Before I get into the Winchesters, let's talk Jack. First of all, Alexander Calvert gave an incredible performance in his first episode back as Jack. The character is different from the last time we saw him, changed by the experience of dying and spending so long in The Empty with Billie and also understanding that there are things he needs to do in order to become powerful enough to destroy or kill Chuck. The bringing back of the Grigori was a nice piece of lore that the show chose. I'm not sure how the eating of the hearts will make Jack more powerful, but I can tell that this is one in a long line of steps that Billie is having Jack take. But, I guess we'll have to see where we go from here.
We're going to talk about Dean first because I think I have a little less to say about him. Just a little. First of all, Jensen is killing the game this season. He just nailed it with this episode and his talent is off the charts. The one thing that I find so utterly fascinating about Dean is his perceived lack of "people skills." We think of Sam as the one who is good with grieving loved ones, cops and the like, but I think this episode shows that Dean has his own set of people skills. Just because they happen to be of most use when in a pool hall doesn't make them any more or less useful than Sam's. Just different. Dean played that room like he was on stage and it truly showed how great he is with people. Additionally, I think we've seen some incredible growth in Dean because he let Sam play the game. In previous seasons, we've seen Dean step in before Sam can really do anything, and I think this was a great showing of how much Dean has grown. He not only let Sam play one game against Fortuna, but he seemed to have enough faith to not protest so much about it. He then follows up on this faith by letting Sam play again and not interjecting and forcing Fortuna to play him. That show of trust and faith in Sam is showing real growth in who Dean is as a character.
The other thing that stands out to me is that for all of the "bad luck" that seems to be floating around, Dean (and Sam) still seem to hold on to their pool skills. Chuck wanted the boys to have "normal people" problems. While the problems that they're having are certainly normal, I'm fascinated by what the writers considered "normal." Car trouble, credit card problems, lactose intolerance, sure, that all makes sense to me. But still being preternaturally good at pool? That seems just a tad far fetched. When I think about it, the thing that stands out about these two types of things is that one is outside of Sam and Dean's control. The other is very much in Sam and Dean's control and a skill they've both been working on since they were kids. Chuck seems to be imposing all of these outside forces on the Winchesters. He wants them to be bad hunters, but he doesn't take away their skill with people or playing pool. Last week we were shown the most difficult side of this issue, but they were still able to save the day with Garth's help. But, this week, we're seeing Sam and Dean with no less skill than they had, in a situation where if Chuck had taken away those abilities it would be detrimental. I don't know what the writers are trying to say, but I'm fascinated.
SAM F***ING WINCHESTER. I am SO impressed with him this episode. We've all known Sam is smart. He's shown it repeatedly. But the thing that this episode showed was how Sam is more than just book smart. He's also more than just people smart. The thing Sam showed in this episode was his emotional intelligence. He used that fabulous brain to trick Fortuna in the first game, to figure out what was going on with Evie the bartender, and also prove to Fortuna that there were still heroes out there. I am continually impressed with the way that the writers choose to show Sam's smarts. Often it's through books and his skill as a hacker, but I love it way more when we see him as an emotionally intelligent, kind, but ruthless, man. The entire first game he played with Fortuna, he knew what he was doing. He and Dean worked her over like she wasn't the goddess of luck. But then he was willing to throw away what he'd just won for all of the people in the hall. This isn't an intelligence thing, it's just Sam showing again that at his core he is a good man and one who wants to make the world a better place. I am completely and utterly in love with Sam and I'm interested to see where he will go on his journey the rest of the season. Also, JARED PADALECKI IS A MONSTER. This entire episode he was looking FINE and I can't deal with it.
My last thing is the ending of the episode. Sam and Dean returning to the bunker and meeting Jack and Cas. I loved this scene so much because it proved to me that both Sam and Dean loved Jack as part of their family, which is a big deal. Not so much for Sam, who'd treated Jack like one of them since the beginning. But for Dean, the moment he grabs the back of Jack's neck was the moment that made it clear to me that he saw Jack as a part of his family and that he would go to bat for this person. We saw a glimpse of this last season when Jack came back from the dead, but this was the confirmation that it wasn't a one-time thing. Jack is a full-blown Winchester, in his own eyes and in the eyes of the last two Winchester blooded men.
I'm looking forward to seeing where the rest of the season goes. Welcome to our last hiatus before the show officially airs it's last eight episodes. Wow. That's kind of crazy to say.
As usual, comments are encouraged and I am on social media all the time! Much love to all of you, and happy hiatus. Many thanks to Raloria@livejournal for all of these fabulous photos! You can find her at raloria.livejournal.com.