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Supernatural: S13E15 – “A Most Holy Man”

    Hello again everyone! I have to say, I really, really like this episode. There was a lot of great character work, and nice visuals. Great directing by Amanda Tapping! And the plot was fun and moved along at a good pace. It’s always a good sign when you get to the end of an hour-long show and wonder why this episode was only a half hour long! Yeah, the Holy Man thing was a bit predictable, but that’s really my only gripe with it. And even then, it still works overall with the feel of the episode. It’s very much a noir style (though more mob noir than detective noir, if that makes sense) and most of those have pretty predictable double-crosses and endings. So even my one complaint is also a compliment!

    And I liked it even though I’m not impressed that we are leaving so many plot threads in the wind to instead focus on an “artifact quest” for the four ingredients needed for the rift spell that they thrust on us last week. I’m worried those neglected plot threads will get short shrift now, and felt we had more than enough story line to work through in the short time remaining (just seven or eight more episodes! Can you believe it?) And one of those (Next episode I think? They’ve moved it around.) is the Scooby-Doo episode! There was really no need to add more to the plot, but they did, and I’m not super happy about it. So the fact they were still able to make me really like an episode that only dealt with finding one of the four artifacts and none of the other dangling plot threads is a minor miracle. Seems Father Lucca should be up for sainthood now! (They can’t be saints until they perform miracles…they made me like it, which was a miracle…you get it…whatever, let’s just get on with the review!)

The Road So Far:

    This one is a fairly short list this week. 2.03’s “Bloodlust” and 6.19.s “Mommy Dearest”. You should all remember 6.15’s “The French Mistake” already (how could you forget?) but you may need a refresher on 2.13’s “Houses of the Holy”. But mostly, you should just brush up on Chuck’s character arc. Especially 5.22 “Swan Song”,  11.04 “Baby” and 11.20 “Don’t Call Me Shurley”.

Now:

    The episode starts with a thief stealing a skull from the reliquary of a house of worship and knocking out a Mother Superior to do it. Seems a bit too…normal?..for our boys right now. There must be more to the story.

    Speaking of the boys, they’re at home trying to find the four ingredients they need. Cas is apparently in Syria, trying to get a fruit from the Tree of Life, and they have no idea where Lucifer currently is. (Maybe they should “Say a Little Prayer”, huh! *Breaks out into song.*) So they’re focusing on the last two, the Seal of Solomon and the blood of the most Holy Man. Since Sam can’t find anything on the Seal, he’s been focusing on the blood instead. Okay, I know Dean isn’t much for church-going (reason #783 why I identify with Dean) but surely, just due to the knowledge he needs for this job, Dean should know about reliquaries/relics and how Catholics have been keeping body parts of saints since forever! And because of this, and the fact authentic relics are so rare, there is a booming black market for such things. And most black markets, like regular markets, now have an online presence. Even Sam seems surprised to have found this out and you would think he would definitely know about it. I mean, they bought the bone of a saint they needed for the spell in “The French Mistake” (6.15) through an online site! I mean, I’m a “Northern Baptist” who left the church as soon as I could and even I know about reliquaries and relics! So the boys certainly should know about them.

    This is an example of what I was talking about in an earlier review.  Because they are telling (basically) a two-person story, yet they also have to tell a compelling story with those two people through the medium of television, they sometimes have to make decisions that go against the characters. Here, it’s not believable that the boys don’t know about reliquaries and holy relics, and they should have been jumping on that as an answer to their “blood of a most Holy Man” problem from the get-go. (Or, like I thought last episode, find the Pope or some righteous priest like Father Lucca for a live sample!) But there is also a large TV audience out there, many of whom may not know what a reliquary/relic is. So how do you convey that information to them in the best way, so as to not just seem to be reeling off a ton of exposition? You have the boys discovering this information for themselves/have one brother explain to another brother. So, now characters who should actually know this information can’t know about it in order to suit the needs of the TV show. It’s easier to avoid situations like this with a larger cast but it’s almost impossible to avoid with a cast of two. Especially when the topic is something those two specialize in, on a show that has 13 seasons of showing us just how smart they are and just how good they are at their jobs. Especially especially when they’ve already shown us they are aware of this information seven seasons ago! I’m not really bothered by this that much…like I said, it’s unavoidable…but I’m just pointing out an example that illustrates perfectly what I had been talking about in that review.

    Back with the exposition, Sam has found one dealer who seems legitimate, so he has set up an appointment for them. The boys meet with Margaret Astor (whose hair and makeup game is on point!) and it’s clear that she’s a Sam-girl all the way. Sam, seeing which way the wind is blowing, flirts it up to help them get what they want. Love how this was shot as a series of close-ups and great work from all three actors in this scene. (Leanne Lapp, Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles) But a special shout-out to Jensen Ackles, who is so great at making Dean so absolutely offended (and pouty about it) that a woman could find Sam more attractive than him!

    If I could take a moment here for an acting lesson, (Skip ahead to the next paragraph if I can’t, lol!) I’d like to talk about reaction shots. Reaction shots are exactly what they sound like, shots of an actor reacting to what has just happened/been said or what they are “seeing”. In my experience, most reaction shots are not scripted though some can be, especially if the writer needs the context of a very specific reaction in order to convey the message he is trying to get across. Usually, they are left up to the discretion of the actor/director. It’s also up to the director to perhaps not shoot or include any at all. (Though they can help tell the story if you get good material!) They can add up in cost, either in man (actor) hours (filming extra shots that aren’t strictly necessary) or man (crew) hours (setting up extra cameras/lights/spending more time filming reaction shots they may never use) or extra equipment costs (two or more cameras to capture the people talking and the people reacting at the same time) or maybe a hundred other things I’m not thinking of. (My expertise was more theatre and I never did any real directing, certainly not with a camera.)  and you may not always get material you can work with. For many reasons, (having to react to eventual CGI that may or may not match the reaction is one), but a big reason is actor skill. (I remember one class where our acting teacher pulled us up, half the class at a time (about 20 of us total, so 10 in each group), and had us pretend we were friends watching TV together. The “TV” was a fixed spot on the wall and our teacher would yell out what we were watching, then he would spend the next minute or so just panning the camera around to any reactions from the group that caught his eye as good or interesting. {Or that were particularly bad, to make a point!} Then we watched back what he filmed afterwards. It was a fantastic lesson and one I vividly remember to this day.) So between the cost and the fact that the possibility of that cost risk paying off is directly proportional to the skill of the actor involved, a good way to judge the quality of an actor (in my opinion) is to look at how many reaction shots they have over their career. (The better they are, the more often directors will film their reaction shots and the better they are, the more often they will give the director more usable material in those reaction shots.) Jensen Ackles seems to get a lot of reaction shots. I’m just sayin’! Seriously, I think he deserves all the awards and it makes me sad that genre TV/Film doesn’t get the awards love that it should, or that boy would have an Emmy by now. (Probably several.) Okay, acting lesson over.

    So, Margaret Astor directs Sam towards a Mr.Greenstreet, who can help him get the blood of a saint. When the boys show up, Mr. Greenstreet is helping himself to some kind of cream puff pastry that Dean looks like he’s two seconds away from diving on to the desk for. Seriously, that lip lick was everything! Greenstreet finally puts down the puff and gets down to business. The boys fail his test of their identity and when he finds out who they really are and what they want, he tells them that judging by their Montgomery Ward (which I assume means cheap/off the rack?) suits and cheap ties, they can’t afford the Saint’s blood that he has. Though, I have to say, I don’t care if it is off the rack, Dean looks damn fine in that suit!

    Just when they’re about to leave, Greenstreet calls them back, saying they just might be able to help each other out. He tells them that since they approached him under false pretenses he assumes they have no trouble with a bit of chicanery. (Okay, funny how Dean looks to Sam because he isn’t sure what the word means, so isn’t sure if they are up for some chicanery or not. Sweet how when Sam says yes, Dean just takes it on faith that chicanery is not a problem for them. But seriously, it is canon that Dean has read at least two Vonnegut novels, of his own free will. Hard to believe those are the only two books he has read if he’s reading (and understanding) Vonnegut for fun, so surely he would have the vocabulary to know what chicanery is!) Greenstreet has just found out that an item he has had his eye on has been stolen in Malta. (Aha! That’s how the opening fits in!) And he believes the thief was hired by Santino Scarpatti, the Seattle mob boss. He tells the boys that if they can recover that item for him, he’ll give them the blood of Saint Ignatius that he has. What is the item Greenstreet wants? The skull of St Peter. The only information he has of its whereabouts though is that the thief is supposed to turn the skull over to Scarpatti the next night.

    It seems they strike a deal and Sam’s not happy that they’re stealing to get what they want now. Ummm, Sam? Isn’t stealing how you guys support yourselves out on the road? Credit card fraud is stealing and if that’s okay because it allows you to hunt and help people, isn’t it okay to steal an already stolen object in order to save the world? Dean, of course, has no issues with a little thievery, precisely because of everything I just said, but without saying it in so many words. I did love the line: “Look, this isn’t a perfect world we’re trying to save, okay? And if I’m not perfect trying to save it, then so be it.” I also loved how Dean tried to use “chicanery” back at Sam like he has always known what it meant, and loved Sam’s snort at Dean’s attempt. Oh you guys!        

    At the coffee shop, Sam’s rocking the computer research while Dean grabs some coffee and flirts with a girl reading a book on demons. (Is that all it takes? Good to know!) Before Dean can even sit at her table though, Sam has some information and c**kblocks calls Dean over. Poor Dean! Sam has narrowed down the number of passengers who have flown from Malta, then to Seattle (within 3 days of the skull being stolen) to 5 people, one of whom (Antonio) has a shady past. They find the name of the hotel he has checked into and go scope him out.

    They get to the hotel and on their way up to Antonio’s room, Sam bumps into a man exiting the elevator. The guy seems anxious to be on his way and though he looks back at Sam, doesn’t say anything. Yep, this guy’s going to figure into the plot at some point! Guy obviously isn’t Canadian! Sam either, for that matter. Otherwise they’d be stumbling all over each other to apologize! I mean, when I saw this, I said sorry in my own head when they bumped into each other! When the boys get to the room the door is open and the room has obviously been ransacked. Further exploration finds a dead Antonio. Uh oh!

    Before the boys have time to explore further, a man with a gun gets the drop on them. He flashes a badge at them and then makes them handcuff themselves to the radiator. But it’s clear from the boys questions that although the gun makes them follow his orders, they don’t think he’s a cop at all. The guy does a cursory search, then leaves, telling them he’s going to call this in to the actual cops.

    Well, the boys don’t really want to wait around to answer some really awkward questions from real cops, so they get the cuffs off and hightail it out of there. Oh look, that man Sam bumped into who was leaving the lobby, is back hanging out in the lobby and hiding behind his newspaper. Yep, totally suspicious! Who reads an actual, real life newspaper anymore?

    The boys get out just as the cops show up and they’re trying to piece together just who is working for who here and what everyone’s agendas may be. They turn the corner right into the waiting arms of the Seattle mob! Not good. The boys are “invited” to visit Mr. Scarpatti, which is bad enough, but then they tell the boys that they’re going to be passengers in Baby while the henchman drives. Oh crap! I’m surprised that didn’t end in massive bloodshed for the mobsters! But Dean knows when he’s outgunned and so he hands over the keys with a look that I’m surprised didn’t have the other guy quaking in his boots. You don’t mess with Baby! As they pull away, we can see that lobby guy was watching the whole thing.

    The boys arrive at Scarpatti’s, who is acting like a cross between a cliché Italian (listening to opera and “collecting” religious artifacts because he’s a “good” Catholic {he has heard the “thou shalt not steal” commandment hasn’t he?}) and Dr. Evil (with the whole petting the cat thing). He knows who the boys are and knows they’re officially dead…which would make them easy to disappear should the need arise. He knows they made a deal with Greenstreet and wants to know the terms. Sam tells him how they needed something Greenstreet had and stealing the skull was the price they had to pay. Scarpatti tells them that was a devil’s bargain. (No, actually that was two episodes ago Scarpatti! Geez, keep up!) Scarpatti instead makes them an offer they can’t refuse: find the skull for him instead and he’ll even give them a finder’s fee in order to buy what they need from Greenstreet. I love how Dean’s response to guys like Scarpatti is always to push back. That’s something most people would think is suicidal, but that toughness is the only language guys like Scarpatti understand. 50-50 on whether Dean learned that from John or from the movies he watches (like The Untouchables) that promote the idea of a “might is right” culture within the mob.

    So the boys need to find the skull, but have no leads. What to do? Go back to the beginning! So they’re back at the hotel, which is now swarming with cops, and they need to get into the murder scene. How to do that? Well, Dean sets off the fire alarm of course! (Seems they have some gullible effing cops working in this universe’s Seattle!) It works and Sam gets into the room. He finds a slip of paper with some numbers on it, but just after he grabs it, he’s knocked over the head by lobby guy. Man, he just got knocked out by Donatello, now this. I swear, Sam’s going to develop Repetitive Head Injury Syndrome! When I go back to the beginning of the show to start reviewing, I should keep a running total of a few things. The number of times Sam is hit over the head and knocked unconscious (automatic concussion), how many of Sam’s girlfriends die and how many times Dean says awesome. Got any more ideas for things I could count? Lobby guy leaves the hotel with his prize. However, the fake cop who handcuffed the boys earlier (I’m jealous!) is on his trail. Dean comes back from pulling the alarm and finds Sam on the ground. He rushes in and checks for a pulse and his relieved release of breath after finding one was pure Dean.

    We then get a short scene that I normally wouldn’t mention because it’s just a quick scene establishing that fake cop is still following lobby guy but now with his gun pulled. Then we’re back to the boys. No important information plot-wise that I haven’t already covered or can’t cover in the next coming scene. So why bring it up? This was one of my favorite scenes of the episode for establishing that noir feel. It felt straight out of a movie from the 60s. Between that conga drum “chase” music, the use of light and shadow and the misty atmosphere, this was pure noir. I just loved everything about this scene. The music throughout was perfect for capturing that noir vibe as well as perfect for enhancing the action onscreen. Oh, and can anyone recommend a good reference book I could check out that would give me a solid general knowledge of terms to describe different kinds of shots and angles and dissolves and wipes etc that are used in TV and film? I’d appreciate it, so I can better convey what I’m trying to say in these reviews!

    Okay, the boys have finally made it out of the hotel and Dean is doing a concussion test on poor Sammy, even though his Disney princess hair gives him some protection! If I had to choose a Disney princess’ hair to protect me against a blow to the head, I’m going with Princess Leia’s cinnamon buns from Star Wars! (A New Hope for you damn millennials!) As they’re walking, they see a body and go check it out. It’s lobby guy! Sam tells Dean this is the guy who knocked him out. They’re wondering who took out lobby guy when lobby guy takes a breath. Not dead after all.

    Cut to the boys in a lobby with lobby guy. (Seems apt.) Dean’s riffling through his wallet while Sam questions him. Lobby guy didn’t see who knocked him out, but that guy got the paper lobby guy took from Sam. And it turns out lobby guy is actually Father Lucca Camilleri, who has been sent to track down and bring back the skull of Saint Peter everyone is after. It was stolen from a nunnery in his parish. The people of the parish took up a collection for Father Lucca to use to buy the skull back from the thief. I’m not an expert on currency, but I’m guessing the skull is worth more to the thief than what Father Lucca has in that bag. He tells the boys that when he arrived, the thief was already dead and the skull was gone. When he saw Sam had found something, he temporarily lost his cool and knocked Sam out in order to get the paper. He begs them to understand just how important this relic is to him and his congregation and why that means he’s got to try to get it back.

    Of course the boys get it. But when the Father says this robbery never should have happened, Dean shoots back with a “Yeah, well the world’s a screwed-up place Padre, what are you going to do about it? This prompts the Father to lecture the boys about how you need to always try to change the world, make it a better place, even if your efforts don’t accomplish much. He tells them that the fact the world is hard to change should not be used as an excuse not to try, to give up and let the bad people take over. Oh, if only you knew just who you were talking to Father! These boys may not do it in quite the same way you would, but they fight to make the world better, safer, everyday! Maybe go see Other!World to see what the world looks like without these two guys! Obviously these boys don’t need to be prodded to fight the good fight, so I’m guessing this whole speech is just to give them a reason to switch sides and help Father Lucca get the skull back.

    Well, Sam wants to help him. Dean’s got his eye on the prize…the Saint’s blood they need from Greenstreet. Interesting that Dean is still intent on the original plan of giving the skull to Greenstreet in exchange for the blood. He could have gone with the safer option (for them) of giving it to Scarpatti so they don’t piss him off and get whacked. Scarpatti can then give them the money to just buy the blood they need. Though they may have to find someone else with a Saint’s blood to sell as Greenstreet may wonder why they couldn’t find the skull, but now have money to buy the blood! This speaks to two aspects of Dean’s character: 1) his loyalty-if he gives you his word, he’ll stick to it unless extraordinary circumstances change that and 2) though Dean is willing to bend and break the law for the greater good, he won’t do it unless he has to do it and he doesn’t really care for people who break the law when they don’t need to. I’d say Dean is chaotic good for sure!

    So Sam tries to convince Dean they should help Father Lucca. He tells Dean he believes the Father’s story. Dean is like yeah, so do I, but we need that blood and we don’t owe this guy anything and he hit you. Awww! Dean has trouble getting on board with a guy who knocked his brother out. Yeah, reason #2 I relate to Dean  Winchester: got to look out for your younger siblings. Sam tries to give an example to help Dean understand where the Father is coming from and why they should help, so he asks Dean what he would do if someone stole the Impala. Oops…I think Sam broke Dean! (Reason #15 I relate to Dean Winchester: don’t mess with my prized possessions!) Well, Dean is now well and truly gone from this conversation, lost in his own pretty brutal revenge fantasy (Edmund Dean-tes?). Okay, maybe he’s edging more into chaotic neutral territory now! I loved this whole conversation! Sam’s exasperation at “losing” Dean, Dean’s reaction and elaborate plotting in response to “losing” Baby, the way both Jared and Jensen play this scene…just perfection. This is some classic Supernatural right here!

    Well, Sam may have “lost” Dean in the conversation but he “gained” him on his side in the plan to help the Padre. They’re questioning Father Lucca about the guy who jumped him, anything he may remember that will give them a lead to follow in order to find where the skull is. Turns out the Father remembers the numbers on the paper Sam found. (Lucky!) The number is a tracking ID for a package shipped from Malta after the robbery. Smart thief!

    Cut to fake cop, who is walking into a shipping office and picking up the package. As he leaves the store, we see Sam, Dean and Father Lucca are parked outside watching. Obviously Sam and Dean recognize fake cop. But did our boys get here first and switch out the package or put a tracker on it or something? Or did they just get here now and are playing catch-up? Not clear but the boys are following fake cop. Yeah, yeah, if they had switched out the package they have the skull and do not have to follow. But maybe they also wanted to cover their tracks so they aren’t taken out by Scarpatti? I didn’t know yet and wasn’t ruling anything out.

    Okay, once fake cop pulled into the abandoned warehouse, the Father asked why he brought the relic here and that made it clear fake cop really did have the skull and our boys got to the mail depot too late. They’re about to go relieve fake cop of the skull when another car shows up. It’s Margaret Astor! Time for a new plan.

    Margaret and fake cop enter the warehouse and it seems fake cop works for her. He complains how difficult the job was and how maybe a raise is in order. Margaret is a bit of a tightwad and shuts that nonsense down right away. Yeah, that couldn’t possibly come back to bite her later! Oh, and look! Someone else is already at the warehouse. It’s Scarpatti. Margaret has taken the skull so that instead of the thief selling to Scarpatti, Margaret can make the sale instead. When Scarpatti balks at paying Margaret more than what he was going to pay the original thief, she tells him she does have another buyer and in comes Greenstreet. Well well, the gang’s all here.

    Back at the car, Dean is alone with the Padre who senses Dean’s nervous. Sam’s nowhere to be seen so they must have a plan that’s underway. When Dean notices the novice Padre isn’t nervous, Father Lucca says he has faith that God will see them through. Dean, who has actually met God and has some long-standing issues with the guy, tells the Father that he believes in God but also knows God has left the building and won’t be helping anyone anytime soon. The Father explains that he doesn’t believe God is about direct intervention but believes all good things come from God and that what the brothers are doing by helping to get the skull back to its rightful place, is a good thing. Dean thinks it may be more of a stupid thing. (What is this plan?) The Father thinks that, often, they are the same thing.

    Just then, Sam is bursting into the warehouse where Scarpatti and Greenstreet are about to quibble financially over ownership of the skull with Margaret as well as each other. No wonder Dean was so worried! His brother is entering a tense, dangerous situation and Dean isn’t right there to protect him! They are able to listen in though, and it turns out they sent Sam in with the case of Father Lucca’s money to try to buy the skull out from under both Scarpatti and Greenstreet. And both of these men are a little upset that one of the guys they thought was working for them now seems aligned against them. Margaret though, seems more than happy to involve Sam in all of her business, if you know what I mean!

    Dean and the Father, now with ears on the inside, use the fact that the group is focused on Sam and the skull to make a move to infiltrate the warehouse. “What are you doing here?” “Creating a distraction.” Got to love when you can be weirdly truthful yet still accomplish your stealthy goals! “Is he okay?” Oh, Father Lucca! Dean leaves the Father just outside, praying, as he makes his way in.

    Inside, Margaret runs the bidding as a silent auction. It’s apparent right away that Sam and Father Lucca’s money can’t compete with Scarpatti’s Deep Pockets. Will Greenstreet beat that bid? No, he’s not even trying to compete, instead gambling on a double cross from fake cop! And fake cop, pissed about Margaret’s stinginess earlier, takes Greenstreet up on his million-dollar signing bonus offer and shoots Margaret in the back. The situation, unsurprisingly, then degenerates into a shooting match.

    Outside, the Father hears the gun fight begin and doubles down on the praying. It’s suggested by the use of Gregorian chant-style music and the montage of the shooting over clips of him praying, Sam and Dean fighting and the skull on the table, that his prayer may have something to do with how the boys and skull emerge from the fight unscathed. Then, towards the end of the fight the Father comes into the warehouse and ends up saving Dean from taking a direct hit from fake cop, only to get shot himself. Sam takes out fake cop and rushes to check on Father Lucca. It seems the bullet, miraculously, just grazed him. More on this later.

    The boys clear the warehouse and find Greenstreet cowering in a corner. He offers the boys anything in return for his life. They want the Saint’s blood they’ve been working towards since the beginning. Um, boys? You have a real, live (probable eventual) Saint with you right now, who is also, conveniently, bleeding! Take Chuck’s hint! It turns out that Greenstreet has been shining them on since the beginning. He just pretended to have the blood in order to get them to go after the skull. Dean does not take the news well and lays Greenstreet out with a mean right cross. It’s a good thing Greenstreet didn’t mess with Baby! Greenstreet wakes up to cops swarming the warehouse and taking him into custody on account of all the dead bodies around him. Is that really a good idea boys? He knows your description and real names and even if you are officially dead, maybe the cops get suspicious – given the detail of Greenstreet’s story and your reputation – and they decide to run the fingerprints at the scene and find yours? Now you’re again on the run from the authorities! Not that I can think of something better to do with Greenstreet, off hand, but this seems unnecessarily risky!

    Clear of the scene, Sam and Dean are saying their goodbyes to Father Lucca, who has both the skull and (I’m guessing) the case of money he had brought to buy the skull. Should be a celebration in his community when he returns with both, that’s for sure! Sam admits he read up on the Father (oh Sam, researching everything!) and asks about a title the Father has. Father Lucca tells Sam it was a title given to him by the Pope. When Dean is impressed that the priest met the Pope, he tells Dean that the Pope called him a most holy man when they met. Finally, the boys clue into the fact that they have what they need right in front of them, and they tell the Father they’re going to need one more thing from him before he goes.

    The Father gives them his blood and the boys are back home, with one of the four ingredients they need in hand. It’s a win, but it has Sam wondering about what they do. He tells Dean it feels like all they do is play defense. Dean explains that’s kind of the nature of the job, some monster start some s*** that they then have to shut down. Sam wonders if maybe there’s a better way, a way to stop all the monsters before they start s***? Dean thinks that would be nice. Sam then asks if Dean thinks the rift spell will work and Dean says he has faith. And that’s a huge change for Dean. Since 2.13’s “Houses of the Holy”, it’s always Sam who has kept the faith and Dean who has been skeptical. Does this indicate a shift for Dean? Or just a nice button to the episode? Time will tell.

    Okay, first let me tackle what happened there at the end with Sam. Sure, it would be a lovely thing to be able to stop all bad things before they happen, but that isn’t really the world we live in. There are humans who do really terrible things, but how do you stop that? You can’t just get rid of all humans to stop some humans from doing bad things. And how do you know who will do bad things and who will cure world hunger? Policing is, by its very nature, reactionary. Now, some will say in the Supernatural world they should just get rid of all of the monsters and then the worst of the bad stuff is gone and they can let the humans fend for themselves. But what of the monsters who don’t do bad things? Who make the conscious decision to fight against their nature and live peacefully? What of Garth and his werewolf pack who don’t kill humans? What of the vampire pack from “Bloodlust” (2.03, led by Amber Benson) who lived off of cattle blood? (Well, until the Alpha drove them all crazy in 6.19’s “Mommy Dearest”.) If monsters were black  to the boys’ white, sure, get rid of the lot. However, the show has spent considerable time showing us that their world is much more gray than that. And what of Angels? The biggest threats this season are coming from these self-righteous dicks! But Cas shows that angels can come to empathize with humans and aren’t all assholes. And even the “bad” angels (for the most part) aren’t really bad, they’re just doing bad things in the name of what they think is the right thing, what will make things better. Do you also get rid of all of the angels? And the boys! They’ve both done some pretty bad stuff in the name of the greater good. Aren’t they just as much of a danger to the world as they are a help? My point is, it’s much too late in the game and too much black and white has mixed into one big pile of gray for such a simplistic answer as getting rid of all monsters to work. I do think there are ways for the boys to bring a little more offensive play to their game, and I think there are ways for them to actually make a more lasting difference in their world. I just don’t think get rid of all monsters is the answer here. Now, get rid of all magic that powers everyone…that could work. It’s a subtle difference for sure, but one that respects all of the gray this world has worked to establish.

    Like I said earlier, I’ve long thought that the “happy” ending for the show is the boys somehow convince humanity to use the power in their “nuclear reactor” souls to believe in themselves instead of gods. And since their belief is what powers the gods, believing in humanity should transfer that power to humans. And it should power each one equally so no one person gains power over another. (If they each believe in themselves, each person will gain the power of one soul.) No power to gods or demons. (And sure, I’d be okay if that also took power from monsters, even if that doesn’t make a lot of sense given the canon. Just find me a half-decent explanation and I’ll let it slide, writers!) Just humans being given self-determination, free will, over their lives and afterlives. (Since each human gains a small, but godlike power, each person could then create their own Heaven at the end of it all.) This show was built on the power of humanity’s beliefs in the supernatural and urban legends and it’s only fitting that the end be humans taking that power back for themselves. Then Sam and Dean can have some peace and, when the time comes, can end up exactly where they’ve always wanted to be, their own little slice of paradise. Feel free to decide what exactly that would be for yourselves, but I picture an afterlife where no yellow-eyed demon enters a certain 6 month old’s nursery and the next morning a certain four year old wakes up to just another day with his family. There may be hugs involved (chick flick moments) and pancakes…with lots of bacon! Alternatively, Chuck has always shown that he likes to work through Baby to help the boys (as seen in “Swan Song”, 5.23 and “Baby”, 11.04) and Baby is often depicted as the boys’ true home. So I would also be okay if the last episode ended with Sam and Dean helping humanity shed themselves of their beliefs that were holding them back, ridding them of the supernatural forces the boys have always protected them from, then just driving off into the sunset together. On the road again (but not to any more hunts!) with Baby.

    There will certainly be battles to be fought on this path to humanism. (If that is the path they’re on, there are other paths they could take!) I imagine there are plenty of “people” who wouldn’t really care for the idea of losing their power or godhood. But I also believe that the boys do have one powerful ally in that struggle, and that’s Chuck. Chuck is shown to be on the boys’ side, for the most part. He sided with Team Free Will over his own, previously desired, deterministic apocalypse. In 11.20’s “Don’t Call Me Shurley”, he seemed kind of tired of being God to humanity, wanting them to look out for themselves more and look to him less. But he also seems to like humans, preferring to live among them rather than in Heaven. He seems like a dad who has just figured out that it’s time to stop dictating to his children, and should instead start giving them increasing amounts of responsibility over their own lives to live as they see fit, even if that means they may not do exactly as he wants, or it means they may really muck it up at some point. I can see him being okay with completing that transition and letting humans finally become “adults” by granting them complete control over themselves. But what would that mean for him, since he seems to have had power before humans, but Shiva insinuated in 5.19’s “Hammer of the Gods” that all the creation stories were true, but also that no god was anything without people to believe in them? Who knows? And what about Amara? Would she also lose power? And would she be okay with letting that happen? Lots of drama to mine there. I would be okay if the Christian “God” (and other such gods) that people believed in lost his power and disappeared, while this freed the titanic forces of creation/Chuck and destruction/Amara from the faces and constraints that human belief put on them, but let them retain their faceless power. Do you understand what I mean by that? Basically, Chuck is all of the gods of creation that humans believe in. His power/existence inspired humans to create and believe in those myths, but those beliefs also limit this titanic force of nature/creation to be constrained by those beliefs. For example, if humans believe he is something, he’s forced to be that in this world. Same for the titanic natural force of destruction/Amara. So if humans stopped believing in the god myths, Chuck and Amara would no longer be constrained by those beliefs and would be free to be exactly what they are, and would no longer be tied to this world, allowing them to move on as humanity also moves on. (I’m not sure I’m explaining this well….it was a much simpler theory before season 11!)

    So, that’s kind of what I’ve always seen as a great ending to the series. Is that where the writers are actually headed? Who knows! But I do think that Chuck is definitely helping the boys along this season. I mean, it’s insinuated that he always does help, but in certain seasons (like 4, 5 & 11), the help seems more overt. Remember, Dean prayed, nay, begged Chuck for help at the beginning of this season. And unbeknownst to the boys, while it seems Chuck isn’t answering his prayers (new prayer, who dis?) things are falling into place for the boys to get what they need. We know the rift spell the boys are trying to cast is a one person, one way ticket, which won’t help them accomplish what they want. So it just so happens that Jack got separated from them when they crossed worlds and has ended up where he can help defeat Michael and open up a large enough and long-lasting enough rift to get everyone and everything they need through and back again if needed. I do think the boys’ ability to cast that one-way spell will come into play somehow, but not how they think. There’s the return of Gabriel and the archangel blade, exactly what they need to take out Michael and/or Lucifer. The boys are probably going to need that, even if they may have to convince Gabriel to get on their side again or take control of him from Asmodeus if there is a spell or brainwashing involved. Ketch and Rowena, with their specialized skill sets, are out there and have been placed in the boys’ way. This may be to their detriment, but it could also be these two have something the boys need in order to win. Then there’s Cas coming back from somewhere no one comes back from. Yes, Jack seemed to wake him up, for the Cosmic Being to then kick him out, but I wouldn’t be surprised to find Chuck had some part to play in all of that. Mary, rather miraculously, survived Lucifer after dragging him to that “hell” world, then survived torture by Michael. (Torture for no real reason!) And in this episode, with bullets flying, the only hit Team Free Will took was Father Lucca’s light graze, which should have been a direct hit at such close range. And the skull, which had been sitting out in the open in the middle of all the gunfire, got not so much as a chip. And this is just the more “overt” help. What about pretty randomly finding out that Father Lucca was once referred to as a most holy man, almost in passing? There are lots of moments like these, where luck seems very firmly on Team Free Will along with our boys. We know from past experience that Chuck doesn’t really work out in the open. He manipulates things from the sidelines, helping those who help themselves. And we all know the boys are always “helping” themselves. (Especially Dean…to food! Am I right? I kid Dean, I kid!) Like Dean, I have “faith” too, faith that things will work out because Chuck hasn’t totally abandoned them. Though I do think he’s helping precisely so he can abandon them eventually, and truly leave them all on their own.

    Granted, all of this belief comes from my own reading of and attraction to Gnostic Christianity. As far as I can tell, it was about the belief that each human contains the potential within themselves (a soul) to attain godhood (and by so doing, would escape the material plane and ascend to the divine realm). You basically do that through knowledge: of yourself, by being the best you can be (Golden Rule and all that), as well as through the knowledge gained by undergoing the rituals of the mystery religions it was (likely?) derived from, or at least linked to, where people would “die” in order to walk the path towards higher, ever more secret/sacred knowledge. Now, much was lost when the gnostics were declared heretics after the council of Nicea, and so we’ll never know exactly what the religion was all about. And I don’t really care about the rituals themselves (though I am curious about them and would love to know what the secret “knowledge” was!). But I do appreciate the idea that we all carry the potential for godhood within us. I like the idea we can all attain a higher state of being by pursuing wisdom and being better to our fellow human beings. I like the idea that true power and salvation comes not from some random, outside “Other” dictating who deserves it but from inside ourselves and only through using that power to continually better ourselves and help others. So that belief informs how I read this situation and how I truly hope this show ends. However, I am also not a writer for the show, so I could be very, very wrong. I just want there to be written proof If I happen to be right! What do you guys think? How are you interpreting these events? Have I completely lost the plot (haha) here or what? You tell me!

The Road Ahead:

  • So yeah, you tell me! Is Chuck helping out this season or did Dean’s prayer fall on deaf ears?
  • If Chuck is helping out, is he guiding the boys towards an ending that ensures his own destruction/release? I like the release idea, with Chuck and Amara moving on to new…whatever is outside of the multiverse.
  • Did you enjoy the noir feel of this episode?
  • Do you like this “artifact quest” or do you wish the show would get back to the storylines it already started? Or both?
  • Will suspicious characters in movies, or good guys trying to overhear bad guys, now hide behind tablets instead of newspapers? Or will they stick with the other classic, a large potted plant?
  • What other things should I keep a running count of when I go back to do reviews of the show from the beginning, besides dead girlfriend’s of Sam’s, number of Sam’s concussions and how many times Dean says awesome?
  • What Disney princess hair would you choose to protect you from head trauma?
  • How much did you love the conversation where Sam makes Dean consider just what he do if someone stole Baby?
  • Do you think just getting rid of all the monsters is a good ending/goal for the show, or has the matter gotten too many shades of grey now for that to work?
  • How would you feel about a very humanistic ending to this very…ahem…supernatural show?
  • Do you guys understand what I mean when I say the gods (of all stripes) should all lose their powers but the titanic forces of creation/Chuck (who powers god myths like Odin and Ra and the Christian God and Chronos ) or destruction/Amara (who powers god myths like Sekhmet and the Morrigan and Shiva and Chernobog) should keep their power and be released from the limiting prisons humanity’s varying beliefs have forced them into (those god myths)? That way Chuck and Amara can truly move beyond this world and no longer be tied to it. And by “world” I mean this multiverse.
  • Any good recommendations for a book that gives a good general overview on TV/Film direction or critique terminology?

    All right boys and girls, that’s it for this fun romp of an episode. And that’s it for this novella! (Sorry!) It seems we’re about to have another couple of weeks off. I’ll try to get up a couple more reviews of the episodes I missed at the beginning of the season, and I will definitely be back in a few weeks with episode 16. I would have had it ready sooner if it weren’t for you meddling kids!  Haha, I bet you all know what that means! So, until next time, be good to each other. XO