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I have a confession to make. As much as I love this show, I have really come to hate Nepotism Duo scripts. I tend to drag my feet on recapping and reviewing them because they are so. Damned. Boring. The pacing is usually rushed on the important things and endlessly show on the unimportant things. And half the time, their stories are pretty offensive, brain-dead, and constantly contradicting themselves and other Show canon.
So, let’s get started.
Brief rehash of Jack’s story, focusing on how he lost his sparkly powers and is now sick.
Cut to Now and Nick sitting in an office in front of a nice stained-glass window, speaking to someone offscreen (behind the camera). Remember this speech from Psycho Debbie in Addams Family Values? It’s kinda like that:
Nick is confessing about killing his neighbor, while waving a bloody knife around (so his audience is likely either not real or dead). He says the really disturbing part is that he had “feelings” afterward of pure enjoyment. That’s a problem. But at the same time, he deserves to find out what happened to his wife and baby.
He starts talking about forgiveness and as he gets up, we see he is speaking to a priest. A dead priest. Who’s had his throat cut and has been crucified in a doorway. Nick pats the corpse on the chest, saying the priest should have just given him what he wanted, and leaves.
Cue title cards.
Y’know, I always wanted to find out what Nick’s backstory was and who killed his family (Kripke sure as hell didn’t care). But I always worried that the writer who decided to do it might take the cheap and easy route, and “blame” it all on Nick by having him conveniently go psycho. That way, nobody, either writers or audience, would have to deal with the uncomfortable cognitive dissonance of Nick’s years-long suffering over the course of the show, while the Brothers “failed” to save him.
The thing is that the Brothers didn’t fail at anything. They had no idea Nick had even said yes or been possessed until nearly halfway through season five and thought he went bye-bye at the end of the season. By that time, they had reason to believe that should Lucifer, say, be forced to leave his vessel, there wouldn’t be anything left to Nick anyway (which appeared to be the case after Sam said yes). Nor did they resurrect Nick or steal his body in season 12 – that was Crowley.
So, having Nick be an innocent victim of Lucifer wouldn’t have been a problem for the audience retaining sympathy for the show’s protagonists. The Brothers are innocent victims of Lucifer, too. The fact the show chose to have him go psycho in his “roaring rampage of revenge” was simple laziness and lack of imagination on the part of the writers. Oh, yay.
But those title cards are still nice.
Cut to the Bunker, where Jack is lying in bed, coughing up blood, while Castiel tries to heal him. It doesn’t work, which is what Castiel tells the Brothers, who are waiting out in the hallway, Dean a bit more loudly than Sam.
They hear a noise in the room and rush in to find Jack on the floor, seizing. Jack’s lying on his side, which actually is a good position for a seizure (less likely to choke), so Sam picks Jack up so he can choke for real and so the audience can see his face.
At that point, the three of them drag him to the ER, where Dean bosses everyone around. Or tries.
The nurse takes an awfully long time arguing with Dean over Jack’s personal information, even though there’s blood on Jack’s shirt (ugh, Nep Duo, do you think you could possibly have done a little research on medical procedures?).
Anyhoo, Jack collapses (which speeds up the process) and is rushed into a room, where the doctors can’t figure out what’s wrong with him or even stabilize him very well.
Meanwhile, Nick is meeting in a diner with a friendly female reporter, who investigated the murder of his family. He tells her the neighbor’s dead. Nick gets a little strange when she first turns cagey about having dropped the story. When he presses her on which cop covered his case, she mentions a guy who retired afterward and is doing private security up on Montauk.
The Brothers quickly conclude that the hospital is doing Jack no good (saying “all his systems are shutting down” is unhelpful and pretty non-medical, makes him sound like a computer). So, they check Jack out and Sam calls Rowena.
There’s a cute scene in which Rowena arrives at the Bunker, all perky to help … Dean (ha, knew she had a little torch for him). Sam had lied to her. When she finds out that it’s Jack (more specifically, Lucifer’s son), she’s equally ready to bail. Jack shows up and basically sweet-talks her into staying. Poor Rowena. Such a sucker for a wee magical bairn.
Unfortunately, she’s not able to cure him, though she can diagnose what’s going on. As a half-human/half-archangel, Jack’s body exists in a stasis kept by his grace. Take away the grace and his body starts to eat itself. Castiel offers his grace, but Rowena says Jack needs archangel grace.
As they talk, Dean gets dizzy and has a dissociative episode in front of everyone that no one whatsoever sees. I get they’re all worried about Jack, but it happens right in front of the whole group. Jeez.
Somewhere else at night, Nick is hanging outside a nightclub in the city. He strikes up a conversation with a girl outside using her phone, while hiding a knife from her. But when she refuses his invitation to go somewhere quiet, and instead suggests he come inside the club, he chases her away while holding back from killing her. Then he has a dissociative episode very much like Dean’s in the previous scene.
At the Bunker, Jack wants to go on a roadtrip and is packing when Dean walks in. To Jack’s suprise, Dean is fine with the idea of Jack living a little before he dies. Jack is tired of being “special” (he says people came to expect he’d be around forever, but perhaps that was not to be) and just wants to have a taste of life, so Dean agrees to go with him to Vegas.
Sam, Rowena and Castiel are all on the phone to various people when Dean comes out with Jack and the two of them announce this after we find out the only lead (via Ketch) is a shaman the LoL used to use. Sam asks if Dean thinks this is a good idea. After some hesitation, Dean says yes. Sam looks concerned, but neither he nor anyone else has noticed that Dean just had another dissociative episode right in front of everybody seconds before.
Well, alrighty-then. A dying baby Naphil and a slightly-more-insane-than-usual salty Hunter are off to Vegas. I’m sure this will end well.
After visiting Rollin’ Thunder Burger Barn, Dean impulsively decides to teach Jack how to drive. Fortunately, Baby’s an automatic (or this could get really interesting), so we get a cute montage of Jack learning how to get up to highway speeds, to Bachman-Turner Overdrive’s “Let It Ride” (my God! More Classic Rock!).
At one point, Jack blurts out, “It’s like I’m you!”
“No,” Dean says with a weird look on his face. “It’s not … eyes on the road!” And yet, you can see he’s touched by Jack’s enthusiasm about being out on the road with him. I don’t think Dean is used to being hero worshiped. Claire’s OTT adulation freaked him out, too.
Back at the Bunker, Castiel decides to go off alone to meet with the shaman (something-something about spreading out their resources; it’s not made very clear). He comments that Dean seems especially upset about Jack’s illness and that they can’t cure it. Sam tells Castiel that Dean was rough on Jack initially (well … um … yes, for the same reason Rowena’s reaction made perfect sense. He is the son of the Devil) and he thinks Dean feels guilty. He also says that while they have both “lost people” before, “this feels different.” Castiel says that’s maybe because it “feels like losing a son.”
The scene is a bit sappy (but hey, somebody noticed Dean’s feelings for once). Too bad nobody has yet noticed that Dean is slipping again.
Dean and Jack stop off to eat. Dean asks what Jack wants to do and suggests going to a local bar to hook up with a girl. Jack has another idea, so they run with that.
Meanwhile, Nick is showing up on the doorstep of the former cop who investigated his family’s death. The man is clearly paranoid and tries to slam the door on Nick once he realizes who he is. But Nick busts his way in, grabs the man by the throat and says they should “talk.” I’m sure this will involve lots of violence.
Jack has decided to go fishing. With Dean. He was inspired by Dean telling him once that he went fishing with John and it was “the happiest moment” Dean ever had with his father. Dean hedges that he “never said that,” but Jack says, “It was the way you said it.” This seems to be a callback to Dean’s fishing dream at the beginning of season four’s “The Rapture.”
Jack tells Dean that he doesn’t see happiness in going to exotic places, but in the smaller moments, specifically spending time with Dean, that if this is it for him, this is how he wants to spend it. The subtext is pretty heavy that Jack sees Dean as his primary father figure. Kinda sucks for Castiel (Sam was always more the responsible uncle).
Meanwhile, Castiel is meeting with the shaman, who lives in an old trailer. And is a Russian named Sergei. Sergei makes a ring of holy fire blast up around Castiel and comes out armed, but then they go inside and talk.
As far as I can tell, this is supposed to be a male version of Baba Yaga. I don’t really get why Baba Yaga is male in this version.
Sergei claims to be a healer, but comes off as very dodgy. Anyhoo, he pulls out a box and turns out to have some archangel grace from Gabriel. Gabriel had traded it for a cloaking spell to hide him (the time he hid out in Monte Carlo). The grace alone won’t heal (or, according to Sergei “restart”) Jack’s body. It also requires an intricate spell. He will accept no payment except for an IOU from the Winchesters (because that is considered valuable now in the magical world).
Meanwhile, Nick is beating up the ex-cop, who is tied to a chair, so yep, we got violence. Nick talks about killing the neighbor, but he also supplies some extra info we didn’t hear before. The neighbor had said he saw a police officer leave the house after the murders, but there was a cover-up. He mentions the reporter, who told him this guy was the one who was seen leaving the house.
The ex-cop finally confesses that he doesn’t remember what happened. He ran into a guy who called himself “Abraxas,” then has no further memory until he woke up with blood on his hands.
Nick realizes the guy was possessed. At first, it appears he may let the guy go, since he was actually just an innocent host. But then the bloodlust takes over and he kills him, anyway, beating him to death with a hammer. He looks agonized afterward. Also, covered with blood.
Back at the Bunker, Castiel admits that Sergei was dodgy, but this is what they’ve got. So, they do the spell and Jack drinks the archangel grace (I didn’t catch the first word, though it’s probably supposed to be “gratia” for grace,” but the Latin basically says that it will restore the person to how they previously were). At first, he appears to get better, but then he becomes much worse.
Furious, Castiel calls Sergei, who is getting stoned, and finds out the spell was experimental (um … yes? Wasn’t that obvious?). When Castiel threatens to find Sergei and kill him if Jack dies, Sergei tells him good luck doing that. I roll my eyes a bit over this exchange.
At the very end, Nick has gotten drunk while still in the dead cop’s house and admits that he enjoys killing and doesn’t want to stop. He’s lost without being Lucifer’s vessel (yes, yes, I know. Anvils for Dean). Just in case we were thinking the writers hadn’t gone sufficiently lazy with Nick’s storyline, Nick prays to Lucifer for help and Lucifer, very improbably, wakes up in the Empty.
At the very end, Rowena is doing a sort of read over Jack (there’s a hilarious BTS video that explains why Jack is smiling while asleep and dying).
Dean blames himself, but Sam and Castiel both say that Dean at least made Jack happy, which is more than anyone else has been able to do, lately. When Rowena finishes, they ask what she can do and she says they can only sit vigil while Jack dies.
I’ll do a review-ish tomorrow night. Tune back in here for it and ratings info.
So, the promo for this week is here (the Christmas midseason finale is next week and, as usual, they’re actually stopping a bit short of halfway, even though the season is shorter this time).
Ratings were a 0.4/2 and 1.49 million in audience. This tied it in the demo for second and made it second (solo) in audience for the week on the network.
What to make of this one? It has some good ideas, with nothing too terribly offensive. There are some scenes where the actors took the opportunity to chew the scenery and did really well.
Mark Pellegrino knocks it out of the park communicating Nick’s pain and confusion, and newfound bloodlust. The scenes between Dean and Jack were heightened by the easy chemistry between Jensen Ackles and Alexander Calvert. I doubt that the show will kill off Jack (they need all the actual break-out popular new and younger characters they can get), but Calvert got across a heretofore only implied notion that Jack was originally intended to be a mayfly person, with huge superpowers but not destined for a long life.
Ackles, on the other hand, got to explore a new (and surprising for Dean) dimension of his character in which Dean realized that not only did Jack look up to him as a father, but loved him as one, perhaps even more than Castiel or Sam. We even got a callback to season four with the two of them fishing.
I also got a giggle out of Rowena being easily lured back to the Bunker by Sam because she thought Dean was in trouble (he is, but nobody’s noticing that, yet). I thought she had a wee torch for him. And even a cursory glance at the last third of season ten would explain why she doesn’t trust Sam, even if we hadn’t had the reveal late last season that Sam is her fated nemesis.
Nor did I have any problem with her refusing to help Jack at first. Lucifer may not have been able to kill her permanently, but he sure did a number on her and it makes sense she’s still traumatized. If it’s okay for everyone to be freaked out just by having Nick around, it’s okay for Rowena to be freaked out by having Lucifer’s son around. It would be out of character if she weren’t.
And in all fairness to the Nepotism Duo, these character moments didn’t entirely come out of nowhere. Jack has been emulating Dean as a model of behavior since the very beginning of last season, even when Dean was outright rejecting him. Dean certainly has more experience of actual fathering than either Sam or Castiel. And Dean did warm up to Jack enough by the end of last year to make his sacrifice to Michael about saving Jack as well as Sam.
And the thing with Nick (which is a rather obvious hint of what Dean may face in the near future as a former vessel) made some sense, too. I mean, he’s been Lucifer’s vessel since season five. There was bound to be some serious and probably permanent damage.
But a lot of this stuff popped back up out of nowhere, leaving unanswered questions behind. Why does Jack emulate Dean when he started out apparently modeling himself on Castiel? And why not emulate Sam, who accepted him first of the two brothers? Jack’s motivations confuse me here.
The concern between Sam and Castiel over Dean’s feelings was nice to see – finally. But at the same time, when the hell did this all come up? That’s a huge change of heart for those two characters since even season 11.
Since when do they feel concern for Dean and his feelings, and explicitly tell him things are not his fault, without getting angry at or exasperated with him? Since when do they feel bad for him rather than fear him when strange supernatural symptoms happen to him?
Why the sudden switch after Dean was possessed by Michael? That’s another big unanswered question that I don’t see being answered. I see it just being left as a big plot/character arc hole.
Also, it was quite exasperating for everyone to natter on about how concerned they were about Dean when they didn’t even notice him going dissociative right in front of them. The Show didn’t match the Tell there.
I totally get that the main emotional focus is on Saving Jack, who is the character dying and therefore in immediate peril at the moment, but when another character is looking openly vertiginous in front of everyone, especially as he’s about to go out driving in a car with said terminally ill person, maybe notice that, guys and gal? Jeez.
As for what’s happening with Dean, obviously, it’s related to Michael. I’ve seen theories that it was related to the sensation of drowning Dean talked about when he was possessed by Michael, that it was Michael reasserting himself. There are some problems with that theory (even if it’s plausible enough for this writing crew).
First of all, there’s simply no reason for Michael to hide out intentionally inside Dean and act as a spy in the Hunter camp. Michael is so powerful and already so aware of what’s going on that he really doesn’t need to do that.
One could argue that Michael has been hiding inside Dean after being wounded by the Magic Sparkle Stick, but again, that doesn’t really sound like Michael and still doesn’t answer the question of why/whether he would be hiding out. Trapped and unable to leave? Sure. Intentionally remaining in hiding when he just could take over? Not really Michael’s style.
Second, Nick had the same vertigo as Dean and if that penultimate (and really annoying) scene in the Empty is any indication, Lucifer is definitely not inside Nick, at least not right now. So, the foreshadowing still leans toward it being an aftereffect. A really, really nasty aftereffect. I’m not saying the writers couldn’t go that route of Michael hiding out, rather than being stuck or being elsewhere (they’ve gone in far dumber directions), just that it doesn’t exactly make me go, “Ooohhh, that makes so much sense!”
Speaking of that penultimate scene, ugh. I’ve seen some theories, as well, that it’s another character (Crowley, say), but I doubt the writers will be that creative. They’ve been mighty uncreative about Nick’s storyline so far, so I don’t expect them to swing for the fences now.
They could have had the killer of Nick’s family be an “ordinary” human, or a monster, or a pagan god, something we didn’t expect. But nope, it’s probably what we thought – some demon killing Nick’s family to motivate him to say yes to Lucifer, even though that makes no damned sense when at that time, Sam was all set to become Lucifer’s vessel (Nick’s wife and baby had been dead for a little while when Lucifer came to him and that Lucifer found him immediately after escaping from the Cage). It’s linear and it’s a retcon and it means we are probably going to get stuck with Lucifer all-friggin’-over again. I hope that won’t be so, but yeah, it probably will.