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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?”
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.
[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
The Gamble Years
The Carver Years
The Dabb Years