TV reviews

Supernatural 14×19 – ‘Jack in the Box’ – Review

There’s no denying it now, Supernatural has taken the naive Nougat Boy, Jack (Alexander Calvert), and turned him into the Big Bad. It was obvious that things were never going to go well given the episode’s title, ‘Jack in the Box’.The episode, written by Eugenie Ross-Leming and Brad Buckner and directed by long-term executive producer Robert Singer, focuses on the fallout of Jack’s accidental killing of Mary, and how Sam (Jared Padalecki), Dean (Jensen Ackles) and others are now dealing with this.

Sam wants to talk and wants to be around his brother, but Dean is clearly done talking. In fact, he’s done with people entirely and not long after the wake held for Mary he leaves the bunker and takes off alone. The reason for doing this is heartbreaking and we have to watch Dean sat in the woods, alone and crying over the second loss of his mother. There have been criticisms on social media about Dean’s behaviour in this episode, how he seems certain that Jack’s situation is irredeemable, but given that he is coming from a dark place it doesn’t seem that out of place all things considered.

Jack’s birth caused the rift to the Apocalypse World, back at the end of season twelve, that Lucifer dragged Mary into. Dean’s reaction to that event was to blame Jack for his mother’s death but then he got her back again. In many respects these events have come full circle and now Jack really is responsible, albeit accidentally. Dean’s reactions and a need to place blame are very typical of someone grieving the loss of a loved one, even more so seeing as Dean is having to grieve for Mary twice over. Ackles, of course, knocks his performance out of the park. We have all seen Dean cry before, often it’s been a single man tear, but seeing him close to full on sobbing was wrenchingly painful. All he wanted was his family back. The Darkness (Emily Swallow) gave him back Mary, but in the course of a few weeks he has had to say goodbye to both his Father and Mother again.

Despite wanting to blame Jack for everything, Dean follows the similar path that he was on when dealing with Michael. He and Sam couldn’t stop the Archangel, and Jack is unkillable, so Dean proposes they should lock Jack away in the Ma’lak Box.

Jack, meanwhile, is still suffering from his actions and being tormented by the continued hallucinations of Lucifer (Mark Pellegrino). Soulless or not, Jack knows he’s done wrong and wants forgiveness, but Lucifer just torments him, telling him that the Winchesters will never forgive their little pet monster. The back and forth between Calvert and Pellegrino is again very similar to when Sam was being haunted by Lucifer, and it once again reminds you of how good a villain Lucifer can be, when not diluted down to a petulant teenager.

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Unfortunately, this isn’t the only manipulation that Jack falls victim to. Dumah (Erica Cerra), on finding out what has happened to Jack from Castiel (Misha Collins), decides that Jack is the key to repairing heaven. Having already ousted Naomi (Amanda Tapping) from leadership, Dumah uses Jack to inflict biblical retribution on heretical evangelists and also instructs the Nephilim to turn willing humans into Angels.

When Castiel learns about this he is obviously angry and kills Dumah when she threatens the heaven of John (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and Mary Winchester. Cas believes Jack can be rehabilitated, unlike Bobby Singer (Jim Beaver) who is of the opinion that Jack must die. Bobby’s appearance in this episode was perhaps the most jarring thing about it. As discussed in the review of the last episode Bobby has been absent for so long, his relationship with Mary came to nothing, and the audience still hasn’t had a chance to warm to him. Jim Beaver recently tweeted a poll wanting to find out which version the fans preferred. The original Bobby Singer and Jim Beaver are both beloved figures in the Supernatural world and so it feels wrong to bad-mouth this new version, but he just simply isn’t the same man – not that he should be, and the writers just haven’t given us enough to be able to care about.

The episode culminates in the Winchesters duping Jack to get into the Ma’lak Box. Dean’s plan is to have Sam lie to Jack, to tell him they are working on a cure to his soullessness. Dean tells Sam that he has to be the one to do it because Dean knows he’ll lose it if he has to. Sam is already quite unwilling to do this, but as they have no way to kill or cure Jack, Dean says there is no other option. Reluctantly Sam agrees, reluctantly because he too wants to be able to fix Jack’s soul and is glad at the news his mother is happy in heaven. 

Jack comes to the Winchesters after hearing Sam’s prayer, still trusting them and wanting their forgiveness, but neither brother seems to be able to act convincingly enough. Jack still agrees to the plan though and gets into the box which Dean then locks. It doesn’t take long though for the Lucifer hallucination to point out what Jack already suspects, he’s been duped. The episode ends with the Bunker’s internal alarms going off and plunging into lockdown, Jack has escaped from the Box and steps out of the smoke with intense glowing eyes, looking very much how he did when we first ever saw him. The screen then goes black.

With the next episode being the season finale it is unknown what will happen to Jack, and what situation we will leave the Winchesters in during the final hellatus before the fifteenth and final season. All will be revealed soon.

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