Last we saw Gabriel, he’d ingested what was left of his Grace, killed his captor, and vamoosed, leaving an inexplicably shocked Sam and Cas behind., I mentioned in my review of Bring Em Back Alive that I don’t understand how Sam, and especially Cas, could be surprised that the angel that hid out for years would once again not be down to join a war. Seems like I’m not the only one who saw this coming, since Dean still has some repressed feelings about the last time they asked Gabe for help. Dean represses a lot, clearly. Anyway, let’s tie up some Unfinished Business.
The cold open starts with a drunken, bearded man strolling through the alleyways of Colorado Springs, when the dulcet sounds of a kazoo waft through the air. No, it’s not the music track from the show, it’s good ol’ Gabe, blowin’ on his horn (kudos on the choice to make the Horn of Gabriel a kazoo, too). There is some banter, the bearded man’s face glows with a weird wolf look (not to mention the teeth and nails) and they fight. Gabe dispatches the guy fairly quickly with a wooden sword and moseys off, but not without some significant bleeding of his own.
After the title card, we see Dean and Sam settling into a hotel in the same town Gabe was in. Turns out Rowena did a tracking spell and narrowed the wayward angel’s whereabout to Amarillo and Colorado Springs. Cas went to Texas, and the bros wound up here, wasting time, according to Dean, who doesn’t think they’re gonna find an archangel that doesn’t want to be found. Almost before the words are out of his mouth, there’s a knock on the door and hey it’s Gabe! Turns out he felt the spell as soon as Rowena cast it, and I guess when you’re bleeding, you go find yourself a Winchester. Gabe asks for whatever they may have left of his Grace, since he kinda depleted what he had killing Asmodeus and getting away from the brothers. Though it will recharge eventually, he could use a boost. This makes me wonder exactly how long it takes for Grace to recharge, since Cas got his back three years ago and is still fairly weak. Maybe it’s an archangel thing? Maybe it’s because Cas uses his to heal people? Maybe it’s a continuity error? I’m gonna go with that last one for reasons and move on.
Once he learns the boys have no more Grace than he does, Gabe makes to leave, and the boys again fruitlessly try to convince him to join their cause. They don’t get too far, however, because some dapper-looking Norse demigods showup to avenge their brother’s death. Gabe hides, unsurprisingly, while Dean and Sam fight them. Just when one gets the upper hand on Sam, Gabe comes back with another wooden sword thingy, killing poor Narfi, while brother Sleipir gets away.
Once they’re gone, Gabe makes to leave again, and the older, wiser brother puts him in some angelic cuffs, which makes Gabe super thrilled. At some point, I’m sure they will realize that appealing to people’s’ altruistic sides doesn’t always work, but they try again with Gabe. First, though, they ask what the hell is with the angry Vikings. Gabe tells them about killing brother Fenrir and explains how this unfortunate situation came to be: The first time Gabe went into hiding, he sought the help of Loki (not the Tom Hiddleston version, calm down).
Turns out Gabe freed Loki from a pretty gruesome fate, so the Trickster was happy to help and pay his debt. Loki taught him to be the trickster way back when, so naturally when Gabe wanted to hide again, he called his old friend once more. Loki agreed to help, and they all had some good porny times in Monte Carlo before one night the brothers tore Gabe from his bed, selling him to Asmodeus. And since episode director Richard Speight Jr is going through Tarantino’s oeuvre, we’re on the Kill Bill homage and Gabe shows the boys his four wooden swords and his kill list: Loki and all his sons. Dean is, shall we say, less than sympathetic to Gabe’s cause, and clearly still salty about Gabe abandoning them all those years ago. I can’t really blame him, nor can I blame him for not wanting to get sucked into a quest for revenge. Maybe he’s been reading Confucius? Either way, Dean gives zero fucks about Gabe righteous vendetta, but Sam offers their help in exchange for Gabriel then helping with the whole “end of the world” thing. Seems like a fair trade that won’t go at all wrong.
Gabe agrees, and tells the boys that Sleipir is generally a coward (takes one to know one) and most likely in hiding with Loki, who likes to find seedy motels and mojo rooms to be all fancy. Not gonna lie, if I could have one superpower, this might be it. Twenty five dollars a night isn’t so bad when you can mojo the bedbugs away! In true Kill Bill fashion, we have some fun music, slow-motion to double time filming, and before you know it, Team Left Holding the Bag is in a gunfight with Sleipir and two goons. Dean sneaks off to find Loki midfight (upon whom Gabriel had called dibs), while Sam and Gabe dispose of Horsey Boy and his henchmen.
Dean finds Loki in his penthouse and has somehow reverted back a bit into the Dean who doesn’t give a fuck. Now, don’t get me wrong, sassy and fast and loose Dean can be fun, but this season especially, I had hoped we’d moved beyond it. Loki tries to tell his side of things: That his reasoning for selling Gabe to Asmodeus is from a long ago slight. Well, not really a slight, per se.
Loki helped Gabe under the condition that Gabe stay out of his brother’s affairs. When Gabe went to the Summit of Religious Icons back in Season Five (Hammer of the Gods), Lucifer killed Odin, Loki’s father and Norse God King. This puts the whole “selling the angel” thing in a different light, but Dean is unmoved and drives Gabe’s sword into his belly. It doesn’t do much however, since Loki is the Original Trickster. OT isn’t really there, and I’m starting to worry about the boys continually being fooled by these astral projections. Loki doesn’t play fair, though, and can still beat the ever loving shit outta Dean while his actual self is down the hall with Gabe. They fight, and Loki not only gets in some physical blows, but is really effective with the mental and emotional ones, and I kinda side with him on this one. Gabe had one fucking job and didn’t do it, then had the gall to come back to the person he betrayed for help. Say what you want about the trickster, but his self preservation instinct is both hella strong, and terribly calibrated. Gabriel stands for nothing. He cares about nothing but his own pleasure and wants. Not his own safety, even. If anything would truly kill him, it would be a bacchanal-like curse because literally nothing will make Gabriel stop his own pleasure.
Once Gabriel kills Loki (because of course he would), Sam asks how he’s doing after the whole “getting his vengeance” thing. Gabe says he feels swell, but when Sam isn’t looking, we can see the ghosts in his eyes, Loki’s words haunting him, before he gets in Baby and they head home to the Bunker.
Now, while all the theatrics and super stylized filming is going on in our world, there is a whole other storyline happening in the alternate one. Speight’s directing in this episode is interesting in that, once we’re out of the main storyline, more than just the sepia tone is different. Gone are the Tarantino-esque affectations, and in their place is, in my opinion, a much stronger directorial voice. The main world is all about what you see, the alternate one is more about making you feel. It’s quieter and therefore more effective.
We first see Mary and Jack reunited after Jack returns from battle, having killed Balthazar which made me a little sad, since I miss Sebastian Roché’s angel dearly. Unfortunately, Jack’s skill with defeating the angels is coming with an unintended problem: the camp has too many people and not enough supplies. Before we can get into this issue, however, a man name Jakob shows up to tell Mary and Jack that Michael and the angels have left his fortress, save a few guarding its perimeter. Jack (using his third eye, I guess?) “looks” in the fortress and seeing nothing there, is all gung-ho to check it out. Seeing this for the obvious trap this is, Mary advises caution. This works super and they head off to see if Michael ran scared. Jack is clearly bristling a little at Mary’s taking him under her wing. Damn moms, amirite?
Once they get there, Jack, Mary, Jakob, and another survivor see that the place is pretty much empty, save for a map at the altar, showing all of Michael’s army centralized in one location. Jakob and his buddy come in, dragging Kevin along calling him a traitor. Kevin, who had been locked in the dungeon, insists that God called him to do what he did, and going from being an atheist to a prophet, watching his mom and friends die along the way, takes a bit of a fucking toll on a kid. Kevin tells them that Michael threw him in the dungeon when he couldn’t perfect the rift spell, but eventually he got close enough, so Michael and his armies went where the barrier between worlds is thinner. Jakob is all a-okay with letting Michael into another universe and while it’s a shitty thing, I can’t really say I blame him too much. His reaction is the knee-jerk one anyone would have upon hearing a serial killer left their city. You don’t at first think about the fact that they’re still hurting people somewhere else, you’re just relieved that they’re not a threat to you anymore. It’s still shitty, but it’s human.
Once he learns of this spell, Jack wants nothing more than to head full-on into Michael, because even the brief time he spent with the Winchesters was enough to imprint really terrible decision-making skills on him. Mary again tells him to hold his horses because, while Jack may be undefeated, so is Michael, and with Bobby only one day away with reinforcements, best to err on the side of not kamakaziing himself without a moment’s thought. Jack agrees and then stews for awhile before, in another WInchester way, deciding to just do what he thinks is right, anyway.
This time he’s not stopped by Mary, but rather Kevin, who says that he “can’t let them leave” before opening his shirt to show a sigil carved into his chest. He tells them that he was ordered to wait for Bobby to arrive, but he just can’t. Why no one killed him right then and there is beyond me. Instead they try to talk him off the ledge, but when you have nothing left to live for and the promise of seeing everyone you love in Heaven (or even the memories, as Mary points out to him), there isn’t a lot of talking to be done, and Jack envelops Mary in his wings just in time to save them from the prophetic blast. No one else was quite that lucky. Jack blames himself, and they vow to stop Michael before he can destroy their home. I love me some interdimensional teamwork.
Once the boys get back to the bunker, it’s time for some character-regressing codependency! Yayyy… Cas is helping Gabe settle in (awww they’re all together again! It’s like a fanfic!), and Dean is drinking. Sam asks Dean why he went after Loki by himself, and Dean says because duh, he doesn’t care what happens to him, and I feel like all that development we got wash away. Dean tells Sam that he remembers last time they were faced with this shit, and it resulted in Sam dead and in Hell, so this time Dean’s gonna protect him, even if it means treating I’m like an incompetent child again, rather than the seasoned hunter Sam is. Sam, for his part, tells Dean that they’re gonna save Jack and Mary together, they’re gonna deal with whatever shit comes up together, and hell they’ll even die together, if it comes to that. So I guess we’re back on this train. Sigh.
Okay, so I have a mixed bag of feelings when it comes to Speight-directed episodes, and it’s because while I personally love Tarantino’s directing style, I’d hate to see Speight confined to staying in it much. Stuck (In The Middle) With You was a fantastic homage to Reservoir Dogs, but it felt more fitting as a one time directing choice than something that could be construed as a crutch, storytelling wise.
Potential Spoilers Below!
As far as the story goes, I felt a bit unmoved by this episode. I’m glad we got some great background information on Gabriel and how he came to be him and how he came to be in Asmodeus’s clutches, but it was hard to really feel moved or connected to the episode when, as I previously mentioned, Sam and (most notably) Dean felt off. Maybe that was intentional, given what we have learned about Jensen playing someone who isn’t Dean Winchester, and I’ll look back on this after the season ends, having an “ah-ha!” moment. I sincerely hope it is, because otherwise it’s just a disappointing episode, character-wise.
What did you think of Unfinished Business? Am I crazy to think that Dean isn’t behaving like himself? Do you like the “If You Go, I Go” attitudes the boys are back to?