The Morning After

Now that’s more like it! Supernatural's “Destiny’s Child” engaged the imagination. There was mystery, emotion and plot development. Granted, some of the new canon that was introduced to advance our heroes’ plights required a massive suspension of disbelief, but at least the episode mostly made sense and was super fun to watch!

The Four Winchesters 

TrustFund!Samuel and TrustFund!Dean (has the internet settled on names for these two yet?) were hilarious! I’m happy that the writers considered, of all the Sam and Deans in all the alternate worlds, at least one set would figure out how to use a rift to escape destruction! That wrinkle makes the alternate worlds more 3-dimensional and believable to me, far more than a universe unimaginatively named “the bad place” where dinosaurs roam about and young girls survive alone in twig huts. It is fun to flesh out a world where John revealed the presence of monsters and parlayed their “ghostbuster” family business into a Winchester fortune! That world also produced two characters that Jared and Jensen could infuse with outrageously funny mannerisms and personalities.



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TrustFundSamuel: “My hair is sacred!”

15.13 HLC 0844 Au Samuel

Sam: You have your own plane?

TrustFundSamuel: You don’t?! Oh dear! How do you manage?

Sam: How do you afford it?

At the time it was written, that Easter egg about Jared’s plane would only have be understood by a few fans. Little did the writers know that a real world plane malfunction two weeks ago would make it a topic of Las Vegas con panels and several cast members’ tearful stories about texting goodbyes to their families. Now everyone knows that the cast couldn’t manage their family business without tooling around with dedicated pilots on standby and a jet at their beck and call!

Seeing Double

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Beyond the comedic value of the Winchester mirror universe doubles, I’m struck that for the second week in a row the plot revolved around characters’ duplicates. Last week, we watched DarkKaia be killed while the other, Earth 1 Kaia, lived. This week, “Destiny’s Child” introduced a spare set of Winchesters. The AU Sam and Dean were already used as decoys – props to placate Chuck should he check his personal nanny cam to the bunker. It’s not a far stretch to predict that they might come in handy again in the future. Four Winchesters are always better than two! Actually seeing them again would put a strain on the Js time on set, plus push the plot into cartoonish territory, but it’s not unreasonable to expect a phone call to them to divert or confuse enemies.

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"Destiny's Child" also served up two Rubys. New “flashback” scenes to season 4 Ruby were especially fun since I loved that character way back when. Castiel’s conversation with the Empty’s version of Ruby updated her look to how she might appear to him now (time stands still in the Empty so that was still season 4’s Ruby but her appearance was slightly different so it was easier to distinguish them in the story).

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There were also two Anaels, the 2009 Sister Jo that we didn’t know existed at the time, and the 2020 Sister Jo who was still conniving and treacherous. My curiosity is piqued now.  Can you remember any other “doubles” this year? Were these back-to-back examples just a coincidence, or do they foreshadow subterfuge will somehow play a part in the final confrontation with Chuck?  

Not Being Heard (Talking/Listening) through Walls

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Curiously, prissy Sam and Dean were trapped in a bunker wall before being freed. Not being able to be heard was a theme back in the first few episodes this year when Kevin and ghosts wandered among the living. It’s a rather scary corollary to both the doppelganger phenomenon and being trapped between worlds. This theme might reappear later this season since the AU brothers casually dropped a HUGE hint for the future:

TrustFundSamuel: We don’t know where he is now. We all went through the rift together but I guess we got separated.

AU John Winchester was with them when they went through the rift! That’s a BIG deal! The rich boys toasted their devotion to their father, but were not concerned that he didn’t come through with them? They certainly didn’t seem to believe he got atomized in Chuck’s blast back in their world. After all, they got through the rift okay so its reasonable to think he did too. Odd that they’re not trying to look for him, though! I predict this was all a seed planted for a reprise of John dropping into the bunker, probably at the end of the hunt or at the most fortuitous time possible! Maybe he is also trapped in a wall somewhere?

Walls, both metaphorical and physical, were also a significant thread in this season’s early episodes. When the walls between Earth and Hell were broken in “The Rupture”, the team worried about the walls of their crypt sanctuary not being able to hold back the zombie attack, and Dean walled himself off with grief. Frankly, the use this week seemed more for convenience than plot foreshadowing, but it is still worth noting. What do you think of these two threads being repeated, and of the possibility of John’s return?

Welcoming Back then Saying Goodbye to Characters

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“Destiny’s Child” continued the parade of reprising characters by bringing back Ruby and Anael/Sister Jo. You probably guessed that the series’ end run would include the return of both Jared's and Jensen’s wives!  Beyond the obvious nod to Supernatural’s tight family bonds, I was thrilled with Ruby’s return. I have always enjoyed her character, as played by both Katie Cassidy and Genevieve Cortese Padalecki (and others), but Gen’s version is my favorite. She looked exactly the same in the newly filmed flashbacks as she did 11 years ago! That was eerie, but also heart-warming, because for a few seconds it felt like I was watching the classic, old time episodes when young Sam and Dean were rightfully panicked by the responsibility of an impending apocalypse.

There’s something sacred about that journey of discovery, fans and heroes learning about the unknown together. Now, phrases like “messengers of God’s destruction“ are tossed about like routine orders to battle hardened soldiers – dire but not shocking. I dearly love mature Sam and Dean but there’s still something special about the early days. That momentary walk down memory lane added to this episode’s appeal for me. Having said that, it is a relief that the brothers finally know their destiny! After wondering what everyone was talking about when they told them they had "work to do", the boys now know their fate is to kill god. Not daunting at all. 

Jo was woven into the story by Castiel’s long tale about the Occultum:

The Occultum is divine in its origin. It was housed for hundreds of years in an ancient temple before it was looted by invading Mongol hordes for trade on the black market. Until a few years ago, it was owned by the Jacobson family, until Hiram Jacobson's son fell gravely ill, and he was told nothing could be done. In desperation, he turned to a faith healer. She saved the child but would only accept the Occultum in payment.

In turn then, Jo/Anael was the conduit to bringing Ruby back:

Jo: I don’t have it.

Sam: Then who does?

Jo: An old friend of yours, Ruby….

Flashback Ruby: Hey, anything you want to tell me, Jo?

Flashback Jo: Nice vessel. Suits you better than the blonde.

Flashback Ruby: You’ve been holding out on me…. The Occultum. You’ve got it and I can get you a buyer, for a taste.

Actually, the plot didn't require that both ladies return. Serge could have related a history that led directly to Ruby, or Jo could have stashed the Occultum herself eliminating the need for Ruby at all. So the fact that both were reintroduced makes me wonder if both will be important later down the road. Jo specifically mentioned Ruby’s importance in the demonic hierarchy, yet it was Anael who somehow knew about the Occultum.

Flashback Jo: You are a powerful demon, and I am a good business woman. When the smoke clears, there will be a new world order. We can make that work for us.

Flashback Ruby: You said we’d all be dead.

Flashback Jo: We don’t have to be. Not if we ride it out in the safest place that exists. The Occultum.

Cas: the Occultum is a place?

Jo: A place, a thing, whatever you want to call it. It’s powerful. Jo and I cut a deal and I stashed it.  

I’m not sure how or why Jo knew about the Occultum and Castiel and Ruby didn’t. That was never explained. It’s also worth noting that Jo wanted a Plan B for the new world order back in apocalypse 2005. She’s probably strategizing a way out again, now that she knows from Sam and Dean that God himself is in the crosshairs to avoid apocalypse 2020.

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While Anael and Ruby’s returns were spoiled by the promotional trailer, the big reveal was Rachel Miner’s return to the show! That was a classic Supernatural bonus!! Meg AND Ruby together in an episode! The familiarity of their stories elevated this reunion to a most welcome, endearing callback. Same old snark, same biting rapport with Castiel! I’ve so missed Meg!! To be clear, that wasn’t really Meg in the Empty. I saw some fans were confused about that. It was the Empty Entity appearing as a familiar character pulled from Castiel’s mind, but the entity used Meg’s wit, memories and terms of endearment so it was just like seeing Meg again! More of her please!

EntityMeg: See you soon.

15 13 HLC 0700 Meg See You Soon

I don’t want her messing with Castiel anytime soon, or ever, but I’d love to have her be the manifestation of black goo guy in the future! The Entity appearing again seems very likely as it took its place in the allies’ ranks:

Cas: You can’t hurt me. Jack said we’re on the same side against Chuck!

Entity: I’m on Death’s side. When her plan works, I finally get to go back to sleep.

Cas: That’s what she promised? She can do that?

Wouldn’t it be great if it went back to sleep before collecting on that deal we were so prominently reminded existed (Deals were another thread woven throughout the story)? Nah, we won’t be that lucky. So Meg may return as the Empty, Jo may return as a frenemy, Ruby may return if Cas is able to spring her (per his promise) and TrustFund Samuel and Dean may return as either decoys or bait.

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For now, just as we were getting comfortable with this reunion, they all said goodbye. TrustFund Samuel and Dean got booted to Brazil, Ruby went back to her fitful sleep, Jo packed up and left town, and Meg sat waiting for the inevitable. It feels like we are truly being groomed to say goodbye to our four heroes, in the end.

Traps and Trust

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At least for now, Jo’s primary purpose in the episodes was pointing to someone who knew something (Ruby) and betraying the brothers by setting a trap for them when they arrived in Hell. I believe that’s important as it reprises the “trap” thread of this season. Ruby’s version of the events 11 years ago also began with her suspecting Jo was ambushing her:

Ruby: Is this a trap, ‘cause I will mess you up.

15 13 HLC 0957 Cas Trap

There was a third trap when Team Free Will 2.0 was ambushed by Ruby’s hellhounds guarding the Occultum, although I believe that was unintentional (because Ruby wants Castiel to succeed and free her from the Empty). AU Sam and Dean were also trapped between dimensions. Surely the final showdown with Chuck will involve some sort of trap, either one he sets for them or one they set for him. Since both our Sam and Dean and the AU brothers were repeatedly trapped in this episode, it seems likely that they will be the ones trapped in the final battle. As far as who to trust, on multiple occasions, characters reminded us that Jo can’t be trusted. “Trust me”, “can’t be trusted” or “won’t trust you” were also used all through the dialog, so these two threads were definitely important.    

New Canon

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One of “Destiny’s Child”’s merits was its fast pace, but part of the challenge was keeping up with all of the new canon being introduced! There is now a thing called The Occultum. 

Billie: The first step was meant to strengthen Jack’s body. Step 2 is more spiritual in nature.

Cas: Can you be more specific?

Billie: Jack needs to find the Occultum.

Sam: The Occultum? Occultum. It’s Latin for 'hidden.' Where do we find it?

Billie: I don’t know. It’s hidden. Missing for centuries. Sacred. Potent.

Dean: Is it a weapon? How does it work?

Billie: Not a weapon per se, but it’s powerful.

Since I wondered if this is a myth in reality, I looked up the definition of the word. Sam is right that it’s from Latin (of course) and means “hidden, concealed, having been hidden. Figuratively: secret.” The key to the Occultum is a Golden Snitch. Instead of kissing the orb at the end, one must swallow it.

Castiel: "In order to be in the Occultum, the Occultum must be in you."

That mystical lore is hysterically similar to the magical wizarding world, don’t you think?

So Jack swallows the unknown object that is thousands of years old. From beating hearts to ancient relics, that boy will eat anything these days!

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Once swallowed, Jack is transported to the proverbial Garden of Eden. That was unexpected! (I have this vague recollection that Eugenie told me at San Diego Comic-Con that the season would include the Garden of Eden. Does anyone remember that from my (or Alice’s) interview videos?)

Castiel: He’s been to the garden. That’s the crossroads of divinity and humanity. No one’s been there since the exile until now… ‘til Jack.

The crossroads of divinity and humanity is essentially the definition of Jack as a being. It seems fitting that it would be a place he should find his destiny.

The Title Thread (Destiny’s Child), Doing What’s Right and the Power of Souls

Girl: God loved them so, His prized creations, until He banished them and all of mankind from the perfection of the Garden, and He hid it away.
Jack: I was told this place might change me somehow.
Girl: Perhaps. If you were the one meant to find it. You'll know soon enough.

15 13 HLC 1123 Garden Girl

That girl’s presence was never explained, but I would like to acknowledge her hypnotizing presence on the screen. She was mesmerizing as the embodiment of both innocence and omnipotence. Even though I believe the episode’s title refers to Jack, I got chills watching this young actress, ironically named Amelie Eve,  and thinking that she was the perfect symbol for destiny’s child. Is she the only resident of the Garden, or is she its keeper? She was as cryptic as a celestial being, but carried none of the threatening demeanor of Billie, Chuck or Amara. She was beauty and life, just like the Garden.

So as the incubator of all life, it isn’t hard to believe that Eden would be capable of restoring Jack’s soul.  Since humans are no longer allowed there, its power must be to create souls where previously there were none.

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Maybe Adam and Eve ate the apple because they didn’t yet have souls to know right from wrong? They were tempted by Satan (did this universe’s Lucifer ever contest that?) and convinced to defy God’s rules. Does it track that their souls were corrupted then, or that they didn’t have souls until they were cast out?

In any case, while this canon was entirely out of left field, I can accept it with a generous leap of faith. It was a bit too convenient to just write in something that solved the problem of Jack being soulless, but I can work with it. He is the child destined to visit the Garden. I’m thrilled that Jack’s soul is back, so let the hand waving commence!

Sam: Hey, Jack. How you doing?
Jack: I... I'm so sorry.
Dean: You what?
Jack: Why didn't I get it? I mean, my mother died, too. Why didn't I understand? It was my fault.
Dean: Jack.
Castiel: His soul is back.
Jack: Please. Just please forgive me.

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The contrast between Jack relating his memory of what he did to Mary at the beginning of the episode versus his tearful contrition at the end of the episode was proof of his soul’s return. Now he can feel the guilt and pain of his actions. All along, Jack has been objectively stating that he knew what was right or wrong. He knew saving Kaia was the right thing to do, and he knew killing Castiel would be wrong. Now, though, he can feel it instinctively. No wonder Billie asked him if he was truly ready for this spiritual test. That boy has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders and now he not only feels the pain of his past, but will also feel the weight of killing God and (possibly) taking his place. But is he the child destined to replace God?

Myth Arc Set up

For the first time, Dean introduced the idea that they need to kill Amara as well as Chuck. He is imagining a world without a god:

Dean: ‘cause if we just take Chuck off the board, that still leaves her. That throws things out of balance, and if things are out of balance, the world pretty much {poofs}.

Sam: Right. Ends.

Dean: Right, but if Jack kills her, kind of a family plan. Then there’s no God, no darkness, nothing out of balance. World saved.

Sam didn’t seem to think that was possible.

Sam: Ok, yeah, but then who takes over? Jack?

Dean: Probably not. 

Jack taking over God’s job is what many fans have assumed will be the series’ climax. Sam and Dean’s conversation seems to completely thwart that theory, though. In so many words, they essentially said, “No, that’s not going to happen.”

15 13 HLC 0456 Cas Jack Trust

Maybe their doubts of Jack were only meant to contrast with Castiel’s faith in Jack:

Jack: Cas, I may not have a soul, but I know killing you is wrong. What if I screw up?
Cas: Well then I’ll be lost forever, but I think you’ll do fine

Perhaps their lack of faith in Jack will now change since Jack has his soul back. After all, popping gum bubbles is not an essential requirement to running a universe, but maybe having a soul is. Chuck doesn’t have a soul, which is making the destruction of billions of lives much too easy for him. So maybe Sam and Dean’s doubts were symbolic of Jack not being qualified before the Garden, but now he is qualified as a soulful, compassionate half divine, half human being. Maybe that is the destiny for that child?

If not, Jack, then who? Billie?

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I don’t think so. She seems content with her job and I’m not sure it’s not safer than being god since Death reaps god.

15 13 HLC 0054 Castiel

Castiel? How many times has he told us he’s not a leader? The angels certainly wouldn’t want to follow him! Naomi always said he was one of a kind, though, the one who wouldn’t follow orders, “the spanner in the works.” We’ve noted this season that Castiel seems to have found his backbone. He’s standing up for himself and sassing back Dean whenever Dean puts him down:

Cas: Am I still an idiot?

15 13 HLC 0186 Cas Confused

I LOVED Castiel’s reaction to Dean interrupting him when he was trying to explain what Serge had said! I also loved that Cas understood and explained so much in this episode. Cas has definitely been more self-assured this season, and he was crucial to solving every problem in this story:

✔ Cas took the initiative and found a lead on the Occultum from Serge.

✔ Cas explained the metaphysical presence of AU Sam and Dean:

“If Chuck tried to destroy them as their rift was closing, it’s theoretically possible that the blast could have trapped them between dimensions. I mean, they’re here, and yet not.”  

15 13 HLC 0363 Cas Jack Talk Food

✔ Cas explained Dean to Jack in a very compassionate, insightful way.

✔ Cas first suggested that they needed to get more information from Ruby. Dean ignored Castiel (as usual) and insisted he and Sam rush to Hell anyway. Castiel thought through the situation more deeply, though:

Cas: There are just so many holes in Jo’s story. Who was Ruby going to sell the Occultum to? Why didn’t Jo try to get it back?

Jack: So you think she’s lying?

Cas: I think we need to ask Ruby.

✔ Cas then listened to his instincts and followed through to get information from Ruby despite Dean’s dismissal that it wasn’t important.

Maybe Castiel’s newfound confidence and leadership is hinting at the possibility that’s he’s a candidate for the soon-to-be-vacant position of god? I’m annoyed that Dean is still blowing him off, not listening to his objections and concerns, but perhaps that is being done on purpose to show how completely blind Dean is being for not seeing Castiel for who he has become? Cas as the new god would make me very happy! Dean’s dismissal of Castiel’s objections may also be setting the precedent for hot-head Dean to go barreling into a battle in the future that Castiel suspects is a trap. Dean is being too myopic for it not to mean something!  

Impressions

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(Cas had the BEST expressions in this episode! He cracked me up!)

I loved “Destiny’s Child.” Honestly, it was hard to keep up with the curve balls that were being thrown at us in terms of new canon and wild explanations for things, but I still enjoyed the story and the characters. The zany additions moved the plot forward, which is something that has been painfully missing from too many recent episodes. I have no patience for standalone hunts anymore. Gone are the days of monster-of-the-week. Let’s chase this plotline at full speed, with earned drama and purposeful action.

“Destiny’s Child” included beloved characters (some classic, some new) who were strong, powerful and determined. No more wimpy sad sacs or bellowing, self-pitying tantrums. There was an abundance of the series’ core characters - Sam and Dean (times two!), Cas, Jack, Billie (Death), Ruby and Meg - but it specifically did NOT include the abomination that they turned Chuck into, so I wasn’t annoyed by my dislike for his character’s corruption. The episode had wonderful comedy but ended with genuine tears, with a handful of snark thrown in between.

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I’m so much more hopeful now than before. That’s good since we have a long time to wait for the next episode. We ended with Jack having a soul, Castiel more self-assured and the four boys back together in the bunker kitchen. It feels like they are truly a family again (whole and intact), and that’s a note that can carry me for a long time.

- Nightsky



I raised many questions, and the episodes raised even more, so please share your thoughts below!

Catch up on Nightsky's  "Threads" reviews! Links can be found on her writer's page.

Screencaps courtesy of Raloria@livejournal ! 

A few quotes were taken from SupernaturalWiki. Most were originally transcribed by me.