As I'm sitting down to write this, I've just finished watching the episode, and HOLY CRAP what a thing this was. This whole episode was so perfectly Supernatural that I'm a little stunned. Meredith Glynn, all of the kudos. This episode had depth, humor, pain, and above all, I was at the edge of my seat wanting to know what was going to happen. It's been a while since I've felt that an episode was perfect, but I felt like this one was. (I was thinking about it, and I think Glynn has written some of the best episodes in recent years. She understands what makes Supernatural so unique and she is able to bring that into her writing. SO WONDERFUL!)
Before we get into detail I do need to thank Glynn for changing Chuck around a little. All season, I've felt like he's been a little flat in terms of his character development. He's felt a little boring to me, and I've disliked all of the appearances we've seen him make over the course of the season. But then this beautiful episode actually moved him forward in a way that was really interesting to me. The last time we saw Chuck go to Amara for something, he needed her help because of the bullet wound. But this time, he still needs her help, but I got the feeling he was going to see her because he wanted her power, rather than her help. But it took the whole episode to break Amara's "soul," for lack of a better word. Amara had faith in Dean, had faith in the power of the bond that she and Dean shared. But what I don't think she realized is that Dean Winchester has never responded well to authority. Having someone hanging over him is the easiest way to upset him, so he wouldn't like the idea of not being able to kill Amara. When a solution presented itself in the form of Jack, Dean finally saw a way out of the bond he had with Amara. When you see the realization fall over Amara's face, that Dean's been lying to her the whole time, it's a gut-punch. We knew that; we knew that Dean never wanted Amara's help. He just wanted to get her and Chuck in the same room so they both could be killed. Seeing that in her face was stunning and Emily Swallow had me in the FEELINGS. But thank you Meredith for making Chuck so much more interesting. I went into the episode with low expectations for Chuck, but this blew me away.
Alright. I can't decide who to start with. So much good character development; an embarrassment of riches if you ask me. I do have a quick question: does anyone know what the deal was with those title cards with the names? It's never been done on Supernatural before, and it threw me a little because I wasn't sure what to think. I'd love to hear thoughts down in the comments.
We're going to start with Sam first. HOLY MOLY. HOLY MOLY. What a thread for Sam. I'm still a little stunned at the depth we see here. Not only was Sam his brilliant self throughout the whole episode, but we saw a stunning amount of self-awareness and confidence from Sam. At the beginning of the episode, I feared that Sam was going to fall into the pattern of just agreeing with Dean so they could move forward. I got scared that Dean was going to be so angry and everything was going to be so bad that Sam would ignore his own conscience in order to make Dean happy. We've seen it happen plenty of times before. But thank the lord, he didn't. He stuck to his guns, right up to the end. THANK YOU MEREDITH.
This was such a great episode for Sam and I just can't get over it. First of all, I am HERE for smart Sam, always. I've said it before, but I LOVE watching Sam do his thing. I also think this was such a moment because Sam was firm in his conviction that something was off. Because of that, he was able to see an option where I don't think he would have before. Because he had a gut feeling that something was wrong (which might have been Chuck, but I don't believe it), he was able to see a new way out of this.
Then seeing him negotiate with the Empty was such a stunning bit of character work, I just can't get enough. Sam has always been a great negotiator. We saw it in, "Defending Your Life," when he out-lawyers Osiris and saves Dean's life. We see it when he negotiates with Margaret Astor in "A Most Holy Man." Sam is a GREAT negotiator. We see it again here when Sam convinces the Empty to give him the book. The realization that falls over Sam when he finds out about Billie's plan was another one of those gut-punch moments. It dawns on Sam that Billie has been playing them the whole time and you see him realize what he's going to have to do. He's going to have to talk down his rage-filled big brother and get him to see reason through the haze of rage that's been on Dean's shoulders the whole season. I said it at the end of Season 14, that Chuck's reveal was going to throw all of the Winchester's choices into question, and I think Dean is having a harder time handling it than Sam, but I also think Sam is better equipped to handle the changes in his world. Either way, watching Sam come to that realization hurt.
Then, if that wasn't enough, we have the pain of watching him try to convince his brother, the one person in the world who he knew was there for him, not to go through with this plan because he knows that it's going to go bad. He knows that Billie wants this. He knows that Chuck wants this. But then, watching Sam break down and tell Dean about what he knows to be true in the world is such a stunning bit of character work that I was a little taken aback. The reason that Sam can handle this all so well is because he knows, better than anything else, that his brother loves him and will protect him. He knows that Dean will be there for him through anything. And stunningly, it works. Sam's knowledge of the fact that Dean will do anything to protect him, is the thing that convinces Dean, I think, to let go of his rage and see the situation for what it is. I mean, SUCH GOOD CHARACTER DEVELOPMENT. *insert raised hands emoji here*
Now Dean. Also, woah. We've seen Dean angry before. It's not uncommon to see Dean with a certain undercurrent of anger in a normal episode. But here, we see Dean utterly consumed by the rage he feels, and I understand. For his whole life, Dean has been doing what he does because he thought it was worth it. He thought the good outweighed the bad. But to then find out that his entire life has been a game to some cosmic being...I mean, wow. That would send me into an existential tailspin, so I can't imagine what Dean is going through. Watching Dean this episode was really interesting because I could see the rage plain as day. It's there and it's not afraid to make itself known through Dean's actions.
But we also see a stunning amount of empathy from Dean. Watching Dean's reaction to Adam and Seraphina, it was clear he wasn't super sure about this plan. But, the rage he feels shuts down any doubt. Then again, in the car on the way back to the Bunker, we see Dean realize that he needs to explain himself, or at least try and get Jack to understand. Seeing Dean thank Jack, realizing how much the plan that he is so convinced is going to work, is reliant on Jack giving up his life. Even through all of the deeply seated rage inside of Dean, he can have a little bit of perspective and see the forest through the trees. He sees that what Jack is doing for them and for this world is amazing. Jack is going to give up his life for amazingly unselfish reasons, and he is going to do it because he knows it's the right thing to do. I do find it a little strange that we go from that emotional moment to Dean being right back into his rage, but then again, Dean has been know to turn on a dime, so it's not super weird.
Seeing Dean convinced enough that this is the right way that he would pull a gun on Sam is STUNNING and I definitely didn't see it coming. Seeing the look on Dean's face through that whole scene broke my heart because we know Dean doesn't want to do this. He doesn't want to hurt his brother, but he doesn't see another way. He can't see past the fact that this is his chance to be free, finally. But then, when Sam comes in with his gut-punch of an admission about what he knows to be true in the world, we can see Dean finally, maybe, willing to let it go. Being willing to see that there might be another way if he is willing to let his rage go.
One last thought. I mentioned last week that I thought Billie's behavior about this whole plan was a bit off, and now I'm glad to see that I was sort of right. She was so all-in on this plan because it was her plan from the beginning. Or it was Adam's plan. Either way, she is using this plan as a way to set everything right. As a way to make sure that everything stays the way it's meant to. It's a nice call back to the first time we met Billie as a reaper in 11.01 and I'm glad that her character has remained consistent. I do find it a little odd that she would do this because she said she saw more when she became Death, so I would think it would allow her to see that her plan wasn't worth it, but maybe that's just me being too optimistic. Either way, I'm intrigued to see where Billie will go. (Also, thank you for not spoiling Rachel's return as the Empty! It was a nice surprise.)
Alright, I think that's it. Cas was there, but not really and the same for Jack, really. I don't think there's anything more for me to say. Three more to go, folks. Let's see where we end up.
As always, comments and messages over social media are welcome! Looking forward to seeing what you all thought.
Enjoy more of Kate's seasons 14 and 15 character studies and episode reviews by visiting her Writers' Page!