“The Hero’s Journey”
January 23, 2020
“The hero may have to be brought back from his supernatural adventure by assistance from without. That is to say, the world may have to come and get him … The returning hero, to complete his adventure, must survive the impact of the world. Many failures attest to the difficulties of this life-affirmative threshold. The first problem of the returning hero is to accept as real, after an experience of the soul-satisfying vision of fulfillment, the passing joys and sorrows, banalities and noisy obscenities of life.”
Am I high? Am I on drugs right now? What even is this episode?
Dean has popped into the corner market for a few essentials—beer, beer, chips, jerky, and magazines. He greets the clerk, Teddy, by name. I’m pleasantly surprised that episode writer Andrew Dabb remembered that Dean is warmly acquainted with his community. Dean unwraps a candy bar while Teddy rings him up. He takes a bite and winces in pain.
Oh, honey. I know that owie. Dean has a cavity.
Dean hands Teddy his credit card. It is promptly—and repeatedly—declined. Teddy takes the half-eaten candy bar from Dean’s hand, drops it in the basket, and silently sends him on his way.
Good day, Dean. TEDDY SAID, GOOD DAY.
Sam is summoned to the kitchen by the insistent scream of the smoke detector. The restless spirit of the loaf of garlic bread has been thoroughly salted and burned. Sam opens the oven door and pulls the pan out—with his bare hands. He turns and flings the pan onto the kitchen counter, sliding it into a stack of dishes. They fall and shatter on the floor.
He kicks the oven door closed and turns his attention to the boiling pot of macaroni. He picks up it—barehanded—groans in pain and drops it on the floor, sending noodles and scalding water everywhere.
POT HOLDERS. POT HOLDERS, DUMMY. LOOK INTO THEM.
A thoroughly disgruntled Dean stomps into the Bunker. Sam hurries in from the kitchen, trip skidding into the room. Dean goes from disgruntled to nonplussed.
“ … Was that a trip?”
“There’s a lot of that going on.”
Dean says he just got a parking ticket in town.
“Because you always park in front of that fire hydrant!”
Dean concedes that yes, he does … but he never gets a ticket! And! AND! The credit card doesn’t work! He pulls it out of his pocket and flings it onto the map table. The look on Dean’s face. He is affronted by the card. BETRAYER! RUINER!
Sam has a confused. He says it’s the card Charlie (RIP NEVER FORGET) hacked for them. The one that was supposed to be their always works, no more hustling, golden ticket. As the boys are contemplating the weirdness of their day—and Sam starts coming down with a cold—Garth calls. He’s not in the trunk anymore (apparently) and he needs their help.
The boys drive to Wisconsin and Dean grumps that they’re cursed. CURSED, HE TELLS YA! Sam scoffs that they’re just having a bad day. Dean angrily insists that this is more than just a NO GOOD VERY BAD DAY. He says that Chuck must have boned them before he left. Or maybe something that Sam brought back from Rowena’s went sideways.
Or maybe it’s the Trickster. MAYBE, THROUGH SOME MIRACLE, IT’S THE TRICKSTER!
It’s not the Trickster.
What it is, is not normal. Sam punctuates Dean’s statement with a violent, wet sneeze into his sleeve. Does this mean Sam really is a witch now, what with all the spewing of his bodily fluids everywhere?
Seriously man, get a tissue. It’s unsanitary.
Sam tries to downplay their situation. He’s sick. Cas is in Heaven. Dean got a ticket. So what, they’ll deal.
And then Baby’s engine begins to knock.
Dean pleads with the car not to do this, but to no avail. The engine cuts off and they glide to a stop. DEATH! DEATH TO HE WHO WOULD DEFILE METALLICAR!! Dean tries to restart the Impala but only succeeds in flooding the engine. 10 miles of hoofing it later, they arrive at Garth’s.
Wait, did they just leave Baby abandoned by the side of the road? What??
Sam pleads sickness to wave off Garth’s welcoming hug, but there’s no escape for Dean. YAY! HUGGING!
Y’all, Garth is not wrong.
He walks them back into the kitchen and introduces them to his super adorable kiddos, daughter Gertie and twin sons Sam and
Which is both hilarious and so, so wrong! Has Garth ever even met Cas? And of the two Winchesters, I tend to think of Garth as having the closer relationship with Dean, so. Which just further reinforces my view that Chuck the character is an ever-evolving avatar for Supernatural’s showrunner … and that Andrew Dabb is the reason we—and the boys—can’t have nice things.
Also, that kid is the heir apparent of skeptical babies and I am here for it.
With introductions out of the way, Sam brings Garth back to the reason for his call. Garth leads them upstairs to Gertie’s room where Bess is caring for her cousin, Brad. He’s badly hurt and in and out of consciousness. Garth says they’re not sure what happened to him. Dean comments on the long, ugly laceration on Brad’s arm. It looks to him like a knife wound, but Bess says it’s from a wraith.
Oh, a wraith you say?
Garth notices Dean worrying at his teeth and takes him downstairs to his in-home dental practice. Garth reassures his anxious patient that he is a fully licensed and accredited DDS. He reminds Dean that he was working on his degree when the hunting life found him.
“You killed the tooth fairy.”
“She had it coming.”
When he left the life, Garth went back to school. He says he’s got a nice little practice going. It’s mostly a werewolf clientele. With all the cow hearts they eat, “fang maintenance is a B.” The flossing is constant.
Upstairs, Bess has noticed that Sam is sick and encrusted with snot and mixes up a draught of her daddy’s secret recipe cure-all. She tells him after he drinks it that it’s mostly cayenne pepper. Sam collapses to the floor, writhing and choking and oozing from every pore while the babies howl and Gertie laughs and laughs.
“Mummy, the giant’s crying!”
What is happening in this episode?
Garth cajoles a reluctant Dean to open wide and y’all. Jensen’s teeth are perfect. I have an easier time believing monsters are real than I do that that mouth contains 17 cavities. But Garth is the one with the medical degree, not me, so. He wheels over a tank of nitrous oxide and tells Dean to let the gas do its thing.
Its thing is to send Dean into a drug-induced song and dance man dreamscape.
I KNOW, DEAN. WE’RE ALL AS CONFUSED AS YOU ARE. WHAT IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW?
What is happening is that Jensen and DJ Qualls apparently had one hour to learn this tap routine and they nailed it!
The cane toss with the cane landing end up! Jensen having chemistry with a literal lamp! The quickstep bit at the end that I was certain was a body double that Jensen makes look effortless! Is there anything that man can’t do?
After the boys come to and peel themselves off the floor (respectively) Garth tries to make some sense of what’s going on.
“Who did you guys piss off?”
Garth and Bess need to sit down for that one. Bess clarifies that God—capital ‘g’ God—is trying to kill them? Sam says it’s more like Chuck is trying to make them kill each other. But he agrees with Garth’s assessment that they’ve basically been the heroes of Chuck’s story. Garth wonders what that makes him? Supporting character? Special guest star? And if so, Garth is more than happy with his role.
“Being the hero sucks.”
“Your parents get gunned down in an alleyway.”
“Your home planet gets blown up.”
Garth does allow that there are some things heroes don’t have to deal with. Superman never has to worry about paying his water bill. And when was the last time Batman got a flat tire?
All that small stuff slows down the story. But now, Chuck seems to be forcing the boys to deal with the small stuff. Garth says they’re not cursed—they’re normal. He points at Dean.
“You need to get a colonoscopy, STAT.”
Further discussion is paused when Brad calls out for Bess. He’s reluctant to talk in front of strangers—and hunters at that—so Sam cranks up the earnest and deploys the puppy dog eyes.
“That never actually works for you, does it?”
Bess will not have the puppy dog eyes disrespected. NOT IN HER HOUSE. She jams her fingers into the open cut on Brad’s arm and tells him to answer Sam’s questions.
Bess is a boss.
Brad tells them he got involved in a monsters-only Fight Club. He needed the cash. Child support doesn’t pay itself. He’s happy to tell them where to find the fight. The place is full of fangs, so they’ll probably just rip the boys to pieces anyway. Brad grins at the thought. Bess pokes at his wound again.
The boys immediately set off for the 10-mile hike back to the car. Dean tells a worried Garth they have to go—that many monsters in one place are guaranteed to be dropping bodies. And just because Chuck, “yanked the magic horseshoe out of our ass,” it doesn’t mean they’re going to give up. This is their job.
This is the way.
Garth says he’s coming too, and immediately gets the kibosh. Dean says they can’t take the risk of something going wrong—because everything is going wrong right now. They can’t do that to Bess and the kids.
They arrive the next morning at the warehouse in Minnesota. It appears quiet and deserted. Dean grabs the gear bag, ready to charge in and kick some monster butt! Sam pumps the brakes. He says if they really are normal now, they need to be ready for anything. Extra rounds, dead man’s blood, first aid kit, emergency flares …
“Well, then I guess we need a grenade launcher.”
Sam packs up the extras, closes the trunk, and accidentally breaks the key off in the lock.
They walk into the warehouse and Dean discovers that eating seven of Bess’ delicious grilled cheese sandwiches was a terrible, terrible, terrible idea.
“Dean … I think you might be lactose intolerant now.”
The boys are vexed—VEXED—when their normie luck winds them up inside the fighters’ cage, trapped by an affable shapeshifter named Cutty. He introduces himself as a sportsman, intent on revealing man and monster at their most pure through the heat of competition. And he’s eager to see the Winchesters at their best.
“Stripped down, closed in, just you again the world!”
Or, the walking brick wall of a vampire called Maul.
The boys are like, BRING IT.
Their bravado begins to rapidly evaporate. They watch from holding cells behind the ring as the warehouse fills with fight night spectators. Dean pulls a nail free and holds it up with a triumphant ha-HAH! He tries—and fails—to pick the lock on the cell door.
The only thing he succeeds in doing is breaking a nail.
Sam takes a turn, muttering as he worries at the lock that they do this all the time! What the hell?!
“Frigging normal, that’s what!”
Sam flings the nail away in frustration. He throws his hands in the air, angrily wondering if they were ever able to pick locks or was it just Chuck this whole time? What even is real?
Dean asks the excellent question that if they can’t pick a lock how are they supposed to take care of super vamp in the ring? Sam sinks down to the floor and says he doesn’t think they can. Dean refuses to believe that, after everything, Chuck would let them die like this. Sam says maybe they don’t—maybe Chuck just leaves them horribly maimed and mangled to teach them a lesson.
“Then we gotta win.”
An off-key version of “The Family Theme” plays as Dean goes full Herb Brooks. He leans into the heavy metal fencing separating him from his brother and says with certainty that not everything they did was because of Chuck.
“It was us. We’ve been doing this our whole lives. We’re the best in the world.”
“I say we go out there and we kick some ass!”
And then it’s time. The boys exchange a look. Sam smiles. If this is how it ends, they’ll go out fighting together.
The announcer hypes up the main event—“You know them. You don’t like them.”—while Cutty goes to fetch the boys.
The doors are hanging open on empty cells.
“When you didn’t pick up I figured you were super boned.” So Garth blended into the crowd of monsters and slipped back to the holding area while attention was on the ring. He semi-wolfs out and snaps the padlocks off the doors with his bare hands.
Dean is impressed.
Once in the parking lot, Dean yells that they need to flee, regroup, and come up with a new plan. Garth pulls a detonator out of his pocket. He says he’s already got a plan.
“C4. A hunter’s best friend.”
The warehouse erupts in a ball of flame. Garth’s satisfied face is gently illuminated in its orange glow. But hang on … what happened to the gear bag? What about the grenade launcher? WHITHER THE GRENADE LAUNCHER???
RIP the grenade launcher, probably.
You know what didn’t die? Maul. Improbably, the massive vamp walks through the fire unscathed. Garth tells the boys to run. He’s got this and fully wolfs out. Does that mean he’s still super juiced from Michael’s grace serum? I’m guessing the answer is no, based on how easily Maul swats him away. Garth lands in the bed of a truck and goes sleepy night nights.
“Hey, did you believe when I said I thought we could win this thing?”
“Yeah, me neither.”
The boys square up and promptly get their asses handed to them. Or in Dean’s case, gets his gonads kicked up into this throat.
That’s going to leave a mark.
Fight, fight, pummel, fight. And then Garth cleaves Maul’s head in two with a machete.
“He got Garthed.”
They all head home and the boys spend a few minutes with their name-ish sakes. Baby Cas is still very skeptical. Dean thinks the baby is looking at him weird.
“So kind of like the real Cas.”
As Garth walks them out, Dean stops and tells him that what he did, “that’s being a hero.” Garth is surprised and pleased by the unexpected compliment. He says he learned from the best. He worries about them being okay—what with the whole being normal and having the Almighty after them thing. Sam admits they don’t know if they will be okay.
Garth offers something that he hopes might help. He tells them he heard this story once—OH REALLY—about a place you can go if your luck’s gone bad—YOU DON’T SAY—in Alaska—WHAT?—on the road between Barrow and Kotzebue.
They’ll know it when they see it.
So this is the pivot? This is the set up? Ten episodes to go in the final season, and the boys are going to Alaska based on a tale that was almost certainly planted by Chuck, in search of a wellspring of luck somewhere along on a 300+ mile stretch of Arctic road that doesn’t actually exist?
I mean, if we have to sit through this nonsense, the least Show can do is throw in a leprechaun.
And then there is hugging. YAY! HUGGING!
The boys head to the car as Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London” begins playing. Is that why the music is so, so, so very bad this season? Like, distractingly bad? Because they blew all the budget on the excitable boy? Which, fair.
… And his hair was perfect.
Dean pauses and nods back towards the house. He and Sam watch through the window, equal parts charmed and longing, as Bess and Garth dance together in the living room.
“So. What now?”
Boy are they going to be pissed when they find out “normal” means not everything is only a four-hour drive away.
Supernatural airs Thursday at 8:00 p.m. (Eastern) on The CW. Follow Whitney on Twitter @Watcher_Whitney.