Flair, drama and sense of fashion. Supernatural has a new leader in Hell and he promises to add another dash of villainy and colour to an already bubbling season. "The Rising Son" was a study of characters and plot, ebbing onward from the sadness of the premiere to introduce some of the major players of the series and give viewers a sense of the new worlds and new rules that all the Winchesters are grappling with this season. So far, so good. Or at least – intriguing.
Man to Man to Boy
Only two episodes in (and a handful of days old) and Jack is already proving to be a very well-established character. This week Jack demonstrated he is in fact – as Sam was eager to point out to his brother – more human than maybe anyone thought. Where "Lost and Found" wasn’t short on glimpsing human moments in Jack, many were echoed by the ethereal power that he contains and meant to hint at whether he was good, bad or otherwise. This time it was very nearly a reversal. Jack spent most of the episode as a boy delighting in human comforts like fast food and television. Like a child listing to his parents, confusion and upset followed when Jack fully understood the argument between Sam and Dean over whether Jack is evil and wanted to erase the angel warding.
Again, Alexander Calvert does a remarkable job as Jack; this character is sweet, lost and desperate for approval where there is none. It is almost impossible not to like Jack and empathize – which is why Sam is so quickly (as Dean says) attached to Jack. The conversation between Sam and Jack in the alley behind the motel is very sad for both – Jack, who recognizes Dean’s distance and cool attitude so readily and Sam who so delicately and yet so accurately explains the situation and his brother. Easily one of the best moments in the episode:
“Dean doesn't hate you. It -- look sometimes the wires in Dean's head get crossed, and -- and he gets frustrated, and then he mixes frustration with anger and -- and fear…Because Dean feels like it's his job to protect everyone, and right now we need to protect you. But we also we may need to protect people from you.”
On Dean’s side it’s a struggle any way you slice it. I appreciate the presentation of Dean’s grief and anger so far. He his focus, the anger is undeniably there but not expressed outright and though his distance from Jack is easy to recognize – again he isn’t mean just unattached. It all presents as realistic for Dean considering the deaths and his character. Even his acknowledgement of the fake bartender’s comment about wanting Dad’s approval but never getting it, implies he understands something of where he’s at, maybe even in relation to Jack. Sam’s recognition of Dean also feels on par and well presented – forcing him to take a break from driving, the conversation the didn’t finish. Hopefully this will express itself fully in future episodes between both brothers.
Ultimately the major moment was at the end, between Jack and Dean. This was a dark and disturbing scene with serious self-harm/suicide overtures. It’s hard to think if Jack bore that intention or if he was truly testing his limits with the knife. Regardless, the conversation between Jack and Dean laid out a clear understanding for both of them: Jack does not want to be evil BUT if and when he hurt people, Dean will do what is necessary. Maybe it’s just me, but does anyone else have flashbacks to season two “save Sam, or kill Sam” storyline with Jack, just a bit?
What does this mean? Maybe some further understanding on Jack’s part as to the true depth of his power and how dangerous that his after the incident with Asmodeus. That being unstoppable, all powerful and uncontrollable is a perilous combination and Dean has grounds to fear him, to want to protect people from him. Maybe also some insight into Dean; understanding that he recognizes Jack is a nice kid who wants to watch Scooby-doo and eat cheeseburgers now, but if Dean gets attached to that boy he may not be able to destroy the monster he could be when the moment comes. And who, and how many, will die then?
Sand and Turf Wars
Lucifer and Mary traversing the dark, apocalyptic world injected some extra humour as well as visual interest. On top of which, we had the opportunity to meet somebody significant. As always, Lucifer continues to be unapologetic and full of swagger in is approach to everything. The laugh out loud moment goes to the angel army preparing to smite him as he narrates and then simply snaps his fingers, and POOF. No more angels. Clearly not being from the universe has no affect on Lucifer’s power.
Viewers were also introduced to Michael, played here by Christian Keyes and though it was brief, this Michael presents some interesting opportunities too. For starters, Michael certainly handed the “eat-crow” moment back to Lucifer. Early in the episode Lucifer demonstrates for Mary that he could kill her – causing pain and agony – but with a snap of her pain he releases her and let’s her know that he won’t, because he needs her. Ironically for Lucifer is alternate universe brother mirrors this moment for him and kindly echoes his words. We’ve never really experienced in full force the sibling relationship of the archangels…this could be fun.
Just Can’t Wait to Be King
If anything glitched for me throughout the episode, it was watching the demons reaction to a post-Crowley/Lucifer-free Hell. Or, I should rightly say: lack of reaction. There is and always has been some up-and-comer in Hell vying for power. Sure, some lackeys are useless but this was almost ridiculous: they were drinking and polishing the throne? Really? This is too incompetent to believe. Fortunately, the scene doesn’t last long because…
The last of the Princes of Hell arrives in blinding white light and equally white sartorial style. Honestly there was a lot to note about Asmodeus arrival but what stood out initially was the white suit: an undeniable callback to “The End” and Croatoan-universe Lucifer, it is a powerful image to present in Hell as the new leader. Certainly a sharp divergence to the dark and chic Crowley, if nothing else this hints at the contrasting Hell to be expected moving forward.
Asmodeus first move, so to speak, is to slaughter the majority of staff available in the thrown room and declare a return to the “fire and brimstone” days of old. This includes, as we see later, his apparently personal agenda of breaking the shedim out; creatures so evil Lucifer himself punished Asmodeus for previously scheming to free the evil. Colour me curious. Perhaps our Prince is less interested in being a place holder for Lucifer, rather in a permanent installment – including over Jack and all the power therein. Thoughts?
The Prince wastes no time in learning – through the grapevine if the demonic homeless person was our clue – where Jack, Sam and Dean are and sliding in to Donatello’s form to manipulate the situation. This raised two questions for me during the episode. First, early on Asmodeus is told by his minions that there is no sign of either Lucifer or baby Jack. I am curious what they are looking for and how nobody turns anything up on Jack earlier if Donatello can so readily sense the power. Yes, Jack is a connection to Heaven however if the demons can track Lucifer (and we saw Daegon track pregnant Kelly way back) then arguably Jack should be similar? Beyond that, the spikes of power period should be an alert. Just a thought – any feedback on this?
Regardless of where he leads, Asmodeus has the potential to be a worthy adversary. As much as I loved Crowley and everything about him, the notion of a truly dark and fiery Hell – which we haven’t witnessed to any true extent – could be a brilliant opportunity to refresh demons et. al. Fingers crossed!
“Rising Son” was a strong episode, almost like taking a breath after holding it for a period through last weeks intensity and emotions. We had more casual humour – Jack’s mimicry of Dean, Sam’s teasing of Dean’s eating via Jack, Lucifer; more information on Nephilim was finally shared including what Jack himself can do and what to expect (more powerful than the sire – yikes!). Time is moving slow in the aftermath everything that has happened, which is okay. Groundwork, characters and plots are slowly being established. So far, my attention is piqued and I like what I’m seeing.
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