Supernatural Episode Reviews
"The Spear" 14x09
14x09 – Yippie Ki Yay Mother F***ers! An epic mid-season finale to end a strong season so far.
As I sat down to re-watch 14x09 The Spear over Christmas leftovers I took a moment to reflect on the current season of Supernatural, and how much I have enjoyed it. For a show in its 14th season, the writers have really impressed me in how they continue to keep this show fresh and interesting. The one thing you can never say about Supernatural is that it doesn’t know how to adapt to the times. This show has changed over the years along with the Winchester brothers themselves, and as we have watched those boys grow up into strong admirable men, the central theme of family and brotherhood running through its core is more present now than ever.
The Spear is a solid episode, and one that is a homage to the classic Christmas movie Die Hard throughout. Supernatural has parodied several popular movies in recent years, with 12x12’s Reservoir Dogs and 13x06’s Tombstone tributes being some of the most memorable episodes of recent seasons. It is my opinion that The Spear will also join those two episodes in being a fan favourite going forward.
The THEN sequence is extremely long, and covers all the major plot points of season 14 so far, reminding the viewer of everything still fresh and raw for our boys at this point. The stand out points being Dean’s possession and mysterious release by Michael, Michael’s super charged monsters, Jack’s death, Kaia’s spear, Dean’s anger and aggression towards Kaia, Cas’s deal with the Empty, and Jack’s resurrection. We are in for a jam packed episode.
From hearing the first few notes of “Rocking around the Christmas Tree” I knew I was going to enjoy this. The camera slowly pans over Christmas decorations to reveal a bloody handprints and a terrified man running away from a werewolf. One almost kiss under the mistletoe from our monster later and the victim is dead. Ah Supernatural. How I love you.
We finally catch up with Michael since he let Dean go in 14x02 God’s and Monsters and get confirmation that he has excellent taste in vessels. I’ve got to hand it to Felisha Terrell for her performance as a cool and calculated Michael who is one step ahead of the boys throughout this episode. With the stellar performances of both Christian Keyes and Jensen Ackles before her, she made the role her own and I hope that we will see more of her in the future.
Another epic guest star and former fan favourite also returns this episode in the form of DJ Qualls as the lovable werewolf Garth. Is Garth really working for Michael now along with his werewolf kin? I sincerely doubt it regardless of his reasoning of “protecting his family”.
Following the title sequence we find Jack sneaking a midnight snack in possibly my second favourite scene of the episode. I laugh as he proclaims “don’t tell Sam!” to Castiel because we all know that of his three fathers, Sam is the strict dad who doesn’t allow sugary snacks. It’s the more intimate moments such as this scene that I fangirl over, because it reveals the softer side of TFW, the side we don’t get to see as often amongst the blood and violence of the main stories. If Sam is Jack’s strict dad, does this mean Cas is the rebellious dad who joins in with his son’s bad habits? Of course it does. Where does this place Dean on the dad scale I hear you ask? My moneys on “fun” dad since he took him fishing and let him drive the impala just two episodes ago. Poor Sam is the only responsible parent in the house!
Cas acknowledges the Winchester rite of passage in Jack’s resurrection (and kudos to writer Robert Berens for continuing a trend in this show of having characters textually state long running fandom jokes). Congratulations Jack, you are now officially part of the Winchester clan.
We are reminded that there is still a vulnerability in heaven that hasn’t yet been addressed (and no doubt will crop up again before season end) and we are also reminded of Cas’s deal with the Empty – a deal that broke mine and many others hearts last episode. In typical Cas fashion, he justifies his secret in the most heart breaking of ways:
“They don’t need that burden, you don’t need that burden.”
Trust Cas to keep secrets to spare his loved ones pain.
We also get more confirmation that Cas thinks the same way the rest of us do:
“the Empty said that it wouldn’t come for me until I had finally given myself permission to be happy. But with everything we have going on, with Michael still out there, I don’t see that happening any time soon. This life may be a lot of things, but it’s rarely happy.”
Poor Castiel. Though he does have a point. He isn’t exactly known for being a happy character, so I’m sure he’ll be okay… for now. I am itching to find out what will happen in the second half of the season for Castiel and his current predicament.
One final heart warming moment regarding decoder rings that is yet another reminder of how far this amazing character has grown and developed over the course of the show, and this “cookietacular” scene ends.
To no one’s surprise Garth is acting as a double agent for Chief Sam. Michael wants Garth to “make the change” and even with Garth’s reassurance that he’ll be able to resist, Sam isn’t convinced. In a situation similar to that of 14x05’s Nightmare Logic Sam takes his role as leader of the hunters to heart and proclaims that any fall out from Garth’s decision to help will fall on his shoulders. Sam is always so quick to blame himself for any potential disastrous outcomes. As great a leader as he has proven himself to be, he puts too much pressure on himself and needs to learn to accept that others are also responsible for their own choices. With choice being one of several main themes of this season, I expect this will be explored further in the episodes still to come.
Ketch’s video call to the boys proves to be a comedic scene and even though I was at first disappointed at the return of Ketch in season 13, feeling his character had served his purpose in season 12, I can’t deny that David Hayden Jones has excellent chemistry with the main cast and his enjoyment playing the role is obvious in every second of his screen time. Much to the boys annoyance, he has put one of their main weapons against Michael in the post, and it’s Christmas time! So it’s up to Sam and Jack to go break into to the local post office to get it.
Meanwhile back and Hitomi Plaza (a play on Nakatomi Plaza from Die Hard) Garth “makes the change” despite his efforts and overhears Michael’s plans. The monster army will attack Kansas City on Christmas Eve, and Michael has located AU Kaia and intends to steal her spear. When Garth tells the boys what he heard they make their plans and the action gets started.
Dean and Cas make their way to find AU Kaia to bargain with her for the spear. I always enjoy scenes where Dean and Cas work together, as they are often rare to come by nowadays which is a travesty since the two actors have such excellent chemistry together. Cas mentions how happy Dean seems, that he didn’t complain on the drive to the recycling centre even with a broken tape deck, and Dean explains that he is fired up, feeling optimistic after the “no strings attached” win of Jack’s resurrection. Little does Dean know the truth of the matter, but Cas’s reaction is enough to yet again remind us all of the dark shadow looming over him.
Given how this episode has twice now reminded us of Cas’s deal, I see this as a very important plot point for the second half of the season. I am excited to see Sam and Dean’s reactions when they do eventually find out and also to find out exactly what could trigger Cas allowing himself true happiness.
Dean opens up to Cas about his experience with possession, something he was able to briefly talk to Sam about at the end of 13x03 The Scar.
“Michael conned me, kept me trapped and drowning inside my own body, now when you and Sam were possessed by Lucifer I thought I understood, but I didn’t. Not really. So yeah, if we get a chance to trap him, I’ll take that. But I won’t be truly happy until he’s dead, and I kill him.”
I LOVE that Dean is acknowledging that he previously didn’t understand what both Cas and Sam went through at Lucifer’s hands. I love that the show is acknowledging the past traumas of its lead characters, since both Cas and Sam rarely talk about their possession. Having said that, I thought the end of season 13 explored Sam’s Lucifer trauma quite well, with Jared blowing me away with his ability to portray Sam’s fear and anger when facing the devil. Whilst I wish that we could have seen more of Dean’s own struggles over the past few episodes, I do hope that going forward all three of the Winchesters will be able to open up to each other more often about everything they have been through. We often joke in fandom that communication is the biggest villain on the show, but in recent years I’m starting to think that this is exactly what Dabb & Co are trying to convey with their story lines.
Meanwhile at the post office, Jack continues to want to prove himself to his father figures. “I just wanted to stay useful” he says. So much of Jack’s story this season mirrors Castiel’s in season 9, and I love how this time the guys are working together to help Jack build up his own self worth.
When Michael shows up to thwart Jack and Sam’s plans, I’m not surprised. The boys have been uncharacteristically optimistic throughout the episode so far and have underestimated Michael constantly. I’d imagine most of the audience have spent the episode waiting for the other shoe to drop, as this is a Supernatural Mid-Season Finale after all. Whilst Sam suffers another concussion and Jack is kidnapped, Dean and Cas are left in an empty warehouse wondering where Michael’s forces are? Did you boys ever stop to consider that maybe YOU are his forces? Because that was my first thought.
When Kaia sneaks up on Dean much to Castiel’s distress, the following scene is a testament to how far Dean has come even in just a year. Robert Berens also wrote 13x09 The Bad Place as well as 14x03 The Scar and his episodes have a tendency to dig deeply into Dean’s psyche and reveal his inner fears, weaknesses and worst qualities, as a commentary on his growth and development. These episodes highlighted how Dean uses anger and violence to disguise his fear, with AU Kaia specifically calling him out on these traits in 14x03 and comparing him directly to Michael. It seems Dean finally listened to her, because his ability to negotiate and appeal to her through love instead of violence is one that made me glow with pride for him:
“There are people that I care about, my family, and they’re in danger. Michael, the one who tortured me, the one who tortured you. He’s gonna hurt them, and kill them, and then worse, thousands will die. And the only thing that is gonna stop him, is this spear in your hands. So if you’re not gonna give it to me, kill me.”
After a bargain made with a small lie about Jack, and an insightful analysis by Cas that AU Kaia is still hiding something (and therefore Berens has more story to tell about this compelling character), the boys are successful in getting the spear. But not without a threat from Kaia first that she will find and kill them if they don’t bring it back.
Once Sam wakes up from his concussion to let Dean and Cas know that Michael has taken Jack, he is warned by Cas not to go after Jack alone. Since this is Sam Fucking Winchester though, he will of course ignore Cas’s request.
We find Jack up in Michael’s suite in Hitomi Plaza, just as confused as we are as to why Michael has taken him. Michael’s reason being that they are family – but not in the literal sense, as Jack quickly points out that his actual uncle Michael is still in the cage.
With family and found family being such a huge theme on this show, Michael’s claim of family so quickly falls short its practically laughable. Jack sees right through him as do I, and he quickly admits that he is really only interested in Jack’s power once regained. It is a testament to just what a powerful character Jack was that Michael is willing to wait potentially centuries for Jack’s power to return, that he would keep Jack by his side and nurture him whilst powerless only to utilise him once his power is regained. It is also an interesting contrast to Jack’s own struggle to be useful among his found family, who have shown that they have little care for his power, and instead love him wholly as their own son, useful or not.
As I predicted, Sam storms the plaza and takes out the remaining monsters to save Jack all by himself. Sam Fucking Winchester strikes again. When they encounter Garth things start to go wrong and we learn that Michael has complete control over all the monsters that “made the change”. Garth is unable to control himself regardless of Sam’s plea’s, but is eventually incapacitated and thrown in the Impala’s trunk. Poor Garth. Hopefully the boys will be able to find a way to cure you in the next episode!
Finally Team Free Will 2.0 are reunited and in fairly good spirits. Sam theorises that Michael was able to spy on them through Garth, and Dean plays around with the spear in a classic display of comedy acting from Jensen.
The next scene is my favourite from the episode. In a homage to Die Hard to the tune of Ode to Joy, the boys outline their plan and stand as a unified front, optimistic even with impossible odds. In a call back to 12x12 Stuck in the Middle with You they walk in unison. I found it very interesting and different that Dean and Cas were in front rather than Sam and Dean. They walked in pace, dressed in similar colours, symbolising not only their unification, but also how both are in similarly precarious positions right now. Cas has his deal with the Empty looming over him, like a shadow cursing his very happiness, and Dean, who had spoken of his own true happiness earlier this episode, with Michael as his own empty shadow hanging over his head. Both started out in this episode fairly optimistic about their situations, but does this foreshadow both of their downfalls relatively soon?
Unfortunately it appears Michael really is one step ahead of them throughout, and is sitting in wait, completely aware of their plans from the start. Castiel attacks first, as Michael is able to sense his presence, and whilst he puts up a good fight is left bloody for it. Sam and Jack are quickly taken down. Jensen Ackles gets to show off his excellent skills with the spear (quite different from his comedic display from earlier) and I love the moment where Sam passes the spear to Dean in a call back to 13x23 Let the Good Times Roll. Brothers working together during the fight is always a highlight. Once Dean gets hold of the spear again though it all goes wrong. We get glimpses of a dark bar and flashes to Dean’s time under Michael’s possession, and just like that, Dean is gone. All the kudos to Jensen in that moment because the change from Dean to Michael was immediate and obvious. The sudden coldness of his expression gave me chills.
Pulling further similarities to 12x12 Stuck in the Middle With You the spear is snapped in a flash of blue light. This will no doubt leave AU Kaia very unhappy and seeking vengeance.
“When I gave up Dean you didn’t think to question it?” Michael asks as the boys look on in horror.
Yes Michael. I did question it, so did everyone else. We all questioned it and speculated and theorised and wrote essays online about it for WEEKS. (Maybe the three dumbasses in front of you didn’t, but everyone else definitely did!)
“Dean was resisting me. He was too attached to you. To all of you”.
I love the continued use in this show since season 12 of the singular and the plural forms of “you”. In yet another similar moment to 12x12 (and I’m loving how relevant 12x12 is in this episode, I’d really encourage a re-watch of that spectacular episode if anyone is feeling bored over hiatus) the camera cuts to Sam after the first singular “you”, and then cuts to all three of them after the second plural “you”. Because no one can deny that Dean’s attachment to Sam is a huge part of his motivations throughout the series, even if he now has a wider family unit that are also extremely important to him. Love is never a finite source, and Dean has mountains of love to give his family.
“He wouldn’t stop squirming, to get out to get back, so I left. But not without leaving the door open just a crack.”
“To break him, to crush and disappoint him so completely that this time, he’ll be nice and quiet for a change. Buried. And he is. He’s gone.”
I feel like Michael is underestimating Dean here. But I like how this explanation is also very reminiscent of what the Empty is doing with Cas. Allowing happiness and a taste of freedom, only to rip it away from them the moment they gain some hope. Throughout this episode Dean has been the most optimistic of all of our heroes. He was so determined to beat Michael that he completely forgot about his earlier episodes of dizziness and the various clues that Michael was making it too easy for them.
Sam’s face at the end here is horrifying and heart breaking. He is so crushed. They really all did think they had a chance didn’t they?
That final finger snap though. Very Thanos Supernatural. But also very sinister, and a great way to end the episode. I loved it.
Trust Supernatural to end its Christmas finale on a dark and depressing note. Dean once again possessed by Michael, and apparently all of Kansas City overrun with monsters. Though if the promos from the next episode when the season returns are anything to go by, I think we’ll be getting Dean back pretty quickly, as it appears Sam and Cas are going to be diving into Dean’s subconscious to snap him out of his funk. I can’t wait to see what Sam and Cas will find, and what new and interesting revelations about Dean this could give us.
This entire episode was extremely enjoyable from start to finish. With strong acting, brilliant music choices, some compelling dialogue and an overall A+ effort from the whole team. I would rank it among the top episodes of season 14 so far. A strong episode to end a strong first half of the season, and I can’t wait to see what else Dabb & co have up their sleeves for when the show returns in the new year.
(1)The writer reserves judgement on Die Hard’s Christmas Movie status and will leave that up to debate for anyone that feels passionate enough about the topic.