It’s not like the Winchesters have never faced the reality of death before. Their parents are dead (though Mary came back). Bobby and Charlie died (though they’re back, sort of, thanks to alternate realities). The boys have died, seen several planes of the Afterlife, and returned to fight on. Hell, they’re on a first name basis with Death at this point (literally — she’s the former low-level reaper named Billie, newly promoted to Horseman status). Just because dying doesn’t often seem to stick, it doesn’t mean the boys aren’t familiar with the concept. It’s just that, well, death usually comes in some big way on this show. A dangerous monster, a world-ending threat, a sacrifice (they do LOVE a good sacrifice). Not something as banal as a cough.
This week’s episode picks up where last week ended: Dean has seen Jack collapse after coughing up blood, and now the boys are trying to figure out how to help him. Castiel can’t figure out what’s wrong with him, and neither can the doctors at the local ER. Jack’s body is just… shutting down. Total systemic failure, and nobody knows why. So the boys check Jack out of the hospital and take him to get a second opinion — from Rowena! Who at first is more than happy to let Lucifer’s baby boy die a painful death (she holds a mean grudge, that woman). But after Jack thanks her for saving them all from Apocalypse World (so… we’re all calling it that now, eh?), she agrees to put her witchery to work diagnosing him. And what she discovers is that it’s his very nature that’s killing him, basically. Nephilim are unnatural creatures, and the only thing binding their human and angelic bits together is their grace. Which Jack no longer has, since Lucifer decided to steal it last season.
But instead of some high stakes fight against the clock to find a cure, Supernatural chose to slow things down and explore what it means to truly live. Hint: it involves taking Baby for a spin while listening to classic rock. OBVIOUSLY.
While Rowena, Sam and Cas all try to find answers through research, Dean takes Jack out to make some new memories. His short life has been nothing but a succession of dangers, and all he wants is to experience all the ordinary, meaningful things normal people do. So Dean doesn’t just take him on a road trip — HE LET’S JACK DRIVE THE IMPALA. Which, as fans know, is a huge step for Dean, and one that he takes because, whether or not he’d admit it, Jack’s sort of like an overgrown, underdeveloped son to him. Which makes losing Jack different than all the other losses Dean has experienced, and likely explains why he was so patient while Jack was grinding those gears…
Meanwhile, Sam gets a line on a shaman named Sergei who may know a thing or two about Nephilim problems, so Castiel goes to meet the man. Sergei seems pretty shady (and not just because Ketch recommended him), but he does have a possible solution. Not a cure, necessarily, but a way to shock Jack’s system to stop the degeneration, sort of like rebooting a computer. It involves a shot of archangel grace, and a spell — both of which he just happens to have on hand. And in a nifty callback, the archangel grace happens to be Gabriel’s! It turns out that Gabe bartered it in exchange for that cloaking spell he used to hide after he faked his own death. In fact, all of Sergei’s business is done by bartering — and in exchange for helping Jack he just wants the Winchesters to owe him a favor.
I’m sure THAT’LL work out just fine.
Everyone meets back at the bunker, where Jack inhales the grace while Rowena recites the incantation. And it works! Jack’s eyes glow, and he feels great… until he collapses one again, in worse shape than ever. Whoops! Apparently Sergei’s solution was more of an experiment — and Castiel isn’t taking that deception lightly. But for now, all they can do is stay with Jack while he dies.
Jack’s illness isn’t the only dangling plot thread the episode picked back up. The B plot featured the return of Nick, who continues his rampage of revenge as he tries to figure out who slaughtered his family back in his pre-Lucifer days. And the good news is: he solves the case! But the bad news is that nobody is really at fault, because the killer (a beat cop named Frank who came to the house when Nick’s wife reported a prowler) was possessed by a demon named Abraxas. The cop didn’t remember committing the crime, but came to covered in blood. And the witness, Artie (whom Nick already killed), had changed his story because the cops pressured him to protect Frank. So that should be all there is to it, yes? We’re done here?
No, sorry — Nick’s problems run deeper than that. He thought that finding the killer would free him of his rage and darkness, but it turns out that he simply likes killing. He even kills Frank, after acknowledging that none of this was the man’s fault. Nick knows what it’s like to be possessed and not be responsible for your actions — but in his case, Lucifer left something broken inside of him. And when he realizes that getting revenge hasn’t healed him, he gets down on his knees to pray. TO LUCIFER. Which, uh, seems to have awakened the archangel, beckoning him from wherever it is that archangels go when they die. Someplace dark and gooey? I dunno, but it seems like Nick is going to get his prayers answered! Despite the fact that, dude, c’mon — who do you think sent Abraxas in the first place. IT WAS PROBABLY LUCIFER, DUH.
Speaking of archangels, there’s still no progress on the Michael front — though something is definitely going on with Dean, who kept getting woozy and blurry-eyed at random points during the episode. Personally, I still think Dean is an unwitting Trojan Horse Michael is using to get his hands on Jack — and the dizzy spells came as he reacted to Jack’s worsening condition. And If Jack needs a bigger dose of archangel grace to cure him, odds are it’ll be coming from either Michael or Lucifer. Just a thought…
Line Of The Night: When Jack starts getting the hang of driving, he smiles and excitedly tells Dean, “It’s like I’m you!” And without missing a beat Dean grins and says, “No you’re not.” Sorry kid — ain’t nobody gonna Dean better than Dean does.
Header Image Source: CW