“We let Lucifer out of the cage and he has never stopped being our responsibility.”
“We’re in the endgame now.”
While not coming from Supernatural, that quote is an apropos summation of where things stand as Season 13 has reached its final two episodes. Relationships and lives will change and humanity’s very existence (on Winchester Earth, that is) hangs in the balance as the gang must take down Alt-Earth’s Michael before he can lead his armies through a Rift to conquer another world.
Now that Gabriel’s firmly on the side of our white hats (which, calling Rowena a ‘white hat’ still seems a bit strange on the tongue), Team Winchester has all the necessary ingredients to open a Rift to Alt-Earth and begin the search for Mary and Jack. Only…well, let’s just say the helping of archangel Grace provided by Gabriel is less than impressive. The thirty seconds or so of conversation when the portal fails is a hilarious double entendre, pointing out the possible “premature” nature of Gabriel’s contributions. Even better is when his attempts to explain it to Rowena somehow lead to the odd pairs boinking behind a bookshelf.
The laugh out loud events of the first half of act one is very necessary—not only because the writing’s gold (as well as Rowena and Gabriel’s whimsical natures just work)—but it’s the only real levity we get in an episode where bad things lead to worse things.
Unbeknownst to Gabriel and Rowena getting to know one another in the Biblical sense, Sam, Dean, and Cas convene on the what they need to do in order to open the Rift into Alt-Earth. Cas knows what needs to be done: they need Lucifer. Though Sam’s understandably shook at the thought of facing his tormentor, he eventually caves, even coming up with a plan to use Lucifer as a live battery to keep the Rift, which usually opens for no more than 24 hours, open indefinitely. Capturing the Morningstar is the greater challenge… though it’s shockingly easy, thanks to some reality warping mojo from Gabriel and a mickey slipped into Lucifer’s drink. Trussed up and sliced so he’s bleeding Grace like a stuck pig leaking blood, Lucifer is left to watch Gabriel, Cas, and the Winchesters head off into Alt-Earth with Rowena staying behind to watch the fallen angel.
Now it’s on to Alt-Earth and, I must say, every time Supernatural goes here, there’s just a malaise that seems to lord over the storytelling. Whether it’s the dreariness of the cinematic color palate used or the wide-open emptiness of that world, Alt-Earth comes off as a depressing and uninteresting set piece. “Beat the Devil” does nothing to allay those concerns, though we finally do get a cameo from some of the native monster life. In this case, feral vampires driven to madness by hunger. It’s a welcome addition, giving Team Winchester a necessary conflict as they traverse the roads of Alt-Earth towards reuniting with their mother and Jack. And yet, herein lies my biggest issue with the episode.
To reach Dayton (where Mary and Jack were last seen), and after speaking to the sole survivors of a vampire attack, the group realizes they must pass through a tunnel inhabited by a nest of feral vampires. If it was just Sam and Dean in the merry band, such a journey would no doubt be perilous. But it’s not; there are two kick-ass angels in the bunch and thought it’s already been established that Gabriel’s prowess is severely lacking at the moment, Castiel, on the other hand, has no such limitations. So the question is—why would a nest of vampires, feral or not, be any match for two angels? Yes, the scene where the vampires attack, killing one of the survivors and Sam (more on that later), is written in a way where the two angels are separated from the group but why wouldn’t the pair have just gone through the tunnels and exterminated the vampiric infestation prior to the humans setting foot in them? Generally speaking, I can handle drama written specifically for the sake of it, even when it makes little sense, but this is one of those examples that causes a major eye roll.
But the biggest is watching Sam die… again. There was nothing shocking about him being killed by vampires; even Dean’s initial reaction can’t change the effect. Though, it was heartbreaking to watch him get over the shock of it when he finally faced Mary after months of not knowing her fate. Unfortunately, some of that is cut short by the brevity of both that scene and length of Sam’s death. What makes the whole sordid thing a bit more interesting is the key to Sam’s resurrection. After breaking his bonds and nearly killing Rowena, Lucifer was hammered through the Rift by the witch. Coming across Sam’s corpse was serendipitous. It not only gives Lucifer the chance to perform an act of kindness (used in the loosest, most selfish sense of the word) but also a pseudo-champion to his desire to reunite with Jack, in Sam. As for Sam, his choices are extremely limited, thus his apologetic look towards a shocked Team Winchester when he and Lucifer join them at the camp. The silence that follows is broken up by two softly spoken words from the mouth of Lucifer.
The Good, the Bad, the Supernatural
- Unfortunately for our gang of white hats, the title of the episode does not come to fruition. Sure, they had Lucifer chained and bleeding but someone as powerful, determined, and slippery as the Morningstar, it’s no surprise he escaped. It’ll be interesting to see how his relationship with Jack goes over these final two weeks. After all, the big confrontation with Alt-Michael is still ahead.
- Loved the Rowena/Gabriel dynamic. Both are such sneaky and selfish, yet guilty pleasures of goodness. The fact that Rowena didn’t just hit the bricks after screwing up with Lucifer says a lot about where she’s come these last few years. Hopefully, it doesn’t get her killed.
- Dean’s reunion with Mary was powerful yet, as mentioned, undercut by the fake-death of Sam. While I generally have no issues with such scripted moments, it was a bit jarring how quickly he returned. Even when we first saw him die back in Season 2, we had to wait a week to find out about his resurrection. This time it was no more than a commercial break. Hopefully, the payoff and Lucifer’s part in Sam’s revival pays for itself in gold by the end of the season.
Supernatural: “Beat the Devil”