You guys are getting lucky this week! No….not that kind of lucky! At least, not here. (Sorry!) You’re getting kind of a twofer this week since I missed this episode last week. I’m posting this one first to keep the chronology but I will be posting episode 15’s review within the next day or two! So…Good Intentions, I wasn’t really a big fan of this episode. I also don’t think it was terrible either. It had good intentions, but was just kind of meh after last episode’s excitement. It was also kind of light on exploring all of the plot threads we currently have on the go. More on that later. There were a couple of nice developments/moments, but I was just expecting a bit more from this episode and it didn’t deliver. (Also, just want to mention that I saw Black Panther recently and it was amazing! Wakanda forever! Great soundtrack too!) But let’s get on with this review.
The Road So Far:
So, brush up on Mary’s Demon deal with Azazel in 4.3 and how she felt about it in 12.22 and 12.23. Then remind yourself just who Zachariah is and how he died the first time. (Dean always keeps his promises!) Pay attention to the world Zachariah created for Sam and Dean in 4.17’s “It’s a Terrible Life” and another “world” he sent Dean to in 5.04’s “The End.” Check up on how Donatello became a Prophet and lost his soul all at the same time in 11.21 and 11.22. Recall just what war does to Castiel in season 6. Finally, you might also want a refresher on the topics of Prophets and Tablets. Okay, I think you’re fully armed and we can move on.
We start with Jack, who thinks he’s back at the bunker and Sam and Dean need his help. But it turns out it’s just mind tricks by Other!Zachariah. Seems to me, this one needs to be stabbed in the face just as much as our version did. I hope Dean gets to get the repeat on that! Oh, and Jack’s power is essentially the key (or so Stabby-Face thinks) to moving an army between the worlds rather than just one person at a time. Hmmmm, maybe it would have been better if Jack got monsterland and Sam and Dean got Michael. It would keep an invading Angel army from coming to our world and it might be nice to see just how that world likes a taste of the Winchesters.
In the bunker, Donatello is working at deciphering the Demon Tablet. Now, here’s why I should write down all of my ideas when I have them, because back when the boys first gave him the Tablet, I wondered if it would be safe to have a soulless Prophet work on the Tablets. But I didn’t put it in my review, so now I have no proof that I (sort of, I didn’t think he’d go evil, just…something would go wrong) saw this coming! But that’s for later. Right now, Donatello just seems frazzled, at least until Cas knocks on his door. Awww, he’s bringing him breakfast. But Donatello seems to be hiding things. What exactly is he hiding though?
Dean’s in the kitchen, gorging on bacon. “If bacon’s what kills me, then I win.” Reason 38,602 that I relate to Dean, love of bacon. Reason number 1,782,365? Indulging in what you love, even if it takes a few years off your lifespan. Even a long life is too short to not enjoy what you love! What’s the point otherwise? Now, bacon is also one of Dean’s 3 B’s For A Better You™ and I also relate to the other two B’s; Beer and Bullets. In my case, (maybe just like Dean?), I prefer whisky to beer, though there’s nothing better than beer on a hot summer afternoon! And while Dean’s bullets are literal and pointing outwards, my bullets were always metaphorical and pointed firmly inwards. (Though some people may have been unintentionally hit in my crossfire.) But Dean is right about the bacon. If he lives to an old enough age that he dies of something like heart disease or cancer, he does win. It means he beat all of the monsters and got to retire. Go, Dean! But also, you need no reasons to love bacon!
Cas is getting a little anxious about their progress, or lack thereof, towards finding Lucifer and protecting themselves against Michael. The boys assure him they’re doing all they can do at the moment.
Stabby-face is at it again, giving Jack a Castiel who is pretty cynical about Humanity’s ability to live on this planet without destroying it. I mean, he’s not wrong. But how does Zachariah know specifics about our world? From Mary or Lucifer? Somewhere else? In this vision, Castiel is urging Jack to become powerful in order to save Humanity. When Jack asks about Sam and Dean, Cas starts to slam how they treated Jack but this time Jack’s on to Zachariah and realizes nothing is real. Michael’s not impressed with Zachariah’s work and says it’s time to do it his way. “Which way is my way?” (Oh, Princess Bride, how I love you!) It seems Michael’s way is physical violence as well and I don’t think he would have a problem being unsportsmanlike, hiding and hitting a guy’s head with a rock.
It’s interesting that this world’s Zachariah is also a master of creating Illusions like he was in our world. Remember 4.17’s “It’s a Terrible Life” where Sam and Dean were not Hunters (let alone brothers) and worked at a corporation and yet they still manage to find a hunt because that’s what Zachariah said they would always do, that it was who they were? That was Zachariah. This information also gives more credence to the theory I’ve long held that when Zachariah sends Dean into the future to see what would happen if he doesn’t say yes to Michael, it’s not really the future but just an Illusion world that Zachariah has created. I hope one day to go through and review every episode of this (very) long running show, so I will probably talk more at that time about my theory, but for now it’s enough that I think it was all made up in order to push Dean towards saying yes to Michael, but that it was never going to play out that way if he didn’t. Part of me doesn’t think that anyone has the power in this universe to travel forward in time or know much about the future outside of a few glimpses that psychics like Missouri and Patience get. Maybe not even Chuck. I think the Angels do have the power to travel to the past, as several Angels did that, as well as the ability to send other people into the past, but nothing outside of that one episode showed that anyone could travel to the future and Zachariah did prove that he could create entire worlds for people to live in that weren’t real.
Donatello is running through the bunker yelling Eureka! Seems he cracked the spell. It apparently takes mostly stuff the boys already have, and no Archangel Grace either. Yeah, that doesn’t raise any suspicions, does it? The only thing they need to go get is a couple of old timey brothers named Gog and Magog or, at least they need their hearts. Cas and Dean agreed to go get the brothers while Sam and Donatello hang back to get the rest of the ingredients together.
In Other!Land, Michael drags Jack into Mary’s cell. Okay, I’ll admit that I really thought this was just another Zachariah trick to get Jack to use his power. And see, it also would have worked! But their experience is real and Jack and Mary are really meeting for the first time. They have a little conversation to catch each other up, then Mary realizes that in order to get Jack to do what he wants, Michael is going to torture her in front of Jack. Well, that’s not good!
Before we see more Jack and Mary: Prison Confessional, we check back with the bunker where Dean and Cas are getting ready to leave. Cas lets Dean know that he’s worried about the threat from Michael and that he doesn’t feel like he’s done enough to protect Jack. He also tells Dean that when Michael comes, he’ll be bringing a war on our world along with him, because war is what Michael does. Dean says they’ll counter by doing what they do…whatever they have to.
When they get to the correct spot, Cas releases the brothers and everyone’s spoiling for a fight…except Dean, who is laughing over Gog and Magog’s choice in fine clothing. Dear Supernatural writers, you missed your chance. If you ever wanted to play God and flood the world…with….drool…let’s say…all you had to do was put Dean and Cas in loincloths instead of Gog and Magog. Find a way to also put Sam in a loincloth and that should put you over the top. Even Gog and Magog agree. “I will kill the pretty one.” “They are equally pretty.” “ I hate doing this. (killing Cas) You are very beautiful.” Yeah, I think loincloths on the boys was the way to go here! Dean and Cas predictably win the fight, using Gog and Magog’s God-Forged weapons against them. Hey. Dean, maybe you should take those swords with you! But there’s a problem. Seems Gog and Magog were actually ancient beasts made of rock and sand. “That’s a thing?” So they don’t have hearts, and never did, so something is definitely wrong with the spell Donatello gave them.
Back in Other!World (Other!World? Other!Land?) Mary is telling Jack to let Michael kill her rather than open the doorway for Michael and his invading army. Jack refuses to even consider that option. He knows he should be strong enough to save them both, but something in this world is interfering. Mary says she’s having the same symptoms, which she attributed to the torture, but may be due to Extra Strength Warding. (Call your doctor if your warding lasts more than 4 hours!) She points Jack towards the one area where she has found some relief, where the warding may be weaker. Jack gives it a shot and this was where I was yelling at Jack to smarten up, that this is exactly the kind of scenario Zachariah Von Stabby-Face would set up in order to trick him. I should have remembered that a) Zachariah always was bad at his job, so it’s not surprising he hadn’t thought of this obvious trick and b) sometimes Supernatural struggles with plotting. This is the dichotomy of Supernatural for me. At the same time they are challenging my expectations (I expected this to be a ploy to trick Jack into using his powers), they are also giving us some lazy plotting (Jack and Mary need to escape, it just so happens there’s a weak spot in the warding in the very cell they are in). This was really evident in s13e08, “The Scorpion and the Frog”. That was the heist episode that I really enjoyed because it was a heck of a lot of fun. But at the same time, it was also slightly frustrating because it had plot holes as far as the eye could see. But that’s exactly why I’m still watching (and mostly loving) this show 13 seasons in. Even when one element is lacking, they’re still doing amazing things in other areas, and I’m still having a lot of fun. And when they do get all the elements working together? Whoo boy! Then I’m enthralled!
Back at the bunker, Sam and Donatello are working on the rest of the spell and while Sam is bent over at the work table, Donatello comes up behind him and cracks him a good one over the head with a bottle. Ouch! That’s why you shouldn’t drink, Dean! It leaves handy weapons around for your enemies! And what are you up to Donatello? Is this you or the spell Asmodeus put you under? Guess we’ll have to wait to find out.
In Other!World, Michael has discovered the jail break. (Yay! Guess it wasn’t a Zachariah trick.) He sets Stabby-Face on Jack & Mary’s trail, telling him to kill Mary in front of Jack and to make it hurt. He also throws in a threat to Zachariah to not fail him again. No, Michael! Zachariah is Dean’s to stab in the face, not yours!
Elsewhere in Other!World, Jack and Mary are on the run…straight into Other!Bobby. Bobby recognizes Mary from knowing Other!Mary and Mary recognizes Bobby’s name from Sam and Dean’s stories. It’s enough of a connection that Bobby is willing to take them to safety and Mary is willing to follow. And that’s not nothing.
Cas and Dean arrive back at the bunker to find Sam nursing his head wound. They trade stories and realize Donatello has snapped for some reason and wants them all dead.
Mary and Jack are shown in to Bobby’s stronghold, full of refugees from Angel attacks. Mary warns Bobby that the Angels will be out in force after her and Jack. Bobby just waves it off, saying Other!Mary saved him more than a few times, so he’s just returning the favour.
Dean is in the dungeon asking Donatello just what the hell is going on with him, and he gets a “hard to breathe” spell in return. Donatello seems a little high on the power of God he read about in the Tablet. I think it’s interesting that the Demon Tablet could turn someone to evil if they don’t have the buffer of a soul. It’s just the Word of God, after all. Yes, there is some power in there, some spells, but most of it is instructions on how to deal with Demons. (This rift thing is new.) Remember, this is where Classic!Kevin (way better than New!Kevin, don’t know why they changed the formula!) got the Demon bomb and the instructions for Sam’s trials to close the Gates of Hell. It’s the Demon Tablet because it helps you fight Demons, not because it’s Demonic. So what does this mean? It means God’s Word can be evil. Up until now, it was insinuated that evil came into the world from Lucifer, who rebelled because he was too proud to kneel to Chuck’s preferred creation, mankind. Then we find out that Lucifer’s evil actually originated from carrying the Mark, the key to Amara’s prison, where her influence could seep through. And Amara and God were seen as opposites. Him the Creator, the good and her the Destroyer, the evil. It’s not quite as black and white as good vs evil, more titanic natural force versus titanic natural force, but obviously, for most of us, our existence is good, our destruction is evil. This is the first time in Supernatural canon that it has been suggested that God’s power could go either way, that it could be used for evil just as well as for good. I’m wondering if this means something for the larger story, or if they just needed Donatello to break bad and this was the most convenient explanation and doesn’t really mean anything. I hope it’s the former. Or I hope that if it’s the latter, something makes the writers realize it would be good storytelling to use it as the former. Please, don’t make this big of a shift in the established power dynamics, a shift that carries so much meaning with it, just because you couldn’t think of a better way to get a character where you needed him, then just drop it! I want more exploration of how the Word of God varies depending on who’s reading it! I want more exploration of how the Word of God can be used for evil purposes just as easily as for good ones! I want more exploration of how you may think you’re using the Word of God for good but it actually turns out evil and you need to face how the power was able to twist and corrupt you! Please give it to me!
In the refugee camp, Jack is making friends with the kids by doing shadow puppets while Mary and Bobby talk. This conversation was the best part of this episode for me, and made up for a lot of the problems I had with it. Mary finds out that Other!Mary never made the deal with Azazel to save John. (In 12.23, Other!Bobby just said John had died years ago and he only knew about him from Mary Campbell, so I assumed he died in the war there, but apparently not! Don’t know about u, but certainly made an ass of me with that one!) So Mary gets to see exactly what would have happened if she had chosen the other way. And as much pain as she brought on her family by choosing to save John, it seems it was the better option after all. How many of us would love to have this certainty that we chose correctly in a decision we agonized over, afraid we made the wrong choice? And we know from 12.22 that this choice, and what it condemned her family to go through, has been plaguing Mary since she returned. You could almost see that burden lift from her in that scene. Good on Samantha Smith for making Mary seem to lighten after realizing she actually made the right choice. Maybe now the way will be clear, once she’s back in our world, for Mary to move forward and start to form a real relationship with Sam and Dean. I hope so, I think it’s something they all need and it’s certainly something I’ve been waiting to see since Amara sent her back.
After their heart to heart, we see in the background that Jack has been augmenting his shadow puppets a bit with his power. When Bobby asks just what Jack is that gives him power, Mary tells him Jack is a Nephilim. Bobby isn’t up for having any kind of Angel in camp, even a half one, and tells her Jack needs to be gone by morning. Mary says she goes where Jack goes and Bobby tells her that’s her choice, and warns her that all Angels turn on Humans and that eventually, Jack will turn on her.
Back in our world, the boys are going over Donatello’s workspace, looking for clues as to why he snapped. Well, turns out you kind of need a soul to safely translate the Word of God, and Donatello is a bit lacking in that department. And there’s no real chance of fixing him either, as Amara ate his soul, so there’s no possibility of re-ensoulling him and no way to jury-rig a fix without that soul.. Cas seems to think the kindest thing would be to put Donatello out of his misery, with the added bonus being a new Prophet would be called who could translate the Tablet so they could still get the spell they need. Sam and Dean are very much against this plan of killing a human who, until very recently, has been an ally and who also (so far) hasn’t actually hurt anyone either. (Well, he hurt Sam’s head a bit.) Cas decides to take things into his own hands and do what he has to do.
We check back in with the refugee camp, where Jack is really liking all of the people and Mary has to break it to him that they can’t stay, because of what Jack is, even though it’s not fair. Just as they’re about to get ready to go, there’s a warning siren and there are shouts about an incoming Angel attack.
Cas is “interrogating” Donatello, sure that he knows the spell they need, since he decoded the rest of the Tablet. Donatello assures Cas he’ll never get what he needs from Donatello’s mouth. So Cas tells him he’ll just do it the hard way, by stripping the spell from Donatello’s mind. He also says this is something he promised never to do to a Human without permission. So…it seems pretty serious. This threat shakes Donatello and he tells Cas that with all the power he just gained, Cas stripping his mind could destroy them both. So, yeah…pretty serious.
In Other!World, Jack and Mary are running away from the Angel attack and run straight into Bobby, who is blaming Jack for the attack. He thinks Jack’s use of his power during the shadow puppets is what led the Angels to them. (Then why not say something at the time Other!Bobby? Why keep letting him use his power instead of trying to shut it down?) So Mary asks how they can help. Bobby gives her a gun and tells her about some escape tunnels they have so she can round up as many kids as she can to bring to safety. Jack tries to go with her, but Bobby isn’t willing to have him around, so Mary tells him just to go hide since they can’t risk having the Angels getting ahold of him and his power.
Cas finishes his “interrogation” of Donatello and tells Sam and Dean that he now knows what they have to do. Sam and Dean are a little more concerned with the mess that Cas has left behind.
In the camp, Zachariah McStabby Face II is only interested in finding and keeping Jack, telling his men to kill everyone else. Jack is getting away, but hears the screams from camp and stops, looking determined to go back and help. Mary is rounding up the kids but runs into McStabby Face II instead. Just as it starts to get good (ie Mary is about to throw down with ol’ knife- through- the- jaw), Jack shows up to help. Now, if Dean can’t re-stab Zachariah in his smug face, I would also accept Mary doing the honours instead! But alas, Jack incinerates Zachariah instead. No! There needs to be a knife! In the face! In a satisfactory stabbing manner! Couldn’t Jack have been too busy fighting off a heap of Zachariah’s minions (requiring his power to fight off so many at once), leaving Mary free to fight, then stab a certain someone through the face? I wanted some symmetry, dammit! Well, at least smug knifey-face is dead.
Bobby comes over to be the bigger man and thank Jack for his help with protecting the camp. Jack realizes that the war will never end as long as Michael is out there, so he determines that he needs to kill Michael to end the suffering. Why do I get the feeling that the paradise Cas saw coming from Jack is meant to happen in this Other!World rather than our world?
Speaking of Cas, the boys come back from (I assume) the hospital with news that Donatello is now brain dead and living on machines. (Well, if he’s brain dead, what’s the point of the machines? Maybe just to keep a new Prophet from being called while the writers are dealing with so many different plot threads already. Then he can conveniently die when the plot calls for a new Prophet at some later time.) Cas says the boys told him not to kill Donatello, so he did what he had to in order to both get the info they needed and leave him alive. (Though, again, not much difference between brain dead and dead Cas. You’re splitting hairs!) Obviously this is not really what Sam and Dean had in mind. Now, I sympathize with Cas’ argument here. Donatello really was a danger and one that couldn’t be fixed. He was also working with Asmodeus, albeit against his will and they do need the information Donatello had (as far as they know…we know that rift is only good for a one way ticket for one) and they had no other way to get it without killing Donatello. It’s a conundrum for sure. So to Cas, he got the information they needed within the parameters that Sam and Dean set.
So yes, Cas is right about a lot of things here, but it’s more the way he went about doing things here that’s disturbing, not why he did them. This Cas is more reminiscent of season 6 Cas, who did whatever it took, what he felt he had to, and look where that led. Do you want Leviathans? Because that’s how you get Leviathans! Cas is going off on his own, ignoring the boys, not talking through what he’s planning and whether or not there are alternatives to his plan. Yes, Cas, it’s like Dean said, you do need to do whatever it takes. And you of all people should know that Dean is pragmatic enough that he knows sometimes compromises need to be made to accomplish what you need to accomplish. (Pragmatic AF, reason number 37 I identify with Dean!) So if Dean is balking at what you did, maybe you went across that line a step too far Cas!
I wrote back in the review for 13.01 that lashing out seems to be a bit of a theme this season. I would add that there is also a theme of people going to “bad places” literally and figuratively. Sometimes it’s out of character, sometimes perfectly in character. This seems to be a mix of all of the above. Cas is lashing out because he feels helpless right now, since he can’t protect Jack, a promise he takes very seriously. He is also worried about Jack and about what Michael and Lucifer may do. (Yeah, what is Lucifer up to?) So when he saw an opportunity to do something, he took it. This is also taking Cas to a bad place, mentally. Like I said, we haven’t seen Cas this worried and this willing to do questionable things since season 6 when he was fighting a Civil War in heaven. In Cas’ mind he’s back fighting that war again with Michael instead of Raphael and with a side of Apocalypse, starring Lucifer. (Obviously Cas hasn’t been reading the Heavenly Times lately! He’s a little behind on current events.) So this really is in character for Cas, unfortunately, yet it seems he’s crossing lines with humans now, and that seems a bit out of character for Cas (but still within the believable range). And it really doesn’t seem like Cas has learned his lesson from season 6. I hope he remembers what happened the first time, before it’s too late.
Regardless of how he got this info, Cas was able to get the spell they needed out of Donatello’s head. And they only need four ingredients, but those four are doozies! They need Archangel Grace, a fruit from the Tree of Life, the Seal of Solomon, and the blood of a Most Holy Man. I’m looking forward to how they go about finding and collecting those ingredients!
I’m also interested in what’s happening with Asmodeus and his prisoner, Gabriel. I want to know about Asmodeus’ plan for him and that Archangel blade and about his plan for releasing those Shedim. I’d love to know more about Ketch and his partnership with Asmodeus. When did it begin? What are the terms? What is Ketch bringing to the table? And was Ketch serious about double-crossing Asmodeus for Team Free Will, or is that just part of his plan with Asmodeus in order to get closer to the boys? And what of Asmodeus’ creator, Lucifer? What is he up to in Heaven? Has he tried making more Angels yet? What is he planning to do with the Angels he has? What are the Angels planning for him? Does Lucifer need to watch his back once Angel numbers rise far enough, or will they be loyal to Lucifer for replenishing them? And maybe for being the last remaining Archangel in our world? (Maybe. As far as they know.) So many questions and I was looking to get some answers to at least a few of them this week, but was frustrated in that regard. And now it seems we’re on an artifact quest for these four ingredients, so answers may be even longer in coming. Don’t get me wrong, I’m loving this season so far. They are doing a lot right in my opinion. But we’ve had seasons before where we had a lot of very interesting balls in the air that all seemed to get dropped, or left until the last few episodes then rushed through. I really hope we aren’t headed down that road again this season. There seems to be quite a few plot threads in the wind right now, and not a lot of time left to weave them together into a seamless whole. I would even be okay if some of these threads were held over for next season. Like if they beat back one threat, but in focusing on that one it let another threat temporarily succeed, which they can then fight next year. Oh God, like Rowena! I just now remembered that newly fully powered-up witch (and possible Dean burner) is also out there doing Chuck knows what! See! Too many plot threads! And I’m just assuming that Billie’s “multi-universal importance” she warned Dean about having is just included somewhere in all of this mess! (Would beating back Michael be enough to qualify? Or are more universes coming? Or just something that threatens all of them?) So yeah, rather than rush it, I prefer the writers hold something over for next season. But, if there is a way to tie up all of these threads in a satisfying way this season, without rushing? Whew! What an exciting season that would be!
The Road Ahead:
- Did you also want more from this episode?
- How did you feel about Mary’s talk with Bobby?
- Is there a decision you agonized over that you would love to find out if you were on the right or wrong side of? Maybe only if you were right and you’d rather not know if you were wrong!
- Do we need to be worried about Cas?
- Are we going to get Leviathans?
- What’s the one plot thread that wasn’t addressed in this episode that you wish had been included?
- Are you upset that Zachariah was not stabbed in the face?
- Is Donatello only on life support to avoid involving a new Prophet in this mess?
- Will he suddenly expire the next time the plot needs a Prophet? When do you think that will be?
- See people, this is why you need advanced medical directives! And why you should sign your organ donor card if that’s what you want! Why leave things to chance?
- Did this episode need more loincloths?
- Would you like to die by bacon? Or some other vice? Or is it all clean living and long life for you?
- Do you think the future that Zachariah sent Dean to in 5.04’s “The End” was real, or a custom made Stabby-Face special?
Well, that’s it for this episode. So, until next time, be good to each other. XO