Supernatural – Season 14 Episode 18
Supernatural deals with the fallout of the previous episode and continues to explore how much of Jack’s soul has been lost.
The previous episode had some very obvious foreshadowing of Mary Winchester’s fate that led up to a cliffhanger ending suggesting that she was in real danger around Jack after what he did to Nick. He was looking for approval to help settle his internal conflict and Mary wouldn’t give it to him because she believed that what he did was wrong.
At first this episode uses Sam and Dean as the audience perspective to keep the ambiguity of the cliffhanger going. They weren’t present for many of the events so are trying to understand what went on. It’s a good start for the episode as it immediately creates a sense of urgency surrounding the unanswered questions. Their first attempt to track down Jack using his phone doesn’t work because he is flying around the globe for reasons that are unknown to them. It’s a simple yet effective sequence showing his picture constantly moving around a map. It suggests that there is something he is struggling to deal with as the erratic movement could be seen as a symptom of panic.
Eventually Jack returns to where he started and the episode reveals what happened. Lucifer manifests in his subconscious to remind him that he killed Mary in a heat of the moment reaction that he now regrets because it’s something that isn’t easily taken back. He has been concerned about the state of his soul following getting his powers back so this seems to be a pretty big indicator that he has lost a lot -if not all- of it. Mary is someone he had a strong connection with so the idea that he could kill her in a moment of irrational rage is unthinkable to him but the situation is that he did it and now has to deal with the consequences.
His erratic global movement is in service of finding a way to bring her back because the normal rules concerning death don’t apply where the Winchesters are concerned as per the extensive evidence. Alexander Calvert does a great job playing Jack as unbalanced and unpredictable. The manifestation of Lucifer goading him with his inner darkness works brilliantly as well. It’s unclear if the real Lucifer has latched onto Jack in some way and is haunting him or if he’s a creation within Jack’s subconscious that represents the terrible things that he is tempted to do. Supernatural plays around with voices in the head quite often. This is a fairly typical example of this but it works nicely because it’s always great to see Mark Pellegrino bounce off other actors. The sight of Nick’s body to reveal that this is in Jack’s head was a well executed reveal. Having him grow to accept Lucifer’s way of thinking gradually over the course of the episode once he feels truly abandoned by Sam and Dean continues this unpredictability.
Jack eventually going to see Rowena to bring Mary back makes a lot of sense given her skill level and their interactions are appropriately tense thanks to the aforementioned unpredictability of Jack in this moment. It says a lot when Rowena is terrified of what might happen to her because she knows what Jack is capable of and is aware of how unhinged he is so does what she can to stall him while also helping him on his request. Ultimately these interactions are an excuse to drink in the tension as Rowena knows that what Jack wants is most likely not possible. There is mention of the lack of a body which makes it more difficult to resurrect someone as there’s nowhere for the displaced essence to go. The dialogue points to this being very dangerous because the necessary elements aren’t currently in play for a successful resurrection. This adds further danger to the situation as it’s possible that Jack’s desperation will cause an abomination of some sort to be brought back.
Sam and Dean are on the same page here and immediately look into what it will take to bring Mary back. This delays the grieving process because Mary isn’t really dead until this avenue has been explored. They end up accepting the inevitable quickly and employ their other go to in this situation by giving Mary a Hunter’s funeral. It’s a very Human way of dealing with loss with a Supernatural twist because of what has become routine to them. It does just delay the inevitable acceptance but it’s a realistic reaction given the rules of the universe this show lives in.
As Sam and Dean work to understand and rectify the situation they have really open conversations about Jack and what this means for their relationship with them. Sam talks about Dean being resistant to accepting him in the beginning because of the danger he represented. There was eagerness on Sam’s part to accept him because he had a good heart and eventually Dean came around to fully welcoming him into the fold. Sam points out that they both have to accept a measure of the blame here because neither of them had any idea what would actually happen. Now they’re at the point where they consider him family and they have to deal with him taking someone who was very dear to them both. It couldn’t be predicted and it’s going to be even harder to accept because this attack comes from within. Sam especially feels guilty because he was so consumed with grief after Maggie and the other Hunters were killed that he neglected his self imposed responsibility to Jack and made it Castiel’s problem. As always he’s being harsh on himself for having very Human reactions to situations but it all adds to the complexity of how tragedy affects people.
Dean reacts to the situation in a way consistent with his character. As always he goes on the offensive and seeks to find someone to blame. At first his sights are set on Castiel who didn’t tell them about what he had noticed about Jack’s behaviour. The killing of the snake is referenced as being the first major warning sign with Dean being enraged that the information wasn’t disclosed. Cas talks about the act itself not being an evil act. He calls it “The absence of good” which is a fairly beautiful statement with lots of weight attached to it. Jack is currently straddling something betwen good and evil as he doesn’t know the difference between the two so has his judgement compromised by the damage that has been done to his soul. He simply doesn’t care which means that he can’t make decent moral judgements. Castiel observed this and thought he could be the one to steer Jack in the right direction but he was wrong to keep it from Sam and Dean because keeping secrets is always a bad thing in this show. Dean threatens that Cas will be dead to him if it turns out that Jack killed Mary; he clearly doesn’t actually mean that but it illustrates how angry he is that Cas kept this to himself when there was really no need to. I get the impression that Dean is all out of chances and forgiveness where Jack is concerned though we shall see if that is put to the test.
Mary’s presence looms large over the episode through some poignant flashbacks that illustrate how she impacted the characters. The flashback involving Castiel takes place shortly after her return when she didn’t actually trust him to the point that she won’t allow herself to be healed by him. These two characters wouldn’t typically be seen together and that’s basically what the scene is about while illustrating that she did make an impact on Cas because she is an extension of the family he found for himself through Sam and Dean. A later flashback shows her teaching Jack how to put strength into throwing knives before imparting parental advice onto Sam. This is a great scene loaded with emotion and acknowledging a more realistic view of Mary as a parent. Before her return she was held on a pedestal as this perfect loss but her return has forced Sam and Dean to see her as a flawed person who doesn’t have all the answers. In this flashback Mary talks about how much of a struggle parenting is and is immensely proud of how her kids have turned out despite the mistakes she has made. This is designed to give Sam reassurance that it’s ok to make mistakes with Jack because he is ultimately doing right by him.
Using flashbacks to showcase the impact Mary has on the other characters after her death was really effective as it allows this episode to feel like something of a wake for her. Jack does succeed in bringing the body back but it isn’t something that could take her life force so it gives Sam and Dean something to burn and something physical to mourn. They can also carry on secure in the knowledge that Mary is in Heaven and completely at peace with her afterlife so even though they feel her loss they can take comfort in knowing that she isn’t going to suffer. Castiel delivering that message after seeing her personal Heaven should have some weight to it but it would have been better had the episode actually shown a brief conversation where Mary told him herself. It wouldn’t have taken much and it would have allowed Mary to give some final words to deliver to her sons. Not showing this weakens the moment considerably.
A strong episode that provides a meaningful exit for a major character and furthers the questions surrounding Jack. His emotionally driven decision that caused the death of Mary weighs heavily on him throughout the episode and is visualised really effectively by his erratic global movement shown through his phone being tracked across the globe. The erratic movement suggests desperation and this is backed up by his behaviour once he realises the implications of his actions. He comes across as constantly unpredictable which makes him something of a terrifying presence throughout and the presence of some sort of manifestation of Lucifer in his head helps illustrate how conflicted he is between right and wrong at this point. Sam and Dean also struggle with what Jack has done and have open conversations about their failings when it comes to dealing with him. Dean seems to be all out of forgiveness where Jack is concerned and resents Castiel for keeping the truth from them. Sam blames himself for being too wrapped up in grief to notice what was happening and passing off the responsibility so they are both feeling the impact of decisions they made surrounding Jack.
Mary’s death hangs over this episode and her life is celebrated through flashbacks summing up her relationships with the other characters. The parental advice she imparts to Sam to make him feel better about his leadership skills and handling of Jack while acknowledging her own faults in that are is really strong and builds up to the point that her death is accepted by them. Jack’s efforts only manage to bring back a body incapable of supporting life but it gives them something to mourn and something to burn as per their traditions. Revealing that she is at peace in Heaven is a nice touch though not showing Castiel learning that weakens it considerably.
- the visualisation of Jack’s erratic behaviour
- Jack’s manifestation of Lucifer contextualising his internal conflict
- the general sense of unease whenever Jack shares a scene with someone
- Sam and Dean’s open conversations about their handling of Jack
- using flashbacks to highlight Mary’s impact on the other characters
- stating that Mary is at peace in a personal Heaven but showing no evidence of it
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