“The Bad Place”
December 7, 2017
“If you ever need someone to talk to, someplace to go … my door’s always open.”
An artist is expecting a prospective buyer. His expectations are low. Studio visits rarely end in a sale. The door bell buzzes and there’s Jack. Hello!
He always seems so pleased to meet new people.
Jack read about Derek Swan in a news article. The artist talked about his process and his inspiration. How his mind moves into different worlds. Jack calls him a dreamwalker and says he wants Derek to dreamwalk for him. He pulls a wad of folding money from his pocket – enough to pay the back rent on the studio – and lays it on the table. Derek cautiously asks where Jack wants him to go.
Jack points behind Derek at a large canvas. It shows the rocky spires and burned out wasteland of the Apocalypse!verse. “I want you to go there.”
When Derek’s girlfriend (let’s call her Emily) comes home later that night, she finds him laying on the floor with his eyes BURNED OUT OF HIS FOOL SKULL!
Oh, Jack. Oh, no.
Dean calls Patience. He’s like, hey remember what I said about avoiding this life? Yeah well, we need your help, so. And I might question that the only psychic the boys know is a teenage girl, except all the psychics they knew are dead.
RIP. Never forget.
Sam says that Cas checked in from Tucson where he’s following a lead. What they don’t know is that Asmodeus actually grabbed up Cas and Lucifer two episodes ago and is holding them prisoner. And now we will speak of them no more.
The boys get a break when Jody calls to pass on the Derek tip. After interviewing Emily at Derek’s studio, Sam consults John’s demonic day planner for the lore on dreamwalkers.
So, this scene takes place in the car, and while I’m not complaining about EXTREME CLOSEUPS of Jensen Ackles, it was not nearly as elegantly framed as similar scenes in “Baby”. There was also a lot of movement in the camera. It felt like it was being shot by a toddler.
Although fair play, kudos for this shot.
Anyhoo, Dean isn’t interested in the lore. He wants to talk about the painting in Derek’s studio. His take is that Jack has given up on them and started looking for Lucifer. They both saw Derek’s body. Dean wants to talk contingency plans.
Sam cautions that they need more information. They don’t know what Jack wanted or how dreamwalking works. Dean readily agrees to calling in a consult and finding an expert. Sam says they already have one. Derek had been emailing for several months with another dreamwalker, Kaia Nieves, helping her learn how to control her abilities.
Kaia is at this moment sitting in a group therapy session picking at a styrofoam coffee cup. She’s in court-ordered drug treatment following an overdose. She’s sullen, sarcastic, and withdrawn.
We don’t see her face. As the group leader tries to draw her out, the camera focuses on her hands, a curtain of dark, curly hair, and her mouth and chin. I don’t really understand why she’s framed like this. I guess it’s meant to build some element of suspense or mystery, but I think we already know from context – and you know, her name – that this is the dreamwalker.
Anyhoo, the counselor says Kaia had enough prescription amphetamines in her system to kill a small rhino. He asks her to talk about the angry pink scars on her wrist. She pulls her sleeve down and takes a hard pass.
The counselor continues probing and Kaia finally blurts out that she doesn’t belong there. She’s not an addict! She leans forward into the circle and says she hates taking the drugs! She hates doing that to herself, but it’s the only thing that keeps her awake!
“It’s the only thing that … that keeps me from the Bad Place.”
Everyone in the circle nods. They all think she’s speaking metaphorically, not of an actual, physical place.
The session ends. Jack walks up to Kaia and introduces himself. He’s new! Wanna get some coffee and let him fry your brain? Kaia asks him what his poison is. Why is he in treatment? Jack says he likes cocaine!
Kaia is like, okay, walking away now freakshow. Godspeed with the process. Jack follows and doesn’t dial the creeper up to 11 at all when he says he knows who she is, knows all about her, and needs her to dreamwalk for him. Kaia is wigged, but when Jack says he can get her out, she follows.
They’re challenged in a hallway by the group counselor. Jack tells Kaia to keep walking and initiates the sleepy time sequence on the man. “You’re not the only one with powers.”
Jack busts through a triple-locked back door like it ain’t even his whole day. Kaia thanks him for the jail break, but she’s tapping out. Jack gets grabby and menaces that she will help him.
Sam bursts through the back door, distracting Jack. It’s all the opening that Kaia needs. She kicks him hard just above the knee. Jack’s leg goes out from under him, creating the right angle for Kaia to deliver a punishing blow to the face.
Jack out here trying to put hands on a woman. HIT HIM AGAIN, KAIA! HIT HIM AGAIN!
And I say again, how is it this kid can take an angel blade to the heart but can’t take a punch?
Kaia runs off and the boys restrain Jack from going after her. He shouts that he needs her! Sam asks if Jack needs Kaia like he needed Derek. Jack says yes, not knowing that Derek is dead. Sam looks at Dean like, OKAY, SO MAYBE WE SHOULD HAVE TALKED CONTINGENCIES. Dean looks like he would be delighted to be wrong, just for once.
Jack quietly says he’s doing this for them. He explains that he left to try and get a grip on his powers. “I wanted to prove to you that I’m good. To do one good thing.” He turns to Dean and says he did the thing they wanted the most. He experimented opening doors to other worlds. Jack says he could almost do it. He could get right to the edge, but he couldn’t see anything. He could only feel around in the dark. He needed eyes.
So he researched, like they taught him, and he found Derek. Derek dreamwalked to the A!V and Jack hitched a ride.
“I saw her. Your mother. She’s alive.”
The revelation hits the boys like a ton of bricks. Jack adds that she’s in danger and says it’s easier if he shows them. He presses his fingers to their temples. Glowing tendrils of energy fan out across their skin and their eyes glow with Jack’s golden energy.
They see Mary, in the church, hanging in the coffin cage. She cries out for help. It’s a nice call back to the scene of Dean in Hell, suspended by the chains, yelling for Sam.
The vision recedes. Jack tells Sam what happened next, but their voices are fuzzy and far away. Dean isn’t listening. He’s still in the church with Mary. And then he goes to his special place filled with guilt and grief and self-loathing.
He thinks about all the times he shut Sam down, insisting that their mother was dead. (And to be fair, Sam is almost always wrong, so.). How he wouldn’t let himself think about looking for her, much less trying to save her. How he abandoned her.
All of these thoughts and emotions play silently across Dean’s face. And then his expression hardens into grim resolve.
Jensen Ackles, y’all. Killing it.
The boys drive, looking for Kaia, but Dean is still brooding about Mary. He tells Sam he was right. He says they should have been looking for her this whole time. The time lost – the time she’s spent being tortured – is like a physical weight on Dean.
Sam tries to give his brother an out, even though he knows Dean won’t take. He says it was just a hope. He didn’t know either. But now that they do know … Dean finishes his sentence.
“We find her. No matter what it takes.”
Jack is sitting silent in the back seat. He’s dealing with some heavy emotions as well, trying to process that Sam and Dean both thought him capable of burning a man’s eyes out of his fool skull. Sam haltingly says they didn’t know what happened. Maybe it was an accident. Jack says like the security guard. That guilt is still close to the surface.
Sam dances around how worried they were and Dean cuts right to the chase. He says they thought Jack was looking for his father. Jack realizes with surprise that Dean means Lucifer. He says he was scared and upset. Why would he look for Lucifer? “He’s no one to me.”
“You. Castiel. You’re my family.”
Which, speaking of Cas, at no point in this episode do we see the boys call or text him to let them know they have Jack. I understand why – because Asmodeus – but it’s a plot hole that just further illustrates that Show has no clue what to do with Cas.
Dean agrees that yes, they are Jack’s family. He tells Jack he did a good thing finding Mary. Jack smiles, happy to finally be in Dean’s circle of trust. Dean’s change of heart seems a little abrupt, but I’ll take it over him being all cold-hearted and closed off.
Jack’s smile is replaced by a grimace of pain. The angels are just checking in via angel radio to let him know they have Kaia.
Kaia comes to bound to a chair. Her lady angel captor says they want Jack.
“ … Cocaine boy??”
“The son of Lucifer.”
It’s Kaia mouthing ‘WHAT THE FU …’ that make the moment poetry. I like this girl. She can stay!
Kaia tells L’angel that her plan sucks. She picked the wrong bait. “I’m not the kind of girl folks come for.” Kaia says in this world, she doesn’t even rate a milk carton. No one is going to come for her. She’s not white or rich or blonde.
“No one’s going to fight for me. I don’t matter.”
L’angel is like, of course you don’t, kitten. But they think she does and that’s all that matters. They’ll show … and they’ll die and then Heaven will take Jack.
Dean marches the man angel into the room. He’s holding a gladius to the angel’s throat. He says Kaia is right, the plan does kind of suck. L’angel makes an appeal to Jack. She says he should be among his own kind. “Come home.” Jack takes a hard pass. He says he is home.
Jack throws the golden whammy at L’angel, throwing her through a glass partition. He does the same to M’angel just as he’s about to stab Dean. He forces the angel to turn the blade on himself. Dean jumps up and goes after L’angel while Jack and Sam tend to Kaia. Jack asks if she’s okay.
No. No, she is not.
Kaia is not processing well. She gawps wide-eyed in disbelief as Sam explains that those were angels – bad angels – and they’re hunters that kill things like that. Kaia nods at Jack and sarcastically says he’s the son of Satan. Jack says he is, yes. Kaia tells them they’re insane.
Dean comes back into the room and says the whole world is insane. “You get used to it.”
They walk outside and before Kaia can bolt again Sam quickly explains the situation with Mary. Jack shares what he learned from Derek before the angels burned the man’s eyes out of his fool skull. He says there are sacred sites – places where the walls between worlds are thin, and it’s easy to cross over. He wants to take Kaia to the Wind Caves.
Kaia balks. She says no.
Dean gets a little shirty. He says they just saved her life. Kaia is like, yes, thank you, and I don’t owe you shit in return. She says the angels only wanted her because of Jack. She tries to make them understand what it is they’re asking of her. She says when Derek walked, he was free. He could see beautiful things on worlds that are paradises. But it’s not like that for her.
Kaia only goes to one place. The Bad Place.
When Kaia dreamwalks, all she sees is blood and death and monsters. Dean tries to brush it off as a lifetime of bad dreams but Kaia cuts him off. She marches over to the boys and pulls up her sleeve, showing them her scars. When she gets hurt in the Bad Place, she wakes up bloody. Kaia says those aren’t the only scars she carries. She’s sorry about their mom, but regretfully says she can’t help them.
Sam haltingly tells her it’s okay, they’ll find another way.
Dean pulls out his gun, cocks it, and tells her to get in the car.
Kaia stares up at him in shock. She doesn’t move. Dean motions with the gun towards Baby and tells her again to get in the car. Sam and Jack watch, holding their breaths. No one moves.
Dean takes a step forward, holding the gun inches from Kaia’s face, and barks, “GET IN THE DAMN CAR!!”
Kaia’s shock melts into resignation. She stares Dean down with big doe eyes filled with hurt. She looks away and when she cuts her gaze at him again it’s a look filled with disgust. He’s just another dick telling her she doesn’t matter.
It happens so quickly, but it’s all there. A short story in a glance. Yadira Guevara-Prip, y’all.
And OMGWTFBBQPWNIES. It was jarring and upsetting in “The Rising Son” to watch Dean be confronted with Jack’s pain – to watch the kid stab himself repeatedly in the chest with a knife – and not respond to it. To see Dean so closed off and cold. This is that dialed up to 11. Beyond 11.
I mean, Dean is the guy who has always had an easy rapport with kids and teenage girls. I love the bond he developed with Krissy and Claire. This feels so out of character for him, but I suppose that’s intentional. A way of showing how deeply Dean is affected by the news that Mary is alive and has been all this time.
It’s a nice call back to Season 1 when Dean said it scared him sometimes how far he was willing to go for the sake of Sam and John.
But it’s still fucked up and I do not like it.
Dean drives through the night, hell bent for South Dakota. Kaia stares out the window, tucked into the backseat as far from Jack as she can get. Sam is seething.
He asks if the plan is to force Kaia to dreamwalk at gun point. And you know what, Sam didn’t make a peep when Dean stuck his gun in Kaia’s face before, so he can just stop pretending this kidnapping isn’t on him, too.
Dean ignores both of us and snarls, “We get mom back – no matter what, remember?” Dean looks like he might be willing to pull a gun on Sam, if pressed.
Jack apologizes to Kaia and says he was once afraid to use his powers, too. (As though that’s the only source of her fear, not the multiple kidnappings and brandishings.) Jack says it doesn’t have to be like that. Derek brought them together because he thought they could help each other.
Kaia snaps at Jack to stop saying Derek’s name. Her friend is dead because of Jack. Jack doesn’t have an answer for that. Instead, he asks for five seconds. Five seconds to show Kaia what Derek saw.
Kaia’s eyes glisten with tears. She’s terrified, but the possibility of seeing those beautiful places is too tempting to deny. Jack puts his hand on her head and Kaia gasps at what she sees. The tension drains out of her and a smile bright as Sunday spreads across her face.
Jack takes his hand away. He smiles at her in return and says their powers can be good. They can do good in this world. Kaia turns back to the window, unsure if she should dare to believe him.
Dean peers at the road ahead of them. He realizes there’s a car comes towards them just as it turns on its headlights. Dean hits the brakes and slides into the other lane as L’angel barrels past.
Instead of driving on and trying to outrun her – which seriously, that late model station wagon is no match for Baby – Dean pulls into an abandoned boat yard. He grabs the weapons bags from the trunk and tells Sam to get the kids into the ferry moored in the river.
L’angel pulls in behind Baby. Dean stares he down, ready for a fight. He’s not ready for the two additional cars full of angels that arrive right behind her. He races onto the boat. Sam is inside spray painting warding sigils. Jack calmly says they’ll be fine.
Dean stalks in and says they’re screwed.
Team Free Will Unless It Conflicts With What I Want And Then It’s Team Do What I Say Because I Have the Gun falls back to the ferry’s lounge. Sam suggests blasting the angels away with the banishing spell, but Dean says if the angels get inside, they’re all dead.
Six angels board the ferry and spread out in a line on the lower deck. They kneel and drive the tips of their gladii into the floor. With their free hands they begin rhythmically pounding on the deck. Each pulse of energy they send through the boat ignites the sigils like a flare.
Everyone seems to have forgotten that Jack has wings and could try to air lift them all to safety. He could at least save Kaia. Instead, Dean desperately proposes they go out guns blazing and take as many angels with them as they can.
He says he’s sorry for dragging Kaia into a fight that isn’t hers. He does not apologize for denying her agency and compounding her obvious trauma at gunpoint, but I hope that’s a conversation they get to have later.
Probably not, but a girl can dream.
Faced with certain death, Kaia proposes they open up a door and floating space vagina themselves to safety. Sam and Dean both demand that Jack take them to Mary, which seems like going from the pan into the fire, but Jack agrees. Kaia sits down and Jack stands behind her. He asks if she’s ready.
“No. Let’s go.”
The angels continue their assault. The boat rocks with the force of each blow. One by one, the sigils fade.
Jack plugs into Kaia’s brain and she takes them to the Bad Place. They’re in a blue-green forest. Bones litter the ground next to the skull of a massive beast. A Reaper from The 100 races through the trees towards them. Kaia is able to let go and pull back revealing a field of stars and floating windows into other worlds. Jack finds the A!V and they pass into it.
The final sigil burns out. I’m not really sure why Sam wasn’t covering the walls with new sigils to replace the old ones, but that’s just me. Anyhoo, Dean yells at Jack that it’s now or never.
Jack is in the church. He can see Mary. Suddenly the view shifts back to the Bad Place. Kaia cries out that she’s losing the A!V. She shifts back and forth between the two worlds as the boat rocks and the angels keep pounding.
A hooded figure appears before Kaia. The girl lets out a shriek and the boat is filled with glowing, golden energy. The angels are evaporated. The X-ray images of their broken wings are burned into the walls of the ferry. The light becomes blinding and when it resolves in a flash, the lounge is empty save for the floating space vagina.
In Georgia, Patience packs a bag and tells her father she’ll only miss a few days of school. It’s no big deal. James realizes she had a vision. Patience tells him they never stopped. She says she tried pushing them down and ignoring them. But now she can’t. This isn’t just knowing what someone will be wearing the next day. A friend is in danger.
A blue-green forest. The skull of a massive beast. A cloaked figure. A blade. Blood. Jody.
“If I don’t go, people will die.”
Girl, no. Not people. Jody. Jody will die.
Patience says this is who she is.
James is desperate to stop his daughter but still hasn’t learned that pushing people away isn’t the answer. He tells her that if she goes now she doesn’t come back. It’s a call back to John and Sam, but what it really puts me in mind of is Joyce Summers in “Becoming, Part 2”, when she tells Buffy that if she leaves to go save the world, she shouldn’t come back.
Both parents frame it as though their daughters are making a choice. When really, the girls know there’s only one option. Embrace their gifts. Be who they are.
Patience leaves without a backward glance. She arrives some time later (Hours? Days? Who can say how time and distance work on this show) on Jody’s doorstep. Patience tells her she had a vision.
“Something bad’s coming.”
Kaia is laying unconscious in the brush on the side of a road. Jack in sitting on the floor of the church at Mary’s feet.
Sam and Dean come to in a blue-green forest. They start walking and jump down into a deep depression. The camera pulls back to reveal they’re standing in the middle of a giant dinosaur foot print. Something roars in the distance and we hear the thud of heavy foot steps.