Supernatural – Season 14 Episode 2
“Gods and Monsters”
Supernatural concentrates on developing some of the secondary characters as Michael experiments to create stronger monsters.
This show started out as a roadtrip show. Sam and Dean would roll into town, deal with the supernatural threat and move onto their next job. This storytelling structure meant that there would be very little exploration of how the experience affects the people that Sam and Dean saved. This isn’t a bad thing as the show had a very particular mission statement that worked.
Audiences could be forgiven for wondering if there is anything new to be done on this show now that we are fourteen seasons in and this episode goes a long way towards proving that there is still plenty of territory to explore. The consequences of a given situation aren’t explored to the extent of showing what a one shot character from a bygone episode did with their lives after discovering that the supernatural is very real but Nick’s role in this episode is the next best thing. He’s a character with limitless potential as we have seen Mark Pellegrino play Lucifer for nearly a decade with no indication of what the man behind his vessel was really like. It’s a whole new character for the actor to play and the writers are making every effort to make his presence worthwhile.
It was established last week that everyone feels uneasy about him but Castiel takes it upon himself to attempt to get past this in order to help him. There is also the added concern that part of Lucifer might be left behind so Cas takes the time to get to know him and find this out naturally. Nick is remembering parts of what Lucifer did in his body but doesn’t have the full picture and is generally a badly tortured individual who doesn’t know what he should feel guilty about. All he knows is that his body was used to do unspeakable things and he has been left to pick up the pieces.
Cas tries to reassure him that it wasn’t really him and speaks from experience as to the disconnect between Angel and vessel. Lucifer approached Nick when he was at his most vulnerable, exploited his pain and used it to gain the consent necessary to allow possession. Mark Pellegrino’s performance suggests that Nick is disgusted in himself for consenting. The mention of his family seems to trigger something within him that he was either unable ir unwilling or unable to remember prior to that.
Nick’s life stopped the moment he said yes and now he’s picking up exactly where he left off which means that all of the pain and anger he felt after the murder of his family is still raw and he becomes fixated on finding who killed them. This is a good example of what I mentioned above. Nick was possessed by Lucifer but the show didn’t ever explore who Nick was or what had been lost as a result of him disappearing without a trace. We know he had a family but presumably he had friends, a job and other interests. Those people in his life connected to those things would likely miss him though apparently never reported him missing.
This episode gives a sense of the life Nick had through the conversation he has with his neighbour who reported that he saw a man leaving Nick’s house after murdering his family. It doesn’t add up because he retracted that report sometime later but Nick wants to follow it up and hear from him what happened exactly.
It’s a great scene that shows just how unhinged Nick is at this point. Earlier in the episode he instinctively snaps his fingers at Cas as a defence mechanism showing that Lucifer’s influence has changed something in him. When this is combined with the grief and impatience surrounding the murder of his family Nick has the potential to be a very dangerous man. When he doesn’t get what he wants out of his former neighbour he kills him in what seems to be a moment of passion that sends him into a fugue state. Only the aftermath is seen but Mark Pellegrino plays this as if the realisation of what Nick has done is only just dawning on him. It remains to be seen if Nick always had it within him to kill or if Lucifer’s influence has corrupted him in some way. It’s possible that something similar happened in the past and Nick unknowingly killed his family. All this potential makes this character worthwhile and what comes next should be fascinating.
I also found what Nick’s presence means to Castiel really interesting. Cas is witnessing the aftermath of Angel possession which makes him think back to Jimmy Novak; a good man who is now dead because of Castiel. Whether he was willing or not is somewhat irrelevant as Cas still feels responsible for that. This also extends to his family that have been forever affected by that loss. Misha Collins does a great job playing Cas as full of regret. His delivery of his admission that the pain he caused the Novak family is the thing he regrets most in all of the time he has existed is really sincere and heartfelt.
Arguably this is very much Castiel’s episode as he spends a lot of time interacting with Jack as well. This reinforces their strong connection where Cas is the closest thing he has to a father. Early on Jack is struggling to cope with his depleted Grace and is trying to find out how long it’ll take to replenish. Unfortunately there is no guaranteed timescale and he might be left powerless for a century. Cas makes him feel better by relating to him with his own experience of losing his powers and sense of purpose. He talks about how he came to realise what he had going for him and suggests that it made him feel a little more Human. His new reality allowed him to learn that Sam and Dean weren’t born with their expertise and have to overcome their own limitations every day. Cas became stronger as a person after losing what he thought defined him and suggests that Jack could do the same by embracing his Human side.
Jack’s interpretation of this is to meet his grandparents. It’s an endearingly awkward exchange that clearly does wonders for Jack’s sense of self as it lets him feel more connected to his mother than he ever has. He can’t be honest with them about who he is because explaining why he’s less than a year old but an adult would be very difficult but he is able to talk fondly about Kelly and see how happy they are when they learn that they have a grandson. It’s a somewhat bittersweet exchange because they don’t know that their daughter is dead and Jack can’t bring himself to break the news. This is another example of these largely unseen consequences that this show doesn’t really explore. Prior to this Kelly was a character who might as well not have any other family because they weren’t ever part of the plot that was she was part of. Adding this chunk of backstory through her parents and what they say about her retroactively makes her a deeper character as well as enhancing Jack’s character. The audience experiences this from his perspective which works really well as it makes this character beat feel far more intimate.
Cas berates Jack for taking that much of a risk considering how sought after he is though quickly comes round to his way of thinking and understands why Jack did it. He praises Jack for leaning into kindness; a positive Human trait and recognises that this experience was a good one for Jack to have. The conversation shifts into what to do about Michael which contrasts Jack’s exploration of his Humanity wonderfully. Cas is adamant that Dean be saved with no alternative outcome entering his mind. Jack continues to challenge this and makes it clear that if it comes down to it then Dean doesn’t matter if it means stopping Michael. It’s a really cold way of looking at the situation but understandable considering the amount of time Jack spent on the other Earth battling his forces. Their divided opinion on this creates a rift between them that is nicely visualised by the gap between then as they have the discussion.
Sam, Mary and Bobby spend the episode investigating reports that might lead them to Michael. For the most part this plot is fairly mechanical investigation stuff but it’s good to see Bobby out in the field on this Earth and the details of what they are looking into are compelling enough.
Michael spends most of his time experimenting on monsters to make them more powerful by imbuing them with Archangel Grace. It takes a while but eventually he figures it out and now there are Werewolves who are immune to silver. Once he succeeds with this he moves into Vampires and promises them that they can live in a world where they become the hunters rather than the hunted.
If done right removing standard weaknesses from common monsters could be a game changer as it gives Sam and his team a new problem with a familiar face that can’t be defeated through conventional means. It forces them to learn, adapt and consider things more carefully. Increasing the threat level of established monsters after so many years on the air is arguably necessary for the show to continue to be sustainable.
Jensen Ackles’ performance as Michael is still great. At no point did I think about him as Dean during any of his scenes because of how completely he inhabits this character. He plays it with such an infectious casual sadism that makes Michael stand out as his own character. His complete disregard for the safety anyone around him makes him an interesting threat as he is one that can’t be reasoned with in any way and it’s easy to see why he would be persuasive to the various monsters he propositions. I have no idea where the writers are going with Dean’s apparent return at the end of the episode but I’m hopeful that Michael is laying low until his army is large enough to carry out his plan otherwise there’s very little point in starting off this plot. I’m confident that there is more to come as it seemed that Michael’s plan was going exactly as he intended it so it makes no sense for him to retreat from Dean at this point.
An excellent episode that explores how the events of this show affect background characters. Nick is a great example of this as his life stopped once Lucifer inhabited him and now he has to pick it up. In theory he had friends, colleagues and interests that were abandoned when he ostensibly vanished off the face of the Earth. The episode explores this to a degree as he sets about solving the murder of his family which leads him to a dishonest neighbour. He ends up killing this man while in what is hinted to be a fugue state either hinting that Lucifer has had some lingering influence or that he might have killed his family in the first place before forgetting all about it. Cas makes for a great buffer for Nick as he is able to relate to him like nobody else can and is reminded of the pain he has caused the Novak family which causes him to admit that it’s his greatest regret in his long existence.
Jack also receives some significant development when he learns that it may be a long time before his Grace is restored. Instead he chooses to embrace his Human side and goes to visit his grandparents. Even though he can’t be honest with them about who he is or what happened to their daughter it’s a very positive experience for them that makes him feel like he isn’t alone in the world. Despite the reservations he has around Jack putting himself in danger of being caught he understands what prompted it and is proud that he is embracing a positive Human trait. This is contrasted by Jack’s cold view of Michael being someone who must be stopped even if Dean is sacrificed where Cas is entirely devoted to saving Dean. Cas also relates to him like nobody else can through his understanding of what it’s like to lose Angel powers and advises Jack based on his experience of finding a new purpose. Sam, Mary and Bobby in the field is somewhat mechanical yet interesting enough in terms of the details and it ties nicely into the Michael plot. Jensen Ackles as Michael remains a great performance that at no point reminds me of Dean and I’m hopeful that Michael’s apparent departure doesn’t signal the end of that. His plan certainly seems to be on track so there’s no reason for that to end and I like that the familiar monsters are becoming more powerful to add extra threat level to the storytelling.
- Nick as a vessel to explore the consequences of events in this show
- Jack learning about his family and therefore his Humanity
- Castiel’s ability to relate to both Nick and Lucifer
- Jensen Ackles’ performance as Michael
- the Bobby, Sam and Mary plot being a little too mechanical
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