It’s Thursday night, you sit down, turn on Supernatural, and prepare to watch a monster of the week episode about shape shifters, right? Wrong! This episode, The Big Empty, is anything but a typical Monster of the week episode. From the very beginning of the episode, all the way to the final scene, there is character development, a peek into a world we’ve never seen, and more. Let’s take a look at each character’s story line in this episode in order to break down it’s significance.
Sam – We find out that he holds a slight grudge against Dean for having a relationship with their mother that he was never able to have, both as a child, and again as an adult when Mary returns. He is not ready to give up on that opportunity to build this relationship and that is part of the reason he wants to help Jack. We also see a kind, caring, nurturing part of Sam towards Jack. This is something we’ve witnessed since the first episode of this season, but it is shaping more towards an older brother/father type figure, as opposed to just an obligation to solve another problem.
Dean – Still visibly upset over the losses he suffered from the season 12 finale, he continues to take his anger out on Jack. Having been acting like his father to the point he is being compared to their father by Sam, he begins to change throughout this episode. After seeing Sam’s true feelings in regards to the loss of their mother, he starts to soften up slightly. He allows Jack to assist them, then relies on Jack’s help to save the day. By the end of this episode, he reconciles with Sam, while also congratulating Jack on a good hunt. This seems like the beginning of the healing process for his losses.
Jack – Not knowing much about him, this episode helps create some insight to who he will become. We see that Jack continues to strive for acceptance from Dean, he trusts Sam, and he misses his mother. One of the perks of this shape shifter episode is that he is able to speak to a faux version of his mother through the shape shifter. While speaking to his mother Jack voices his concerns about becoming a monster, like his father, because he has hurt people. The shape shifter is able to reassure him that regardless of who or what he is, he still holds the power to make the right choices and be a good person.
Cas – Last episode we only saw that Cas had awoken due to Jack crying out for him. In this episode we are able to see that Cas is alive and in The Big Empty, a place that has been hinted at for a while. In the big empty, Cas is not alone. We soon find out that this other creature inside the Big Empty is not a fan of Cas being awake, and proceeds to torture him in order for him to go back to sleep. Cas, unsure of why he is awake, fights against this creature in an attempt to escape the big empty and return home to Sam, Dean and Jack. Throughout the episode we notice the creature being worn down to the point of giving up and setting Cas free.
Another continuing theme in this episode has to do with the shape shifter. In the early seasons of this show, it was find a monster then kill the monster. As the show has gone on, we are able to see that not every monster is equal, and that they all do not deserve to die. This episode continues that trend. The shape shifter, trying to compensate for the bad of her early years, helps people say goodbye to their lost loved ones by shifting into them and and pretending to be their ghost. Due to this, Sam and Dean spare her life so she may continue to help others heal.
The final scene of this episode is located in a field, showing Cas getting up, taking a breathe, and enjoying the sunshine. Does this mean our Cas is back? For one thing, nothing is ever this easy in the world of Supernatural. If this IS our Cas, there will be consequences to his return that will play out later in the season.