Supernatural was back from its mini-hiatus last week finally. I absolutely loved the last few episodes, so “Ouroboros” had a tough act to follow. It turned out to be an episode with some excellent moments and it definitely held my interest throughout, but there were a bunch of head scratching moments and we all know I don’t like those. On the other hand, I was thrilled to have Rowena back on my screen, so that combined with some great emotional scenes left me at least intermittently happy.
The episode, written by Steve Yockey and directed by cast favorite Amyn Kaderali, starts with a memorable scene (perhaps not for my preferred reasons, but…), a mostly shirtless barefoot dude cooking with some good music playing. I love the way it’s filmed and directed, almost like a sorta sexy version of a cable tv cooking show. Except, because this is Supernatural, it turns out barefoot dude is cooking a recently murdered man and slicing and breading and frying his organs and popping out his eyeballs for a snack. I literally said “ewwww” out loud. A new high for Supernatural’s enjoyment of making its fans have to stop eating their traditional pie slices. It was a well done opening, though, and I’d sort of like Noah (very well played by Phillippe Bowgen) if he wasn’t so busy eating people.
Team Free Will Plus (TFW+) arrive too late and are understandably frustrated. Rowena gives Cas a flirty “Hello, Castiel”, and gets a puzzled look in return, which was sort of adorable. Then we unfortunately get our first head scratching moment. Rowena is the only one who notices that the corpse (and apparently the other similar corpses they’ve found) has black around his lips and really, the Winchesters didn’t notice that??? Too busy focusing on the cannibalism to, what? Be hunters??
Head scratch. Grrrr.
Rowena dispenses some wisdom to Jack when he asks if the black around the lips means something.
Rowena: Dear boy, everything means something.
She’s right, and Sam and Dean and Castiel know that, Show. We ALL know that!
There’s an overt (maybe too overt) theme running through the episode of “I’m fine, everyone’s fine” which starts with Rowena and Sam in the next scene as they research who this monster might be and why he always knows they’re coming. As they work, Rowena questions how Jack is okay and what kind of magic they used, and Sam just says ‘he’s fine’. She also wonders how Dean is managing to keep an Archangel locked up in his head.
Sam: Because he’s Dean. And Dean is…. Dean. He’s fine.
Of course he isn’t, but that’s sort of the point.
Meanwhile, Dean and Castiel have a diner chit chat while Jack is in the bathroom coughing up blood ominously. Cas is empathic with Dean, saying he can’t imagine the willpower it’s taking to keep Michael locked up, but Dean insists he’s fine.
Dean: That’s what I’m supposed to say, right?
Me: In this episode, yes, definitely.
Dean insists that it’s on him to keep it up, even if it means no sleep, but Cas protests.
Dean: It’s on me.
Cas: No, it’s on us. We’re here to help you.
It’s a nice gesture, but Sam and Cas actually can’t do a damn thing to help Dean other than let him keep hunting to stay distracted. But as Castiel rightly notes, it’s not sustainable.
Jack uses up some more of his soul in the bathroom to heal himself and returns to the table, also insisting he’s fine.
Dean: See? Everyone’s fine.
Me: Everyone is so not fine.
Things are going well and then I have to stop and scratch my head again. Castiel notes that the killings have been ritualistic, almost liturgical. Dean and Jack stare blankly and I start to yell obscenities at my television because really? Dean doesn’t know what liturgical means? With all the angels and devils and weird religious things they’ve come across? I never ever enjoy it when Show dumbs down the Winchesters, so I didn’t enjoy that little bit at all.
There was a fair amount of humor in this episode, which is odd for such a grisly one, but then again, Supernatural is good at that. I did enjoy the AV Club discussion and thought the humor worked well in that scene without anyone having to be dumbed down (Jack isn’t stupid, he’s just young and inexperienced). Cas explains to Jack that AV Club is a club for people who don’t play sports.
Dean gestures at Cas.
Dean: Like him, he’s AV Club.
I laughed out loud, but Rowena corrected all of us for fooling around.
Me: Yes ma’am.
Oh Rowena, I always love your lines – and Ruth Connell’s delivery.
Dean also gets to look not-so-knowledgeable, so head scratch again, when Sam and Rowena figure out that Noah is a Gorgon.
Dean: Like Medusa!
Rowena: You know about Medusa?
Me: Who doesn’t know about Medusa??? Come on, Show!
Unfortunately Dean only seems to know the Clash of the Titans version, which while awesome, I can’t believe is the only knowledge of Medusa he’s run across. Sigh.
Meanwhile, another well done scene. Noah flirts his way into a trucker’s front seat and gives him a kiss, which unfortunately for the trucker is not foreplay but rather venom that paralyzes him so Noah can pop out an eyeball while he’s still horrifically alive and EWW once again. Kudos to Phillippe for hitting just the right notes in his flirtation and then in his brutally efficient dispatching of the trucker.
Dean and Cas don their FBI aliases at the murder scene and intimidate the rather freaked out local cop (That’s the most intimidating we’ve seen Castiel in a while, and I liked it). Now the story gets weird, though. Noah inexplicably left a note for Dean (I guess he can hear in his visions of the future and Sam called his brother by name perhaps?) Anyway, the note is oddly specific. It says ‘I see you standing alone by the truck’ which – why would anyone write that? Why mention standing alone? He goes on to say he sees Dean and the tall man and the red haired witch, all of which is a fairly contrived way for the good guys to figure out that Gorgons can’t see angels.
Jack (indignant) I’m not an angel!
Close enough apparently.
Contrived or not, that gives them a way to have Cas and Jack sneak up on Noah, but not before Rowena shows her actual care for TFW+ by insisting they have some anti-venom with them to counteract the Gorgon’s paralysis if need be. She comes up with a way to get it worthy of the best fanfic, and the Rowena/Sam shippers out there must have been beside themselves. Sam and Rowena play the mom and dad of an adorable little dog, getting into a spat in front of the vet so she takes their dog in the back for an exam just to calm them down. I loved every minute of it. Jared and Ruth together are always amazing, and every time Rowena calls him “Samuel” I grin.
Vet: What’s his name?
Rowena and Sam: Jack
Rowena: Our wee Jackie boy.
Of course it’s actually Jack, who has to endure getting his temperature taken before the vet leaves the little (supposedly sick) dog up on the exam table (unlikely) and goes to check in with “mom and dad”. They get the venom, and Rowena gets a clue about the powerful and “volatile” magic that’s glued to Jack.
Meanwhile, Noah finds another victim. Noah is actually one of the most interesting MotW’s they’ve had in a while, which was a real strength of the episode. The tied up guy cries that the Gorgon has been killing “helpless men” and Noah sneers.
Noah: Helpless men? That’s rich. I like women too, but they’re so cautious these days. Must be from waking up from all those years of misogynistic oppression.
I thought I was watching The Magicians for a second there, I liked that dialogue so much. That’s a big compliment, Mr. Yockey.
Jack and Cas head off to surprise Noah, while Sam calls the bunker and checks in with Maggie.
Sam: Thanks for stepping up and handling things while I’m gone.
Me: Really? Maggie is in charge? Why?
I have no clue why they keep putting a former civilian who has never been that proficient a fighter in charge of all these AU hunters. It makes zero sense and it drives me nuts.
Cas and Jack break in, Noah is sassy and stalls for time while Cas helps the tied up man, telling Jack the story of the black snake and the chicken who hard boiled the last of her own eggs in order to choke and kill the snake who kept eating them.
Noah to Jack: I can’t tell if you’re the chicken or the snake…
Me: Uh oh.
Noah gives Cas a peck on the cheek and Cas falls down paralyzed, which kind of surprised me. Apparently Noah’s a demi-god, but I still didn’t think his venom would work on an angel. Sam and Dean show up and join the fight but get overpowered, Noah tossing Sam across the room and then brutally slamming Dean’s head against the wall repeatedly and never mind I take it back, I do NOT like Noah at ALL!
(I love that they always call out for each other when the other one is being attacked)
Noah thinks he’s won, but Jack surprises him and decapitates him in a really nicely done scene. All the kudos Mr. Kaderali.
Sam to Jack: Check on Cas, I’ve got Dean.
Jack tries the anti-venom, but it doesn’t work and he panics and heals Cas with his own power.
Cas: Jack, no!
Across the room, Sam tries desperately to wake his brother, which breaks my heart.
Sam: Wake up, hey, Dean…
(Whenever one of them is distraught over the other and trying to make them okay, they always say “hey, hey” and their brother’s name, and it breaks me every single time. I don’t think Jared and Jensen even know they’re doing it, and that just breaks me more.)
Sam finally turns to Cas and Jack, his voice panicked.
They race back to the bunker and Sam and Cas carry Dean to his bed, but Cas can’t heal him or even see what’s going on inside his head.
Jack wants to help, but Cas warns him not to burn off too much of his soul.
Sam: (helplessly) So what do I do?
Rowena: Clean his wound, make him comfortable.
Sam dabs at his brother’s forehead, tries to comfort him as he stirs and fights and then falls back down. I hate seeing Sam so helpless and so concerned, having thwarted Dean’s self sacrifice only to maybe lose him to a fistfight with a Gorgon.
Castiel and Jack have an emotional conversation in Jack’s room. Jack too is distraught at seeing Dean so helpless.
Jack: I hate seeing him like that. He’ll be okay, right? He’s Dean…
Castiel doesn’t sugar coat it, though he’s very gentle with Jack.
Cas: Sam and Dean are extraordinary, brave, special humans. But they are human. Humans burn bright but for a very short time.
Jack is angry, asks what’s the point then?
Castiel: The point is that they were here at all. When they’re gone, it will hurt, but remind you of how much you loved them.
I loved this scene. It was well written, and all the words rang true for this episode but seemed to carry a larger meaning too, about that time in the hopefully distant future when we will all have to say goodbye to Sam and Dean (and Cas too, despite his angelic status). That line was beautiful, and very true. Misha Collins delivered it flawlessly, with just the right amount of emotion but also conveying the perspective of a being for whom the lives of the Winchesters are a small part of his total existence.
That pivotal line reminded me of one of my favorite Buffy lines, “the hardest thing in this world is to live in it.”
Jack is learning that now, the hard way. Cas tries to explain the snake story to Jack, saying that it’s about being willing to give up the thing you love to kill the thing you hate.
And that’s a bit of foreshadowing if I’ve ever heard it!
At that moment they hear Dean yelling and go running. Sam is trying to calm Dean down as he trashes the room.
Sam: Dean, it’s okay, you’re in the bunker!
Dean: I know where I am!
He turns to Sam, his eyes wide, horrified.
Dean: He’s gone. Michael’s gone.
A part of me was relieved, but Dean is immediately both distraught and self-blaming.
Dean: It’s my fault! I told you to let me take that coffin ride!
I wanted to cry at this scene, because Dean doesn’t really blame Sam, he blames himself. He’s angry at himself, and he lashes out, and Sam is right there. And it’s true that Dean did fear all along that this would happen, but he also couldn’t just stand there and see Sam sobbing and so broken at the thought of losing his big brother. (Just like Sam has also taken similar risks for the same reason). The horrible thing is, Dean blames himself – but Sam blames himself too. He knows that Dean gave up his self sacrificing plan for him, because he begged him not to go through with it. I don’t think Sam would ever change his mind and go along with dumping his brother in the ocean locked up with an archangel for all eternity, but he must feel incredibly guilty, so Dean’s impulsive lashing out hits terribly hard.
I feel for both of them so much in this moment, and at the same time – that right there is why I watch this show. The Winchesters will fight to the end to save each other, no matter what, and I am here for it every single time.
I think Cas is mostly with Sam on this one; Dean clearly thinks that even if Sam can’t let him sacrifice himself, that Cas will, but I’m not so sure. At the very least, Castiel would also wait until every avenue is exhausted before he would go along with such a plan. When Dean turns to Cas and Sam and lashes out, I think it hits the angel pretty hard too. All three of them are pretty devastated here. Me too, to be honest.
Screams from the other room and they go running. Bodies are on the ground, seemingly all the AU hunters who were in the bunker, and Maggie comes running in, yelling for Sam. In front of his horrified eyes, she’s killed by Michael – who is now in the form of Rowena!
Dean (brokenly): No….no…
RowenaMichael: Hello, boys.
I thought that was an interesting choice to have Michael say Crowley’s line while in the form of Rowena. It made me miss Mark Sheppard though. Ruth Connell said at the convention this weekend that she wanted to do an American accent to play Michael but they told her not to. Not sure why, because I immediately wondered why Michael now sounded more like Rowena – why would his accent change with the vessel? Hmm. I also didn’t entirely follow why Rowena said yes, but suffice it to say it was because Michael correctly surmised that she does care about Sam, Dean, Castiel and Jack. Though he also said he always intended to doublecross her and he thinks she knew that, so a bit of a head scratch there.
Michael tortures Sam, Dean and Castiel, taking their breath and then striking them blind. Dean still forces out a strangled “Sam?” when that happens, which – Winchesters. Then Jack makes a decision, clearly having heard Castiel’s message about the snake and the chicken story loud and clear. He decides it’s “worth the cost” and takes on Michael.
I thought Ruth and Alex (and Amyn and Steve) did a great job in the confrontation scene, Michael denigrating Jack by calling him a child.
Jack: I am not a child. I am the son of Lucifer. I am a hunter.
He pauses, and then delivers the line that packed a lot of emotion for everyone on screen and most of us watching too.
Jack: I am a Winchester!
And with that, he kills Michael and consumes his grace.
Jack turns around, looking eerily serene.
Jack: Michael is dead. I’m me again.
And we see the shadow of black wings unfurl behind him. Fade to black.
That was a dramatic scene and well played, but much of fandom was disappointed that Michael, the Big Bad of the season, was dispatched so quickly and seemingly easily. I was confused as to why Jack was even able to do that now since he’s seemed on the verge of collapsing recently instead of getting stronger.
We’re left with a lot of questions. Is Michael gone? Or has he just taken possession of a Nephilim? Why is Jack keeping the snake? What will Jack be like now after ingesting Michael’s grace?
It’s an unexpected place to be for the last six episodes of the season, that’s for sure. But I’m curious to see what this week’s episode brings!
Check out all our books on Supernatural,
including Family Don’t End With Blood,
written by the actors themselves! Links
on the home page.
11 thoughts on “Rowena is Back, Eyeballs Ewww and Other Thoughts on Supernatural ‘Ouroboros’”
I’m still debating internally – ‘plot’ or ‘plot twist’ when it comes to the end of Michael. As straightforward ‘plot’ – it moves things along rapidly to a ‘is Jack damaged now’ plot. But it really cheats us of a Michael defeat. Anti-climatic. If it’s a plot-twist and Michael is hiding in Jack – then it’s potentially more interesting but again, I don’t know if we’ll get a satisfying defeat.
I also agree with the headscratchers but shrugged my way thru them.
Things I noted:
– Sam, Cas, and Jack look at Dean as ‘larger than life’. It’s Dean. And Dean is Dean. He’s capable of ‘Herculean efforts’. When Cas & Sam start to wonder if Noah did something, Rowena said ‘What? Smash his head on the wall?’ – given an obvious reminder that Dean is, in fact, just human.
– Noah’s snake story: I presume Jack was the chicken (self-sacrificing his soul power a bit) and who became the snake (like maybe soulless?).
– Noah wasn’t just flirting with the truck driver – that was a prostitute picking up a client. His whole “I have no money, can I trade for a ride” story was pretty pointed. From the state of undress of the first victim we saw, I think that was Noah’s MO – pick up men who are somewhat taking advantage of a person selling themselves out of economic need. Maybe that’s why Noah felt justified in killing these men. He’s not, of course, but I think that may have been an angle he was working.
– I loved Cas basically providing the meaning of life to Jack as a fellow celestial being. But I also loved Jack’s honest – ‘that’s awful!’.
– Samwene is my crackship.
Good review. Thanks for highlighting the nice touches and where we could have used a second pass in script editing.
I thought it was a pretty good episode but the fact that Micheal is gone means there will be something worse coming down the line. Nick? The Empty coming after Castiel? Or something else? And Billie was wrong? What does that mean?
Can’t see that I’ll miss Maggie and company but I’m thinking that’s why she was (basically ) shoved down our throats was so we would miss her when she was killed. Didn’t work though.
The head scratching moment (to quote Lynn) for me, was the gorgon himself. In The Scorpion and the Frog, Sam handles a Gorgons tooth at Luther’s but this gorgon didn’t have anything like that. But maybe I’m confusing things. I do that.
I’m looking forward to seeing all the repercussions to what happened and seeing neither Sam or Dean in immediate peril. For an episode anyway.
The other headscratcher (and this genuinely bothers me) is that the gorgons were female. Yockey straight-up butchered a myth that’s a couple of millennia old for…reasons? Or something?
I liked some of the conversations in this between Cas and Dean, and Cas and Jack, and the ending was a real shocker, but I can’t say this episode will go down as a favorite. The cannibalism really put me off. Not that it scared me, but it was just like eeeww can we move on now??
And Lynn, you were exactly right about those head -scratching moments. The boys not noticing the black lips before? Don’t pull them out of character for the sake of a plot point! Dean doesn’t know the Medusa myth? Umm, he is way smarter than that. It’s ridiculous. And Rowena’s motivation to let Michael in didn’t quite work for me either.
Steve Yockey’s writing is inconsistent imo, and his last few episodes just felt “off” to me. He was the one in Optimism who had SAM playing with a fidget spinner, and telling Charlie that she had been Dean’s “wingman.” I don’t know if he just misses details like that, but it seems like he doesn’t always have a “feel” for the show and the characters. Lily Sunder and Asa Fox were OK episodes, but I don’t think he will ever be a favorite writer of mine.
Mittensmorgul on Tumblr reblogged an interesting take on alchemy, transformation, and duality in this episode, which goes a long way towards explaining that Michael is not this season’s “big bad.” http://mittensmorgul.tumblr.com/post/183388074485/another-alchemical-easter-egg-in-14×14
This blogger gives the current writing staff way too much credit. Especially in this episode, where Yockey butchered the myth of the gorgons (they were three sisters, two were immortal, one was not, PERIOD), confused the hydra with Medusa (since the hydra is what sprouts three heads every time you cut one off), and reduced the entirety of Dean’s understanding of Greek mythology to Clash of the Titans. I highly doubt Yockey is looking up ways to put in alchemy subtext when he can’t even get *basic* Greek mythology right, and the Greeks pretty much invented theatre as we know it, which gave rise to film and then television, so Yockey wouldn’t have a job if it weren’t for the Greeks. Also, there is no reason to look for subtextual evidence that Michael is not this season’s big bad, when it’s already been revealed in interviews that Michael is not this season’s big bad. Good on Mittensmorgul for trying to polish a turd, but they are looking way too hard into this show. The current slate of writers and the guy in charge just aren’t that deep.
Odd episode, still pondering the significance because it was definitely saying somerging unsettling. Loved Rowena,Ruth owns her now, she was strong and commanding but also gentle and kind, the Winchesters have changed her life and brought out the best she has. Rowena drew attention to Dean’s fragility because everyone else was reluctant to. Poor Dean, he was so distraught when Michael got free, but fear worse to come for Sam and Jack! Thanks for great review.
This episode was so thoroughly underwhelming and just…sigh. I don’t even really have the energy to thoroughly comment on it, once I saw the spoiler that Michael was gone for good I put off watching it for several days because I was so angry at the unbearable stupidity of it all. Yockey, after all, is the one who wrote Nihilism, and therefore the one who introduced the magnificent idea of Michael burning down all the universes to get Chuck’s attention, which will now never happen. It was also the episode in which Billie claimed that ALL of Dean’s books except one had changed to an ending with him dying because of Michael. That could have been true if Jack wasn’t alive and in the mix during that episode, but he WAS, so it CAN’T. We’re, what, four episodes removed from Nihilism and someone forgot the whole freakin’ reason Dean built the box???? COME ON, SHOW.
Also, I hated the misogyny line. Women are absolutely not JUST NOW figuring out that they shouldn’t let strange men pick them up. I grew up in the 1980s, trust me, this is not a recent phenomenon, and all the kids over on Twitter may want to talk to someone in their 40s about whether they knew giving random guys rides might be dangerous back in the day before the Internet could enlighten us on the topic of letting a guy you didn’t know in your car. Perhaps it would have worked in a different context, but instead it just made it look like women have SUDDENLY developed enough sense not to get too close to a strange man in the dark because now we have social media to warn them that men can be predatory so we’re no longer stupid. And that’s hugely insulting women’s intelligence in general.
As for Dean’s intelligence on Greek mythology, he’s the one back in the siren episode who started spouting off Greek mythology, and he’s a hero archetype in the Greek tradition, and he made a specific reference to the hydra – the monster that spouts three heads every time you cut one off – that Sam INCORRECTLY attributed to Clash of the Titans when he should know better, thereby making both brothers look like morons in two sentences. I really wish they’d stop making the Winchesters stupid either for a lame joke or as an easy way to move the plot along. Because they *would* have noticed the black substance on the lips, and they would have already researched it, and they would have figured out it was a gorgon before Rowena got there. As much as I love Rowena – and I do, I love her – this entire episode felt completely contrived in how it got her there so she could be present when Michael left Dean.
Also, Ruth did a terrible job with Michael in my opinion. This is not something I blame her for. Michael has been so underwritten and given so little screen time that what was she going to be able to refer to for characterization? Nothing. Jensen had one episode where he really got to flesh Michael out into a full character. That’s just not enough to go off of. It’s not like she had multiple seasons of Mark P’s Lucifer to look at to help guide her. Jensen didn’t even have enough to really make Michael a full character until Nihilism, and Michael!Dean was supposed to be the big thing! They hyped all summer this new character he was going to play and now – poof! Gone, because Dabb won’t devote more than 2-3 episodes to any plot arc.
The fact that they were allowing Dean on hunts was also just…stupid. Don’t give me, “He needs to stay busy.” When Dean had the Mark of Cain he specifically did not want to go on hunts because he knew how little control he had over it, and now he’s going to be out hunting random monsters rather than insisting they keep him locked in the bunker with angel cuffs on???? I am again left wondering why there is no one demanding that the writers apply basic logic and common sense this season. And then I remember who the current showrunner is. And then I try not to scream and cry.
I also didn’t understand why Cass and Jack needed to be on this hunt from the beginning except for the contrived letter letting them know the gorgon couldn’t see angels (but can still paralyze them – what?). There was really no other reason for them to be there. But at least the AU hunters are gone forever now – which also felt contrived, but whatever, at least they’re gone. This whole episode was just one giant ball of stupid.
And now there’s last night’s episode for me to watch and probably be equally underwhelmed by, because the people in charge at the CW won’t do what needs to be done and replace Dabb in the head writer’s chair. When the majority of a season just ends up being…ugh…the guy at the top NEEDS TO GO.
Mer, that was an excellent comment! You put into words so perfectly some of the ideas that were vaguely swimming around in my head. I look forward to new episodes so much and to then when it’s something like this…ugh.
I have had it with Yockey’s writing and overall I feel let down by season 14.
(Tonight’s episode didn’t do a whole lot for me either…I disliked it slightly less than Ouroboros but not my much.)
I just finished last night’s episode and it was at least better than Ouroburos. I feel like if they’d mashed up the Sam/Cas parts from last night’s episode with the Dean/Jack parts from Optimism they’d have had a really kickass episode, and instead we got two episodes that were inexcusably uneven. This entire season has been like getting stuck in a really bad college course that you thought would be cool, and there are certain bits here and there that *are* cool, but mostly it’s just emotionally draining and you need it for your major (which you love) so you have to suck it up in muddle through when you’d really like to just drop it.
And the more I think about this (because I’m just…so stuck on the stupid of this episode), WHY would Michael leave Dean for Rowena? If his goal was to kill everyone in the bunker, he could have done that just fine using Dean instead of Rowena. “He’s too much trouble” is a ridiculous reason. Dean is his PERFECT VESSEL. After the *years* we have had to put up with Lucifer because of his obsession with Sam, it’s absurd to expect us to accept that Michael would vacate the premises when Dean was unconscious and incapable of fighting back against him. He gets out and just leaves? I don’t think so. There was literally no reason for Rowena to be in this episode at all, other than Dabb wanting to turn this into an ensemble show when it’s not. This season is so disappointing.