This Supernatural review contains spoilers.
Supernatural Season 13 Episode 9
It’s the mid-season finale, and Supernatural did not hold anything back.
This was a great way to go into a long break—with fans wanting more. Not only did we finally reunite Jack and the Winchesters, but the episode simply had beautiful cinematography. There was a lot of care put into the visuals of this episode, so I’m going to share what I noticed.
How do you keep a fresh visual style in a long running show? You mix it up. In this episode, we saw some beautiful lighting and playing with shadows in the bunker. When Dean walks through the hallway, he passes by a wall with some extreme shadows coming from overhead. In the main room, a large grid patterned shadow plays along the floor. The angle suggests it could be early morning or late night, and may indicate tension in the amount of time spent looking for Jack. Yes, even shadows can be symbolic.
Sam and Dean’s chat in the Impala is nicely framed. At first Dean is shown with the camera outside the car looking in, the window cutting most of the frame away, eliciting a trapped look. And that’s when they start talking the hard talk about whether Jack may have gone the way they feared. The majority of the conversation is shown from behind the boys, the camera placed in the back seat. Out the windshield is graffiti on a wall: a man and wings. It’s both Native American inspired and also angelic.
When Jack shares the vision of Mary Winchester in the alternate Earth, Dean is hit especially hard. He had still been assuming there was no hope—that Mary wasn’t even alive. Seeing her alive (and not particularly well) throws him in a tailspin. The camera gets an extreme close-up on Dean with Sam and Jack chatting in the background. Extreme shallow focus singles Dean out, putting everything else in a fuzzy disorientation. This moment is also a precursor to Dean getting super intense and scary when he forces Kaia to go along with the plan. He’s just found Mom’s still alive, so he’s not giving up now. It was definitely a darker side to Dean.
We also got a taste of the beginning of Wayward Sisters here. Patience is called into action by Dean but refuses the call. Then she has a vision of Jody dying, which is all the incentive she needs (this is literally the Hero’s Journey to a tee). Of course her dad says as she’s exiting the house this classic dramatic speech: “If you leave this house now, you never come back.” All the better to foster the sisterhood with the other Wayward Sisters later on.
The final confrontation with the angels takes place in a beautiful, dilapidated shipyard location. This is the perfect location for the big showdown in a movie, let alone a TV episode. Helicopter or drone shots from above were teased earlier in this hour, but here they are sweeping dynamic shots that ramp up the tension.
There was so much to like about this episode, not just visually but also story-wise. I liked the addition of Kaia, and I hope she at least gets a guest appearance next season and in the spinoff, where I’m sure she could find her way.
Supernatural returns with a new episode on Jan. 18. That episode also marks the official backdoor pilot for Wayward Sisters. Hopefully nobody becomes dino-monster lunch before then. Stay safe, Winchesters.