Supernatural – Season 14 Episode 14
Supernatural returns from a hiatus and settles the audience in with what appears to be a fairly standard hunt on the surface but goes off in a surprising direction.
Fans of this show know the routine when it comes to a hunt by now so this episode largely skips the preliminary stages of it and begins with Noah the Gorgon (Philippe Bowgen) cooking up his latest victim for a delicious feast only to be interrupted by a vision of the Winchesters closing in on him. This establishes that Noah has been on their radar for a while and has successfully eluded them for a while. It’s a quick way to make it clear that he’s a credible threat without spending time on the usual investigative trappings in order to set up the antagonist.
Noah is immediately engaging as a villain. He’s very casually sadistic and grotesque enough to make an impression that lasts. His ability to see them coming is a real test of Sam and Dean’s skill as the element of surprise is completely lost. Noah also happens to be a Demigod which means that his raw power is far above the usual opponent. All of this adds up to a pretty engaging one off antagonist which makes the filler nature of much of this episode feel somewhat worthwhile.
As with any one shot villain there’s plenty of opportunity for antics that endear the audience to the characters and either develop or reinforce their relationships in some way. Rowena being along for the ride is really entertaining. She’s used really well in this episode to such a strong degree that it overcomes my dislike for the character. Sam and Rowena make for an excellent double act as evidenced by them bickering like an old married couple when bringing Jack disguised as a Dog into the Vet so that they can steal some anti venom. There’s also a great gag about Jack having his temperature taken by the Vet and that being somewhat invasive.
Rowena’s presence has the added advantage of reiterating how dangerous Jack’s current situation is. She points out that the magic that allows his soul to compensate for his lack of Grace is dangerous and more akin to something she would have done in the past. For whatever reason Sam chooses not to go into detail about what has been done possibly because he doesn’t want to hear the extent of how dangerous it is or perhaps he doesn’t fully trust Rowena. Either way having her end the conversation with reminding Sam that she wouldn’t think twice about doing something like that and she used to be the villain which suggests that a dark path lies ahead if great care isn’t taken to avoid it. It’s a very small moment but highlights how Rowena’s role has changed and reinforces the thin line being walked.
Ultimately this entire plot largely exists to give Dean a head injury in order to allow the end of the episode to happen. It’s really elaborate but also serves as a reminder that every hunt is dangerous and one wrong move could result in death. It’s easy to lose sight of that when the stakes are constantly escalating as the seasons go on so it’s good that the writers continue to have this in mind. The simplicity of how Dean sustains this is impressive as well as it happens during hand to hand combat, something Dean is usually very skilled at. Once again, Noah is a formidable foe and there’s an element of luck to the hit he lands. I’ll come back to the significance of the head injury later in the review.
This episode is also a great showcase for Jack who still struggles to find a place for himself without his powers. This uncertainty allows Noah to get to him through telling a story of a chicken being plagued by a snake who ate her eggs until the chicken hard boiled her final egg in order to choke the snake and kill it. Castiel tells Jack that this story is mostly a warning against greed but there’s more to read into it such as the willingness to sacrifice what you care about in order to put a stop to a great evil. For the chicken in this story it was no longer about protecting its children and entirely about getting revenge on the snake. This reading of the story is around revenge being a dangerous all consuming motivator that can cause someone to lose sight of what’s important to them in pursuit of that goal. Cas sums it up as being about greed from the perspective of the snake and being willing to give up the thing you love in order to kill the thing you hate. Noah says that he’s unsure if Jack is the chicken or the snake which stays with him as it is establish that a Gorgon can see people’s fate. The ambiguity surrounding Jack’s fate is interesting and could simply be stalling on Noah’s part or it could mean something profound somewhere down the line. Jack is left in doubt about what this means for him and it weighs on him heavily so it’s likely that this will be further explored in a future episode.
Dean’s head injury also amounts to something that Jack has trouble with. It makes him realise the fragility of Human existence and that those he loves won’t be around forever. The great thing about Jack as a character is his constant naivety as he grows to understand the world around him gradually as time goes on. He’s basically immortal and Castiel is the only one around who understands what that is like so talks about loss as being something that they just have to deal with. It’s harder for immortal beings who will have to endure losing those they love countless times as they continue to exist. Cas encourages Jack to sees knowing people at all as being a good thing no matter how brief that time might be and that remembering them is how best to honour them after they’re gone. Jack wants to save everyone and feels helpless despite having all of this power at his disposal but Castiel keeps him grounded by reminding him about the natural order and how his feelings are completely natural but it is still something he has to accept. The acting in this scene is absolutely superb with Alexander Calvert and Misha Collins both delivering excellent performances. It’s also a really well written conversation that could only exist between these two characters.
Michael takes the opportunity given to him by Dean’s head injury to escape and convince Rowena to let him possess her so that he can kill poor Maggie and every other Hunter in the Bunker not named Sam, Dean, Jack or Castiel. This is a surprising development for what started out as if it were a filler episode but welcomed nonetheless. Ruth Connell delivers a hauntingly unique take on Michael that still feels like the same character but delivers a great spin on him. It seems like a hopeless situation as possessing Rowena means that Michael an Archangel with the abilities of a really powerful Witch. He toys with Sam and Dean by testing out Rowena’s spells to see how much pain he can put them through and very much enjoys the opportunity. It’s especially cathartic of him to inflict this much suffering on Dean as payment for keeping him locked in his mind for so long. He does this while monologuing about ending the world as all insane villains tend to do. It works well because of the weight attached to Michael’s connection to Dean and the probable happiness felt as a result of being free.
Jack showing up to confront him feels as if it should be an extension of the chicken and the snake story though if that is the case then the connection doesn’t work unless potentially burning through his soul is supposed to be sacrificing what he loves to kill what he hates. I don’t think that this is what was meant by connecting Jack to that story so it’s likely we have yet to see what that means for him. The surprising thing here is that he kills Michael and absorbs his Grace which restores him to his former glory. This could have been a cheap and unearned resolution but it avoids this by being attached to an excellent affirmation of Jack’s identity. He proudly announces that he’s the son of Lucifer, a Hunter and a Winchester before delivering the death blow to Michael. This is wonderfully delivered by Alexander Calvert and is a really triumphant moment for Jack who sees the different aspects of his life as being part of who he is. His experiences have helped to define him and in a crisis moment he is able to draw on that to do what needed to be done.
I’m not going to say this was the best end for Michael as the character still had a lot of potential. Hopefully the writers have a plan for the rest of the season that makes Michael’s death feel like something other than a wasted opportunity though that’s impossible to say at this point. For now there’s no clear idea of what this season is building to now that the main antagonist has been dealt with.
A strong episode that makes great use of what could have easily been a filler conflict and delivers some really powerful character moments. Noah is a really engaging villain who challenges the characters in fairly unique ways while being an engaging sadistically charismatic villain in his own right. It’s a fairly elaborate plot to create a scenario whereby Dean gets a head injury to allow the end of the episode to happen but it’s used well and allows for some fun character moments mostly involving Sam and Rowena bickering like an old married couple and a gag about Jack having his temperature taken when transformed into a Dog. Rowana’s presence also presents an opportunity to remind Sam that he is playing with dangerous magic in keeping Jack alive and that this could be seen as a villainous thing to do.
This episode makes for a great showcase for Jack who finds himself confused and concerned about the chicken and snake story because he wonders what it means for him. He also struggles to deal with the fragility of Human existence which leads to an excellently written and acted conversation with Castiel where the burden of being immortal is discussed as well as the importance of honouring those they care about after they’re gone. It’s a strong moment that could only exist between these two characters. Dean’s head injury allows Michael to escape, possess Rowena and kill poor Maggie as well as the other Hunters who happen to be around. It’s a surprising development in what could have been a filler episode but it works well thanks to Ruth Connell’s portrayal of Michael and the connection that Michael has with Dean. Jack killing him and absorbing his grace is a great triumphant moment for him. Jack’s declaration that he’s the son of Lucifer, a Hunter and a Winchester is wonderfully delivered and shows that Jack is at least starting to embrace everything he is to make it part of an identity he can be proud of. The death of Michael is definitely a surprise and it’s now unclear where the season is heading which could be good or bad depending on what the writers have in store next.
- Noah being an engaging one shot villain
- Sam and Rowena’s “old married couple” dynamic
- reminders that Hunting is a dangerous job at all times
- Jack and Castiel’s conversation about being immortals dealing with the mortality of others
- Jack proudly declaring his identity before killing Michael
- Michael being dispatched with plenty of potential left in the character
- the unceremonious death of Maggie and the other Hunters
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