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Quick Reaction: 14x08 Byzantium

Hello, fine people!

I always feel like I should do a preamble, but by now you all know the rules and me repeating them is kind of dumb. Uh, how was your day? Mine was okay. I had pizza for dinner and didn't drink tonight, because I was driving - so this will be a sober review. I AM freezing to death, because Vancouver is currently in a bit of a cold snap, and Vancouver gets the kind of cold that sinks straight to your bones because the air is so damp here.

Okay, now let's talk about the episode...

The THEN tells us that Lily Sunder is going to be in this episode. Neato.

Then we rejoin Dean in his sadness... okay, that's not fair, everyone is sad. But Dean, as is his wont, takes up the most space with his emotions. Jack is trying to be peaceful about everything, and says that maybe everything is how it should be - and Dean is all like "don't tell me this was meant to be!" and storms out of the room. Jack tries to be comforting to those he's leaving behind, to somewhat limited success, but Sam humours him a little. He asks what the afterlife will be like for a nephilim, and Sam says that he doesn't know, so Jack is all child-like (or Shakespearean) adorable with his "then it will be an adventure!" And Sam is like "I am really trying to keep it together here, and you're not helping" only with his face.

Out in the hallway, Cas mostly fails to give Dean a pep talk, but Dean does go back into Jack's room, just like Sam said he would. Only Jack is already dead. And my notes say "well that escalated quickly."

Next up it's funeral plans. They're going to give him a hunter's funeral. Sam stalks off abruptly though, and Cas makes to go after him, but Dean stops him. Cas protests "your brother's in pain!" but Dean tells him to give Sam some space.

Dean then calls Mary, but ends up having to tell her in a voicemail that Jack kicked it. So, I mean, Dean's 2 for 2 on absentee-when-you-need-them-to-answer-the-phone parents. Someone should really do a compilation vid of Dean calling family members when upset and not getting an answer.

Sam grabs a dufflebag and leaves the bunker. In my notes, I have "they should really oil those hinges" because I'm surprised Dean doesn't already know that Sam has left the building when he comes into the warroom, because you could probably hear those things echo down most if not all of the halls. Cas is like "Sam bounced, dog." Only obviously not in those words. And Dean is like "Ugh, you gave him TOO MUCH SPACE" and Cas is all like "BE MORE SPECIFIC ABOUT THE AMOUNT OF SPACE NEXT TIME THEN!" only with his eyes.

They drive out to find him in Castiel's car, and it's super weird to have Dean in a car with Cas driving. Is this the first time it's ever happened?

And they find Sam just chilling by the Impala at the side of the road.

Dean runs up to him and is like "TELL ME YOU DIDN'T MAKE A DEAL!" but no, Sam tells us that he just grief-chopped down some trees, but then his axe broke, so obviously he can't do ANYTHING right and had to sit down and have a good sob at his uselessness. We've all been there, Sammy - this is why sometimes I start crying when I can't open a jar of pasta sauce.

Cas goes on about how unnatural Jack's death feels. Dean and Sam agree. But what can they do? Dean suggests that they get wasted. Sam and Cas happily accept this solution to all of life's problems.

So, they get drunk at the Bunker, which I have in my notes as "safer at least" and they eat nougat, and they tell stories and smile and laugh, and MAN seeing smiley-Castiel is pretty rare. Sam gives up on drinking first, and then eventually Cas does too... and Dean is left to pass out at the table, which he does.

Then we cut to Jack, who is in heaven! His heaven is eating burgers at a food stand, while Dean teaches him to read a map. Since these are his memories, this must have happened, which is cute.

Then Dean sort of record-skips, and there are power fluctuations in the sun, and Jack is like "what the heck?" and just...exits his personal heaven into heaven proper. And then suddenly BLACK GOO EVERYWHERE!

Dean wakes up hungover, only to discover that Sam and Castiel apparently drank a lot of water before they went to bed, and also Sam called in Lily Sunder. Once they remind Dean who she is, Sam explains how he thought maybe they could use Kevin's translations of the angel tablet and maybe Lily could read them! But she can't. So, that's not going to work. But Lily has another idea - Jack could use the same magic that she used - burn up just a little bit of his soul in order to stay alive. It'd be so small an amount, that he wouldn't even miss it.

In return, Lily wants guaranteed access to Heaven, because when she dies (which will be soon, since she stopped using her magic to stop her aging, and she's been aging rapidly as a result) she wants to be able to see her daughter again.

Castiel explains that there might be a way they can do it, because when God left Heaven, Heaven recruited Anubis, from the Egyptian pantheon, to make the decisions about who gets in to Heaven and who doesn't.

We rejoin Jack as appears in Kelly Kline's heaven. Kelly realizes why he's there pretty quickly and starts grieving for Jack's death herself. Jack reassures her that Cas and the Winchesters cared a lot for him and tried really hard to save him.

Dean is still not on board with the plan, because he's worried about Jack's soul and everything, and he doesn't trust Lily. Castiel then walks into the room and explains how "angel radio" is broadcasting a distress signal and all the gates are open and unguarded. Cas goes to see what's up and to find Jack in order to do THE PLAN.

Lily comes in to drop off the stuff they need for the spell, and Sam makes an excuse to leave the room, so that Dean can talk to Lily. He asks why she stopped using magic, and she reiterates about how she used so much, she only had a sliver of her soul left and she wanted to keep it in case she was able to get into heaven and see her daughter.

Cas enters heaven to discover dead angels - or rather, one dead angel, and one alive angel who doesn't remember what just happened... and that's NOT SUSPICIOUS AT ALL.

Naomi shows up to explain what's happening. "The Shadow" who controls the empty, has come for Jack, because all angels are supposed to go to the Empty when they die, and Jack is part angel. Naomi wants Castiel's help in defeating the Shadow, possibly giving it Jack, because Heaven is in danger of collapse, and then where would the 46.5[...] billion souls go? Then the Empty crawls up Naomi's face and she tells Castiel to run.

Sam, Dean, and Lily, meanwhile, summon Anubis. He measures Lily's soul with an abacus, rather than a scale and a feather, and explains how it's our individual choices in life that determine our fate. (And I start humming the theme for The Good Place). Lily, it seems, is destined for Hell, and when they try to get Anubis to change her fate, he informs them that he can't, that no one can, because it's just numbers etc. (This is all a little retcon/continuity-error-y because we know from S6 that some people get into heaven just because they're "devote" but not actually because they're a good person. Also, Zach promised Sam and Dean guaranteed admittance to heaven if they said yes to their respective archangels - now, I think Sam and Dean would get into Heaven anyway, so maybe that one doesn't count, and could have just been empty words to get Zach what he wanted.)

Jack and Kelly are hiding, but it turns out that it's Castiel who comes to the door. In my notes, it says "Cas shows up for hugs and to explain plot", and then the Empty finds them in the form of Duma, the angel who was HIGHLY SUSPICIOUS EARLIER so this is little shock.

Back at the Bunker, Lily is disappointed that Sam and Dean can't fulfill their end of the trade, so she's going to leave without helping them, and Sam loses control on his anger and snaps that "He's OUR KID!" and then since Sam can't keep his cool, Dean picks up the slack, and comes in with the rational argument - explaining to Lily that it's obvious that she's burned away too much of her soul, and that she's not human anymore, because how else could she condemn them to go through the same pain she did, when she knows how horrible it is.

In Heaven, the Shadow, who I realize now, I've been calling the Empty, is explaining how bad the Empty is. It's worse than Hell, because at least in Hell there's SOMETHING. This is why, I'm guessing, that all angels in the Empty are asleep, so, it's not actually that bad? The Shadow doesn't actually touch on that aspect of it though.

Dean's guilt trip was super effective, so Lily, Sam and Dean, have the spell ready in the Bunker.

They pray to Cas and tell him that they're all set. Cas has a weird eye-roll-back-in-his-head when he hears the prayer, which is odd and the first time we've ever seen that, but he snaps out of it and get down to business. At this point, the Shadow has been throwing them around the room, and Castiel quickly leaps up and, in true Winchester fashion, cuts a deal. The Shadow leaves Jack alone, and instead it can take Castiel - not when he dies, but right then and there, and that's what the Shadow REALLY wants, because Cas is the one that woke it up. The Shadow agrees to this plan, but decides that the absolute best would be to take Castiel when he's happy, when he finally allows himself happiness, and to feel and enjoy the sun on his face, that's when he'll die and end up in the Empty of all eternity.

Castiel agrees to those terms, and the Shadow leaves.

Jack is mad that Castiel would cut a deal for him, but Castiel tells him it's because he made a promise to look after Jack, and because he loves him, and please don't tell Sam and Dean. Jack agrees not to tell them. Then he says bye to Kelly, and OFF HE GOES.

Jack wakes up in the bunker, and Sam and Dean quickly give him a spell to read before his organs all fail again. The spell works, and then it's HUG TIMES!

Oh, also time to notice that after the spell worked, Lily quietly went off and died in the corner.

Lily ends up in the "accounting department" of Heaven, in front of Anubis again, who weighs her soul against the abacus and finds that her final acts were enough to put her in Heaven. She's thrilled.

Cas leaves Kelly's heaven (1978-2017) and runs into Naomi, who thanks him for his help, and decides to reward him with giving him the Archangel Michael's location.

Back at the Bunker, everyone celebrates with burgers, and Jack is weirded out by his three dads looking at him in appreciative wonder and gratefulness, so they quickly defect the conversation into what will happen next - now that they know where Michael is, they have to track down "Dark!Kaia" again and get the Spear. And then, as the camera pans away, Jensen looks directly into the lens, and I wonder why the heck the editors decided to use that take, because that obviously was a mistake on his part.

I watch on a channel that doesn't have the next time, so next time will be a complete mystery to me until it happens - but I do know it's the mid-season finale, and I know what the title is, so I'm willing to guess that they start trying to accomplish their task list and things go horribly wrong - cliffhanger.

Really though, I'm interesting in whether The Shadow will be as pissed off as I am with Lucifer's resurrection, and whether they'll be able to use that to possibly save both Jack (long term) AND Castiel. Or, if Castiel will always have this sort of curse/executioners axe hanging over him for the rest of the series. I mean, on the one hand, it's pretty shitty that as soon as he forget's about the deal, even for a moment, and is happy, he'll die - but at the same time, it's Castiel and he's hanging out with the Winchesters, when is he ever going to be happy?

Anyway, I'd love to hear your thoughts!

Also, how do YOU spell ax, because apparently both axe and ax are acceptable, but DW spellcheck will only except ax, but I like the LOOK of axe better, even though I'm pretty sure I may have been taught that it was ax in third grade, though I COULD be confusing that with ox, which is always just ox, unless there are more than one, in which case it's oxen, even though if there's more than one ax, it's axes.




This entry was originally posted at https://hells-half-acre.dreamwidth.org/568110.html.

Comments

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
borgmama1of5
Dec. 7th, 2018 11:15 am (UTC)
The grief in this episode was its own palpable character...I haven't teared up over the show in quite a while, but I did last night. Sam's emotions, especially--Jared just killed it, with the tree-chopping scene especially but in all of it I could feel the pain he was in.

The writer did a good job of showing the two different ways Sam and Dean process their emotions.And I have to wonder if being parents themselves didn't give Jared and Jensen something extra to draw upon to make those scenes of losing Jack hurt even more than the usual Winchester pain of losing someone.

I liked that it wasn't a completely new MacGyver they found to bring Jack back, that finding Lily tied back to their past. Even though I don't completely understand the mechanism for reviving Jack, I'm willing to let that slide on the assumption that it does somehow make sense.

I wonder if the creature that came to life in the Empty last week was not Lucifer, as we all assumed, but maybe the same force that Castiel woke up when he was there, which then proceeded to attack heaven? Maybe (fingers crossed) it wasn't Luci specifically that woke up?

Empty/Dumah was definitely creepy...and how long til Jack accidentally spills the beans about Cas's deal with it to the boys? I felt bad about that too, and it's been a while since I cared about Cas. Although it feels a little like they're setting up the end of season 12 again, with Cas dying and Dean being left distraught. I hope they have a different idea in mind for breaking Cas out of that deal...

All in all, this was the best episode of the season so far IMO.
hells_half_acre
Dec. 8th, 2018 02:17 am (UTC)
I'm fairly emotionless for the most part, so, while I could recognize the grief, it didn't really affect me... UNTIL the moment where Sam finally loses his temper at Lily, and it's just a brief second and then he reigns it in again - but, yeah, that was what was most effective to me. I could understand his rage with the axe and his desolation when the axe broke - but the tiny glimpse of how he's doing everything he can to stay calm while he completely falls apart inside was so well done in that tiny moment of raising his voice and then silencing himself again.

I was also happy that they used something they already knew about, rather than being like "oh hey, I happened to stumble upon this spell in a book, that for some reason I haven't looked at until now or whatever the heck.

And I did understand the mechanism for the resurrection, so I'm cool with the logic of it.

I wonder if the creature that came to life in the Empty last week was not Lucifer, as we all assumed, but maybe the same force that Castiel woke up when he was there, which then proceeded to attack heaven? Maybe (fingers crossed) it wasn't Luci specifically that woke up?

I had this brief hope too, but I think it's a false hope. The being waking up - with RED eyes - in the Empty, was TOO tied to the scene of Nick praying to Lucifer, for it to be anything other than Lucifer.

Empty/Dumah was definitely creepy...and how long til Jack accidentally spills the beans about Cas's deal with it to the boys?

Ha! You know, for some reason, it didn't occur to me that Jack might tell. I'm so trusting. :P My brain was just like "well, Jack said he wouldn't tell, so he won't" - but you're right, he'll probably spill the beans eventually, even just by accident. I think Dean's record for secret keeping is 10 episodes, with Sam and Cas' record tied at 20 episodes. As there's only 11 episodes left in the season, I doubt it'll be that long.

I'm hoping that they get Cas out of the deal, and we won't have to do another Cas death. But, we'll see....

And yeah, this episode definitely had more of the good stuff!
kazluvsbooks
Dec. 9th, 2018 04:59 am (UTC)
YES AXE is how i spell it.

Agree 100% with the emotion, i teared up a few times, and i pretty much never do that watching SPN. The acting was wonderful.
I even shed a tear in the Kelly/Jack scene when she realised why he was there (and i never really liked the kelly scenes but this was so well done)

The emotion was able to build as we only had one storyline to follow, which makes so much difference.

Not feeling the empty at all, it doesn't seem scary to me, and has no real connection to the Winchesters.
hells_half_acre
Dec. 9th, 2018 07:47 am (UTC)
Good point about only having one storyline!! Also, NO VILLAIN-ONLY SCENES!

Man, no wonder I liked this episode so much more than the other ones. It kept it simple, and kept the action on the heroes and no one else. THAT'S the kind of writing I like.

The Empty/Shadow is definitely only a threat to Cas, and therefore only a threat to the Winchesters because it plans to kill their friend. So, it's not a direct death threat to the Winchesters, it's a pain-and-suffering threat. It's a threat of grief to come. The Winchesters basically have deferred their grief through this plan. They get Jack, but will lose Cas as a result (eventually).
supernutjapan
Dec. 7th, 2018 01:11 pm (UTC)
I like axe better too.
Dean looking into the camera could actually have meaning... I wonder 😆
hells_half_acre
Dec. 8th, 2018 02:19 am (UTC)
It really looked like a mistake on Jensen's part, and a take they shouldn't have used... but you know, anything is possible with this show. ;)

Glad you agree about axe!
kailita
Dec. 9th, 2018 03:59 am (UTC)
I think Supernatural is a show about grief almost as much as it is a show about family. I wasn’t a huge fan of the hulking plot machinations of this episode lurching into place, but I liked zooming in a little on the Winchesters’ response to loss.

Mom is as bad as Dad at answering voicemail!! I’m with you on that supercut. That hurt.

Cas laughing with a candy bar in his mouth is a Misha outtake, I am 100% certain. Kind of surprised they left it in. (Though I didn’t even catch Jensen looking into the lens of the camera!)

Sam’s the first to stop drinking. I don’t know why, but I liked how he turned his glass upside down. After he left, and it was just Cas and Dean, was I the only one who was like...Hang on, is something about to happen here? There was something about the energy in that scene...but then Cas just patted Dean on the back and left to...sleep? (Does Cas sleep now?) I don’t even ship that ship, but a good portion of the later seasons has been fanfiction becoming reality, and you just never know.

I guess this episode proves that Dean CAN still get drunk? At least a little.

Do you have thoughts re: the stripping of Jack’s soul? I’m on the fence on whether I think it’s believable for Sam to be so gung-ho about it - especially since, YEAH, as he pointed out, he DOES know firsthand how important a soul is. I liked Dean’s face when Castiel asked, “Shouldn’t Jack make that choice?” It was a silent, Hell no, I should be making the choices for everyone - Jack, Sammy, and anybody else I care about!

hells_half_acre
Dec. 9th, 2018 07:42 am (UTC)
I liked Dean’s face when Castiel asked, “Shouldn’t Jack make that choice?” It was a silent, Hell no, I should be making the choices for everyone - Jack, Sammy, and anybody else I care about!

Haha! That's Dean in a nutshell for sure.

Cas laughing with a candy bar in his mouth is a Misha outtake, I am 100% certain. Kind of surprised they left it in.

Yup! Misha confirmed it this weekend at the convention in Jacksonville (I think that's where the convention this weekend is...) - that they were all just fucking around, so that's Misha laughing, not Cas. I kind of wish they hadn't left it in, because it IS Misha. We've never seen Cas laugh like that before - mind you, it's not like he can't, and Cas IS becoming more open with his emotions the longer he pals around on earth (regardless of his grace status).

There was something about the energy in that scene...but then Cas just patted Dean on the back and left to...sleep? (Does Cas sleep now?) I don’t even ship that ship, but a good portion of the later seasons has been fanfiction becoming reality, and you just never know.

My rule with that ship is that I don't ship it, and if we're talking S1-S5, I'm strong against it. S6-S7, I'll let you make a case for it, but I'd be pretty begrudging in any acceptance of it. Post S8, if the show went there, I'd accept it just fine. I think Purgatory finally changed enough about both characters that I could accept it happening. It's not to say that I actively desire it to happen, or care either way, but if it happened, I'd be like "ok cool, I can understand that."

I AM a little bit over them making jokes about it. I think because it IS plausible now, that when they make jokes or are purposefully vague about it, I kind of feel like it's a shit or get off the pot scenario. (I wish there was a better analogy than that - it's more like a cat, asking you to open the door for it, but then it just stands there half in and half out of the house - and it's like 'no cat, you either stay inside or go out - there is no middle ground that you can stay in for the length of time you seem to want to do so.'

Do you have thoughts re: the stripping of Jack’s soul? I’m on the fence on whether I think it’s believable for Sam to be so gung-ho about it - especially since, YEAH, as he pointed out, he DOES know firsthand how important a soul is.

I think the show has well established that Sam's usually always the one that is willing to take risks. Dean likes to play it safe. So, I didn't have a problem with Sam deciding that Jack losing a sliver of his soul was worth it to bring him back to life. Sam's also the one who more often dives into the grey areas of magic in order to save the ones that he loves (except S8, but we won't speak about that cf)...I mean, yeah, Dean goes for deals - which is why he assumes Sam made a deal when he disappeared at the beginning of the episode - but deals are pretty straight forward things. Trade me for him. Done. We know the consequences of a deal and can prepare for them. Sam's more likely to play with experimental solutions that may or may not be bad things to do or have otherwise negative repercussions that they can't predict. And YES, they do often have negative repercussions that bite Sam in the ass, but for some reason that doesn't seem to deter him too much the next time. Not like it does for Dean. Dean likes to know what's coming and doesn't want to sign onto anything unless he knows exactly what the consequences are. Sam is willing to just try something and see what happens.


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