Supernatural returned from its winter hiatus with an outstanding episode full of action, hilarious moments, several references to the show and cast, and heartbreaking scenes. From start to finish, “Nihilism” never dulled for a moment.
The show opens on a stuffed squirrel around a beer bottle, which may very well be the most ‘Dean Winchester’ thing ever seen; we know another ‘squirrel’ that likes his beer, too. The references in the bar got even better as it pans up to the sign: Rocky’s Bar. It was a neat nod to Rocky and Bullwinkle, better known as ‘moose’ and ‘squirrel,’ the loveable nicknames Crowley once gave Sam and Dean. And just when you thought it surely could not get better, the camera then pans to a giant moose head on the wall. One could surely spend hours noting the many little references in Rocky’s Bar!
The surprises continued as Pamela Barnes, a psychic friend of the Winchesters who died in season 4, walks into the bar with a bag of limes for Dean. She throws the limes onto the bar over “Daphne Loves Fred” carved into the wood, a sweet little nod to “Scoobynatural.” Dean mentions that Sam and Cas are out hunting a ghoul in Wichita as he cuts up the limes and makes Pamela the “house special” (a shot and a beer), before a woman in a suit walks in. She wants to buy the bar, a bar that is dead except for one passed out patron, but Dean will not sell. “This bar. I’ve never had anything this nice.” Dean even notes in a quick scene after that while drinking shots with Pamela, “this bar? This is my dream.”
Of course, even in Dean’s head there are monsters as a vampire enters to get revenge for when Dean and Sam killed his nest. With that, the unconscious patron wakes up, also a vampire, but Dean and Pamela take them out smoothly.
While Dean lives out his happy place in Rocky’s Bar, mere minutes have passed from the previous episode as Sam, Castiel, and Jack face off with Michael. Michael, using his powers, shows that he has the upper hand as he brings them to their knees. Cas fights through it as Sam struggles to get his lighter out. Their plan works, as Castiel gets knocked to the side by Michael, Sam lights and throws the lighter. The flames encase Michael, and it is enough of a distraction for Cas to get the warded handcuffs onto Michael. As much as he fights it, Michael has no power with them on.
Maggie calls in, reporting that monsters everywhere are not killing, just biting and scratching. Michael’s plan is in action, but the danger is still very close by for Sam, Castiel, and Jack as Michael’s calvary comes to help him. With no way out and horribly outnumbered, Sam calls for desperate measures. In this case, the reaper assigned to look out for them, Jessica. Instead of Jessica, it is Violet, the current reaper on shift to watch the Winchesters that shows up. She refuses to help as it would be considered intervening, but as she listens to someone not seen, they are all teleported back to bunker.
Now that they are back at the home-base, Sam, Castiel, and Jack discuss what to do with Michael, who is chained up in the war room. Sam mentions about the time he was possessed by Gadreel, trapped in his own mind, and how Crowley entered his mind to save him. But, trying to enter into Dean’s mind is not all they have to worry about. Maggie calls in once again to report that the monsters have stopped attacking. Instead, they are heading in the bunker’s direction.
As Castiel and Jack try to lock the bunker down, Sam is left with Michael. He threatens Sam that one way or another, everyone will die. “And Sam, the last thing you’ll see is this pretty smile as I rip you apart.” Jensen Ackles delivers that line so devilishly delicious, with a smirk that was far from angelic.
Sam brings out the machine the Men of Letters used to get inside people’s minds, and quite possibly the same one Dean used in the season 12 episode “Who We Are” to get inside Mary’s mind. The scene flips back to Dean’s mind and shows how he is reliving the same night at the bar in a Groundhog Day sort of way, and reminiscent of another Supernatural episode, “Mystery Spot.”
It is heartbreaking to see Dean trapped in his own mind, but not as heartbreaking as the scene to follow. Jack talks to Michael, standing up for Dean and believing that Dean will eventually take down Michael. He claims Michael does not know Dean, but Michael counteracts with saying that he knows everything because he is in Dean’s head. He messes with Jack, telling him Dean was only sad on the outside when Jack died. Inside, Dean did not care that Jack died because he no longer had him as the burden Michael tries to claim Jack is. Castiel steps in, though, confirming what viewers already knew about how Michael is lying and Jack should not believe him.
Maggie and the hunters she rallied to help her block the road to try and stop the monster from coming as Cas and Michael discuss one major topic, God. Michael explains his reason for distruction and chaos. He wanted God to come back in his world, but quite like the Winchester’s world, God never showed. And thanks to Dean’s mind he knows that Chuck is a writer and claims the world is just failed draft after failed draft. Michael thinks Chuck does not care about anything, and Michael wanted to be more God than him at first. Now, he just wants to burn everything and every world until he finally catches up to God. Michael concludes his plan with one chilling remark: “Even God can die.”
It appears the monsters manage to get past the hunters and are heading for the bunker just as Sam gets the machine ready. Cas hooks it up to Michael and Sam, while Sam explains that Cas will be hitching a ride with him into Dean’s mind. Jack is designated the lookout, making sure no one is killed.
Once the machine clicks on, Sam and Cas are transported into Dean’s mind. It is reminiscent of The Empty, completely black with nothing around, not even a sound. That is until Cas uses his power for them to hear Dean’s thoughts, countless quotes, both horrible and happy, that have been said over the past 14 seasons. Cas plans to wade through all the traumatic moments, but Sam has the clever idea that this time those moments would not be the ones Dean would be drowning in. If Michael wanted Dean to stop fighting back, it would be something he has never had before, contentment. More quotes are heard until Sam hears something he has not heard before, Dean running his own bar.
For Dean, it is like the night has never changed. To him, Sam and Cas are just back from their hunt. He offers them “this great IPA from Austin: Cosmic Cowboy,” a nod to Ackles’ Family Business Beer Company, one of many Easter eggs and shout-outs to the brewery.
Sam and Cas try their best to get Dean to realize it is all a dream, which is hard to do as Dean’s mind keeps jumping from moment to moment. The dream loop begins to falter as they mention that Pamela is not just blind, but dead. Dean has flashes of those memories, but what really breaks through Dean’s mind is Sam saying “Poughkeepsie,” a code word the Winchesters use when they are in danger.
With Dean’s memories restored and the dream broken, Michael enters the bar. Michael tries to claim once again he knows Dean and what he wants. That he only tolerates Cas because he owes him. Because Cas “gripped you tight and raised you from perdition, or whatever,” Micheal mocks. He states Dean was happiest when Sam quit hunting. He says those are the reasons why Dean said yes to Michael. Cas points out, though, that Michael is just stalling for his monsters to arrive at the bunker.
Dean provokes Michael to fight, but one by one, Michael knocks them all down. Even without powers, Michael is strong and skilled. Meanwhile, the monsters are already at the bunker. Things are not looking good for the hunters either as they are getting knocked down, too. So Jack makes a decision and uses his nephilim powers to blast the monsters, easily defeating them.
Meanwhile, Team Free Will gets their own upper hand as Dean too makes a decision. He decides that instead of kicking Michael out of Dean’s mind, they keep him in. He is locked away, and with no powers and with Dean in control of his own mind, there is no way for Michael to get out. As he says, Dean is the cage now.
Back to reality, Cas scolds Jack for using his powers because it burns off parts of his soul. At the heart of it, Cas is worried that Jack needs to stay himself. He does not want to see Jack without a soul. Jack promises it will not happen again, but as Supernatural goes, this moment has an undertone of foreshadowing leading us to believe that something similar will happen again.
The episode ends back in Dean’s room. He is repeating a mantra of “it’s just you” as Michael pounds at the door inside Dean’s head. Dean’s attempts to quiet the noise is interrupted by Billie showing up in his room. It answers the question of who transported Cas, Sam, Jack, and Michael from earlier in the episode, but that is not why she was there. She dropped much bigger news for Dean. Jumping from the AU and back, and saying yes to Michael has had its consequences. Billie tells Dean that every single book telling of the many ways Dean could die have been rewritten. Now they all say Dean’s death will be Michael escaping Dean’s mind and burning down their world. Except one. She hands Dean that book, and with nothing revealed, Dean questions what he is supposed to do with it. Billie tells Dean it is up to him and disappears, leaving Dean pondering his fate.
It is another worrying scene of foreshadowing, leaving viewers wondering what potential demise is in store for Dean. Even with Michael locked away, things are not looking up for Team Free Will 2.0. What did you think of the episode, and what fun references did you spot? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts!
Supernatural airs on the CW on Thursdays at 8pm EST.