An out of the way pool hall in Alaska may be the key to restoring Sam and Dean’s Supernatural luck.
After weeks on the road, struggling on a budget and nurturing a cantankerous Impala, the Winchesters finally reach their destination; the mythical Alaskan pool hall Garth mentioned that could grant those favored by fortune some luck. But like anything, there’s always a catch and, in this game, you either win or you die.
“Places like this don’t exist for no reason.”
Being the better of the two players, Dean takes it upon himself to win back that Winchester luck. He takes on Moira (Lynda Boyd, Virgin River, Tin Star) first, dispatching her easily enough before moving on to Joey Six, a retired bull rider who’s been snagging luck from patrons for some time. Dean wins that one too and the brothers realize that luck was the only thing keeping Joey Six alive. But taking the now dead man’s luck does nothing to add to their own empty tank ‘o fortune and it’s because, like any properly crooked gambling hall, this one’s skimming a bit of luck off the top. Sam studies the coins they get to play in detail before he understands there are no hex bags or demonic bargains powering this magical game; it’s fostered by Atrox Fortuna, the Roman goddess of Luck and after threatening the life of her son, Pax, they find out that the goddess of the hour is none other than Moira herself.
More than a bit callous — suggesting that Dean kill Pax instead of her returning their luck since she can have more sons — Sam draws Moira’s interest and takes Dean’s place at the table. He wins the first round by getting her talking and, during this, Moira doles out the only interesting portion of the Winchester narrative by telling a short history of the gods.
According to her, God created the gods (lower case “g”) after humans started praying to all things not him and, despite his initial anger, decided to use these gods as a buffer for when things went wrong for humanity. Understanding that gods are often vindictive and bitter, it’s hard to know whether Moira’s story is God’s honest truth but assuming that it is; it certainly fits Chuck’s m.o. of not wanting to get his hands dirty.
Despite gaining some significant luck from Moira, she convinces Sam to partake in a second game, double or nothing. It goes about as well as one would think; namely, she skunks him but even in doing so, shows a surprising amount of honor (for a god) by not only freeing the trapped inhabitants of the bar but restoring the fairy tale luck that has guided Sam and Dean through fifteen years of hunting. Evie (Hanneke Talbot, Star Trek: Discovery, Ready or Not), the former bartender tells them it’s because Moira saw them as heroes, a type of person she thought long extinct from humanity.
This plays right into the narrative of Chuck being the author of their story and last week’s aptly titled “The Heroes’ Journey”. Taking on a fight with little hope of victory because you believe it to be the right thing could be considered the epitome of a hero’s soul and, if the past decade and a half of taking on the vilest and most powerful creatures to walk the earth hasn’t proven Sam and Dean’s heroic mettle, this final fight most definitely should.
Whereas Sam and Dean’s bland but vital journey ended as expected, Jack’s return (as of two weeks ago) was a surprising delight. Thanks to Billie, the current Death, he’s been hiding out in the Empty and now that God’s out of their dimension, it was the right time for Jack to return to earth and begin his own quest. Following Billie’s direction — starting with killing Grigoris and eating their hearts — Jack’s personal journey is to gain enough power for him to confront and, perhaps even kill, God.
Comprised of a couple plot nuggets central to the season’s primary arc, “The Gamblers” itself was nothing special. There was a witty line here and there but nothing really worth remembering. The reunion with Jack could have been a heartwarming moment but the scene’s emotional direction was cut short for the necessity of exposition. As a standalone, “The Gamblers” was middling but it does something Sam and Dean have needed since they decided to make an enemy of the Creator: for the first time, they have a snippet of hope that the outcome of this fight isn’t necessarily a foregone conclusion.
The Good, the Bad, the Supernatural
• Far be it from me to question Death, but the idea that Billie knows of a path to kill God seems a bit too fantastical to me, even for a show such as Supernatural. Yes, the series established that Death had dominion even over God (at least to the point that God can die) so in that regard, I get it. Still, I can’t shake the feeling that this plan for a supercharged Jack will be nothing more than a contrived plot line that won’t stand the test of Supernatural’s sometimes lenient plot progression. Of course, when God is the final boss, it’s difficult to create a compelling narrative that doesn’t seem manufactured.
• A minor complaint I’ve had with Supernatural is how the series have established such fascinating concepts only to use them so sparingly. With how much angels have played a role in the series since their Season 4 introduction, having something as enthralling (and vile) as the Grigori for only the second time since their introduction has been a waste. Even as they are being used as a vital plot device to power Jack up, it’s another missed opportunity in the annals of Supernatural.