Previously on Supernatural, “The Big Empty”
So far the number 13 has been an extremely lucky for Supernatural with nearly episode providing a compelling blueprint for the narrative of this season and beyond. This week’s episode was especially poignant in regards to the mental health of the Winchesters, especially our resident tough guy Dean. Briefly touched upon in “The Big Empty”, Dean’s choice of words to describe his current state of mind was troublesome and in between their case involving a sadistic ghost, both Winchesters have finally accepted their frailty and how the past few months were the most taxing of their lives.
Unfortunately Dean’s moment of clarity is wrapped around a common occurrence within the series, when dopey teenagers are far too eager to mess with haunted and pay for their denseness with their lives. At Sam’s insistence, he and Dean travel to Colorado sans Jack to look into the matter, which involves a vengeful spirit formerly known as Dr. Avery Meadows. The details are neither here nor there, as the focus is on Dean’s dimming worldview and how his waning sympathy for others is now costing people their lives.
Jack’s development was put on hold this week to build up the tragic last hours between two friends, Evan and Shawn (Josh Hudniuk and Seth Isaac Johnson). Firstly, who else but teens would want to visit an abandoned mental hospital where a serial killer preyed upon patients. Secondly, of course they would check it out at night! Naturally, all kinds of wrong happened and in the span of 24 hours, both kids were dead. However, Shawn, the traumatized survivor, mayhaps have lived if Dean had cleared the air much earlier with Sam and Jack.
Sam did attempt to turn the other cheek for his brother, who is clearly not like himself. The old hungover Dean with a penchant for strip clubs did make an appearance for half a scene yet that reliable standby of “bullets, bacon and booze” faltered due to the growing indifference building in Winchester. Knowing he messed up with Shawn, Dean attempted to make things right with all the ghosts that remained earthbound because of Dr. Meadows… and discovered things behind The Veil is under new management.
Turns out when Castiel knifed Billie (Lisa Berry) in the back in “First Blood”, the reaper wasn’t cancelled indefinitely or forced to take a nap in The Empty but gained a promotion as Death herself. Considering the bad blood between the two, Dean pretty much gave up realized Billie was now in charge, yet with great power comes great responsibility – and a lot of time to read. Billie’s new station didn’t simply give her a bump in powers but a greater understanding of the multiverse, and what little she didn’t know about Jack’s rip between realities was patched in my Dean in exchange for the freedom of the ghosts. It was a selfless act that couldn’t be dismissed by Billie as she knew in advance that Dean had plenty left on Earth, however she couldn’t believe it until she saw the emptiness in his eyes.
Leave it to the avatar of finality and death to restore purpose and vitality to Dean before returning him to form. Obviously there’s still so much to live for, in spite of all the death and destruction Sam and Dean have endured in the past 12 seasons. They’ve lost so many during their (mis)adventures and epic quests to save humanity, but it’s moments like in this episode, when they manage to save a few lost souls that it all feels worthwhile. Nevertheless, both Winchesters are deep in a blue period. Thankfully, they conveniently gained a pep to their step with the return of Ol’ Puppy Dog Eyes himself, Castiel.
All is coming into motion very well in the last few episodes of Supernatural; it may be very early into the season but all signs point to the thirteenth outing being its most personal volume since the series’ earliest days.