With the news of an early renewal for a fifteenth season being announced last week, and the milestone 300th episode coming up this week, it’s been an epic few days for Supernatural, and long may they continue! Episode 12, ‘Prophet and Loss’, continued the trend set by the previous two and delivered another emotional tour de force or, more accurately, Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles continue to wow us with their performances as Sam and Dean Winchester.
There was only one real downside to this episode and that was the need to follow Nick’s (Mark Pellegrino) storyline rather than focusing on just Sam and Dean. This probably comes from the fact that there are only twenty episodes this season, rather than the usual twenty-three, and that gives the writers a more limited amount of time in which to play out all the storylines. Although there is nothing wrong with Mark Pellegrino’s performance, Nick’s storyline felt as though it distracted from the main events whereas in the last episode it helped to enhance them.
Pellegrino’s performance as the broken man is a good and compelling one but the storyline still feels weak. Nick’s survival is a questionable leap of storytelling and the fact that it seems to be leading to Lucifer’s return from the Empty makes it all feel a bit forced. Yes, it has been good to see what effect a long term possession can have on a human host but there were other ways this could have been done. Nick says that when Lucifer left he felt different, and he clearly wasn’t a murderer before the possession. His brutality when he kills the cop (Sean Campbell) and his inability to renounce Lucifer to help save the spirit of his deceased wife Sarah (Jaycie Dotin) is painful to witness.
Due to Pellegrino’s acting performance there is still the hope that something different comes about from this, and maybe having some sort of showdown between Michael and Lucifer would be good, but it does feel as though bringing Nick back was done by the writers to keep Pellegrino on the show, and perhaps wasn’t as well thought out as it could have been.
The rest of the episode more than made up for this negative aspect though, continuing on from the revelation of Dean’s suicidal plan the week before. He and his brother are travelling west, with Dean still intent on being locked in the box and tossed into the ocean. In fact, the episode torments us during the open, thinking that this has already been done. Ackles plays Dean’s claustrophobic panic perfectly and his desperate cries of his brother’s name are reminiscent of when he went to Hell in season three and of how he discovered himself buried alive in the premiere of season four. With this level of emotion in the first scene, it’s clear the rest of this episode won’t be pulling any punches.
Although he is there, by Dean’s side, Sam is clearly very unhappy with his brother’s plan, holding onto the idea that there must be another way, but Dean is inflexible and will not change his mind. Sam’s presence clearly does have an effect on Dean because there are several moments in the episode that Sam terms as ‘deathbed goodbyes’. If Dean wants him here he needs to spare him any apologies. As part of this, we do get more glimpses into their pasts, growing up on the road with their Father, and how Dean was both Parent and Brother to Sam. Despite Sam’s insistence that he can’t deal with the goodbyes, and how Dean isn’t good with them, Dean keeps using phrases throughout the episode that highlight how he is saying goodbye. These constant inferences of finality weigh heavily on Sam, and on the viewer.
As they continue to travel Sam finds them a Hunt along the way, concerning a Prophet (Nick Hunnings) who appears to be killing people following instructions from God. Knowing this can not be the case the brothers go to see the previous Prophet, Donatello (Keith Szarabajka) who was left in a coma, braindead, by Castiel (Misha Collins) after he went crazy. Although a good story, the whole hunt serves to highlight even more how everyone else thinks Dean’s plan is a stupid one. Castiel is open with his disappointment and frustration that Dean is just giving up, berating the stupidity of it all, but it is Sam that reaches breaking point first.
The last scene of the episode speaks volumes about why Supernatural has endured for so long and how a lot of that is due to the dedication of Padalecki and Ackles. In a highly emotionally charged conversation, Padalecki shows just how despairing Sam is of his brother’s decision, and cannot understand why Dean is giving up, not just on life but on the two of them. Despite being a six-foot-four man, Sam immediately becomes the little brother who is utterly heartbroken at the idea of losing his brother and this comes out completely when he hits Dean. But instead of doing it again he hugs his brother and asks the heartbreaking question “Why don’t you believe in us?”
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These words get through to Dean, who was right to believe that Sam would be the only one who could dissuade him from his plan, and he responds with “Okay Sam, let’s go home.” Dean is still scared, tears are in both men’s eyes now, but he does believe in them, Cas included, and he affirms that he will keep believing in them until there is no other way. But there is a caveat to this. He makes Sam and Cas promise that if the day comes, they have to do what they can’t do now: let him go. Sam, with so much emotion swimming in his eyes, once again makes that promise.
Another outstanding episode, let down a little by taking some of the focus away from the brothers, which highlights just why Supernatural has been renewed for another season. The fact that it was so good has also added to the anticipation of the 300th episode and for the rest of the season.