To say I was less than impressed with the storyline of Supernatural’s previous episode, Damaged Goods, would be an understatement. The self-sacrificing, refusing-to-communicate stubbornness of the Winchesters has been repetitive at best, and all out manipulation of the audience at worst. That isn’t to say there hasn’t been some good writing this season, but after fourteen years it’s hard to not feel like newer, fresher storylines are being thrown to the wayside for old standbys and tropes.
Last week, in a parallel-laden episode, the other most important man in Dean’s life got his say in this hairbrained scheme. Well, the most important angel, anyway.
Prophets and Loss starts with Dean in his self-imposed prison/coffin at the bottom of the ocean. Soon enough, Determined Dean turns to Sad Regretful Dean, and then Scared and Shouty Dean. The phone battery dies, and no matter how much he screams for Sammy, his little brother can’t help him (that’s not to say that, oh I don’t know, praying to his literal guardian angel would help, but we don’t get to know that).
Dean wakes up because this is clearly a dream, and thus begins the 40 minute “No Bro You Don’t Need To Dieeee” argument, occasionally interrupted by the only storyline more tired than last week’s: Nick/Lucifer.
Dean and Sam are heading to the Atlantic ocean to drop Dean off (hehe) but get waylaid by a holy serial killer case. Turns out some dude is killing people in a very Old Testament kinda way, and the boys decide to take on one more case. Dean is all about the deathbed confessions, and his apology to Sam for not being a better brother to him, as well as letting him know that when they were growing up and John got “bad,” Dean’s leaving Sam alone wasn’t by choice is an absolute highlight of the episode. I don’t understand why these men literally have to be dying to talk about their feelings, but here we are.
Not surprisingly, Sam has already ratted his brother and his dumbass plan out to Cas, who has, along with Rowena, been searching for a solution that doesn’t involve feeding Dean to Davy Jones. We can count on one hand how many times sane Cas has smiled during this series, and the tally is nearly doubled this episode when he finally gets a call from Dean and learns that the boys are working a case. The best parts of this episode occur when TFW are communicating honestly with each other.
So, we have all this good character development shit going on… and then we have Nick. He may have been shot and arrested, but that can’t keep this walking waste of airtime down! He manages to escape because, of course, and goes to his old family home. He sees the ghost of his wife, who can’t move on because of her husband’s hard-on for the Devil. She point blank tells Nick that if he doesn’t rebuke the Prince of Hell, she’ll be trapped as a ghost. Imagine you’re a ghost and your husband is cheating on you with actual Satan. The fact that this ghost has been hanging around for years and is somehow both cognizant of her previous life (it seems obvious that no one lives there) and doesn’t have even a whiff of vengefulness towards the guy who chose Lucifer over herself and her baby is so ridiculously inconsistent with what Supernatural has “taught” us in 14 years about the way ghosts operate as to be laughable. Bobby wasn’t even a ghost for a week before he started to lose his sense of self. Nick can’t give up his devil on the side, however and so that’s where we are with that. I hope the only reason he’s still around is so the boys can lock HIM in the box and somehow force Michael into him.
Back on the Scripture Serial Killer front: Dean and Sam learn from Cas and some handy dandy deduction that Tony (our killer) is next in line to be a prophet when Donatello (our soulless, recently crazy then comatose prophet) dies. Turns out a not-quite-dead but not-quite-alive prophet isn’t something God counted on, and Tony’s getting the signal a bit crossed, living out the Bible by killing first born sons and whatnot. The problem of Tony is solved with a self-inflicted bullet wound, and the boys go to check on Donatello.
When they arrive at the long-term care facility to unplug Uncle Donny, Dr. Novak (HELLO FANFIC FANS!) is already there. The real doctor takes Sam aside to show him some weird, but not indicative of recovery ticks and shit Donny has been doing, leaving Dean and Cas alone. Cas talks about wishing he hadn’t had to turn Donny’s brain to mush, before getting pissed at Dean for trying to compare that to his decision to preemptively kill himself because of “fate.” Dean throws their friendship a bit under the bus, asking Cas not try to dissuade him “if he is his friend” and this is when Cas and I get pissed. Dean doesn’t get to dictate everyone else’s feelings about his choice. It’s not like it’s being made in a vacuum and no one else is going to be affected by it. Castiel literally gave up Heaven and Hell for this man, on more than one occasion, and he’s not supposed to have any thoughts or say about the utter waste of a life as magnificent and monumental as Dean’s? And I mean that in literal terms. Dean’s life (as well as Sam’s, but that isn’t the subject here) has been nothing short of magnificent. He’s saved the world, caused angels to fall, bested the King of Hell, defied Death, and faced God Himself. And that life is going to end alone in a box at the bottom of the ocean? It’s untenable.
Eventually Cas manages to heal Donatello due to the spark of life he found in the prophet’s brain, and though he’s soulless, Donny isn’t evil or crazy anymore.
Cas is cleaning things up inside, while a tipsy Sam finally lets loose on Dean in the parking lot. He not only takes Dean’s choice as a monumental mistake, but as a personal insult and affront. Dean giving up before the last song is playing is a slap in the face to Sam and their relationship. Sam yells at him for not believing in them. He hits him, and eventually weeps. It’s a great scene, and I can see why Dean didn’t want Sam to know. Dean caves on his plan (for now) and tells Sam and Cas that they’ll look for another solution, but not before making them promise that if they can’t find one, the two follow through with the original plan.
This was a better episode than last week by far, and that is entirely because of the people around Dean telling him how wrong and fucked up his sacrifice is. When the storyline feels tired and stale, 100% of the hook for a show has to be its characters, and that’s what held Prophets and Losses together, even through the clunky parallels and the insufferable Nick bullshit.
Tonight marks the 300th episode of Supernatural, which looks to have some surprises in store for the boys, and us. check out a preview scene below: