Supernatural’s mid-season finale “The Bad Place” was an intense, action packed, cliff hanger episode. With intricate finesse, it tied together several plot lines that had been developing over the past two months, and established the groundwork for the next few episodes that are the backdoor pilot to Supernatural’s spinoff, “Wayward Sisters”. My "Threads" review on “The Bad Place” uncovered many of its themes and underlying clues, but there were far too many to do the episode justice in just one article. This continuation will pick up where part one left off, with additional detail and a few threads not discussed originally. Since the story was the mid-season finale, we also have an opportunity to assess the full complement of threads for the season thus far. As an added bonus, we can include some of the spectacular location shots that weren’t available for the first article’s publication. So rewatch "The Bad Place" and gear up for Threads Part 2!
Part 1 of “The Bad Place” Threads analysis included a discussion of “Doors, Locks and Keys” as a combined theme. The lock and key references specific to this episode drew attention to Jack, Derek and Kaia as the keys that could unlock doors to other worlds. If we shift the focus away from the characters who are able to open the doors and look instead at the doors themselves, another level of subliminal clues are revealed.
There were six specific verbal mentions of “door” in the script. Threads - Part 1 previously highlighted Kaia saying the prison institution’s “door was triple locked”, Jack saying he “experimented with opening doors”, the angel saying the car “door’s a little hinky”, and Sam telling Kaia he needed her to guide Jack so “he can open a door” (dialog that is repeated below).
The first additional reference to doors was in the “Then” flashbacks that opened the episode.
THEN - Jody: You don't have to listen to him, to either of them if it's not what you really want. It's your choice. But if you ever need someone to talk to, someplace to go, my door's always open.
The last reference to doors was at the climax of the episode:
Kaia: You said I could help you find the door to another world, right?
Kaia: Let's do it. Let's get out of here.
So the verbal door references set up the story from the very beginning, were used throughout the action, and closed out the story at the end.
The vital importance of doors was also reinforced in other ways in the script, though. Visually, key conversations and life altering moments all happened in doorways. Kaia walked out of one prison door only to find herself locked in another prison, guarded by a different kind of sentry.
Kaia and Patience both left behind their old lives and entered the supernatural world of hunters and alternate universes when they walked out doors that were used by their old life.
Jack found Mary by finding and opening the door to the abandoned church that imprisoned her.
Even Mary's cage was seen through a doorway.
Sam warded the doorways, passageways and walls of the ship in an attempt to keep them all safe from the attacking angels. The boat's doors afforded some of the best shots of the episode. After all, a ship of that size in in effect a world unto itself. Once on the water, it is the only sanctuary of life for the people on board, a symbolism not lost on our desperate band of friends who sought refuge within its walls. The header shot above also shows how the gang plank of the ship was effectively the hallway leading to its front door, similar to the hallway of Patience's conversation with her dad on the stairs, and Jack and Kaia's escape path out of her prison.
Patience’s journey ended just short of walking through another door - to Jody, the wayward sisters, and the hunting life. Patience literally stopped on the brink of being welcomed in by Jody, a crucial step that was saved for the wayward sisters episodes.
In addition to verbal and visual cues, “The Bad Place” also included several audio references to doors. Did you ever wonder why the boys put up with so many squeaky doors?? Both the bunker and Baby’s doors badly need oil!
Surely there’s a supply of oil in that impressive garage of theirs, or maybe they can use the can of oil that was exchanged as a Christmas present so many years ago! Listen to how the squeaks communicate doors opening and closing. Derek’s girlfriend opened and closed a noisy door to their studio, and Dean closed the presumably heavy bunker door with its grating squeak.
By now we know that the doors foreshadowed and symbolized gateways to other realms. By my count, we are tracking five places this season that need special access key cards: the real world that houses the bunker, The Empty that held (holds?) Castiel, Death’s library (wherever that is), Mary and Jack’s “apocalypse world”, and Kaia’s (and now Sam and Dean’s) bad place.
It’s debatable if Heaven and Hell fall into the category of hard-to-access worlds. My opinion is that they don’t considering there is a sandbox elevator to Heaven, and Hell can be accessed a number of ways including multiple Hell mouth doors opened by the Colt (may it rest in peace), a reaper, a demon exorcising spell, and a demon’s click of fingers. Purgatory seems to be on the back burner for now too. Are there any other worlds we should be tracking?
So far, the special keys to these worlds seem to be Jack’s power to open rifts (i.e. doors), and dream walking (Kaia was physically injured in her “dreams” so they are a physical gateway and she has the access code). Are there any other entrances that we know of? Doors, and/or the power to break down the walls between these realms, are either the pivotal point of season 13’s storyline or the spinoff’s story. It’s hard to tell yet. Either way, keys, doors and interdimensional walls are important.
Walls were first recorded in Threads for 13.3 “Patience”. As early as episode 1, Jack was shown studying walls, learning about their composition and weak points (e.g. grout). He sought refuge next to walls, either when sitting on milk crates in alleys or crouching in corners in the bunker.
They provided him comfort and security, and separated him from those he feared, as is their function. The song lyrics that Dean was listening to in his earphones in “Patience” were incredibly appropriate to not only the Walls thread but other threads as well (thank you to xoferew for recording these for us!)
Rolling Stones "Rip This Joint"
Mama says yes, Papa says no,
Make up you mind 'cause I gotta go.
I'm gonna raise hell at the Union Hall,
Drive myself right over the wall.
Rip this joint, gonna save your soul,
Round and round and round we go.
There was only one verbal reference to walls in "The Bad Place" script,
Sam: Kaia, look, I'm sure this is a lot. But look, we need you. Okay? My brother and I, our mother is trapped in another world, and if you can tell Jack where it is, then he can open a door -- And we can save her.
Dean: So what's the play?
Jack: Derek said there are sacred sites, places where the walls between worlds are thin, where it's easy to cross over. I was taking Kaia to the Wind Caves.
As already mentioned, a great deal of attention was paid to them visually, however, by Sam painting warding on the walls of the ship and the angels very dramatically melting it away.
Ironically, the angels' epitaph was also written on the boat's wall.
The most stunning visual of a wall featured a majestic painting of a First Nation/Native American eagle (at least I think it's an eagle).
The dramatic impact of this wall mural demands our attention, not only in the inital shot, but in every visual of Sam and Dean's important conversation in the Impala for the next several minutes.
Given such a dominant placement in the story, the composition of the image deserves to be studied. There are three main subjects in the painting. The first is a young boy with a halo. His hands are extended, and a white or yellow aura envelops both he and the eagle, suggesting that the eagle is an extension of his power, his spirt animal, or if your a Harry Potter fan, his patronus. The eagle also has a halo, implying both the boy and the eagle are angelic or have their power from heaven. The pair are pushing back a massive flock of smaller birds, which are also yellow or white.
One interpretation of this image is that it beautifully foreshadows the climactic moment to come in the ship, where Jack's power, which is always shown as yellow, holds off a "flock" of attacking angels. The wings of the eagle are the centerpiece of the mural. They are not only in the center and take up at least three quarters of the painting, but they also continue to be emphasized in all the shots of the brothers in the car. The wings are bright, well lit both by reflection and color, leaving Dean and Sam in shadow, as if the feathers should be the focus of our attention rather than the boys. Substitute the dramatic aftermath of the angels' deaths, their singed wings spread across the expanse of the ship's wall, and this image clearly foreshadows Jack's victory. The comments of Threads 13.9 Part 1 also mentioned a second possible interpretation of Jack creating more angels. What is your interpretation? Are there other symbolic details in the painting?
Despite this magnificent symbolic imagery, the script and cinematography of “The Bad Place” seemed to include more doorways and keys than walls. I have a theory that walls were more blatantly emphasized in the earlier episodes this season, when Jack saw them as a mysterious, impenetrable barriers. Their references slowly diminished, being split with more overt references to doors and keys as Jack learned how use both his powers and dream walkers to find, “break down” or build his own doors (i.e. rifts). As you rewatch the first 9 episodes of season 13, specifically watch and listen for a deliberate focus on walls. Record them in the comments here so we can test the idea of whether they were or still are as prominent in the episode subtext. Also please note if there are more images or references to walls in "The Bad Place". Since we expect them to be around buildings, our conscious mind may easily look past them.
The Good vs. Bad thread was obviously important to an episode named “The Bad Place”! Its initial Threads review briefly looked at the word “bad” in relation to the title's secondary meanings. Looking closer at the word “bad”, however, reveals it was used 14 times in the story! That might be a record! Four times were in the opening flashbacks, mostly recalling how Dean thought Jack was bad and using him was a bad idea. Seven more times it was used as the name of Kaia’s universe or when other people were feeding her words back to her to try to understand her reference.
Jack differentiated their pursuers as the “bad” angels, Dean thought Kaia’s life was a “bad hand” and ominously, Patience warned that “something bad’s coming”. Out of all its uses, Patience’s is probably the most important. It can be assumed that “bad” creatures come from the place that we were meticulously brainwashed to believe was “bad”, so the “Bad” thread delivered the set up for the wayward sisters’ monster.
In contrast, good was mentioned only eight times in the dialog, even though that is fairly frequent by normal thread counting standards. Dean approved of Kaia hitting Jack, and Jack finding Mary; Jack tried to convince Kaia that “Our Powers can be good. We can do good in this world”; and Sam woke up in freako world with “I’m good.”
The one line that I think deserves our attention, though, was spoken by Jack:
I left to try to get a grip on my powers. I wanted to prove to you that I'm good, to do one good thing. So I did the thing you wanted the most. I experimented, opening doors to other worlds.
This is not the first time Jack has specified that he wants to do one good thing. It would be an interesting rewatch research project to count the number of times he has very precisely said ONE good thing (who’s up for the challenge??). I know I’ve heard it many, many times. This is actually rather foreboding. Why is one being emphasized? What happens after that one thing? Does he turn evil? I think that question has been answered, so no, I don’t think that’s the danger. Does Jack die? Don’t even think of letting that happen! Is he lost or trapped in one of the other universes we’re tracking this year? Maybe. I’ve not noticed sub-threads before, but this differentiator is troubling and important on its own. Had you noticed it? What do you think it means?
I thought bad was mentioned often until I researched the use of the word “right”! 17 times! It was used three times around Jack, but notably, it was used six times in relation to Patience and another six times by or when referring to Kaia.
That’s a lot of subliminal telegraphing that the younger generation, and specifically the female contingent of the hunting parties, are usually right!
The most poignant use of the phrase was a brief broment when Dean acknowledged that Sam had been right about Mary:
Dean: You were right. About Mom. You were right. This whole time, we should've been looking for her.
Sam: Dean, I was just hoping. I didn't know.
Dean had the maturity to admit Sam was right, and Sam graciously attempted to ease Dean’s guilt that he was wrong. What a wonderful display of how families should communicate! Thank you boys (and Robert Berens) for closing that plotline with a moment of satisfaction. It was both welcome and polite.
Curiously, the episode emphasized the positive side of that dichotomy much more than the negative. Sam was right, but no one ever said Dean was wrong. That’s consistent with the emphasis throughout the episode. Wrong is only mentioned 4 times, twice in reference to characters the audience is supposed to view unsympathetically. Mr. Turner admitted he was wrong when he lied to Patience about Missouri, and Kaia corrected the angels, telling them they were wrong to use her as bait. The final two uses were by Sam and Dean, when they were sizing up the greater risk: going down fighting against an army of angels or taking a chance on some random outcome of two teens experimenting with their supernatural powers. Either way, the brothers’ situation was going to go wrong.
The season continued its emphasis on good manners, even in the face of dire circumstances. The words hello, welcome, thank you, please and sorry were routinely used in people’s interactions. “Thanks” was used six times, and “sorry” appeared in four separate conversations. Jack apologized to Derek for pushing him to the point of pain, and later to Kaia, not only for dragging her into his treacherous life but I think also for Dean’s actions:
Jack: I'm sorry about all of this. I was like you, Kaia, afraid of my powers. But it doesn't have to be like that.
In neither case did Jack really intend or purposefully harm someone else. It didn’t look like he knew what was happening to Derek during their mind meld (or at least to what extent he was pushing him) and Jack didn’t seem street wise enough to foresee that he was putting people into danger just by contacting them. After all, he didn’t know Derek had been killed after they met.
Keeping with the innocence of youth, Kaia also said she was sorry, but it was more an expression of empathy rather than admitting fault. Again, this is consistent with her being established as a smart, sympathetic character who is well meaning and concerned for others.
Kaia: I'm sorry about your mom, but I can't help you.
Dean, on the other hand, admitted he was wrong for the second time in the one day.
Dean: Kid, sorry to drag you into this. This was not your fight.
His actions were intentional, and with full knowledge of consequences, so his apology was much more of a mea culpa. This is consistent with the brothers’ characters, though. We know them to be flawed. They have to make mistakes to be relatable heroes.
[Update: I just listened to LK's Fan Vid for 13.1 "Lost and Found" and heard the origin of the "Manner" thread! It was so early in the season, I missed it!
Sam: You wanna say anything?
Jack: What do you say?
Sam: Right. Thank you. You say thank you. And you say you're sorry. You hope they're somewhere without, uh, sadness or pain. You hope they're somewhere better. You say goodbye.
Well, goodbye, Cass. Goodbye, Kelly. Goodbye, Crowley. Goodbye, Mom.
Yeah! Mystery Solved! Sometimes it takes rewatches to understand!]
Conspicuous by their Absence
Fire and Burning – This thread was used prominently in episodes 1 and 2. Perhaps it was carried over from season 12 where it was Lucifer’s call sign. Since he has been declawed, imprisoned or missing for most of this season, the absence of fire later in the season makes sense. The melting sigils could be considered burning red hot and part of this thread, but I didn’t interpret it that way. Did you, or did you see the thread in episodes other than those transitional early stories?
Scooby Doo - I haven’t heard any Scooby references since episode 5! Please look for some! I like Scooby!
Opposites and Mirroring – A few of WFB’s loyal readers have been closely following all the mirroring between this season’s and prior seasons’ events. It’s been fascinating to hear all the call backs to John, Sam and Dean’s actions when they were younger, characters from earlier plots, etc. It was noted as a “Thread” for episode 2 but hasn’t been specifically tracked since then because they form a layer of subtlety all their own. It would be wonderful if someone is inspired to note them during rewatch and submit a short article that points out a few of them! Consider it!
Short Threads – Fixing, Ripping, Blindness and Disguises were threads that appeared in only one or two episodes each. It’s too early to determine if they were isolated to specific topics in individual episodes, short threads that tied together only a pair of stories, or whether they’ll reoccur later this season. Listen for them during rewatch to see if they are repeated. I noted “fixing” during “The Rising Son” and “ripping” during “The Big Empty” and “Advanced Thanatology”. A WFB Threads follower also noted “Blindness/Seeing and Covering/Uncovering” in Death’s story. I am convinced that “disguises” refers to Castiel’s current predicament. If this thread reappears, the theory that Cas is still in the Empty and his doppelganger is parading around as him will gain momentum.
Supernatural 13 has been a fascinating season thus far. I am greatly encouraged by its emotional depth and strong new characters and actors, all of which I’ve written about extensively. The entire presentation seems to have more energy and vision.
It could be because of the Wayward pilot; new drone photography; more frequent use of rock and roll and the choice of better songs; the merciful abandonment of those horribly dry, trite, really awful Heaven and Hell scenes; or other factors, but for me the vital difference has been the emotion, the character and the actors. What do you think distinguishes 13 from other years? As always, chime in on the Threads detected here and on new ones you may have noticed. We have a month to find every clue the writers have given us, so let’s make sure we don’t miss a thing!
Screencaps courtesy of http://www.homeofthenutty.com