The Winchesters and their archangel drama returned from winter hiatus last night. And if you were wondering how the show was going to resolve that whole Thanos-snap cliffhanger, the answer is: Imperfectly. And by that I mean, the whole “Michael And His Army Of ‘Roid Rage Super Monsters” was a storyline that sort of painted itself into a corner — or into a high-rise in Kansas City, in this case. And instead of having, like, an exit strategy via actual plotting, last night’s episode extricated the characters from all the danger by distracting us with… the charm of Jensen Ackles.
And I mean, it worked. LOOK AT HIM.
The cliffhanger ended with Michael fully taking over Dean’s body, and “snapping” to, like, signal his special monsters to start attacking people (they’re not out to kill, though — they’re trying to turn humans into monsters as well). And the difference between this possession and the last time Michael took over Dean is that he’s got Dean locked up securely inside — and Dean isn’t fighting back anymore. Because the world Michael dumps Dean in is one where he owns a kickass dive bar and gets to do tequila shots with Pamela Barnes! Remember her? She’s the psychic pal that died back in season 4 (and was last seen in season 5 because, again, death is meaningless). So while the looming threat of the monsters/hunters stand-off rages outside, the real focus of the episode is on what’s happening inside Dean’s mind — and all that character work does sort of nicely cover up some of the more glaring plot holes, like the fact that Garth is left locked in Baby’s trunk the whole time and Sam has to summon a reaper to magically transport them out of Kansas City and back to the bunker (a deus ex machina that does get justified in the very end… but only barely).
But more than the focus on Dean, the real pleasure of the episode is in Ackles-as-Michael, playing a side of the angel we haven’t yet seen: powerless, and conniving. Shortly after the snap (and sometime after Michael changed into a suit, natch), Cas and Sam attack and manage to lock him into a set of angel-proof handcuffs. For the time being, he’s at their mercy. And what follows — as they are transported back to the bunker and build a science project to go inside Dean’s mind to find him — is Michael fighting them using words alone. I say he’s powerless, but he’s not, really. He just can’t zap them with his angel mojo. Instead, he’s snarky and snide and cocky AF as he flawlessly plays on the emotions and insecurities of Sam, Cas, and Jack — doing it all under the blanket of “I’m inside Dean, and this is how he really feels.” And HE IS A DELIGHT. Like, honestly I was never as invested in this storyline, and in Michael, as I was last night. Because even when Supernatural drops the ball, it’s only because its hands were too full of chocolates and flowers for you.
The episode is called “Nihilism” and that’s entirely down to Michael’s plotting. Mostly he’s trying to show how meaningless it is for Team Winchester to fight him, but it’s also his entire outlook. He finally reveals why he’s got such a hard-on for world-destruction, and… I mean, it’s daddy issues. C’mon, of COURSE it’s “daddy issues”! This whole show is built on a foundation of daddy issues!
(Speaking of — you know Jeffrey Dean Morgan is coming back for the 300th episode next month, right?!)
Saving people, hunting things, the family business. 👨👩👦👦 #Supernatural is celebrating its 300th episode with an epic Winchester family reunion! See our exclusive report from the @cw_spn set for all the details: https://t.co/70Dq9ROm7u pic.twitter.com/AaS5YGi86S— Entertainment Weekly (@EW) January 16, 2019
Apparently Michael thought that fighting Lucifer on his world would have attracted God’s attention, but no dice. Then he was like, “Fuck it — I’ll just take over the world and be a better God than God!” Only I guess that didn’t work, because he still destroyed his world (resentment, probs). It’s ok, though, because inside Dean’s mind he found justification for all of his actions: the secret of God’s whereabouts. He’d been moonlighting as Chuck the writer that whole time! And like all writers, God just keeps writing drafts of reality, then starting over again, so Michael is planning to burn each and every failed draft until he can kill God as well. And THAT, folks, is how you Daddy Issue: Biblical Style.
And while alllll this talking is taking place, Dean’s still cooped up in his mental palace, refusing to sell his bar and fighting vengeful vamps and drinking with Pamela. He’s… content. And that turns out to be the key to finding him, when Sam and Dean hook Michael up to their brain-machine and go inside his mind. You see, Dean’s had a super fucked-up life. Fourteen seasons of danger and loss, death and rebirth, scars and sacrifice. Michael could have dropped Dean into any one of those memories of trauma. But what Sam realizes is that Dean thrives on trauma. So to effectively shut Dean up, Michael instead threw him into a situation he’s less familiar with: a scenario where Dean is settled and happy. And that’s right where Sam finds him. Turns out happy-Dean is hard to miss.
A lot of this sequence is a call-back to Sam’s own possession by the angel Gadreel in season 9. Sam knew he had to go into Dean’s mind and convince him to fight back, because that’s how Crowley saved Sam. And in order to make Dean believe that his “reality” is just a convenient dream, Sam drops their emergency codeword “Poughkeepsie” just as Crowley did way back when. Dean is flooded by the memories of all the heinous shit Michael did with his body… and that’s when Michael shows up, spouting more of his emotional manipulation shit.
“They’re not your family, they’re your responsibilities,” he says, trying to instill his filthy nihilism in Dean. But wait! Michael is just stalling for time, to give his monsters a chance to storm the bunker in the real world, and inside Dean’s mind he’s just a mental projection like everyone else! He still can’t use his angel mojo. You know what that means, right?
(Seriously, watch that clip — it’s worth it for the smile on Michael’s face in the real world while he kicks their asses in the brain-world)
Even without his powers, Michael wipes the floor with the boys. Which is when Dean changes tactics. If he can’t expel Michael from his body… he can trap him there instead. By locking him in the fake-bar’s fake-cooler. “I’m the cage,” says Dean.
So… is that it? Are we done with Michael now? Is he just going to be ranting and raving and hucking kegs around the inside of Dean’s mind forever? Apparently not. Because after all is said and done nuDeath Billie returns to have a word with Dean. Yes, she’s the one that gave the order for the reaper to help out, by transporting the gang back to the bunker. And she’s here now to inform Dean that all the books of all his possibles deaths in her Death Library have been rewritten. Now they all end the same way, with Michael escaping Dean’s cooler-cage and burning the world again. All… except for one. Which she then hands to him.
And based on his reaction, whatever his Not-Michael-Winning timeline is, it’s still very much not good.
— The reaper who responds to Sam is named Violet, and she’s not the one he was expecting. Turns out Billie has the reapers monitoring the Winchesters in shifts because… well, I mean, duh. They could die (or worse: CHEAT DEATH) at any time.
— Jack had a rough time this episode. He clearly doesn’t take Michael’s manipulation very well, and then when the monsters break into the bunker he… goes full-Nephilim on them to protect the boys, who are still in Dean’s mind. But the thing is, using his powers means drawing on that soul-magic that’s keeping him alive — meaning the more he does it, the less soul he has. But he also wants to be useful. So, uh, looks like we may be dealing with a soulless Jack in the future.
— So, what happened with the rest of the Super Monster Army? Apparently after Michael got locked up and stopped giving them orders, they all just… went away? And I don’t want to nitpick, but doesn’t that seem too easy? I mean, Michael’s plan was solid! Have monsters make monsters, to rule the world. Even without him leading them, they could have stayed the course. But I guess it’ll be more interesting to see what the future holds for hunters who now have to face the threat of a world filled with even-harder-to-kill monsters.
— I really wanted to crack a “The real cage was inside you all along, Dean Winchester” joke, but didn’t find the right place. So it’s here. You’re welcome.
— Seriously, is anybody gonna check on Garth?!
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