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.
Rowena: We have more pressing things than your hilarious banter.
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 Padalecki and Jensen Ackles 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 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,
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!