Supernatural Episode Reviews
The Thing -- 13x17
by Axy Dewelle
After the joy and the lightness of ScoobyNatural, The Thing gets right back to business, with what appears to be a terrifying monster of the week episode, and turns out to be a pivotal and major step ahead toward getting Mary and Jack back. A fully-fledged Winchester bros episode, with a strong dose of broken archangels and psychopaths, some on redemption paths, and some…Not quite.
What appears to be a weird cult carrying a very resembling Men Of Letters logo (the aquarian star, with an added eye in its middle) is apparently conducting a sacrifice on a pretty blond, and, strangely enough, seems to be putting together the ingredients from the demon tablet spell : a fruit that looks exactly like those Castiel brought back from Syria, what could very well be the blood of a saint, a grace and a strange purple stone, and as it opens a rift on the ceiling, it confirms what it is. But on the other side, nothing but a pair of menacing tentacles trying to cross over…Clearly NOT what we’re aiming for, there.
In the bunker, Dean is messing around with his brother, who fell asleep on one of those books they’re trying to find informations about the seal of Solomon in. He’s sticking a few notes on his back, mainly invitations to kick him.
When Sam does wake up, he suspects Dean might be up to something, but as he found no (visible) proof that he’s guilty of anything, he makes nothing off it. He tells Dean, however, that he’s a little closer to their aim, as he found informations about the seal and suspects it might be a meteorite, or something like that. And off they go to the archive room to try and find more than they already have about the whereabouts of the seal. All this time, and it probably lasted a while longer since they’re apparently checked every book of the archive room, Sam was unsuspecting of the notes still on his back until he finally crossed path with a mirror and found it. Despite finding it « hilarious », Dean wastes no time being called of for his childishness, as he found more informations about the seal leading them to another chapter house in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Visibly happy he found it, Dean drops a « jinkies » with the sole purpose of annoying his brother.
Sam : You’re gonna stop saying that, eventually, right ?
Dean : I don’t know. Probably not.
At the outpost, they don’t find a regular door, but their master key opens what looks like a manhole that leads them directly to the bunker’s smaller sibling. Same system, same design, the only real difference is the eyed logo. They found another library there, and to Dean’s ill concealed glee, search the new collection. Dean spots a few old pictures, portraits of ladies mainly, and one of a young woman called Sandy Porter, born in 1903, that’s been left aside. Meanwhile, finding something about Solomon, Sam accidentally knocks over a book. They barely have the time to check it out, because they’re startled by a scream. Someone not far off is in need of help, and in a nearby room, the same from the cold opening of the episode, they find a young lady chained to a sacrifice table, the one from the 1925 spell, and none other than the Sandy Porter whose picture Dean found earlier on.
I couldn’t help but notice how the whole first 10 minutes of the episode look like they’ve taken a page, if not a whole chapter, from season 8’s book. The feeling is the exact same as to when we first met the Men Of Letters, Henry, and the bunker. I’m absolutely stunned at the density of this side of the Supernatural mythology, and thrilled about what more we’re going to learn from them. Granted, last season taught us that not all Men Of Letters are equal in their quest for knowledge and their morality is…Questionable at best, sometimes, but the network and archives and knowledges are infinite and I always enjoy knowing more about the history of monsters, rather than just enjoying the current ones. I’m completely floored by how brilliant and smart their integration of the MOL is throughout the whole show from mid-season 8 on. And I’d love to know more about those outposts and chapter houses spread across america. If that includes more of Henry Winchester, then I’d be even happier…
In hell, Ketch has been called by Asmodeus, but he’s kept away from meeting him right now. Arthur’s confidence is already cracking, as he’s sent in a vague waiting area and invited to kill time reading...Comics. Yes, comics, in hell.
Sam and Dean have rescued the poor Sandy (and she’s now wearing a plaid shirt over her pretty 1920’s dress, is there anything that doesn’t get instantly flannel-stamped the second the Winchesters find it ?) and they try to show her that she’s been down there for 90 years. Dean explain to her what a car looks like, trains and planes around them forces her to admit it, and finally, Sam lend her his phone « this is a phone, and a camera and…Anything else » (dear Sam, never ever apply to work at an Apple store. Ever). The poor Sandy is completely lost, forced to adapt herself to life nearly a century later than anything she’s ever known.
In hell, while the demon supposed to guard the door is apparently too busy showing one of his colleagues the video of a kitty wearing a hat in a sunbeam (what’s the deal with cats gifs and videos around here ? Chuck, now the demons…Is that a way to let us know that the show’s endgame is that cats are our overlords ?) Ketch enters inside Asmodeus office, and is pretty stunned to find him stealing some of Gabriel’s grace to inject it as it is in his bloodstream immediately after. Once again, a strong, solid nod to the various types of blood addictions we’ve had to deal with across 13 seasons, mainly Sam and the demon blood, and Crowley with the human blood. This time, it seems to be amping up Asmodeus and increasing his powers. Supposedly, this could be where he learnt and got the strength to shapeshift, since Lucifer, in 1312 / Various & Sundry Villains, told Castiel that he didn’t get that skill off him. I wonder what else it does to him, though, since we’re getting into pretty messed up territories : archangel grace inside a prince of hell. This must be the Supernatural equivalent of genetic alterations. Forced to witness this, Arthur’s cockiness is suddenly kicked down a notch, as Asmodeus escort him back to the waiting room, and shows him his yellow eyes for good measure.
Both Jeffrey, David and Richard are absolutely amazing in that scene, and all through the episode. Jeffrey Vincent Parise is really installing something different with Asmodeus, a type of terror I haven’t felt in a long time from hell’s upper management (and keep in mind that I loved Crowley with my whole heart, but from season 9 on, he stopped being scary to become an ally, however devious he might be at times), he’s unhinged and focus all at once, and the combination of both is unsettling and brilliant. David Haydn Jones is gaining there inches of depth and he’s absolutely amazing at showing Arthur’s vulnerable, scared and confused side. And as for our beloved Richard Speight, words can’t even begin to say how many times my heart broke at his muffled screams and absolute terror. I’m thrilled Gabriel gets such a deep, dark arc, because we hardly ever saw Gabriel as anything else but the trickster, a goofball, a character always joking and hiding his emotions behind a mask of humor, and to see him in such a beautifully written but difficult layer of pain is a thrill. We learnt to appreciate him as a fantastic director over the past few years, but this reminds us that he’s one exceptional actor too.
True to themselves, the boys have brought Sandy to a diner that looks like it’s stuck in the 50’s. Is Supernatural trying to silently nod at our very own Eric Kripke’s Timeless ? We’ll never know. But it’s pretty well managed anyway. If Joanna, the cheeky and confident waitress reminds you of something, it’s because we’ve seen her before in another role : Enid-Raye Adams played that very, very annoying lady at the Colonel Scoops on 922 / Stairway To Heaven, lady « not 9, not 11, 10 blueberries ». While Sandy gets interested in the tiny juke box at their table, and Dean makes it work for her, Joanne comes to take their orders, and apparently, Sam was the butt of every jokes of the episode, since Joanne gets all sassy at the first occasion she gets.
Joanne : Anything to drink ?
Sam : Uh, water will be great.
(Jared’s face at that very time was the incarnation of “sarcasm” if it were a facial expression)
In the kitchen, Marco, the cook, is wearing a pretty prominent tattoo from the derived logo of the Men Of Letters with the eye, and calls his sister, Ophelia, telling her they have a problem. Ophelia answers from the very room Sandy was locked in a few hours ago.
While the boys are trying to make sense of what happened to Sandy, she is surprised that they aren’t shocked at her extraordinary longevity, and Dean explains to her that weird things are kind of their thing.
Sandy explains to them that she’s met a man that appeared to be a from the Men Of Letters, and that they chained her and did the spell, with added chantings and it opened a rift on the ceiling. She then reveals she was supposed to be fed to a monster, and, overwhelmed, she needs to take some time for herself alone. In the kitchen, Marco is spiking the boys and Sandy’s food with something from a little blue bottle.
Back in hell, Arthur is finally allowed to meet Asmodeus, and things are turning sour for the former British Man Of Letters. Asmodeus informs him that the Winchesters are crafting a spell to go to another, even more messed up universe, and when Ketch tells him that he knows that and he tracked Cas to the Holy Land (Syria, in this case), Asmodeus loses his patience and reminds him that he must give him all of those informations and not keep anything from him, however insignificant it may appear. Arthur doesn’t even try to defend himself, stuck in an abusive work relationship with someone you don’t refuse anything to. Asmodeus then told Arthur that the Winchester’s are relatively advanced in their ingredient gathering mission, as he was told by Donatello himself, and while Arthur tries his best to take his distance with Asmodeus and cease their work together, Asmodeus refuses and beat the living hell out of Arthur.
All the way through this extremely violent scene, Gabriel stood witness, as silent as a man with his mouth sewn shut can be, barely muffling a scream of terror when using a grace for the spell was underlined.
At the diner, the boys are slowly putting together the pieces of the strange puzzle they, once again, are right in the middle of. They thought the Men Of Letters were boring and quiet, but as it turns out, they’re capable of kidnapping, sacrifices, murder and opening portals to other worlds. Not so boring after all. They’re trying to make sense out of who kept Sandy locked for so long, since the Men Of Letters as they know them have all been dead for more than sixty years. When Sam suggests that Dean stays with Sandy and that he goes back alone to the outpost to try and get to know more about it, Dean simply refuses to let him go on his own and suggests they check Sandy in a motel and go there together. This is a very, very important scene in regard to what happens at the end of the episode, since it’s underlining, once again, who’s the big brother and who’s the little brother, and in this very case, who’s in charge, and who follows.
Meanwhile, my favorite waitress ever gets the boys and Sandy their food, with a strong dose of sass, and even calls Sam « string bean » (well, it’s pretty fitting) while Dean comments his brother’s food choices (peak Winchester, eh ?).
Dean : Kale’s a garnish.
Sam : It’s healthy. I’m watching my cholesterol, like you should be.
While a bunch of creeps in red capes, just like the one from 1925, are gathering around the diner, Sam starts eating and doesn’t need long to start feeling the effects of whatever Marco dropped in their food. Soon enough, he falls asleep on the table, while the red capes are invading the diner and Dean tries his best to protect Sandy, as he recognized the logo they’re wearing. While Dean ends up fiercely fighting one in the kitchen, and Sandy kills him before he tried to kill Dean, Sam’s abducted by the capes. After the attack, they are left isolated as none of the cells networks work anymore, neither does the landlines, and the dead guy on the floor turns out to be…The police. Meanwhile, Dean is making artisanal bombs in the kitchen (a very, very strong nod to 209 / Croatoan, when they’re stuck in the clinic with the virus around and Sam teaches his brother how to mix the right chemicals to make bombs from common pharmacy ingredients) and explains to Sandy that he’s not going to stay idle.
Okay NOW WE ARE TALKING. It’s been a while since we didn’t had that pure, 100% Winchester essence so fully and clearly expressed, and it was a nice punch in the gut. With light and fun episodes such as last week’s, you tend to forget that we’re in Supernatural and that getting a dose of brother angst is mandatory. This episode fixes it for a while, and the best (or worst, depends on your relationship with the show) is yet to come.
Instead of being in danger (I mean, it’s Sam, it would be pretty normal), Sam ends up with Marco and Ophelia, who are great grandchildren of Diego Avila, a Man Of Letters gone rogue. After coming back psychologically wounded from World War One, he decided that there was too much suffering and violence on earth and summoned a god to fix it and bring paradise on earth. But as they summoned Yokoth, and Sandy became the host, things took a turn for the worst, and the god ate Diego and most of the others, and tried to keep the rift opened to bring down his partner, Glythur. The Men Of Letters disavowed the ritual, banned the survivors, and closed the bunker tight, until Sam and Dean accidentally opened it up. Both Marco and Ophelia were guardians of the outpost, and Sam finally understands that Sandy IS the monster.
Bringing paradise on earth...Doesn’t that ring a bell ? It’s what Jack is supposed to do, and what he told his mom and Cas he was going to do when he was still an unborn Nephilim. This could mean nothing...Or this could be foreshadowing bad, bad things.
In hell, while Ketch is unable to move, barely still alive after that terrible beating, Asmodeus injects himself another dose of archangel grace, as it is shown he has a few cartridges in advance without needing to pump it from Gabe right away. And while Arthur’s fear and terror is pouring out of his every pores, Asmodeus gives him a few things to think over.
Asmodeus : You think you’re so high and mighty, better than the rest of us. But you, Mister Ketch, you are more wicked than any demon I know. I know them all.
Arthur : At least I still have a soul.
Asmodeus : What you think that buys you, uh ? Souls are messy, all conflict and confusion.
Ketch : Well, I know who I am.
Asmodeus : Do you ? Because you say you have this code, this men of letters code, handed down for centuries. But wait. Wait a minute. You work for me. You act like you’re this cold blooded killer. But you know what I see when I look in your eyes ? Fear. and regret. and pain. I see your chewy middle, boy. You want redemption, but you ain’t never gonna get it.
I have to admit, I had doubts about Asmodeus. From the moment we got introduced to him in 1302 / The Rising Son, I had this complex relationship to him. I really wanted to like him and to appreciate him, and to love to hate this new villain, but for a long, long time, I found him spineless, confused, unfocused, not really interesting. I was probably still grieving from Crowley’s loss, and Fergus was my king, so, I might have been a little tough with Asmodeus. There, he won me over as a villain. The speech was incredibly written, and epically delivered by Jeffrey who’s such an amazing actor. It unlocked something inside of me, and allowed me to fully appreciate and understand the character. Now I want more, and now I’m game for more. As for David…I’m so happy we’re headed towards redemption territories, regardless to whether it’s going to work or not, and whether he can be redeemed or he’s too lost a cause to even try, because it gives him a far bigger and much more complex material to play with, and he is so good at reaching those amazing depth and those purely dramatic layers, from fear, to disgust at his own self, to a form of broken hope. I wasn’t Ketch’s biggest fan last season, and he’s turning into one of my all time favorite secondary, non-Winchester inner circle of trust, character. He is amazing, and I’m really hoping we’ll get more of Ketch next season (even though I sort of dread we won’t), and more of David too, because if you’re not following him on twitter…You really are missing on something !
At the diner, they decide to send Buck, the lovely young man who was collateral damage to all this mess, to see whether the gang of red riding hoods were still there or if they were gone. In the end, he found Sandy, and got tentacle’d to death, and slurped like a milk shake. Okay, that was gross. Tentacles are gross, and slurping people dry is even more gross. Thank you Supernatural for your top-notch monster-grossness skills.
In the forest, with Ophelia and Marco, Sam finally gets the whole story and understood that Sandy, not only is the monster, but also that she has two primal needs : feeding and breeding. They kept her starving for almost a century, and if she starts eating, she’s going to become far greater a danger. Naturally, Sam asks why they didn’t kill her…And the answer was pretty obvious : she can’t die. Keeping her locked up was their only solution.
Meanwhile, back at the diner, Dean tries to see what happened to Buck, and got tentacle’d too.
In hell, a very broken down Ketch pulls one of his own teeth on his own, under the curious glare of Gabriel. As Arthur tells him about what he’d do with his power, a stronger will to fight takes control of him, and he decides to free Gabriel. Gabriel doesn’t want to follow him but is forced to, terrified and traumatized by weeks, maybe even months of abuse and torture. Before they left, Arthur also stole the archangel blade which he used to stab kitty demon in the hallway.
At the diner, Sam got nearly knocked down by Joanne and a frying pan (am I the only one to see a Tangled easter egg there ?) as she told him she thought he was dead.
Am I going to point at how messed up the Winchesters relation with death and dying is, in general ? No, because it’s in the very fabric of the show. Death is a relative term in Supernatural.
They look for Dean, and since they can’t find him, Ophelia and Marco are coming to the conclusion that if she didn’t eat him, then she’s going to breed with him. May all of those who had to giggle at this raise their hands. I sure did.
At the chapter house, Dean’s been chained to the table, as Sandy / Yokoth is preparing the spell, once again the exact same one as the one from the Demon Tablet (fruit of the Tree Of Life, blood of a most holy man, grace of an archangel, seal of Solomon). Not totally aware of what’s awaiting him, Dean’s basically being Dean and doesn’t take Sandy seriously for a second, even mocking the story of how Glythur is still locked on the other side, in a universe the both of them almost entirely drained.
However, when he understands that Sandy is going to make him Glythur’s host, and opens the rift to the giant squid-like creature, Dean suddenly understands how precarious his current position is, while Sam, Ophelia and Marco come to the rescue at the last minute. Dean frees himself and threw the seal of Solomon to Ophelia who send both Glythur and Yokoth back to where they came from. Sam and Dean finally get the seal, as they explain to Ophelia and Marco that they need it to get their family home. They explained to them how it works : they need something that’s been there to open the right portal to the right world, and the portal only stays opened for 24 hours.
This element is a major relief for me. I assumed that the Demon Tablet spell was the same as the Angel Tablet one, meaning the dodgy thing Kevin attempted to do for Michael in 1307 / War Of The Worlds when Lucifer only crossed over before the rift closed itself up. I was dreading a Jack OR Mary choice, and I’m relieved they now have a far more stable system to cross over and back home. I’m pretty sure some things are going to get epically wrong nonetheless (because, well, it’s Supernatural and since when have things ever got in the right direction right away in this show ?)…But at least, not that way.
The boys are back at the bunker, in a relatively light mood now that they have the third ingredient. As they are considering how to get the archangel grace, Ketch come out of the shadows of the library, and tells them he comes in peace and has a gift. To the boys great surprise, they both understand that Gabriel is alive and has been Asmodeus prisoner.
Really, Sam ? You’re still surprised at how un-permanent death is ? Get over it, Love, really, for your own good.
Gabriel seems to find a relief ever so small at knowing he’s now in friendly territory, but remains terribly tensed when they say they need the archangel grace to finish the spell. Ketch calms Gabriel down by showing the boys he stole one of Asmodeus cartridges, and he also gives the boys the archangel blade. At that very moment, my heart raced a whole lot faster than it should, because it means that for the very, very first time in his entire life, Sam, and to some extent, Dean too, now have the capacity to kill Lucifer. I can’t even begin to imagine how powerful it might be for Sam’s mental health to only know that they possess the way to end him. I hope Castiel is going to be able to give us a history lesson of the blade, because the object is purely fascinating and I’d love to get a full backstory of how and why and when it was created. Maybe it’s even something Chuck built himself, therefore validating the theory that wants him to be well aware of his son’s dangerous tempers and that they might need to be stopped the hard way.
And here comes the hard, angsty, painful part of the episode. As Arthur is hoping to exchange all those gifts for the brother’s and the bunker’s protection, Sam spontaneously refuses, while Dean accepts right away. There’s no argument and Sam doesn’t really try either, Dean simply highlights that if it’s what get their mom and Jack back, then he’s in. Dean is following the exact same logic as Castiel’s : whatever it takes, whatever Ketch wants. Then, as Dean rushes to use the spell immediately while Sam takes care of Gabriel and gently cuts the stitches that kept the archangel’s mouth shut, Sam doesn’t even try to argue either, and finally, Dean decides he’s going alone with Ketch.
First, I don’t think Dean is selfish in any way whatsoever in taking such a drastic decision. At all. Despite a « this is the way it’s gonna be » that very well echoes the end of season 9 and Dean’s self proclaimed dictatorship, this time, it’s a reasonable, thought out, perfectly healthy decision. That’s probably why Sam doesn’t even try to discuss it with him (although I’m not too sure it is the only reason, since the balance in the brother’s decision scale and process have been knocked over all the way through this episode, as Dean’s big brother and over-protective stance took over, once again, and severed Sam’s free will entirely, something that didn’t happen in quite some time) because, for once, it’s not a decision that is rushed by something that can impair either or both judgements. When Dean says that they need someone to open the rift back again if he gets lost and that Sam only can do it, it makes perfect sense.
Also, there’s the history of the show that needs to be considered in there too. They’re headed for some pretty dark and dangerous and unstable stuff, and lately, Sam’s not been at his best. He let Rowena take the page of the grimoire without consulting his brother about it, she used him to get her way, and he’s been pretty down about both Mary and Jack being gone, and as far as forgiveness goes, when Sam’s not mentally stable, that’s when he’s the most prone to make wrong decisions, some of which are still unresolved to this day (Lucifer’s release, mainly). Now that Dean has Cas back, he’s able to navigate those emotions far better than Sam is. He processed his mother’s suspected loss better than Sam did in the first place. So, as far as trying to make the most out of it, leaving Sam behind him frees Dean of a form of concern and worries that could impair his judgement in the long run. That way, he’s also 100% certain nobody is going to use Sam against him one way or another. As far as understandable decisions goes, this one is extremely clear and focused.
There’s also the possibility that Dean’s not comfortable around a completely messed up Gabriel. He’s never been quite as good as Sam to take care of people, and he’s growing too impatient and restless to do so. Not that Dean is not capable of caring the way Sam will, but I suspect it might just scare him, because forcing him to be far more gentle and patient would force him to slow down, and Dean can’t slow down when there’s still people to save, and in this very case, their mom and Jack. Slowing down would also mean being emotionally open and vulnerable, and clearly, it’s still not his forte, even if he’s improving with the years.
I’m not surprised or angry at all that he didn’t warn Cas either, and for a very, very obvious reason. If he warned him or called him to let him know he’d do that, I doubt that Cas would have let him go on his own with Ketch. And the last time they went to the alternate universe together, Cas died, and it still is relatively fresh in Dean’s mind. So, all in all, it’s nothing but peak Dean : he’s protecting his closest kin, and he does it even more smartly than he used to, because now he knows exactly how to have them to respect his decision and follow his lead. And even if Sam hates to stay behind on his own, he knows there’s no other viable option, and that as strong as they can be as a team, it’s time they start looking at things from a different angle, and that angle might mean that they’re not together. Character wise, and story wise, it’s pretty daring and bold, because they are breaking the show’s biggest code (the Winchesters are better together) to highlight Dean’s emotional maturity. That’s pretty courageous.
One thing slightly bothered me though : since the boys both went to the Apocalyptic World AND the Bad Place, how does the spell knows which one to pick ? Since the Bad Place was opened to and from Kaia, it’s possible she’s the only access to it. But we had no real confirmation to it, so it’s sort of up to debate.
And off they went, Dean and Ketch leaving for the alternate universe, and Sam staying behind with a completely messed up archangel to fix, Cas to handle because he’s going to be pissed when he’s going to come back home, and a couple of other threats lying around.
There are a few...scratch that, A LOT of questions up in the air by the end of the episode, some of which are really worrying. The first one being : can we trust Ketch ? Can he truly be on the Winchesters side ? Or is he still working for Asmodeus and this is all a very elaborate trap ? Don’t forget that Asmodeus is a shapeshifter, too, so is it even Ketch in the first place ? What are they going to find in the alternate universe ? Will they make it back on time ? What other horrors are still left to find down there ? Will they find Mary, or Jack, or even Bobby back again ? Will Michael stop them ? Will someone else find the rift and use it to vomit a whole army in our world (and in the bunker’s library, smart move, guys, smart move) ? Can Gabriel be saved and how ? What happened to him in the first place ? How long has he been in jail ? What else did Asmodeus do to him ? Can Cas help (since we’ve established last week he’s still capable of healing people when he fixed Shaggy’s arm) him ? Will Cas punch Dean in the face for leaving like that when he’s going to be back ? Will Ketch stay in the alternate universe on his own ? Can he become a power for good and help Bobby ? Will Mary destroy him back again when she’s going to see him ? Can Ketch really walk away from a pure power source such as Jack ? How will the archangel blade be used ? Can it be Lucifer’s demise ? Or Michael’s ? Or (and I hate to even think about it) Gabriel’s ? We’ve established a long time ago that a good episode is one that answers some of our questions while opening the door for more. Well done, The Thing ! Spot-on.
This episode had such a different tone it left me breathless and incapable to wait for the next one. And that’s when Supernatural is at its best level, when you get emotionally squeezed until the last drop, and still beg for more. There, it had the courage to attempt redeeming characters we loved to hate, it outlined the newest villains in a different light and made them scarier, and it broke a sacred rule, to a result that is both amazing and engaging. But…Remember we’re still six episodes away from the season finale. At this point, anything and everything can happen, and I can bet that we are miles and miles away from even suspecting what is going to happen. Us Supernatural fans are living on the permanent gap between over-excited…And terrified. Bring it on, season 13 ! You’re on your way to become my all-time favorite one.
Scene of the week : how could it be anything else than the last scene ? My poor heart.
Performer of the week : it’s a tie between David Haydn Jones and Richard Speight. Richard is incredible at playing a broken Gabriel and it’s heartbreaking, and David is so good at adding layers to Ketch, and making us feel like we never really knew him in the first place.
Laugh of the week : Sam keeping notes sticked on his back for actual hours without even suspecting it. It’s like he never learns (to our greatest joy, 13 years later)
ScoobyNatural -- 13x16
by Axy Dewelle
Try to think of any other show that can do what Supernatural does.
Find the one insane idea no one would believe in, and turn it into some of the best episodes we’ve ever seen.
What other show can set up an episode from the point of view of our beloved Impala ? Who can proudly say they’ve been kicking and knocking the fourth wall before deciding to finally grenade it, Dean Winchester style ? What other show would play with and include its own fandom and make sure that every time, it is an homage and a nod to our importance ? The answer is easy : none. None other show has the courage to accept those ideas and to throw in it every single effort, both creatively and humanly, to make sure that every chances are given to those insane episodes, and every time, we’re in for 40 minutes of the best television scenes we’d get that week, month, possibly year. Crossing over with what could be one of the most famous and iconic cartoon in the history of television ? Why not ? The stakes were high, and the risks numerous, and it forced our lead actors and writing crew to step out of their comfort zone…But the result is oh so good.
Actually, scratch that. The result is perfect.
Dinosaurs/big lizards/creatures out of Jurassic World and/or Godzilla are a big theme this season. After the monster from the Bad Place in the mid-season premiere, Sam and Dean are now fighting a… Giant lizard plushie. Barney’s green cousin. The tone of the episode is set already : we’re going to laugh, and we’re going to laugh A LOT for the next 40 minutes. As Dean gets pushed aside by the rabid, purple eyed toy, Sam jumps on him and tries to hit it on the face, while Dean splashes it with holy oil and sets the thing on fire. It then explodes, leaving thousands of small piece of burnt fabric all over the pawn store they had the big, unfriendly toy cornered in. A very stunned yet grateful shop owner erupts from behind the counter, as Sam apologizes for the mess, leading to the first memorable quote of the episode « you boys just took down an evil plushie that was trying to kill me. We’re all good ! ».
Enters Jay, the real estate developers owning every store around this one, who, understandably, needs a bit of an explation about what just happened. Sam’s answer is both creative and solidly grounded in reality : it was a defective product. « Sometimes the batteries in these giant stuffed dinosaurs just explode ». Sure, Sam. Sure. Owners of giant stuffed dinosaurs aren’t going to sleep so well from now on.
Sam and Dean both agree on the fact that when they arrived here, they expected the «lizard monster» reported not to be a hunt ending with killing Barney. They both thought that it was pretty satisfying, all in all. Who would have thought that the cuddly, squishy, friendly plush T-rex was on the Winchester’s personal (and ever growing) hit list?
As Alan, the store owner, ask them whether they want to take anything from his shop as a retribution for saving their lives, and while Sam politely decline, Dean decides to go with a television he set his eyes on earlier on, and off they went with the massive flat screen. As it turns out, Dean is building a Dean cave, or, very aptly named, a « Fortress of Deanitude », with bar, juke box, and the newly found television. Sam can’t quite believe it…And can’t believe he found the time to build this, but then Dean corrects him : « when it’s important, you make time, Sammy ».
As innocuous as it may seem, this is extremely revelatory of Dean’s mindset, and how important the bunker is for him. He was the first one out to settle, to decorate his room, to call it a home, and that he chose to create a space entirely dedicated to non-hunt, non-monsters, non-pain, non-apocalypse activities is a pretty comforting sign that his recently declined mental health is on the road to recovery. He’s not only according himself some time to do fun things, but he’s also prioritizing it over anything else, and he’s choosing to devote one part of the bunker to it. He belongs there, and he’s enjoying the home feeling of it all more than he actually admits. As frivolous as it may seem, it’s a very happy sign. Dean is blooming within his own environment. He’s not looking for something, he’s enjoying what he has and makes the most out of it. As far as healthy homes goes, this is it.
Quick nod to the musical direction of the episode : as Dean turns the TV on, as excited by his new toy as a kid on Christmas morning, the music used is the iconic Thus Spoke Zarathustra piece from 2001 : A Space Odyssey, as hummed by Dean. They didn’t expected the television to produce a weird on-screen black smoke and a few purple sparks…And to swallow them both, turning them into cartoons.
First : how good are cartoon Sam and cartoon Dean ? They captured in the best possible way most of the boy’s expressions, from Sam’s forehead wrinkle when he gets surprised, to Dean’s snark and frown. I was genuinely concerned that seeing cartoon versions of the boys with their voices would confuse me, but it didn’t. Because we have a little bit of time to settle down with the both of them away from the gang, there’s no need to adapt ourselves. And thank Chuck for that, because it’s going to get quite fast from that moment on.
As they both understand they’re now two dimensional, Sam suggests they’re in a dream, ending up with a pretty harsh slap in the face leaving a big, cartoonish mark that takes him to shake his head to make it go away. This is a very smart little thing, as it give us a classic cartoon trope almost right away. And plenty of those are going to be used, revisited, and even embellished. We know we’re in for a solid half hour of fun.
At first, they both question whether they’ve been sucked into the TV by an angel thing, and even question the Trickster’s responsibility. As Sam notices that he’s dead, Dean concludes in a genius « Or is he ? ». The nod to the fans, and to the informations we have ahead of them is extremely fun and insanely good. It put an everlasting smile on my face.
They both notice that Baby’s been cartoonized too, and, true to himself, Sam tries to understand how she followed them.
This gave us another iconic dialogue of this episode (one of dozens…They really outdid themselves on this one )
Dean : Look, are we animated ? Yes. Is it weird ? Yes.
Sam : It’s beyond weird.
Dean : Well, and beyond weird is kind of our thing. So whatever happening, we’ll figure it out. This is a case, so, let’s work it.
Sam : How ?
Dean : Same as always. We drive.
As they park in front of a malt shop, the truth of their newly found drawn identities takes a sudden turn : next to them is parked the Mystery Machine, leading to the natural conclusion that they’re not in any cartoon…
The Supernatural title card has, indeed, been Scooby-Dooed, too.
The malt shop scene is one of my favorites of the whole episode, because it sets the tone, as it give us a very heartbreaking insight at Dean’s childhood. He has a beautiful freak out moment when they get inside and the Scooby gang is here, the five of them. Daphne, Velma, Fred and Shaggy are dancing, while Scooby is swiftly slurping milk shakes after milk shakes at a nearby table. Sam’s not really sharing his brother’s enthusiasm, despaired at the idea of being stuck in a cartoon « with a talking dog ». Dean’s inner child corrects him right away « not just ANY talking dog. THE talking dog. The greatest talking dog in history ». His attention quickly shifts from his love of the great dane to Daphne, hence revealing a childhood crush on the pretty redhead…To his brother barely concealed annoyance.
Dean : Oh man, this is like a dream come true.
Sam : Your dream is to hang out with the Scooby gang ?
Dean : Just think about it. We do the same thing. We go to spooky places, we solve mysteries, we fight ghosts.
Sam : Except our ghosts don’t wear masks and we don’t have a talking dog.
Dean : I don’t know. Cas is kind of like a talking dog.
Writing-wise, this segment of the malt shop scene is extremely important and very, very well introduced. ScoobyNatural is an upbeat, fun, lighter episode in the middle of a pretty scary and menacing season, and there was a very explicit wish not to dwell into the Winchester’s current issues and angst. However, since it remains an episode of Supernatural and continuity is an art well crafted by our writers, there was no way the boy’s childhood, and specifically Dean’s wouldn’t be front and center, one way or another. And Dean’s childhood, beside being his brother’s guardian and his father’s assistant, has been mostly overlooked. When their kids versions were shown, it was mostly in regard to his brother, and never really about Dean for Dean.
Throughout the show, Dean’s upbringing has been shown under one specific light: from the moment Mary died in Sam’s nursery when he was 4, he became Sam’s protector. His entire life would be rotating around that axis, and he quickly took responsibility for his father’s shortcomings, protecting his brother as much as he could until the very last moment, and until nothing was humanly doable to prevent Sam from eventually learning the truth of their father’s work, and of their mother’s death. Dean never had any chance, or any time either, to figure out who he was wanting to become, and even if he did, John’s grip on his eldest was far too strong for him to even consider escaping it.
In short : Dean was a child for the first four years of his life. The minute he had to escape a burning home carrying his six-months old brother in his arms, he stopped being an infant, and became a very painful hybrid of whatever was left off his childhood, and the heavy responsibilities thrown over his fragile shoulders. He ceased to have a home, he ceased to have a mother, he ceased to have a life, things Sam was too young to even know. You can’t miss something you never had, while Dean was old enough to feel the grief and to ache for all those things he lost instantly. It’s safe to assume that Scooby Doo was already a part of Dean’s childhood prior to the tragedy that will smash his life in order to protect his brother’s. It’s Dean’s guideline to a part of his existence that solely exists through the eyes of the Scooby gang, and theirs only.
The only way to truly understand what this cartoon was for Dean is to put ourselves in his shoes. The Winchesters, post-1983 are either always on the road, or in sordid motel rooms, on their own. Dean has to look after his brother, while understanding progressively that something is unusual with their family, beside the fact that his mother is dead. He’s not able to bond with anyone at school, providing he even attend the same one regularly, and no one, beside Bobby, gives him an inch of interest for who he is, on his own, regardless to his function in the world. He’s never had the chance to express himself for who he truly was. Dean could have been a brilliant researcher, or a heroic doctor, or a fantastic teacher, but his perspectives in terms of future and what he could do were limited to things John taught him about : rock music, fixing cars, and eventually, demon hunting. That’s what he says to Robin in 907 / Bad Boys when they are both talking about escaping the family business at Sonny’s, before John comes back and Dean decides to follow him for Sam. His vision of his future is entirely conditioned by what John taught him, and by the life they leaded. Dean’s world shrunk to echoes John’s and John’s only, and he even rejected anything that wouldn’t fit it, hence the issues he had with Sam’s freedom and will to escape his suffocative tribe. There isn’t someone who’s right, and someone who’s wrong in this : there are two kids who did their best to find their own path in a chaotic family, within a chaotic world. But Scooby Doo, in more ways than one, was Dean’s very own Sully (Sam’s imaginary friend, from 1108 / Just My Imagination).
Scooby Doo represents Dean’s home. Not a physical place, but a safe zone, somewhere reliable and fixed, wherever they went. He could turn any television on, in any motel of any state of the country, he would find his best friends, those four teens and their cool talking dog, always there to support him, and always there to cheer him up, and to keep his mind from being devoured by the realness of his own monsters, whether they were real monsters, those he now hunts with Sam, or his inner demons, and his growing complex of inferiority because he’s unable to keep his brother safe, and to protect his innocence.
Dean’s biggest failure, in his mind at least, is the moment he had to give in and tell his brother the truth about their lives. No matter what would later happen, it is the one thing Dean can’t forgive himself for, and it’s expressing itself extremely heavily throughout the whole episode. Later on, when he’s so keen at protecting the gang innocence at all cost, even if they have to lie, then undo their confession that monsters are real, he’s just trying to keep that one thing alive and safe, and that one illusion that not everything is lost and that he can preserve those people he grew up with and that were there during his whole life, even in the most recent of days (1211 / Regarding Dean, when Sam left him in from of the television, an episode of Scooby Doo was on and Dean was happy to watch it, and 1302 / The Rising Son, when they arrive at the motel because he was hallucinating sheep on the road and Jack turns the TV on, they’re both connecting for a short minute through a common love for the famous talking dog). He’s preventing Sam, time and time again, to even say the word cartoon in their presence, and to let them know that monsters are real, a rule that escapes Sam’s understanding since the first thing he does when he’s alone with Velma later on is to tell her that monsters are real. He’s even the one to insist on them knowing the truth when Shaggy gets hurt by a real ghost. That instinct to protect them at all costs is something of significant importance to Dean, because it means that a weak but persisting flame of innocence still lives in him as long as it lives in them.
Of all the millions and millions of children who were fans of Scooby Doo and remained fans in their adulthood, no one can understand the show better than Dean does. No other kid will ever know the real fright of chasing monsters, and no other kid will understand better than he does how relieving it was for all of them to end up with psychos in masks, but nothing that ever crossed the supernatural realms. Every time little, and then, progressively, not so little Dean was facing the ugly, bloody, painful truth of what their monsters were doing to this world, and every time he was on his own, facing the moral dilemmas that hunting those monsters would eventually create, and the subsequent effects, on various scales, from the private ones to the global one, he would find a reliable source of comfort in the show. Every time something went wrong, Dean had the immediate possibility to find the permanently renewed relief that the gang’s hunt were always ending the same way, in a laugh, a shrug at their unfortunate, and good times together. It’s not even a stretch to assume that Dean’s relative obsession with food has a lot to do with a mimicking of Scooby and Shaggy, and is associated in Dean’s brain to a « home » feeling (it’s only partially explainable with this, because all in all, Dean spent his early life depriving his own self to feed his brother, so there’s a sense of hardship that’s he’s trying to fight off, and the term «comfort» takes all of its sense there : he’s trying to erase childhood trauma).
There was a hope in watching those kids surviving every single hunt unharmed, a hope he knew was out of access for him, and eventually, his brother. Protecting them all the way through the episode means that he’s still capable to salvage some of his loved ones, regardless to the fact that they’re fictional. He also has the absolute, untainted guarantee that those five aren’t either going to leave, or to die, or to suffer in any way, beside a good fright every now and then. Cartoons are inherently immortal (those kid oriented, because some, and most of the mangas, are as twisted and dark as Supernatural itself can be), and therefore, Dean didn’t risk them going away, dying or disappearing. They are the only fixed, happy point in his life.
There’s an amazing nod at the Supernatural fandom, there, too. It’s taking us through one of Dean’s passions, and it’s showing how being a fan is making a lot of sense, and how it influenced his growth and the way he sees the world in extremely positive ways. Scooby Doo and the gang were his friends, his baby sitters, his counsellors, his moral advisors, his parents, probably, at times. He learnt more about life through the friendship between those five than he ever did on his own, and Supernatural is telling us that we’re right to seek the same type of guidance, as fans. It’s mirroring our experience to Dean’s, Sam’s, and eventually, even Cas’s, who’s falling for the gang and cares about them quickly. Once again, being a fan is shown as a superpower, and I couldn’t love this show more than I do now, feeling validated and understood in a way I’ve never been.
At the malt shop, as they’re introducing themselves to the gang, and Dean’s crush on Daphne is hard to ignore, they’re trying to blend in, a task easier for Dean than it is for Sam, who get told off by his brother when he’s trying to get them out of the cartoon rather than following the gang. In the end, they’re reaching for a 508 / Changing Channels conclusion : they need to play their part, and the gang is about to get a mystery. Therefore they team up with Daphne, Fred, Velma, Shaggy and Scooby, and learn that the talking dog has been named heir to a southern colonel he saved from drowning in a fishing pond a while ago. There goes the mystery, and therefore, they’re going to hit the road, but not before an overdue scene of pure glee when Shaggy, Scooby and Dean all went overboard with road food (this is another direct echo to Changing Channels and the « you’re going to need a bigger mouth » scene in the sitcom).
Back in the car, Dean is annoyed by Fred, and has been since the beginning of the episode. As Sam queries why, Dean points at his «perfect hair, can-do attitude and that stupid ascot» while Fred accept Dean’s racing bet with Baby. In the end, confused by a dense smoke left by the Mystery Machine, Dean is outraced and blames it on Fred.
Behind them, a man wearing a trench coat is trying to follow their traces (at this point, about 99,97% of the fandom knew who that was).
The house they have an appointment at to know what precisely is Scooby’s inheritance is the most cartoonish haunted house possible, a trope that is regularly used in every single spooky cartoon. Scooby has been named, among four other people, by the colonel Sanders (it is not another KFC derivation of the writing team, but the original name of the character in the original cartoon, A Night Of Fright Is No Delight, Colonel Beauregard Sanders) to inherit one fifth of a million dollars if they spend a whole night at the mansion, that’s, as expected, haunted. Dean identified the episode, as Sam, still not very entirely aware of where he is now, questions the legality behind such premises. That’s when he has his first run-in with a very sarcastic Velma who’s seriously questioning whether her new broad shouldered friend is afraid of staying in the house that can be haunted since monsters doesn’t exist anyway. As Sam almost gives away that they’re in a cartoon, Dean’s overprotective stance shortcut it and begs him not to tell them.
Dean : We’re not gonna tell them about anything. Not where we’re from, not, about monsters, nothing. Capiche ? They are pure and innocent and good and we’re gonna keep it that way.
Sam suggests to skip right to the end, but Dean prefers « the journey, not the destination ». Sam’s not exactly surprised at the subtext : he wants more time to try to seduce Daphne. As Dean informs his brother that the lawyer, Cosgood Creeps, is the bad guy when he erupts in some typically evil laugh, Sam sarcastically replies « you don’t say ».
Ten o’clock. Calling it a night. I chuckled at the slightly surreal early curfew, as the boys never had any curfew whatsoever with their father always gone. Once again, the lost childhood theme is infused in every scene and every image. Dean tries to convince Daphne to end up in the same room as him, but her innocence (not so keen on protecting THAT innocence, aren’t we, Dean ?) takes it over as she calls Dean « silly » for implying that boys and girls can sleep together. Instead, he ends up with Fred and the rest of the boys, to yet another snarky shrug…And a light mocking smile on Sam’s face.
Here comes my first « I so wish I’d seen the live action of that scene » : Dean’s sleeping robe.
Two things about that scene : what’s up with Dean and sleeping outfits (remember the gown he’s always wearing in the bunker ?) and isn’t Dean supposedly allergic to hugs ? The mystery gets bigger.
In the girl’s room, Velma and Daphne are talking about the newcomers, and Velma is vaguely repressing the beginning of an infatuation for Sam, while, on the other aisle of the mansion, the cousin Simple is getting killed. Everyone seems to be asleep, while Dean is still awake eating yet another sandwich, as Sam, beyond annoyed at this point (and in a terribly…Yellow pajama) gets told that there’s no point in sleeping now, since at this moment of the episode, they’re going to realize that the cousin has gone missing. A frightful scream later, and a « told ya » from Dean, everyone’s running to the cousin’s room, but instead of a dummy, there’s the real bloody corpse of the now dead cousin Simple, stabbed to death.
Velma : Jinkies !
Daphne : Jeepers !
Shaggy : Zoinks !
Scooby : Ruh-roh !
Dean : Son of a bitch !
I loved how naturally every character’s catchphrase came, and how Dean really is a part of the gang. Also, that’s when Supernatural really hits the Scooby Doo entourage : from that point on, everything is going to become very real, and the gang’s innocence is now threatened. Sam and Dean are coming to the even more scary conclusion of everyone’s mortality in the episode.
Sam : If that guy can die for real in this cartoon, that means we can too !
Dean : It doesn’t matter if we die. Scooby Doo could die. And that’s not happening. Not on my watch. I’d take a bullet for that dog.
Not that Supernatural’s deaths are…Usually not exactly permanent, but there was something a little ominous to that statement. It’s kind of typical, textbook Winchester to actually bring death to a cartoon that’s exceptionally good at avoiding it and has been for over 40 years now. Also, peak Dean in that « our deaths don’t matter » stance. Pretty sure the rest of the world disagrees.
As they’re trying to identify what happened, and Velma, as per usual, channels her inner Sherlock ( « once you eliminate the impossible, whatever remains, no matter how improbable, must be the truth »), a vaguely menacing human shadow approaches the window, and while Sam and Dean are ready to catch it, Fred, out of the blue, jumps on the newcomer and wraps him into a curtain drape, all in all, in a very Scooby Doo-style. But instead of a potential villain, or the so-called ghost, it’s nothing but Castiel. Sam and Dean introduces him to the gang.
What is it with Castiel and pizzas in general ? We’ll never know. Castiel seems to accept his cartoon fate a lot faster than I thought he would, proving once again that our current Cas is just good at adapting himself to challenging situations, regardless to what the situation actually is. Sam asks what actually happened for him to end up with them, and we switch to live version Castiel, back at the bunker with the fruits of the Tree Of Life (two down, two to go, yay !).
No one replies, and Cas is attracted by the open door to the Fortress of Deanitude and the purple sparks erupting from the television. He quickly understands that the cartoon the television is showing has trapped the boys before he’s swallowed too and ends up right when the Mystery Machine is racing Baby. Then Cas traced back the Winchesters footsteps, that leaded him here. Sam understands that the key is inside the purple sparks they saw in the dinosaur earlier on. Eavesdropping, Velma tries to ridicule Sam and Dean comes to his brother’s rescue, saying they’re writing a book about a killer stuffed dinosaur. And out of the blue, Castiel pushes the argument even further.
Why did Castiel added « in love » is beyond me. I’ll let you hardcore shippers draw your own conclusions (or maybe Metatron accidentally uploaded to Castiel’s mind, among all the other stories ever written, some of the strange books about human and dinosaur relationships that you can find on Amazon…Remember, people, curiosity killed the cat)
While they’re trying to resume back their investigation, the ghost is attacking them, leading Fred to pass through it, putting Shaggy and Scooby in Castiel’s arms shaking in terror, and Velma refusing to believe her own eyes when the ghost walks through a solid wall, convinced it’s a « hidden door ». In then end, a second potential heir to the colonel’s fortune is attached and killed in a pretty gruesome way, and the gang walk in a decapitated and cut in half body. Even Dean looks sick, while the gang doesn’t really look all that shocked and quickly move away from the room.
Away from the gang’s lightness, the Winchesters quickly conclude that the cartoon is haunted.
In need of a plan, Fred suggests they split up to search the house. Cas questions whether that even qualifies as a plan, as Sam disagree with it, leading to yet another row of Velma-tease, this time debating how such a « broad-shouldered » (Velma will undoubtedly attend a Supernatural convention in the near future as a self-confessed Sam’s girl) could be scared, and dares him to go search the attic with her. In the end, three search teams are left to explore the mansion : Velma and Sam, Dean with Fred and Daphne, and Castiel stays with Shaggy and Scooby.
In the attic, Velma keeps making fun of Sam’s assumed incompetence in mystery solving (to which we probably all rolled our eyes to the ceiling, silently recalling the 260+ hunts in the past 13 years) and, still referring to his shoulders, ask him not to knock over any potential clues. Sam asks what’s the deal with his shoulders (oh, Sam, where to begin…), and Velma blushes again. Sure, it’s a cartoon, but that’s probably as close as we can possibly get to « sexual tension » in an episode of Scooby Doo (since Dean’s attempts with his lifelong crush are all falling flat). Sam’s caught off guard by a random scary toy in the attic, and fall on the floor (while still managing to get hit on the head by a random, unidentifiable object…There must be some kind of a record, there), and while Velma is mocking him again, he gave her « the talk » and tell her the truth about monsters and vampires and werewolves and demons…And Velma believes none of it (anyone else jumped at the direct Buffy reference in « we’ve saved the world…A lot » ? That’s what got engraved on the slayer’s tombstone at the end of season 5, and all around one of the most iconic lines of the show). Even when they find actual ectoplasm in a toy box, Velma still firmly believe that monsters are usually « unscrupulous real estate developers » and crooks in masks.
I have to admit, I was (me, a self-confessed hardcore Sam girl) mildly annoyed at Sam over a good first half of the episode. Questioning his brother’s relationship to the show, then trying his best not to let him enjoy it, and then breaking down the one rule Dean asked him to respect, aka preserving the gang’s innocence…This is the perfect mirror to 1108 / Just My Imagination, when Dean isn’t making any effort to understand how important Sully was to Sam, and how he filled the gaps of his own shortcomings and played an important part in Sam’s developing personality and sense of freedom and detachment to their own curse. When it comes to understanding how the other one grew up, and how different their childhood were because of each other’s influence, neither is more skilled than the other to actually put themselves in their brother’s shoes. When Sully was around, Dean was challenged by the almost visceral link there was between his brother and the Zanna, suddenly taking into account how lonely Sam was and how much he needed a friend, someone to be there for him at all times. Sully even proves useful to ease Sam’s mind regarding to the recent « answers » to his prayers and the unbearable direction they seem to be headed to. But Sam’s not better skilled at realizing how essential the gang was to his balance, or to keep a part of childhood alive in Dean, regardless to his lack of freedom and free will, all taken away by John. Sam takes a little while to understand that the gang’s importance is exactly the one Sully had for him, leading, later on the episode, to a real, good moment of brother bonding.
So Velma refuses to listen to what Sam said, and even when they got attacked by a bunch of toys throwing themselves at them, she prefers to think there are « christmas lights and fishing lines »
After another failed attempt at seducing the redhead, Dean ends up in the library with Fred and Daphne, where they get to activate a secret passage with yet another cartoon trope, the book lever hidden in a full bookcase. As the three of them fall down slides-typical Scooby Doo trope, once more-they end up in a dark place where we only see the white of their eyes. Dean approaches what he expect to be Daphne, and, once Fred turns the lights on, is actually the ghost.
Castiel, left alone with Shaggy and Scooby fall prey to another trope : forming a line behind Scooby and Shaggy, and the ghost follow them, hidden behind Cas. When Cas first notices it, he questions the monster’s appearance : « never seen a ghost wearing such a ridiculous costume » before running for their lives and nearly having to carry Shaggy and Scooby once again.
And here comes what could be the greatest scene of that genius episode : the running in the corridor and through doors. They even added the original song, and a cameo of Scrappy Doo, the smaller and more daring cousin of our favorite great dane. They had time to underline Sam’s despair at his brother obsession with Daphne, hide them all in big jars, and making them all run into one another with a fantastic background noise of bowling pins falling down. Easter eggs are everywhere, it’s a « blink and you’ll miss it » situation.
Eventually, the ghost has them trapped into one of the rooms, as things take a turn for the worst : Fred is thrown against a wall and ends up unconscious and with a nosebleed (something, we, as Supernatural fans, are familiar with by countless fights and a whole season of Sam’s superpowers, so we don’t really formalize ourselves on, but that’s extremely traumatic for a cartoon character who never really saw his own blood), the girls are pinned against the ceiling, and Shaggy is pushed by the window, hanging on by a thread only. Sam and Dean each grab an iron candlestick and eventually chase the ghost away, and if it wasn’t for Scooby then Castiel, both jumping out the window to help Shaggy, he would have fallen down a few stories, and to a probable death. As it turns out, Castiel’s coat makes for a pretty good parachute, and the three of them land safely, if not for Shaggy’s arm that’s broken, to his greatest shock « I once jumped out of a biplane to a museum and was fine ».
Team Free Will has no other choice than to tell them all the truth about monsters, and the gang’s reaction is nothing but a collective freak out of epic proportions. Velma questions her own intelligence not to believe Sam in the first place, Fred bangs his head against a tree at how useless it sounds to chase fake monsters when Dracula is running free, Daphne questions the existence of heaven and hell and whether she’ll go to hell, and Shaggy simply concludes that they’re doomed.
That’s when Dean stepped in and gave them the pep talk to end all pep talks. He acknowledged each and every psychos they stopped that he could think of, even helped by Sam’s memories of one. The brothers finally find a common ground in their love for the show, and they lift the gang’s spirit, convincing them to fight with them. In a famous Supernatural trope this time, they all end up around Baby’s trunk, and while Dean refuse to arm them at first, the time for half measures is now long gone.
In some pretty ingenious way, they are building a trap compiling the Winchester’s ghost knowledge and the gang’s creativity : locking every entrances and exits with salt minus one, they put an iron chain meant to trigger an ax that will make a bunch of coconuts fall on the ghost (neither me nor Sam understood where they found the coconuts), making him trip and slide across a soapy path supposed to throw him into a washing machine that will be locked with iron chains. Shaggy, Scooby and Castiel are used as bait, and the plan works perfectly well until it didn’t and the trio ends up in the machine, rather than the monster. Since it was Fred’s plan, Dean expected it to fail, and in the end, with the help of a few books thrown at him and pushing the ghost to the library and Scooby’s activation of the book lever, the phantom falls into the secret passage and gets locked inside a salt circle where Sam, Dean and Cas are now able to interrogate him and finally know what is happening.
And that’s when Supernatural kicked back with a solid dose of angst : the ghost is nothing but a child (not unlike Jack : same hair color, same crossed leg position, same facial expression for the cartoon version) who died and got trapped in a cursed object he valued immensely, his father’s pocket knife and is now used by « the bad man », Jay, seen earlier in the episode after the plushie debacle, using him to scare away store owners to buy their properties on the cheap. The child never wanted to hurt people, he just wanted to see his dad again. If the boy promise to free him, he’s bringing them back home, hence marking the end of their cartoon adventures. Upon noticing that the gang is on edge and the girls are ready to arm themselves pretty heavily, Dean decides, with the child’s help, to twist the end of the episode back into a regular Scooby Doo ending and to undo what they did in telling them that monsters were real.
In the end, they used Cosgood Creeps projection from the kid, and concluded that all of it was fake, and that the lawyer was trying to push everyone out of the mansion to get the money for himself. Flying things were ropes, bodies were dummies filled with corn syrup, and even Shaggy’s arm got healed by Cas, stayed behind him so that no one saw the angel touching him.
Dean gets another failed attempt at having his way with Daphne, while Cas hugs (pretty tight) Shaggy and Sammy and thank them for « showing him how to laugh in the face of danger ».
As for Velma, either drunk on adrenaline or simply mesmerized by Sam’s shoulders, Velma stole a kiss from the youngest Winchester…Who wasn’t exactly protesting either.
In the end, the gang regained their normalcy, with nothing more than a slightly scarier story to tell, and a couple of temporary allies they will miss for a while, as the little kid ghost send them back to the Dean cave. While they both agree that this was the coolest of all hunts, Dean waste no time to free their little friend and hammers down the television, and then throw the pocket knife for Sam to burn it and to free the kid forever, not before telling him they’ll stop the bad man.
Back at the pawn store (and with Dean wearing a red ascot), they’re arriving seconds prior to Alan signing a lease to give up his shop to Jay on the cheap after the dinosaur toy attack, and they’re sending the « unscrupulous real estate developer » away after hacking his fraudulent tax declarations and reporting him to the authorities. In the end, to Sam’s satisfaction, their case was solved by Velma.
Taken away by the police, Jay shouts a « I would have gotten away with it if it wasn’t for those meddling kids », the usual final line of Scooby Doo’s episode before the dog’s iconic « Scooby Dooby Doo ».
This earns Dean a snarky « what are you doing ? » From his brother, and a « Dean, you’re not a talking dog » from the angel. Dean’s enthusiasm remains unchanged, as the episode ends, and he’s trying to get them to admit that the ascot is cool and red is his color…And we find ourselves wishing, this week more than ever, that this episode never ended.
The aftermath of this episode is, quite simply, amazing to witness : the fandom is united in praising how magical those 40 minutes were, the ratings are the highest they’ve been this season, the social media engagement is three times higher than any other episode of any other show that night (counting 800K tagged messages for Grey’s Anatomy, at the second place, against 2.4 MILLIONS for ScoobyNatural) and the IMDB rating of the episode is the highest of the show so far at 9.8 for 2K reviews. Oh, what a time to be alive in the Supernatural fandom…And on the day of the season 14 renewal (it is official !), this is the obvious proof that Supernatural’s best days are still ahead.
Scene of the week : the corridor run. It was so good and joyful to watch.
Performer of the week : Jared, Jensen and Misha. They really threw every efforts into a completely new way of working and the result is stunning. Their perpetually renewed openness to every new ideas thrown their ways is inspiring.
Laugh of the week : Castiel ending in the washing machine with Shaggy and Scooby
Punch in the feels : everything about the references to Dean’s childhood. Ouch.
Scene stealer : Well…Kiss stealer, maybe ? Velma was pretty damn wayward all the way through.
Question of the week : …Can we do that again ? Or get live versions of the gang in the bunker (I the live action cast of the Scooby Doo movie would be thrilled to do that) ?
Fangirl moment : Ah, those (animated) shoulders…
Special nod to : Every single person who was involved in this, from the initial idea to the Paley Fest premiere, and every single step in between. As a Supernatural fans, we are lucky enough to have a team of people who aren’t afraid to carry crazy ideas that any other show would reject with a mocking laugh, but not ours. Ours take it and push it as far as it can and give crazy ideas as much, if not more, chances to spread their wings as they would a regular episode. We’re the luckiest fans, because Supernatural never stops growing, both in maturity and creativeness, and keeps on being inspiring, thrilling to follow and watch, and inherently good. ScoobyNatural is the perfect example that being daring and courageous is always rewarding in itself, and as fan, this episode is a gift I’ll cherish forever.
A Most Holy Man -- 13x15
by Axy Dewelle
Seasons of Supernatural are built the exact same way a novel, or movie is built : there are high pulsating moments, and there are moments of relief, generally followed by more brilliant craziness, shocking revelations and lines of mythology no one saw coming. A Most Holy Man is one of those precious (because rare) slowly paced episodes solely focused on the brothers and their current quest. In added bonus, Andrew Dabb and Robert Singer wrote the episode together, and the amazing Amanda Tapping directed it, and those three can really accomplish wonders. In this case, a brilliant homage to the Film Noir genre, and to their actor’s unstoppable comedy genius.
Malte, Holy Sisters of Malta Monastery. The skull of St Peter (yes, the apostle), currently exposed inside the monastery, is stolen by an unknown man, who knocked down the Mother Superior who tried to stop him. He did asked to be forgiven, though. Must count for something...
At the bunker, we learn that Castiel is off to Syria to get the fruit from The Tree Of Life. Choosing Syria, a territory currently torn apart by a war, isn’t innocent, since the middle east in general is where most of the oldest religious relics are to be found. This raises a couple of interesting questions : did Cas flew there, therefore confirming that he got his wings back, or did he took a plane ? How bad was it (for his seat neighbors, I mean) ? How pissed were TSA when they found he hid an angel blade in his sleeve ? What did he do during the (roughly estimated) ten hours journey ? So many questions, so little answers.
As Sam searches for which part of the spell they can currently work on, eliminating the grace of an archangel because Lucifer is nowhere to be seen, and the Seal Of Solomon that got our lore expert stumped, they focus on the blood of the most holy man, while Dean seems to be enjoying the leftovers of a cold pizza. Nice visual symmetry : Sam in front of his laptop, Dean in front of his pizza box. I loved that Sam doesn’t even raise an eyebrow at his brother’s…Questionable eating behavior, burps included. In the end, Sam comes to the conclusion that what they are looking for is the blood of a saint, as he found a relic market on the internet, and the name of an expert in trading those : Margaret Astor. This prompted his brother to shrug at his general lack of understanding of the bizarre and weird that can be found on the internet nowadays.
San Francisco. Nice change of scenery for the Winchesters. Margaret exhales a very 40’s vibe, and so does the whole bar she’s in. She’s sipping on a Martini, a gentle nod to a pop culture tradition found on every classic movie : Martini (with olives, because without, it’s just not Martini) equals class. Margaret is also pretty straight forward in her tastes in men : she’s automatically mesmerized by Sam and barely look at Dean, who’s not exactly amused at the situation. Sam, however, uses his charms to get the information they need off her : where to get the blood of a saint, and who to ask for it. She send them to a certain Richard Greenstreet, in Seattle. From Lebanon, Kansas to San Francisco to Seattle ? Baby’s work is never done.
Richard Greenstreet is quite the character. English accent, outfit from another age, and apparently very busy challenging Dean’s very own eating habits by devouring a powdered sugar donut and barely listening to what the boys are saying. They introduced themselves as Sam and Dean Vaughn, from Rhodes Island, and Greenstreet is quick at telling they’re not who they say they are : he asks them whether they know the Manchin twins, from Newport, and Sam fell into the trap head first, pretending they don’t know them personally but obviously heard of them. As it turns out, there’s no such thing as Manchin twins anywhere near or in Newport. Forced to reveal who they are and what they are here for, Greenstreet quickly assessed the situation and concluded that the blood of a saint he pretends he owns cost him a small fortune, and that the Winchester’s outfits are clearly proving that they’re not that rich, or even rich at all to pretend buying it off him. However, as they leave, Greenstreet asks whether they’re up for a little bit of « chicanery ». The brother’s answer is peak Winchester : a slightly annoyed yet interested nod from Sam, and Dean, apparently unaware of what chicanery even means, waits eagerly for his brother’s assessment before he even nods in agreement.
Greenstreet paints a complicated situation regarding the missing skull : he coveted the skull, that was removed from the monastery by someone working for Scarpatti. Dean immediately understands who Scarpatti is : the Seattle mob boss. How does Dean knows that…Well, we probably don’t want to know and neither does Sam. But Greenstreet proposes a deal to the brothers : stealing the stolen skull from where the initial thief is supposed to bring it back to Scarpatti, and they’ll get the blood of a certain Saint Ignatius in exchange. Greenstreet doesn’t know who’s the thief, or when the meeting takes place, but he « has faith ».
First deal of the episode for the Winchesters : with Greenstreet. Keep that in mind, because it’s going to change and switch quite a lot, another homage to the twists and turns of the film genre the episode is a nod to.
Outside of Greenstreet’s house, Sam tries to object that becoming thieves ain’t a good thing (nice timing, Sam, you’re about 13 years too late for that, roughly), but apparently, Dean’s mindset is now closer to Castiel’s than it’s been last week.
In a nearby coffee shop, Dean’s flirting with a lady reading « a book on the Supernatural ». Oh, the direct nod to Chuck’s work and the whole Winchester Gospels. Chuck’s presence is felt everywhere in the episode, and this little wink is only the first one. Dean asks whether she’s « into the Supernatural », before sitting down in front of her and having Sam, one table away, reminding him of his presence and their objective. Good, efficient comedy moment between them two, once again.
Sam hacked into the airport records and found the names of people who flew from Malta to Seattle in a 3 days window after the skull got stolen, and one of them, Antonio Miele, proved himself to have a shady past and to fit the description. Miele currently stays at the Patricia Hotel, and off they are to get the relic.
At the hotel, they first encounter a man in the elevator, one that’s going to be everywhere around them for the next ten minutes.
Inside Miele’s room, they arrive too late and only found a dead body and a messy room. Apparently, they aren’t the only ones at the skull’s pursuit. A supposed cop barged in the room, cuff them on the radiator, and searches the room to no avail, while refusing to answer to Sam’s questions. Fake cop, actually.
Of course, no one in their right minds expect the Winchesters to stay cuffed more than 15 seconds tops, and Sam even has a key to free them both, ending up in one typical, joyful wit exchange between them both :
Dean : Oh look at you. You’re like a boy scout. You’re always prepared.
Sam : Yeah. And you’re like a…
Dean : Yeah ?
Sam : I don’t know what you’re like.
Dean : Yeah !
I don’t even know where to begin praising them for the irresistible alchemy, and the inherent comedy genius of their conversations. We knew Jared and Jensen were a match made in heaven, and that the stars were aligned the day they were cast to play Sam and Dean Winchester, but a decade and a half later, they’re still among the most effective pairing of characters and actors the television has ever created. You can’t not laugh. It’s physically impossible.
Downstairs, in the hotel lobby, they cross path with the mysterious man once again, and while trying to decipher the snake’s nest they’re right in the middle of (with a nice mention of the mob term « whack » used by Dean, to the mild shock of Sam calling it « colorful »), they’re surrounded by Scarpatti’s goons who take control of Baby (and had Dean got guns instead of eyes, they were all dead within seconds) and force them in the backseat to meet the boss. At this point, I think that forcing Dean to watch someone drive his own car that’s not Sam totally qualifies as torture. He is livid.
Hidden behind a corner of the street, the mysterious man is silently witnessing the Winchester’s predicament.
Andrew and Robert toyed with big, big pop culture references in their script and here they picked one of the biggest ones : portraying the mob boss as seated in a massive chair with a cat in his lap. That’s something we get off James Bond, The Godfather, and even in cartoons such as Inspector Gadget, or comedy such as Austin Powers. Brilliant nod.
The Winchesters are sat down in a couch beside Scarpatti’s desk, in a fairly creative visual scene, since Scarpatti is behind them at the beginning, to make an impression, before he gets next to them when he tries to get something off them. Scarpatti tells the surprise they get when, upon doing a « little checking » on the boys, he discovered that they were supposedly dead six years ago ( from, I suspect, where the leviathans doppelgängers were killed in early season 7). As a fan of the show, it’s hard not to laugh at this (and so does Sam, although not in the same way), because death is known not to stick with them anyway. As Sam tries to explain « the funny story », he’s invited to keep quiet and they’re reminded that because of that little fact, if they were whacked now, it wouldn’t make much of a difference. Despite the tension of the situation, Dean’s playing smartass with a side eye of pure glee at the usage of « whack » to prove his point to his brother, to which Sam replies with a murdering look.
Scarpatti explains why he needs the brother’s help : he knows they’re working for Greenstreet, and calls him a « farabutto », an italian term for « crook », and explains that the relics he’s collecting are to fulfill his duty as a good catholic and to get them a home. Sam gets to give his brother a second murderous side-eye when Dean points at the home the relics had before they were stolen. Sam then explains that they are working with Greenstreet because he has something they need, a deal even the mob boss qualifies as « devil’s bargain ». Dean doesn’t flinch, while Sam’s simply lower his head in visible shame. This is revelatory to both their mindset : Sam is trying his best to keep on the right path while trying to fulfill the ingredient list needed to get the spell done, while Dean has joined Castiel’s side in doing whatever is required to get Jack and Mary back.
Scarpatti explains what happened with the skull : he mandated Antonio Miele to get the relic for him, and paid half the price up front, but now that Miele is dead, and that it’s not of his own doing, he considers himself the rightful owner of the skull. Dean reminds him that it was stolen in the first place and that « rightfully » might be a big word, and despite not seeing Sam’s reaction, there isn’t much doubt about a third serious wish to get him to shut up expressed in the form of a homicidal side eye.
Scarpatti then offers the brothers a deal : they get the skull for him, and he pays them the small fortune required by Greenstreet to get the saint’s blood. Sam tries to back off, but they have no choice. Scarpatti then reminds them that they’re following the NASA’s motto « failure is not an option ».
And the brothers are back at square one : the hotel. Dean’s overconfidence make him say that he « feels » that the skulls is still in Miele’s room, now a police cordoned crime scene, guarded by a cop-a real one, this time. Dean creates a distraction by setting off the fire alarms and getting everyone, cop included, to leave the hotel, as Sam gets to access the room and search it, to no avail, while mocking his absent brother by a « really, Dean, you can feel it », reminding us that sometimes, the Winchesters get back to the essence of their relationship and get to express a healthy dose of sibling rivalry and bickering. Speaking of healthy…As he found a piece of paper with a reference number on it, the mysterious man, armed with an old telephone, hit Sam on the head...For the 14685th time this season (this is barely an exaggeration). And pretty badly, since it got him unconscious, generating a fairly usual rush of panic in Dean when he found him collapsed on the floor (and 13 seasons of recurring nightmares for all of us). Thankfully, Sam’s okay (which, at this point in the season, is, basically, a miracle), and prompt another snarky comment from Dean.
They’re interrupted by yet another person getting knocked down : our mysterious stranger, who’s very much alive and none other than Lucca Camilleri, the priest from the Maltese monastery where the skull belongs to. The boys are trying to get back the piece of paper that got taken off Sam earlier on, but it got taken off him afterwards too. He later explains to the boys that the skull is an object they pray to, that’s bringing faith to his congregation, and that it’s been stolen and he’s here to get it back. As they’re suspecting he’s yet another thief, he shows the boys that he’s trying to buy it back with all the money his congregation has, very much aware of the fact that money is the only language that thieves are speaking. He tells a pretty compelling story of the joy this skull causes for his people, and how he’s tracked Miele himself to later find him dead, and he knocked Sam down out of panic. He explains to Sam and Dean the utmost importance of the relic, and how much it means to his whole village, and as Dean points out that the world isn’t a perfect place, Lucca replies with a little bit of his own philosophy.
And for the first time in a very, very long time, there’s a smile on Sam’s face. A genuine glimpse of hope. There’s something of an homage to Sam’s faith in this, since he’s always been the believer out of the Winchesters, and praying never was an issue for him. Despite what they know of Chuck and Amara, and the absence of god in the recent episodes, religion remains something Sam can hold onto, and Lucca brings him a very decent, realistic vision of life that he can use to go on and correct their mistakes. Lucca summed up the life of the Winchesters : good men trying to change things, sometimes on a small scale, sometimes on a much bigger one. So, Sam decides to help him when Lucca confides that he’s giving up and want to go home. To which Dean objects, inviting his brother to discuss it away from Lucca. Sam makes a very good case in defending his decision, suggesting to double cross the bad guys in the end to get what they want while giving the skull back to Lucca. When Sam tries to make Dean understand that he believes in him and pick up the right example in asking what he would do if someone stole the Impala, I was genuinely concerned he broke Dean’s brain permanently.
Sam : If somebody stole the Impala, what would you do ?
Dean : Murder. I’d murder ‘em all.
Sam : Right. My point is, I don’t want a dick like Greenstreet or Scarpatti to win. Not this time.
Dean : There’ll be torture, first. There’ll be, like, a lot of torture, and there’d…It would end up with death. If I can’t have it, nobody can.
Sam : Were you even listening to what I was saying ? Scarpatti and Greenstreet ? What did I say ?
Sam tried to make Dean move, to no reactions. Comedy geniuses, once again. They know how to play with the very fabric of their relationship, as fictional brothers and real life friends. And it works every time. I’m very happy at how Robert and Andrew used this in their writing, and how Jared and Jensen never fail to turn those moments into gold nuggets we, as fan, will treasure forever.
Lucca has therefore found two allies in Sam and Dean, and follow them as they try to track down the skull. In the Impala, Lucca tells Sam the numbers out of memory. They’re a tracking number for a package sent from Malta to Seattle, but the fake cop is already ahead of them and got the package minutes before they did.
I couldn’t repress a chuckle when they included a night view of Seattle’s space needle, as if Supernatural production offices tried to convince us they are shooting there. Nice attempt, guys. Points for trying. Vancouver it is, always has and will always be.
They followed the fake cop to a warehouse’s parking, with the clear intention of getting back the skull at all costs. But they had the surprise to see someone meet him there : Margaret. She’s the one the fake cop works with. Inside, she’s facing Scarpatti, ready to exchange the package, the skull, against a substantial sum. As Scarpatti, less than happy with the current situation, mentions he might not buy it after all, Greenstreet reveals himself in the dark as the third player to this game and potential buyer.
Meanwhile in the Impala, Dean and Lucca stayed alone while being in contact with Sam through the phone. Lucca exposes his view and his faith in god helping them, and while Dean challenges his view to what he knows of Chuck, Lucca’s faith remains unwavering.
Dean does say that it might be a stupid thing too, and Lucca agrees that often, they’re the same. Inside, Sam joins them as the fourth part of the bizarre auction that’s happening, to Margaret’s greatest delight. As both Greenstreet and Scarpatti tried to remind Sam that he works for both of them, Sam cut them short by telling them that he works for himself. That’s a very symbolic thing, that Sam shift things so that they both mean he’s on the right path (helping Lucca) and trying to advance their own cause, too, one way or another, to get Greenstreet’s blood of a saint. Sam’s never quite as empowered and fierce as when he knows he’s working for the good guys, and in this case, he’s empowered by Lucca’s faith and goodness.
Outside, Lucca creates a distraction for the goons by…Saying he’s « creating a distraction ». When Dean knocks them down and asks why he said that, Lucca simply replies that « lying is a sin ». You do you, Lucca. When Dean gets inside and leave Lucca behind, Lucca concludes he’s going to pray. To which Dean answers « yeah, you do that ».
Inside, blind auctions are happening. They’re all writing the sum of money they’re ready to pay for the skull, and the highest bidder wins. Sam bids Lucca’s money, 634000 and two cents, and is ridiculed by Scarpatti and Greenstreet. It’s safe to assume that it’s dollars, but in this case : did Sam converted it from euros (Lucca’s money) to dollars mentally ? For a guy who gets hit on the head fairly regularly, Sam’s brain is in top shape ! Scarpatti bids 3 millions dollars, and Greenstreet bids nothing. In another twist of events, Cromarty (sounds a lot like « Moriarty », Sherlock Holmes nemesis, right ?) got told by Greenstreet that he’d buy the skull off him for a million dollars cash if he kills Margaret. Which he does, before trying to shoot everyone else in the room, and the blind auction turns into a gigantic mess where everyone is basically shooting at everyone, Sam included, then Dean too who makes quite the entrance.
This particular scene first had me stumped, before I got an epiphany. While this happens, and while Lucca prays, the scene’s music is actually of a religious nature, which could be unsettling, especially compared to the incredible work done with the music of the episode that’s using all the codes of the genre while keeping the Supernatural touch. But the end of the scene explains it all : Lucca decides to step in, and narrowly escapes death while trying to save Dean who would have been shot. In the end : they’re all ok, Lucca has been grazed by the bullet only, and Lucca calls this a miracle.
A miracle…As in Chuck’s action, maybe ? They were outgunned and outnumbered to begin with, and yet, it all worked out the Winchester’s way. And Lucca was shot point blank, by an expert shooter…The chances of the bullet not killing him were thin, if not absent. For once, the Winchesters got half a win, that will later turn into a full-blown one. This could be random. I doubt it is. This could also indicate that Rob Benedict is overdue for a return. I’ll lean towards that hypothesis : we’re going to see Chuck sooner rather than later. And if it was his actions, one way or another, that means that he didn’t gave up on us, or on the brothers at all, and even Dean’s prayer in the premiere somehow got answered, since Cas is back and they’re on their way to bring Mary back too(or so they think, remember that the spell is likely to be the same one as the angel tablet’s and it allows of one person only to pass through the rift).
In the end, they cornered Greenstreet, trying to get the blood of Saint Ignatius, but it, quite simply, doesn’t exist. Greenstreet is an opportunist and told them what they wanted to hear. It broke my heart to see the glimpse of hope in Sam’s eyes vanishing instantly, as Dean knock him out and later got him arrested for his whole past as a shady dealer, and probably for his acquired responsibility in the mass extinction of Seattle’s vermin and San Francisco’s stolen relics market coordinator. Morally, the good guys won. But the Winchesters have done all of that for nothing…
…Or did they ?
As they accompany Lucca at the airport, with the skull back to where it belongs, Sam asked Lucca about something he saw about him on internet : the nature of the « apostolic protonotary supernumerary » (genuine appellation) title. As it turns out, it’s a title from the pope himself, given for Lucca’s charity work. He told him that he was « un uomo santissimo » : a most holy man. This validates my theory about Chuck having something to do with it all, because the boys were overdue for a win, and this one was the reward for choosing the right path. Once again, the surprise in Sam and Dean’s eyes was refreshing and joyful.
At the bunker, Dean looks unusually confident, as Sam’s questioning the validity of the fights in the long term, coming to the devastating conclusion that they’re never really changing things permanently, they’re just playing defense, and they’re bouncing from one apocalypse to the other.
Dean doesn’t have much to say about that, but he just have faith that with one ingredients already found, and Cas soon to find the second one, they’re on the right path. He has faith, and he’s not lying, he really does, and by ripple effect, earned a smile from Sam. This directly echoes the end of 1304 / Patience, when Dean asked his brother to keep the faith for the both of them because he couldn’t. This time, it’s Dean who’s carrying them both on his shoulders. This is textbook Winchester, 13 years in, nothing has changed : they need one another to function.
This episode made me happy. It was fun, light, inspired and let us fall down yet another hellatus on a much sweeter note. And we all know what comes next…The long, long awaited ScoobyNatural !
Scene of the week : the last twist of the episode, and Lucca being the most holy man. I. Loved. It.
Performer of the week : it’s a tie between Jared and Jensen. Their energy and their chemistry turned funny scenes into hilarious ones, and good scenes into fantastic ones.
Laugh of the week : Dean’s murderous stance regarding the possibility of Baby getting stolen.
Punch in the feels : that last scene at the bunker. Both heartbreaking-Sam’s not getting any better-and heartwarming-Dean will get the both of them through it all. It was heavy and beautiful, in a very Supernatural way.
Scene stealer : Massi Furlan, as Lucca. Amazing character, and he brought back a healthy dose of hope to the brothers. I’d love to see him again.
Question of the week : was Chuck involved indirectly in all of this through Lucca ?
Fangirl moment : Margaret falling hard for Sam…You and me both, sister.
Special nod to : Andrew and Robert. They did an amazing job at doing an episode that was both different in its tone and story, and inherently rooted in everything the Winchesters are and have always been. It was refreshing, fun and with an unexpected level of depth regarding faith and doing the good things. The writing was delicate and thorough, and the comedy side was perfect. Such a bittersweet, relieving episode !
Good Intentions -- 13x14
by Axy Dewelle, screenshots by Jess
Seasons of Supernatural are like fascinating scavenger hunts, to build a gigantic jigsaw puzzle that’s only gonna reveal itself at the very last minute, or in this case, the last episode. Season 13 is, the most thrilling of all those hunts so far, because each and every episode answers some of our questions, and crafts a whole set of new ones. It’s all about the bigger picture, and this week’s elements to it were brutal, violent, concerning and sometimes even heartbreaking.
When the episode kicks in, as fans, we’re off for a major betrayal right away. Because we are led to believe that our precious Jack is back home, as wakes up in his bed and overhears a conversation of Sam and Dean, both relieved and happy he’s back home. Things takes a turn for the worse when the bunker’s alarm starts screaming, the lights switch to safe mode in bright red, and Jack soon realizes there’s a fire in a room nearby where both Sam and Dean are trapped. The more he tries to use his powers to save them, the less efficient it becomes, until it backfires and knocks him down and keep him away from breaking the door and saving the boys. Then the image dissipate itself to reveal a young Alternate Universe’s Zachariah who’s trying to manipulate Jack’s thoughts. All of this was an hallucination, to crack Jack and force him to use his powers.
The images they accessed in Jack’s mind are translating a certain number of Jack’s feelings, and how he perceives his reality when he is living at the bunker: Sam is just happy he’s here, Dean’s vamp hunts makes him hungry, and so on.
The lights turning red in the bunker reminded me of 1003 / Soul Survivor, in its claustrophobia, and sense of impending tragedy. That Jack felt so helpless broke my heart, as you can pinpoint this as his current worst nightmare : losing the ones he loves, and specifically the mortal ones. This kid has been gone for weeks, and he’s already breaking my heart and ripping it to shreds.
When Jack snaps out of his dream state, the situation is extremely preoccupying : Jack looks unfazed, barely moved by the violence of the visions, as if he’d been emptied out of his personality, his emotions, his feelings, his hopes and fears. Thankfully, it’s not a permanent damage, as I was concerned Jack had been completely brainwashed by Michael.
He’s scary, isn’t he? Christian Keyes is doing a fabulous job at being cold and driven. I’m now more afraid of him than I am of Lucifer. Lucifer scares me because of what he did to the boys, but Michael has a charisma and a dark, psychopathic aura that is really concerning. Even Zachariah is terrified of him. The angel order of the Alternate Universe isn’t different from the one Sam and Dean derailed in season 5, and that’s not a comforting thought.
The flow of information gathered over the first couple of minutes are capital, though: Jack has the capacity to open a rift large enough to let a whole army passage to our world and destroy it the exact way they’re destroying this one. Upon failing in cracking Jack, Zachariah ominously declares that he knows what will make Jack stumble, and almost instantly, I knew they would use Castiel. He’s the only other person who has a real importance in Jack’s life, beside Sam and Dean, and it was pretty obvious that using him would increase the chances of Jack breaking down. There are marks on Jack’s face and neck. It’s safe to assumed that he’s been physically mishandled if not beaten a few times over.
At the bunker, Donatello is losing his mind, and not figuratively only. He’s slowly being empowered by the tablet, and he’s interrupted by Castiel who’s bringing him breakfast and enquires about how he feels. Donatello switches off from borderline insane to exasperatingly sweet, in an attempt to pretend that he is nice indeed by accessing his knowledge of the feeling, since his soul is long gone and beyond saving. The second Cas is gone, he’s back at his ramblings and whispers and raging scribbles.
Breakfast at the Winchester’s didn’t really change for 13 years: Dean’s bacon addiction is being largely fed, and Sam’s questioning his brother’s nutritious choices for the billionth time over the past decade and a half, to which Dean simply concludes « dude, if bacon’s what kills me, then I win ». Honestly, if bacon’s what kills Dean Winchester in the end…We ALL win.
As they try to assess the current progression, or lack thereof, of Donatello’s translation, Cas looks more worn out than he’s been in a long time by how slow things are moving regarding Jack and Mary’s return, Sam tries to comfort him by telling him that their best defense is a good offense. Dean sums up the situation pretty well : « we give Donatello everything he needs to open that gate, then we stealth in, we get mom, we get jack. Boom, family reunion. It’s just gonna take some time ». How much time exactly ?
Zachariah’s last attempt to corrupt Jack’s mind is to make him hallucinate Castiel, in a place that looks a lot like the shore near the house where Jack was born.
A cold, stiff Castiel explains to Jack that humanity destroys itself, shows him images of such destruction, and tries to convince him that he has to save them. When the illusion of Castiel suggests that Sam and Dean never accepted him for what he is and taught him to fear his powers, Jack’s mind take over, and he refuses Castiel’s authority before waking up to a very pissed Michael who throws him against the wall.
My heart couldn’t take it. Any of it. Seeing Jack being manipulated that way, using his unique bond with Cas to corrupt him, specially with the very common scenery and the memories associated with it (Cas’s death, basically) really felt like a cold stab in the back. I’m very proud of the way Jack is handling being tortured, and how he relies on his knowledge of his closest kin to derail Zachariah’s lousy attempts to crack his mind.
Also, points to Misha for successfully achieving the creepiest smile of 2018 when Jack understands that he’s not who he says he is. I don’t know how he can switch the warmth and kindness of a real Castiel smile from this evil grin, but once more, this cast is dangerously good at playing various and opposites versions of themselves while still being spot-on.
At the bunker, Donatello’s having an Eureka moment and I have to say that the scene made me chuckle, despite everything I know and suspect about the prophet. However, when he says that the spell he found doesn’t include an Archangel’s grace, the boys are relieved, but Castiel is concerned, even if he didn’t say it. They brush it off by assuming that the Demon Tablet’s content is different than the Angel Tablet one, and in this case, they have all the ingredients minus one, the hearts of Gog and Magog, two ancient warriors who enslaved a huge chunk of the world a while ago and were bind away by a spell in « a place without a place, and a time without a time ». In the end, when Donatello heavily insists on how dangerous such a quest to grab those two hearts is, Castiel and Dean decide to go together, while Sam will stay at the bunker and prepare all the other ingredients. Needless to say, things weren’t going to go smoothly, but then again, it’s Supernatural, so why would they ?
The heartbreak goes a little further when Michael, back in the Alternate Universe, drags forcibly a very unconscious Jack to a cell. As it turns out, it’s none other than Mary’s cell.
Sometimes, the people absent in the scene are the loudest. And that first real moment between Mary and Jack is showing a light on someone who’s across the universe and yet, so present in both their minds, and that’s none other than Sam. The way Jack sits cross-legged across Mary is a direct reference to the time he and Sam were locked in Sheriff Barker’s prison cell on 1301 / Lost & Found, and Jack’s age when he’s meeting Mary for the first time is the exact same as Sam’s when he first lost his mother on the pilot. Jack’s relationship with Sam has been heavily imprinted by grief and parental deprivation, and it created a strong bond between them. When Jack witnessed Sam’s sudden burst of anger and sorrow at Mia’s office on 1304 / Patience, and how it connected together what Sam told him earlier in the same episode about using his powers to open the rift and get their mom back, is the moment he understood that the one way to repay Sam, and eventually Dean, for giving him a home would be by bringing her back. When he left the bunker at the end of 1306 / Tombstone, his only objective was to find a way to get the boys their mom back, and to prove to them this one good thing he COULD do. In Mary’s mind, there’s the urge of giving Sam something he never had that has been short circuited by being trapped in the Alternate Universe, but the end of season 12, and specifically 1222 / Who We Are is the first stone of Mary and Sam’s relationship, and overcoming her absence and her mistakes and what she did to him. Not that Dean isn’t important, he is, but Sam is the one who has been deprived of that relationship the most, despite his attempt at joining her at the BMOL’s bunker. Sam’s also the one who gave Jack the USB stick containing his mom’s video, and the one thing that would allow Jack to get some closure. The direction and writing of the scene is heavy with grief and missing mothers and lost sons. To add a last touch to this whole theme, Mary was there when Jack was born, and she’s the first living mother figure Jack ever met. Season 12 was pivotal in how Mary never lived up to the expectations of being a mother to the boys, but she’s already reversing this and she’s not even been with her boys so far. She’s taking care of Jack almost immediately, proving how much she’s changed and how this time away from Sam and Dean made her ponder her relationship to motherhood. I’ve always liked Mary, despite how mad I was throughout last season, but this is the first time I actually started to love her. I am overjoyed that she’s taking Jack under her wings and that she’s considering him family almost instantly.
Their first conversation is interesting for several reasons. First, because it gives us an insight of Jack’s overlook of the situation, and it’s pretty simple in his brain : he was with Sam and Dean, they tried to rescue her, and it failed. Jack doesn’t mention that he’s trying to be good or fight his own evil DNA, he’s just Jack. The spark of hope in Mary’s eyes is heartwarming, she probably never doubted the boys would try, but they’re closer than she probably even thought, and it does make a difference. I was thrilled at how much Jack looks like Sam and Dean already : he’s fighting and he will fight and he will not flinch and give in, regardless to how much they hurt him. Jack doesn’t even understand it, because he wasn’t there when it happened, but it echoes the way Sam resisted both Lucifer’s (1110 / The Devil In The Details) and Toni’s (1201-1202 / Keep Calm And Carry On - Mamma Mia) torture. However, when Mary understands that Michael is going to emotionally blackmail Jack and hurt Mary to get him to use his powers for him, her reaction is a knee-jerk one : Jack has to escape and let her die. She’s reacting the exact same way she did at the end of season 13 : sacrificing herself for her boys, that now includes Jack too. She’s fearless, despite the fact that it would mean that she’s never going to see Sam and Dean ever again, and she’d never get to fix whatever its salvageable in her relationship with her sons. Within the span of one episode, Mary’s atoning for her previous mistakes in ways that made me feel proud of her. She’s leaning towards something we didn’t get to see last season, and I’m having high hopes for Dean, and on a much larger scale, for Sam to finally get that one good thing they never really experienced when she came back. Jack is already a Winchester, he’s the little brother, and Mary is already protecting him the way she never had the chance to protect her kids when they were young.
It’s pretty impressive how much Mary changed. She assumes almost right away that Jack is going to grow fond of her, therefore not even considering that he might be too evil for that, she doesn’t even doubt Jack’s feelings and emotions, and that Michael will use that as a leverage, but she probably even assumes that Jack is going to want to protect her because he knows Sam and Dean. She has no doubt about the fact that, maybe, her sons resented her for her past actions. She knows it’s already a clean slate and she misses them as much as they miss her. She was more relieved at knowing they weren’t here than she was at knowing someone was coming to the rescue.
I loved the way they both revealed the extent of Michael’s plans. Jack was fighting against something, but he didn’t exactly know what, and it’s Mary who gives him the keys and the knowledge of his intention for the earth. Jack’s reaction is amazing. He just won’t let that happen. If anything, this scene digs deeper in Jack’s vision of the world, and how strong and brave he is. And that can only come from either Kelly, on the nature side of his existence, or Sam, Dean and Cas for the nurture side. The further we get to know Jack and how he interacts with foreign environments, the more convinced I am that his good side will win over, in the end. He’s a Winchester. There’s no doubt about that.
When Cas and Dean are leaving the bunker, they have a conversation that is pivotal for the rest of the episode, and potentially, the rest of the season and the future of the show. Dean is trying to open up to Cas, and to get him to tell how he feels now that he’s back, and Cas is, clearly, more driven than he’s been for a long time.
Cas : Dean, I was-I was dead.
Dean : Temporarily.
Cas : And I have to believe that I was brought back for a reason.
Dean : You were. Okay ? Jack brought you back because we needed you back.
Cas : Right. And how have I repaid him ? I promised his mother that I would protect him, but now he’s trapped in that place while Lucifer is here who’s…I mean, he’s getting stronger and more powerful by the day. And if Michael really is coming, maybe I was brought back to help prepare.
Dean : Prepare for what ?
Cas : War. War is what Michael does.
Dean : Well then we do what we do. Whatever it takes.
The content of that exchange sets up the tone of the episodes to come, and it makes us understand Castiel’s mind a little deeper. He’s back to be a soldier, but this time, he’s fighting for his loved ones. But still, Cas’s determination is striking. And Dean gives him a nudge in the direction he’s going to take, eventually, later on the episode, to dramatic consequences. But it’s Dean that enables him and shows him the way.
Their conversation was a very much needed one. I felt like it had been aborted on 1306 / Tombstone, when Dean just told him it was good to have him back, and I’m glad it finally happened and Dean had the opportunity to make him know that he believes he’s back for them. The family feeling is the strongest it’s ever been with the newest expansions to it, aka Jack and Mary. They’re now five, of five different capacities and backgrounds, and five different forces added to the common one : family.
While Sam gathers the ingredients for the spell-in a very Sam way, focused and totally absorbed by their apparently advancing plan-Donatello clearly leans towards madness with a touch of evil. It was sad to see a character that always was so goofy and fun being slowly erased by the duties of a prophet, once gain, and it made me consider the general ugliness of the prophet’s destiny overall. Chuck as an alcoholic, anxiety-ridden author, Kevin lost his mind a few times over and was tortured by Crowley, and then Donatello is getting pushed in the fires of the Demon Tablet’s power. His intentions towards Sam aren’t good, and it’s obvious that he’s going to attack him at the first occasion he gets (which, all in all, might not be the greatest idea he ever had to get rid of him, since Sam is taller and stronger, and his reflexes are those of a hunter : as empowered as Donatello is, or think he is, there’s no way he could take Sam out on his own).
Out in the fields « in the middle of nowhere, check » from Dean’s very own words, Cas and him are having one of those brilliant bonding moments that are defining their relationship. And once again, it’s a light, funny one, that makes us breathe a short sigh of relief before the rest of the episode. As Cas tries to summon them in Enochian, and nothing happens at first, Jensen’s comedy abilities are making a brilliant come back in making one of those faces that I just can’t resist. He cracks me up every time, and Cas’s obliviousness is even better. The bromance between those to, regardless of shipping, is at its best on that scene, and it makes for a memorable moment.
And then Gog and Megog finally appears, and it’s Dean’s turn to crack up at their…Well, choice of outfits. The way the two warriors were bickering definitely reminded me of Cas and Dean’s greatest hours of squabbling for nothing (and how miraculous it is that Sam didn’t murder them two out of sheer annoyance, for instance, the post-Billie fight from 1209 / First Blood), and calling them and specifically Cas « Beautiful » reminded me of the now extremely famous fandom-wide « attractive crying man » from 615 / The French Mistake.
The depth of the comedy side of the scene didn’t erased the underlying tragedy : Donatello sent them to their deaths by giving them false informations. First, the weapon to kill them had to be « forged by a god » and not « touched by a god », rendering the angel blades obsolete and useless right away and putting them both in danger, but once Dean eventually stole one of their weapons and decapitated one and stabbed the other seconds before he killed Cas, they understood that the beasts had no heart, and that Donatello lied to them all the way through
Quick glimpse of the Alternate Universe. Mary tries to convince Jack to let her die, and to never open the door, but Jack refuses, and insists on finding a way to escape, to which Mary replies there’s no way they can do that. As Jack tries to understand why his powers are so weak and wrong, and that a headache keeps on getting in the way, they understand that there are wardings so strong in Michael’s prison that even human can feel them, explaining why they both suffers from that terrible headache. However, Mary informs Jack that there is a specific, small part of the cell, where they are weaker and her headache let go. Armed with hope, Jack tries and succeeds to burn away a piece of the ironclad window, allowing them to escape.
In between, a very unsuspecting Sam got hit in the face twice by Donatello, armed with a bottle and the strength of absolute insanity. At least Donatello rejecting the call from Dean on Sam’s phone will alarm the oldest Winchester of the current ongoing twist of events at the bunker.
When Michael understands that Jack and Mary are gone, he sends Zachariah to get them back and threatens him if he fails. He explicitly ordered that they kill Mary in front of Jack, and to make her death as painful as possible. Mary and Jack have fled and are trying to hide, but they’re found by two soldiers, one of which is none other than Bobby, the one the boys met a the end of season 12 when they passed to the Alternate Universe for the first time. Bobby recognizes Mary as Mary Campbell, hence confirming that he and AU’s Mary knew each other and were possibly intimate. He also remembers Sam and Dean, and connects the dots and cross the t’s very quickly.
True to himself, Jack salutes them the same way he waves at new people, being the very essence of innocence in regard of a potential danger. Mary doesn’t take the risk to reveal Jack’s true identity, and so, Bobby protects them and guides them to their camp.
Sam’s ok. Beside a massive bleeding bruise on his temple, he tells Dean and Cas, back at the bunker, that Donatello snapped and kept on coming at him and even tried to bite him. He didn’t wanted to hurt him, so he got him locked in the dungeon, and the live feed of what’s going on in there isn’t comforting : Donatello has completely lost his mind and is dancing around the chair, chanting about the power of the tablet. When Dean and Cas tell Sam about what happened with the ancient warriors, they both come to the conclusion that Donatello tried to kill the three of them. Castiel looks specifically pissed and concerned, while Sam and Dean simply assumed he’s suffering from a prophet burnout. Clearly, he didn’t.
At the refugee camp, and following a friendly welcome from Bobby, Mary and Jack discover the extent of the war, as Bobby informs them that the angels are relentless and hellbent on destroying them all. Bobby’s adjusting Michael’s real ambitions : it’s not a war, it’s an extermination. All around them are survivors and wounded humans, trying to live in such terrible conditions. As Mary informs Bobby that Michael will look out for them, Bobby calm them down : they have wardings and several other methods to prevent him from coming here. He’s going to protect Mary and Jack because back in the days, Mary Campbell saved him a few times. Bobby and AU’s Mary’s relationship is still left unsure, but it’s safe to assume they had at least a strong friendship, and most probably even more.
Confronting a demented Donatello isn’t the easiest thing the boys ever had to do, and Castiel’s overlook from the live feed on Sam’s computer isn’t helping with the feeling of impending doom flying in the room. Everyone is on edge, and things are about to go ever further off the rails. Donatello seems stuck in a persistent delusion that Sam and Dean wants to use him (well, technically not wrong) and steal his power and his knowledge, and when Sam encourages him to fight whatever is taking hold of him, he laugh like a maniac and replies that he doesn’t want to fight it. He also confirms his initial intention to have Dean and Castiel dead, and send a suffocating spell to Dean, who’s struggling to breath and reach out to Sam for help while Cas rushes to Dean’s rescue. Outside of the dungeon, the spell wears off and Dean can breathe again. Donatello tried to kill Dean two times over the same day. The prophet is visibly too far gone to even attempt saving him.
In my humble opinion, this episode is one of the best ones of a season that’s insanely good, but it managed to give us small, satisfying scenes before throwing our way a third tier that was packed with informations, emotions and major character development sequences. Namely, Mary, Jack and Castiel.
In the Alternate Universe, and at Bobby’s place, that’s, unsurprisingly, a refugee camp, welcoming the victims of the angels mass destruction attacks, Mary and Jack are up to date with the full extent of the war, and spontaneously, Jack takes care of the kids and becomes a master at playing shadows (mimicking a moose ? Nice touch !) and distracting those whose childhood is being stolen by Michael. This reinforces the feeling of inner and absolute goodness coming off the Nephilim, because he never had real contact with kids, none that we are aware of (maybe he did during the few weeks he was gone prior to ending in the AU), and yet, he doesn’t question his utility, he just goes in the direction of people who need his emotional support and will use his powers for good, and in this case, reaching an extremely elaborated collection of animals reflecting themselves on the white drape. There is something really touching in the way Jack, who had to give up on being a child entirely, now spontaneously defends and protect this right for any other infant. Something beautiful, too.
Bobby and Mary are sharing a cup of coffee (in which Bobby added « a nip of whiskey », therefore proving that our Bobby and this one have a lot more in common than initially suspected), and Bobby tries to gather his memories of Mary Campbell. Thanks to Jim Beaver’s incredible range of emotions, Bobby’s recollection is tainted with sadness, regrets, and affection, drawing there an interesting emotional parallel with our Bobby and the depth of his pain when he lost Karen. Those scenes are the first real acquaintances we’re making with Alternate Universe’s Bobby, and immediately creating a connection between them two spares us the main issue with AU’s versions of people we know and love : creating oppositions rather than parallels. In this very case, the two Bobbys have enough in common not to fall into such a cliché.
I was thrilled, and to be perfectly honest, I was in tears at the importance of the conversation, and of the revelation that comes later. When Mary instantly associates the sadness of her dead alter ego to her own regarding the deal she made to save John, and Bobby tells her that, actually, she didn’t do it, I understood right away that what caused the apocalypse in the AU in the first place was the absence of deal. In the earliest seasons, and mostly season 4 and 5, when the nature of the demon deal was known and all of its consequences on Sam, and, as a collateral damage, Dean, were known, and when Supernatural tried to first play with Alternate Universes and possible futures (504 / The End is the best example), I never really considered what their lives could have been if Mary refused to deal with Azazel, or if I did, I probably choose to forget one major fact and focused on how normal their lives would have been had Sam never been infected. But the actual truth is here brilliantly underlined : if Mary hadn’t saved John’s life at all costs, then nothing would have happened. No Dean, no Sam, and no heroes to save the world and avoid the apocalypse. Basically, no Supernatural. The way Bobby considers her deal and its ripple effects as a positive thing is entirely new, at least for me. It forces me to see the bigger picture rather than looking at the brother’s personal suffering, and once again, it’s the core theme of the show : how a group of individuals and their choices and their sacrifices changes the destiny of the whole planet, and possibly universe.
Mary’s vision of things is here very interesting to focus on. She used to flee her boys to avoid confrontation, and she was even more awkward around Sam because she knew he was what Azazel was looking for and it didn’t miss, and it ruined his life and made him suffer more than is humanly bearable more than once, and bearing this weight was too much for her and lead her to big mistakes and wrong decisions (working with the British psychopaths and sleeping with Ketch, for starters), but Dean has changed it. Dean forced her to take a cold, hard look at what she did, and Dean pushed her towards a path to acceptance, eventually ending in that big, heartwarming mother and sons hug at the end of 1222 / Who We Are. She’s had time to explore her guilt and to deal with her emotions now that she’s trapped, even more if she had no hope of escaping the Alternate Universe. There was no urge to fix her relationship with the boys, just plenty of time in between torture sessions to try and understand things differently. And she did. She is well aware of the pain she inflicted on her kids, and she’s even more aware of what it forced them to become : saviors, with a side of sacrifice.
Bobby does alleviate Mary’s pain, though, by telling her how good her boys are and how they tried to get him to cross the rift back to their world with them. This is peak Winchesters, and it’s a good thing that after that difficult talk about the deal, Bobby is the one to gets to remind Mary of who her boys are, thanks to her choice to save their dad. Bobby already shows fatherly love for Sam and Dean, one that is reminiscent of the way Bobby cared for them. The two Bobbys have a lot, lot more in common than I thought they did, and this pleased me infinitely. I really, really enjoy this version of Bobby. His refusal of following the boys to a safer place, and a far more comfortable life didn’t surprise me, and neither did his position of leader of the refugees and his care for all those people. Cosmic truth : Bobbys from all universes are inherently good. I would be terribly surprised to find a Bobby in any of those lost and forgotten universes that Kaia could have opened that’s not fundamentally good and caring.
Once again, Supernatural treats their character in a way very, very few shows does. It knows them by heart, and it knows how to develop them in a way that’s always, always carefully thought out and considered. And this season is no different than any others : each character arc, be it the main three, all the recurring, or the new ones, are exactly like playing a game of chess. One step at a time, and the grand design behind it all will appear all at once in the last three episodes of the season. Mark my words, big, big surprises are coming. It’s in the air.
Then, of course, things had to go off the rails, and Bobby wants to know how Jack can create those elaborated shadows to entertain the kids, hence forcing Mary to reveal him that Jack’s not entirely human. And true to the Bobby’s style, he has an epidermal rejection of it, and forces him to leave by morning. I was thrilled that Mary chose to protect Jack first and foremost rather than stay in a fairly friendly territory that was willing to accept her. Mary Winchester is finally becoming a mother, and at that very moment, I wished the boys had known how good she is at taking care of Jack, how proud it would have made them, and how easier their fight would have been if they knew they had each other for emotional support and protection.
The scene ends up on a ominous prediction of Bobby that could very well turns out to be prophetic regarding Jack’s future : « when all of this started, when Lucifer and his demon army rose out of hell, we thought the angels were on our side. But one by one, they turned on us. He will, too. It’s just a matter of time ». I love Jack too much to even allow myself to consider it, but let’s be honest : he will turn bad, one way or another, because Sam did, Dean did, Cas did too. It’s inherent to the show, the attraction of the dark side and the fight not to succumb to its sirens. The question is for how long, and whether he will be redeemable afterwards.
After Donatello’s second attempt to kill Dean, Team Free Will now knows it has a major problem : a prophet gone rogue. At first, they suspect that the tablet made him snap, but Cas confirms that the prophet is a conduit for the tablet’s content, and that it shouldn’t cause Donatello any problem. It didn’t take long to figure out what’s the real issue, there, though, as Sam understands, while also noticing that they’re going back to square one after having approached a solution so closely, that the difference between the other prophets and Donatello is his lack of soul (I love how it’s almost like the tattoo tradition : when someone’s lack of soul has to be considered, it’s always Sam’s duty, as if his experience made him the expert in the room) and the fact that, because Amara ate it, it’s not a problem that can be fixed. As Cas reveals, for a prophet, a soul serves as a filter against the tablet’s darkness, and this explains how and why Donatello lost the plot. The prophet’s corrupted and there’s no saving him, and the logical conclusion that Castiel reaches is, simply, to put him out of his misery, therefore allowing a new prophet to come into being, as it would be the kindest thing to do.
Sam refuses that option and reminds them that the only thing they need is the spell, as Cas takes a harsh decision in choosing to handle the problem himself and locks himself up in the dungeon with Donatello, to the Winchester’s concern that he might do something drastic.
In the AU’s refugee camp, Jack acclimates himself extremely well and is feeling helpful and inspired by people’s bravery, but as Mary tells him they have to leave, he understands right away that it’s his fault, a little too late, though, since an alarm starts blaring, urging people to take shelter from an incoming angel attack.
Mary and Jack are almost hit by a bomb, and Mary’s mother instincts are in full force as she’s protecting Jack regardless to the fact that he’s both stronger, has powers and is immortal.
Castiel is known to take hard decisions when he feels that his family is threatened. In this regard, he’s very human. He doesn’t really carefully considers the options, as he tries to avoid hurting his closest kin while going with the options that seems the best for both parts. In the end, the reason why he went with Crowley and the purgatory fiasco in the first place in season 6-7 was to avoid having to burden Dean with yet another quest for help, and at Castiel’s place, no one would have done better. Raphael was a nutcase of epic proportions, and had Castiel not tried his best to fight that war that was brought upon him, and to avoid rendering Sam’s sacrifice obsolete, the apocalypse would have happened, and our earth wouldn’t be much different than the one of the AU’s. Castiel is known to be able to make the hard cuts in their losses to protect Sam and Dean. And that’s what he did with Donatello. He’s facing a prophet who’s so far off the reservation he can’t be brought back, tried to kill them all once and Dean twice, and has the spell they’re desperately needing. Neither Sam nor Dean would have done what Cas decides to do : to forcibly extract that piece of knowledge off Donatello’s brain. And Castiel is extremely clear on the fact that he wished he never had to do that.
There are quite a few symbols and concerns over the actual future consequences of that gesture. First, what exactly is Cas extracting off Donatello’s brain beside the spell ? When he was overlooking the interrogation of the prophet from the Winchesters, he showed interest in the fact that Donatello translated the whole tablet. What could it be ? It’s the Demon Tablet, so it’s safe to assume it has everything to do with Lucifer and hell. But what precisely could it be ? There’s also the pretty revelatory image of Castiel taking off his coat. The angel’s trench coat and general outfit is a big clue as to how he feels : when he’s human, his outfit is entirely different, when he was Lucifer, he didn’t had his tie most of the time, when his grace was fading in early season 10 either…There’s virtually no reason for him to take off his coat to strip the spell away from Donatello’s brain, since he kept it when he accessed Bobby’s soul top regain the power to bring the boys back from the past in late season 6, or when he assessed Sam’s lack of soul earlier in the same season. Taking it off is a big clue foreshadowing future revelations regarding Castiel’s current head space.
I’m not convinced that Donatello told the truth when he warned Castiel that all of his newly absorbed power could « fry us both ». I believe it was a desperate attempt from the prophet to scare Castiel away and keep this knowledge to himself. If he was convinced it would fry them both, then why would he try to knock Castiel away with a spell ? It was probably nothing more than the terrified ramblings of a mind that’s about to lose his grip over the Demon Tablet’s power and knowledge. We’ll never even know if Castiel really took a big risk or not, but it worked, and Castiel got the information he needed. Donatello’s state was, at this point, uncertain, but he looked unconscious at best.
Once more, the way the boys tried to open the door and asked Cas to do so mirrored the cold opening scene and Jack’s hallucination. The meaning behind it could be simply aesthetic, or will be revealed later on the season. I’m not too sure about what to read into it, currently. Maybe just a father to son parallel.
In the AU, while trying to flee the camp, Jack and Mary are stopped by Bobby who accuse Jack of being responsible of the attack, because he used his powers. Jack’s guilt is sweating of his every pores, and he feels so sorry it’s almost painful to watch. Poor kid, forced into wars he doesn’t understand and shattered by judgements he doesn’t deserve. While Mary tries to help and Bobby entrust her to protect the children and shelter them, Jack tries to give her a hand, to Bobby’s firm refusal. Mary then told Jack to run away and hide and stay there, to avoid being captured by the angels at all costs. Zachariah orders his goons to find Jack and kill everyone else, and while Jack tried to obey Mary at first, he can’t bear the screams of the children being attacked and tortured by the angels, and he decides to come back and help. Mary helps a little girl when she’s stopped by Zachariah, but she’s too late to shoot him and he’s going to kill her if she doesn’t tell him where Jack is, to what Mary respond by a fierce, very Winchester « go to hell », echoing directly the way Sam repeatedly resisted torture at the beginning of season 12. Jack does arrive at the right time, and pulverize Zachariah while using his powers, at first, the way we’ve seen him do it since day 1, but then the way he kills Zachariah, sadly, echoes the way his biological father do it : by squeezing his fist. No one could have taught him that, beside his nature and DNA. Bobby bears witness of it all, and of Jack making a bunch of missiles headed their way explode in the air before they even caused any damage.
Jack’s powers are now vastly, vastly expanded, and it hurts Jack a lot more than he is showing, since he has a hard time getting back to normal and switching off the gold light in his eyes. While Bobby’s stance is switching and he’s thanking Jack for what he did, Jack names Sam and Dean as his inspiration to come back and fight, and he decides that the only way to truly help the people Bobby cares about is to go and kill Michael on his own.
The closing scene of the episode is among the most important ones of the season, because it’s setting up Castiel’s character development arc in a pretty epic way. As he’s waiting for Sam and Dean to come back from, apparently, driving what’s left of Donatello to the nearest hospital, the boys tells him that Donatello is technically alive, but brain dead, and that machines are keeping him that way. There’s an interesting fact in that state, because since Donatello isn’t technically dead, a new prophet can’t be named. Castiel then explains to the boys that Donatello was entirely corrupted, and that he was a danger to himself, to them and to the world. He also reveals that he was working with Asmodeus unwillingly, to Sam and Dean’s surprise and shock, but it definitely adds to the validity of Castiel’s decision, and that taking Donatello off the chess board one way or another was, as tragic as it is, the right thing to do. As Castiel refers to the situation as « some people just can’t be saved », Dean questions whether he’s fit to make such a choice, and to who gave him the right to do it. Unlike the Leviathan’s situation, where Castiel was barely making any sense because he was too far gone, here, his explanation makes perfect sense : « If I hadn’t acted, we would still be sitting around and talking about what to do next. We would be wasting time. And it’s time we don’t have, Dean. I told you, war is coming. War. And I did what soldiers do. Now we need the spell to open the rift, and I got it. We need four major ingredients : the grace of an archangel, a fruit from the tree of life, the seal of Solomon, and the blood of « a most holy man ». We find these things, we can bring everybody home. And together, we can beat Lucifer AND Michael. This is the only way we win. And this is the only way we survive. It’s like you said, Dean. Whatever it takes. »
A lot is going on, there. First, Dean’s influence on Castiel’s decisions, while never have been a doubt by the past, is now the clearest and most obvious it’s ever been : Castiel even uses the same exact sentence. The Winchesters have always been importantly considered in Castiel’s actions, and their wellbeing always was a priority, but it’s just one step further this time. Also, interesting choice of words when Castiel talks about beating Michael and Lucifer : wasn’t « beating Raphael » one of his leitmotiv from season 6 ? Basically, aside from Gabriel, and none of them yet know that he’s jailed in hell, archangels are Castiel’s first and foremost problem and have always been, and they’re the earth’s biggest issue too. It’s worth mentioning that, while Lucifer’s true vessel’s question has been solved by both Rowena and Crowley and now seems fixed forever in Nick’s body (to my relief), Michael’s still up in the air. Could one of Castiel’s concerns be related to the fact that Dean is and remains Michael’s true vessel, and is he every incarnation of Michael’s vessel or solely our reality’s ? If Archangel achieve their highest level of power within their true vessels, then how powerful can Michael get if he possesses Dean, and what could possibly make Dean accept ? We’ve circled the subject in late season 5, but Dean never got to experience it. It could still be happening, or maybe the vessel question is water under the bridge and Michael’s current incarnation is the one that will stick. There’s also the question of whether the other Michael, Adam, will at some point be brought back. Jake Abel was a little vague about whether we’d seen the last of Adam, and he’s in possession of an Archangel’s grace. Adam could be on the verge of making a come back.
There’s also the information that we got and that they’re yet to find : their spell, providing it is the same one as the Angel Tablet’s, will allow for one person to passage through, and one only. Who will they save ?
I can’t even begin to tell how much I adore this season. Each episode is intense to the highest level, and emotions are intertwined with action in the most efficient way, leaving us gasping for air and answers at the end. The frustration generated by the week to week format is only making me more and more eager and happier to get a new piece of the puzzle each week, and the thrill of being a fan of Supernatural is only growing bigger and bigger by the season.
Scene of the week : Jack’s game of shadow. This kid is the definition of «adorable ».
Performer of the week : Alexander Calvert. He is amazing at making us care immensely for a character that has been there for a few episodes only, and he has such a candid, almost naive way to make Jack connect with other people, it’s hard not to suffer when he’s being tortured, beaten or manipulated.
Laugh of the week : « I don’t get words wrong »
Punch in the feels : Mary talking about the deal in such an open, frank, honest way.
Scene stealer : Keith Szarabajka is absolutely amazing in turning the goofy prophet into something evil and capable of the worst. He made a villain quite convincing and scary.
Question of the week : Can Jack really kill Michael, to which consequences ?
Fangirl moment : Dean and Castiel’s bromance. I’m sorry, but when those two are together, mischief and laughs are always bound to happen. Misha and Jensen’s on screen chemistry and off screen’s friendship is brilliantly exploited by the show.
Special nod to : Samantha Smith. She’s being amazing as Mary. Her season 12 arc vilified her and made her hard to love, but the way she’s trying to improve, and she’s taking care of Jack and she’s caring about the consequences of her actions in a way she never ever approached in season 12 makes me so, so happy. The character development is incredibly good, and she’s doing a fantastic job at layering her with emotions and feelings we’ve never had the chance to witness that much in the past season. She is perfect, and I hope that she’s going to get the chance to be with her boys soon and to give us back, albeit temporarily because it’s Supernatural, that family feeling we got at the end of the last season.
by Axy Dewelle
Season 13, The Road So Far: 13 burning questions
They really didn’t lie. When they announced season 13 as the « lucky » one, as fans of a show that has destroyed us emotionally time and time again, we were both excited and terrified about what they really meant by « lucky ». Within the Supernatural realms, we know that whoever gets lucky gets immediately cursed at the same time, and so far, the new season gave us everything we could hope for: fantastic new characters, long (long, long) awaited returns, a few new iconic villains, highly emotional scenes practically in every episode, and it has raised the stakes a lot higher than season 12 ever dreamt of raising. This season is focused, mature, and incredibly satisfying.
1. WHAT HAPPENED TO OUR BELOVED GABRIEL ALL THIS TIME?
Are you over it yet? Because I’m not. I’ve been on a high the past three weeks. This is, without a doubt, the biggest revelation of the season so far: the return of one of the show’s most beloved characters, the sweet and sour Gabriel, and his compassion and love for humanity (and Casa Erotica). Asmodeus has him jailed, apparently tortured on a fairly regular basis, his lips are sewn shut. Asmodeus wants to turn him into an anti-Lucifer weapon with the newly introduced archangel blade. It’s pretty clear that the second Gabriel will be able to gain an inch of power on Asmodeus, he’s going to destroy him, because, and it’s quite the heartbreak, all we can now see in Gabe’s eyes are rage, anger, pain and fury.
The last we’ve seen of Gabriel was in season 5, when Lucifer supposedly killed him (which we now know he didn’t had the right weapon to do) and in season 9 when Metatron used him, one way or another, to convince Castiel to raise his own army of angels, to fit his twisted narrative. Gabriel’s hologram, or whatever it was, implied that, maybe, he wasn’t dead after all, but we had no other clues ever since, and it was, therefore, left open to debate.
There are so many questions up in the air so far in the season. Gabriel has been gone for almost a decade, so, where has he been? Chuck in late season 11 did said that it would take some re-building to get him back on track, so how did that happen? Was Chuck even aware of Gabriel’s whereabouts for so long ? It’s a pretty long period, and I have a hard time believing he might have been in hiding away from the earth and the humans; he clearly loves humanity too much to be kept away willingly that long. If we believe Asmodeus, only the archangel blade has the power to kill him anyway, and that explains why Lucifer and Michael had to be caged and not killed all this time. The Archangel blade really is a game changer, and I hope we’re going to get more lore about how and why it was created in the first place, and who created it (Chuck? Death?). It does leave a pretty long timeframe of unknown activity from Gabriel. Was he jailed somewhere? Did he simply disappear and keep quiet when Lucifer tried to kill him? Is there someplace special that only the archangels have access to? The gap is so huge, everything and anything could have happened there.
The key, and currently missing information, is when and how did Asmodeus get his hands on him? Gabriel looks shaken, and hurt, and exhausted, so it’s safe to assume he’s been there a while, but we don’t know the full extent of the torture he’s been subjected to, and neither do we the reason why his lips are sewn shut. Gabriel is a smartass, and he’s snarky and the wittiest of the show and would provoke anyone and everyone at the first occasion, but to have to resort to extremes like this one, Gabe must have gotten them seriously pissed. Good for him!
There’s also the estimation of the damages done on him. Gabriel was the epitome of free will, he went his own way and never really stopped being whoever he wanted to be, be it Loki, the trickster, or both trouble and help for the Winchesters. He was, after all, the pivotal piece of knowledge to send back Lucifer in the cage, and he’s always been ten steps ahead of anyone, Lucifer included. How breakable is such a mind, and can torture really set him back to place of vulnerability? How much of Gabriel as we know him is left in Gabriel as he is now?
Surprisingly, I don’t doubt that it’s Gabriel and not any alternate universe’s version. Asmodeus is nowhere near about to break into another world, and I definitely don’t think that it’s anyone other than our Gabriel. But who knows what twisted grey rabbit Supernatural can pull of its hat…Still, I’d be very surprised. It’s ours.
I hope Ketch now understands that he has the upper hand over Asmodeus and that he has to let Team Free Will know about it really, really soon. This will test the extent of his loyalty, and whether he is capable of becoming a pivotal ally.
2. WHAT DID BILLIE IMPLY WHEN SHE REFUSED TO LET DEAN DIE?
Advanced Thanatology is, so far, one of my favorite episodes of the season. The constant referencing to the iconic moment of the first season (Asylum, Dead In The Water…) really worked with me, and so did Sam’s efforts to make his brother feel better. I suspect he knew that Dean was much, much farther gone than he implied. Still, having Dean killing himself in order to help the ghosts and then deciding he should stay dead if that meant he’d freed the kids was extremely traumatic. Of all people, Dean’s the last I’d considered capable of such a thing.
What happened in the veil was, quite simply, amazing, and amazingly written and directed. Visually, the library works really well. All those books, all those deaths…It gave us a global vision of something that’s elementary to the show: the Winchester’s deaths and comebacks in various shapes and forms. I wasn’t the biggest fan of Billie the reaper, but she’s fierce, as Death. She’s stunning. Her new grasp on the bigger picture regarding the worlds, plural in general, and the Winchesters in particular is fascinating and left so many doors opened. She knows something we don’t, and she probably drew one important mythology line of the show’s future. We do know that the boys have work to do, it’s been the main theme since day 1, but Billie does sound like she has a clearer idea of how big and how important that work is on a much, much greater scale.
What does that mean for potential future deaths of either Sam or Dean, though ? Is she going to send them back every time until the « job » is done ? Does that mean, that, virtually, the brothers are now immortals? And why was she so interested in the Alternate Universes and to get Dean’s knowledge about it? Are we en route to another Michael VS Lucifer apocalypse? And what exactly are the brother’s powers to stop it if it’s the case ? Neither needs a vessel anymore, and yet, they clearly are a pivotal part of that fight. Is it through Jack’s education and inspiration to be good? Billie seems to have so many keys in hand, and yet, she gave none of them away. She simply brought Dean back in the same loop of job duties and grim future.
3. IS « DARK PLACE » KAIA REALLY EVIL?
Wayward Sisters is very exciting. The pilot really set a tone I didn’t necessarily expect, but enjoyed thoroughly. All the characters are falling into places in a very natural, almost visceral way. Jody is the adoptive mother of the bunch, Donna is the cooler than cool aunt, Alex’s place and role is already defined as halfway though nurse and hunter, Claire’s building her story on her own, and Patience is now slowly finding her mark in that new chosen family that won’t reject her because of her powers (Reminds you of someone, by the way? That’s Sam’s season 1-5 arc, right there).
And then there’s Kaia. The dream walker. The key to alternate universes. The door to the bad place. Claire’s newly found ally and friend. The apparently fatally wounded warrior who gave her life away to save Sam and Dean. The alter ego, evil version who used the rift to pass to Sioux Falls at the end of the episode.
My first doubt was to whether Kaia was really dead. She appears to be, but neither the boys nor Claire did stick around long enough for them to be sure she was gone for good. As the scars on her arms previously showed, she’s been hurt often when she accessed it and she knows that awful things are going on in there. Could that mean that as badly hurt as she’s been, she’s still salvageable? And why would the other Kaia attack her? What’s the backstory between those two? Could Kaia have had any type of relationship with this version of herself, and is she a double, or maybe a lost twin sister? I’m not totally convinced that Dark Kaia is completely evil. There wouldn’t have been any reasonable justification behind killing her so soon if there wasn’t something more to what we’ve seen so far. And there’s at least a friendship to explore between Claire and her, with a strong potential to become more than just a friendly bond. She’s probably going to mirror Claire in more than one way. Claire, too, did some shady stuff in the past and could have gotten Dean killed, but she walked the right path because of Sam, Dean, Castiel, and ultimately, Jody. I firmly believe Kaia isn’t lost. Yet.
4. WHAT EXACTLY ARE ROWENA’S NEW POWERS?
Of course I saw it coming. I knew Sam would eventually let Rowena take hold of the page she needed to get back to full powers. It’s no surprise. Sam is in such a bad place, lately, it’s evident that he’s not going to turn his back on a powerful ally to fight Lucifer off. It’s probably as evident as ever that it’s going to backfire at some point, because, hey, it’s Supernatural, and nothing ever goes according to plan, unless the plan is already headed towards horror to begin with.
Still. Was a scene! And since Rowena already has the reputation of being one of the most powerful witches the world has ever known, it’s legitimately scary to imagine what she’s now capable of. The Grand Coven wasn’t particularly known for their subtlety and patience, but I do wonder what Rowena must have done for them to leave such an imprint on her and to restrain her in such a permanent way.
Her blue eyes, though, and the mimicking of a grace’s location during the spell to free her certainly made me stumble upon my knowledge of the show. This is angel territory, clearly, but has she gained angel powers, or even archangel ones, or was she one to begin with? The timeline is a little wobbly, but could Rowena have been an angel gone rogue, tried witchcraft, and was banned and restrained by the Grand Coven by turning her into a human? That would later allow her to be pregnant with Fergus, and lead the human life we know about. And that would explain her constant fury at the way she’s been treated by them. And also why she’s that powerful. Her knowledge of witchcraft is relatively infinite, since she knows exactly how and where are magical books, how to find them, decode them and use them. She’s going to be a key player of the end of the season. We’re just yet to find out how powerful this makes her and whether she’s going to go dark side with them too. She’s Rowena, after all. She fights for her own interests, but she’s not beyond mass murder if she has something to gain through it. She, too, has been Winchestered, but can she follow her son’s footpath, or will she go the exact opposite way?
5. WILL KETCH CHOSE THE WINCHESTER’S SIDE?
Ah. Arthur. The British Men Of Letters very own psychopath. Well, in all fairness, they were all pretty much insane due to their, erm, experimental childhoods and upbringing, but Ketch is a special brand of crazy. He has a weird charm, though, and he’s both extremely easy to understand and impossible to fully grasp all at once.
Am I surprised he worked with Asmodeus ? No. It’s very in-character to pick the most powerful force in presence and ally himself with it. Am I surprised he freaked out when Asmodeus asked him to kill Lucifer? Neither, because even if he looks like the BMOL’s very own hitman, he remains a Man Of Letters, and he knows who Lucifer is and how big of a threat he represents, regardless to the emotional baggage we have with him because we saw the harm he caused to Castiel, to Rowena, and more importantly, to Sam. Ketch is an opportunist, and an opportunist left in the wild without purpose or anchor. He’ll take whoever’s side is the most interesting for his own interests, and he’ll flipped them at the first sign that the winds are changing. But right now, he is aware that something much bigger is happening, and that he has to pick the side that, for once, is morally right. And it’s the Winchesters. He knows that despite their recent misfortunes, they’re eventually smarter than he’s ever going to be, and he knows that they’re bigger players and winners than he’s ever going to be. So, when facing his scariest enemy yet, I knew he would flip sides, because Asmodeus can’t be trusted while Sam and Dean can.
There’s also the possibility of regaining, one way or another, Mary’s affection. He’s delusional, that’s evident, but he’s extremely attached and still very much in love with her, and there’s something underlying there that could maybe force him to take the right decisions, or even sacrifice himself. I’m not saying that what he did is worth being forgiven for, it’s way past it, but I do believe that he can change. He lacks the moral guidance and compass, and he’s not beyond being Winchestered. If it worked with Crowley, why can’t it work for Arthur? Ultimately, one of the main themes of the show remains nature versus nurture, and nobody really knows what Ketch’s nature is, since it was overflowed with bad nurturing experiences.
6. WHAT ARE LUCIFER’S PLANS FOR HEAVEN?
Let’s be honest, Heaven isn’t exactly the smartest place in the universe. It’s a place of forced devotion, ego-trips worth blowing half the world up at best, and opportunists whose ideas of how to rule it are either insane or destructive on a global scale. Zachariah, Uriel, Naomi, Metatron, Raphael…Not exactly examples of subtlety and intelligence. I can’t say I was that surprised at them falling into Lucifer’s scheme so fast, and neither was I at their complete devotion already. Seeing them kneeling before Lucifer was…Typical of those idiots.
Now the real doubt lies in what Lucifer really has the capacity to do and whether he can create or bring back angels on his own, because we already know the angels intended on making a slave out of Jack and to use his powers to fix their mess. And even if he CAN do it doesn’t mean he WILL do it. He’s been angry and resentful towards Heaven for a long time, so there’s virtually no guarantee that he’s not gonna make it explode once and for all. Same goes for sorting out Metatron’s wrongdoings and giving them their wings back: didn’t the Winchesters already try that and didn’t Crowley confirmed that the spell was a one way road, no return ticket? So how can Lucifer do that ? Didn’t he simply lie all the way through, and those gullible geniuses bought it without giving it a second thought, desperate for a new leader, for someone to follow, for some rules to obey, even if they are coming from Lucifer himself?
There’s also the Chuck dimension that we need to take into account. I have a hard time believing that Rob’s not booked for an overdue come back, because, clearly, aside from Jack, whose power is said to be very near his grandfather’s, no one else can really clean up the mega-mess that Lucifer will eventually leave behind him.
Lucifer hasn’t changed, he didn’t grow up in any way, shape or form. He’s still an insecure kid desperate for his father’s attention, and maybe taking over Heaven is nothing else than yet another attempt to do so. All in all, the danger for Heaven lies within: they are setting the fox among the chickens by themselves, without any foreign help.
7. WHO REALLY IS (ARE) THE SEASON’S VILLAIN(S)?
Possibly this season’s biggest question. The lines are infinitely blurry, and the biggest threats may be yet to come. There are three profiles, though: the obvious maniacs with a serious appetite for destruction, those who have been walking a thin line, and the good ones whose issues may push towards making the wrong choices.
THE MANIACS :
-Michael: well, we never really had time to really get acquainted to the only version of Michael we knew so far, the one still in the cage as we speak in Adam’s vessel. But he sounds scary and extremely interested in taking over the world. His torture methods are downright medieval, and his way of treating Kevin is appalling. Plus, if Lucifer is scared, this doesn’t look too good.
-Lucifer: same old, same old. Daddy issues + depleted grace + son at large + new ally + Heaven takeover = tragedies in the making.
-Asmodeus: he does look a few steps ahead of the boys, thanks to Gabriel and the archangel blade, but is he really and for how long? The minute Gabriel is going to be free, he’s fried (pun intended). But he still has a fairly large number of resources, and he’s not afraid to use them.
THE THIN LINE :
-Rowena : back at full powers, she can very well decide she’s going to rule the earth and no one will have the capacity to stop her. Jack, maybe, and it’s not even certain. If she’s going rogue, the consequences could be catastrophic.
-Sister Jo: she’s Lucifer’s BFF, but she’s also her first source of power. And she’s driven, smart, and manipulative. She’s now right by the highest position in Heaven, and I suspect she might be eyeing an upgrade.
-Ketch: Ketch isn’t a villain per se, not this season anyway since he’s serving his own interests only. He’s working for himself. But he has maniac tendencies, that’s for sure. He could get back to his old ways.
-Donatello: it’s not his fault, but he is a mole for the enemy. A soulless one, too. And he remains a prophet.
-Gabriel: how much of his old self is left, and how angry and hellbent on revenge is the new one ?
THE BAD CHOICES IN THE MAKING :
-Castiel: he has gone nuclear in the past, and saving Jack could make him do reckless things all over again.
-Dean: the way he handled Kaia proved that his fuse is much shorter than it was before. Enough to walk down a dark path?
-Sam: it’s a very well established fact that when Sam’s mental balance is either threatened or uneven, he’s doing things that can potentially destroy the planet. And he’s not in a good place, currently. At all.
-Jack: he hasn’t yet met his father, and his evil side will, eventually, wake up, one way or another.
-Mary: could she cross a line in order to save her sons ?
8. HOW MANY MORE ALTERNATE UNIVERSES ARE THERE?
I’ve always been fascinated by shows who have the guts to attempt the multiverses narratives, because you have to be extremely thorough and precise to manipulate them efficiently. I’m a Whovian, and I’m a DCTV fan too, so, I’m acquainted to relatively good multiverses narrations. However, I was a bit concerned about it evolving in the Supernatural realms, because Doctor Who and Flash or Legends Of Tomorrow are very Scifi-ey, and it’s always easier to manipulate science fiction than it is to manipulate a fantastic-leaning-towards-drama show. But they’ve done a very, very good job so far, and I’m very happy with what is currently happening and how. The biggest threat was to overflow the show with doppelgängers, but they didn’t and they played with it efficiently and smartly. We’re yet to see some more of the Apocalyptic Universe, but they didn’t oversell it.
Same goes with the Bad Place. That’s when I was really afraid they would open doors to several other worlds and confuse us, like some shows do. But adding a third one that’s leaning towards Wayward Sisters and Sioux Falls was a risk that paid off. The differences between the three universes we already know are so well crafted, there’s no chance of confusing them with one another.
But this definitely raises the question of how many more are there, since Kaia and Jack’s connection clearly showed more than the two we now are acquainted with. There’s no limit to what those worlds can be, since they’ve established with the bad place and the AU that anything is possible in those dimensions. So, what else is lying out there? What possibilities are just one world away? All of a sudden, everything become bigger and the wonders and horrors of foreign worlds are infinite. I like that they created something that has left practically all of those doors opened.
9. HOW FAR CAN ANAEL GO TO GET WHAT SHE WANTS?
Supernatural has a knack for introducing characters in epic ways. We all remember Castiel’s arrival, possibly THE best character introduction scene in the history of television, but even Crowley (the homophobe kissing) or Benny (straight out of Dean’s forearm) had extremely inventive and straight-to-the-point introductions. Anael / Sister Jo isn’t different. The fact that it’s Danneel only adds a fantastic bonus, but she didn’t take long to establish herself as a very smart businesswoman working for herself as much as she worked for the others. She’s not entirely good, not entirely bad either, she’s just her own boss and follows her own path. And if it takes her to Lucifer if that means she gets to live, then, she’s fine by it.
Anael is a feminist character. She’s actually the epitome of a feminist character. She works her way through this world her own way, and she uses her talent the way she intends to, and she’s taking the lead over anyone who might want to get any form of control over here, be it Heaven, Dumah or Lucifer. She can live on her own and sustain her own needs alone, but she can also team up with someone who might bring her to a higher social position, or, in this case, the highest. In some ways, she reminds me of Lily Sunder’s determination in season 12. The characters are really different, but they are driven the same way. Anael is just focused on surviving, then living, then getting what’s hers, and she’s probably looking for revenge now that’s she is the closest ally of Lucifer, right by his side near the throne.
She’s also keen on keeping sided with the most powerful of the two sides in any given fight. When Team Free Will tried to get their hands on Lucifer, she played their side, then neutral side until she realized that she should pick Lucifer’s because he remains the one with the upper hand. She doesn’t have a moral compass other than her own interest.
She has reasons to want revenge, too. She’s been overlooked her whole life long, and it doesn’t take a genius to see that she is extremely smart and that being stuck in a button-pushing position for eternity isn’t exactly the life you’d expect heaven to give their inhabitants. She probably has waited for millennia to get the chance to strike back and to make them all understand that she wasn’t such a low profile bureaucrat, but that’s she’s worth a lot more. Is she gonna let Lucifer rule on his own, or will she take the upper hand and gain control over her former superiors ? There’s no way she’s going to be a « trophy wife » for Lucifer. She’s worth a lot more than Heaven even suspected.
10. IS THERE SOMETHING WE DON’T KNOW ABOUT CASTIEL?
So far, what we do know about Castiel this season isn’t that much. Jack’s emotional distress brought him back and woke him up in The Empty. He pissed the cosmic entity off to the point of being thrown back on earth, in a new trench coat, usually a visual sign that something’s changed. He couldn’t bring the bank guard back. Apparently, he doesn’t have his wings, he can smite demons, but we don’t know whether he might be able to heal people. He can, however, heal himself overnight, but not instantly. And his fuse is the shortest it’s ever been, he has no time for people’s lies and manipulations. He’s more badass than he’s been in a while. He’s also definitely not possessed, because Asmodeus would have known it, and he so emotional when he talked about Jack to Lucifer that it totally makes him…Well, him. He’s been, all in all, mentally, very much like himself so far.
And yet. There are a few things that are concerning about something different, or whether the « cosmic consequences » of killing Billie and making her, consequently, the new Death, are still yet to come.
The first real big doubt is whether the cosmic entity hitched a ride when it sent him back. It looks unlikely, so far, because all it wanted was to sleep and to be left alone, but did it actually had a choice? Maybe Jack’s capacity to bring Castiel back would eventually have ended up that way? The moment their bond woke him up, Castiel might have been overdue for a come back on earth anyway. Is that why the cosmic entity wanted him to get back to sleep? Because, awake, it was going to end up with them both sent back on earth? I have a hard time believing we’ve seen the last of that weird character.
The other theory I vaguely considered and that now starts to make a lot more sense is that Castiel is now a reaper. Since the end of season 8 and the fall of the angels, reapers are pretty much lost, with no clear instructions, and some of them even became rogue terrorists (Tessa) for causes they knew very few about. So had Castiel been upgraded to the reaper status, chances are he didn’t notice it right away and received no order. When/if Lucifer fixes Heaven and if the angels get their wings back, then he’s going to have one hell of a surprise. Quite a few elements are weighing favorably towards that theory: the symbology of the field he woke up in (crows, a very known death omen, and blackberries and thorns, often used in religious context to symbolize Lucifer’s expulsion from heaven and foreshadowing his taking over it, and his future plans), the thunder when he tried to heal the security guard at the bank, and whether instead of healing him he reaped him, another thunder sequence when he was wounded in the forest…A few things are left up in the air, and could mean everything just as they could have no meaning whatsoever. And what if Jack, in choosing him as his father and giving him his trust, also empowered him differently? Maybe Jack’s not the only one who should have been taught how to move the pencil…
11. HOW DAMAGED IS DEAN REALLY?
Supernatural sometimes make us connect to the characters in ways that resemble and mimic the dynamic of the show. In often overlooking Dean’s mental state, we act like John, and assume that because he’s the older one, he’s not supposed to fall apart, at least not in public. Dean doesn’t ask for help when he needs because he’s firmly convinced he doesn’t deserve it, and he’s not listening to his emotions at all because he’s been forced to repress them for years while living in the shadows of an absent (and abusive?) father, and absorbing whatever negative vibes were sent Sam’s way in order to protect his brother. Which means that, years and countless traumas later, Dean’s quite simply unable to deal with any form of grief in an healthy, balanced way. He just can’t. Because he’s never been taught to.
Up until now, beside losing his mother when he was 4, and his father at the end of season 2, every single one of Dean’s losses (beside his brother) have been in the line of duty, and he had Sam and they kept each another afloat. Season 12 has put Dean into an unexpected position: for once, it’s not a loss, it’s a win, and it’s none other than his mother. The premises of the season were set to make them enjoy something they’ve never had, something good, something they both deserved. And nothing went according to plan, Mary turned out to be at the exact opposite spectrum of the one they needed her to be at, and instead of a win, Mary’s return turned out to be yet another excuse to burden them with another loss in the making. So when they did lose, within the same very short timeframe, mere minutes, Crowley, to sacrifice, Mary, to protect them, and Castiel, for trying to end Lucifer and free Jack of that burden, Dean’s pain threshold is above what he’s humanly able to stand. Kneeling right next to Dean’s lifeless body, looking at the sky for answers that will never come is extremely revealing to where he’s at. He can’t take it anymore.
Dean is not fine, not even remotely, and I’m not convinced he now is more than he was prior to Advanced Thanatology and Castiel’s return. There’s no arguing that he went down an incredible dark and lonely road at the beginning of the season, one that rendered him completely unable to even listen to anything Sam was trying to say regarding Jack. He even unleashed that anger and that rage on both Jack and Sam for wanting to take care of the Nephilim by foolishly considering an unborn kid as the responsible for all their losses. It eventually leaded to that reckless, selfish attempt to downgrade, once again, the importance of his own existence in favor of a group of ghosts he knew next to nothing about.
The current season is revelatory of a pattern we’ve seen in Dean since the beginning of the show. He’s struggling with things that aren’t black or white, and having to deal with a world that’s consisting of various shades of grey only, with very few exceptions, isn’t the easiest thing to handle for him. He’s learning to deal with it and improving with time, but it’s a work in progress. Jack, for instance, went from « full-on biggest threat to this world » to « family » in a little less than nine episodes. Dean’s brain works in extremes, which probably explains the complex nature of his season 4 biggest weakness: he was recovering from Hell indeed, but he also lost his anchor to not fall into extremes, proved unreliable due to the demon blood. It’s a very well known and established fact that the Winchesters have a very yin/yang way to function and that they are both complementary and opposites. Season 13 works that way too, for its first part at least: he’s on the grieving and anger extreme before something makes him reverse that logic, and that’s getting his « big win », Castiel’s return. There’s no in-between, no middle ground.
But once again, wouldn’t that be a little too easy to still consider Dean a polarized thinker only? Because I don’t buy the whole « sudden recovery » shtick. Granted, Castiel has a capital part to play in Dean’s happiness and balance, nearly as important as Sam’s, and his return changed a lot of things for Dean. But he’s still carrying a gigaton of weight on his shoulders, and his brother’s current situation isn’t helping at all. Lately, Sam’s much less capable on taking his support and will shut himself down to any form of encouraging words (the end of both Breakdown and Various & Sundry Villains are both pretty clear about it). He’s also new to what Sam told him about his relationship with their mother, and how he didn’t get any because she was focused on the child she knew the most about. It’s a very common theme in childhood literature, the jealous siblings and the fantasy around who gets the most attention from a parent, and whether love is evenly spread between the eldest and the youngest. So Dean has to live with the idea that however small Mary’s presence was in their lives over the past year, he’s been spontaneously depriving Sam of something he never had. Not intentionally at all, just factually. Mary was far more comfortable with the kid she knew, and the one her direct actions didn’t mess up in the first place before he even got a chance to so much as think on his own. Who could blame Dean for that, aside from Dean himself? Sam’s not mad. He’s not angry. He’s just noticing the gap between what he expected and what he got, and a smaller gap of the same nature on Dean’s side.
So, no, Dean is not okay, not at all, and in a very Dean fashion, it’s going to get bottled up until he’s going to be able to angrily let it out. Or he’s going to do something as desperate as that suicide attempt in Advanced Thanatology, and I can’t convince myself that it was an accident. It wasn’t. The minute he had the opportunity to not come back, he jumped on it without even giving it a second thought, and he barely even considered how devastating it would be for Sam to lose him out of something so stupid and vain. We owe Dean’s survival to Billie and Billie only. That’s not something you recover from by gaining back your best friend. It helps, but most of Dean’s damages are still gaping wounds in needs of stitches, and since he’s back in full-on big bro mode, no one beside Cas is currently taking care of him. Sam can’t, he’s far too busy trying to tend to his own wounds.
12. WHERE WILL SAM’S CURRENT DEPRESSION LEAD HIM?
This one is among the scariest questions so far.
Quick recap of the show up until season 13. Every time Sam has felt ostracized, different, underestimated or looked down, mainly by his brother but not solely, it has led to catastrophes. When his powers first showed up early in the show, and Dean got scared almost right away, it has altered Sam’s whole character arc, progressively tainting his kindness with something a lot darker. From the season 2 finale on, we know something is just not right, and he’s setting himself on a dangerous path, prone to being manipulated (hello Ruby!), ending up in setting Lucifer free, a problem still unresolved to this day, nine years later. One apocalypse and a sacrifice later, and once the psychopath is down by getting his soul back, we have a whole arc of various states of mental illnesses, caused by the ruptured wall and Lucifer being set loose on Sam’s mind, practically two years of extremely visible and haunting damages efficiently shown. I don’t think that even if the leviathans and Raphael’s takeover didn’t happen the wall would have held strong, because that’s literally the first thing Sam did when he got back: scratching the wall. It was in a precarious state to begin with. But even when that got fixed, he’s weighed down by the guilt of having tried to get a life with Amelia and Riot, leading to the trials and their ripple effects, aka Metatron, Gadreel, the mark of Cain, Demon Dean, and eventually, Amara. The two five-year arcs are, roughly, consequences from Sam trying to find his place in the family and in the world.
Aside from the faulty relationship to his mother, from early season 12 on to, basically, mid-season 13, Sam has been fantastically stable. He didn’t flinch when Toni tortured him, he’s the peacemaker when Cas and Dean are having a fight (post-Billie, mainly), and even when their mother goes rogue, he took it upon himself to set aside his anger and resentment and to try and fix things with her. He later took full responsibility for his decisions and actions and sorted it all out, all in all in a fairly badass way. Even the emotional duty of setting Mary straight was on Dean’s shoulders, and not his, reversing the Winchester’s logic really smartly. He then took care of Jack almost right away, because he’s the first person Jack ever sees, and the one that’s going to make sure he’s looked after and being taken care of (while Dean literally tried to shoot him right away then promised he’d kill him). He’s also the one to strengthen the bond between him and Kelly by giving him the USB stick with Kelly’s video on it, and he’s also taking care of his pop culture education. As far as foster fatherhood goes, Sam’s in the right. Even his pencil-moving strategy teaches him how to, actually, teach, and that patience is the key. Sam has learned about himself about as much as Jack has learned about the world, and he doesn’t even take into account the fact that he is Lucifer’s child. He’s Jack, he’s Kelly’s son, and Sam has clearly registered that Jack could become a threat, but he doesn’t resent Jack in any way, shape or form for his partially problematic DNA. That’s both kindness pushed to the extreme, and courage, because we know how big of a burden Lucifer remains for Sam.
And yet, I bought none of it. I never, not once, considered that from the season 12 finale on, he was even remotely happy. He threw himself in Jack’s education process not only because he was their last hope to save Mary, but also because it kept him away from having to deal with the aftermath of Jack’s birth and the countless losses forced upon them over the finale. Sam even acknowledges it himself when he talks about Lucifer with Rowena: he’s not dealing, he’s postponed it entirely time and time and time again because the world was in need of saving. And that’s what makes him dangerous. Because undigested feelings of any sorts are what send the Winchesters down the wrong path each and every single time. It has already caused him to give Rowena’s page of the black grimoire, and she’s back to full power. There’s no telling it’s not gonna backfire one way or another, and when it does, it will eventually be Sam’s responsibility, potentially re-creating the season 4-5 arc on a smaller scale.
There’s also the pending question of the demon blood. It’s been mentioned to Jack in Patience, ever so vaguely, but there’s still no guarantee that he’s completely free of it. He said that the trials were purifying him but they were (thankfully) never finished, so it’s safe to assume that a part of it is still dormant somewhere and wouldn’t need much to be awaken. Sam’s powers remains one of this world’s most effective weapon against demons, regardless to the addiction it causes and the physical consequences on both his body and mind.
So far, he hasn’t showed any sign of going dark side back again, but it is a thin line, and it’s getting thinner and thinner the more depressed he grows. When they get Jack and Mary back, that’s when things are likely to get twisted, because his current mission would be completed, and he’ll be forced to deal with his own emotions. Or maybe the earth will be threatened once again, and he’ll get to push it further down. But one day, it’s going to have to be dealt with, and Supernatural’s stunning continuity work isn’t likely to forget who Sam is and what his difference remains.
13. WHAT LIES AHEAD FOR JACK?
Nature versus nurture is one of this season’s biggest theme, and overall, one of the show’s too in its entirety. And it’s being treated way, way beyond the realms of whether Jack can be evil or good. Donatello vocalized it on The Rising Son, but it goes much further than this. When Sam mentions that his family saved him, that’s nurture winning it over, and when Castiel drives Lucifer insane with who his son really is, that’s also nurture, and when Anael shows her spectacular facility to become human and thrive, that’s nurture, once again. It’s everywhere worth looking. It’s one of the show’s core themes.
So far, Jack is entirely good. The accidents he caused were either because his powers weren’t managed (throwing Sam and Dean against the wall on the premiere) or because he was so eager to help he didn’t think of the collateral damages (the security guard in Tombstone), or had to help to save them (the angels in The Bad Place). He hasn’t hurt anyone, or killed anyone with the sole purpose of causing pain and harm. Every time something bad happened, it’s within a context, in a very Winchester way. He considers his father as Castiel, completely rejects Lucifer, and Kelly is still very present. She’s regularly mentioned, either to underline how good she was (Castiel’s speech to Lucifer in Various And Sundry Villains) or when Castiel evokes the oath he took to protect Jack (as he mentions in Devil’s Bargain). So far, and despite Dean’s primary rejection, Jack has been in a fairly positive environment, shielded away from most of the horrors of the world within the bunker’s security. Even when Asmodeus tried to use his powers, he had a very good reflex reaction in protecting his friends first and foremost. He shows no interest in misbehaving, and he’s often looking up to Dean, he’s eager to win him over on the first half of the season. He already has a pretty balanced trio of carers: the confidant (Sam), the mentor (Dean) and the father (Castiel). His interactions with the world outside are all well-intentioned, and even when he disappears because he’s afraid of causing more harm than good, his main mission is to bring Mary back and make the Winchesters happy and proud of him. He’s raised in a world that’s teaching him not to be evil, and it is his biggest concern and first source of worries. That’s what eventually got him stuck in the Alternate Universe, and the boys in the bad place.
What we do know of Jack’s currents whereabouts is extremely limited. He’s with Mary, and he’s going to interact with Bobby from the Apocalypse Universe. And that makes me really eager to know what those new interactions are going to bring to him, and how it’s going to change him. Will Mary reject him the way she did her sons? Will she install a relationship with him right away because she was there when he was born? There’s no foreshadowing, none that I’ve captured at least, about how she’s going to interact with him, even if I certainly hope for something good to happen on that level. She understood her mistake at the end of the last season, she just never had the chance to fix them, and she has the potential to be a mother figure for Jack. She’s actually the only one yet who can do that, because Jody and Donna are out of the picture. In a way, Jack’s as old as Sam was when she died (they both clock six months of earth presence by the time Mary died in 1983 and Jack meets her in the AU), so she might want to try to do with him what she couldn’t do with Sam: Sam doesn’t need to be taught how life works, but Jack does. One of my biggest concerns is the nature of the spell that is going to be used to get Jack back, and whether it’s going to have to suffer the same glitch as the one from Michael’s angel tablet: allowing one person, and one person only to passage through before it shuts itself down. If the Winchesters had to chose, who would they chose and why?
The question that’s still up in the air, and is likely to happen before the end of the season, is what will happen when Lucifer put his hands on Jack and what this first meeting is going to look like. We know the angels wants to enslave Jack to create more angels, and we know that Lucifer’s current undertaking of Heaven definitely leans towards that arc, because he will need Jack to fulfill his promises to heaven. Lucifer’s concern regarding Jack aren’t because of fatherhood, it’s, once again, to serve his interests and his interests only, although, there could be a glimpse of love in there, since Lucifer worries ever so slightly about not being as bas a father as his was. It could also be yet another complain about his own daddy issues, but the way Castiel’s description of Jack made Lucifer stumble and get all worked up was extremely satisfying. There’s nothing I want more than for Jack to prove himself as opposed to Lucifer as he possibly can. Asmodeus wants to use his powers too, but I don’t see this genius succeeding at anything he might attempt any time soon. He’s going to have a lot on his plate when Gabriel is going to escape, because escaping he will, he’s Gabe, after all.
It is, once again, proving that things works pyramidally in Supernatural. Jack is in the middle of a heaven, hell and earth triangle, and his own free will is now almost solely a nurturing question, but can his nature change it, and is his nature even remotely bad? He wasn’t even born when he showed Kelly and Cas paradise on earth: either it’s the truth, and Jack is inherently good, or a manipulation, and Jack is, therefore, inherently bad.
We don’t know how big and impressive Jack’s powers are. We have an idea of what he can do, but Castiel didn’t mince words when they were looking for Kelly in season 12’s Lily Sunder Has Some Regrets, and neither did Sam when he explained to Donatello how powerful Jack is: a Nephilim fathered by an archangel is only going to be stronger that the angel who fathered him, and therefore, Jack can only be out-powered by Chuck (and Amara, to some extent, since she’s Chuck’s equal). So far, beside minor killings when his kin are threatened, we’ve seen very few of what he is capable of doing, and it’s safe to assume it’s going to get bigger and scarier really soon. Once again, it’s mirroring Sam’s demon blood arc: we know it’s going to get bigger, we just don’t know how, and more importantly, when, and neither do we even have the knowledge to estimate accurately the damages on him, his loved ones, and the world (and possibly even the whole universe).
The only thing I’m sure of, at this point, is that Jack’s is a welcomed addition to the Team Free Will, and that Alex Calvert is doing an incredible job at winning us over within a blink of an eye. He’s been there for 6 episodes so far, and we already care about him as if he’d been there for entire seasons.
All in all, I think we figured out why they used the word « lucky » to describe this season. We are the lucky ones. Thirteen seasons in, Supernatural’s flame burns the brightest it has burnt in a while. Congratulations, cast and crew, this show is and remains on a league of its own.
Devil's Bargain -- 13x13
by Axy Dewelle
Besides the unbearable frustration caused by any hellatus of any length, they’re often considered as mini-finales in themselves. It’s always a signal in the fandom that something big might be happening, and that we might be on the verge of big revelations, or big returns…Or significant, if not permanent, deaths. This time, it’s a come back, and holy hell, it’s the one we all waited for. Let’s break down a pretty massive episode that raises the stakes a lot higher, introduces a new player that might be a game changer for everyone, and sets the tone for the rest of the season in a pretty epic way.
So far, I’m conflicted about how many of Castiel’s powers are back. We all saw him come back to potentially full capacity (and a new coat, which normally means a new chapter in the life of our favorite angel) at the end of 1304/The Big Empty, and we know he can smite demons back again. However, Lucifer’s stabbing wound last week left him far weaker than we could have hoped for, and we find him running around in a nearby forest, lost, confused, and coughing blood, before he loses consciousness and is awakened hours later by two kids who had the scare of their life when they tried to poke him with a stick. Parents, please, teach your children not to poke bodies with sticks, would you? This marks the first reference of almost a dozen throughout the episode, as the show now has enough material to create its own self-referenced Easter eggs, to one of season 2’s most famous quotes, Sam’s « Dude, we’re not gonna poke her with a stick » from 211/Playthings. Apparently, eleven years later, poking people with sticks became trendy. Anyway, Castiel is awake, feels obviously better and his wound is now apparently healed, and he’s getting right back where he stabbed Lucifer. Lucifer is, of course, long gone.
There is something that I’m still questioning about the version of Castiel we now have. It’s him, there’s no argument there, his speech about Jack to Lucifer proved it enough, but there’s something that I can’t quite grasp that makes me consider whether he’s powered the same way, or whether his row with the cosmic entity changed him, one way or another. And there’s an element that made me stumble in my trail of thoughts, there: the recurrence of the thunder. When Jack accidentally killed the bank guard on 1306/Tombstone, the second Castiel tried to heal him, thunder was heard, and on the forest scene too. It could be nothing. It could also mean everything. I’m not certain whether it’s even relevant or just a random piece of montage and directing, but if Supernatural really taught me one thing, it’s to never, ever assume that random things ARE random.
Meanwhile, on Hallmark’s channel…The scene where the new Cupid catches his latest victims and makes a lady on roller skates fall for a gentleman with a now destroyed wedding cake seems to come straight out of a show called « Head Over Wheels For The Wedding Planner ». Naturally, where there’s power, there’s Lucifer, and soon enough, Cupid’s grace is stolen and left with a hole the size of a fist in his chest in lieu and place of a heart. Oh, the irony. Kudos to Mark Pellegrino who’s obviously taking a great and communicative joy in exploring the vulnerable yet still completely rotten side of his character.
In the bunker, the boys are catching up with the latest news, and they have been out of the loop on quite a few things. Castiel is back home, and they’re on the receiving end of the worst possible news with Lucifer’s untimely come back on earth, Asmodeus’s strategy to get his nasty hands on Jack, and all the troubles coming from the alternate universe, from Kevin’s Angel Tablet spell to Michael’s intentions to rule over earth. As Castiel tell the boys he’s met with Lucifer to strategize, to Sam’s shock and Dean’s typical « I specifically told you not to do anything stupid » (honestly, this could very well be Supernatural’s tagline) he tells them that Lucifer is both weak and scared, and that Michael is that big of a threat even his brother wants to fight him. Still, you can feel that it’s pretty hard to swallow for Sam, whose position on Lucifer has been pretty straightforward lately. Castiel mentions that Lucifer later on tried to kill him, to neither Dean nor Sam’s surprise after all. Not one to hold a grudge, Sam asks Cas about whether he has news of their mother, and Castiel confirms that she’s still alive, as he lies to protect them about the torture Lucifer mentioned last week. Once again, even in the middle of the biggest mess we’ve seen in a long time (which is all but relative in Supernatural’s realms), Castiel’s first intentions are towards the ones he love and those who love him back. I’m grateful that he didn’t tell them that Lucifer insisted on her being tortured in ways even him couldn’t fathom, simply because they’re both on edge enough as it is not to put them through an additional level of worry, and Castiel had no way to know whether Mary was really being tortured, or if Lucifer was just being his usual monster self and toying with him. However, that simple information reinforce the brother’s determination, and a spark of hope briefly lights up the room.
Asmodeus is, of course, less than pleased by Lucifer and Castiel’s great escape while he was away for « an important errand », and tries to take it on Ketch who’s not really known to take any prisoners and calls his plan to keep Lucifer in jail « monumentally stupid ». I was surprised Arthur didn’t get beheaded on the spot (or at least stabbed, Asmodeus is going soft on him) but as it turns out, Asmodeus agrees with him and now wants him to take it to next level: killing Lucifer. As good as Jeffrey Vincent Parise is as Colonel Sanders gone rogue, David Haydn-Jones is amazing at keeping Asmodeus in line and affirming Ketch’s very own brand of reckless smartass. Now that Ketch is out of the British Men Of Letters chains, he has a real leeway to install a fabulously twisted and complex character whose moral compass is both flexible and interesting. Of all our recent additions to the stellar cast of Supernatural, he is, after Alex Calvert, my favorite one.
As Asmodeus assumes that in his current weakened state an angel blade to the heart should kill Lucifer, we see fear in Ketch’s eyes for the first time in a very long time. They both come to the conclusion that if his grace is recharged already, they’re all dead. I still am conflicted as to whether Asmodeus tried to send Ketch to his death, since he’s well aware of the fact that stabbing Lucifer, however weak, with an angel blade to the heart wouldn’t suffice. He’s still an archangel, after all, even with a severely depleted grace. Maybe Asmodeus did, maybe he did not. It’s opened for debate.
Homeless Lucifer remains, frankly, an annoying jerk. As he’s discovering his near human limits, feeling hungry, cold, tired, he now has to find ways to fix those very mortal issues. After trying to bully people into helping him, he sat next to Tim, a young disabled man, whose gentle and kind aura earns him a fairly successful beggar status. As Tim tries to explain that a change of attitude would go a long way, to no end, he’s inviting him to get some lunch. Lucifer first believes that the money Tim earned is destined to invite him to a warm meal in the nearby joint, but they end up dumpster diving for lasagna, as Tim explains that those funds are going toward a payment to a faith healer that can fix his leg. When Tim mentions that she is the real deal, and there’s a white light when she heals people, the little circuits in Lucifer’s brain are quick to draw conclusions: the mysterious faith healer is most likely an angel, and where there’s angels, there’s more grace to steal.
Once again, there were two excellent references to two very defining moments of the show when Lucifer and Tim were looking for lasagna in the dumpster. The first one is to the episode 903/I’m No Angel, where human Castiel wanders in the streets and look for food nearby April’s flat. It was an important moment because it was the lowest point in human Castiel’s existence, and it made him vulnerable enough to accept April’s help without applying any form of caution that would probably have revealed who she really was and what her intentions really were. The other reference is to one of the biggest mythological episode of the show, 1120/Don’t Call me Shurley, as Metatron and his canine companion, too, are looking for food before they end up at Chuck’s bar. Supernatural’s art of foreshadowing isn’t a mystery, and both characters were led there to a form of perdition: Cas would get killed (and then brought back by Sam/Gadreel) by April, and Metatron would sacrifice himself to give Sam, Donatello and Castiel (as Lucifer) time to flee Amara’s wrath. In this very case, I suspect that meeting Sister Jo is the first brick to Lucifer’s demise.
At the bunker, we’re about to get reacquainted with one of the most important object in the Supernatural mythology, as Dean lays it on the library’s table, wrapped into a cloth. At first, I somehow suspected it was the Colt, or whatever’s left of it, not by omission, but simply because I thought we’d seen the last of said object in season 8. Cas and Dean are having a calm and collected conversation, as Dean apologizes for not understanding earlier on that it wasn’t Castiel they were talking to on the phone, and Castiel held no grudges whatsoever as he knew they would have done the impossible to get him out, and it might have caused them more harm than good. We’re treading around the biggest recurring lie of the show when Cas tells Dean that he’s « fine », which we all know is the Winchester’s slang to say « I’m not fine at all and I might shoot you if you keep asking me ». Still, Castiel’s entire focus is oriented towards Jack, Mary, and his promise to Kelly. You can feel how painful it is for him to consider he has let her down in any way, and how deeply connected to Jack he is.
Let’s take a minute to appreciate Dean’s regularly understated mental health. I’m very happy that he apologized for not recognizing Cas’s voice when Asmodeus called them, and I’m even happier about how frank and spontaneous it was. Dean’s emotional maturity has been subtly and constantly developed over the past 13 episodes, forced through grief, anger, depression worth considering that dying wasn’t such a bad solution after all, and recently, having to handle Sam’s own menacing dark clouds, and his newly built rejection of whatever encouraging words he may have to cheer him up. Those are violent and deeply traumatic states that Dean’s handling rather gracefully, now that Castiel’s back. Aside from the brutal gesture towards Kaia during the mid-season finale, which I wasn’t really shocked about, because he’s seen his brother walking such a thin line between hope and despair that he practically had a knee-jerk reaction to a possibility of getting their mother back that was just slipping away from them, he’s been trying to fix things with everyone in a very grown up way. He’s said to Jack that he’s family, he’s been listening and caring about Sam, and Sam’s silences, he’s moderating his anger when people makes questionable decisions (he didn’t lash out at Sam for giving the page of the grimoire to Rowena, and neither did he at Cas trying to team up with Lucifer) and he’s questioning people’s feelings more than he questions his own, which is so very Dean, but in a deeper, more thoughtful way than the big brother complex he’s been burdened with his whole life long. It’s good to see him get more in touch with his emotions, and I suspect that parenting Jack and meeting Billie played two important parts in there. Dean’s a work in progress, but he’s evolving in ways that are resonating with Sam’s issues just the right way. Once again, Supernatural’s character development is extremely smart, precise and focused. Thirteen seasons in, writers and actors are still able to push their characters further than they’ve ever been, and it’s the unmissable sign of a show that know who it is, where it goes and why it exists. Jensen is doing such an extraordinary job at layering Dean with emotions that aren’t changing the core of the character, yet still give us new hindsights as to how he’s evolving and how wiser he’s becoming.
Enters our prophet with Sam. Donatello’s visible lack of enthusiasm for the current turn of events since he’s first met Jack is both hilarious and refreshing. The boy’s plan is wobbly at best: getting to Lucifer, assuming he’s still weak enough for him to get Enochian cuffed, and take back his grace to do the same spell Michael did. At this very time, before I even knew how they were gonna find the spell, I knew I wanted that plan to fail, because what they don’t know yet is that it only allows for one person to make the trip back home and one person only before the rift closes down, and my heart broke in anticipation of what could be Sophie’s choice, Winchester edition: rescuing Mary OR rescuing Jack.
Donatello asks where to find the spell, and Sam himself reveals what was in the cloth all this time: the Demon Tablet. Once again, Jared was extremely precise in his interpretation, because all the memories of the trials showed in his eyes for a split second, as if suddenly sent back in time five years ago. 823/Sacrifice remains one of the most poignant and important episode of the whole show, and all it took was a glance at the Demon Tablet to see a church lost in the middle of nowhere, and angels falling from the sky. They basically assume that the spell must be there, because it, too, is the word of god. All they need is for the prophet to translate it, and a very panicked Donatello requires at least 25 buckets of chicken wings to fuel his brain to translate it. Good to know. Next time I’ll need excuses to eat fried chicken, I’ll just use Donatello’s. It’s brain fuel.
When Castiel’s angel radio went nuts and made him crouch in pain, I was somehow relieved at the fact that it was Sam who inquired about what was happening and whether he was okay. It’s in Sam’s very nature to forgive and forget, and had he been in any other mental state than the gradually worsening one he’s been on for weeks now, I would never have questioned whether he was angry or upset at Cas teaming up with Lucifer. But I had a doubt there, one that got swept away by that scene. He’s already moved on, probably entirely focused on the plan that was terribly absent at the end of the previous episode. And he now knows for sure his mom is alive. That counts for something. Castiel reveals that a mutilated vessel has been found, leading to a minor freak out from Donatello who’s asking a rhetorical Supernatural question: who’s killing angels ?
Supernatural teased the arrival of Jensen’s wife, the beloved and amazing fandom-ally Danneel for quite some time, and the story behind it is all kinds of amazing. A long while ago, someone asked her when she’d get a role in the show, and she playfully replied in season 13, when no one could even consider that Supernatural would live long enough to see 13 seasons and counting. As it turned out, Jensen and Danneel’s twins are now old enough for her to join the show, and so, she decided it was the right time and they crafted Sister Jo’s character around her. It also allows Jensen to get his family on set with him, which is a welcomed bonus for both parts and for Jared and Misha to work with one of their closest friends. All in the family, once again. And the least we can say is that Sister Jo makes quite the entrance. She’s an angel indeed, healing people for money, but there’s no really mean vibe coming off her. She looks very nice, very sweet, very pretty and she seems genuinely happy she got to help those people, however expensive her retribution is. This makes Lucifer very happy, since the halo of light coming off her hands as she fixes the wounded and the sick and the disabled confirms that she’s an ex-resident of Heaven.
Once again, another evident reference is made there : one to 112/Faith, the very first episode of the show with a Winchester’s life on the line, and finding supernatural fixes to impending or consumed deaths would soon become one of the show’s biggest trademark. It’s only fair that Danneel gets to be connected to one of (several) Jensen’s finest acting hour. Also, did you notice what was on the painted wall behind Sister Jo? The long and infinite road, the dark sky, the invitation to drive to the horizon, the road signs indicating Sioux Falls, Blackwater Ridge, Lawrence…This wall is a love fest to everything Supernatural represents. An homage. Easter egg as its best. And nothing else than 1005/FanFiction’s very own stage props.
Okay, I’m having a moment, there, but how exhilarating is it to see Sam, Cas and Dean, together, working on the smited angel case? I always get a little joyful kick at seeing the Team Free Will together. They’re investigating the angel kill, and quickly understand that a throat slit can only mean one thing, a stolen grace, which, coincidentally, would lead to one of the few but powerful comedic moments of the episode, all in the dialogues and the…Subtext, shall we say. Dean’s « we’re boned » and Castiel’s « epically » made me laugh far, far more than it should. Sam’s expression, halfway through annoyed and amused, was the cherry on top of a cake I didn’t know I needed. Peak Team Free Will. Peak Supernatural, actually.
Upon approaching Sister Jo, Lucifer’s intentions are fairly straight and deadly: stealing her grace, killing her, and moving on to the next angel who would be unfortunate enough to pass by him. And yet, she recognizes him instantly and she shows no fear, not even the beginning of a scare or a worry, which destabilize Lucifer and make him prone to listen to her story prior to his unfazed deadly appetite for her grace. And that’s when Danneel gives her absolute best and explains in a calm, collected manner who she was, and who she is now, and how attached she grew to humanity. When the angels fell, she made a trade with a woman who was praying for her husband’s life, healing him if she accepted to become her vessel. She underlined the woman’s gratefulness, as she understood that humanity’s lust for life would make her angelic talents useful, and so she monetized them to make a decent living, while finding a purpose on earth. As Lucifer threatens her and nearly stole her grace without asking any further questions, she bargains with him, showing not only that’s she a strong, independent woman, but also that she can worm her way out of the deadliest situation without even breaking a sweat. As she paints Lucifer the image of a benevolent angel letting him sip on her grace regularly to help him recover, if he decides not to kill her, the light in Lucifer’s eyes starts flickering as Sister Jo slowly crawls into Lucifer’s mind and wraps her influence around him, slowly, patiently, intelligently. I’m convinced that she’s bound to become a key player in the second part of the season, and maybe even in the future. She already has quite a grip on him.
The boys lead to find where Lucifer is gets serious when Sam randomly questions Tim, who send him right on Sister Jo’s path. Once again, devil’s literally in the details: how committed and driven must Sam be to get Jack and Mary back to even consider having Lucifer’s picture on his phone? Once again, it’s proving the depths of Sam’s attachment to Jack, and the hope he’s still relying on to finally get a decent relationship to his mother. He’s not flinching. He’s going to go all the way to get them back. Somehow, Castiel’s confirmation that Mary’s alive probably have helped him focusing solely on their main task, and not on the dark place he’s currently in.
Sister Jo is quite the businesswoman, and so, her bargain with the devil was a success. He feeds on her just enough to let her grace recharge, and in exchange, he doesn’t kill her. Grace eating scenes are hypersexualized, which is something that could be off-putting, but it didn’t with me. It was far more awkward to see Mark so close to Jensen’s wife, than figuring out the value of sexualizing Sister Jo’s and Lucifer’s business partnership. Another major reference is hidden in there to make it all…Clearer, or more acceptable. It’s a direct nod to how Sam and Ruby’s relationship was sexualized (case in point specifically in 416/On The Head Of A Pin and 421/When The Levee Breaks) too, and how feeding his addiction led to the same kind of cinematographic erotic value. Sam was depending on Ruby’s blood to get more strength, the exact same way Lucifer relies on Anael’s grace to get stronger, and the lines between power and desire gets blurrier. There’s also an almost fourth wall reference to who Genevieve would eventually become, and who Danneel already is. So, all in all, my slightly icky feeling quickly dissipated.
Have I mentioned recently how much I love the writing in all of the show in general, but there in particular? No? Consider it done. There’s a very subtle way of making Anael seems like she’s way ahead of Lucifer in terms of thinking about the future in general and hers in particular. While Lucifer is being the spoiled, petulant child who snacks randomly on angels regardless to the consequences, she’s the one to question what happened and that it might be all over Angel Radio already. Had Anael not been there, Lucifer would certainly have been found by either Ketch of the Winchesters, and there’s no telling that he would have made it alive. She’s way smarter than he is, probably because she has been in contact to humanity for years now, and she doesn’t consider herself more powerful than she really is. She is way more mature than Lucifer will ever be.
Arriving at Sister Jo’s church, Sam, Castiel and Dean do find someone inside, just not the someone they were looking for. Arthur, following the same lead and searching for Lucifer on Asmodeus’s behalf, has preceded them and came up short, but do suggest a suspiciously enthusiast team up to get to Lucifer. I like how monumentally pissed Castiel is and how he has little to no patience for Arthur’s bullshit. Knocking him right out without even hesitating was a genius move, and the boy’s faces and silent agreement were both priceless. I love how even in fast paced and mythology-packed episodes, we still have time for those little drops of comedy, always timely and welcomed. Ketch bought himself a ticket to a journey in Baby’s trunk, and got us one of the best quotes of the episode from Dean : « All right, I say take dick bag here back to the bunker, find out what he knows, and put a bullet in him, burn his bones and flush his ashes ». Castiel’s reaction is even better : « I like that plan ». Meanwhile, Sam’s found a video of Sister Jo’s healing sessions, and they all suspect that she might be dead. However, later on, in the Impala, Sam receives a text alert regarding Sister Jo’s credit card usage, and she, or whoever is using her card, has just checked in in a motel.
This episode’s real piece de resistance clearly is the extended motel scene between Anael and Lucifer. They gifted Danneel with such an extraordinary character, layered and complex and driven and with her own sets of motivations and pains and hopes and dreams, and she really did an amazing job at never falling into any easy, cheap acting trick. She really is a gifted actress, she really fits in that exceptional cast we are lucky to have.
Once again, the grace eating scene is lurking around erotic imagery, but at this point, I’m pretty much leaning toward it being one of the many ways Anael uses to show that she is empowered with her own decisions, her own intelligence, her own body language and that she will use all of her charms to get to wherever she wants to go. She’s the epitome of the strong female, and her choices aren’t anyone’s business but hers.
The conversation afterwards is revealing an extremely important part of Anael’s psyche and motivation. And it’s extremely profound and well written. When she confides in Lucifer, you’d think she’s inviting him in and letting him assume that she likes him, or that she relates to him, but she’s actually far more in control. Her position on the bed is typical of someone who knows how to play the game, but also how to fix her own limits. Limits she won’t cross. As she’s speaking of the emotional state she’s in when she gave just enough grace to stay angelic, but can feel the humanity around her, she’s using a very well known image of Supernatural, the one of the angels fascinated and falling in love with humanity. That’s who Castiel is, after all. He’s an angel who realized upon confronting humanity that his place and his choices made more sense on earth. Anael uses extremely positive words to talk about the feeling of being human, such as emotions, sensations, pain, hope and love. All in the register of the inner self, the feelings, the soul. The core of what humanity is, whereas Lucifer uses simple, childish expressions of a bodily need: hunger, cold, loneliness. Anael knows she has the upper hand, because Lucifer is incapable of dealing with emotions further than this, and his own psyche is easily twistable.
Anael’s story is such an extraordinary metaphor. She’s what most of humanity will feel one day: overlooked, ignored, looked down, even, bullied into staying in a degrading position while the other ones have the power and wreak havoc. She says she had ideas, she tried to talk to Michael, to Raphael, to Naomi, and no one listened and she got sent back to push a button, and that’s what her life was meant to be. She really gave us a rare in-depth look at what heaven is for the unimportant angels, and make me question who decided that most of them should do that for eternity, while some are holding the reins. Chuck’s hierarchy of Heaven is questionable. When Anael says « I saw how Heaven was running and I knew how to fix it », she doesn’t sound like someone who has vaguely thought about possibilities to make things different up there. She has a plan. She has solutions. She has knowledge. It’s not the random ramblings of a lost angel, it’s the driven strategy of someone who couldn’t do with the uselessness she’s been forced to live with her whole life. Lucifer grasps it pretty clearly when he says « So up here you’re nobody, down here, you’re somebody ». He basically summed up the core of the relationship between humans and angels in Supernatural. Remember Metatron, and how humanity changed him? Or Gadreel? Balthazar? Anna? Hanna? The minute they are in contact with humanity, there’s no turning back to Heaven, not untainted with humanity’s emotions and freedom anyway. Mythology-wise, it’s one of the core themes of the show. Humanity is at the very center of Supernatural.
Anael goes even further when she says that the fall at the end of season 8 was an actual liberation for her. Of course, Lucifer, once again, in a very childish way, brings back his own eternal daddy issues. He wanted to fit in, he wanted to exist in the eyes of Chuck. He can’t move on from something he’s unlikely to ever get. And he’s trying to link it to his own impending fatherhood, but he does sounds scared about it. Is it because he is actually afraid of failing Jack the way Chuck failed him, and in this case, wouldn’t a failure from Lucifer consider a success on the Team Free Will’s regard ? Or woulda failure be making him as evil as he is ? Or is it simply because he’s well aware of what Cas told him on the last episode, about him becoming inherently good and taking after his mother, and he’s afraid of being actually defeated by Jack ? There’s an open question there, to determine what is really going on inside of Lucifer’s brain. However, when Anael tries to come closer, probably not because she is inherently attracted to him, but more as a leeway to get him on her side once and for good (I wouldn’t completely reject her falling for him theory, she seems to be attracted to people of powers, but I’m not sure it’s the prime feeling there) Lucifer reacts like a teenager, though, he suspects something and rolls back on the edge of the bed as to not show himself emotionally compromised. But he is under her spell. It’s pretty obvious. Even when he tries to gain composure and show that he’s Lucifer, his argument falls flat : « Lucifer, prince of darkness, King Of Lies » sounds terribly pathetic for how much of a monster he is and how much damages he’s caused to all of our heroes. However, when he says that the « fun really starts » when he’ll find Jack, this makes me terribly worried. And scared.
Asmodeus couldn’t stay idle, could he? As soon as his goons located Donatello-on a chicken wings run on his own, of course, because the Winchesters and Castiel are gone running after Lucifer-he’s shapeshifting as Castiel and traps him, and got him to talk about most of what he knows: Jack and Mary are trapped, they are decoding the tablet, there is something in there but he’s yet to crack the ingredients. Asmodeus then uses that poor prophet as one of his unwilling informants, forced to spy on the Winchesters for his account. Kudos to Misha, once again, for playing several versions of Castiel with such poise and brain. You can tell it’s not Castiel, but it’s enough off him not to look suspicious. Alchemist’s work, there. Never too much, never not enough, just the right dosage to make it work. The bad news being: we now have one ally that’s in bed with the enemy. Woohoo!
Also, and I have to mention it: Colonel Sander’s evil twin holding a chicken wing ? Apparently, the writer’s room has heard of Asmodeus official nickname !
At the motel, while Lucifer reads the bible and does a large editing of it, protesting that no one did a fact-checking of the book (fact checking the bible…If that’s not a genius line, then I don’t know what that is), Sam is calling Anael and pretending her card got rejected to get her to come out of the room, and when she does, and she recognizes Castiel, she pretends that she’s been forced to stay with him because he wants to eat her grace. She swear to the boys that he’s very weak, weak enough to be captured. That very moment squeezed my heart painfully, because when she insists on how « very » weak he is, there’s a glimpse of hope in Sam’s eyes, and a fragile smile, as if everything just falls into place in his mind and for once, they’re in for a win that’s going to lead to Jack and their mother back home. And it’s almost unbearable to know that this spark of happiness, that small, almost imperceptible trace of relief got shattered when they finally understood that Anael was working with Lucifer, that the Enochian cuffs wouldn’t go anywhere near him (though I’m not sure there weren’t fear in Lucifer’s eyes, as if he knew the cuffs could have worked) and had Ketch not decided to throw a demon bomb at the very last minute, they would most likely have been killed (who said « again » ?). I’m still not sure as to who got Lucifer and Anael out of harm’s way and into the forest, I suspect it’s Lucifer since he was exhausted and calling to get in better shape, but here they are, together, alone, headed for the sandbox. As for Team Free Will, they are back at square one, with Ketch affirming his will to form an alliance again, and this time, he’s playing his last card: he told the boys that he’s been working with Asmodeus, and offers to become a mole. They might not like it, but right now he’s all they got. Once again, a nod to David, who’s so good at being snarky…When Sam asks him how he got out of the trunk, his answer is absolutely fabulous : « I’m Ketch ». That’s how you know a character has been well outlines and built, when he’s enough on his own to define his own structure. Even when he talks about the situation they’re in, he’s incredible self-aware and honest « I’m the lesser of at least three evils » « all I ask is that you wait to murder me until after I prove useful ». As angry as I am for Mick and Eileen and all of the big bad mess they’ve created last year with the BMOL, I want to trust him. I want Ketch to give redemption a go. Hell, I want him to die a hero. I usually am very careful about trusting characters proved insane or unreliable by the past, but in this specific case, I want to give Ketch the benefit of the doubt. To be perfectly honest, it could very well be because I love David so much. But still. Ketch is not too far gone, and he’s had a terrible childhood to explain it all. There really is something worth exploring, there.
At the sandbox, some really, really twisted things are about to happen. As Lucifer tries to negotiate with Dumah (who you might recognize as Erica Cerra, previously seen as Robin, the girl soulless Sam murdered and that stays with him when the wall in his mind breaks in season 6’s finale), the annoying angel that seemed to be in control of heaven back then, he underlines how grimly the situation is, with the angel’s number in free fall, and Asmodeus about to make a move at anytime. He explains to them that he knows how to create angels. Anael tries to intervene and get shut down, and you can feel that the minute Anael has an inch of power up there, she’s going to turn her into mush. In all fairness, Dumah had it coming. In the end, Lucifer has one argument that makes a huge difference for those idiots: he knows how to get them their wings back. Or so he says.
This episode is layered with references, but there are also several symmetrical strings with season 8 as a whole, and Sacrifice in particular. Several items are echoing to one another, are getting a definite, or a least permanent answer, or are simply mirroring the foundations of the eighth season. The return of the Demon Tablet, and the mirror in its presence to the Angel one that’s used by Michael; the presence of Donatello carefully monitored by Asmodeus echoes Kevin’s and Crowley, and even the method remains the same since Asmodeus uses Castiel to spy on Donatello while Crowley had two fake Sam and Dean to do the same with Kevin; Lucifer suggesting to fix what Metatron has caused with the spell; him being contaminated by humanity at his weakest echoes directly Crowley’s cure…And there are plenty more I didn’t get. This isn’t something I take comfort in: if the big theme of the season is to fix what has been damaged or remained unfinished in season 8, then one of the Winchesters is in immediate peril. I’d rather reject that idea, but once you give it a thought, it sort of make sense. I’ve had a bad feeling for months, and the deeper I dig, the more clues going in that direction I seem to find.
The episode never allowed us to catch a break, or even get a second to take a breath. The pace never seem to slow down, not even near the end as the boys are back at the bunker and Donatello snaps at Sam who’s trying to remain positive and encourage Donatello the best he can, to no end. He seems to be back on a more positive mindset, though. I think that having a plan, however thin and poorly outlined, is whatever he needs to distance himself from however bad he feels. Once again, rather than dealing, he’s grasping at straws to push it all further down. This is not going to end well if they fail. I was happy he tried to get Castiel’s support when Donatello snapped, confirming that he’s gone past Castiel’s attempt to get close to Lucifer. They also don’t trust Ketch, but why would they? We leave the bunker behind with a parody of calm before the storm, a Team Free Will fully committed to get Jack back, and a weird compromise between getting an unreliable spy and a soon to be unfaithful ally.
In Heaven, the geniuses let Lucifer in, with Anael right by his side. His powers looks at least partially back, and his ego seems to appreciate the devotion of the (idiots) angels kneeling before him : « hail to the king, baby ». I really hope it’s going to alarm Chuck and he’s going to come back to clean his mess and kick some butts. One can hope.
Two minutes before the end of the episode, I suddenly remembered the lurking hellatus, and that, weirdly enough, nothing cliffhanger-ey really happened. Until Asmodeus started to parade around Ketch, to show off that he’s got the upper hand on Lucifer, outlining the impending major shock we were all going to get. And I sensed it. I sensed that something would happen on the archangel level, since archangel’s graces seems to be a recurring theme around, lately.
However, that’s not one but two massive new informations we get, as Asmodeus confides in Ketch (who look less and less Ketch and more and more Arthur : less cocky, more human) : first, there IS a blade that we’ve never heard about before, the (rather magnificent, I have to say) Archangel blade. And it’s the only one able to kill an archangel, if used by another archangel. At this point of the episode, the overflow of informations was so strong that I didn’t connected the i’s and crossed the t’s. I was just mesmerized by the pace and the number of new artifacts and items and ideas thrown at us.
Until it happened.
Asmodeus does have more than the upper hand on Lucifer.
He has the weapon to end him, and he has someone who can use it.
An archangel resides in Hell’s jail.
I honestly thought it would be Adam/Michael. I expected it to be, quite simply because I couldn’t allow myself to hope for THAT archangel to still be alive. I didn’t wanted to believe in it. I couldn’t afford the emotional distress if I was wrong.
And yet. Dreams do come true, even in Supernatural, in their own twisted ways.
Our very own Gabriel, in a poor state, lips sewn shut, and the maddest look of anger we’ve ever seen in his eyes. Honestly, I was INSANE with joy in front of my television. I possibly even screamed. The questions are now infinite, but at least he’s back and this is the single greatest thing that happened on Supernatural since Jack’s arrival and Castiel’s return.
They knew, though. They knew that leaving us on such a revelation for two, painfully long weeks of hellatus would be torture. And a lovefest all at once. I’ve never seen so many people losing their minds with joy collectively all at once.
So what else is there to say…Season 13 REALLY is our lucky one. Saying that I’m thrilled for what’s to come is the understatement of the year. I’m beyond excited and scared and happy and worried, and you know what? It proves that 13 years later, this little, innocuous show not only has come a long way, but the best is still yet to come.
Scene of the week : I’m gonna go with the « epically boned » moment. For the pleasure of getting TFW back on the road, and for the innuendos that are getting bigger and bigger by the season.
Performer of the week : Danneel Ackles. What an entrance. What a character. What a woman.
Laugh of the week : Castiel knocking Ketch out, being SO DONE with him. I had to rewatch the scene at least ten times.
Punch in the feels : Our poor Gabe, what have they done to you ?
Scene stealer : David Haydn-Jones is so, so good, he always adds something brilliant to every scene he’s in. Huzzah !
Question of the week : HOW ????
Fangirl moment : That last minute. How did Richard kept THIS a secret is beyond me. Well played, Sir. Well played.
Special nod to : Jared, Jensen and Misha. They look so impressed when they were with Danneel for the first time, it’s adorable. To think that J2M have finally found someone who’s keeping them calmer than they normally are is a miracle. #TeamDanneel
Various & Sundry Villains -- 13x12
by Axy Dewelle
Last week, Breakdown left us all with a lot of questions, but most of all, it left us worried for the youngest Winchester, whose perspectives and faith in his own future were extremely low. In the gloom of that final scene, we were all in need of a lighter episode, and a few laughs were overdue. Various & Sundry Villains certainly played that relieving part, but it also shined a light on Sam’s degrading mental health, gave us an extremely powerful return of our favorite witch, and a particularly efficient dig into Castiel and Lucifer’s predicament.
Witches. Beside Rowena, it’s never a good sign, on Supernatural. Most of the times, they’re clueless, selfish beings and this week’s pair of “wee” witches weren’t particularly smart, nor were they subtle. Finding the first idiot in a convenience store, hexing him, putting him under a love spell, having him raid all the cash...And killing him with a hammer doesn’t really depart from the tradition. And off they are, headed for...Lebanon.
Speaking of Lebanon, Sam and Dean are trying their best to find resources within the bunker to get Jack and Mary out of the alternate universe they’re both stuck in. It’s pretty obvious that Sam’s not really feeling any better than last week, and that the current lack of solution to fix their problem is weighing heavily on him. However heartbreaking the situation is, it’s hard not to completely fall for Sam’s impeccable pronunciation of Jour Et Nuit, after Dean managed to butcher the three words and insult the whole French nation in the process. The French embassy has been contacted, they gave a solid 9 to Jared’s accent, and a firm scolding to Jensen’s disappointing effort.
As Dean decides to leave for a beer run, and the absence of Castiel is evoked, a few images of our favorite angel and his unfortunate cellmate let us see an extremely calm, collected angel, while Lucifer is having a tantrum nearby. Powerless, Lucifer resembles a petulant child whose desires and needs are suddenly ignored, and Mark Pellegrino is amazing at playing that new nuance in Lucifer’s development. He’s less mature than his eight-month-old child, and some of his lines could very well come from the mouth of a toddler: “You’re not nice and I don’t like you.”
Next to him, Castiel is completely unfazed by the current situation, and has visibly decided to play it safe, enjoying however short a fuse Satan currently has. The sheer jubilation when Castiel points out that Lucifer is now too weak to defeat his weakest creature, Asmodeus, is contagious. Misha is doing a stellar job at transitioning toward this new version of our beloved angel, that could very well be the sole product of years and years of learning from the consequences of his actions, as much as he could be tainted with something else (the celestial being from The Empty maybe hitched a ride?). Castiel’s current form is yet to be completely outlined, and the future episodes are going to help us figure out in which head space he’s currently in. However dark and twisted the answer might be, it’s hard not to smile at the peaceful strength radiating from him.
In Kansas back again, Dean’s beer run takes an unexpected turn when the sisters strike back, pretending that Jamie’s a damsel in distress in urgent need of help from a white knight and drop a hex bag in Dean’s pocket. One love spell and two purple pupils later, Dean’s in a trance, and once again, Jensen’s comedy genius reaches new highs. Back at the bunker, Sam’s more amused than really concerned when his brother announces that he’s found love, until Dean considers that the Black Grimoire is a reasonable gift for his “soulmate.” Thankfully, Sam understands almost instantly what’s going on, even mentions the Becky case, and tries to reason with a dumbed-down version of Dean who even argues that Sam can hook up with Jamie’s sister. Jared and Jensen’s playfulness and intelligence shines bright in that scene, until Dean punches his brother in the face when he takes away the Impala’s keys and knocks him out to join Jamie and give her the Grimoire. “Good talk, pal. Good talk.” Despite the unconscious form on the floor of the library, the scene is nothing but pure comedy.
And along comes Dean, Black Grimoire in hand, looking the happiest we’ve seen him since Tombstone, one hammer away from death once Jamie gets her hands on the book. What saves him is Baby’s glorious entrance and a very furious Sam, but as he points his gun at the sisters, the brothers ends up fighting in the funniest way, one trying to get the hex bag out of his brother’s pocket, and the other one tried to kill him because he’s, apparently, jealous. Tall Tales, anyone? Such a nice wink at the former causes of argument and fights between the brothers. In the end, seconds before Dean choked Sam to death, a pair of red boots belonging to a gorgeous redhead appears, destroys the hex bag, and restores a little peace between the Winchesters.
Rowena. Our very own Rowena. She’s back, and she’s even more amazing than she used to be, which is a lot to say. The brother’s faces speaks volumes: they’re surprised she’s alive... But not THAT surprised. Neither was I, however awful and graphic her death could have been. It’s going to take a lot more than Lucifer to end this witch.
Back in hell, Lucifer is trying to use his powers, or lack thereof, and tries to get under Castiel’s skin by talking about the torture Michael’s inflicting on Mary. It doesn’t take long for Castiel to make him stop, and to take back the control of the situation by telling Lucifer who Jack really is: “You want truth? How about I tell you a few truths about your son? Did you know that he loves movies? Fantasy movies with heroes who crush villains. And he’s thoughtful. He’s emotional. Remarkably intuitive. You know he, uh, resurrected me just out of instinct. Isn’t that a beautiful gesture? Jack would rather kill you than hug you. Seems relevant. Do you know he doesn’t even really look like you? And he reminds me so much of his mother.”
I often say that we have some of the best and most underrated writers on this show, and once again, this amazing piece of dialogue proves me right. Steve Yockey wrote a line there that gave us one of the most emotional moments of the season, and kudos to Misha for playing it with such heart, such honesty. That incredible piece of writing encompasses Jack’s entire existence.
The fantasy movies? That’s on Sam.
Bringing back Cas intuitively? That’s on Dean.
Not looking like Lucifer? He looks like Cas.
And even Kelly’s presence is underlined. Within a few words, all is said. And Lucifer is losing his temper for good, unable to take the truth: his son is good. Granted, his anger makes him come up with a plan to get out...But he’s really pissed, and I was thrilled.
Back at the bunker, and to Rowena’s explanations. The boys aren’t exactly surprised, since death in general doesn’t stick on Supernatural, but there’s a vulnerability in Rowena that’s touching. She really looks different, and yet she’s still the same badass, sassy witch we love. Once again, the character development is on point. Her backstory, being binded by a spell from the Grand Coven and needing the Black Grimoire, answers pretty efficiently the question I had after Regarding Dean last season. The reason behind her obsession with that book makes perfect sense, and it doesn’t call for much more information. That’s one of the numerous things I love with this show: they won’t complicate a storyline with useless details. They make it easy and efficient. Adding the tracking spell was even smarter, it simplified both Rowena’s timely arrival, and how to find the sisters Plum, later on the episode. Often, in Supernatural, less is more. And in this case, it worked extremely well. I also enjoyed the fact that she got the boys their drinks, proving that she’s well acquainted with the bunker and she’s comfortable with them. There is something interesting between the Winchesters and Rowena, she’s carrying Crowley’s frenemy torch. They don’t trust her, but they know they can use her and she will help them if they need to be helped. Trust is such a stretchable notion in this show, it’s something that is never set in stone, that can be lost and found and lost again. It’s a very human idea, however hard to apply. Amanda Tapping’s direction was quite perfect too: getting Rowena and one boy on each side made for a very creative plan, and one that foreshadowed the end of the episode: Sam is on Rowena’s left side, the heart one, as they share a common trauma, while Dean in on Rowena’s right side. I couldn’t help but roll my eyes when Dean said that they “lost” the Grimoire. No you didn’t, lover. You gifted it to your “soulmate.”
Along comes the question we were all hoping to hear. Rowena asks where her son is. I like that she called him “her son” rather than “Fergus” or “Crowley.” The fact that she picked the family link rather than his identity speaks volumes for me. Smart cut, at the perfect time, straight after she asked that pressing question, leaving us a little more anxious to hear what she has to say. Amanda Tapping knows what she is talking about, and her directing is on point, precise and audacious. The work she’s done on this episode is simply stunning.
The cut to the store could have been useless had it not been for Brenda. The sisters are selfish idiots, got it. They are going to kill that poor dude, got it. They are treating people like crap, got it. But there’s Brenda, queen of sass and champion of the side eye. We’re all Brenda. Team Brenda.
In Hell’s prison, things are heating up nicely. I love how sassy Castiel was. And is. And is probably going to remain for the rest of the season. And I love how he handled the whole situation, and how he managed to double cross Lucifer. “Face it, you are useless and impotent and unnecessary and you will die alone, unmourned” became a instant favorite Castiel quote of mine. Also, there’s a strange buddy comedy vibe coming from those two, not unlike (albeit much less efficient) the one when Cas was on the road with Crowley. Misha really has a gift to turn any pairing into a successful one. Mark is a pretty good sport, too. It just works, and it works well.
While Dean is left to deal with looking for more details about where the Plum sisters are, Sam stayed in the Impala with a grounded Rowena. And instinctively, because he’s short of anyone to share that grief with, Sam has a heart to heart with the witch, and a pretty essential one. He’s acknowledging the complete extent of the damage Lucifer has done, and admitting that he’s never been able to process the feelings and that it still haunts him on a daily basis tore me apart, and yet, it was overdue, one way or another. I’m glad they used Rowena, and her own similar trauma, to circle around both of their PTSD, their fears and the subsequent depression, and to establish that connection between the two of them. Even if Rowena did play Sam a little, nothing will ever convince me that her self-confessed terror wasn’t real. And that ominous, hopeless “never” from Sam sounded awfully terminal, just like the end of Breakdown. Once more, Jared proves here that Sam’s emotional range is infinite, and the scene was heartbreaking and beautiful, just like what Supernatural does best. Of course, Sam’s trust in Rowena as she asks to take a breather outside backfired. Because it’s Rowena and she’s always one step ahead at least. But the emotional value of this scene is off the charts.
Remember our friend Brenda? More snark, more sass, and her asking Dean to be particularly mean to the sisters Plum made me chuckle. Checking Dean out as he left the store was the golden cherry on top of a perfect cake. Let’s get Brenda back on the show. We need more Brenda in our lives.
That Rowena doubled crossed the boys was a token. But she’s certainly did it with style, this time again. The Manete spell was absolutely genius, and Jared and Jensen made it even better. More jokes about Jared’s height, more physical comedy in addition to the situational one, and an added bonus with Sam’s expression when his brother throws the burning hex bag at him. At times, it’s hard to remember that those two goofballs are the best hunters in the world.
Out of hell, and safe from the herd of demons who tried to attack them earlier, Lucifer is trying to bargain his way up to Cas to get a bit of his grace, and then attacks him mercilessly, in a very...Lucifer way, all things considered. Cas closely avoids another fatal blow, and in a surprisingly, not by much though, move, stabs Lucifer back until the red light in his eyes goes away. This will never mean that Lucifer’s dead, but this doesn’t take away the emotional weight of such a move. “This is me, leaning from my mistakes.” I’m not going to lie, I was wild with pride and joy and cheering loudly for my angel. This season is managing to give Cas a major axis of development, and Misha is having a field day with it. How useless his action against Lucifer is going to prove itself to be doesn’t matter half as much as this little sentence does. I’m in love with season 13 Castiel. Not that I wasn’t before, but he is driven, confident, and he’s full on badass.
At the Plum’s, things went awry really quickly. The two genius sisters (anyone else laughed at them being called Jennie and Jamie, aka a girl J2?) have tried a spell to revive their mother, they don’t give a damn about killing thousands if they need to, but could not complete it and ended up with a zombie mother. Rowena, whose double crossing skills aren’t left to prove anymore, was the one tipping the sisters to get the book and attack the boys, but the plan backfires as she mocks the visible stupidity of the two witches, and ends up chased by zombie mom, rendered magic-proof by the spell. As Dean would say, good times. Thankfully for Rowena, the boys arrive, almost get killed by the two overpowered sisters, but as zombie mom got shot, Rowena turned the sisters against each other and let them killed each another in a pretty grim way.
As the brothers were about to get back the Black Grimoire, Rowena tries to convince Sam to let her take it, and apparently, Sam refuses. They didn’t fool me, though, and when it’s later revealed that the page Rowena was after is gone, I was happy. I’m extremely satisfied that he did. I don’t think that anyone yet is correctly assessing yet Sam’s pain and the damages that Lucifer has done that are surfacing now only. This arc is beyond overdue, and it’s extremely well introduced. We’ve seen Sam change a lot, turn into a fully fledged leader last season, and become Jack’s very own teacher and confident, but no one, no one human can possibly be mentally healthy after what he’s been put through during his whole life, basically. We were a lot to identify ourselves with Sam even more than we used to, right there, for knowing what it is to push our issues down because life gets in the way and we don’t get the time to properly collapse in order to rise up again. And that’s exactly what is happening with Sam. All those things he hasn’t had any time whatsoever to work on and deal with are just coming back all at once, after Jack’s alternate universe mishap and Kaia’s death.
Once more, and it won’t be a surprise for anyone who devoted a little of their time to Jared, the way he’s delivering Sam’s struggle is raw, real and incredibly relatable. If only the major TV show awards academies were less uptight, they would realize that there’s matter for celebration on this show, everywhere, all the time.
On a side note, now that we are getting in depth into Sam’s PTSD, how courageous and immensely brave is it to have taken Lucifer’s kid under his wing? He’s the son of his biggest nightmare. Not everyone would have had the heart to be able to.
I’d love to point at Dean’s openness. I’ve felt like their kitchen conversation was a lot more honest and frank than it has been in a while, and that Dean is trying is best to find words that don’t yet exist to relieve his brother of the pain he’s in. And Dean tries. Jensen is quite incredible, because his expression shows helplessness, and Dean Winchester does not do helpless. However, the way Sam just couldn’t take Dean’s affirmation that they would fix this reminded me of the pivotal discussion they had on The Purge, in season 9, when Sam told his brother that under the same circumstances, he wouldn’t have done the same thing and tried to save him at all costs. The way he’s just cutting it short and goes to bed echoes what he did in that scene, and it’s safe to assume that the implications of that very moment are probably going to be as important and as pivotal for the remain of the season.
How can one not to jump excitedly at the last scene of the episode? Rowena is a queen, no argument there, but her purple chains being broken and the purple eyes...Oooooooh, typical Supernatural: feeding off of our frustration. I want so much more of that and I want to know what is going on. And I want to discover how powerful exactly she became. And I want to know who’s going to kill Lucifer, because at this point of the show, it’s probably happening sooner than we think.
Someone wise once told me that when you’re ending an episode of any show with more questions than you started it with, it’s because they’ve done their job right. Once again, Supernatural passed with flying colors.
Scene of the week: The Winchesters hexed on the ground by Rowena. Those two will never cease to surprise me.
Performer of the week: Misha Collins. Season 13’s Castiel is amazing.
Laugh of the week: Dean arriving with the Black Grimoire. That face. That smile. Jensen’s a genius.
Punch in the feels: Sam coming clean about his struggles to Rowena. Unexpected pairing, unbelievable results.
Scene stealer: Brenda. Even Jared said it while live tweeting. Get her back on the show, somehow.
Question of the week: Will Sam’s vote of confidence backfire, or are Lucifer’s days already counted?
Fangirl moment: Jour Et Nuit. Don’t lie, I’ve seen you all fall for it.
Special nod to...Amanda Tapping, among our best current directors. She’s visually creative, skilled, and she’s not afraid to play on our nerves, and to the genius of Steve Yockey, who has the skills to balance emotion and comedy, darkness and light, and knows exactly where the characters are supposed to be headed.