“Prophet and Loss”
January 31, 2019
THEN: “Some people just can’t be saved.”
The Ma’lak Box rests on the bottom of the ocean. Droplets of water ooze through its seams. Dean tries to breathe through the rising panic, but he can’t ignore the groaning creak of the metal. I guess Billie’s instructions didn’t factor in the PSI of the Pacific Ocean.
Dean pounds frantically on the lid of the box. His nails are bloody and broken. It’s not clear if he’s trying to get out or desperately trying to keep it from collapsing. Maybe both. He cries out for Sam as the terror of his situation overwhelms him and darkness envelopes him.
Dean gasps himself awake. He and Sam seem to be staying in a nicer motel than usual. They’re also both wearing pajamas. SINGLE LAYERS, Y’ALL. WE HAVE COZY SINGLE LAYERS. Sam steps out of the bathroom and apologizes for waking his brother. Dean says it’s okay. He just had a bad dream.
There are bloody gouges in the wall by Dean’s bed.
They debate again some more the madness of Dean’s plan. Dean insists it’s the only way. The book says so. Sam is just as adamant that there’s another way to take Michael off the board. There has to be.
Nick is in the hospital recovering from his gunshot wound. He overpowers the officer guarding him and hobbles back to Delaware. He breaks into his house that’s been sitting empty and abandoned for 10 years but somehow still has power.
In his mind, Nick can still see baby Teddy’s swing and the blood pouring from his crib. He can hear the child’s ghostly cries through the baby monitor. Just a few of the tricks Lucifer used to break him down completely.
Nick’s breath begins to frost in the air. Cabinet doors bang and the lights fritz. A woman manifests into being. Relief washes over Nick. Lucifer has come back for him!
The ghost is like, NO DUMMY, I’M YOUR WIFE.
Sarah is also the most self-aware spirit we’ve ever encountered. She knows she’s dead and knows she’s trapped in the house by Nick’s unfinished business with Lucifer. She begs him to reject Lucifer and allow her to finally find peace.
But Nick can’t do that.
He wanders off to find some dark place to curl up in until, oh, what are we thinking? BuckLeming’s next turn at Episode 19, when Lucifer comes back—again—for no damn good reason?
Done. I’m so done with Lucifer.
The boys drive through the night. Dean tries to keep his focus on the road while Michael pounds away in his head. He asks if Sam ever thinks about when they were kids. Dean says he knows he wasn’t always the greatest brother. Sam is like, the hell?? He says Dean was the one who was always there for him. The only one. Dean practically raised him!
Dean brings up John and his role as peacekeeper in the family. He says it probably looked like he took their father’s side quite a bit. Because of that, he didn’t always look out for Sam the way he (thinks he) should have. And those times he was away, he didn’t just run out. Dean tells Sam that John would send him away, when he really pissed him off.
John was the worst.
Now Sam is the one who feels like he’s drowning. He says he left that behind a long time ago. He had to. And if he’s going to support Dean in his mission of self-destruction, he has to do like Dean said—he has to keep his mind off where they’re going. So if Dean could keep the death bed apologies to a minimum, Sam would really appreciate it.
Dean drives and they each stew in their own misery. What they each need the other just simply doesn’t have to give. My heart!
You know maybe what they do need? A case! Fort Dodge, Iowa. It’s on the way. If they can help, shouldn’t they? Dean is game. He calls it one last case for the Winchester boys. Sam is like, dude! What did I say? He gives Dean the bullet. Two murders. Two bodies found with Enochian sigils carved into their flesh.
They interview the twin of the second victim. Eddie says Alan always called himself the big brother because he was 4 minutes older. Losing him is like losing a part of himself. Eddie never knew it could be this bad.
Eddie suggests the boys talk to Tony Alvarez. He was a friend of Alan’s, has a habit of quoting verses that sound Bible-y, and has similar Enochian letters tattooed on his arm.
After considering an angel gone wrong, Dean calls Cas to check out another theory. Castiel is delighted to hear that they’re working a case! He assumes this means that Dean isn’t going through with the unreasonable, desperate plan that Cas isn’t supposed to know about.
Dean gives Sam the stink eye. Sam refuses to look at him. Dean says they’ll talk about his plan later. Right now he needs to know if the name Tony Alvarez means anything. Cas confirms that Tony is the next prophet in line after Donatello.
Dean’s next call is to the nursing home to check in on “Uncle Donnie”. How’s he doing? Still alive? Great.
The boys go to Tony’s home and discover a room of crazy. The walls are covered in Enochian along with a sprinkling of English translations. They also find photos. Polaroids taken at the crime scenes and snapshots of possible future victims.
The killings—which feel like some of the squickiest we’ve seen in a while—both match up to text on the wall. The next passage reads, “And there went out fire from the Lord and devoured them.”
Dean pulls a lead from one of the Polaroids. The boys arrive at the Sphinx Machine Shop just at Tony is about to immolate his next victim. The would-be prophet insists that he’s been chosen. He’s doing God’s work and carrying out His orders. He can hear God’s voice in his head.
The boys are like, nah, you’re just a psycho who’s been murdering innocent people. They take a beat to consider if Tony could somehow be picking up a stream from Donatello. That’s when Tony tackles Dean, gets his gun, and shoots himself in the head.
Now they’re faced with the possibility that another prophet could rise and the crazy will start all over again. Castiel suggests that Donatello’s liminal state between life and death is the cause of the problem. And that while he’s in that state, prophets will continue to emerge prematurely and badly wired. Sam asks how they end it.
The answer hangs in the silence.
Dr. Rashad is supportive of the decision to remove Donatello from life support. He says sometimes letting go is the right choice.
Sam steps into Donatello’s room with Dr. Rashad while Dean hangs back in the hallway with Dr. Novak. Dean tells Cas not to try and sway him from his course. It’s regrettable but necessary and it has to be done. Just like Cas stripping the portal ingredients from Donatello’s mind and placing him in a persistent vegetative state was regrettable but necessary and had to be done.
Sam comes back out to show them video of Donatello speaking Enochian during an episode of semi-lucidity. Castiel thinks the prophet’s brain is trying to rebuild and reorganize his memories. That’s what Tony was picking up on. And where there is a spark, there is the chance that Castiel can fix him. He has to try.
The boys sit and wait. Sam worries. If Cas is wrong, then where does that leave Donatello? Trapped in his own body somewhere between life and death? Sam says it’s tough to think about somebody going through that.
After a time they join Cas in Donatello’s room. The angel’s grace finally catches on something and the prophet opens his eyes. Dean turns off the machines but Donatello’s heart maintains a normal rhythm until he finally lurches back into full consciousness. It’s a miracle!
Donatello sits up in bed eating grape jello. Is that a thing? Grape seems like a weird flavor for jello. Team cherry for life, yo. But what he would actually prefer is a bucket of extra crispy buffalo wings with a side of Tex-Mex sauce. Dean tells him to pump the brakes. He just got back.
Dean turns and stage whispers to Cas … Donatello is back, isn’t he? This isn’t still some kind of evil, weird version of him? The angel confirms that Donatello has been reset to his original factory settings, albeit still lacking a soul.
Dean leaves Cas to catch Donatello up on what he missed. He joins Sam outside at the car. Sam has already started on a six pack of beer. He says they’re celebrating—but not too much. Tomorrow morning they’re back on track for Death Dive 2019.
Dean nibbles at the bait. He calls Donatello a win and says it’s kind of nice to go out on a high. Sam questions how Dean can fight to keep Donatello alive but throw in the towel on himself? How he can tell Sam that he has to throw away everything they stand for? After everything they’ve been through and been to each other. That Sam has to throw away faith. Throw away family.
“We’re the guys who save the world! We don’t just check out of it!”
Sam punctuates his words with a shove to Dean’s chest. Dean growls that he has tried everything, and he has one card left to play—and he has to play it! Sam counters that he has one card today. They’ll find another one tomorrow, but not if Dean quits on them. It’s wrong!
He claps his hand on Dean’s chest again for emphasis and them points to himself. Sam says he believes in them. It’s a call back to Dean’s words, “I’m proud of us”, from “Do You Believe in Miracles”, which is the 4th to the last time Dean was at death’s door.
I know this scene is supposed to be super emotional, and Jared is selling the hell out of it, but y’all. How many times have these boys done this? Trying to keep Dean from going to Hell in Season 3. Preventing Sam from killing himself during the trials in Season 8. Talking Dean out of launching himself into space in Season 10. Letting him sacrifice himself to Amara in Season 11. And now this.
But the biggest parallel I see is to Sam saying yes to Lucifer in Season 5. I don’t understand how Sam throwing himself into the Pit for all eternity then was a selfless sacrifice while Dean doing the same now is giving up. Dean supporting Sam’s decision then was a sign of character growth. That he could finally step back from his role as protector and allow Sam the agency he’d fought for his entire life.
Sam’s arguments now all seem to center on how Dean’s decision will affect him. That Sam will have to go on without the brother he’s looked up to, learned from, copied, and followed to Hell and back. Sam knows exactly what Dean is signing himself up for. Why aren’t they talking about that?
There’s also the fact that these boys seem to have learned nothing from the past lessons of not being able to let go. And the one time Sam was able to let Dean go, it all worked out fine! He talked Amara off the ledge, reconciled her to Chuck, and got their mom back. It was fine!
Although to be fair, Dean’s rash decision might be easier to understand if this season was better—or at all—paced. If Show spent more time showing Dean struggling to keep Michael locked away. Or suggested nightmares where Michael floods Dean’s mind with images of a burning planet. It would lend more credibility to Billie’s warning. Because while I don’t think that Billie has any reason or motivation too lie to Dean, he’s still only working off a single source of information.
Neither of the boys are paying any attention to me.
Dean has remained silent all through Sam’s impassioned plea. Sam’s anger and fear and sadness finally get the better of him. The punch that comes sailing into Dean’s face is a shock. When Sam winds up for a second one, Dean catches him by the arms and Sam pulls him into a hug. Through gritted teeth he asks why Dean doesn’t believe in them, too?
And that’s when Dean breaks. He says okay. Let’s go home.
Because maybe Billie is wrong. And because he does believe in them. He nods at Castiel as the angel walks up to the car. He believes in all of them.
“And I’ll keep believing until I can’t. Until there’s absolutely no other way.”
But if and when that day comes, Dean tells Sam he has to take it for what it is—the end. And he has to promise that he’ll do then what he can’t do now and let Dean go.