Category Archives: Season 15

The Official Supernatural: “Inherit the Earth” (15.19) Recap and Review

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According to recent reports from Vancouver, the cast returned to work the first week of August (about two weeks late). Jensen Ackles also explained in a recent virtual “fan experience” through Creation Con that the writing for the last two episodes has been tweaked to reflect recent events (i.e., the Coronavirus pandemic). With these writers, I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. He also said that 15.19 will be a season finale, while 15.20 is more like a series finale (and expressed sadness on Instagram when he got the final script, which said “The End” instead of the usual “To Be Continued”). In an already truncated final season, that likely means we’ll get stuck with some filler clips episode as the last one. Yay.

Tonight, the final episode of the show, “Carry On,” airs after a one-hour retrospective. Feel free to comment about the episode below as you watch it.

You can find a promo, photos and a synopsis here for 15.20. Maybe someone can make heads or tails of it.

If you’re enjoying these articles and reviews, any contributions are welcome. Even in a pandemic, the kitties still gotta eat and I’ve got a house full of snarfly foster kittens with seasonal eye gunk right now. My kitty Goose is doing much better, thank you (she’s acting as if nothing happened now), but I’ve still got that bill, so every little bit helps.

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

Recap: Brief recap of the past two episodes. Cut to Now in Kyoto, New York City … and then they run of budget and we get British Columbia masquerading as Middle America – sorry, Hastings, MN. Sam and Jack are wandering around in a daze, looking at a wrecked car, as the Impala pulls up and Dean gets out. Boy, Dean sure made it there in record time.

When Dean gets out, Sam states the obvious: “Everyone’s gone.” Not just humans, either. There are still trees and other plants, but all the higher animals are gone, too. Sam asks Dean if he saw anyone else and Dean says no. Jack asks where Castiel is and Dean about breaks down right there. He explains what happened to Castiel in the last episode, that Billie was trying to kill them, and Castiel summoned the Empty to take her out, getting killed in the process.

Sam is in denial that everyone could possibly be gone, even though Dean tries to bring him down to earth. As Sam starts calling Jody and Garth, and getting voicemails, Dean goes to Jack and apologizes for not saving Castiel. We get a telescoping view out, up and away from the street until we can see the entire Earth in space, just sitting there.

Cue title cards.

While Jack waits outside, the Brothers enter Sammy’s Highway Cafe. Music (pretty sure it’s Jackson Browne’s “Running on Empty”) is still playing, food on the shelves. There’s a soccer game on the TV, but no players on the field or fans in the stands. As Dean turns off a tap (astute regular commenter here, AlyCat 22, noticed that the beer was from Jensen Ackles’ brewery, FBBC, and is called “Ghost Ale”), Sam is starting to realize that yup, everyone on Earth appears to be gone for real.

Outside, Jack forlornly and pointlessly calls out to Castiel. As he heads inside, all the plants he passes by wither and die. Inside, Sam is tailspinning. He blames himself for everything because he was stubborn two episodes ago and just had to scupper the latest Get Chuck plan to save themselves and their un-dead friends. Now everyone on Earth is dead. Dean starts to contradict him, then just lets him roll on because, well, Sam’s not wrong about that. When Sam starts to throw in the towel, though, Jack protests that he can’t just give up.

Cut to an urban night scene outside a curious building that looks like a modern ziggurat. Sam and Dean are waiting for Chuck to show up. And, presumably because he’s bored and wants to gloat, he does.

The Brothers offer him a deal – they will kill each other, just as he wants, but he has to bring everyone back, first, including Castiel (this is Dean’s request) from The Empty. Chuck gives it a microsecond of thought, then says no. As much as he savors watching them “wave the white flag,” he likes this new story better. He gets to watch them and their “pet” Jack “rot” on an empty Earth, all because “you wouldn’t take a knee.” He looks at Sam (so does Dean) while saying this and Sam looks really uncomfortable.

Cut to Jack lying on his bed inside the Bunker. Sam is wandering down the hallways with a coffee cup. He finds Dean passed out on the floor, head on top of a bottle, in the Library, and wakes him up. Dean is mighty hungover.

Jack then looks puzzled and comes out in his pajamas. He says he “senses something.” After cracking a joke about how he senses that they need to get some aspirin, Dean asks how Jack can sense anything, when he’s “powered down.” Jack says he doesn’t know, but he knows there’s a “presence out there.”

They get in the Impala and go investigate at an abandoned gas station, the Top Buz: Route 66 (a rather obvious call-out to the original inspiration for Supernatural, 1960s road show Route 66).

Dean finds the “presence” first. It’s a dog, which Chuck “somehow missed.” Immediately calling it “Miracle,” Dean picks it up and brings it out to the car. Sam snarks about Dean actually liking dogs, now (Well, Sam did sleep through half of “Dog Dean Afternoon”). As Dean puts the dog in the backseat, he comments that it’s only been a few days since the “Rapture.” But then the dog dusts out and Dean looks up to see Chuck smugly watching him from a field before vanishing.

In the car that night, while Jack sleeps in the back, Dean is upset that they “couldn’t even save a friggin’ dog.” Glumly, Sam says the lack of people left to save may be the point. You can’t save people or hunt things if there are neither people nor things left to save and hunt, I guess.

They arrive at a church, still at night. Turns out the dog wasn’t the presence Jack sensed. That presence is in or near the church, as lightning and thunder flash all around. Jack states the obvious that they may be walking into a trap. They go in, anyway, because really, what else is there to do at this point?

They pass under a crucifix to find an empty church full of lit candles that haven’t burned down (remember that it’s been a few days) and open liturgical books strewn about.

“So, you survived,” someone says behind them, from the doorway they just entered. They turn around and Sam says, “Michael?”

Michael explains that he’s been hiding out inside this church (a St. Michael’s) since “the Rapture began.” He’s been avoiding using any powers that might attract his father’s attention. Sam asks him about Adam and he says Adam got raptured, too. Dean mourns that poor Adam “could never catch a break.” Michael asks how they survived and Dean says it’s because Chuck “has a sense of humor” and wanted to strand them “on an empty planet” for funsies.

They ask him what he’s doing there. He says, “I never spent much time on Earth.” He’s been reading up on what humans think (well, thought) of God. It turns out that after Chuck left Heaven, Michael was so sure his father would return that he got all the angels and prophets to “burnish” his father’s image as much as possible. So, believers loved God a whole lot, through many religions. Unfortunately, now that his father knows that he helped Sam and Dean, Chuck’s a bit pissed off at him. Dean points out that they did “reach out to him” again before it all went higgledy-piggledy. Jack asks how he feels about God now.

Michael loses some of his arrogance and his shoulders slump. Dean glances again at Sam.

Back in the Bunker, Sam shows Michael Billie’s God’s death book. Michael tries to read it, but he can’t even open it. He tries hard, though. He does make the book all glowy and stuff for a moment.

Sam and Dean sit down for a talk on the steps to the Library (going down to the bedrooms), Dean with a beer. Sam says they need to get God’s death book open, but they have no current options about how to do it. Dean says that means they’re “screwed.” Then he gets an odd call on his phone (well, any call on his phone would be odd). It’s from Castiel. When he answers it, Castiel’s voice sounds weary and hurt, saying he’s just outside.

Still holding the beer, Dean races up the steps to the outer door and opens it to find … Lucifer.

Dean can’t slam that door fast enough. The look on his face is hilarious.

Nevertheless, Lucifer is able to fly in and land on the floor below them before Dean can get the door shut. He explains (well, infodumps) that The Empty is very, very angry with Chuck, having gotten exploding Jack all over her and killed Billie and all. She resurrected him to go find God’s death book and read it for her. His plan is that he also brought back a Reaper with him (named Betty), who appears as a chained and gagged young woman. Lucifer kills her with his archangel blade. Being the next Reaper to die since Billie, she resurrects as Death, with both the scythe and the ring.

Dean moves forward cautiously to untie her gag. She rewards him by head-butting him. She then stands up and bursts her chains. Betty is just as sarcastic as Lucifer and demands the book from the Brothers in belittling terms. When they bring her to the Dungeon, where it is, she tells them reading it is “not a group project” and shuts the door in their faces.

Michael comes into the Library, where Lucifer is making a house of cards (cheating by TKing them together). Michael is not at all happy to see Lucifer, especially when Lucifer mocks him for getting no more love out of Chuck than anyone else ever did, for all his loyalty and devotion.

Their family spat is interrupted, however, by Betty, who calls all present “asshats,” then proceeds to read from the book. She doesn’t get very far, though, before Lucifer turns her to ashes from across the room. Bye, Betty. Note that the only way to kill Death is to use their scythe on them, but considering this episode is written by the same tedious incompetents who once claimed Lucifer was the oldest son of God, it’s probably just a big plothole.

Anyhoo, Lucifer TK’s the book to him and brags about how Chuck was the one who actually busted him out of The Empty. He’s also been souped up a bit, as he easily dodges Michael’s blasts and knocks him down with his own blast from across the room – after knocking Sam and Dean across the room, too.

Lucifer then turns to Jack and suggests he join the Chuck Team, since that’s the only way he will be leaving the Bunker alive. Jack winces in pain as Lucifer mocks him. Michael then sneaks up behind Lucifer and stabs him with his archangel blade, which the Brothers had snuck to him. Jack winces again and looks dizzy as Lucifer blasts white light out of his mouth and eyes, and then bursts into embers.

Later, Dean meets with Michael in the kitchen, gets a beer, and asks how he’s doing. Michael admits to being a bit “winded,” having not fought anyone in “several centuries” (Oh, so, now, they remember that Hell time is different from Earth time? What about “Taxi Driver,” then?). He’s also hurt that Chuck chose to resurrect Lucifer from The Empty rather than “reach out to” his eldest son.

Dean speculates that Chuck is so afraid of what the book contains that he sent someone else, rather than come in person. Michael says the book is useless without Death to read it, but Dean begs to differ, now that the book is open. He says that Sam thought he recognized some of the symbols in it, that they looked like Enochian, and is trying to decipher it using the Book of the Damned (Why not ask Dean, whom we know has been able to read the Book of the Damned when he had the Mark?).

Later, we see Dean getting drowsy over research in the library. Jack is sitting nearby, reading a book. Michael comes in and fake-casually asks if Sam has had any luck in deciphering Billie’s book. Sam walks in and says that he has been able to “piece together” a spell that can create “an unstoppable force.” But it has to be done in a specific spot at a specific time of day (Conveniently, this spot is in North America). Off they drive to that spot, a secluded beach along a peaceful lake.

Sam and Dean set up three bowls, while Jack and Michael watch. Then they light them up. The bowls shoot three blasts of white fire into the sky and then fly apart. Nothing else seems to happen.

Dean asks why it didn’t work and then Chuck shows up. Chuck blasts Sam and Dean one way, and Jack the other. It turns out Michael sold them out and warned Chuck about the spell. But Chuck is still mad about the time Michael “sided with the Winchesters.” Even as Michael begs for his life, Chuck blasts him into nothingness.

As the Brothers crawl to their feet, Chuck tells them he’s bored now and is “canceling your show.” Sam figures he might as well get a lick or two in as he goes and punches Chuck. It has little effect. Chuck makes the Brothers crumple with pain, but just as he’s about to snap them out of existence, he has a better idea. He’ll just beat them to death. And boy does this scene go on for a while. Neither of them will give up or stay down, even as Chuck keeps telling them to lie down, and breaks some bones and pulverizes their faces. They get up, even when they have to support each other.

Chuck is confused about why they’re smiling. Sam says it’s because “you lose.” Chuck turns around to see Jack standing there. When he approaches him and snaps his fingers, Jack is unaffected. Then Jack’s eyes glow. He grabs Chuck’s face and kinda … sucks out all his power, basically, while sad violins loudly play. Their faces glow and get veiny. Then Jack lets Chuck drop to the ground and turns to the Brothers, still glowing. He snaps his fingers and they’re instantly healed. They approach Jack and Chuck, and Sam picks up God’s death book.

On the ground, Chuck wonders what happened and Dean replies, “We won.”

Chuck’s confused. So, this is how it ends for him? Sam drops the book in front of him and says to look for himself. But when Chuck scrabbles through the pages, the pages are blank.

Dean and Sam take turns infodumping the plan they had. It turns out that after Chuck sent Lucifer, they realized that Michael was jealous and desperate to get back into Daddy’s graces. So, they set him up with a fake spell to lure Chuck there. The real plan was to get Jack, who had turned from a bomb into a divine power vacuum (Well, Adam and Serafina did say he would turn into a black hole), to suck up enough energy to be able to defeat Chuck.

Chuck desperately tries to claim this is why they’re his “favorites.” This is the first time he doesn’t know what comes next. Will they kill him now? He’s practically ecstatic about goading them into killing him, especially “Dean Winchester, the Ultimate Killer.”

With a mix of disgust and pity, Dean says, “Sorry, Chuck,” but as Chuck is cringing at the final blow, Dean and Sam both just walk away. Dean turns around to tell Chuck that that’s not who they are. They aren’t just killers. Sam quietly asks Jack if Chuck can ever get his power back. Jack says, “It’s not his power, anymore.”

Sam and Dean tell Chuck that his ending is to die like an ordinary human. He’ll “grow old, get sick, and die.” No one will remember him. They then get in the Impala and leave him there as he runs after them, begging and pleading.

After driving back into town, Dean has Jack bring everyone back to the tune of The Youngbloods’ cover of “Get Together” (1967) – oh, look, finally some Classic Rock. Well, we get a bunch of no-name redshirts and Miracle the dog back, anyway. Not anyone we know or care about (besides the dog). And no mention whatsoever of Castiel. Sam doesn’t call Eileen, alt-Bobby, alt-Charlie, Jody, Donna, Garth, or anyone else.

The Brothers have questions and Jack answers a few of them. For example, Amara is inside him and they are “in harmony” (Even saying that out loud sounds so misogynistic; what were these writers thinking?). He then blathers on about how he’s not coming back to the Bunker because he’s now “everywhere” and people are just going to have to find their own answers.

He’s basically going full-on animistic and “won’t be hands-on.” He’s not going to make the mistake Chuck made this season of putting himself “in the story.” Nope, he’s just going to make the mistake Chuck made the previous several thousand years of buggering off and abandoning everyone, leaving the bigger fish to bully and gobble up the smaller fish in some weird and desperate attempt to get God’s attention with each new apocalypse. And bail is precisely what Jack does, in a glow of light.

He claims to have learned from the Brothers, his mother (you know, the one he murdered by being born, with no mention of Mary) and Castiel (whom he couldn’t be arsed to rescue from The Empty) that “when people have to be their best, they can be.” Which just demonstrates that he didn’t learn a damned thing in the three seasons he was Cousin Olivering this show. Also, that has got to be the most inane inspirational slogan I have ever seen.

Ironically enough, despite all the “I’ll be around” rhetoric, when he walks off and disappears in a glow of light, it feels a lot like the show just killed him off permanently. This seems to be his final exit. Too bad there’s only one episode left. Gee, I wonder how the writers will cope without this convenient deus ex machina character.

Back at the Bunker, the Brothers mourn his loss over beers. I roll my eyes really hard. They get over it quick, though, as they realize they finally have their lives back for real. “Finally free,” Dean says. Sounds like a book about lion cubs who end up getting released into the wild and killed by poachers.

Well, it seems that even with all the tedious monologuing and backstabbing and plotholing, the Nepotism Duo just plain ran out of story (looks like this recap may be shorter than usual, too!), so Sam and Dean leave behind their carved-up table (their initials, their mother’s initials, and Castiel and Jack’s names) and go off on a two-minute road trip full of clips from the show to the tune (again) of Jackson Browne’s “Running on Empty.” The clip show is more thematic (famous and not-so-famous scenes) than character-driven, with major recurring characters jostling for attention with barely-seen one-shots. That still doesn’t explain the extreme lack of Castiel in it. He only gets three brief shots. Jack (hell, Charlie, for that matter) gets more coverage. Frankly, they’ve done better mid-season recaps. The montage ends with Sam shutting the trunk on the Pilot episode.

Credits

Ratings for this new episode remained steady at a 0.3 in the A18-49 demo and a 0.4 in the A25-54 demo, but dropped slightly to a 0.1 in the A18-25 demo and 1.003 million in audience.

Review: “Ted Nugent called. He wants his shirt back.” That’s from Ocean’s 11, a film that was a lot better than “Inherit the Earth.”

Look, we knew it was the Nepotism Duo, so the odds were this wouldn’t be a very well-written episode. But still, damn, son. And after last week got my hopes up, too.

Sure, the Jack and Brothers-only stans were happy because they got an entire episode of those three characters (and they even ditched the “annoying” angel), but I don’t think a whole lot of other fans were. In fact, I kept seeing fans on Twitter who wondered if it was a fake happy ending engineered by Chuck and if next week would cast this episode in a whole other light. I suppose it’s possible (As infuriating as it would be that they wasted yet another hour on fake-out nonsense after poorly setting things up for the end of the series, it would be nice if this foolish episode weren’t real). But considering the show’s track record with these two writers, I doubt that will be the case.

Now, some have talked about the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic on filming this season. However, this was, in fact, the first episode when that was an issue. They had only filmed one day before they had to stop production for several months. So, that probably influenced the idea of doing a pared-down cast and evacuating the Earth, as it were.

But alas, a completely depopulated Earth turned out to be rather less exciting than wet toilet paper drying in the sun (the writers even have Chuck admit that right before the climactic fight). There were ample opportunities to make the set pieces with no people, in situations where ordinarily there would be a ton of people, properly eerie, but those scenes didn’t creep me out at all. They just seemed to be there to pass the time and make a point.

“Inherit the Earth” was tedious, talky, flabby, self-indulgent and just a tiiiiiny bit condescending in spots. For all the pomp and circumstance about its being the “season finale” before the series finale, not much happened in it. At the end, I was like, “That’s it?” So, a typical Nepotism Duo episode.

It also sidelined Sam and Dean’s story in order to indulge Jack Sue’s dull, subtext-free-when-it-wasn’t-totally-inappropriate-subtext apotheosis plot. And after last week’s far-meatier Christological metaphors, too. Gee, it’s almost as though Buckner and Ross-Leming had no clue what they were doing when it came to writing about religion – oh, wait. They don’t.

The idea that Jack was just going to become an animistic god-in-everything after the show hammered away at Judeo-Christian mythos for 15 seasons was faintly condescending to much of the audience on a religious level. I mean, really, Show? You’re not going to do anything truly interesting with all that mythology and set-up at all? Bad enough what they did to and with pagan mythologies over the years, but this was their central belief system in the show. And look how they dumped on it.

There are a lot of rumors that Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles (especially Ackles) had grown disenchanted in recent years with the quality of writing on the show. “Inherit the Earth”’s damp squib of a payoff after 15 seasons is a pretty big hint why. The saddest thing is that these two writers are incompetent enough to think they actually did a good job.

But the wonky theology wasn’t a tenth as offensive as the dippy misogyny involved in fridging Yet Another Important Female Character (Amara) to prop up Jack Sue. I mean, they literally took away her voice and had Jack speak for her after she was transferred from her brother to Jack like a crown jewel. Or a piece of luggage. They basically turned her into Nefertiri (“I am Egypt!”) from The Ten Commandments.

I felt as though the show did a bait-and-switch with the audience along the lines of what the showrunners did near the end of Game of Thrones. To Benioff and Weiss (and perhaps George R.R. Martin), the idea of a woman ruling in her own right was so horrible that they had to demonize the only real candidate for that. In Supernatural, we get a lot of dithering and hand-waving about how Billie wasn’t worthy to become God (an attitude Sam himself admitted this week was a costly mistake on his part). We then have Amara disqualify herself from the competition, reducing herself to a princess whose nephew marries her in order to become King (I’m kinda hoping The Empty Entity steps up this week and eats Jack).

It seemed that the show promised us a story where an unjust and tyrannical monarchy would be overthrown by a revolution led by the Brothers Winchester, in favor of a kinder and more just world. Instead, we got a palace coup, nothing much changed, and the Brothers were sent off like good peasants with a crust of bread and a pat on the head. That is pretty messed up.

The idea of Jack being a hoover for divine energy was quite daft enough when Adam and Serafina explained it (and it was never explained why he would now be killing plants, but Sam and Dean were safe around him), but it must have been too difficult for the Nep Duo to grasp the implications. A black hole doesn’t release energy once it captures it. A living black hole Jack certainly isn’t likely to become a divine being due to sucking up energy. He’s liable to collapse into a highly unstable magical singularity.

But let’s be silly and assume that’s the case. In order to become more powerful than Chuck (who also had Amara inside him), Jack would actually need to suck up energy from a source outside the SPNverse. You see, Chuck created the SPNverse. Yeah, he used material from The Empty (according to him, anyway, in some now-long-forgotten canon), but the SPNverse is not more vast and powerful than he is. Jack could have hoovered up the entire SPNverse remaining and still not have been powerful enough to take on Chuck. That just made no sense.

While one could fanon that Jack killed the plants because he had sucked up enough Empty after exploding to defeat Chuck, there really wasn’t anything in his Empty scenes to indicate that. And the show banged home far more obvious points than that, while ignoring this one. After all, he lost a lot of energy exploding in The Empty and it doesn’t make a lot of sense that he would have sucked up any more Empty than he lost of himself afterward.

Equally stupid and lazy was having Sam and Dean infodump the plan they used to trick Chuck. I mentioned the Ocean’s 11 quote before because they do something fairly similar (at least, we get an explanatory flashback, though the protagonist does not let the antagonist in on the plan). But in that case, much of the film had already shown us the plan, just from an angle where it wasn’t initially clear.

In this case, after wasting most of a season not bothering to set anything up, this episode just winged it. And it was such a simple plan, too. It’s never explained why Chuck never saw it coming. Did Billie’s death change his ability to predict their behavior? He just seemed entirely in the dark about what the Brothers were doing, once she died. Except that he did do that trick with the dog, so he was watching them.

What similarly made no sense (and was probably a plothole) was how Lucifer could kill Death. Yes, okay, he can probably kill a Reaper that easily, but Death? Death requires some work and her scythe. Also, why make the new Death such a bitch? Why do these two writers write women so poorly when one of them is a woman? I mean, she was the only female character in the entire damned episode and she lasted all of a hot minute. And who is Death now? Seems to me the position is wiiiiide open.

It did not help that at the end, Jack brought the world back, but he made no effort whatsoever to improve it. Chuck created the SPNverse with loaded dice. Innocents die and go to Hell. Bad people go to Heaven if they donate enough money to causes archangels care about. If you get turned into a monster, you get stuck in Purgatory forever. Heaven is just an endlessly repeating mixtape of your greatest hits. Plus, Heaven is about to fall apart and crash down onto the Earth due to a lack of angels.

Yet, Jack had no interest in changing any of that. I mean, when Eileen dies, she’s still going to go back to Hell. Kevin is still condemned to being a wandering spirit. John, if he’s not already back in Hell, will likely end up back there, too, since he can’t go to Heaven. Either that, or he and Kevin deteriorate into mad and vengeful ghosts.

Even if Dean’s not going to ask about Castiel (surely, that would be a priority for Jack), Sam would have asked about Eileen. And the other worlds that got dusted. But nope. Even worse, Jack has now shown every ambitious would-be power broker the path to displacing him and becoming God in his place. I mean, it’s not as though he’s ever been the sharpest tool in the cosmic shed. The end of this episode is supposed to be happy, but it’s just such a hot mess.

Honestly, a lot of this could have been avoided if the writers had given more seriously thought years ago to whether making the Prophet Chuck be God (the ultimate Author Insert character) was a good idea. As I’ve said many times in the past, I thought it was a stupid, self-indulgent concept, a one-trick pony with too many Unfortunate Implications for the longer haul. And that’s precisely what happened.

I mean, what was even Chuck’s motivation this season? Hell, what was his motivation for bringing back Lucifer or Lilith, or for their serving him? Okay, sure, he wanted Sam and Dean to kill each other, but why? He never clarified why he loved that ending (aside from some blather about how it was emotionally cathartic), or when he settled on it.

The way that Chuck’s various drafts in the multiverse fit together, when each was formed, how they affected each other or even how they represented the progression of his writing ideas, these things were never even touched on, let alone explained. To make God a writer, hack or no, and make it work, required much better writing than was available from the writers room most of the time.

Unfortunately, the weakest link on Supernatural has often been whoever the writers and showrunners were at any given time. I don’t think it helped that Executive Producer Kim Manners died during Season 4 and his counterpart Bob Singer appears to be stuck back in the 1970s in terms of what kinds of storytelling he’ll tolerate (plus, he’s been clearly burned out on this show for years).

Stellar acting from most of the cast, and a consistently professional and creative crew on-set, often helped to paper this over, and raise pedestrian or even childish storytelling to a much higher level. Hopefully, that care will allow Supernatural’s legacy to remain golden for years to come, even if tonight’s series finale sucks mutant donkey balls. But all-too-frequently, LA let Vancouver down.

There were a lot of unanswered questions that just plain didn’t need to be left unanswered. How complete was the Rapture? Where did everyone go? Were people dusted earlier, like Becky, brought back?

The plot made it sound as though even Hell, Heaven and Purgatory were cleared out, but no one even mentioned those realms. Whatever happened to the fairy realm(s)? Was it destroyed along with the other non-Earth Prime worlds or did it, as the Leprechaun heavily implied in “Clap Your Hands If You Believe,” exist outside Chuck’s multiverse?

Why didn’t Sam immediately call Eileen? Why didn’t Dean ask Jack to bring Castiel back? What about The Empty, which is, you know, now even more pissed off than ever? An episode this late in the game should not have so many unanswered questions, especially since it appears they will now never be answered.

Next week: Carry On: It’s the last time in the saddle for 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: “Despair” (15.18) Recap and Review

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According to recent reports from Vancouver, the cast returned to work the first week of August (about two weeks late). Jensen Ackles also explained in a recent virtual “fan experience” through Creation Con that the writing for the last two episodes has been tweaked to reflect recent events (i.e., the Coronavirus pandemic). With these writers, I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. He also said that 15.19 will be a season finale, while 15.20 is more like a series finale (and expressed sadness on Instagram when he got the final script, which said “The End” instead of the usual “To Be Continued”). In an already truncated final season, that likely means we’ll get stuck with some filler clips episode as the last one. Yay.

This week, the final episode of the show, “Carry On,” airs after a one-hour retrospective. Feel free to comment about the episode below as you watch it.

You can find a promo, photos and a synopsis here for 15.20. Maybe someone can make heads or tails of it.

If you’re enjoying these articles and reviews, any contributions are welcome. Even in a pandemic, the kitties still gotta eat and I’ve got a house full of snarfly foster kittens with seasonal eye gunk right now. My kitty Goose is doing much better, thank you (she’s acting as if nothing happened now), but I’ve still got that bill, so every little bit helps.

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

Recap: Typica recap of the previous episode, with a focus on The Empty Entity’s deal with Billie and with Castiel, Chuck absorbing Amara, and Chuck being a dick.

Cut to a few seconds after Chuck disappeared and last week’s credits rolled. Sam is hauling Jack up to the Library (Oh, I see, now he wants to carry Jack). They set him in a chair. Dean is in a panic, with no idea what to do, and Sam is even more useless. Castiel keeps telling Jack to “breathe,” which is also unhelpful.

Jack says that he can’t stop the process (which, you know, is what Adam and Serafina already told him last week). He asks them to bring him outside. He will try to fly away as far as he can before he explodes. Castiel says no and Jack shouts at him that he doesn’t want to hurt him and the Brothers. Dean tries to think of one of Rowena’s spells. Surely, there’s something.

Billie appears at the other end of the room, seriously pissed, and says, “I think you’ve done enough.”

Dean flat-out tells her that Chuck saw her entire plan coming, but when Sam tries to back that up, by saying the plan was “doomed,” Billie looks straight at Sam and tells him he’s to blame for that. Well, somebody’s finally calling it as they see it.

Dean asks if Billie can do anything for Jack. She says she can do one thing. She TK’s his chair around, lifts his chin with one hand, and makes him vanish. Dean then gets shouty about what happened to Jack.

It turns out she sent him to The Empty. The Empty Entity is there on her throne, lazily commenting that he doesn’t look so good. After shivering and grunting and glowing, he blows up, to her horror.

Cue title cards.

In the Bunker, Billie explains that Jack is in The Empty. Since Chuck and Amara weren’t around, she needed someplace safe to send Jack that would absorb the explosion. The Empty, she says, is not as “strong” as either Chuck or Amara, but it is “vast.” Jack may or may not survive, ditto the Empty. But if the Empty does survive, it will be “pissed.” It already is angry with her, but fortunately, it can’t reach her here.

Sam unwisely decides to draw attention to himself and note that the Empty Entity can only come to earth if she’s “summoned.” Billie says that’s right, but then she focuses on Sam and says he has something of hers. Instead of being conciliatory, Sam stupidly thinks challenging Death is a good idea and pissily tells her he did it because she was going to “betray” them.

Billie shrugs and says sure, she was going to kill off everyone who was supposed to be dead, anyway, but that Sam doesn’t have any choice. Unless he gives her God’s death book, she’ll leave Jack in the Empty and “he won’t last long” there. Sam looks constipated. I’m kinda laughing at him here because Billie is really sick of his shit and so am I.

When Sam comes back in with the book, he tosses it on the map table rather than hand it to her, in a final bout of immature pique. Unimpressed, Billie picks it up. Dean wants her to bring Jack back right away, but she insists she has to read the end of the book, first, seeing as how the Brothers (well, Sam) have ruined the previous ending. What she sees, and her reaction, makes even Sam sit up and take notice at the change in demeanor and the tone of menace, but all she says out loud is “Interesting.”

In The Empty, Jack comes back into one piece. The Empty swirls around him and then reconstitutes herself. She is not happy because now he’s “made it loud.” But just as she’s about to put some major hurt on him, he disappears. Billie has called him back to the Bunker.

Billie then suddenly pulls a double-cross. She won’t let the rest of TFW near Jack because now she has a different use for him. But Dean surprises her by picking up her scythe and slashing her with it. White light spills out as she tosses him across the room, then flees by teleporting away, leaving the book and her scythe behind. Everyone then runs to Jack, Sam at the front of the herd. But it’s Castiel who comforts Jack, while Dean is picking himself up from across the room and Sam rushes to … open the book. But it’s stuck closed.

Nighttime outside the Bunker. Dean can’t sleep, so he’s nursing a bottle of whiskey in the Library. Sam comes in. He can’t sleep, either, so Dean slides the bottle over to him and Sam pours himself a dram. Dean apologizes for pulling a gun on Sam and explains that he was so tunnel-visioned about killing Chuck that he couldn’t stop himself. Sam points out that Dean did stop himself, though, that he was able to pull himself out of his killing trance as he has pulled Sam out of trances in the past.

It doesn’t occur to either of them that Dean was acting that way, perhaps, because he was being written that way, or that Sam was acting the way he was for the same reason. Or that now Sam has buggered up Billie’s plan, they have no more “heavy hitters on our side” Dean does actually point out the latter, but he’s a lot kinder than I would be and doesn’t blame Sam for it. Not even when Sam says they’ll think of “something,” which of course means Sam expects Dean to come up with it. Dean ruefully makes a toast to “something.” That finally shuts Sam up and they drink in silence.

Billie stalks into her Library. Seems The Empty Entity didn’t manage to kill all the Reapers. One survivor who is filing books, or something, tells her he’s reinforced the warding as ordered so that the Empty can’t get back in. He then asks her if “the plan has changed.” Looking back, while holding her shoulder in obvious pain, and looking mighty pissed off, Billie confirms this.

In a kitchen somewhere in Middle America, a young African American woman named Stevie is explaining how to cook scrambled eggs to alt-Charlie, who is (rather disrespectfully) ignoring said woman’s injunction against cleaning weapons at the breakfast table. Fortunately, Stevie isn’t standing for that, so Charlie has to put aside her kit in order to get breakfast, while babbling about their hunting some shapeshifters that night as a date. She is shocked to find that the eggs are really good, but in the middle of telling Stevie that she now has to make these eggs for Charlie for the rest of Charlie’s life (lovely), Stevie vanishes without a trace and her plate clatters on the floor. Shocked, Charlie calls out her name.

Cut to the outside of Stevie and alt-Charlie’s apartment house (which has the date 1928 on it). Inside, alt-Charlie is explaining to Sam and Dean how she met Stevie when Bobby asked her to help Stevie out on a djinn hunt. Turns out Stevie didn’t need the help. They bonded and hooked up. Now Charlie had no idea whom else to call but the Brothers. She doesn’t understand why this happened to Stevie and not her. Dean says they’re trying to figure that out. Sam asks her if she can think of anything that might identify the MOTW. In distress, Charlie says that she can’t.

Outside, Castiel is standing near the Impala, telling Jack that the Brothers didn’t want them to come in so they wouldn’t “overwhelm” their friend. Well, that’s one way of putting it. Castiel asks how he’s doing, saying that he’s been “quiet.” Jack asks how long he’s been waiting to “ask me that.” Castiel admits that he may not have wanted to “overwhelm” Jack, either.

Jack says that he’s not sure. He feels “strange,” but he’s not sure if it’s because of what happened to him or because his quest is now “over.” He doesn’t know what to do next, especially since dying was going to be the way he made things right.

Castiel proceeds to lie a rug that Jack never needed “absolution” from either him or Sam and Dean, that they weren’t using him as a weapon or for his powers. He claims that they only care about him for him. Excuse me while I snort at this porkie.

Jack admits that with all the heavy hitters who are angry with them, it scares him that he has no powers to defend TFW. He feels useless. Castiel admits he’s scared, too.

Inside, Dean is giving alt-Charlie the bad news about the angry heavy hitters. He and Sam admit that their biggest enemy now is Death and that she wants to send everyone from the alternate worlds back to their worlds – which no longer exist. When Dean says Stevie’s disappearance “fits a pattern,” Charlie starts to dither that she wasn’t going to fall in love again and the Brothers just consider her and Stevie “collateral damage,” and so on. As Sam is interrupted by a call from alt-Bobby, Dean apologizes to Charlie for what’s happening to her. When Sam gets off the phone, he has more bad news – alt-Bobby was on a hunt with a Hunter from Apocalypse World who just vanished. Says Charlie, “It’s spreading.”

Dean notes that everyone who came over from another world or who died and came back is now on Billie’s hit list. Sam belatedly realizes that includes Eileen. Charlie actually gives Sam her blessing to go rescue Eileen.

On the road (Dean driving, Castiel and Jack in the backseat), Sam is texting Eileen, who is confused. He’s telling her to just wait for him to get there when she goes silent. Dean notices Sam’s expression and speeds up. When they arrive at her home, they find Eileen’s car abandoned, with her phone lying nearby. It shows that she was texting him when she vanished in mid-word. Dean tries to comfort him, but Sam says he can’t “let go” or “I’ll lose my mind.”

Sam then goes into Hunter King mode and starts saying they need to get everyone in the above endangered categories together in one place, one central to where they all are, and then ward it with everything they have.

Dean says that’s fine, Sam should do that, but it won’t last forever. So, while they’re doing that, he’s going to go kill Billie. After the nonsense he pulled last week, Sam actually has the gall to protest, but Dean’s having none of it. They still have Billie’s scythe and it’s not as though it’s his first time killing Death. After Castiel volunteers to go with Dean, Dean hugs Sam and then heads to the car.

Dean: C’mon, Cas. Let’s go reap a Reaper.

As they drive off, Sam stands rigidly, tears running down his face. The next day, he’s talking to Donna (who has found a silo where everyone can hide out) on the phone, while gassing up and peering through the backseat of his ride (a nice old red car, a Mustang, I think) at Jack. Donna asks Sam if they have a plan. He says they’re “working on it.” He then asks Jack to drive, since he has to work on research along the way. They drive off.

In the Bunker, Dean is giving a plan to Castiel that he’s making up as he goes along. His plan is to enter Billie’s library with her scythe and “smoke her out” by wrecking it.

Donna meets Sam and Jack at the silo, where people are already arriving. Jack offers to set up the warding. Donna hugs Sam and says she’s “sorry about Eileen.” She says she’s alerted Garth, Jody and the Wayward Sisters, who are all ready to help. Sam figures that all of them and Donna are probably fine, since they haven’t died. But he could use Donna for backup. Donna also says that Bobby and his “crew” are inside, with more on the way. Alt-Charlie also drives up in a pickup, determined not to let the same thing that happened to Stevie happen to anyone else.

Inside, people are setting up lights and drawing sigils on the wall. Alt-Bobby blows smoke up Sam’s ass about how he’s the “big man around here.” Mmkay, Show. Sam admits he’s a bit in over his head, here. They’ve got every type of warding they know, and he has one of Rowena’s spells to supercharge it, but he doesn’t know if it will be enough. He just hopes Dean and Castiel will take care of the Billie situation quickly enough that it won’t matter.

Donna and Jack are painting sigils on the wall when Jack discovers he makes plants wither just by holding his hand over them. Yay. A shiny, pointless new power.

Dean and Castiel enter Death’s library. Dean has Billie’s scythe. With silent hand signals, they try to sneak up on Billie, Dean with the scythe and Castiel coming in sideways with an angel blade. But she sees them coming and says, “Hello, boys.” She susses out that the plan is to attack her with her own weapon, but she questions Dean’s aim, since he only nicked her last time. Dean says he wasn’t trying to kill her, then. She asks what has changed. He says that now she is killing people he cares about.

She TK’s him across the room and when Castiel goes after her, she easily grabs him by the throat and shoves him against a wall. She references, bitterly, the time he stabbed her in the back. Alas for her, this gives Dean time to come up and poke her in her wounded shoulder and then shove the scythe toward her throat. She grabs it (bleeding white light) and holds it off, just barely, teeth bared and pissed off. When Dean shouts at her to “stop killing my people!” she laughs at him and tells him he’s “in the wrong place.” Uh-oh. In fact, Billie has a pretty strong theory about the culprit – Chuck.

Cut back to the silo, where Sam is saying the super-charging spell. The sigils glow and at first, it appears to work. But then a little girl disappears. When her sister runs to her parents, all three dust at once. People start running and turning into dust. Among the last to go are alt-Charlie and alt-Bobby. But it gets worse when Donna starts to panic and also turns to dust. Sam and Jack are left alone in an empty silo full of the sound of silence and failure.

In Death’s library, Billie has another revelation for Dean. When he stabbed her before, despite it’s being just a nick, it was “fatal.” Now that she’s dying, she has only one wish left on her Bucket List – to kill Dean Winchester. She then manages to get the scythe away from Dean and knock him down. Wisely, Dean and Castiel run. But even as they go through the door to the Bunker, Death is stalking them and she has her scythe back.

In the silo, realization is setting in. When they leave, Sam starts calling Dean, but can’t get hold of him. Jack wonders if the only people they lost were inside the Bunker. Sam says he doesn’t know, but we then get some shots of empty playgrounds and roads. It appears that the entire planet is now deserted.

In the Bunker, Dean is panicking, but still trying to come up with a plan, while Castiel tries to be supportive. This is cut off by Dean doubling over in agony. Billie has appeared on the balcony above, using a withered crone hand to squeeze his heart from the inside. As she monologues, Castiel grabs Dean and hustles him deeper into the Bunker, trying to find a way to escape.

Billie: It’s you, Dean. It’s always been you. Death-defying, rule-breaking, you are everything I live to set right, to put down, to tame. You are Human Disorder Incarnate.

Castiel, reassuring Dean as they go, takes them down to the Dungeon and uses an angelic blood sigil on the door to block Billie out, at least temporarily. Billie slowly stalks them down the hallway, running her scythe along the walls, throwing out sparks, and monologuing. When she gets to the door, she starts banging on it slowly, like a gigantic drum, making the sigil glow red, but the sigil block has at least released her grip on Dean’s heart.

Castiel tries to be upbeat. Billie said she was dying. Maybe they can wait her out. And if she gets through, they’ll fight. “We’ll lose,” Dean says woefully. “I just led us into another trap.” Dean blames himself for the failure to kill Chuck, feeling he failed because he was “angry” and a killer, that killing is all he knows. The worst part is that the real MOTW “was Chuck all along.” TFW shouldn’t have split up. They should have stayed together. “Everybody’s gonna die and I can’t stop it.”

Dean: She’s gonna get through that door.

Castiel: I know.

Dean: And she’s gonna kill you. And then she’s gonna kill me. I’m sorry.

Castiel suddenly has an idea (though I’m pretty sure Dean’s not gonna like it. At all). He then tells Dean about his deal with the Empty Entity. He explains that he made it to save Jack and the price was his own life. The terms were that “when I experienced a moment of true happiness, the Empty would be summoned and it would take me forever.”

Dean: Why are you telling me this now?

Castiel: I always wondered, ever since I took that burden, that curse, I wondered what it could be, what … what my true happiness could even look like. I never found an answer because the one thing I want, it’s something I know I can’t have. But I think I know, I think I know now, happiness isn’t in the having. It’s in just being. It’s in just saying it.

Dean: What are you talking about, man?

Castiel: I know. I know how you see yourself, Dean. You see yourself the same way our enemies see you: You’re destructive and you’re angry and you’re broken. You’re Daddy’s Blunt Instrument. You think that hate and anger, that’s … that’s what drives you. That’s who you are. It’s not. And everyone who knows you sees it. Everything you have ever done, the good and the bad, you have done for love. You raised your little brother for love. You fought for this whole world for love. That is who you are! You’re the most caring man on earth. You are the most selfless, loving human being I will ever know. You know, ever since we met, ever since I pulled you out of Hell, knowing you has changed me. Because you cared, I cared. I cared about you. I cared about Sam. I cared about Jack. But I cared about the whole world because of you. You changed me, Dean!

By this time, Castiel is crying freely, but also smiling with joy. This is his moment of true happiness. Dean, also with tears in his eyes, very quietly asks, “Why does this sound like goodbye?”

Castiel replies, “Because it is. I love you!”

With increasingly desperation, Dean turns to see the Empty gurgle black goo out of the wall behind them and begs Castiel, “Don’t do this.”

“Goodbye, Dean,” Castiel says, as the door behind him splinters open. He grabs Dean by the shoulder and tosses him out of the way, into a corner, just as Billie enters the Dungeon. With the brand of Castiel’s hand once again on him (though now over his clothing), Dean watches, helpless, as the Empty takes a smiling Castiel and a startled Billie. He is left alone.

Afterward, Dean weeps, totally broken. Not even seeing Sam’s call on his phone motivates him to answer it. He just sits there and cries.

Credits

Ratings for this new episode rose again to a 0.3 in the A18-49 demo, a 0.4 in the A25-54 demo and a 0.2 in the A18-25 demo, and 1.024 million in audience.

Review: I’ve seen a lot of trash talked about “Despair,” and I’m not arguing it’s perfect (among other things, there’s a lot of set-up with redshirts we don’t have much emotional investment in during the first two acts and speaking of which, I couldn’t care less about any version of Charlie). But I am going to go to bat for it because I think this was possibly the best episode in the season and probably one of the greats for the series overall. Kind of a shame about the episode after this one, but there you go.

What I loved about this episode (and it really lived up to its name) is that it was all about consequences. Because of this, it was the culmination of different storylines where bad luck and bad decisions have now led to bad outcomes. It was Classical Tragedy. In Tragedy, catharsis (the release of emotions built up over the course of the story in the audience) is a big thing and this episode had a lot of catharsis, despite the sense of another shoe needing to drop with the Castiel storyline.

We always knew that in a good story, Castiel’s deal would not be forgotten. We always knew that at some point, should he be lucky enough to know true happiness, The Empty would take him. His story would not be complete without that cathartic moment. Sure, I’d like to see a final ending in the last episode where Dean returns the favor and gets him back out of The Empty, but it’s still a good ending, even if Castiel’s story stops here.

We saw a juxtaposition of Sam discovering that he could be looked up to by his Hunter crew all they wanted, but he still couldn’t protect them from Chuck, with Dean losing Castiel due to teaching Castiel a little too well about love and heroism, about what it truly meant to be human. In Sam’s case, his Hunter crew looked up to him because they expected him to protect them. It was a largely one-way dependent relationship where Sam played Big Kahuna Hunter King and got lots of ego-boo in exchange.

But he learned a harsh lesson about the limits of his power when Chuck simply snapped that crew away (an obvious ripoff of the Thanos “snap” storyline from the MCU movies, so they’ll probably all be back in an episode or two). For all his talk about saving everyone last week, Sam’s actions still led pretty directly to the same people dying this week – even worse, to the entire earth being emptied of higher animal life. “Saving” Jack had a very high price.

In contrast, Castiel sought to use his final moments to repair the seriously frayed relationship between him and Dean. Castiel had consistently chosen Jack and Jack’s welfare over Dean for years, to the point where I wasn’t too sure I wanted these two to stay as friends, let alone anything more. It was getting pretty neglectful and even abusive on Castiel’s side.

But Jack was largely absent this week (thank God) aside from the obligatory “Oh, look, he has a shiny new power in place of a personality” trope. Not even getting yelled at by The Empty Entity saved him from irrelevance. So, we were left, in the last act, with just Castiel and Dean.

Castiel had an epiphany about that relationship. He realized that forcing Dean to carry all the emotional weight for everyone else’s happiness was unfair, but that poor Dean could not truly receive the message that he was worthy of love, especially from one who had been giving him pretty much the opposite message for quite a while. What to do?

So, Castiel made it clear what his deal with the Empty entailed, what it meant when his confession of love summoned her. And this also made it possible for him to get through to Dean that when he said Dean had shown him how to love, by loving the entire world, he was being entirely sincere. By summoning the Empty through a moment of true happiness, Castiel was putting himself through the most accurate and unimpeachable lie detector test ever, right in front of Dean.

Now, the Christological elements in this were right off the scale. People were wondering if the show had finally made Destiel canon and here I was, wondering if anybody had noticed that they’d finally revealed their Jesus figure. In Judeo-Christian terms (which is the main system the show uses), the being who loves the world so much as to die for it is Jesus Christ (talking about mythology, here, not trying to proselytize). And by his sacrifice, Christ teaches everyone else how to love the world that much, too. Keep in mind that Castiel’s relationship with Dean began with resurrecting him from Hell after Dean died to save Sam from Sam’s Original Demon Blood Sin.

We also see the negative side of this in Billie’s monologue when she’s stalking them, when she refers to Dean as “Human Disorder Incarnate.” That pretty much sums up the demonic view of Jesus in the Bible and how his human enemies perceived him, as well. Jesus is Death’s conqueror, its annihilator, its eternal nemesis. Of course Death hates him.

The reason I think this works for me (as well as Dean killing Death – twice) is that, again, it’s an allegorical metaphor that evokes the emotional resonance of a deeper truth. Whereas, Jack and his shiny powers are just a convenient deus ex machina that incompetent writers use to get themselves out of a corner.

Now, as I said last week, I’m not very happy with the way the show has been killing off its most powerful female characters so that we could end up with a white-bread sausage fest next week, but it must be said that Lisa Berry knocked this one right out of the park. She brought all this subtlety of sheer rage and grief and disappointment and bitterness to Billie that certainly wasn’t there in the script. And right before she was about to have a baby, too. Give this woman an Emmy, already. Billie was scary.

And who wouldn’t be? Despite the show’s attempts to villainize her, she’s just an allegorical figure of a natural process. She’s necessary and the Brothers have been cheating her for a long, long time. Can we really consider her the villain of this story?

Let’s talk about Castiel’s death. There was a lot of talk online (whining might be the better word) that the fact that he died immediately after declaring his love for Dean Winchester not only was homophobic writing, but it meant that Dean Winchester, and even the actor who plays him (Jensen Ackles himself) was homophobic.

As an actual member of the LGBT community (Hint: I’m the B word), I’m gonna have to say “Oh, hell, no, Ghost Rider” to that one, especially the last conclusion. But let me explain.

First of all, while internalized homophobia is definitely a thing in the gay community and especially among closeted gays (lookin’ hard at you, Lindsey Graham), it’s more than a tiny bit questionable to call out a gay male writer as homophobic in his writing about two men. I’ll grant you that I haven’t loved a lot of what Robert Berens has done lately, but I’m reasonably confident that he knows a lot more about what gay men are like in their relationships than straight teenage girls who think they’re “woke” because they ship two men together.

There’s nothing woke about fetishizing gay people as your sexual fantasy. Just because what’s up on screen is not what you imagine two gay men must be like does not make that representation homophobic. Yaoi has about as much to do with actual gay experience as hurt/comfort does with hospice care or the meat grinder that is a city ER on a Saturday night during a full moon. Life is not fanfic.

This is especially important in talking about Supernatural versus other CW shows. While the CW has improved somewhat since the Dawn Ostroff era in terms of representation, there’s definitely something stale about how they go about it. It feels as though they just dusted off the WB playbook from the late 1990s and started re-doing their greatest hits.

Thus, you have women of color, but they’re young and pretty and have an older male mentor (because all the older women in the story are evil or dead). The balance of men versus women remains seriously lopsided and the women seem to be there mainly to provide relationship drama. Women with superpowers get held to much higher standards than their male counterparts and experience much harsher criticism from other characters in the story whenever they fail to meet utter perfection. You have lesbian and bisexual women in major roles, now, but they’re all young and pretty (that male gaze thing), and it’s funny how one woman in the couple always gets designated the Romantic Interest, and gets fridged, turned EVOL, or made irrelevant in some way. It all feels like something that seemed progressive in 1998. Not so much in 2020.

Supernatural never fit that mold and all attempts to make it do that came off as awkward. Contrary to what its critics claimed, this did not mean that it had no GLBT representation. Part of what makes the idea of Castiel having been fridged questionable is that his relationship did not fundamentally alter at that moment of confession, let alone reset when he said, “I love you.” There had never been anything secret about Castiel’s feelings about Dean toward Dean over the 12 years they’d known each other, any more than Dean and Crowley’s relationship (often elided by a lot of fans) between seasons had been “just” a friendship.

There was simply a difference in how Castiel and Dean expressed love for each other. Castiel said it (and so did others). Dean showed it. He trusted Castiel in Season 6 long after it was clear Castiel was lying to him. He refused to leave Purgatory without Castiel. When Castiel essentially forced him to leave without him, Dean developed guilt-driven hysterical amnesia about the event. And when Castiel was making his declaration in “Despair,” Dean was begging him, with tears in his eyes, not to do it and end up in the Empty. Dean. Loves. Castiel.

It’s not whether there is Destiel on the show. We’ve had this relationship for 12 years and the episode framed it as romantic by leading up to it with two, increasingly important relationships where Chuck dusted one of the couple. It’s how you choose to define it and interpret what you saw onscreen.

But Dean’s love for Castiel on the show was always framed as familial, brotherly, not romantic (though Castiel’s was certainly romantic on his side, just as Crowley’s had been, albeit with a noir twist). Now there’s a very logical, non-homophobic reason the show couldn’t have Dean be in love with another man. His most important relationship was never romantic. It was always brotherly. He always put Sam first and he made no bones about it.

But for Dean to fall in love with another man would not only be “cheating” on Sam (just as, say, Dean’s connection to Amara was framed), but it would imply that Dean’s love for Sam was romantic and sexual. And while the CW may be up for a gay male relationship, it’s definitely not up for one that’s first-degree incestuous (no matter how many jokes the Kripke Era made about it). This ain’t HBO.

Castiel recognized that Dean would always love Sam first and I think that was what he meant when he said he could never have what he truly wanted. What he truly wanted wasn’t just Dean’s love, but Dean’s exclusive love. And Dean’s love, as Castiel himself admits near the end of this episode, is universal. Hence why the title reflects what Dean feels right before the credits.

Next week: Inherit the Earth: On a deserted planet, Sam, Dean and Jack go up against Chuck one final time.

The Kripke Years

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4

Season 5

The Gamble Years

Season 6 (with Kripke)

Season 7

The Carver Years

Season 8

Season 9

Season 10

Season 11

The Dabb Years

Season 12

Season 13

Season 14

Season 15

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The Official Supernatural: “Unity” (15.17) Recap and Review

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According to recent reports from Vancouver, the cast returned to work the first week of August (about two weeks late). Jensen Ackles also explained in a recent virtual “fan experience” through Creation Con that the writing for the last two episodes has been tweaked to reflect recent events (i.e., the Coronavirus pandemic). With these writers, I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. He also said that 15.19 will be a season finale, while 15.20 is more like a series finale (and expressed sadness on Instagram when he got the final script, which said “The End” instead of the usual “To Be Continued”). In an already truncated final season, that likely means we’ll get stuck with some filler clips episode as the last one. Yay.

This week, the final episode of the show, “Carry On,” airs after a one-hour retrospective. Feel free to comment about the episode below as you watch it.

You can find a promo, photos and a synopsis here for 15.20. Maybe someone can make heads or tails of it.

If you’re enjoying these articles and reviews, any contributions are welcome. Even in a pandemic, the kitties still gotta eat and I’ve got a house full of snarfly foster kittens with seasonal eye gunk right now. My kitty Goose is doing much better, thank you (she’s acting as if nothing happened now), but I’ve still got that bill, so every little bit helps.

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

Recap: Standard recap of the season up to this point. Cut to Now in Reykavik, Iceland. Amara is enjoying a nice hot spring bath, while reading a Japanese novel by Murakami, at night (it always seems to be night around her), when a sudden meteor shower and aurora catch her attention. Looking tense, she gets out and pulls on a robe. “Welcome home, Brother,” she mutters.

Cue title cards.

Cut to Sam in the Bunker talking to Castiel (outside in a sunny spot near some kind of industrial park). Castiel has been to the Basilica of Guadalupe to look for a spell that could, according to rumor, “wound God Himself.” Alas, it was only a rumor.

As Sam gets off the phone, Dean enters the Library and asks if he was just talking to Castiel. Sam is all pissy that Dean didn’t rush to tell him what Castiel told Dean. This entire plot irritates me immensely. If Castiel is now working with Sam to come up with an alternative to Billie and Jack’s plan, why didn’t he just tell Sam about it in the first place instead of telling Dean and then bailing? If I were Dean, I’d be mighty salty at these two using me as a go-between for a half-baked, last-minute search that probably won’t go anywhere. And indeed, Dean’s not too thrilled, especially by Sam acting like a twit for the billionth time in 15 seasons.

Dean points out that they don’t have any other alternatives if, you know, they want to save the world. Sam snottily whines that surely, Dean gets tired of “saying that” they don’t have any choice. I’m sure Dean does, but at the moment, they really don’t.

The argument is interrupted by a whoosh and a clatter in the Kitchen. They go down there to find Amara helping herself to a beer from the fridge. She tells them, “We should talk.”

Cut to the Brothers and Jack (you know, the fifth wheel this show seems determined to keep around) listening as Amara tells them Chuck is back on Earth Prime. Jack then says, “It’s time.”

Amara asks them what their plan is to “cage” her brother. Do they have four archangels? Dean says they have Jack and that he’s been getting stronger. Amara tells Jack that she regrets she didn’t get around to getting to know him better and suggests they do so afterward. Dean manages to keep a straight face through this. Jack looks dumb, but then mentions that he has one final ritual he needs to go through.

Later, Dean thanks Amara for helping. She says, “As I told you before, Dean, we will always find a way to help each other.” After she disappears, Dean looks guilty and upset.

Out in the Library, Jack guesses that Sam is “angry” or at least “disappointed” with him. Sam lies his ass off and says that of course he’s not. He does admit that he thinks what Jack is doing is wrong. Yay for respecting Jack’s choices, Sam.

It gets worse when Dean comes out into the Library and asks Jack if he’s ready. After Jack leaves to get his stuff, Sam starts tail-spinning. He refuses to come along, even though he and Castiel have no alternative plan, because suddenly, he thinks Billie’s plan is a wild goose chase. Really, Sam? You were fine with Jack eating human hearts and looking for Eden in some weird, abandoned church, but now you have a problem with this plan? Sam seems to think what is best for Jack is totally ignoring what Jack wants, refusing to support him in his final hours, and rendering his sacrifice meaningless.

The really sad thing is that it’s pretty obvious even this early in the episode that we are supposed to believe Sam is in the right – that we are supposed to forget that when Sam has gotten mulish like this in the past, he has released terrible evil (like Lucifer and the Darkness) on the world and caused untold death and destruction. In short, we are supposed to not notice that Sam not only is holding the Idiot Ball this episode, it’s practically glued to his hand for 42 solid minutes. Nope, the writers want us to believe that Dean is the problematical brother, instead. Sometimes, there just aren’t enough facepalms.

So, the Brothers have a spat where Sam talks about “fighting for Jack” (while being unwilling even to be with him in his worst moment) and how Jack is “family.” Dean has to speak the brutal truth: “Jack’s not family.” Sam bridles at this, but, well, Jack isn’t family. He’s just not. And he never has been, either. Every time he’s come close to being family, he’s found a way to screw them over and choose someone, or something (usually power) over them.

Jack pretty obviously overhears this as he comes back into the Library with his stuff. There’s an awkward moment and then Dean leaves with Jack. Note that the brother who’s saying Jack isn’t family is the one who’s willing to help him see this through. Let’s just let that little irony sink in. Sam talks a good game, but at the end of the day, I don’t see any emotional resonance in his claim to love Jack as a son. It always sounds hollow and that’s because we never see him putting in the work. The brother who does that is always Dean.

Cut to a pensive car ride at night, but Dean and Jack don’t speak to each other at all during it. Dean’s overheard statement just sits there between them.

Back at the Bunker, Castiel arrives (conveniently after causing a huge fight and rift between the Brothers at about the worst time possible) to find Sam hitting the lore books. He’s all happy that Sam is on board with trying to find another way to save the world that will also save Jack. Ugh. I can’t even with these two.

Meanwhile, Amara is sitting on a bench in a park in sunlight (oh, so, she can be out in daylight), holding a pink flower, when her brother shows up. We get a random title card that says “Amara” in white letters on a black background, for some unclear reason.

Chuck asks if she saw his meteor shower. Instead of saying yes, she calls him out on “ending worlds.” Now he’s after this one. Thing is, in order to “do a hard reset” and start a new universe after he ends Earth Prime, he needs Amara’s help. She flat-out refuses. He accuses the Winchesters of having gotten to her: “You and Dean have that whole weird thing.” Amara is surprised. She had thought it was part of his writing, but he vociferously denies it, calling it “gross.” Note that this relationship is the only thing in the entire show that we can be sure is not part of Chuck’s manipulations, so of course he’s going to have to try to break it down to nothing.

Amara claims that she’s on neither Dean nor Chuck’s side. She’s about preserving the world as it is. Setting the flower down on her bench, she has Chuck take a walk with her. Chuck does, but is restless. She notes that he “never slow[s] down.” He never takes a moment to enjoy his own creation (this is, by the way, a retcon on Season 11, when we did see that Chuck enjoyed nature).

They talk about his first tree (a fern, “I was obsessed with fractals”) and Amara calls Chuck out on wanting to “annihilate” the entire universe just because Sam and Dean won’t do what he wants. Chuck claims this isn’t so (when she’s obvious right). He says that everywhere he looks, he sees his failures and wants to start fresh. He’s especially upset at humans, whom he now claims to find “boring.”

Amara then asks about his “first children” (the Leviathan? Oops, no, she means the angels, since it seems we’ve forgotten the bit of canon that said Leviathan were created before angels). She snaps her fingers and Chuck is annoyed to find they’re in Heaven. A small group of angels we’ve never seen before shows up (where have they been?). One, Crystal, calls him, “The Truth, the Way and the Light.” Chuck likes it at first. But their fangirling over him quickly annoys him. He snaps his fingers and sends them “away.”

When he asks what the point was of bringing them in, Amara says that she wanted him “to feel their love, their perfect, angelic love.” Chuck blows a childish raspberry, then claims that in the end, “I always get what I want.”

“What about what I want?” Amara says. What she wants is “balance” between Light and Dark. She wants a stake in this one world, where creation and destruction balance each other out. But Chuck doesn’t want to share and, when she calls him a villain for it, brags, “Villains always get the best lines.” So, she snaps her fingers again and takes them to the Bunker. Where she traps him.

Furious, Chuck tells her she can’t trap him there forever. She says she doesn’t have to.

We now get a random title card for Dean. Dean and Jack are still on the road and it’s still night. Dean tries to talk to Jack about saying he wasn’t family, back in the Bunker. Jack just says that he understands and it’s okay. Dean still looks guilty.

Come daylight, they pull up in front of a tacky, Mexican-themed store called “Jim’s Gems.” As they get out, Dean asks Jack if he’s sure this is the place. Jack says, “Billie said, ‘This is where it ends.’”

As they walk up to the store, a man and a woman open it from inside and come out to greet him. The man smiles and calls Jack by name. He and the woman are dressed like hippies and are very excited to see Jack.

Inside the shop, Dean greets the man and calls him “Jim,” thinking he’s the proprietor. The man corrects him. He’s just a friend who Jim lets use the shop. He’s Adam. The Adam. And he’s been waiting 300,000 years to get back at Chuck. He and Eve figured they deserved to get kicked out of the Garden (God’s “first story”), but were less happy to watch Chuck get bored and move on to their children.

The woman, however, is not Eve (also, isn’t Eve in charge of Purgatory, seeing as how this season claimed she didn’t really die in Season 6, then promptly forgot about her?). She is an angel named Serafina. She and Adam are very lovey-dovey and she’s been keeping him alive all this time so they can kill God. Billie has been helping them.

Adam wants to take Jack into the back room for “a pop quiz. Can’t hand out the Spark of the Divine to just anyone.” Dean is hesitant, but Jack insists it’s okay. As they go back, Adam blowing smoke up Jack’s ass, Serafina tells Dean about having seen Jack in a mushroom dream in the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

Dean: So, you were tripping balls and you saw Jack?

Serafina talks about all the many coincidences that led to this moment, as if “it was meant to be.” In a story where Chuck is writing everyone’s decisions, that sounds a tad ominous.

In the back room, the “test” turns out to be determining, from a collection of rocks, which one holds the Spark of the Divine. Jack picks up a rock and says it’s this one. But then he says it’s all of the rocks. All of them hold something from their creator: “God is in everything.” Adam smiles and says, “Right on. Or at least, he should be.” Jack has passed the test.

Bringing Jack back out, Adam has Serafina stab him and rip out one of his ribs (then she heals him). Dean is a bit shocked by this, while Jack just stands there like a turnip. Adam says that everything may have the Spark of the Divine, but his rib has enough power to create – or to kill God.

Serafina, covered in Adam’s blood, blathers on about how this is Jack’s destiny and how preparing his mind and body, and restoring his soul, led him to this. I think I’m gonna hurl.

Adam tells Jack that consuming the rib “will start a chain reaction” that turns him into a “supernova” that will then “collapse into a living black hole” that will consume all divine energy in its vicinity, even Amara and Chuck. Yay.

Adam puts the rib into a baggie and hands it over. He warns that once the chain reaction starts, it can’t be stopped, so don’t use it until the time comes.

In the car that night, Dean is driving and Adam is holding the baggie, staring at it. Dean pulls over and apologizes to Jack for what he said before. He says that Jack deserves more support than that. Dean explains that when he found out about Chuck’s being an author, he no longer felt “free.” But now, he and Sam have a chance to be truly free. He thanks Jack for that.

Dean gets a text that “it’s time.” Jack takes out the rib and holds it in his hand. Then he dusts it (the way he did the snake last season, ’cause that’s totally reassuring) and his eyes glow briefly. Game Time.

Back in the Bunker, Sam seems oblivious to what is going on, so I guess he’s not the one who sent that text to Dean (Amara, maybe?). He’s still working on the books. And then we get a title card for him, as well (again, no idea why), as he tosses a book to the ground in frustration.

Castiel picks it up and puts it back on the table. Sam apologizes for the whatever-that-was and they commiserate on the sinking sensation that Dean may be right. Sam just can’t shake the feeling that something is off and wishes he could talk to Billie directly about (Really? Now? Not before whenever she was standing right in front of you, Sam?).

Castiel firmly nixes any summoning of Death or Sam killing himself to hang out with her. But Sam has another idea. Remember that key the Russian shaman Sergei wanted when he helped cure Jack last season? I know it was a while ago, but don’t worry, because Sam and Castiel happily infodump us up to speed. The key was to Death’s library and Sam wonders if they can 1. find it and 2. use it to sneak inside and read her books.

Cue a montage of the two of them hitting the books again. They find a lot of relics, but it’s not until Sam is messing about with the Holy Grail (yes, really) that Castiel finds a box with a death’s head on it and opens it to find the key in question.

There’s a helpful inscription on the box. When Sam reads it (his Latin pronunciation has not improved), the key glows and a glowing doorway appears in the wall, complete with a key hole. How convenient.

This is about where the episode turns seriously daft. Yes, that’s even taking into account the previous meeting with Stoner!Adam.

Castiel wants to come along, but Sam insists on going alone. He figures if Dean gets back before he does, Castiel will need to stall him. Castiel reassures Sam that he must be doing the Right Thing because reasons. Barf.

Sam steps inside Death’s Library. This is a recurring motif on the show of something that worked great with Dean, that the show insists on just handing to Sam with clumsy writing that cheapens it the second time round. Remember Sam’s romp through Purgatory in Season 8’s “Taxi Driver”? Like that.

Anyhoo, Sam arrives in the W section (convenient) and finds a lot of dead Reapers on the floor. He hears screaming and pleading down the shelves and then a death shriek. Instead of grabbing a book (as he originally intended) and bailing, he decides to check out what’s going on. I’m sure this will end well.

It turns out that the Empty Entity (in the persona of Meg) is sitting at a desk, interrogating Reapers about the location of Billie. When they don’t have the answer (and none of them does), she kills them.

Sam tries to sneak off, but the Empty senses him and snaps him into position in front of her. After calling him by name, she introduces herself when he incorrectly thinks she’s Meg and then monologues about wanting to find Billie. They had a deal. She was supposed to own the Empty, with no more Chuck interference, and Billie promised her she’d go back to sleep. But then Castiel showed up and sowed doubts in her mind about Billie’s reliability.

It turns out (according to the Empty, anyway) that Billie wants to become the new God and put everything back in its place, which includes worlds back in position, angels in Heaven, demons in Hell, and anyone who should be dead, dead. And, oh, yeah, the Empty Entity gets to go back to sleep.

Sam sees a book in front of her. When the Empty says he’s in God’s book, he realizes it’s the one he wants. He asks if she can read it. She says that only Death can do that. After some consideration, she figures that since Billie considered Sam important enough to keep him alive, maybe she’ll show up if the Empty tortures and kills him.

Though in agony, Sam can still lie. He claims that Billie sent him to get the book. When the Empty proves skeptical, he insists that Billie gave him the message to tell the Empty that she “honors her promises.” He persuades her to let him take the book after he tells her that Billie is on Earth (She can’t go there, she notes bitterly, unless she’s “summoned”), claiming that if she kills him, she’ll never go back to sleep. Reluctantly, the Empty lets him go, but I’m wondering if this conversation will come back to bite him in the ass. As Castiel found out the hard way, you don’t just lie to the Empty.

Sam returns from Death’s Library to find Castiel waiting anxiously. Castiel tells him “it’s time,” that Amara has Chuck trapped (so, I guess he sent the text to Dean). Sam then does a complete 180 from what he told the Empty and says they have to stop The Plan.

In another part of the Bunker, Chuck is growing impatient, so he starts manipulating his sister. She tries to tell him that they can still reconcile, but he tells her to shut up. He talks about Dean being “brought to the brink of doubt.” He also talks about “poor Sam, always gotta know everything.”

Outside, two storylines are colliding. Dean arrives, half-carrying Jack. Sam is trying to talk Dean out of it, saying that Death intends to become God. Castiel is shocked. Dean doesn’t care. As long as they take out Chuck (and save the world), it’s all good.

Sam then physically gets in Dean’s way and Dean gets furious. Well, think about it – Castiel just sent Dean a text saying it was time, Jack started the countdown, and now that they’ve come back, Sam is suddenly screwing everything up and endangering all existence. Dean ends up pulling a gun on Sam.

Chuck tells Amara, “This is my ending, my real ending.”

Chuck talks about “goading Death” and making outcomes go this way and that. When Amara protests that they’re only going to “cage” him, Chuck then drops the truth on her (but twisted, of course). He tells her that Dean lied to her. The plan is to kill both him and her, using Jack as a bomb. Yes, that’s right – Chuck always knew about the plan because even without his death book, he’s “omniscient.”

And he has an ace in the hole – Sam. Sam tries to disarm Dean, but Dean punches him into a wall. When Dean tries to get Jack down the hallway, Sam tries to tackle him and then tries to tell him that Billie will kill people they know and love (like Eileen). Dean says fine, as long as Chuck dies. He’d trade them all for that.

Sam then woefully asks Dean if he’d trade him, too, and when Dean says that he can’t be Chuck’s puppet forever, Sam plays on Dean’s brotherly love by going on about how Dean was always there for him. Kinda funny how Sam only remembers that when he wants something from his brother that his brother doesn’t want to give. At any rate, he gets Dean to put down his gun. Sam insists they’ll “find another way.”

Unfortunately, all of this whining and delaying gives Chuck time to get inside Amara’s head. After she starts crying at Dean’s betrayal, she agrees to merge with Chuck (“balance”), though it’s more as if he ends up eating her. One of his eyes briefly goes black as the other one glows.

It occurs to me that Sam and Chuck are a lot alike, especially in this scene. They both shamelessly use their sibling’s love for them to manipulate them into doing what they want instead of what’s necessarily a good idea. Too bad for Sam that he’s not a cosmic being because Chuck gets out and proceeds to mock the Brothers for not being quick enough to trap him. Thanks to Sam. Again.

Chuck gets mad and claims that he wanted them to … I dunno. The script gets really vague, here, since he clearly didn’t intend for them to succeed in killing him or stopping him from eating his sister (which means he can now just dust this world and create another). He complains that this version of Castiel is the only one that didn’t follow orders after dragging Dean out of Hell, and berates them all for being “stupid, stubborn, broken.” They’re the one story that never quite worked. Then he says, “I’m over it! I’m over you!”

Sam says, “Good” (Honestly, I don’t know why, since they just lost) and Dean says, “Screw you.” Chuck retorts that back at him. He doesn’t care, anymore, if the Brothers kill each other or not. He talks about throwing away broken toys and then welcomes them to watch Jack die (since Jack is about to go supernova). Then he vanishes as Jack collapses and TFW anxiously dotes on Jack.

Credits

Ratings for this new episode dropped to a 0.2/1 in the A18-49 demo and 0.1/2 in the A18-34 demo, while remaining steady at 0.3/1 in the A25-54 demo. They dropped to 908 thousand in audience.

Review: This was a terrible episode. Rushed pacing, wonky logic, manipulative and unearned emotional moments, and enough plotholes to drive about ten Impalas through. Also, I’m not sure if the irony of the title is truly unintentional.

Jack continues to underwhelm. It’s hilarious that the mytharc talks about his becoming a black hole for the divine, when he’s been a black hole for dramatic tension since his introduction as a zygote.

It’s not Alex Calvert’s fault (Okay, it was funny that someone commented on Twitter that it didn’t help that the show has him looking like a poster boy for the Aryan Youth League, but still). He was fun as Belphegor. But the thing is that Belphegor was an active character, with an agenda that he pursued. Sure, he was manipulative, but he had goals. He had a personality. Watching him wasn’t like watching paint dry.

Jack, on the other hand, is a blank slate, a passive vessel for whatever plan someone wants to execute using his Speshul Sparkly Gary Stu Ex Machina powers. He continues to be the worst possible thing a main character can be in this show – boring. And his arc is like plot kudzu, engulfing and cutting off far more interesting storylines, especially those of powerful female characters.

Speaking of which, poor Amara. She spent most of Season 11 colossally pissed off at her brother and in a very weird (and still largely unexplained) relationship with Dean Winchester. She reconciled with Chuck and then, somewhere between the end of Season 11 and when we see her again near the beginning of this season, she has become disenchanted with him. At the same time, she has grown to love his creation in inverse proportion to how much he has grown to hate it. This seems to be, at least in part, due to her strange (and still unexplained) connection to Dean Winchester.

On the one hand, it’s great to see that Amara has grown as a character (even as Chuck has degenerated into a big baby). On the other hand, there are multiple problems with how Amara’s growth has been handled and these problems also shine a light on issues involving Chuck’s characterization, too.

The biggest thing is that all that growth was infodumped in, rather than shown organically. And then, a hot minute after we were told about it, it (and Amara) got thrown under the Jacknatural bus.

We heard here and there (starting at the end of last season) that Amara had developed an interest in Keno. We saw that she was enjoying new experiences. We saw that she had calmed down a lot. We saw that she had grown disenchanted with her brother. But we weren’t shown any of that until it was all a fait accompli.

And in “Unity,” we saw her (after spending all of Season 11 trying to kill her brother) just give up and become just another jewel in his junk drawer. It. Made. No. Sense. I get that the show wanted to give each of its most powerful female characters (okay, I’m just speculating about The Empty, since 15.20 hasn’t aired, yet, but I’m assuming it’s about her. She’s the only remaining unresolved big mytharc) an episode each for her sendoff, but this still felt perfunctory, disrespectful, illogical, and more than a tiny bit sexist.

I got the sense the showrunners thought they were being respectful, but boy, did they miss the mark. This was a fierce character who took no shit in Season 11. Now she’s a passive, pacifist wimp who just gives in and lets herself be defeated. What the hell happened? Oh, that’s right – they never bothered to show us.

Similarly, with Chuck, we didn’t really find out why he was so angry and dissatisfied with his creations that he decided to destroy all his drafts. I get that he was feeling petulant, but there was never much cause given why he would do this after nearly 14 billion years. One reason I rolled my eyes so hard at Amara slapping at Dean for perceiving her as “just a woman” and Chuck as “a squirrely weirdo” two weeks ago is that the show itself failed to show either of them as anything else this season.

A signal example of this is her hurt at Dean’s “betrayal.” For one thing, how could she not know Dean was thinking that in the diner if she’s powerful enough to know what’s going on in another part of the Bunker? For another, why would she just believe her brother (who she knows is a practiced liar and manipulator)? Why not, I dunno, ask Dean about it?

Even more importantly, why does she care? The main thing I got from this shipwreck of a plot was that the whatever-it-was Dean had with her was about the only thing real in all of this because it was the only thing Chuck himself never wrote or planned (in fact, it disgusted him and he may even have been jealous of it). It existed independently of his entire creation and belonged to Amara and Dean alone.

So, you’d think that would be something we’d surely hear a lot about down the road, right? Alas, as of 15.19, it appears to have been completely spiked in favor of Jack’s storyline, kind of like what happened with alt-Michael last season. I just do not understand the incompetence of these writers, sometimes. How could they set all that up so carefully and then stick a wrench in the wheel like that? They teased it and teased it all year long and then, at the last minute, they did a bait-and-switch. Then they acted as though the audience was being unreasonable in getting salty about the lack of resolution.

This show, I swear, has always struggled with good endings. Always. Going all the way back to the Kripke Era. But all the things previous showrunners did wrong, the Dabb Era just seems to have doubled down on as if they actually thought they were good things to do. So frustrating.

Then there was Sam. Gonna be honest – I wanted to slap Sam really hard this week, even harder than last week. This is the second time this season Sam has scotched a plan at the absolute last minute, despite having nothing to replace it, simply because he didn’t like the projected results. As far as we can tell, the plan would have worked, mind you, but he didn’t want to sacrifice Jack, even though Sam has been plenty fine with sacrificing other people with whom he was probably a lot closer earlier in the show. It was selfish. It was foolish. And yeah, I get that it was kind of in-character for Sam to be like that, but I’d hoped he’d grown beyond it. But nope, Sam seems to have been handed the Idiot Ball for the rest of this show.

Also irritating was that in order to make Sam look right (in a way, of course, that was pro-Jack, because Heaven forbid we give up any opportunity to stroke Jack as a character and prop him up), the show had Sam babbling nonsense to Dean about Billie’s intentions. Now, first of all, as Dean himself pointed out, there was nothing particularly shocking about the consequences Sam was talking about. They did know they were making a deal with Death, after all.

Second, Sam’s entire thesis that Billie was EVOL was based on the idea that it was a bad thing he and Dean and their loved ones would now have the same status as everyone else, would no longer be special, and would have to deal with the consequences – in other words, they’d all be dead. It got downright bizarre when Sam was complaining that Billie would send people like alt-Bobby and alt-Charlie back to worlds that no longer existed (meaning they, too, would cease to exist), without seeing this as showing favoritism to such characters over the entire worlds that had been erased. Sam seemed to want to retire to a normal life with all his friends, rather than having Normal catch up to all of them all at once, even if the latter saved the world. Sam would rather see the entire world destroyed than make any sacrifice at this point. Ugh.

The especially bizarre part was that the show wanted us to believe that Dean was the one who was being unreasonable, just because The Plan was on a very short time frame and he was trying to get it done before Chuck and Amara found out or Jack blew up. Sam and Castiel sprang their Brand New Information on him at the last possible second, while having no plan to replace it.

People have claimed Dean acted out of character, but I don’t think so. Why would he believe Sam and Castiel, especially since he knew they opposed Billie’s plan and that Sam had already sabotaged a perfectly good plan less than half a season before? While some fans were talking about how this episode had a Rashomon-like structure (due to the random title cards), if it did, it was a failure. The Japanese film Rashomon (1950) was about different characters telling the same story from their own perspectives so that an investigator who could get to the truth of a crime. “Unity” was just your typical story structure where different scenes had different characters in them.

Sam’s delay was what screwed up the plan. What Chuck was expecting in that hallway, admittedly, was pretty fuzzy. It didn’t help that the writing degenerated into Chuck spouting the same old Evil Overlord slogans as before.

But two things were pretty clear. One was that he did not want to be trapped by his sister or black-holed by Jack, and that he was aware of what was going on out in the hallway and wanted to sabotage it. The other was that he expected to do so by getting one of the Brothers (most likely Dean) to kill the other. He was mighty disappointed when that didn’t happen.

So, the irony (perhaps unintentional on the writers’ part here) was that Sam was being manipulated by Chuck every bit as much as Dean was, if not more so because Dean would have gotten Chuck if Sam hadn’t interfered. And Sam never knew it.

Sam reminded me here of a character from Isaac Asimov’s book Second Foundation (1953). Arkady Darell appears in the second part. She seems like a bright and persuasive, strong-minded and highly independent young woman. It later becomes clear that she has been mind-controlled from birth to persuade everyone else in her society that the telepathic Second Foundation (which they had considered a major threat) doesn’t actually exist. Remember that Sam himself has also been manipulated from the age of six months old.

If I were Dean this week, I’ve have shot his bitchy ass.

Arguably the most irritating thing about the episode was how it reduced Castiel to a wallflower and made Dean the scapegoat for everyone else being stupid. Sam was a lot angrier with Dean, who was the one who actually told him about Billie’s plan (talk about shooting the messenger) than he was with Jack, who lied to everyone. At the same time, Sam wasn’t angry with Castiel for telling Dean, not him, but was actually happy to work with him behind Dean’s back to sabotage Billie’s plan.

Further, not only did Sam think it was a fine idea to sneak into Billie’s library to steal from her, but he also thought there’d be no consequences to lying to the Empty Entity, a character already mighty salty about everyone lying to her. This seemed like a continuation of Sam’s lifelong obliviousness to consequences (perhaps because Dean and John shielded him too much from supernatural realities when he was a kid).

Sam gives no consideration to the fact that in this episode, Amara and Billie will be salty with Dean, Adam and Serafina with Jack, and the Empty Entity with Castiel, for something he, Sam Winchester, did. He is getting other people in trouble, but since it’s not him experiencing the consequences, he continues skipping blithely along the banks of the River Denial. See what I mean about Sam having the Idiot Ball glued to his palms?

Let’s talk a bit about Adam (Oh, hi, there, Alessandro Juliani. Been a while since Battlestar Galactica) – and no, I don’t mean Sam and Dean’s younger half-brother. What was that little interlude all about? The show got seriously weird with that and not in a good way.

Okay, Adam’s a hippie and that’s cool, I guess. But his late introduction made unnecessary plotholes and possible retcons pop up like magic mushrooms. How does his angel girlfriend figure into the storyline of the angelic fall at the end of Season 8? Was getting kicked out of the Garden a metaphor for the exodus from Africa? Why does he look anatomically modern and so light-skinned if he’s 300,000 years old? For that matter, why did his first-born son look European? He mentions Eve. Is this the same Eve who is the Mother of Monsters in Purgatory? How did she become that Eve?

I also wasn’t quite sure how to perceive the tonal shifts in the scene. One minute, Adam and Serafina were totally fangirling Jack as a Savior figure. The next, in exactly the same “Farrr out, dude!” voice, Serafina was bloodily stabbing Adam to wrench out his rib and the two of them were making it very clear they had happily participated in a plan that was setting Jack up as a patsy to kill Chuck. And they were willing to tell him that to his face.

Also, that bit where Jack says the Spark of the Divine is in everything and Adam says that’s as it should be? That’s going to be relevant a couple of episodes down the road. Unfortunately.

Next week: Despair: Billie returns and she’s not happy with how The Plan turned out. Tragedy ensues.

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: “Drag Me Away (From You)” (15.16) Recap and Review

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According to recent reports from Vancouver, the cast returned to work the first week of August (about two weeks late). Jensen Ackles also explained in a recent virtual “fan experience” through Creation Con that the writing for the last two episodes has been tweaked to reflect recent events (i.e., the Coronavirus pandemic). With these writers, I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. He also said that 15.19 will be a season finale, while 15.20 is more like a series finale (and expressed sadness on Instagram when he got the final script, which said “The End” instead of the usual “To Be Continued”). In an already truncated final season, that likely means we’ll get stuck with some filler clips episode as the last one. Yay.

This week, the final episode of the show, “Carry On,” airs after a one-hour retrospective. Feel free to comment about the episode below as you watch it.

You can find a promo, photos and a synopsis here for 15.20. Maybe someone can make heads or tails of it.

If you’re enjoying these articles and reviews, any contributions are welcome. Even in a pandemic, the kitties still gotta eat and I’ve got a house full of snarfly foster kittens with seasonal eye gunk right now. My kitty Goose is doing much better, thank you (she’s acting as if nothing happened now), but I’ve still got that bill, so every little bit helps.

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

Recap: Recap of the efforts so far to take out Chuck, mostly of Dean being furious about being a puppet all his life. Cut to Now, where a man is pulling up outside a very seedy establishment called “Rooster’s Sunrise Motel.” On the soundtrack is “If I Didn’t Care,” sung by The Ink Spots in 1939. There is, by the way, a lovely duet version of this sung by Delysia Lafosse (Amy Adams) and her devoted friend and exasperated lover (one of three), Michael Pardue (Lee Pace), in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (2009) that is very much part of the plot.

The man, balding and pensive, hesitates for a moment before going inside. The young girl at the desk identifies him as one Travis Johnson. Though he’s there past check-in time (10pm), she lets him in and mentions that he requested a specific room: 214. He calls it “Doctor’s orders.” She correctly guesses that he once stayed there, but he says it was “a long time ago.”

With a duffle bag in hand, he enters a hallway with a candy and a drinks machine behind him (these will show up later). As the music plays, he nervously goes to the room and puts in the key. But he has to steel himself to do it, first. Inside, he finds a standard Supernatural motel set, with a double bed, the usual spare furniture, and a décor of geometric red-and-gray circles and squares.

Putting the duffle bag on the bed, he opens it and takes out a bottle of cheap whiskey, from which he swigs large. As he sits on the bed, his phone buzzes. It’s a text from someone named Caitlin that says, “Travis, I’m worried. Why would you go back to that place?” Rather than answer it, he shuts it off and puts it on the bed beside him.

“Just one night,” he mutters to himself. “And then, it’s over.” Why do I think things are about to get more complicated than that? Maybe because this is a Supernatural MOTW ep teaser?

Clutching an ornate gold ring on a chain around his neck, he closes his eyes and shakes his head, telling himself in an unconvinced voice, “It wasn’t real. It was never real.” Too bad, for him, that doesn’t seem to be true as the closet door opens behind him. By itself.

A shadowy figure of a young boy with dark circles under his eyes comes out of the closet and into the light. “Do you remember me?” the boy asks the man. “I remember you.”

Shocked and horrified and babbling in denial that this can’t be real, Travis accidentally knocks over the bottle and breaks it as he falls to the floor and scrambles away from the apparition. Crouching down, the child thing picks up the broken bottle, leans over Travis, and says, “Boo.”

Cut to outside Room 214 as Travis screams and then death-gurgles.

Cue title cards.

Cut to the Impala at night. Dean is driving, while Sam rides shotgun. Dean asks how much longer they have for their trip and Sam says, “Seven hours.” Dean’s not thrilled. They both sound tired.

It turns out they are investigating Doomed Teaser Travis’ death. As far as they know, he “slit his throat with a whiskey bottle” (the audience, of course, suspects that’s not really true). Travis was an “old friend,” but Dean points out that they hadn’t seen him in a quarter of a century. He says they’ve “missed funerals” of much closer and more recent friends. Why are they checking this one out? Sam says it’s because they have little else to do, since Chuck is still distracted with wrecking worlds, Jack is back in his room, and Castiel just up and left (Dean looks guilty when Sam says this, so I guess he hasn’t told him whatever Castiel told him after the credits last week).

In fact, just as Sam is asking him if he knows why Castiel left, and Dean is playing dumb about it, Dean gets a text from Castiel, saying “Did you tell Sam, yet?” When Sam complains that Dean is texting and driving, Dean puts the phone away without telling him who it was from.

The following morning, they arrive at the motel. It doesn’t look any better during the day. Dean comments that “it looks smaller.”

Sam: Yeah, well, we’re bigger.

Each comments in his own way that neither ever had any intention of revisiting this part of their past. As they get out, they do so into a flashback to January 1993 (Dean’s birthday month, though that never gets mentioned). John has just dropped them off to go on a hunt and weeDean is complaining about having to hang back and babysit weeSam. After all, when he was Sam’s age (about ten, at this point), he was babysitting Sam.

WeeSam: Pretty sure that’s illegal.

Dean suggests they go practice shooting, but Sam just wants to go to the room. Dean notices Sam is hiding something and wrestles it away from him. It’s a book Sam stole from the last motel, The 1991 American College Guide. Dean scoffs at the possibility of Sam ever going to college, especially with their spotty educational record. Hunting is their life.

Dean gives him back the book and goes inside, leaving Sam standing there, looking woeful. Later, we see Sam staring at the same book, in a room with the same layout and décor as the infamous Room 214, before setting it down on the bed. He opens his duffle bag, revealing a pistol and a knife on top of a flannel shirt. Well, that sure just summed up the show’s look. He takes out the knife and handles it rather sadly, laying both it and the pistol next to the bed. This obviously isn’t the life he wants.

In the hallway, Dean is stealing from the vending machine by punching the order numbers a certain way and tapping on the side. He gets busted by a young girl in pigtails, but she’s just kidding. She wants him to teach her the trick.

She introduces him to her brother, Travis, who looks just like the ghost boy in the teaser. She says her name is Caitlin, the same as in the teaser text. So, she was Travis’ sister, not girlfriend or wife. Dean smiles and teaches her the trick. She and Dean bond over classic muscle cars, like the one he and Sam just arrived in. It turns out her and Travis’ mom works on the cleaning crew at the motel.

Cut to Now and a much-older Caitlin is sitting in a diner, lost in grieving, holding a cup of coffee. She comes alive when the Brothers enter the diner, getting up to hug first Dean and then Sam.

As they all sit down, Caitlin admits that she’s feeling guilty about her brother’s death. His life went downhill after Sam and Dean left, due to something that happened while they were there. He got into drugs and couldn’t stay employed. She urged him for a long time to get therapy. When he finally did, it helped at first. Unfortunately, his therapist had the idea that he should go back to the motel and “face his fears.” in Room 214. Obviously, that did not end well.

It turns out that Caitlin didn’t just call them for the funeral (which was last week). She thinks “she’s back.”

As we go into another flashback, we find out that whoever “she” was, she attacked Travis first. He was at the candy machine, trying to learn Dean’s trick. After some frustrating failure, he started to leave, but then the machine disgorged some candy. But when he went to get it, a grody old hand with a ring on one finger grabbed him through the slot and he saw a hideous face reflected in the plexiglass. He screamed for help, which brought Caitlin and Dean running, and the creature let him go. But he was too traumatized to tell them what happened, at least at first.

Inside the motel room, the Brothers are going over the case. Dean says there’s nothing in the coroner’s report to indicate anyone but Travis was in the room. Sam says he couldn’t find anything to indicate witchcraft, demonic possession, or anything else “that’s our kind of thing.” Dean suggests that maybe the “immersion therapy” Travis’ therapist suggested made him crack when he got to the room, but Caitlin insists her brother would not have killed himself.

Back in the flashback and in 214, Travis is freaking out and thinking they’ll believe he’s nuts, even as Caitlin tries to reassure him that she didn’t see anything there. Dean is getting off the phone with Bobby, who says that John is nowhere near a phone.

When Caitlin expresses surprise that Dean would call his father, Dean gives her and Travis The Talk and Sam backs him up. He asks Caitlin if anything weird has been happening in town. She and Travis take him and Sam to a nearby playground, where there is an impromptu shrine of Missing posters and flowers. Three kids their age have gone missing in the past few months, the latest the previous week. Dean stares at the posters as we cut back to Now.

Adult!Dean is skeptical that this is the same monster as 27 years ago. First of all, it only preyed on kids and Caitlin has to admit that no kids have recently gone missing in town. Second, Dean is certain he killed it all those years ago.

Caitlin complains that he’s “changed.” He was the one who believed Travis when they were kids. But Dean is convinced it can’t be the same monster now, even over Sam’s objections.

Cut to another flashback. The kids are in a storeroom, looking at newspapers for stories about the missing kids. They’ve got a town tourist map and are trying to triangulate (from where the kids went missing) where they might find the MOTW’s lair. The closest spot is an abandoned cannery.

Dean insists on going in alone. Sam says their dad wouldn’t like it. Dean points out that John isn’t there and would expect Dean to “take charge,” anyway.

Even though the other kids want to come along, Dean figures that since even Sam has never been on a hunt, they would be liabilities and in danger, so he leaves them behind. Caitlin shows up when he’s trying to pick the lock at the cannery, anyway. Despite her snarky distraction, he manages to pick the lock and goes in, telling her to stay behind him.

Back at the motel room, Sam is playing a word game with a box of letter dice, with Travis, and reassures him that Dean will kill the monster, “whatever it is.”

In the cannery, Caitlin is complaining that the abandoned building is “gross.” Dean points out she insisted on coming along. She picks at him, basically saying he’s scared (Who wouldn’t be?) and Dean claims he’s not.

Eventually, they find what looks like a pile of children’s clothing in a corner under a blanket. Dean finds a motel room key, but when he uncovers the rest of the pile, he recoils (we don’t see from what) and won’t let Caitlin see it. In fact, he pretends all he found was the motel room key (for #214). But he still hurries Caitlin out the door.

Back in the motel room, things are taking a turn for the bizarre, as Travis gets a message on the pad of paper he’s writing that says, “Sam kill you,” and Sam gets a similar one regarding Travis. The game pieces start to shake. They stop momentarily, only then to burst into the air as the lights go back.

Sam and Travis recoil in opposite directions, so Sam is on the opposite side of the room when the same moldy old witch from the candy machine appears behind Travis and grabs him. Sam calls out his name, just as Dean and Caitlin burst into the room.

When Dean goes to shoot the witch, she knocks the gun out of his hand. He then slashes at her with the knife, slicing off her fingers (which dissolve) and the ring on her hand. It lands underneath the bed, where we see it’s the same one that Travis was wearing on a chain in the teaser. Dean then stabs the witch in the gut. She screams an echoing cry and vanishes. The lights flicker back on.

Caitlin runs past a shocked Sam to Travis and hugs him. As Dean walks out of frame toward Sam, he reappears in frame in front of the candy machine as an adult. As he’s walking down the hallway, a figure runs behind him past the candy and coffee machines. Dean senses this and turns around.

At first, he thinks it’s Sam, then just his own imagination. But when he turns around with a shrug, he sees the figure at the end of the hallway and stops dead. The lights fritz and the figure moves down the hallway with inhuman, flickering speed. It’s weeDean, but a very dead-looking weeDean.

The figure says, “Hey, Dean,” in an angry, sinister voice. “I’ve been waiting for you.” Nodding at his knife, which he is holding, somehow, the figure tells him, “You know what you have to do.”

Dean tries to fight the hypnosis, but the figure tells him, “You failed,” with an evil smile. Dean is unable to stop himself trying to gut himself until Sam walks into the hallway unexpectedly. The figure vanishes and Dean realizes he’s not even holding a knife. When a bemused Sam asks him what he’s doing, Dean realizes that “Caitlin’s right.”

Later in a bar, Dean apologizes to Caitlin for not believing her earlier and feels bad about Travis’ death. Obviously, he didn’t kill the monster, after all, when they were kids. Caitlin admits that she didn’t have any proof before now and Sam points out that all of them had thought the monster was dead.

Either way, they now need to figure out what “she” is so they can kill her for real this time. Sam is going to hit the books. Caitlin points out one important detail about the monster – “she’s scary.” By this, Caitlin means that the MOTW is manipulative and likes to stalk her victims.

Dean mentions that “she” can also “look like other people.” She’s a mimic. More reluctantly, he admits something he didn’t tell anyone when he was a kid. What he found in the cannery was the monster’s nest and the missing children were there, dead.

As we get some quick and jagged flashbacks to what Dean actually saw back then, Caitlin realizes that’s what he was hiding from her. Sam asks why Dean never told him about it and Dean says it was because he hadn’t seen “anything like that before” and they were all kids his, Sam’s, Caitlin’s and Travis’ age. After he thought he’d killed the monster, he basically just wanted to forget all about it. So, he made a call to the police and walked away. This wasn’t very successful: “I had nightmares about it for the longest time.”

When Dean apologizes for not telling him, Sam magnaminously allows that they were kids and “we used to keep a lot of secrets from each other.” Dean looks sketchy at this, but as he’s walking away to get some food, he looks as though he’s rolling his eyes a bit at Sam’s hypocrisy.

In the motel restaurant, Dean is ordering for himself and trying to add in Sam’s “healthy” order with an unimpressed waitress. As she leaves to put the orders in, Dean gets an unexpected visitor. Billie pops up on the chair next to him.

She’s annoyed that Dean is wasting time on an MOTW case and she has bad news. She just watched Chuck burn an entire planet to ashes. Problem is, that was the last one save Earth Prime. He’ll be here soon and when he arrives, they won’t have much time to take him down. She says she’s visited Jack in the Bunker and given him the info about his final trial.

Dean lets on that he knows about the whole plan and asks how she got Jack on board. She says that she just told Jack “the truth.” She told Jack that Dean would never forgive him until he ended Chuck and “freed” Dean from the “hamster wheel” of having no choice in his life – and it’s true, isn’t it? Dean looks uncomfortable, which means she’s probably right.

In a motel bedroom (different from 214, as the circles-and-squares wallpaper is green, not red), Caitlin is asking Sam if he ever wanted a normal life. Sam responds by saying he’s sorry about Travis. He then discovers some info about Baba Yaga – she feeds on children and she has a ring that contains her “heart.” Sam wonders if the reason Dean defeated her the first time was because he separated her from her ring, not because he cut off her fingers or stabbed her.

Caitlin is shocked to realize the ring in the rather stylized illustration Sam found online looks just like a ring her mother gave to Travis after the “incident.” Her mother had found it in a vacuum cleaner and it was never claimed. The stone inside had been “busted up,” but Travis liked it and wore it on a chain around his neck: “It was his lucky charm.”

Well, not so much, I guess, considering how horrible his life turned out to be. Maybe the witch had been feeding on him all along. Caitlin says that Travis had the ring fixed a few weeks before his death.

She has some kind of realization. As Sam infodumps, oblivious, about the stone, she wanders off as if in a trance and he’s shocked to find she’s left the room. But it turns out she thinks she knows where the ring is. She goes to her car to look through Travis’ effects. But when she finds the chain, the ring itself is missing.

She’s bewildered – where did it go? When she closes her hatch, “Travis” appears next to her, holding the ring and asking if that’s what she’s looking for. She screams.

Back in the diner, Billie drops an important bit of information. She tells Dean that she isn’t in this part of Chuck’s death book, so this will be the last time Dean sees her before “the end” (Chuck’s arrival). She demands to know if Dean is still on board, even though the plan means Jack’s death and the betrayal of Amara. Though uncomfortable, Dean says he is.

She asks if Sam is, too, then is annoyed to realize Sam doesn’t know about the part where Jack dies. She tells Dean he needs to “get your house in order.” She hates “disorder” and “loose ends.” Dean says he’ll get Sam on board, too.

Dean returns to the room with food (it’s 219, by the way) to find Sam on the phone, frantically trying to find Caitlin. He found her car, but she wasn’t there, and she’s not answering her phone. Believing (accurately, of course) that Baba Yaga has kidnapped her, he quickly fills Dean in on what he and Caitlin found out.

Dean: Okay, so we track her down, junk her Precious, and it’s Game Over?

Sam says yeah. Dean asks where and Sam says she’ll have a nest, just like at the cannery, only all the recent attacks happened at the motel. So, it’s somewhere around here.

They split up to go looking (always smart – not). Sam goes down to the reception area and sees smoke coming out from a door behind the front desk. It turns out to be the receptionist getting high with a bong.

Dean, meanwhile, goes back to the hallway where the vending machine is and Baba Yaga nearly got him before. He notices and remembers the vending machine, this time. This is, by the way, the same hallway that contains Room 214. Someone is watching porn in Room 212, but when Dean reaches 214, the door suddenly opens (why the Brothers didn’t start the search in 214, when they already knew it was the problem child, I’m not sure).

Dean [pulling out his gun and cocking it]: I’ve seen this movie before.

As he warily enters the room, spidery music plays and the door slams behind him. He spins around, but when he turns back, he’s inside the old cannery. Confused, he crouches down and tries to figure out what’s going on. Then he goes down the stairs into the cannery proper.

As he’s prowling around, his breath comes out as fog. Eventually, he comes to the nest he saw when he was a kid. This time, when he pulls back the blanket, he sees weeSam dead and says his brother’s name out loud. As he staggers out into another corridor, he hears his name called. It’s “Travis” (the witch, of course), looking the same as when he went after Caitlin, dead and with his throat cut, but still standing.

Dean calls him out, saying he knows what the MOTW is now. When he points out that he’s “a little old for you,” Baba Yaga says that’s normally true, but “he” has been starving for so long that “he” will take anything and anyone. “Travis” attacks Dean, knocking him down. As the monster pins Dean, it flashes back and forth between Travis and the witch. Baba Yaga is so hyped up that she apparently can’t keep up the glamour completely.

During this attack, Sam is walking down the same hallway and goes right past 214. But he hears a faint sound of struggle and turns back. Inside, he finds Caitlin unconscious, face down on a bed, and Baba Yaga attacking Dean on the floor. Sam calls his name and attacks her, stabbing her in the back. It only annoys her and she flings Sam across the floor.

But this gives Dean the chance to grab the ring off her finger and kick her across the room. He then slams his gun butt down on the ring, just as Baba Yaga is getting up for another attack. The ring explodes in green fire and across the room, so does the witch. Caitlin wakes up just in time to watch the MOTW go up in flames.

Afterward, Caitlin thanks Dean on their way out of the motel. She asks Dean an odd question: “Were you scared?” Dean responds with honesty: “Always am.” Caitlin realizes how much he’s grown and matured, since his teenage self never would have admitted that.

Caitlin: You know what they say about getting older. You tell the truth more because the lies, they don’t make anything better.

Dean looks pensive as they hug goodbye and we segue back into one last weeChester flashback. WeeCaitlin is thanking weeDean for saving her brother. He gives her his number, in case anything weird every happens to her again, and she says she hopes she’ll never have to call it. She also says goodbye to weeSam (who is coming out to the lobby with his stuff) as she goes.

Right before John rolls up in the Impala, weeSam asks weeDean if he ever found the missing kids. WeeDean lies and says no. He figures they are just “gone.” When Sam asks what they will tell John, Dean says they’ll say that they “handled it.”

But before they go out, Dean has one more thing to tell Sam. He gives his blessing to Sam wanting to go to college, but wistfully adds, “We do make a good team, don’t we?” And weeSam agrees.

Cut to the present. The Brothers are driving home in the Impala, Dean driving. Sam is trying to call Castiel and Dean, looking uncomfortable, tells him to hang up. He fills Sam in on Billie’s diner visit, then also mentions Jack’s full role in the plan. He admits that Castiel told him before he left.

Sam is salty about it. He gets furious with Dean, while demonstrating precisely why Dean didn’t tell him, at first. Dean even says, “Because I know you couldn’t handle it!” when Sam asks why he didn’t tell him. He says that Sam has never been on board with Billie’s plan and has had all of these “ethical” questions about it (ethical questions, one might add, that are highly relative and that prioritize Sam’s needs and what Sam thinks should happen, rather than what other people want or what might be best for everyone).

After Dean says, “We don’t get a choice” and Sam yells a bit, Sam then just snaps, “Drive … just drive.”

Credits

Ratings for this new episode remained steady at a 0.3 in the A18-49 demo and dropped to 917 thousand in audience.

Review: My main objection to “Drag Me Away (From You)” is that it comes in so late. Really? Five episodes left and this is the third MOTW ep in a row? This couldn’t have aired earlier in the season in place of some of the truly forgettable dogs we had, instead?

Also, why a weeChesters ep so late in the game? It certainly hasn’t figured into the rest of the season, aside from Billie’s conversation with Dean, unless there is supposed to be something in here about things not being what they seemed and people trapped in fantasy worlds, that might explain the hot dumpster fire weirdness of episode 15.19 and isn’t just another take on “The Werther Project” from Season 10.

The episode also had some stale elements to it. It went largely the way other weeChester episodes have in the past and borrowed heavily from Season 1’s “Something Wicked,” right down to Dean’s guilt about an unfinished hunt when he was a child. The episode even obliquely references that episode when Dean mentions he was babysitting Sam at Sam’s age.

I couldn’t help thinking this was a golden opportunity to have guest kids who weren’t white and American. Maybe have them be illegal migrant farm workers, for example. Or give them a backstory where their mom was on the run from an abusive spouse. Something different from white, Middle American, small town kids.

It didn’t help that it was totally unnecessary for this near-immortal witch-ghost character (it’s actually quite common for witches to be inhuman and/or ghosts in British and mid-Atlantic lore) to be Baba Yaga. Pretty much nothing of the real Russian folklore about Baba Yaga was in here. Granted, my gold standard for a television version of Baba Yaga – from Lost Girl – is pretty high, but still. This was Baba Yaga in name, only.

I also can’t say I was thrilled by Sam’s reaction to Dean’s news about Jack. First of all, what happened to being magnanimous earlier in the episode? What happened to all that maturity, Sam? Did it evaporate again?

I kept thinking of that scene at the end of Season 1’s “Bloody Mary,” when Sam rather snottily tells his brother that he’s entitled to keep secrets, Even though, about two seconds later, he’s shocked to see an hallucination(?) of Jessica (whose murder he had dreams of, but whom he never warned), he doesn’t learn anything from it. He doesn’t open up to Dean.

And no offense, Sam, but that earlier “secret” of Dean having seen the pile of dead kids doesn’t count as one you needed to know. Sam always seems to feel entitled to keep secrets from Dean, but Dean can’t keep any secrets from Sam.

Second, Sam is furious with Dean for not telling him, but not with Jack for keeping everyone in the dark until the last possible moment when it was just about impossible for TFW to come up with another plan. Strictly speaking, Dean just found out. Why not get on Jack’s case for lying to them for so long – again? When does Sam intend to start having Jack face consequences for his actions?

And when Dean finally tells him about Jack’s real role in the plan, Sam doesn’t even take into consideration what Jack wants or how high the stakes are. It’s all about the happy ending Sam thinks he’s entitled to, which includes never facing up to the possibility that Jack may have to die, or that this might be the best thing for the SPNverse.

Possibly all this had something to do with the inexperience of the writer, Meghan Fitzmartin, whose only other credit on the show has been co-writing “Peace of Mind” (14.15).

This is Amyn Kaderali’s ninth time in the SPN director’s chair, though, and he delivers on some serious horror. Despite the clumsiness, in spots, of the writing, there was a lot to recommend in “Drag Me Away (From You).” This episode had a lot of genuinely unsettling atmosphere in it, especially in the scene where Dean finds the kids, while the witch attacks Travis and Sam. And pretty much everything in the cannery was creepy.

The witch’s attack on Adult!Dean in the hallway is also chilling. Even after 15 seasons, Jensen Ackles manages to convey the sense that Dean is in real danger, not just from the witch, but from his own guilt, his own secrets. Kaderali evokes in that ubiquitous candy machine the same kind of dread that It put into sewer holes. Every time the thing popped up, especially when someone noticed it, I thought, Oh, here we go now.

If the show had bothered to portray the ghost invasion in as creepy a manner as this episode, the first three episodes of this season would not have been so hideously dull. It’s nice to see that the show is still capable of scaring and unsettling us, this late in the game, of making us feel that Sam and Dean can be in real peril from such a mundane hunt. The way the witch stalked them and drew them in, one by one, evoked I Know What You Did Last Summer, where the characters didn’t have that kind of plot armor.

One thing the episode gets across really well is how depressing a life it is to grow up poor and transient like that. Not just poor, but dirt poor, hard-scrabble poor, drifter poor.

There’s a strong hint, when Caitlin talks about how her brother accidentally adopted Baba Yaga’s ring as his lucky charm, that his bad luck and dysfunction as an adult stemmed from her sucking off him all these years. But in this case, it’s almost a metaphor for how having a lousy start in life holds you down and back, as if there were an emotional vampire pressing you down into adulthood.

Addictions, chronic bad health, poor financial habits (assuming you manage to get any money to blow in the first place) all come into play. Since you didn’t start out with enough breaks in life, you just can’t seem to catch any later on, either. Makes me hope that Travis’ soul was able to travel on to Heaven, but it’s also possible that the witch trapped, ate and destroyed the souls of her victims.

Travis’ death could also be seen as a metaphor for the perils of ignoring reality. In Supernatural, the supernatural world is quite real. You ignore it at your peril. You can pretend all you want that the “sunlit world” (as Tales from the Darkside used to put it) is all there is, but that world is surrounded by the supernatural world that will happily eat you up whether you acknowledge (or are aware of) its existence or not. In that sense, Supernatural has always been very much a fairy tale, where the traveller would do well to arm up for any dangers lurking on the roadside when going through the woods.

Travis knew from childhood that the supernatural world was real and that it was ravenously dangerous. That’s what messed him up. But he let a clueless shrink persuade him otherwise – worse, to challenge that supernatural world in its own lair and then reject its very existence. That is like rejecting the existence of cars on a superhighway in the middle of rush hour. You’ll very quickly get squashed. Needless to say, it didn’t end well for Travis.

I was not too thrilled with how thin Caitlin’s characterization was. Yes, it was nice that she wasn’t automatically turned into a love interest (as would have happened in the earlier seasons) and that it was her brother rather than her husband or boyfriend. But she was basically there to be a cheering section, infodump some family business, and find something important before needing to be rescued. We never found out if she managed to break out of that cycle of poverty and dysfunction, about whether she was married, whether her mother was still alive, what kind of job she had, or what. The Brothers don’t even seem to have asked.

I also wasn’t overly thrilled with how she kept baiting Dean about being scared when they were teens inside the cannery. It was an extremely dangerous situation (as Dean had made abundantly clear back at the motel) and she had followed him against his express instructions that she stay behind with Sam and Travis because she had no hunting experience. Plus, the whole “Girl snarks at boy about being afraid” trope just needs to be burned down, never to be used again. It’s so freakin’ sexist, in both directions.

Speaking of the cannery scene, Dean’s PTSD really crops up here as we discover that one of his big nightmares was discovering a pile of dead kids his age in the witch’s nest. That’s got to have messed with his head, especially since he later hallucinates the scene with weeSam being the dead body in the nest.

The way Baba Yaga manipulates him later on is a lot like how she manipulates Travis in the teaser. She uses their childhood damage against them. It makes her seem especially evil, even though she is nothing on the scale of Chuck in terms of wrecking the Brothers’ lives or threat to the rest of the world. This image of an “adult” monster preying on young children (for however long; we never find out her backstory or if she was ever human), using their fears against them, has a strong emotional resonance that the Chuck apocalypse story lacks because the witch story is rooted in real childhood fears.

I’ve seen the kid actors for Dean and Sam come in for some criticism on social media, especially Paxton Singleton as weeDean. I rolled my eyes at that, particularly when the same fans held Brock Kelly up as a popular version of weeDean in Season 4’s “After School Special.” Since when? Poor Kelly got nailed left and right at the time for his portrayal in that episode.

Personally, I think both Singleton and Christian Michael Cooper (as weeSam) did just fine. And no, weeSam didn’t get that much to do in this episode, the way weeSam usually does in these flashback stories. That’s probably because this was somewhat of a retread of “Something Wicked,” which was Deancentric. Even so, we did get to find out something new about Sam, which was when he started thinking about going to college (it was pretty early) and what Dean’s reaction was to it.

Then there was Billie’s meeting with Dean. I wish I could say this led to something important for Dean, though I suppose it did (they just didn’t stick the landing afterward). But it’s quite interesting how Billie sees only Dean as the important one to deal with. He’s not just the point man in Team Free Will to her. Just as he was the leader on the hunt against Baba Yaga (both as a teen and as an adult), he’s the leader of TFW today and she doesn’t want to have to deal with anyone else. She feels it’s his responsibility to get everyone in line. We’ll see how well that all pans out.

Next week: Unity: Dean takes Jack on a final journey to complete his quest, while Sam and Castiel try to find another way to defeat Chuck.

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: “Gimme Shelter” (15.15) Recap and Review

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

According to recent reports from Vancouver, the cast returned to work the first week of August (about two weeks late). Jensen Ackles also explained in a recent virtual “fan experience” through Creation Con that the writing for the last two episodes has been tweaked to reflect recent events (i.e., the Coronavirus pandemic). With these writers, I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. He also said that 15.19 will be a season finale, while 15.20 is more like a series finale (and expressed sadness on Instagram when he got the final script, which said “The End” instead of the usual “To Be Continued”). In an already truncated final season, that likely means we’ll get stuck with some filler clips episode as the last one. Yay.

Tonight (15.19 – “Inherit the Earth”) is the penultimate episode of the show. Showrunner Andrew Dabb has called it the “season finale” for Season 15 and next week’s the “series finale.” Reportedly, there will also be a retrospective episode first next week, so the last episode will actually air at 9pm then. This week will be the usual time slot. Feel free to comment about the episode below as you watch it.

You can find a promo, photos and a synopsis here for 15.16.

If you’re enjoying these articles and reviews, any contributions are welcome. Even in a pandemic, the kitties still gotta eat and I’ve got a house full of snarfly foster kittens with seasonal eye gunk right now. My kitty Goose is doing much better, thank you (she’s acting as if nothing happened now), but I’ve still got that bill, so every little bit helps.

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

Recap: Pretty quick recap of the Jacknatural plot this season, but framed by the EVOL Chuck storyline and an oddly Deancentric spin to Billy’s plan and the Amara mytharc from Season 11.

Cut to Now in a soup kitchen, where two young women are discussing “God’s creatures” in the form of a very shabby older woman who is homeless and lacking in manners. One girl hides it better than the other, who is a bit of a princess type and gets a nebbishy young man named Connor to go roust the woman. But he’s accosted by the pastor in charge, a bearded man who cautions him to go in with kindness rather than judgment (if the pastor looks familiar, that’s because he played Dr. Sexy in Season 5’s “Changing Channels”).

So, Connor brings over some soup and gives it to the homeless woman, as the pastor smiles at the first girl, who is apparently his daughter (and played by the girl who let the clown into the house in the teaser to Season 2’s “Everybody Loves a Clown”). After some hesitation, she returns the smile.

Later that night, Connor is walking down a shabby street brightly lit by neon, when he is lured into a darker alleyway by an echo-y man’s voice calling his name and shouting for help. This being Supernatural, and this being an episode teaser, we all know this won’t end well for Connor. It doesn’t.

As he gets nervous and backs up, Connor trips over something. It’s a teddy bear and when he picks it up, it says, “Hey, Connor.” Then he’s lassoed from behind by the kind of noose that Animal Control uses on stray dogs, and dragged off the street into the shadows after apparently being choked to death.

Cue Title Cards.

In the Bunker, Dean is entering the Library and asking if Sam has “found anything.” Sam brings up Doomed Teaser Connor and his death in the alleyway. He asks if Dean has “anything” and this turns out to be looking for Amara. And Dean has something.

Seems Atlantic City just had a blackout (“darkness,” Dean lampshades) right before a Keno tournament there. Dean points out that Chuck once said Amara was fond of Keno.

Sam: I thought he was kidding.

Dean: He’s not that funny.

Sam thinks it’s “weak,” to which I roll my eyes. Dean points out that’s all they’ve got. I’d like to point out to Sam that his brother’s instincts have been very good on this sort of thing. Maybe, after 15 seasons, start trusting them?

Castiel shows up and asks what they’ve got going. As they pack up, they tell him to stay back at the Bunker and watch over Jack. Castiel points out that they are looking for Amara, a god-level being, and they intend to “lie to her face.” Sam says it’s probably nothing and Dean says if they do find Amara, “we used to have a thing,” which is an epic understatement. Besides (it’s not said out loud), it wouldn’t hurt to have a backup team in case things go south.

In the Library, Jack has found Sam’s research on Doomed Teaser Connor and asks about the hunt. Sam says it’s probably nothing and not to worry about it, that it’s probably “not our thing.” Dean contradicts Sam and suggests Castiel take Jack out to investigate it, just in case, and to get away from any flashbacks to “Mrs. Butters.” Castiel doesn’t recognize who she is, so I guess Jack will fill him in on the trip out.

Dean[about the case]: You can Highway to Heaven the bitch.

At the scene of the crime, Castiel and an enthusiastic Jack are interviewing a friendly, junoesque cop. I kinda like her. I guess we’ll never see her again.

Cop [to Jack]: You look greener than Baby Yoda.

Oh, if Jack were only as fun and well-written as Baby Yoda.

The veteran cop is unimpressed by Jack and bemused by the pair’s weird questions about black magic. But she does provide some important clues. Connor had “Liar” carved on his body. Also, all of his fingers had been chopped off and shoved down his throat, presumably pre-mortem. She also shows them a photo of the teddy bear. Jack cheerfully exclaims that the bear is “Marvelous Marvin” and he has one. Obviously, this does not impress the cop, even when Jack backpedals and claims he got the bear for his nonexistent nephew, Ronald.

The cop says there was a speaker inside the bear and one nearby inside a fake rock. She also shows them CCTV footage from across the street of a short, masked figure furtively dragging Connor off. Jack opines that this all sounds almost “demonic.” So, later that night, they go to a crossroads outside town. Castiel digs a hole and puts in a hoodoo CRD summoning box with his photo inside, while Jack looks Connor up online. Castiel opines that the internet has “so many cat photos … too many cats.” (There can never be too many cat photos, Cas.)

The CRD takes a while to show up and when he does, he claims that “the shop’s closed” in a British voice. When Jack calls him out on it, he claims his name is Zach and that he “has style.”

Jack gets straight to the point and asks why Connor was killed. Dropping the accent for an American one, Zach admits that he doesn’t know. It’s not related to demons. In fact, no CRDs have been making deals since Rowena banned them. Seems Rowena feels people should only go to Hell if they truly deserve it. Well, I can get behind that philosophy.

On the one hand, Zach admits that the lack of quotas is rather nice. On the other, it’s introduced an existential dilemma for the CRDs – what’s their function these days? He’s desperate to tag along on the hunt, especially since it involves angels and he’s fascinated by the idea of teaming up with one, but Castiel tells him to buzz off. Too bad. Zach’s kinda fun.

As they walk back to the car, Jack sadly says this isn’t their kind of case, so they might as well go back to the Bunker and wait for Sam and Dean to return. Castiel demurs. This may not be their kind of case, but there is something going on. He wants to investigate further.

Cut to nighttime at the soup kitchen, called the “Patchwork Community Center” (because of course it is). A rather rode-hard-and-put-away wet redheaded volunteer is closing up for the night. As she goes out, she furtively steals from the donations box.

Out in the parking lot, she hears her name being shouted by the same male voice that lured Connor. Wisely, she decides to make a call, instead (presumably to 911), but as she turns around, she encounters someone in a mask, who growls her name. She screams.

Cut to Castiel and Jack, in their car, in front of the soup kitchen. Castiel is on the phone to Dean, telling him about Rowena’s new “lockdown” of Hell. Dean approves. Sam asks about Jack and Castiel says he is “focused” (which Dean calls “good”). He tells them about Valerie’s disappearance.

Sam calls that “a lead.” Dean warns them to be careful of the “Hallelujah Types,” saying that while “most of them play it straight,” others think “the Feds are from the Deep State.” He suggests a “divide and conquer” strategy of sending Jack in undercover to see what he can find, while Castiel interviews them as a “Fed.” Castiel says okay and asks how the “search for Amara” is going. Dean abruptly replies, “Dandy!” and signs off, leaving an exasperated Castiel looking at his phone.

Back in the Impala, Sam wonders if this lead is really such a hot one. Their plan, such as it is, is to get Amara on board as their ally against her own brother, while simultaneously setting her up for her own death. Dean insists that that’s the price they have to pay to make Billie’s plan work, the “catch.” Dean is acutely aware that when you play a game with Death, someone’s going to die. At least this time, he figures it’s good that it’s not him and his brother.

I’m not a big fan of this development and not just because I actually quite liked Amara and her relationship with Dean, and it seems like a pretty nasty thing to do to her. Yeah, it’s somewhat in character for Dean to be so much in denial (at least on the surface) about his (mutual) feelings for Amara that he would act as if he’s okay with this plan.

But it is completely out of character for Sam to demonstrate any qualms whatsoever about throwing her under the plot bus. Sam’s extreme antipathy toward Amara in Season 11, his massive jealousy of his brother’s relationship with her, and his unshakeable conviction that said relationship was toxic (when it turns out it wasn’t), were precisely the reasons why Dean lied to him about his feelings for her in the first place. Now, we’re suddenly supposed to believe that Sam cares about what happens to her? Since when?

As Jack walks into the soup kitchen, the minister is having a short remembrance service for Connor. Jack introduces himself to the daughter (nearly flubbing it right off by playing Dean’s previous joke about his “drinking the Kool-Aid”). She is bored and not terribly impressed when Jack says he wants to sign up for the ministry.

Castiel comes in and they both nearly blow their cover by acknowledging each other. Castiel then zeroes in on the pastor, who is finishing up a shared private prayer with a parishioner. Castiel introduces himself as a Fed, then shocks the hell out of the pastor by telling him Valerie Jones has been kidnapped. Seems the guy didn’t know (or he’s a really good liar).

Cut to poor Ms. Jones. She wakes up tied to a chair in a nondescript room. Her left hand is stuck in some kind of sinister contraption and she’s gagged. When she looks over at the wall, she sees the word “GREED” painted in huge red letters on it. She looks around the room and jumps when she sees the mask that was on the person who knocked her out (it’s now on a rack next a TV). She starts screaming “Help!” into her gag.

The TV blinks on and the word “Thief,” in different caps, streams across it, over and over. We then find out what the contraption is when a plunger over one of her fingers is depressed by remote and a blade inside the contraption hacks off one of her fingers. Predictably, Valerie shrieks and wails in pain and fear. Get sticky fingers and you lose ’em, I guess.

On the screen, the number 03:00:00 pops up and a countdown begins. A red light blinking on a camera overhead shows that she’s being watched and possibly filmed.

Cut back to the soup kitchen, where Jack is filling out the form. Princess is commenting the daughter, Sylvia, that he’s cute (oh, please, Show) and Sylvia is sort of shrugging it off, while also checking Jack out. We also find out that the church used to hand out Bibles rather than food, and both girls show Jack how to be totally fake and smiling when handing it out when he brings up the form.

But when he asks about Connor, Sylvia gets upset and goes to sit down across the room. When Jack comes over and sits down near her, he admits that “I’m not very good at this.” She says he’s doing okay and starts to open up to him (though when she appears to brush away a tear, she’s not actually crying). She says that she and Connor once dated, a long time ago, which most consisted of watching old movies together. She says that “he was always there for me.”

Jack says, “I lost someone, too – my mother,” without mentioning that he’s the one who killed her. Sylvia confesses that her mother died three years ago. She lets out that the pastor (Pastor Joe) is her father and he’s “a better preacher than he is a dad.” When Jack admits that he has several “dads,” and that he feels he’s always “letting them down,” Sylvia calls him “sweet” and says she feels the same. She tells him, “Put your trust in God, not people.” O the irony.

Inside the office (in the background of a wooden sculpture of praying hands), Pastor Joe is telling Castiel that he feels the church is being “targeted.” Though he refuses to call it a “church,” saying that people bring “baggage” with that name. He prefers “faith-based community.” An ekklesia by any other name ….

When Castiel asks about anyone who might have “gone missing” recently, the pastor admits that his congregation is very transient. There was one guy, Brother Rudy, who’s been gone for a few weeks, but that’s because he had “parted ways” with the community, due to wanting to worship elsewhere. Uh-huh.

Sylvia comes in to ask her dad something and he rather bruskly tells her he’ll come out “in a minute.” She leaves, crestfallen. The pastor then asks Castiel if he has any children. Castiel just says, “It’s complicated.”

Pastor Joe talks about his dead wife, saying that she grew up in this church. They were much more hardcore back in the day. Everything was “God’s will.” Castiel mopily replies that “God just doesn’t care.”

A little taken aback, Pastor Joe says that he meant that people need to watch out for each other. He then goes on to say that after his wife died, he sold the church building and came here to practice a kinder and gentler form of worship, for people with different faiths and backgrounds. When Castiel asks him what he means by “backgrounds,” Joe reveals that Connor was gay. Ah, well, that would be why Connor and Sylvia weren’t dating, anymore.

Cut to Sam and Dean on the road. Sam is gassing up the car in the snow at a Gasn’Sip. Dean is refusing to eat until they reach the buffet in Atlantic City (assuming Dean’s theory on Amara doesn’t pan out and she’s not there). Alas, Sam puts a crimp in that plan when he checks his phone and discovers that there’s a pileup on the way there and they’ll be delayed six hours. They decide to go with Plan B (“pork rinds!), but Amara pops up right in front of Dean in a pink pantsuit and says, “I think we can do better than that.”

Amara greets Dean by name and asks if he missed her. When she also asks where they’re going, Dean readily admits they were trying to find her. When Sam asks how she found them, she says, “I smelled Dean from two states over.” To Dean: “You have a very distinctive musk.” Dean is flattered. She also says she heard Castiel’s angelic prayer.

While she’s happy to talk to them, she wants to have lunch with them, first – at Pavel’s Deli. She likes “new earthly experiences.” She’s “hungry,” as they are, and “I have never had a Pennsylvania pierogi.” So, off they go.

Back to the boring B (A?) story. Valerie is losing another finger as the timer comes up. Before it restarts, the screen reads, “Time is running out.”

As Castiel enters the soup kitchen, Pastor Joe is giving a short prayer/sermon as the others stand around him in a circle. This ceremony is intended to introduce Jack as their newest member. Jack is asked to “give testimony.” Jack is taken aback, so Castiel does it, instead.

He talks about how he always followed The Plan, doing “some pretty terrible things” in the cause of “blind faith.” When that “all came crashing down” (far more literally than anyone there besides Jack realizes), he felt “lost.” How he found himself again and “rediscovered” his faith was by finding a new family and becoming a father. He exchanges a look and smile with Jack while saying this.

Cut to Jack working at the soup kitchen later that day. Pastor Joe comes over to apologize for “putting him on the spot.” As he crosses the room to go do something else, the TV on the other side flicks on. It shows the counter from the scene with Valerie, then Valerie herself. She shrieks as she loses another finger. The words “You won’t save her” appear on the screen.

Jack rushes to turn the TV off as everyone there looks shocked. But it’s not until he pulls out what looks like a wireless connection that the image flicks off. Finally, something happened in this storyline to move it forward. Took long enough. The pastor has no idea who would do such a thing, but Castiel thinks he knows.

Cut to Pavel’s (it looks like nighttime, but this could just be Amara’s effect on the local environment), where Amara is eating pierogis while Dean tries to talk her into helping him and Sam take down Chuck. Amara demurs.

Even when Sam points out that he saw into Chuck’s memories that she refused to help him with the God Wound, and Dean talks about the other universes being “snuffed out” (which Amara can sense), Amara says that helping to destroy her brother is not at all the same as refusing to help him. Even after Dean tells her about the plan for Jack to grow powerful enough to kill Jack, she says no. She won’t “betray” her brother.

She goes on to explain (in a rather condescending manner) that when Dean looks at her, he sees “a woman,” and when he looks at her brother, he sees “a squirrely weirdo.” But she is not a woman and Chuck is not how he seems, either. These are just personae, masks, for two cosmic entities of inconceivable power. She says that she and Chuck are “the same … twins, Creation and Destruction, Light and Dark, balance.”

When Sam says that the “former Death” said that she was the oldest, she says that Death “told you what you needed to hear.” She claims that she and Chuck “came into existence together and when we split apart, all this was created.” Shocked, Sam realizes she means the Big Bang.

Dean sees another angle in this – that the moment they separated was the moment that Chuck betrayed Amara – and aggressively presses it. Somewhat reluctantly, Amara allows that she “may be a fool,” but that she feels her brother’s betrayal “hurt him deeply” and that betraying him would be “an agony” for her.

Amara: I’m sorry, Dean. I can’t help you.

Off the Brothers’ crestfallen look (well, actually, Dean looks pissed), we cut to a grotty door inside a grotty appartment. Jack awkwardly busts through it while Castiel stands behind him in the hallway (I guess it’s practice?). The two of them infodump that this is Brother Rudy’s apartment, that Pastor Joe was probably lying when he said they parted on good terms, and that Brother Rudy was good with electronics (while glancing over at a desktop computer that has been turned off). So, he’s their prime suspect.

At least, until they walk into the bedroom, and find him handcuffed to the bed and very, very dead. He’s been rotting for weeks, so who’s been sending the messages? Oh, and who painted the word “LUST” above the bed?

Outside Pavel’s, we get a look through the window at Amara, still at her table, receiving a folder (either another menu or the bill) from a waitress. Inside the Impala, Sam is saying philosophically “Well, maybe it’s for the better” (“best,” Sam. You use a superlative, not a comparative) while Dean is starting the car. He’s surprised when Dean turns the car off. Dean says he still has a question for Amara and goes back inside the diner.

Amara is surprised to see him (um … isn’t she practically omniscient?) and at first misinterprets his one-word question – “Why?” – to be another attempt to get her on board the Get Chuck train. But Dean actually wants to know why she brought his mother back. Was it some kind of lesson? If so, he’s confused about what that lesson was. He fills her in that it ended badly and that his mother is now, once again and for good, dead.

Dean [angrily]: So, what is it, exactly, that you wanted to show me? What was the point?!

Amara: I wanted two things for you, Dean. I wanted you to see that your mother was just a person, that the myth you held onto for so long of a better life, a life where she lived, was just that – a myth. I wanted you to see that the real, complicated Mary was better than your childhood dream because she was real, that Now is always better than Then, that you could finally start to accept your life.

Dean [calmer]: And the second thing?

Amara: I thought having her back would release you, put that fire out – your anger – but I guess we both know I failed at that.

Dean leans forward and says with great intensity, “You’re damned right.” Leaning back with a look of contempt, he adds, “Look at you, just another cosmic dick, rigging the game. You’re just like your brother.”

Amara tries to explain that it was “a gift,” not a “trial” or a lesson or a manipulation. Dean replies that he’s “not angry, Amara. I’m furious.” What infuriates him is that his life has not been his own and neither have been his choices. He’s been “a hamster in a wheel, stuck in a story,” and her brother is responsible. Worse, he’s not the only one. All of them, even Amara herself, have been dancing to Chuck’s tune. He calls out Amara’s conviction that somehow, deep down, Chuck loves her back: “Now who’s stuck in a dream world?”

Shaken by his fury, and the hard truths he’s serving up (albeit with some furtive glances around to avoid freaking out the rest of the diner), Amara asks, “Can I trust you?” Dean replies, fiercely and with great conviction, “I would never hurt you.”

Amara finally agrees to “think about” helping them.

Outside the soup kitchen (oh, sigh, this storyline is so dull), Sylvia is on the stoop, freaking out. Princess comes out to sit down beside her, so absorbed by her phone that she doesn’t notice Sylvia’s distress (Sylvia is crying for real, this time). Pastor Joe, Princess says, is “freaking out” about the vid of Valerie getting her fingers chopped off.

When Sylvia asks (with great interest) if her father called the police, Princess says that “the FBI guys” (Castiel and Jack) persuaded him not. But Princess ignored this injunction and posted about it online (“So many frowny faces”). Princess is so self-centered and attention-seeking that when she asks rhetorically, “Can you believe it?” she doesn’t notice Sylvia’s demeanor change.

Sylvia looks at her and pulls a big old kitchen knife out of nowhere. “I believe,” she says as she grabs Princess by the neck and stabs her in the abdomen. “You never did!” The shot closes on her look of fanatical determination as Princess screams in agony offscreen.

Cut to Pastor Joe telling a terrified Princess she’s going to be okay (yeah, not so much), since the ambulance is coming. The guy he was comforting earlier is holding her head (feet up, Show. Learn some damned first aid in that writers room). But when she says her attacker was Sylvia and that Sylvia is in the “storage room,” the pastor immediately ditches her to go running after Sylvia. Okay.

Castiel comes in through the gathering crowd and tells the other guy that he’s “got this” (he subsequently heals Princess offscreen). He sends Jack after Pastor Joe, who is busting into the storage room to find Valerie tied up. Yep, that’s right – Valerie was in the same building as everyone else (I found this twist a bit daft).

When the pastor goes to help Valerie, Sylvia grabs him from behind and puts the knife to his throat. Her beef with Daddy is two-fold. First, she says that he failed their mother (even though he points out that her mother was such a fanatic that she refused to get any medical attention and kept putting her trust in God instead of science). Second, she accuses him of creating a charismatic ministry of people who now put their faith in him, not God. Which is sort of true, but, ironically, probably a lot better than praying to Chuck, anyway.

Jack distracts her by coming in. She shoves her father aside and confronts him. When Jack says he just wants to help her, she says dismissively, “Everyone’s trying to help me.” She mocks his attempts to make his “fathers” happy, then stabs him. Obviously, that doesn’t go as planned as he doubles over, but then straightens up as the wound glows and heals.

Sylvia’s shocked, but that doesn’t stop her from attacking Castiel when he enters the store room. Castiel easily disarms her and, as Pastor Joe shouts at him not to hurt her, puts her to sleep. He then comes over to Valerie’s chair. After sending Jack to call the cops, he rips the unconscious Valerie’s bonds off and, right in front of Pastor Joe, heals her chopped off fingers. She wakes up and pulls her hand out of the Saw contraption, looking at it in wonder. Pastor Joe, in awe, asks, “What are you?”

The next day, Pastor Joe is still digesting that Castiel is an angel (“Not a very good one,” Castiel admits). As Sylvia is led past them to a police car, clutching a crucifix (yeah, that’s sure gonna do her good now), Pastor Joe wonders what will happen to his daughter. He’s still under the illusion that he has a say in it.

Castiel and Jack kindly don’t state the obvious (that she’ll probably spend the rest of her life in prison), but just in case this scene weren’t already loaded with enough overt irony, we see the cop about to drive her away is the CRD Zach from earlier in the episode. So, Pastor Joe’s stated mission of now concentrating on his daughter’s spiritual and mental welfare is likely to be in vain. She’s hellbound one way or another.

On the way home that night in a nice, but beat-up, old pickup, Castiel is driving and Jack is riding shotgun. Castiel tries to tell Jack that he saw how he stalled out at giving “testimony” back at the church and guesses what the problem is. He says that Jack doesn’t have to “shoulder your burden alone.”

Jack admits that he does. There’s something he didn’t tell TFW about Billie’s plan. He’s not just going to “kill God.” His journey is to become a bomb that kills both Chuck and Amara, and he “won’t survive.” Needless to say, Castiel is most distressed by this news, especially when Jack begs him not to tell Sam and Dean: “They wouldn’t understand.” Jack is convinced that his self-sacrifice is the only way that the Brothers will forgive him for what he did to Mary. Castiel refuses to make that promise and to go along with this plan, but Jack tells him gently, “It’s not your choice.”

Cut to the Bunker, where Dean, in his MoL bathrobe, is hunting down a half-full bottle of “Johnny Labinsky’s Kentucky Whiskey” in the Library and having a swig. He turns around as Castiel enters the Library. As they exchange intel on their respective cases, Dean asks where Jack is. Castiel says he’s in his room. They got in late and didn’t want to wake up anyone.

When Dean allows that he wasn’t asleep, anyway (that chronic insomnia), Castiel admits he’s off on another mission because the plan they have in place to get rid of Chuck isn’t a good one. When Dean asks why, we get Pensive!Cas and the screen goes dark.

Credits

Ratings for this new episode dipped slightly from those for the previous episode to 0.3 in the A18-49 demo (though they were 0.4 for A25-54 and 0.2 for A18-25) and 1.070 million.

Review: While, admittedly, I was greatly distracted by all the Election drama (I apologize), I stalled out on this one for a while because the hunt story with Castiel and Jack was so damned boring and derivative that I just couldn’t. The stuff between Dean and Amara was fine, but it took them forever to get there. And yes, there was some nice gore. But poor Matt Cohen really got stuck with a dog of a script from Davy Perez.

Let’s talk for a moment about the pastor’s daughter, Sylvia. While this storyline was a ripoff of Saw and Seven (never been a fan of either franchise and this isn’t even the show’s first go-round on the Seven Deadly Sins), it was also yet another Evangelical Christians Gone Homicidal plot. I think the show just went one too many times to that well. This plot felt really stale.

The whole Evangelicals Gone Homicidal thing is borderline-cliched about mental illness. The trope doesn’t really mean that the villain is mentally ill, though (when we call them “nuts”), as that they are irrational, self-centered and completely lacking in empathy.

I felt no sympathy whatsoever for this girl. Sylvia was a near-serial killer (not for lack of trying), judgmental of the sad, broken people who came to the soup kitchen, fanatical without having the least clue what Christianity or spirituality was really about, and just an all-round brat. And it was also a little too clear that she enjoyed, even savored, the suffering of her victims.

She even murdered/assaulted people she knew and supposedly cared about (like her gay ex, Connor) because they had disappointed her in some way. It didn’t really help that the script waited until nearly the end of the second act to give her some depth, but I don’t know that she would have come off as sympathetic even if the writers had begun sooner. She was a monster with a smiling, human face, as the show had Castiel and Jack pretty unsubtly bang home to each other after she was unmasked.

No, the people who came into the soup kitchen weren’t perfect, and Connor and Valerie definitely did some dumb things that (nearly, for Valerie) got them killed, but that was kind of the whole point of the ministry. I appreciate that her father felt guilty for not giving her enough hugs or whatever, but I suspect Sylvia was a lost cause for a long time. Her dead mother sounded quite scary if this was the influence she had on her daughter. There isn’t really a whole lot of difference between Sylvia and the fanatical parishioners in Season 5’s “99 Problems.” I didn’t care that she was Hellbound. She definitely deserved it.

There was also, alas, zero attempt to tie in Sylvia’s fanatical devotion to a fantasy Sky Daddy who was better than her real daddy with the cold, hard fact that the real God, in this episode, is currently mopping up universes and getting ready to destroy this one, too. With five episodes left, I think the show should have tried harder to tie the MOTW into the mytharc. Kind of a shame they wasted a good Rolling Stones song title on it, too (though there wasn’t any decent rock music in it, anyway).

So, yeah, that happened, albeit it mostly happened for the purpose of setting up Jack’s confession at the end of the episode to Castiel about the other half of Billie’s plan. I have to say I was more pleased that the show was finally acknowledging that a Jack Saves The Day – But For Realz This Time plot wasn’t going to work, than surprised that 1. there was an actual twist and 2. this was what it was. They sure telegraphed it, but hey, at least they remembered that they needed some twists before the end. I was getting bored.

I feel that the show really wants me to feel sad and distressed about Jack’s imminent sacrifice – and upset and mad at Dean for being so callous – but frankly, I don’t. Jack’s not wrong that at this point, he’s probably going to have to go out in a blaze of glory for TFW in order for Dean to forgive him and you know what? That’s on Jack. Jack has burned so many bridges with his “family” at this point, has so consistently chosen power over them, that he really does need to do something big in the time this show has left in order to prove that he’s not going to do it again.

I don’t just mean that Jack’s guilt (now that he has it again) is holding him back. Unlike on Lucifer, where everyone who does something meriting going to Hell actually feels some kind of latent guilt about it (even Cain isn’t allowed to be mortal again until he does), on Supernatural, you go to Hell for actions. You can even go to Hell if you don’t deserve it, if you make a deal (however selfless) with a CRD or are even just in the wrong place and the wrong time (Eileen and Kevin).

What I mean is that Jack can’t be part of the family until he feels an actual emotional connection to TFW, loyalty rather than guilt, real affection rather than emotional neediness, and a willingness to learn from his mistakes. Wanting to sacrifice himself for them is a start, I guess, but it feels a bit lazy. In a way, it’s easier to kill himself and leave behind the pieces he broke without having to clean them up. In order to be part of TFW, of that family, Jack has to build the relationship on his end. He has to work at it. No one else can do it for him.

I find Dean’s response the most natural and in-character of the remaining main characters. Castiel is clearly still brainwashed (Jack brainwashed both him and his own mother from the womb). And I don’t buy that Sam has actually forgiven Jack. In fact, I strongly suspect that Sam is doing his usual shtick of acting all calm and reasonable, and pretending he’s forgiven Jack, while having very little to do with him beyond shallow interactions. He did exactly the same thing with Mary. Perhaps it’s so important to Sam that Dean forgive Jack because he can’t do it, himself.

Now, I do think at some point, Dean should probably forgive Jack, but that’s Dean’s journey, not Jack’s. Unless we’re really coming out and saying that Dean is the literal Jesus Christ figure in the show (which makes Sylvia’s clutching a crucifix at the end triply ironic), Dean’s forgiveness of Jack would not give Jack true absolution. Only Jack truly repenting of his ways and actively choosing to change them would do that.

I was glad to see Amara reunite with Dean. I was rather less glad by how little we got of it, how long into the episode we had to wait for it to arrive, and that Dean was setting Amara up. I do sort of get that Dean is willing to betray Amara because he is upset with her due to how things went down with Mary, that he blames her somewhat for that. I don’t like it at all, but I kind of get it.

These two scenes in the diner demonstrated both how deep this show can get and how shallow and mechanical. So, it’s up in the air which one we will get in the past two episodes. In the first part, we get a speech from Amara in which she monologues about the cosmic nature of her relationship with her brother, in a way that, at the very best, flirts heavily with a retcon of Season 11. It’s redolent of self-indulgent, 1970s-comics metaphysics and the writers’ apparent conviction that the MCU movies were philosophically deep. Now, I’m not slamming the MCU movies. They worked emotionally for a lot of people with good reason. But My Dinner with Andre they’re not.

The second scene is a whole other ballgame. Dean is upset because he believes that Amara was just toying with him by giving him back his mother. But Amara makes it clear (and she’s a straight shooter, so this is likely honesty on her part) that she meant it as a gift.

She then mirrors back to him his own lifelong philosophy that reality is always better than fantasy, no matter how harsh the reality and how nice the fantasy. That philosophy has saved his life (and the universe) on more than one occasion (most openly in Season 2’s “What Is and What Could Never Be,” which is pretty implicitly referenced in this conversation). But she does so in a way that, far from his usual bitter assessment, this can be a way to move on to a better and happier life, rather than being stuck in a rut. That’s actually a pretty darned good life lesson.

It’s therefore extra significant that the two of them make it clear to each other that they would not ever hurt each other and so far, a few episodes down the road, that’s proven true. I so wish that Dean could just replace Chuck and run off with Amara at the end of this show, but I have a feeling Amara’s not going to make it to episode 15.20. The writers have tied her too tightly to her brother. Ah, well.

Next week: Drag Me Away (From You): The Brothers are called in by an old friend to deal with a case they thought they’d put to bed decades ago. This is the last weeChesters episode.

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 Holiday” (15.14) Recap and Review

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According to recent reports from Vancouver, the cast returned to work the first week of August (about two weeks late). Jensen Ackles also explained in a recent virtual “fan experience” through Creation Con that the writing for the last two episodes has been tweaked to reflect recent events (i.e., the Coronavirus pandemic). With these writers, I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. He also said that 15.19 will be a season finale, while 15.20 is more like a series finale (and expressed sadness on Instagram when he got the final script, which said “The End” instead of the usual “To Be Continued”). In an already truncated final season, that likely means we’ll get stuck with some filler clips episode as the last one. Yay.

This recap was a bit late (sorry), as I’m working on a Halloween Zoom talk about local ghost stories and legends in eastern North Carolina. It’s free and it will be October 25 at 7pm (EST), until 8:30pm. You can register beforehand (no obligation) here. I’m hoping to get the next recap and review up on time, but if not, we should get back on track after the talk.

You can find a promo, photos and a synopsis here for 15.15.

If you’re enjoying these articles and reviews, any contributions are welcome. Even in a pandemic, the kitties still gotta eat and I’ve got a house full of snarfly foster kittens with seasonal eye gunk right now. My kitty Goose is doing much better, thank you (she’s acting as if nothing happened now), but I’ve still got that bill, so every little bit helps.

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

Recap: Fairly quick (less than a minute) recap, considering the show just came off a major and final hellatus, of Cuthbert Sinclair and Abaddon in Season 9 (and to think I just reviewed those episodes), and Jack’s boring “got his soul back” storyline from the previous ep.

Cut to Now in the Bunker, where Sam is doing research, Dean is cooking burgers (in an apron), and Jack is still sulking in his room. Sam snarks about the apron, though hey, at least, we get a reprise of Dean the Great Cook. Dean has come out of the kitchen to note that the Bunker seems to be on the fritz. The pilot light in the kitchen keeps going out, and he and Sam both notice that things keep switching on and off. Dean complains that the Bunker is supposed to be “state of the art,” though Sam snarks that yes, it was, “for the Fifties.”

While that’s true, the Bunker was shut down for over half a century and possesses lower transistor tech than we have today. Low tech tends to be more durable than high tech. Also, the Bunker is magical.

Anyhoo, at that moment (after Dean asks where Jack is and Sam says he’s in his room), the air goes down. This is right after the Brothers talk about how Castiel is looking for Amara for them and they’re probably going to kill her (this still seems like a stupid plan to me. Why not talk to her, first?). Dean decides they need to do something about the air. Well, yes, since otherwise, they’re going to suffocate. Sam wonders what they can do.

Dean: We fought the Devil, okay? I killed Hitler. I think we can handle some old pipes.

Cut to the Brothers coming down into a control room we’ve never seen before and apparently, they haven’t, either. Sam found it after some research. There is a large old-time, very-active-looking control panel. This is a pretty big retcon, I gotta say, that the Brothers never even looked at this room (which was so easy to find) when they were reconnoitering the Bunker. I mean, come on, Show.

Anyhoo, Sam says all the basic stuff like water and pipes should be controlled from that panel and maybe they should call in a plumber. Dean laughs this off and makes a Mario Brothers joke. Among other controls we don’t get a good look at, the control panel has two big buttons in the lower right-hand corner of the panel. One says “Standby” and the other “Reset.” The Standby button is glowing. The Reset button is not.

Out loud, Dean notes that whenever the porn on his laptop gets too many pop-ups, he just reboots. So, he hits the Reset button right as Sam is arguing that’s not a good idea. Now, obviously, since this is the episode’s teaser, it’s a bad idea, but the writing to this point doesn’t quite justify that. I mean, you’ve got a Reset button and the system is glitchy. Wouldn’t hitting it at least be an option?

Anyhoo, everything goes dark for a moment, but then it comes right back up and the glitches go away. Crowing “Victory!” in a bad Italian accent, Dean goes back upstairs to continue cooking burgers.

Later, we see Dean enter his room with a finished “Dean Deluxe” burger (which looks very tasty). Suddenly, he looks up offscreen and backs up. Cut to his bed, where a middle-aged, red-haired woman is folding his underwear, including a pair of Scooby-Doo-themed shorts. She says, “Oh! Hello, dear.” Dean bellows for Sam.

Cue title cards.

Cut to the Library, where the woman is commenting on all the dust and “filth,” and Dean is saying “Who the hell are you, lady?!” (she comments on his “language”). It takes this long for Sam to arrive from wherever he was and he’s quite startled to meet the woman, as well. He asks her name. She says her “true name is indecipherable in your tongue,” but says that “Mr. Ganem called me Mrs. Butters.”

Sam susses out that she’s not human based on the “our tongue” comment, though that’s pretty obvious at this point. She says that she’s a “wood nymph.” Dean’s reaction face is epic. When Dean asks, “Well, shouldn’t you be in the woods, nymphing?” she calls that “a young one’s game.” Also, she “lives here.”

When Sam suggests she’s a Lady of Letters, she calls herself a “helper.” She basically acted as a live-in maid and nanny for the Men of Letters, who needed, you know, a woman around the house. Even if she wasn’t human.

Dean sarcastically calls this “very progressive” (since it obviously isn’t), then tells her she can “just leave.” This prompts confusion and bewilderment from Mrs. Butters. As she said before, the Bunker is her home and Dean is basically kicking her out. After all, she’s served the Men of Letters “since before the War.”

Confused, Sam asks her what year she thinks it is and she replies in a small voice, “1958?”

Dean rather bruskly breaks the news to her that it’s actually 2020. When she asks where all the Men of Letters are (Mr. Akers and Mr. Markham, specifically), while gesturing at a photo of them on the wall, Dean says she is looking at the only two left. The others are dead. He explains that Abaddon killed them and that she was a demon. Though fluffy, Mrs. Butters is a quick study and realizes this is why the Men of Letters never came back.

In a warm-tones flashback, she explains that when they went to their ceremony (the swearing-in ceremony for Josie and Henry, where Abaddon used Josie to ambush and murder almost all of the chapter), they left Mrs. Butters behind to guard the Bunker. When they didn’t return, she put the Bunker (and herself) into Standby mode. When she hit the button, the lights went down and she turned into green smoke that was sucked up into the glowing symbols on the walls.

The Brothers try to explain that they didn’t realize she was there and that they have been dealing “with one apocalypse after another.” Mrs. Butters is very understanding. Her “boys” dealt with the same kind of schedule. She says that it must have been “an age” since the Brothers had “a home-cooked meal or a holiday.” She takes a step forward, wrinkles her nose, and comments that they haven’t washed their clothes in a while, either. Sam admits they’re not that kind of people.

Dean realizes that the Bunker has been “at half-power” the entire time they’ve been there. Mrs. Butters confirms this and, snapping her fingers, brings the place up to full power. Seems her magic is used to power the place to a higher level. The lights brighten (and turn on in the telescope alcove) and a red spot on the map starts to beep. Mrs. Butters explains that’s the “monster radar.” Pressing the red dot, she gives them the exact location of a nest of vampires 50 miles away from the Bunker. And by that, I mean she gives them the street address. She tells them if they hurry, they can clean out the entire nest and be back for dinner.

Dean is thrilled that they’ve finally caught a break, but as Mrs. Butters goes off to dust up the other room, Sam wonders if they can trust her. Dean points out that the Men of Letters would have needed a creature like her to take care of them and one way to find out is to check out the nest. If she’s telling them the truth, they can go from there.

Sam asks what happens if she isn’t and Dean prosaically says, “Then we deal with her.” Sam then asks, “What about Jack?” Oh, sigh, and things were going so well up to this point.

Cut to Jack, moping in his room. Dean knocks on the door. He tells him they’re going out for a while and gives him a heads-up about Mrs. Butters. He says she’s “probably harmless,” but in case she isn’t, to give them a call. He also says she’s baking “snickerdoodles.” Oooer. Jack just mopes, because that’s Jack for you these days.

In the car, Sam is still worrying away at whether or not Mrs. Butters can be trusted. Sam doesn’t seem to realize that Dean is trusting, but verifying, not just taking Mrs. Butters at face value. The discussion quickly turns to Whether Jack Is Okay because of course it does [sigh] after Dean points out that Mrs. Butters isn’t that big of a deal when they have “the Son of Satan living down the hall.”

Sam wonders if Jack is okay, what with Chuck “deleting worlds” and Amara in the wind. After admitting that Jack, is “a mess,” Dean says, “He’ll be fine. I mean, I’ve been through worse. Look at me – I’m the picture of health.”

Sam: Ignoring your trauma doesn’t make you healthy.

Dean [insincerely]: Sure, it does.

Boy, it’s been a while since Dean’s mental health issues have come up.

Anyhoo, they table the discussion for now.

Back at the Bunker, Jack is still moping, so Mrs. Butters knocks on his door with a sandwich. When he won’t answer, she says she’s leaving it by the door (now that Jack has his soul back, does he have regular human cycles or are we ignoring all that?).

Meanwhile, the vampire nest mentioned before turns out to be two bearded hicks watching an old vampire movie (not sure which one) on a TV in a shack, while sucking down blood from a local blood bank in their Big Swig mugs. Just as one vampire is musing why they don’t get to live in a mansion like the vampire in the film, Sam and Dean kick down the door. The two lowlife vamps helpfully whip around and thrust their heads forward, fangs bared. So, the Brothers simultaneously whack off their heads at one blow.

“Monster radar rules!” crows Dean.

The Brothers return to the Bunker to find it decorated for Christmas. There’s a giant tree in the library, with a train running around it. A big band version of “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing!” is on the soundtrack (is that irony deliberate?). Mrs. Butters comes out, giggling, with a plate of cookies. Both Brothers are nonplussed at first, but Dean starts to get into it, while Sam looks constipated.

Dean: We are so keeping her!

Cut to Mrs. Butters giving Sam some pancakes and a pep talk the next morning about his rather dour look on the world. In comes Jack and suddenly, her mood changes. She immediately recognizes him as not-quite-human, saying “What. Are. You?” in a tense voice.

Dean comes in, wearing a purple nightshirt and hat. He’s very excited about it (it was a gift from Mrs. Butters) and thanks her. A horrified Sam gets an eyeful (seems Dean is not wearing underwear beneath the nightshirt when he lifts it up) and Dean somewhat defuses the situation by off-handedly vouching for Jack.

Mrs. Butters just-as-off-handedly acknowledges Dean’s thanks, while bristling at Jack. Eventually, she stands down and appears to accept him. Whipping up a smoothie out of nowhere, she gives it to him, even as he’s protesting that he’s not hungry. When Dean shows an interest in the smoothie, she gives him a tomato juice, instead, saying she’s “worried about your cholesterol.” Jack looks amused at Dean’s crestfallen reaction.

A buggy horn goes off overhead, and both Sam and Dean run to their rooms to get dressed. As they’re coming back out past the kitchen, Mrs. Butters hands them each a bag lunch (“no crusts”), tells Sam the monster is a Lamia and that’s she’s put “blessed knives in the trunk,” and tells him to tell Dean to use the Impala gently, since she just waxed it.

Jack wants to go along, but Sam tells him to stay behind and take it easy. They’ll be right back. After saying goodbye to Sam, Mrs. Butters turns back with an edged smile and says to Jack, “Well. What shall we do with you?” Jack smiles at her, not noticing the undertones. Later, she gets him to tell her about being Lucifer’s son, how TFW 2.0 are his only real family, and how he killed Mary in a fit of pique.

Mrs. Butters says, “We all do things, things we’re not proud of.” But she adds that life is full of “second chances,” then offers him another smoothie.

Cue an adorable montage to The Bus Boys’ “Cleanin’ Up the Town” (from Ghostbusters, of course) of the Brothers running off to a hunt (excitedly grabbing bag lunches from Mrs. Butters at the kitchen on the way out), busting down doors, and having holidays (Thanksgiving, Halloween, Fourth of July, and Sam’s birthday). In the last hunt, they blow the door to a shack open and Dean comes in with a rocket launcher, while Sam is hefting Mjolnir.

We come back out of the montage to Sam’s birthday. When Dean wonders if he can have some of the same Rice Krispies treats when he has a birthday, Mrs. Butters comments that she’s surprised that he would still want to celebrate his birthday (i.e., that he’s over 40), but then says she was just teasing and there is more for him in the kitchen.

I’m not sure why the writers continue with these stupid age jokes when they are literally old enough to know better. I get that they work for a network that caters to a young female demographic in an often problematical way that involves literally fetishizing young women, but come on.

Anyhoo, life goes on and Jack gets hooked on his smoothies. One night, he’s coming out with an empty glass when he finds Mrs. Butters in the library, furtively looking at a file in one of the cabinets while dusting. Looking pensive, she puts it back, then jumps and squeals when Jack calls her name. As she comes over, he asks her for another smoothie. Instead of just whipping one up, as she has before, she takes the empty glass and goes off to the kitchen to get him a refill.

This gives him a chance to look through the drawer she was looking in. He finds an old Manila envelope with a CLASSIFIED file inside. It includes her photo and an old film reel. He sneaks off down to the projection room and revs up the film (how he knows how to do this is glossed over).

The faded black-and-white film has an opening narration by Cuthbert Sinclair (whom we briefly met in “Blade Runners” when he tried to enslave Dean, the Mark of Cain, and the First Blade). He calls it File 5150. He then reveals that “Subject B, casually referred to as ‘Mrs. Butters,’” was “retrieved” by Man of Letters Henshaw from a Thule lab. So, it seems the Thule had originally enslaved her (she killed a battallion of 200 men before they could “restrain” her) and if she has been working with the Men of Letters since “before the War,” then the Men of the Letters and the Thule must have been fighting a shadow war with each other even before WWII.

Sinclair then goes on to theorize that even though wood nymphs are normally “docile, they react- violently when home or family are threatened.”

He then turns and we see he is in the dungeon. There is a hooded prisoner in a chair and standing behind the chair is Mrs. Butters, smiling inanely. He says he’s been doing “a series of experiments” (translation: magical torture) to convince Mrs. Butters to join the Men of Letters, “for safety and security.” Pulling off the prisoner’s hood, he reveals that the man in the chair is a Thule operative. Having already extracted all info possible out of the prisoner, Sinclair instructs Mrs. Butters to pull off his head. She does, with the same cheerful smile, then asks, “Would anyone like tea or cookies?”

Horrified, Jack exclaims, “Son of a bitch!”

Jack comes running out into the library shouting for Sam (why not Dean?). Mrs. Butters is there and says Sam will be out in a moment. He’s getting ready for a date with Eileen. Sam comes out in a rather old-style waistcoat and tie ensemble. He says he feels silly. Mrs. Butters assures him he looks great (well, yeah. For the 1950s). Though she would like to cut his hair (Sam demurs).

Dean comes out in his usual flannel, saying “Wow! Somebody’s shopping at Abercrombie and Bitch,” to which Mrs. Butters scolds him: “Language!”

Sam tells them that he’s going on a date with Eileen, who is in town. They are trying to rekindle things since their disastrous kidnapping by Chuck a few episodes ago. Dean figures Sam is going to get laid. Mrs. Butters whips up a bouquet of red roses for Sam and sends him off, though afterward, she scolds Dean for being so mean to Sam. Dean is not especially repentant. But he is happy when she tells him she fixed the TV in his room and runs off to check it out.

Instead of following Dean to talk to him, Jack decides to stalk Mrs. Butters, instead. Because that’s smart.

He follows her down into the storage room and dungeon, where he confronts her. Mrs. Butters, smiling, asks him how the film made him “feel.” Jack is thrown by this question, especially when she supplies an answer – that he “enjoyed” watching her kill the Thule.

Jack realizes that she set him up, that it was a test, and that she thinks he failed (her going off to the kitchen to make him a smoothie should have been his first clue). She says that if the Brothers knew how powerful he’s become, they’d be terrified of him and they should be, that maybe they keep Jack sequestered in the Bunker to keep him from murdering anyone else the way he did Mary.

Jack protests that he would never hurt Sam and Dean, but Mrs. Butters points out that he already has in the past – a whole lot. Then she TK’s him into a wall. Jack gets up and gets angry. He starts to power up, but his eye glow fritzes and fades. As Mrs. Butters slaps a pair of magical cuffs on him (not sure if they’re demon or angel or archangel, or what), she tells him that she used the smoothies to reduce his power. Now, he can’t do anything. Seems she learned a few things while dusting in the library. She pokes him in the chest and TK’s him again into the wall.

When Jack asks her why she’s doing this, she says, “To make the Bunker safe again. To kill all the monsters!”

I know the show wants us to side with Jack and see Mrs. Butters as dangerously out of control. But Mrs. Butters actually isn’t wrong. This scene is a classic case of When the Villain Has a Point.

The show seems to want us to believe that Jack has changed permanently for the good because he has his soul back. But Jack did plenty of horrible things when he had his soul (nor was he at all forgiving about, say, rescuing Dean after Dean said yes to alt-Michael to rectify Jack’s mistake, and save Sam and Jack from Jack’s father). and he intentionally lost his soul out of a desire to get his powers back. Thing is, every time Jack has had to choose between Sam and Dean, and getting his power back, he’s chosen power every time. So, I don’t think the writers did a convincing job of setting up the conflict here.

Dean comes out into the kitchen to see that Mrs. Butters has fixed him a grilled cheese sandwich. Just as Dean is happily digging into it, she tells him the food is to give him strength to go down to the dungeon and kill Jack. Then she hands him a brass dagger.

With a sad, longing look at the sandwich, Dean sets it aside, takes the dagger, and after a comment about how unfortunate it is that she turned “Nurse Ratched” on them, says they’ll go down to the dungeon, let Jack out, and “forget this ever happened.”

That gets him locked in the dungeon with Jack. Mrs. Butters insists that Dean has been “infected” by Jack, who is “just like his father … the Serpent in the Garden” (kind of ironic considering Jack was in the Garden just last episode). Sam returns from his date to find Mrs. Butters waiting for him. When he asks where the others are, she tells him that Jack has got inside Dean’s head, where the two of them are, and that he and she now have to go kill them. She calls him “the smart one” for figuring it out.

Sam says, sure, he’s just going to go to his room for his gun and meet her down there. Instead, he calls Dean from inside his room (apparently, there is cell phone reception in the dungeon, now). When Sam asks why Dean didn’t call him sooner, Dean says he didn’t want to bother him on his date: “It’s been a while for you, man” (truer words). Dean is oddly casual about the whole thing, as if it’s a minor inconvenience.

When Sam asks him for suggestions, Dean points out that Sam was going to research ways to stop Mrs. Butters if she turned evil and suggests shooting her. Sam protests that he’s been distracted by all the celebrations (they reminisce briefly over the fabulous omelette from Boxing Day). Dean suggests hitting the Standby button in the control room (which is actually quite a good idea) to shut her back down. Sam decides to try it.

Back in the dungeon, Jack suggests that he could use his powers to get them out of there, but Dean says the amount of power Jack would need to break out of the cuffs would alert Chuck to his presence (also, Jack’s powers have been reduced by all the smoothies, but it’s not clear if Dean knows about that, yet).

Jack starts panicking a little, saying he has a “mission.” When Dean tells him to calm down and turns away (trying to think), Jack quietly asks if Dean still thinks he’s a monster. Dean turns back to face Jack and lays it all out. He’s trying to forgive Jack, but it’s hard. On the other hand, he’s not “going to let some evil Mary Poppins take you out.”

Upstairs, Sam is edging through the library, gun in hand, calling for Mrs. Butters. When she appears, he does try to shoot her, but she stops him with TK and then TK’s him into a chair. She merrily tells how Sinclair “explained” the importance of the Bunker to her and since Sam is her “favorite,” she’s not going to give up on him … yet. She then proceeds to show him how Sinclair “explained” things to him – by ripping out his fingernails, one by one. Has that happened to Sam since Season 3’s “A Very Supernatural Christmas”? I think so, but can’t recall the other episode.

No matter what Sam tries to tell Mrs. Butters about Jack being “just a kid,” she insists that Jack is a monster who will kill them and she’s already lost her previous team to a monster. She’s not doing it again.

In the dungeon, Dean has an idea, but it involves some rather brutal methods (a very old piece of soundtrack plays over this – I think it’s “Lilith Unfair.” No, sorry, it’s “Old ‘Monster Movie’”). He’s going to use the brass knife to try to break the chain between the cuffs. Jack isn’t too sure it’s going to work and Dean is cheerily unreassuring about the whole thing. When he hits the cuffs with the knife, the magical blowback tosses Jack against a cabinet, smashing it. Dean says the cuffs aren’t coming off without a key, but he’s got another idea (especially since it seems Sam is delayed in showing up).

Dean lines Jack up in front of the door. “Now remember,” he says. “Pain is just weakness leaving the body. On three.” He hits the cuffs on the two count, of course. The resulting explosion blasts Jack right through the door. They’re free, at least for the moment.

Down to the control room they go, where Dean takes a hammer and hits the Reset button (wasn’t he going to hit the Standby button?). The red emergency lighting and klaxon come on. When Dean and Jack enter the library, they find Sam alone. The problem appears to be solved.

But it’s not. In the control room, the panel rattles and the sigils above the doors begin to glow an angry red. A steam pipe bursts. Through the steam Mrs. Butters materializes with glowing green eyes and walks back upstairs. There, she TK’s all three of TFW 2.0 (present) across the room and starts to scream at them that she’s not going to fail again. She especially directs her anger at Jack. She says about him that the reason she can’t go back to her forest is “because of things like that!”

Sam tries to talk her down, saying that Sinclair (“Mr. Cuthbert”) used and tortured her. But it’s Dean who gets through to her. He says that Jack “can save the world.” He points out that that’s always been “the mission.” Confused, Mrs. Butters stands down. The emergency lighting cuts out and everything in the Bunker goes back to normal.

Afterward, she heals Sam’s hand and apologizes to all three of them. Jack says it’s okay. When Sam and Dean note that Sinclair made her leave her forest, she gets all nostalgic about it. Jack then says, “It’s settled.” The next moment, we see her in travel clothes with a purse, as she’s going back home.

She warns them that without her magic, “the Bunker will revert to Standby mode.” Dean tries to make the best of it, talking about the big telescope in the alcove. She tells him it’s not a telescope. It’s an interdimensional geoscope (in other words, a scope that can look into other worlds in the Multiverse).

When Dean comments that he’s looked in it and not seen anything, Mrs. Butters says, “Ohh. Oh, that’s not good.” (Obviously, this is a reference to all the other worlds Chuck was destroying and indicates there was nothing to see in the scope because there are no more worlds left in the Multiverse.)

Jack gives her the photo of the Men of Letters that was on the wall. Before she leaves, she tells Dean to eat his vegetables, Sam to cut his hair, and Jack to go save the world. The she snaps her fingers and vanishes. Half the Bunker shuts down, including half the lights.

Later, while they are reading or doing research or something in the library, Sam tries to get Jack to open up. Jack admits that here he is, supposed to kill God, and he got taken down by a wood nymph. He’s not at all sure he is up to the job. Sam says that he has to because he’s “the only one who can.” (ugh)

Dean breaks up the mood by coming in with a cake, wearing his apron (which Sam continues to be salty about, for some unknown reason). It’s a birthday cake for Jack. Dean has decided that Mrs. Butters was right – even though they’re busy, they should still celebrate occasions. Dean admits that the cake doesn’t look perfect the way Mrs. Butters would have made it, but Jack is happy to see it, nonetheless. Dean lights a candle and puts it on the cake. Sam tells Jack to make a wish. Jack sits for a moment, thinking, then blows the candle out.

Credits

Ratings for this new episode rose from those for the previous episode to 0.4/3 in the A18-49 demo and 1.1 million.

Review: When I first saw the commentary about this episode on Twitter, I was sure I was going to hate it. It sounded quite bad and like an entire forty-some minutes of Jacknatural. After I saw it, though, my feelings became more … mixed. I still actively disliked the Jacknatural aspect, and there were some seriously problematical things, like the entire treatment of what was effectively the Brothers’ condoning their predecessors’ enslavement and torture of a sentient supernatural being.

And yet, the entire montage of Sam and Dean hunting and being ministered to by Mrs. Butters, to the tune of “Cleanin’ Up the Town” from Ghostbusters (a decent non-soundtrack song, for once), was magic. Dean’s enthusiasm over the whole idea of having endless birthdays and Christmas and Halloween was magic. I will probably end up rewatching this montage a good bit come Christmastime.

I actually liked Mrs. Butters and felt sorry for her, far more than Jack (in fact, I think she had some excellent points about Jack). And I know I wasn’t supposed to laugh at Dean beating the hell out of Jack to get them out of the dungeon, but I totally did and I’m not sorry. If that’s all Jack has to suffer from Mary’s loved ones for killing her, it’ll be the very, very least he deserves.

I am thoroughly over and stick-a-fork-in-me done with Jacknatural. Any bit of taking him down a peg introduces some welcome balance to the show that it really needs at this point.

The show has made it seem as though Jack getting his soul back should somehow alleviate what he did to Mary, but I don’t see how something that he was basically tricked into doing should be redemptive in any real way. Mary is no less dead and Jack, for all his guilt, hasn’t done much at all to make amends. There are only so many times you can apologize before you realize that “sorry” is just a word without actions to back it up. This is not Jack’s first “Ooh, I made a really cosmic boo-boo” rodeo and his learning curve is distressing flat throughout.

I also thought his unsympathetic reaction to the old film was un-reassuring. The monsters Mrs. Butters was helping Sam and Dean hunt may or may not have been worthy of killing, but we’ve seen that the Thule invariably are. Jack also didn’t pick up at all on the many hints Sinclair gave that he had tortured Mrs. Butters into serving the Men of Letters. In that moment, he had no compassion for her and hypocritically saw her as nothing more than a monster.

The weird thing is that for all the gaslighting of Dean in-story for not forgiving Jack ridiculously soon, Dean’s the only one of TFW who is acting in character. I don’t even know what the hell Castiel is supposed to be responding to, anymore (he lost most of his remaining personality when Jack brainwashed him from the womb in Season 12). But what about Sam? There’s sort-of, kind-of some supporting canon for Sam acting so academically about Mary’s death and Jack’s role in it. He did admit in the Pilot that he didn’t remember Mary, so he lacked the primal emotional connection to her that Dean had.

Later, we saw Sam react in a similarly muted way to John’s death. Those two had a lot of mixed feelings toward each other, so I guess that makes sense. Anyhoo, it’s canon that Dean reacted a lot more violently to John’s death than Sam did.

But then there’s the flip side of this coin. In the very same Pilot episode, Sam swore vengeance for his girlfriend Jessica’s death and went on a roaring rampage of revenge, as The Bride might have put it. Even five seasons later, when he find out a demon possessed his close friend and then murdered Jessica just to put him on that road, Sam thoroughly enjoyed gutting Brady like a fish. He went completely off the rails after Lilith and then Metatron killed Dean. He had an incandescent hatred for Crowley after Crowley murdered Sarah, one that combined with Sam’s irrational jealousy every time Dean forms strong relationships with other men, that ended up in a situation where Sam threatened the entire Multiverse.

Sam’s been a lot of things, but he ain’t Spock. Either he never did develop strong feelings for his mother, despite extensive attempts by the writers in the past few seasons to show them bonding, or he’s been brainwashed like Castiel, or he’s lying to Jack’s face about forgiving him and just using him to take out Chuck.

The episode dealt clumsily with the central idea of Mrs. Butters as an enslaved supernatural being who powered the Bunker to an extra level. It doesn’t help that the name pretty obviously (though anachronistically) evokes the brand name Mrs. Butterworth, a famous American syrup brand. Rumor has it that Mrs. Butterworth was originally inspired by Hattie McDaniel’s enslaved house servant and nanny in Gone with the Wind (1939), though the brand wasn’t introduced until 1961. Its packaging has recently been revamped after criticism that the original model evoked “mammy” stereotypes. I talked a bit about that stereotype (most famously illustrated by McDaniel’s role, albeit much older) in my review of season one’s “Home,” since Missouri definitely evoked it.

While Mrs. Butters has a British accent, and it’s implied that she was originally German (Hyacinth Bucket meets the hausfrau stereotype), her name seems a pretty obvious evocation of the above minstrel show trope, as well. Whatever “Last Holiday” was trying to say about slavery seems to get tangled up in a lot of white-washed, tone-deaf Lost Cause subtext as the Brothers and Jack proceed to enjoy Mrs. Butters’ ministrations without thinking too hard about what she gets out of it. It made me wonder what other dark secrets and beings might be involved in the Bunker’s foundations. Cuthbert Sinclair really was quite the bastard, wasn’t he?

The frequently perky tone didn’t necessarily help. For example, the only time Dean appeared to take Mrs. Butters seriously as a threat was near the end, when he finally got through to her by explaining Jack’s actual function with them. While the way Mrs. Butters then stood down may seem heartwarming on the surface, I was struck by the bleak (unintended?) subtext that only when Dean pointed out that Jack was a Men of Letters weapon (like her) did she back off.

Was it because she just didn’t buy that the Brothers considered Jack family, especially after what he’d done to their mother? Or was it because Dean was finally being honest when he made it clear that Jack was a weapon and that he and Sam knew exactly what they were doing in keeping him in the Bunker (as she implied when she locked Jack in the dungeon)? Had she previously been reacting to the underlying dishonesty?

By the way, if the name Henshaw sounds familiar, he’s the Man of Letters who wrote the report about the Hand of God in Season 11’s “The Vessel.” So, think of Jack as a sentient Hand of God. Then he doesn’t seem quite so special as he thinks.

It actually makes a lot of sense that Mrs. Butters would take special umbrage to Jack. It’s necessary to remind everyone here that Jack didn’t just kill Mary. He also killed his own mother by being born. Jack is a natural born matricide, twice over. That the show had Kelly gloss over this, even in Heaven (ugh, gag), and make it seem okay didn’t improve matters.

But Mrs. Butters is a maternal figure herself, nurturing full-grown men engaged in a very dangerous profession. She would relate to other maternal figures, the real mothers of these men, more than some other characters. And she would find matricide especially unforgivable. After all, it’s a direct threat to her, as well.

I didn’t notice until the rewatch that Dean did actually free her right away. It was off-hand and he was basically evicting her from her home of three-quarters of a century, but his very first thought was not to take advantage of her, as was the impression I got on first watch. After all, he had been tortured by Cuthbert Sinclair and nearly made his slave, too.

It wasn’t until she clearly showed her intent and desire to remain in the Bunker that Dean started to get into keeping her around. Keep in mind that Sam’s very first thought was to kill her, though he eventually warmed to her, as well, and we got to see a happier Sam for a while (sad we didn’t get to see Eileen this time, though).

Perhaps the biggest problem with the suspension of disbelief here is that the episode chose to introduce and write out a key element in the Bunker’s history inside a single episode. Mrs. Butters was a lot like that Hunter character the Brothers have supposedly known for decades (but never mentioned before) who pops up for a single episode, only to get killed off (usually after having turned evil, first). I think we might have felt the sense of betrayal a bit more when she turned on them if she had been introduced at least a few episodes earlier.

Alas, with introducing such a powerful figure, so intimately connected to the Bunker, this late in the game, retcons and other questions arose. For example, when Amara invaded the Bunker near the end of season 11 and burned out the sigils in the walls, why wasn’t Mrs. Butters awakened or even killed? What about when Dorothy brought the Witch into the Bunker? Was Mrs. Butters not there, yet? Why didn’t the Brothers ever notice the control room in their thorough search of the place? Did none of the Men of Letters notice that early on that Cuthbert Sinclair never seemed to age? Were the London Men of Letters ever aware of her existence? How long a timespan did this episode even cover?

Why introduce such a powerful character (she took down Jack) so late in the game and then write her out? Is not Earth Prime her home, her woods, writ large? Couldn’t the Brothers use her as an ally against Chuck, instead of the show writers’ usual simplistic obsession with a single solution (finding and neutralizing/recruiting Amara) that we already know won’t work in the breach? I know the Nazis were obsessed with nature, but is her grove even still standing? What happens if/when she finds out it’s not? Will she turn monstrous?

Why are we even still doing MOTWs at this late date? Are all of these elements in the last seven episodes going to figure in the finale? I hope so, but they need to hurry up with starting to tie them together.

Next week: Gimme Shelter: Castiel’s back and the Brothers going looking for Amara. I’m sure that will end well.

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: “Destiny’s Child” (15.13) Live Recap Thread

Happy Easter, Y’all!


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Contribute monthly via Patreon (which includes perks), make a one-time donation through Paypal, or buy us a coffee. As we slide deeper into the Coronavirus outbreak, I will try to catch up on my backlog of retro recaps, starting probably next week with “The Purge” (9.13), since it’s been announced that 15.13 will be the last episode aired “for a while.” If you’re enjoying these reviews, any contributions are welcome. Even in a pandemic, the kitties still gotta eat.

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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, as well as a quick, pizza-themed montage of Megstiel, Ruby 2.0, and Dean eating pizza.

Cut to Now. The Brothers are in the library. Sam is reading old books, while Dean is surfing the internet. They’re trying to locate Chuck, but as Dean points out, if he’s off destroying other universes, he’s not liable to be on Earth Prime’s radar just yet.

They suddenly hear a loud, machine-like hum from another room (another part of the library, I guess?) down the corridor and we get some shaky-cam. A light glows underneath the door to the room as Dean opens it. Inside, they find a rift … and a car. The kind of cute little car of which Dean is not fond (we find out later).

Two people get out of the car to arguably the gayest song of the pop 1990s scene, Savage Garden’s “I Want You” (and believe me, there was some heavy competition for that title). They are another Sam and Dean, in very nice clothes. alt-Dean is wearing what looks like a Rolex and Argyle socks, along with a white, open-collared shirt that looks suspiciously like something Jensen Ackles once wore in a photo shoot and some kind of tan safari jacket. alt-Sam sports an Apple watch, a manbun, and no socks. They smile in relief, as alt-Sam says that they made it, and fist bump.

Then they notice “our” Sam and Dean. They exchange a “What the heck?” for a “What the hell?” and recognition of names before the rift glitches. As alt-Dean says, “Aw, nuts!” they vanish.

Cue title cards.

So, “our” Sam and Dean are trying to explain the situation to Castiel and it’s not going very well. Fortunately, Billie pops in to infodump. She says that the alternate versions of themselves were “running” and that Chuck is almost finished destroying the rest of the worlds. Once he’s done, he’ll return to Earth Prime and destroy it, too.

She says that they need to be ready and she’s got “the next step” for Jack, who waltzes in, blandly eating a sandwich. He calmly says he’s ready. Billie’s not so sure about that. She says that the previous quest (eating Grigori hearts) was for building up his body, but this new quest – seeking the “Occultum” – is “more spiritual.” Sam helpfully translates the “Occultum” as “hidden.” Thank you, Captain Obvious.

Billie is forced to admit that she doesn’t know exactly what the Occultum is (eliciting some sarcasm from Dean). It’s been lost for centuries because it is, as she points out to Captain Obvious (sorry, I mean Sam), “hidden.” But she does know that it’s “potent and powerful,” and that Jack has to find it.

She then warns them (well, actually, she warns Sam if we’re going by whom she’s glaring at when she says it, but Dean’s eyeroll is the actual reaction shot we get) not to do anything “stupid,” because if Chuck finds out prematurely what they’re all doing, their collective goose is cooked. And nobody on TFW 2.0 can argue with that.

Later, Sam is whining that he can barely find anything in the books about the Occultum, while Dean plays with a rubber band, apparently mentally checked out. When Sam calls him on his inattention, it turns out that Dean is, in fact, about ten steps ahead of Sam regarding the implications of Billie’s info. He talks about how Death is now their “Obi-Wan” and they are “the messengers of God’s destruction” in an incredulous voice. But that’s not the worst of it. If Jack is going to kill Chuck, what about Amara? She’s the Darkness and if Chuck dies with her still alive, the balance is thrown out of whack and the whole SPNverse dies (she does, too, actually, but the episode forgets that). So, he’s thinking maybe Jack can kill her, too.

By the way, where is Amara in the midst of this ongoing Chuck tantrum? There are some things she does happen to like about his creation. Wouldn’t she be interested in preserving them?

Sam asks, then what? Does Jack then become the new God? At this moment, Jack strolls in, announcing he just learned how to blow a bubble gum bubble. Dean looks at Sam and says, “Probably not.”

Sam and Dean ask Jack if he has any more info from Billie on how he’s going to kill Chuck. Turns out Jack has no clue. At this moment, Castiel comes in, on his cell phone, grumpily telling someone he owes them. It turns out to be Sergei. Dean is unimpressed (“Are we that desperate?”), but Sergei did give up some more info on the Occultum. It’s “divine in origin” and was kept in a temple until it was pillaged by Mongols and sold on the black market (Dean has a good time trying to Indiana Jones-guess its fate, to Castiel’s stiff discomfort). It eventually fell into the hands of a family named Jacobson, until one Hiram Jacobson gave it up to a faith healer to save his son’s life. The description of her and her powers, however vague, leaves them with but one candidate – the angel Anael, AKA Sister Jo.

Cut to Sister Jo at the end of a hard day grifting sick humans. The Brothers come in and ask her about her deal with Hiram. When she claims “patient confidentiality,” they reveal they know she took the Occultum as payment and they want to use it to “kill God” because Chuck is going to “murder the world.”

Jo demurs, claiming she doesn’t want to go up against God (apparently, she’s also hard of hearing, or not as bright as she used to be, because I’m pretty sure she knows better than to think Chuck would spare her). So, the Brothers bring out their angel swords and Jo starts talking.

She claims that she gave it to Ruby back in season four (Ruby 2.0, in other words). They used to work the odd grifter job together and Ruby claimed she had a great buyer for it. Unfortunately, after Ruby stashed it somewhere in Hell, she got killed by Dean (we get a quick flashback) before she had a chance to get the payment from the buyer.

Back at the Bunker, Jack is pigging out when Castiel comes in. Jack admits that after you’re dead, and you come back, you appreciate life more. However, now that he’s “lost” his soul, he can’t feel emotions the way he used to. It’s now all a distant, intellectual exercise. While he did find emotions unbearable at times, he misses them. He misses his soul.

Jack then talks about Mary’s death (Castiel has to remind him that he was the one who murdered her). He says that after what he did, he recognizes, at least on an intellectual level, that Sam and Dean don’t look at him or feel the same way about him since he killed her. He wonders if Dean, especially, will ever forgive him.

Rather than point out that this animosity is a natural consequence of murdering someone’s mother, and that Jack is damned lucky either brother didn’t immediately gank his soulless ass the moment they saw him in the Bunker two episodes ago, Castiel goes on some weird rhapsody about how Dean “feels things more acutely than any human I’ve ever known.” Considering the really low view this show actually has of humanity (while trumpeting the opposite), this statement is both accurate and a very low bar for Dean to hurdle.

Castiel says that Dean may hold on to his grudge, or he may just blow up eventually and move on. Jack asks how long that will take. Castiel says he doesn’t know. Well, it took Dean 24 years to hunt down and gank the last supernatural thing that murdered his mother, so I don’t suggest Jack hold his breath.

Sam and Dean arrive home from their conversation with Sister Jo. Rather than the script following up on his conversation with Jack, like … at all … it instead has Castiel show them something completely different that he discovered off-screen between scenes. In another part of the Bunker, as if on a movie screen, the ghostly, moving images of the alt-Sam and Dean from the teaser appear on the wall.

Castiel says that the alt versions can’t see or hear anybody over here. He theorizes that when Chuck destroyed their world, they were trapped in between realities. They are here but not quite here.

Dean asks if they’re in any pain. Castiel says no. Dean says that’s good and starts to leave. When Sam protests, Dean says TFW 2.0 will figure something out, but for now, they have to find the Occultum. Castiel is more than a little concerned when he hears that Jo said Ruby stashed it in Hell (Dean acts surprised when Castiel mentions Sam and Ruby were lovers. Did he really not know? He found them in the bridal suite in “When the Levee Breaks”). Castiel says that Hell is a big place and they could search there for years. Or, you know, aside from the whole time slip differential these two writers never remember, they could just ask Rowena.

Instead, Castiel suggests they talk to Ruby. Dean points out that Ruby is dead and buried in the Empty. He and Sam are off to Hell and he tells Castiel to keep the purple fires burning so they don’t get stuck.

In Hell (which now has a Universal horror movie organ soundtrack), they encounter a generic demon who says he will take them to Rowena, who is “hosting a reception for newly condemned souls.” But instead, it’s a trap and they’re ambushed by what look like some of the same demons from Central Casting who ambushed them last time. Except that this time, the Brothers remember their fighting skills and take the demons out (Dean takes out two and Sam gets the last one to talk before ganking him). But only after finding out that the demons were working with Sister Jo, who asked them to settle Sam and Dean’s hash in exchange for breaking the demons out. Afterward, we see Jo leaving town in a hurry and fleeing to parts wherever. She even passes up a would-be patient and coldly leaves him in the lurch (poor guy).

Back in the Bunker, Castiel is watching over the purple flame portal when Jack walks in and asks if the Brothers made it safely to Hell (this show … the things I thought I’d never say before I started watching it). Castiel says yes, but that he doesn’t trust Jo’s story. He still feels he needs to talk to Ruby, who is in the Empty.

He asks Jack to kill him … mostly … by cutting his throat and drawing out most of his grace into one of Dean’s whiskey flasks (which he found in the library’s card catalogue), so that he is dead enough to go to the Empty, but has a lifeline to come back. Because these two writers obviously forgot that when an angel loses his/her grace, he/she doesn’t die. He/she becomes human. You know … like Anna in season four. Or Castiel himself early in season nine. Hell, Jack lost his grace in exactly the same way (leading up to this entire stupid storyline about burning out his soul) at the end of season 13.

When Jack protests that the Empty Entity has it out for Castiel, Castiel points out (rather unconvincingly) that they have a deal in which the Empty can only take him if he’s happy and he most certainly is not right now. Jack, who has spent months hiding in the Empty and should, at this point, know the EE pretty well, is dumb enough to buy this and goes along with the plan, after some foot-dragging. Castiel says to bring him back in an hour. Jack then extracts Castiel’s grace using his own powers – which he wasn’t supposed to do last week, it being a major ongoing plot point and all.

In the Empty, Castiel is wandering around in the dark, looking for Ruby. Apparently, he forgot that the Empty is a lot bigger than Hell. While he’s stumbling around, calling for her, the EE shows up on a throne with a glass of Chardonnay, wearing Meg’s face. So, I guess that settles the lingering question of whether or not the EE escaped the Empty and left Chuck in its place (and opens up a whole can of worms regarding Things That Don’t Make Sense in the plot).

The EE, at first, doesn’t want to help, even when Castiel points out that he’s on a mission for Death, and he knows Death and the EE are working together. But when Castiel stands his ground, the EE grumps a bit and gestures. A glowing red ball of light appears and coalesces into Ruby.

Castiel very quickly brings Ruby up to speed that she is dead and in the Empty. He asks her about the Occultum. She rolls her eyes when he says Sister Jo said it was in Hell, saying hiding something there would “be a bit obvious” for a demon (I dunno … would it?). When Castiel mentions that Sam and Dean have gone to Hell to look for the Occultum, she indulges in some weird nostalgia about Sam and says they “had a good thing, until he killed me.”

Her memory must be worse even than the writers’ because the flashback to “Lucifer Rising” just a few scenes before clearly showed Dean stabbing her. Yes, Sam had grabbed her from behind so she was taken by surprise, but Dean still struck the actual blow.

Ruby’s version of the story is that Sister Jo called her, not the other way round, and asked to make a deal. Anael pointed out that even though Ruby was working for Lucifer, once he got out, he and Michael would go toe-to-toe and the world would end. But she and Ruby could escape it all by hiding inside the Occultum (there’s a bit more blather than that, but that’s the gist).

Ruby says she never told Sister Jo where she put the Occultum, but she didn’t put it in Hell. She’s willing to tell Castiel if he busts her out of the Empty, since she knows he’s “connected.” Far from being a place of eternal, peaceful sleep, it is an eternal hell of nightmares and regrets. Castiel says he knows this (then why did he just ask her why she wanted out – oh, never mind). He says he will do the best he can, but he can’t promise anything. She’s willing to take even a promise to try and tells him.

In the Bunker, Dean and Sam arrive back to find Jack next to a “mostly dead” Castiel. Jack all-too-perkily explains to them Castiel’s plan. Dean decides it’s time to cut that short and tells Jack to bring Castiel back.

As Jack pulls out the flask and starts giving Castiel his grace back, the EE turns nasty and starts torturing Castiel. When Castiel points out they had a deal, the EE says she has a deal with Death. Death can put her back to sleep (her fondest desire). But she doesn’t recall Death including Castiel’s safe conduct in that deal. Nonetheless, Castiel fades out of the Empty as the EE is ranting about how he can’t just go back and forth: “It upsets the Natural Order of things.” Unperturbed, the EE just adds, “See you soon.”

Back in the Bunker, Dean calls Castiel an idiot, both before and after Castiel fills them in on what Ruby told him. Not only is the Occultum a place in addition to a thing (“the safest place in the world”), but Ruby told him where it is. And it’s not in Hell. The Brothers are like, Well, duh.

Jack then worries what would happen if Chuck checks on them and doesn’t find them in the Bunker. Well, first of all, he’d probably just assume they were on a hunt. And second, what about if he checks in and sees Jack? How, exactly, is Billie hiding Jack from Chuck, especially when Jack is using his powers?

Anyhoo, Dean has a quite-clever idea about addressing Jack’s objections. He takes them to the room where their alternate versions are stuck between worlds. It turns out he has a way to get them out. Since they are stuck between dimensions, right next door to this one, the spell needed to get them here shouldn’t require full archangel grace. Some of Castiel’s should suffice (right after he nearly died from losing his grace? Okay). Sure, it could also blast them off into the aether, but it’s a chance worth taking. So, Sam recites the spell, and lo and behold, it works.

Cut to Sam and Dean talking to … Sam and Dean across a table. Alt-Sam is prissy and uncomfortable, while alt-Dean quietly observes Sam and Dean, who are standing across the table from them, holding beers (the alt versions are rather less into beer, though alt-Dean appears to warm to it over the course of the scene). It turns out they were Hunters in their own world, too, but their father alt-John (who was alive and well up until the point when they were separated trying to escape Chuck’s destruction) had built up a worldwide multi-million dollar business out of it, Hunter Corp. Not only did they get paid to hunt, but they had a jet and pilots on standby to go all around the world doing it.

After the alt versions thank them for rescuing them, Sam and Dean explain their proximate reason for doing so – to pretend to be them to fool Chuck. Alt-Sam and Dean are shocked to hear that this Sam and Dean have “a relationship” with God that has him looking in on them regularly, but not quite as shocked as Sam’s insistence that his alternate “lose the manbun” or Dean’s that they need to wear flannel.

Later, we get a quick scene of alt-Sam watching cute kitten videos (while still clinging to the manbun and complaining about having to dress like a “hillbilly”) and alt-Dean discovering he actually quite likes wearing flannel and drinking beer (especially after he discovers Dean’s computer porn collection). Alt-Dean thinks this is a great life , if “simple,” and there are strong hints alt-John infantilized and controlled his sons, to the point where they didn’t even have a sex life.

Meanwhile, off on the road TFW 2.0 go, to a church that this show has been renting for a lot of years. This is where Ruby hid the Occultum. The question is where. The other question, which Jack brings up, is whether all this is a bit too easy. That is answered by the arrival of some Hell Hounds, just as Dean is discovering that the doors are locked.

With remarkable alacrity, Dean whips around and starts picking the lock, Sam rather needlessly urging him to hurry. He gets the doors open just in time and in they all rush, slamming the double doors in the faces of the Hounds.

As they leave Sam to secure the doors, Dean, Castiel and Jack try to figure out what Ruby meant by the Occultum being hidden near the “top of the cross.” A serendipitous ray of moonlight through a stained glass cross window above the altar glows on the floor, showing that they need to dig under the floorboards. Castiel and Jack stand around, watching Dean do just that (and discovering a velvet bag with a silver filigreed ball inside it), while Sam struggles to keep the doors closed. Seems like a weird distribution of labor, but okay.

Castiel reads some Enochian on the ball that says that in order to get inside the Occultum, it has to be inside you. So, while Dean and Castiel are trying to figure out what to do with it (and Dean is pretty accurately guessing that both Jo and Ruby want them dead), Jack palms it and eats it. This shortly goes horribly awry when Jack falls to the floor in agony, disappears in a big glow of light, and shortly finds himself inside a very fake-looking forest. He meets a girl who declares that he can’t be human, since humans can’t enter the forest.

When the girl asks Jack if he’s an angel, he hedges a bit. He then asks why this place is forbidden to humans. The girl explains that humans were cast out of its “perfection” and Jack realizes it’s the Garden of Eden, from which Adam and Eve were cast out. This … is rather a hot mess of retcon, considering Adam is Sam and Dean’s brother, and Eve is the mother of monsters, and the show has already tread very lightly with Genesis, going far more in favor of science and evolution.

Anyhoo, the girl tells Jack that if he is the one the Garden was meant for, he’ll “know soon enough.” Then she walks away, fading as she goes. As Jack turns around, he sees a CGI snake (remember the one on Sam’s arm in that season six poster? Like that) in the tree. The snake asks, “Who are you, really? Who are you meant to be?”

In response, Jack gets dizzy and collapses, as memories wash over him: riding with Dean, hanging out with TFW 2.0, then a quickie recap of the events leading up to his murdering Mary while Nickifer tells him in voiceover, “They’ll never trust you again.”

As Dean and Castiel are still arguing in the church (and poor Sam is playing Hodor), a bright light appears above them and comes down. Just as Sam is knocked back into the church and the doors burst open, the light blasts the Hounds (briefly shadowed in the glare) to dust. In the aftermath, Jack is left lying on the ground. He wakes up looking confused.

Back at the Bunker, Dean sends alt-Sam and Dean off to Brazil, despite alt-Dean’s eagerness to stick around. Though they make a rather large faux pas when they smugly admit to driving the Impala (um … when? TFW 2.0 took it with them to the church). Realizing they’ve overstepped when Dean starts to freak out, alt-Dean bodily shoves his brother out the door.

An annoyed Dean returns to where Sam is holding some kind of vigil outside the kitchen. Castiel comes out and says that Jack seems different: “He’s been to the crossroads between divinity and humanity. No one’s been there since the Exile till now. Till Jack.”

They go inside, and Jack is all weepy and emo. He begs their forgiveness for murdering Mary while the Brothers (especially Dean) look really uncomfortable. Castiel spells it out: Jack has his soul back.

Credits

The show rose again slightly to a 0.3 and 1.07 million in audience.

No preview for the next episode, “Last Holiday” (15.14). 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.” It seems probable we will end up with a de facto season 16 of 7 episodes this fall, even if the CW doesn’t market it that way. Other shows experienced truncated seasons, but Supernatural is set to finish out as usual, just later on when the industry opens back up.

Review: This was another daft script from the Nepotism Duo and it figures this would be how we’d end up going on the unexpected Coronavirus hellatus (there has been much gallows humor about the current world situation keeping this show around a little longer). By far the most interesting and fun part of it was the flakiest and most throwaway – the metrosexual Sam and Dean who figured out how to save themselves and cross over from an alternate universe to Earth Prime.

Alas, that wasn’t the main storyline, which consisted of much canon-violating, with Jack Sue and pointless cameos by the two series leads’ wives as Ruby and Jo. I’ve actually liked Sister Jo most of the time, but this episode, she felt shoehorned in so the writers could put the leads’ wives together in the same scene.

It came off as uncomfortable, with the two characters not bouncing off each other especially well. Most of the logic surrounding their part in the plot was silly and involved a lot of sloppy retconning in which we were to believe that Anael lied about coming to earth with the other angels during the Fall at the end of season nine and that Ruby lied in season four about never having met an angel before. Even though there had never been a reason for either to lie about that.

I enjoyed Rachel Miner’s reappearance a bit more because … well … it’s Rachel Miner. But it wasn’t Meg. It was the EE using Meg’s appearance and mannerisms like a skin mask (a subtext, by the way, Miner got across most adeptly). It reminded me of The First Evil story from the last season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and how that didn’t work for me because it came off as such a cheap and generic way of bringing back dead characters, rather than a genuinely scary ubervillain.

The pacing itself was flat as all get-out. Normally, in a story, you have a build-up to a climax and this episode purported to have one in Jack visiting the Garden. However, the pacing felt a lot more like “This happened and then this happened and oh, yeah, then this happened” than a slow building of tension and of stakes. These two writers frequently suffer from that problem, but you’d think that after some four decades in the business, they’d have worked through it. They haven’t.

The Jacknatural plot would be far less irritating if it weren’t so damned dull. His character has taken over the mytharc like kudzu, choking Sam and Dean (especially) right out of it, and this has resulted in a sharp drop in quality, not just in the writing (of course), but also in direction and set design and editing. It’s increasingly feeling as though everyone involved is just phoning it in and waiting for the end, presumably thanks to frustration with the lousy attitude from the showrunners themselves.

I sure hope that this enforced hellatus (like the one in season three during the Writers Strike) inspires someone to get their acts together and improve things enough to give us at least a decent ending that doesn’t make half the fandom want to toss their Supernatural DVDs on the bonfire next to their Game of Thrones Blu-rays.

But this episode sure wasn’t it. The retcons and plot holes were large enough to ride a cruise ship through. For example, we now have the Garden of Eden (which, of course, only SuperSpeshulSparkly Non-Human Jack can visit). Except that Sam and Dean already visited the Garden in the center of Heaven back in season five’s “Dark Side of the Moon.” You’d think the writers would have remembered this, considering Andrew Dabb co-wrote the damned script, but nope.

Some fans have tried to argue that the Garden in season five wasn’t really the Garden of Eden (even though it was clearly intended to be in season five), but the way the entire issue was ignored tells you the writers simply forgot about it. This version sucked, anyway. It looked cheap. The little girl was basically just there to remind everyone that Jack was Special, and Sam and Dean were not. And absolutely nothing happened with the serpent.

It really doesn’t help that Jack’s character is a spoiled little prince waiting to be King, with Sam and Dean reduced to his Rosencrantz and Gildenstern. He is a classic fairy tale example of a privileged white boy failing upward. There is nothing actually special about him to give him any flavor, let alone spice (hence the nickname Nougat Boy). That’s why he’s boring. He’s such a smug and entitled little brat that I don’t want him to succeed. I want him to fail. And I want him to fail big. And the end of this episode did not change that.

I most sincerely hope the show is not going where I think it’s going – making Jack the show’s version of Jesus Christ. Because that would be astoundingly tone deaf and profoundly offensive on a whole lot of levels chockful of Unfortunate Implications.

Part of the problem, as I said above, is that it makes this version of Jesus out to be a very spoiled young man. The Jesus of the Gospels, once we get beyond the early legendary stories of his birth and childhood, is very much a full-grown man, well-educated but poor. Jesus was very much a blue collar dude of his time, not any kind of earthly royalty. Nobody was holding his hand, leading him through where he needed to go, even in the story of his teaching the elders in the Temple as a boy. A royal prince is not relatable in the way Jesus is relatable.

But while that’s a problem, it is by far not the most offensive and tone deaf part. Jesus Christ dies on the cross (yesterday, in fact) for all of our sins. But he doesn’t die for his own sins. He isn’t atoning for things he did. His is innocent blood.

Now, I wrote an entire article about the nature of Jesus as a literary figure and how that pertained to Supernatural. And yes, I will repost it, since it got lost in the Great Innsmouth Free Press Database Crash. And yes, I did argue in it that Dean Winchester is the main candidate for being a Jesus figure. But the very reasons why Dean is a good candidate are exactly why Jack Kline is definitely not.

Jack’s blood is not innocent. Very early on, Jack commits an inadvertent murder (the security guard) out of hubris and proceeds to engage in a not-so-slow moral decline in which he grossly misuses his power, becomes arrogant, has a great fall, seeks to regain his power (having, apparently, not been sufficiently humbled), loses his soul, commits multiple more murders (Nick and Mary being the first two), and gets killed by Chuck after one of his victims’ sons, Dean, refuses to kill him. You might argue that Jack is what Jesus might have turned into if he’d allowed himself to be tempted by the Devil. But that version of Jesus would never turn out to be Christ, the Son of God. Jack’s is not a Jesus arc. It’s a Judas arc.

It doesn’t help that the show has cycled through at least three permutations of the same arc with Jack, or that we have only seven episodes left for them to do anything different, with Jack’s current fall and atonement still in progress. There just isn’t time to get him into position to become God 2.0, especially on top of the main storyline, which ought to be wrapping up Sam and Dean’s story for good in any kind of satisfying way. Jack ain’t the Hero of this story. Sam and Dean are.

Every major (and most minor) character but Dean has an atonement arc for the sin of Pride. Jack ended up on the same journey as Sam and Castiel where he fell due to hubris and now must redeem himself. Only Dean is a character who doesn’t have a real atonement arc because Dean doesn’t feel hubris.

Oh, sure, he makes mistakes, and his constantly simmering rage is both his engine and his biggest flaw. His Old Testament version of judgment might feel terrifying and others may successfully persuade him to show more mercy, but even as a demon, Dean doesn’t have hubris (he just – mostly – stops caring about saving people). So, he never falls the way the others do. Instead, he feels guilty and tries to atone for his mistakes and even things that aren’t his fault, for other people’s sins, for other supernatural beings’ messes. Dean’s entire character arc is about saving other people.

You cannot make your Christ figure a murderer who once sinned through Pride. You cannot give your Christ figure a redemption arc. Mind you, I don’t mean that someone in an atonement arc can’t follow Christ’s journey (Imitatio Christi) as they reach out for redemption. But if you’re going to have a story with a supernatural literal Christ figure who is dying for the sins of the world and subsequently rises again as a universal god whom people worship, that character cannot be a murderer atoning for mortal sin at the same time.

Just as it was important for the story that Christ didn’t have a mortal family with wife and children (because all of us were his family and descendants), it was important for the story that Christ have no sins to atone for, especially when he was dying on the cross. Otherwise, how would he be free to atone for everyone else’s? His had to be a sinless offering.

Finally, let’s talk about the alternate versions of Sam and Dean this week. As usual, these two writers overstuffed their plot such that nothing was ever developed fully. Not the Occultum, not the Garden, not Jo, not Ruby, not the Empty’s deal with Billie, and certainly not these versions of Sam and Dean. But they were fun and had promise, nonetheless, mostly due to the performances.

The alt versions of Sam and Dean appear to have grown up in a world where their mission of hunting monsters is something more along the lines of pulp boys’ adventure like Johnny Quest, than the horror story of Supernatural. John is alive and has built up a vast empire, and he loves his sons, with whom he has a good relationship.

On the other hand, he also smothers them to the point where they are sexually innocent. If anything, alt-Dean seems far more curious and adaptable than alt-Sam, who spends a lot of time protecting his manbun and making snobby remarks while expressing horror at Dean’s porn collection. Buckner and Ross-Leming spend a lot of time mocking the show’s blue collar roots (as they have in the past), while remaining tone deaf to why those roots have kept the show going for so long.

The show didn’t need to get into the metrosexual subtext with that song choice. Aside from the part where it turns alt-Sam and Dean into a couple of gay stereotypes, the “Are they really brothers?” jokes common early in the show got dropped for a reason. The Wincest angle just got too icky, even for the HBO kind of crowd. The writers didn’t need to resurrect that trope in the final season. But they did.

Even so, I wouldn’t mind seeing alt-Sam and Dean (who were pretty resourceful) again before the end. I wouldn’t be surprised if they came back, either, though the show will likely kill them off. Ah, well.

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: “Galaxy Brain” (15.12) 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. As we slide deeper into the Coronavirus outbreak, I will try to catch up a bit more on my backlog of retro recaps, while keeping up with current reviews (which will happen starting after next week, since it’s been announced that 15.13 will be the last episode aired “for a while”). If you’re enjoying these reviews, any contributions are welcome. Even in a pandemic, the kitties still gotta eat.

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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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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 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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