Supernatural: Jack in the Box

While the acting is consistently good on this show, it's not usually the first thing I think about when I sit down to write a review. This time it was.

The stage was set at Mary's wake, with Dean's poker face and Bobby's flying hatchet of an entrance. The wake ended with a blast from the past confab – Dean, Sam, Bobby and Castiel – and no consensus about what to do next. Dean and Bobby wanted Jack dead. Castiel wanted to find a way to save Jack. Sam was torn.

In hiding, Jack was overwhelmed with guilt, despite his lack of a soul. He was absolutely ripe for exploitation by heavenly forces, and Dumah took full advantage. Jack was so happy making angels ("Cas! Look! I'm making angels!") because it made him feel wanted again. Too bad that Dumah also used Jack's power to hurt humans, turning a pastor literally into worm food (ick) and a Richard Dawkins-like atheist author into a pillar of salt.

Is creating more angels actually a good thing? They are dicks, after all, as Dumah conveniently reminded us during her brief reign of terror. But angels do keep the lights on in Heaven, and we were also reminded of why that was important when Dumah threatened to eject Mary and John Winchester from their special Heaven. That made me somewhat relieved when Castiel killed Dumah. Another dead long-running character. Although losing Dumah wasn't anything like losing Mary.

After grieving alone in the woods, and may I say that watching Dean sob was upsetting, Dean figured out what to do about Jack. After all, Dean just happened to have an unused Ma'Lak box in storage, powerful enough to contain an archangel.


The scenes that followed were so difficult and painful to watch. Dean was concealing his grief and fury but I could swear I saw everything he was feeling on Jensen Ackles' poker face. I hated that Dean used his beloved brother Sam to trick Jack. It felt like Dean was doing genuine evil, plotting to condemn his own foster son and protégé to the horror he had narrowly escaped himself. Sam's pain and confusion were also evident on Jared Padalecki's face; Sam was less successful than Dean in hiding how he felt. I could swear there were tears behind his eyes throughout those scenes, and conflict submerged beneath his every expression as he tricked Jack into the box. After fourteen seasons, we know their faces too well, don't we?

How could Dean and Sam keep on living in the bunker with Jack alive in a coffin right in the next room? (And what about submerging it in the ocean? I thought that was an important part of the archangel containment.) Not that it matters. The episode title made it obvious that Jack would end up in the Ma'Lak box, but I was practically positive from the beginning that Jack would pop right out again. Much like a real Jack in the box, huh?

Jack, released, looked an awful lot like Lucifer. Guess we'll find out next week in the season finale if it's more than just a father/son resemblance.

Bits:

— Seeing John's journal on the table at Mary's wake made me go "Awww."

— Mark Pellegrino continued to do a terrific job verbalizing Jack's inner Lucifer.

— We learned that Naomi is in a small cell somewhere. I don't like Naomi, but I don't want her stuck in a small cell. Probably not smaller than the Ma'Lak box, though.

— The poster for the book signing was dated April 9, 2019. Only one week off.

— The portal to Heaven was once again guarded, this time by an angel named Eremiel.

— Have I mentioned that I love the set decoration for Heaven? They use a variety of patterns to make white-on-white interesting.

— Not sure where we went this week, although it was mostly the bunker. Ohio was mentioned. Dean, Sam and Castiel were agents Kilmister, Clarke and Taylor. That's Motorhead.

Quotes:

Castiel: "A hunter's memorial complete with monster. Mary would have appreciated that."

Dumah: "So he lost his capacity for good through an act of goodness."

Sam: "For most people, it's... it's... hope and faith, right? That's all they have. But we know the truth. We know God is real. We know angels are real, too."
Dean: "God writes paperback books in his underwear, okay? And angels are dicks."
Sam: "But they're real, right? We know that Mom's not sitting on a cloud playing a harp. She's in a good place. Or, she's in a great place. She's with Dad."

This is probably the only good thing about living in the Supernaturalverse: the certainty of Heaven and the knowledge that God does exist. Even if he does write paperback books in his underwear.

Sam: "So you want to lie to him."
Dean: "No. well, I mean I want Zeppelin to get back together, but what I need, what we need, is to stop Jack. Big difference."

So that's two upsetting episodes in a row. I'm always unsure about how to rate upsetting episodes. What did you guys think?

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.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

It was excruciating and no fun to watch. But it was good. The episode had a real drama in it, unlike so many others in other shows and sometimes in SPN as well, when suffering looks so gracious and far away that becomes unbelievable. I like the ep because it's brimmed with raw emotions and gives you the sense of reality. When the poor Dean is angry, sad and lost, and wrong which is just heart-breaking. And Nick!... Yeah, the episode was strong. Dear Billie, give it a good mark please.

Anonymous said...

Didn't like it at all. Didn't like what Bobby wanted to do. Hated what Dean did. Hated that Sam went along with it. But all of it is understandable.

What isn't is how they suddenly pushed Dumah's evilness to 11. That was just lazy writing to make Jack look more evil, and once again a female character pays the ultimate prize.

I'm seeing that this season's last three episodes are going to make me really angry. Two out of the three already did. Thank god next season is the last. I expect more from Supernatural.

Josie Kafka said...

Damn, this was hard to watch.

I think the scene where Sam and Dean were trying to get Jack into the box was one of the most tense situations this show has ever portrayed.

(I do sort of wish, though, that they'd titled this episode something else. Since I've been watching this season after it finished airing, I've known there was a "Let's Put Jack in the Chekhov's Ma'lak box" episode coming up for quite a while, which diminished some of the tension for me.)

And now that I type out the phrase "Ma'lak box" I realize how much it sounds like "My lockbox."