The Morning After

I LOVED Supernatural’s 13.14 “Good Intentions”! It was about relationships, choices, regrets, loyalties and a whole bunch of other gooey stuff that I love, all set in an action-packed hour of fantasy adventure! This was an excellent example of the emotional resonance that gives Supernatural its heart, preventing it from becoming a trite,  apocalyptic drama. Meredith Glynn, the writer of this episode, is quickly becoming a treasured Supernatural writer.  Author of “Regarding Dean”, which delved deeply into the essence of Dean as a person and his relationship with Sam, and “The Big Empty”, which was a fascinating study of Castiel’s character, Meredith has delivered yet another episode that moves plot lines forward through character realizations and growth.  In fact, it contained a moment I believe is pivotal to the series.

Free Will and Demon Deals

Even though neither we nor Sam and Dean knew it at the beginning of our journey together, their entire Supernatural story was set into motion by a decision made by Mary Campbell. After 13 years, “Good Intentions” finally advanced that plotline.

Mary: What was she like?

Bobby: Mary Campbell was a complicated woman. Brave, but sad. Full of regret.

Mary: Let me guess -- she made a bad demon deal?

Bobby: Opposite. She didn't make one. Lost the love of her life. Never moved on.

Mary: And Dean and Sam were never born. Bobby, I made that deal. And it -- I brought my boys a lot of pain. But what happened here, in your world? Sam and Dean stopped that war in mine.

Bobby: Then I'd say you made the right choice. Well, I don't know much, but I do know you done good by your boys.

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It is so fitting that this quiet and serene but pivotal conversation occurred between the boys’ mother, whose single choice determined the path of their entire lives, and Bobby, their surrogate father, who raised them when Mary’s decision cost both her and her husband their lives. Bobby's speaks with a voice of accepted authority, maturity and trust (with both the audience and the brothers), so he may have been singularly able to grant Mary this perspective. What an incredibly precious gift he gave her! As a mother and a woman, Bobby told her that the pain she caused her children (and John and herself) was a price worth paying for the salvation of the entire world. Mary was able to see in indisputable terms that a decision she feared and regretted, and the agony that kept her from the love and forgiveness freely offered by her sons, was the best of two horrible options.  The significance of that realization is a defining moment for her as a character but even more so for the series. It felt like a redemption that must be reached for the entire saga to make sense; the kind that must be reached before the story can end. 
 
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The second important change in a character’s attitude also happened in the alternate universe. Although not as significant to the entire series, it will surely impact the rest of season 13 and possibly season 14.

Mary: Jack, what you did was amazing.

Jack: I had to come back. Sam and Dean, they wouldn't run. They'd stay and fight. These angels, what they're doing, they're not gonna stop. As long as Michael's out there, this war will never be over.

Bobby: So what are you saying?

Jack: I have to kill him.

Jack is making more and more choices on his own, each one dramatically increasing in gravity and impact. In this episode, he decided to use his powers to save the human race in the alternate universe, not an easy task given he has very little training, experience or back up. His purity is driving him to want to help people, to fulfill his fate as a “savior”, and he has chosen to use Sam and Dean’s bravery as his guide. He will be the AU's Winchester warrior, so each world will now be saved and protected by members of the Winchester family. Emberlast noted that several of the past episodes have studied the contrast of self-sacrifice in the service of others compared to selfishness.  Jack is following in the Winchester's footsteps, putting himself in danger while trying to do things for the good of humanity. 

Bobby’s words to Mary may have foreshadowed a possible future for Jack, Mary and Bobby:

They hadn't been here five minutes when they were trying to convince me to come back with them to their world. But you said it, Mary, your world's got your boys. This place? I'm pretty much all it's got.

That moment predicted an entirely new storyline where an extended Winchester family protects the alternate universe. The AU world gets Mary, Bobby and Jack; our world keeps Sam, Dean and Castiel.

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Two teams each comprised of a unique, solitary, supernatural entity and two remarkable human beings working together to save humanity. It’s a perfect trajectory for the plotlines but if it comes to pass, I will be devastated to lose Mary and Jack because I have loved them dearly from the first moment they reentered/entered Sam and Dean’s lives. Thoughts?

“Good Intentions” also significantly advanced the stories of two other characters – Castiel and Donatello.

Souls 

13.14 0378 Donatello

Cas: Okay, so what was different about Donatello?

Sam: He doesn't have a soul.

Cas: What?

Dean: Is that bad?

Castiel: Yes, that's bad. Theoretically, the human soul would act as a filter, inoculating the prophet against whatever darkness is in the tablet.

Dean: All right. Um, well, how do we fix him?

Castiel: I don't think we do.

I agree with Cas’ logic that without a soul, which Sam correctly pointed out was irretrievable, Donatello couldn’t be saved. Once again Meredith explored what makes a person who they are, i.e. their essence. Donatello had become in essence a demon. Instead of a human being whose soul had been destroyed (through torture) to the point of no longer being able to render moral judgements, Donatello’s soul had been removed from him completely. Without a soul to “filter’ (as Cas put it), there was nothing to restrain his newfound demonic knowledge, thoughts and actions. He proved that he had demonic abilities when even inside a devil’s trap he was able to choke Dean!

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Demons are “saved” when their souls are purified, or when the demon is exorcised, allowing the human’s soul to retake control of their bodies. SoullessSam was saved when he was reunited with his soul. Poor Donatello was beyond all of these cures.

Dean: What's wrong with you?

Cas: Nothing. His soul was gone. He was corrupted. He was a danger to himself and to you and to all of humanity. Did you know that he was working with Asmodeus?

Sam: What? No.

Cas: Not by choice, but he was. Some people just can't be saved.

Dean: Yeah, but who gets to make that choice? You? What exactly gives you the right?

Cas: Nothing. I took it. And if I hadn't acted, we would still be sitting around and talking about what to do next.

Frankly, I have no problem with Castiel extracting the demon tablet knowledge from Donatello’s mind so I was honestly a bit surprised by Dean’s moral indignation. He of all people usually sees the pragmatic need to take drastic action. Yes, Donatello was still in a human body, but the brothers have killed many humans who were possessed by demons, if Donatello could still be viewed as a human, and hundreds of demons whose souls were beyond help, if Donatello was more a demon than human now. Sam had previously tried to reign Dean back from unilateral action by reminding him that part of their mission was “saving all the people” so I actually found Dean’s challenge of Castiel’s solution to be somewhat inconsistent with his own past actions. Perspectives on this?
 
Bobby: Two days ago, angels dive-bombed a colony in San Antonio. 400 people. Not a soul left alive. This ain't a war. This is an extermination.
I’m wondering if Castiel’s decision and Donatello’s death were the climax (and end) of the “Soul” thread we have tracked throughout season 13. We first noted “Selling Souls and Making Deals” as a theme in 13.8 “The Scorpion and the Frog” (also written by Meredith), then again in 13.9 “The Bad Place” and 13.11 “Breakdown”. (It may have been in episodes 12 and 13 also but I don’t have a Threads review to be sure. Maybe you noted it?) While it didn’t feel like a thread climax to me, it would make sense that the concept of souls defining a human would be introduced to the season’s dialogs to prepare the story for this moral dilemma. Was Castiel right in his actions or not? 

Castiel

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Jack: You’re not Castiel! None of this is real
For me, the most intriguing mystery of Supernatural’s season 13 is not whether Michael will invade Sam and Dean’s universe, whether Cas can keep Jack safe, or whether the extended Winchester family – Sam, Dean, Cas, Mary and Jack  - will be reunited. For me, it is whether Cas really returned from the Empty, or whether the Empty Entity has replaced or possessed him back on Earth. Recent episodes that unfortunately I wasn’t able to scrutinize with a Threads review contained glaring clues that Castiel wasn’t himself. I was jumping out of my seat yelling at the TV because I was so excited by the confirmation of my commitment that Cas is not really Cas. For example, Dean apologized to Castiel for not recognizing Asmodeus’ ruse on the phone, saying “I should have known sooner it wasn’t you.” Did you notice those clues yourselves? 
 
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Initially, “Good Intentions” shook my confidence in my theory just a bit, though. Castiel’s expressions, manners and decisions seemed more like season 4 Castiel – the soldier, impatient with human sensitivities that interfere with accomplishing the mission to which he had committed himself.  Hence, he invaded Donatello’s mind regardless of the moral ambiguities. Ironically, other viewers interpreted this as confirmation that Castiel was more Entity than angel. “Laura” on Twitter wrote to me that “… some of the side eyes he gave kind of made me wonder [if he was he real Cas]. Almost like he’s not quite sure of how things are done in Sam and Dean’s world. Plus forcing himself in Donatello’s mind, kind of like Empty!Cas did.” So the example of a more powerful being invading the mind of a lesser being was maybe supposed to remind us of what the Entity did, and is possibly still doing, to Castiel! 
 
13.14 0091 Jack brainwashing  13.14 0249 Jack brainwashing 2
Zachariah did the same thing to Jack:

Michael: Zachariah, these mind games of yours aren't working.

With his powers warded, Jack was the less powerful vessel whose mind was invaded by a more powerful supernatural creature.

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Additionally, Jack’s conversation with Mary established that she was the third person of the episode whose mind was invaded:

Mary: Jack, how did you get here?

Jack: I opened a door.

Mary: To another world? You can do that?

Jack:  I -- Sam and Dean - We were coming to save you, but something went wrong, and now it's just me. And Michael, I tried to fight him, but he was in my head. He wants me to use my powers, but I don't know why.

Mary: I do. You said he was in your head? Well, he's in my head, too. And I saw everything. He's gonna bring an army to our world …

Add to these overt examples Castiel’s revelation that Asmodeus had infiltrated and controlled Donatello’s mind, and this episode’s telepathic invasions appear to be obvious clues that the Entity is in Castiel’s mind.

Jack’s induced “nightmare”, a reference to thoughts that occur in the dark when one is asleep, could also be interpreted as a clue that Castiel is still in the Empty, and not “home”:

Dean: Home Sweet Home.

Sam: Feels good to be back.

Dean: Yeah, you're tellin' me.

Sam: The last few weeks have been a nightmare.

Dean: You know what? We made it, though. You, me, and the kid, finally under one roof.

Sam: And, you know, honestly, it doesn't matter where he's been. I'm just glad Jack's back.

Dean: Right, home safe, where he belongs.

Bobby said almost the exact same thing when he brought Mary and Jack to his camp:

Well welcome to home, sweet home.

Certainly, the references to being home could be exactly what they appear to be on the surface – reminders that Jack is in a foreign place, desperately longing for the safety and familiarity of the bunker and his own beautiful world. Alternately, Bobby's salutation may be additional foreshadowing that the camp truly will be Mary and Jack's home in the future. To me, these mentions just add to the overwhelming hints that Cas is not Cas – but I already believe that! How do you view this dialog?

Doors

The “THEN” sequence immediately reminded us that “doors” are on everyone’s mind in season 13!

Cas: All that matters is getting Jack and your mother out of that place.

Dean: So here's the plan -- - We grab Satan and we use his grace to open up a door between two universes. Then we get mom, we get Jack, and we get out. Slam the door before Michael follows us and destroys our universe. Now it's gonna be harder than it sounds.

Donatello: So the spell to open this rift is in the...

Sam: The demon tablet.

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The first new scene of the episode quickly reiterated the theme:

Dean: Jack! Jack, please. Please open the door.

Dean: Jack, open the door! - Open the door!

Jack: I can't!

Dean: Help!

Sam: Jack, you gotta help us. Jack, please help.

Later, Jack reprised the theme while talking to Mary:

Jack: He wants me to open the door. But I won't. He can't make me. I-I don't care how much he hurts me.

Mary:  He's not gonna hurt you, Jack. He's gonna hurt me. Why do you think he brought you here? So that we would meet, so we would talk. (a nod to season 13’s “talking” thread)

Notice that Castiel also “slammed” and locked the door behind him, keeping Sam and Dean from saving Donatello.  While the application of this thread is obvious to the storyline, it is fun to find all the references in both dialog (10 references that I heard) and action.

Power

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Zachariah: This boy, he can open a rift big enough to march an army through. He has so much power.

The word “power” was used 13 times in the 42 minute script. That’s the equivalent of once every three minutes!  In fact, the episode’s opening scene between Donatello and Castiel quickly established power as a key theme of the story:

Donatello: just, the tablet, it has a raw energy. There's a power here I've never seen.

Again, the importance of power to the impending war is obvious but there are deeper meanings, such as borrowing, usurping, abusing or seeking power that can be explored. Power is a classic motivator and corruptor!

Good Intentions - Title Thread

13.14 0236 Good intentions

MirageCastiel to Jack: Wanted you to see the natural world before before it was spoiled. Humans have good intentions, but they never truly appreciated the gift they were given. Left to their own devices, humans, they would destroy everything.

Obviously, “Good Intentions” specifically refers to the Good/Bad thread prevalent in Supernatural for the past several years. As a counterpoint to “The Bad Place”, “Good Intentions” offers a more positive viewpoint of a seemingly unredeemable universe. This specific use of “good” may lend credence to the theory that Jack is going to stay to try to restore that world’s paradise.

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Whose “good intentions” were the focus on this episode, though? It’s not obvious to me.

Castiel, who killed an empty shell of a person while getting the vital information they needed to save the world?

Bobby, who almost kicked out the supernatural being who saved the humans in his camp?

Jack, whose innocent use of his powers to entertain scared children alerted angels to their whereabouts?

Mary, whose scared, impulsive choice to save John resulted in both the damnation of her children and the salvation of her world?

What do you think? I believe there is more to this title so I’m anxious to hear your theories!

Curiosities

  • Time - The passage of time was significant to this dialog.  There were 13 uses of the word "time" and many more reference to time, such as “A time without a time”, “It’s going to take some time”, “saved my ass more than a few times”, “wasting time, time we don’t have”, etc. Mary even denoted the amount of time she had spent in the alternate universe – 6 months. Did you have any idea it had been that long? The passage of time in the alternate universe it seems is roughly equivalent to the time we’ve spent watching season 13’s stories!  Do you have any theories on why time was mentioned so prominently? Lucifer or Jack’s powers? Castiel’s Rip Van Winkle nap? Is it simply to establish urgency and tension in the story? I will once again observe, though, that women who have been tortured, neglected, haven’t bathed or had access to basic necessities for six months probably be wearing the unbelievably perfect eye makeup that highlighted Mary’s features. Women should be allowed to get messy too!
  • Manners – In the middle of an apocalyptic world, Bobby is still the perfect gentleman. He thought it would be “rude to not return the favor” and offer Mary shelter!
  • Insanity – Dean saying “Maybe all work and no play makes Donatello a homicidal boy”, and that Kevin never went “full on psycho” is a checkmark for the insanity thread being included in this episode. Why are we continually being reminded of insanity? Theories?
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  • Sam’s Depression – Sam lost hope the moment he thought they wouldn’t be able to translate the Demon tablet and get to the other world. Him teetering on this precipice of helplessness is very worrying. He doesn’t seem like himself. I know we’ve discussed how this “break” has been a long time coming, but I’m concerned about where it might be going.

With a minimal focus on AU Michael and the AU angel’s corruption, and absolutely no time at all spent on God!Lucifer and the Earth1 angel’s inane shift in loyalty, “Good Intentions” avoided the few pitfalls that have tainted otherwise excellent season 13 episodes. Instead, it focused on Sam, Dean, Castiel, Mary, Jack and Bobby, all of whom I dearly love. It also was based in emotional impact and loving choices, so it adds yet another win to season 13’s already impressive tally of wonderful episodes. I can’t wait to rewatch it, and I already know it will be one of my many favorites of the series. How about you?  

 

 

Screencaps Courtesy of http://www.homeofthenutty.com/ and The CW

Dialog Quotes couresty of https://www.springfieldspringfield.co.uk/