“Ouroboros, a circular symbol depicting a snake, or less commonly a dragon, swallowing its tail, as an emblem of wholeness or infinity.”
After another long break, due to the strange world that is American television schedules, Supernatural returned to our screens last week with the 14th episode of the season, ‘Ouroboros’. Written by Steve Yockey and directed by Amyn Kaderali, who have both delivered on five-star episodes this season, ‘Ouroboros’ picks up a few weeks later on from the 300th episode with Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles), with the help from Castiel (Misha Collins) and Jack (Alexander Calvert), on the hunt of a cannibalistic creature working its way across New Mexico.
Dean is still struggling with Michael locked up inside of his head and Jack is still adjusting to the magic tethered to his soul that brought him back to life. Along for the Hunt, and full of questions about both men’s situations is Rowena (Ruth Connell), always a welcome addition to an episode. Ruth brings suck spark to the character which means she has moved away from just being the villainous mother of the former King of Hell, Crowley (Mark Sheppard) and developed her into a fan favourite.
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The dynamic between her character and that of Sam, Sam is fated to be the one who kills her, is always one to watch and Ruth and Jared have amazing chemistry with each other. They convey a level of respect for each other, both survivors of Lucifer’s sick and twisted abuses, and share a lot in common that you can understand why there are some fans who would like to see a romantic entanglement between the two. In addition to the character’s emotions, Jared and Ruth are able to bring natural comedy to their performances. The scene in which they rush to a veterinarian practice, to steal some antivenom, caused real laughter at the bickering married couple they appeared to be portraying. A special mention needs to go to Alexander Calvery for his deadpan delivery of a certain line that comes about as a result of that scene, genuine tears of laughter rolled.
The majority of the episode focuses on the creature they are hunting, which turns out to be a Gorgon, a demi-god. Dean’s reaction is to assume it will be like the one in the Clash of the Titans, and you can assume he would mean the Harryhausen version rather than the 2010 remake given Dean’s usual pop culture references, but we know that instead of being a snake woman with snakes for hair, it is a human looking male (Philippe Bowgen) with Hannibal-esque tendencies when it comes to fine dining.
Bowgen’s performance as the snake-like creature is creepy on its own, but when combined with the VFX to make his eyes vertical slits and the makeup effects of the cannibalised murder victims it makes him a very credible and scary antagonist. His delivery of the folk tale of the Black Snake and the Eggs to Jack was quite chilling as both the Nephilim and the viewer are left questioning the Gorgon’s true meaning. As Jack continues to use his powers to assist his friends, this time saving Castiel from the Gorgon’s poison, more of his soul is syphoned away. Having seen the effect being soulless had on Sam in season six, the idea of such a powerful entity such as Jack not being held back by morality is very chilling indeed.
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As part of the fight scene with the Gorgon, Dean suffers a trauma to the head and is knocked unconscious. When he won’t wake up the others rush him back to the bunker where Cas finds because of Michael’s occupation he still cannot heal Dean. It’s not entirely clear from past episodes when this became an issue, but apparently, it is. The situation becomes worse when Dean wakes up in a panic and he realises that the archangel is no longer in his head, but the nightmare does not stop there. Michael is now inhabiting Rowena, having coerced her into saying yes to his possession and had killed off all the other Hunters who reside in the bunker, including Maggie (Katherine Evans). The Hunters from Apocalypse World always made the bunker feel too crowded, a feeling that seemed to resonate across the fandom, but now their deaths will no doubt feed into Dean’s angst over not having gone through with his plan.
Ruth’s performance as Michael is up there with Jensen’s, the calm malice seeping through every word from her mouth and the casual disregard for the pain she inflicts on Sam, Dean and Cas is just the same as when Jensen played him. The oddity of this scene though lies in the fact that Michael ignores Jack’s presence, you would have thought he would have included him in on the torture given he would have known that Jack had access to his powers. Simply thinking that Jack would not act on them feels a bit too much like metaknowledge but most likely was a touch of lazy writing to achieve an end result.
After an emotional conversation with Castiel, Jack is already feeling unhappy at the prospect of having to see everyone he loves die, because he’s a cosmic being and not human, so it’s really no surprise when he unleashes everything he has on the archangel. After a speech about being Lucifer’s son, a Hunter and a Winchester, that caused viewers to punch the air and shout “Yes!”, he exorcises Michael from Rowena’s body and then seems to ingest him.
The episode ends on Jack telling everyone that Michael is now dead but we are left with the troubling concern about what effect this will have on him. With only six episodes to go, it seems more and more likely that the rest of the season will see Team Free Will having to deal with a soulless Jack and all the issues that could come about from that. Although it seems that Michael is dealt with perhaps there is still another showdown to come and that there will still yet be a use for the box that Dean constructed, only it won’t be Dean inside.