“We all have our bad places, don’t we? The stuff we’re running from. The things that we try to blot out with drugs or drink. But we have to face them eventually, don’t we?”
Jack and the Winchesters together again. Psychic Patience Turner back onscreen and making her choice. A new character who’s going to be a big part of things to come. And finally, a Mary Winchester sighting, in all her tortured glory.
If you didn’t know, the last Supernatural of 2017 is as busy as they come and leaves us with more questions than answers.
Freshly off his walkabout, Jack shows up almost immediately. He tracks down Derek, a painter who also happens to be a dream walker. Jack’s always been a strange bird and the way things are initially framed—Derek dead with his eyes burned out—the writers have us wonder if Jack’s tapping into daddy dearest’s genes. It’s not until the Winchesters track him down that Jack explains things. His time away gave him the opportunity to test his powers and he’s found that he can knock on doors to other realities but needs someone else’s eyes to pick the right places. That’s where Derek came in and, after he proved lacking in power, Kaia Nieves.
A troubled young woman who’s found herself in a forced rehab center, she’s got her own demons. And sure, building her up as one of the most powerful dream walkers out there (according to pre-deceased Derek) seems unnecessary and a bit too trope-ish, the scars she carries instantly make her an interesting character. She may be able to see through worlds more than ours, but she can only see into “the bad place” and, what’s worse, she doesn’t come back to Earth unscathed. “When I get hurt over there,” she tells Jack and the Winchesters after they rescue her from two desperate angels, “I don’t wake up sweaty; I wake up bloody.” But her words fall on deaf ears as Dean now knows that his mother’s alive.
Kaia is the key Jack needs to open the door and, after getting kidnapped and watching Jack showcase his supernatural abilities, wants nothing to do with them. But in one of his scarier moments, Dean pulls a gun, forcing Kaia into the car. It’s rare to see the Winchesters strong-arm someone who isn’t at the very least walking in the gray areas but Kaia is the key to getting Mary back and Dean’s not taking no for an answer. From her point of view it doesn’t seem like he’s one of the good guys but when you’re getting chased by a band of angels, trapped in a wrecked ship and waiting for death, it’s surprising how quickly one can find common ground with one’s abductors.
Which brings me to the angels. From the start of the season, Heaven’s last citizens have wanted Jack and, a few weeks’ ago, we discovered why. Angels themselves are on the verge of extinction and Jack may be the key to creating new ones. While earlier appearances hinted at a stronger arc, angels are more and more appearing like nothing more than cardboard characters with no real voice. Considering the colorful history of angels past on Supernatural, that is one of my biggest disappointments of their inclusion in Season 13. Maybe things will change but unless we’re introduced to someone to speak for the angelic cause, I fear that their effectiveness as an antagonist will be nothing more than a gimmick that would be better off disappearing.
That’s not to say that their use as plot driver didn’t have a special moment or two. When they corner Jack, the Winchesters, and Kaia, the angels show an ability we’ve never seen before. Six of them commence with a brute-force attack on the angelic barrier runes which, I must admit, was pretty cool to see. But like most angels on the show, they’re cannon-fodder, destroyed when Jack and Kaia open a doorway to another world. Or should I say worlds…
For in the confusion and Kaia’s lack of refinement in her power, we find that while Jack does end up in Alt-Earth at the tortured Mary’s feet, Sam and Dean find them in Kaia’s bad place, a place where Godzilla-sized animals roam and no way home.
Well…at least they have the angel blades.
- While there were no real answers to anything in this episode and chunks of it seemed to be more about setting up the second half of the season and Wayward Sisters, there were some good moments. Jack is finally starting to learn to control his powers and, more importantly, solidified himself as a good guy with Cas and the Winchesters his family. I’m glad they chose this direction for him as it would have been easy to have him straddle both worlds.
- Clark Backo returned as Patience Turner and while practically all of her handful of scenes were her wrestling with the life her father wants for her or what she knows she must do. Not overly surprising but it’s effective nonetheless. Her showing up on Jody’s doorstep is one of several overt hints at what’s to come with the spinoff.
- While I did like Kaia’s character as a whole, something about her appearance just screamed “she’s part of the spinoff”. I think she’ll make an excellent addition to the Wayward Sisters but for everything they had to do with her in “The Bad Place,” things just felt a bit rushed.
- When angels were introduced back in Season 4, I was amazed at how well the writers framed them as antagonists who were not truly the bad guys. As the years went on, they became—to paraphrase Dean—increasingly dickish. Now they come off as nothing more than a sad host of two-bit baddies, faceless and without direction. That may be what the writers are aiming for but in order to make them more interesting, we need a dynamic personality to lead them and their cause.
- Leave us with the cliffhanger why don’t ya. Kaia’s unconscious on the side of the road, Jack’s in Alt-Earth (and once Michael discovers this, he’s going to be in trouble), and Sam and Dean find themselves in Jurassic World. For a second I thought Kaia’s vision was of Purgatory but it seems that this ‘Bad Place’ may even be more savage than the place where monsters go when they die. If that’s even possible.