October 15, 2020
“Dean, you gave me what I needed most. I want to do the same for you.”
Can someone be too homeless to be served at a soup kitchen? The two girls working the dinner line apparently think so. Maybe Connor should go do something about it. He reluctantly leaves his mashed potato station to go roust the nice lady who would just like a hot meal and maybe some conversation.
Connor is stopped by the hot, tattooed pastor who is almost certainly the monster of the week. Also, he seems really … familiar …
OH MY CHUCK IT’S DOCTOR SEXY, MD.
The Right Reverend Dr. Sexy counsels Connor to lead with compassion. He picks up a bowl of soup and brings it to the woman. Rev. Dr. Sexy smiles, sexily.
Later that evening, Connor is walking home. He hears a voice calling his name, asking for help. Instead of leading with GETTHEFUCKOUTOFTHERE, Connor decides to investigate the creepy, deserted alley. He promptly gets his fool self snatched up by an unseen assailant.
In the Bunker, the boys are looking for cases and clues to Amara’s whereabouts as though Dean couldn’t just pray to her. Reach out through the ether?
Sam comes across Connor’s story, but dismisses it as not their thing. Dean thinks he has something. He tells Sam that the night before, the power went out in Atlantic City—darkness. And this weekend, a casino is putting up the biggest Keno jackpot ever.
Sam thought Chuck was kidding when he said Amara was gambling in Reno. Dean says Chuck isn’t that funny. The lead is weak, but right now, weak is all they have, so.
Cas is back (yay!) and thinks he should go with them. He’s nonplussed at the idea of just hanging back at the Bunker and doing nothing. Dean says someone needs to stay with Jack in case Billie shows up. And the whole Amara thing is going to be fine! They used to have a thing, so.
Sam’s bitchface is like, really? Seriously? And that seems like an awfully casual, hand-wavy line to summarize an “entanglement” that tormented Dean for the better part of a season. But I guess Dean has moved on, so.
Jack has picked up on Sam’s research and asks about the case. Sam says it’s not their kind of thing, but Dean demurs. It could be spooky. He suggests that Jack and Cas go run it down—just to be sure.
Cas looks to Sam for backup … and gets solidly thrown under the bus. It will be good for Jack to stay busy and maybe they can help. Dean considers it settled. He tells them to “go Highway to Heaven that bitch.”
Jack is giddy with excitement. He jumps up and announces he’ll get his suit!
“Can we wear matching ties?”
Castiel acquiesces. “Blue’s a good color on you.”
The next morning they meet the sheriff at the alley crime scene. Cas introduces himself as Agent Swift. His partner, Agent Lovato. Jack holds his FBI ID upside down.
Like father, like son.
The sheriff comments on Jack’s youth. She says he looks greener than Baby Yoda. Jack replies that he just graduated from CSI. It’s Cas in the background silently asking the Lord to beer him strength that makes this delightful scene poetry.
The sheriff says they’re standing where Connor was first attacked. Jack and Cas begin peppering her with questions. Did they find any tiny bags with chicken bones inside? Did anyone smell any sulfur? Or feel cold? The sheriff is like, what? No. But the word “liar” was carved into Connor’s body and each of his fingers was cut off and shoved down his throat.
She shows them one other piece of evidence—a stuffed teddy bear. Jack identifies it as Marvelous Marvin the Talking Teddy. He has one!
“ … for my stepson. Ronald.”
Oh, writer Davy Perez. You are not disappointing with the dialog. Bless.
The sheriff suggests that the speaker in the bear was used to lure Connor into the alley. She shows them surveillance footage of a masked person crouching over Connor’s body. Cas says it’s all horrific. To Jack it seems almost demonic.
That night, Cas casts a summoning spell at a crossroads. He uses a photo of himself from Season 13’s “Tombstone”. Cas is wearing the too-small plastic-y straw hat from the motel gift shop.
Jack is sitting in the bed of the pickup truck looking up Connor online. He quotes an adage from Sam: “When in doubt, try social media.” Cas says he did that once. There were so many cat photos.
“It was just … there were too many cats.”
Cas still seems scarred by the experience.
Jack taps away on the tablet, filling out his PalzSpace profile. He tells Cas he needs permission from a parent or guardian to join. Castiel wearily says Jack has his permission.
A demon emerges from the shadows and pip pip cheerio-ily tells them the shop is closed. No more deals. Cas warns that they don’t want to make a deal. Zack is intrigued. How can Zack be of service?
Jack leans into Cas and stage whispers, “WHY IS HE TALKING LIKE THAT?” Oh, you mean with the faux British accent? Maybe as a shout out to Crowley, King of Hell, First of His Name, infinitely interesting character that the writers inexplicably lost interest in?
The demon says it’s because Zack has style! It’s the toothy grin and eyebrow pops of, ‘Huh? Huh? Amirite?’, that makes the moment poetry.
Jack presses on and asks who killed Connor. Was it a demon? Was it him? Zack downshifts and drops the posh pretense. Wait … are angels solving people crimes now?
“Like Highway to Heaven, but with murder, or something?”
Because Zack would 100% watch that show. Cas just looks from the demon to Jack and back again like, WHAT IS HAPPENING. WHAT IS HAPPENING RIGHT NOW?
Zack says he admires the killer’s work, but it has nothing to do with demons. Just some wacko. Humans, is he right?
And it wasn’t a deal. Zack says Rowena has a hard, ‘people will end up where they belong’, philosophy, so. No one is making deals. At all. And it’s nice to know that Rowena is still living her best Queen of Hell life.
Zack admits that having fewer quotas is nice, but a crossroads demon who can’t bring in a deal? What even is he?
“You’re a deviant soul corrupted by Hell.”
Literal Cas is literal. Zack agrees, but he was speaking in more of a work-life balance sense. Castiel decides he has come to the end of his caring about Zack and turns to leave. The demon calls after them to wait. He can help! Do they need a driver or … anything, really. He says he’s bored out of his mind. Honestly, I support this idea. We like Zack. Zack can stay!
Jack is disappointed that Sam was right and there’s no monster. He supposes they should just go back to the Bunker and do nothing. Eat dirt. Wait for Sam and Dean. Cas tells him they’re going to stay. They can help.
Oh, Cas. Oh, sweetie. If we’ve learned anything lo these many years, it’s that you need to help LESS.
Rev. Dr. Sexy ministers to his flock in the wake of Connor’s death. Jack walks in alone posing as a new congregant, part of a divide and conquer strategy suggested by Dean. Sitting by the door, Christie from Defiance shoves a clipboard at him and tells him to fill it out. She walks away without answering when Jack asks if she and Connor were close.
Castiel enters and Jack nods him in the direction of the pastor. Cas hangs back as Rev. Dr. Sexy prays with a member, asking Father God to bless the man with his grace, his love, and his guidance. It’s the tiny shake of Cas’s head, silently thinking that this man’s prayers are better directed elsewhere.
Cas flashes the badge and breaks the news that a second employee of the church, Valerie Jones, has gone missing. And this is where the episode takes a hard left turn into a Saw / Se7en mashup.
We see that Valerie is being held in a second location, bound and gagged. GREED is scrawled in red paint on the wall. An ice pick is duct-taped to her right hand. The fingers of her left hand are placed inside a device that looks like a modified finger screw.
On the TV in front of her, the word THIEF flashes on the screen, over and over. The money Valerie took from the church’s collection box is laying on the cart beneath the TV.
With a *snick* a blade drops, neatly severing her index finger.
That’s going to leave a mark.
Jack hands his completed form to Christie from Defiance and apologizes for upsetting her earlier … and then apologizes for upsetting her with his apology. Jack finally gives up before he traps them both in an ouroboros of ‘I’m sorrys.’
Jack sighs and says he’s no good at this. Christie tells him he’s fine and admits that she and Connor were close when they were kids. She says they dated. Sort of. He was always there for her.
Jack reveals that he lost someone too—his mother. That pings Christie’s attention. Her own mom died three years ago. She says now it’s just her and Pastor Joe. Wait, what in the bad touch? Jack mercifully clarifies that Rev. Dr. Sexy is her father. If the use of his first name and note of bitterness in her voice wasn’t enough of a hint, Christie tells Jack that Dr. Sexy is a better preacher than he is a dad.
Jack says he has more dads than most …
… and he always feels like he’s letting all of them down.
Cas interviews Rev. Dr. Sexy in his office, trying to determine who might be targeting the church and its members. Dr. Sexy mentions they recently parted ways with their A/V guy, Brother Rudy. Christie comes into the office to talk to her father and he brusquely sends her on her way.
Dr. Sexy asks Cas if he has children. Cas is like, yeah … it’s complicated.
As he leaves, Cas observes that Rev. Dr. Sexy genuinely cares for the people to whom he ministers. Dr. Sexy says his wife grew up in the church and loved it. He says back then, the church ascribed everything to God’s will. They never seemed to realize that—
“God just doesn’t care.”
Rev. Dr. Sexy is like yeah, no … he was going to say we all have to take care of each other. So he sold the building, moved the congregation, and started to preach an inclusive gospel of love and service to our neighbors. Creating a community where a gay man like Connor could live openly and believe in a tolerant god.
Rev. Dr. Sexy admits that not everyone was happy with the changes, but it doesn’t matter. He says a saint is a sinner who keeps trying.
In the second location, the timer on the TV is counting down. When it reaches zero, Valerie loses another finger. A message scrolls across the screen: TiME iS rUnnINg OUT.
In the soup kitchen, Rev. Dr. Sexy leads a prayer circle. He invites the Almighty in all its names and forms to be among them as they provide for their neighbors. And to help welcome their newest friend, Jack.
Jack finds himself a bit on the spot when Rev. Dr. Sexy invites him to give his witness to the group. Share his journey. Jack is like, yeah … where to begin …
Standing just outside the circle, Castiel volunteers to speak. He joins the group and tells them he knows what blind faith is. He says he used to just follow orders, without question. He did terrible things because he would never look beyond The Plan. And when it all came crashing down
he found himself lost. He didn’t know what his purpose was anymore.
And then he found a family. And he became a father.
“And in that, I rediscovered my faith. I rediscovered who I am.”
Jack is manning the soup station during the dinner service. He asks Rev. Dr. Sexy how he did it—bring together all these people with so many different ideas about religion? Dr. Sexy says people are God’s hands, each of them a finger for him to use, to lift each other up.
Okay, that’s way too on the nose for Rev. Dr. Sexy to be the monster. It must be the A/V guy.
And cue the TV suddenly switching from the weather report to a closed-circuit feed of Valerie losing another finger. The image dissolves and is replaced with a black screen and text, YoU woN’t sAVe hER. Valerie’s cries of agony echo through the room.
Jack runs over to the TV and starts pulling plugs until the feed goes dead. Castiel concludes that it’s definitely the A/V guy.
The door to his apartment bursts open and Jack tumbles to the floor. Is this kid a human battering ram now? What? Castiel’s face scrunches up as he walks into the room. Something … isn’t … quite … right.
They open the doors to the bedroom and find Brother Rudy handcuffed to the bed. LUST is written on the wall above him. And can’t a consenting adult engage in a little light bondage without someone getting all judgy and murdery?
Brother Rudy has been dead for some time. The camera pans over his decayed corpse to drive that point home. And I’m sure the Effects Department is very proud of the work they did here, well done, but no. No thank you.
Christie sits on the steps outside the church. She’s crying and shaken by the image of Valerie’s torture. She’s joined by her friend, who is literally credited in IMDB as “Christie’s friend”. I’m going to call her Natalie.
Natalie seems more interested in her phone than what’s going on around her. She says that Rev. Dr. Sexy is freaking out but he hasn’t called the police. The FBI guys told him not to, but Natalie posted something about it and her feed is going bananas. She’s delighted by the sudden clout. It’s crazy, can Christie even believe it?
Christie goes still. She says she believes … but Natalie never did. And then Christie stabs her.
Well. That’s one way to get daddy to pay attention to her.
A crowd has gathered by the time Jack and Cas arrive at the church. Rev. Dr. Sexy tends to Natalie who is lucid enough to ID Christie and send the pastor to the storage room. Cas sends Jack after him while he presumably attempts to glowy hand heal Natalie’s wound without any of the gawking onlookers seeing.
Rev. Dr. Sexy bursts into the storage room and how? How exactly did Christie set all of this up? I mean, I know we need to get our girls into STEM, but great day! And did she murder Connor because he was gay? That’s super fucked up, even for this show.
Dr. Sexy leans down to check on Valerie and comes up with a kitchen knife to his throat. He pleads with his daughter to let him help her. Christie spits his words back at him. Like he helped her mother when she was sick? The way he mocked her when she put her trust in God and He called her home?
Christie says her father changed everything. Rev. Dr. Sexy’s flock doesn’t worship God—they worship him. Christie pushes her father to the ground as Jack comes into the room. He says he can feel her pain. He wants to help her. He gets a kitchen knife in his chest for his trouble. Christie stabs him in almost the same place Dean stabbed Castiel the first time they met.
Christie pulls the knife out and the wound begins to glow, healing itself (and Jack’s jacket). Cas walks in, easily disarming Christie and initiating the two-fingered sleepy time protocol. It’s all so crisp and efficient and remember when Cas was a badass? Yeah, I miss that.
He lowers Christie to the floor and frees Valerie. He holds his hand over her bloody stump, reattaching her fingers. Valerie and Rev. Dr. Sexy gawp at Cas, sore afraid. Dr. Sexy asks him, “What are you??”
He’s an angel of the Lord and a big damn hero.
Rev. Dr. Sexy is still trying to piece that together the next morning. Castiel says yes, he’s an angel … but not a very good one. Aww, Cas. You’re a perfectly cromulent angel!
Christie is led away in handcuffs and placed in a police car. Dr. Sexy isn’t sure what happens next, but he says his daughter won’t be alone. Whatever she needs, whatever it takes, he’ll make sure she gets help. Rev. Dr. Sexy says he’s spent his life taking care of all these other people … he should have been taking care of her.
Someone else seems to have decided to help Christie. Zack slides behind the driver’s wheel. His eyes flip red. Wait, what? Zack? What is happening? There are six episodes left! Dammit Show, don’t just dangle something like this out there!
Cas and Jack drive home to Kansas. Cas brings up the prayer circle and Jack’s reluctance to share. He wonders if there was something Jack was afraid to say. He acknowledges that Jack is shouldering a great burden. Cas reminds the boy he doesn’t have to do it alone.
Jack says he does. Cas is exasperated, thinking that this is just typical Winchester martyrdom, but it’s more than that. Jack says he’s been lying.
He’s going to die.
When he kills Chuck and Amara, he will die too.
Billie is turning Jack into Soul Bomb 2: Electric Boogaloo. When he goes off, God and Amara will cease to exist … and Jack won’t survive. Those last few words come out in a rush. He’s been holding them inside for so long, knowing the effect the knowledge will have. And he’s not wrong. Cas has been slowly, visibly unspooling.
Jack turns to Cas and begs him not to tell Sam and Dean. He says they won’t understand. He implies they will try and stop him but … “This is the only way they’ll ever forgive me.”
MY HEART! Oh, there is not enough therapy in the world to help this poor boy.
Castiel is not trying to hear any of it. That sense of purpose he spoke of? Oh, Jack just poured gasoline on it.
“I watched you die once and I will not do it again.”
Jack reaches out and puts his hand on his father’s shoulder. He says it’s not Castiel’s choice.
After two days on the road, Sam presses Dean to talk about what it is they’re actually doing—luring Amara to her death. Dean stares ahead at the road. He says Billie called them “messengers of God’s destruction”. He turns and looks at Sam. Did he think that was going to be easy? Bloodless?
“We knew there was going to be a catch. At least this time it’s not you or me.”
And I wonder too about Billie’s phrasing—are the boys the harbingers of the destruction OF Chuck, or of destruction BY Chuck. Stick a pin in that for later.
The next day, they stop in Pennsylvania to gas up. Sam is surprised Dean isn’t running inside for car snacks. Dean says he’s saving room—4 hours until all you can eat prime rib.
He has a process.
Sam checks Waze and asks if Dean’s process can last 6 hours. Lane closures on I-76—because there are only two seasons on the Pennsylvania Turnpike. And based on the snow falling in this scene, the boys are experiencing both of them at once. So.
Amara thinks they can do better than that.
And how did she find them? She smelled them from two states over. Dean apparently has a very distinctive musk. And she got wind of Castiel’s angelic APB, so I guess those twelve angels in Heaven were actually good for something.
Amara is open to talking, but first—lunch. She nods at the billboard behind Dean. Pavel’s Deli. World’s Best Pierogis. She’s never had one. It’s a new Earthly experience and she wants to try them.
Night has fallen by the time they’re served. Did Pavel’s have to grow the potatoes? Anyhoo, Amara takes in the pillows of delight in front of her while Dean lays it out. They want to take Chuck down and they need her help.
Sam says he saw into Chuck’s mind and his memories. He knows Chuck asked her for help. Amara clarifies her position—refusing to help her brother isn’t the same as betraying him.
She admits that she knows he’s been snuffing out worlds, one after another. She says she can feel it. He’s very nearly done with the others. It’s not that she doesn’t care … it just doesn’t matter. There’s nothing the two of them can do.
Dean gets a look—isn’t there?—and lays the cards on the table. He says Jack is getting stronger every day and, soon enough, will be able to overpower Chuck. Dean vagues that they have a way to “trap” Chuck, but they can’t do it without Amara.
Amara leans forward, stares into the Face of the Sun as he smiles back at her, thinks a tic … and says, “No.”
She won’t betray Chuck like that. Dean has a confused. He gets that he’s her brother, but …
I’m sorry, did the words “brother, BUT” just comes out of Dean Winchester’s mouth? I mean, I get that the script needed to tee up an opening for Amara to explain their relationship, but “He’s my brother” has been the motivation and explanation for virtually every decision Sam and Dean have made—good, bad, and disastrous—their entire lives!
Amara cuts Dean off with a full-body, ugh. She says he doesn’t get anything. He looks at her, sitting here in this stunning color palette, wearing a velvet goddamn pantsuit like a bawse, and he sees a woman. He sees Chuck as a squirrelly weirdo.
“But you can’t imagine what we really are.”
She says they came into existence together. They are the same. Sam says Death Prime told them she was the firstborn. One of the first things Amara ever said to Dean was that she didn’t know Death and Death didn’t know her. Amara suggests that they were told what they needed to hear. It’s the way that both boys react, ever so slightly, as the truth of that statement lands home.
Amara is firm—she and Chuck were twins. Creation and Destruction. Light and Dark. Balance. And when they split apart, “all this” was created. Sam calls it the Big Bang. Amara is like, meh. Close enough.
Amara may call it a split; Dean calls it betrayal. He calls it when Chuck threw her into a cage and trapped her for eternity. Amara refuses to take the bait. She believes that caging her hurt Chuck deeply. And she knows that for her to do the same to him would be an agony. Dean is stunned but Amara is clear. She can’t help them.
Amara finishes her meal alone. The waitress brings her the check. Dean sits in the car and stares at her through the window. He seems to be chewing on something in his mind. He starts the car. Sam sighs and seems resigned. Dean makes a decision and turns the car off.
This scene, y’all. THIS SCENE.
Dean slides into the chair across from Amara and the question spills out of him. A single word.
Amara thinks he’s still talking about Chuck. Dean cuts her off and steadies himself to get the rest out.
“Why did you bring her back?”
Dean drops the mask and puts the pain of the past many years—of his whole life—on open display. Amara looks gobsmacked. She gently says she wanted two things for Dean.
“I wanted you to see that your mother was just a person.”
That the myth that he’d held on to for so long—the “what if”—was just that. A myth. She wanted him to see that the real, complicated Mary was better than his childhood dream because she was real. That now is always better than then. That he could finally start to accept his life.
Dean lets that sink in with a grunt. His eyes are wet, but any tears he might think about shedding have been burned off by white-hot rage. And the second thing?
Amara thought having Mary back would release him. There’s an edge of sorrow in her voice—acknowledging the consequences of her best intentions. And the thing is, having his mother back did release Dean. When he went into her mind to free her from the BMoL programming, he was able to confront his feelings—the tangle of love and hate—that he felt for Mary and let it go. He was able to forgive his mother and that was Amara’s gift.
And then Mary spent most of Season 13 in Apocalypse!Verse and a good portion of Season 14 at Donna’s cabin and then she died, the end.
And I push pause on this lovely scene to note that I will never not be disappointed—and a little angry—that Andrew Dabb didn’t do better by Mary when he brought her back. That Show didn’t take the time to explore Mary’s sense of alienation and grief and how it affected her relationship with her large adult sons. That Show didn’t do more to explode the myth of the life they could have had if she had lived.
Mary deserved better as a character and we deserved better as viewers and that is a hill I will die on.
And even if we didn’t entirely see it, Dean’s eulogy for his mother in “Jack in the Box” suggests that Amara’s first lesson landed, too. That he was able to appreciate the now of Mary. The woman who was tough and strong. Who could handle a machete and their old man and who couldn’t cook worth a damn.
And that is why Dean is furious. His intensity catches Amara off guard. He sits back and regards her with a cold, hard look. He calls her just another cosmic dick rigging the game. Just like her brother. Amara defends herself. She says it was a gift, not a trial.
It’s hard for Dean to tell the difference any more. To him, Amara’s gift is just another wheel on which to endlessly run. A story that he’s stuck in. Dean returns to the theme of earlier this season that NOTHING IS REAL AND CHOICE IS AN ILLUSION, laying the blame squarely at Chuck’s feet.
And it isn’t just him. Dean says they’re all trapped—Sam and Cas and Jack and even Amara. Not to mention all the people on all those worlds Chuck is killing. Amara snaps at him to stop but Dean is good and spun up now. Why? He growls that Chuck isn’t stopping. And Amara is doing nothing. Dean takes a breath and then drops the hammer. Does Amara think her brother gives a rat’s ass about her?
“Well now who’s living in a dream world?”
The question settles over Amara and sinks in deep. She haltingly asks Dean if she can trust him.
Dean doesn’t blink. He looks her square in the eye with an expression that is open and earnest and convincing and he LIIIIIIIIIIIIIES.
“I would never hurt you.”
It is breathtaking. And it’s enough. Amara regains her composure and says she’ll think about it.
This scene. Jensen Ackles and Emily Swallow, y’all. *Chef’s kiss*
And I am going to be so disappointed if Amara does end up dying. Because, as a rule, if Dean Winchester is going to kill you, he has the decency to tell you so to your face. Which makes this lie even harder to swallow.
Morning in the Bunker. Dean and his Dead Guy Robe walk into the library after a sleepless night and take a swig directly from the half-empty bottle of whisky sitting on the table. Sweet, sweet healing booze! He turns to catch Cas just as he’s heading for the door, keys in hand. Cas says their case went. They solved it. Saved some people. And Amara? Dean says they got her. He thinks she’s on board. Cas is pleased.
Dean wonders where Cas is off to and the angel admits he’s going to look for another way. Dean’s confusion curdles into concern upshifts into mild panic. Castiel says in case something goes wrong and he doesn’t make it back … There’s something he and Sam need to know …
I am at Def-Collins 2 in my grave concern that Castiel is not going to make it out of this show alive. And now I have to go wrap myself in a blanket and tell myself it is just a show and it can’t hurt me.
Supernatural airs Thursday at 8:00 p.m. (Eastern)–for now–on The CW. Follow Whitney on Twitter @Watcher_Whitney.