Supernatural: Byzantium

"Taking risks, making crappy deals, that's what we do."

I hadn't even thought about it before.
Where will Jack go when he dies? The Big Empty? Heaven, Hell, Purgatory?

It turned out to be Heaven, and how incredibly lovely that Jack almost immediately joined Kelly in her very own Heaven, a childhood home with her beloved dog, Roosevelt. Was it Heaven because Jack chose to emulate his mother instead of his father? If he'd gone in the other direction and joined up with Lucifer in life, would it have been the Big Empty?

The writers nearly wrote themselves into a trap, because as much as I like Jack, I would have been fine with him spending eternity in Heaven with his mother – especially since they never had a single moment together in life. But no. And I thought the Terminator-thing that we saw waking up last week was Lucifer because Nick was praying to him – but no. And as it turned out, it was the Empty, a.k.a. the Shadow, a.k.a. a lot of amorphous black goo that can possess angels. It attacked Heaven because it wanted Jack.

Which brings us to Dean, Sam and Castiel, devastated by grief. While Dean blamed himself, Sam tried to do the practical thing, cutting down trees so that they could make a hunter's funeral pyre. After that lovely wake where the three of them got hammered in the bunker's kitchen and told stories about Jack, Sam did something else even more practical. He figured out a way to bring Jack back to life.


This episode featured more emotion from Castiel than I think he's ever shown, at least when he was himself: devastating grief, joy, laughter, resignation. Dean and Sam treated Jack more like a little brother, but Castiel treated Jack like a son. Castiel said that it didn't feel natural, having Jack die before him. In Heaven, when Castiel realized that the Big Empty had come for Jack, he offered himself instead.

And Castiel would do this, and keep it a secret from the Winchesters, because he loves them and he loves Jack and he promised Kelly he would take care of her son. I absolutely hate the idea of Castiel stranded in the Empty. Would he be sleeping or awake? That makes a difference. But the Empty didn't say. It just said that It would come and take Castiel when he was at his happiest and wasn't expecting it. Probably the season finale. Or the midseason finale next week. Crap.

I wasn't at all invested in Lily Sunder from a couple of seasons ago, but I liked that they brought her back and resolved her situation – and I liked how they did it. And they even brought in an excellent actress, Veronica Cartwright, as the much older Lily. She knew she was going to Hell and wanted to trade resurrecting Jack for a chance to be with her daughter in Heaven. When Anubis and his abacus said no, she did the deal anyway, truly out of the goodness of her heart. How lovely that it changed the score for her and she went to Heaven, after all. So much of Supernatural doesn't have a happy ending. When we actually get one, it's special.

Unfortunately, I bet this "soul-sucking magic" isn't a good solution to Jack's problem. It will almost certainly have side effects, or even something worse. See above re: Supernatural not having happy endings.


But at least Castiel got a reward for saving Heaven; Naomi told him where Archangel Michael was. Of course, we didn't hear her tell him. Is Michael hiding inside Dean, or not? Are we all right, or are they going to surprise us?

Bits:

— Amanda Tapping and Courtney Ford were in the end credits so that their appearances would be a surprise. And they were.

— Jack's original Heaven was with Dean, Sam, Castiel and the Impala at "Lil Skippers Beach CafĂ©" on the way to Dodge City. Dean was teaching Jack how to read a map.

— Erica Cerra returned as Dumah, and did a good job. I didn't realize she was possessed by the Empty until right before the reveal.

— Alexander Calvert (Jack) and Courtney Ford (Kelly) actually do look like they're related.

Title musings: I read up on Byzantium, but I honestly have no idea how it relates to this episode. Am I being dense? Can anyone enlighten me?

Quotes:

Jack: "What happens next for someone like me?"
Sam: "I don't know."
Jack: "Then it's gonna be an adventure."
Jack faced death with great courage, didn't he? It just made me like him more.

Sam: "Yeah, the weighing of the heart ceremony, right. But that wasn't Anubis, that was Osiris. We met him."
Dean: "Major dick."

Dean (to Lily): "You got old."
Dean is so delightfully lacking in anything resembling tact.

Castiel: "When God left – (to Lily) sorry, long story – we needed a new judge and Anubis was the obvious choice."
Dean: "So Heaven hired a temp to make sure the soul trains kept running on time?"

Dean: "I don't like rolling the dice on the word of a psycho ex-angel killer."
Sam: "I don't love it either. But taking risks, making crappy deals, that's what we do."
Dean: "Yeah, and they usually bite us in the ass."

Naomi: "Forty six billion, seven hundred and fifty million human souls will be cast in the wind. What's one nephilim boy against all that?"
So I had to look up how many human beings have died, and it's about a hundred billion. By that estimate, less than half have gone to Heaven.

Really good, even with the upsetting ending. Three out of four… what is the plural of abacus?

Billie
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Billie Doux has been reviewing Supernatural for so long that Dean and Sam Winchester feel like old friends. Courageous, adventurous, gorgeous old friends.

6 comments:

PollyAnna said...

Writer Meredith Glynn tweeted this clue about the title

Tonight! On a brand new #Supernatural... won't you set sail with us to #Byzantium? (where's that W.B. Yeats gif when you need it!?). #SPNFamily
https://twitter.com/Merecuda/status/1070793736227966976

The poem is 'Sailing to Byzantium'. Poet Yeats said it was about his spiritual journey. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sailing_to_Byzantium

Billie Doux said...

Thanks, PollyAnna. That helps.

Dragonfire said...

This was my favorite episode all season. The boys are finally back together, everyone was beautifully in character, and it was introduced so many different and awesome elements!
I would totally give this episode 4 out of 4 abaci(pretty sure that's the plural).

rose mnor said...

"And I thought the Terminator-thing that we saw waking up last week was Lucifer because Nick was praying to him – but no. And as it turned out, it was the Empty, a.k.a. the Shadow, a.k.a. a lot of amorphous black goo that can possess angels"

Are we certain that this is the Empty that woke up due to the red eyes? And why would it wake up at all, why would it care that Nick prayed to something? What we do know is that it invaded heaven because Jack was there. It claimed that Jack supposed to go to the Empty because of his half-angel nature. When it woke up last season it has no discernible features until it mimics Castiel's.

I think what woke up is still up for debate, though like you I am more leaning towards Lucifer.

When Lucifer died but not Nick, I think Jack's grace is what saved him, not that "angel blade did not kill the vessel only the archangel" (from Ep.1). And remnants of that grace in his body somehow woke Lucifer up, just like Jack's distress signal for Castiel woke him up last season (from ep. Patience). And I don't recall where/when during the summer hiatus, Mark did mention the possibility of Jack's grace coming into play when he teased the return of Lucifer at a convention (but in actual fact, he was teasing Nick's return, we just did not know that at the time).

Yeah, we just have to wait for how all of this plays out. And I for one is so excited about it, just saying.

magritte said...

I am wondering if the fact that the Empty was awakened and in our world roaming around allowed Lucifer to awaken in the Empty. And I too am still worried by this soul-sucking magic...even if it's only a little bit of his soul, if he's continuously drawing on it, won't he become soulless eventually? Or do nephilim have normal lifespans like their human parent?

Then again, it's hard to reconcile Jack's resurrection being a bad thing with it tilting the scales in Lily's favour.

Another question: Jack's not the first nephilim, so if the previous nephilim went to the empty, why didn't he?

Dragonfire said...

Magritte, I think back in s8, Henry mentioned that souls replenish their power after it's been drained. The spell keeping Jack alive might be small enough that he could keep an equilibrium. And I think he didn't go to the empty because he didn't have any grace, so he was effectively human.