The Official Supernatural: “The Gamblers” (15.11) 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.

Any and all contributions are welcome! 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 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.

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

Recap: We get a Then recap heavy on last week’s humiliating affair and Dean’s Big Speech, Sam losing his God Wound hold over Chuck when he lost hope or whatever, Adam and Purgatory and Jack in the Empty, some weird reference to the Grigori, and so on. It’s boring. There is no classic rock, just squealing soundtrack. Let’s move on to –

Now. We’re in Alaska (not really, but let’s roll with it). We’re in a bar and everyone’s shooting pool to Johnny Horton’s “North to Alaska” from a 1960 film of the same name (Horton was killed in a car accident a few months after the song’s release). A nebbishy and shabby-looking bearded guy in a suit is losing and begs his opponent, a grizzled older man in a cowboy hat named Jody to “give me a chance.” As others in the bar watch in tense silence, Jody instead wins the game.

The man in the suit exclaims in horror as two coins in a brass stand hung above the pool table glow green. Everyone, including Jody, looks grim as the man in the suit takes out one of the coins and starts yelling. But when he goes after Jody with a pool cue, a younger man grabs it and tells him coldly, “Hey, no fights.”

He then throws the man in the suit out through the saloon doors, telling him he knows “the rules” and that he is “out of luck,” even as the other man begs for another chance. Jody, meanwhile, grabs the other coin and shares a rueful smile with one of the patrons, a young woman with long brown hair.

The man in the suit, named Leonard, gets his glasses out of the muck and walks, disgusted, into the night woods. As he tosses his coin (which is blank) into the air, he’s clobbered by a semi.

Cue title cards.

Cut to Castiel entering the Bunker, calling out for Sam and Dean. He finds a note from Sam saying “Cass, we’ve gone to Alaska.”

Cut to the Impala roaring down the road through autumn leaves and no snow. Sam is checking his messages from Eileen, which he seems to be having no problem getting on the road to Alaska. Even as Dean complains about the credit cards not working, the car having trouble, and his suffering from heartburn, none of these problems is really in evidence in the scene.

Sam complains that the place Garth told them about is not even in the lore (like, oh, a bajillion other cases they’ve handled?) and no one’s heard of it. Should they even be trying to find it? Dean says they have no choice. He doesn’t think Chuck made them “normal” to teach them any lessons. It was intended to weaken them so that when he came after them again (there is no explanation why Chuck needed to run in the first place), they will be too weak to fight back. They need their mojo back. The Impala roars off into the night.

Back in the Bunker, Castiel is answering one of the Bunker phones. It’s a cop from Cushing, OK, asking for the “FBI” (i.e., Dean). Castiel says Dean’s Alibi Name is “working a case in Alaska” and says he is another agent who can help.

The officer then drops a bombshell on Castiel. It’s an old search from last year that Dean did on Jack. And it’s come up with a hit.

Sam and Dean (Dean still driving) arrive at their destination. In Alaska. In broad daylight. Um, isn’t this location near Barrow, above the Arctic Circle? There is no daylight there in mid-January.

Oh, and it’s raining. Nonono. It would be snowing. It would be like, well, Fargo, season one. They stop at a diner and ask a friendly waitress who’s lived in town all her life what is up a road they think might lead to their destination. She demurs at first, then tells them a local “urban legend” (urban legend? In rural Alaska?) about a pool hall where you can go to reclaim lost luck (seems Dean’s golden smile and charm still work on the ladies).

But, she warns them, no one who’s gone up there has ever come back. She mentions Doomed Teaser Guy, Leonard. He went up there to keep the bank from repossessing his house and had a fatal accident. I’ll say. Bet that truck left him in pieces.

She goes off to answer a phone call and the Brothers discuss. Sam complains about the “downside” and that they could be facing “a demon or a witch.” Dean disagrees. This is good news. He’s great at pool. In fact, they’re both great at pool. They’ve finally got an angle. And they need it, as the waitress informs them that the Impala has a flat tire. I mean, really, Sam, you guys are already dealing with some four decades’ accumulation of “normal.” Your luck can’t get much worse at this point.

Cut to the Bunker, where the cop is sending Castiel a video of Jack. It shows him alive, but killing a local doctor in his office. After a few minutes of static, the CCTV comes back and shows Jack eating the doctor’s heart. Oh, yay. So nice to see that Jack is just as morally problematical a character as ever. Thanks, Show.

Cut to Alaska, where the Brothers are driving up the road in question in broad daylight. As they get out, Dean unknowingly steps on Leonard’s faceless coin. They enter a pool hall called “Lurlene’s.”

Inside, there are a lot of pool tables and they encounter the sad young woman from the teaser at the bar. Dean asks for two waters (since they have no money), then asks the girl (named Evie) about playing pool.

Wearily, she calls to the guy who bounced Leonard out the door. His name is Pax. As he comes up, Sam asks Evie if she’s ever seen Leonard. In a very unconvincing tone, she claims she hasn’t.

Pax leads them to a table, where he shows them a coin. The coin is flat, but when Pax invites Dean to touch it (with a fatalistic shrug, Dean does so), it glows green and gets a profile. Pax judges that it’s not great, but he’s seen worse. What he means is Dean’s “luck,” which he sees as “about average.” Dean is a little surprised, but considers this a fair assessment.

Pax tells them that if they place the coin in the rack above the table, play a game, and win, their luck will increase. But if they lose too many times, their luck will evaporate and the coin will go flat. At that point, they get kicked out.

Sam: What is this place?

Pax: I just work here.

Pax tells them they can take it or leave it. Dean says that “when I win,” can he share the luck? Pax tells him that whatever he wins is his and he can do with it whatever he likes.

At that moment, Sam pulls Dean aside for a quick conference. Sam thinks it’s a bad idea. Dean demurs, saying that Sam may be better than he is at most things (this, of course, is utter bollocks and Sam knows it, yet Sam doesn’t disagree), but he’s a lot better at pool than Sam. At any rate, it’s Dean’s plan and Dean’s choice, so off he goes to play Pax.

Castiel is entering the doctor’s office where Jack ate a human heart. He finds the CCTV footage and checks out the scene where Jack eviscerated the doc. Appearing to know what he was looking for, he finds a long case that contains a Grigori sword. We get a quick flashback to the Grigori episode with Claire and her mom.

Then we cut to a man outside on a rainy day in a long coat with a similar case (There can be only one! [cough] sorry) being trailed pretty obviously by Jack. The man enters an open area through a chain link fence.

At the bar, Dean is gearing up for his match (oh, we’re actually going to get to see it? Yay), but no one will play him. So, he tries an old trick to lure someone in (since the other players look nervous and avoid him) and racks a game, loudly stating that he’s “a little rusty.”

A redhead at the bar downs her drink and comes over. She puts her coin up and starts playing him. Meanwhile, Sam wanders over to the bar to talk to Evie some more. She says the woman playing Dean has a sister she is trying to wake from a coma. Everyone here is playing for something or someone lost. Sam starts asking the usual questions (like whether she ever smells sulfur or has seen hex bags), but she acts like she doesn’t know what he’s talking about. She allows that the place is magical in some way, but isn’t terribly interested in exploring how or why.

In the background, Dean and the redhead are playing.

Evie tells Sam about two of the players, both gamblers, who started off on a winning streak that eventually went sour. Now they’re just playing to break even. Evie says, “They should have walked away” while they were ahead.

At the pool table, Dean sinks the eight-ball and wins his first game. His coin glows green, while the redhead’s fades (something he keenly observes). He turns to face the redhead when he hears her quietly curse in frustration.

Jack is entering a warehouse ([sigh] already bored with this storyline) where machinery is running and steam randomly comes out of the floor. Jack pulls out an angel blade, but gets ambushed by the man in the coat, who is another Grigori, with a Grigori blade. The second Grigori demands to know why Jack is following him.

At the bar, Dean is having a drink after the game, while Sam tells him about his conversation with Evie. Sam thinks it was a warning (thank you, Captain Obvious) and that if Dean plays too long, he will end up like Leonard. Dean says fine, they’ll spread the risk and pull an old con John used to try in Tallahassee that he got from the film The Hustler. He starts looking for his mark, his “Jackie Gleason,” and spots the man in the hat who beat Leonard at his last game.

Dean starts out brassy and confident, though he fails to sink the eight-ball. He manages to get out of his opponent his name (Joey Six) and correctly guesses where he got it (the Professional Bull Riding circuit), though, before Joey takes over. But Joey can’t keep his streak going.

Dean, however, regains the table with a very difficult shot where he has to try to bounce the ball over his opponent’s ball to sink the eight-ball. Confidently, Joey bets him double or nothing that he can’t sink the shot. Dean asks if Joey is trying to “hustle” him and Joey replies, “I thought you were going to kick my ass?”

Dean manages to sink the shot and the crowd oohs, while Evie smiles rather sadly. As his coin glows and goes flat, with the glow going all to Dean’s, Joey smiles gamely and says, “Helluva shot.” He bravely leaves the bar, already looking pale, as Sam looks after him. Dean, meanwhile, takes his coin and smiles.

Joey goes out onto the porch, breathing heavily and looking sick. Sam and Dean follow him out as he starts to cough up blood and pulls out a pack of cigarettes. It turns out he had lung cancer and has managed to beat it for a year by playing pool. But now his time is up. He dies coughing his lungs up, mostly off-screen. The Brothers look alternately intent and uncomfortable.

As they come back inside, Dean sadly muses that he liked Joey. Sam comments that the reason Joey died was because he bet double or nothing against Dean, so when Dean won, Joey lost all of his luck at one go. The tone of the scene makes it sound as though Dean was a bit rotten for doing Joey like that. But it ignores the part where Joey made the bet with the intent of screwing Dean and had likely done it to many people like Doomed Teaser Guy Leonard, taking all the luck at one blow and effectively killing them. Joey was sympathetic, but we saw his dark side in the teaser. He was okay with killing people to prolong his own life.

Dean wants to take the coin and go while the gettin’s good. Even though that was what he was originally urging Dean to do, Sam now wants to stick around and see if they can help the rest of the people in the bar and he doesn’t think the coin has as much luck as Chuck took from them, anyway. Because reasons (Sam’s motivations are …uh … fluid in this episode). Dean says fine, he’ll go take the Impala for a test drive and see how she runs. Then they’ll talk.

In the warehouse where we last saw Jack, Castiel is investigating a bloodstain when the dopey sheriff shows up. The sheriff infodumps that Jack and the other guy we saw with him were spotted here. Castiel asks about any abandoned buildings in town and zeroes in on when the sheriff mentions an abandoned church. As Castiel leaves, the sheriff protests that he called Castiel for answers. Castiel says he will find them, though he doesn’t say he will share them with the sheriff.

At the bar, Sam is getting the stories of all the other players. But they are all too obsessed with the game to give it up, even if the stakes are petty, except for Evie. But when Sam asks Evie if the other players are trapped in the bar, he oversteps by asking if she is, too, and she walks away. Smooth move there, Sam.

Dean comes back in. The Impala is once again a brick. He won some luck, but it’s not enough even to get them back to the Lower 48, let alone up against Chuck.

Sam gets the idea that someone is skimming the luck off each coin when it’s played. Otherwise, Joey would have had a lot more luck to pass off to Dean, since he’d been playing for a year. He picks up the coin and shows Dean the face, which has a woman’s head on it and the words “Atrox Fortuna.” The Roman goddess of Fate (apparently, we are now just ignoring that the show had three angel sister Fates in season six).

So, they go back to Evie, who insists she can’t help them. At least at first. Very reluctantly, she admits that she came to play and lost. Now she’s forced to work to avoid dying. Either you play until you die or you work until you die. But she doesn’t know if Fortuna is actually there because she only deals with Fortuna’s son, Pax – the bouncer.

Back to Castiel’s storyline. Jack has been caught by his would-be victim in the abandoned church. Jack has a wound in his side that the Grigori suggests he heal. He also says he knows what Jack is. Jack doesn’t respond to any of this, even when the Grigori threatens him to find out why he is eating Grigori hearts.

It turns out the previous Grigori called out to this one and that they have their own angel radio frequency.

At the bar, Sam distracts Pax, while Dean grabs him from behind and puts an angel blade to his throat. Sam calls out Fortuna’s name and Dean adds that they have her son.

“Enough!” says the redhead who played Dean before. She is Fortuna. Sam tells her his theory that she’s skimming luck. Dean threatens to kill Pax if she doesn’t give the luck back, but she refuses, saying she can always make more sons, since Pax’s father was human.

Frustrated, Dean lets Pax go and says he’ll play her for it. In very insulting tones, Fortuna says no. She’s already played him and she gets “a read” on the humans she plays. He’s “just a beach read.”

Dean: Lady, I’m Tolstoy.

What Fortuna wants to do is play Sam, since she finds him more interesting (I rolled my eyes pretty hard at that). After whining and hiding behind Dean all episode, Sam agrees, but he wants to play for the lives of the people in the bar. Again, she refuses. She’ll only play for the Brothers’ luck and if Sam loses, she gets their lives as payback for their threatening her son and her “livelihood.” Sam, pretty reluctantly, agrees.

If this scenario sounds familiar, that’s because it’s basically a retread of the forgettable season five episode “The Curious Case of Dean Winchester.”

Back in the church, the Grigori is slowly slicing Jack’s throat and carving angel sigils into his chest. Jack doesn’t budge. He says the Grigori can’t kill him (whoops, there went any suspense this scene had). The Grigori agrees, but says he can make Jack “suffer” for killing the rest of his kind, that Jack deserves to be tortured for this crime.

Jack disagrees. He says the previous Grigori he killed and ate pretended to be a doctor, but fed on his patients’ souls. He says that this Grigori does it, too, though his chosen victims are children (I know this is supposed to make it “okay” for Jack to use them as spare batteries, but it just comes off as thirteen different kinds of wrong). When the Grigori picks up his sword, puts it to Jack’s throat, and demands to know who told him that, Jack says it was Death.

The Grigori then senses someone behind him and swings his sword. Castiel ducks and they get into a brief but rather florid broadsword fight. Castiel wins (shocker, I know). There is then an emotional reunion as Castiel first unties and then hugs Jack Sue. It does make me wonder, though, how Jack was planning to get out of his predicament, if Castiel hadn’t shown up, when he couldn’t even break his bonds.

Back at the bar, Sam flubs an early shot on his game, giving Fortuna the chance to start cleaning up. But when she starts snarking at them about why they came to renew their luck (“girlfriend troubles” for Sam and “liver failure” for Dean are her guesses), and Sam casually says they got cursed by God, Dean sees an opening. He distracts her by explaining that they got cursed by God Himself and that yes, they’ve met him.

This sparks a rant in Fortuna where she spills how the pagan gods were created. She says that when humans “first climbed down from trees” (at least six or seven million years ago), they didn’t worship God. They worshiped the Sun and the Moon and other features in their environment. God was pissed off, but then created the pagan gods to gather in this worship, while also using them as scapegoats for human misfortune.

Eventually, she says, the pagan gods were forgotten (well, not really, but apparently, these writers haven’t forgotten all about “Hammer of the Gods” from season five), but that she is very old and that she “holds a grudge.”

In the process of being distracted, she misses a shot. That gives Sam a chance to clean up. Fortuna acknowledges that she got played, though she gives the acknowledgement to Sam, even though Dean was the one who strung out the line. Yeah, okay, Show. But Sam does say he learned everything he knows from Dean.

Fortuna then tries to rope them in again. She says that okay, they now have some luck back, but they really need “the luck of Heroes,” if, as Dean just told her, they intend to fight God Himself. What if Sam plays her again, double or nothing? Dean warily notes, “That’s how the Cowboy died.”

Sam agrees anyway, but insists on playing for the luck of the people stuck in the bar. If he wins, Fortuna will give them their luck back and “close up shop.” Fortuna laughs, wondering why Sam would care about “a bunch of losers.” But Sam insists that he does and Dean backs him up.

So, they rack them up, but alas, Fortuna gets to go first this time and, of course, she makes every shot perfectly and wins the game.

Afterward, she asks them what they thought they were doing, playing the Goddess of Luck (never mind that it’s also a game of skill).

Dean: Well, we had to try.

Fortuna: Well, that was stupid.

She leaves and they look crestfallen. But rather than kill them, she lets them leave alive. When Dean notes this, Sam points out that with their current state of luck, they won’t last long.

Sam is also worried about the others who are still enslaved inside the bar. Dean agrees that they have to try to get them out. He suggests finding someplace with wifi so they can research “how to kill Lady Luck.”

At that moment, Evie and the others come out. Evie comes up to the Brothers. When Sam asks her what happened, she says that Fortuna not only let them go, but she also “closed up shop” per her deal with Sam (even though Sam lost the second time). When Dean asks why, she tells Dean, “Because of you.” She also looks at Sam, including him, saying that Fortuna said she had thought that “your kind [Heroes] had gone extinct.” Guess Fortuna still feels she has some Chuck skin in the game.

Evie adds that Fortuna gave her a message to tell them about God: “Don’t play His game. Make Him play yours.” She then gives them a coin. When Sam takes it from her, it glows green and has a full face. Dean grabs it from him and it glows for him, too.

Chuckling in triumph, Dean gets in the Impala with Sam and starts it right up. Dean laughs: “We’re back, baby!” He and Sam ride off into the broad daylight of mid-winter, Arctic Circle Alaska.

Back at the Bunker, Dean is complaining about still not being able to win the lottery, though Sam points out that the Impala is running beautifully, the credit cards all work, and Dean can eat fast food again.

Castiel comes out into the library, puzzling the Brothers. Jack comes out and Castiel confirms “it’s really him.”

Sam hugs Castiel enthusiastically, while Dean grabs the back of his head and stares at him. Afterward, the Brothers are having a hard time wrapping their minds around Jack eating Grigori hearts and that he didn’t call. Jack insists that he “had to stay hidden” to stay safe from his “grandfather.” Castiel says that Billie hid Jack in the Empty to keep him safe from Chuck until Chuck left the Earth.

Jack says that Billie has a plan that he has to follow in order to become strong enough to “kill God.” I’m sure nothing can go wrong with this plan.

Credits

The show went back up a bit to a 0.3/2 and 1.07 million in audience.

The preview for the next episode, “Galaxy Brain” (15.12) is up. It ends the show’s hellatus in its final timeslot, Mondays, tonight on March 16, 2020. I was going to say this was the final hellatus, but with the Coronavirus pandemic halting show production after the first day of filming the penultimate episode of the series, I guess we’ll have one more hellatus after this one, before the two final episodes.

Review: The way this show is, especially these days, I’m reminded of Carl Orff’s arrangement of medieval university students’ drinking songs, Carmina Burana, ’cause the writing has been lurching all over the place.

O Fortuna
Velut Luna
Statu variabilis!

O Fortune
Like the Moon
Always variable!

Okay. It’s better than last episode, “The Heroes’ Journey,” so there’s that. Mind you, moldy, termite-eaten toilet paper is better than last week’s script, so there’s that, too. With Garth Sue sent off to his final happy place, “The Gamblers” wasted no time getting The Sam and (Occasionally) Dean Show back on track with a quickie, if somewhat ad hoc, solution to their “normalcy” problem, albeit diluted by the re-introduction of Jack Sue (it’s the Season of the Sues). Though, come to think of it, almost all of their solutions, and pretty much every one that worked, over the years have been ad hoc. And by “quickie,” I mean, “With zero interest in establishing any realistic Alaskan setting and only perfunctory attention to the legends employed.” But hey, at least people died bloody and the stakes were reasonably high for an MOTW.

I had happily managed to forget all of Jack’s storyline in this one, to the point where I only remembered the final meeting in the Bunker. That plot felt shoehorned in and it stole a lot of necessary oxygen from the Fortuna plot that should have been the A-story. Everything felt written-by-committee, perfunctory and paint-by-numbers, getting from Point A to Point B to Point C without a whole lot of emotional attachment to any of the guest characters in the writing (or particular knowledge or development of previous canon about pagan gods or luck curses or angels as it merrily and lazily retconned away). Fortuna was, by far, the most filled-out guest character and we got most of her backstory in a rushed infodumpy rant near the end.

This was unfortunate (sorry), since this new origin story for the pagan gods, and the idea of Heroes like Hercules and Cú Chulainn, had a lot of potential meat. They could have spent a whole season on just that, but nope. It whizzed by in a quick speech by a one-and-done guest character. Too bad. Fortuna/Tyche is a goddess much beloved of and feared by the Greeks and Romans, and whose fortunes (so to speak) did not fade in the least as Christianity took over and the Middle Ages rolled in.

This was, in large part, tied up with her role as Fate (as Atrox Fortuna) and her perceived capriciousness. There was a lot more to her than luck, though it appears the show is now completely retconning Atropos and her sisters from season six, and replacing them with Fortuna.

There’s a rather good theory I’ve seen on Twitter that Fortuna was testing the Brothers to see if they were worthy of her help, that her insulting of Dean and challenging of Sam were intended to see if they had the Right Stuff, rather than her actual opinion of them. They note, for example, that Fortuna’s cover story was that she had a sibling in a coma whose life she was trying to save – something that might appeal to Sam and Dean.

As much as I like that idea, I don’t think it’s quite enough to cover the holes in logic. I mean, it’s not as though we haven’t seen this story before, done both well (“Bad Day at Black Rock,” in which Dean does, in fact, win the lottery) and poorly (“Hammer of the Gods,” in which the show actively rips off Gaiman’s American Gods, and the pagan gods are decidedly not forgotten or powerless). Rather, I think we’re seeing a pattern the show has used over and over again.

In season eight, executive producer Bob Singer talked about how they would split the mytharc between the Brothers. One brother would have the focus in the first half of the season. Then they’d wrap up that part and focus on the other brother in the second half.

Well, there are some small fibs in that. First of all, the mytharc was All About Sam until halfway through season nine. Dean would get personal stories (which were summarily dropped as often as not), but he didn’t actually have the mytharc for over half of the show.

Second, it was very common for the writers to do a storyline that hit well with Dean and then basically give it to Sam. Sure, they switched up sometimes with having Dean do a version of a previous Sam story, but when it came to Dean’s stories, they didn’t just do Sam versions of them. They literally took the storyline away from Dean and gave it to Sam (Sam in Purgatory in “Taxi Driver” in season eight ring any bells?) once writing it for Dean had broken it in for Sam.

The writers seemed to be operating on the logic that since Dean was popular and it was easy to break new ground with him, this was a good way to launch popular stories for Sam. They have always seemed to struggle with launching stories for Sam, involving Sam, especially since Kripke left. It has never appeared to sink in that when you launch a story with Dean, the audience is invested in Dean in that story, not Sam, and that when you take it from Dean and hand it to Sam in the second half of the season (or, in this case, the third act of the episode), it feels unearned for Sam and drops Dean’s story without an ending, which is frustrating as hell to watch.

And that’s what they did this week. There was a germ of a good story in here about Sam stepping up (and out from behind Dean’s bullet shield), rediscovering his Hero mojo, and getting his hope back. The problem was that the dialogue and direction simply weren’t there. Not once did Sam say out loud that he needed to step up and get Chuck out of his head, once and for all. He didn’t even imply it.

And before someone says it was all in the subtext and the context, first, have you watched this show? Most plot points are rammed home with steel-toed boots. And second, it really wasn’t. The way the writing went, Fortuna was going to kill them right up until the moment she decided it would be better to power them up and send them after Chuck, instead. And the simplest explanation for why she wanted to play Sam had nothing to do with some perception she had of Sam’s depth compared to Dean’s, but that she either wanted to drain Sam’s luck, or worried that Dean was better than Sam and therefore good enough to win.

It boiled down to Sam’s Puppy Dog Eyes that didn’t work last week, but did this week. Some texting with Eileen near the beginning doesn’t change that. The capriciousness of Fortuna in real-life folklore doesn’t let a writers off the hook for establishing that character trait in the story. The show even appears to contradict that trait in their version of her by showing her as patient and cunning, and having her dismiss Dean as a shallow beach read.

Then there’s the perfunctory attention to the rest of the MOTW and background legend. Now, I didn’t actually mind the origin story for pagan gods that she gave (beyond the way Kripke previously ripped off American Gods, a book of which I’ve never been fond). I’d always wondered where they came from and it was quite an intriguing concept, for the hot second in not-Alaska the show spent on it. And Fortuna is quite a cool goddess with some intriguing lore. And I even liked the actress, for the two minutes we saw of her.

But why, oh, why, did the show portray Fortuna and her son so … Nordically? They’re not Nordic gods (or Celtic ones). They’re Roman. What the hell are they even doing in friggin’ freezing Alaska?

If Fortuna looks familiar to you, that’s because guest star Lynda Boyd is a Canadian genre vet going back to the 1980s and previously showed up on Supernatural as the medical examiner who turned out to be an evil Djinn in “Pac-Man Fever” in season eight.

So, what do I mean by the Alaskan setting not being realistic? Well, for a start, last episode, Garth claimed the bar was between Barrow and Kotzebue, which are way up in Alaska. Kotzebue, at the time this episode came out, had about four and a half hours of daylight, being at about 66 degrees latitude North (and as anyone who has been that far north knows, just because the sun came up for four hours, that doesn’t mean it was more than twilightish all day). Barrow, however, is hundreds of miles above the Arctic Circle at about 71 degrees North latitude. That means the sun sets on November 18 and doesn’t rise again until January 23.

So, why the hell do Sam and Dean arrive at the bar, in January, in broad daylight under a bright, blue sky? Never you mind even how the Impala managed to make it all the way to freakin’ Alaska. Why are the roads clear? In fact, how did the Impala get the almost four thousand miles up there when it appears there aren’t any roads to either Barrow or Kotzebue, even from further south in Alaska?

Where’s all the snow? And why is everyone wandering around, inside and outside, practically in shirtsleeves, when the average temperature in Barrow is below zero Fahrenheit in January? How difficult would it have been to have a bit of fake snow (in Vancouver, no less, where it’s hardly balmy at the time they filmed this episode), everyone bundled up, and film the damned thing at night?

Either someone had no clue what their setting was like or they just couldn’t be arsed to find out. You, dear reader, decide.

So, there’s all that.

Then there was the whole tonally and morally problematical subplot involving Jack Sue. Jack is back and he is … eating the hearts of people possessed by Grigori angels, presumably because the Grigori grace is concentrated in their vessel’s heart for some reason (that is never explained). I guess it beats his eating brains but not by much.

Now I’ll grant you that it’s not terribly surprising that even after dying and coming back (albeit characters realistically ought to have learned something from their death and rebirth, especially on the second go-round), Jack doesn’t seem to have learned a thing about the fact that stealing angel grace, especially after killing them, does not do good things to an angel’s morality – and that he personally has been down this road before and it didn’t end well.

This would not be a problem, necessarily, if the show acknowledged the moral issues (in fact, it would have been cool if the writing had explicitly connected Sam and Dean getting their Hero mojo back to Jack powering back up). Sam and Dean have done some pretty dark things in the past (notably, Sam drinking demon blood to gain power). And Jack’s father is Lucifer, an archangel who fed on the grace of other angels. But the show presents this as a necessary and a good thing, even though it has never, ever, ever ended well in Jack’s case and we’ve been down this road more than once.

It does not help in the least that cute widdle murderous bland white boy Scrappy-Doo is presented in this scenario as the Crown Prince looking to overthrow his father with the aid of his squire Castiel and his trusty peasant comic relief pair, Sam and Dean. I really wish the show would knock it off with this balderdash about Jack being Chuck’s “grandson” (and implied presumptive heir). He is no such thing, any more than any other creature in the SPNverse.

Lucifer was Chuck’s creation – an early creation to be sure, but still a creation, just like his archangel brothers, angels, Leviathans, pagan gods, and humans. And Jack is Lucifer’s son. That makes Jack … Lucifer’s son. That’s it. And it’s past time the show stopped acting as though he were the protagonist of this story.

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

Season 15


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.

23 thoughts on “The Official Supernatural: “The Gamblers” (15.11) Live Recap Thread”

  1. Did I miss something? A few eps ago, Chuck revealed to Sam that disaster would result if he were killed. Consequently, the “kill God” plot was terminated. So, how can this plan be revived now? Won’t killing God still bring about horrible consequences? What’s different about the newly revived “kill God” plan?

    Also, does it strike you as peculiar that a plot direction would be pursued for numerous episodes, then abandoned, only to be resurrected a little while later? Did the showrunners goof up or something?

    1. As far as I can tell, the point of the killing God plot is that Jack is gearing up, both to kill Chuck and to replace him as God. Yeah, that makes me want to hurl, too.

  2. You want to take the over-under on whether or not Jack ‘restores’ all the AU/Earths? Even the one that’s just squirrels?

    1. I don’t think those other Earths are coming back. Also, I’m skeptical Jack will be doing anything on his own. He is firmly under Death’s thumb.

  3. You know, Chuck really has gotten weak if an ordinary goddess, like Fortuna, was able to reverse the bad luck that Chuck had cursed them with. Even if it meant she had to close up shop to do it. It sounds like, as a gambler, she was betting on Sam & Dean.

    After all, she recognized the hero qualities in them that Garth didn’t see and that scare Chuck. From what Fortuna said about the origin of gods, Chuck has been losing control of humans for a long time, with Dean in particular reaching an apex in which he can realistically challenge Chuck. But Chuck, like Garth, doesn’t understand heroism at all if he thinks GI distress and car trouble negate it. Heroes rise above challenges, for the sake of others. Chuck is all about himself.

    At this point, I’m betting that Death is the most powerful being in the universe, even if it’s a power based on position rather than personhood. After all, she was able to override Jack’s death, and hide it from Chuck. Though my guess is Jack will merely be a diversion while Dean does the real work.

    Apropos of nothing, I am amused that Chuck did predict the great and foolish toilet paper crisis of 2020.

    1. LOL! about toilet paper. I’m a bit of a mini-prepper, so I was following events in China even though I was fairly skeptical about the initial hysterical response in some quarters (I got on board with the NPR article on flattening the curve because then I understood what the experts were trying to do). I only had about a month’s worth of TP left, so I went out and bought a 16-pack shortly before things went nutty. And I just bought a bunch of frozen veggies, already got rice and other staples. I’m mostly worried about building up a bigger supply of cat food and litter.

      Anyhoo, yeah, I’m a bit skeptical that Fortuna could turn the tables like that for them, too, but that storyline’s finally, mercifully over, so movin’ on.

      Death’s always struck me as the most powerful being in the SPNverse because it’s Supernatural and somebody dies every episode. I agree that it’s too early for the endgame, so Jack’s “I’m gonna kill God” thing is likely a red herring. I sure hope they finally “go there” with Dean. They sure have been hinting at it long enough.

      1. I wish toilet paper was the end of it. I’m not able to order PPE or hand sanitizer for my staff. All of our back orders are out to July at a minimum. I have a stockpile on hand, but when it’s gone? We went with washable cloth isolation gowns last year for extended precautions barriers, as a money saving measure, and now I’m thanking my lucky stars we did. Since we can’t get face shields, we went to the hardware stores and got reusable goggles. I literally am sewing washable, reusable cloth masks with my mother. I’m not sure what we’ll do for gloves.

        I’ve been following the situation for some time, through the WHO and the CDC. My interests are both professional and personal. Let’s face it, the current situation is fascinating, on both an epidemiological level and a psychological level. I have Chinese and Dutch relatives who have kept me informed of the situations in their respective countries. And the rest of my family is out in Seattle, where things are bad. I’ve been sitting on a number of government sponsored webinars regarding all this. Most recently one on rationing PPE. And the changes we’ve had to make at work are pretty draconian. But the elephant in the room, that nobody’s mentioned on all these webinars, is what the hell are we going to do when most of our staff is sick. How are we going to take care of our residents? Normally, we’d appeal to the hospital or another nursing home for help, but they’ll be overwhelmed too. I may end up sleeping at work. I have a coat in my office.

        On a personal level, I’ll be fine. God knows, my job’s not going anywhere any time soon. My son has found himself temporarily unemployed, so we’ll have to help him. My husband’s retired. My daughter’s classes have gone online to the end of the semester when she graduates, so she’s flying down to El Paso to be with her husband before they close the base. My husband and my niece are driving her car down, in the great pandemic road trip. They’re bringing a tent and sleeping bags along, because they don’t know the status of motels. They’ll have to take the bus or train back. Then, I’m moving in with my parents for two weeks so as not to expose myself to anything they might pick up.

        1. Heh, I meant a cot in my office.

          I saw that NPR article too, and I get it as well.

          I will say though, if our Dumbass-in-Chief
          hadn’t have gotten rid of our nation’s pandemic response committee when his administration took over, we might just be a little bit closer to being prepared for this situation. I have some administration experience, and one thing I know is you never get rid of your emergency operations plan.

        2. My two day jobs are up in the air (both are in public education). so I may need to make another plea for Ko-Fis pretty soon. I won’t get into too much detail about that because one of them is trying very hard to keep up with the changes and keep us employed as long as possible, while the other one is basically pretending nothing is happening, and I still need to have both when this all blows over.

          I have a background in EMS and Peace Corps (West Africa), so yup, I’m a big fan of plans, too, and improvising, and dealing with disasters head-on. Teh Public Stupid that is being exposed in all this irritates me immensely (I’ll try not to get started on the Idiot-in-Chief), but hey, problems don’t get solved until they’re exposed, so there is that.

          For latex, have you tried non lubricated condoms? If you’re out of those in your area, try an online store like Adam and Eve (I sense I am about to get to inundated by yet more Coronavirus-themed Russian porn spam comments for making that suggestion here, but oh, well). For disinfectant, I hear that Dawn dishwashing soap works really well. I’m inclined to believe it, since it kills fleas and other invertebrates by smothering them. It also has been used to wash kittens, though it can be a bit harsh for them (my vet recommended I use baby shampoo for a flea killer, instead): https://howzoo.com/dawn-dish-soap/

          1. Ah, now condoms. That is a solution I never would have thought of, but it might work. Thanks.

            Dawn dish soap too. I told my nurses, when they were fretting over no Purell, that we could go old school and just wash our hands.

            Do you really get that many irritating comments? That must suck.

            1. Perks of a misspent youth in Peace Corps at the beginning of the African phase of the AIDS crisis. Our training for avoiding AIDS, such as it was, consisted of putting a non-lubed rubber on a banana.

              Me [to the trainer]: Okay, I got the rubber on the banana. Now, how do I eat it?
              Trainer [rather wearily]: Stop being a smartass, Stiles.

              As for the Dawn, it’s a staple of the wildlife/feral trade. A mix of Dawn and cider vinegar with water is really good for spraying for fleas without hurting mammals. Diotomaceous Earth is also good (though not for your needs, unfortunately).

              So, yeah, try those. I’ll ask around about other tips. I still know a bunch of people in the medical field.

              I get about a hundred spam comments for every real person (it varies and can come in waves). If I didn’t manually mod and approve comments, the threads would be inundated in some pretty vile and totally off-topic crap. In contrast, someone trolling or otherwise intentionally violating the rules of good conduct is about one for every few hundred legit comments.

          2. This is the FIRST time that all Peace Corps personnel have been ordered returned, that the ‘mission’ has been closed down.

            Breaks my heart that it’s come to this, that this has been so badly handled. And I keep hearing KEEP hearing the bullshit “nobody could have anticipated” which I thought had been retired after the Iraq War, when people forgot ‘everything’ Colin Powell said as reasoning NOT to invade Iraq and ‘everything’ he said came true. But ‘nobody could have anticipated’ that the Iraqis would have kicked us out and hated us FOREVER (like Golum, in The Hobbit).

            1. I hadn’t even heard about that! What kind of asshole fires the Peace Corps in the middle of a pandemic (RPCV here)?

              Of course it was anticipated. He shut down the team that was supposed to deal with this sort of thing, two years ago. It’s like how people said 9/11 couldn’t have been anticipated when the WTC had already been bombed once by terrorists, the Nairobi/Dar es Salaam bombings were a clear shot across the bow, and NYC had a nuclear war plan in place for the previous half-century.

  4. I meant the shitshow you recapped/reviewed LAST week. I don’t even know where we are to tell you the truth. BUT when it comes review time I want you to SAVAGE Monday’s episode Galaxy Brain. The Heroes’ Journey was a special depth of BAD but I think Galaxy Brain is on that level of BAD and I will argue that point with FERVOR. GOLLY it pissed me off.

      1. We’ll have to make a contest of the worst episode of the Season. At this point I am not sure I ‘want’ the last two episodes completed.

        1. Hahahaha. Well, if there is a demand for that kind of article, I’ll go there after it’s all done.

          I’ll admit that I’m worried about the ending somehow managing to ruin the rest of the series. “Swan Song” came damned close for me.

          1. It won’t wreck the series for me if they screw up the ending. I’ve already decided to mentally end it at the season 11 finale. That was my favorite season anyway. The rest can just be fanfiction, though I liked getting to see Mary.

            1. Same here. Worst case scenario for me is that I pretend Season 11 was the end and the rest was mostly bad fanfic.

  5. First off, this week’s episode was on a par with LAST week’s shitshow. I am hating this ‘God is BAD BAD BAD’ storyline.

    I liked watching the pool playing. I did not think Fortuna was one of the Three Fates, maybe I am getting Greek and Roman religion mixed up (well, the Romans ‘did’ take over the Greek gods and fit them into a weird Pantheon) and I kept thinking of Sulla Felix, Sulla the Lucky (never a better friend nor a worse enemy) who was an especial devotee of hers.

    So she was ‘skimming’ luck to feed herself, as the gods all need worship of some type and these people were not ‘quite’ worshipping her.

    The actress was good, she was also good as Djinn Mama.

    I actually ff’d the Jack subplot so have nothing to comment on.

    Dean is actually the most forgiving human being in the whole wide, wide world of sports. Because Castiel and Jack have both fucked him over multiple times and he just ‘goes with the flow.’

    1. Atrox Fortuna is a different goddess/concept from the three Fates. She’s just Fate (there are other versions of Fortuna that actually mean “luck,” but not Atrox Fortuna). However, overlaying her story on the three Fates (who were minor angels) is basically a retcon. And I agree that her having enough luck to throw things in the Brothers’ favor was a lot to swallow.

      LOL! about FFing through Jack’s subplot. Wish I could do that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *