Three Men And A Nephilim – Supernatural Unhuman

 

Drive by review since I’m traveling with the family, so thematic stream of consciousness instead of scene by scene for a change. I watched last week’s Supernatural in an Air BnB in DC whose television set was large and impressive looking but weirdly distorted the picture so that the most beautiful cast in the world did not look like their beautiful selves. Boo.

While this won’t go down in history as one of my favorite episodes, there were some things I enjoyed, and the episode got me all thinky which I also enjoy.  On the other hand, there were also some things I didn’t like. While I was overjoyed to have Ruth Connell back on the show, I was totally confused that Rowena didn’t know seem to know that Jack was Lucifer’s son. What?? She goaded Lucifer with that when she was holding the portal open, saying that his three dads were more fathers to Jack that Lucifer himself. So why did she seem shocked when Sam told her about Jack’s father? I realize she didn’t actually know Jack, but she knew about him. Those kinds of things throw me out of the story and I don’t like that – I like to be immersed and engrossed when I watch my favorite show.

I also got thrown out of the story by Sergei the Shaman, who seemed like such an over the top villainous untrustworthy guy that I didn’t believe a word he said and didn’t expect Castiel to believe him either. Why did he? Cas has been oddly gullible recently, and that seems weird. I get that we all get a little gullible in desperate times, so I’m chalking it up to that. But, I mean, ‘He seemed honest.’ Did he?? Also Sergei had an accent that sounded just like Misha Collins when he’s doing his Indio-Russia thing, so I also half expected Cas to start talking the same way, which was neither here nor there but made me giggle when that wasn’t what the show was going for.

I do love Castiel’s had-it-up-to-here expression here though.

Considering Sergei, do we even believe that the grace he gave Cas was from Gabriel? (Was there a reason to take this at face value? Has Ketch’s word become reason enough?) Or was it really Michael’s grace, and the whole thing an elaborate plot to get Michael’s influence into Jack in the same way he’s been trying to influence other “monsters”? (Was that why Dean’s vision blurred out and his mind went a bit offline a few times there? Was that Michael coming to the fore to see how his plan is going or has he left something behind that allows him to do so?)  That did give us some nice close ups of Dean blinking those long eyelashes.

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But I will say THAT is chilling, the idea that Jack might be corrupted in some way. I don’t worry that Jack will die, because they clearly need him as a key player, but that doesn’t mean he will stay the innocent well-intentioned nougat loving son that he has been this season. And that does worry me.

I wasn’t thrown out of the show by this, but I was wishing I wasn’t engrossed during several of the Nick scenes. I realize this is a violent show, but the violence in this episode was the kind that really disturbs me. It’s easy to dismiss violence that involves “monsters” because it’s inherently unreal, but this was a fucked up human doing horrible things to other humans – and that hits too close to reality.  Nick being conflicted about it and yet so drawn to it simultaneously, which was a good twist, just makes it even more disturbing. I knew that poor guy tied to the chair was gonna die, but god, it was hard to watch. I actually took a phone call in the middle of it because I couldn’t keep watching – and I would usually never answer the phone during Supernatural! Mark Pellegrino did a bang up job and made Nick’s conflict and agony and fucked-up-ness thoroughly believable, but I was left anxious and vaguely nauseous, and that wasn’t pleasant. And there was simply a lot of Nick sans Winchesters or Cas in this episode, which didn’t leave as much time for Team Free Will as I would have liked.

Nick’s eventual breakdown and pleading for Lucifer to re-possess him left me feeling about the same. I’ve been afraid all season that Nick was back because Lucifer would be back, and I don’t think that’s something most viewers wanted. All that build up to Lucifer’s death last season that made his death feel so satisfying, just to be undone in the first third of the next season? And just because a messed up human begged?? It seems to negate all that satisfaction. Of course, maybe it isn’t Lucifer after all…. There’s this Abraxis or something demon that was mentioned…

If Lucifer does return, maybe that’s the point though, because honestly, the Winchesters do NOT get breaks and life just keeps throwing them one horror after the other. Still, this one is hard to stomach. Once again, Pellegrino totally sells it. But from a plot standpoint, I feel like there’s more interest in Michael as a new villain than in the return of Lucifer as a long-time villain who I’m not as interested in anymore. And that scene of The Empty (I assume) and Lucifer (?) being reconstituted out of the blackness? I mostly just kept saying nonononononono during it, but by the last frames I was just staring, because what?

My timeline: OMG it’s…. the Terminator??

Also, is it suddenly that easy to leave The Empty? Hmmm.

I assume we’re supposed to take from Nick’s fall into madness and violence that possession leaves its mark and changes the person in ways that can’t be fought against – and we’re supposed to apply that to Dean and his possession. Sam and Castiel have also been possessed  though, with very different results, so it isn’t a done deal that Dean will react the same way Nick did, and Nick was possessed for a VERY long time, after all. Showrunners and writers and cast have been saying all along that we’ll see some sort of aftermath of Dean’s possession, so I’m still guardedly hopeful that brings some in-depth examination of Dean’s psychological state and the impact of his trauma beyond oh he’s messed up just like Nick was.

Nick storyline was story arc number two, though it took up so much of the episode that it almost didn’t seem like it; the rest of the episode was about Jack’s survival. This gave Sam, Dean and Cas a chance to worry about him and us a chance to see the depth of the bond that all three father figures have formed with Jack at this point. Because we get less exploration of the main characters than we used to, alas, I ended up doing my own pondering about the theme of fatherhood and how it plays out for Jack’s three dads. I found myself wondering why they have all come to feel so strongly about a young man they’ve only known for a year and whose father is their arch enemy Lucifer.

I was surprised in previous seasons by Castiel’s wholesale acceptance of Kelly Kline and his determination to protect her and her unborn child, to the extent of leaving Sam and Dean unconscious on the ground somewhere to do so. That never fit perfectly for me, but if we accept that he did feel that strongly and he was convinced that Jack would be a force for good in the world, then I think his bond with Jack began even before he was born. Cas was the one protecting mother and baby, and that could instill some fatherly feelings in an angel (they do seem to feel paternal and maternal and fraternal feelings in Supernatural’s version of angels, as we’ve seen several times).

Castiel protectively draping his trademark trenchcoat over Jack’s shoulders as he left the hospital was a particularly tender moment.

Side note: While canon Cas seemed to be oddly copacetic with Kelly Kline, Sam and Dean were not – and didn’t have any reason to be. She was not a particularly good person either before or after her tryst with the devil, so why does Sam portray her that way? Just to convince Rowena to help Jack? Head scratch.

Anyway, Sam has had more chance than any of the three to bond with Jack, and was open to believing the best about him from the start. That’s in keeping with Sam’s tremendous capacity for empathy, and I also think he could relate to Jack’s feeling of being “contaminated” by blood you don’t want, just as Sam spent his childhood feeling contaminated and eventually found out he had demon blood in him. Sam too has been called “monstrous” and his character judged by what’s in his blood, and he’s also had to struggle against the impact of powers he didn’t ask for and couldn’t entirely control. I think Sam came down squarely on the side of nurture, not nature, when judging Jack, partly because of his own experience. He was there for Jack from the start, giving him the benefit of the doubt and his support even when he was afraid of Jack’s power and his relationship to Lucifer. So their bond makes perfect sense to me, and I liked seeing how emotional Sam became at the prospect of losing him.

Dean’s journey with Jack is the most complicated, and that informed this episode and brought alot of the emotional impact. Dean’s default setting is not empathy for outsiders – it’s protectiveness. He’s skeptical and tends to not blindly believe the best about people, not because he’s a jerk but simply because he knows that might put people he cares about in danger if he lets his guard down. Sam was traumatized by Lucifer, but Dean was too – he was traumatized by not being able to protect Sam and by seeing the heartbreaking effects of Lucifer’s torment of Sam. That history only serves to increase his mistrust of Lucifer’s son, and I think that’s understandable considering who Dean is and how much of his identity is tied up with being the protector. However, he listens to his brother – more every season. Eventually Sam, and Cas, and Jack’s own uncontrived innocence, convinces Dean that Jack is sincere in his desire to be good. Once Dean believes that, he opens himself up to Jack, and then – because he’s Dean Winchester – he feels terribly guilty about all the cruel things he said to the boy when he was sure Jack was going to turn out to be evil. I think that guilt and desire to make up for it has left Dean vulnerable to really feeling for Jack.

But that’s not the only psychological motivation at play for Dean when it comes to Jack. Dean is not just protective, he’s parental. He was parent to Sam as well as brother, and that nurturing side comes naturally to Dean. He makes Jack a sandwich just like he’s often done for Sam when he’s ailing. You can see how easily and comfortably he falls back into that role when he tosses Jack the keys and invites him to drive – I could almost flash back and see a younger Dean tossing the keys to Sam, and Sam’s awe and joy the first time his big brother trusted him to drive his beloved Impala. It’s the same with Jack, and as soon as Dean sees the joy he’s caused, his own face breaks into a smile of such happiness that it hit me like a punch in the stomach, so hard it was almost painful.

We so rarely see Dean truly happy, and there is nothing that makes him happier than being able to make someone he cares about happy. I grinned the entire way through that scene, the Impala speeding along the backroads and the vintage rock playing and both Dean and Jack looking, for the moment, carefree and happy.

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Lastly, for all three of Team Free Will, the concept of family is one that is an organizing force. It’s no coincidence that we all refer to the cast and fans as the SPNFamily or that the book the actors wrote about how the show and fandom have changed their lives is called Family Don’t End With Blood. That valuing of family started with Sam and Dean, born out of their father’s mistrust of anyone who was not family. To Sam and Dean, being family is the highest compliment, the most significant description they can bestow on someone. That’s why they call Cas family. Cas, who already had his own emotional connection to his angel family, also understands the significance of the term and uses it the same way now to apply to people who are not his angelic relatives. Including Jack.

The Winchesters often tend to define as family younger people who they mentor in some way. That’s why Kevin felt like family, and why Charlie felt like family, and Jody’s girls felt like family. The Winchesters instinctively look for young people to mentor and bring them into the fold to (try to) keep them safe. They have never had a chance to do that so profoundly as with Jack, who came to them essentially an infant. He had to learn everything, and they were there to teach him. That sense of generativity that all humans long for is compelling. For the Winchesters, that drive plays out in their concern for leaving a legacy. Not biological children, but people who will carry on what they’re trying to do for the world. Jack, I think, feels like part of that legacy, as much as the initials carved into the Men of Letters table.

When Cas rightly points out to Sam that despite all their losses in the past, nothing feels as hard as losing a child – a son — we all know just how right he is. The look on Sam’s face as those words sink in (and all the kudos to Jared for how much he showed us of Sam’s emotions) made me tear up. Jack is, for all intents and purposes, their son. All three of them will be devastated if he dies.

I liked all of Sam and Castiel’s conversation in this episode, with both Misha and Jared really bringing the emotional understanding. Sam explains to Cas that Dean is taking Jack’s sickness hard because he was so rough with Jack in the beginning and hasn’t forgiven himself, and I love knowing that Sam knows this about his brother. I love the reminder that they understand each other deeply, and that Sam is paying close attention to how his brother is doing and how he’s feeling, always. Dean is similarly tuned into Sam, and it’s one of the unique things about their relationship that makes it constantly interesting.

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Jared, in one of the 300th episode red carpet mini-interviews, confirmed that Sam is aware of the things that Dean is dealing with post possession. I hope we’ll see more of that as time goes on, as we’re now starting to see Dean have some symptoms that tell us (and him) that everything is not all right. Of course Dean, being Dean, hasn’t mentioned it to anyone and is trying to ignore it – but I’m hoping that Sam knows.

Castiel is worried about Dean too, and he also understands just why Jack’s illness is hitting all of them so hard.

Cas: This feels different. Losing a…. a son… feels different.

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Misha nailed that line, with the little break in Castiel’s voice. Kudos to Collins and Padalecki both for breaking my heart with that conversation.

Jack’s story in this episode, other than the detour on the road with Dean, is mostly tragic and heartbreaking. Cas tries and fails to cure him, while the Winchesters wait in the bunker hallway looking like male models.

That results in a hospital visit and a few humorous moments, which I appreciated in such a dark and sad episode. I was a bit surprised that Jack’s dads brought him to the ER, but I guess without his grace, he’s closer to human than angel. And we did get some of the very few humorous moments of the episode in the hospital, as the harried front desk nurse tries to get information out of the Winchesters and Cas and instead gets a whole lot of attitude and some very confusing facts.

How did his father die?

Castiel: He was stabbed…and then he exploded.

When the nurse is incredulous, Dean just repeats those rather unusual details as though it’s the most normal explanation ever, insisting that they don’t have time for this.

I laughed – and then felt kinda bad about laughing.

Jack collapses, and off he goes for treatment, his three dads assuring him they’ll be there, then hovering and watching with worried faces through the oddly glass ER panel.

 

Meanwhile, we spend a lot of time on Nick, first with a hapless priest he tortured and killed (played by stunt coordinator Kirk Jacques with aplomb), then tracking down the cop who was in his house the day his family was killed, and along the way being tempted to kill other innocents too. It’s all very disturbing, and makes me feel all kinds of queasy.

Back to Jack. Of course the hospital can’t help, so the threesome break Jack out AMA, Cas taking off his trenchcoat to cover Jack’s backside – which is a rare moment indeed! Sam and Dean, who rarely need words to communicate, both decide to ask Rowena for help, because desperate times.

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I was happy to see Rowena back – she’s one recurring character I truly enjoy. I was sorry the writing made me scratch my head over her not knowing about Jack’s father, but other than that, I really enjoyed Ruth’s scenes. Rowena and Sam together are always lovely, and I particularly loved that Sam told her that it was Dean who was dying so that she’d be sure to come. She has a soft spot for both the Winchesters, and who can blame her? She even brought the precious Book of the Dead to save him!  I loved Smart!Sam taking advantage of that soft spot. Everything about Jared and Ruth together in a scene is almost invariably wonderful.

I also loved how Jack’s innocent expression of gratitude and especially his testimony about Sam and Dean’s gratitude (or his fabulous instincts about how to get Rowena on his side) immediately hooked Rowena in. Rowena is such a fascinating character, so hard and seemingly uncaring on the outside and so easily swayed by someone saying nice things about her on the inside. Hearing her “Oh bollocks” as she knows she’s giving in makes me smile every time, and then wince because I will forever miss Mark Sheppard and Crowley.

Ruth also gets all the kudos for her delivery of “stay close, watch over him….as he dies” at the end of the episode because oh my heart. You can hear the tenderness that she likes to disavow come through, and I wonder if we’ll ever get a wee bit more backstory about Rowena’s long history and the children she’s lost, blood and otherwise. She doesn’t want anyone to think so, but she clearly understands a lot about the complexity of parental emotions.

Like I said, I’m not actually feeling any terror that Jack will die or that Alex is going anywhere, because that would make no sense. To reduce workload, the other characters are needed to fill in the gaps, and Jack is the most popular character to join the show since Castiel. I should be a lot more worried than I am, unfortunately. Still, I teared up a few times – and that’s thanks to the tremendous acting talent of all these actors. And I’m also more than a little worried that while Jack won’t die, he might not remain the innocent, earnest sweet young man he is right now – and I do not want that!!!!  Jack’s earnestness and openness is a wonderful juxtaposition to the Winchesters’ often closed off communication style, and I enjoy what that contrast brings out in them and Cas.

I was happy to have some scenes with Sam and Dean in the same room after that last 100% separated episode, though once again we get a lot more of each of TFW on their own instead of together. It’s like show is saying well, we only have each of these guys for X days, so let’s space it out so it will make a whole episode. And that….doesn’t work. So Cas  goes off on his own to meet with the Shaman, Sam stays behind to – I don’t know, keep researching? — and Dean takes Alex on a bucket list trip in the Impala. Why didn’t he take poor Sam with them, who has been so much a father figure to Jack? I guess I’ll go with Sam understanding that Dean feels he needs to make amends, and trying to give his brother the room to do that.

But why didn’t Cas take Sam with him to find the Shaman, when he clearly could have needed backup? I was especially disappointed because the official promo proclaimed that “Cas and Sam track down a shaman”. And then Cas went alone!  I guess we’re supposed to assume that Sam was needed to keep doing research, but this is the second episode in a row where Sam has felt a bit sidelined, and that always nags at me.

That said, I really did enjoy Dean and Jack’s road trip. At first, I thought that Dean was  uncharacteristically patient with Jack – until I realized that probably wasn’t uncharacteristic at all. I imagine that’s what Dean was like with young Sam, and how he taught Sam to drive that same way. Jack imitates Dean, right down to hanging his arm out the window in the same way, and I have no doubt that young Sam did the same. (Btw, how incredible would a brief flashback scene have been here? Just saying, Show)

Jack, in his uninhibited way, tells Dean right out that he looks up to him and wants to be like him, and I suddenly remember one of my favorite scenes from the show’s early years, as Sam bursts out at a dying Dean “I’ve been watching you my whole life, looking up to you, trying to be just like my big brother”.  I have no doubt that Dean remembers that too, and being able to repeat some of those pivotal moments with Jack must bring back all those times with Sam. (But again, I’m filling in the blanks myself when it would be nice to have some of them filled in by the Show)

It’s a gift to Jack, spending time with Dean, being trusted to drive the car, being able to emulate a father figure he respects and loves. But it’s a gift to Dean too, in so many ways. Jack is more open with his feelings than either Winchester has ever been, so Dean actually gets to hear some of the things that I think he knows Sam has also felt but hasn’t often articulated. The fishing scene could easily have been over the top with Jack’s dialogue, but Alex and Jensen together managed to pull it off and make it poignant instead.

As always, Ackles amazes me with how much he can say with just his facial expressions. As Jack tells him right out how important this time is to him – how important Dean is to him – you can see Dean struggle even to take it in, and then to make sense of it. But he does hear it, miraculously, letting his guard down just enough for a little healing to take place. God, I loved that moment. Dean, always mired in guilt and an overwhelming sense of responsibility, able to hear that he’s been GOOD for someone. Someone he cares about.

 

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The scene is also a nice call back to Dean’s own childhood and his idolization of his own father, at least when he was younger. How many times did John Winchester take his boys fishing? Probably not many, from what we’ve heard about the boys’ childhood. In fact, even once is surprising. Not sure if that’s a canon fail or if it was just an anomaly and thus a treasured memory, which is why Jack correctly heard the importance of that one time that Dean told him about. I guess I’ll go with that but it did strike me as not very John Winchester, remembering how shocked Dean was that their father took Adam to a baseball game.

At any rate, Dean may not be a father, but he is a son, and being a son has been a major force shaping his life. So Jack looking up to him and wanting to spend time with him is meaningful.

Dean: Who would’ve thought hanging around with me would make you sentimental?

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It’s a very Dean Winchester way of trying to shrug off something emotional, but he doesn’t reject what Jack is saying to him – and that’s a big thing.

I had asked Jensen a while back about those scenes that have a lot of improv, and how they often end up being my favorites, and he said there were some coming up that he was able to really have fun with, and that they weren’t Dean with Sam, but with another character. Pretty sure those were these scenes with Alex, especially the car scenes. Jensen allowed, in one of the 300th episode mini interviews, that he was a little nervous about letting Alex drive “my car”, but that Alex (like Jack) asked a lot of questions and was eager to follow Jensen’s lead. I think some of that reality bled through and made those scenes pretty magical.

Also? Bowlegs!

Here’s the thing. I enjoyed a lot of this, but I’m also having to do a lot of the fill in the blanks myself these days to increase my enjoyment and make it seem more like my Show because we sometimes get precious little interaction between Sam and Dean or between any of the three TFW characters. I want the story to revolve around them! We got a little bit of meaningful interaction between Sam and Cas, but I would have traded off some of the Nick scenes for more Sam and Cas exploration. With screen time often spooled out with only one main character at a time, the interactions which are my reason to watch are less frequent recently, and that makes the show less compelling sometimes.

We end with Jack ingesting the grace and Rowena reading the spell.

 

There’s a brief moment when everyone thinks it’s worked and actually look happy, which is always heartstopping on Supernatural…

And then the inevitable failure and Jack getting worse. Cas calls Sergei, who says this was an experiment (hmmm….like Michael was doing experiments?).

Cas threatens him on the phone, and the three dads wait once again worried while Rowena checks on Jack.

The news is not good, and Rowena looks as devastated as they do when she breaks it to them.

Boys: What can we do?

Rowena: Watch over him, stay by his side…. As he dies.

Whoa. Way to nail that line, Ruth Connell! Ouch.

(We did get a lovely behind the scenes glimpse of the utter hilarity of  the filming of this scene with the newly released Shaving People Punting Things video to cheer us up, thankfully)

As much as I’ve been frustrated with this season in some ways, I’m really looking forward to next week’s episode – it’s the one that I chatted with director Eduardo Sanchez about in an interview here, and it’s written by Meredith Glynn, AND I get to watch it live with my bud Alana King while we video our reactions (and invariably I make a fool of myself) so YAY!

See you then!

Caps by kayb625

–Lynn

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27 thoughts on “Three Men And A Nephilim – Supernatural Unhuman

  • Spot on review. I agree with just about everything you say, with the exception of the Nick story line, which was indeed very violent but I found absolutely griping. For the first time in a long time I felt like something was actually at stake in this show. We knew at the end of season 12 that Cas wasn’t really going to die. We knew last season that Mary wasn’t really going to get left in the AU (much to my dismay). We knew last season Sam really wasn’t going to die (in the same episode where Rowena made it CLEAR that she knew Lucifer had a son, making the inconsistency in this episode even more egregious – having her not know about Jack is inexcusable and simply more proof that the current showrunner doesn’t actually care about the story he’s trying to tell). We know Jack isn’t really going to die this season either. Just as we knew Dean wasn’t going to be possessed as Michael for the entire season, though the length of time he actually was possessed is an insult to Jensen Ackles’ considerable talent and the amount of time they spent pimping him in his “new role” this season is an insult to the fans.

    I really enjoyed the Dean and Jack road trip, and though I know quite a few fans were upset that Jack got to drive the Impala, Jack is *roughly* eighteen years old on the show. This in actuality puts him at a few years younger than Ben Braeden would be by now. Dean hasn’t just been an older brother before, he’s fulfilled the role of a father before with a boy who is now Jack’s age. Now that he’s embraced Jack he’s slotting right back into a role that he’s played not only as a child with Sam, but as an adult with Ben. I did, however, find the fishing story ludicrous, unless Dean was talking about a time John took him fishing before Mary died. To have Jack say Dean told him about a time he went fishing with his dad as if that’s something that would ever have happened is yet another example of no one at the helm insisting on character consistency. I’m sure Jon taught the boys how to fish for survival, but that’s vastly different than fishing just for fun. Dean and Jack were clearly fishing just for fun. Little things like that are so easily fixed if the person who is supposed to be paying attention (Dabb) would actually pay attention (a constant complaint of mine these days) and frankly spoil otherwise lovely scenes.

    I genuinely enjoyed that Rowena came running when Sam said Dean needed help, and that Sam knew if he lied to her about it being Dean she would come running. I definitely think she harbors a soft spot for Dean because of his relationship with Crowley, so it’s nice to see that developed a little bit, especially with how desperately I miss Mark Sheppard. It also actually makes sense in the overall build from Regarding Dean between the three of them, which is really the first time that she came to help Dean because she at least in part wanted to, and not because the world was ending or she was forced to help him.

    I didn’t understand at all why Cas went off to the shaman instead of Sam. Or why Sam didn’t go with Dean and Jack. Or why Sam didn’t do *anything* of consequence this episode besides have lovely scenes with Rowena (they are quickly becoming one of my favorite pairings). It seemed like without the AU hunters there this week (THANK THE GODS) they had no idea what they should do with one of their *two leading men*. That illustrates a very serious problem in the creative department that I sincerely hope is rectified before next season when half the people who have been devoted to this show for 13 years have finally given up in despair.

    To me this felt like it would have been a great stand alone episode, but at the end of it with the resurrection of (seemingly) Lucifer, therefore trying to tie it deeper into the overall season arc, I was reduced to literally ranting to my husband about how desperately I hope Andrew Dabb’s neighbors leave him flaming bags of dog poop on his porch, as that is the appropriate representation of his skills as a showrunner. This was sold over the summer as the “Michael!Dean” season. We are now a third of the way through, “Michael!Dean” was done after three episodes, and the various plots in motion include:

    1) Michael’s monsters
    2) Leader!Sam at band camp
    3) Nick suffering a psychotic break
    4) Dark Kaia and her magic stick from the AU
    5) Jack dying
    6) Lucifer (apparently) reawakening
    7) The revelation that apparently being possessed by an archangel seriously f—s someone up and
    8) Whatever is going on with Dean

    This does not include all the other little subplots that have been started and appear to have been immediately dropped, much like the Shedim was over in a literal hot minute last season. We have Heaven running out of power that apparently doesn’t matter anymore. We have a king-less Hell and Sam making it clear that anyone who wants the throne has to go through him. We have the Mobby/Bary drama that no one asked for. We have the creature from the Empty being awake and pissed off about it. We have Charlie’s little existential crisis about continuing to hunt. Even if they aren’t just dropping these story lines, that’s a minimum of FOUR additional little plot lines they’ve introduced that should in one way or another be resolved, bringing the grand total of threads running through this season to twelve. TWELVE. Twelve main and/or sub plots in a show with only 20 episodes! That either leaves less than 2 episodes to wrap up each arc or relies on the ability to weave a highly complex story that continually advances multiple threads without feeling rushed or underwritten. On a show run by a guy who can’t remember that they introduced Jefferson Rooney as the 45th President of the United States in season 12 for the sole purpose of the whole LOTUS arc leading into the entire reason for Jack’s existence just because they wanted to get a couple of Trump jokes thrown in during season 13 because that’s what all the cool kids were doing. How on earth do you forget you created a fictional POTUS less than one season later?! Huge, glaring errors in canon like that within the same showrunner’s tenure makes me highly skeptical that *any* of the plots they have running will be settled organically instead of just taken care of one or two episodes later in completely unsatisfying ways or simply dropped.

    Not only that, but if they bring Lucifer back AFTER having abandoned Michael!Dean in roughly two and a half episodes then season 13 will have been a *literal* waste of time. While there have been seasons that haven’t exactly been stellar to this point, none of them have ever been a complete waste of time, or had every single important thing that happened in the main arc undone.

    I want my show back.

    • Oh thank you so much for this wonderful comment! I must admit I burst into laughter at the flaming bags of poop wish – but I agree with you on pretty much all your points. Putting it in mathematical terms really makes it clear why my head is spinning too often with the number of side plots and side characters and millions of people sometimes clogging up the bunker. I feel validated lol! And yes, I want that too.

  • Hi from Australia,

    I loved this episode. Good use of a drone at the river when Dean and Jack where fishing plus the footage of the Impala. My thoughts were that this episode exploded visually, which is up there with “show” not just telling the story. That is very hard to do successfully in the story instead of overuse of dialogue.

    Personally, I am worried about Jack dying, I am a die-hard geek/nerd, and this has raised concerns for me because he is technically an extra, much like the Star Trek red shirt theory where the extras always die. Jack has a following but so did Jo, and they killed her off.

    I also enjoyed how they are bringing Lucifer back, very clever plus Mark’s dramatisation of Nick is spooky he has bought out that weird part of Nick and answers the question of how Lucifer effected Nick over the years.

    Love your articles,
    Michelle

    • This episode was visually striking in some ways, especially Dean and Jack fishing. Just gorgeous, with the Impala in the background looking over them. While I don’t want Lucifer back, I do agree that Mark’s portrayal of him is brilliant. I always want MORE of the main characters though, so alot of time spent on another character often doesn’t feel like the show I fell in love with. I honestly do not think that Jack is a red shirt. Jo wasn’t particularly popular with the fandom, and Jack very much is, so I’ll be shocked if he’s killed off. What I’m really worried about is that he’ll be influenced to go dark side, which would break alot of fans’ hearts (along with Sam, Dean and Cas)

      • That was the strength of that episode it was visually amazing. I was impressed because sometimes the middle episodes have been a bit meh. I think the writing is good because we are all talking about it, and that ticks a box.
        I’m not sure about Jack whether he will be kept on or not. I don’t think he will go dark side although he is the wild card, and we no longer have Crowley.
        We will have to wait and see.

  • I agree that one needs to read between the lines in the episode to connect it to Sam & Dean’s story. Sidelining Sam seems to be common since the first two episodes. Very disappointing! I wonder why the writers refuse to let Nick/Lucifer story die. I can only assume they have lost the creative juice to develop a new storyline. How can Nick still be alive??? Jimmy Novak did not survive. Fingers crossed for Jack’s recovery!!!

    • There are, of course, fans who are wanting more of the Nick or Lucifer story line, but I honestly do think it’s a minority Not sure TPTB know that, however. I’ll keep my fingers crossed that Jack remains Jack, because that’s what I’m most worried about – however, I doubt we’ll get that lucky!

  • You said Cas has been oddly gullible lately. That was a joke I hope. He has been gullible and screwed the Winchester’s so many times because of his gullibility with a slice of stupidity added? And I don’t think I have to spell out all those times to anyone who watches the show. And from what I’ve seen of preview stories it sounds like he is getting ready to do it again.

  • I wrote notes again so here it goes.
    First, I don’t want Lucifer back! Period. At all. Sorry Mark. Sam should at least have a bit of comfort knowing he’s gone. Nick is off the rails and the boys might have to kill him but that’s better than Lucifer.
    Dean. I think Michael left some kind of “back door” to let himself back into Dean. I think he’s always been there but hiding.
    I really enjoyed watching Dean and Jack fishing but I really hated the music it was soppy and not required.
    Sam. Remember Sam? The other lead who seems to get put in the background. Castiel sees the shaman, Dean, Jack and Baby are road tripping and Sam is at the bunker doing research. Really??
    Sam and Dean at least had a small conversation this week. This episode will not go into my top ten.
    I sincerely hope this gets better.

    • After those couple of early episodes that gave Jared a chance to really show his acting chops, and which I so enjoyed, it does feel like he’s been sidelined way too much. I honestly wish they’d cut back to a 13 episode season so they can refocus on the characters we care about.

  • I have been reluctant to comment on your reviews so far this season as I have not really been enjoying it. I, as always, enjoy parts of every episode but it does get hard to be enthusiastic any more and so I feel it is better to just be negative in my little corner sometimes than spread it further! I laughed out loud at Mer’s line “I hope Andrew Dabb’s neighbors leave him flaming bags of dog poop on his porch, as that is the appropriate representation of his skills as a showrunner.” In my opinion he really is the pits. As far as this episode goes I so much did not want Lucifer to ever come back or that storyline to even be mentioned so obviously I hated that it would appear he is coming back. I understand that people worship at the feet of MP acting but is is the Dean and Sam show with a good dollop of Misha and some other favourites (one of mine especially is Rowena) lets have them centre. I have always believed that a good showrunner, storyteller, writer can still give us Sam and Dean etc as the centre of the show without having to be on screen all the time, however it would seem the current team are unable to do this is any shape or form.

    • I never hold back in my unhappiness, because I figure if all anyone ever sees online is “Oh, it’s my favorite show! So amaze!” there is no hope of anything changing, and this is what we’ll be stuck with until Dabb finally kills the show.

      It is clear that Dabb has absolutely no vision for where this show is going and just says “yes” to anything and everything the writers throw out there (probably in desperation so they know what they’re supposed to be writing about and can be working towards a common goal). Instead of cutting the wheat from the chafe he just goes, “Oh, yeah, that sounds awesome!” every time one of the writers brings up an idea, not caring if it will fit into the overall story (because he clearly doesn’t worry about overall stories), whether it will unnecessarily complicate things, or how it can be resolved. The network *must* be aware of how badly he is doing, otherwise they wouldn’t be constantly sending him and the actors on interviews to explain what the hell is going on with this show, and no really, we have a plan, and please don’t give up hope because it just looks like a mess *right now.* This would be completely unnecessary if they felt the audience trusted Dabb to tell a good story, but after Michael!Dean being the entire hiatus marketing drive and having it dropped, and then confirming that no, Michael is no longer in Dean (which was stupid – you lose an audience when they WANT to speculate what’s going on and you don’t let them), they can’t possibly expect people to trust Dabb to know what he’s doing as showrunner. Hell, I wouldn’t trust him at this point to make me a bowl of cereal, let alone helm a show like Supernatural.

      Take the current Nick story line. While I certainly would not have traded Mark S. for Mark P. (essentially what happened), Mark P. is KILLING it as Nick. Absolutely killing it. So of course instead of keeping a character that yeah, no one really wanted to explore but is being explored *well,* they are resurrecting Lucifer, a character everyone is glad is finally dead and no one wants back, meaning that the Nick story line will end prematurely and we’ll be stuck with the worn out “Luci is the big bad” plot that got old years ago. Dabb’s inability to say “no” to bringing Lucifer back just shows how incapable he is of knowing the difference between good ideas and bad ideas, and obviously has no innate creative spark to bring to this show. If this isn’t his last chance to prove to the network that he knows what he’s doing and they don’t replace him next season I will be beside myself.

    • I love commentary no matter what, and I think we all have a right to our opinions, good bad or indifferent (not that Supernatural fans are often in that last category lol). I don’t disagree with you – Mark is a talented actor, but I would love a refocus on the main characters. If that could only happen with a 13 episode season, I wish they’d consider that!

  • John taking Dean fishing is that surprising, he’s done stuff with Sam and Dean before like taking them to wrestling or sight seeing in NYC. Also, it doesn’t preclude that John would have taken a young Dean fishing prior to Mary’s death.

    • Those other things you mentioned also seemed suspiciously like canon retcon to me too, in fact – there were too many descriptions of the boys’ childhood that just don’t match up to those couple of isolated instances. It’s true that it doesn’t preclude a very early fishing trip though, as I think John was probably a very different dad before Mary’s tragic death. I guess I’ll go with that explanation, but it still struck me odd, as much as I enjoyed it.

      • There is also the fact that Bobby got in an argument with John on the phone about *daring* to take Dean to a park to throw a ball around instead of doing weapons training with the boys. I can absolutely buy that John took Dean fishing while Mary was still alive, but if that’s the case you only need to add *four little words* to Jack’s line to fix it and make it fit. “You once told me you and your father did the exact same thing. YOU WERE ABOUT FOUR.” That tiny little fixes don’t get made like that when the scripts cross Dabb’s desk shows how little he cares about this show and these characters.

  • Hey Lynne. Thanks for the review. Made me think as always! A lot of the below echoes what the other commenters have said:
    General stuff:
    • “Rowena and Sam together are always lovely” – agreed!
    • For me, the only good scene with Mark Pellegrino was praying to Lucifer. Otherwise it was just the same, creepy repetitive tics. Completely agree Lucifer returning is not OK. Nick was bad enough. (And I absolutely thought Terminator as well!)
    • Completely agree on Sergei the Shaman, both in the chewing scenery Alan Rickman/Sheriff of Nottingham-esque over-the-topness and IndiaRussia comparisons.
    • Had not struck me that Dean’s double vision could be Michael eavesdropping. Hmm.
    • “Jack’s earnestness and openness is a wonderful juxtaposition to the Winchesters’ often closed off communication style” –good point.
    • I think Jack may actually die, but will come back…
    • “…(Dean) listens to his brother – more every season.” – what a good point!
    • Agree there was not nearly enough Sam’n’Dean this week. I also really struggle with the episodes that sideline them to be supporting characters.
    Specific:
    • Rowena’s initial surprise at it being Jack sick didn’t bother me. I took it that she knew exactly who Jack was, just that if she’d known it was him not Dean, she wouldn’t have come.
    • “That valuing of family … born out of their father’s mistrust of anyone who was not… To Sam and Dean, being family is the highest compliment…” Really interesting point (qualified by their other father figure’s creed of ‘Family don’t end with blood’).
    • To me it made sense for Sam to stay and research as that’s his default mode But, I do think they could have had Dean ask the other Sam and Cas along and them say no.
    • The fishing scene– agreed. The actors just about made it work, but the on-the-nose dialogue and odd, mid-stream camera angle from were distractions. Plus, Jack’s been much closer to Sam and Cas than Dean so it didn’t ring true. (And, as you say, it didn’t seem very John Winchester, given Dean’s Adam-baseball game shock.)
    • “Cas calls Sergei, who says this was an experiment (hmmm….like Michael was doing experiments?)” ooooh, interesting point! Hadn’t thought of that.
    Overall: The actors did what they could with the script, but not one of the best episodes.

    • Agreed on all counts. I guess I’ll try to take the Rowena surprise thing the same way you did – it makes more sense that way! I know sometimes editing makes scenes play out differently than they were written or differently than they seemed to the actors at the time, so maybe this is also an instance of that disconnect. Not one of the best, for sure. I’m really hoping that next week is better!

  • I looked upon this episode as Jack’s “Make a Wish” episode. He could have gone to DisneyWorld (a/k/a Tahiti), but instead got to spend time ‘growing up’ with Dean alone; much like Sam. It did give us a rather intriguing glimpse of ‘Dean in Dad-mode’ seeing the two bonding over Baby, beers, and bait; chatting about what it means to have a full life. I have to express concern for both of these guys, with Jack’s frailty and Dean’s muddled vision occurrences. There is little doubt that Michael is somehow behind this, but we are all waiting to see–the line of sight is less clear plot-wise.

    Cas’ attempt to find a cure for Jack was at the very least a valiant effort, given he and Sam were working on info from Ketch (not the sharpest tool in the shed, despite his ego) and the random shaman, Sergei, left much to be desired. It almost struck me as someone turning to some obscure type of alternative medicine, and the dangers associated with that (trusting in energies/spirit versus science is a somewhat common trope). Considering Jack ingested The Trickster’s juice, may be a lead-in to interesting possibilities farther down the road.

    So, back to the title of the piece–the human mess that is Nick-post-Lucifer. The boys have their hands full with Jack’s ailment so should we forgive them for being less in tune with the resultant human misery Michael-Dean unleashed while killing Lucifer? Nick is alive, but barely from what we can see. I agree with those who have expressed words akin to disgust with having this amount of egregious human-on-human violence that isn’t monster-related; however, it does show our ‘inhuman nature’ after all, and it is like a bad auto accident where we just cannot look away. Not to mention the Terminator-like skeletal being evoked–is it the return of Lucifer or that Abraxas entity coming to life? Talk about duality! We are enthralled by the murderous rampage of Nick perhaps even more than the ‘experimental’ body count of Michael-Dean. It leaves me wondering…what’s the point?

    And I will still be tuning in next time; so it goes. ~ Blessings!

    • Me too – it’s a given that I’ll be tuning in next time, and with high hopes for an episode I can really squee over 🙂

  • This episode for me was about Jack. Not that I think he will die (yet,or hopefully at all) It wasn’t even about what the Winchester clan have done for him, to me it was about the gift the life of a child brings.

    I know sometimes our beloved show is a little off kilter, but I think our writers do care, a lot. Jack is a case in point, Jack has been good for all of our characters, drawing them out, showing who they are underneath, who they have the potential to be, making them be the best they can be. Jack was the writers gift to the Winchester family, because no family is complete without someone who loves you and whom you can love back, unconditionally.

    As for the fishing trip , I have to say I was going to agree with the the comments that John taking Dean out fishing was barely plausible, that was, until I took into account Dean as the variable factor. We already know for fact, Dean’s memories of Mary were idolised and not entirely correct, I’m pretty sure this was also the case with John. Repeatedly John failed the boys, take “A Very Supernatural Christmas” John made a promise he’d be back for Christmas, he didn’t arrive and Dean had to pick up the pieces, that wasn’t the first or last time either. Dean has a distorted view of himself and life that stems from his insecure Childhood and burden as a child carer, perhaps for Dean, any memory where he got time alone with his Dad was precious, even if, in reality it was only for training and not for fun? The hard truth is Dean probably didn’t have many such moments with John absent so often; John himself admitted in season 2, that he put too much on his Eldest son, who took care of all of them, when it should have been the other way round.

    I saw the fishing trip itself as Jack’s way of trying to fix what he could with Dean, Jack is smart and very aware Dean feels guilty for how he acted when they first met. I think Jack has also realised Dean isn’t so good at forming attachments, or talking about feelings and went out of his way not only in this episode, but the previous one, to try and get to know him and earn his trust.To me the Road Trip was Jack’s chance to get more face time with Dean, not to exclude his other Dads; I read Jack as being totally comfortable and secure of his place in both Cas and Sam’s hearts, what Jack wanted was the full set of three hearts, before his time was up.

    I enjoyed having Rowena back, she is, in some ways kinder and more caring of Dean and Sam than their own mother, who was again, strangely absent and silent, despite the fact Sam had called, well everyone, leaving no stone un-turned in his quest to get Jack help. Perhaps she left her cell on air-plane mode accidentally?

    Also, nit pic, Nick seems to have avoided getting caught by the Police so far, surely that can’t last ? Just a random thought, maybe the Red Eyed Terminator is really the Cosmic Entity, getting fed up with the constant disruption to his sleep, with all these extra souls Nick is generating?

    Sadly there is never enough time to explore as fully as we, the audience, would like in one episode and we are obliged to make some leaps. Maybe its not always a bad thing, as it allows us to draw our own conclusions on some things and allows for a bit of breathing space to interpret things differently? Maybe I’m over thinking again ? That’s why I love this show, 14 years on it still has heart and soul , it makes me think hard thoughts, it makes me cry and it makes me smile!

    P.S Dean’s smile is still infectious 14 seasons on, please,please, show, make it happen more!!!!
    Thanks for your review, look forward to next one!

    • Very nice comment Marion! You made me see things in a slightly different way. I LOVE Jack and I know some fans do not, seeing him as a “Cousin Oliver” type, but I think he has been of great value to she show. Great point about how he has brought so much out in the other characters in TFW.
      I too love the show, and will never leave it, in good times AND “off kilter” ones! 😀

      • I’m so glad we have this amazing show , its made me think (and sometimes act) differently since it came into my life. SPN is the gift that just keeps giving and I’m honoured to be able share my thoughts with you. Long may we ride along with Baby and TFW !

  • I see the fishing trip as a hunt in the old days. An Wendigo maybe, and John had to camp out with the boys. So, they had to go fishing in the meantime. And so Dean got to spend a little “downtime” with his Dad. Everything with John had something to do with a hunt.

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