“Look, this isn’t a perfect world we’re trying to save ok, and if I’m not perfect trying to save it, then so be it.”
Reinvention is the mother of necessity. Or something like that.
However you slice it, Supernatural has always been that show that knows just how to make even the most basic and streamlined episodes fun. Despite the serious nature of the show, the writers know when to not take things so seriously. “A Most Holy Man” is the perfect example of this as the Winchesters search for one of the four ingredients needed to open a portal to Alt-Earth, find themselves embroiled in a heist-y/noir-ish film with gangsters, double crosses, and being knocked over the head with a rotary phone is old hat.
With Lucifer in the wind and Castiel in Syria searching for fruit from the Tree of Life, Sam and Dean decide to track down the blood of a most holy man. But what defines a most holy man? When Sam finds an authentic broker of holy relics online by the name of Margaret Astor, she sends them to Seattle where they meet Richard Greenstreet, another purveyor of holy prizes who has exactly what they need.
Of course, it wouldn’t be that easy.
You see, Greenstreet wants them to steal the skull of St. Peter from Seattle mob boss Santino Scarpatti. At first glance, things seem to be working out well when the brothers track down the original thief of the skull. But, as it always seems to be, things go sideways pretty quickly. First, they find the original thief dead and then are accosted by a mysterious third party. Things get a bit deeper when Scarpatti has the brothers picked up and gives them an ultimatum: retrieve the skull for him and be privy to a handsome reward (thus being able to buy the blood from Greenstreet) or get whacked. Despite Dean being up front with his disdain towards Scarpatti, the brothers take the offer—though, let’s be honest, they only had one choice to begin with. Or that’s what Dean thinks.
Enter Father Lucca Camilleri.
Straight from Malta, the good Father is on a mission to regain possession of the skull, as it is his town has looked to for a strengthening of their faith for generations. While the case he makes for his mission is compelling, there have been very few messages I’ve seen in a show or movie that resonate with me more than Father Camilleri’s words to the brothers:
“Guys, the world will never be perfect. If good men do good things, we can be better. Every day can get better.”
It’s sobering to know that, regardless of how much we (or in this case, Sam and Dean) may do that, in the grand scheme of things, seems to be insignificant. But it’s the trying, the effort towards a good cause that can ultimately make the difference. Especially if others answer the same call as you.
With that in mind, the brothers and Father Lucca team up, eventually tracking down the skull in a climax that gathers all the players: Scarpatti, Greenstreet, the mystery man and, the biggest of surprises, Margaret Astor. Taking its cue from vintage noir films, there’s only one way this can end and it does just that: in a shootout where all parties save the white hats are whacked. Father Lucca is even winged, miraculously nothing more than a flesh wound.
Saying their goodbyes to the Father, Sam and Dean realize that he is the one they’ve been looking for all along, as he’d been given the title of ‘A Most Holy Man’ from the Pope himself. With one of the ingredients out of the way, Sam openly wonders when will it all end.
“No matter how many people we save,” he says,” there will always be more people that need saving. No matter how many monsters we kill…”
“There’s always gonna be another one around the corner,” Dean finishes. But this isn’t quite the cynical Dean we’ve come to know and love. His conversations and subsequent adventure with Father Lucca has the eldest Winchester seeing things in a different light. Sure, there is the practical nature of situations but, thanks to the Father, Dean has regained something greater than strength of body or knowledge, or even if the Father’s blood will work.
“I have faith,” he tells Sam.
Simply put, and one of the most powerful things a man can have.
The Good, the Bad, the Supernatural
- So many shows give us throwaway villains or forgettable supporting characters but Supernatural always seems to find a way to give us new characters that beg for more screen time. Father Lucca was fantastic in his role. His two big scenes—one with both brothers and the other with Dean—put in perspective not only the Winchesters’ fight against evil but our own fight in this real world of ours. His practicality on the nature of God’s interjection in things as well as removing the excuses we all gift wrap for ourselves (such as “it won’t make a difference”) is sobering and on point. He even makes Dean realize that there are times that faith is more important than knowing. Malta may be a half a world away, but let’s hope this isn’t the last we see of Father Lucca.
- It was great to have this type of ‘throwback’ episode. Despite the setting, everything about “A Most Holy Man” screamed classic noir. From the heist plot line to the double and triple crosses to even the music, put me in mind of an old detective movie. Even the villains—Scarpatti, Greenstreet, and Astor—carried themselves with that hamfisted type of personas. And yet they never overdid it. Change-ups like this is why Supernatural is going strong thirteen years in.
- We cannot talk about this episode without touching on Dean’s promises of pain and death were someone to steal the Impala. “They’d be tortured first,” he says after promising murder. “Be like a lot of torture and then there’d, it would end up in death. If I can’t have it, nobody can.” Classic Dean and the type of line that often breaks up the seriousness of Supernatural into manageable chunks.