First things first: Yes, I’m still writing recaps for Supernatural. I just happened to be out of town when the Big Damn 300th Episode aired last month, and then the show went on hiatus… only to return last week when I was in Austin for SXSW. To make matters even worse, last week’s episode was a biggie! There was a creepy snake guy, who knocked Dean unconscious, and Michael escaped the Cooler Of The Mind and possessed Rowena. And Rowena made a DAMN FINE archangel, I have to say. And then Jack burned up an indeterminate amount of his soul battling Michael… and killing him.
YES. MICHAEL IS DEAD. And Dean didn’t even need to get locked in his water coffin, so I don’t know what Billie was up to with all of her fate-books. It was not the resolution I think any of us saw coming, but it did set the stage for what I’m guessing is the next threat: Jack himself. Because our favorite nephilim didn’t just kill Michael — he consumed all that juicy archangel grace, restoring him to his full powers. And when I say “full powers” I mean he’s back to being basically the most powerful creature in the universe. But without a complete soul to guide him, what will he do with all that power?
That’s the question on everyone’s minds heading into last night’s episode. And to be honest, it was mostly a filler episode, but it was a filler episode that combined Pleasantville with Scanners and gave Sammy some goofy glasses so I AM HERE FOR IT. Basically: Sam and Cas go off to investigate a series of head-explosions in Arkansas, while Dean gets stuck babysitting Jack and Jack’s new pet snake while trying to figure out whether the boy-philim has any soul left or what.
Oh and by the way: Dean is totally scared of snakes.
The episode begins with Sam and Jack both feeling out of sorts. Sam can’t get over the fact that all the Apocalypse-World hunters are dead (massacred by Michaelwena last week — tying up THAT loose end rather neatly), and he’s trying to distract himself by taking on case after case just to get out of the Bunker. And Jack has his powers back, but doesn’t feel like he did before — but he doesn’t know why he feels off (narrator: it’s because he’s got ??/100th of his soul left, duh). Of course, neither one of them wants to worry Dean and Castiel with their problems, so they bottle it all up and say they’re fine in textbook Winchester denial fashion.
(Seriously, the day these guys start being honest about their feelings from the get-go is the day I’ll know the show is finally grinding to a halt. And we all know this show can never die.)
When Sam comes up with yet another
distraction weird case, Cas decides to accompany him to investigate — leaving Dean to try his luck at dealing with Jack. The investigation takes Sam and Cas to a picture perfect community called Charming Acres (tagline: “Where Everybody’s Happy” — and ain’t THAT some menacing sh*t?!) to try and figure out why a young man’s head exploded all over a nearby gas station. What they discover is a retro Norman Rockwell nightmare where nobody knows what a cell phone is but hey — the first milkshake at the soda shop is free! The soda shop is owned by the town mayor, Chip Harrington, and either the patently ridiculous name “Chip Harrington” or the idea of a mayoral soda shop purveyor should be setting off some red flags but it’s too early in the episode for that. Sam hasn’t even been brainwashed yet!
So uh… it doesn’t take long for Sam to drink the
Kool-Aid milkshake and fall under the Charming Acres spell, forgetting his own identity, tying his hair back into a knot and slipping into the role of beloved husband and cardigan-wearer Justin Smith. Because the previous “Justin Smith” also suffered a head-‘splosion when he started remembering that, hey, that’s not his wife or his house and WTF is even going on?! And if the idea of Sam Winchester wearing a cardigan is funny (IT IS), it’s only beaten by the repeated gag of Cas trying to track down his partner by describing him solely as a “tall man” with “beautiful hair.”
Not that he’s wrong on either point.
Normally Supernatural finds some sort of myth or lore to exploit in its cases, so it’s a little disappointing that the ultimate reveal of what’s going on is so undefined. Yes, Chip is the culprit. He was unhappy with, I dunno, modernity? And he has some kind of wish-fulfillment power that allowed him to recreate his town to a place that is all happy, all the time, by making everyone do whatever he wants. Whenever anyone started to rebel against his designs and see through the delusion, he’d blow up their heads (which was sad, because I was hoping it was the milkshake’s fault). The only people immune to his powers are Cas, because he’s not human, and Chip’s daughter Sunny — who shares his powers, and finally steps up to put an end to his reign by trapping him in a happy little mind world where he can’t hurt anyone ever again.
The fact that we don’t know exactly what Chip and Sunny are (witches? demi-gods? psychics?), though, makes me wonder if that’s the last we’ll ever see of them. If nothing else, knowing there’s a girl out there with the power to recreate reality to her heart’s content is a nifty thing to keep in their back pocket.
Meanwhile, Dean takes Jack on a road trip to see the prophet Donatello, who has no soul (remember — God’s sister ripped it out). Donatello tries to explain what being soulless feels like — it feels like a galaxy, bright and shiny but with a black hole inside. It doesn’t feel bad, really, it just feels like nothing. It’s the absence of pity, empathy, humanity. You can go through the motions but there’s an emptiness inside you, so when Don wants to blend he follows one simple guiding principle:
“What Would Mr. Rogers Do?”
Jack takes that to heart, but instead asks himself WWWD: “What Would the Winchesters Do?” Because while he doesn’t know who Mr. Rogers is, he does know that Sam and Dean are the best people he knows. And what would the Winchesters do? They’d help! And that’s what leads him to kill that snake he’s been carting around since he killed its owner, the Gorgon, last episode. The snake wasn’t eating, and missed its friend, so Jack did what he thought the Winchesters would do. He “helps” it… by sending it to the afterlife to meet its owner.
An action that Castiel witnesses, and seems mighty disturbed by. Will the Winchesters be enough of a substitute moral compass to keep Jack in line, or will the combination of a spotty soul and limitless power lead him down a dangerous path?
I think we all know the answer to THAT.
— What’s Other-Bobby gonna say about all his people getting killed on Sam and Dean’s watch, huh?
— This was top-to-bottom a Castiel episode, and he had all the best lines. His first guess as to the root of all the idyllic weirdness in Charming Acres? “Maybe they’re Mormons?” When Chip proclaims himself God, Sam’s all like “No you’re not, we’ve met God” and Cas pipes in with, “God has a BEARD.” And when they return to the bunker: “Yeah, I told him (Dean) about the cardigan.”
— Dean thinks snakes might enjoy bacon, mostly because he enjoys bacon. Seems legit. Also, I’m pretty sure he tried to use snack cakes as a half-cocked personality test for Jack: will he choose the off-brand Twinkie, or the off-brand Devil Dog?
Header Image Source: The CW