caranfindel (caranfindel) wrote,
caranfindel
caranfindel

Initial reaction 14.10: “Nihilism”


THEN: Michael. Gadreel! Poughkeepsie! Jack dying. Jack's soul. You didn't think to question? Snap!

NOW: We open on a bar scene, complete with a passed-out drunk in a hoodie. I notice the moose head immediately, but The Husband is the one who pointed out to me that there was also a taxidermied squirrel holding a beer. This is Rocky's Bar, guys! As in Rocky the Flying Squirrel. Oh, Show. The door opens and it takes me a minute to recognize the woman who enters as Pamela Barnes, neither blind nor dead (and also not having aged at all in ten years, damn her), wearing a shirt that says to hell and back. It's raining, and she complains that people are shopping like it's the end times. I feel you, Pamela. I hate it when we get a snow prediction and everyone has to go make the run on bread and milk. She produces a bag of limes and we see it's Dean behind the bar. Ah, so this is where the mystery bar flashback in 14.09 came from! He needs the limes for his house special, a shot of tequila and a beer.

(Sidebar: A tequila drinker, I'm not. I could go for a whiskey, which is normally Dean's drink of choice. You know when we last saw him drink tequila? I haven't noticed it since he was a demon, threatening to rip Sam's throat out. With his teeth.)

Pamela asks about Sam, and Dean tells her he's still on a ghoul hunt with Cas, but should be home tonight. A woman in a suit comes in, continuing a conversation in which she attempts to buy Dean's bar. I wonder if she's a Scooby Doo shady real estate type? He assures her it's still not for sale. "This bar? I've never had anything this nice," he says. {sob!}

There's a lot of interesting Easter eggs in this bar beyond the moose and squirrel. The Impala's original Kansas tag. "Daphne loves Fred" carved into the bar. A neon "Texas Star" sign. An anime calendar in the office. Probably more things that I haven't caught.




Even in the bar of his dreams, Dean can't hook up with Daphne.

Later, Dean's at a desk going over paperwork. Pamela comes in with a couple of shot glasses. They banter and drink and they're adorable, and then she brings up selling the bar and he says "Sell this bar? This is my dream." (duh duh duuuuuhhh!) Then we see him in the walk-in refrigerator. Pamela calls him out because they've trouble - it's a werewolf, or one of Michael's werepire hybrids, coming to settle a score because the Winchesters killed his entire nest. Turns out Unconscious Hoodie Guy (who I halfway expected to be Sam) is his buddy. They attack, but Dean wins easily. As Pamela wipes the blood off his pretty pretty face, she comments on the monsters who keep coming in to kill him. "What can I say?" he grins. "I'm famous."

Title card!

Hitomi Plaza. "Now, this just feels right," Michael!Dean says. He's inexplicably wearing a suit now. Did Dean's clothes change into a suit when Michael snapped his fingers? He does something painful to TFW and gives a monologue about hope, explaining that he saw every single thing they did (through Dean's eyes, thanks to his "open door"). While he talks, Sam is getting something out of his pocket. Cas lunges at Michael, apparently to provide a distraction while Sam makes a little molotov cocktail of holy oil and tosses it at Michael. While the archangel is preoccupied, Cas snaps the magic handcuffs on him. I guess whatever Bobby did to juice them up actually worked.

(Sidebar: I covered the names of the guest stars on first watch, as you do, but now I see the name Thunderbird Dinwiddie? Originally Pamela's actress went by Traci. Did she change her name after that, or has she always been named Thunderbird and Traci was her nickname?)

Sam pleads with Dean to come out and take over, but it doesn't work. And suddenly we hear a lot of sirens outside. Oh yeah, Michael's monster army. Sam's phone rings - it's Maggie. She rounded up every hunter she could find and they're getting reports of monsters attacking, but to infect, not to kill. So, Maggie's in charge. Huh. Okay. I mean, not the choice I would have made, but. Okay.

Sam's plan is to take Michael downstairs and put him in the trunk of the Impala. "But Garth is in the trunk," Jack points out. "It's a big trunk," Sam says. Oh, god. I laughed at that. I'm not proud.

Suddenly we hear monsters slavering at the door. Jack jams it shut with the broken Testicle Spear, and Cas holds it with angelic powers, but they don't have any other way out of the penthouse. "It's not like any of us can fly," Jack says. "Well, one of us can," says Michael. "Shut up," Sam snaps. Oh god. I laughed again.

Jack asks Sam "are we going to die here?" and poor Sam looks so distressed and Michael just smirks but then Sam gets an idea and yells for Jessica. You know, his own personal reaper. He knows she's watching. The reaper who shows up is an unfamiliar one named Violet. "It's my shift. We have shifts now because you mess up so, so many things." Bless you, Violet. Sam asks her for help, and she is just full of emotional support but not much else. Jack and Cas are confused, because they can't see her. But Michael can. He tells her that in his world, they locked Death away and enslaved the reapers, and she's all, aren't you a creepy one. At first she says she wouldn't help them even if she could, but then she seems to get a message from elsewhere, and them boom, they're in the bunker.


I would have broken all the rules to rescue this poor distressed cinnamon roll.

Sam asks how she did that, and she says "I didn't. Have fun." And she's gone. And I'm thinking wait, the Impala is still in Kansas City, and Garth is still in the trunk. This is not good.

Later. Jack asks if Michael should be in the dungeon, and Sam says that if the cuffs won't hold him, the dungeon won't either. "I can hear you," Michael points out. They move six feet away. "Really?" Yeah, I'm enjoying Jensen as Michael, finally.

Sam explains to Jack and Cas that when he was possessed by Gadreel, the angel created a dream world inside his head. (Apparently someone told Jack the story of Gadreel, because he's following right along.) And Crowley was able to come in and tell him how to kick Gadreel out. But Crowley's dead. Oooooh, is De Facto King of Hell Sam going to call up a minion and have them break into Dean's head? (And why does Sam suspect Dean is in a dream world in the first place, since 1. Michael didn't do that the first time he possessed him, and b. Michael wants Dean to see his world destroyed, in order to crush him. Discuss.)

Maggie calls again and says they're almost at Hitomi Plaza, even though Sam specifically told her not to go there. He asks her to get Garth out of the trunk (oh, good, but please warn her that he's been Michaelized and he's going to attack them, and also, have someone drive the car back to the bunker!) and she tells him the monsters have stopped attacking and are all heading west.

"Remind me, Castiel," Michael says, all smooth and evil. "We're west of Kansas City now?" Why, yes, they are. A 4 hour 22 minute drive. Cas is, oddly enough, surprised that Michael is bringing his monster crew to the bunker, and gathers Jack to "lock it down."

(Sidebar: Remember when we first found out about the bunker, and it was supposed to be completely impenetrable? Ha ha ha.)

"Yes, put a chair against the door, that'll help" says Michael. Dang, I really like this snide little bastard. He tells Sam that nothing has changed. "Tonight, everybody dies. And Sam, the last thing you'll see, is this pretty smile, as I rip you apart."

(WITH MY TEETH?)

Next we see Sam rolling out a bit of equipemnt. "It's the messed-up British Men of Letters thing they use to get inside people's heads," he tells Cas. Oh Sam, throwing your technical jargon around. But I do feel compelled to point out that this wasn't a BMoL thing. Toni found it in the bunker. Americans are messed up too, Sammy. Sam thinks if he can get into Dean's head, like Crowley did, he might be able to get him to expell Michael.

Back at Rocky's Bar, Pamela asks, again, if Dean has heard from Sam. And Dean replies, again, that he's "working that ghoul thing in Wichita with Cas," but they should be home tonight. They drink again, the wannabe bar buyer comes in again, they fight the monsters again, later, rinse, repeat. After a few rounds of this, Dean says he's having "some serious deja vu." I bet you are, sweetie.

Back at the bunker, Jack is alone with Michael. Michael says he's insulted that a nothing like Jack has been left to guard him, and I honestly don't think it was such a good idea either. He starts playing mind games with Jack, telling him that Dean didn't care when he died, "because you're not Sam." And yes, he could have stopped right there and I would have been happy, but he continues. "You're not Cas. You're a new burden that he was handed. You're a weak, helpless thing." Boy, I hope none of that influences Jack later!

Cas calls him away and tells him not to believe anything Michael says, because he's lying. "No I'm not, and I can still hear you," Michael says, to my delight. Jack is clearly affected by the conversation and stomps off.

Meanwhile, on the outskirts of Lebanon, Maggie and her crew (Maggie's crew, for fuck’s sake, there really isn't anyone better to lead this group?) get a call saying some monsters have broken through and are on their way. Her inspirational speech is "Sam needs our help," and okay, maybe she's got this under control after all, because that's enough for me. A van pulls up and Team Maggie points their guns at it.

Bunker. Michael is working on Cas now, telling him that his own version of Castiel wouldn't have been so "anemic." Yeah, well, I killed your Castiel, he says. No, he doesn't, but he should. Instead, he brings up loyalty and compassion, which is basically saying here, Michael, here is what's important to me, use it against me. He tells Cas he wants to destroy their world "because I can," and then reveals that he and Lucifer thought God would come back to them when they fought, but nothing happened. And now, with Dean's memories, he knows why.

God, Chuck, is a writer. And like all writers, he churns out draft after draft. My world, this world, nothing but failed drafts. And when he realizes that they're flawed, he moves on and tries again.

No, that's not... why would he do that?

Because he doesn't care! About you, me, anything. Now, at first I thought I'd do it better. Show him. Be more god than God. But now? I just want to burn everyone of his little worlds until I catch up to the old man.

And then what?

Even God can die.


I've got to confess, I like this. We've never had any motivation for Michael's destructiveness, but this? Destroying his father's works because he's angry over being abandoned? This actually works pretty well for me. It's not new (it was Lucifer's M.O. too, wasn't it?) and it doesn't really explain why Michael set out to destroy this world before he accessed Dean's memories, but I like it.

(Sidebar: I'm also horrified, because does that mean the characters in my unfinished fics feel the same way? Because there are so many of them. Are they wandering around, lost and sad, saying Someday the Goddess will return and tell us whether we were supposed to burn this monster's carcass at night or during the day, and someday Sam will actually leave the ER bay and get his MRI, and all questions will be answered, and until then we wait and pray? And are they eventually going to get angry enough to rise up against me and destroy all my other unfinished fics? And then me?)


Yep. This is how you die.

Outskirts. Team Maggie approaches the van and finds it empty. Because everybody got out while all of Team Maggie was watching them? Someone named Tiger runs into the woods following some tracks, ignoring Maggie's feeble instructions not to go into the woods CHASING MONSTERS WHO WILL TURN YOU INTO A MONSTER alone. This won't end well. Tiger returns and says the monsters are now on foot and no one says "cool, Tiger, but I think we're gonna test you with silver just to be sure, 'kay?"

(Sidebar: Would Sam or Dean have thought to test Tiger? Discuss. Personally, I think they would have, unless the plot required that they didn't.)

Bunker. Sam's fiddling with the Messed-Up BMoL AMoL Thing (oh, he's soldering, and why is that sexy?)



It's because Sam's doing it, and he's using his big Sam hands.

Jack asks if it will work, and Sam is honest and says he doesn't know. Jack suggests that he might be able to do something using the magic that keeps him alive.

Burn off your soul?

Not all of it.

Jack. Dean wouldn't want to be saved. Not that way.

You don't know what you're walking into.

Last time he was possessed, he said it felt like he was drowning. This time...

What?

Probably be worse.


Yes, it should be worse. Whatever Michael is doing to Dean right now should be SO MUCH WORSE than feeling like he was drowning. Or, it should be just letting him watch through Michael's eyes. Either of those would make a lot of sense.

You know what else would make sense? Sam saying "I've been without a soul, and this is what it's like, and I don't want you to risk it." But okay.

Michael sits quietly as Cas applies the apparatus to his head, so I guess he's not only angel-powerless, but human-powerless as well. Or he's just enjoying the science project, which he gives "a solid B minus." Oh, poor Sam. I'm sure it would be an A if he graded on a curve. Sam's wired up as well, and Cas clutches him to "hitch a ride." Jack asks what he should do, and Cas tells him to pray. Which I guess is something an angel would say, but come on, Cas. You know what to expect from that. Sam adds that he should make sure no one kills them. So, you know, no pressure. Michael points out that he's not chained up inside Dean's head, and Sam's adorably concerned. And off they go.

The inside of Dean's mind actually looks a lot like The Empty. Cas does a glowy thing with his hand and looks for him, and while he can't see anything, he can hear all of Dean's bad memories. And there are a lot of them. "So much trauma in Dean's mind," Cas says. "So many scars." He says if he knew what he was looking for, he could go to it, but since he doesn't know, he has to wade through all of Dean's bad memories.


Well, we've already got this set, so...

Wait, says Sam. Would Michael bury Dean in trauma? Because Dean thrives on trauma. He suggests that if Michael wanted to distract him, he'd give him something he's never had before - contentment. So Cas starts scanning Dean's good memories, and Sam hears one he doesn't recognize. "This bar? I've never had anything this nice." That's got to be it; the one that never happened. Yay Sam! Cas does the glowy eyes and boom, they're in Rocky's Bar.

"Hey, there they are," Dean says cheerfully. "Kill a ghoul, get a beer." The beer tap proudly advertises FB Beer Company (as in Family Business, Jensen's brewery) and the names of the beers (Cosmic Cowboy and Fox Rye) are so prominent that I suspect they are actually Family Business Beers.

"I've got this great IPA from Austin," Dean says, and okay, we've gone past the clever nod and wink and are in a full-blown advertisement, I think. Then the angel Anael/Sister Jo walks in and says "Oh, that's a great brewery, and they have tours and a playground for the kids." (NO, NOT REALLY.)

Sam and Cas are both stunned when Pamela walks in, neither blind nor dead, and Sam tells Dean that none of this is real. When he mentions Michael, Dean and Pamela disappear, because it's time for the drinking-in-the-office portion of this recurring dream. They watch Dean go through the drinking and the walk-in and the monster-killing, with Dean and Pamela not remembering any of it.

Sam reminds him that Pamela was blinded, and Dean gets a flashback of that event. When it ends, Dream!Pamela is blind, complete with her freaky white contacts. "You can thank Feathers here for that one," she says, although it was actually completely her fault. He told her not to look. The music goes all slow and distorted and Sam says Pamela's not just blind, she's dead, and Dean flashes back to that too.


Babies!!! Oh, my heart.

Dean fights it, but then Sam says Poughkeepsie and it all comes back. "I remember," Dean says. "I remember everything."

And you know I love Sam being the one to get through to him, but it's not like Poughkeepsie is some magic spell. It's just a code word for "drop everything and run," and it only worked with Gadreel because it was coming from someone other than Dean. If Dean had doubted this was actually Sam, it probably would have been effective. But it wouldn't have triggered Dean's memories like that in this situation. I appreciate that they took the time to remind us that you can be oblivious in your own mind, inside a dream world, but that's not what's happening here. Gadreel created the dream world for Sam. Dean created this one on his own. And what does that say about Michael's plan to crush Dean by forcing him to witness the horror Michael was wreaking on his world? I think it says we decided to back off from that. Because if Michael wanted Dean to witness what happened when he snapped his fingers, why would he allow him to hide in his dream bar?

Whatever. (handwave!)





So much pretty in this scene, especially Sam's blood-splattered throat {blows a kiss to director Amanda Tapping} and Dean doing that THING with his TONGUE behind his TEETH, mmmm, yes.

Pamela disappears, and there's a slow clap from the other side of the bar. Uh oh. Michael's here! Dean orders him out, but Michael says he doesn't really mean that. He says Dean only feels responsibility toward Cas because "he's the one who gripped you tight and raised you from Perdition, or whatever," and he does that in a robotic Castiel imitation AND I LOVE IT. He also claims Dean was happiest when Sam left for Stanford. "You don't even like them," he says. "They're not your family, they're your responsibilities. They're a weight around your neck." Well, that would have been more effective if you hadn't told us in the previous episode that Dean was too squirmy because he loves Sam (and Cas and Jack and whatever but Sam.)

However, Cas suddenly realizes Michael is stalling. Oooh, why would he be doing that? Maybe because it's been 4 hours and 22 minutes since everyone left Kansas City. Maggie and her crew arrive to find Sam and Cas still hooked up to the Messed-Up Thing, unable to help defend the bunker. She tells Tiger to lock the door and instructs everyone else to get ready to shoot. I'm thinking I'd have been outside the bunker, rather than waiting to defend it until the monsters get inside, but I don't have Maggie's awesome leadership skills.

Inside Dean's head, TFW figures out that Michael doesn't have any angelic powers. No problem, he'll crush them with his bare hands. They fight karate movie style, with one person attacking Michael at a time. In the bunker, Michael smiles happily, because inside Dean's head, he's winning. Oh, and the monsters are here. And Tiger didn't lock the door because he's a monster now, DUH MAGGIE. The monsters come in and Jack watches the hunters get pummelled and finally he puts out his hand and gets glowy yellow eyes and yells NO and they all disintegrate. But it obviously took a lot out of him.

Back to Dean's head. Michael says they clearly haven't thought this through, because if Dean does manage to eject him, "you'll be nothing but blood and bone." This stops him for a second, but then he says "then we don't kick him out; we keep him in." He shoves Michael into the walk-in and jams the handle. "My mind, my rules," he says. "I got him. I'm the cage." Oooooh!!!!

Aftermath! Maggie tells Sam that the monsters have all gone their separate ways without Michael's control. She says she didn't know Jack could still do angel magic, and Sam looks away in distress and says "I didn't either." In the kitchen, Cas is lecturing Jack, telling him that using the magic burns away his soul. Jack claims it was an accident, and Cas would have been killed. Cas says it doesn't matter because he's doomed anyway, remember? (NO HE DOESN'T.) He tells Jack that he's seen what happens when you lose your soul, and it's not pretty. (I mean, it's very pretty. It's sexy as hell.) Jack promises it won't happen again. I'm pretty sure he's lying.

In his bedroom, Dean does some angsty mirror-gazing while Michael bangs and screams inside the walk-in in his mind. "It's just you," he tells himself. "It's all you." (OH CRAP the last time Dean said "it's all you" was right after he tried to brain Sam with a hammer and WHY DOES THIS EPISODE KEEP REMINDING ME OF DEMON!DEAN???)

Then we hear a familiar voice - it's Billie! "I did say I'd see you again soon," she says, and DAMN THEY REMEMBERED THAT. GOOD. She does a little "told you so," reminding him that she warned him about the dangers of jumping between worlds. He thinks it was worth it, but oh, guess what? You know that library with all the Dean Winchester deathfic? Well, all of those books have been rewritten. Now they all end with Michael escaping and using Dean as his vessel to destroy our world. Dean asks how she even knows that, did she re-read all of them, and she says here, look at my AO3 tags, look how every single fic in this series has the exact same tags and there's no more mauled by ghouls or death by taco or tw: cannibalism. (NO SHE DOESN'T SAY THAT.)

What she does say is there's one story that hasn't been written over as Michael!Dean destroys the world. She hands it to Dean and he opens it and reads it and goes from anxious to confused to horrified.

What am I supposed to do with this?

That's up to you.


He looks at the book again and then looks up with tears in his eyes, but Billie is gone.

WELL.





None of this is okay.

(Sidebar: Someone in the writer's room really liked Infinity War, didn't they? The last episode had the Finger Snap of Doom, and now we've got Dr. Strange's every iteration of this ends with us losing, except one, and that's not really a good one either. Maybe next week, Ant Man will show up outside the bunker.)

Wow. Once again, I'm surprised to say I really like this. My knee-jerk reaction was that the one good ending required Dean to die. But no, he wouldn't react that way to his own death. This is something else. This is someone else. This is something horrible happening to someone he loves. What, and who? Sam is an obvious guess. They've been reminding us lately that Dean loves him (IN CASE YOU FORGOT, HA HA.) And there's Cas, but Cas has his own issues. Or Jack? They've been hitting us with that relationship too. Mary, even? If this something awful turns out to be the way to get rid of Mary, I'm cool with that. (Jack, not so much.)

It's hard not to think it's Sam, though. It's hard to imagine Dean's immediate reaction being such horror (and grief?) for anyone other than Sam. Someone else, he'd be angry. He'd be in denial.

I'm sure I'm wrong. They probably even spoiled it in the previews for next week. (WHICH I DID NOT WATCH. DO NOT SPOIL ME.)

Anyway. Welcome back, Show! And let me know what you thought about it. Without spoilers, please!
Tags: 14.10 nihilism, initial reaction, pretty, season 14, supernatural
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Posts from This Journal “initial reaction” Tag

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