Look, I’ll be upfront about this: Last night’s episode was not a light-hearted affair. It wasn’t cute, or fun, or funny really. And in some ways the ending was a foregone conclusion, in the sense that we all are well-versed with the tricks that Supernatural has up its sleeve to wiggle out of whatever corner it has written itself into, and the show managed to deploy basically all of them over the course of the hour. But for all the obvious bits, there were still a few pleasant surprises — and in the end, the Winchesters finally got some help in the hunt for Michael (just in time for next week’s midseason finale, natch!).
So, Jack dies like right off the bat, which isn’t really a big shock considering where things ended last week. And for a hot second, it seems like for once the boys will just… let it be. Grieve, accept, move on. They’ll prep a pyre and give the young Nephilim a proper hunter-style bonfire funeral — tomorrow. “Tonight, we get loaded,” says Dean. And loaded they get. Seriously, it looks like they toasted Jack by drinking ALL THE WHISKEY IN THE BUNKER (and considering how old that place is, you know some of those reserve bottles had to be OLD). Sam taps out first, followed by Cas, and Dean? Well, he keeps going until he’s passed out face first on the table. Atta boy!
Unfortunately, by the time Dean wakes up Sam has already brainstormed a super-genius great idea way to cheat death and save Jack — or rather, he’s remembered someone from their past who might be able to help them: Lily Sunder. And if you don’t recognize her, that’s because when she originally appeared on the show two seasons ago, she was played by Alicia Witt. Lily was a woman with a well-deserved grudge against the angels, who studied Enochian magic to gain immortality and enough power to get her revenge against the angel that killed her daughter (long story). But there was a catch: a little bit of her soul burned out every time she used that magic, and after she got her revenge she decided to give up that magic (and her immortality) in order to preserve the little sliver of soul she had left. A sliver she hoped would be enough to get her into Heaven with her daughter, though she feared she was actually bound for Hell (because, I mean, she slaughtered a LOT of angels). So when she shows up at the bunker, she’s no longer Alicia Witt — she’s aged, and is now played by Veronica Cartwright.
Sam hopes that Lily’s knowledge will allow her to decypher Kevin Tran’s old Angel Tablet translations, and hopes that THOSE might hold a clue that can help Jack. Unfortunately, she can’t — but she has an idea of her own. Maybe her Enochian magic can save Jack. After all, he does have half a human soul, and if he only needs the power to stay alive it shouldn’t require him to sacrifice too much of it. But she won’t agree to help unless Sam and Dean can find a way to get her into heaven when she dies. Quid pro quo, or as Sam puts it: “Taking risks, making crappy deals — that’s what we do.” Rousing endorsement of this game plan, Sammy. So while Sam and Dean work on helping Lily, Cas is sent to track down Jack’s soul, to prepare it for the eventual resurrection spell.
So where’s Jack? He made it into his own personal Heaven — which for him looks like a typical day out with Dean, Sam, Cas, Baby, and some burgers (SAME, JACK). But then things start glitching, and when he makes his way out into the familiar white hallways of Heaven that we’re used to, he finds the culprit: BLACK GOO!
That goo, which we recently saw LUCIFER WAKING UP IN, is from the place where angels go when they die: The Empty. A place of total and complete nothingness ruled over by The Shadow. And The Shadow is invading Heaven because it believes it should have possession of Jack — after all, the other half of the boy’s soul is angelic. Castiel has experience with The Shadow, having been the only angel to ever return from The Empty (like everyone else on this damn show, he’s died and come back, OK?). So while Jack is evading the goo by ducking into his mom’s heaven (HI KELLY!), Cas arrives and sees some goo-stricken angels on the ground and is like, “Oh sh*t.” And then Naomi (the always-wonderful Amanda Tapping) returns to ask for his help saving Heaven, by delivering Jack to The Shadow. NO WAY, NAOMI. Cas is going to save heaven by resurrecting Jack, so nobody gets his soul! BOOYAH!
Back on Earth, Sam and Dean summon Anubis, who is the one behind the scenes measuring the sins of souls and sending them either up or down. And yes, he IS and Egyptian deity, but he’s temping for Heaven since it’s not exactly like God is around to judge souls anymore. Anubis busts out his soul abacus and confirms that as things stand now, Lily has done more bad than good in her life and is bound for hell. But the thing is that Anubis can’t change people’s fates, he can only measure them — because human choices are the only things that matter. So when the Winchesters threaten to keep him trapped unless he guarantees Lily a spot in Heaven, he points out that it would be pointless — and choosing to trap him might change their OWN fates. Wisely, Sam releases him (they’ve both been to Hell enough as it is, after all).
With no hope that the Winchesters can keep their side of the deal, Lily is ready to walk. After all, helping them earns her nothing. But Sam and Dean plead their case one last time, saying that Jack is like their son (AWWWW THEY ADMIT IT!), and if she leaves she’ll be dooming them to the same pain she herself has felt all these years. She changes her mind, and they start to prep the magic spell…
Up in Heaven, Castiel tracks Jack down in Kelly’s heaven, and then The Shadow (who was hiding in an angel Cas saved) emerges to grab the boy. Fighting ensues, but Cas knows he’s running out of time. So he pulls the ultimate Supernatural trump card: he offers himself in Jack’s place. After all, he’s the one that woke The Shadow up in the first place, back when he had died and then escaped and all that. So he agrees to sacrifice himself if The Shadow will leave Jack alone. And The Shadow accepts the deal, with one condition: it won’t happen just yet. Castiel gets to live, and return to Earth, and just when he’s almost gotten comfortable and forgotten about this deal — BAM. That’s when The Shadow will come for him. To make him suffer, he’ll never know how long he has.
So The Shadow departs, and Castiel drops the other time-honored Winchester play: he tells Jack to keep this deal a secret from Sam and Dean, because he doesn’t want to worry them. Awwww, no sacrifice is complete without a secret to go along with it! Then Cas sends Jack’s soul back to his body, where he recites the Enochian spell that transfers Lily’s magic onto him, curing him in the process. And Lily dies, having given up the magic that sustained her. But it’s cool because her own sacrifice tipped the scales in her favor — literally. She changed her fate with her final selfless act, and Anubis is able to send her to Heaven to be with her daughter.
Before he can make it out of Heaven himself, Naomi stops Cas to thank him. He did save Heaven after all, and she offers him a reward: all the information she has on the archangel Michael’s whereabouts! FINALLY, A BREAK IN THE CASE! Now all the boys need to do is track down Dark Kaia and her archangel-killing spear, which seems to be the plan for next week. And of course, there was no mention from The Shadow that there were any newly-awakened evil archangels in its realm, so we’re still waiting for the other shoe to drop on that whole Lucifer sitch. But what I’m most concerned with is the fact that Castiel was acting pretty chill when he made it back to the bunker, which makes me think that Naomi’s hot Michael tips didn’t include that fact that he’s clearly still hiding inside of Dean.
Which, I mean… he has to be. Right?
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