It’s going to be a long Hellatus.
Last week’s episode of Supernatural, The Spear, was the mid-season finale which means fans are now without the Winchesters Brothers until halfway through January next year. As is traditional, things have been left on a nail-biting cliffhanger thanks to writer Robert Berens. Berens has always been consistently good with his scripts, his episode The Scar scored the first five-star review for this season, but his skill means his episodes are a double-edged sword because you also know they are going to be traumatic.
Set just before Christmas the episode is also rife with funny references to Die Hard, raising the amusing question as to whether or not this episode would count as a Christmas one, or merely one set at Christmastime? But the little nods to the Bruce Willis classic, including most of the action taking place in the Hitomi Plaza building, Dean’s (Jensen Ackles) motivational speech and the slow-motion walk to Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ were all outstanding inclusions. It’s these little easter eggs that always make episodes more amusing and you find yourself spotting more on repeat viewings.
Right from the off, we know that the episode will focus on the Archangel Michael, now residing in a female vessel (Felisha Terrell) and how his big plan is close to fruition. With Jack (Alexander Calvert) back from Heaven and Michael’s location known to Team Free Will, Sam (Jared Padalecki), Dean and Castiel (Misha Collins) are all in full planning mode trying to get all their aces together so they can take Michael down.
One such “ace” is Garth Fitzgerald IV (DJ Qualls), the Hunter turned Werewolf who hasn’t been seen in the show since season nine, but has been mentioned on various occasions. It was nice to see DJ back on Supernatural but, with the return of such a guest, there were concerns for Garth’s survival when it became apparent he was a mole spying on Michael from within. Garth has always been a loveable, inoffensive character and so seeing him having to drink Michael’s grace and not knowing what the end result will mean caused genuine stress.
Another returning character was that of Arthur Ketch (David Haydn-Jones), albeit only a short appearance on a computer screen, and the episode also featured Dark Kaia (Yadira Guevara-Prip) and her spear (unsurprisingly, given the title). The action is split with Dean and Cas going to find Kaia, on a tip-off from Garth, intent on borrowing her spear while Sam and Jack go to retrieve the Hyperbolic Pulse Generator that Ketch found for them.
In knowing that Michael is sending his forces after Kaia, it’s clear that when Dean decided who was going that he picked what he deemed the easier and safer job for his little brother and surrogate son. The realisation on Dean’s face when he comes to understand that they’ve all been set up, and we have to watch Sam getting taken down by the Archangel and Jack being kidnapped, makes the audience feel just as stressed as he does. His impassioned speech to Kaia about how he needs the spear to save the people he loves, his family, and if she doesn’t give them the spear she should just kill him really makes an impact. Thankfully it also appeals to her and she gives up the spear but not before telling Dean that if he doesn’t return it she’ll kill him.
The action moves back to Hitomi Plaza – this being the night before Christmas Eve – and it’s very clear to everyone that Michael expects the Winchesters to show up. All of the proceedings have screamed “Trap” but they can’t and won’t abandon Garth and now Jack to Michael. They also now know that Michael’s plan involves turning the population of Kansas City into monsters who would then all be under the archangel’s control. All of this is bad news and so they have to go in to try to save the day.
Garth becomes an obstacle when he receives orders from Michael, via the consumed grace, to attack Sam and Jack. We get to see Garth transform and try to fight what’s happening to him and again there were tenterhooks watching the fight; especially as we’d already seen Sam decapitate two of Michael’s monsters. But thankfully he was able to render Garth unconscious. A collective sigh of relief was likely had by all and hopefully that means we’ll get to see more of DJ in the role, perhaps trying to cure him of Michael’s influence.
The pivotal showdown of Team Free Will facing off against Michael was, of course, the absolute high point of the episode. The amazing choreography of the fight scenes between the four heroes and the Archangel were superbly shot by director Amyn Kaderali, who also directed the five-star episode Mint Condition. But all the kudos rests solely on Jensen’s shoulder for when Michael once again possesses the eldest Winchester. The way Jensen’s whole posture changes as the female vessel collapses, signifying Michael’s return through the open door he left inside Dean, was stunning. As was his complete change in the delivery of his lines, there was no doubt that this was Michael, a completely different character to Dean.
Michael reveals that he left Dean because he wouldn’t shut up, he fought constantly due to his strong attachment to Sam and the rest of his family. Michael left, intending to return to Dean once he knew he could truly crush the Hunter’s spirit. Now, with destroying the weapons that could hurt him, breaking the spear in two, and able to unleash his plan from inside Dean’s body Michael knows he has done just that. He informs the rest of Team Free Will that Dean is finally silent. The episode ends with Michael kicking off his plan using a very Thanos inspired finger snap, and the screen immediately fades to black, leaving fandom reeling as to what is going to happen next.
Other good moments in the episode include a touching scene between Jack and Castiel sneaking cereal in the middle of the night so that healthy-eater Sam doesn’t find out. Jack raises the fact that Cas asked him to not talk about the deal the angel made with the Entity. Cas points out that the brothers can know but he doesn’t want to burden them with the knowledge. He says how this life is very seldom truly happy, and therefore believes it won’t become an issue anytime soon. It makes for quite a sad moment but again leaves you wondering when it’s going to bite Cas in the ass.
Sam’s solo face off against Michael is also noteworthy; the younger Winchester knows he’s going to die but that still doesn’t put him off trying to attack the more powerful foe in a bid to save Jack. Sam’s selflessness and bravery are always worth a mention, although it’s a good job that the Winchesters do have Cas on hand to heal them from time to time as I’m pretty sure Sam should be suffering from major brain damage the number of times he’s been knocked unconscious.
A superb mid-season finale with lots of humour and fear-inducing moments that has, very successfully, left us wanting to wish away the Christmas holidays so that we can see what’s going to happen next. Hopefully, the issues of the first half of the season will not return in the second; or if they do appear, they will be dealt with in a way that does not feel half-arsed. Roll on January, please!