Emotionally Powerful, Just How I like It – Supernatural Byzantium

 

I watched last week’s Supernatural episode at a Supernatural convention in Jacksonville with my friend , YouTuber Alana King. That meant we recorded our reactions live for her video, much of which consisted of me making stunned faces and needing lots of tissues, which our helpful friend Christina kept tossing over from off camera. Alana and I were in shock half the time, so there are long stretches of us frozen with our jaws hanging open (which is not very attractive NGL) but when we did get animated, there was a lot to say.  I’ll link the video at the end if you’d like to laugh at us. Feel free!

Now that the con is over and I’ve had time to do a rewatch, I’ve got some deeper thoughts and some praise for pretty much everyone who had a hand in crafting this episode – and that makes me one happy fangirl!

The episode begins with Jack’s three dads sitting at his bedside, doing just what Rowena said – watching over him as he dies.  (Cue my first wobbly lower lip).  Sam is right there next to him, so much sadness in his expressive eyes. Dean is across the room, struggling to hold it together, hands gripping the sides of the dresser telegraphing all the emotion he’s trying not to show. Cas stands watching over all of them, blue eyes troubled.

Jack is the one dealing with his impending death the best, saying that maybe this is how it’s supposed to be and asking his dads not to be sad.

Dean: Don’t give me that meant to be crap.

Jack starts to cough, having trouble breathing, and Dean walks out, unable to watch someone he loves suffering. He’s angry, as he always is when life hands someone he cares about a raw deal.  He punches the wall like he did when  Bobby was dying, even as Jack asks Sam to tell Dean that it’s okay. The role reversal here at the end of Jack’s life is painful, Jack trying so hard to comfort the three men who are already grieving him.

Jack: Sam, what happens next, for someone like me?

Sam says he doesn’t know, but Jack is undeterred even then, saying that it will be an adventure.

I think I started to tear up at that point, and Sam looks the same.

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Meanwhile, Cas tells Dean that he has to go back in there. That it’s not fair, of course, but Jack needs him.

Dean goes back, and finds Jack still and Sam at his side.

Sam: He’s gone.

At that moment, Alana and I kinda lost our shit. He’s GONE??? Just like that??? I did not see that coming so quickly, only a few minutes literally into the episode. I still don’t know if I like it, but it certainly got an emotional reaction out of me! Interestingly, it was more shock than grief, which oddly mirrored the way humans react in real life. Alana and I stared at each other with our jaws hanging open for an alarmingly long time.

I also immediately worried for Dean, who must feel so guilty that Jack slipped away before he had a chance to come back. If you’ve ever been by a loved one’s bedside as they died, it’s stressful to leave for a cup of coffee or to make a phone call because you’re always afraid you won’t be there with them when they go, and that feels difficult somehow.

The camera goes close on Dean as he processes the information and struggles again with his emotions, and of course Ackles shows us every complicated feeling. Ouch.

And we only now get to the opening graphic! What the hell, Show?!

The three plan “next steps”, wake and a bonfire, a hunter’s funeral – because that’s what Jack would have wanted.

You can see Sam’s anguish, just in the way he can hardly straighten himself up, he’s so overcome with grief.

Sam immediately walks off, clearly distraught, and Cas wants to go after him, gently saying “Sam…” as he walks away. Dean holds him back with a pat on the shoulder.

Cas: Your brother’s in pain.

Dean: Just let him be, he needs his space. We’re gonna give it to him.

He knows Sam, and understands the complexity of grieving, that back and forth and push and pull of needing solace from others and needing time to yourself. If anyone has experience with grieving, it is unfortunately the Winchesters.

Dean makes the difficult call to Mary, who I had forgotten doesn’t even know that Jack was sick! I can’t imagine Mary’s shock at getting the news that he got sick and oh, he’s already dead – ouch. It’s sort of a sad testament to how much Sam and Dean don’t depend on Mary as a mother that they didn’t reach out to her sooner. Dean finishes the call with a vulnerable sounding “anyway, it’d be really nice to hear your voice,” which threw me right back to that iconic phone call that Dean made to his absent father in season one when we all realized just how tragic it was that John Winchester was not returning his desperate sons’ phone calls. Oh, the pain, Show!  When Dean is hurting like that, it’s almost unbearable to hear the vulnerability in his voice. Ouch ouch ouch.

Cas watches Sam leave the bunker, head cocked in confusion, but he doesn’t say anything.

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Next thing we know, Dean is looking for his brother, clearly worried. Uh oh. Dean and Cas set off to look for Sam, who also took the Impala, which looks really weird to see Cas driving and Dean riding shotgun.

Dean: How could you just let him leave, you saw what he was like?

Cas: Dean, you said to give him space.

Dean: Yeah, space – in the bunker with us!

I really felt for Cas there, gotta say. Grief is confusing for humans, and for Cas even more!

They find Sam sitting on the ground in the nearby woods, leaning up against the Impala, looking heartbreakingly broken. It’s a beautiful shot, but so heartwrenching.

Dean, already in a panic about not being able to find Sam, jumps to the very worst conclusion.

Dean: Tell me you didn’t make a deal!

Sam is totally confused at that – he was trying to build a pyre, not make a deal. We see Sam’s attempts in flashback, angry and chopping so hard at the trees that the axe splits apart and forces him to stop.

Sam: I couldn’t…I couldn’t even do that for him. I should’ve done more, tried harder. What good is any of the spells, the lore…

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gifs sasquatchandleatherjacket

Me: Oh my heart!

Dean: Sam, at least you were there for him.

I love Dean comforting his little brother, and that he said what many of us have been saying, because Sam really was there for Jack, from the beginning.

Cas: It doesn’t feel right, it’s not how I thought Jack’s story would end….it’s not right, Jack being taken before me.

All three of them are hurting so much, stuck in the wrongness of a death that happens out of time. Meredith Glynn’s script does a brilliant job of exploring grief and how it bowls us over, takes the breath out of us, renders us desperate and helpless and sometimes hopeless. Dean, Sam and Cas all express the common and normal reactions we all have – the feeling that you didn’t do enough, that you weren’t there, that you should have died first, especially when the one you’ve lost is like a child to you.

Jared, Jensen and Misha and director Eduardo Sanchez did such a good job of showing us all those emotions that I could feel them all too, in sympathy and in empathy. We have all lost someone, and so those universal feelings hit us deeply. (As someone who both is a mom and has lost a mom, the Buffy episode where her mom died is still unwatchable for me. I watched when it aired and still can’t think about it without sobbing – the Supernatural episode where they lost Ellen and Jo is the same). That’s how powerful media can be in reflecting our own emotions, and Supernatural does that here.

“So what do we do?” Sam asks, which is something every bereaved person has felt and has asked, and which again worked perfectly here.

Dean, the big brother, steps up with an answer, and it includes Team Free Will’s version of a wake – “Tonight, we get loaded.”

“Take one last look before you leave,” the music says as the three toast Jack at the bunker kitchen table.  The scene starts out solemn and sad, but as they drink and talk and presumably share what fond memories they did get to have with Jack, they start to smile and then to laugh.

I get what they were going for, but Alana and I immediately turned to each other as Castiel chowed down on some nougat and broke into a smile and said “That’s Misha, not Cas!” Clearly the same with Sam and Dean – we were watching Jared, Jensen and Misha goof off and crack each other up as they can do so well (something they confirmed at the convention). That threw me out of the story unfortunately, but it was also really nice to see them having fun together, so I’m ambivalent about its inclusion. Actually I’m not, because some brilliant person managed to remove the music and let a grateful fandom hear a bit of what Jared, Jensen and Misha were actually saying and it is GOLD. Or it was, until it got taken down. Anyway, from a story standpoint though, it was a bit jarring. Maybe because the Winchesters and Cas have NEVER been that carefree and happy!

Sam leaves first, then Cas, and Dean is alone, still struggling to believe “we did everything we could, right?”

Dean: Here’s to you, Jack, wherever you are.

Lovely transition, and we’re with Jack in heaven. He’s on a road trip with his three dads, eating burgers and shakes and all of them teaching him to read an old school map because there’s no cell service. Jack quickly realizes that it’s not real, but it’s a nice moment. He wanders out into the halls of heaven, which we soon see is under attack by an ominous roiling river of black goo that we recognize as the entity from the Empty. Jack runs down the hall Indiana Jones style while Alana and I yell “run Jack run!”

Dean wakes up passed out on the kitchen table to Sam and Cas returning – with Lily Sunder! (who was in the opening, so we knew she was coming).

After a few staggers, Dean joins them and does a double take when he sees her.

Dean: You got old.

Way to tell it like it is, Dean. She gave up magic, it turns out. Sam has had the brilliant idea to have Lily look through Kevin’s angel tablet translations. (Yay, Kevin mention!) Dean is skeptical, but Sam and Cas want to try having her help bring Jack back – which, you know, is just SO Winchester!

She can’t read the tablet, but offers the use of her magic to draw power from his soul to save him. Sam and Dean are both cautious about losing any part of a soul, which makes sense considering their past experience with soulnessness.  Dean calls her on wanting something from all this, and Lily admits that she wants to go to Heaven to be with her daughter .

They summon Anubis to see if they can convince him to let Lily into Heaven.

Lily: You can summon a god??

Dean: We’ve done it before.

Me: Only on Supernatural.

Meanwhile, Jack is exploring Heaven – and has found his mother’s. It’s incredibly touching, because Jack never got to meet his mom and she never got to meet him. Kelly says “Jack, it’s you!” and I have to admit I had to grab for the tissues.

When Jack tells her that she’s in heaven, she has a horrifying realization – if Jack is there, he’s dead too. (Cue more tears from me)

Kelly: No no no, baby no!

Jack assures her that Cas and Sam and Dean did their best, that they took care of him.

Castiel heads to heaven, which is in distress with all the gates open, even the ones that Metatron closed. Sam and Dean do what they do best, painting sigils and signs to summon a god.  Sam leaves the room and encourages Dean to talk to Lily, and when he does, he knows there’s something she’s not telling them.

Veronica Cartwright then gives a masterful performance, letting us see all Lily’s pain at the death of her daughter , Mae. She’s in heaven, and Lily desperately wants to be with her, with that sliver of her soul that is left. (Yes, she made me cry – again!)

Cas finds heaven full of dead angels dripping black goo. Duma is the only one who wakes up, asking Cas not to leave her and coming with him.  Hmmm. Naomi appears, telling Cas that Jack is gone and that the Entity, the shadow that rules the Empty, wants him – and maybe they should give him to them.   As they argue, and Naomi points out that millions of human souls will be cast into the wind and Cas still refuses, Naomi is consumed by the shadow and Cas and Duma run.

Back at the bunker, Sam recites a lot of Latin, which Jared does extremely well, and Anubis appears – with his abacus. I’m amused that he knows the Winchesters  and finds Dean “as snappy as advertised.” You have to wonder how often the supernatural world discusses Sam and Dean and what they say – and how much of it is full of grudging appreciation!

Anubis tells Lily that she’s going to hell. The Winchesters try to bind him to make him make an exception, but Anubis insists he can’t so they let him go. Lily is crushed. I feel kinda crushed too, to be honest.

Back in heaven, Cas and Duma find Jack and Kelly, who are each trying to protect the other. Cas hugs Jack with such relief and joy, and then Kelly, and goddammit, I’m crying again.

Cas: I’m sorry, I failed you.

Kelly: You didn’t…Jack, he’s wonderful.

Meanwhile, Lily packs up to leave since she couldn’t get what she came for. Sam begs her to try anyway.

Sam: He’s our kid!

Dean: You know what I think? Burning all that soul, you’re not even human anymore. Otherwise, how could you ever, ever let anyone go through what you went through?  The pain of losing a kid – don’t do this to us.

gif deanwinchestir
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How anyone could say no to Sam and Dean saying THAT I have no idea – and Lily can’t. Looking at her picture of her daughter one last time (and I was sure it was one last time), she starts the spell, while Dean and Sam pray to Cas.

In heaven, Jack and Kelly are both reluctant to let Lily use a part of his soul, but Cas points out that it’s also the only way to save Heaven, and they agree.  And of course that’s when Duma is revealed to be the Entity, lying in wait while Cas led it right to Jack.  There’s a fight, but they’re no match for the Entity.

Erica Cerra does a kickass job portraying the Entity with all the manic energy that Misha brought to his own portrayal of the creature. The way the Entity is so thoroughly unhinged and so sadistic is frankly terrifying.

Castiel, however, hears Sam and Dean’s prayer – and follows the Winchester code and offers to make a deal – he will go back to the Empty in Jack’s place. Misha also kicks ass in this scene, Castiel’s desperation and rage so palpable as he negotiates to sacrifice himself. The Entity agrees, but only if it can make Cas suffer. It will only take him when he gives himself permission to be finally, truly happy.

Me and Alana: Urgh.

And also in true Winchester fashion, Cas doesn’t want to tell Sam and Dean. Jack reluctantly agrees.

Jack: Why? Why did you do that?

Cas: Because I made a promise. Because I love you, Jack. Sam and Dean, they love you, and they are fighting for you this very minute.

Me: Tissues!!!

Jack says his goodbyes to Kelly.

Jack: We didn’t get enough time.

Kelly: It’s okay, go. Have a great life, I’ll be waiting. I love you so much.

Me: OMG more tissues!

It’s such a gift to jack, that he got to have that time with his mother, that he got to hear her say “I love you.”

Back in the bunker, Jack gasps and sits up. Sam and Dean gasp too, shocked that maybe it worked. Alana and I dab at our eyes. Okay, that was me.

Sam and Dean anchor Jack while he reads the spell.

Jack seems okay.

Lily coughs and sinks into a chair.

Dean leans in and hugs Jack, and Sam clasps him on the shoulder, smiling.

Sam: It’s good to have you back.

gif itsokaysammy
gif itsokaysammy
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Dean turns to Lily.

Dean: Lily, thank you….Lily?

As I suspected, she’s gone.

And damned if I’m not crying again, saying please please please let her see Anubis again, and let him change his mind and let her into heaven. Sure enough, she faces Anubis, and he gets out the abacus.

Anubis: Care to try your luck again?

She does, and the black and white beads fly, me holding my breath and going please please please! And damn if she doesn’t get in.

Anubis: Say hello to your daughter for me.

Me: sobs like a baby

Naomi stops Castiel before he leaves Heaven, and thanks him for saving them.

Naomi: I think that deserves a reward, don’t you? For example, the archangel Michael’s location.

Me and Alana: OMG yes!

Jack and his three dads share burgers and beer, everyone unable to stop staring at Jack and smiling.  They know where Michael is, and Sam, who was so hopeless and broken before, is now back to being the determined Winchester we know and love. They don’t know where Dark Kaia and the spear are, but…

Sam: We will. We’ll figure it out.

Dean: That’s right. And then Michael, that sonofabitch is gonna pay.

They clink their beers and Alana and I suddenly become terrified.

Alana and Lynn: Cas! Don’t get too happy!

I guess that’s gonna be a nagging anxiety now. Every time Castiel gets too contented, we’re gonna be worried he’s about to be zapped to the Empty. Oh Show, you’re so cruel.

When I talked to director Eduardo Sanchez about filming this episode, he mentioned that he really enjoyed it because it was an opportunity to tackle such emotional scenes, and he felt that the actors really brought it – and I have to say, he was so right! All of them – main cast and guest stars – made me feel every emotion, and the writing and the direction was spot on so that those emotions rang true each time. I got lots of Sam and Dean, a brave and determined Cas, more parent-child feels than this parent could handle without LOTS of tissues, and dialogue that felt organic and true in a psychological and emotional sense and in a story-telling sense.

I loved the way the episode was filmed, from the beautiful scenes of the Impala in the woods at night to the perspectives on the heartfelt hugs to the gorgeous close-ups that showed us every bit of the characters’ emotions. I loved the realistic way the episode treated grief and loss, which I’m teaching a graduate course on right now. Meredith? You got it right. I also loved the in-depth exploration of parenthood, which is an equally complex and individual personal experience – not just Kelly’s feelings for her son, but Lily’s grief and longing for her lost daughter, and Sam and Dean and Castiel’s love for their son, which strikes me as a wonderfully non-traditional  parenting and familial narrative that has a lot to say about found family.

This is one of those episodes that will stay with me. Thank you everyone, I’m a happy fangirl!

If you’d like to see our real-time reaction, here’s me and Alana watching this episode. With tissues.

Supernatural Reaction Video – Byzantium

Caps by kayb625

Lynn

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29 thoughts on “Emotionally Powerful, Just How I like It – Supernatural Byzantium

  • I definitely enjoyed this episode more than the last one, even though it had more tears.
    First thing I noticed? No one else at the bunker! No AU people! Yay!! I hope that’s it for them at the bunker.
    Second thing, Dean leaving the room. He’s done that same thing so many times when he gets upset. In Celebrating the life of Asa Fox-Mary and the boys talk, Dean leaves. In Ladies Drink Free, Claire is suffering from the possible cure-Dean leaves. It’s Deans way of coping but kind of predictable.

    Thirdly, the fact that the first thing Dean thinks that Sam might do is make a deal. I thought that was brilliant because that’s what the Winchester’s do. Spot on I think.
    Bringing up The Empty was a good surprise, usually something gets mentioned once and is never talked of again (anti-Christ or Amy Ponds’ son anyone?) This was a great surprise to see it mentioned. I’m assuming after it let Castiel go back, that it couldn’t get back to sleep and is quite pissed about it?

    Jared, Jensen and Misha were so good at showing their characters’ pain. Sam trying to chop that tree and his strength and anguish pretty much destroying that axe. Dean holding everything in and Castiel trying to hold everything together. It was a very good episode although seeing everyone happy at the end means a lot of bad next episode. Happy never lasts in Winchester land.

    • That’s so true, happy never lasts for these poor guys! I was also happy that they didn’t just drop The Empty, which sometimes happens in this show and never fails to annoy me. It wasn’t a perfect episode, but the emotional beats did work for me here and I appreciated that.

  • I loved this episode. It’s made it onto my top ten list for all the reasons you described. The unbridled emotion from team free will was so beautifully acted, directed and lit that I was often in tears. One comment. It was Veronica Cartwright not Angela.

  • Once again you’ve nailed it, Lynn. I love your insights into the characters, especially Sam and Dean. Thanks. By the way, Lily was played by Veronica Cartwright, not Angela. I get those two sisters confused too.

  • Usually I agree pretty much 100% with you Lynn, but at the beginnng of this ep at least, I just wasn’t feeling it. This season has seemed to have a lot of breaks in the airing schedule, maybe I need to rewatch them all together. But Jacks abrupt death – wtf? – and the scenes with Sam, Dean and Cas standing bedside, in the hallway, around the table – all seemed awkward and out of place. They didnt fit. I had no time to get emotional, the whole thing seemed rushed through, and I thought what the hell are the writers doing? Are they pushing along this plot line to get it out of the way? And why would Cas be grieving, wouldnt he go and check out if Jack was in Heaven immediately? I disagree with them grieving the same as we all would, they KNOW there is heaven and an afterlife, and for the moment at least, they have access. I did love the Jack/Kelly scenes and I agree Erica Cerra was amazing. Anubis was an interesting addition.
    This season seems to have story lines start up and then disappear into the ether. The AU people? Michael? Mary and Bobby? Now it looks like we have Terminator Luci and The Empty as well. I wish we had Monster of the Week, with one well written plot to follow through all season.

    • On first watch, I felt like that too – Jack’s death happened so abruptly, I didn’t feel anything. On second watch, it seemed almost like that was the shock that one would feel after a sudden death, so I could accept it a bit more. While it doesn’t perhaps make sense that the bunker is suddenly empty, I think I was so happy to have all the AU people out of there that I didn’t even care if I had an explanation! I agree with you tho, this is a very busy season. I think that’s why I appreciated this episode, because it focused on the main characters and their emotional journeys.

  • Such an impact this episode made, I started tearing up again just reading your recap!
    As for the “wake” scene – I understand what you said about it, but for me – it felt exactly right. It reminded me of my husband’s wake, held at his favorite brewery. It started out somber but the more we drank, the more we remembered all the happy and funny memories, and we were rolling with laughter by the time it was over. Which is why I laughed through my tears during that scene.
    Excellent recap, thank you for making me cry again! 😀

    • I do know that’s sort of what a wake is for, I think I’ve just seen Jared, Jensen and Misha laugh so often that it was instantly recognizable as them and not their characters! Glad you enjoyed the review despite the tears, and so sorry for your loss.

  • Ha – I was starting to think this review was going to be late because this episode was such a disaster you couldn’t find anything nice to say about it.

    Normally I’m with you on your reviews but this episode was just not good. When Jack died five minutes into the show I wasn’t shocked, I went, “Oh, well obviously he’ll be back by the end of the episode, otherwise he’d have died farther in.” Which was frustrating not only because it was so predictable, but because the whole “OMG Jack is dying!” arc was resolved in two rushed episodes (just as I expected it would be), and therefore nothing was at stake. The drinking montage was very poorly done (especially since Cas doesn’t need to eat and basically has to drink a liquor store to get drunk) and did nothing more than eat up valuable narrative time that could have been used to make this episode not feel so slapped together and pointless.

    Then he ended up in Heaven and the Empty showed up and I went, “EEK!” but that lasted all of five seconds until Mr. Sam Season 9 “I was ready to die and you had no right to save me, we can’t be brothers anymore” Winchester decides that he’ll just go ahead and trade away a piece of JACK’S SOUL to bring him back, without even finding out where he is or if he’s happy or if he’s okay with losing a piece of his SOUL. That, to me, is utter character assassination. How anyone who lived through seasons 8 and 9 can look at what Sam decided to do in this episode and not think he’s a gigantic, raging hypocrite is beyond me – and I don’t want to sit here 14 seasons in looking at one of the boys getting stuck on how he’s suddenly a gigantic, raging hypocrite. Things like this really make me wonder if the writers even like Sam anymore. I understand that the response to this is, “But Jack’s like their son.” Well, Sam didn’t have a problem shooting Dean’s actual, flesh-and-blood daughter square in the chest when she brought a knife to a gunfight and had been alive a shorter time than Jack and hadn’t done anything. Please note, this is not me hating on Sam, this is me sincerely wondering if the WRITERS hate Sam by having him do so many things *in a single episode* that draw a direct line to some of his more questionable choices in earlier seasons because it now places him in a very bad light when, oh, suddenly he is wiling to do whatever it takes when it’s someone *Sam* sees as his child and someone *Sam* loves. How can they do this to one of their two main characters, the one who gets top billing??? What’s next, is a demon going to trick him into thinking the only way to stop Michael is by drinking demon blood?!?

    And Dean just *goes* with it. Dean, who at this point absolutely knows better, and had to live with a soulless version of his brother for months, who *knows* that you shouldn’t mess around with someone else’s soul, and that you sure as *hell* shouldn’t just go bringing someone back from the dead if they’ve made peace with what’s going to happen to them. The people in charge of this show are just taking a giant sharpie and scribbling over everything that came before them as if there was no Sam and Dean prior to season 12. As if they haven’t learned lessons and grown as people and are still the same stupid, reckless 20-somethings they were at the start of the show instead of freaking adults who *know better now.* Especially when Jack is with his mother in Heaven and he’s *happy.* He’s okay with being dead! He doesn’t regret it or feel bad or like he missed anything, he’s looking at it as an adventure! All they had to do to make this not be a 100% selfish move that regressed both main characters would have been for them not to do anything besides starting to build a funeral pyre, and before they can have Cas discover angel radio is sending out a distress signal, go up, discover the Empty, have that whole thing go down, and come back to tell Sam and Dean they *have* to get Jack out of Heaven. Then it makes the decision not completely selfish and they could have spread the arc over three episodes instead of two and closed it organically instead of sacrificing character integrity to open and then close a MAJOR arc in two episodes.

    Yes, I realize they have fewer episodes on the roster this season, but if they didn’t have twelve other plot lines running at the same time they would have room for this. And they clearly only got this plot out of the way so they could replace it with another one, the Empty, that I’m sure will be resolved in another single, rushed episode full of character assassination, instead of playing out organically.

    I mean, at least Sam got to do stuff in this episode and Dean was breathtaking to look at in every single scene, but when the only character consistency they manage to maintain is that Mary doesn’t pick up the phone when her eldest son calls because he’s just not that important to her that’s a pretty serious problem. This episode was a hot mess from where I was sitting, and one I will not look forward to on a re-watch.

    • I do see all your points here. Dean wasn’t okay with the piece of Jack’s soul thing at first, which rang true to me – and Sam didn’t initially get Lily to do anything soul related, but to read the angel tablet. So I can be more or less okay with that part, tho more hesitation on their part would have been in character. The selfishness of wanting to bring Jack back does go against the ‘what’s dead should stay dead’, but the Winchesters have never stuck to that mantra anyway, so it didn’t jar me too much here. It’s that Buffy-esque torn out of heaven thing, but I like that trope most of the time. They did give Jack the choice after an explanation, so maybe they learned a little bit from the Gadreel debacle at least – but you make a good point that they could have had the information about heaven needing Jack not to be dead early on and that would have solved the whole problem!

      The season as a whole has been rushed and over-crowded, but I think this episode felt good to me because it did such a good job of exploring grief, and I appreciated that. And these actors are all so good at it. Points taken though, points taken.

      • deb167 it physically pains me as someone who studied both writing and acting to watch this season and see *easy fixes* to every episode so far that has felt rushed, and *know* how good this season could be if someone at the helm still cared about telling a good story. There is “good story” potential everywhere this season and they just keep missing the mark.

        All I want for Christmas at this point is for Davy Perez to be promoted to show runner.

  • Yes, to all your analysis–the many feelings and emotions that go along with this roller coaster of an episode. Literally traveling the journey from death to resurrection, and what happens in-between, as if we might ever get the nerve to experience it. Or, maybe we have experienced this circuitous route many times? It’s something to think about, anyway.

    Another nonchalant tosser was the matter-of-fact way Dean and Sam talk about summoning a god. [“We’ve done it before.”] Between being in the presence of ‘the’ god/Chuck, his sister, and multiple gods and angels over the years, maybe they do get to wear that “been there done that got the t-shirt” mantle. It sure is a noteworthy blip in the sonar of the story. A bit like the foreshadowing that belies Chuck’s role in things back in “Jump the Shark.”

    Loved it all, and your digest of it, and will undoubtedly get much from seeing the video of you and Alana when I watch it tomorrow. ~ Blessings! ❤

    • Added reply that I referenced the incorrect relating to Chuck’s writer-cum-God character, which was “The Monster at the End of This Book.” –“Jump the Shark” related to Adam’s story [S4 was full of good ones!], and in it, Sam does extend the possibility of ‘bringing him back.’ So the Winchesters have learned a bit about what to do with family members from then to now.

  • ” but that lasted all of five seconds until Mr. Sam Season 9 “I was ready to die and you had no right to save me, we can’t be brothers anymore” Winchester etc etc”

    Just have to interject, that it wasn’t that Sam wanted to die, as much as Dean knew that Sam would never have wanted to be possessed by another angel,not after Lucifer, which is why he couldn’t bring himself to tell him.
    This spell was using a tiny part of Jacks own soul to revive him.

    I agree with the fact that Jack had made peace with going and they should have had his permission first, although he did seem pretty happy to go back…

    I didn’t think “the empty” was scary in the slightest, just seemed really annoying and petulant.

    wonderful performances from team free will 2.0, and i did shed a few tears myself.
    .

    • The Empty was definitely petulant and annoying, but just how unhinged it seemed was scary to me – unpredictable, like a two year old having godlike powers. Now that’s something scary lol!

    • Nope, sorry. After being soulless for a year, using innocent people as bait, trying to kill Bobby, and allowing Dean to be turned into a vampire, I cannot accept that Sam would think just a “piece” of someone’s soul was no big deal. How can they know what piece it will be? Will it be the piece that loves nougat? The piece that enjoys fishing? The piece that recognizes a pretty girl is interested in him? The piece that likes kittens and puppies? The piece that saves a young woman’s life because it allows him to figure out a witch’s curse is linked to a necklace (though anyone with two brain cells saw that one coming)? They could literally be bartering away the piece of his soul that loves whatever it is that brongs him the greatest joy, fundamentally altering who he is. Sam found a way to bring Jack back from the dead *without discussing with him first whether he wanted to be brought back* and then they sent Cas up to guilt trip Jack into coming back when he was *at peace.* This is nothing like finding out your brother used extraordinary methods to save you when you were suicidal (as a society we have agreed not to just let suicidal people die) and then using his fear of abandonment against him because you’re upset that the only method available to him was one you wouldn’t have chosen for yourself had you been in your right mind. Which you weren’t. What Sam did with Jack is so much worse and not something I can accept he would *ever* do, except that they needed to move the plot along and they took the easy out of undermining one of their two leads, which they do *all the time* now whenever they need to make someone else look good. Want your villain to be scary? Want your teenage girl to look tough? Want your computer nerd to seem savvy? Don’t worry about having to build an actual character, just dumb down Sam and Dean! They’re big boys, they can take it. Plus, the audience loves them so they’ll go through the mental gymnastics required to rationalize away things that are out of character instead of demanding that the writers do their darned job.

      What they did with Sam this episode is the same level of bad writing as season 8 when he didn’t look for Dean in Purgatory and ignored his phone for a year so they could force conflict between the brothers. Sam never would have done either of those things, but now we have to live with it as canon, just like we now have to accept Sam telling other people not to leave hunting or bartering away someone else’s soul without even considering the consequences. I do not think the writers like Sam, or if they do, it’s some alternate version of Sam that exists on some other show and not this one. I have no idea how Jared Padalecki manages to reconcile these whiplash-inducing character shifts into his understanding of who Sam is. I’d be giving pushback all over the place were I him.

      • Wait until you see what they do with Sam in the mid season finally! Maybe it will become clearer by the end of the season. Not sure at this point. As much as it is an on year for Dean, there are changes in Sam as well-not all understandable, but Jared does a solid job with what he is given.

      • Wondering if some of Jack’s consent is lying on the editing floor. Also wonder if Jared wants to be written lighter for time reasons.

  • So let me get this straight. Jack dies and Dean leaves Mary a voicemail. Everything else in the entire episode develops all the way to Jack’s resurrection and then some and STILL NO RESPONSE FROM MARY?!? Where is she? Timbuktu??? I know, I know. Her excuse will be lack of service at the cabin. Or she and Bobby were otherwise too occupied to bother to answer the cell. If they let Mary slide on this one then I’m going to have to apologize to my daughter for getting upset when she doesn’t answer my voicemails/texts within what I consider a more than reasonable length of time. An entire episode and no return call. Not even a call to check in and make sure everything’s fine with her boys and to let them know that they haven’t been eaten by bears.

    • Yes, that phone call was really jarring and so very sad. I don’t want Mary back in every episode, but it’s also often forced when they try to make up reasons she’s not present. Which I guess is a good reason not to bring people back so often!

  • Not sure if the spell to summon Anubis is in Latin. It sounded as though it had Arabic as part of it. And after all Anubis is Egyptian and the episode is called Byzantium. Writers opening doors to non Judeo-Christian thanatology is a smart idea. While show has gone there before with other lore, this time it is woven in as part of the Heaven/Hell mythology that show has used so much as an exoskeleton. I did not shed tears when Jack’s death was so quick as I felt he would be back shortly and unlike Kevin, we have not had bonding time with him and watched him grow from an advanced placement teenager to a mature prophet who died at Gadreel’s hands. And watching Kevin die with Sam being the physical instrument is far more heart tugging than Jack fading away, and Jack told us not to be sad….so…. The acting and direction are top notch. The script is sensitive to loss as there are many losses in this one episode. And of course, a bad deal is made- seems as if Sam and Dean know better at the moment, so it is Castiel’s turn. Overall, I enjoyed the episode and even more so on a re-watch. It is a quiet episode and paired with “Unhuman Nature” provides insight into Sam. Dean, Castiel, Jack and responsibility for one’s actions in life and death. And now, we are ready for the mid season finale and a hiatus. So far, for me, this has been a mostly enjoyable season.

    • I didn’t react when Jack died so quickly either, but I do feel an attachment to Jack, which surprises me. Nothing like I feel for the others, but it’s there. Maybe because Alex is just that good, or maybe because Sam and Dean and Cas feel so much for him. This season has been hit or miss for me, but this episode definitely made me feel – and I like that about the show!

  • Just going to call this the “Kleenex” episode, so much about the story line resonated from the grief laden reactions(or over- reactions) to the reckless but well meaning, foolhardiness of a desperate person,I was totally thrown back to the time of Dean’s original demon deal in season 2. Oh, the things we do for love!
    Reflecting on this over the last week, I am convinced the deals, both Cas and Jack’s will not be a good thing, but so utterly Winchester and honestly if we all had access to a God, what might we be tempted to do, even if we knew it came at a price? Anubis by the way, is a super cool Dude, for a god he seemed like a good guy!

    Mary,Mary,Mary, don’t get me started on her absence, not one call to check on Dean when she promised him she would be there for anything he needed? Not one call to Jack,whom she was so worried about last season? Not even a call to Sam whom she was bonding with? Perhaps she and Bobby are on Cruise Ship in a place with no Cell phones…..

    All in all the episode was well written, well acted and beautifully shot, I thought everyone brought their “A” game and,bonus, Sam and Dean were (mostly) together physically and emotionally this ep,so yay!

    • Agreed, Sam and Dean together on my tv screen (or whatever) is always a good thing. And yes, Show has gotten itself into a fine mess with how to deal with Mary’s intermittent presence, hasn’t it? I guess we and they should have seen that coming!

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