“What I do know is, I’m done being special. Before my life is over, I want to live it. I just want a chance to get a tan or see a hockey game. Get a parking ticket…get bored. And when it’s all over—die.”
Often times, Supernatural provides a parallel narrative where two characters combat similar circumstances. Whether the crisis is an external threat or an internal conflict varies but such techniques can provide a seamless narrative where both sides of the story are just as compelling. This week it’s “Unhuman Nature”, a transitional episode which doubtlessly plays a key role not only as the series heads towards winter hiatus but how the remainder of season fourteen plays out overall.
“There is a devil, and we should try to fight him. Sometimes we just can’t.”
It’s been a few weeks since we last checked in on Nick. Despite being separated from Lucifer for months, the stress and trauma of those experiences—obscured as they may be—still cling to Nick’s soul. He’s already murdered a former neighbor, Arty, who was the sole eye-witness in his family’s slaughter. His first victim this week is Arty’s priest and though Nick gets nothing from the man of the cloth, his investigation eventually leads him to Frank Kellogg, the beat cop on duty the night of his wife and son’s murder. After a bit of roughhousing the former cop, Nick discovers that the murder wasn’t just a bad twist of fate; rather it was orchestrated by a demon named Abraxas, one that possessed Officer Kellogg to commit the atrocity. Though not expressly stated, such a plan sounds awfully close to something Lucifer would do in order to bring a man to his lowest state, breaking him down in order to promise him something he wants in exchange for saying a single three-letter word…
“I’m getting that life isn’t all these big, amazing moments. It’s time together that matters…I’ve had a good life, Dean.”
Though Nick’s journey and the hints at Lucifer’s resurrection (more on that later) is an exciting prospect, it’s nothing compared to the heart-rending reality of Jack’s slow march towards an inevitable death. The duality of his Nephilim nature—part human, part archangel—is a double-edged sword. Though it enhances his potential beyond even Lucifer (think Gohan’s half human/half Saiyan nature in Dragon Ball Z), it’s such an unnatural state of being that, sans his Grace to keep the balance, the entire construct that is Jack is breaking down. Sam, Dean, Cas, hell, even Rowena, try to fight for the dying Nephilim but it’s his time with Dean that makes “Unhuman Nature” such a special episode. During Jack’s initial weeks of existence, Dean wanted nothing more than to rid the world of what he saw as an abomination. It comes as no surprise that now, after more than a year fighting by the kid’s side, Dean’s had a change of heart. When faced with Jack’s impending death, that guilt of his past behavior is killing Dean. The moments between the two taps into a visceral part of the audience’s emotions; through most of the episode, the tick-tick-ticking of dread continues bubbling to the surface. That fist of emotion rising deep within one’s chest as we see the helplessness of our protagonists trying to find answers to save one of their own. The moments of levity occur early on but once Jack and Dean go on their short road trip, there’s nothing to alleviate that clustering of emotion and, at the end, when the gang realizes it’s only a matter of time before Jack succumbs, that emotion remains, raw and bleeding with nothing to salve the pain.
There are no major battles in “Unhuman Nature”, no fantastical creatures. This episode is a framing of the story life sometimes gives us; a wondrous gift that sometimes, do to circumstance, we can only helplessly watch dwindle away with only our memories of past times anchoring us from falling too far into the anger and pain.
- This is one of those episodes that hit the emotional solar plexus. There’s no death or tragic loss of life but seeing Sam and Dean, despite the wars they’ve won and the resources they can call in, helpless as Jack (who, for all intent, is like a son to them) slowly fade away is pure heartache. They may eventually find a way to save him but, for this week, we’re left with the exquisite pain of their current situation.
- Just when we thought Sergei could assist, the shaman proves to be that renegade doctor-type, more focused on future remedies than to Jack’s immediate recovery. His duplicity has no doubt made enemies of Cas and the Winchesters and whether that pays off down the road remains to be seen.
- It turns out you can’t keep a good devil down. It was always at the back of my mind that Lucifer could return in some form or another but to watch Nick plead for his former tenant to return is a harrowing moment. A life with “No consequences. No pain. No sorrow”…Nick wants that back and his pleas may be exactly what’s needed to call Lucifer back from Perdition.
- Rowena back in the fold and working with Team Winchester was great to see. Her red-headed snark is such a treasure and, as one of the few recurring characters still around, she carries such a history with Sam and Dean that it’d be a travesty to lose her.
- There are two moments where Dean’s world is literally fading in and out. No explanation is provided and though both times said distortion occurs during emotional moments with Jack, could this also be a hint that Michael still resides within the elder Winchester? It seems like a stretch but there has been zero mention of the Alt-Earth archangel since he ‘vacated’ Dean’s body and said silence—purposeful by the writers, of course—leads to several avenues of speculation. Guess we’ll just have to wait and see.