Supernatural season 6 episode 17 review: My Heart Will Go On

Supernatural returns to our screens, and we get an alternate history episode for our trouble. Here's Matthew's take on it...

This review contains spoilers.

6.17 My Heart Will Go On 

Sam and Dean are trying to help Bobby get over the death of Rufus with an investigation into a chain of mysterious deaths, all within one family. Bobby would rather stay home, so the brothers jump in their trusty Mustang and head off without him.

Bobby’s wife, Ellen, has been away, but is now back and helps Bobby researching Sam and Dean’s investigation. Between them, they discover that all the victims had relatives on the Titanic, a very unremarkable ship that nothing ever happened to.

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I’m a geek. And being a geek, I’ve watched many a different series where, sooner or later, the show does an alternative history episode. This is not a bad thing. I love them. They’re a great insight into what might have been and make for some of the best episodes of genre television.

Usually, these types of episodes involve big changes. Buffy never came to Sunnydale. The Enterprise C fled the battle. Changes that reshape the whole series in an instant.

This episode of Supernatural does things slightly differently, in a way that, off the top of my head, I can’t remember another series doing. It’s a change so subtle that it doesn’t really change reality, just the people living it.

I do think it’s a very confident show that can do this. It would have been easy to completely change everything, and at the end of the episode, simply press the reset button. But this episode doesn’t do that. It keeps the change small, which seems to make it all the more important.

And likewise, it would have been just as easy to have a story that sits outside the arc of the season. But this episode highlights more about the war in Heaven, mainly Castiel’s growing desperation of what he’s prepared to do to win it.

I had an interesting thought about this. Surely, at some point, God will be back and, even if Castiel has won the war, does it automatically follow that God will be pleased with the outcome?

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The episode also has a fantastic mix of gore and humour. There are two particularly grisly deaths, but they’re offset brilliantly by the humour, particularly Balthazar’s dislike for Titanic, and the choice of Blondie for the soundtrack.

All in all, it’s a very good episode, although there are a couple of things that I didn’t like. They are two minor points that didn’t ruin my enjoyment of the show, but did distract me.

Firstly, there’s a very fine line between an homage and a copy, and I feel this episode steps over that line ever so slightly. 

I like the idea of the Sisters of Fate being responsible, but the way the death scenes were built up, executed, if you will, felt to me very much borrowed from Final Destination.

That said, I really did like the character of Atropos and hope the Sisters make a return at some point.

The other thing that bothered me was that Atropos said that Castiel saved the people on the Titanic to have more souls for the cause. Fifty thousand is the figure quoted, which doesn’t seem that many, considering how many souls must have passed into Heaven and Hell.

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I appreciate the war in Heaven hasn’t really been explained, but fifty thousand seems a very small number to actually make a difference. It could be that this is the first of numerous changes Castiel had planned, but, as an explanation it didn’t quite ring true.

However, the idea that Ellen and Jo are alive and that the lead characters aren’t willing to change history to keep them alive is a very interesting quandary. The world the characters live in wasn’t that much different and you really felt for Bobby and would it have been so bad if the Titanic hadn’t sank?

It’s these shades of grey that Supernatural does very well, and as the season end draws ever closer, I can’t wait for the next episode.

Read our review of episode 16, And Then There Were None, here.