Supernatural Recap: Season 13 Episode 17 “The Thing”
They say Supernatural has a gif for everything – and they’re not wrong. There are a dozen Tumblrs specifically devoted to trying to stump the SPN Family and every time, somewhere hidden in the vast expanse of 250+ episodes, there’s a relevant gif just waiting for whatever concept someone can come up with.
Now the Supernatural fandom can finally add a gif for “Tentacle Porn” to their collection.
The episode begins with a sacrifice – it is 1925 and a beautiful woman, clad in full peach colored flapper regalia, is being dragged into a chamber by hooded, chanting figures to be chained to an alter to her death. So, just another Thursday on Supernatural.
After the title card, it starts with our boys at the bunker. Sam is asleep face down on the desk, clearly in the middle of research as Dean, behind him and silent, places post it notes with “Ass Face” and “Kick Me” on his back. Dean is in rare form and giddy, presumably still on a high from last week’s “Scoobynatural.” He’s even worked “Jinkies” into his vernacular unapologetically. Their days of research for the Seal of Solomon finally comes to an end when Dean finds a book detailing it’s whereabouts – in a Men of Letters outpost in Rhode Island.
The bunker they find is underground and sealed – but luckily the boys have brought along their trusty Men of Letters Bunker key. (You’d think for security purposes for several bunkers full of secrets and deadly things, a universal lock wouldn’t be the best plan, but like a sonic screwdriver, it does help the story along.) Contained within the bunker is more books, but most interestingly – a young girl. They follow her cries to find the same woman from the beginning, still in flapper attire, having not aged a day since the 1925. Dean recognizes her from a photograph found amongst the books.
Naturally, they can’t leave her there – that would just be rude.
In Asmodeus’ lair, Ketch is waiting less than patiently for him to be done with his latest project – draining the archangel Gabriel of his grace, one syringe at a time. And then shooting himself up with it. It’s a little reminiscent of Crowley and his addiction to human blood, only Asmodeus is clearly trying to power himself up rather than just get high. Gabriel looks weary and panicked – it’s quite a departure from the charismatic and confident Trickster we once knew. Ketch is informed to wait just a little bit longer, and pointed towards the door.
Back with the brothers, we discover the young woman is named is Sandy, and she’s (understandably) a bit fuzzy on all the details of her predicament. They take her to a diner for a meal, unsure of how to proceed. The diner is filled with nuanced characters, and it’s a testament to how great of a writer Davy Perez is that in the few short minutes we know the waitress Joanne, she steals the show with her banter with the boys and the rest of the staff.
In the kitchen, Marco the chef notices our gal Sandy with the boys, and picks up his phone to make a quick call. In that moment, we see a flash of a tattoo with a Men of Letters symbol and cue the ominous music – we know who the big bad of the episode is. (Or so we think.) Soon enough, we see him add a little something to their food – and it’s not seasoning.
Meanwhile, Sam and Dean gently grill Sandy for some details. As she explains, the Men of Letters dragged her down to their dungeon, and she saw a light, a rip in the air, and then “it” happened.
One of my favorite things about the brothers is how wonderfully they complement one another when dealing with a victim. Sam’s empathy makes him easy to talk to, and Dean’s quick to reassure them of their safety.
Back with Asmodeus and Ketch, we learn a little bit about the relationship between the two of them. Ketch was under the impression that he was a freelance worker and as it turns out, that’s not at all how Asmodeus saw the arrangement. “It’s time you get in line, boy,” Asmodeus says softly, and the proceeds to beat the unholy hell out of Ketch. Later, he addresses Ketch crouched next to him, in one of my favorite lines of the episode, “I see your truth little boy – you want redemption. But your kind, my kind, we can’t be redeemed. We just spread the pain around.”
Woof. That’s heavy.
Back in the diner, Sandy has run to the restroom but food arrives for the boys. While Sam has ordered something with kale, Dean continues to fear no monster, not even heart disease. He jokes to his brother, “Yeah, I’m watching my cholesterol – go up.”
The other patrons have begun to notice that outside the diner, hooded Men of Letters have gathered. Dean takes note just as Sam takes a bite of his compromised food and quickly passes out. They descend and a fight ensues – Dean taking out as many as possible. (Another instances of the truly impressive fight choreography that continues to amaze this season.) Sam wakes up just in time to be kidnapped, leaving Dean to fend for himself against the rest of the Men of Letters, but he’s ultimately saved with a perfectly timed stabbing by Sandy.
Dean goes into full protective big brother mode, starting immediately building molotov cocktails to break out of the diner and save Sam. But outside, Sam is physically fine, if on his knees, and being interrogated by what we learn is two more Men of Letters legacies. It turns out in the 1920’s, Marco and his sister Ophelia’s grandfather, having been traumatized by the horrors of World War I, summon a monster who was said to be able to cleanse the world of its evils. Unsurprisingly, this monster had different plans, inserting itself into Sandy’s body and taking out the entire Men of Letters chapter before it was restrained to that table, where generations of the same family have watched over it since. “All she wants to do is eat and breed,” they explain.
Dean, finally done creating his arsenal, steps outside to find Sandy crouching next to her latest kill (the rest of the hooded figures are strewn about the outside of the diner) and then the camera cuts away – presumably because Dean is her next victim.
Ketch is still bleeding and cowering in Asmodeus’ dungeon when he has a stroke of brilliance – steal the archangel, the archangel blade, and get the hell out of dodge. The viewer is left confused as Gabriel fights him the whole time, unable to speak and terrified, and they barely manage to escape.
Dean has been dragged back to the Men of Letters bunker by Sandy (or more accurately, the monster named Yokath who is wearing Sandy like a summer dress) and is chained to the same alter. It’s been a long time since we’ve seen Dean tied up and sassy, and he’s having fun with this monster of the week, despite being in mortal peril. She explains that all she really wants is to summon her mate, Glothor, to whom Dean will play host.
“Oh my God, that’s tragic.” Dean deadpans. “It’s like a hallmark movie with tentacles.”
She smirks back at him. “I like you Dean. You’re strong, and I like looking at your face.”
(Look, get in line, sister!)
She takes the Seal of Solomon and opens the rift – and tentacles descend from the ceiling, like in 1925. But just in time, Sam is there, with Marco and Ophelia. Dean’s able to get himself free while Sam distracts Yokath, and when Dean tosses Ophelia the stone, she uses it to quickly shut the portal. As it closes, the tentacles wrap around Sandy and pull her to the other side. Marco and Ophelia gift the Seal of Solomon to the boys, and they’re one step closer to being able to open the rift.
They get back home to discover that Ketch is in the bunker (just how secure is it at this point?!) and he’s come bearing a gift – Gabriel. The brothers are understandably confused, and the archangel is in rough shape, but Ketch is ready to bargain – archangel and blade, in return for protection from Asmodeus.
Sam is skeptical but Dean is quick to make the deal, for the sake of getting Mary and Jack back. He’s also impatient, not wanting to wait another moment before opening the rift and charging to their rescue. Sam is frustrated but agrees, and moves away from the still shook and silent Gabriel to grab his gear. But Dean stops him – he wants to go at it alone.
I’ll admit, on the first watch of this episode, I was just as mad as Sam was, and we both yelled at Dean at how ridiculous of an idea it was. (And then, additionally, to bring Ketch? Has he lost his mind?!) But in the end, Dean doesn’t give him much of a choice. “I know you don’t like this, I don’t expect you to. But this is the way it’s gonna be.”
And it does make sense, as he explains to his Sam – they’re the only two that can get into that place, since they’ve been there, and that’s a caveat to the spell. (Though, what about Cas, one has to wonder?) If something goes wrong, and Dean and Ketch are not able to get home in the 24-hour window, Sam would be able to retrieve them. It’s a backup plan, and its a good one, especially with Gabriel in no state to be left alone, and likely a good ally if they can get him back to fighting shape. But we get a sense from Dean that he’s just plain tired of watching his loved ones in danger – most of this season has been about him trying to reunite and keep safe what little family he has. Not dragging his brother into danger, or waiting for Cas (who died shortly after his last visit to the rift) is the most “Dean” solution to this problem.
Sam is stoic and quiet as he watches his brother charge forward. I don’t like it either Sammy – but it sure makes for excellent television.
Next week will see the return of (an incredibly exasperated) Castiel and exploration of the apocalypse world with Dean’s new frenemy Ketch. But what we’re really left to wonder is – what on earth will be Gabriel’s first words?
Episode 18, “Bring ’em Back Alive,” premieres Thursday, April 12th at 8/7c on The CW.