TV reviews

Supernatural 14×17 – ‘Game Night’ – Review

After a less than impressive previous episode, followed by the announcement that Supernatural would come to an end after season fifteen, there was a certain amount of trepidation going into the most recent episode, ‘Game Night’. Would it be another poorly focused offering or would it remind fans of everything they love about the show? Written by Meredith Glynn and directed by F. John Showalter, ‘Game Night’ was a return to form and although it still contained some worrying elements, the return of Lucifer being the biggest, it was still a very good watch.

Not seen since his escape back in the twelfth episode, we discover Nick (Mark Pellegrino) is still on his crusade to free Lucifer from the Empty, and his desperation leads him to the prophet Donatello (Keith Szarabajka). Dean (Jensen Ackles), Mary (Samantha Smith) and Jack (Alexander Calvert) are back at the bunker preparing for Winchester Family Game Night, while Sam (Jared Padalecki) is off getting the pizza – which would have been wonderful to behold but their evening is interrupted by Donatello calling for help. As much as longer scenes of domestication would be appreciated by fans, Supernatural isn’t a show about that, and with episodes only running to around forty minutes, they need to focus on the action.

A secondary plotline sees Castiel (Misha Collins) going to meet with Anael (Danneel Ackles) to enlist her help. Cas’s concern for Jack’s soul prompts him to want to contact God (Rob Benedict), last seen departing for places unknown in season eleven. Before the Fall, Anael worked for the only angel whom God talked to, Joshua, and Cas hopes she can help him now. She is unable to contact their absent Father but helps Cas search for an item, that resembles the Samulet, that might be able to. Largely this builds to nothing, with Cas’s prayer going unheeded, but it reveals that he knows more than he’s letting on about Jack’s situation. Collins and Ackles play off each other very well, Ackles bringing a cynicism to Anael that is very believable given everything Supernatural’s angels have been through since their introduction in season four. The fact that Castiel is still able to cling to some optimism after all of this time is just as incredible, but Collins is still able to play Castiel convincingly.

Which brings us back to the Winchesters. Dean and Mary bring Nick back to the bunker after he admits that he injected Donatello with poison and stashed the Prophet somewhere. Sam’s reaction is to want to beat Nick into a pulp, which feels like an entirely justifiable reaction given everything Nick has done. Sam feels responsible due to making the decision to turn Nick over to authorities, but given the fandom’s reaction to Nick being back, it is doubtful that any viewer had a problem with Sam’s angry reactions. Padalecki has always played Sam’s discomfort at being around Lucifer or his vessel exceptionally well. Despite Padalecki’s height, the little flinches and other perceivable reactions remind you of a small, scared child. It was quite cathartic to see the tables being briefly turned.

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Although Nick’s plotline has been fraught with issues – the biggest being that it exists! – a note should be made of Pellegrino’s acting. He has managed to make Nick a different character from Lucifer, and the scene in which he is tormenting Sam has him seemingly flitting between Nick and Lucifer’s mannerisms. It is very well done by Pellegrino to be able to keep the two separate within the same scene.

Sadly, the Winchesters fall victim to Nick’s overall scheme and end up giving him what he wanted without realising it. While Dean is set upon by demons, Nick and Sam end up in a fist fight and due to hitting Sam on the head with a rock, Nick gains the upper hand. The youngest Winchester is able to take cover inside of Baby but this means that Nick can escape and enact his grand plan, summoning Lucifer out of the Empty. Again, the VFX of Lucifer’s inky black form stepping out of the Empty was staggeringly good but it doesn’t help that no one, apart from the writers, seems to want the Archangel back again.

Thankfully Jack is able to step up, although perhaps not in the way we should want. Jack brings himself and Mary to where Nick is, he sends Lucifer back into the Empty and then deals with Nick in a brutal way, by burning him alive. There is no remorse on his face, none of the naivety that Calvert usually portrays Jack with. Mary, who witnesses the event, is horrified, having already been very worried over the Nephilim’s behaviour. She then sends Jack to go and heal Sam. We are treated to a wonderful broment when, for the first time ever, Sam’s head wound is shown to be serious and Dean is panicking about losing his brother. Dean’s gasp and quick turn away when Sam is healed up is a wonderful piece of acting by Ackles, but things do not end on a positive note.

Jack returns to Mary and begs her to tell him that what he did was okay, much like a child desperate to be excused from wrongdoing by a parent. Jack then seems to freak out, grabbing his ears and yelling to be left alone, with Mary asking him what’s wrong. Earlier in the episode, we saw two scenes involving Mary and each of her sons, both had her apologising for never being present enough and saying how proud she is of them. Given that this is Supernatural it seemed to be telegraphing Mary’s untimely end. She reaches for Jack, who promptly reacts, but then the screen goes black and we hear Jack say, “Mary?”

Troubling times are no doubt head, and with now only three episodes of the season left it seems even more likely that Sam and Dean will be facing off against Jack before the end.

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