a very different character than the version played by Jensen Ackles. This is not because of a lack of continuity in the acting or even writing, but because the character’s entire worldview was shaken and shattered, after some 14 billion years, once he entered his intended vessel and saw the truth (or, anyway, what he now feels is the truth) about Chuck’s involvement (and lack thereof) in the Amara saga. He saw that everything he had ever done for his father was pointless because Chuck would never return, never give him the answers he sought, never even love him as much as Lucifer.

In short, this ancient, subtle, dangerous being went insane. And became even more dangerous.

Ackles, here, has to evoke an entirely offscreen change in the character’s entire motivation and he gets it across very well. Michael’s mask of calm sarcasm slips and underneath, we see a volcanic rage to match Dean’s toward his own father. Michael says that his first thought was to outdo his father and become the new God. But then he changed his mind.

Now, he wants to burn it all down, world by world, timeline by timeline, until he can “catch up with the old man.” When Castiel asks what he intends to do then, Michael says, with bared teeth, “Even God can die.”

Meanwhile, Maggie and her merry band of hapless redshirts are failing miserably at even catching up with the monsters, let alone stopping them from reaching the Bunker. Also, her alleged right-hand man is looking mighty shady, especially after he disappeared into the bushes for a few minutes.

At the Bunker, Sam is still setting up the equipment for the dream machine. Jack tentatively suggests he could use his soul power to access his abilities to stop Michael somehow. Sam says Dean would never want to be freed through such a sacrifice.

Sam gets hooked up to the machines, as Castiel hooks up Michael (who says, “Cool science project!” and flirts with Castiel in a seriously creepy way). Michael then unsettles everyone even further  (if that’s possible) by claiming that out here, he may be chained up, but inside, he can do whatever he wants to them. Well, alrighty-then.

Sam goes in with Castiel and at first, they find … a dark, endless space. In fact, it looks just like the Empty set. I don’t know if that’s intentional subtext and foreshadowing or just a cheap budget, but yep, that’s what it looks like.

Sam is confused and has to confirm with Castiel where they are. Castiel has been inside Dean’s mind many times, but Sam never has. Sam then wonders where Dean is and Castiel replies, “Excellent question.” This confirms that this is not how Castiel normally found Dean’s mind in the past.

Castiel raises his hand, the center of which glows, and begins to search through Dean’s memories. There is a lot of screaming and, as Castiel notes, a lot of “trauma” and “scars.” Notable quotes that stand out are “We had a deal!” from the end of last season, Dream!Dean screaming “You’re gonna die! And this … this is what you’re gonna become!” from season three’s “Dream a Little Dream of Me,” and “Somebody help me!” from Dean suspended in Hell in the coda to season three finale “No Rest for the Wicked.”

Looking a little freaked out as he finally begins to process just how much trauma his brother’s been through over the years,  Sam acknowledges that “Dean’s been through a lot, but he’s strong!”

Gently correcting him, Castiel says that “You’ve both been through a lot and Dean is more than strong,” but what he’s really looking for is a way to follow a memory to where Michael has locked Dean away, “drowning.” In a cage, as it were. This means he has to scan through Dean’s worst memories, which isn’t exactly pleasant.

Sam then has a brainstorm (uh … as it were). Remembering Michael’s complaint from last episode that the reason he’d left in the first place was because Dean fought back so hard, Sam wonders if Michael isn’t actually torturing Dean, but doing the opposite. “Dean thrives on trauma.” (Well … I wouldn’t say “thrives,” personally, but it’s definitely his “normal.”)

Sam says that if he wanted to “distract” Dean, he’d do it another way. “Contentment,” Castiel guesses, correctly. So, Castiel starts looking through Dean’s good memories, not his bad ones. And yes, Dean has a few. “I think I’m adorable!” (from season three’s “Jus in Bello”), the “strippers” speech (from season four’s “Sex and Violence,” and it makes Sam a bit uncomfortable), the “posse magnet” speech (from season six’s “Frontierland”), and the “pie” complaint from season seven’s “The Girl Next Door.” Among others. Why, yes, I do watch this show a lot. Why do you ask?

Then they hit on Dean’s speech about not wanting to see the bar and Sam realizes it’s not a real memory. Dean has never owned a bar. This couldn’t have ever happened in real life. So, Castiel takes them there.

Sam opens his eyes to find himself and Castiel in the bar. Dean turns around and recognizes them, but doesn’t realize it’s not real. He offers them a beer (“Cosmic Cowboy IPA” is a beer sold by Ackles’ new brewery, The Family Business). Then Pamela strolls in and starts chit-chatting with them.

Castiel whispers (really, when are these guys gonna learn?) to Sam that Pamela is the psychic whose eyes he accidentally burned out. Sam retorts that she’s also been dead for years. Sam tries to tell Dean that this isn’t real and Castiel tells Pamela she’s a “complex manifestation of Dean’s memories designed to distract him” (I have a feeling she’s more than that, but we may be getting ahead of ourselves). Oh, and it’s still raining.

At that moment, the scene resets, with a very confused Sam and Castiel getting caught in the middle of Dean’s memory montage. When it comes back to the same setting, Dean and Pamela are in somewhat different positions.

When Dean echoes Sam’s question on what is going on, the montage kicks in again. Sam tries to explain that Dean is caught in a loop designed by Michael. This confuses Dean, who only remembers that “our” Michael is in the Cage and doesn’t seem to remember alt-Michael at all.

Pamela suggests that if this is all inside Dean’s head, he should be able to control everything, but turns into a joke. However, Sam accidentally creates a crack in Dean’s amnesia by reminding Dean that Castiel blinded Pamela (Castiel, uncomfortable, notes that it was an accident). When Dean looks at Pamela, he’s shocked to see she’s blind and has a flash of how it happened. Sam presses this advantage by reminding Dean she’s dead, too, which Dean also remembers (goodness, Ackles was a baby ten seasons ago!), as the music grinds to a halt. Pamela vanishes from the bar.

Dean is in denial, at first, though Castiel’s impassioned speech that this is just a dream and his loved ones in the real world need him shakes him more than a little. But it’s when Sam remembers “Poughkeepsie” that Dean is really shaken.

To refresh everyone’s memory, it’s the code word the Brothers had for “Drop everything and run.” It first popped up when Dean gave it to Crowley to tell Sam when Crowley went inside Sam’s head in “Road Trip” in season nine to get him to expel Gadriel.

When Dean, looking shocked, says, “What did you say?” Sam repeats it, looking triumphant. He’s hit the right button.

And indeed, he has. A montage of Michael memories, recent ones, ensues. Then Dean says, “I remember. I remember everything.”

The sound of clapping comes from the door. Guess who just walked in? Michael.

So, in case anyone was wondering why it was necessary to reduce the season to 20 episodes, this scene is probably a good hint. Ackles it playing two distinct characters for the price of one and remember how exhausting that was for him in season five’s “The End”? Yeah. But he pulls it off brilliantly here. This must have been quite the episode to film, especially on the road to recovering from the head cold/flu he had while filming the last episode. He’s in practically ever scene.

Dean tells Michael to get out of his head, but Michael tells Dean he doesn’t really want that. After all, Michael is Dean. He proceeds to mindfuck with Dean by mindfucking with Castiel and Sam right in front of him (sorry, but there’s not really a less profane way to put it). Michael, imitating Misha Collins pretty darned well, says that Dean only feels beholden to Castiel because Castiel “gripped you tight and raised you from Perdition.” Sadly, since then, Castiel’s been prone to making a lot of messy mistakes.

And as for Sam, well, Sam abandoned Dean with his dad and Dean, deep down, knows that Sam will always abandon him. It’s at this point that Dean starts to tell Michael to shut up.

I’ve seen some fans suggest that Dean doesn’t start protesting until Michael cracks on Sam because Dean doesn’t care as much about Castiel, but I don’t think it’s a Sam vs. Castiel thing. I think that for one thing, what Michael says about Castiel isn’t as on the mark as what he says about Sam.

Castiel makes mistakes, it’s true, but Dean has always still cared about him and it’s not because Castiel raised Dean from Hell (Dean even stabbed Castiel right after the angel uttered that first line in season four’s “Lazarus Rising”). Dean keeps Castiel around because Castiel is family. If there’s any darker motive, it’s also because Castiel is very useful to have around, an angel in Dean’s pocket, as it were. But an obligation? Not so much.

Sam, on the other hand, made a distressing habit of abandoning Dean, in many different ways, until very recently. The discomfort on Sam’s face is the Tell that Michael’s hit a sore nerve there. Dean loves Sam, anyway, which is why he comes to Sam’s defense. But it doesn’t make that one any less true.

The other thing is that this is part of a longish rant from Michael about how Dean feels, “deep down,” about the people he loves, in which Dean’s anger builds to boiling-over point. It’s much like the speech from Dream!Dean about John in “Dream a Little Dream of Me.” It’s not that Dean cares less about Michael insulting Castiel. It’s that the effect of Michael’s mean-spirited, gaslighting “truths” is cumulative and Dean gets really tired really fast of Michael “speaking” for him and damaging his relationships with those he loves. Remember that Michael keeps telling people that Dean’s big weakness is “love.”

Michael says, “You don’t need them. You don’t even like them. They’re not your family. They’re your responsibilities. They’re a weight around your neck. And deep down, you wanted – you were desperate – to get away from them. And that is why you said yes.”

Well, we know the last part, at least, is a lie, since Dean was pretty backed into a corner when he said yes and he did so, as Michael himself admits to Anael (Sister Jo) in the season premiere, for love.

But what is Michael’s end game, aside from Castiel’s dawning realization that he is stalling for time? Remember that Michael has said that he is angry with his father, God, for abandoning him. And though he chose to come over to this world, it’s true he is now a stranger in a strange land. He wanted love and he never got it. He was always passed over. But by Chuck, he is gonna keep the one thing/person he knows is his, by right and breeding and genetic engineering over billions of years. And that is his sword, Dean Winchester.

But why is Michael stalling? We cut to Jack, watching over everyone, as Maggie comes in with the other redshirt Hunters. She says the monsters are right behind her and everyone gears up for battle.

Inside Dean’s head, Sam posits that Michael needs his monsters to come and rescue him. Michael insists that’s not true, but Dean calls his bluff. Michael asks if that’s what Dean really wants and Dean says sure. Then Dean says Michael can’t do it. Castiel says that inside Dean’s mind, Michael is just a “mental projection” like the others.

Dean attacks first and gets smacked down. Sam and Castiel then get beaten up by moves Michael has pretty clearly picked up from Dean’s mind. In the Bunker, Michael is smiling. One big problem, of course, is that he can do more than one thing at once, be in more than one mind at once.

Sure enough, Maggie’s lieutenant turns out to have been monsterized while he went off into the woods. The other monsters bust in and Maggie’s redshirts are killed/beaten up in short order until only she is left conscious (did I not say that anywhere near Michael and they’d end up toast?). At that moment, Jack freaks out and uses his powers to disintegrate the monsters. But it takes a lot out of him because he tapped into his own soul.

Inside Dean’s mind, TFW 2.0 are still getting their asses kicked, unaware that Michael’s plan has suffered a setback outside. The only sign Michael gives that things are not going entirely his way is to warn them that even if they managed to “force” him out, he would destroy Dean in his wake, leaving “nothing but blood and bone.”

This would have been a problem, anyway, since they can’t afford to kick Michael out. He would be free. Dean then makes a split-second decision. Opening the storeroom door, he grabs Michael, who tosses him aside. But this is enough distraction for Sam to shove Michael inside, and for Sam and Castiel to slam it shut, before Dean comes up and shoves an icepick into the latch, creating a makeshift lock.

As Michael rages on the other side, Dean rather shakily assures Sam and Castiel, “It’ll hold – my mind, my rules. I got him. I’m the Cage.”

After everyone wakes up, Sam talks to Maggie, the redshirt exception who proves the rule. In an indication that at least some of the other Hunters survived, she tells Sam that “we” will clean up in the foyer. She also lets drop an interesting nugget of info – Michael’s monsters have all lost their focus and gone their separate ways. It appears that Michael no longer controls them.

Maggie also tells Sam about Jack using his powers and seems weirded out that he still can. Sam looks worried.

In the kitchen, Castiel is giving Jack a lecture on not using his powers, anymore. They burn off his soul and once it’s gone, it will be gone. Jack apologizes and Castiel softens his tone. He’s not mad. He’s worried. He knows what happens when someone doesn’t have a soul, anymore, and it’s not pretty. Jack utters the usual Famous Last Words: “It won’t happen again.”

Speaking of, Dean is in his room, telling the mirror, “It’s just you, it’s all you,” over and over again, as Michael rages against the door of the Cage inside Dean’s mind.

A voice calling his name startles him. He turns around to see Billie, holding a book. “So,” she says, “not all good news. I did say I’d see you again soon.”

When Dean grumps that she “could have knocked,” she says she figures Michael’s already giving him enough of a migraine.

Dean assures her that Michael is safely locked away, but she’s not buying it (well, she is Death). When Dean correctly guesses she was the one who brought TFW 2.0 to the Bunker, and teases, “You broke the rules,” Billie deadpans, “I took a calculated risk.”

But then she turns deadly serious (if that’s even possible). “I warned you,” she says. She told him not to travel between worlds, but he ignored her. Dean shrugs it off, saying that he had to rescue Jack and Mary, and the others they brought back.

A quick note: Normally, at least in the past, the show would have made this a rather vague “you” that referred, at the very least, to “Sam and Dean” or even to all of TFW, past and present. But this is not a plural “you.” This is most unambiguously a personal, singular “you.”

Billie does not appear to give a zombie rat’s ass that people like Kaia have been dreamwalking to other worlds for centuries, millennia or even tens of millennia. She shows no particular concern in this conversation even about Jack. She makes the warning (somewhat retroactively) specifically about Dean crossing over to an alternate reality. And only Dean.

But she doesn’t leave him, or us, in suspense as to why. First, she reminds him about his library full of possible (and probably past) deaths. Dean rather uncomfortably acknowledges he remembers it.

Billie tells him that an unsettling thing has now happened (she doesn’t specify about when the change occurred, just that it has). All of Dean’s death books now end the same way – with Michael escaping his mind, taking over, and using Dean’s body (and soul) to destroy the world. Well … all except one. Which she hands over.

Whatever Dean sees inside the book shocks him, because he says, “What am I supposed to do with this?”

“That’s up to you,” she says, and vanishes before he can ask any more questions.

Credits

Ratings for the episode came back with a 0.4/2 and 1.44 million viewers, which was pretty steady from the fall (also, SPN often starts out the spring with a dip and goes up a bit). This tied it for third in demo (after The Flash and Riverdale) and put it in fourth for audience (after The Flash, Roswell, and the 24th Annual Critics’ Choice Awards).

The preview is up and highlights continuity from this week. So, it may not be the MOTW the synopsis originally made it out to be. There’s also a preview up for the 300th episode (which will air on February 7 and yes, I will get a retro recap and review out of the 200th, “Fan Fiction,” before then).

Review

My, that was a long recap, wasn’t it, my droogs? Well, some episodes have more narrative meat than others and this one was a doozy of a bistecca alla fiorentina. Also, it was a Deancentric episode, a very Deancentric episode, and I do so love the Deansanity.

One of the most frustrating parts of this show is how often it hasn’t respected its own canon, right from the very beginning with creator Eric “Why give a decent ending to my own stories when I can drop them and just go on to the next bright and shiny?” Kripke. But one of the cool things about the show is when a good writer comes in, ties together a bunch of old and dropped storylines, and makes new and satisfying canon with them.

“The Man Who Would Be King” from season six fairly leaps to mind. I’d almost call “Nihilism” a version of that, except that Dean doesn’t really need to explain himself and Michael doesn’t care what anybody else thinks of him – except for Dean, of course. But it did tie a lot of dropped plots (Dean has so, so many) together into a satisfying new direction for Dean.

Not so much on first watch, but on recap watch, I actually began to feel sorry for alt-Michael. He is undoubtedly an unapologetic villain of the first water. And I don’t see a happy ending for him at the end of the tunnel (that light’s probably a train) the way I could see for Amara if the showrunners had the guts to go there.

He is a world-busting threat. And by “world-busting,” I mean that he intends to burn down the entire Multiverse. He’d probably bad-touch the Empty if he could, just to get back at Daddy. It’s quite a to-do list, but he seems well up to the challenge. So, he’s got to be neutralized.

But in a weird way, Michael works as a god-like being with massive Daddy issues much better than Lucifer. No one has ever loved Michael best. Michael was never spoiled. Michael was always loyal. Michael loved God with all his being. And then God ditched him.

And the worst part? Michael didn’t even learn the truth from Chuck directly. He had to find out once he got inside Dean. The moment of his greatest triumph to this point was the moment he found it was all pointless, that Daddy had ghosted him. Of course he went insane. We weren’t really aware of that until now, but we sure know now. Michael is totally bonkers.

Of course, it doesn’t help (though it’s fun to watch) that Michael is, by a large margin, the least human-like of any of the angels, including the archangels. Michael has been inside Dean’s head for weeks, knows full well why Dean said yes, but still doesn’t understand the emotion of “love.”

He gets filial loyalty. But he can’t equate it to what Dean feels for his family, blood-related and otherwise. Even his conversation with Jack from last episode may have been just manipulation. Or it could have been as simple as missing being in his vessel. Either way, Michael didn’t seem very interested in Jack this week, except as another way to break Dean to his will.

Because, while Michael may not consciously understand love in the human sense, may openly mock it, he sure gets how it feels to not have it. He gets loneliness, envy, jealousy, romantic covetousness. Every conversation he had with or about Dean this week screamed, “Mine! MIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNNNNEEEEE!!!!!” in its subtext. It was all about dividing Dean permanently from his family, not just to beat them and subdue Dean once and for all, but to make Dean Michael’s Precioussss forever and ever. And when a 14-billion-plus-year-old being like the Archangel Michael says “forever and ever,” he means it in cosmic terms.

According to all angel canon we know, therefore, this once again makes Dean immortal (as the showrunners only sorta, kinda admitted was true during the MoC storyline). Got an angel inside you, especially an archangel? You’re not dying any time soon. And by “any time soon,” we mean that baby black holes forming right now will age and die before you do. That the archangel is not currently in charge does not appear to change this canon in any way. And Dean won’t become technically mortal again until Michael’s outta there. I say “technically” because, as the end of this episode made clear, Dean’s too important to die any time soon, anyway. But more on that in a bit.

Michael’s insanity is probably why Billie warned Dean in the first place. It’s sort of Dean’s fault (albeit as an unfortunate byproduct of Chuck ditching Dean with basically Michael’s job), and alt-Michael happily took advantage of the entire situation, but if Dean had never said yes to alt-Michael, alt-Michael would never have found out why and how Chuck had abandoned him. Or at least, come up with a really devastating theory.

Does this theory hold water? Castiel protested that it didn’t, but from what we know of Chuck, yeah, it’s possible. Chuck’s a fan favorite, played by a fan favorite, and was originally introduced as a hapless nebbish Prophet being bullied by the angels. Rob Benedict was very good at playing Chuck as a slacker writer in way over his head. It’s hard to let go of that warm and cuddly identification with the character’s “humanity.”

But Benedict is also a good-enough actor to have shown us a darker side. Whenever anyone challenges Chuck on his “hands-off” strategy and calls him out for the deadbeat he is, Chuck starts to get pretty cold and nasty. And I think that’s when we start to see why Michael, Lucifer and Raphael were so messed up, and why Gabriel went into Witness Protection. Long story short, it’s doubtful Michael just happened to end up this way. His obsessive loyalty and sense of betrayal hint at what a tyrant Chuck may have been back in the day, before he decided to ride the pine and let Free Will go up to bat. Let’s not forget that Chuck’s next experiment after the archangels and locking his sister away was creating the Leviathans.

The show’s worldbuilding also has a pattern in which whoever/whatever is created first in a race of beings is by far the most powerful, the most unruly, and the most unpredictably dangerous. Michael, the Leviathans, Eve, Cain, even Dean all show this pattern. They’re experiments and experiments have a tendency to blow up in their creators’ faces. Chuck probably put a bit more splintery oomph into Michael than the other archangels and may well have preferred Lucifer because Lucifer couldn’t credibly displace Him or kill Him.

It’s probably not an exaggeration for Michael to say that he could replace God. Just in passing this week, he commented that he put Death’s entire administration under angelic control in his own timeline. We saw enough during the Apocalypse to indicate that was entirely possible. What is curious is how that compares to Dean.

Most of what Michael says about Dean, in particular, is airy bollocks. Sam and Castiel, for once, are smart enough to see through the MOTW’s claims (even if Jack is still young enough to get his head turned by them a bit) that Dean doesn’t love them and step up to the plate to save him. We even saw Sam squirm under all of the admiration from his new team, knowing perfectly well how many lessons he learned from Dean and how many times Dean came through for him when Sam was disappearing up his own ass or even abandoned Dean. I like this new, more mature, learned-my-lesson-on-that-score Sam.

Yeah, it would have been nice to see Dean get a chance to play Grumpy Old Hunter with the newbie Hunters, but one character can’t hog all the storylines and Dean is currently too much in god-mode to gear down to that kind of storyline very comfortably. The other Hunters respect Dean because Sam respects him, but to them, Dean is probably just Sam’s Scary Older Brother Who Holes Up In His Room All The Time And We’re All Okay With That. To them, Dean is borderline-MOTW. Very borderline.

Also, I got a bit of a giggle at Michael’s flirty jealousy of Castiel. Boy, that’s gotta be confusing for Castiel. I mean, Michael’s his big brother and all. But maybe angels work that out more easily.

Anyhoo, Sam and Castiel know Dean’s track record. They know he has always put others first, expanded their family, expanded TFW, in some surprising ways. And they know that as much as his own choices have led him to saying yes to Michael, there wouldn’t even be a world, several times over, without Dean Winchester’s unorthodox and ad hoc choices. This week, they chose to put their faith in Dean and Dean’s decisions.

That’s good because, as Billie made really clear in the coda, ten seasons after “On the Head of a Pin,” the SPNverse’s fate once again rests with Dean. Unless Dean can figure out how to make that one fate Billie gave him turn out right, the entire Multiverse is screwed and Dean will get a front-row seat to it. Michael claimed that Dean was a “gnat,” but Dean’s fate is now tied directly to that of the Multiverse. If that’s not a god-like power (or at least, responsibility), I don’t know what is.

The thing is that Dean appears to be in direct opposition to Michael. In power inside the narrative, all of Michael’s protestations aside, they are actually evenly matched and were at an impasse until the end of last week. Michael’s wiliness and billions of years of wisdom (“old age and treachery,” and all that) temporarily put him on top, and could again, but Dean’s relationships with his loved ones were what tipped the balance in his favor. Dean may have thought of locking Michael in the storeroom, but Sam was the one who shoved him in, Sam and Castiel slammed the door, and it was Castiel who noticed Michael was stalling in the first place. For Dean, love isn’t a weakness at all. It’s a significant advantage, one that Michael sought to neutralize by destroying TFW.

But why would these two be tied together like that? Well, remember what I said last episode about how in so many of the good stories, especially horror, the antagonist is a metaphor for the protagonist’s darkness? Just as with the Mark of Cain, alt-Michael is, metaphorically speaking, a dark aspect of Dean. But alt-Michael is an actual different character who wears Dean’s face and body. An actual alternate personality inside Dean’s head.

He also represents a somewhat different aspect than the MoC. The MoC represented Dean’s bloodlust and love of killing. Michael is a superpowered manifestation of Dean’s Daddy issues. He’s what Dean would be without TFW, without his family. He’s how Dean feels when his loved ones have let him down and abandoned him and stepped all over him and chosen others over him. He’s Dean when Dean’s ranting in season seven’s “How to Win Friends and Influence Monsters” about how being responsible for saving the world all the time sucks and he’s tired of taking away the SPNverse’s “belt and pins” so it won’t do itself in.

That’s why there’s such a resonance when Michael tells members of TFW that Dean finds them a burden and resents them for abandoning him, why they look so guilty even while Dean is pissed on their behalf. Like the shapeshifter in season one’s “Skin,” Michael identifies a leeeeetle too much with Dean’s dark side. Well, “our” Michael did a lot to create that dark side, so I guess that makes sense.

The whole idea of the new Cage was an interesting one. Michael created a part of Dean’s mind to lock him into (like a cage) and then Dean locked Michael inside that same part. Boy, that must have been a pretty strong cage in the first place. Tells you something about how strong Dean is, not just in containing Michael now, but in needing that kind of prison to be locked inside. And even then, Michael had to distract Dean to make it work. Of course I’m all perky to see how that turns out.

Lastly, there’s the question of … WHAT’S IN THE BOOK??!! What is the one thing Dean can do to stop Michael taking him over and destroying the world, Dark Phoenix style? Expulsion apparently isn’t a possibility, anymore.

Dean seemed to think it was far out, even for him. Billie was pretty deadpan about it, but there seemed to be a hint of “Yeah, I know this one’s weird, even for you, but hey, you’ve done pink satin panties, so I’m reasonably confident you’ll figure it out.” Gotta love how much snarky subtext Lisa Berry manages to fit into a stony look.

I suppose Dean could contact Chuck and/or Amara, somehow. But I think it’s too soon, still, after season 11 for these writers and there’s still too much story in play for this to be the last season without a whole lot of loose ends (even just one more season probably wouldn’t do it). And how would he even do it?

Recruiting the Empty, somehow, is a possibility and would certainly account for Dean’s WTF?! look, but they may be reserving the Empty for another season. We also still have Heaven’s imminent crash-and-burn in the background.

The most likely possibility seems to be a visit to the Cage and saying yes to “our” Michael there. Have them duke it out, or something. Or maybe chain alt-Michael to Heaven as a powerhouse. I suppose it’s possible Dean might find a way to talk Michael down, but after what he did with Amara, that seems redundant.

Anyhoo, we’ll know more next week.


The Kripke Years

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4

Season 5

The Gamble Years

Season 6 (with Kripke)

Season 7

The Carver Years

Season 8

Season 9

Season 10

Season 11

The Dabb Years

Season 12

Season 13

Season 14


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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


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.

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


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

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.


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The Official Supernatural: “Optimism” (14.06) 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.

Recap of the story so far and where the principles and guest stars at (the latter mainly being alt-Charlie). Odd, clicky soundtrack, as though they wanted “Time Has Come Today,” but couldn’t afford The Chamber Brothers again.

Cut to Now in McCook, Nebraska, with this weirdly upbeat ragtime piano tune that sounds like something Randy Newman would write (specifically, “You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” but it’s not). We swing down past a closeup of a bronze statue of a bearded man in 19th century garb to a perky young woman jaywalking across a street.

She says hi to an elderly man then opens up the town library for the day. Later, we see her shelving books, while confirming (rather unenthusiastically) a dinner date with one guy, fending off the creepy stalking of another, and complaining that nobody ever comes into the library, anymore.

Okay, first of all, I am very sick and tired of the cliche of the young, nerdy woman who has guys swooning over her and treats them mean (especially in an episode that’s bringing back Charlie). Second, has Steve Yockey just not been in a library, lately, ’cause all my local libraries are pretty busy. If only because they have free internet and job hunting resources. And I don’t exactly live in a book paradise. More like a bookstore desert.

So, Date Guy leaves the library, all libidoed up ’cause he’s going out tonight with the hot librarian. And we get what I do believe is the first actual Classic Rock (okay, it’s Disco) of the season – The Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive.” That is, until he turns into a Doomed Teaser Guy and is grabbed by dead white hands into a bush, where he is messily murdered offscreen.

Cue title cards.

Jack is trying coffee with tons of sugar. Dean walks in and comments on this. Jack says that now he no longer has powers, “everything tastes different” and he can’t seem to figure out how to get the right taste on anything.

Jack says Sam went off on a hunt with alt-Charlie and didn’t tell Dean because Dean was already on an overnight drive to visit his mom and alt-Bobby. Sam left Jack behind to watch out for Dean because Sam is worried about Dean. That’s the story Sam told Jack, anyway.

Jack muses that Sam and alt-Charlie must be having a great time on their hunt. Cut to Sam and Charlie on a stakeout at a pest control place, in a pickup that looks suspiciously like the one Sam used while investigating Dean’s massacre of the late, unlamented Stynes.

Sam is so bored that he plays with a spinner, which is mildly amusing.

Dean notices that Jack has a cough, but Jack pretends it’s nothing and there’s no blood just yet. Jack tells Dean that Michael wasn’t his fault, then mentions he dug up some news about Doomed Teaser Guy, who was found dead with human bite marks. Jack wants to go hunting. Dean thinks it’s a bad idea and says he should go alone. Jack says he’s going stir crazy and feels guilty about not killing Michael when he had the chance. So, he eventually bugs Dean into letting him take him on a hunt. Dean tells Sam. Sam expresses concern, but doesn’t object (as if that would stop Dean). Alt-Charlie shrugs and comments that they’ve got four missing people and a jar of goo on their end. So far, so mysterious.

Dean and Jack arrive in town and first hit Dick’s Red Rooster Diner. Jack says it was the place where DTG (called “Winston”) spent his time on breakfast. This is the sneak peek where the counter person (who thinks she has a “working knowledge of the Constitution,” but doesn’t know any) is a jerk to them until Dean whips out some money and bribes her.

There follows a Fargo-like montage of local people (including Diner Jerk) talking about how sweet the librarian is, but since her boyfriend left, she can’t seem to keep boyfriends. They disappear or die and she’s just “bad luck.” It’s a little too on-the-nose, but Dean and Jack’s reactions are amusing.

Meanwhile, alt-Charlie is telling Sam that Dean will be okay, that he has friends. Sam then eulogizes her (dead) counterpart here, which rather-understandably makes alt-Charlie pretty uncomfortable. It turns out her life went very differently. She was working for Dick Roman (the real one, since the Leviathans never came out to play) and had a girlfriend named Kara. Everything was fine until the day alt-Michael and alt-Lucifer fought, causing a huge EMP wave to “fry” all the electronics in the U.S. Human society than fell into chaos and sometime during that, Kara died. Sam says that hasn’t happened in his reality and alt-Charlie just replies, “Yet.”

Back to the diner, where Dean has ordered Jack and him some pie and Jack is asking Dean about sex. As you do, when you’re about a year old and have the body of a teenage.

Dean and Jack mull over what to do about the librarian, Harper. Dean says that so much bad luck is a red flag that something is up, but Jack asks, how are they going to find out?

Dean’s idea is to run a Good Cop Bad Cop con on Harper, with Dean playing Bad Cop and Jack coming in to “save” Harper from his interrogation. I kinda like how unapologetically shady Dean is in this and how Jack enthusiastically goes along for the ride. Dean is a lot of things, but he’s also a great con man and thief.

Dean looks a little taken aback when Jack calls him an “old man,” but when he sees how eagerly Harper eats it up, he rolls with it and leaves. But he watches from the car (grumping privately about the insult) while Harper bonds with Jack (immediately taking him to her apartment for a book) and fends off her creepy, red-bearded stalker, Miles.

As Dean gets out to follow Jack and Harper, he hears Miles getting messily murdered offscreen in an alley, while putting out trash. When Dean investigates, he is watched from the bushes.

Back to Sam and Charlie. Charlie is reading through a lot of occult books, while Sam compliments her on her Hunting skills (FYI, Charlie hasn’t actually done any onscreen hunting at this point). This version of Charlie is the exact opposite of her perky SPNverse version. She wants to quit Hunting because all it ends up getting you is dead. Sam doesn’t understand why she would want to quit, which is pretty out-of-character for Sam, even now. I get that this is supposed to be an Anti-Charlie Charlie, and I guess that’s not a terrible idea, but the execution so far is still boring and the result is still a whiny Charlie.

Not only is alt-Charlie quitting Hunting, but this is her last case. She’s going to go off the grid and stay away from people and monsters.

Then they get to their MOTW (it appears we have two, since there are two hunts), something called a “Musca,” which is a man-sized fly. It turns out there is a “bad egg” of a male Musca that can’t find a mate and leaves its community to bind humans together and “nest.” Or something. Then then see someone (or something) sit down next to a pair of elderly women, wearing an all-black kind of combo of a Puritan minister and beekeeper’s outfit that completely obscures its face. It’s really lame. Like, the spider people in “Unforgiven” levels of lame.

At Harper’s apartment (which is bright and perky), Harper rather awkwardly flirts with Jack, who doesn’t get it. While she’s in the other room, getting the “book,” Jack drops a silver coin on the floor and covers his hands in holy water. When Harper appears to pass those tests, Jack covers a cough with a “Christo!” Dang, been a while (“Phantom Traveler” in season one) since anybody used that.

Jack says he’s from Lebanon. Harper says her family has been in her town for many generations and she’s “the last one.” To cover up a real bout of coughing, Jack sees a photo of Harper with a guy, whom she calls “Vance.” She says he was a former boyfriend who left town – and her – thus beginning her round of bad luck.

Harper stops Jack from answering a call to Dean and starts acting in love with him. Jack asks her where her bathroom is, goes in and answers the call (good Jack!). Dean is still at the site of Miles’ gruesome demise. As they’re talking about what/who is stalking the men around Harper, Dean gets attacked by the thing that apparently killed Miles. Jack hears the attack over the phone and rushes out of the bathroom.

When a worried Harper asks if she came on too strong, Jack reassures her that she didn’t. She asks if they should “go for coffee.” Before Jack can answer, Dean bursts in (having apparently not been messily murdered offscreen), making Harper scream in shock. Dean and Jack hurriedly do The Talk (not the sex talk, but the monster talk), while Dean grabs a chair and shoves it up under the doorknob to Harper’s apartment. They’re there to save her. When Harper asks, “Save me from what?!” the apartment door starts banging on cue and Dean says, “That!”

As Harper is asking who is out there, Dean says it’s a “what” and that “I thought it was a ghost until it punched me in the face.” (There’s an amusing exchange as Harper thinks Dean said it was a ghost and Jack says that no, Dean said it wasn’t.) Dean then spots a photo of Vance and picks it up, asking who it is and when he died.

Harper is very surprised to hear that Vance is dead, saying “He lives in Connecticut.”

“Not anymore,” Dean says (love Ackles’ delivery). Vance shouting Harper’s name from outside the door convinces her that it is, indeed, Vance.

As Vance busts the door down, Dean figures he’s some sort of revenant (a big callback to season two’s “Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things,” in which Dean was also pretty messed up). Dean comments that silver will slow them down, but only one thing can kill them. He finds a silver knife in Harper’s apartment and grapples with Vance, yelling at Jack to get Harper out of there.

Meanwhile, it’s night and the Musca shows up at the bus stop (that’s what the bench turns out to be). Alt-Charlie is all for going after it, but Sam wants to wait. So, of course, a bus comes along and gives the Musca cover to kidnap a guy sitting next to it, except why would it wait until the bus came to do that if it doesn’t know two Hunters are sitting across the street. Isn’t it doing that right in front of a bus full of people?

Well, anyhoo, it finally gets them out of the truck to go after the thing, and Sam to shut up temporarily about trying to bully alt-Charlie into staying in Hunting. Thank God. ‘Cause that was really dull.

Back to the fight scene, which is actually fun. There’s an amusing Riverdale dig when Dean calls Vance “Archie.” But Vance, for whatever reason, decides not to continue fighting Dean (who is basically distracting him to help Jack and Harper escape, anyway) and runs after Harper and Jack. Who have run back to the library.

The storyline for Sam and alt-Charlie’s hunt is so damned thin that they actually infodump a conversation we never heard about how a “brass nail dipped in sugar water” is maybe the only thing that can kill a Musca. Alt-Charlie says they don’t have either of those things. Sam babbles that they can “improvise” before they bust into a warehouse with guns that apparently can’t actually kill the MOTW. Once inside, they comment on the stink and find a lot of flies and fly paper. Then they go stalking through the warehouse, nodding randomly to each other for no reason (I was like, “Whaaat?”).

Alt-Charlie finds a pile of bodies at the same time Sam finds the Musca’s briefcase. Turns out the Musca’s been chloroforming its victims. Charlie finds the latest one from the bus stop – he’s still alive – but manages to get grabbed by the Musca and tossed off the platform thing-y it has its victims on like the cast of Cats. This conveniently knocks her out. Sam comes in and finds her, only to be attacked by the Musca (which is a guy dressed like a mime, wearing a very dodgy bug mask that the director doesn’t let is see too closely amid all the jump camerawork). As it’s dripping goo on Sam for some reason, alt-Charlie wakes up and stabs it in the back, then Sam shoots it, and that is apparently all you need to kill it. So much for the brass nail and the sugar water.

So, back to the library, where Jack finds out the hard way that Harper and Vance are in cahoots (I know. Golly, and she seemed like such a nice girl, too). Harper killed him before he could leave town and it turns out she comes from “a long line of necromancers,” so she raised him from the dead and he was obsessed with her. Yeah, the infodump’s pretty heavy in this one.

Jack gets stalked around the stacks, but just when he’s thinking he needs to make a rush at Harper (which, as “Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things” showed doesn’t actually work in getting rid of a revenant), he gets grabbed by Dean. Dean quietly brings Jack up to speed on how to kill Vance. So, Jack once again plays bait by shmoozing Harper and luring Vance out into the open. Dean gets in on it (Harper actually orders Vance to kill Dean at one point), but when Dean and Jack get demonic handcuffs on Vance, Harper pulls a runner.

Meanwhile, Sam and Charlie are in her truck, infodumping about how the last victim of the Musca will be okay, while we get a montage of the Musca’s people retrieving its body because apparently, once again, Sam and alt-Charlie didn’t salt and burn the damned body. Sam also persuades alt-Charlie to stay in Hunting, which probably means she’ll get sacrificed sometime this season. Whatever, Show.

Cut to a diner with Marty Robbins’ “I’ll Go on Alone” in the background. Harper is writing a letter to Jack in which she babbles on about finding him, killing him, and then bringing him back from the dead so they can be together forever. Seems she finally left McCook.

Back at the Bunker, Jack and Dean talk about stalking Vance to his gravebed with a silver stake (as in “Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things”) over coffee (Jack) and whiskey (Dean). Dean tells Jack he did well. Jack tells Dean he should stop beating himself up over Michael and wants to go out on more hunts. Dean hedges and says he’ll discuss it with Sam when Sam gets back. At that point, Jack starts coughing again. He coughs up blood and starts bleeding from the nose. Then he collapses on the floor as Dean tries to revive him.

Credits

The ratings were up a little from last week, with the show tying for second on the network in demo with a 0.4/2 (0.397, unrounded) and coming in second for audience with 1.48 million.

Promo for next week.

Eh. I can’t say this one wowed me. There were some nice callbacks to seasons one and two in the first hunt, and Dean and Jack got some good bonding. Dean’s Salty Old Veteran shtick with Jack is a hoot. But it was a pretty thinly plotted hunt, with even flatter guest characters than usual. It certainly lacked the depth of “Children Shouldn’t Play with Dead Things,” one of my favorite episodes ever, and it wasn’t nearly as creepy as “Phantom Traveler,” another early favorite of mine.

Part of the problem was having another hunt stuffed in with it and what the hell happened there? It’s not as though the show has never had the Brothers go off on separate hunts or storylines, so it’s perfectly capable of doing A/B plotting.

But this one mostly consisted of Sam and alt-Charlie sitting around in a pickup, watching a bus stop and waiting for an MOTW to show up. They kept talking about how they felt sorry for the Musca, but why would they? And that drippy montage at the end with the Musca community showing up to take away their errant member was completely unearned.

Not to mention, it made Sam and alt-Charlie look stupid because they should have salted and burned the body – all of the bodies, really. And the creature design for the Musca was … well, not very good. I’m hoping that montage doesn’t mean they’ll be coming back because no, just no.

Harper is obviously coming back. I can’t say I’m hugely thrilled about that, either. Perky evil can be fun, but there’s something missing with her and I don’t just mean that the character herself is short a few hash browns from her Happy Meal. It could just be the general lack of development for the storyline and then piling it on top of Jack’s health woes.

It was fairly obvious from the start that something was off with her. The possibility that she’d offed Vance crossed my mind rather early, but I can’t say I got much suspense out of it. I also can’t say I’m feeling much suspense about her stalking Jack, either. The whole bunny boiler thing seems pretty dated to me.

The fight scene between Dean and Vance was fun – too bad it kept getting undercut by the stakeout in the pickup truck. Ackles did some really snarky tee-offs on line deliveries this week. I also liked that Dean and Jack ran a con on Harper, not once but twice. She knew they were Hunters, but was utterly clueless about everything else (not least that Jack is not entirely human).

There was some good partner chemistry there between Dean and Jack, and it was nice to see Jack acknowledge that he made some critical errors that led up to Dean being backed into saying yes to Michael. The “old man” crack had me rolling my eyes along with Dean, but that’s mostly because it always makes the writers look like ageist idiots. That sort of thing may fly on other CW shows, but not this one.

Overall, a few nice bits (and Dean looks super-hot in a noir detective suit), but this one felt too thin. You need to work on plotting some more, writers.


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The Official Supernatural: “Nightmare Logic” (14.05) 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.

Apologies for not getting to this one until now. Also, next week, I’ll be busy Friday and Saturday, so I likely won’t get to that one until Sunday.

Okay, so let’s get started.

Recap starting with Maggie (the most useless DiD ever) then going through the Michael storyline and Dean’s speech to Sam about ending all monsters. FYI, there is a wee spoiler in there that, tied in with the title, will tell you right away what the MOTW is. Sorry.

Cut to night in Claremore, OK, where Maggie is walking through a forest all alone. She enters a graveyard and approaches a crypt with the family name “Rawling” across it. She sits down and pulls something out of her backpack. It turns out to be a bodycam that she reports into before clipping it on and entering the crypt.

Okay, why is Maggie Hunting, let alone by herself? The last time we saw her on a Hunt, she nearly got her team killed and that was with a group. Is she by herself or did some other moron think this was a good idea?

Also, we already found out that bodycams, or any cams, are a bad idea from “Ghostfacers!” They’re distracting to whoever is using them and the footage risks outing Hunters to the general human world, which is not a good idea.

Anyhoo, Maggie breaks into the crypt, believing she is Hunting a ghoul. By herself. With no backup. Okeydoke.

As she walks around the crypt, looking for opened coffins, a wavering machete in her hand, she is attacked by a snarling old man/ghoul.

Cue title cards.

Cut to the Bunker, where Sam is giving some newbie Hunters from the Other Side a lecture on Hunter safety before sending them off. As Dean walks in on them, Sam automatically glances to Dean for feedback. Dean chooses, instead, to take a backseat. As the meeting breaks up and Sam walks off with Dean, Dean’s main comment (aside from seeing Sam do coordinating with Hunters as “adorable”) is that Sam is not getting enough sleep. Yeah, one thing Sam really ought to be doing is having someone play dispatcher on shifts for Hunter check-ins, rather than trying to do it all himself. Yeah, I used to run a rescue squad. You gotta learn to delegate that stuff.

Sam discovers that one of the Hunters (he infodumps that he has 20 out there, including our four non-redshirts Castiel, Jack, Mary and alt-Bobby) “missed check-in.” It’s Maggie. So, now we know which moron sent Maggie out on a Hunt all by herself. Yay, Boss Sam.

So, Dean is trying to call Maggie, while Sam calls up her body cam and some random redshirt wanders past the Library. Sam infodumps that the body cams automatically upload to a server, which I’m sure could never get hacked by hostile parties, or anything. So, yeah, Sam’s responsible for that swift decision, too. Dean doesn’t call him on it, just infodumps about the reasoning behind it. They get the teaser for the episode.

Sam starts to tailspin in self-recrimination. Dean yanks Sam’s head out of his ass by agreeing it looks like a ghoul and it’s time to go find out for sure. Meanwhile, Rando Redshirt dude wanders around in the background, checking the wastebaskets, or something.

Off the Brothers go to Oklahoma. That is a rather odd background on the obligatory Impala-on-the-road shot. Did they bluescreen that?

In the graveyard, Sam infodumps that it’s all owned by the same family, which Dean notes is awfully convenient – for that family.

Sam says Maggie was investigating a report by some local kids that they were attacked by a “walker” while they were studying. Sam even outs it as an explicit The Walking Dead reference.

“I know what a Walker is, Sam,” Dean calmly replies. As they approach the crypt, Dean notices some beer cans in front of it and dismisses the “studying” excuse with that adorable half-laugh he always used to do back in the day. Ackles is having fun plumbing his old Dean tics toolkit these days.

Inside, they find disturbed dust and scuff marks, but no blood. Dean theorizes that the ghoul might have dragged Maggie off to feed on her later, and that she might still be alive. Either way, they have to find the MOTW and kill it.

They are hailed from the entrance by a guy in a gardening suit with a rake and accused of trespassing. Sam smoothly states they’re from an historical society and Dean follows up by asking where the local family mansion is. They guy leads them to it and introduces them to a rotund, smarmy grad student type who burbles over the idea of an historical society turning the family manse and graveyard into an official historical site. It’s obviously a lot more complicated than that, but this is just a Winchester cover story, anyway, so let’s roll with it.

The guy, named Neil, lets them in and comments that there seem to be an awful lot of people there from the “HBC.” Turns out Mary and Bobby showed up to investigate, too. Bobby is pretty sarcastic about Sam’s attempts to pull rank, so Mary takes Sam off to talk to him about Maggie, while Dean stays behind to interview Neil, with Bobby.

Neil says he’s not part of the family. He’s Mr. Rawling’s “nurse.” When Bobby asks to interview Old Man Rawling, there’s a snag. Old Man Rawling is in a coma.

Mary tells Sam she and Bobby came to check on Maggie because Maggie was “nervous about her first Hunt.” (Oh, hon, she shouldn’t have been out Hunting, period, not to mention alone.) They were texting with her when she suddenly went radio silence, but Mary admits she and Bobby should have let Sam know. Well, yes, there isn’t much point to all these high-tech improvements if y’all don’t use them to, y’know, stay in touch.

Something is awry with Old Man Rawling. He’s in a coma surrounded by blood transfusions and yet, he’s the ghoul from Maggie’s body cam footage. Meanwhile, Maggie is underground somewhere, trussed up and being drained of her own blood. Big hint about the MOTW, there.

A woman with groceries walks in, looking totally unimpressed by the new people in her dad’s room. Neil introduces her as Sasha, Old Man Rawling’s daughter. After a little banter, she throws them out.

At the Impala, the Hunters chew things over. Bobby says he tested OMR and he had no bites, so probably not a ghoul.

Mary speculates shapeshifter, but Dean points out that ‘shifters don’t generally do graveyards. Sam thinks maybe demon, but Bobby points out that demons aren’t generally so patient as to put their hosts’ bodies back in their beds after taking them for a “joyride.”

Dean notes Bobby’s irritability and calls him out on it. Bobby admits he has a problem with Sam sending Maggie out on a Hunt alone. He says she wasn’t ready and “a real leader” would have noticed this.

Mary breaks things up by going on reconnaissance with Sam and having Dean go with Bobby. I get she wants to give Sam a pep talk, but why stick poor Dean with Bobby? Sheesh.

Also, I don’t agree with Mary that it’s not Sam’s fault. It really is. Yeah, Sam’s moping over it isn’t helping, but Sam should have clearly seen how unready Maggie was back in the season premiere bar fight and kept her back for longer. I mean, come on, it’s been only a few weeks since then. No way Maggie turned into Hunter Sue in that time and Mary (the one who had to hand her an angel sword and tell her to get out there during the bar fight) knows that better than anyone.

Instead, Bobby is made to look like a big meanie for pointing out that Sam’s leadership skills need a little work. They do. Sure, he can get better, but he can’t get better if other characters’ keep holding his hand.

Bobby asks Dean if he was too hard on Sam. Dean’s response is rather noncommittal, saying that Sam is “doing his best.” But Dean also notes that Sam is overdoing it and not sleeping enough.

Sam, meanwhile, asks Mary about her relationship with Bobby. She says things were going fine until they got back home (for her). Then Bobby closed up and all he ever wants to do is hunt. Sam tells her a little about “our” Bobby, that his wife was possessed and he had to deal with it himself (um…was Sam not aware of Rufus’ involvement in that?). Mary asks if Bobby ever had kids. Sam says no.

Then they find an old campfire and Mary spots something.

As Dean and Bobby find the cabin from The Blair Witch Project, Mary and Sam find burned IDs in the fire. They’re a Hunter’s IDs. Bobby is distracted by someone in the woods and goes to follow him. Dean enters the cabin (which is full of animal furs and skulls) and discovers the body of the Hunter in the IDs. He’s then attacked by OMR, but when Dean stabs him, OMR (who is still in the hospital bed, while his daughter sits nearby) explodes into ashes, covering Dean. When Bobby comes back, he snarks at Dean’s appearance as Dean asks him where he went.

Back at the manse, while going through her father’s papers, Sasha hears a noise of breaking glass and footsteps upstairs. She goes to investigate, thinking it’s Neil, but she instead finds a half-open door to a dark room and a ravenous vampire. Screaming, she runs, but when she trips and falls, nothing comes after her.

As Neil acts all solicitous over her, Sasha is later interviewed by Mary and Sam, and immediately guesses she saw a vampire. This leads to her and Neil getting The Talk.

Dean walks in with news from “the shed.” Sam quickly fills him in about the attack. “Oh, good. You told ’em,” Dean says conversationally. The matter-of-fact way they confirm the identity of the Hunter Dean found is a hoot as it’s filmed almost from an outsider’s POV. They look utterly terrifying when they drop the “normal” mask like that.

Mary goes to check on Bobby (whom Dean says stayed back to get something from his truck), but can’t find him. Meanwhile, the Brothers formulate a theory, right in front of Sasha and Neil, that OMR is somehow psychically manifesting images of himself. They interview Sasha a bit more and it turns out the noises she thought she heard came from the attic. Sam goes up there, while Dean stays back to guard Sasha and her dad.

Sasha pops a benzodiazepine while Dean sharpens his machete. Neil has gone…somewhere. Sasha asks him to stop and then points out the insanity of Dean’s very presence there. Dean asks her if she’s okay and she brushes it off. At first.

Dean shrugs and sheaths his machete, but then Sasha opens up as she also downs some whiskey.  Her father was a workaholic who was never home, said he was doing it for the family. But her mother had a family history of depression and killed herself when Sasha was 12. Sasha found her. Sasha “worshiped” her father when she was a kid, but now is bitter because he never expressed any regret over not seeing his wife was suicidal or being around for his family.

This is a huge John Winchester anvil. There was an earlier one in the woods, when Mary said Bobby wasn’t “open” the way John was and then has to admit she means the way John was before she died as Sam snorts in disbelief.

Dean offers Sasha some advice – “let it go. You’ll feel a lot lighter.”

“That what you do?” Sasha asks.

“I try,” Dean admits. “Every single day.” It’s a heartbreaking moment of pure honesty.

Upstairs, Sam finds the darkened doorway Sasha discovered. It leads to a room with unfinished walls (no drywall) that leads to a stairway that goes up to the attic. Very strange layout, that.

In the attic, he find Maggie, trussed up. She tries to warn him as the same vampire that went after Sasha attacks him. Sam stabs it and it, too, explodes into ashes. Needless to say, despite his and Dean’s theory, Sam’s a bit confused.

As Sam gets Maggie down, Maggie apologizes for screwing up. Sam reassures her that she didn’t (well, she did, but now is not the time).

We cut to the woods, where Bobby finds a young man with his eyes burned out, angel-style. Dialogue identifies this young man as Bobby’s son Daniel. Daniel beats up Bobby and then impales him against a tree with an angel blade. He tells Bobby the angels crucified him “piece by piece” (uh…that’s not really how crucifixion works, but okay), but when he’s about to kill Bobby with another angel blade, Mary shows up.

Mary shoots Daniel, but unlike the other monsters, Daniel doesn’t disappear (plothole, y’all). Instead, he knocks Mary down and starts choking her out. This gives Bobby the strength of ten Grinches. He manages to yank out the angel blade impaling him, while dangling from the tree, knocks Daniel down, and stabs him with it, after apologizing. Daniel bursts into ashes. Yeah, it’s as stupid as it sounds. Also, I’m getting tired of Mary having to be rescued all the time. She’s a competent Hunter, Show, come on.

Inside the house, Sasha and Dean enter the room where Neil is tending OMR. Dean suddenly, really notices the blood bags and has an epiphany. He calmly asks why Neil is giving OMR a blood transfusion for a stroke and Neil blathers something about how “it keeps his iron up.”

Dean asks Sasha to make him a sandwich. She’s confused at first until he mouths, “Go,” and she realizes he needs her to get out of the line of fire because Neil is the MOTW. She skedaddles. I like Sasha. She’s sassy.

As she leaves, Dean pulls out his gun and aims it at Neil. Neil at first professes to be confused until Dean explains his reasoning. He says he only just recognized the set-up Neil has OMR in as one he was once trapped in, too.

We then get a brief flashback to Dean’s nightmare flash of being trussed up by a djinn in season two’s “What Is and What Should Never Be.”

“You’re a djinn,” Dean says. I love me some Smart, Deductive Dean.

Neil smiles and reveals his djinn face and glowing eyes, but then flips the script really strangely by saying “But you knew that, already…didn’t you?”

As Dean interrogates him about why he’s killing Hunters (and Neil the Djinn sure is chatty), Neil reveals that he thinks Dean is Michael (until Dean tells him otherwise). Michael has altered him and offered him a deal for more power: “Find somewhere quiet. Set up shop. Kill as many Hunters as I can.”

The upgrade Neil got was fairly impressive. With a single touch, he can now read minds, extract nightmares, and give them physical life – the projections Dean and the others have been dealing with. OMR is afraid of dying along and unloved, Maggie of the vampires that murdered her family, and we just saw what Bobby feared.

Neil keeps edging closer to Dean, saying Dean can’t harm him. Dean proves somewhat otherwise by shooting him in the leg. Angry and hurt, Neil charges Dean and uses his power on him. He claims he won’t “hurt Michael’s favorite monkey suit, but I am curious – what are your nightmares?”

But whatever he finds inside is a lot more than he bargained for. It tosses him back out as he stammers, “You…you’re….”

Dean wastes no time taking advantage of the djinn’s confusion. He attacks Neil and slams his head into the table. “You know,” he comments, looking just like Demon!Dean, “I don’t have a knife dipped in lamb’s blood – but I can improvise!” Spotting two bronze bookends, he grabs them and beats the djinn’s head in, but not before Neil defiantly claims that “there are dozens of” Hunter traps of Michael’s, lying in wait “for you and your family.”

“You don’t know my family,” Dean replies coldly, before dealing the fatal blow and then disintegrating Neil’s head with his gun, held in bloody hands.

Later, Dean removes the apparatus from OMR, while giving Sasha a crash course in helping a djinn victim recover. As Dean leaves, she reassures her waking father that she’s there for him.

The Brothers drive home and return Maggie to the Bunker, where a bunch of redshirt Hunters I’ve never seen before and care nothing about cheer her return.

Dean cheerleaders Sam about bringing Maggie back. Meanwhile, Mary bandages up Bobby and gets him to tell her about Daniel. After the angel war kicked off, Bobby was given a “platoon.” He and his son had taken care of the thing with his wife (which went the same way as in the SPNverse). Daniel was part of Bobby’s platoon, but on one mission, they got separated. Daniel and his group were captured by angels (Bobby assumes) and never seen again. Bobby is left to speculate what really happened and since they crossed over to here, is trying to get himself killed. Mary tells him she won’t let him do that. After talking with the Brothers, she gets an offer from Donna via them of Donna’s cabin (what happened to Rufus’ cabin?), so she and Bobby can try a little normalcy for a while. So, that’s Mary and Bobby off for a few episodes.

Before they leave, though, Bobby is yet another character who gives Sam a pep talk about being a leader. But hey, at least Dean gets an explanation from Mary this time and is allowed to give her “permission” to leave.

The Brothers then put out the word to other Hunters about the “new, supercharged monsters.” After, Dean tries not to blame himself (and has lots of trouble with pronouns), while Sam insists he’ll just sleep less than before so they can find and kill Michael, even though they don’t know how to do either one.

Credits

Okay, now I am truly curious about what happened with Michael. There were heavy hints this week, especially in the scene with the djinn, that Michael is still inside Dean, but, for whatever reason, is currently dormant. Dean seems unaware of this, but he also appears to be fully in control. At least for now.

The theory I like best is that Dean somehow reasserted control, but has no idea that he did, let alone how he did, and has Michael trapped inside his own body. Remember that while Michael may have intended for Dean to become just his vessel, Dean is a powerful agent of the Natural Order in his own timeline, in his own right, which means other beings like Chuck and Amara, but especially Death, are apt to get involved if alt-Michael tries to stay in control of Our!Dean for too long. There are, as Death always likes to say, consequences for that sort of thing, especially since Michael broke his deal with Dean.

Perhaps, as it appears Michael was able to assert himself at the end of last season partly due to Dean’s being smote by Lucifer, Dean was able to reassert himself after Michael was wounded by Kaia’s Magic Hockey Stick (or maybe Michael overused his own grace in his experiments, which contradicts how precious he was about it last year). It could also be that because Dean’s deal with Michael was conditional on Michael letting him be in control, that is a natural condition Michael must constantly fight in order to dominate Dean. And when the djinn looked for Dean’s nightmares, he found Michael.

This doesn’t really explain the djinn’s final words, but I suspect the writers were just going with the ridiculous cliche of the expositional Final Curse. Folks, most people are too busy dying for that nonsense and it lessens the horror and severity of death. Enough, already.

Also, if the djinn found Michael, he may also have realized that Michael was imprisoned inside Dean, which meant he was dealing with Dean when he spoke his final words. Or something.

So, this is a version of Dean Done Come Back Wrong/There’s Something About Dean. Honestly? I’m okay with it. Ackles is acting the shit out of it and it’s a true mystery. Let it go all season.

Also, I loved the callback to “What Is and What Should Never Be.” The show has never allowed Dean to feel his trauma before over being violated by the djinn like that, so it’s nice to see him use it to figure things out about the MOTW, and have the show lampshade it with a flashback to that episode and that particular scene.

I’m far less into the Sam the Leader storyline. I know that Sam needs something to do, and since Dean has the mytharc, that makes Sam the wind beneath Dean’s wings. But this storyline is unconvincing. It suffers from the same problem just about every Sam storyline going all the way back to the Pilot suffers from – the writers never trust that the audience will care enough about Sam to just give us the story. They always Tell us how to feel about Sam’s story rather than Show us.

So, we have characters throughout the story holding Sam’s hand, listening to Sam’s problems, Telling Sam (and us) that Sam is really a great leader (even when it’s clear he is not). Dean’s leader storylines are great because we see all the fight and struggle to convince others to follow him. For Sam, all the whining about lack of sleep aside, it’s a walk in the park. That’s boring to watch.

Another problem going back to Kripke (but especially evident in the Nepotism Duo scripts that suffer from plotting so bad that they LOL!canon their own canon five minutes after they established some within the same script) is a tendency to present us with a major Sam change (usually, though not always, a heroic one) rather than develop it. I have no issue with Sam starting out not-great and developing into a great leader, but to skip a few weeks and be Told he’s brilliant already is just plain lazy writing.

I don’t quite get why Dean is sitting back and letting Sam lead. Okay, actually, I do kind of get it. Just as Bobby was correct in calling out Sam’s awful decision in letting Maggie go hunt alone (even if the show then forced him to backtrack and apologize for stating the flaming obvious, and letting Sam feel and understand the consequences), Dean hanging back and letting Sam do this is very much of a Dean Leader thing to do.

Problem is, I’m not sure that the likes of the Nepotism Duo, Robert “Insert PC snark instead of story here” Berens, Davy “Linear Plotting 101” Perez, and Andrew “Let’s pillage every inappropriate comic book plot I can remember” Dabb are aware that this is basically Dean leading this group of redshirts who only know him as a supervillain through teaching his brother how to lead.

Speaking of the redshirts, their lack of character development is not good. The Bunker is infested by a bunch of one-dimensional characters I don’t have any emotional attachment to whatsoever (and from the sound of things on Twitter, neither do a lot of fans). Even the ones who get a little development, like Maggie, are boring and kinda of annoying.

It’s another case of a plot that would be fine it if weren’t being treated like 5-minute rice. Spreading out their involvement with other Hunters and using the Bunker as a base of operations for Hunters? Fine as a plot spread out over an entire season, or more. Doing a cheap time jump and presenting it as a fait accompli? So not okay. It reminds me of how the Roadhouse initially came across in season two – an abrupt change in tone that threatened to screw up the show’s basic franchise plot and everything fans liked about it.

I’m going to (possibly) go against the grain again and say that I don’t actually have any problems with a Mary and Bobby pair-up. The writers have floundered a bit with her since they brought her back. First, they had her in conflict with her sons, avoiding them because of her own guilt over how their lives turned out following her death. That made her look unsympathetic, especially toward Dean.

Then they had her off in the alt-SPNverse, mothering Jack. That, too, was not so successful in making her sympathetic, largely because she was using Jack as a substitute for her grown-ass sons.

This week, though, shows why Mary and alt-Bobby could work. We see her actually seeking advice and validation from her sons in figuring out what’s going on with Bobby and whether or not to proceed in a relationship with him. Rather than being in conflict with her, they are her allies.

Sure, there were flaws in it. I didn’t like that we had an extended conversation between Mary and Sam when, again, until the time jump, she was much closer to Dean, but hey, at least she got to talk to Dean at the end and seek “permission” to leave for a while, which he calmly gave. Still waiting on that conversation about his possession by Michael, though.

And I really wasn’t thrilled to see her used, yet again, as a DiD to motivate Bobby. That was annoying. But overall, I’m okay with it.

As for the “But she was with John first” stuff, we did have her defend John a bit to Sam, while acknowledging that he changed (not for the better) after she died. It’s not as though she’s forgotten about him. And JDM’s got another show, with little interest in coming back to this one, while Matt Cohen is both too busy and not the right period to come back as John. So, Bobby it is.

Promo next week is up. Alt-Charlie’s back – ugh.

Ratings for the show were down a bit, still 0.3/1 and 1.43 million in audience. Don’t think Legacies is doing Supernatural any favors. Still a tad salty about the CW picking that up over Wayward Sisters.


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