Now: The song "North to Alaska" by Johnny Horton is playing as the scenes opens with a close shot of colorful billiard balls. Two men are playing pool, watched by a handful of onlookers who seem a little too serious and slightly sweaty. "Give me a chance!" begs one of the players, a man in a suit with his tie loose around his neck. A bearded older man in a Stetson looks at him calmly, then proceeds to sink his ball. Hanging above the table is an ornamental piece of metal with two symmetrical curved sides, each of which holds a small, round, metal disk like an unmarked coin. One of the them changes color with a flash of light. "No! No!" exclaims the man in the suit. A young woman with long, light brown hair watches, face serious, even sad. The losing player reaches up and takes one of the coins, repeating, "No, no, no!" In sudden desperation, he swings his pool cue at the other man, but a tall young man with a trimmed brown beard steps in, blocking it. The bouncer drags the man to the door and throws him out into the night, saying, "You're out of luck!" before going back inside. The man gropes on the muddy ground for his glasses, muttering, "Great Leonard!" He holds up the coin, then flips it high into the air, tipping his head back to see its ascent, stepping back without realizing it into the roadway where he is instantly run over by a semi.
SUPERNATURAL: "The Gamblers"
The door to the bunker opens revealing Castiel. He stands on the landing, looking down at the empty, silent map room, before noticing a paper left on a desk. It reads, "Cass, We've gone to Alaska. Sam."
The scene shifts to Alaska. The Winchesters are driving through the night, Dean at the wheel, Sam on his phone, oblivious to the annoying beeps and boops which are bothering Dean who finally speaks up and suggests silent mode. Then he asks him how Eileen is. Sam replies that she's doing OK, but she thinks their plan to change their luck is too good to be true. He remarks about the long time they've been on the road and wonders whether luck can fix their problem. Dean comments on the annoyances of the car breaking down and the credit cards not being accepted and the heartburn he's been getting. Sam comments that a change of diet could help with that last one.
Sam is concerned that there is no lore about a place in Alaska where you play a game to change your luck. "It's there," Dean says. "It's gotta be. Chuck wants us off our game. He wants us weak. He's coming for us." If they haven't figured it out before then, they're DOA.
A phone rings in the bunker. Cas hurries to find it. It's one of the Winchesters' phones in a side room. He answers it to find a cop from Oklahoma looking for Agent Watts. Saying that agent is on assignment in Alaska, Cas pretends to be FBI and asks how he can help. A recent murder case has come up and someone involved had a file with a note from Agent Watts saying to contact him if anything new happened. The name on the file? Jack Klein.
Dean pulls up in front of a small diner, the Round-Up Cafe, as Sam rouses from his sleep in the passenger seat. Sam is annoyed that Dean has eaten all the sandwiches in the car. "We're on a budget!" he reminds his brother. Inside the diner, Dean spreads out some coins on the counter. What can he get for $4.60? "A slice of pie," the friendly young waitress tells him. Dean nods. "Two forks!" he tells her. As much as he likes pie though, he really wanted a cheeseburger though he can't stomach cheese right now. They pull out a map, checking out where they've searched so far. Dean wonders what's up at the end of one nearby road and asks the waitress. She smiles, thinking someone put them up to asking her. "It sounds nuts!" she says. They're tell her they're nuts, so she leans in and tells them that up that road is a pool hall that is magic. If you win, you come back lucky - win-the-lottery lucky - except no one ever does. Most recently, a man named Leonard, whose house had been foreclosed on, had gone up to play. He never came back. Word was he'd had some kind of accident.
After she leaves, the brothers start discussing what they've learned. Sam is leery of the down-side, but Dean thinks it could be awesome. "Pool! That's MY game! OUR game! Remember all those times we played?" Sam's memories aren't quite so positive: "We HAD to . . . to EAT!" But Dean thinks they have a chance. Maybe their luck's not too bad. But just then the waitress asks if they drive an Impala. If so, their car has a flat. Their bad luck continues.
Cas, on the phone with the cop, has a laptop open with a black and white video feed the police officer has sent him. The security camera shows Jack approaching an office and knocking on the door. When the man comes to open it, he pushes him down aggressively. The video glitches out, only to return with a sight of Jack calmly entering the office holding something in his hand. Sitting down in a chair in front of the desk, he lifts a large, gloppy, fruit-like object to his mouth and takes a bite. Is he eating the man's heart?
The Impala drives up a leaf-strewn road and parks in front of a weathered saloon. Exiting the car, Sam steps over Leonard's forgotten coin, lying on the ground. The room they enter is rustic and old-fashioned but pleasant. The front windows and the panes in the door are covered with lacy curtains. Two green-felt pool tables sit at right angles to the door. A handful of people are scattered around, some playing a casual game, others nursing a drink. Further back is another table lined in red. At the bar, the Winchesters ask for water from Evie, the long-haired serious young woman behind the counter. When they ask her about Leonard, she says she doesn't know him. When they mention playing a game of pool, she calls, "Pax, two more for you." The young man who'd thrown Leonard out calls them over to a desk situated at the back near the red felt table. He tells them that they don't bet with money anyway. Instead, they use this - he pulls out a rough old coin. "Touch it." They hesitate, then Dean shrugs adn reaches out. When he touches it, it glows a bright neon green. "Not great," says Pax. "Not the worst either. That glow? That's you. 'Bout average." Dean shrugs again, acknowledging the man's words. If they win, they'll see their fortune improve. They can keep playing. But if the coin becomes blank, they're out of luck. They'll have to leave. Sam wants to know who owns the place, but the man has no answer for him. Dean is determined and direct: "When I win, can I split it?" The man tells him that it will be his to do as he likes. "Give us a sec," interrupts Sam. Stepping aside with Dean, he raises a finger of warning: "No, no, no!" Dean is willing to play however. "I've been playing since before you were born!" he reassures Sam. "Since you were four?" mocks Sam. "You're better than I am at everything," Dean tells him. "And I'm not mad. I'm proud. But I can wipe the floor with you when it comes to pool." THIS Dean can do.
Cas visits the doctor's office where the murder occurred. He observed a puddle of blood on the floor by the examining table, checks out cupboards, and breaks the lock on a closet. Inside is a long, narrow back case. He opens it to reveal a long sword - the sword of a grigori, a special class of angel that tended to prey on humans.
The scene changes to a shot of a man's suit clad legs. He is holding a similar black case as he walks through a gateway. Following behind him is Jack.
In the pool hall, Dean is ready to play but needs an opponent. Hoping to lure someone by pretending to be inept, he awkwardly breaks and loudly comments to Sam about how rusty he is. A middle-aged woman sitting nearby finishes her drink, rises from her seat, and places a coin in the metal holder over the table. "Rack her up!" she commands.
Sam steps away, heading toward the bar. With a shrug of acceptance, Dean places his coin opposite the woman's. Sam asks Evie about her. "Moira?" replies the bartender. "Her sister is in a coma." "She wants her to wake up?" asks Sam. Evie shrugs. Everyone here wants something. Sam wants to know if Evie has smelled anything weird. Has she seen any strange little bundles around? Evie just seems confused, meaning the pool hall is probably not powered by demons or witches. She tells him that most people who coe here think it's a godsend. They come in and often have a winning streak. Then they keep on playing and end up losing. They should have walked away.
Dean is playing with careful skill. His coin lights up. "Damn it," says Moira, losing.
Jack, walking through an old factory, pulls out his angel blade, but the man he'd been tracking sneaks up behind him, grabbing him and holding a long sword to his throat.
Sam warns Dean about what Evie told him - the game sucks you in. They need minimum risk and maximum profit, Dean tells him, recalling Fast Eddie, Paul Newman's character in "Hustler." Sam agrees to one more game, but they'll need an opponent. They find one - a genial, quiet older man in a Stetson - the man who'd won against Leonard. As they prepare for the game, the man asks Dean's name. "I'm Dean Winchester, and I'm gonna kick your ass." The older man was a professional bull rider when younger. Eventually, Dean misses. His opponent misses his shot too but has placed the balls in a challenging position along the side of the table. Dean is unphased though, angling his cue at an awkward slant. "Rodeo" stops him before he shoots, though: "Double or nothing says you miss." Sam doesn't like this, but Dean is willing. He sets up again, makes his ball jump the other, and sinks his in the hole. Sam smiles. Dean's coin lights up. The losing player steps out onto the porch, taking off his hat and sinking into a seat, looking tired and old. Looking up as Sam and Dean approach him, he says, "Good game. You can't hustle hustler." "Guess you can." He coughs up some blood. "Let an old man die in peace," he says. He has cancer, but at least he'd had an extra year due to his previous wins. And now he can enjoy a smoke. He pulls out a pack of cigarettes. Dean watches him thoughtfully.
"I like that leathery son of a bitch," he tells Sam back inside the pool hall, then asks, "Ready to go? We got our mojo back." Sa.m is hesitant though. What about everyone else, all the others who seem to be trapped here? And perhaps their luck, while better, isn't enough yet to face down God. Dean suggests that they give it a test run - he'll go for a drive in the Impala and see if she breaks down. As he exits, Sam looks down contemplatively at the ancient coin.
Cas has met up with his police contact in person. The cop reports that someone seems to have been tracking Jack. There looks like blood on the ground. Cas asks if there are any old buildings nearby, and when the officer mentions a church, Cas decides to head there first. The policeman is surprised he's leaving. "I called you for answers!" he protests. "I intend to find them," Cas answers firmly.
Sam is talking to a robust bearded man, trying to convince him that what he's playing for isn't worth it, but the man is content to stay. Sam asks Evie if the patrons are trapped. Is SHE trapped? Dean reenters with the bad news that the car was still not running well; their luck hadn't significantly improved. However, it should have. They'd gotten all the old man's luck - double. Someone has been stealing the luck, skimming off the top, leaving the "winners" with less than they deserved. But who was it? "Her," Sam declares, looking at the coin with a woman's profile and the words Atrox Fortuna - the Roman goddess of luck. His surmisal is verified by Evie. The bartender had played and lost and is still alive only because the goddess lets her. You die or you work for her - she wins either way. The bouncer, Pax, is her son.
A figure in a tan coat kneels in front of a colorful stained glass window in a dark church. It's Jack, brought there, wounded, by the dark-haired Grigori, who has bound his hands behind him and placed him on the low kneeling bench. Jack's face is placid as the angel admires his power and his silence but warns him that pragmatically he should answer his queestions. "Why did you kill them?" He pulls out a long razor, holding it up in front of Jack and asking him why he killed his brother and if he planned on killing him. Jack doesn't answer.
Sam approaches Pax's desk with a question, and as the man turns toward him, Dean grabs him from behind, holding a knife to his throat. Sam yells for Fortuna to appear: "We have your son!" Everyone in the place looks at them with confused, fearful eyes, then Moira stands and approaches them. "Enough," she says. The Winchesters demand that she give back the luck she'd stolen, otherwise they'll kill her son. "Go ahead," she says, unbothered by the danger her son is in. "Mom!" exclaims the man. "Sorry. I can make more sons," she says blandly. She's called their bluff so Dean releases the man and challenges Moira to play him again. "You're just a beach read," she calmly belittles him. "Lady, I'm Tolstoy!" he declares. She laughs, but then turns to Sam - that's who she's interested in playing. Immediately, Dean says no, but Sam states, "Fine." But he's not playing for luck. He's playing for the lives of everyone in the room. Moira refuses. An example must be made. She'll still play him though. "Are you in?"
The Grigori has been cutting Jack's chest and neck. "Can't kill me," Jack tells him. "I can make you suffer," the Grigori replies. It's only fair since Jack killed his fellow Grigori. "Fair?" questions Jack. The doctor had been feeding on the souls of the patients who had come to him seeking to be healed. As for the angel before him, he's the same. "Only you like children." The Grigori pulls out his sword, but Jack's eyes remain calm. "Who told you?" "Death," answers Jack. Before the enraged Grigori can stab the nephilim kneeling before him, Castiel arrives, engaging in a fierce but brief fight before running the Grigori through. Jack slumps slightly. "Jack?" asks Cas, approaching to untie him. He helps him up, then hugs him.
Sam breaks, sinking a striped ball. Dean watches as his younger brother sinks a second ball, then a third. "Why do you need luck?" asks the goddess. "A girlfriend? Liver failure?" she asks with a look at Dean. "A curse by God," Sam replies shortly. "Life's a bitch, then you die," blithely quotes Fortuna. "THE God," Dean tells her. At first, the goddess is surprised they've met the REAL God but soon realizes they're telling the truth. "Welcome to the club," she says a little bitterly. She goes on to explain, as the game continues, that God created humans, but humans created the gods. "When you apes first climbed down from the trees, you started praying to the sun, to rocks. At first God was mad. But then he birthed us." "Why?" asks Dean. Fortuna misses her shot. "To take the blame," she answers. "Plus we made for epic stories. Now he hides behind whatever religion has the most adherents." Sam sinks a ball. "I'm old, and I hold a grudge," says the goddess. "Oh, well, what you gonna do?" "Fight him," Dean declares. "What if you lose?" she asks. "We lose swinging," Sam replies, then he calls his final shot. Leaning over, he aims, shoots, and sinks the eight ball. "You little minx!" exclaims Fortuna. "I learned from my brother," Sam tells her.
"This is the stuff of heroes," Fortuna observes, "and you need heroes' luck." She names some heroes of antiquity like Gilgamesh. "I helped them," she declares. She could help them, if he'll play again, double or nothing. Double or nothing! "That's how the cowboy died!" Dean says, concerned, but Sam says he'll do it. However, he wants to play for the other people. "Let them go." "What is it with you and these losers? They're nothing. They don't matter." At her cold words, some of the listeners flinch or sink dejectedly into their drink, but Sam doesn't back down. "They matter to me." "They matter to US," Dean adds. "Rack 'em up," says Fortuna.
Swish! A ball drops in the pocket. Whoosh. Another one. The goddess clears the board, then calls her last shot before sinking it. Dean closes his eyes, giving a little shake of his head. Sam looks down. Fortuna turns to them. "What do you think?" "We had to try," says Dean. "That was stupid," Fortuna tells them.
The brothers walks out of the pool hall into the sunlight of a quiet day. Dean expected her to kill them, but Sam says she'll just let their bad luck finish them off on its own. Dean says they should head out and try to find out what could kill Lady Luck, but just then, the bar door opens and the patrons begin to slowly emerge, blinking as if awaking from a sleep. Evie is among them. The brothers ask her why Fortuna has let the people go. "She thought your kind was extinct -- heroes," explains Evie. She'd left them with some advice too - don't play his game; make him play theirs. She holds her hand out to Sam, the old coin resting on her palm. Sam slowly reaches out to take it. It flares with an exuberant green glow. When Dean takes it, it glows for him as well, signifying a return of good luck. They get in the Impala, and she roars to life. "We're back!" exults Dean, driving off.
Together, the brothers enter the bunker. Dean is scratching off a final lottery ticket, only to find this one as unlucky as the rest. He's annoyed that Fortuna didn't gift them with the enough good luck to wind the lottery, but Sam reminds him that their car is running, their credit cards work, and Dean can eat cheeseburgers again. After all, maybe heroes don't get all the shortcuts. Just then, they're a little surprised to see Cas appear in the doorway across the room, and they're stunned to silence as Jack steps out beside him. "Hello?" Jack says, lifting up one hand, palm out, in an awkward greeting. "It's really him," states Cas. Sam walks directly and deliberately to the nephilim and hugs him. Dean has followed. When Sam moves aside, Dean reaches out, grasping the left side of Jack's neck and eyeing him earnestly. He looks over at Cas and then back at Jack with a steady gaze.
Afterward, the men are sitting around a table. "You ate hearts?" they ask him. "I had to," Jack says. "You could have called." "I couldn't come home. My grandfather would know I'm back and try to kill me. He's afraid of me. We had to wait until Chuck went off-world. Now it's safe to do what I have to." Who's 'we'? Death. "The hearts make me strong," Jack says. "If I follow her plan, I'll get stronger and I'll be able to kill God."
Since we have a break until March 16th, we have lots of time for discussion so I have a few more questions than normal. Feel free to answer all, some, or none!
- In contradiction to Garth's statement last week that the Winchesters are experiencing "normal" life, this episode seems to back up Dean's insistence that they are experiencing deliberately bad luck. So are they "normal" or were they cursed with "extra-bad luck"?
- What did you think when you saw Jack on the video eating a man's heart?
- Dean says that Sam is better than he is at everything. Is this the truth? Is it Dean's low self-confidence speaking? Or is it Dean's parental, rose-colored glasses when it comes to his younger brother?
- Throughout the years, the brothers have often been at odds. Tonight's episode found them united. What examples of that did you see?
- Tonight, Dean wanted to do something dangerous - challenge Fortuna at her game - that Sam ended up having to do instead. When have we seen this scenario before? Is this foreshadowing for the end?
- In what ways did Dean show confidence in tonight's episode? How might this influence their fight against God?
- Fortuna claims that everyone wants something. What do you want? Would you put up your life at stake for a chance to achieve that?
- Would you say Dean is a beach read or Tolstoy or something else? Continue the literary metaphor: what is Sam? Castiel? Jack? Eileen?
- Why would Dean know Tolstoy but not Achille's heel (as seen in a previous episode)?
- Jack says that Billie is demanding he do exactly as she says. How do you feel about her insistence upon his obedience to her commands?
- Fortuna tells them not to play God's game but theirs. What is their game?