Remember last season when Supernatural decided to do an episode long homage to Quentin Tarantino’s cinematic style with the episode “Stuck in the Middle with you”? And it was directed by Gabriel himself, Richard Speight Jr.? Wasn’t that great?
Turns out it was so great – they decided to do it again!
Thursday’s episode opens on a fight between Gabriel and an Irish werewolf he quickly identifies as Fenrir Owensbane. The scene is set in a dark, gritty alley way. And then, to the tune of a trumpet that takes me straight back to Beatrix and O-Ren Ishii’s fight in Kill Bill, we see Gabriel pull a samurai sword and actually fight with it! Naturally, our archangel takes out the werewolf – true samurai style, right through the chest – but not before Fenrir got his claws on him. While a wound like that should take a flick of Gabriel’s wrist to heal, instead, he bleeds. He takes out a short, well calligraphied list of names – at the top we see Fenrir, followed by Sleipnir and Narfi. With a single bloodied finger, he crosses the first name off the list.
Dean and Sam have found themselves in a dusty hotel room complete with a vibrating bed. (In Dean’s opinion – “Bonus.”) Rowena had tracked Gabriel’s “essence” to both there and Texas, so they had sent Castiel to track him in San Antonio. Just as they are contemplating how exactly they are going to track down the angel in this town, there is a convenient knock at the door. Naturally it’s Gabriel, bleeding profusely and grinning like a Cheshire cat.
In the alternate universe, Jack and Mary are waiting for Bobby to return from his latest fight, and while they saved thirty people, they are quickly running out of supplies. Jack himself had just won a battle against Balthazar’s army. (Awww man, does that mean we don’t get any Balthazar in the AU? Dang it!) One of their comrades in arms, Jakob, informs them that it looks as if Michael has fled the church he and the other angels have been occupying. It could be a trap of course, but Jack jumps at the chance to check it out. Mary, who increasingly is seeing Jack as her surrogate son, volunteers to go along.
Elsewhere, two dudes (one a henchman looking guy the other a dead ringer for Justin Bieber) are looking down at Fenrir’s dead body in that alleyway. One crouches and tastes the blood pooled in the cement (holy mother of ew) and recognizes it as archangel blood.
Back at the hotel, Sam has done a pretty decent job patching Gabriel up, but that’s only half the reason he decided to let himself be found. Mostly, he’s just looking for more of his grace. (Great bit of mythology explanation here, as Gabe clarifies that while he’s low on grace right now, he could just sit around and wait as he’ll slowly recharge it.) Dean informs him that they used the last of his grace to open up the rift – so there will be no angelic healing of his wounds. Gabriel tries to bid them a hasty adieu only to be stopped at the door by Sleipnir and Narfi. Turns out, they are actually Norse Demi-Gods, and well, they’re pretty pissed about Gabe killing their brother.
At any rate, a fight breaks out, with Gabriel spending most of it hiding in the corner, protecting his wounds. He finally comes to the rescue of Sam, who’s been placed in a choke hold by Narfi, by stabbing him clean through with yet another wooden samurai sword. With two brothers down, Sleipnir makes haste away from the Winchesters. Gabriel is all set to leave again too (even as busted up as he is) but luckily Dean’s brought along those all purpose super handy warded handcuffs he likes to use – so Gabriel’s out of luck.
In the AU world, Mary and Jack have made it to the church – it’s the same one where Mary had been kept in that stabby cage for so long before Jack had found her. There’s nothing there of course, just a huge map of the United States and a bunch of little army men set up around the southern part of the country. Oh, and also Kevin Tran, who they discover was still locked up in the dungeon. Kevin is at his wits end, trying to explain why he even joined up with Michael in the first place. Worth noting here that Osric Chau does a phenomenal job of portraying Kevin at his most manic – he’d only ever believed in science before, but then the end of the world happened and he was chosen by God to be a prophet. Nothing made sense, everyone was dying and Michael said he wanted to save the world – what other choice did he have? “There’s a place in the South where the walls between the worlds are thin,” he explained to Mary as she made an attempt to calm him down. So Michael is planning on invading our world. (Didn’t we already know that? Anyway, nice bit of confirmation.)
After Dean and Sam get back from disposing of Narfi’s body, they’re about done playing Gabriel’s game. They want answers. So Gabriel launches into the story of what really happened during his hiatus, initially forgetting the part about the porn stars which Dean so kindly reminds him to pepper in. (By the way, the porn star moment included a little guy on guy action, so bonus points for inclusion.) Basically, these three brother agreed to hide him, and everything was going great until elsewhere, the tides turned and good money was on Lucifer to win out with the apocalypse. They were just trying to be rid of Gabriel, but their father decided to sell him to Asmodeus for a pretty penny. So while revenge was sweet burning Asmodeus to the ground, the real satisfaction for Gabriel lies in slaughtering all of them.
“But since you’re low on grace, you had to do it the old fashioned way,” Sam says. “With wood.”
“Don’t let anyone ever tell you you’re just a pretty face.” Gabe replies.
(Gracious, that was flirty! Moving on….)
Sam walks over to the case where Gabriel has four wooden samurai swords placed carefully – two used, two unused. Three of them are for the brothers, but the forth? It’s for the daddy, Loki.
(Loki – also played by Richard Speight Jr. What?!)
So it turns out way back in the day, Gabriel had needed to get into a “witness protection program” of sorts for angels – and enter Loki. Thousands of years ago, Gabriel had saved his life, and he decided to make good on his favor. Loki agreed to help Gabriel ditch his angelic nature and become him.
Dean took a beat and then pointed out that he wouldn’t have needed to hide back in the day if he’d just helped the Winchesters when they had asked. And here they are again, saving his angelic butt, even after he had ditched them. Gabriel tries to say that he had better things to do than to fight the good fight, but when Dean points out how stupid revenge is, Gabriel loses it. “Everyday, Asmodeus tortured me. Every! Day!” It’s clear he’s been traumatized, and furthermore, no amount of logic will dissuade him from his plight. Dean isn’t sympathetic – but Sam is.
Sam and Dean have an aside, where Dean calls out, in no uncertain terms, how utterly pointless revenge is. Even citing himself as an example of how it can go wrong. For those of us who have been carefully watching the character development of Dean Winchester, this is pretty big. And between the two brothers, a real role reversal. Sam is gung-ho for Gabriel’s revenge, and even admits that given the chance, he’d take out Lucifer without a second thought.
They agree to help Gabriel take out the remaining brother and Loki, on the condition that he will help them when it’s all over. Gabriel agrees and fills the brothers in on where Loki is staying – a short distance from their motel. Turns out Gabriel has been following him since Texas but hadn’t killed him yet. “For the most satisfying experience, everyone knows, you don’t take on the big bad from the jump. You work up to him,” Gabriel explains. (Is this meant to give us a hint about the end of this season? Or maybe it is just a Kill Bill reference? Only time will tell.)
Jack has decided to go after Michael himself, despite Mary’s protest. (There’s a touching moment here, where Mary explains that she doesn’t want to lose “another boy” and yeah, I’m crying.) That is, until Kevin tears at his shirt and reveals the sigil carved into his flesh. It’s clear he hadn’t wanted to use it, but was under orders from Michael, who had promised him that in death, he would be reunited with his mother. (Okay, now I’m really sobbing.) There are tears in his eyes as he struggles with the decision, but he just wants it to be done. Jack speaks up and mentions that it won’t kill him. “Michael doesn’t want to kill you,” Kevin says. “He wants to break you. He said for me to tell you that even if you win, you still lose.”
Yikes. That’s a threat he could very well make good on. Jack’s love for his family runs deep, even in the short time he’s been around.
Kevin presses the sigil with his palm and it glows blue. Jack yells “I’m sorry!” at the others as he crouches with only Mary in his arms, covering her with his wings. The room explodes.
(Okay, sidenote, as bummed as I was to see Kevin die – JACKS WINGS Y’ALL!!! JACK’S WINGS!)
In Loki’s hideout, Sam, Dean and Gabriel show up to spanish music (the Tarantino of it all is dialed up to eleven) and as they ride an elevator to their destination, Gabriel clarifies – he’s the one to kill Loki. No one else. Elevator doors part – and at the end of the hall, Sleipnir and two goons. Gabriel snaps his fingers, cutting the lights. The room is lit in flashes by the gunshots exchanged and when it’s all over, Gabriel is standing over Sleipnir, plunging a sword through his heart. But Dean has gone missing.
That’s because he made his way upstairs to go after Loki himself. (With the samurai sword, of course. Which is 100% a weapon Dean Winchester needs to wield more often for… reasons…) He finds Loki on a couch, with a case of suckers and a grin, all set to explain exactly what had gone down between he and Gabriel. See, it turns out, while Gabriel had told the brothers Lucifer was responsible for the death of Odin (Loki’s father), the only reason why he had been around the angels in the first place was to parlay between them. And when Loki had agreed to give Gabriel his face, he had done so with strict instructions to never have dealings with his angelic brothers again. It didn’t really matter to Loki that it was the end of the world, and Gabriel was trying to help. Loki didn’t even like his father, calling him a “salty, disagreeable bastard” but that hardly seemed to matter. As Loki put it “What wouldn’t you do for your father?”
Hold up – this is line for line exactly what Rowena said last episode. As she went in for the striking blow to Sam, she had questioned him too – just how far would you go for your family?
We’ve seen the Winchesters go to some serious extremes over the years in the name of protecting or saving on another. But when something is repeated like this – well, we’re probably meant to be paying attention. And that does not bode well for a smooth ending to this season, folks.
Dean delivers a harsh blow, but true to the Trickster’s style, he isn’t actually there, though he is corporeal enough to kick the crap out of Dean. He’s outside of the room, facing down Gabriel. So, in a truly meta moment, we have Gabriel (played by Richard Speight Jr.,) versus Loki (played by Richard Speight Jr.,) directed by Richard Speight Jr. (Look, the whole thing makes me want to take a nap for Rich.) Just before Gabriel delivers the striking blow, Loki imparts some last words of wisdom, “…you stand for nothing, and in the end, that’s exactly what you’ll die for.”
We flash back for a moment to the AU where everyone has died – everyone of course, but Mary and Jack. (And man, does it suck to watch Kevin die AGAIN.)
The Winchesters are surprised to find that in the end, Gabriel is going to hold up his end of the bargain. Just before they depart back to the bunker, Sam takes a beat to check on him, make sure he’s okay. “Swell, Sam, I’m a whole new guy.“ he says with a smile – that fades the moment Sam’s back is turned. Not in a nefarious way, but in a way that we are to understand Loki’s parting words made a pretty big impact on Gabriel. He has always stood in the middle of the war, and in the end, he has suffered just as much, and had nothing to show for it. It’s a little reminiscent of Rowena and Ketch. Though they are all different shades of redeemable in the eyes of the audience, it’s all the same means to an end – the turning of the tide from mostly evil, to slightly good.
Back at the bunker, Cas is helping Gabriel get settled in (how delightfully domestic,) and Sam asks Dean why he’d gone after Loki alone. Dean claims that it was “multitasking” but Sam points out that suicide missions have been Dean’s MO as of late. Dean doesn’t mince his words. “I don’t really care what happens to me, I never have. But I do care what happens to my brother.”
“We’re going to that place, together. We’re going to save Jack and Mom, together. And if something happens we will deal with it, together.”
Dean nods, and Sam turns to walk away, but stops himself, adding,
“And if we die, we’ll do that together too.”
Oh boy. Those are some pretty powerful words, Sammy. Can somebody just tell our boys that “not dying” is an option too? One that’s a little more easy on the fandom?
Oh wait, that’s right. This is Supernatural.
With only three episodes to go, the Team Free Will 2.0 need all the help they can get. Next week we’ll get the team back together in the alternate universe and going after Michael all full strength.
“Beat the Devil” premieres Thursday, May 3rd at 8/7c on The CW.