This Supernatural review contains spoilers.
Supernatural Season 14 Episode 10
Returning from such a big mid-season finale primed Supernatural fans to expect a bombastic mid-season opener. Surely explosions, death-defying feats, and certain doom from the likes of Michael-Dean were to follow. When the episode opened on a folksy bar scene, resplendent with its wholesome Marshall Tucker music playing in the background that we were thrown for a loop.
Truthfully, it’s Dean who was in a loop — Michael stuck Dean in a happy scenario where Dean owns a bar staffed by the currently dead psychic Pamela. Michael kept the scenario real enough for Dean by throwing in a few monsters to slay, but other than that, it’s all sunshine and “Searchin’ for a Rainbow.”
The bar scene poses an interesting set, and that’s partly from how it plays later in the story with the Dean vs. Michael confrontation, but also due to all the fun references to the real bar Jensen Ackles owns with his wife. Dean mentions to Sam later that he’s got “This great IPA from Austin: Cosmic Cowboy. You’re gonna love it.” Cosmic Cowboy, and the other beers on tap in the dream world — Fox Rye and Ghost White — are real beers served by the Family Business Beer Co.
What’s also great is the soundtrack: Marshall Tucker Band’s “Searchin’ for a Rainbow” playing over and over. Not only does the music evoke a familiar, folksy and upbeat feel — the lyrics lend themselves to clues about Dean’s reality: “I rode into town today, in my mind I said “Lord I’d like to stay’. Something in me said ‘Boy, move on.”
The bar scenario — just like Marshall Tucker — is stuck on replay. Dean keeps reliving the same set of events, only once commenting on a sense of deja vu. The storytelling device is used well to indoctrinate us in Dean’s Groundhog Day nightmare. It establishes things like the walk in cooler that eventually becomes instrumental in trapping Michael.
In the real world, Sam calls upon a personal reaper to intervene. Death (aka Billy, baddest gal you’ll meet this side of eternity) has assigned a reaper named Jessica to watch the boys. The surprise comes when it’s a reaper named Violet who answers the call. “We take shifts now,” Violet says wryly, indicating that even the immortal reapers are tired of hanging around for all of the Winchesters’ death-defying mischief.
Michael finds plenty of time to taunt the Winchesters and Cas out in the real world as well. The guys brush it off. Mostly. It’s Jack who falls victim to these taunts, as Michael tells him Dean may have been sad on the outside when Jack died, but on the inside he was relieved. It was enough to sow seeds of doubt in impressionable Jack.
Michael is chatty. We finally get his motivations for his intentions and why the archangel turned bad. It skews close to Lucifer’s motivations in earlier seasons, basically “Daddy wasn’t there so I’m throwing a temper tantrum.” Michael claims he’s going to continue destroying Earth after Earth until God takes notice so he can get his chance to kill God. Being that I’m not sure Michael even knew about there being alternate Earths until relatively recently, I find this a bit of a weak motivation, but it’s backed up by the world-ending battle between himself and Lucifer. God didn’t show, Michael became the destructive one. Again, similar to Lucifer, so I look forward to a little more world building on this later.
The end of the episode showed Billy presenting Dean with the only possible way he will defeat Michael. The book she hands him carries a lot of metaphorical weight. Not only is it the only volume in a library of ways that Michael will eventually destroy the Earth, it no doubt contains an end game so horrible that Dean will have to be forced to take this path. Think Dr. Strange at the end of Infinity War Part 1. What, too soon?
Overall, “Nihilism” is a fabulous episode of Supernatural. It features plenty of nail biting moments, evenly distributed action, and dialogue scenes wrapped into a solid return.