Well color me surprised...and intrigued. I will admit it, I’m impressed that these first seven episodes have actually done some careful construction when it comes to unfolding the mythology, as well as paying attention to the character details. There’s been a little bit to ponder each week and so far I’m not left with the frustrated feeling that they’re just throwing a bunch of random events at me. I do believe this is actually going somewhere. “Unhuman Nature” was especially skilled at maintaining the balance between the characters and mythology, and I have to say it was a very interesting hour. I’m not ready to gush praise since the pacing is still sluggish, but there were just parts that offered subtle reminders as to why I fell in love with this show. I say that with cautious optimism though, for the wheels have fallen off the wagon the farther a season has progressed before.
No doubt, the home run of the episode was the daytime “road trip” with Dean and Jack. Learning how to drive on Baby? Man did that bring a huge smile to my face! Any moment with the car wins. Such light hearted yet meaningful moments are the heart of the show and always have been. I've been so dismayed by the past several seasons with how that heart has been missing, so it was such a joy to see. The heart was there too in the hospital with the worry of all three "dads" so to speak. They all have grown to love Jack so much. What's special about this time though is Dean got the chances that Sam and Castiel have already had. It’s gone way better than I would have imagined.
If I may jump in about last week's episode (since I took in the last three episodes in one binge watch), I loved that Dean and Jack got to work a case together and got to see how well they both play off of one another. It is such a different dynamic than Sam and Dean working a case (different, not better) and it was entertaining to watch. Jack wasn’t afraid to jump in and do what he thought would work, even calling Dean "old man" (I laughed). He's smart, passionate, and such a cutie. I love watching a hunter than tries to put a little brain work into his craft, aka Sam in the early years. Jack represents the new generation, where Sam and Dean are now the elders passing on the wisdom. It is fun to see it all come full circle and it reminds us, the viewers, just how far the Sam and Dean story has come.
What’s really poignant to see though is how Jack is wise beyond his years, accepting his fate no matter what comes his way. Even though he’s been around a short time, he believes he’s had a good life. That speaks volumes about his bond with Sam, Dean and Castiel, how they spared him from corruption by his lineage. They make great parents! He’s become the person his mother wished him to be, adding a big inspirational factor to Jack's story. Jack’s acceptance of his fate is something the Winchesters have rarely embraced as a pair (one has always vehemently fought for the other), so that offers a unique spin to a story about two brothers fighting for survival at all costs. It’s pretty damned refreshing actually.
Not to say that Sam and Castiel aren’t fighting for Jack, they are, but there’s a certain amount of resignation in their actions this time. They’re trying, doing what they feel they must, but they have also accepted that it’s a long shot and they shouldn’t get hopes up. They’re not making promises, but it’s not in their nature to sit idle either. Bringing in Rowena was fun, but I’m a little torn as to what value she offered here. I mean a necromancer from the previous episode didn’t seem to have any problem using magic to resurrect the dead. She should know about every trick in the book by now, especially with the Book of the Damned at her disposal. Even the Winchesters should know that what dies doesn’t stay dead.
The one part that really grabbed me by the heart strings though was Castiel’s words to Sam:
Castiel: I, uh... I feel the need to do something. And I think Dean's right. We can't afford to overlook any possibility. He seems to be taking this particularly hard.
Sam: Yeah, yeah. Yeah, he -- he, uh, was pretty rough on Jack at the beginning, and... I don't think he's forgotten. And I know he hasn't forgiven himself. You know, he's lost people, we've all lost people, but, um...
Castiel: This feels different. Losing, um... a son... feels different.
Sam didn’t answer, but just gave that gaze of utter heartbreak that any parent that lost a child must have. That look just crushed me and he nailed it. He’s had plenty of losses before but this one has to be one of the ones that will hurt the most. He was responsible for a child and failed. That will gnaw at him for a long time. Heck, Jack's loss will haunt all of them.
There was also the reveal that Nick plays a very key role in all this. He’s a lost vessel without his master, and FINALLY the show is depicting the true connection that a vessel should have with it’s occupant. It should be so strong and so powerful that one could literally resurrect the other from the dead. Nick has confirmed what has always been established canon, there are traces of the angel or demon left behind when they vacate. That’s why Sam had visions when Lucifer could communicate beyond the cage in season eleven. Yes, I’m assuming the creature being raised during Nick’s prayer was Lucifer.
That’s what I think if happening to Dean. Michael isn’t inhabiting him, but he’s out there somewhere and they are connected. That is what Dean is seeing, that hazy connection, perhaps Michael using him to spy on people. This is where I really wish Sam’s insight into his possession would be helpful! But I’m not going there yet. No, what I’m trying to do is figure out how to connect the dots in this whole intricate plot between a spooked djinn, a quirky necromancer and a potential demon/God from ancient times.
Okay, this is where I’m both excited and yet somewhat skeptical of where they are going with this. Abraxas is a very interesting name to throw into the mix indeed! In one interpretation, he comes from Ancient Greek Mythology, somewhere in the second century. Let me share this little nugget from Wikipedia about the underlying fundamentals of Gnosticism:
- All matter is evil, and the non-material, spirit-realm is good.
- There is an unknowable God, who gave rise to many lesser spirit beings called Aeons.
- The creator of the (material) universe is not the supreme god, but an inferior spirit
- Gnosticism does not deal with "sin", only ignorance.
- To achieve salvation, one needs to get in touch with secret knowledge.
Now, we know that not all of this applies to what we’ve seen in “Supernatural.” We haven’t seen any mention of Aeons (yet!) and number one is up for debate, but number three really strikes a chord. Chuck was portrayed as an inferior spirit, a flawed creator of a flawed universe. That strikes pause with something we have known all along, “Supernatural” does not follow basic Christian beliefs. Number four and five, well, that both happened this week through Sergei. He has a spent a great deal of time and risk obtaining knowledge of many mystical things. Is his purpose to gain wisdom and salvation?
Perhaps I’ve strayed a bit. What does the ways of Gnostics have to do with all this? Abraxas has mystic meaning in the Gnostic texts. The function and role of Abraxas is not well known, but it can be trigger word, kind of like Keyser Soze. Gnostics believed he was a power above all, making him the true God above other Gods, like the one that created Earth. They believed he created the Heavens and...wait for it...ANGELS. There’s our tie-in to another dangling plot.
So, with that kind of uncertainty, why would a creature so powerful want Nick’s family dead? So he would say yes to Lucifer? But wasn’t Sam his one true vessel? What is Nick’s true role? What if Jack dies and the necromancer raises him from the dead? He is after all part angel, so he could be going to the empty, right? They wouldn’t let him into Heaven. Ditto if Lucifer is resurrected he would come, just like Castiel, from literally a “dark” place. So, could the entity of the Big Empty really be Abraxas, creator of all? The signs sort of point that way...if you look a little sideways.
Let’s add this to the fun. Gnostics believed that the human body contained a “divine spark,” aka a piece of God trapped inside. I do believe in SPN terms, that is the human soul. The Gnostics believed that true knowledge and insight into humanity’s real nature would deliver the “divine spark” within humanity from the constraints of earthly existence. Yeah, but what constitutes knowledge? Insight into infinite and mystical world? Perhaps it's not coincidence that we've been running into a few mystics lately. Think about it, could necromancer Harper have a connection to Abraxas and she is part of the big plan for Jack? Raising him from the dead will be his divine healing? I’m wondering if Rowena knows more than she’s letting on as well. She seemed rather accepting to letting Jack die, as if that was part of the plan. Kelly Kline believed that Jack was going to be the one that saves us all. I do want to believe that plan being put in motion.
On a side note, I found the crucifixion of the priest to be a particularly interesting symbol, as if the idea of Christianity and it’s teachings were being brutally slaughtered. They are not in control, but something greater and darker is. It is also a big “screw you” to those that found the Gnostics to be heretics. Either that or Brad and Eugenie just like brutal religious symbolism. They’ve done it plenty before.
I’m thinking there’s a lot more to this and that’s what will be unfolded in the weeks to come. Or, this could all be a bunch of crap and when Dabb gets his turn he will give us the “soft landing” instead like everyone becomes friends. But it’s fun to at least try to make sense of it all. Back in the Kripke and Gamble era, there was a rule that the mythology had to be researchable. It needed to be somewhat grounded and plausible. That has not been the case since Carver took the wheel and we have even steered into off the wall fantasy at times. So yeah, I like the idea that is could all be something plausible by mashing together a few apocryphal texts, just like the old days. Yes, I’m a dreamer still.
The Red Headed Monster
I just have one nitpick. Castiel is a 2000+ year old angel right? Been around the block a few times, seen just about everything…yada yada. SHOULDN’T HE KNOW A LITTLE SOMETHING ABOUT ANCIENT RELIGIONS? About raising the dead? Have some more wisdom about death and dying, especially nephilim? Why was he reading books? Shouldn’t he know more about how angels were created? Theories, possibilities, something? He just bought what Sergei said out of desperation without truly hearing what we all did, that this would be a recharge? Wouldn’t asking for specifics have been nice? What were the possibilities? What were the chances? I long for the Castiel of old that believed that everything had a purpose. He saw the same thing Kelly saw. Where is his faith in Jack?
I’m so disappointed in how Castiel has been written through the years and this season has been the worst. He’s been rendered stupid and utterly useless. There might only be 9 angels left in existence, but Heaven doesn’t have a library of some sort? You would think Naomi would at least remember a few things. Or, if the gate is closed, does that mean Castiel can’t go up there anymore? Wouldn’t that kind of be stupid since technically, THEY NEED HIM TO LIVE? Yeah, I’m just headdesking over that one. Someone please give this angel a freaking purpose other than baby sitter to a bunch of humans that can take care of themselves.
Whew, now that I got off that off my chest, THIS is my happy place. Fishing!
Overall grade, a B+. Great possibilities, and this grade could improve if it actually goes somewhere, but I’m leaving wiggle room for now. I’ve been burned before. Come on show, keep going. I’m listening.