Supernatural: S13E05 – Advanced Thanatology

Hello there and welcome to the first official episode post for the Supernatural TV show here at the Avocado! My name is Princess 20-Sided Die (does best Blue Steel) I like muscle cars, flannel shirts and wise-ass anti-heroes with substance abuse issues. Yes, I’m an unapologetic Dean girl, but don’t hold it against me! So if you’ve read my previous post, you know why there hasn’t been a post yet this season until now and we’ll see what the future holds going forward, depending on what happens on that post, but I will say that if you guys are cool with me continuing on with this show, I will try to go back at some point and add write-ups for the first 4 episodes of this season. Maybe on re-run weeks. If there’s interest, I may even get ambitious and tackle the show from the beginning. I love this show and have a lot to say about it. Things I think may even have some value in being said. And hey, Chuck knows I was going to re-watch it all again for like the 10th time anyway! So, ok, now we know each other, let’s get on with the episode!

The Road So Far:

This will be the place I bring up anything from a past episode or season that I think you’ll need to know for this discussion. Also, I’m noticing a bit of a pattern this season, with callbacks to the beginning of this show. Since I may be going back to write up the first 4 episodes, I’ll get more into what those callbacks are in those articles, we have enough to mention in this episode anyway! Remember Ghostfacers? Brush up on Dead In The Water, 1×03 and Asylum, 1×10. Also just about any interaction the boys had with Death and Billie and the reapers.


So, the very first thing I thought of when the two boys with cameras broke in to the haunted house to film something to post online, was of course Ghostfacers! Though these boys were a bit more steady bravery-wise than the Ghostfacers started out to be. Especially in the face of those freaky plague masks! It didn’t help them any though, and we get the setup for the job you just know the boys are going to take on.

We head to the bunker where Sam is sensitive to the fact that Dean’s in a pretty dark place right now. Is it progress for Dean that he actually admitted this to Sam, without trying to hide or obfuscate? (Though not before he unleashed a bit of misplaced anger on Sam last episode!) I like to think it is. More on this later. Sam is trying to cheer Dean up, get him back to his old self, so nothing better for that than getting back to their old routine. Together! Alone! On the road! After a beer breakfast! Wait, what was that last one? Sam…you at least should know better!

So the boys show up to interview the one kid, Shawn, who got away from the haunted house in the intro, but uh oh, there’s a problem. The teen is traumatized from the encounter and can’t speak. He is however drawing the killer over and over again. And Dean is the one who opens up to him and forms a connection. Sound familiar? Same thing as what happened in Dead In The Water in season 1. Now, I know that over 13 seasons, in a show that relies heavily on our cultural mythologies, there is bound to be some repetition. But this season, I’ve seen what I feel are very deliberate callbacks to the first season in particular, but also some stuff from, let’s say, the first 5 seasons. Maybe this will lead to something, maybe not, but I’m noticing it and I will point it out and we’ll see together what, if anything, comes of it.

So, Dean can’t get anything but a picture out of Shawn for now, so he and Sam call it a night, until Sam brings up the Clam Diver…yeah, the Clam Diver. Stay classy Supernatural! It is sooo Sam to picture him going on Yelp to find out if a strip club has good reviews or not! Dean is having none of it. Well, none of Sam, he’s definitely down for the strip club. And yes Dean, everyone does love chili fries! I feel a bit bad for Dean here as his first instinctual thought when someone is being nice to him for no apparent reason is that something is dreadfully wrong. Past experience informs present behaviour and that tells you a lot about Dean’s past experiences.

We next see Dean on the floor of the hotel room, passed out with a bra (and a rope was it? Go Dean!) around his neck. Before I even saw the next Dean scene, I wrote down “Poor Dean, those hangovers get harder as you get older!” in my notes. I can see the future! Sam leaves Dean to his future misery and goes to interview Shawn’s other friend, the one who didn’t go to the house. He gets what he needs and we’re back to Dean, who is fulfilling the bacon piece of his 3 B’s to a Better You self-help routine. Well, he already did the beer and as anyone who has ever suffered a hangover can tell you, that greasy food is the best hangover cure as long as you can stomach it! I believe that Sam gets all the bullets in this episode though, so Dean will have to wait until the next fight to achieve balance. Or…maybe he won’t….maybe his prayers are being answered…

The boys head to the house to look for the object the ghost is attached to, and they get it, but now they find the doctor’s patients are still there, and they are not happy. So of course Dean feels like the best way to solve this problem is by killing himself to talk to the ghosts. Without even trying, oh, I don’t know, a Ouija Board or something!?! Talk about jumping the gun. So before Sam can even spit out a full sentence, Dean’s jabbing a huge needle in his chest and off he goes, gently into that good night. Dying of the light? Pfft, who cares? Dean shuffles off this mortal coil and runs straight into Shawn. Now, Dean isn’t able to save Shawn from the death he’s drawing in his pictures like he saved Lucas in Dead In The Water, but it’s obvious he was able to form a connection with both of these boys and he definitely gets both of them to open up and speak to him. Before they can get too far though, Shawn’s gone and Dean follows…straight into a reaper. That’s not good, Dean and Sam were due to be tossed into the nothing next time they died. Awkward! Yet another reason to use a Ouija board Dean! Dean runs past, but not before kindly supplying the reaper with his name so she can report to headquarters that she just ran into Dean Winchester in the veil. Wait, reapers have a headquarters? Cool!

It doesn’t take long for Billie to show up after Dean. Not good. She’s keeping him from coming back. For now. And she takes him off to reaper headquarters to have a chat. Turns out Billie, due to some show logic that actually makes a kind of sense (not all the show’s reaper lore has…remember Taxi Driver?) is now more than a reaper, she is Death. And reaper headquarters is her office. And she’s not immediately throwing Dean into the nothing. Why not? Well, she wants to know about the other world the boys visited in the season 12 finale. Dean agrees to tell her if she’ll release all the ghosts from the haunted mansion. They strike a deal. I immediately yell at the screen that Dean should have asked for more! At least get Billie to promise not to throw him and Sam into the nothing upon their deaths! Come on! Dean is a very bad negotiator.

Dean tells Billie what he knows, then it’s her turn to give up some info. Turns out she agrees that Dean should have asked for a bit more in that deal (see!) and she lets us know that Dean’s got a bit of a death wish going on right now. Maybe it has to do with the mountains of books Death has detailing out all the ways Dean dies. (Laughed a bit at “burned to death by red headed witch”, then got sad. Poor Rowena.) Billie lets us know that with her job promotion, she also got some upgraded intel into the working of the multi-verse. And apparently Sam and Dean figure prominently in that intel.  Interesting! We’re seeing webs being woven to form a seasonal, or maybe even multi-seasonal, arc. All this info made me wonder that Death v.1.0 would have had the same intel Billie/Death has. Is that why he always seemed so interested, even friendly, with Dean? Was there a larger purpose to making Dean take his ring and learning some “secrets” of the universe and how it works? Or was it just the shared love of junk food? We’ll see.

So Billie gets her info about Jack and the portal, the audience Dean finds out why Billie is letting him go back instead of taking her deserved revenge. So Dean takes this opportunity to ask if his Mom is really de-and he’s back. Rude, Billie! Set his mind at ease about his Mom! Dean is back, the ghosts are gone and so it’s time to head back home. Just then, Dean gets a call. AWWWWW! HIS BESTIE IS BACK! Can’t wait for that reunion next week!

So that’s the episode. I have a couple of thoughts on this one. First, everyone is making very sure the audience is aware that Dean is NOT HIMSELF and this ISN’T LIKE OTHER TIMES HE HAS BEEN DEPRESSED! I wish they could spend a little more time showing us that rather than telling us. Also, I’m just not buying it right now. Nothing they have said or done so far is any different than Dean’s standard operating procedure. He’s had a death wish at various points over the show’s run. His depression in season 7 had me a lot more concerned for him than this one does. The only thing telling me that this is something different is the other characters, and that’s just not good enough. Hopefully, they will tackle this a bit better in the next episode, where Dean will get the win he was begging for in this episode. For years now, they’ve flirted with the idea that Dean has some serious issues. Depression for one, though it’s unclear if they mean it to be a situational or clinical depression. Substance abuse for another. Then they have him repress, repress and repress some more and seem to “move on” without in any way dealing with his feelings. I really hope this means they really are going to deal with Dean’s mental health this season and give him some catharsis rather than just stuffing those feelings down again with bullets beer and bacon. And sometimes pie if he ever gets a chance to get some. (And does he ever stuff it down…feelings, alcohol, food, which then swirl together and get regurgitated back out as violence and anger. Yeah, totally healthy! But now he’s WORSE! Oh for Chuck’s sake.)

My second thought is that we know Chuck works in mysterious ways. Just look at Swan Song (5×22) or Baby (11×04) for any evidence you need for that. At the beginning of this season, Dean prayed to Chuck for help fixing everything. Mainly the death of Castiel and getting Mary back. Then he felt like Chuck ignored him for couldn’t answer his prayer or refused to do so and so he punched the crap out of a restaurant’s back door sign. (More on how this is also a season 1 callback when I post this episode write-up in the near future!) But has Chuck forsaken the boys? So far there have been a few coincidences that have directly led to Castiel’s return. Could Chuck actually be answering Dean’s prayer from afar?

The Road Ahead:

So, here are your questions for this week:

  • Is Chuck answering Dean’s prayer or not?
  • Will Chuck and/or Amara have a part to play in the multi-verse drama?
  • What “important” part will Sam and Dean play in the multi-verse?
  • Have any of you noticed the season 1 callbacks?
  • If so, what do you think they mean?
  • Did Death have such a chummy relationship with Dean because of Dean’s importance in the multi-verse? Or because of chili fries? We all love them!
  • How chick flick will the reunion between Dean and Castiel be?
  • Did Rowena kill Dean in some alternate timeline?
  • How am I doing so far? Too long? Too short? Too many bad jokes? Constructive criticism on my work is always appreciated. Haters can Chuck off.

So many things to think about! I’ll see you in the comments and next week. At a bat time and bat channel still to be determined. Be good to each other! XO