This Supernatural review contains spoilers.
Supernatural Season 14 Episode 19
Supernatural has often dealt with themes of familial obligation and choosing between good and evil. As characters are added to the show, such as Castiel or Mary, these themes are explored anew. These are universal stories, and when combined with the unlimited potential of supernatural creatures and parables from the Bible, they have gone far to provide multiple seasons’ worth of story arcs.
The aftermath of Mary’s death brings with it a tender funeral service, saying goodbye to the parent Sam and Dean barely had a chance to know before then. It’s punctuated by a creature getting axed in the head and a quick AU Bobby scene, but leads us right into the melodrama that is our Winchesters after a parent’s death. Dean typically represses emotion around others unless he’s showing anger, but breaks down completely at the sight of Mary’s death. Sam however is more conflicted on the status of Jack’s soul, which makes their eventual plan all the more difficult for him to deal with. Sam visibly twitches when he’s forced to lie to Jack later on, while Death is at times flippant and stony faced.
“Jack in the Box” as an episode is quintessentially this heavy theme. After Jack incinerated Mary (and Samantha Smith, you had a great run on the show and will be missed) he has avoided dealing with the responsibility of his actions, knowing that Sam and Dean won’t trust him anymore, but hoping in a childlike way that they’ll understand when he explains it was just a mistake.
Jack’s very own devil on his shoulder is a hallucination of his father, Lucifer, who goads him and explains the Winchesters will never take him in again. As much as Jack tries to ignore the vision’s remarks, it’s clearly getting to him. Mark Pellegrino must have a blast harassing the other actors in these hallucination scenes as it’s a blast to watch them. Something about the joyous way in which he plays the character has always translated well on screen, making it easy to see why other characters could fall under his spell.
The other side vying for Jack’s power are what few angels are left in Heaven, namely Duma, who shamelessly uses Jack’s power for her own means. This is exactly the kind of misuse of power the boys tried to keep away from Jack in the beginning of his life, and here it is rearing its ugly head again.
Under Duma’s suggestion, Jack appears to a devout church group and grants their supposed wish of becoming angels. In this scene, Jack’s presence and holier-than-thou demeanor calls back to when Castiel went all God-y years ago. It’s definitely creepy. Sure, you might ascend to Heaven, but you might also end up a pillar of salt or eaten by worms. There’s not a lot of gray area between the two.
Jack and the Winchesters finally reunite (it feels like it’s been forever, it’s only been two episodes). Jack’s so hopeful, but it’s still chilling how he minimizes killing Mary as a simple accident. Using Jack’s naivete to get him to willingly close himself in the archangel prison, Sam is visibly straining as he lies to Jack.
“Longshots are kind of our thing.” It’s a quote that resonates, because it’s an enduring facet of the Winchester’s fight for good. It was these two hunters who eventually let innocent monsters survive, who beat insurmountable odds to save the world time and again, who escaped death who knows how many times (does anyone have an up-to-date count?). Longshots, betting on the underdog, believing in the impossible — that is the Winchester way. But according to how close we are to a season finale, we have to figure something big and bad is going to throw a wrench in any hope that’s left.
The episode really encapsulates Jack’s whole life — opposing forces trying to control and manipulate him. It’s those tensions that pull him apart even further than the soullessness. It’s exactly what turns him into something scarily close to his dear ol’ Dad.
Next week is the season finale. Let’s see how we lead into the last season, shall we?