This is it, folks: the penultimate episode of the penultimate season of Supernatural. And it it felt a little unusual, that’s because the “big bad” of the season is unusual: an all-powerful friend turned not-quite-foe, Jack. Quite a lot happened in this episode, in a rush that left little impact — but by contrast, the climax was a sedate, subtle affair that landed with a gut punch. Because the thing is that, for all our jokes about the Winchesters never just telling each other the truth… those boys are terrible liars.
Bobby returns for Mary’s wake by chucking a hatchet into another attendee’s skull — but it’s cool because it was secretly a wraith! After all, what hunter’s memorial would be complete without a surprise monster infiltration, anyway? This is the first chance the boys have had to get Bobby up to speed on what’s been going on with Jack, and predictably Bobby is ready get straight to hunting down the poor kid… er, “unstoppable monster who don’t know right from wrong.” Tomato, tomahto. Meanwhile Cas heads to Heaven to recruit some divine intervention in this mess, and winds up explaining the whole sitch to Duma — how Jack burned up most of his soul to save the Winchesters and the rest of the world from the archangel Michael, and how he’s the one in need of saving now. He’s not bad, he’s just lost his moral compass! And Duma agrees to help track the boy down… but not for the reasons Cas thinks. And of course Sam and Dean also want to find Jack, mostly because he’s their responsibility, so the episode has kicked off a three-way hunt for the wayward nephilim.
And then… Heaven finds him first. Just like that, the hunt is over! Duma went straight to Jack and essentially recruited him to fill the power vacuum in Heaven, and return it to the glory days when God was still around smiting the unbelievers or whatever. But her plan to Make Heaven Great Again requires her to not only convince Jack that none of what has transpired is his fault and he’s worthy of redemption, but that by doing Heaven’s bidding he’ll actually make the Winchesters happy. What makes Jack such a sympathetic character, and what the episode demonstrates time and time again, is his naÃ¯veté. He has the powers of a God and only about a year’s worth of life experience under his belt. Everyone around him is, and always has been, manipulating him for their own aims. He is a tool, and in the hands of Duma he became a weapon used to exact Biblical punishments on atheists and turn humans into angels to repopulate Heaven. And though the Winchesters care more about Jack, they too used him — not only his powers, but also his trust. He may not have a soul, but he still is willing to do anything for the approval of Sam and Dean, especially if he thinks it will lead him back into their good graces.
It’s this trust that brings him down from Heaven, following a prayer from Sam. While Cas is in Heaven killing Duma for her betrayal, the boys have lured Jack out with their own plan: lock him in the box Dean had built to hold Michael. They know they can’t kill him, so their only hope is to contain him, to keep him from killing anyone else. But they also know Jack’ll listen to them if they just… ask him to hop on in. So they cook up a lie about how they’re thiiiiiiiis close to figuring out a spell to restore Jack’s soul (they’re not), and tell him they want to lock him up for his own protection while they finish it. And Jack is so happy to have their forgiveness that he doesn’t suspect a thing. It makes for a tense climax, not only because Sam and Dean are such bad liars (Sam, in particular, is practically vibrating with guilt in every shot), but because Jack’s own apology for killing Mary (or the “accident” as he calls it) is so woefully lacking in emotion. It’s clear he sort of gets what he did was wrong — he admits he snapped — but he also looks confused about it all. All he wants is for things to go back the way they were before — and that hope is what Dean uses to get Jack in the box.
But it turns out Dean’s fancy box wasn’t so great after all, because one conversation with his head-Lucifer later and Jack realizes he just got played. There can be no forgiveness for killing Mary. So Jack juices himself up and blasts his way out of the box. The episode ends with him emerging from the dust with glowing eyes…
And that means the season finale isn’t about the Winchesters seeking revenge on Jack — it’s about Jack finally turning on the Winchesters. Considering it took them over a half a season to kill Michael, and even then it was Jack who did the deed, I don’t see how the Winchesters can hope to defeat Jack in a single episode. They’ll either convince the kid to stand down, or the conflict will continue into next season… Or Chuck will return having heard Castiel’s call a few episodes back, because what’s a Supernatural finale without a literal Deus Ex Machina?
Line of the Night:
Speaking of Chuck, Dean got this one-liner off while Sam was musing about how lucky they are to know that Heaven is real and Mary is in a good place:
“God writes paperback books in his underwear and angels are dicks.”
Forget all that nonsense about the “family business” — THAT RIGHT THERE is the real log line this show deserves!