After a bit of a disappointing season premiere, Supernatural returned to form last week with Gods and Monsters which was a relief because of growing fandom concerns. These were due to it being written by Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross-Leming and how the pair have often come under scrutiny by fans for controversial choices in their scripts, most notably the death of Felicia Day’s character, Charlie Bradbury, back in season ten. However, fans were holding on to the positivity as it also saw the return of Richard Speight Jr. to the director’s chair, and the episode was actually very good.
There are several storylines running through this episode with the focuses being on Michael (Jensen Ackles) and his plans, Nick (Mark Pellegrino) and his readjustment to life without Lucifer, and Jack (Alexander Calvert) and his continued exploration of what he is without his powers.
Admitting that he found his feet more in this episode, Jensen Ackles continues to impress with his portrayal of Michael and how different he is to Dean Winchester. There’s no sign of Dean’s constant battle with guilt, or trying to do the right thing, and Michael is very pragmatic when it comes to his experimentation on Vampires and isn’t at all bothered when they go wrong and the bloodsuckers end up dead with their eyes burnt out – an extreme reaction to ingesting angel grace. Fan starting to worry that there’d be no sign of Dean at all during Michael’s occupation were treated to a glimpse of the subjugated Hunter when the archangel is stood before a mirror. Clearly trying to fight against Michael, an enraged Dean demands that the archangel gets out of him and we see Ackles switch between the two characters with ease. It is only a short moment, but it’s compelling; Michael seems to allow Dean’s outburst and regards the Hunter with an almost amused expression before quickly suppressing him again, putting Dean back in his place.
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Jack’s exploration as to who he is beyond his powers continues and he has several scenes between himself and his adoptive father Castiel (Misha Collins). Castiel gives some great advice, and Misha delivers it so well in the scene. Jack shouldn’t be dwelling on what he has lost but instead should focus on what he does have. Castiel points out that Sam and Dean weren’t born with their expertise and that they had to learn it from failing just as much as they did from succeeding. Jack’s powers did not define who he was and although the past is where he came from it is not nearly as important as the future that lays ahead. Jack may have lost a lot but he still has friends, and he still has himself.
Jack decides to pay a visit to his maternal grandparents, who are working under the assumption that their daughter is still away with her hush-hush work for the government. It’s a very emotional scene hearing Jack talk about what he remembers of Kelly and the fact that he can’t tell his grandparents who he is and what happened to their daughter. He has to leave when things become too emotional, and when he returns to the Bunker he is confronted by Castiel about the rashness of his leaving. The conversation leads to an argument about Dean and his situation. In Jack’s opinion, Michael needs to be killed even if that means sacrificing Dean in the process. He points out to Castiel that if Dean had a say he would agree with him. Castiel knows this, but hearing Jack point out that Dean “doesn’t matter” is painful for the angel. Not giving up on each other has been at the core of Supernatural since the very beginning, to the point of self-sacrifice repeatedly, and the question arises of will Jack become a thorn in the side when it comes to Dean’s fate.
Nick is also having a hard time of it ever since Lucifer’s death. For a start people can’t look him in the eye, he keeps having nightmarish flashes of Lucifer’s actions, and he is struggling to work out why he would have even said yes to the Devil in the first place. He finds out from Castiel, who perhaps won’t be asked to babysit again seeing as how both Jack and Nick end up leaving the bunker while he is meant to be watching them, that his wife and son were killed by a home intruder. Lucifer came to Nick in his weakened mental state and manipulated him into saying yes. Pellegrino plays a wracked with guilt, grieving man in such a real way that you feel really heartbroken for Nick as the realisations all catch up to him.
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However, the concerns raised in the first episode as to what might lay ahead for Nick increase tenfold as the episode progresses. He becomes fixated on finding the man responsible for the murders of his family and ends up heading to his hometown to confront a neighbour who thought he’d seen something that night but had since backtracked on his statement. Nick becomes more and more unhinged as the evening goes on until we see him holding a hammer, covered in blood, and his old friend dead on the floor. Was Nick responsible for the deaths of his family? Did Lucifer seek him out because of his inherently evil nature? Or is there something else going on here that we’re yet to discover?
Coming back to Sam’s (Jared Padalecki) search for his brother, he, Bobby (Jim Beaver) and Mary (Samantha Smith), have been following leads that have been leading them across Duluth. Unbeknownst to them these have been deliberately left and engineered by Michael who leads the hunters into an ambush by werewolves. Not ordinary werewolves though. Where Michael failed with his experiments on vampires he has apparently succeeded with lycanthropes, and the three of them quickly discover the werewolves are immune to silver. After a tense fight scene, far better than the slow motion beset one in the first episode, the Hunters gain the upper hand and manage to kill the angel-powered monsters but before they can really draw breath the doors open and Michael is revealed.
Only it’s not Michael. It’s Dean, given away by him saying “Sammy, it’s me.” But I fully expect the majority of viewers all did what I did and yelled ‘TRAP!’ at their television screens. Dean doesn’t know what happened, only that it wasn’t he who overpowered the archangel, Michael just left. All of this feels just too convenient, too easy, but none of the concern is addressed before the episode ends, you’re just left hoping that there will be a better pay off than how easily Demon Dean was dealt with before.
A much better episode with stunning performances all around, and another feather in the directorial cap of Richard Speight Jr.