Twenty-three more Supernatural episodes to go, and counting. Last week’s ‘Game Night,’ written by Meredith Glynn and directed by John Showalter, was the first episode I watched knowing that the Show was coming to an end, so I think I was even more attentive than usual. As in, nobody should say a word to me while I’m relishing every last second of my favorite show for the next solid year!
It wasn’t a perfect episode, but it was a wild rollercoaster of both action and emotion, and that means I enjoyed it – and was grateful to be able to see a new episode. That’s going to be the case from now on in, but I’ll probably still find things to quibble about in the midst of my relishing. Okay, make that definitely.
The ‘Then’ includes Nick, which made me groan because I’m just over that Supernatural story line and the inevitable tie-in to Lucifer (as is about 99.9% of the fandom, but apparently that news has not reached the network). The ‘Now’ begins with someone baking cookies and for a split second I thought it was Dean doing some nesting in the bunker, but nope, it’s Donatello humming and baking in his cozy kitchen.
I really like Donatello so when the doorbell rang I started shaking my head immediately, even before he wound up tied to a table with a gigantic hypodermic needle poking into his neck. (I closed my eyes but his screams were still audible). Ouch.
Back at the bunker, it’s Winchester Game Night. Dean is fixing his favorite childhood game, Mousetrap (aww), Jack is making Jiffy Pop on the stove and Mary’s got the beers. Sammy’s out picking up the pepperoni meat intensive pizzas and one with pineapple for Jack, over Dean’s objections. It’s a nice domestic scene which means things are about to go south in a big way.
Sure enough, Dean gets a phone call pleading for help from Donatello.
Dean: So much for Winchester Game Night…
He tries to call Sam but there’s conveniently no signal – that’s Show’s favorite way of splitting characters up, oops, no service suddenly – so he and Mary head off with instructions for Jack to fill Sam in. (I do love that Sam’s voicemail says if you can’t reach him to ‘call my brother’ just like John’s always said ‘call my son Dean’.)
Once Sam gets back he says what I’m thinking – I should be there with you!
Dean assures him it’s okay, and Sam takes issue (me too, Sam).
Sam to Dean: Watch your back.
Dean: That’s the plan.
Winchester for love you, be careful.
Dean and Mary have a little heart to heart in the car, Mary lamenting that everyone is stressed and there’s nothing she can do.
Dean: Hey, you’re here.
Mary: I should’ve been here more.
Me: Damn right.
Mary: But I know how I am. I can be closed off, hard…
Dean: (turning to smile at his mother) Yeah, that’s where I get it from.
Dean has made his peace with who his mother is and found the parts of her that he can identify with and feel good about. He’s said his piece and then forged the connection that he can, and I can feel the family story line beginning its wrap up in this episode and the 300th with John. I started to tear up even before the family theme began to play, at the thought of Show tying up loose ends before it ends. And I suddenly realize Mary is probably not long for this world.
Mary: I need you to know, I’m grateful for every day that I get with you and Sam.
Me: Oh yeah, this is not good. RIP Mary.
I haven’t loved Mary as a character despite Samantha Smith’s skill in playing her and what I think has been her hard and successful work in finding a way to understand Mary as a woman, a hunter, and a mother probably very different from Smith herself. Like Dean, I’ve come to an acceptance of Mary, imperfect and sometimes disappointing though she is. It figures that now we’ll probably lose her, because this is Supernatural, after all.
Meanwhile, Smart!Sam figures out that Donatello is speaking Hebrew – and it’s from the Bible. Something about ‘be vigilant, your adversary the Devil walketh about seeking whom he may devour.’
Me: Yeah, that can’t be good. Also, goddamnit it, that means Lucifer! Do not want!
Dean and Mary get to Donatello’s house and find Nick instead of him, to nobody’s surprise (well, except Dean and Mary, that is).
Dean is pissed.
Nick: Oh, angry voice…
He confesses to poisoning Donatello and says they have a day to find him. But why? What does he want?
Nick: I wanna talk.
Me: What? This whole thing is just off. You see that, right, Winchesters?
Nevertheless, they bring Nick back to the bunker, where we get a fabulous scene of Sam confronting the man he made the mistake of having sympathy for and let go. (And the man who looks, and increasingly also acts, like Lucifer). Sam clearly feels responsible and is furious at Nick for hurting so many people. Jared shone in this scene – he practically growls, baring his teeth and snarling before physically attacking Nick and slamming him against the wall. It’s only Dean knowing Sam so well and Sam trusting his brother that allows Dean to pull Sam off and push him back.
Dean: Not now. Not yet.
Sam angrily pushes Dean’s arm down, but listens to him nevertheless. He stalks off, still fuming. We know that Nick is up to something, but nobody can figure out what.
Dean: Nick wants to talk? Let’s talk.
Sam: Oh yeah, let’s talk!
Dean once again holds his brother back, telling him not in the condition Sam is in, not yet. Once again, Sam reluctantly listens.
Mary and Sam stay behind, Sam obviously distraught.
Sam: I let Nick go. What was I thinking?
Mary: Nick’s choices are his own, just his. You didn’t know. You gave him a chance because you felt for him. Because you’re a good man.
Sam scoffs, but Mary persists.
Mary: You are. It’s one of the reasons I’m so proud of you.
If I didn’t think Mary was not long for this world before, that scene convinced me. And just as I liked what Mary had to say finally!
Dean interrogates Nick and, as always, it’s way hotter than it should be. Sometimes you forget how dangerous Dean Winchester is, but then he reminds you. Nick sounds so much like Lucifer in this scene that it’s confusing to me. I don’t even know if it’s intentional, but it’s like they’ve completely melded at this point. Nick taunts Dean, just like Lucifer always taunts people.
Nick: We’re practically brothers, Dean. We both know what it’s like to be hog tied to a nuclear warhead. You’re never the same after that, are you?
It’s exactly what Dean doesn’t want to think about himself. Nick is an expert at taunting, just like Lucifer.
Eventually Lucifer/Nick asks to see his son.
Me: His son? Is he really Lucifer then?? So confused…
Dean and Mary say no, but Sam is silent.
Sam: I mean…
Dean snaps at him at first, but nobody has a better idea and Jack wants to help Donatello, so he goes in to talk to Nick. Which of course is going to be a mistake. I’m not sure Sam would have been the one to push for Jack to do that, but maybe it’s because he’s the one feeling most guilty about poor Donatello and so the most desperate to save him before they run out of time.
Nick: Hey sonny boy…
Once again, Nick sounds just like Lucifer. He dismisses Jack’s insistence that Lucifer was a monster, saying that everyone is, “even your three dads.”
Nick goads Jack just as effectively as he has the others, until Jack snaps and head butts him, getting a bloody nose in the process. Why he did that and didn’t just hit him, I have no clue. Seems like an ouchy thing to do. Nick looks down pointedly at the blood on his shirt and uh oh…
I guess Nick refused to tell them where Donatello is and will only show them, because Sam and Dean load him into the back seat of the Impala and head out to a deserted warehouse. This too is clearly a very bad idea but the Impala is beautiful driving through the snow covered Vancouver landscape – a rarity for British Columbia and hence for the show.
Dean goes inside the warehouse to bring Donatello the antidote while Sam stays in the car with Nick, which also seems like a horrible idea…
Meanwhile, Jack and Mary go through Donatello’s things, and Jack realizes that the hypodermic needle wasn’t filled with poison – it was filled with angel grace.
Me: Ooooh the plot thickens!
Love me some good plot twists!
Mary calls to give Sam a heads up. Nick is goading him mercilessly, and by this point I’m having a hard time believing this isn’t Lucifer.
Nick: We’re finally alone. I feel like I never get to talk to you…
He’s even singing loudly, just like Lucifer, “Sammy boy Sammy boy…”
I can’t imagine how awful it is for Sam, being tormented like that in such a similar way by the same face and voice who traumatized him for decades. No wonder he gets rattled! Sam gets out of the car, and Nick slips a razor or something that he’s hidden UNDER HIS SKIN EWWW and picks the lock on his cuffs. Since when is Nick so resourceful? I guess he’s motivated, that’s for sure.
When Mary tells Sam about the angel grace syringe, he gets Nick at gunpoint and demands to know what’s going on. (Dean isn’t the only Winchester who’s scary when he’s pissed, btw)
Turns out that prophets are like CB radios, they can be used to communicate…
Oh, the look on Sam’s face when he realizes that the being that Nick is trying to contact is Lucifer. Oh Sam. And in fact, Nick has apparently succeeded in waking Lucifer from the Empty and now knows how to bring him back.
Me: Urgh. This is what we were all so worried about at the end of last season, that Sam and Dean’s triumph in killing Lucifer would just be overturned. Urgh. I don’t like it, Show.
Nick: Nobody stays dead anymore, Sam. Where do you think I got that angel grace?
Sam tries to warn Dean that it’s an ambush, yelling “Dean!”
And somehow, a long way away and inside the warehouse, Dean immediately jerks his head toward the sound of his brother’s voice. I loved that moment, because who doubts that the Winchesters are connected like that, after all these years?
Sure enough, Dean is ambushed by demons and a classic brilliant Rob Hayter and Kirk Jaques choreographed fight ensues. I sort of loved these parallel scenes and how they were edited, Dean fighting the demons and Sam fighting Nick. The action cuts back and forth between the two scenes, and I was sitting on the edge of my chair and biting my nails the whole time, it was so crazy tense. Jared, Jensen and Mark Pellegrino were all amazing in both scenes, the fights horribly believable so you could feel every blow. Sam gets the upper hand and pins Nick, choking him almost to death (and everyone watching was cheering him on, I have no doubt).
But then his empathy wins out again and he doesn’t. Which means Nick is able to grab a large rock and slam it into Sam’s head.
I literally gasped and screamed at that. And Jared then gave a masterful performance as Sam staggers, clearly having endured significant head trauma. Nick throws him against the car, hitting his head again, and Sam goes down. Nick chokes him, clearly not planning to stop – it’s only by managing to get into the Impala that Sam isn’t killed right then and there. He knows he’s in bad shape though, clearly – desperate, he uses Bab to call for help from Dean, hitting her horn.
Dean once again hears even inside the warehouse in the middle of a fight, redoubling his efforts to fight off the demons and proving himself a total badass as he does. It reminded me so much of the scene in the tunnels when Dean is fighting off multiple bad guys and Sam is being killed and calling out for his brother and Dean can’t get to him in time. I watched that scene film and it still haunts me, and this one had the same heartbreaking urgency. The horn blares again and Dean finally kills the last demon and runs to his brother, only to find Sam collapsed at the side of the car, still trying to call out “Dean! Dean!”
The look on Dean’s face when he sees how badly Sam is hurt just about tore my heart out.
Dean: Sam! Hey hey, Sammy….
As I’ve said many times, it’s what the Winchesters always say when trying to comfort the other. It’s like a Pavlovian response now, it makes me tear up every time because as soon as they say it, you know it’s bad.
Dean holds a cloth to Sam’s head wound, calling Mary and telling her that Nick is trying to resurrect Lucifer – and that he hurt Sam. Bad.
Dean: I called an ambulance but they said 20 minutes. It’s not good, Mom, it’s really bad….
Jensen and Jared break my heart in a million pieces in this scene as Dean tries to keep Sam conscious, asking him to play a counting game. I wonder how many times they played a similar game as kids, big brother Dean trying to distract Sam from something frightening or painful….oh my heart. Sam tries, then seems to realize he’s slipping away. The Winchesters always want to tell each other something with their last breath, and this time is no exception.
Sam: Dean you… you always, always put me first. Your whole life…
They’re his last words.
I sat there open-mouthed, too in shock to even tear up because it happened so damn fast. And Show doesn’t even give me time to cope, the action just keeps on rolling non stop.
Nick steals a truck and finds an old cabin (all old cabins conveniently have giant boxes of table salt), so he makes a salt circle and uses his shirt with Jack’s blood on it to summon Lucifer. In a glob of black goo, Lucifer appears from the Empty, looking a lot like the Terminator. (Shout out to VFX because the Empty effects themselves were pretty cool). Nick is ecstatic, telling Lucifer he’s ready to be one with him again.
But Jack has sensed what Nick is doing and he and Mary beam in just in time to stop that from happening. Jack, in a rage, first breaks Nick’s fingers horribly and then slowly burns him to death, while Mary keeps saying “stop it” (but doesn’t actually try to stop it.)
My timeline: I don’t think we were supposed to love Nick’s slow horrible death scene quite this much.
Jack: Mary? I had to.
Mary: (looking a bit horrified) Sam, he’s hurt. Help him.
It’s the second time Mary gave Jack explicit permission to use his powers, so nobody should blame Jack too much for burning off what might have been left of his soul, right?
I was a bit thrown by Mary’s strong reaction here. She’s a pretty brutal hunter herself and she hates Nick and Lucifer – and Nick just attacked and hurt her son very badly. Would she really be so upset about Jack taking some revenge? I’m not so sure. At first, I thought she was worried about Jack burning off what’s left of his soul, but that doesn’t seem to be the problem. She really is shocked by his brutality – much more shocked than any of us were.
Jack arrives to find Dean bent over his brother, still vainly holding a cloth to his head, looking like he’s in shock.
Jack: Dean? Sam!
He touches Sam’s forehead and Sam wakes up, gasping.
Dean’s eyes go wide and his breath hitches, because Jensen Ackles can show you exactly what Dean is feeling in five seconds without any words at all.
He leaps up, overwhelmed with emotion, and quickly spins around, trying to hide his reaction and regain some composure. For a second, he’s so unsteady that he has to lean on his Baby. That small scene, no dialogue at all, just facial expression and body movement, said SO much. Ackles is so brilliant at showing emotion the way we all recognize it in each other. It’s not with words or even tears, it’s with all those instinctive, unconscious reactions. When Dean turns around again, he’s sniffing back the tears that he refuses to let fall and struggling mightily to compose himself so no one will know that he was about to fall apart completely.
That scene broke me.
It’s two days later and I’m still tearing up thinking about it.
Jack reassures Sam and Dean, desperately wanting it to be true: Everything’s gonna be fine.
Me: Ohgod, we all know what that means.
He beams back to Mary and tells her the good news that he healed Sam, but Mary isn’t buying his “everything’s okay”. Jack desperately needs to hear it from her.
Jack: Tell me it’s okay.
Mary: (sadly) It’s not. You’re not. It’s not your fault…. But something’s wrong…
Jack: (angry) No! You’re wrong!
He turns away from Mary, covering his ears and repeating “Leave me alone, leave me alone.”
For some reason, Mary doesn’t pay attention, going after him and repeating “Listen to me,” as Jack’s distress escalates, his ears ringing and his eyes glowing. Didn’t anyone ever tell you not to get in someone’s face when they’re having a freak out like that, Mary?
The screen goes black and we hear Jack’s distraught “Mary?”
I was so drained I felt like I’d run a marathon! We don’t know for sure what happened to Mary, but at any rate Show wants us to think that Jack just killed her.
The B story line was much calmer but was also interesting and well done. Castiel meets with Anael in a picturesque diner in the snow (I thought it was picturesque, Anael clearly didn’t. Also, she’s so sassy and I’m here for it.)
Castiel: I need your help. To contact God.
She laughs, but he persists, saying that she was Joshua’s right hand so maybe she knows how. Anael is not only sassy but smart, saying that she knows that Cas didn’t tell Sam and Dean that he was coming to her and that he needs her help because only God can restore Jack’s soul.
Anael: You reek of ill-conceived lone wolf desperation.
She eventually agrees to help him in exchange for some mildly cursed but valuable earrings, and they go to see Methuselah at his oddities emporium on one of those really steep little streets in Vancouver. Castiel can be very convincing when he wants to.
We get a little of Anael’s backstory as they search for whatever Joshua used to try to contact God. She was apparently pretty disillusioned with earth and humanity – and God for not helping them.
Anael: God doesn’t meddle? Well, I do.
She also has Cas figured out.
Anael: You’re afraid to tell Sam and Dean that Jack’s soul is gone.
Me: Uh oh.
They’re just about to leave when Castiel sees something familiar – to us as well as to him. It’s the Samulet – not the real one, I presume, because the Winchesters have that. But this one looks mostly the same, and Methusaleh says that Joshua forged it after the angels fell to try to talk to God. Castiel gives it a try.
Cas: Please. Sam, Dean, we need you, please.
There’s no response, which doesn’t surprise Anael at all.
Methuselah: It never worked for Joshua either.
(But would it work for the Winchesters? It was a bit confusing, because the amulet never worked like a phone to call God, it was more of a God detector that glowed when he was close, right? Head scratch.)
Castiel says goodbye to Anael and says that he’s going home to tell Sam and Dean the truth.
Cas: You’re not always right. Just because God’s not with us doesn’t mean we’re alone.
Oh Cas, you shouldn’t say optimistic things like that. Also, a fairly ominous way to end a story line. The Mousetrap made a good metaphor for this episode, didn’t it?
All the acting was top notch this week. Misha Collins and Danneel Ackles have some great chemistry together; the two are good friends in ‘real life’ and it shows onscreen. I could feel Castiel’s desperation, trying to find a way to fix Jack without having Sam and Dean worry – which of course is the worst idea ever. And Danneel brought just a touch of vulnerability to Anael that makes you think there’s a lot more to her than meets the eye.
Alex Calvert and Samantha Smith were also great together. Smith showed us Mary’s concern about Jack from the very first moments we see of them, and Calvert continues to make me root for Jack no matter what because honestly, all of this really isn’t his fault and he’s tried so damn hard. Mary and Jack truly bonded during their time in the AU fighting together, and she clearly cares about him a great deal. That makes it extra heartbreaking when everything starts to fall apart. I watch Supernatural for the relationships, and all four of those actors made me feel something for their characters.
Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles just about broke me in two inhabiting Sam and Dean in this episode (because sometimes it really doesn’t seem like acting, they just become the characters after all this time). Sam’s rage at Nick (and Lucifer) so informed by all the trauma he’s been through and the way Jared portrays that. The way Sam and Dean know each other so well, the way they communicate with either just a few words or sometimes with no words at all.
The absolute devastation in Dean’s eyes as he watches his little brother slip away, and the absolute devotion in Sam’s as he uses his dying breath to thank his brother for always putting him first. That’s why I watch – to feel how much they care about each other, and to care myself. To get my heart broken and then patched back together again, like this show has done repeatedly over the course of fourteen years. I’m grateful for it, now more than ever. Thank you, Meredith, for that scene and for making me feel, after all this time.
Next week’s Supernatural promo has fandom in an uproar and I’m unsure if Mary really did die or if that’s just what they want us to think, but at the very least I’m full of anticipation for next week!