“Stranger in a Strange Land”
October 11, 2018
THE ROAD SO FAR
Jack the nephilim emerged fully grown from his mother’s exploding vagina. Asmodeus was a thing and then he wasn’t. Donatello came back and was killed for no good reason. Missouri came back and was killed FOR NO GOOD GODDAMNED REASON. The Empty was a thing and then it wasn’t. Billie came back. Cas came back. Kevin came back and was killed for no good reason. Ketch came back and lived for no good reason. The Wayward Sisters were briefly, gloriously a thing and then they weren’t. Rowena came back. Sister Jo was a thing and then she wasn’t. Scoobynatural was a thing and it was magnificent. Gabriel came back and was killed for no good reason. Heaven closing up shop was a thing and then it wasn’t. Charlie was a thing and then she wasn’t. Sam was killed and then came back. Dean said yes. Crouching tiger, flying squirrel was a thing and will never be spoken of again. Lucifer finally, finally died.
“Thanks for the suit.”
Season 14. Sweet buttery Chuck.
Or three weeks since Michael, Archangel of the Apocalypse!Verse double crossed Dean and hijacked his meat suit. Sam and his grief beard have been on a quest for his brother ever since.
It’s not going well.
Sam is different this time. Season 10 Sam was laser-focused on finding Dean and removing the Mark no matter the cost. Season 14 Sam isn’t exactly going through the motions, but whatever hope or faith or resolve normally drives him doesn’t seem to be there.
It’s a nice mirroring of Dean’s emotional state at this same point last season. After losing Mary and Cas, Dean was just empty. He was broken. Sam strikes me as bone weary. And scared. He knows he’ll find Michael’s vessel, but based on his own experiences with Lucifer, he also knows Dean might never truly be the same – if he’s even still alive.
While Sam has been on the road, the Bunker has turned into a bustling hive of activity filled with A!V club randos. With no angels to fight, many of them have chosen to take on monsters instead. There’s Jesus Guy on ammo detail. Cookie keeps everyone fed. Maggie – the girl who was murdered by Lucifer so he could resurrect her and score points with Jack – is the medic who patches them up, tending to an A!V hunter who tangled with a rawhead outside of Phoenix.
I will note that rawheads have been referenced exactly once before, in “Faith.” I would like to think that this is an intentional callback to Season 1’s Michael foreshadowing and Dean being told by Roy LeGrange that he had an important purpose. A job to do that wasn’t finished.
The A!V clubbers have embraced Sam as their leader and it’s a role he has accepted. Even AV!Bobby defers to him. It’s – dare I say it – character growth that actually builds on the moment from Season 12 when Sam admitted, both to himself and to Dean, that he followed the BMoL because it was easier than leading.
It’s the start of the season, so I’ll be charitable and say good job, Dabb and not a stopped clock is right twice a day.
Bobby is, as ever, a mentor and generally awesome. Which is great, but I can’t decide if I want Show to try harder to distinguish that this isn’t our Bobby, or just be grateful that we have him and Jim Beaver back.
Jack is the beneficiary of Bobby’s attention and experience. Now that he’s lost his grace and can’t just put the golden whammy on people, Jack needs to learn more practical methods of self-defense. Translation: sparring matches that leave the boy on the ground flat of his back.
Also, after spending most of last season angsting and moping about having powers, Jack now spends his time angsting and moping about not having them.
Sam is mid, “buck up, camper,” speech when Mary calls him away to look in on another of the Bunker’s lost souls. Sam steels himself and blows out a shaky breath as the dungeon door swings open.
Lucifer is sitting on the bed.
Only, it’s not Lucifer, it’s Nick. Remember Nick? From Season 4? Lucifer’s first vessel? Who should have died in “Swan Song” after Sam said yes and Lucifer vacated? And whose soul, based on what Cas tells Claire in “The Things We Left Behind” about the fate of Jimmy Novak, should have ascended into Heaven?
An episode, PS, THAT ANDREW DABB ALSO WROTE.
Are we sure Andrew Dabb actually wrote this episode? Because this is some BuckLeming levels of LOL!canon bullshit right here.
Nick is sporting a nasty stab wound from the archangel blade. Sam theorizes that the weapon was intended only to kill the angel and leave the vessel unharmed (ish). But again, Crowley only had his demons put Nick’s body back together again – presumably sans soul. That episode was written by BuckLeming, so maybe someone should go check that Dabb’s not bound and gagged in a broom closet somewhere.
Ketch is apparently still in play? He’s in London looking for the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch, last used in Season 12’s “LOTUS” to pull Lucifer out of President Jeff. Only, Sam gave the HHGoA to Castiel at the end of that episode and a scene in the following episode, “First Blood,” seems to imply that Team Free Will held onto it.
Also, I will point out, two episodes written by … BuckLeming and Andrew Dabb, respectively.
So, I don’t know, +10 for continuity, -7 for not remembering something you wrote less than two years ago?
Castiel is in Detroit meeting with a skinny pant wearing slickie boy demon who calls the angel “darling” and himself Kip. Kip is intrigued and low-key amused that Cas, “lost a Winchester,” and stirs the Destiel pot by observing that he thought Dean and Cas were joined at the … “well, everything.”
Cas wants information and threatens to burn Kip to ash if he doesn’t get it. Kip is like, good luck with that because I roll deep. And then the eyes of every patron and employee in the joint flip black and they all proceed to pummel the angel.
How did Cas not immediately clock that they were all demons? Shouldn’t he be able to see their true faces? Sense their corrupted souls?
And didn’t he once blast an entire diner full of Eve-amped Jefferson Starships? COULD SHOW JUST FOR 10 MINUTES REMEMBER THAT CAS IS A BADASS ANGEL OF THE LORD?
Sam, Mary, Bobby, and Maggie saddle up to get Cas back. Wait, Maggie?
A Bunker full of field-tested A!V Club soldiers and Sam drags along the girl who isn’t? The one who was just looking for a safe refuge when they met her on the other side? He also agrees to let Jack come along because there’s no better weapon against an unknown number of demons than a plucky attitude and can do spirit!
Bobby doesn’t say it, but you know he’s thinking it.
As they drive, Mary repeats to Sam again some more her mantra – It’s going to be fine. He snaps at her to stop saying that, and all his fears about Dean come pouring out. Mary gently, but firmly, pushes back. She knows. She knows Dean might never come back. Don’t think she doesn’t know. But she has to think about the good.
“Because if I don’t, I will drown in the bad.”
Samantha Smith sells the hell out of this scene, but it just highlights how scattershot the writers have been when it comes to Mary and her emotional connections – or lack thereof – to her sons. This is the same character that just a few weeks ago (in show time), and despite Sam’s apparent death, chose the A!V Clubbers over her sons.
There’s so much that Show could have done to explore Mary as a character since bringing her back and they just haven’t. And you know what?
At the meet, the splinters fly as Kip gnaws the scenery and lays out his grand plan for assuming Hell’s throne. Sam is like, hard pass, as Mary and Bobby come through the front door, devil’s trap bullets a’blazing.
Shooting shooting shooting. Fight fight what is up with the slo-mo struggle fight. Mary takes out a demon with a gladius and then gives the blade to Maggie. She asks the cowering girl if she knows how to use it.
“Stab ‘em with the pointy end?”
So they have Game of Thrones in the Apocalypse World? I bet A!V George R.R. Martin hasn’t finished their next book either.
Anyhoo, Sam guts Kip with Ruby’s knife. He shouts, “ENOUGH!,” and announces to the remaining demons that there will be no new king of Hell. Not today. Not ever. And if anybody wants the job,
“He can come through me.”
Did … did Sam just declare himself the de facto boss of Hell? In Detroit?
As the dust settles back at the Bunker, Cas and Sam check in with each other. Sam says he wishes he’d thought of rattling some demon’s cage first. He admits that he’d be willing to work with anyone and reaffirms that he’d do anything to get Dean back.
Cas moves on to Jack to give him his final pep talk of the day. The boy is feeling particularly useless after the fight with the demons. All he did was get punched in the face. Cas tells him that, to be fair, “we all got punched in the face.” And that despite the crushing feeling that he has nothing, Jack has Team Free Will. “You have your family.”
So sack up, ho!
Mary and Bobby share a beer in the kitchen. And if you got the sense in Season 12’s “All Along the Watchtower” that AV!Bobby carried a torch for AV!Mary Campbell, welp, you would be right.
And I don’t mind the idea of pairing up Mary and Bobby, other than it relegates Mary to just being a love interest, and that is the least interesting thing that Show could do with her. Also, what about Jody? Is Show going to remember that she and Bobby have history and had a budding maybe romance that was cut short by Dick Roman? Going back to my point about distinguishing the two Bobbies, doing it from Jody’s point of view could be unexpected and really interesting.
I’ll start holding my breath now.
So what has Michael!Dean been up to? He’s been winging around the planet asking kings, killers, and angels a simple question, “What do you want?” and generally being disappointed with the answers.
What Michael wants is a better world. He wants to do it right this time.
After all his searching and questioning, he finally finds someone who doesn’t disappoint him. Who doesn’t pretend. Whose want is pure and simple and clean. Someone who is worth saving.
Michael finds a vampire.
Really? That’s Michael’s grand plan for a brave new world?
Vampires? And more to the point, this is Andrew Dabb’s vision for the season? Really?
And maybe I’m being unfair after only one episode, but it’s kind of the job of the season opener to set the tone for the next
22 19 episodes. And y’all, this episode didn’t leave me feeling good about Season 14.
In an interview with TVLine, Dabb said that not having Dean around gives other characters breathing room. Which implies to me that we should expect to see multiple character storylines, but I’m not confident that Show can pull it off successfully.
Jump back up to The Road So Far. There’s a lot that got thrown against the wall in Season 13, and very little that stuck. It’s great if the writers were excited about all these ideas, but it’s the show runner’s job to edit and focus them into a story that’s organic and cohesive. You could remove half of those plot points and it wouldn’t make any difference to the arc of Season 13. I worry that Season 14 is heading down the same path of trying to do too much while saying very little.
Supernatural airs Thursday at 7/8 p.m. on The CW. Follow Whitney on Twitter @Watcher_Whitney.