Tag Archives: Season 14

The Official Supernatural: “Moriah” (14.20 – Season Finale) Live Recap Thread


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Credits.

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

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

Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Which brings us back to the review.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See you next week with a retro review.


The Kripke Years

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4

Season 5

The Gamble Years

Season 6 (with Kripke)

Season 7

The Carver Years

Season 8

Season 9

Season 10

Season 11

The Dabb Years

Season 12

Season 13

Season 14


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

These two writers give me such a headache.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Credits

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

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

The promo, synopsis, photos and such are here.

Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Kripke Years

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4

Season 5

The Gamble Years

Season 6 (with Kripke)

Season 7

The Carver Years

Season 8

Season 9

Season 10

Season 11

The Dabb Years

Season 12

Season 13

Season 14


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The Official Supernatural: “Game Night” (14.17) Live Recap Thread


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

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

Cut to Now.

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

Cue title cards.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

She’s got a point, Cas.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Credits

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

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

Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Kripke Years

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4

Season 5

The Gamble Years

Season 6 (with Kripke)

Season 7

The Carver Years

Season 8

Season 9

Season 10

Season 11

The Dabb Years

Season 12

Season 13

Season 14


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The Official Supernatural: “Don’t Go in the Woods” (14.16) Live Recap Thread


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cue title cards.

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

Dean: Not my internet.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Credits

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

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

Review

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

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

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

But back to the review.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Kripke Years

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4

Season 5

The Gamble Years

Season 6 (with Kripke)

Season 7

The Carver Years

Season 8

Season 9

Season 10

Season 11

The Dabb Years

Season 12

Season 13

Season 14


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


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

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

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

Cue title cards.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yep. Shady as hell.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sam: We’ve met God!

Castiel: He has a beard!

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

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

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

“Good,” Sunny says.

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

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

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

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

Credits

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

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

Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Kripke Years

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Season 5

The Gamble Years

Season 6 (with Kripke)

Season 7

The Carver Years

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The Dabb Years

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Season 14


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


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

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

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

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

Cue title cards.

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

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

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

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

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

He’s got a point, Rowena.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“And you’re a monster,” Jack says.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Credits

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

The promo for next week is up.

Review

So, that happened.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Kripke Years

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4

Season 5

The Gamble Years

Season 6 (with Kripke)

Season 7

The Carver Years

Season 8

Season 9

Season 10

Season 11

The Dabb Years

Season 12

Season 13

Season 14


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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


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


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


We need your help!

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cue title cards.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Far too many commercials on this stupid CW app.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So, that happened.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Credits


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

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

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


Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Kripke Years

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4

Season 5

The Gamble Years

Season 6 (with Kripke)

Season 7

The Carver Years

Season 8

Season 9

Season 10

Season 11

The Dabb Years

Season 12

Season 13

Season 14


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


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


We need your help!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cue title cards.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Credits.


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

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


Review

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


The Kripke Years

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4

Season 5

The Gamble Years

Season 6 (with Kripke)

Season 7

The Carver Years

Season 8

Season 9

Season 10

Season 11

The Dabb Years

Season 12

Season 13

Season 14


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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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