Supernatural has built up a vast mythology over the course of its previous 13 seasons, but in general, the Heaven & Hell stuff didn’t often overlap with the straight-up Monsters. There were ghosts, and werewolves, and shapeshifters, and wendigos — and then there were the angels and prophets and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Sure, in the early days, demons were treated like just another Monster of the Week, and eventually we learned of the existence of super-powerful, primordial threats, things that predated angels or humans or Hell itself (like the Leviathans, or Eve, the mother of all monsters). But really, the greatest connective tissue between the mundane supernatural threats and the biblical ones was the Winchesters themselves — if only because Dean and Sam would hunt them all down equally, if they had reason to.
Which is why I find Michael’s plan for world domination so fascinating. Episode two kicks off with Michael, still rocking his handsomest Dean-suit, holed up in a creepy abandoned church in Duluth (which looked like the Hill House set to me, and I couldn’t shake it). Also, he’s wearing a… well, a murder apron, if I’m being honest. Like, sure — maybe it’s intended for butchers, but it’s clearly ideally suited for chainsaw murders or something. Why does Michael need such a thing? Probably because he’s experimenting on all those people he has chained up. He slices their necks just a wee bit — enough to drop some blood in a goblet. Then he heals them, because he’s not TRYING to kill them, OK? And then he takes their blood, mixes a few drops of Grace into it, and feeds it back to them… at which point they usually die in a horrible, eye-burning way.
And as we learn when Sam, Mary, and Bobby arrive to investigate that giant pile of eye-less bodies the police discovered: Those weren’t people Michael experimented on. They were vampires. What Michael is trying to do, as we learn over the course of the episode, is to identify just the right amount of Grace to give his new monster allies, in order to strengthen them into the perfect army. And he apparently perfects the formula, because it becomes a selling point when he later brokers a deal with the leader of a pack of werewolves. Basically: Join me in subjugating the human race, and I’ll enhance your talents. “Why be the hunted when you can be the hunter,” he asks.
So why is the archangel Michael choosing to work with vampires and werewolves rather than humans? Apparently, it’s because monsters may kill, but they do it to survive. They’re true to themselves. People, on the other hand, are false. They lie, cheat and covet, which is why Michael thinks humans are the real monsters. But even his stance on the vamps and wolves is an evolution for him. Remember: He turned his original world into a barren, blasted wasteland in an attempt to eradicate EVERYONE. But he also had an army of angels to help him do it. On this new Earth, there aren’t a whole lotta angels left to help him create his perfect world. So I dunno whether his stance on monsters has really evolved or if he’s just using them. One thing is for certain though: Dude REALLY hates humanity.
But world domination is just Michael’s longterm plan. He’s also got a short-term one, because he’s a multitasker. Like I said, Sam heads to Duluth with Mary and Bobby to investigate those bodies the cops discovered — and they quickly track down a survivor. The young vampire woman escaped Michael’s makeshift lab when some of her fellow vamps fought back. In exchange for the hunters not, you know, hunting her, she tells them what she saw Michael doing and where his hideout is. And then after they leave, Michael arrives to tie up loose ends (kill her) — because OBVIOUSLY he left the dead body pile lying around to lure Sam to Duluth, and let the vamp survive to give Sam the directions to find him. This is all part of his other plan, the purpose of which isn’t entirely clear.
You see, we do get confirmation this episode that Dean is still alive and kicking it with Michael, because we see them arguing in a mirror’s reflection (HI, DEAN!). But Michael reasserts his dominance by punching the mirror (BYE, DEAN!).
I was figuring this whole “Bring Dean Back” thing would keep on keeping on for a while. The trap, it seemed, was to spring some of Michael’s fully upgraded werewolf minions on Sam and Co. when they arrived, which I figured was the extent of Michael’s plan. And it seems like a good one for a second there, since these enhanced wolves are resistant to silver! But not to beheading, so naturally our favorite hunters come out on top.
And then Michael enters… only he’s back to being Dean again? WAIT WHAAAAAT?
Now, I’m not trying to besmirch the mightiness of Dean Winchester, professional Apocalypse-Stopper… but, like, did he REALLY defeat Michael offscreen somehow? No, I don’t think so. Would Michael just up and leave? No way. Just like letting the cops find those bodies, or letting that vampire escape, letting Dean take over his body again is all part of Michael’s plan. To what end, I’m not sure. But maybe there are some clues in this week’s B plot, which is: Castiel Plays Therapist… Poorly.
Basically, Cas stayed behind at the Bunker to keep an eye on Jack and Nick while everyone else went to track Michael. Jack’s problems are pretty straightforward: He wants his Grace to grow back, but no amount of research can help him on that front. So Cas gives him a pep talk about how powers aren’t everything, and you need to rely on yourself or whatever… and then Jack goes to visit his grandparents. Who don’t realize that their daughter Kelly (Jack’s human mother), is dead. The whole thing is touching, but doesn’t really go anywhere. When he comes back, though, Cas scolds him for going out unprotected — and then Jack returns fire with a dose of painful reality. He says everyone is more focused on saving Dean than stopping Michael, and that’s a problem (IT IS!). Jack’s seen what Michael did to that other world, and he must be stopped (IT’S TRUE!). And moreover: Dean would agree (HE REALLY WOULD!). Cas obviously can’t bring himself to agree that “Dean doesn’t matter,” as Jack put it, but… deep down, he knows it’s true.
Methinks Jack may be crucial to figuring out the Dean-shaped Trojan Horse that’s coming their way…
As for Nick, he’s still experiencing memories of his time being possessed by Lucifer (flashback to killing and whatnot — you know, the usual), and even reacting with his smiting hand subconsciously, which shows that even with the Devil gone, some scars still remain. He’s wallowing in guilt, wondering why he let Lucifer possess him in the first place, so Cas explains that Nick was in pain and Lucifer manipulated that. You see, Nick’s wife and child had been killed — apparently murdered with a hammer (DAMN, Supernatural!). Nick tries to call the cops and find out if they ever identified the murderer during all that time he was off being Lucifer, only to discover that it’s a cold case now. Their one lead was a witness — Nick’s neighbor — who said he saw someone leaving the house the night of the murders, only to later say he was wrong and saw nothing. So Nick goes to talk to that neighbor and try to get to the bottom of it… and when the guy sticks to his story, Nick kills him. With a hammer.
On the surface, this whole Nick thing could be laying the groundwork for how mentally damaging it is to have an archangel all up inside you, for when Dean really does shake Michael. But, like, Dean’s literally been a torturer in Hell. He can handle it. Another possibility is that Lucifer is still in there somewhere, pulling the strings — planting the seed of doubt as to whether Dean will ever be free of Michael either. I also wonder whether Lucifer was the one that killed Nick’s family in the first place… or whether it was Nick himself all along. The question is whether Nick’s hammer skills are his own, or if they might be a leftover from Lucifer. And if Nick WAS the killer, then it makes sense why Lucifer would come to him. He’s a bad dude, the way Jimmy Novak was a good dude and a great match with Cas.
All of which is a longwinded way of saying: I dunno what the Hell is going on with this show, but I’m into it. We’re getting a steady stream of answers, and of new questions, and I’m excited to see where it all goes. But mostly? I’m impressed we’ve already got Dean back, even if it isn’t permanent!
Header Image Source: CW