Category Archives: Supernatural reviews

The Official Supernatural: “Galaxy Brain” (15.12) Live Recap Thread


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Recap: Rather boring recap of Dean telling Chuck off, a largely context-free rehash of Kaia/Dark-Kaia (leaving out, for example, that the reason Dean was threatening Kaia with a gun was because she was being awfully casual in refusing to help rescue Mary), and Jack coming back from the Empty.

Cut to Four Weeks Ago, but it’s not on Earth. It’s like Earth, but it has two moons (in a configuration that looks astronomically dodgy and must be currently popular in Hollywood because it also appeared in episode 1.09 of Star Trek: Picard). Inside a large office building, in a store called Radio Shed, a young redhead is looking desultorily at electronics, while Louden Swain belts out “Pop Tart Heart” on one of the radios.

Also on the radio is a news broadcast in which we hear the Paris Accords are being renewed, Hillary Clinton is president, and all is pretty right with the world. Nearby, a young store clerk watches the young woman like a vulture, making her nervous. When she leaves the store, he sighs in disappointment. She was the only customer. Radio Shed is not doing well.

The door dings again (though there’s no sound of it opening) and the young man turns to see Chuck. He starts his sales pitch on Chuck, but Chuck’s not interested. Our renegade mad God approaches a wall of TVs with Radio Shed’s logo. He says he’s “looking for … an audience.” Raising his arms, he makes all of the TVs bring up a different image of a different, peaceful, natural world.

Chuck talks about how, “in the beginning,” it was just him and his sister, but that he grew bored. So, he “created the World.” He gestures. A view of Dean and Castiel in the Bunker kitchen appears. Sam enters the kitchen on the screen as Chuck rants and strolls to another TV. He then talks about how he “got the bug and decided to create other worlds.” He gestures again. Scenes from Sam’s God Wound dreams come up, showing Sam and Dean murdering each other, as well as the “future” Chuck showed Sam. Chuck calls all of them his “toys.”

Chuck: Dean says I’m not gonna get the ending I want. And I don’t know, maybe, I mean, that shouldn’t matter, right? I’ve gotten what I want from a hundred Sams and Deans. I can get what I want from a hundred more. And I don’t care. Those other toys, they don’t spark joy.

Yes, Chuck just went all Marie Kondo on the multiverse.

Anyhoo, it turns out Chuck is really upset about what Dean said and it’s harshing his apocalypse mellow. So, what he’s decided to do is end all of the other worlds and timelines he created, except for that one original, maddening, “challenging,” rebellious one that still intrigues him. He’s decided it’s time to cancel all the other “shows,” the other timelines, the “alternate realities, the subplots, the failed spin-offs.”

Cue title cards.

Cut to “Sioux Falls. Our World. Now.”

Jody is checking out a dead cow that she determines was probably not killed by supernatural means. She tells Alex (whom we get in voiceover when she calls on the phone) that the cow was “clubbed to death.” Alex has a vegan lasagna in the oven. Jody tells her to keep it warm.

After she hangs up, Jody turns around to see someone slip through the doorway into the darkened barn. Jody follows, gun and flashlight leveled. She calls out, but no one answers. But then she’s attacked and knocked out.

Cut to the Bunker kitchen, where the scene Chuck turned on in the teaser is ongoing. Sam is saying he doesn’t like this new plan about Jack. Apparently, after being all Team Jack last season and blaming Dean for not feeling the same, Sam suddenly has doubts about Jack’s stability after losing his soul and being in the Empty. Dean asks which thing Sam doesn’t like – that Jack made a deal with Billie or that she’s now got him “eating angel hearts.” Even Castiel allows that the latter is “disturbing,” though he still trusts Jack.

Sam continues to whine-infodump about things he frankly should have cared a lot more about last season, like Jack’s lack of a soul, and the Ma’lak Box failure, and how killing Chuck would destabilize the balance between Light and Dark that Chuck has with his sister Amara.

Dean says that it’s no surprise Billie “has Jack on a need-to-know basis.” All of the cosmic entities they’ve dealt with in the past have played their cards very close to the vest. But Dean feels that they can “trust” Billie, or at least that they can trust her to protect the Natural Order. She must have some kind of solid plan. And it’s not as though they have any other plays right now.

Meanwhile, Jack is touching the carving on the library table Mary made of her initials. Jack then enters his old room and is approached by an older woman who first appears in the mirror. She is a reaper named Merle and she’s there to keep him on-task. When he asks why she’s appeared to him now, she says that he prayed silently to Death, but Death is busy. So, Merle appeared in her place.

Jack says he’d called out to Death when the Grigori captured him, but she didn’t come. Merle says Death probably already knew that Castiel would rescue him. She reiterates the rules (and infodumps for the audience) that Jack is to continue to “lie low” and not use his powers for any reason. If he does, Chuck might sense him and find him (the implication being that Chuck would then send Jack back to the Empty and hunt down anyone who got him out of there in the first place).

Walking down the corridor past Jack’s room (pure coincidence, I’m sure), Sam overhears Jack’s side of the conversation and enters. Since Sam can’t see the reaper, Jack is fairly successful in claiming he wasn’t talking to anyone. Sam is fairly successful in claiming he only just wanted to “check in” on Jack. He tells Jack that they’re glad he’s back, but they could have helped him if he’d asked first (this sounds a bit less convincing after Sam was trash-talking Jack in the previous scene). Jack says he knows that and Sam leaves. Jack looks pensive.

In the library, Dean and Castiel are having a drink together (all that pissiness from Castiel earlier in the season is all bygones now Dean’s groveled sufficiently, I guess). Castiel is crowing over how he was right all along about Jack (because Jacks mother Kelly, whom Jack brainwashed from the womb, had “faith” in her son). This seems pretty damned insensitive, considering Jack murdered Dean’s mother not too long ago and that’s why they were fighting in the first place. Dean rather weakly smiles and says sure. It is mind-boggling how little co-writer of this script Robert Berens understands how this hypocrisy ruins his favorite character, Castiel, for a lot of fans.

Dean on the other hand, cares a lot more about getting revenge on Chuck, by ensuring he’s “killed by his own grandson” (again with that nonsense).

Dean’s phone rings. It’s Jody. She’s forced by an unknown person with gloves to tell Dean that she’s “in trouble” and will be killed if he doesn’t come quickly. Later, Sam and Dean arrive at the barn in broad daylight to find Jody tied up and gagged. As Dean keeps a lookout, Sam starts to untie Jody.

Jody suddenly calls out a warning and her attacker – who turns out to be Dark!Kaia (oh, look, a character I had no interest in seeing ever again) – starts beating up on both Brothers with her ridiculously florid and unrealistic fighting skills, while getting mad at Dean for breaking her spear and refusing to help her get back to the Bad Place.

Fortunately, that segue into Arrow territory is cut short by Jody getting free and smashing a chair across Dark!Kaia’s back. She recovers to find two guns in her face, courtesy of Sam and Dean.

Sam asks her why she’d even want to go back to the Bad Place. She infodumps (in halting Kirk-speak) that Kaia!Kaia isn’t actually dead, that “our” Kaia is the person in the Bad Place whom she is trying to protect and whom she needs to go back and save.

Get ready. This is stupid.

She claims that she was able to dreamwalk well enough to physically manifest back in the Bad Place (but not actually travel back there for real), pick up her doppelganger, carry her back to her own shelter, and heal her with a bunch of leaves. Or maybe she did all this before she arrived from her world, yet even though she was able to come through, she doesn’t now have the power to go back. It’s really not clear.

Why did she do all this? Because she felt bad for “killing” her doppelganger and hadn’t intended to murder her (she just, you know, intended to skewer Claire). Oh, and by the way, her world is ending and she can see it through “our” Kaia’s eyes (cue a scene of “our” Kaia eating lizard, while rocking and singing the nursery rhyme “Miss Mary Mack,” then going outside to watch a nighttime violent lightning storm). Long story short: “our” Kaia’s not dead, after all.

Told you it was stupid.

Well, Jody’s profoundly shocked by all this and now they have a reason not to kill Dark!Kaia, at least for the moment.

Back at the Bunker, Castiel is playing Connect-Four with Jack and losing miserably. He gets mad. The door to the Bunker opens. In come Sam and Jody. Jody and Castiel meet for the first time. Castiel asks what happened and Dean says, “Long story” as he brings in a bound Dark!Kaia, who greets a startled Jack.

With Dark!Kaia in earshot, TFW 2.0 has a quick conference on what to do. Jack can’t use his powers, so he’s “off-limits.” When Dark!Kaia tries to move things along by yelling that they’re “running out of time,” Dean sarcastically calls her “Not!Kaia” and basically tells her to stuff it. Ah, Dean. “Not!Kaia,” it is.

After they chain her to a table (Jody got a vote) with only a beauty magazine to pass the time (ooh, burn), everyone else hits the books. Even Jack volunteers to help. However, his one big contribution (an Italian witchcraftStregheria– recipe called La Piegatrice Mondiale – “the World Bender”) hits a huge snag. The one exotic ingredient, a Mandragora liver, is one the Brothers knows can’t be found. John killed the last one in Fargo and wrote about it in his journal. They send him to check on Jody and Castiel.

After he leaves (in a snit), they admit to each other that they don’t have any solution. If they had archangel grace, that would be one thing, but they don’t. I’m a little confused. Sam had angel grace after he was possessed by Gadriel. And Dean ought to have some lingering archangel grace after being possessed by alt-Michael. But nope. Those possibilities don’t get a mention. Hmm.

Sam does mention that they could use Jack’s Naphil grace, but Billy would certainly object.

Meanwhile, Jody is looking at ingredients, while Castiel is leaving increasingly frantic messages for Sergei. Why Castiel would think Sergei would take his calls I have no idea, but this feels like heavy-duty foreshadowing for something down the road. Just not in this episode.

Jody complains that they have to go “analog” on this one and actually read print books (O the horror). Why, that could take weeks or even months. Jody, I am embarrassed for you.

Castiel changes up the subject by asking her if she’s told Claire “our” Kaia might still be alive. Jody admits that she hasn’t. Claire has been searching since they got back from the Bad Place, hunting for Not!Kaia. In fact, she’s out of phone range in Yosemite, hunting down a false lead on that trail. Jody’s afraid to try to contact her because she’ not sure how Claire would react if they can’t recover “our” Kaia.

Jody gets down to some readin’, while Castiel leaves another message on Sergei’s phone, and Jack watches them from the shadows.

He then goes to visit Not!Kaia, who is frustrated and bored. Jack can’t get over how much she looks like her doppleganger. Not!Kaia truly sucks at diplomacy. She tries the same guilt-trip tactic on Jack that she tried on Dean last season to get him to help her. It’s more successful on Jack. Seems she saw Jack’s manipulation of “our” Kaia through her eyes.

She insists that “our” Kaia will die if they don’t go back. She admits that she “envied” her doppelganger (which is ironic, because “our” Kaia’s life sucked). She says, “Her world looked peaceful. This place is cold. I don’t understand it. I don’t know how to move through it. So, I just find empty spaces and I hide.”

She admits that she doesn’t belong here (which probably has something to do with the fact that she comes from another timeline). She manages to get close enough to grab Jack’s hands and beg him to “help us.” Hesitantly, Jack puts his fingertips to her temples and sees “our” Kaia stuck in the Bad Place.

Well, now, Jack’s on a mission. He comes tearing back out to the library, insisting TFW has to go rescue “our” Kaia, who is alive. To their horror, the Brothers realize that he figured this out by using his powers and that he intends to do so again to open a rift to the Bad Place.

It’s at this point that Jack’s Reaper guard makes herself visible and strolls in. After introducing herself, Merle openly admits to having slipped in by “piggybacking” on Jack. She derisively refers to Jack’s plan as “Winchester Dumb” while glaring at Dean.

Dean (quite rightly) takes umbrage to this. After all, he’s the one who has been arguing for following Billie’s plan. Also in his defense, as he himself pointed out earlier in the episode, the Winchesters are often forced to operate on incomplete information due to major players in the SPNverse being unwilling to share intel with them. It’s therefore on Billie and the Reapers that Dean wasn’t able to keep Jack (never the sharpest tool in the shed) from going full-on Overpowered Moron.

Jack, at first, is cowed when Merle tells Jack that if he tries anything, she will tattle to Death. But then he gets an idea and tells her to go ahead. While she’s away, he’ll open the rift and she’ll reap (ha, sorry) the consequences of not being able to stop him. She then says she’ll just stop him herself and Jack (apparently correctly) guesses she can’t do that.

Angry, Merle now judges this “Winchester Stupid.” Dean, who has been intently watching Jack make his play (while Sam glances from him to Jack and Merle), spots the unspoken “but.” Merle admits that she could bolster the warding Amara had “stripped” from the Bunker and that the Brothers had thought they’d reinstalled (if it was only partial, why’d she need to slip in with Jack – oh , never mind). But she can only do it temporarily and using some of Castiel’s power. However, with all that, she could make the warding so Chuck can’t see what Jack is doing.

So, they rig up a spell and Sam says some Latin, while Jody mixes some ingredients, and Dean and Castiel watch. There’s a cool effect where the sigils Amara depowered when she appeared in the Bunker in season 11 glow all over the stone walls and columns. But Merle’s not done. She then pulls out a big rock with a sigil on it and sticks it on a library table, while the Brothers gear up as Jack releases Not!Kaia.

There is a last-minute switch-up of plan. Jody is also gearing up when Castiel has a quiet chat with her. Castiel admits that he still feels bad that he was never able to make things right with Claire (well, wearing her dead dad and effectively making her an orphan after destroying her happy childhood would make that hard). He believes that if things go wrong in the Bad Place and Jody, her new mother figure, dies there with “our” Kaia, it would destroy Claire. After initially balking and spouting some weird pseudo-feminist dialogue, Jody reluctantly allows that Castiel has a point and agrees to stay behind with him and Jack.

The Brothers and Not!Kaia assemble behind Merle on one side of the rock, while Jack, Castiel and Jody assemble on the other. Dean tells Jack to do his stuff and Jack makes the rift. Not!Kaia goes through first, then Sam, then Dean.

They arrive at night. It’s raining and the wind is blowing pretty briskly. Dean asks Not!Kaia how it feels to be back home. Sensing the approaching disaster, she doesn’t answer and Dean grumbles, “Good talk!”

Sam asks where “our” Kaia is and Not!Kaia leads them through the dark and dreary woods. They suddenly are surrounded by a herd of bipedal monsters with glowing red eyes and screechy voices. Not!Kaia warns them that they don’t have a chance if they fight because there are too many. But then she realizes that the monsters don’t want to fight, anyway. They’re scared. They can sense that their world is ending. The monsters ultimately run away without hurting them.

They walk until they get near the drafty hut where Kaia is. Not!Kaia says it’s her home (really? After a lifetime on this world, she couldn’t have done better with the shelter construction skills?). Sam and then Dean call her name and “our” Kaia, hearing them, comes out, still munching on lizard and clutching a stone knife. When she sees Dean and Not!Kaia, he says, “Hey, kid” and approaches her. After a brief double-take, she runs to him and hugs him fiercely.

When she spots Not!Kaia, it’s not with love and affection, but Sam reassures her that Not!Kaia helped them find her. Despite the Brothers’ urging, Not!Kaia refuses to go with them. This is her world, she never should have left it, and she’s not the one who belongs in theirs. “Our” Kaia does. The Brothers and “our” Kaia run back to the rift, as a tidal wave of unreality rolls across the Bad Place world and Not!Kaia turns to face it. She closes her eyes and the screen goes dark.

In the Bunker, the Brothers and Kaia burst out of the rift. Jody stands up and immediately hugs Kaia, who at first looks startled and then sinks into it with a look of contentment.

Later, Jack greets Kaia, who has showered and changed into his clothes. He asks her how she survived all by herself (a telling question, when you consider Jack has always been treated like a prince, supported and waited on by others). Kaia says her (deceased?) mother used to sing a nursery rhyme to her called “Miss Mary Mack,” but when she sees Jack doesn’t understand, she just tells him, “Never mind.” So, Kaia’s version of “Hey, Jude,” then.

Jody comes out with her pack and Kaia asks her what she’ll do now. Jody invites her back to Sioux Falls. Plaintively, Kaia asks if Claire will be there and Jody replies, “She will be.” Kaia thanks the Brother wholeheartedly with a little bow and leaves with Jody.

As TFW turns back into the library, Merle appears and allows that if she cared even a little bit about Kaia, this would have been a victory. When asked if they’ve managed to keep things on the downlow, she points out that if Chuck had noticed, they’d all be dead by now.

About a second later, she gets a scythe through the back of her neck and crumbles into ash. The scythe is Death’s and Billie’s holding it. She looks pissed. “Hello, boys,” she says, as Sam jumps and Dean’s mouth drops open, but her glare is reserved for Jack.

“What the hell?!” Dean says. This earns him a level look from Death, but then she turns her attention back to Jack. Jack tries to pull his innocent routine with her, saying he tried to call her. As she stalks up to him (Sam and Dean fall away to let her through), she says that she killed Merle because Merle failed at her job and was a “weak link.” This new TFW is only as strong as their weakest links.

She says that she sees a bigger picture. What Jack did, to save one insignificant life from one dying world, was reckless at best. She informs them that not only the Bad Place is dying. All of them are except for this one.

Castiel realizes she means that Chuck is destroying the multiverse. Billie is like, well, duh. Sam tries to challenge her by demanding to know what is going on. Yes, Jack is intended to kill God, but what is the plan here?

Billie is less-than-impressed by Sam, but she does give up some info. She says that as a Reaper, she believed in the Rules. But after Castiel killed her and she became Death, she inherited Death’s library and discovered that even God has His own book.

Dean says, “So, God can die?” which Billie confirms and we get a flashback to Death telling Dean he will eventually reap God, near the end of season five. Castiel is confused – why would Chuck allow such a weakness, a “blueprint to his own death?”

Billie: He didn’t. The books write themselves.

Billie explains that after Chuck created the world, he felt compelled to keep on creating. But in order to do so, he had to build himself into the framework of his own creation, which also opened up the possibility of his own death. And no one can see their death books without Death’s permission, not even God.

Sam tries to steer things back to Jack’s task, asking if Jack is in Chuck’s book, but Billie has a twist aimed especially at Dean. She reminds him that she had told him that he and Sam still had work to do. They are in Chuck’s book, too: “You are the messengers of God’s destruction.”

Cut to Chuck on Earth 2, watching the destruction of entire worlds on various TV screens and eating junk food. As he gets up to leave, the young clerk from the beginning scrambles up from a pile of empty junk food boxes on the floor. He looks decidedly haggard. He asks in an echo of his old clerk voice if Chuck is finished. Chuck muses that no, some worlds can be ended immediately, but others take time. It will take him a while.

The clerk asks in a plaintive voice if Chuck will spare his world – will spare him. After all, he’s been “serving” Chuck for weeks. Smoothing the initial irritation from his face, Chuck turns back and touches the clerk’s face and the young man looks terrified, awestruck and even reassured. Chuck assures him that he’ll be fine, but as he leaves the store and goes on his way with a mean little smile, meteors come roaring down from the sky. One completely demolishes the store.

Credits

The show dipped again to a 0.2 and 0.976 million in audience.

The preview for the next episode, “Destiny’s Child” (15.13) is up. With the Coronavirus pandemic halting show production after the first day of filming the penultimate episode of the series, we’ll have another hellatus of unknown length following “Destiny’s Child.”

Review: I can’t decide if this episode has already aged well or poorly, in light of current events. Fiction’s having a tough time topping reality right now.

But at least we’re back on board with this being a horror show (apocalyptic horror has always been Supernatural‘s forte) rather than dark fantasy or urban fantasy or paranormal romance, or whatever the hell the writers thought they were doing post-season 11.

In season six, Ben Edlund wrote a very similar episode in function, “The Man Who Would Be King,” that became an instant classic. Alas, this is no Ben Edlund script, not even a minor one. Where “The Man Who Would Be King” magnificently tied up all the many loose and tangled ends of season six (only for the yarn ball to get handed right back to the kitten by ostensible showrunners Sera Gamble and Eric Kripke for the end of the season itself), “Galaxy Brain” feels a lot more like taking out the trash. Long after the trash got moldy and stinky, and the neighbors (i.e., the audience) started to complain.

While the idea of Chuck burning down the SPN multiverse is a deeply horrifying concept, it feels in this episode more like a peremptory attempt to wrap up a concept (the multiverse) that the audience didn’t love in the first place. When Chuck says his other tries at timelines didn’t “spark joy,” it’s entirely too on-the-nose for what the writers Berens and Glynn are trying to accomplish here. At least Kripke was a little bit subtle, when he killed off all the Psykids at the end of season two, that he was burning down a storyline (especially in the form of the Roadhouse) with which he’d grown bored and for which he had no good ending.

When the show first introduced the multiverse in season 12, the obvious inspiration was the way it was used by DC shows on the CW and the apparent agent of separation between the different universes was mainly the choices humans and other sentient beings made, resulting in branching timelines diverging at each choice. The clearest example of this was the alt-Michael timeline where Mary refused to say yes to Azazel, John remained dead, and Sam and Dean were never born. Even season six’s “The French Mistake” was presented as just a pocket universe created by Balthazar, whereas he created the entire alternate reality in “My Heart Will Go On” by “unsinking” the Titanic.

Now, the idea of the multivere was relatively problematical, since it effectively retconned much of seasons four and five, which had presented the SPNverse as a single timeline where everything was predestined and it was very, very difficult (even potentially disastrous) to change what was foretold (note how pissy the Fates got about the Titanic timeline). Call it a Calvinist sort of universe.

But what the writers came up with this season was worse. At first, it was just a muddle, where it seemed that Chuck was actively meddling in preexisting timelines, or at least observing their results, where Sam and Dean killed each other over and over and over again. Then, in this episode, we are Told that no, there is really only one “true” timeline that has existed since the beginning of the SPNverse and that these other timelines are, in fact, just inventions after the fact by Chuck to test out various theories and ideas. And now that he’s bored with them, he’s burning them all down at once.

This could have been an intriguing concept, along the lines of a classic Lovecraftian story like the film, In the Mouth of Madness. Unfortunately, the way it appears in the second half of the season (after the show wasted almost half a season on that stupid Sam’s God Wound plot that went nowhere and existed only to keep Chuck’s storyline down to a glacial pace), it looks like something the writers pulled out of their asses.

Sam and Dean weren’t anywhere near the Bunker in season five, so Dean couldn’t possibly be shooting white-suited Samifer in the back of the head in season 15? Chuck wrote it that way. Why the heck does a young woman (Kaia), living in our world, not only have a genetic doppelganger in a radically different world full of monsters, but that young doppelganger speaks unaccented English? Chuck wrote it that way. Hillary Clinton is president on an Earth that has two moons and a version of Radio Shack? Chuck wrote it that way. Every plothole is Chuck-ex-machinaed to the point where story stakes become meaningless and there’s no point to getting emotionally invested in a storyline when the rug could get yanked out from under the audience, for the plot lulz, at any time.

I noticed that, for all of the focus in the story on Jack, in the end, Billie was pretty clearly using him as a tool. She didn’t care about keeping him in the loop. She probably only answered Sam and Castiel’s questions because she did care about keeping Dean on board and up to speed.

The one truly intriguing thing in all of this is that Chuck is so very obsessed with Dean (the real one, not those pale copies) telling him to piss off a few episodes ago. This appears to be quite literally the only thing that has saved even the prime timeline in the SPNverse from immolation. Chuck … wants to beat Dean. Not Sam (he already managed that and it wasn’t even that hard). Dean. Dean the Firewall is keeping the cosmic fire from his own world. It makes you wonder how much Chuck knows, even if he can’t see inside his own book. Does he know that Dean and his brother are his bane?

While Dean was hardly the focus of the episode, it did at least back off the egregious trashing of his character all season. The episode revisited the “deal” Not!Kaia tried to force on Dean last season (I know! I was shocked, too!). It wrote him as unrepentant and snarky with her, instead of getting beaten down by the story for daring to slap down her nonsense attempts to project her own guilt onto others.

It also revisited his threatening “our” Kaia (albeit the flashback in the recap was waaaayyy outta context) in a way that was positive for him. And there was the above hint that he is the actual hidden WMD against Chuck. So, I remain in hope the show will remember once again that he’s one of the two main protagonists in this story.

Let’s talk about Kaia. I know I was supposed to feel bad about Not!Kaia dying, but I didn’t, particularly. It was pretty obvious they were just writing her out because the spin-off didn’t happen (at least, not when it did) and neither her character nor the Bad Place (which was a rather idiotic and simplistic concept – Monster World, basically) ever clicked with the audience.

Bringing back “our” Kaia was more interesting because she was dead, and her storyline was done and dusted. The closest thing she had to continued relevance was Claire’s (completely offscreen) quest for revenge on her and that was really a Not!Kaia plot. They resurrected her for some reason. Folks, methinks that Wayward Sisters spin-off is still gonna happen.

I’ve been a bit rough on Yadira Guevara-Prip in the past about her past less-than-amazing performance as either version of Kaia (especially when compared to, say, Isa Briones on Star Trek: Picard, who almost casually knocks it out of the park playing three very different characters), and I still wasn’t won over by her rather late-TOS-seasons-Kirkian delivery with plenty of periods in random places for Not!Kaia. But I do think she nailed “our” Kaia this time round. Or, at least, nailed it enough that I’d now be interested in watching that character in a Wayward Sisters spin-off. And she did pull off making the two versions of Kaia seem like two different people. That’s not a very easy task.

While I try to be honest so that when I say something positive, it’s clear I mean it, I also try not to be mean or cruel. And in the case of actors, I back off them a bit because their performances are so influenced, even controlled, by outside forces like writing and direction. If the writing ain’t there and the director wants you to play a character a certain way, there’s not much you can do about it, especially if you are an occasional guest star on a set and hoping to become a regular on a spin-off (or are already locked into a contract).

So, I found it interesting that the point where Guevara-Prip appeared to get her footing with Kaia was when the character began to move beyond the original concept of Angry Underprivileged Ethnic Girl (or Feral Other whom we see only from the outside, like Not!Kaia) to Cowardly Lion Who Longs To Be A Hero. The former is a cliche, not a very flattering one at that. The latter is more interesting and has movement. That also gives us a dimension and sympathetic angle that the flat AUEG stereotype lacks. We’ve all been afraid and we all know that trauma can make someone extra hesitant to engage their fear. It’s a journey from that to get to being a Hero.

There are two critical moments where she had to sell it – and did. The first is when Sam and Dean show up with Not!Kaia to save her. The previous relationship between “our” Kaia and Dean has not been a good one. She is acutely aware that her journey to this place included the moment when Dean forced her at gunpoint to join TFW in the mission to rescue his mother. Yet, when he greets her, she runs to him and hugs him, after a brief hesitation.

This is an important moment, for both Kaia and Dean. The show wanted us to dislike Dean for threatening Kaia, but that doesn’t mean the scene itself made her especially popular with the audience. She was acting in a very unsympathetic and unheroic manner at the time, by initially refusing to use her talent to help find Mary, and pretty cavalier in her attitude about it.

We then saw Kaia flip in the very next episode on behalf of a girl she’d just met, Claire. This set up a Hero’s Journey for Kaia to overcome her lifelong trauma about the Bad Place, but it was cut short by her apparent murder and tempered by the unbelievable rapidity of her and Claire’s romance (such as it was).

In this episode, we see that “our” Kaia has grown from being forced to confront her fears in the Bad Place. When she sees Dean show up to save her from certain doom, it is with the knowledge that Dean makes those kinds of sacrifices for family (he makes sacrifices for complete strangers, too, but Kaia wouldn’t know that). So, if he’s there, greeting her in a warm and friendly manner, not only is he and his brother her ticket home, but he is greeting her as family.

We see this progress further when they all return to the Bunker and Jody welcomes her with open arms. Kaia isn’t too sure of this at first (she barely knows Jody), but then tentatively hugs her and sinks, finally, into her arms, closing her eyes. Kaia hasn’t felt safe or had a family in a long time, but she has one now. The fact that the actress is able to sell this is what makes Kaia’s subsequent decision to go with Jody in the coda logical and satisfying.

Not!Kaia, on the other hand, remains unsympathetic and not at all heroic. She has all these mad, unrealistic, Sueish fighting skills, but she has no interest in using them for the benefit of others. She is blatantly, unapologetically selfish for no particular reason, which makes her motivation too simplistic to sustain interest over multiple episodes. Even when she tries to get help for”our” Kaia – her doppelganger whose life she stole and whom she abandoned back in her own world – she tries to blame her own bad deed on others.

If there’s one big problem I have with the Wayward Sisters concept, is that its backdoor pilot’s rough spots included some 1980s and 90s cliches that didn’t need to be in there. It’s 2020, so I’d like to think we’ve moved a bit beyond having an eclectic cast supporting a cute, young, blonde, asskicking lead (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) or Angry Ethnic Characters who are converted from enemies to allies, but still have emotional control issues that make them a bit childish (Worf from Star Trek: The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine, B’Elanna Torres from Star Trek: Voyager, and Teal’c from Stargate SG1).

Another concern, which the writers may or may not deal with, is that with no worlds left save Earth Prime, there’s no place for Kaia to dreamwalk or Jack to rip a rift to. So, that eliminates each character’s most distinctive and powerful magical ability.

At the end of the day, the Bad Place was not as interesting as the writers thought it would be. A world of monsters? Okay. And? That Sam and Dean spend their entire time there hunting and eating lizards, that Kaia gets up to nothing more exciting in her own time there, pretty much tells you how boring that concept actually is.

While I felt a bit sorry for the scared, red-eyed monsters they encountered there while rescuing Kaia, I actually felt more sympathy for Radio Shed Guy (who was just an innocent kid trying to pay the rent when his world was capriciously destroyed by forces well beyond his pay grade). In fact, it irritated me that the show implied the only way we could have a world where Hillary Clinton was President, and the world was going right, was a fake fantasy world that had two moons in the sky.

The episode titles have been their own special brand of bad this season. Last episode’s “The Gamblers” (evocative of the song used in season six’s “Weekend at Bobby’s” and of its writer, Kenny Rogers, who sadly passed away on March 20) was okay, but way too on the nose. This week’s evoked a meme from 2017 involving people taking an argument to absurd extremes (“galaxy brain“), in order to comment, I suppose, on Chuck’s extreme tantrum. Considering how tightly they’ve tied the character of Chuck to their own writing, though, I don’t think the writers quite understood how easily the title opened them up to mockery about the season’s writing.

The destruction of the various worlds (clearly, deconstructing the SPN multiverse is the task distracting Billie for most of the episode) raised some questions for me. What happened to the souls in these worlds? Did the angels and demons who died in those Heavens and Hells go to the Empty? Where did all the human souls go? How was Chuck able to create multiple versions of the archangels when he claimed in season 11 that he couldn’t easily resurrect either Gabriel (who, admittedly, wasn’t actually dead) or Raphael? Is there really no peace for the people of these other worlds, now that they are done?

Well. That’s grim.

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


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


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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


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The Official Supernatural: “The Heroes’ Journey” (15.10) Live Recap Thread


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Recap: Then recap to generic rock guitar bringing us up to speed on the season so far (yes, it’s that dreary) followed by a white Doomed Teaser Guy in an indoor cage match verses a jacked-up Hispanic woman to a bloodthirsty crowd. He’s losing and despite a last-minute rally – in which he reveals werewolf teeth and eyes, then slashes her – he ends up down and bleeding out into a grate that covers the screen while slow, melancholy piano music plays. In the process, we also find out that she’s a Wraith and the crowd (including, presumably, the match organizer nearby in shadow) are all monsters.

Cue title cards.

Cut to Beren’s Kwik Trap in Kansas, where Dean is on a food-and-beer run while Sam is back at the Bunker, dealing with a kitchen full of cooking food. Let’s cut to the chase, since this entire sequence is excruciatingly terrible – the credit card Dean is using (which Charlie gave them back in season nine and which should never fail) is declined and he gets a ticket after nearly being run over by a kid on a skateboard. Meanwhile, Sam ends up ruining dinner after a roast burns in the oven, setting off a fire alarm (why would the Bunker have a wimpy fire alarm like that?), and most of a dish of pasta ends up on the floor. When Dean comes back, Sam trips entering the library to greet him and starts to sneeze from the beginnings of a head cold.

So, first of all, Dean does have cash usually, just in case, and second of all, since when does Sam cook? Dean’s the cook. I know Sam was cooking breakfast with Eileen a few episodes ago, but even Dean noted that was unusual.

Dean has already twigged that something odd is going on with the day. Then they get a call. It’s from Garth, who needs their help. My heart immediately sinks. I am so not a fan of Garth and did not need to see him ever again since last season.

On the way in the Impala, the Brothers argue over whether this is an unusually bad day (Dean’s spidey sense says yes, but Sam is in denial). Sam also infodumps that Castiel is in Heaven, trying to get help from the angels. Dean predicts that will go nowhere (he’s probably right). That’s when the Impala breaks down. They are forced to walk the rest of the way and we get more of that lame piano music (the soundtrack’s not been good this season).

Cut to Garth feeding two babies. Seems he and his wife now have infant twins. And a little girl who seems a bit old for five years or so. The doorbell rings. It’s Sam and Dean. Sam won’t hug because he’s sick, so Dean reluctantly lets Garth hug him. Because people forcing hugs on other people who don’t want them is totally a good thing and cute in Dabb’s playbook (he wrote this episode, for our sins), and not problematical at all.

Garth claims that Dean smells good. This breaks up the hug (because let’s face it, that’s super-creepy). Garth then ask what took them so long. Dean mentions that the car broke down. I do not understand why they didn’t call Garth for a ride.

There’s a huge charge of tonal whiplash from the last episode already building up in this one. Last week, Chuck being locked away meant that darkness would prevail and this would result in mindless hordes of monsters (especially vampires) overwhelming humans and taking over the world. This week, monsters are “just folks” living ordinary lives in the American heartland, with cute matching moppets in high chairs. I really wish the writers would get together and figure out what kind of message they want to send about the show’s central metaphor, the MOTW, because they are all over the place with it from week to week these days.

The Brothers come into the kitchen, where Garth introduces them to his daughter Gertie and his twin sons, Sam and … Castiel. This formation of oldest girl and twin sons is a rather obvious amalgamated shout-out to the two leads’ own children, but the refusal to give one of the kids Dean’s name is gratuitously nasty. We’ve had 14 and a half seasons of this kind of mean-spirited dig at Dean. It stopped being funny about 14 seasons ago and I’m over it. Unfortunately, this episode is not even close to done with that.

Garth and his wife then get into why they called the Brothers. They go into Gertie’s room where DTG is still alive (though mostly comatose) and passed out on her bed under a cute painting of cats. Turns out he is Bess’ cousin and also a pureblood werewolf. He was found by local law enforcement near a swamp in St. Cloud, MN, left for dead. Not sure why he wasn’t then checked into a hospital. He looks pretty beaten up.

Dean notes a large gash on one arm – caused by a knife? Bess clarifies that it was caused by a Wraith. What is going on?

Dean sees a bowl of candy nearby and casually takes some while discussing the case. But suddenly, he groans in pain from biting down on it. And Sam is sneezing like crazy. As they leave the room, Bess says she has a cure for Sam’s cold.

As they head back downstairs, Dean comments to Garth that he has a really nice life and says he deserves it. Garth admits it wasn’t what he was expecting. What he did expect was to be “dead by forty, go out young and pretty.” Instead, he has a beautiful wife and children and life. More tonal dissonance builds up as Dabb completely ignores the trip to Purgatory last week: the eventual Hell where Garth Sue, Creator’s Pet, and his little family will eventually end up. Not so cute, this episode, when you remember that.

Dean keeps poking at his teeth and Garth asks the obvious – are they hurting? After some prodding, Dean admits that they hurt quite a bit and have since yesterday. Garth then has him come into another room in the cellar, which turns out to be a dentist’s office (Garth’s original occupation was dental student, before he slew the Tooth Fairy on his first hunt). He has a steady clientele with all the local werewolves.

Dean demurs when he sees the dentist’s chair, but Garth forces him into it, anyway. Meanwhile, Bess is forcing Sam to drink a mystery concoction that includes (Sam finds out after he drinks it) cayenne pepper. It puts him on the floor and nearly into cardiac arrest, while Bess just steps over him, the daughter giggles, and the twins start to cry. Boy, this joke sure hasn’t aged well with the advent of the Coronavirus, has it?

The most (unintentionally) horrifying part is how all of this is played off as cutesy and funny, with a bassoon tooting in the background throughout the back-and-forth between Sam and Dean’s situations. But it’s really pretty messed up and makes Bess and her kids, in particular (remember that they’re baby werewolves) look like sociopaths. Lovely.

Downstairs, Garth declares in a disapproving tone that Dean (who admits he’s never been to a dentist and whose teeth look great) has 17 cavities. Dabb writes this scene as if Dean were too arrogant and reliant on some nonexistent Hero’s immunity to ordinary woes to take care of his teeth. I’ve got a much better explanation that doesn’t distort long-standing canon – how about Dean spent most of his childhood and adulthood in extreme poverty, and couldn’t afford to go to a dentist, you privileged, sheltered twatwaffle of a showrunner?

Maybe it’s an exaggeration to step up for a fictional character like Dean in this way, but there are real-life people out there who’ve never been able to go to a dentist in their lives and who wish 17 cavities were their only dental issues as a result. This kind of writing mocks and shames such people by victim-blaming anyone who doesn’t go to a dentist regularly. So, go take a flying leap, Andrew Dabb.

Also, this interlude takes forever and brings the entire plot to a screeching halt.

Anyhoo, we (and Dean) get a little mercy when Garth dopes him up on nitrous oxide. Dean then has probably the best dream sequence in the show. It’s undoubtedly the best part of this episode, possibly of the entire season so far, and is probably the most screencapped and giffed of season 15.

In it, a confused Dean finds himself in white coat and tails in the Bunker, with a cane. Red curtains open in front of him and then the dream goes black-and-white. He sees Garth, dressed identically and also with a cane. Garth tips his hat to Dean and then begins to tap dance to Cole Porter’s “Let’s Misbehave” as recorded in 1928 by Irving Aaronson & His Commanders. Dean finds himself also tapdancing. They duet for a bit until Dean, smiling and happy for the first time in a long time, ends up tossing aside his cane (as Garth vanishes) and tapdancing around the room solo. He ends up on top of the map table and tips his hat as the dream irises closed. Dean woozily wakes up with a bloody mouth. Garth’s dentistry looks pretty scary to me.

Later, Sam is recovering from being poisoned by pepper, sitting on the couch, when Bess asks him how he’s doing, after she’s put the kids to bed. He says he feels better (I have no idea how). Dean comes in with a bloody mouth and a cup to spit wads of gauze into.

Garth realizes that something funky is going on (thank you, Captain Obvious). Sam admits that God is trying to kill them – or, more accurately, get them to kill each other. He explains that Chuck is a writer and they are his favorite characters. Garth susses out that he is a “supporting character/guest star,” but doesn’t mind. “Being the Hero sucks!” he declares. The protagonist of the story gets put through the ringer before he (or she) maybe wins in the end. Garth references the origin stories of Batman, Superman and 50 Shades of Grey to illustrate. The latter prompts a “cute” bit between him and Bess about their sex life that I did not need to know.

Anyhoo, Garth’s theory is that Sam and Dean have up to this point led charmed lives in that they did not need to deal with the regular, boring vicissitudes of life because they were the Heroes of the story (mind you, this is coming from a character who is a supernatural monster, so he’s hardly ordinary). Now, I get that this is just Garth’s theory, but it is treated as fact from then on, so we should take Garth as the writers’ mouthpiece in this case.

This is, of course, absolute nonsense that is contradicted by a great deal of canon in the show (hell, it’s completely contradicted by Garth’s continued Sue-ish existence and idyllic current life, in which he has plot armor so dense it bends the rules of the entire SPNverse to accommodate him). It also shows what a terribly trite and shallow writer Dabb is that he would assume this is good writing in the first place.

Dean insists that they are cursed and really, Dean’s not wrong. The way that Dabb portrays the Brother’s “normal” life in fact looks a lot more like a hex or other kind of curse, than anything resembling actual, ordinary human existence. But Garth overrides him and the writing goes with Garth. We even have Garth telling Dean he needs a colonoscopy right away.

At this point, we are mercifully spared any further exploration of this ridiculous retcon by Bess’ cousin calling for her from Gertie’s bedroom.

Everyone runs in as the cousin (boringly named Brad) wakes up and decides to be alarmed at Sam and Dean’s presence. Bess and Garth dodge his question of whether they’re Hunters and tell him they’re “safe.”

Sam then tries on the Puppy Eyes o’ Doom to get him to open up, but it doesn’t work at all (I chuckled, since it never worked on me, either). Fortunately, Bess isn’t above digging her nails/claws into his arm wound. He tells Sam and Dean about the cage match operation (which is also streamed live over the “dark web”) and how it’s to win money. Seems he has “three baby mamas” and needs to pay the bills.

He is, however, quite happy to give up the location of the club (Belgrade, MN, in a warehouse off Peach St.). As the Brothers leave, he starts to mock Dean about going in there with monsters and probably getting killed and Bess gives him an extra dig in the wound for it.

Outside, Garth is worried for the Brothers. He says he doesn’t think they can handle the hunt in their current condition (ugh, Dabb, so much). Dean flatly turns down his offer to come with them, saying that with their bad luck right now, they could get him killed and orphan his family. But then Dean gives a speech that, at the least, is pure Dean the way Ackles delivers it. Dean says that it doesn’t matter that they’re not at their best. With all the monsters in the club, innocent people are likely getting killed and it’s his and Sam’s job to stop that. So, what if they don’t have “the magic horseshoe [that Chuck yanked] out of our ass”? Dean doesn’t see any reason why they should stop saving people and hunting things because their skills are now “ordinary.” He just says, “Bring it!”

Rather than argue, Sam says, “What he said.”

Alas, this bravado won’t stick (because Dabb is determined to humiliate Dean especially with this storyline), but I think Dean’s reaction to losing all of his Hunter mojo is the most heroic thing in the entire show.

Garth does get them new spark plugs, though, and with that, the Impala is back in commission. Off to MN they go. They get there and scope out the place in broad daylight. Sam is so paranoid that he brings a first aid kit and everything else he can think of. Meanwhile, Dean is back to his usual fast food diet because I guess his teeth have already healed? Whatever.

Alas, their luck runs out when they go inside. Dean gets suddenly lactose intolerant due to the several cheese sandwiches he just ate and ends up puking in a grotty bathroom (this would usually go out the other end). So, he’s caught dead to rights by the manager and Sam gets knocked out. They end up in a cage.

The manager comes downstairs to gloat. He knows who they are. He introduces himself as “Cutty.” He’s a shapeshifter and he owns the club. He bring in another contestant, a huge guy named “Maul” and he’s a vampire. Cutty’s going to pit Sam and Dean against Maul.

Dean coolly says they’ve killed far worse monsters than Maul (and he’s right, so what the hell is this stupid plot even about?). Unfortunately, it doesn’t get them cut loose.

Cue a commercial advertising the Wraith who took down Bess’ cousin and advertising Maul’s cage match with Sam and Dean, for the club’s streaming show.

Later that night, the Wraith comes in for her match, while Sam and Dean wait in a cage. Dean manages to pull out a nail and starts trying to pick the lock. Thing is, he can’t. Neither can Sam. I call shenanigans – losing their luck and becoming normal wouldn’t mean they’d lose a lifetime of skills.

Dean is skeptical that Chuck will let them go out like this, though Sam figures Chuck could, at least, let them be paralyzed.

Dean: Not everything we did was because of Chuck.

He gives Sam a rousing speech about how they’ve been Hunting all their lives and they can do this, really. But after the previous match ends (with a Djinn choking out the Wraith), and the announcer starts up, he looks a lot more grim. And when Cutty comes in to get them (wanting them to fight with their shirts off), he finds their cells open and empty.

We get a quick recap of Garth showing up in the crowd, sneaking into the back, and letting the Brothers out. He rips off the locks with his werewolf strength. Gee, thanks, Dabb. There’s no way we could have figured that out without your Really Obvious Instant Replay.

Rather than trying to sneak out in any subtle way, Sam and Dean, with Garth trailing them, belt out right across the parking lot with Dean trying to strategize in mid-flight. Anybody could catch up with them. Garth’s twins could have caught up with them.

Garth then tells them he has a plan. The plan is to bomb the hell out of the club (after we get another instant replay of his laying C4 all over the place). Unfortunately, Maul then comes out. Garth wolfs out and goes up against him, but gets tossed into a car and knocked out.

First Dean and then Sam and then Dean try to fight Maul, without even grabbing any weapons. They’re slammed around. Dean is kicked in the balls and then choked. He manages to get Maul to let him go by tapping on his arm. Then Maul has his head split from behind by Garth with a machete. Garth then announces that Maul got garthed.

I legit facepalmed when I rewatched that. It was that bad.

Cut to Dean holding baby Castiel and Sam holding baby Sam, in Garth and Bess’ living room. Dean comments that baby Castiel keeps looking at him funny. Sam says that must be like the real Castiel, but Dean means that the kid keeps giving him werewolf eyes. He eventually just hands the kid off to Bess, who has packed him a bunch of cheese sandwiches.

Outside, some music starts up and I’m hopeful it’s 80s rock, but no, it’s just more generic soundtrack. The Brothers thank Garth for saving their lives and Dean calls him a real Hero. I throw up in my mouth a little.

Garth asks them what they’re going to do now, what with God himself after them. Sam says they don’t know. Garth then admits he knows of a place you can go in Alaska, between Barrow and Kotzebue (way up near the top of Alaska above the Arctic Circle), if you’ve lost your luck and you need it back. Someone once told him about it: “You’ll know it when you see it.”

Garth (unnecessarily) warns them that there’s always a catch and maybe they could get used to being “normal.” The Brothers, unsurprisingly, demur, since their lives aren’t normal and they have to take on Chuck, anyway. So, off they go to Alaska, but not before watching Garth (suddenly back inside the house) dancing with Bess to Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London.” Oh, look, some actual classic rock, albeit one they’ve used before.

Per his dream, Dean comments that he could have been a good dancer (while Sam looks pensive about his glimpse of normal) and Sam says that yeah, Dean was always good at the Macarena. Off they drive, but not before the Impala stalls out again and Dean yells, off-camera, “Son of a bitch!”

Credits

The show dropped to a 0.2/1 and dipped below a million (0.99 million) in audience for the first time ever. That gives you an idea of the poor reception this episode received.

The preview for the next episode, “The Gamblers” (15.11) is up. The episode aired on January 23, 2020. “Galaxy Brain” (15.12) comes back from hiatus next Monday on March 16.

Review: Buckle up, ’cause I’m about to do to this episode what Unfortunate Ethnic Butch Lesbian Stereotype Killer Wraith did to Boring Deadbeat Bio Werewolf Daddy Brad in the teaser. DJ Qualls coming out of the closet right before the episode aired didn’t help any with Killer Wraith’s portrayal (or Garth constantly hugging and sniffing Dean), especially since Garth is indisputably straight in the episode. But hey, dude, welcome to the LGBT fold, anyway.

For me, this episode is the nadir of the season so far and damned close to the worst for the entire show. It’s not just that it retcons the show’s blue collar premise, and denigrates the Brothers’ many achievements, by fatuously attributing them to some kind of “hero’s” luck. It’s not just that this entire retcon is in fanservice to giving Garth Sue, the ultimate Creator’s Pet, a cute send-off that makes no damned sense (by the logic of the show, he and his family should have died bloody).

It’s not just that said pattern of dumbing down the Brothers to make this grating guest character look good has been in place ever since Garth first appeared on the show (remember when Garth was immune to that (un)lucky penny when even the Brothers weren’t because his heart was pure or some such balderdash?). It’s not even that the MOTW (werewolves) is one of the lamest monsters the show ever did, certainly the lamest recurring monster they insist on bringing back, and that the premise of underground cage matches for non-human or super-human characters was already old and moldy when Dark Angel did it two decades ago. Hell, I did a Joe and Methos fanfic version of it for my Highlander series about 18 years ago that was frankly a lot more brutal than this episode and the idea was a cliche already, then.

No, it’s because so much of the above makes this episode a dog’s dinner that is nigh on unwatchable, especially the second time round. The only genuinely good part is Dean’s dance dream, which I suspect was something on Jensen Ackles’ wish list that they just tossed in there. The rest is … really bad. I don’t know when the writers intend to make this season actually good, but the second half of it starts after this episode, so they need to hurry up.

The episode is obviously intended to be a bit meta and a comedic, shmaltzy send-off for Garth. That doesn’t excuse its also being stuffed with splintered canon, unnecessary retcon, and lazy writing, most of it not very funny (Jensen Ackles and Padalecki tried very hard to goof it up, and may even have had fun doing so, but the writing still fell flat as a souffle pancake). For a start, Cutty and his audience know all about who Sam and Dean are, yet Brad the cousin doesn’t recognize them. He just thinks they look like Hunters for some random reason. Say, what, now? Make up your mind, writers.

The episode acts as though the entire storyline with alt-Michael never happened last season – hell, it completely ignores the alternate future monster apocalypse from last week. There are no souped-up monsters whatsoever. Even the club denizens are depressingly ordinary.

Garth blows up an entire building full of his fellow beasts with a cheery smile and there is no fallout whatsoever from his helping the Winchesters. Dean’s rationale (with which both Sam and Garth agree without demur) for raiding the club is completely counter-intuitive. The monsters are only killing other monsters and not intentionally. Why not let them work out their own aggressions on each other and kill each other off? Why go in at all, especially when the Brothers are under a curse?

Then there’s this stupid idea of “normal” that the show has. Since when does being normal mean you forget skills you learned with practice and have been using for forty years? Since when can’t the Brothers pick a lock? Or fight? And why does Dean get the brunt of this idiocy? None of it makes any sense and it’s a little heart-breaking to see these current writers (especially the current showrunner, who wrote this piece of dreck) not even try, anymore.

Garth did not need a cutesy send-off in the middle of a final season that should not have been loaded down with this much filler. And it didn’t need to look like this.

A note about the dance sequence. According to dancer and choreographer Christian Lagasse, he and another dancer were originally hired to double for DJ Qualls and Jensen Ackles, but the two actors did so well with it that they were able to learn the entire thing themselves in time to film it all. According to Qualls, Ackles learned the routine in an hour and patiently helped Qualls (who was terrified) with it. Qualls said he accidentally broke some lamps in his hotel room while practicing.

Let’s discuss the retcon. First, it was very unpopular with many fans, in a way the showrunners should have seen coming miles away (so it makes you wonder why they went this route). I get Chuck cursing them. That’s a logical step for a not-quite-omnipotent demiurge figure who’s afraid his favorite creations might actually deep-six him. But real, ordinary life, even in the SPNverse, looks nothing like what happened to Sam and Dean in this episode. We already know what this looks like – it looks like a curse.

Look, Sam and Dean have not been skipping out on ordinary life for 14 and a half seasons until Andrew Dabb, in his “infinite wisdom,” decided to introduce them to it. We’ve seen them deal with car trouble and have to walk into town (“Everybody Loves a Clown”). We’ve seen them deal with food poisoning (Dean in “Wishful Thinking” and there’s a bit in season seven involving them being hungry in the middle of nowhere, with only a spoiled egg salad sandwich left to eat). We know they get hungry and not-so-occasionally starve (the conversation about the Rougarou in “Metamorphosis”). We’ve seen them brush their teeth as a daily morning routine (a few hundred times in “Mystery Spot”). We’ve seen them deal with injuries major and minor (to the point where Sam’s head injuries have become a running gag and Dean once cut off his own cast after breaking his femur early in season seven).

We’ve watched them engage in car maintenance (many episodes, but especially “Fresh Blood”). We’ve watched them do their laundry (“The Monster at the End of this Book”). Until they were finally and definitively declared dead (pick your time), they were incessantly in trouble with the police and there was that time in the season three finale when Dean killed a possessed cop at a traffic stop over a broken tail-light. Every single weeChesters episode (of which we will get one more this season) involved a lot of waiting for Dad and experiencing boring, depressing, hungry lives in grotty motel rooms. And the show dials down their fighting skills all the time because the writers are too lazy to dial up the formidability of the monsters.

In fact, the original premise of the show involved two ordinary young men with no special powers (save for Sam’s visions) going up against supernatural creatures with powers that made them very dangerous to engage. Sure, Sam and Dean have upgraded a lot, but they have done so mostly by honing their skills and acquiring new weapons. Yes, they have discovered they were archangel vessels and whatnot, but the point here is that the arc of what they became is realistic in the context of the SPNverse. Their only real advantage was Chuck’s resurrecting them over and over again. And since the show has beings who are literally billions of years old, that’s not that big of a deal. I mean, just what do Dabb & Co. think Chuck was entertaining himself with in the 13.7 billion years before Sam and Dean showed up?

If this is truly what Dabb thinks constitutes the difference between a “hero” and an “ordinary person,” then he needs to stop ripping off the titles of books he never seems to have actually read and check out what Joseph Campbell actually wrote.

The character who is truly unrealistic in this episode, to the point of distorting the entire SPNverse out of shape to accommodate him, is Garth. Garth is a Mary Sue. Everyone is dumbed down to make him look good. This includes Sam and Dean. Garth is the one who gets into Hunting and survives despite being profoundly naive and stupid. Garth gets turned into a monster and abandons Kevin, yet still manages to get a happy ending with other monsters who are virtually indistinguishable from ordinary humans in their everyday lives. Garth gives the Brothers sage advice, even though the advice is really bad and he has no clue what he’s talking about. Nevertheless, the writers assure us that he is right.

And yes, against all SPNverse logic, Garth gets a happy ending. Not even Charlie, a truly blatant and obnoxious Mary Sue, got that. That’s why this is a terrible episode.

It’s as though Dabb has entirely forgotten that this is a horror show (the Nepotism Duo are perpetually clueless about this fact). As in the execrable 200th episode, “Fan Fiction,” the only on-screen kill we get is a monster – Maul (like Darth Maul, geddit? Hahahahaha). Garth also blows up a building full of monsters, but this is off-screen and Maul survived it, so I’m not sure that counts. No humans die. In fact, aside from Sam and Dean, the only human in the story is the clerk with psoriasis who declines Dean’s credit card at the beginning of the story.

Since the audience is looking for horror subtext in what is, at the end of the day, a horror story, we latch onto any moment of tonal disconnect. One such occurs when Bess and her daughter are giggling at Sam’s choking on the floor. I’m pretty sure it’s unintentional (because we’re supposed to like and root for Garth and his family), but it comes off as very creepy and colors more darkly how I perceive the entire family.

The whole episode suffers from logic dysfunction surrounding the ongoing discussion about a concept of “normal” dependent on obliviously ordinary human life (like that of the clerk in the beginning), when literally no one else in the story besides the clerk fits that category. In sociology, they use the term “normative” rather than “normal” because people’s concepts of “normal” are so heavily based on the specific culture from which they spring.

By basing his concept of “normal” in the episode on Swedish Middle America human “normal” rather than monster “normal,” Dabb keeps inadvertently exposing how fake that concept really is in light of how superficially it fits Garth and Bess. And this has got to be inadvertent because Garth and Bess’ “normal” and “ordinary” lives are contrasted in such an intentionally positive way with Sam and Dean’s screwed-up, abnormal, “heroic” lives.

Dabb might as well hang a lead weight on the audience’s suspension of disbelief at this point. In “The Heroes’ Journey” (and too often in this season, as with the whole “Ghosts in broad daylight with combat boots” deal at the beginning), that suspension comes crashing down. In the wake of it, we’re left with a bunch of guest stars and extras with plastic teeth (if that) and whatever sensawunda might have been built up evaporates. Every time Garth “wolfed out,” I snorted in laughter because he looked like a dork. I’ve been more horrified by Beatrix Potter than I was at any point in this episode.

I have to finish by talking about the classic rock – or should I say, its lack – this season. I didn’t mind “Let’s Misbehave” (and it would be really nice if that were foreshadowing for Dean doing some ass-kicking of Chuck down the line), and it was nice to hear “Werewolves of London” again (even if, like AC/DC’s “For Those About to Rock” in season nine’s “Slumber Party,” it’s been used twice now to cover up terrible writing and to send off Creator’s Pet characters many fans felt had overstayed their welcome), but this is the final season and there has been almost no classic rock whatsoever. They really couldn’t fit that into the damned budget? The sad piano in this one got mighty tired after a while and I’m really over that generic guitar riff. The least the showrunners could do is jazz up their crap final season with a better and more iconic soundtrack.

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


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The Official Supernatural: “The Trap” (15.09) Live Recap Thread


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Recap: Rather perfunctory recap of the story so far to a quite-decent, hard-rocking, and sadly short-lived Classic Rock song, “Hard Times in the Land of Plenty” by Omar and the Howlers from 1987. They sound quite a bit like AC/DC.

Cut to Now. We’re back in the casino (if you were wondering what happened to the cocktail waitress from the teaser last episode, she is neither seen nor mentioned in this one, so I guess we can consider her a goner. And the bodies of the others are all cleared up).

Sam wakes up tied to a chair by zip-ties, opposite Eileen, also zip-tied to a chair (yeah, I know, hardly original). Chuck shows up to gloat. Why Sam was unconscious or why Chuck needs to zip-tie his victims to chairs when he could just make them sit there with the power of his mind is simply not explained.

What is (over)explained is why Eileen just popped back up in the storyline this season. Turns out Chuck manipulated her and Sam into getting together and bringing her back from the dead so that she could be Chuck’s eyes and ears in the Bunker. At least Eileen wasn’t in on it (she’s devastated), so there’s that, but it’s still a lame way to explain her return. I’ll bet Berens (who wrote this episode) thought he was being clever, too. As he does.

Also, why does God need to use a human as his eyes and ears in the Bunker? Hello? He’s omniscient.

Chuck Evil Overlord Monologues that he can’t go to any other timelines or worlds as long as he and Sam are tied together by the God Wound. So, he whips out a scalpel and says, “All good things come to an end.”

Cue title cards.

Dean and Castiel are in the Bunker getting ready to go to Purgatory. Dean is worrying about not being able to get hold of Sam and Eileen when Eileen manages to make a call on her phone while Chuck is distracted trying to cut the piece of himself out of Sam (and again, why did Chuck actually have to hear Dean’s voice answering before he noticed?). This act of subterfuge elicits Chuck rather reluctantly taking the call (after mocking Eileen for what was actually a pretty damned good idea) and talking to Dean briefly (“Hi Dean. Bye, Dean”). He then smashes the phone by throwing it across the room, ending the call.

But it’s not enough to keep Dean from tracking the phone to Milford, NE. Dean’s surprised to see Chuck’s in a casino. Castiel is growing impatient because they only have a few hours to go to Purgatory and get the Leviathan Flower (gee, this wouldn’t have been an issue if Sam and Eileen had refrained from going off on a hunt together in the middle of tracking down Michael and trying to persuade him to fight God).

Castiel yells at Dean and calls him “stupid.” He says they don’t have any weapons against Chuck they could use, so they have to go to Purgatory to get the last ingredient for Michael’s spell. He says that Chuck won’t kill Sam (neither of them mentions poor Eileen), even though Dean protests that Chuck will torture him, so Dean reluctantly agrees to go.

At this point, if I never hear the word “Destiel” again, it will be too damned soon. This “friendship” is ugly and toxic and abusive, and Castiel needs to piss off far, far away to be with characters he can’t beat up on. Dabb & Co. have done a pretty thorough job of ruining his character the past few years.

Back at the casino, Chuck is stalling. It seems he can’t actually cut into Sam because Plot Reasons (The Power of the Writer compels you!). It takes a while for Sam to notice. Once he does, he’s dumb enough to call Chuck out and mock him. Eileen gets in on it and calls Chuck “pathetic.”

That doesn’t go over too well. Chuck forces Eileen to cut into Sam instead. In the process, neither of them finds out why Chuck couldn’t cut into Sam.

In Purgatory, Dean and Castiel arrive at night. Dean checks his phone, which has a timer on it, and complains about Michael’s vagueness on what a Leviathan Blossom looks like (and the two of them talk about not ever seeing any flowers in Purgatory during their year there, so they are experts). He then mentions hoping to encounter Benny (who Dean figures probably rules Purgatory now) and suggests they split up to save time on the search.

Castiel takes great offense at this actually-pretty-sensible suggestion and says it’s too risky. Hey, remember when Castiel bailed on Dean as soon as they hit Purgatory the first time and Dean spent a year looking for him, mostly all by himself? Yeah, shut up, Cas.

By the way, they’re already being watched.

Back at the casino, we’re getting a very boring torture scene as Eileen is forced to stab Sam and poke around in his wound, while Chuck strums a guitar nearby. As Sam tries to reassure Eileen and makes really stupid, provoking remarks about how Chuck doesn’t actually know what he’s doing or looking for, Chuck gets frustrated. Putting the guitar aside, he stands up and yells, “Son of a bitch!” He finally lets Eileen stop carving and go wash up, then heals the wound to its previous state.

Chuck is frustrated that Sam is still “defiant” (well, it’s not as though he has any reason to be anything else). He decides that the reason Sam is able to “stop” him from probing the wound is “hope,” that Sam is convinced that Dean and Castiel will burst in and save him. “You still think you’re the Hero of this story. You still think you can win.”

Back in Purgatory, it’s still night, and Dean and Castiel are still being monstervisioned. They argue over whether or not they are going round in circles (the debate centers on the identity of a monster corpse, but surely, the glowing rift would be a clue). Then the monster decides to stalk them. It looks like a scruffy-looking dude until he shows Leviathan jaws and attacks.

Castiel TK’s the Leviathan across the clearing. This is a major retcon – it was a huge plot point in season seven that angels’ powers didn’t work on Leviathan. Watch the show, Berens. You get paid enough.

Anyhoo, it turns out to have been a trap when Dean sardonically allows that yeah, maybe it was a different corpse. Seems he was acting as bait. The intent was to attract, capture and interrogate a Leviathan. Dean quickly gets out of the monster that Leviathan Blossoms grow out of a dead Leviathan – but, the monster is quick to add as Dean makes a move to behead him, only after the corpse has been left to rot for months. Dean drags it to its feet and makes it go ahead of them.

Dean takes the opportunity to ask about Benny. The Leviathan claims that Benny was murdered by his own vampire kin, but sounds dodgy when it says it. In fact, everything this Leviathan says and does sounds dodgy, though Dean does look disappointed at the news. So was I. That’s a damned cheap way to kill an iconic and beloved character offscreen, Show.

Back to the casino, where Chuck is correcting Sam that no, he doesn’t really want to “win” and put Chuck away. Or, at least, he wouldn’t if he knew the stakes. Chuck claps his hands and Sam finds himself in the Bunker on April 17, 2020, at 12:01 PM (they do a typo where they call it “April 17th.” It should be either “April 17” or “the 17th of April”).

A future Sam and Eileen are sitting in the library. Eileen has found an article called “Mystery of Missing Florida Man Solved.” The lead she was following up turned out to be a man who was eaten by a gator.

Sam turns around to find Dean sitting behind him, also on a laptop, napping. When Sam suggests Dean go to bed if he’s tired, Dean insists he’s not sleepy. Castiel comes in with beers. Everything looks good. So far.

Dean suggests a Movie Night when Sam gets a call from Jody Mills and puts it on speaker phone. Cut to her in her car, wounded. It turns out she and Claire were out on a hunt against what was “supposed to be a little nest” of vampires. Well, it wasn’t and now Claire is dead. So much for Movie Night.

Sam wakes up back in the casino as if from a nightmare. Chuck now holds up a stop watch that can be set to tell the future, claiming that this is “only the beginning.”

Sam claims that nothing Chuck shows him will convince him to lose hope. I roll my eyes and remember all the other times Sam folded like a cheap suit. Chuck knows it, too. Remember that conversation in “The Monster at the End of This Book” about demon blood in season four?

Back to Purgatory, where Castiel commiserates with Dean about Benny’s alleged death, right behind the Leviathan who can hear every word. [sigh] Weren’t they being clever just five minutes ago? Castiel gets all pissy again about his previous non-apologies and his continued inability to apologize because he’d rather leave than face Dean’s anger. Charming.

Cut to another flashforward, this one from January 6, 2021, at 9:09 PM. Sam and Dean are driving past a bunch of fires at night, both of them looking battered. Dean is trying to cheer Sam up after a particularly bad fight and Sam isn’t having it (and what is up with Jared Padalecki’s acting in this one? There is a lot more huffing and puffing and shoulder/neck-rolling than usual. It’s distracting in a not-good way).

This time, the defeat was at the hands of werewolves, though it seems to have been more of a failure to save the werewolves’ victims. The main point brought up in this scene, though, is that Castiel is no longer with them and Dean doesn’t want to talk about it. Well, that and Dean’s statement: “They’re winning, Sam. The monsters are winning.”

Sitting in the back, a horrified Past!Sam is holding the watch, so I guess he’s bouncing back and forth on his own. I’m also guessing this is intended to be Sam’s version of “The End” from season five. Ugh.

In Purgatory, Dean and Castiel arrive with their unwilling guide on a plain or beach where a bunch of Leviathan skeletons (skeletons?! Since when does black oil have a skeleton?) with ugly-ass blooms growing from them lie. I’m curious to know about what kind of battle occurred here (or if maybe this was that time Dean and Castiel took on a bunch of Leviathans in front of the natural rift Dean used to escape in season eight), but that would actually be interesting, so the show’s not having it.

When Dean tells Castiel to go grab a blossom (since Dean has the shotgun full of Borax shells), Castiel gets trapped by an angel trap that’s drawn in plain sight on the ground (facepalm – yes, really, we get an overhead shot for emphasis). Dean draws down on the Leviathan, but as the Leviathan says that Eve (you know, who’s been dead for years) wants revenge on Castiel, of all characters, for killing her Alphas, and that “we” are going to bring Castiel to her, Dean and Castiel simultaneously realize there’s one behind Dean. Dean turn and kills one, but gets coldcocked by another that comes out of nowhere in the middle of open ground. He wakes up alone.

Hang on – what? The person Eve “had a beef” with was Dean, not Castiel. Dean’s the one who killed more than one Alpha and who killed her in season seven (Crowley’s autopsy of her later confirmed that she was quite dead). Plus, even if they didn’t want to just leave him there, the Leviathans would have been stupid not to kill him while he was unconscious.

Well … they didn’t. They even left him his shotgun full of shells that could do them harm. Though they did take all the Leviathan Blossoms, which I presume were bait for the trap.

Back to the boring flashforwards. This one is to November 3, 2021, at 11:42 AM (giving the times, which the titles do down to the second, seems pointless, but okay). Sam is loading up for a hunt and Dean’s really not into it. Dean points out that they just barely got back from a hunt, but Sam insists that if they don’t go out and hunt more vampires, the nest they’ve been following “will just move on.”

Dean says, “It doesn’t matter.” He says they need to “stand down.” They’ve lost “pretty much everyone we ever cared about.” Donna and the girls are dead, so is Eileen. Jody and alt-Bobby have death wishes (and so does Sam, Dean mournfully notes). Castiel went nuts from bearing the Mark of Cain and Dean had to bury him in a Ma’lak Box. They’re not even able to save victims, anymore, because there are so many monsters and most of the Hunters who are still alive have given up. You would think that Past!Sam would start to clue in at this point that maybe Chuck is telling him a fairy story (Chuck has certainly told fish stories in the past), since Dean’s not a quitter, but nope.

When Future!Sam asks, “Whatever happened to going down swinging?” Dean just says, “We lost. I’m done,” and leaves the room as Future!Sam calls after him. Past!Sam says out loud that it’s a lie and that he doesn’t believe Chuck, but it’s clear that he does.

Chuck pops up to gloat. Chuck claims he’s just showing Sam “the truth” and gifting him with some of his “omniscience.” Sam insists that Dean would never give up and Chuck argues that Dean would. In the process, Sam never notices that Chuck is claiming to be something (omniscient) that he admitted earlier in the episode he isn’t, or at least no longer is. If Chuck can’t see inside the Bunker without a spy, then he can’t see a “true” future, either. So, Sam never catches Chuck out in his lie.

Back in Purgatory, Dean is wandering around in the woods, looking panicked. He has reason to be. When he pulls out his phone to look at the timer, he has less than half an hour left (I couldn’t help thinking this was a subconscious tic with Berens: “I still have to figure out what to write for the next 17 minutes in the script”). What is he going to do?

Fortunately, Dean is more resourceful than his brother (yes, I said that out loud). He decides to pray to Castiel. Unfortunately, the speech consists of Dean apologizing to Castiel for being angry and letting him leave in a huff (because this is all somehow Dean’s fault). Dean proceeds to grovel and say he was wrong. He even gets choked up and cries on his knees. I think I’m gonna hurl. What’s especially depressing is the number of fans who thought this scene was wonderful and deeply moving, instead of emotionally manipulative writing that aids and abets abusive behavior from Castiel.

I did like, though, how Jensen then plays Dean going “okay,” then simply pulling himself together, standing up, and moving on. Thank God (so to speak) for at least one character in this script who doesn’t wallow.

Cut to another flashforward: November 3, 2021, at 12:26 PM. Dean is sitting in a chair in the Bunker and he is beyond done (interesting how, at no time in any of these flashforwards, does Chuck put Sam inside Dean’s head where Sam could see what his brother is thinking and feeling. I think the only time that ever happened was last season when Sam and Castiel were trying to break alt-Michael’s hold over Dean). Sam comes in and he’s geared up to hunt. He wants to make a suicidal run on a vampire nest, even if he has to do it alone. Dean has a good, solid drink of whiskey, comments that he doesn’t have a choice, and goes with him. There’s a confusing bit that seems to be at two different times, where we see Dean go off to get ready and then the two of them leave the Bunker later, with Future!Sam only then having some last-minute thoughts.

Chuck comments that Future!Dean should have trusted his gut, as Dean slams the door one final time. Past!Sam insists on using the watch, but it won’t go any further. Chuck suggests that’s because it’s as far as the watch goes – i.e., that Sam and Dean died in the nest hunt. Oh, and no, we’re not even going to get to see that because this is very much a bottle show episode.

Cut to Dean staggering through Purgatory, with less than three minutes left, to the rift. Imagine his surprise when he finds Castiel there, hiding behind a tree. They hug. Castiel says he went along with the Leviathan until he managed to get hold of one of the blossoms, started a fight, and escaped. His head is bloody. Dean congratulates him for getting the macguffin. Dean starts to grovel again, but Castiel beats him to the punch and says he heard his prayer. All is forgiven. Ugh.

Cut to a final flashforward on December 9, 2022, at 3:11 AM. Dean and Sam, looking shabby (well, it has been over a year), are holed up in a grotty apartment and barricading the door. Sam points out that they’re outnumbered, but Dean is committed to going down swinging, like Butch and Sundance. Confused, Past!Sam looks at the watch, which is still frozen at the previous date.

The killers Sam and Dean are expecting come up the stairs in two groups, one in SWAT-type gear and the other … consists of alt-Bobby and Jody. They are all heavily armed. Alt-Bobby asks Jody if she really wants to participate in this hunt, since it’s Sam and Dean.

What little mystery there is left resolves upstairs where we see Dean and Sam show vampire teeth. They’re a bit florid about it (rumor has it Ackles and Padalecki were so skeptical of Sam and Dean going out like this that they hammed it up like Christmas dinner).

The door busts open and the first two Hunters are easily taken out. Sam stabs his, while Dean throws the other one out the window. Jody comes in and shoots Sam with a dead man’s blood bullet, incapacitating him. Pissed, Dean flips her over onto a mattress and chews out her throat, killing her. He’s not in time, though, to stop alt-Bobby from beheading Sam.

Past!Sam wakes up back in the casino with a gasp. Chuck is still gloating (le sigh). Chuck claims that it makes him sad to see Sam and Dean go out like that and that they still matter to him. He still cares. Mmkay.

Sam asks about Eileen. Chuck says she’s fine, that he has her “powered down in a broom closet” (lovely, not misogynistic at all), and tells Sam not to change the subject. Sam points out that Chuck wants Dean and him to end up like Cain and Abel and kill each other. At first, Chuck tries to gaslight Sam by claiming that Sam doesn’t know what he saw of Chuck’s visions, then just goes straight to how isn’t that ending better than their turning into monsters and getting killed by their friends while the world ends flooded by hungry monsters (the world ends when they kill each other, anyway, so … no)?

Cut to the Bunker, where Dean and Castiel are making up the banishing spell against Chuck. Castiel says a spell in Enochian, then goes to cut his hand to take on the Mark that will imprison Chuck. Dean demurs, but Castiel says that Dean’s already had the Mark, so he can’t take it again (well, that’s what Chuck claimed, anyway). After he cuts his hand, a cloud rises up from the bowl with the spell contents to fill a glass sphere that Castiel holds over the bowl, turning it opaque. Castiel then says that as he has the Mark, he can’t break the sphere – Dean or Sam will have to do it – and then puts it in his own pocket, anyway.

Back in the casino, Sam’s starting to break, as we all knew he would. He tries to be defiant and says he and Dean will find a way to defeat Chuck. Chuck is too high on his own press to care, saying that there’s no way they can win, that Sam has no idea, still, how most of the SPNverse works (and whose fault is that, writers?).

Then he drives home his main point for showing Sam the “future,” which is that if they put him away as he did Amara, darkness will take over the world, in the form of monsters. The reason? Chuck won’t be there to keep the Natural Order going. Hmm, could’ve sworn Death was the one who maintained the Natural Order and the SPNverse has been doing okay without Chuck for quite some time, but okay.

This whole line of reasoning makes no sense to me. First of all, putting Amara away didn’t disrupt the balance of Light and Dark, but also, there is more to darkness in the SPNverse than monsters. In fact, the monsters are a fairly small part of it. What about the demons? What about Rowena as Queen of Hell? What about Garth and his family? Do they all break bad with Chuck locked away? For that matter, what happened to all the monsters in “Bloodlines” – you know, that craptastic would-be backdoor pilot Dabb came up with a few years back? We’re pretending that never happened, now?

Sometime later, Castiel walks into the casino with Dean. Dean finds Sam and starts to cut him loose. Dean then gets clobbered by a distressed Eileen, who is being puppeteered by Chuck, but Castiel tackles her. Dean gets up and encounters Chuck, whom Dean immediately punches. It doesn’t have much effect, but Dean says, “You know I had to.” Chuck shrugs this off with a “me, too” and knocks Dean across the room.

Sam gets his other arm free and Castiel, basically for reasons of Plot Stupidity, rolls the spell ball to him, with no idea what kind of state Sam might be in and having just seen that Chuck is using Eileen as a puppet.

So, Castiel has some real egg on his face when, instead of destroying it and imprisoning Chuck, Sam just drops the ball and lets it roll to Chuck’s foot. When Dean demands to know what Chuck did to him, Chuck smugly says that the “short version” is that Sam “lost hope” (which translates to “Got the Idiot Ball this episode”). Sam winces and Chuck acts out almost orgasmically as their bullet holes heal and he is freed of his tether to Sam. Dean shouts in horror as Chuck destroys the spell ball (shouldn’t anybody, even Chuck, destroying the spell ball imprison him?).

Dean, bitter and uncowed, gets up and asks what Chuck intends to do now, since obviously, he won’t be “dusting” the Brothers. Chuck sneers that maybe he will. Dean points out that won’t happen because Sam got inside Chuck’s “galaxy brain” and “got a look at your drafts.” Chuck insists that they were actually alternate timelines, that those versions of Sam and Dean thought they’d never end up killing each other as he wanted, but they did. But that completely negates what he just told Sam about how there was only one way things could go if he got locked away – oh, never mind. Canon-and-plot-logic-wise, this episode has long since turned into a raging dumpster fire in the middle of a Cat 5 hurricane, anyway.

As Sam cringes and looks totally cowed, Dean coldly stalks up to Chuck, looms over him, and tells him that things will be a tad different in this timeline: “No. Not this Sam. Not this Dean. So, you go back to Earth-2 and play with your other toys. ‘Cause we will never give you the ending that you want.”

Chuck looks Dean up and down and says, “We’ll see.” But he looks intimidated and rather than smite Dean, immediately vanishes.

This is by far the best part of a frustrating episode because the obvious subtext is that if the SPNverse can’t survive God being killed or imprisoned, then the clear solution is that Chuck needs to be replaced. I’m sure the show will try to tell us (at least for a while) that Jack Sue can replace Chuck, but there’s no way that could work. Jack is a gullible child who is easily fooled and throws tantrums in which he dusts even people he cares about. And that was before he lost his soul. If he took Chuck’s place, he would turn the SPNverse into an absolute nightmare reminiscent of Jerome Bixby’s “It’s a Good Life.”

Nah, my money’s on the person who has stood up to Chuck every time and told him to piss off this episode. You know, the one Chuck covertly fanboys and been trying to assassinate by proxy for at least half a season, but lacks the cosmic balls to do it directly.

Anyhoo, in the coda back at the Bunker, Eileen understandably wants to get the hell out of there, and put as much distance between her and the Winchesters as she can. Chuck has so thoroughly gaslit her that she has no idea what’s real or not, anymore. Even though Sam kisses her and insists that’s real, and they share a tender moment, she still bails. And I’m like, Girl, get out now while the goin’s still good.

After she leaves, Sam enters the kitchen, where Dean and Castiel are sitting, Dean drinking whiskey. Sam says that he still believes what Chuck showed him and Dean accepts that, though Castiel looks very skeptical. Dean and Castiel both figure Chuck will come back. Sam wonders what they can do to stop him if they can’t kill or trap him. Dean insists they will find another way.

Cut to Jack Sue in the Empty (a character I most certainly did not miss) being told by Billie, “It’s time.”

Credits

The show went up a little in its final January return to a 0.3/2 and 1.13 million in audience. Not the greatest ratings on the planet, but the sad thing is that they’re still better than the ratings for most of the other CW shows this season.

The preview for the next episode, “The Heroes’ Journey” (15.09) is up .

Review: Well … that happened. I guess we got some answers, but they were thin on the ground and much at the subtextual level, especially, was vague and contradictory. A lot doesn’t add up in this episode and it feels much more like lazy writing than foreshadowing of anything satisfying down the road. For example, it was obvious the only good plot reason for Sam to give up the ball was because the Mark would end up driving Castiel (Berens’ personal favorite character) nuts, sooner than later. But that’s a pretty lame reason in-story on balance with other things.

Poor Rob Benedict has been given the thankless task of trying to make Chuck work as a supervillain and Lord knows he’s trying. But every time Chuck starts gassing on about his “favorite show,” it makes it that much more embarrassingly obvious the writers of this one have mentally checked out of the story.

I’m not sure what was going on with Jared Padalecki (though this is, apparently, the episode he was filming when he got arrested for drunk and disorderly), but I found his acting really distracting in this episode. There was a lot of squirming and gurning and twitching that detracted from whatever performance he was trying to give. Since it was a Sam-heavy episode, that undercut my suspension of disbelief about the bigger plotholes and out-of-character moments. Admittedly, it didn’t help that the writing gave poor Sam the exact opposite response to seeing the future that “The End” allowed Dean, but still. Not his best week on set.

The basic structure was not unlike that for “All Hell Breaks Loose, Part I.” That episode has long lived in the shadow of its sequel, “All Hell Breaks Loose, Part II,” thanks to the consequences of the cliffhanger (Sam’s death in Dean’s arms) and Dean’s subsequent demon deal. There’s a good reason for that. In “All Hell Breaks Loose, Part I,” as you may recall, Sam is transported to a deserted Old West town where the surviving Psykids have been gathered for a Battle Royale situation. In the end, There Can Be Only One (and it won’t be Duncan Macleod).

The B story, in contradiction to how these things usually go, is the one where the characters in it are actually traveling to find Sam, rather than the case where the traveling/quest story is the A story and the bottle show story (Sam’s) is the B story. So, we have Dean trying to find and rescue Sam (as in this episode), while Sam is struggling to survive (not very successfully) and having Great Revelations in the Plot set before him with not much effort, like a banquet. Not a surprise, then, that “All Hell Breaks Loose, Part I,” aside from its cliffhanger (where the resolution of Dean’s quest meets up with the resolution of Sam’s), isn’t very memorable.

I suspect that “The Trap,” in which the writers once again demonstrate that they don’t understand why Purgatory was such a popular storyline, will prove equally forgettable because the future that Chuck shows Sam just isn’t very interesting. By far, the creepiest moment is when the watch stops and it’s ruined by obvious questions like “Why didn’t they just take the vampire cure?”

It was especially unfortunate that the show made no attempt to explore the sense of betrayal Sam must have felt after a lifetime of praying to God. That would actually have been interesting, but nope. The way Sam was written and acted, it was just another day at the office, getting tortured by a Big Bad with an overinflated ego.

If anything, I felt a lot sorrier for Eileen. Imagine growing up an orphan, becoming a Hunter, going to Hell even though you’re not evil, getting a lucky break and escaping, resurrecting, getting with a hot Hunter boyfriend … only to discover it’s all a manipulation to turn you into a honey trap to get said boyfriend away from his brother – since Chuck knows full well that Sam’s spine and moral center turn to sauerkraut whenever he’s not around Dean. That’s gotta suck for her, to find out that she was never anything more than the Girlfriend character, even in-verse.

The inevitable failure of Sam to stand up to Chuck (because, all the showrunners’ efforts aside, Sam’s self-absorption and inability to rise to the occasion without a ton of glorification are hard-baked into his character) is too well-telegraphed for there to be any tension there. Dean had the same temptation in “The End” and told Zachariah “no,” anyway, but Sam has never had that kind of inner strength to get up and spit what looks like inevitable and overwhelming defeat right in the eye.

In fact, Sam doesn’t even notice a really obvious flaw in Chuck’s manipulation – the “future” Chuck shows Sam does not extend past Sam’s own death as a vampire. But in that future, Dean survives, albeit as a vampire who has killed all his friends (there’s no way alt-Bobby could take on a pissed off and grieving Vamp!Dean and win). Yet, Sam demonstrates that he couldn’t care less about the brother he got vamped (Dean didn’t want to go on that hunt and warned Sam against it) past his own death. Charming.

I also was unsettled by the writers’ easy switch-up in morality from their usual “Monsters are people, too” shtick that they like to use to shame Dean for his “intolerance,” to this episode’s “No, if you get turned into monster, you might as well be dead.”

Sam also doesn’t pay very much attention to Chuck’s admissions of weakness and even cuts him off to mock him instead of exploring them some more. Admittedly, these weaknesses don’t make much sense in light of what we already know about Chuck, but that should have made them even bigger red flags for Sam that he could have used to resist and to use for a plan later on.

For example, why does Chuck, who is an omniscient being (you know, the SPNverse version of God), need a spy in the Bunker? Why can’t he use Sam or Castiel? I mean, I can kind of see Dean not being a useful spy, considering that Dean has proven to be resistant to Chuck in a lot of (vaguely defined, unfortunately) ways in the past. But Sam has a connection with Chuck in which he can see what Chuck is doing and some of Chuck’s memories. So, there’s really no logical reason Chuck can’t do the same with Sam, the way alt-Michael could with Dean while still hiding inside him last season.

Also, why use Eileen, especially since Chuck straight-up taps her deafness as a restriction he doesn’t like or want? Why not use one of the Wayward cast? What about her makes her his special puppet? The logic regarding what Chuck could and could not do, and why he was doing certain things, was flimsy and didn’t hold up to even moderate scrutiny. The show has used the “It’s because Chuck is a hack writer” one too many times to Chuck ex machina themselves out of corners they had no business writing themselves into in the first place. Bad writing is still bad writing.

I gotta say that I legit laughed when Chuck told Sam, “You still think you’re the Hero of this story.” Regardless of what Berens meant (and I’m sure he didn’t mean it the way it came out), Sam was not the actual Hero of this episode. He was the Damsel in Distress and a Soft Antagonist (because he was dumb enough to believe Chuck at the end and give up the weapon that could take him down) who needed to be rescued. By this, I mean that Sam was not able to free himself or oppose Chuck in any meaningful way alone, not the way Dean was able to force alt-Michael to go into hiding inside his head (all alone) or kill both a god and a former, very formidable friend and Hunter (again, all alone), or even basically rampage through Purgatory, looking for Castiel for a year (again, all alone – until he found himself a friend and ally who was so impressed by his badassery that they decided to join up). It wasn’t until Dean and Castiel showed up, and Dean faced off with Chuck, that the conflict really came to a head – of course, that was the end of the episode by then.

I don’t really expect to see much come out of this, since it’s a rather obvious cop-out (Dean does something badass; monsters flee) the writers have been using of late with no intention of following it up because somebody in the writers room/showrunning department really doesn’t like Dean being the Hero of the story. But I did find it interesting the way they filmed Dean’s confrontation with Chuck.

The director used the height differential between Jensen Ackles and Rob Benedict to interesting effect. Even though Chuck now appeared to have all the cards, having gotten loose of his tie from Sam (which turned out to be much ado about nothing for nine episodes), even though Benedict didn’t give any visible indication of Chuck backing down in his expression (which was a sneer), Chuck did back down. Instead of smiting Dean, he responded with a quiet but defiant “We’ll see” to Dean’s speech about how this version of Sam and Dean were not going to give Chuck what he wanted, before vanishing to a more amenable world. In other words, Brave Sir Chuck ran away.

There was even a callback to the late (again), not-lamented Lilith’s comment about Chuck’s “pervy obsession” with Dean in things like Chuck exclaiming “Son of a bitch!” (Dean’s classic tagline). It would be cool to read more into this obsession with Dean than the show’s already supplied, but as the time rapidly approaches to either fish or cut bait, the writers continue to dither about it and advance it at a glacial pace.

Another, pretty major flaw Sam fails to notice while his head is stuck up his own ass this week is that locking up either Chuck or Amara does not disrupt the balance of Light and Dark, as Chuck claims it does during his Magical Mystery Tour into the future. Locking up Amara did not disrupt the balance at all, therefore neither will locking up Chuck. Somewhat in Sam’s defense, it’s not entirely clear whether Sam the character in the show forgot this, or the writers did (or retconned it and expected us to forget).

The writers really seem to be struggling with writing a supervillain who is omnipotent and omniscient, so they keep giving Chuck odd limitations that he shouldn’t have. But either way, it makes Sam’s big decision to give up the spell Dean and Castiel damned near got killed making that much more slap-worthy.

It also makes Castiel’s snapping at Dean about Dean wanting to go rescue Sam and Eileen that much more irritating. In the end, the entire trip to Purgatory (which was suspiciously easy, anyway) was pointless, thanks to Sam deciding to lose hope or whatever the hell he thought he was doing. Especially bizarre was the off-screen (apparent) death of Benny and Eve’s resurrection.

So, Eve (who had a final death on earth in season seven and hasn’t been seen or heard from since) is back – and back in charge of Purgatory – but Benny is really dead-dead for real, honest-to-Chuck-pinky-swear, and this is just a throwaway line in the whole thing? Dean was the one who killed Eve, but Castiel’s the one she wants to punish? I can sort of see Castiel having no say in being led off after Dean got knocked out, but why didn’t the Leviathans at least finish Dean off while he was unconscious? And isn’t anybody in this entire scenario remotely suspicious of how conveniently timed Castiel’s escape was?

Will we ever hear about any of this again? Considering the entire trip was a red herring to keep Dean and Castiel from confronting Chuck until the very end, after Sam lost hope or whatever, I’m guessing we won’t.

The one thing from the Purgatory adventure we will probably hear about endlessly from now on is that truly nauseating “prayer” Dean made to Castiel. On the one hand, it was a pretty clever and quick way to find Castiel. On the other hand, Castiel’s smug and entitled response was yet another black mark on his side of the ledger. It never ceases to amaze me how writers like Robert Berens manage to wreck their favorite characters by propping them up like that.

The main point of contention here is not Dean’s anger, but what caused Dean’s anger – that Castiel has consistently chosen Jack Sue over Dean, to the point that Castiel made a deal with the Empty Entity he still hasn’t ‘fessed up about and tried to protect Jack after Jack murdered Dean’s mother. And it’s straight-up nonsensical to take the view that Castiel doesn’t have to apologize for anything because he, Dean and Sam are “parenting” Jack together, so they’re all always going to put Jack first. That is not the way co-parenting works. Co-parenting does not justify domestic violence.

Think of a real-life situation. A teenage male named Jack has just thrown a tantrum, murdered someone, then murdered his adopted paternal grandmother, who doted on him even over her own biological son, Dean, because she had a problem with the first murder. Mama Cas, who had adopted her troubled nephew Jack against her husband’s wishes, had previously seen her son kill a pet, but had hidden it from everyone because she didn’t want him to get into trouble. After he killed Grandma, Mama Cas was sad, but continued to protect Jack because she loved him so and hey, Grandma was only an in-law, anyway. Mama Cas still continued to protect Jack as he went on a killing spree, whacking anyone who got in his way. And after he got killed, Mama Cas grieved terribly and blamed her husband Dean for the death.

How would we feel about Mama Cas? We’d want Mama Cas to take a long walk off a short pier over a volcano, that’s what.

These are not small points of contention. Until Castiel chooses Dean over Jack Sue again, this bromance (let alone anything like a romance) ain’t happening. It’s mortally wounded by Castiel’s selfishness, treachery, abusiveness and entitlement. The writers can make Dean grovel and forgive Castiel as many times as they like, but it won’t change the fact that until Castiel changes, there ain’t no “there” there for Dean to forgive. It’s Castiel’s character conflict, not Dean’s, and only Castiel can resolve it by changing his ways.

These fatal writing flaws are not that uncommon. Remember soap opera superstar couple Luke and Laura from General Hospital in the 1980s? Even at the height of their popularity, there were still fans of the show who had issues with the Luke and Laura phenomenon. They, quite rightly, were saying “But he raped her. You can’t love someone you’re willing to rape. Rape is not a sign of love, quite the opposite.”

Similarly, Castiel has consistently chosen other people and his own “blood” family (the angels and Heaven) over Dean. Sure, from time to time, he puts Dean first, but it’s not at all something Dean can rely on and Castiel hasn’t done that at all for years. Since Jack Sue was written in, Castiel has very consistently chosen Jack over Dean every time, up to and including protecting Jack from Dean after Jack murdered Dean’s mother.

That’s not love. Or, to be more clear, that’s not love for Dean. Dean deserves better than someone who only occasionally has his back (that includes Sam, who can’t wait to hang out with anyone but Dean, unless Dean actually wants to go have a life of his own). Who is willing to choose anyone, even Dean’s own brother, over Dean. It’s disturbing that a bunch of straight teenage female fans think that’s a healthy portrayal of a gay couple. It’s even more disturbing that a gay male writer is willing to cater to them.

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


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The Official Supernatural: “Our Father Who Aren’t In Heaven” (15.08) Live Recap Thread


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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.

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Recap: We get a Then recap heavy on Adam (remember him?) and the season so far, including Chuck going dark and Eileen coming back from the dead.

Cut to Now. In a casino, while Henry Ford’s 1971 soul ballad “Take Me For What I Am” plays on the soundtrack, a young cocktail waitress in a nice silver dress is fearfully picking her way past and over the dead bodies of her patrons, bosses, and coworkers. She’s carrying a drink on a tray to a man at the slot machines who is winning every time. It’s Chuck.

When he takes the drink from her, he asks her if she laid off putting in so much rum this time. She says yes with a strangely optimistic smile, then closes her eyes briefly in terror when Chuck comments that’s good because she wouldn’t want to make him “cranky.” He tells her to “keep ’em comin’.” As she heads back to the bar, we get an overhead shot of all the dead people in the casino.

Cue title cards.

Cut to Eileen getting the worst of it in a back alley fight with a werewolf. She loses her pistol, but manages to get away in time to pull a very large knife. When she lunges back out, though, she almost gets Sam (and shouts his name in irritation). He blocks the blade and she shoves him to one side, just in time to stab the werewolf directly behind him. Sam looks a little winded by nearly getting stabbed.

Eileen quickly susses out that Sam was shadowing her (because she hadn’t left a note she was going on a hunt). While she declares this sweet, she also calls him out for being “overprotective.” Sam’s pissy response betrays an awful lot about his true feelings regarding gender roles.

Eileen just shrugs and walks off. Sadly, this will be one of the last times we see her being an independent badass.

Back at the Bunker, she’s having a hamburger, while Sam eats a healthy chicken salad. Dean comes in with something wrapped in a cloth. He thinks he has the solution they’ve been looking for to contain Chuck. He sets it on the table and flips open the cloth. It’s the Demon Tablet.

Sam is skeptical, Eileen confused. This makes possible an infodumpy reminder for the audience about what the Demon Tablet is and how someone (Kevin doesn’t get a mention) once translated it.

Dean’s theory, in a nutshell, is that Chuck dictated the Tablets so that humans could use them against demons and angels if he were “out of commission.” Dean thinks that since Chuck dictated these before he left Heaven, the implication of their existence is that Chuck is not “invincible.”

Astonished, Sam comments that Chuck has “an Achilles Heel.” There follows a rather stupid “joke” at Dean’s expense that Dean doesn’t recognize the term – though Ackles mostly turns it around by implying Dean is just messing with Sam’s head.

When Eileen asks if they can read the tablet, Dean says they can’t. But of course he knows someone who can.

Donatello is not at all happy to see Castiel show up at his door and tries to hide inside his house. Naturally, this doesn’t work and he ends up back at the Bunker, whining at TFW about how he really doesn’t want to get involved in any of this.

The Brothers explain that they want to lock Chuck up the way he once locked up his sister Amara. When Donatello asks why they don’t just kill him, Sam revives season 11 canon that if Chuck is killed, that will disrupt the balance of the SPNverse and it will die. So, that canon’s still a thing. They just want a way to lock Chuck up so the balance is still there, but he can’t destroy the world.

With a sigh (and a whole lot of fried chicken), Donatello gets down to it, so closely watched by Dean, Sam and Castiel that it makes him even squirellier. But eventually, he does find something. In Metatron’s glosses on Chuck’s dictation, the late, unlamented scribe talks about a “secret fear” that Chuck shares with no one. Unfortunately, the scribe does not add what that fear is.

Castiel points out that Lucifer was already cast down by the time Chuck dictated his tablets (this actually makes sense, as Lucifer was cast down for creating demons and Donatello is currently working on a Demon Tablet). So, the favorite at the time would have been Michael. However, just as Donatello is about to consider his job well-done and leave, Dean points out that Michael is in Hell. Well … except that Belphegor told them the Cage was one of the doors blown open down there. So, he might be out now.

Anyhoo, in the middle of a rant about how complicated the Brothers’ lives are, Donatello is possessed by Chuck, who gives them a warning to back off, with a sinister chuckle, threatening everyone they love. He should maybe take his own advice. Sam and Dean wouldn’t be fighting him in the first place if he hadn’t backed them into the corner of wanting to kill them and the SPNverse with them. They don’t have any choice but to fight back.

Castiel checks the warding (which is intact) and Dean suggests Donatello leave. Grabbing his coat and his bucket of chicken, the Prophet scampers off.

What TFW didn’t say to him was that they didn’t want him there because they now know Chuck could use him to spy on them. Dean says they can’t back down on the plan. Chuck would just kill all their loved ones eventually, anyway. Sam agrees, but Castiel has reservations about going to Hell to talk to Michael. Sarcastically, Dean tells him that if he’s that afraid to do it, he can just stay home. Castiel’s pissed, but Dean doesn’t care.

Later, Sam and Eileen make up the ingredients in a bowl, while Castiel and Dean watch. Dean then cuts his hand for the blood (it’s not explained why Dean, specifically, needs to do this). Castiel heals Dean’s hand and Dean gives him a perfunctory thank-you. As Eileen watches, Sam says the spell (which was originally Rowena’s), and Dean, Sam and Castiel put their hands on the bowl. A wind blows up, with pink lightning, and they disappear (the effect is very Charmed and I don’t mean the reboot). They reappear in Hell.

Castiel leads the way, since he was the one last down there a few episodes ago. They encounter some demons in female hosts. Dean tries to explain that they’re looking for whoever’s in charge, not trouble. Instead, he Sam and Castiel proceed to get their asses kicked in a comical and completely unrealistic way (at one point, Dean actually asks if any of them are winning). Really, Show? Why the hell do you pull this stupid pseudo-feminist crap?

Anyhoo, a woman’s voice shouts, “STOP!” in a Scottish accent and the demons back off in a hurry. The woman is Rowena, who has shown up with an entourage and in a flaming red pantsuit straight out of Saturday Night Fever. Go disco.

It turns out that since she died and (of course) ended up in Hell, Rowena has taken charge of the place and now rules in her son’s stead (“No one hands you anything, darlin’,” she drawls to Sam. “I took it!”). It also turns out that she is still Team Free Will. So, when the others (mostly Dean and some Sam) explain to her what’s going on about Chuck and that they need to find Michael, she bellows at her entourage to go find Michael, which they promptly march off to do. As the demons leave, she gives TFW a conspiratorial wink.

Back at the Bunker, Eileen is flipping through a book while literally keeping the flame alive for the rest of TFW (didn’t this used to be Rowena’s job? How ironic) when she gets some sort of Skype call from another Hunter, a woman who is quite shocked to find out that Eileen is alive. She’d heard Eileen died. Eileen just says, “It didn’t take.”

The other woman, Sue, once hunted briefly with Eileen and asks her to help her track down a traveling vampire nest. Eileen demures, saying she’s busy at the moment, but may join up later. After she hangs up, she sprinkles some herbs on the Giant Hell Train Bowl to keep the fire burning.

In Hell, Rowena is enjoying a nice single malt while sitting on her (probably formerly her son’s, though his preferred one topside had a lion motif, not cobras) throne. When Sam starts to apologize to her, she cuts him off, saying that actually, it’s the best thing that’s ever happened to her, so bygones. Sure, she misses some stuff, like Amazon delivery and “flesh on flesh sex” (the latter gets a double-take from Dean), but she’s quite enjoying being Queen.

To get him out of the room, she has Sam go get her a refill. Then she starts doing couples counseling for Dean and Castiel, who clearly aren’t getting along (sigh, really Nepotism Duo? This was the reason you brought her back? So, she could play Yenta for two male characters?). After mulling over her few regrets (notably, her failing her son), and how death is too late to take them back, she tells them to “fix it.” Sam returns with Rowena’s freshened-up drink, just as a demon enters and timidly informs his queen that Michael is no longer in Hell. They don’t know where he is.

But we do. Cut to Jaci’s Red Wagon, a 50s-style diner where Adam is getting a burger and totally enjoying it. He says he hasn’t “seen a burger in ten years” (again with these writers totally forgetting about the Hell time dilation thing, which was a major plot point back in the day). As Adam also gets a pizza, he talks to Michael, sitting across the table from him. They have an oddly amiable relationship (so much for being tortured in Hell). Adam is bitter about his older brothers leaving him to “rot” in the Cage (ignoring the part where he betrayed them), while Michael is unsure where to go once he parts ways with his old vessel (if he parts ways with his old vessel). Heaven doesn’t seem to appeal with his brothers gone and his father still MIA.

Back at the Bunker, Dean is calling Donatello and putting out feelers to see if he’s felt anything that might lead them to Michael (without mentioning Michael). Sam has been trying to find signs of Michael online, with no success.

Dean proceeds to pump Sam for info about Eileen’s whereabouts and I wonder why the show passed up the really obvious opportunity here for Dean to grapple with his possession by an alternate version of Michael only last year just so he can play Yenta for Sam and Eileen. Again. The only mention Dean makes is of recently being in “a dark place” before getting up and congratulating Sam on something neither of them could accomplish before.

Dean mentions having tried to live with Lisa and Ben (not mentioning that it was for over a year and that he was pretty successful at it, despite being miserable). Sam talks about having tried and failed at the domestic life in such a vague way that I’m not sure if the writers remember that Sam never told Dean about Amelia – or that she was married.

Cut back to the diner, where Adam is talking about getting a job. when Lilith shows up. Michael’s eyes glow. He’s not pleased. When he comments that she’s dead, she says she was brought back by God. Michael is skeptical that his father would send “an infernal speck of bile” like a demon to “fetch” him and he doesn’t “fetch,” anyway.

At first, Lilith casually brushes this insult off, pointing out that they once worked together to bring about the Apocalypse and make God come back, which didn’t work, but here He is, anyway. But when Michael balks, she gets irritated, grasping his wrist and saying she can’t go back without him: “I can’t fail Him.”

This proves to be a mistake. After a moment of hesitation, Michael’s eyes glow and blasts Lilith into white light atoms, leaving behind only a pile of clothes. When he looks around afterward, he sees how terrified the others in the diner are. With a sigh, he says, “Remember nothing” and snaps his fingers. Their memories wiped of the incident, the other patrons and employees go on with their business. Michael, now back in the driver’s seat, pushes away the remaining desert Adam was eating.

However, Donatello, washing a glass at home, drops it in the sink (where it shatters) and cries out. He felt the blast of power from Michael. He calls Dean, but has trouble saying where Michael is. He can now see Michael every time Michael moves and Michael is moving around a lot. He finally notes that Michael has stopped – in Cairo, Egypt. “Excuse me. I need bourbon,” he says and puts down the phone.

Dean tells Castiel, who is behind him out of focus, that they know where Michael is, “but we can’t get to him in time before he moves again.”

Castiel comes into focus: “Then we make him come to us.”

Castiel sits in a chair upstairs next to a chessboard and prays to Michael. He tells Michael that he understands he’s “been through a terrible ordeal” and tries to fill him in on the situation with Heaven and Chuck. He asks to ally with him, saying that God has turned into a supervillain.

Later, outside the Bunker, Castiel senses someone that night. Michael flies in. Castiel asks Michael if he remembers him.

Michael: You called me “Assbutt” and set me on fire. And then you helped send me to Hell.

I’d call that a ‘yes.’

Michael is highly skeptical about turning on his own father. He asks if Castiel is seeking forgiveness or has “come to beg.”

Castiel [flicking a lighter and firing up a ring of holy oil around Michael]: Oh, I didn’t come to beg.

Two shadowy figures appear on the other side of a plastic curtain. They enter. It’s Sam and Dean. Dean pulls out a set of angel handcuffs. Michael is not amused.

In the Bunker, Michael opines that this move is “stupid,” even for TFW (my, he needs to catch up, doesn’t he?). Dean shrugs this off, but it’s Sam Michael focuses on. Lord, I am so tired of seeing Dean’s unaddressed alt-Michael trauma (which occurred only last season) once again ignored in favor of Sam’s boring-ass Hell-pain, which was resolved all the way back in season seven. Move on from that, Show.

Michael still refuses to believe that Chuck has broke bad. Sam tries the Puppy Dog Eyes o’ Doom and Michael is not even remotely impressed. When Sam says that they were “wrong” to leave Adam in the Cage, Michael lets Adam take over.

Adam is not as nearly as hostile and certainly not insane. It’s heartbreaking to watch Dean realize that “Michael lets you … talk? I mean, he lets you … be?” Oh, hey, the writers remembered, after all.

Adam says that since he and Michael were alone in the Cage together, they came to “an understanding.”

Michael barges back in and tells them that he doesn’t believe them about Chuck, even though he himself got a taste of Chuck’s high-handedness when Lilith showed up. Dean points out that Michael’s belief that Chuck will bring in Paradise is not borne out by Chuck’s actions. Chuck gets bored with Paradise. As Michael grows angrier and angrier at their attempts to convince him, Adam comes back in and tells them that they need to back off. Michael’s “not listening.”

Dean steps forward and tells Adam that what they did to him was bad and can’t be taken back. Adam suggests that Dean could start with “I’m sorry.” Why just Dean, though? Why does Sam always get let off the hook for this sort of thing? I mean, look at how Rowena was all hunky-dory with Sam killing her earlier in the episode. Episodes and episodes wasted on endless Sam mangst and in the end, she just let it slide.

Anyhoo, Adam ends up alone, trying to talk Michael down. He points out that Sam and Dean did try to warn him about saying yes to Michael, and that they are sincere in their efforts to save and protect the world. He points out that if they’re saying Chuck has gone off the rails, it’s because they believe he has and … they’re probably right.

When Michael bitterly suggests that Adam has forgiven his brothers, he snaps back, “Oh, hell, no!” (though it does sound, at the very least, as though he’s willing to bury the hatchet and go with the bygones). He just says that maybe Michael, who points out he’s spent billions of years with Chuck, who created him with a thought, is wrong about his father.

But Michael is still obsessed with being the Good Son, even though Adam points out that “parents keep secrets.” Michael is afraid even to ask Chuck what his game plan is.

Back in the Library, Eileen is talking to Sue on not-Skype. Sue is strongly urging Eileen to come help her with the vampire nest before they get away. Does anybody not believe this is an obvious trap? I mean, besides Eileen? Especially when Sue apparently gets attacked?

Well, it appears Sam does. When Eileen goes to his room and tells him her “friend” (whom she barely knows) is in trouble, he comes with her without a single thought to checking out whether it’s real.

Castiel visits Michael, who is truculent. Castiel doesn’t even try to be nice. He “confesses” that he never really liked Michael, even when he “was just another angel.” Castiel, “paraphrasing a friend” (Dean, no doubt), says that Michael was “haughty” and “had an entire oak tree shoved up your ass.”

He ups the ante by saying that he pities Michael, who thought he was the “star,” God’s favorite, but was only a bit player. He leans close when he says this.

Predictably, Michael doesn’t respond well. He grabs Castiel, smacks his head against the table between them, tosses him over it, and then grabs him in a headlock from behind. But it is (of course) manipulation. Castiel was using a ruse to get close to Michael – his referencing Dean was the first clue. He manages to grab Michael by the head and forcibly show him his memories. These include basically a recap of Chuck the Writer, and they leave Michael red-faced and devastated.

Afterward, Dean enters the kitchen where Castiel is, on his way to get a beer from the fridge. Dean comments that maybe Castiel “went too far” and too fast with Michael. Michael has been “on lockdown” for a long time, after all. He then asks about Michael’s current condition. Castiel calls it “very distraught.”

Dean [impatiently]: Yeah, but what exactly did he say?

Castiel: “Leave. Get out. I want you dead.” We didn’t bond.

Castiel asks where Sam is and Dean mentions the hunt Sam went on with Eileen. Right at that moment, Sam and Eileen are arriving in an underground parking garage to find Sue’s van deserted with the doors wide open and no sign of a fight with vampires anywhere. Sue then shows up, acting shady, but she’s actually Chuck in disguise. Yup. Trap.

Back at the Bunker, Dean and Castiel’s rather stilted conversation (no, they haven’t “fixed” it, yet) is interrupted by an earthquake. It’s Michael. When they visit him, they find him now quite ready to cooperate. He feels betrayed by Chuck, especially by the part that he wasn’t even unique, that there were other versions of him, all abandoned by Chuck.

It turns out that Michael knows the spell used to lock up Amara back in the day. He says it can work on Chuck if Daddy is still weak and he’s willing to share the spell. Most of the ingredients are easy and already in the Bunker – myrrh, cassia and rock rose – but one is exceedingly difficult and dangerous to find. It’s called a Leviathan Blossom and it can only be found in – you got it – Purgatory. Dean cocks his head in an “oh, no” moment right before Michael even says it, knowing where this is going.

Michael snaps his fingers and makes a rift appear to Purgatory. Just like that. He tells them it will stay open for 12 hours. Then he politely asks them to take off the cuffs, which Dean rather reluctantly does.

Dean asks Michael if he’s coming with them, but nope, this is where Michael gets off the plot bus. As he turns to go, though, Dean asks to speak to Adam one last time. Adam comes out with a blue glow of the eyes, and Dean apologizes on behalf of both him and Sam for abandoning him: “You’re a good man. You didn’t deserve that.”

Adam’s face twists, almost in pain, as he ruefully understands that Dean has finally given him what he wanted most … and it doesn’t really change things. “Since when do we get what we deserve?” he says. “Good luck.” With a glance at Castiel, he leaves.

Dean and Castiel both turn to look at the rift.

Credits

The show dipped slightly to a 0.3/1 and dropped to 1.09 million in audience.

The preview for the next episode, “The Trap” (15.09) is up (spoiler alert: Looks like Sam ends up tied to yet another chair). The show returns on March 16 with Episode 5.12 (“Galaxy Brain”).

Review: I’ll start by reiterating what I’ve said in the past – I don’t think this season’s Chuck is Chuck. I think it’s the Empty Entity masquerading as Chuck. In fact, I don’t think we’ve seen the “real” Chuck since the end of season 11. Whether we are indeed getting a God-broke-bad storyline or one where the Empty Entity has imprisoned Chuck in the Empty (the being we saw Jack and Billie with at the very end of last season), at some point the show needs to show a card and explain why Chuck has changed so radically, to the point where he now wants to kill off his own creation.

It irritates me that we’re already 40% into the season (sigh, no, Twitter, this is not the halfway point, not even close. Calling it a “midseason finale” is just marketing bullshit) and still, we’re no further along in what’s going on with God than we were at the end of last season. Because of this, the season 15 mytharc has felt especially flabby, and has floundered and flapped about like a fish out of water. Put the damned fish back in the river and drop a few reveals, Show. It’s way past time. Us fans are getting bored out here.

But getting back to the Empty Entity theory – if Chuck is the EE, masquerading as Chuck, we already have part of the puzzle. The show has been awfully quiet about the Empty Entity this season, not even mentioning that Castiel never told the Winchesters about his deal with the EE (another lie from a dude who really needs to stop lying and blaming everyone else for his mistakes). That’s a big thing to drop, but hey, they’ve dropped big plots like that before. The Veil? What Veil?

More damning is that Chuck’s personality change isn’t that radical if he’s not Chuck and especially if he is the EE. His new personality fits the EE on the rampage in the SPNverse very well. He’s angry, nihilistic and petty. Sure, the old version of Chuck could be a bit petty and didn’t like to be challenged, but he generally liked his creations (and interacting with them in a reasonably benevolent way as long as they kissed his ass). He was willing to get locked away on their behalf in season 11, as long as his sister pinky-swore not to annihilate the SPNverse. So, wanting to end it now (because that’s what will be the actual result of the Brothers killing each other) is a polar-opposite switch for an eternal being tens of billions (at least) years old, in what is, to him, less than an eyeblink of time.

But it’s not at all a big switch for a being whose main stated purpose was to go back to his eternal sleep. If everything’s dead and gone, he can do that again. Plus, this was an entity that invaded Heaven to claim Jack as its own, and what did “Chuck” want, first and foremost (aside from assassinating Dean Winchester) last season? Jack, both dead and in the Empty.

Even the relative weakness makes sense. Chuck last season was weaker than before, even before Sam shot him. He had to follow a story and his creatures could still rebel against that story (not even just Dean). That would make sense. Just because the EE is supreme in his own realm, that doesn’t mean he has omnipotent (or even omniscient) powers in the SPNverse proper. And Chuck being EE even explains why he can easily bring back a character like Lilith from the Empty, when that was apparently a rather difficult thing to do in the past.

So, yeah, my money’s on a big reveal down the road (hopefully, not too far, because there ought to be a lot of story after that, not a backlog of wheel-spinning in front of it) that this version of Chuck is really the EE. But even if Chuck is Chuck, the show still owes us a reason why he had such a huge change of heart after season 11, even if it’s as lame as growing disenchanted and falling out with his sister.

I had somewhat mixed feelings about the episode overall. For a Nepotism Duo script, it was one of their better ones, though that still means it was pretty daft and shallow. I’d have argued that the quickie visit to Hell diminished Hell as a terrifying and remote realm (especially the Nep Duo once again forgetting that Hell moves on a different time scale than earth), but that ship sailed a long time ago and was torpedoed largely by these very writers. Ditto the quickie way to Purgatory and rehash of the season seven finale cliffhanger at the end of the episode.

I did enjoy Rowena’s return. Yeah, that was daft, too (boy, these idiots do love their ridiculously overpowered Witch Sue characters), but I like Rowena and Ruth Connell managed to sell it with a hefty dose of implied BDSM. I had a feeling she would return as the Queen of Hell and it was pretty satisfying to see it, even if it doesn’t change the part where they fridged a powerful female character to motivate a male one, or that this is likely a stand-in for what they would have had Crowley do in the last season, had Mark Sheppard been willing to return.

I had more mixed feelings about Michael and Adam. Unsurprisingly, I wasn’t thrilled to see Dean’s Michael storyline once again shoved aside for another bland guest character. Dean’s still-unresolved trauma from last season was scarcely addressed beyond a few quick lines. Even then, that was mostly Ackles’ emphasis, not so much the lines themselves.

I do have to give Jake Abel some kudos, though, for portraying Michael and Adam talking to themselves, and keeping it all separate. That took some skill. Obviously, Abel is (and looks) a decade older now, but that went well with Adam!Michael having been stuck in a prison for a very long time and it synced up better with Michael’s age than in “Swan Song,” when Abel looked way too young to play an ancient archangel.

The writers even addressed, however, briefly, Adam’s anger toward his brothers and later, rueful understanding that he ended up in Hell through his own choices, not theirs. This reminded me a bit of this week’s (episode five) reveal about Raffi in Star Trek: Picard. Raffi had spent most of the season so far feeling like a victim and blaming others for her misfortunes. Now I love Michelle Hurd (stopped watching SVU cold after the stupid way they wrote her out), but I was getting a little tired of Raffi’s pity party for one.

Boy, did she get checked on that this week. The effect, interestingly enough, was to make her more sympathetic. Only regulars on Star Trek shows get to have non-lethal arcs involving layers and regrets. The tragic thing was that she was (devastatingly) right, but she was also (equally devastatingly) wrong. You could say this about two other female characters this week, though I only sympathized with one of them (hint: it was the one with the blasters).

In Supernatural, taking the route of having an older, wiser Adam with regrets, who understood that he made choices that led to his being in the Cage, instead of a rabid madman supervillain, was a wise one. It gave him extra layers. It gave him (and Michael) depth and motivation. His willingness to negotiate a truce between his brothers and Michael showed a growth he hadn’t previously demonstrated, as did his willingness to hear Dean’s apology.

The truth is that by saying yes to Michael, Adam came very close to aiding and abetting the end of the world. That he recognized this and accepted responsibility for it made him sympathetic to the audience without making his brothers less sympathetic.

There were some inconsistencies in the writing that didn’t work for me, though. For a start, making Adam so subdued and Michael not really crazy was part of a pattern in the story of characters being less traumatized and more reasonable than you might expect. This is what led to Dean’s alt-Michael trauma being ignored. Again. So, in that sense, a lot of good potential drama was ignored in favor of a quick resolution.

Then there were some logic fails. In the diner, Michael is clearly angry at his father to the point of blasting Chuck’s messenger (Lilith) to ash. Yet, later on, he refuses to give up Chuck to TFW because he’s still loyal to him. And there’s no reason to believe he is lying in either case. That progression doesn’t track very well.

He also talks about being surprised that there even is a multiverse (alt-Michael implied he had been, too) and this doesn’t make sense. Michael is almost at the level of Death. Why wouldn’t he know that there were other versions of him when he can just make a rift to another realm within his own timeline with a snap of his fingers (boy, Raphael sure would have liked to be able to do that)?

Michael fares a lot better than Lilith, though. Poor thing, why did they even bother to bring her back? All the other “dead” characters have changed, like Rowena and Michael and Kevin (who is not even brought up this week, despite being the Prophet who translated the Demon Tablet).

Not Lilith. She is exactly the same as just before she died in season four (and it’s not the actress’ fault because she plays that version on point). This makes her perpetually behind the eight-ball and tragically unhip, about like the EVOL ghosts from the first couple of episodes this season, except that Lilith was once one of the show’s most memorable villains.

I was kinda relieved to see her go so soon while wondering why they bothered to bring her back at all, just to ruin her by making her a one-dimensional panto villain. They turned her into a bad joke and only she didn’t realize she was the punchline.

They could have done something with her resentment of being so directly at Chuck’s beck and call, but she didn’t seem to care enough about it for the audience to care with her. And in the end, we learned nothing new about her, her motivations, or her origins. They even dropped the baby blood angle. What was the point, Show?

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


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The Official Supernatural: “Last Call” (15.07) Live Recap Thread


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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: Standard recap of the mytharc so far, focusing heavily on Sam and Eileen, and Castiel’s recent vacation.

Cut to Now outside a very rural roadside bar in Texhoma, TX. A responsible young brunette (Angela) is trying to get her very drunk blonde friend (named Sally) to her car. Sally has to go barf, so her friend waits for her in the car, checking her messages. However, it’s not slatternly Sally who gets grabbed by the MOTW. It’s Angela. Sally turns around the find the entire car gone, along with poor Angela. Our only clue is Angela’s phone waving as she’s grabbed by someone (or something) in the backseat while Sally’s back is turned.

Angela wakes up in a cellar, tied to a chair with an IV tube running her blood to something scaly and blue in a very secure cage nearby. When Angela gets a glimpse of it, she screams.

Cue title cards.

Cut to Dean in his room in the Bunker, drinking heavily and looking through the news on his phone for a hunt. The news is remarkably quiet until he comes across an article with Angela’s photo and a headline that reads “MY FRIEND WAS RAPTURED WHILE I WAS DRUNK.” This piques Dean’s interest but good.

Dean appears, fully dressed, in the kitchen, where Sam and Eileen are all giggly, and making pancakes and bacon (despite Sam claiming to hate bacon a few episodes ago). Dean immediately susses out that they are hungover and, despite a subsequent brotherly conversation in the corridor outside about Sam leaving “a sock on the door” if he “gets lucky,” it seems fairly obvious that “hungover” is a euphemism for “got jiggy, already.”

Sam and Eileen both become concerned when Dean turns down an offer of free bacon and says he’s heading out for a drive. Sam follows him out into the hallway to ask what’s wrong. Dean says nothing is wrong, so Sam, rather reluctantly, tells him, “Call me if you need me.”

Dean [as he turns away and heads out]: Always do!

The funny thing is that Dean never does. He may need Sam emotionally, but he’s pretty self-sufficient on hunts like this. Yes, there are times when Sam has had to rescue him, too. Dean’s not invincible. But Dean doesn’t do calling for help. Especially when it’s pretty clear he needs to get out on the road and get the hell away from Sam for a while. Which happens, too. For some reason, Sam never understands why Dean has the same urges he gets to put some distance between them, from time to time.

As Sam comes back into the kitchen, Eileen asks what’s wrong. Sam says he’s not sure. Recently, Dean was very depressed about the revelations involving Chuck, to the point where Sam didn’t think he’d come out of it (it irritates me so, so very much that we saw almost none of this for Dean, yet we had Sam’s moping banged home for multiple episodes). So, surely, Dean coming out of his room and going out for a drive is good … right?

Oh, come on, Sam. You know better. Really, you do.

Outside the Texhoma police department, Dean (in FBI mufti) introduces himself to Sheriff Dillon, who is very photogenic and kinda dumb. The sheriff is convinced Angela Sully took herself off to Hollywood to become a star, as she has spoken of doing, even before her parents died a few years before. He says many kids do this and he himself lasted a full month there (“I coulda been the next Denzel”). Dean is a little nonplussed by this, especially when the sheriff says he’s photogenic enough for Hollywood himself (never mind he was only an AD in season two’s “Hollywood Babylon” and couldn’t act a single line in season six’s “The French Mistake”).

The sheriff does give Dean a lead, though – Sally. And her favorite hang-out, the bar we saw in the teaser – Swayze’s. So, that night, Dean heads out there in the Impala and his usual clothes. On the soundtrack is guest star Christian Kane’s “The House Rules,” and everything is an unsubtly affectionate homage to Patrick Swayze’s 1989 cult classic Road House. Dean is bemused by the combination of pickups and motorcycles parked outside.

Road House Rules

Inside, Dean finds a wide variety of blue-collar cliches and encounters a flirty brunette barmaid who likes what she sees, but insists on Dean tossing his cell phone into the basket she’s carrying. Seems one of the house rules is No Cell Phones. He asks her about Sally Anderson. She assures him that Sally will be in; the night’s special is Two for Tuesday. She gives him a slap on the ass as she leaves that Dean rather appreciates.

As he turns around, he notices the singer on the bandstand (who is singing the soundtrack song). As the song ends, Dean recognizes him and mutters the name, “Lee Webb.” Lee, of course, is played by guest star Christian Kane, who is a major genre alumnus going back to Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

As Lee comes off the stage to engage with a female admirer, Dean approaches him. At first, there’s a glinty-eyed stare-down, but it’s just a fake-out. They then break it simultaneously and bear-hug. They know each other from way back. Lee says he owns the bar. Dean says he’s on a hunt, which surprises Lee (who apparently thought Dean was retired). After the barmaid gets a name (Lorna), they all go off to get drunk together.

Back at the Bunker, Sam and Eileen are doing research in the library (for real, that’s not a euphemism) and it looks very boring. They start eye-sexing and Eileen suggests they “take a break … do something ‘fun.'”

Eileen clearly thinks sex would be “fun,” but just as Sam is about to kiss the girl, Castiel shows up. Castiel says he’s there to help and is surprised to see Eileen alive. He asks where Dean is and looks disappointed when Sam says Dean “went out for a drive.” Sam explains they’re looking for signs of where to find Chuck or Lilith (another surprise resurrection for Castiel to digest).

Castiel says that “angel radio has been silent for months,” but has another idea. Maybe they can track Chuck via the wound he shares with Sam and the piece of Sam that is in Chuck. Well, aside from that sounding incredibly dangerous, it’s not a bad idea, so of course, Castiel wants to dive right into checking it out.

At the bar, Dean and Lee are reminiscing while Lorna plays a keen audience (I can’t get over how much this scenario resembles Dean’s dream bar that Michael locked him in). Lee is upset to hear about John’s death. Dean says John “always liked you … he said he’d never seen anybody better in a fight,” which Dean calls “high praise from the Old Man.”

Dean admits he hasn’t seen Lee since Sam went off to college (so over 15 years), that he thought Lee had been dead a while: “That’s usually how this ends, isn’t it?”

In answer, Lee references their last case together – “that cult thing in Arizona.” He says he did one more case near Texhoma and then hung it up. He got some money together, bought the bar, and retired. Dean asks him if he regrets leaving Hunting and Lee replies, “Not once.”

Back at the Bunker, Castiel’s cockamamie idea is to “probe” Sam’s wound using angel light. Sam, wisely, is skeptical about this (Eileen even more so), but lets Castiel do it, anyway. Because what could possibly go horribly wrong, amirite?

Quite a bit, as it turns out. Sam gets slammed into the wall of the Infirmary (where they’ve been conducting this little experiment) and ends up on a bed in a coma. Well, that’s convenient. They now don’t have to haul the Moose off to a bed.

Castiel calls Dean’s cell phone, but that, of course, is in a basket at the bar in Texhoma. In a flip on last week, Castiel is stuck leaving a frantic message of his own, while Dean is having shots with Lee and Lorna. Dean and Lee are sharing a story about a night with twins – no, triplets – whom they “split up fair and square.” For some reason, there are people in the fandom who believe this is confirmation that Dean had a sexual relationship with Lee. Um … no. Because according to Lee, they had sex with the women separately. Mind you, Dean did have a sexual relationship (which involved at least one orgy with triplets) with Crowley when he was a demon. But there’s no evidence in this episode that he and Lee ever did. In fact, Lorna keeps making cow eyes at Dean and he seems nonplussed. Guess it’s been a while since he got laid.

Back at the Bunker, Castiel calls Sergei, the Russian “shaman” from last season who was both treacherous and fairly useless in helping Jack. Sergei tries to beg off, saying he’s taking a favorite niece shopping, but Castiel calls in his favor to him, and threatens to find him and burn him alive if he doesn’t help. Then Castiel hangs up on him and calls someone else, whom he also asks for a favor.

Back at the bar, Dean is telling Lee about the events of season four episode “Yellow Fever.” Then he gets to why he’s there. When he shows Lee Angela’s photo, Lee claims he doesn’t know her (even though we saw her at the bar in the teaser), but backtracks when Lorna identifies her easily.

Lee then asks Dean why he’s still doing these hunts. Hasn’t he “moved on to something bigger and better by now”? Dean hedges on responding to that, just saying that “bigger doesn’t always mean better.” That someone needs to “look out for the little guy” since “God sure isn’t.”

Lee comments that this philosophy is pretty “dark” and Dean admits that “it’s been a rough decade, man.” But for now, he just wants to get back to admiring the bar and doing a little partying. While, of course, continuing the hunt. Lee suggests that Dean deserves a “break” from Hunting.

Lee’s idea is doing karaoke to a song John always used to put in the tapedeck when they were all going out on a hunt: the theme song to The Dukes of Hazzard (quite the ironic tune for two stone cold killers to sing along to). Lee gets the band going and wants Dean to come up on stage and do the song as a duet with him.

At first, Dean is very shy and unsure. There’s some nice Impostor Syndrome acting from Jensen Ackles here. But once he starts to get into it, he really cuts loose and the two of them have a good time while the audience cheers them on.

At the end of the set, they hear a woman shouting for help and go to her rescue (pretty literally leap off the stage to her defense with the motto “Roadhouse Rules”). Two roughnecks are harassing a young drunk blonde girl and refuse to leave. So, Dean and Lee “help” them out via the window and the saloon doors. Then Dean turns around and realizes the young woman is Sally, Angela’s drunk best friend, and it’s back to work on the hunt.

Back at the Bunker, Castiel is letting Sergei in through the front door. Let me reiterate this – instead of meeting him somewhere neutral, putting a bag over his head, driving him back to the Bunker, and taking the bag off only once they reached the infirmary (you know, the sensible thing), Castiel gives this guy he doesn’t like or trust directions to the Bunker and then just lets him in the front door. He then lets him walk through to the infirmary, getting a good eyeful (with running admiring commentary) all the freakin’ way.

Oh, Cas. Bless yer heart.

In the infirmary, Eileen is, I swear to Chuck, literally reduced to mopping Sam’s manly, comatose brow and begging Sergei to save his life. Ugh.

Sergei opens up an old-style physician’s bag, pulls out a crystal (where the hell did these writers get their ideas about Siberian shamans?!), and waves it over Sam as it glows. He then announces that Sam is dying.

Back at Swayze’s, Lee is fixing the window with a power drill while Dean interviews Sally. Sally is actually sober now (sort of), so that helps. She recounts her theory about Angela being raptured and how she wasn’t because she wasn’t worthy (Sally’s pretty dumb).

Lee gets sarcastic with her about the car being “raptured,” too, and has a quiet talk with Dean. He suggests they work the hunt together and Dean is game. Dean asks where one might dump a car. Lee suggests the lake, but Lorna (in passing) says if she were getting rid of a car, she’d do it in the local scrapyard, Merle’s. Dean tells an obviously stalling Lee to check the lake while he checks the scrapyard.

Back at the Bunker, Sergei says that Sam’s wound goes down to his soul, which is attached to something far away. If you probe it too hard, Sam’s soul will stretch like a rubber band and snap, killing him (well, except that we’ve seen people survive having no soul before). Can he cure it? He says he can.

In the scrapyard the next day, Dean is using a photo of Angela’s car to find it. Just when he’s about to give up, he turns and sees it. It’s been stripped of its doors, with its tires and bumpers piled on the roof. After looking in through the driver’s side, he pops the trunk. There’s Angela. She’s been dead a while (Dean’s recoil indicates decomp has set in). Then he hears the click of a gun behind him.

Alas, it’s Lee. He’s a bad guy. And I was just starting to like him. He bemoans Dean’s stubbornness in continuing the hunt then knocks him out.

Back at the Bunker, Sergei is putting some kind of dark paste on Sam’s Chuck wound. After a moment or two, Sam starts to convulse and he has a lot of flashbacks to Amara’s conversation with Chuck about Chuck not being “at full strength.”

Meanwhile, Sergei is coolly admitting that he gave Sam something that will kill him rather than cure him. He tries to blackmail Castiel, even when Eileen shoves him up against a wall out in the corridor. He tell her and Castiel that unless they give him “Death’s key,” he’ll let Sam die. And if he dies, so does Sam.

Death’s key (Sergei is happy to infodump) is a black key in the shape of a skeleton that opens Death’s library. You know … the one where Billie and Dean had their Very Interesting Conversation last year, before the whole season went down the Jack Sue tubes.

But Castiel is not playing along with the whole Being Blackmailed plan Sergei’s got going. Castiel just quietly, but firmly, tells Sergei that’s not how things are gonna roll. As his counter, he pulls out his phone and shows Sergei a surveillance photo of his niece, clearly taken without her knowing. He mentions alt-Bobby by name (probably not a good idea, but I guess we needed that dialogue to know) and that Bobby will kill Sergei’s niece if he doesn’t cooperate. Hence his previous phone call to that mysterious person.

It’s a ruthless tactic, but boy, does it work (and Eileen’s smile hints she was in on it). Sergei is forced to go back to Sam, wave his hands over him, and speak some mumbo-jumbo that sort of sounds like Greek. Et voilà, Sam is suddenly better.

When Sergei asks if everything’s “good” between them, Castiel just says coldly, “For now.” As he leaves, Sergei declares his admiration for Castiel acting so “Russian.” But of course, someone like Sergei will be looking for future opportunities for revenge and to get that key. And Castiel knows it.

Meanwhile, Dean is waking up in the same cellar, tied to the same chair, as poor Angela did in the teaser. And he gets a glimpse of the same monster across from him. Lee calls out from the top of the stairs if Dean is awake and comes down to stand, then crouch, in front of him.

Dean tries to talk to him, saying this isn’t like him. Lee says that maybe that used to be true, but that hunt in Arizona messed him up a lot more than he let on. It seems that unspecified monster destroyed an entire family, including children, and Lee became convinced that Hunters like him and Dean could never win in the end. So, he decided to “have a little fun” while he could, instead.

It turns out that his last hunt nera Texhoma was when he caught the creature in the stall. He calls it a marid (a type of Islamic demon). If you keep it fed, it gives you “money … good health … everything you dreamed of.”

When Dean points out that the price is innocent lives, Lee brushes this off. No one, he declares, is ever truly innocent. The world is a bleak place and no one truly cares about anybody.

“Well, I do!” Dean retorts.

Again, Lee shrugs this off, saying that’s why Dean is stuck in that chair. He starts up Dean’s IV conveying blood to the marid‘s cage (the gravity is a bit iffy on that one) and tells him that “after a few pints,” he’ll stop caring and just nod off. He insists that wasn’t what he wanted, but after Sally walked into the bar the night before, he knew Dean would just keep digging. ‘Cause that’s just the way Dean is. But if it’s going to be one of them who’s left standing, it’s going to be Lee. After patting Dean on the back, Lee returns upstairs, even as Dean calls his name after him.

The monster appears (there’s a sea monkey/Dagon theme going with it) and starts sucking on the blood from the IV. Realizing he doesn’t have a whole lot of time, Dean desperately starts rocking the chair until it comes apart and he falls to the side. As the marid starts banging on its cell door, he works frantically on the ropes and the IV. He gets loose just as the lock goes on the door. I love the look of “Oh, come on” on his face as he notices that.

Cut to Lee upstairs (the cellar is under the bar, behind a door that says, “PRIVATE. WE DON’T CALL 911,” with a drawing of a pistol aimed at the words), cleaning up. He shrugs off with a rather sad look the monster’s grunts downstairs until he hears a particularly loud roar that makes him realize it’s broken loose. He pull out the pistol he pulled on Dean at the scrapyard and starts to approach the door cautiously.

Loud, hard footsteps come up the stairs and the door creaks open. A head gets tossed through. Let’s just say it’s not Dean’s.

Lee looks pretty surprised. The door opens further and in comes Dean. Boy, does he look pissed. “Sorry about your friend,” he says.

Lee’s like, yeah, and then starts shooting. Dean dives behind the bar, where he finds a shotgun. “God bless Texas!” he mutters as he racks it. He fires back, startling Lee and forcing him to take cover. They exchange gunfire and both run out of ammunition. Lee is further surprised when Dean calls this out and has apparently been able to keep count of Lee’s shots.

Dean stands up and Lee comes out from behind the wall, and they ditch their guns. Lee tries to go back to the bromance with a “Hardcore, Brother.” But Dean’s having none of it: “Don’t act like we’re still friends. I don’t know you.”

Lee begs to differ. He says they’re the same. He just figured out the world was “broken.” Dean says that when it’s broken, you fix it.

Lee then tries the tactic of suggesting they just pretend this never happened. Dean could walk away. With clear reluctance, Dean says he can’t do that. Even though he really doesn’t want to take his old friend down, “I kill monsters.”

Lee: Want a shot at the title?

Dean: Don’t mind if I do.

There follows a vicious roundhouse fight, started by Dean ripping the table between them to one side and going after Lee. They trade some serious body punches and at one point, Dean flips Lee under a table. Lee gets a chair across his back. Dean gets both a beer bottle and a pool cue across the head (though he partially blocks both). Lee tries to stab Dean with the broken cue, but Dean manages to grab it, turn it, and stab Lee up against a doorjam instead. Lee has one final time to be surprised.

Lee: Why do you care so much?

Dean: Because someone has to.

Lee then says he’s “glad” Dean was the Hunter who got him and asks Dean to pull the cue out. Dean does and Lee falls down dead. Dean looks upset.

Cut to Dean hurrying back into the Bunker and finding Castiel. He says he got Castiel’s message and asks if Sam is okay. Castiel says yes, looking away with discomfort on his face, and then walks out. I guess that’s why he doesn’t notice how beat up Dean is, or ask why. Dean looks exasperated.

Cut to Sam in the infirmary, with Eileen at his side, telling Dean about his flashbacks. He says he was “inside Chuck’s head,” that “Chuck is weak” and “I think we can beat God.” Dean looks skeptical, but doesn’t contradict him.

Credits

After its mini-hiatus, the show rose in the demo back to a 0.3/2, but dropped again to 1.06 million in audience. Still something of a miracle in a season full of CW shows with demos and audience numbers well south of 0.3 and 1 million.

The preview and synopsis for the next episode are up.

Review: Woof, this turned out to be a long review. Well, some episodes have more to chew on than others.

Gotta love Dean. Sam was so pissy about Dean having a Mental Health Day that Dean took it on the road and killed some things. Those things included an old (human) friend who broke bad. You could say that Dean’s original estimation that Lee had been dead for years was not too far off. The old Lee, the Hunter who was fighting evil rather than feeding it, had been gone a long time.

This episode seemed to me half a classic and half a clips show version of the current season. Considering other bona fide classic episodes in other seasons like “First Born” or “The Vessel” have similarly lame B plots that most viewers choose not to remember, I’m comfortable with labeling “Last Call” a classic, at least for now (if it’s still memorable to me next year, it becomes a permanent classic).

It’s interesting that the B-story was, in fact, intended to keep the mytharc going because all it ended up doing was spin wheels. Sam went into a coma, had some flashbacks to previous episodes (hence the clip show element) while an anxious Eileen mopped his brow and Castiel made some calls, then woke up, declaring Chuck had been weakened and they could beat him. This was treated like some great revelation and I suppose that it was … to Team Free Will. The audience has already known this for weeks.

While this plot literally centered on Sam (because it was All About Saving Sam), it was actually Castiel’s arc. Castiel managed to get revenge on Sergei the Russian “shaman” who pulled a fast one on him a while ago. This was satisfying to watch (even if I wasn’t gagging to see Sergei back and it was pretty dumb for Castiel to let him into the Bunker like that). I was less impressed by his whining and raging at Dean’s voicemail and then stomping off in a huff as soon as Dean did show up, without even asking what happened (I don’t think Dean ever did fill anyone in on nearly getting killed on his hunt, but then, nobody asked, either). That was pretty childish. Kinda creeps me out that some fans saw romantic chemistry in that scene.

I don’t actually mind Castiel reverting to more of his old Asshole Angel of the Lord self. That can be fun to watch. I do, however, think there should be consequences for it in his relationships with others, especially humans. By no stretch of the imagination am I rooting for he and Dean to get into a romantic relationship that looks mighty unhealthy, abusive and dysfunctional. Castiel has often treated Dean very poorly in the past, using his greater angel strength and abilities to impose his will and ignore Dean’s consent to a lot of things. So, I’m gonna nope out of wanting any Destiel this season.

Eileen … oh, Lord. I want to like the return of Eileen, but the poor kid has already been reduced to the role of Sam’s Special Girlfriend. All she got to do was stand around and look anxious (though some of that appears to have been an act to back up Castiel’s clever double-cross). She didn’t even get to figure anything out regarding Sam’s situation. And both she and Castiel basically ignored the fact that Dean was uncharacteristically missing for most of the episode.

Dean’s storyline, on the other hand, was both a callback to old school Supernatural MOTWs and also a possible call forward. Last episode, Sam had to get rescued by Dean. This episode, Dean was betrayed by an old friend, nearly died (even ended up tied to a chair like Sam), and rescued himself. In the process, he killed a god.

Considering the mytharc, this was rather significant.

Yes, the marid was a very minor god (it’s a kind of djinn or ifrit in Islamic folklore), but it was still a god. It had a worshiper who fed it sacrifices and in return, it gave that worshiper good fortune, basically. In Supernatural terms, that’s a god.

It’s also a not-so-subtle parallel to Chuck. Chuck has been manipulating Sam and Dean to do certain things and make certain decisions, to the point where it seemed that they had no Free Will left and could not possibly win. But not only was Dean able to fight and kill the marid (which was an exceedingly formidable creature), but he was able to counteract the advantage it gave to Lee and also kill him. Keep in mind that even after all these years, Lee was fighting for his life and liable to be almost as, if not more, formidable a fighter as he reputably had been back in the day. So, a wounded, blood-drained, exhausted Dean being able to take him is a significant thing.

To get an idea of what advantage the marid had given Lee (and how this paralleled things with Chuck), look at the “Roadhouse Rules” scene. A great many electrons have been killed in the rather silly debate over whether Dean and Lee having a double-date with triplets makes Dean bi (um … no?), and whether or not Dean can sing canonically, to the point where a whole lot of fans seem to have missed some really obvious subtext.

Now, one could argue that Dean not being able to sing has never really been canon. He’s always sung around Sam (who is no Pavarotti and Chuck forbid Dean ever show Sam up), or as a demon (when he was drunk and intentionally singing poorly to piss off his unwilling audience). Jensen Ackles is, himself, quite a good singer (as is Christian Kane, who plays Lee). So, Kripke script notes aside, it’s never been settled one way or the other, despite how some fans choose to see it.

But here’s the thing – all that is completely irrelevant. The scene isn’t there just to indulge Jensen Ackles (or show off guest-star Kane’s singing chops) and help him sell his new album, as some have ungraciously suggested. It has a purpose – quite a major one, in fact – of foreshadowing the nature of the MOTW and quite-probably the mytharc (since such unsubtle MOTWs are usually intended as foreshadowing for the mytharc). And within that context, it makes perfect sense.

You see, in exchange for all those hapless human sacrifices, the marid is giving Lee luck. And charisma. And an almost-fairy tale life. His bar is wildly successful and always full. When he gets up onstage, he sings perfectly and the barflies cheer him on with no irony whatsoever. The ladies love him and he wins all bar fights (hence the comparison to the loop fantasy alt-Michael stuck Dean in last season).

So, when he mentions the song from their youth and that Dean deserves “a break,” he is briefly sharing that luck with Dean. That’s why Dean can sing so successfully. That’s why everyone cheers him on. That’s why the moment is followed by a “Roadhouse Rules” moment of bouncing the bad guys out the door. It has diddly-squat to do with any inherent talents Dean has.

And that’s why the fact that even though Dean thoroughly enjoys that moment, he immediately switches back to Hunter mode when he sees Sally, is so remarkable. Because Lee may be doing him a favor, but it’s one with secret strings, strings that Lee has used quite successfully for years (even a decade or two) to distract everyone else, including the dopey sheriff. Lee is trying to distract Dean, employing all of the magical luck the marid gives him. Failing that, he then tries to kill him (twice).

And in the end, none of it works. Lee, on a much smaller scale, is manipulating Dean in a way Dean can’t consciously see, just like Chuck. And it doesn’t work. So, the question becomes, What does that say and mean about Chuck’s influence on Dean?

Now, there’s an obvious question of whether Chuck sent Dean on this hunt (perhaps to break his spirit) and, since he doesn’t want Dean dead except at Sam’s hands, gave him the luck necessary to survive and prevail over Lee and the marid. That’s certainly possible. One could even argue that preternaturally helpful and lustful Lorna the barmaid was Chuck in disguise (though that never panned out and she appears to have been just a helpful Conflict and Exposition Fairy in the end).

And one wonders about Chuck’s possible motivation for that. Was it really to break Dean’s spirit? If so, it failed miserably and may have a sowed a seed Chuck wouldn’t want sprouting inside Dean’s mind. How would sending Dean against Lee make him more likely to kill, or get killed by, Sam? Is Chuck actually using reverse psychology to get Dean to go up against him and take him down? Is Chuck even Chuck? It’s easy to raise this possibility as a way to dismiss how much Free Will Dean exercised in this episode, but actually exploring Chuck’s motivations for such a scenario, especially regarding Dean, turns out to be a real rabbit hole. Dean definitely did not choose the blue pill this time round.

However (slight spoiler for the next few episodes here), so far, even that possibility hasn’t come up. Chuck’s been really obvious in the way he’s manipulated Sam and other characters, but not a peep about Dean and Lee and the marid. So, it really makes you wonder. We live in a society (sorry, Lindsay Ellis’ very informative media takes from a film school perspective on YouTube are a hoot. I highly recommend them).

Speaking of Lindsay Ellis, in her hot take of the Game of Thrones series finale that I just linked to (yes, it’s worth that hour and ten minutes of your time – hell, I’ve rewatched it at least twice), she starts off talking about theories regarding the nature of power and corruption. She cites biographer Robert Caro’s analysis of Lord Acton’s famous maxim: “All power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Following his multivolume biography of Lyndon B. Johnson and his classic 1974 biography of urban power broker Robert Moses, The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York (which, dammit, Lindsay, I did not need yet another book on my must read list), Caro suggests rather that:

What I believe is always true about power is that power always reveals. When you have enough power to do what you always wanted to do, you see what the guy always wanted to do [my bolding for emphasis].

Ellis then goes on, of course, to discuss how Game of Thrones addressed the concept of power in each of its characters, especially for season eight. She’s particularly scathing about season eight, which I think is deserved.

But a discussion of the nature of power is a pretty obvious one for a story whose basic plot is a bunch of One Percenters fighting so viciously and vociferously over a throne that they will kill each other, kill a bunch of innocents that they used as pawns, compromise all of their principles, and even ignore a potential apocalypse to attain their goal and then to keep it for however long they can. Power is the central theme for Game of Thrones.

“Power is power.”

Less obviously, power is also a central concept in Supernatural. The basic plot is one where human beings employ magic (usually black magic) to protect themselves and steal power from the greater beings of the universe – notably demons, angels and monsters (including pagan gods). The main plot revolves around a multigenerational use of necromancy and Faustian bargains by one family, for survival and revenge. And if there’s one thing necromancy and Faustian bargains have in common, it’s that they are all about the ultimate power – the power over life and death itself.

This explains why Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross-Leming’s OTT version of witches in later seasons doesn’t fit well with the rest of the show. Hunters already represent humans who practice magic to gain power, some with psychic powers, some not. Some are even monsters themselves. Witches were originally introduced with the idea that they fit in as civilians who practice black magic selfishly, for their own advancement – a subset of people who make deals with Crossroad Demons. But Lee is hardly the first or only Hunter to use magic for himself.

Where witches actually differ from Hunters in the show is that witches are urban or suburban and upper or at least upper-middle class, whereas Hunters are rural and blue collar, even straight-up poor and disenfranchised. Witches, at the end of the day, are hideous snobs.

Writers like Buckner and Ross-Leming, and Andrew Dabb, further put a moral spin on this (particularly against Dean) by presenting the witches (or, in the case of “Bloodlines,” rich, urban, One Percenter monster families) as more societally progressive than the blue collar Hunters like Dean in Flyover Country (who have actually be presented as societally progressive down-and-outers since the very start and are a hell of a lot more diverse than the witches).

This apparently tone-deaf attitude does make sense if you consider that Buckner and Ross-Leming’s idea of “progressive” was obsolete by the late-90s, at best, and that Dabb comes from writing comics, a genre that has long struggled with its own reactionary tendencies. It’s how Buckner and Ross-Leming can genuinely think a character set-up (a white warlock in a Southern city with a servile black female lover who also happens to be a dog) that would have been considered reactionary and offensive in 1850, let alone the 21st century, is more progressive than the marginal, impoverished, rural, blue collar, ethnically diverse culture Dean actually represents.

That right there, my droogs, is probably why “Bloodlines” went down in flames with the audience as a proposed spinoff pilot. The snobby, class-tone-deaf Downton Abbey With Vampires! attitude of other shows like the entire The Vampire Diaries franchise cannot, ever, be presented as good or root-able in the Supernatural franchise. This is simply due to fundamental audience investment in Hunter power dynamics and who’s the good guy underdog here. Mixing and matching these two incompatible views of how a supernatural society would work would not be acceptable even to the part of the audience that watches both (and yes, of course, there’s an overlap in fandom between the two).

So, of course, every single major character (and a lot of minor ones) has been tested in the crucible of power. They’ve all been given power and that has been used to reveal their true nature: When you have enough power to do what you always wanted to do, you see what the guy always wanted to do.

This theme is remarkably consistent throughout the entire series.

Here’s the other consistent theme. Every character in the series (even Death and now even God) has failed that test, has been corrupted by power, with only one exception: Dean Winchester.

Now, it’s not so much that Dean is a Reluctant Leader type along the lines of Jon Snow. Jon, bless his heart, was, in the end, just plain too incompetent to take up his Chosen One role (we’ll leave aside how Game of Thrones did all its female leaders dirty. That’s a depressing conversation for a whole other review). Dean is actually a natural leader and will step into any power vacuum to take over. He likes leading. It’s his natural default.

However.

What Dean is reluctant to do is to see himself as somehow superior to others due to being a leader. The fact that he has power, even great power, never goes to his head. He is really consistent in perceiving himself as a servant leader. Hence all the Jesus parallels that I’ve talked about in the past: The last shall be the first and all that.

And that is why Dean is the only SPN character who can (and ever could) handle even absolute power without being corrupted. Unlike everyone else, Dean does not take power to heart. Even with the Mark, the most it did was drive him insane and then he tried to take himself off the board permanently to avoid harming anyone else. Dean at his lowest points is a Dean who stops fighting and stops caring (which every character around him has done at some point, but somehow with him, it’s catastrophic or something), not a Dean who uses power to screw over everyone else.

Every other character who goes dark, does so over power. Sam, Lucifer, Castiel, Jack, even the first Death and Billie while she was still a Reaper, all go power-mad. Amara, while her grudge against Chuck was just, threw a season-long tantrum against his innocent creations, while she herself has called out her brother’s arrogance.

For Dean, power is not an ego-boo thing. It’s just a tool to get stuff done. You give Dean power and then you see what Dean always wanted to do. And what Dean always wanted to do was … The Family Business. Just making the SPNverse a kinder, fairer place one hunt at a time. Imperfectly, of course, because paragons of virtue are boring to watch, but that’s always his true North.

There’s another important question (since Dean does mention Chuck being an asshole God to Lee, albeit very obliquely in a way that would be clear only to the audience) regarding Dean paralleling Chuck. When Lee repeatedly asks Dean why he still cares, why he still tries to save people, why he still hunts and fights and kills and … well … judges monsters, Dean replies, “Somebody has to.” The fact that he’s not God is not going to stop Dean from trying singlehandedly to make the SPNverse a better place, even if Chuck can’t be bothered. I mean, this is a character who was successful in using his mind as a cage for the most powerful archangel in the SPNverse. And yes, I know he had critical help from Sam and Castiel in creating that cage, but once alt-Michael was inside? That was all Dean.

Which makes you wonder if Dean might actually be a better God than Chuck and how long it’s going to be before that solution occurs to Dean. I’m not saying that Dean is arrogant enough to think he’s as big as God (because that’s so not Dean, even if it’s occurred to literally every other character who’s acquired that much power save maybe Amara and Death), but as a tactic? A way to defeat Chuck? Hell, yeah, Dean would step up.

I want to end with some stuff about Lee. Christian Kane deserves a shout-out for his performance. Yeah, he’s got decades of stagefighting experience. Yeah, he and Jensen Ackles are friends. Yeah, he could probably do growly, charismatic, blue collar dude in his sleep at this point. But there is a reason he’s been a fan favorite since Buffy the Vampire Slayer and he showed it in this episode.

The thing is that with his introduction and positioning in the episode, it’s pretty clear right off Lee is going to end up the antagonist. Lorna is a more puzzling character. If she doesn’t turn out to be Chuck in disguise, or manipulated by him down the road, I guess she was just there to be an Exposition Fairy and sexually harass Dean. But Lee? Not a lot of room for nuance in the plot twist of his Sudden Yet Inevitable Betrayal at the end of the second act.

Yet, Kane manages to introduce that ambiguity, not only by making Lee just so gosh-darned likeable, but also by giving us foreshadowing of his betrayal with some squirrely, paranoid subtext at the bar. Normally, Dean would notice (and subconsciously, he kinda does, since he keeps on with the hunt), but the magic of the marid was probably messing with his brain. So, you’re left guessing and hoping against hope that maybe Lee won’t be the bad guy, after all.

It takes the death of an innocent to show that he’s crossed a line. Dean finding Angela’s body is a bleak end to his search, but it also shows how and why Dean cannot simply walk away from what Lee had done after killing the marid. Lee targeted, not Sally who was a selfish, drunken idiot, but loyal, responsible Angela. And he probably targeted Angela because Angela was protecting Sally, watching over her. After taking out Angela, he could always get to Sally later, when it was much easier and there was no one left to care. In light of his speech about why Dean still cares, and his sticking Dean in the same chair as Angela just for caring, that is (as he himself had said earlier), “dark.” It’s also mighty cold. Lee had to go down.

Personally, I’d have liked to have seen more stories involving Dean and Lee. Ackles and Kane had great chemistry, and played off each other well, especially in their interplay of regretful-yet-resolved expressions in that tragic last scene. But alas, the structure of the story pretty much guaranteed that was never going to happen. RIP Lee.


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


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The Official Supernatural: “Golden Time” (15.06) Live Recap Thread

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!


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It’s been a tough year, so I’m way behind on my recaps and reviews. I actually intended to be a few reviews more down the road, but the early part of December was busier than I expected and once I did hit a break, I kinda … faceplanted. Sorry. Hoping to be at least caught up with season 15 by the time it comes back from Hellatus in two weeks.

As of this review, I now have 58 episodes left to finish for previous seasons, plus the 14 after this one for the final (15th) season that started on October 10. That’s 72 total by next April. I currently have 151 coffees at $3 each on Ko-Fi (many thanks to those who have contributed so far!). If I get 300 coffees total, I will commit to doing one recap/review per week (retro or Season 15). If I get 400 coffees, I will commit to two. If I get 500 coffees, three reviews. If I get 600 coffees, four reviews. If I get 700 coffees, five reviews per week.

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.

Other that that, 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.

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

Recap: After a rather standard recap of the season so far for Castiel and Rowena’s storylines, we cut to a hallway in a very nice apartment building (all marble walls and such). A young blonde woman in hipster plaid clothing and a long jacket strolls toward a door. She knocks and calls out to “Ms. Mcleod,” claiming to be a concerned neighbor. Yeah, right.

Hearing nothing, she leans down and whispers, “Aperiator” into the keyhole. The door opens.

To Cobra Ramone’s “So Quiet” on the soundtrack (shocker! Some actual rock!), the young woman (rather obviously a rival witch seeking to loot a dead witch’s stuff) starts trashing the place. The fact that she not only is ransacking it, but deliberately smashes things she doesn’t need to, says a lot about what kind of person she is. So, when she gives up for a moment in frustration and yells, “Come on! Where is the good stuff?” it’s hard to feel sorry for her when her nose and eyes start to bleed. Even when she doesn’t quite make it back to the door and the deadly hex Rowena left behind takes her out.

Cue title cards.

At the Bunker, Sam is on his laptop when something transparent, but not quite invisible, comes through the door. Sam senses it, but is more puzzled than alarmed. Dean enters the kitchen at that moment. He’s in a bathrobe and pajamas, eating cereal out of the box and reading the simple jokes on the back, while “marathoning Scooby-Doo.” Even though he is laughing and seems outwardly cheerful, it is clear that Dean is very, very, very depressed and taking a much-needed Mental Health Day. Or maybe a week. Or a month.

Sam decides this is problematical, even though he did exactly the same thing a few episodes ago, for at least a couple of weeks. But nope, he’s over that and busy looking for Chuck and why isn’t Dean taking this seriously? Screw you, Sam.

Dean does ask if Sam has found anything (that’s a big negative) and if he’s had any more dreams (also a big negative). Sam asks if Dean noticed anything when he first came in (nope) and suggests that maybe the dreams have stopped.

Dean is skeptical about that. He figures Chuck still has a plan for them – “The Winchester Bowl: Cain and Abel 2.0” – and won’t let up until it’s finished. “We don’t need to worry about finding him. He’ll find us.”

Meanwhile, Castiel is somewhere woodsy and folksy, getting himself let into Simmzy’s Bait and Tackle Shop. It turns out he’s been fishing to pass the time. He mentions Dean in passing (though not by name).

As he’s getting a new fishing map, Castiel notices that the friendly shop owner, Andy, is drinking the booze early in the morning. Andy admits that he’s a volunteer firefighter and they had a bad call last night. They pulled the dead body of a local teen, Shane Coogan, out of the lake. Andy says the weirdest thing was that the kid’s body was drained of its blood.

Back in Lebanon, Sam is jogging (it’s finally back into Vancouver’s long rainy season/fall, so we’re free of that damned incessant sunshine from the season’s earlier episodes). He quickly realizes something is up when his breath fogs. As he glances over toward the waterside, he sees the same transparency we saw in the Bunker. This time, it resolves into a ghost – that of Eileen Leahy, the badass, Irish (and deaf, thanks to the banshee that killed her parents) Hunter who was murdered-by-Hell Hound in season 12 by Arthur Ketch.

Back at the Bunker, she’s talking to the Brothers and Dean is asking her questions. It turns out that because she was dragged off by the Hell Hound, she ended up in Hell. When Chuck blew open all the doors, she got out of there as fast as she could and cleared the area before Belphegor’s barrier went up (note that this means there could still be some very naughty ghosts out there). It turns out she circled back and has been trying to get the Brothers to see her ever since.

She now has a huge dilemma. She has no desire to go back to Hell, but if she stays a ghost, she’ll “go crazy.” Dean explains to her that they already found out (via Kevin) that souls that have been in Hell can’t go to Heaven afterward (I really hate that stupid bit of LOL!canon the writers pulled out of their asses this season). Obviously, she’s disappointed, though she struggles to be philosophical about it.

As the Brothers go off to consult in the corridor, Sam whines that Dean didn’t “sugar coat it” about what Eileen faces. Dean’s like, whatever. He actually has a different idea. He suggests using a soul catcher (like the crystal Rowena used to capture the Hell ghosts in the first couple of episodes), one which would house only Eileen. It’s at least better than Hell or going insane on earth.

Sam says the magic is complicated, but Dean tells him that he’s now like “Rowena’s protege, Ginger Jr.” and can make it happen. Is Dean … aware of what Sam did to Rowena to force her to help him lift the MoC from Dean’s arm at the end of season 10? Because the writers sure have forgotten and it was actually a pretty ugly incident in Sam’s arc.

Sam admits that if “it’s what Eileen wants,” maybe he can find a crystal at Rowena’s apartment. Seems, after all this bitching at Dean about taking a day off, Sam still hasn’t gone over there to clear out her place. Yeah, seriously, screw you, Sam.

Sam is upset when Dean tells him to go ahead and take care of it. Seems Sam wants Dean to come over with him and hold his hand through the process. Dean points out that it’s “a milk run,” so “kick it in the ass.” And he walks off, leaving Sam looking pissy.

Castiel is at the sheriff’s office, trying to find out more about the dead kid. But it seems the sheriff is out getting his hair cut, as he does every Tuesday (pretty sure this is a Victor/Victoria reference).

A woman also sitting in the waiting room asks Castiel for help, since she’s heard he’s FBI (he says he’s on vacation) and the sheriff’s novel-reading receptionist is useless. Seems the woman is a mother who heard about the dead boy. Now her son is missing after having gone camping the night before. Castiel agrees to help her.

At a SureGas station, Sam is gassing up the Impala, while apologizing to Eileen for her situation and not being able to fix it. Well, turns out Dean was right and Eileen is fine with the solution they’ve got. It sure beats the other alternatives.

Sam then tells her he was once in Hell, too, but she says she doesn’t want to talk about it just yet. He uses sign language and she’s flattered (as a ghost, she wouldn’t be deaf, but the show has been making ghosts way too solid this season, anyway).

I have mixed feelings about this team-up. On the one hand, I liked Eileen and I like Shoshannah Stern. And I like that the show is doing representation for the deaf community with an actress who is actually deaf (not exactly common on television). And she did have chemistry with Sam in her first appearance.

On the other hand, the writing is already de-evolving her from Eileen Badass Scarred Hunter (the deafness being the MOTW-induced scar she grew up with) into Sam’s New Girlfriend We Sure Hope The Show Won’t Kill Off This Time. Sam treats her with a kind of syrupy condescension that doesn’t sit right with me. Even Dean, who is all for the relationship, calls Sam out on decisions Sam keeps making for Eileen instead of helping her with decisions she’s made herself.

Also, I can’t say I’m thrilled they fridged her in the first place, in a way very similar to how they fridged her character in Jericho. So, that leaves a bad taste, too.

Sam and Eileen arrive at the apartment, only to find the place trashed and the Doomed Teaser Witch on the floor. As Sam comes in, a nearby mirror ripples and there’s a quick cut out to a white service van, with the words “Keep ‘er Movin’: “you Go we Pack” on the side, in the parking lot outside. It turns out that two other witches inside it are scrying/spying on Sam as he discovers a convenient tattoo on the dead body that identifies her as a member of the Ordo Maleficarum (Order of Witches). In the van, the older witch has a red hood, violet eyes, and an Oirish accent.

Sam figures the young dead witch sprang a trap, but doesn’t stop to wonder if he will also be affected as he closes the doors and goes off to find the Macguffin somewhere in the apartment.

Back on Castiel’s summer vacation, he’s talking to the sheriff, who is even lazier than his receptionist. The sheriff identifies the woman Castiel just met as one Ellen Krakowski, a woman who just moved into the area and is a frequent complainer at the station. Needless to say, the sheriff is dismissive of her concerns about her son. He also dismisses the recent drowning victim as an OD, saying only tourists go missing in town, not locals.

Castiel makes his hostility about the sheriff’s sloppy detective work obvious, especially when the sheriff insists the body has already been “shipped off to Cheyenne,” so Castiel can’t examine it. The sheriff then starts questioning Castiel’s credentials, so Castiel gives him a number. This number goes to a cell phone in the Bunker that is part of a network similar to the set of landlines Bobby used to have to help Hunters with their fake law enforcement credentials. Dean happens to be walking by in his bathrobe when the phone rings and answers it (after some quick sorting to figure out which one it is and which name to use).

After identifying himself as Castiel’s boss, Dean has the sheriff put Castiel on the line. Very reluctantly, Castiel takes it. After pointing out that Sam has been trying to call him, Dean quickly tells him that Chuck is back and to start checking his messages, already. Then he hangs up. After looking uncomfortable and rubbing his face with the phone, Castiel fakes a response and hands the phone back to the sheriff. This wins a concession from the sheriff to hand over the records for the drowned boy, Shane.

In Rowena’s apartment, Sam realizes that there is nothing of value there. Where is Rowena’s real “stuff”? Eileen gets an idea and walks through a bookshelf wall, then calls out from the other side. It turns out to be small storeroom. Once Sam gets it open, he finds Rowena’s important stuff, including journals that she kept up until her death about all her spellwork. Eileen asks if Sam “missed her” and Sam admits that he killed her as part of a spell to stop the Hell ghosts and save the world.

Sam: You ever feel like you’re the punch line to some cosmic joke?

Eileen [passing her ghost hand through his]: Are you kidding?!

Yeah, Sam, get your head out and get with the program.

Sam says that “Rowena got it. I mean, she didn’t know all the details, but she knew the game was rigged, so this … magic … this was how she kept control.” Well, that’s an awfully benign way to put it, Sam.

As he waves the journal around, Sam accidentally knocks a paper out of it and is surprised to find out it’s a spell. It seems Rowena was trying to bring back Mary (even without a body) until she found out Mary was Heaven and decided not to finish it. However, he thinks he can finish the spell and use it to resurrect Eileen. Well, that’s convenient.

However, as soon as he gets the stuff into the trunk, he’s hexed. He finds the hex bag, just as the other two witches get out of their van and approach him because sure, that’s smart, and the older one calls him by name. Sam signs to Eileen to get Dean, right before the older witch conveniently banishes her, presumably back to the Bunker. Yeah, not the brightest logs on the Yule fire, these two.

Sam wakes up inside the van, tied to a chair (natch). The older witch starts Evil Overlord monologuing about how Rowena’s dead and they came for her stuff, but they didn’t think they could get at it until Sam came bumbling along because Rowena hexed the apartment and only Sam is immune.

The dead witch is Jacinda, her oldest daughter. The other girl is apparently her other daughter. That one has just made a doll from Sam’s hair and hands it to the older witch with a nasty smile. Her mother uses it to torture Sam.

Sam tries to make a deal to get them ingredients (not mentioning that he just put them in the Impala’s trunk, which the witches should have seen already), in exchange for the spell, but the mother refuses. She figures she needs it to bring Jacinda back and Death will only allow the spell to be used once. She’s just going to torture Sam into cooperating, instead.

How have these women lived as long as they have, again?

Meanwhile, Castiel is looking over the records of the dead and missing people around the lake (most of them look young) and making a pattern of x’s on a map. When he goes out to survey it, Ellen follows him (Ellen … Eileen … awfully similar names to use in the same episode for guest characters, Show). Seeing Castiel’s map and getting an explanation out of him, she insists her son wouldn’t come out to the lake because it’s not safe. There’s a silver mine in the area. Castiel has to agree to let her lead him there. She won’t just give him directions. Scenery’s nice, though cold – a foggy BC lake.

Sam is walking up to the apartment with other sister, Sam carrying a cardboard box, she the doll. He works out that her name is Emily and tries to sweet-talk her. It only partially works. She tortures him to make him shut up, but he gets a break when he enters the apartment and she sees her sister’s body.

Her reaction is strange. When Sam offers to cover up the body, she asks if he thinks Jacinda is pretty, since everyone else thought so. Sam points out that Jacinda is dead (i.e., dead bodies aren’t sexually attractive except to necrophiliacs). It turns out Jacinda bullied Emily pretty severely. When Sam shares a story about Dean putting Super Glue in his toothpaste, Emily shares that Jacinda made her invisible for a week, tried to sell her soul to a demon, and murdered her first crush with magic – “then she got mean.” She tells Sam to get packing. Nice family.

Castiel and Ellen are chatting as they walk to the silver mine. He tries to give her The Talk about monsters (he thinks the MOTW is a djinn, which makes a silver mine a rather strange lair for a creature averse to silver), but it’s interrupted by her son Caleb popping up unexpectedly on the trail.

Back at the apartment, Emily is still talking about how rotten Jacinda was – killing her pet rabbit for the bones, turning her tongue into a snake, which bit and disfigured her. Seeing how much she doesn’t want Jacinda revived, Sam tries to do a deal with her. If she lets him have the spell, he’ll give her Rowena’s books and she can use them to run away and hide from her mother. It doesn’t work. Calling him a liar, Emily takes pleasure in stabbing the doll to make Sam suffer.

Cut back to Castiel’s vacation, where he and Ellen are talking to her son. Caleb is reluctant to tell them what happened, at first, because he thinks they won’t believe him. Castiel reassures him that they will. Caleb then says he saw someone dragging a dead body to the lake. He was going to record it with his phone, but the murderer saw him. When he ran, he broke his ankle. He says the murderer was “a monster.” A literal one.

When Castiel asks if he “got a good look” at the murderer, a voice sounds behind him. It’s the sheriff. He’s the murderer. And he’s also a djinn.

When Castiel pulls out his angel blade, blocking him from shooting Caleb, the sheriff’s eyes glow blue and his djinn tattoos show up. He shoots Castiel. Castiel heals with an angry angel whine (greatly shocking Caleb and Ellen).

Going into a rant about “little men in positions of power,” he takes another a bullet without much harm, then grabs the djinn’s gun from him and throws him to the ground, where he stabs him to death with his angel blade. A whole lot.

Back at the apartment, Sam has the box filled and Emily wants him to hurry up and get out of the apartment with it. But Dean unexpectedly (for Emily) shows up, with Mom Witch at gunpoint. Emily threatens to voodoo-doll Sam to death and Dean says he could just shoot her mother, so they’ve got a “standoff.”

The mother then decides to call up her dead daughter for help. This goes well for the witches, at first, with Jacinda knocking Dean to the end of the hallway. But Ghost!Jacinda takes a little too long to gloat and Emily is distracted. This allows Sam to knock the doll out of her hand, drawing Mom’s attention. Mom starts torturing Sam, yelling at Emily to finish him. Emily picks up the doll and starts twisting it and Sam appears to be losing consciousness.

Meanwhile, Jacinda is still gloating when Eileen appears in front of her (the perils of calling up spirits is that you don’t know who-all will answer). Eileen says, “Not today … bitch!” and knocks her rather bodily back into the apartment. Eileen TKs after her and they have a pretty concrete fight for two ghosts.

This gives Dean the needed breather to recover his gun and shoot Emily, killing her and enraging Mom. Not really good with multi-tasking, Mom then starts killing Dean, but this gives Sam enough time to recover and tackle her. He then shoves a hex bag he stole from the apartment into her mouth and says a killing spell.

Dean rushes into the apartment (whaddaya know? He’s immune to Rowena’s hex, too), where Eileen is getting the worst of the ghost fight. Eileen points at Jacinda’s body and tells him to burn it. Admittedly, this is very much of an As You Know, Bob moment, but in Dean’s defense, this is the first time he’s seen or even known about Jacinda’s body there, so he may not have noticed it in the heat of the moment.

Dean grabs a decanter of (probably very expensive) booze and pours it on the body. Distracted with throttling Eileen, Jacinda takes a little too long to stand up and go after Dean, even as he fumbles the lighter. He torches her body and she goes up in flames, as her mother dies hexed in the hallway.

Back at the lake, Ellen is finally taking The Talk from earlier to heart. Castiel comes up, saying he threw the sheriff’s body into the lake. He then heals Caleb’s leg, but it take a lot more effort than healing himself did. Caleb and Ellen are appropriately amazed and grateful. Ellen asks if Castiel came from God. Castiel says he can’t tell them anything, except that he’s “grateful” he met her and “it’s time to get back in the game.”

In the Bunker, Sam is drawing up a bath and sprinkling it with herbs. He then pulls out Rowena’s spell. Eileen steps into the bath (now, they make her look ethereal?) and lies down, fully submerged. As Sam turns away (unable to look, I guess) and says the spell in Latin (it’s more of a prayer than a spell), Eileen changes from a ghost in full Hunter gear into a live naked girl. She comes up gasping out of the bath and stares at her wet fingers.

Sam doesn’t turn around until Eileen puts on a towel and steps over the edge of the tub. They touch hands, she signs “Thank you,” and they hug.

Dean is out in the map room/library, drinking his evening sixpack. Dean praises Sam’s baby-witch skills in saving Eileen (who is taking a much-needed nap) and says he didn’t do anything. Sam points out that Dean “killed a witch, saved my ass.”

As Dean looks uncomfortable (and admits that knowing all of their lives has been out of their control “messes with my head”), Sam tells him that they can “find a way to beat [Chuck] … ’cause we’re the guys that break the rules.” But Sam can’t do it alone. He needs Dean. He needs his “big brother.”

Credits

The show dropped in the demo to a 0.2/1 (the first time ever), but rose slightly to 1.14 million in audience.

The preview and synopsis for the next episode is up.

Review: I … didn’t actually hate this one. Mind you, it had issues, but there were some clever bits and it moved faster than previous entries this season (the pacing has been really dreary this year). And it took me awhile to get through the recap because the beginning, especially, post-teaser is rather dull. Still, it was a bit of an improvement on the earlier part of the season.

There was the way they introduced Eileen as a ghost, which was a bit creepy, and the idea of a witch who was also a ghost. Those were clever. Rather less clever (and definitely not ethereal) was the knock-down drag-out between them at the climax, but okay.

I also liked the opening song (which is apparently about a young couple committing suicide by drowning to escape an apocalypse) and the general premise made sense to me. It mirrors what we saw in season one’s “Dead Man’s Blood.” Just as Hunters descend on a dead Hunter’s house and strip it bare, so, too, would witches with one of their own. It’s bleak and Darwinian, but that’s the way the SPNverse is. Or, at least, the way it was before Dabb & Co. got hold of it.

Dean was an unmitigated hoot in his dead man’s robe and hot dog jammies, taking a much-much-much-needed-and-overdue Mental Health Day. He also got to save everyone, though I was irritated at the Dumb on Cue moment where Eileen, of all people, had to remind him to salt-and-burn a corpse to get rid of a ghost.

But even though it had better pacing than previous entries of the season, this one still dragged a tad and felt sluggish, except for the moments when Dean was onscreen. He wasn’t in this one a lot and that killed much of my interest in the goings-on for the other characters. Dean brings considerable energy to the show that is lacking in episodes he’s barely in. Which is why Dean is usually in a lot of episode space, even when he’s acting like expositional wallpaper. I’m sure the showrunners are aware that whenever he leaves, so does most of the dramatic air.

The idea behind the bitter dynamics for the witch family in question wasn’t half-bad, but the execution was lacking. And here is one of my biggest beefs with the story. I’ll grant you that aside from Rowena, the witch characters were never what you’d call fleshed out. Even with the Banes family, which had a clear sense of a loving witch mother and her two witch kids, the two female members were summarily fridged in one episode to motivate the one remaining male member to go dark.

But even the barely-introduced witches in “Regarding Dean” gave off more of a sense of family than the ones here and more of a sense of urgency. Sure, the witches in that one also intended to bring their sibling back, but they intended to do so using human sacrifice, which is no small task and does provide a spiritual engine for the spell (a life for a life). And the sister (who was otherwise a huge and thunderously stupid nutjob) showed real grief over her brother’s death. Death wasn’t just a quickie learning experience for her brother to her. Plus, there was their ugly connection to Rowena’s past.

In this episode, I had a hard time buying that Keegan Connor Tracy’s character (Tracy back for a third and final role on the show) was the other two witch characters’ mother, rather than just their senior. I mean, sure, witches don’t tend to look their age. And I get that she was a cold and indifferent mom, who actively fomented the rivalry between the dead golden girl and the mousy younger sister. But the way she airily talked about how they were just going to walk in there and take Rowena’s magic, while resurrecting the golden girl along the way, pretty much sucked all of the dramatic air out of that situation. If she didn’t care, I sure didn’t, either.

Also, it was flat-out ridiculous how little these witches seemed to know or understand about the Winchester Brothers. Sam and Dean are not obscure players in the SPNverse, and everyone and their witch mom knew Rowena worked with them. Why weren’t these witches prepared for Dean to show up to save Sam, or even for Sam pulling a fast one on them? It’s basically the same plot as for the season 13 episode “Various and Sundry Villains” and it’s not any better this time round.

Speaking of taking Rowena’s magic, I was so over how entitled Sam acted about it, especially when he got on Dean’s case about taking a sick day. Sam spent days, even weeks, sitting in his room moping after Rowena died, instead of sacking up and getting over to her apartment to make sure everything was locked down. What if an innocent civilian had gotten in there and been killed by the hex?

I mean, it was eye-rolling enough for the script to bang home how suddenly, Sam was a son of a witch (ignoring how Rowena only became the most powerful witch in the world by slaughtering her rivals and stealing their magic) and wasn’t that wonderful? Rowena’s fridging is the gift that keeps on giving for Sam.

But he had a responsibility to her legacy, seeing as how he’d been the one who killed her, and he fell down on the job. If the episode had been written to have him realize that, I’d have been more okay with it, but they glossed over that and also allowed Sam’s berating of Dean (who was still holding down the fort and propping up everyone else emotionally until this week) to go unchallenged.

And apparently, the fact that Sam can now do some basic spells is supposed to make up for that fact that he’s useless as a Hunter these days. It’s yet another case of the show’s writing strenuously snowflaking Sam’s every achievement instead of just letting the audience come to its own conclusions. I already know Sam is an experienced and deadly Hunter. I don’t need to be banged over the head with it.

Speaking of glossing things over, how about the show never even once acknowledging that Ketch was the one who sicced that Hell Hound on poor Eileen? You know, Ketch, the dead character we were supposed to feel sorry for just a few episodes ago? I guess we’re pretending that never happened, now?

Let’s check out the B-story. Well, Castiel is back in this one and it’s not looking good. A lot of his fans on Twitter (those who aren’t fantasizing about how Dean needs to apologize to Castiel for refusing to be his punching bag) focused on his wildly off power and that it’s waning, but less on how it’s waning.

We now seem to have a pretty clear pattern where, when he’s pissed, Castiel powers up just fine and then goes into overkill mode. We saw this with Belphegor and we saw it this week with the sheriff djinn. But when he wants to do something more benign, like heal someone else (rather than himself while in battle mode), it really drains him. The way Chuck is currently writing Castiel amplifies his more negative emotions and affect.

A big problem with this is that this is the final season and that when Castiel gets angry in this way (you know, petulant and feeling sorry for himself), he gets self-righteous. And when he gets self-righteous, that quickly leads to poor decision-making along the lines of Godstiel and Casifer. And I guess I need to remind those same fans that Godstiel was originally intended to be Castiel’s endgame story. He was not supposed to come back from that one, let alone by the end of season seven. So, this isn’t a good look for him or a good sign for his eventual fate this season.

I hope to be wrong. I’m not gonna lie – my idea of a great ending for the series is God!Dean watching Sam – retired or teaching Hunters – while flanked by Billy the Reaper and Castiel all repowered up with wings. Dean then turns to them and says, “We got work to do,” as he sets out to make the SPNverse a kinder and fairer place. But I’m not the writers and there’s no guarantee this lot will even let Castiel get out of the series alive, let alone regaining his wings.


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


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The Official Supernatural: “Proverbs 17:3” (15.05) Live Recap Thread


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It’s been a tough summer, so I’m way behind on my recaps and reviews. As of this review, I now have 48 episodes left to finish for previous seasons, plus the 15 after this one for the final (15th) season that started on October 10. That’s 64 total by next April. I currently have 151 coffees at $3 each on Ko-Fi (many thanks to those who have contributed so far!). If I get 300 coffees total, I will commit to doing one recap/review per week (retro or Season 15). If I get 400 coffees, I will commit to two. If I get 500 coffees, three reviews. If I get 600 coffees, four reviews. If I get 700 coffees, five reviews per week.

Other that that, 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: Recap of the season so far, beginning with a quickie two-shot of Sam’s dream about killing Dean that was probably as long as the showrunners originally wanted it to be, ending with Castiel flouncing offstage for a few episodes.

Cut to Now. Three young women, all blonde and all affluent, are sitting inside a large tent. For some bizarre reason, they are dressed like a bunch of aged-out Girl Scouts on safari (one wears a floppy hat that’s shaped like a pith helmet), even though the caption reads that they are in Black Forest, Colorado. They are celebrating 11 years of annual camping trips and that this is their last one, since they are graduating from college and about to go their separate ways. Two of them (the two who keep sniping at each other) have jobs. The third, named Ashley, was only able to manage driving Uber, as some direct result of her getting a Philosophy degree. I shall check my snark on some white dudebro in Hollywood writing condescendingly about educational and financial decisions young women make. Suffice it to say that it’s not a good look for TV writers.

Anyhoo, after sampling some of her friends’ spiced rum, Ashley hears a rustling of bushes in the forest, but she’s the only one alarmed by it. The friend who mocked her degree before goes outside to get more rum. But a moment later, she screams and there’s a rushing noise on the soundtrack. Pith Helmet Girl calls her name (Julie), but there’s no answer. Against Ashley’s wordless protest, PHG goes to the tent flap to zip it closed. But she’s yanked out, with a scream, before she can. Ashley belts out her own scream.

Cue title cards.

Cut to the Bunker, where Sam is walking around with a saltgun and looking in bemusement at the number of unanswered texts he’s sent to Castiel (calling him ‘Cass’). Dean come in from a supply run having made a wonderful discovery – ghost pepper jerky. It only takes a few chews (and some barely suppressed amusement from Sam, who did try to warn him) before Dean realizes his horrible mistake. In the meantime (while Dean’s eyes are watering, and he’s gagging and sucking down water), Sam confirms that the three victims for their new hunt (with the Doomed Teaser Gals) has gone up to five. So, there are new victims out in them thar Colorado woods.

After Dean dashes off to the bathroom to throw up, we cut to a view of the Bunker corridors and then to Sam in a white suit (i.e., Samifer) sitting at the table in the Library. Dean, wearing his season five blue jacket, comes up behind him with the Colt. Saying “Please forgive me” (to which Samifer smiles coldly), Dean cocks the gun and shoots his brother in the back of the head. But Samifer quickly heals ( Dean should have known from season five, already) and lifts his head. Saying “Did you really think that would work? Poor, faithful Dean, we both knew it had to end this way,” he makes Dean spontaneously combust, while basking in the flames.

This turns out to be another nightmare, from which Sam wakes up in the Impala. Dean is driving (they’re on their way to Colorado). Dean asks him to tell him about it, but Sam demurs. Yes, Sam is still lying to Dean about his dreams.

They arrive in daylight and it turns out Dean has a different idea than their usual FBI suits – Fish and Wildlife, with some very old IDs for Ford and Hamill. The sheriff thinks Dean looks old for his ID (which is eye-rolling, since Jared Padalecki has changed much more significantly as he’s aged than Jensen Ackles, albeit Ackles’ voice has “aged” much more). She’s played by the same actress who played Tara the Hunter in season nine’s “First Born,” so I guess that’s final confirmation of Tara’s death. That sucks. I liked Tara. Always kinda hoped she’d somehow managed to survive. And I just retro-reviewed that episode, so it’s still fresh.

The sheriff tells them she thinks it’s a person, not an animal, who’s actually done the attacks because it ate the hearts of the two dead girls (we never find out anything about the other two dead people who were supposedly part of the body count). There’s only one survivor so far – Ashley from the teaser.

Her full name is Ashley Munroe and she’s still in the hospital, with a huge scratch down one side of her face, when the Brothers interview her. Sam asks her if she remembers anything. She has a flashback to running through the woods, being chased by a guy in red flannel, but is too afraid to speak in front of the male nurse. Sam has the nurse talk to him outside, while Dean interviews her alone.

Dean reassures her that “whatever you saw, we’ll believe you.” After a rather short amount of time, she admits that she was attacked by a man, but that this man was a “monster” with big teeth and claws (another flashback) that gave her the scratch and warned her to keep quiet. She begs him for protection. Dean confirms this monster as a werewolf and tells her that monsters are real. Holding her hand, he gives her The Talk and reassures her that everything will be all right. I am more confused by why he’s not checking her for bites with silver.

Dean and Sam consult in the hallway, where Dean fills Sam in. He also has a name – Andy May. Sam points out that it wasn’t a full moon (oh, Show, you decided to remember that bit of lore after ignoring it for so long?). Dean says Andy could be a Pureblood (and ergo, could turn at any time). Sam goes to get the address. Dean turns and looks through the window into Ashley’s room, where she looks terrified and cries to herself.

The Brothers roll up to a rustic cabin in the woods, in broad daylight, still dressed like Duck Dynasty rejects. Sam says Andy lives there with his brother Josh. Oh, look, everybody – blatant MOTW parallels to our lead characters.

So, the guy in the button-down shirt who answers claims he’s not Andy, but that the guy in the pullover white sweater is. Not-Andy is taller and hostile, and keeps throwing the Winchesters shade (including making a snarky age joke about Dean’s ID). This must be Josh. Andy is overly solicitous and helpful, in stark contrast to his brother. Both of them react to Ashley’s photo on Sam’s phone (nice way of outing her to the monsters, Sam), which Dean watches closely. Sam tries to get them to write down their phone number on his notepad, using a silver pen, and Josh recoils. Not very subtle, these two.

After Josh abruptly ends the conversation and practically shuts the door in their faces, Dean suggests to Sam that they shoot both werewolves right then and there. It’s a thought, at that. Would be a shorter episode, anyway.

As the Winchesters go to the Impala and drive away, Josh nervously watches them go. He berates Andy for babbling (and letting Ashley go), but Andy points out they wouldn’t be in this predicament if Josh hadn’t killed the other two girls. Apparently, Josh has been spiraling since their dad (also a werewolf, it seems) died. Josh manages to turn this around on Andy by saying they have to kill Ashley, now.

Just a note – Josh is significantly taller than his brother. Also the older one. Apparently.

That night at the Sleepy Bear Inn, the Winchesters are letting Ashley (who has checked out of the hospital) into their room. Dean offers to let her sleep there for the night, while they take another room next door. Dean’s plan is to go back to the cabin and off the two werewolf brothers before they can get up to any more heart-eating shenanigans. Sam frets that the hunt has been too “easy” so far, which Dean shrugs off.

Ashley throws a spanner in the works, though, when she asks Dean to watch over her until she falls asleep. Dean looks surprised, even chagrined, by the request, but agrees.

Speaking of “easy,” the werewolf brothers are staking out the motel in their rusty pickup. Despite Andy’s pointing out that the Winchesters are there, too, Josh figures it’ll be a breeze to go in and kidnap Ashley.

In the motel room, Dean is having trouble staying awake. He comes out of the bathroom after splashing water on his face. Ashley is in bed, still fully dressed, sitting up. She just took some of the pills the hospital gave her, which Dean adjudges “the good stuff” (he would know).

Ashley asks him if he likes his job. Dean admits that he still does. Yes, there’s “a lot of bad,” but he still does some good. She asks him if ever wanted to be anything else. “Jimi Hendrix,” he jokes.

Ashley talks a bit about her life – graduating from college, the bit about how she and her friends went camping together since they were kids, how she doesn’t have a job or anything. Dean tries to reassure her – “You got time.”

Ashley then says something really strange (and yes, Dean does notice this). She says, “Wouldn’t it be great if everything was just planned out for you? If it was all just already decided?”

“No,” Dean replies as Ashley goes to sleep. “Not really.”

The camera swings portentously down to the alarm clock on the bedstand between their beds (which reads a quarter to twelve). Then, after changing to 1:20 am, it swings back to Dean on his bed, deeply asleep. Sam wakes him up (Dean comes awake, ready to fight) and it turns out Ashley is missing. When Sam came back from getting some food, he found her gone and the door wide open. Without trying to explain, Dean grabs his jacket and runs out the door. Sam follows.

At their house, the werewolf brothers have her in their cellar or shed or kitchen, or something, tied up and gagged, facing a large collection of badly maintained carpentry tools and some blood-streaked metal walls. Why they didn’t kill her at the motel (or, for that matter, Dean) is not explained in the fight they’re having over whether to kill her now. Josh is all hot to kill her – not just to eliminate a witness, but because being a werewolf is awesome. Josh is so high on the smell of his own werewolf farts that he completely spaces the part where his brother is the one talking sense.

Outside, the Winchesters are arriving unnoticed as Dean is insisting the werewolves couldn’t have possibly taken Ashley while he was asleep. Which, considering he is still breathing and in possession of his heart, is a decent point. The werewolf brothers don’t hear them arrive, which I’m willing to attribute to soundproofing going both ways in their abbatoir – until Ashley screams and the Winchesters kick down the door in response.

Andy and Josh hear that and flee the abbatoir, right before the Winchesters enter. Dean puts his gun away long enough to cut Ashley loose. He gets her up and heading out the door as Sam covers them. Alas, Sam’s coverage doesn’t help much. As they are exiting through the living room, the werewolf brothers come down from the ceiling and ambush them. Sam immediately loses his gun.

As Ashley cowers in a corner, Josh goes after Dean and Andy goes after Sam. Both Sam and Dean do pretty badly (unrealistically so) in the fight and even Dean using a dried-up set of deer antlers off the wall against Josh doesn’t go as planned. I recall showrunner Andrew Dabb saying in a recent interview that the Winchesters would have a harder time on hunts thanks to Chuck. Well, that idea sounds nice on paper, but sucks in the execution. All it adds up to here is a boring fight where the Brothers Winchester are losing to two low-rent werewolves for no damned good reason. It’s not even LOL!canon. It’s just lame.

Anyhoo, Andy ends up with Dean’s gun, starts to aim it at Sam, looks agonized, then shoots his brother just as Josh is about to bite Dean. While Sam tries to talk him down, he rants a bit about how Josh was his brother, but was “never going to stop,” that Josh “was a monster and I’m a monster, too.” Then he shoots himself. Bye, Captain Obvious.

The Brothers are seriously confused. Dean even comments, “Well, that was weird.”

As Ashley comes out of the corner, looking freaked out, Dean tries to take her elbow to guide her gently out of the room. Instead, out of nowhere, Ashley shrieks, “DON’T TOUCH ME!” swings around, trips, and lands on the dried-out old antlers, which are suddenly like tensile steel and razor sharp, and pierce her torso in several places. They also appear to kill her instantly.

Sam and Dean are even more confused (not horrified by her sudden death, just confused). After a few seconds, she suddenly revives and says, “Well, this is a bitch.” She sits up, still ‘wearing’ the antlers, and whines, “And I was doing so well, too!” Then she stands up and TK’s the rack out of her back.

Sam says, “What are you?” ‘Ashley’ responds by rolling her eyes up white and we’re treated to a flashback of Sam killing Lilith at the end of season four in “Lucifer Rising.” Dean then says her name.

It turns out that Lilith was dead and in the Empty when Chuck came and revived her. Her mission? To set up the parallel of the two brother werewolves killing each other, seduce Dean, and get the all-killing gun from them that Chuck gave Dean to kill Jack and with which Sam shot Chuck. Oh, and she’s not allowed to kill them.

Dean tells her that if Chuck wants the “Equalizer” back (Lilith insists she won’t call it that; I’m totally calling it that now, just for spite), he can come get it himself.

Sam pulls out the Sparkly Spork and Dean an angel blade, but they give her too much time to prepare. She TKs them back, knocking Sam out. Dean appears to panic over Lilith threatening Sam, so to distract her, he says he’ll take her to the Equalizer if she spares Sam.

We get a reiteration that she can’t kill either of them (Chuck has her on a tight leash), but she can make Dean wish he were dead, if he crosses her. Even so, she keeps batting her eyes at him and making come-ons that aren’t particularly reciprocated. In fact, her boast about seducing Dean is rather sad, considering Dean’s facial expressions in her direction while he thought she was alive and still Ashley ranged from pity to annoyance and back again. We know what Dean’s like when he’s attracted to a woman and that ain’t it. And despite his little shrug when she asks him about the possibility after her reveal, there’s no way he’s going to sleep with a demon when he, himself, is not a demon.

Left behind, Sam has a dream in which he is beaten in the Bunker by Demon!Dean (how I missed you, sir!) and then stabbed to death with the First Blade. Sadly, it doesn’t last long – the dream, I mean.

Sam wakes up abruptly, alone in the cabin. He finds the werewolves’ rusty old pickup, and chases after Dean and Lilith.

In the Impala on the way to the motel, Dean actively pumps Lilith for info. She spills even more than he wants to hear. It turns out that she picked poor Ashley because (said in a robotic voice as if quoting Chuck) “of the three potential vessels, she had the nicest hair” (they’re hosts, not vessels, you numpty writers). She died to let Lucifer out of the Cage, which was apparently her greatest wish, for reasons she never makes clear (I never really got what was in all that for her). Now she’s stuck working for Chuck (the “everything planned out for you” line was Chuck’s). She can’t hurt him, but she can hurt Dean.

She also mentions that Chuck has “a pervy, pervy obsession” with Dean. And that Chuck’s favorite story ending is Sam and Dean killing each other. She even lampshades that the two werewolf brothers were “foreshadowing” because it seems the writers think the audience is too stupid to have figured it out for ourselves.

Back at the motel room, Dean balks and says he forgot that the Equalizer isn’t there. I don’t quite understand why Lilith jumped through so many hoops to get back to the place she was just a few hours ago, foreshadowing or no foreshadowing with werewolves, when her main mission was to get the Equalizer. Why not just put Dean to sleep and then ransack the room?

Anyhoo, she starts TK-slashing him in various places to torture him into complying. It doesn’t work, but it gives Sam enough time to come in with a gun and shoot her in the head with a devil’s trap bullet. She is temporarily stuck and the Winchesters flee as soon as she demonstrates that she’s not completely powerless. Sam says he can just kill her again. Lilith begs to differ, saying she “let” Sam kill her before. Oh, honey. You are so dumb, Lilith.

Anyhoo, Dean quickly realizes that they need to get out because she is powerful enough to rid herself of the bullet. Unfortunately, they only get halfway across the parking lot before she does. She freezes them in place and teleports in front of them.

So, after some painfully obvious deduction that the Equalizer isn’t in the motel room, and making a rather large leap of logic that they wouldn’t leave it in the Bunker, she decides it’s in the Impala. And it is. It’s in the glove compartment box.

She melts it right in front of them, to their despair, and then leaves after some gloating that she will “see you soon.” But she doesn’t take the metal, which is, you know, probably still magical.

Back at the Bunker, Sam calls Castiel and tries to warn him about Chuck being back, but it goes to voicemail. Dean comes in with beers and they discuss this latest startling development.

Dean has been holding up well so far this season, but he’s now having a hard time processing that Chuck is back. He tells Sam what Lilith said about one of them killing the other (but not that Chuck is obsessed with Dean). Sam then admits that he’s having dreams about Chuck’s endings and Dean is a tad irritated Sam never mentioned that before. Sam claims he thought it was just PTSD. He thinks the effect has to do with the bullet wound. Maybe Sam is “in [Chuck’s] head.” Sam is all about the plans to use this to their advantage.

Dean, however, is in despair: “How the hell are we supposed to fight God?”

Credits

The show got another 0.3/2 and went back up to 1.30 million in audience.

The preview and synopsis for the next episode (“Golden Time”) is up, as is the one for this week, which is Deancentric and guest-stars Christian Kane. It appears the show will go on Christmas hiatus until January 16 after the December 12 episode (15.08 – “Our Father Who Aren’t in Heaven”), though there’s a rumor one might air on December 19. Even with only 20 episodes in the season, this means over half the season will air in the spring. I sure hope the pace picks up before Christmas hiatus, but with the Nepotism Duo writing the December 12th ep, we’ll be lucky if that one wants us to keep watching at all.

Review: Oh, hi, Dean. Nice to see you in the mytharc again.

It’s frustrating that the newest and (quite frankly) most intriguing part of the storyline by far this week is the part that isn’t lampshaded repeatedly with flashbacks, and on-the-nose dialogue and situations. For example, the episode’s writer, Steve Yockey, flat-out quoted the passage cited in the episode’s title, as if fans were incapable of looking it up for ourselves: “The crucible [is] for silver and the furnace [is] for gold, but the Lord tests the heart.” He’s also stated that this is his last episode for the show. Though I enjoyed some of his previous entries, most of this one was a half-cooked slog, so I’m not overly sorry to see him go.

So, we’ll see what actually happens with that one (very significant) bit, which is Lilith’s throwaway line about Chuck’s “pervy, pervy obsession with” Dean. She decidedly does not mean Sam. She has basically no time for Sam these days. In fact, it’s fairly dizzying whether she’s trying to seduce Dean because she’s actually really into Dean now or because Chuck told her to.

This opens an intriguing possibility (which Dean doesn’t see, at least not this week) that Dean might be able to manipulate Chuck. It sure seems more likely to succeed than Sam’s hair-brained idea that Chuck has no idea Sam is in his head, or that Sam could influence Chuck, or even get intel on him. Sam was dead wrong, for example, that Chuck had left the SPNverse building and I see no reason why he’d be right now. Sam’s track record with manipulating powerful beings is downright pitiful, even if the show did decide to leave out the bits of his killing Lilith in season four that included Ruby manipulating him into it.

I also thought it was interesting that while Lilith told Dean Chuck’s favorite ending was one brother killing the other, the emphasis in Sam’s dreams from Chuck was heavily on Sam killing Dean. Even the Demon!Dean sequence had a flavor of warning, of “You’d better kill Dean before he kills you.” It was also the only dream in which the killer brother had a legitimate beef with the other. What Sam did to Dean to “cure” him was nasty and remained largely unaddressed afterward.

But Dean has some high-level notches on his seduction belt and the way he messed with Lilith (in ways she didn’t always notice) this week indicates he hasn’t lost his touch. Chuck’s own sister Amara found Dean immensely more intriguing than her own brother in season 11 (I guess that’s why the show had to write her out in the second episode of this season, huh?). And, of course, there’s the forgotten actual, onscreen toxic romance between Dean and Crowley, in which Dean, like a classic film noir femme fatale, had Crowley twisted right around his finger for years. And everyone noticed, including Crowley, but Crowley couldn’t (or wouldn’t) do a thing about it. So, the idea that Dean could use Chuck’s obsession with him, against Chuck, is not at all far-fetched.

Though I was rolling my eyes pretty hard at the way the episode wanted us to believe that Dean was toxic for poor Ashley. There were some serious plotholes for that character (not least the timeline of when Lilith actually possessed her and how Lilith manipulated the werewolf brothers). But the big one was – since when is Dean the brother who is deadly for his female partners? Seems to me Sam’s the one with the track record in girlfriends who end up roadkill. Dean’s partners have an excellent survival rate and leave pretty satisfied. Not that Dean seemed very interested in sleeping with Ashley.

Woof. Speaking of, I’d forgotten what a prattling, overenunciating moron Lilith was. Sure, she’s an overpowered moron, but the show has gotten to the point where that kind of character no longer impresses. We (and the Brothers) have already encountered far too many other characters who make Lilith look like an insect.

And that’s a lot of the problem. She worked well in context – as the powerful herald to the Devil Himself. But she’s way outta context now. Lucifer himself has been diminished and killed off (though sure, he could still come back from the Empty, though I hope not). And now that she’s working for Chuck, she’s actually less threatening than before because she can’t actually kill Sam and Dean.

It doesn’t help that even now, we still don’t know whatever truly motivated her. Freeing Lucifer was a goal, not a motivation. What did she see in it for her, getting herself killed for the cause? Well, we never found out in “Lucifer Rising” and we didn’t find out this week, either.

She started out on the show as the Devil’s Bitch. Now she’s become his daddy’s bitch. But throughout, she has remained Some More-Powerful Male Character’s Bitch. Unlike Abaddon, who cheerfully caught up to speed after being in a timewarp for half a century and immediately decided to go for being Queen of Hell (because Abaddon began and ended awesomely evil), Lilith is now permanently out of touch and permanently stuck being some dudebro’s disposable right-hand henchwoman. That’s not scary. That’s just sad.

Also, would it kill the writers to remember their own damned canon that people possessed by demons are “hosts” not “vessels,” as Lilith calls the poor kid she’s possessing this week? The actress was actually decent, keeping a clear demarcation between Lilith and poor Ashley, but there wasn’t a whole lot of “there” there for her to work with. The show even seems to want us to forget about that whole “babies on the menu” thing from season four.

So, we see Lilith berating the Brothers for being dumb (because they didn’t – and couldn’t have – anticipate a dead enemy returning from a place dead enemies don’t return from), while doing Very Dumb Things. Yeah, she melts the Equalizer (I’m gonna use that just out of spite because the writers had her hating it), but then she leaves the puddle of metal behind. I mean, it’s not as though the Equalizer was much use to them, anyway, but they might also be able to do something with that puddle of metal (because hello, what is one of Dean’s skills? Metallurgy).

And I was rolling my eyes pretty hard when she was monologuing about all the terrible things she was going to do to them to get the Equalizer, all of two seconds after she admitted that Chuck wouldn’t let her do anything permanent to them, anyway. Plus, by admitting that Chuck brought her back and needed the gun, she ended up giving the Brothers all kinds of intel (including that Chuck was weaker than they previous thought), while getting from them a semi-useless powerful gun that she melted down and then still left in their possession.

Like I said, not very bright. I mean, obviously, she doesn’t really care about the mission in the first place, but she “cared” (i.e., was intimidated by Chuck) enough to agree to do it in the first place to stay out of the Empty. So, maybe do better at it?


One good thing to come out of this was confirmation that it wasn’t just coincidence last season, Chuck honing in on Dean like that. Lilith refers to Chuck’s “pervy, pervy obsession” with Dean. But it sure was a long, boring MOTW slog to get to that one critical scene, the only one that advanced the plot in any significant way. You need to up the pace a bit, Show, both within episodes and with your mytharc.

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


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The Official Supernatural: “Atomic Monsters” (15.04) 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.

It’s been a tough summer, so I’m way behind on my recaps and reviews. As of this review, I now have 49 episodes left to finish for previous seasons, plus the 16 after this one for the final (15th) season that started on October 10. That’s 65 total by next April. I currently have 151 coffees at $3 each on Ko-Fi (many thanks to those who have contributed so far!). If I get 300 coffees total, I will commit to doing one recap/review per week (retro or Season 15). If I get 400 coffees, I will commit to two. If I get 500 coffees, three reviews. If I get 600 coffees, four reviews. If I get 700 coffees, five reviews per week.

Other that that, 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: It’s a full moon over the Bunker, from which echoes gunfire. Inside, it’s down to emergency lighting and a man in a black suit is thrown into a wall at the T-junction of a corridor. His attacker, in stuttering stop-go slo-mo, comes into view. It’s Dean, bearded and looking even more like a survivalist than ever. Dean shoots the man, who then lights up from inside with dying demon light. Seems Dean and his Hunters have figured out how to make demon-killing bullets.

Dean kills some more demons (including multiples) in major badass fashion, steps over a bunch of dead comrades and demons, encounters a living comrade, and ends up in a room with another dying comrade. This one is Benny, but Benny appears to be … human? And beardless. Despite Dean’s reassurances that he will be fine, Benny knows the score. He says, “See you on the other side, brother,” and dies. Upset, Dean grabs a still-alive demon in the room and demands to know where “he” is. The demon tries it on with the snark, instead. Bad call. Dean shoots him in the head, lighting him up like a pinball machine.

Dean comes out into the library/map room to find Sam, all hopped up on demon blood and now superduperduper powerful (and even more irritating than last we saw this permutation of him in season four). Dean tries to talk Sam down as another Hunter tries to sneak up on Sam. But Sam senses the Hunter (even though this was not a talent any psykid ever had) and snaps his neck. Then, he snaps Dean’s and looks smug about it.

The scene jumbles and Sam wakes up in the Bunker. It turns out this was a nightmare (a longer version of the flash he had a couple of episodes ago when Castiel tried to heal his Chuck wound). He’s pretty upset about it.

Cue title cards.

Cut to Dean in the kitchen, quietly eating bacon (by this, I mean that his body language is very still and not just that he isn’t saying anything). Sam comes in, still at loose ends about his dream, but when Dean asks him if he’s okay, Sam brushes it off as just still being at loose ends about Rowena. Yep. He lies to Dean. I’m shocked, too.

Dean suggests Sam eat something, but Sam turns his nose up at Dean’s bacon, even when Dean tells him it’s the “veggie bacon you been asking for.” Okay, first of all, since when is Sam a vegetarian (some LOL!canon from episode writer Davy Perez there)? Second of all, Sam is a grown-ass man in his thirties. If he wants some “veggie bacon” to put in the fridge in Dean’s “Meat Man” kitchen, he can go do his own damned grocery shopping. Jesus, this show fails miserably at propping Sam up, sometimes, and just makes him look like a spoiled child.

On top of this, Dean has to try to buck Sam up, even as he confirms in the dialogue that Sam has been holing up in his room for days, letting Dean haul all the weight. Thanks, Sam.

Dean pulls up a hunt he’s researched and talks a reluctant Sam into going along, instead of Dean handling it himself or going with another Hunter. It’s a story in the Des Moines Herald, about a rash of cattle mutilations and one pretty blonde cheerleader who was “ripped to pieces,” in Beaverdale, Iowa. He also pranks Sam by getting him to eat the “veggie bacon” (yes, it’s really the real thing). The obvious intent is to cheer, or at least irritate, Sam out of his depressive navel-gazing. I mean, hey, it worked in season two.

In front of Beaverdale High School (in that annoying broad daylight that has become the hallmark of this final season), Sam is interviewing the principal, posing as an FBI agent in a suit. She tells him the victim, Susie, was pleasant and popular, involved with everything, with lots of friends and no enemies. When Sam asks about close friends, the principal directs him to a group led by a girl named “Veronica.” Yes, she really does. And really, Perez? It should have been “Heather.”

A middle-aged couple shows up, parents of a male student. The mother (a blonde – I swear they’re all blonde in this episode except for Veronica) is hot for the prayer service to be done and over with so they can get to the important stuff – the lacrosse game where her son is due to impress a visiting talent scout. Both the principal and Sam call Helicopter Mom out on her insensitivity, but that somehow doesn’t quite persuade her to stop being a complete twat. After the parents leave, the principal cynically comments that many of the parents at the high school are like HM.

Sam returns to the Impala, where Dean (also suited up) is eating a bag of chips. Dean’s time has been most productively spent at the morgue. He found a vampire fang and there were no defensive wounds on the victim, indicating she knew whoever killed her. When Sam points out that vampires don’t normally rip apart their victims, Dean says, “Apparently, this one does.”

We’re ten minutes in and all that’s really left to do is figure out who’s the vamp. We get a clue as a mascot in a Beaver suit rides by on a scooter. Dean smiles and comments that this is “awesome.”

Later that night, another blonde cheerleader is heading out to her car after practice, complaining about how “fake” Veronica is in her grief. She is then attacked, mid-scream, by something unseen.

The next day, the Brothers drive out to the woods, to the site where Susie’s body was found. The first thing they notice is that there is hardly any blood – the body was dumped. This is not the original kill site.

After Dean comments that the police are “freaked” by the case, Sam starts whinging about how people in the town are oblivious civilians, that Hunters like the Winchesters have to “carry the weight” of the truth about the world. Right away, Dean pulls out his flask of whiskey and starts drinking. Yeah, I’m hittin’ the hard nog just to get through Sam’s little rant, myself.

Sam gets a call from the principal about the kidnapped girl.

Cut to a guy putting his kids in the car to go camping. Out comes his wife with some motion sickness pills for one of the kids when they ride in a boat. It’s Becky Rosen, y’all, whom we have not seen since season seven. She seems happy in her life, but looking forward to having the house to herself for a few days while her family is off camping.

As the car drives away, Chuck appears on the other side of the street, waving creepily like Pennywise the Clown. Horrified, Becky starts to scamper back into the house, but Chuck runs after her and begs her to let him come in and talk. Rather reluctantly, she lets him in.

In the principal’s office, the principal is filling the Brothers in on the kidnapping of the second cheerleader, whose name is “Tori Taylor” (of course it is). Upon hearing that Tori is also a cheerleader, Dean comments that “someone has a fetish.” This gets the principal’s dander up because criminal profiling isn’t a thing in the SPNverse, anymore, I guess.

Back at Becky’s, Chuck notices a bunch of figures and such that seem related to the Winchester’s story (there are a lot of nice little visual Easter Eggs in this storyline thanks to Ackles’ direction, including a fabulous poster for “A Very Supernatural Christmas” and Funko Pop figurines of Sam, Dean and Castiel). Becky calls them her maquettes. She says that she is the “most successful” creator of “unofficial Supernatural merchandise” in the U.S. and possibly even the world.

She says she’s even continued writing her own fanfic (which Chuck disparages at every opportunity throughout the episode) of the Brothers doing ordinary things like laundry and talking. Chuck doesn’t think that’s very exciting, even after Becky tries to defend it as what fans “really” want to see instead of action, horror and drama.

Becky expresses regret for kidnapping and drugging Sam in “Season Seven, Time for a Wedding!” and says that she got a lot of therapy after that. She said she finally realized that she wasn’t in love with the real Sam, but his character. Somehow … that doesn’t sound better. It seems to diminish Sam, somehow, and make him not seem as good as the fantasy.

Anyhoo, Becky has a pretty good sideline business in her fan figurines and she wants to get back to it because she’s behind in her orders. So, she tells Chuck to get to the point or she’ll kick him out. Chuck admits that he “had a falling out” with Sam and Dean, leaving him now “low on resources,” and that when he went to his sister for help, she blew him off. Becky easily sees through this using of her as his last best resort tactic from him and that he wants her to “fluff” him. But she’s not interested. She has a good life and “I don’t need you.”

Chuck whines that that’s the problem. “No one” needs him and “I kinda hate me right now … I don’t know what I’m doing. I feel so lost.” When Becky, now feeling a bit sorry for him, asks him what makes him feel better, he says that “writing” and “creating” do (uh-oh), so she encourages him to do that.

On a stone picnic bench in front of the school, Dean is talking to the mascot, whose name is Toby. Dean is also still eating.

Sam walks up, acting skeptical about Dean befriending the mascot (yeah, Sam’s early-seasons social snobbery is on full display this week). Dean points out that Toby has a full scholarship to Iowa University and is very observant: “He knows a lot about cheerleaders. In a mostly non-creepy sort of way.”

Dean shares a valuable bit of information about the school hierarchy that Toby shared with him – Susie was the Alpha female among the cheerleaders, Tory her second-in-command. Who takes charge now they’re gone? Veronica, of course.

At that moment, Veronica is running the Susie shrine in the gym and talking to a young jock. His name is Billy and it turns out he was Susie’s boyfriend. Veronica puts the heavy moves on him, but Billy’s mom interrupts them. And guess who she is? That’s right. It’s HM.

After Billy leaves with HM, Veronica goes to the podium and starts practicing her eulogy for Susie in a totally fake way. The Brothers enter and Dean alerts her to their presence by sarcastically clapping at her delivery. But as they gear up to take her down with some dead man’s blood (Sam is hiding the ginormous syringe behind his back), Sam notices that she is wearing braces. She can’t “fang out” with those, so they quickly and quietly leave. Outside, Sam thinks up a new lead when he spots a CCTV camera outside the school. Um … wouldn’t they have thought of that right off?

Back at Billy’s house, HM is bitching at him that she had to come into the school to retrieve him. Boy, is she tightly wound. When Dad comes in, she insists he talk to Billy. Dad just says, “Listen to your mother.”

Billy turns and leaves, instead. Mom is irritated and stalks off, declaring that she needs wine (since it seems she’s an alcoholic on top of being a pretentious twat).

Dad starts washing his hands, which are bloody. The camera strolls out through the pristine hallways of the house to the attached garage. In it, kidnapped teen Tori is tied up, with bloody arms, gagged and blindfolded. She wakes up and starts screaming into her gag.

Back at Becky’s, Chuck discovers to his chagrin that Becky doesn’t have anything stronger than cranapple juice. He says that he used to be able “to see Sam and Dean inside my head … just ripe for the picking.” But he can’t do that, anymore (as he talks, he rubs his wound from the magic bullet). Becky guesses that this is because Chuck has lost his Prophet powers and he hedges a yes. What he’s really admitting to is that he’s no longer omniscient.

She suggests he write a different story with different characters. He says he doesn’t want to. He really likes writing about Sam and Dean. She says that he’s basically just stalling (awww, and all for NaNoWriMo, too). After she lectures him sternly about procrastination, Chuck gets a brainwave. To her dismay, he decides to indulge it then and there by sitting down at her laptop and starting a new story.

Back in Beaverdale, the principal is showing the Brothers the CCTV footage. Tori’s kidnapping is clearly shown, but her assailant is wearing a mask and drags her offscreen. However, immediately afterward, another car roars off past hers in the parking lot and Sam gets the license plate number.

Back at Billy’s, he’s having a fight with his parents, especially his mom. She lays this huge guilt trip on him about all the “sacrifices” they made for him, but her intensity remains unexplained. She just comes off as unhinged, hyper-controlling and annoying as hell. She even gets all weepy and leaves the room. Dad asks him what he wants. Billy angrily says that he doesn’t want “any of this” and never did.

The doorbell rings and it’s the Brothers. As they come in, the girl in the garage starts struggling again. Dad sends Billy upstairs. Sam and Dean accuse Dad of being the vampire, though they initially just accuse him of kidnapping the girls. Tori knocks something down in the garage and Sam goes to investigate, as Dean continues to interrogate Dad, pulling out a machete.

Sam unties the dazed girl, who is attached to a blood bag, and starts to pick her up. But Evil Bitch Mom shows up with a gun and forces them to come back inside the house. Boy, is Dean disappointed when it turns out Sam couldn’t even watch his own back, let alone Dean’s. Though he does ask how the girl is doing. Sam says, “Not good,” as he lays her on the couch.

Dad tries to talk Crazy Mom into letting him take the fall. After all, gunfire would bring down real law enforcement and then things would get ugly.

Back at Becky’s, Becky is reading what Chuck just wrote and is not impressed. She tries to pretend that she likes it, but Chuck sees through her act. She finally admit that the villains are boring and the story is “low stakes … no Classic Rock. Nobody even mentions Cas.” Not his best.

Chuck gets an ugly look on his face: “You want jeopardy? You want danger?” He evicts her from her chair and then starts writing again: “I’ll give you danger.”

The impasse at the ‘rents’ house is fairly brief, since Billy comes back downstairs. Staring at Dad, Dean floats the Brothers’ theory that Dad is the vampire. But Sam then guesses it’s actually Billy.

Billy admits that after he was turned into a vampire (it’s not made clear how or exactly when), he tried to make do with cows (hence the cattle mutilations). But as he was making out with Susie in his truck one night, he lost control. He ended up killing her. Dean then guesses that the parents chopped Susie up and dumped her body in the woods.

Dad starts burbling on about how Dean doesn’t understand their motives because he’s never had a child (oh, so much clueless irony) and Mom is all for murdering the Brothers and burying them out back, “under the peonies.” These two have totally lost the plot.

Fortunately, Billy gets them to stand down and points out that it’s not going to work. He loved Susie and he killed her, and he knows he will kill again: “I’m a monster.”

He tells his parents to take the girl to the hospital, to blame the attack and kidnapping on him. He then tells them he is going to “take a ride” with Sam and Dean. Turning to them, he says, “Isn’t that how this works?”

Cue a montage (to Radio Company’s “Sounds of Someday”) of Tori being carried off to the hospital, while the teary-eyed parents (who really should have been horribly offed) give the police Billy’s photo, and of Dean beheading Billy out in the woods, while a pensive Sam watches.

Back at Becky’s, Chuck has finished and he looks all post-coital about it. Oh, this can’t be good. Becky’s just read the new stuff and she hates it. She thinks it’s “dark … horrible … hopeless.” Chuck is fine with that. His perfect image for his story is of a tombstone with just one name – Winchester – on it.

Becky’s family arrives home in the middle of this. Right before her husband walks in, Becky tells Chuck to leave (because explaining what your creepy ex is doing alone in the house with you, while your husband and kids were off on vacation, would be very awkward). But Chuck, all smiling and satisfied, says he’s fine where he is. As Becky begs “please” in a whisper, in walks her husband. He has just enough time to look confused at Chuck’s presence and cheery, sarcastic wave, before Chuck snaps his fingers and makes him dissolve in dust. The kids are noisily coming in and Chuck snaps them out of existence, too. Becky reacts in visceral horror to the erasures of her family.

Chuck smugly tells her that her family is not “dead, just away.” Then he tells her he’s God. Becky doesn’t believe this at first, but then quickly devolves into anger and then begging for Chuck to “bring them back,” saying “You can’t do this!”

“Oh, Becky,” Chuck says, as he snaps her out of existence, too, “I can do anything. I’m a writer.”

In the final car scene, Sam’s takeaway from the hunt, and Billy’s mom and dad’s shitty parenting, is that he and Dean would have done the same thing for Jack ([facepalm] Oh, Sam, come on). Rather noncommittally, Dean agrees, but says that he wanted to get them out on a hunt so that they could show they still make a difference. Dean insists they’re “free” now Chuck is gone. He mentions Rowena and Mary among their losses, in addition to Jack, but not Castiel. Some fans got chapped about this, but remember that Castiel isn’t dead. And that Sam apparently does not know that Castiel has bailed on them. Therefore, Castiel doesn’t belong on that list of dead (mostly female) allies.

Whiny Sam still manages to make it All About himself, saying he’s not able to let any of his old trauma go. Hell, he still thinks about Jessica. I should have been like “awww,” but to be honest, this whole speech sounded a tad pathetic in a “Don’t use Billy’s ‘rents as moral examples, Sam” kind of way.

Meanwhile, now alone at Becky’s, Chuck is writing more story and sneering evilly, while Sam and Dean dolls bobblehead on the desk next to him, beside a model tree and on top of a devil’s trap.

Credits

The episode got a 0.3/2 and dropped to 1.10 million in audience. Kind of a shame for Jensen Ackles’ last episode, though the DVR ratings will probably go up considerably (they’re not out, yet).

The preview and synopsis for the next episode are up.

Review: I … don ‘t know how I feel about this episode. I disliked the script – as in, a whole lot. And it did nothing whatsoever to restore my confidence that the show’s current writers have a clue what they’re doing. But the direction? Well, the direction deserved a better script and in the places where director Jensen Ackles got to do his thing, it worked very well. Also, there was some really good acting.

But boy, that script. Yuck. Also, I have no idea why it’s called “Atomic Monsters.” No one else seems to know, either.

There’s a small scene in the middle that sums up my ambivalence. The Brothers are outside the car in that annoying s15 broad daylight, in suits, talking about the case. This quickly devolves into Sam complaining about how oblivious the civilians on the case are to all the supernatural horror around them. When Dean points out that Sam used to want to be just like them (Dean doesn’t say “social climbing” and “elitist,” but it’s true), Sam’s grousing turns bitter and he mopes about all that they’ve lost.

Meanwhile, Dean is mmm-hmming and pulling out his ubiquitous flask of booze for a few hefty swigs. And not once does Sam notice that his brother is hitting the bottle (and though he does notice Dean eating a lot, he doesn’t put two and two together and realize that Dean is eating a lot). It’s a nicely understated scene about how each brother is (not) coping, but I find myself wondering if all of the stuff about Dean’s nonverbal non-coping was in the direction because the rest of the script is all Tralalalala Puir Sammy and Sam’s own obliviousness to Dean’s drinking makes Sam look like a tool.

It doesn’t help that what Dean is eating in that first scene after the credits is Mary’s favorite food – bacon. There he is, quietly mourning his mother (all over again) by eating breakfast as if she were still there. Not only doesn’t Sam notice that, but he downmouths the very idea of eating bacon that isn’t the veggie burger kind (he even gags when he realizes it’s the real thing). Nor does he mention Mary, since he’s too wrapped up in bemoaning having to put Rowena down like Old Yeller last week and is still hung up on the death of Mary’s murderer, whom he still insists on seeing as a foster son. And what does Dean do? Try to cheer Sam up by turning it into a prank. And does Sam respond? Nope. His head is too far up his own ass even to notice what Dean is trying to do.

It’s not that Sam isn’t sad or depressed, but when the story puts him next to someone who is just as sad and depressed, yet not only is Dean getting out there and taking care of business, but he’s also getting out there and taking care of Sam’s business for him, while Sam stays in his room and mopes, it makes it hard for me to care about Sam’s epic manpain.

Probably the best scene is the opening teaser, which turns out to be Sam’s dream (and possible vision of another reality that Chuck created). But again, this points up the deficits of the script. Jensen Ackles has said he asked to expand what was originally on the page into an extended fight scene. I’m not gonna lie – that scene is a thing of violent, tragic beauty. It’s basically Dean in a last stand with his Hunter team, who are loyal to him and who include a dying Benny, against Sam and a bunch of smarmy demons. Ackles directs action very well and the show’s still got a good crew to back him up.

But it suffers from the same flaw that “The End” did back in season five. It pits a fascinatingly flawed and scarred EndTimes!Dean against a bland Superpowerful Sam. And that version of Sam makes drying paint look action-packed. Nickifer had a character arc, so he could stick around for a while (too long, imho, but he did have a point and was scary for a while). But Samifer is simply the end result of Sam saying yes and the closer Sam got to being Lucifer’s vessel, the less of a personality he had (and what he retained was really unpleasant). At the point Lucifer possesses him in these AUs, Sam “dies” permanently and ceases to exist. Samifer, being Dean’s bane, then kills Dean. Except as an endgame character, Samifer has no point. So, once he shows up, the clock starts running on the fun because the moment he snaps Dean’s neck, the moment’s over. Mixing it up by having him “still” be Sam, but hopped up on demon blood, doesn’t improve matters.

And yet, as Ackles’ account heavily implies, the entire simplistic point of this scene was to get to that moment.

Another nice Easter egg of the episode was the montage near the end where the Brothers dispatch the MOTW. I was not the least bit impressed by the shallow, rich parents (that pains me, because I like Duncan Fraser). They came off as shrill and obnoxious, having no rational backstory for their delusional obsession with killing to protect their son (was this a metaphor for young athletes who are rapists or murderers or what?). It felt like a lazy stab at the recent college admissions scandal, but instead, we got stuck with a paint-by-numbers hunt involving an upper-class school, with cheerleaders and jocks, and a lot of shallow misogyny. Poor Susie barely exists except as a victim for her sympathetic-monster boyfriend to accidentally rip apart and Tori is basically a Damsel in Distress/blood bag.

There was a possibility here to tell an elegiac story in memorial for Rowena that highlighted her growth from an uncaring to an obsessive to a grieving mother, who eventually grew into a heroic figure. The script could have made into a metaphor of comparison the parents and their misogynistic focus on literally using dead girls’ bodies to save their son and fuel his sports career. But I sense that kind of depth never once occurred to Perez and the others in the writers room. They were too busy with their obvious and self-congratulatory meta involving Chuck the Writer Stand-In being an Angry God.

It’s not even that the ‘rents’ sociopathic self-absorption is left to subtext or metaphor – the script doesn’t address it at all. When Daddy and Mommy Dearest were whining that only a parent could understand why they cut up an innocent girl to cover for their son, and kidnapped another innocent girl to feed him with her blood, I kept wondering why no one else suggested they try that line on with Susie or Tori’s parents. See how forgiving they’d be.

The son was sympathetic, if only because he met the minimum requirements of decent human behavior that his parents didn’t, by not running from or fighting his fate in the form of the Brothers Winchester. He went to his death, knowing it was the right thing. But with how clearly the script wants us to perceive Billy, it’s that much more frustrating how vague and unsatisfying the writing is for his parents. Are we supposed to see them as evil? If so, why aren’t they messily dead by the end of the episode? If the script wants us to see them as desperate and confused, why are they so damned unsympathetic?

Bleah.

But the montage of Dean beheading Billy to Radio Company‘s mournful and bluesy “Sounds of Someday” was surprisingly effective. For those who have been hiding under a rock, Radio Company is the pairing between Ackles and his friend Steve Carlson, and Ackles sings lead vocals on this song. All that said, this isn’t just product placement or substituting soundtrack music for a rock standard. The song actually works with the montage. There’s a bleak, 70s roadhouse sound to it, with vaguely apocalyptic lyrics that set a mood rather than narrate a story.

I have mixed feelings about the scenes between Becky and Chuck. As much as I love the acting between them (Emily Perkins really nails Becky’s hard-won Soccer Mom maturity, and then her fear and despair as Chuck rips the veil off the true state of her universe in an almost Lovecraftian way), I still hate, hate hate the idea of Chuck as God. The more we dig into this storyline, the more I dig my heels in to resist it.

In order for the Winchesters to have any chance to beat him, then God has to become … well … not really God, anymore. He can’t be omniscient because then he’d anticipate every single thing they ever did or thought, or ever could do or think. He can’t be omnipotent, because then there’d be no way to beat him. He can’t be omnipresent or omnitemporal because then he’d be everywhere and everywhen, and not allow this situation to occur in the first place because he would have seen it coming billions of years away.

So, if he’s none of those things, how can he be God? Okay, he created the SPNverse, but that just makes him a demiurge, not God with a capital G. And Amara can’t be God, either, because she’s not omniscient. I’m still hoping there will be some twist in all this – such as that the Chuck we’ve seen since last season’s finale is actually the Empty Entity (since his current nihilistic attitude reflects the persona of the Empty Entity much more than what we’ve seen of Chuck over the years), but it still begs the question of why the “real” Chuck didn’t foresee this.

I get the impression, thanks to their constant obsession with the Thanos storyline in the Marvel films (and Andrew Dabb’s background in comics), that the writers are under the delusion that movie Thanos is a good villain. Lordie, no. Enough about that damned finger snap.

Thanos is a one-note antagonist, about on the level with a natural disaster but somehow less compelling. That’s why he gets killed off so early in the latest film. Thanos is simply not that interesting, even including his creepy relationship with his forcibly adopted daughters. What is interesting is how various characters react to the destruction that one snap (and how Thanos got the stones to make it happen) causes. So, modeling Chuck (a character who, to this point, has actually been fairly mysterious if not the least bit ineffable) after Thanos is a major mistake.

The question arises, “Why all the puppet strings?” Why does Chuck need to write a story in order to manipulate the Winchesters into doing what he wants? I mean, I get why that would work with Sam. Sam’s entire story has been about how he rebelled against one script (the Family Business and John’s blue collar revenge quest), only to find his very rebellion was another, deeper script being written by demons at Lucifer’s behest.

And I also get why it would work with Castiel. Castiel, as an angel, basically didn’t have any Free Will during his first appearances and we discover later that every time in the past he’d gotten some, it was erased by more angelic programming. Chuck was usually the one who kept bringing him back, so the subsequent chaos he sowed had to be been part of Chuck’s plan.

As for Jack, Chuck admitted outright in last season’s finale that Jack’s conception and birth and supposedly chaotic rampage of childish power were nothing more than an assassination attempt on Dean. As soon as Dean threw down the Equalizer gun and refused to shoot Jack, Jack became surplus to requirements. With a snap of his fingers, Chuck smote him. Even after Sam shot Chuck in revenge and made him angry, Chuck still had more than enough power to open all the gates of Hell. Jack, far from how he’d been built up over two seasons, was never a threat to his grandfather.

But that’s the thing – Chuck can smite anyone. He should be able to pop up in the Bunker at any time and kill everyone there. I mean, look what he did to Becky and her family.

What was so chilling about the acting and direction of the rather simplistic scriptwriting for their scenes was how we saw that Becky had grown up and was now happy, only to have her creepy ex pop in after he’d ghosted her nearly a decade before. Then slowly, in an increasingly dark sequence that felt like a predator stalking an unsuspecting and totally helpless prey, we saw Becky’s dawning horror as she realized that not only was Chuck God, but he really was The Monster At The End Of This Book. And then he smote her (yeah, I know he claimed that he didn’t actually kill her and her family, but they sure aren’t in the story, anymore).

So, why, when it comes to the Winchesters, is he writing a story, instead? We had this self-indulgent bullshit in season nine with Metatron and it was pretty tedious. And yeah, having Chuck the Author Insert smiting Becky the Fandom Insert was pretty mean-spirited (also inaccurate, since Dabb & Co. don’t have jobs without an audience). Authors, just because you’re building the world and creating the characters, that does not make you God in the story. Resist the urge to self-insert like that.

But we’re stuck with that concept here and therefore, we must wrestle with it [downs more rum and eggnog]. Why is Chuck pulling a Bond Villain and writing a story about the Winchesters instead of just visiting the Bunker, a-smitin’ as he goes, like not-quite-Samifer in the episode’s teaser? If he’s that mad at them, why give them a chance to wriggle out of his trap and get him back? Didn’t he already learn from Sam shooting him last season?

See, that’s the thing – Sam and Castiel may have proven unable to break free from Chuck’s predestination all their existence, but this is categorically not true for Dean. Dean has broken free of Chuck’s story at least three times and the third time was the end of last season. There’s been a lot of fan focus on Sam shooting Chuck (which took Chuck by surprise), but this was something that occurred in the wake of Dean taking Chuck by surprise by refusing to shoot Jack, and Chuck flipping the table over it.

It wasn’t until Dean flatly rejected Chuck’s order to pick up the gun and shoot Jack that Chuck smote Jack himself. Yeah, Chuck threw a tantrum after Sam shot him, but Sam didn’t shoot Chuck until after Dean defied him and after Chuck smote Jack. The decision that kicked things off was Dean refusing to bow to Chuck’s story, to Chuck’s will, even after Chuck switched to bargaining and offered Mary back (and why did he even need to bargain with Dean when he could smite Jack himself at any time?).

So, even if Chuck writes another story, Dean is bound to disobey and change it at some point. Because that’s just how Dean rolls. And once Dean rolls that way, it allows other characters (like Sam) also to break free. Why is Chuck choosing, again, to go this route? Why not just smite Dean? Dean even asked him why he didn’t do that and Chuck only tossed him into a tombstone after Dean physically went after him. That’s what gave Sam the opening to pick up the gun and shoot Chuck.

The thing with Becky (and what’s so bleak about it) is that to her, of course, she was the Hero of the story. Chuck brutally disabused her of that notion and casually swept her off the board. After all, she knows his current plan and might warn Sam and Dean about it. But also, he did it just because he could. And that begs the biggest question – why can’t he just do that to Sam and Dean?


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


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The Official Supernatural: “The Rupture” (15.03) Live Recap Thread


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It’s been a tough summer, so I’m way behind on my recaps and reviews. As of this review, I now have 50 episodes left to finish for previous seasons, plus the 17 after this one for the final (15th) season that started on October 10. That’s 69 total by next April. I currently have 151 coffees at $3 each on Ko-Fi (many thanks to those who have contributed so far!). If I get 300 coffees total, I will commit to doing one recap/review per week (retro or Season 15). If I get 400 coffees, I will commit to two. If I get 500 coffees, three reviews. If I get 600 coffees, four reviews. If I get 700 coffees, five reviews per week.

Other that that, 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: Boring recap with boring soundtrack music of the boring ghost apocalypse so far.

Cut to Now and two Hunters watching anxiously from a suburban street as the angry ghosts try Belphegor’s failing barrier. Meanwhile, TFW (consisting of Dean, Sam, Castiel, Belphegor and – most importantly – Rowena) is heading back out to the crypt where everyone got trapped at the beginning of the season. Which would be a nice bit of continuity, if Berens doesn’t promptly demonstrate he didn’t read the previous two episode scripts closely (if at all) when he has Sam say he sent some Hunters here and there and such to man the fort while they help Rowena strengthen the barrier.

Yeah. See, here’s the thing. You know what-all Dean’s been doing so far this season? Organizing the Hunters. Getting them to the town, setting up patrols, going out on patrols, checking up on missing Hunters who didn’t check in, getting attacked by errant ghosts. Know what Sam’s been doing? Well, pretty much everything but interact with the Hunters. That’s what Dean has been doing and since the Hunters have been mostly offscreen, that’s what Dean has been, too.

But nope. Not only does Berens just casually yank even that subplot away from Dean and hand it to Sam, giftwrapped, but we will see it used as a club against Dean in this very episode. It’s just … well, it’s substandard writing.

So, anyhoo, Rowena is all brimming with confidence about the spell, until she sets it up and it starts to work … until that moment when it totally doesn’t. Rowena falls down as the barrier continues to weaken and declares that they’re all screwed.

Cue title cards.

So, Sam is all solicitous to Rowena (and since when, Show? Even as late as last season, she was trying to kill him. Then there was that time a few seasons ago when he kidnapped her and held her prisoner as his pet witch). When Rowena insists she needs “a real drink,” Sam glares at Dean until Dean gives up his flask of booze. Because of course Berens wants to remind us that Dean is a drunk. I mean, yes, he is, but what’s the point in this exchange except to make him look bad?

Rowena says that the ghosts are too angry and too strong to be controlled. She might have been able to do something if she’d arrived earlier, but now it’s too late and they’re all gonna die when the barrier falls, in a matter of hours. When Dean suggests more crystals like the one she used last episode, Rowena says it would be “like tossing mousetraps at the Great Plague.”

Belphegor leaves, against Dean’s objections, and Castiel follows him out. Dean is angry, insisting there is still something they can do. Sam ostentatiously puts a hand out to forestall Dean’s anger. I roll my eyes.

Outside, Belphegor turns out to have a plan. He goes out to the rift where the CGI souls are exiting Hell (remember how all the doors of Hell opened? All of them? Not just this rift? Well, now it’s just this rift). He and Castiel look at it.

Dean is weaponing up and Sam tries to calm him down. Or something. Dean is angry with Chuck, but he’s determined not to let God win this time.

Back inside, Belphegor lays out his plan. It turns out that one way Lilith the demon (remember her? Seasons three and four?) had to control her demons was something called “Lilith’s Crook” (it will also be interchangeably called a “horn” because that’s what it really is, but hey, consistency’s for losers, amirite?). It was a weapon she could use to recall any and all of her demons (or any denizens of Hell). She never actually used it, and Crowley had other means to control his subjects (whom he hardly ever saw because he didn’t hang out in Hell much), but it’s still down there. They can use it to suck all the souls back inside.

Rowena, meanwhile, has invented a spell on the fly to heal the rift. The ingredients are simple, including lavender and an owl’s skull, among other things (“RIP Hedwig,” says Dean). She also needs an assistant and asks Sam to fill in. She claims he is basically a witch anyway (which is an extremely long callback to Ruby’s teachings to Sam, which he promptly forgot for seasons and seasons, but which Berens makes sound as though he’s awesome and special. Gag).

And, of course, there’s the job of being the “fulcrum” outside, unprotected, getting ready to toss the physical part of the spell into the rift to close it. Guess who gets volunteered? Yup. Dean.

Belphegor asks who is going to come with him as “protection.” Dean volunteers Castiel and points out that Castiel has been down there before (when he pulled Dean out of Hell beginning of season four, but we also know he was down there with Crowley in season six and then there was that time when the whole gang visited the Cage-Adjacent). Castiel isn’t thrilled by Dean’s offhand manner, and there’s a distinct chill between the two of them, but he can’t argue with Dean’s logic and goes along with it.

In a hospital fairly far away, Ketch wakes up in a bed. A nurse is talking to him as he tries to check himself out. Unfortunately for the nurse, when the doctor walks in, she’s possessed by a demon – Ardat. She TK-snaps the nurse’s neck.

She is not happy with Ketch, having hired him to find and kill Belphegor. Knowing this, he attacks her first. But she’s a demon and he’s weakened by his wounds. Also, he doesn’t have his usual toolkit ready at hand (it’s in the closet). Even though he does manage to kick her out into the hallway long enough to grab an angel blade, she overpowers him. She demands that he give up TFW and Belphegor, but he refuses. So, she rips out his heart and smiles. Death by Underwhelming Guest Demon. Bye, Ketch.

Back in the graveyard, as they head toward the rift, Belphegor points out to Castiel that if the rift closes, the angel will likely be stuck in Hell. Castiel says he’ll figure it out. But he looks doubtful as Belphegor points out further that no one in the rest of TFW looked very upset about his job.

A lot of fans zeroed in on Dean in this respect, but Sam and Rowena didn’t exactly step up and object, either. It’s all hands on deck and the odds of any of them making it out are pretty low at this point. I mean, Dean’s basically got the job of hanging out at the top of the rift, lobbing in a live grenade that could go off at any time.

But Castiel listens to this moldy old divisive demon dreck because the writing demands he hold the Idiot Ball this week, all episode, and Belphegor is basically telling him what he wants to hear.

When Castiel asks how to get down to Hell through the rift, Bephegor says he doesn’t know. So, Castiel shoves him in and jumps in after him.

The female Hunter from the teaser comes into the crypt with Rowena’s ingredients. I get that sneaking in past the ghosts would make one edgy and crabby, but it’s not a particularly good introduction for her to snipe at Rowena for being “rude” and downmouth TFW’s world-saving plan.

Especially stupid is the way she takes orders from Sam as her boss, when that hasn’t been Sam’s role this season. It’s been Dean’s.

At that moment, Dean gets a text from Ketch’s phone. It is, of course, Ardat, fishing for info and smiling evilly over a dead Ketch as she does so.

Castiel and Belphegor have found some stairs in Hell and descend them to a hallway full of monkish decor on their way to a large set of doors. Belphegor says he thinks Sam and Dean are starting to like him. Castiel begs to differ, but when Belphegor goads him a bit, he confesses that his big beef is that Belphegor is wearing Jack and that to Castiel, Belphegor is “an abomination” because “Jack was like a son to me.” Um … Castiel, honey, Jack was the abomination. Bephegor’s just a demon, doing what demons do.

So, they enter the room, which is being ransacked by another demon, who knows and is friendly with Belphegor. Castiel shoves him up against a wall and confirms with Belphegor that the new guy doesn’t have the Horn/Crook/whatever. So, he stabs the new demon.

Yeah. That’s a major problem with the past three episodes. Lots of one-shot characters with maybe two lines who suck up all the air time and get no development.

Anyhoo, Castiel and Belphegor locate the box, but it’s locked. The spell to open it is on the box, but it’s in Enochian. However, when Castiel reads it out loud, nothing happens. Belphegor tells him he has to sing it. Turns out Belphegor had a reason for bringing Castiel, after all.

Topside, Dean is getting into position behind a tombstone next to the rift. While wondering where Ketch is, and why everyone else is delaying, he pulls out a gigantic hex bag.

Things are going a bit pear-shaped elsewhere. Down in Hell, Ardat shows up just as Castiel gets the box open and knocks him out. Despite her monologuing about how she knew Belphegor would make a play for the crook/horn, or whatever the script is calling it at any given moment, and that he wants to rule Hell, she is strong enough to kick Belphegor and Castiel’s asses. At least, until Belphegor stabs her from behind. As Belphegor puts it, “Blah, blah, blah, she always was a talker.”

So, in an entirely predictable face-heel turn, Belphegor admits that he pulled a double-cross. The horn (it’s a ram’s horn) is a “siphon” (yet another freakin’ word for this thing). Belphegor intends to eat all the souls and become a sort of god. Well, we know how that all went with Godstiel in season seven, but if there’s one thing consistent about this show, it’s that Demons Are Definitely Stupid.

Belphegor starts blowing the horn and Castiel finds himself blasted back by a great wind. Upstairs, Sam is fretting about not being out where the action is, but gets his butt in gear when he hears the horn. He and Rowena start saying a spell in Latin to close the rift. Outside, by the rift, Dean sees ghosts being sucked back in. When the hex bag glows pink in his hand, he edges out from behind the tombstone and carefully tosses it into the rift.

Things then go exceedingly sideways and unfortunately, Castiel is the direct reason for it. In the worst possible bit of timing, he manages to tackle Belphegor, break the horn, and then smite the demon. There’s a moment when Belphegor tries to pretend that he’s Jack to get Castiel to stop, but remember, folks – Jack is in the Empty. He was never in Hell.

Castiel then proceeds to smite Belphegor into a charred corpse. The last time we saw this kind of overkill was when Jack killed Nick – you know, right before he also killed Mary. Not a good sign. Castiel looks devastated afterward, but it’s not clear whether he’s still just wallowing in grief over Jack or realizes how badly he’s screwed up now.

But Rowena, up top, knows. As Dean and Sam talk on the phone about the rift closing, but something being wrong, Rowena carves out her last “resurrection sachet.” When Sam notices what she’s doing, she explains that “magic can do anything” (but girl, you just said half an episode ago that it couldn’t – oh, never mind). She spouts some daft nonsense about how, if she dies, she can use her body to absorb the souls and take them back down to Hell. Or something. But she has to die for the spell to work and it seems, she has to do it permanently. And Sam has to kill her. She says it’s her prophecy.

As Rowena talks him into stabbing her (and she twists the knife), Castiel crawls out of the rift behind Dean and fills him in on why the plan down south went FUBAR. Dean isn’t thrilled, to say the least.

So, after she’s stabbed, Rowena starts walking slowly out of the crypt to the rift, sucking in souls through her wound as she goes. Once she’s done, she says, “Goodbye, boys!” and does an elegant swan song into the rift to a cheesy Irish flute. The rift closes behind her.

Afterward at the Bunker, Sam feels bad and Dean tries to cheer him up. Dean has been busy, making sure that the town stuff was wrapped up and confirms Ketch’s death. So, I guess that means Sam has been spending the commercial break wallowing. Super. Dean says it’s over and they’ve averted this last apocalypse. He tells Sam he “didn’t have a choice” about killing Rowena.

Out in the Library, Dean is drinking when Castiel shows up. Castiel says he’s sorry about Rowena. Dean gets mad at him and points out that Castiel’s response to Belphegor’s sudden and inevitable betrayal nearly got everyone killed. Rather than admit that he might have made the wrong decision, Castiel doubles down.

Castiel: The plan changed. Something went wrong. Something always goes wrong.

Dean: Yeah, why does that something always seem to be you?

I know I’m supposed to be all shocked and outraged at what Dean says (the scene’s writing and direction are certainly manipulative in that direction), but … well … he’s not wrong. When Castiel whines that his angelic powers are failing, that Dean no longer trusts him, won’t listen to him, and “no longer cares” about him, how is Dean supposed to respond?

It’s not as though Dean is anything but straightforward about why he’s angry – Castiel didn’t “stick to the plan” and now Rowena’s dead. What is incorrect in that statement? Dean’s not angry at Castiel for lacking sparkly powers. He’s angry with him for making lots of stupid decisions in a short amount of time that are getting people killed. Dean may have had, at best, an uneasy respect for Rowena, but Mary just died under similar circumstances. Of course he made that connection.

So, this being episode three of the season, rather than employing any self-examination, Castiel pisses off to wherever to do his own navel-gazing thing, whether or not Dean wants/needs him around or not. Only, this time, he tries to guilt-trip Dean into it being Dean driving him away, even though what Dean is actually doing is calling Castiel out on his poor decisions (Dean even asks Castiel where he’s going when Castiel leaves). Oh, Cas, bless your entitled, angelic little heart.

Credits

The show got a 0.3/2 and 1.24 million in audience, which was up from last week.

The preview and sneak peek for the next episode (an MOTW that is Jensen Ackles’ last directorial turn at bat for the show) are up.

Review: I have three major beefs with this episode. First, did Berens even read the first two scripts? I mean, it’s the conclusion of a three-parter, not an MOTW. So, why do we suddenly have Hunters kissing Sam’s ass and why have basically all the redshirts we would have missed if we blinked in the past two episodes been replaced by a woman we’ve never even seen before? Why is she all hero worshipping Sam when the only people who did that were the ones from the alt-SPNverse who got killed by alt-Michael last season?

Even more importantly, why was she ignoring Dean in favor of Sam when Dean was the one organizing all the Hunters earlier this season (you know, in the past two episodes of which this is the conclusion in the arc)? Does she not recognize her own boss? Why end this three-episode arc with the implication that Sam will lead Hunters? He mostly hangs out with Rowena for the episode inside a crypt and spent the previous two episodes moping over his new mytharc and trying to herd civilians away from the ghost danger zone (to which they were attracted like iron fillings-loaded lemmings).

This leads me to my second beef. Where the hell is Dean’s storyline this season? Show, it is the final season. Don’t think you can just ghost Dean and expect fans not to notice. They already have and boy, are some of them pissed.

The really sad thing is that Dean was actually doing quite a bit this episode, while Sam did hardly anything (even when he stabbed Rowena, she practically yanked the knife into herself with his hand on the blade). Yet, who got the play-by-play and inane in-show fan-cheering? Sam.

Who got a few perfunctory scenes that failed to acknowledge the bald truth of the situation that if Dean had died or otherwise been unable to throw the Big Honking Hex Bag into the Big Honking CGI Rocky Vulva, it wouldn’t have mattered what Sam or Rowena or Castiel or Belphegor did (well … aside from Belphegor wanting to be a ghost god). He was the link the ghosts should have been attacking. But there was no recognition in the story of that at all.

I need to see some actual Dean content this season or I’m just gonna start mentally checking out, right along with the asshole writers.

Then there is Sam. And there is Rowena. And since when are these two besties? Literally the last time we saw these two together last season, she was trying to murder him. Now, suddenly, he’s her apprentice? Say, what the hell?

And how gross is it, not only to fridge a female character to motivate a male character, but to have her get him to fridge her, with her friggin’ permission? Ew. Poor woman got fridged to service the manpain of both Sam and Castiel, neither of whom deserved that sacrifice.

Don’t get me started on the long, random stumble out to the rift, as she’s bleeding to death, to some really cheesy soundtrack music. Writers, this is a horror show on the CW, not an opera.

I’m pretty sure Bobo Berens has forgotten all about this, but when she got Sam to stab her by asking if he would let Dean die to save her (and he then got all stabbity), I immediately thought of Sam (in season 10) kidnapping Rowena, chaining her in a cellar, and forcing her to help him in his plan to take the Mark of Cain off Dean’s arm. Not only did we get Sam forcing Rowena’s cooperation and trying to kill Crowley (a plan that backfired disastrously on him when he only succeeded in burning off Crowley’s partial human cure instead), but he did it all behind Dean’s back and without Dean’s consent. And he ignored major red flags that it would cause a huge apocalypse (which it did), not because he wanted to save Dean, but because he wanted to keep Dean stuck to his side.

But now this season seems determined to skip over those pesky Jeremy Carver seasons where Sam was a dickhead (but at least made sense as a character and had actual growth) to return a fantasy version of season four (a version where Sam wasn’t turning into a major dickhead – sorry, going darkside). Except that now, all that effusive Tell from other characters about how awesome and important Sam is, is not just undercut by his ugly actions. It’s now backed up only by empty hot air as Sam sits around on his ass most of the time, fretting about joining Dean, who is largely offscreen and actually taking care of business. It doesn’t do either character any favors to have Sam’s storyline be all rapturous Tell and Dean’s all understated, perfunctory Show.

There were also ginormous plotholes. Most notably, if the ghosts were being sucked back inside, wasn’t Kevin sucked in, too? Why didn’t anybody worry about that? All those ghost and townspeople characters introduced and dropped the past two episodes? Yeah, don’t expect any closure on any redshirts. We’re too busy fridging Rowena and Ketch here. And don’t get me started on how cheap and unscary everything looks in bright sunlight rather than at night, as it should have been. We already did that rant last week.

Speaking of Ketch, I felt a bit bad about his death – until I remembered that he was the one who murdered Eileen using a dog whistle and an invisible Hell Hound. The Show wanted us to feel sorry for Ketch, but it also spent so much time keeping his motivations under wraps (to keep us guessing) that his 11th hour heroic heel-face turn came literally out of nowhere in terms of writing and foreshadowing.

It was therefore difficult not to notice the clumsy plotting where it was necessary to remove allies from the Brothers so that they wouldn’t proceed immediately in going after Chuck. So, the writers killed off Ketch, Rowena and Belphegor, had Castiel (once again, it’s like clockwork, I swear) go off in a multi-episode solo snit, and had the apocalypse apparently averted (however clumsily) so that the Brothers could go off on a few more last MOTW episodes.

Castiel really got on my last nerve this week. Look, the events leading up to (let alone immediately following) Mary’s death last season happened maybe a week ago in in-show time. Dean and Sam just barely burned their mother’s body, just barely watched Chuck kill her murderer, and have been fighting for their lives ever since.

Castiel wants to wallow incessantly in his grief over Jack, even to the point of buggering up TFW’s strategy to the point that Rowena had to sacrifice herself. Castiel. Got. Rowena. Killed. That’s what’s really fueling Dean’s anger this week. Yet, at the same time, he wants Dean to just “get over” Mary’s death in record time so that he can still hang out in the Bunker with the Winchesters and pretend he’s not a complete fuck-up.

I mean, yeah, all of TFW are powerful outcasts of some sort, but only one of them has been getting the others killed through sheer stupidity of late. It’s amazing how many female characters “misogynistic” Dean interacts with and who go on to have long, extended arcs on the show. And it’s funny how quickly similar female characters get killed off when they interact with “woke” Castiel and Sam.

The thing is that yes, Dean was cold when he “volunteered” Castiel to go down to Hell with Belphegor. But Dean was right (albeit succinct in the explanation) – as an angel who had been to the Pit before, Castiel was the best candidate to go, succeed and survive. And it’s not as though Dean was sitting pretty while Castiel did that. He had arguably the most important and dangerous job of them all.

Further, as Dean made painfully clear in the episode’s coda, everyone on TFW knew perfectly well that Belphegor was going to turn on them at some point (if anything, Dean telegraphed that a little too clearly to Belphegor). That’s why he sent Castiel as Belphegor’s minder. Not because he didn’t care or trust Castiel, but because he did trust Castiel.

And instead, Castiel let Belphegor into his head. Instead, he overkilled Belphegor in a way disturbingly reminiscent of how Jack killed Nick last season – right before he murdered Mary. Why? Because he wanted to believe what Belphegor said about Sam and Dean – especially Dean.

If Castiel can project his own anger and self-loathing onto Dean, then he won’t have to carry it, anymore. If he can blame Dean for not trusting him, he doesn’t have to blame himself for being untrustworthy. He doesn’t have to face that fact that he let a second-rate demon get into his head and get the drop on him, and that because of that, someone else died.

Now if the writing in the show were willing to acknowledge that this one is on Castiel and that he has to own up to it before he can move past it (“The Man Who Would Be King” in season six fairly leaps to mind as an excellent example), I’d be okay with this storyline. I mean, I wish the show weren’t wasting so much time in its final shortened season with stereotypically bitchy high school melodrama, but I’d appreciate the honesty of Castiel’s mistakes and see how they could lead to growth for the character.

But instead, Berens writes it like a teen girl BFF breakup and blames it on Dean. This blatant tongue bath for Destiel fans made that small part of the audience happy-sad, but it ruined Castiel as a character for large sections of the rest of the audience. You can’t prop up a character like that and not do some permanent damage to how the audience views them. “Ruined” is what Berens did to Castiel.


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


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