“When they’re gone, it will hurt. But that hurt will remind you how much you loved them.”
Fresh off the obligatory mid-winter hiatus, Supernatural returns and seemingly wraps up this season’s centralized story line in the blink of an eye. But is everything as it seems or should we expect a sleight of hand that will give us the final showdown between Michael and Team Winchester we’d been expecting?
The initial narratives drop us into the extended hunt for a particularly nasty monster: a gorgon who feasts on the organs of his victims. Possessed with the abilities of a paralytic kiss and future sight (when eating the eyeballs of his victims) the gorgon—who goes by the name Noah—is another example of a creature from myth airdropped into the Supernatural universe. While the threat posed by Noah the Gorgon is significant and the sense of urgency to track him down is there (they’ve even enlisted the aid of Rowena, so you know it’s serious), that particular story vein unfolds as almost an afterthought to the real threat: Michael getting free of the prison in Dean’s mind.
Michael’s inevitable escape has been like the dread in the pit of your stomach, the chill down your spine on the anticipation of bad news. The build-up was there and when he escapes Dean’s mind and strikes a deal with Rowena—one she’s hard-pressed to reject lest he kill the only people she cares about—it really looked that the final third of the season had set up the amazing Ruth Connell as Michael’s vessel, her Scottish accent and the gravitas she commands a perfect foil to Cas, Jack, and the Winchesters. Her centuries of magic would be a perfect complement to Michael’s archangel powers, making the antagonist even more formidable. But then comes Jack, no longer playing it safe and facing Michael head-on; expelling the angel from Rowena before burning him out of existence.
And just like that, he’s gone.
Yes, the villain that has already conquered one world and hell-bent on another is wiped off the playing field in the blink of an eye with only his Grace surviving (ingested by Jack to heal himself). Though we don’t actually know if Michael’s dead and gone, it sure seems that way. And if he has been defeated, the way in which it was accomplished was a forced and lazy plotline where the writers had no other compelling ideas from the character. Unless…
What if, Michael was never meant to be this season’s big bad?
If we look at “Ouroboros” through the lens of Michael being the villain, it fails at designing a captivating end for his character. And while Supernatural writers have stumbled at points during this historic fourteen-year run, they’ve rarely shut down a major bad guy in such an abrupt fashion. With that in mind and taking in Jack’s condition—the magic keeping him alive (and that Rowena interestingly refers to as parasitic) burns a part of his soul away at each use—as well as his actions during the episode, maybe, just maybe everything we’ve seen thus far has been a smokescreen for that Dark Willow-type swerve from Buffy Season Six. Imagining the power it would take to expel something as powerful as Michael from his host, would it be a surprise if it’s discovered that Jack burned away the final vestiges of his soul before consuming Michael’s Grace? If that is the case, how long before the antipathy of being soulless makes Jack the real bad guy, one who’s more powerful than anything not named the Darkness the Winchesters have faced? As Noah said about Jack before dying “I can’t quite tell if he’s the chicken…or the snake.”
Maybe this is just me reaching but, if Jack does become the villain, it would make for one of the more heartbreaking endings to a Supernatural season in some time.
- One thing that’s easy to forget is, despite his physical age and lineage, Jack is but a few years old. In that, he still hasn’t properly understood the concepts of life and death. Castiel’s conversation with him as they await Dean’s recovery is like that of a father explaining the concept of death to his child. It’s a painful conversation where the child grasps at the reality that these people so close to him or her, will eventually die. “It’s a part of growing up,” Cas tells him. But unlike a child, Jack is able to—at least for the moment—can intercede and prolong the lives of his family. The question becomes, as posited above, will Jack end up becoming the thing he hates and that which his family will end up having to destroy?
- It would have been a treat to watch Ruth Connell as the archangel Michael but that particular threat lasted but a few minutes. Even if Jack does become the Big Bad, the writers (even though the overarching story demanded it) missed an opportunity to explore what would have been a very entertaining path.
- So Michael slaughters everyone in the Bunker but our protagonists only hear it when Maggie screams? Another convenient and contrived situation that loses any sort of tension when Michael is so quickly defeated.
- Even after fourteen years, Supernatural continues to tap into the nearly bottomless world of mythological creatures. Though this gorgon isn’t quite as deadly or interesting as Medusa, he still poses a threat to Team Winchester and while his fate was never in doubt, the story he tells about the chicken and the snake make be a chilling portent to what awaits Team Winchester as the season moves forward.