First things first. Two weeks ago today, Jensen, Jared and Misha announced that Supernatural would be ending after season 15. I’ve been in various states of denial and grief since then. I knew it would happen someday but I sincerely thought we had more time – maybe another 2 years. There’s so much I want to share with you about this, especially since I’ve spent most of the past two weeks immersed in Supernatural at two cons with its writers, actors and fans. For now, suffice it to say that I was already emotionally spent when I tuned into “Game Night”. That made its shocking ending all the more devastating.
Now (The Morning After)
I’m numb. Many wonderful things happened in “Game Night”. Jack sent Lucifer back to the Empty, sparing the world, and us, from another Lucifer tirade. Nick finally and definitively got what he deserved. Dean and Sam had a heart rending near-death scene. Yet the only thing that I can think about is what happened in the last second of the show. Did Jack really just kill Mary? I believe I have hit my limit for the amount of grief and sadness I can take in from this show. It was left as a cliffhanger, but the implication was that our precious Nephilim, who doesn’t quite have control over his powers, just accidentally obliterated Mary from existence.
Mary: We care about you, Jack.
Jack: No, just leave me alone.
Jack: Leave me alone. Please, just leave me alone. Leave me alone! Please. Leave me alone. [High-pitched ringing] Leave me alone.
Mary: What's happening?
Jack: Leave me alone!
Mary: What's going on?
Jack: Leave me alone!
Mary: Jack, just Listen! Jack? Please! Listen to me!
Jack: Leave me alone!
[Wind Blowing. Black.]
I first became worried about Mary when she had that beautiful, long-overdue, talk with Dean in the Impala.
Dean: You're here, okay? You're here.
Mary: But I should've been here more. But I know how I am. I can be closed off and hard.
Dean: Yeah, well, that's where I get it from.
So many of her actions and decisions of the past two and a half years were explained by just those few, simple words and Dean’s unconditional acceptance of his mom’s guarded emotions. Her expression of love for her sons, though, sounded too much like a death bed goodbye:
Mary: Listen. I just need you to know I'm grateful. For every day I get to spend with you and Sam.
The dialog kept emphasizing Mary was “here.” When Mary had a heart-warming talk with Sam, she may as well have been signing her own death warrant:
Mary: You gave him a chance because you felt for him because you're a good man. You are. It's one of the reasons I'm so proud of you.
Mary has had many warm moments with her sons – giving them encouragement, a hug, or a mom’s worried concern for the well-being of her boys, but many fans still resented Mary’s aloofness. I felt these simple acknowledgements of her own shortcomings and her love for Sam and Dean went a long way to helping her be better understood. I’m just sorry we didn’t get this reconciliation sooner. Personally, I’ve always empathized with Mary. I’ve dearly loved having her back in the boys’ lives. Early his year I wrote that my one hope for the season was that they didn’t kill Mary or Jack. I hope I’m not now writing her epitaph but given a Supernatural’s writer’s comment on this episode to Meredith Glynn, I’m afraid there’s not much hope for Mary:
Usually I’m the eternal optimist and would totally be spouting that she’s not really dead, especially given Nick’s reminder that “Nothing stays dead anymore” (below). Given this tweet, though, I fear the worst. Just as the teen girl got too close to Jack’s powers and got herself accidentally stabbed by his blade, Mary got too close to a confused Nephilim having some kind of episode. Why were his ears ringing? What was he experiencing? Was someone in his mind? Was he telling a voice to “leave him alone” versus our assumption that he was talking to Mary? She kept asking him what was happening. Is the episode title “Peace of Mind”, this story’s example of people’s minds being taken over by others (Donatello by Lucifer), and the on-going thread of “minds” hinting at something happening to Jack’s mind?
In any case, I really hope they didn’t sacrifice Mary. Even worse, they used poor Jack to end the boys’ happiness. Maybe, like that girl from Lebanon, Jack will fix things and everything will be fine. I loved having Mary in the story. It felt normal and right. Sure, she came back from the dead, but so have Sam, Dean and Castiel! That just proved even more that she belonged with them! Right now though, that feeling in the pit of my stomach says I’m grieving her departure. I cannot even think about the grief that Jack, Sam and Dean will feel. I believe Jack is going to be devastated by what happened.
The Truth is… Jack is Back
Is Jack soulless? Anael certainly thought so.
Anael: Because in your mind, it'd be easier to call God than to tell Sam and Dean Winchester the truth.
Castiel: The truth?
Anael: Jack's soul is gone, Castiel. And there's nothing you can do about it.
Anael: I would have really enjoyed giving God a piece of my mind. But what can I say. I'm always right. So, what are you gonna do now?
Castiel: Go home. Go home and tell Sam and Dean the truth.
Nick also did his best to taunt Jack with the possibility that he was soulless:
Nick: He loved you so much and you broke his heart. Of course, I'm talking about the old you. You with the soul. Yeah, Kermit the Prophet told me all about your sitch. What's that like, not having a soul? Must be relaxing.
Jack: I have a soul.
Nick: I don't know. I don't -- I don't see it. I'm looking right at you, and I see nothing.
Jack: I have a soul!
After witnessing what Jack did to Nick, Mary was thinking it also. But Mary’s disappearance wasn’t directly related to whether or not Jack has a soul. He didn’t wish to harm her, and he didn’t do it out of a sociopathic need to silence, punish or control her. It was an accident, possibly born out of his emotional response to someone he loved telling him there was something wrong with him. Jack became afraid that he acted immorally in killing Nick; he was afraid that he didn’t have a soul. He didn’t want to hear his family’s disapproval, made more obvious by him mentioning that Sam and Dean were grateful for his help.
To the contrary of being emotionless, it was Jack’s overwhelming emotions that impacted Mary. Jack was embarrassed and worried. He wanted to run away from the reality of him being flawed or dangerous – a doubt that has plagued him since he was born. He kept trying to get away from her. He wants so badly to do good, but he has hurt the fragile humans that surround him as much as he has saved them. What would Jack’s scorecard look like?
Jack’s wins far outweigh his losses but there is no doubt that Jack is dangerous. The most powerful being in the universe (except God himself) is still a teen, and as with all young adults, he doubts himself as he searches for his identity and learns about his specific (in Jack’s cases VERY unusual) talents. He is in control one minute and out of control the next. He is volatile, which is absolutely normal for a teenager.
Jack also reacted very emotionally when he saw Sam on the ground, dying. Jack got scared and feared the worse for Sam. He wasn’t faking that reaction, or feigning feelings lest he be discovered as soulless. In that moment, Jack showed love for Sam. So while the show seems to be trying very hard to prove Jack is soulless, I don’t buy it. He is suffering from an identity crisis, he is immature and impulsive, and something unknown might be happening to him, but he is not without conscience or emotion. In this episode alone, Jack exhibited annoyance, fear, rage, hate, love, compassion, pride, embarrassment and confusion. I suspect in the next episode, we will witness his guilt, remorse, grief, and even self-loathing.
Is Jack going darkside? Jack wanted to be left alone, and it appears he gets whatever he wants, especially when it is an emotional, subconscious or instinctive need. Jack rationally considers his conscious desires, applying restraint as appropriate. Promising not to use his powers without permission is an example of Jack trying to act responsibly, within the norms of human, non-supernatural, interactions. He partially kept his promise, asking Mary for permission to use his powers to stop Lucifer (interestingly, when Jack was alone and agitated by Nick, he used his powers without permission to heal himself.)
When his emotions get the better of him, though, his powers instinctively act to protect him. This was a blessing when he missed Castiel so much that the mere thought of wanting him back awoke Castiel in the Empty. At the time, he, and we, may have thought this was the exception to the rule (since Castiel held a special place in Jack’s heart as the “father” chosen by his mother to raise him). It now appears that subconsciously willing something to happen is within a Nephilim’s normal abilities. That’s not malice or evil, it’s just inexperience. The truth is that Anael is not always right, and Jack is not soulless. He just needed time to think, alone.
Leave Me Alone
Jack’s panic attack, if that’s what it was, or his “episode” complete with a mysterious ringing in his ears, sprang from him wanting to get away from the judgment of others. He was upset, and desperately wanted to be be alone, another version of the leaving or running away threads of season 14. When his wish was fulfilled, however, he realized that solitude can be a curse, not a gift.
“Game Night” studied the concept of whether each person is indeed alone in this world, and if so, if this is desirable.
Anael: I don't need Heaven. And I don't need God. And I'm happy, Castiel.
Castiel: Really? Because that sounds lonely.
Anael: We're all lonely, because we're all alone. From ant to lion to human to angel. Every last one of us.
Castiel: Anael, You know, you're not always right. Just because God's not with us doesn't mean we're alone.
Anael: Why? Because we all have each other?
Castiel has learned how to accept the love of others. Belonging to a family now, he feels the companionship of the not only the people he loves, but of the rest of humanity. Anael hasn’t yet felt this union with others, and expressed her feelings of isolation. She defended her viewpoint as her way of achieving happiness, although Castiel didn’t believe her sincerity.
(Nick in 14.07 "Unhuman Nature")
Nick also repeatedly expressed a desire to be “alone” with one other person – first Jack, then Sam.
Mary: His son? He said that?
Dean: He says he wants to talk to Jack alone.
Sam: You're gonna stay here.
Nick: All by my lonesome? [...] It's nice that we're finally alone. I feel like I never get a chance to talk to you anymore.
Nick's requests to be “alone” were motivated by deception rather than a desire for personal connections. He wanted to manipulate people without anyone else's interference. In actuality, his entire scheme was a reaction to him feeling desperately alone. He forsook his wife and sought union with the one being who made him feel whole – Lucifer. Jack stopped the unholy possession from happening, so in the end, Nick was alone at the moment of his death.
Dean also came very close to being left alone. He helplessly watched Sam slip away from him, dying on the ground. To Dean, nothing would be worse than being alone without Sam. That scene was an emotional powerhouse. It hit all the right notes of Hurt!Sam, Protective!Dean and co-dependent brothers:
Dean: Come on. Stay with me now. We're just gonna play a little game. We're gonna count, okay? We're gonna count. Count with me. One, two… [Numbers and Title Threads}
Dean: Yeah, there you go. Three. Come on. Come on.
Sam: You -- You always put -- You always put me first…
Dean: No, no. Shh, shh. Come on. Come on, man.
Sam: ... Your whole life
Dean: Okay. All right. All right. Come on. Come on. Just count with me. Sammy!
Season 14 has given us a treasure trove of heart wrenching broments! Dean’s relief when Jack healed Sam was as much a testament to the brothers’ bond as his panic that Sam might die. Then to have Sam’s dying words be to thank his brother – why oh why didn’t the episode end there!!! This would have been a very different review if the last image in my mind, the lingering feeling in my heart, was for the boys I love so much!
I am extremely worried about a thread that became more prominent in “Game Night”. A few weeks ago, Sam blamed himself for the slaughter of Maggie and the other hunters because he loved Dean too much to lock up Michael in the Ma’lak box. In this episode, when Sam realized it was Nick who kidnapped Donatello, Sam blamed himself for letting his compassion stop him from doing what needed to be done:
Sam: Donatello's in this because of me. A police officer is dead because of me. I'm the one who let Nick go, I'm the one who… What was I thinking?
Mary: You thought he deserved a chance.
Sam: Yeah, well, he didn't.
Mary: Sam, look at me. Nick's choices are his. Just his. You didn't know th—
Sam: That's not an excuse.
Sam chastised himself because he couldn’t see that Nick was beyond redemption before, but still he didn’t kill Nick when he had the chance outside the Impala. Consequently, Nick nearly killed Sam and escaped yet again. That started in motion the scenario where Nick summoned Lucifer, Jack brutally murdered Nick, which scared Mary, which scared Jack, which pushed Mary to get too close to an agitated Nephilim. If Sam had killed Nick when his hands were around his throat, Jack wouldn’t have come, killed, gotten upset, and accidentally obliteration (or banished) Mary. Sam’s going to see his compassion as the cause of all these deaths, and I’m worried that he will give into the cold-hearted hunter inside him that he tries so hard to suppress.
I really wonder if Sam is going to put Jack in the box himself in the season finale.
Talking and New Canon
Mary: How about you? Feeling better?
Jack: Everybody keeps asking me that.
Mary: We're family. It's our job.
Jack: Well, it's annoying.
Mary: Jack if you ever want to talk or vent...
Jack: You're here. I know.
Mary: All right.
Game Night continued the persistent thread of “talking” and open communication.
Sam: But it's gonna take time. Maybe more than we have.
Dean: All right, well, Nick said he wanted to talk. So let's talk.
Sam: Yeah, let's talk.
The most important conversation of the episode happened because of new information about Anael’s history:
Castiel: You forget, Anael, I know you. I know what you did before your demotion. When you were Joshua's right hand. And I know that God spoke to Joshua. And only to Joshua. Now, he's dead, but -- but you understand how they communicated.
Eventually, Castiel had his conversation with God, but it was short, desperate and one-sided:
Anael: Where? Crystal shop? A dollar store? Ren fair?
Castiel: No. The one I know, it glows in the presence of God. This is what we're looking for.
Methuselah: Good eye. Joshua forged it after he fell.
Anael: That thing talks to God?
Methuselah: Only one way to find out.
Castiel: God, I don't know where you are. I don't know if you can hear me. But please. Sam, Dean -- we need you. Please.
Joshua made another amulet! I totally believe Castiel got through to God! After all, Dean’s amulet worked perfectly! When will Chuck make his return appearance? Castiel summoned Him via a long distance phone call, just as Joshua had done before.
Unbeknownst to Castiel, Nick also made a long distance call of his own – although to a very different celestial being.
Nick: Prophets are sort of like old CB radios [an old communication device]. You boost their power or you mess with their frequency.
Sam: CB radio? You trying to communicate with someone? Who?
Nick: Search your feelings, Sam. [emphasis on emotions]
Sam: No. No. Lucifer's dead.
Nick: He's in the Empty. Yeah, and he's awake and with the help of your little prophet friend, I was able to have a convo with him, and he told me how to bring him back. “It won't be easy. You'll have to prove yourself. The Winchesters will be a problem. But you can use that, twist it. Find a way to get to my son. His blood. You need his blood.” Come on, Sam. Nobody stays dead anymore. You know that.
Once again Jack is the only being in the universe who can break through the veil of the Empty. That blood-induced wormhole affirmed and brought to mind Castiel’s resurrection. The new canon was that prophets can communicate with the Empty’s residents, IF they are already awake and IF the prophets are amped up on angel grace. Well that’s convenient. You think that will be used in the future when Castiel gets taken by the Empty’s gatekeeper?
Besides a subtle reference to the season’s on-going threat of drowning, “Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head” reintroduced the “Stop!” thread at the very beginning of the story:
I'm never gonna stop the rain by complaining…
Like bookends, stop wasn’t mentioned again until the end of the episode:
Dean: Nick -- he's trying to resurrect Lucifer.
Dean: I don't know! I don't know. He played us. [title thread]
Jack: We have to stop him.
Ultimately, it was Nick who needed to be stopped, but in doing so, Jack took on a rage that was unstoppable:
Mary: Jack! Aah! Jack! What are you doing?! Stop it! Stop it! Stop! Stop! Jack, stop it! Hey.
Sam: Where's Nick?
Jack: I stopped him. It's over.
Sam: What about Mom?
Jack: She's fine. Everything's gonna be fine.
(to Mary) I healed Sam. Everything's gonna be okay.
Mary: Good. That's good.
Jack: Mary. Nick he was a bad person, a killer. I had to stop him.
In all cases, stopping would have been a good thing, just as stopping Dean from killing himself, and stopping Michael and Lucifer from world domination were “good” things. Unfortunately, Jack didn’t stop immolating Nick, and Mary didn’t stop chasing Jack – and both had dire consequences.
Eyes/blindness, piece of mind and sleeping/awake were mentioned, which was a nice nod to continuity and perhaps significant. I’m also intrigued by Anael’s monologue about paradise, and Nick’s assertion that he and Dean are the same:
Nick: You're never the same after something like that, are ya? Being one with one of them. It changes you. Makes you more than human. Come on, Dean, admit it. With Michael, you were a prince. Now you're just a broken Hunter. You're too stupid to know you've been beat. [title thread]
Dean: Beat? What are you beating me at? Hmm? Come on, Nick. What's this all about?
Both of those conversations sound like they deserve deeper analysis. In the latter case, it feels like the seeds for a future myth arc. What are your thoughts on these teases?
So much happened in “Game Night” that was game changing. Jack may have finally ended Nick’s miserable life and Lucifer’s threat, in a magnificent climactic scene of computer generated imagery. We can only hope what’s dead stays dead in their case. Jack also saved Sam in an epic (albeit short) brothers’ bond scene. Casteil and Anael had an adventure together which led him to an amulet of his own. We got another chance to see Danneel play Anael, an angel I admire for her spunk and independence. Plus there were heartwarming mom/son talks to enjoy, perhaps shedding some light on Mary as a mother. Even given all that, Mary’s “departure” is my only take-away from this episode. I know it will be different for others, but I didn’t need more loss right now. Just as Nick “played games” (according to Sam) with the Winchesters, this show is playing games with fans’ emotions. I’m beginning to understand the level of trauma the boys deal with every day of their lives. I don’t know how they’re not rocking back and forth in the fetal position of a padded room. For now, I think I’ll just wait for next week. It will either bury me deeper in sadness or give Jack a chance to prove he has a soul by bringing Mary back. Until I know for sure, I chose not to think about this anymore. It just hurts too much.
Please add your thoughts below, then catch up on my prior season 14 Threads reviews, and all my other reviews and articles since season 8, by going to my Writer Page!
Additional Screencaps courtesy of https://www.homeofthenutty.com/supernatural/screencaps
Transcript Quotes courtesy of https://www.springfieldspringfield.co.uk/