Friday, 7 December 2018

Supernatural S14E8 - a review (with spoilers)

“Byzantium”

On tonight’s episode of “Jack the Nephilim” – a cross between a teenage drama and a soap-opera – Jack dies. Dean, Sam and Castiel grieve and drink and then decide to find a way to bring him back, because that’s what they do. They enlist the help of Lily Sunder, who once upon a time gave up her soul for a whole load of angel magic in order to avenge her daughter’s death and who, I assume, knows pretty much all there is to know about angels. They hope that she can find something that might help bring Jack back in the angel tablet translated by Kevin many seasons ago. However, when that plan falls through, Lily, who has changed quite a bit since the last time we saw her, growing old and white, provides them with another solution. She offers to give her angel magic – that draws power from a human soul, by the way – to Jack in order to cure him and bring him back to life. Apparently, as long as he uses it only to sustain himself, it won’t cost him much and he won’t even miss the piece of his soul that will be used.
It definitely sounds like something that could potentially backfire in the future (not that the writers of the show think that far ahead) – and yet Dean seems to be the only one who questions the wisdom of this plan and its possible ramifications for Jack and his soul. However, his protests are swiftly and vociferously overridden by Castiel (“Don’t you think Jack should decide for himself?”) and then Sam (“Because, for me, not doing this – that – that would be like letting him die all over again!). Of course, there’s also a price. Lily is ready to give them her magic to save Jack in exchange for a ticket to Heaven that Dean and Sam must provide her with so that she can reunite with her daughter there. This proves tricky, because her choices alone determine whether she goes up or down and no one can change that. So when she understands that she will go to Hell, considering that she killed a bunch of angels, she takes the deal off the table – until Dean appeals to her humanity and pleads with her not to make them go through what she herself went through when losing a child. It turns out that one selfless act can sway the scales of justice in one’s favour and Lily ends up in Heaven.
I enjoyed the whole sequence with Dean, Sam, Lily and Anubis. It is always a pleasure to watch Jensen and Jared and I liked the other actors and their interaction with them too. But! I would have appreciated it even more if the whole thing didn’t revolve around Jack. It could have been a case (does anyone still remember those?) or Michael-related. By the way, speaking about Michael – it seems that Dean’s blurry vision lasted only one episode just like his Michael flashbacks. I wonder if the writers who work on the show even read each other scripts, because they often seem so disconnected and missing important pieces and nuances that it seems more than likely that they don’t. If I worked with a team of writers, I would make sure that I knew exactly what they wrote and what precisely they wanted to convey and how to tie it in with the bigger picture. My theory about shaman and his connection to Michael fell through. I knew that I was giving the writers of the show more credit for mystery-building than they deserve – they obviously can’t see beyond their own individual episodes and miss all the varied possibilities, little connections and clues that could be sprinkled and threaded throughout the whole season, which once again proves my theory that there is no real interaction or understanding between them and that the story they are telling is not, in fact, a finely-woven tapestry one wishes it to be. I mean, if it were a book, such specific wording would definitely mean something, but on this show it was just a fluke. I must confess that I'm used to a more refined, subtle, and layered narrative. However, I don't think that it is unreasonable to expect a well-crafted story even on a show. 
Much to my chagrin, the other plotline was likewise Jack-centered and way too soapy and sappy for my liking. It took place in Heaven, where Castiel repaired to in order to pull Jack’s soul back into his body for Lily’s spell to work. There Jack was pursued by The Empty that wanted to claim him and take him where he actually belongs as half-angel. In order to save Jack, Castiel makes a deal with The Empty and offers himself in his stead. He says that he will go willingly as long as Jack goes home and expects to be taken right away as he reassures Jack that he made peace with his decision and that he is fine. However, The Empty has no intentions to take him now: “I want you to suffer. I want you to go back to your normal life and then forget about this and forget about me. And then, when you finally give yourself permission to be happy and let the sun shine on your face, that’s when I’ll come. That’s when I’ll come to drag you to nothing.” Castiel accepts the deal but tells Jack not to tell Dean and Sam so that they didn’t worry. Having technically saved Heaven from The Empty, Castiel gets rewarded by learning the possible location of Michael.
I must mention a moment that just about broke my heart. It was just after Jack died and Dean called Mary to tell her about what happened but had to leave a message on her voicemail with a resigned look on his face that pretty much confirmed that she continues to be unavailable. “Anyway, to tell you the truth, it would really be nice to hear your voice. If you could, uh, just call us back.” I just bet she doesn’t call them back often and they rarely get to hear her voice. And that’s just not right.
I feel more and more discouraged with each new episode, most of which I find mind-numbingly boring. I no longer believe that Sam and Dean will reclaim their position as the main leads of the show or that they will have any interesting episodes and storylines this season that won't involve Jack and his never-ending troubles, trials and tribulations. I also have a strong feeling that this could be the last one, because the showrunner is deliberately sabotaging the show with his inexpert management of the story, lazy attitude that results in countless plotholes and inconsistencies, and his complete lack of interest in the main characters. I also seriously consider giving up on the show... but I know that I can't. 

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