Supernatural: The Spear
December 17, 2018 1:42 PM - Season 14, Episode 9 - Subscribe

The team split up to each go after weapons that can aid in their fight against Michael. Garth joins Michael's army.


- Alex Rose, who played Brett the Vampire, was in s8e17 "Goodbye Stranger" as one of Crowley's demons.
- Ted Cole, who played the partygoer that Brett kills, was in s5e3 "Free to Be You and Me"
- Garth and Bess have a daughter
- The Impala's tape deck is currently broken
- This is the first time in this season that original Michael is mentioned being in the cage in hell
posted by numaner (14 comments total)
When Lady-Michael collapsed I was half-expecting that he was going to be dead and the Shadow would show up and take over as the real threat of the season. I know Michael has played a substantial role in the series but he still seems a little under-developed, and the Shadow really pops in comparison.

It's funny, I think we all called it that Dean's moments of wobbliness were probably a clue that he wasn't full de-Michael-ed, yet when Michael re-possessed Dean here it was still somehow kind of a surprise. When Michael chided them for not questioning why he left Dean before, I think he was lampshading something we'd all wondered about. It DID seem like the gang welcomed Dean back with very few questions.

This is kind of petty, but I thought the city backdrop outside the window of Michael's headquarters looked distractingly fake... and they kept drawing our attention to it! Michael was even crowing about the view! Maybe I'm wrong and it was actually a location shoot with a real view, but it sure looked like a great big photo blow-up.

I was surprised by the mention of the other Michael in the cage. Could that be a sign that they actually want to do something with that character, after all this time? It seems like Hell is probably in total disarray without a king, so who's minding the cage, anyhow?
posted by Ursula Hitler at 7:01 PM on December 17, 2018

Who am I—who are any of us?—to judge a werewolf double agent out here trying to outwit several other werewolves and an archangel from another dimension, while also just tripping balls on the grace of god. But when Garth kept leaving to report back to Sam by blurting the whole thing into his phone in the hall immediately outside the archangel’s office, that isn’t maybe like...Plan A material?

I can KIND of handwave them not looking too closely at Michael leaving Dean as a case of a worrisome thing none of them can do much about anyway, and they may not even have realized Michael could have come back whenever he wanted. I don’t think this show necessarily observes a bulletproof legal standard of angelic consent, especially not as interpreted by superangels who want to kill all the humans anyway (I think? Not actually remembering what Michael wants at this point.)

But it was interesting that by “leaving the door open a crack” he could take over Dean’s body again. That means basically nothing except “yes yes, we know, move along” on the show’s part, but it would be pretty creepy knowing that a murderous, effectively alien entity could come ride your body around whenever it wants to for as long as it chooses to keep you alive because, after all, you “consented.” (And if those dizzy spells were Michael poking around, looking out from Dean’s body, then cool, he can also do that to you at any time, forever.) Depending how much time he spends as Dean, it’s not a million miles from Castiel’s deal with the shadow thing.

(This also reminds me of how they never looked too closely at the fine print when Dean sold his soul to the crossroads demon, which turned out to really pretty much be a direct personal transaction with whichever demon held title on him at a given time, so to speak, and once they were all dead everybody seemed extremely sure he it back, kept Sam, and doesn’t have to go to Hell again. Which all else aside always seemed extremely generous on Hell’s part.)
posted by jameaterblues at 9:58 PM on December 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

I think most of hell probably fears the Winchesters' literal Deus Ex Machina enough that they don't wanna do something that could get God to come back from his vacation with The Darkness to smite them all.

I'm not surprised that Michael took Dean back, I guess since I've been expecting it. Also, Dark Kaia's gonna be pretty upset the boys got her spear broken. I'm wondering where they're gonna go from here, 'cause pretty much everything that could work against Michael is done, except for the original Michael. I can see them unleashing him to fight for them, and then he'll be the next big bad.
posted by numaner at 10:56 PM on December 17, 2018

There would be a certain sense of closure in bringing "our" Michael back and having him defeat alt-Michael, but I don't know if the show would do such a deep dive into its mythology. If they opened the cage, they'd also have to deal with whatever happened to the Winchester half-brother. It could be cool if they brought back Classic Michael and the half-brother, but I'd be surprised if they had the old Michael replace the new one as a bad guy. That'd just be swapping Michaels, you know? Even if they teamed up, you'd just have the same kind of sinister but not super-compelling guy, twice.

As I'm thinking back, this show hasn't had the best ongoing villains. Crowley, Lucifer, Metatron and Rowena have all been really fun, but they kind of became Winchester frenemies over time and stopped being scary. Same deal with Meg and a few others. The Yellow Eyed Demon was cool, but he's been gone since like 2005. The Darkness was compelling, but she was almost more a brooding force of nature than a Big Bad. Dick Roman and Azmodeus were both kind of blah. Some of the angels have been scary, but they've been on the wane for a few seasons. The Men of Letters quickly fizzled out and now Ketch is another frenemy. (He was originally introduced as Mr. Scary Badass, but his display of feckless British fumfering this week put me in mind of early Wesley Wyndam-Pryce.) The writers seem to struggle with coming up with memorable baddies, and it's really the various hunters and allies who linger in the memory.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:51 AM on December 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

I think the current situation in Kansas City is going to have to be resolved fairly quickly. They can't have widespread death, destruction and monster conversions and still maintain the general ignorance of the existence of monsters and angels that's one of the key premises of the show. And any time a huge crisis develops on this show, the writers tend to resolve it fast and move on anyway. So I expect Michael's plans for Kansas City to be thwarted in the next episode. The question is how that can happen.

One possibility: Lucifer, having come back from the Empty and filled the leadership hole in Hell, shows up with a demon army and challenges Michael to Apocalypse Take 2.

Another possibility: Ketch's bumbling turns out to have been fake, because he knew he was being spied on, and he shows up in the nick of time with the real egg. (Hmm, should I go back and put a "nick of time" joke in the last paragraph? Nah, can't be bothered.)

Yet another possibility: One or more angels show up to try to help, one or more angels get killed, and suddenly there's not enough angel power to keep Heaven going. All the souls in Heaven are dumped back onto Earth as ghosts and in the ensuing chaos Michael's army is unable to carry out its plans.

Or maybe: The spear didn't directly drive Michael out before, but was what gave Dean the power to start resisting him enough that he wanted to leave. Dean still has some of that power and he realizes now where it came from. He's able to wrest back enough control to stab himself with the pointy part of the broken spear, giving him even more control and allowing him to drive Michael out.

Of course, just getting Michael out of Dean wouldn't stop the whole "attack Kansas City" plan Michael has already set in motion. Maybe Dean will pretend to still be Michael and call it off.

What's the deal with that spear anyway? Was it nothing but a red herring all along? Did it actually have no effect on Michael at all? Will it still turn out to be important in some way? Hey, maybe it will turn out that breaking it unleashes some even greater destructive power and that will be what stops Michael.
posted by Redstart at 5:50 AM on December 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

My memory is hazy on which universe Kaia’s spear originally came from, but I think she had it with her over there to start with. So if her spear’s toast (nice going, team) I guess there could be another one over here somewhere.

Re: SPN frenemies, I think it comes partly from trying to one-up themselves without stacking the deck too hopelessly against Sam and Dean as they drifted away from a MOTW structure (they used to have to worry about the cops too, and that got dropped many years ago? Probably around the last time we got any indication of whatever definitely illegal stuff they’ve been doing for money this whole time.) Anyway—even more than that, I think it’s super common once either fans or creators like a villain character/actor to soften them a little. Rewatching older seasons, I forget how long Castiel was in the frenemy category at best.

It doesn’t help that, indeed, a lot of their villains haven’t really been worth keeping around, including plenty of the ones kept around for years. But on a show this old it’s probably a real problem coming up with villains powerful enough to beat the characters and then also keep coming up with reasons they haven’t, and eventually that tends to come back around to “well clearly they could, they just don’t want to anymore.”
posted by jameaterblues at 8:27 AM on December 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Jeez, Redstart, those are some good ideas. Maybe you should be writing for this show!

They can't have widespread death, destruction and monster conversions and still maintain the general ignorance of the existence of monsters and angels that's one of the key premises of the show.

I think that ship has sailed and the show isn't really set in "our" world anymore. I think they've done a number of big events that regular people simply couldn't ignore and they did that weird thing with Lucifer possessing a president who clearly wasn't our president. (Dean used to do some rather acerbic, lefty-leaning commentary about real world politics, and I kind of miss that.) They also long ago gave up on trying to explain how the bros are making a living, and I kind of miss that but I guess it wouldn't really square with the more mythic stuff they do now.

When this was still a MOTW show I used to tell people it was like some weird cross between Buffy and The X-Files, and while it long ago shed the X-Files connection I still see a lot of Buffy in its DNA. But Buffy ended at 7 seasons and it's interesting to see the ways this show has succeeded and failed in comparison.

I feel like Buffy was the better show overall, it was a game changer, and it had greater ambition and better villains. But I also felt like it had these weird, annoying logical issues that were rarely addressed. They made a joke out of the way everybody in Sunnydale was so clueless about the monsters, but it never stopped feeling weird. There were long stretches when we were left wondering how anybody was making a living, or where Buffy's father was while his college-age daughter was raising her kid sister alone. There were also long stretches where Spike was literally a soulless killer feeding on the innocent every night but he was still kind of part of the gang anyhow, and that just got freaky. While Supernatural has some similar questions they somehow just don't seem so glaring. You figure the boys are living in the MOL bunker rent-free, and maybe they're still running credit scams or something. The Winchesters never seem ready to give evil charmers a pass the way Buffy gang did. Even if they grew to not hate Crowley, they were always frenemies at best. With Buffy I felt like I had to force myself to stop asking questions or the whole thing would fall apart, while with Supernatural it somehow feels like there are answers to these questions even if we're not getting them. They may not soar like Buffy sometimes did, but the earth feels more solid beneath their feet.

Back in the Star Trek: Voyager threads I remember comparing and contrasting Voyager and the Battlestar Galactica reboot, and in some ways I feel like Supernatural may be the Voyager to Buffy's BSG. Buffy and BSG were the genius shows, brilliant but flawed, while Voyager and Supernatural were kind of the siblings who showed up, worked hard, got shit done and didn't get enough credit. Supernatural is kind of like if a Whedonverse show was less ambitious and more grounded and somehow never, ever got cancelled.

Wow. Nobody was asking for a lengthy essay from me comparing and contrasting the signature works of Joss Whedon and Erik Kripke, but here it is and I've wasted too much time on it to not hit post.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 6:15 PM on December 18, 2018 [3 favorites]

Yeah, I agree Buffy was the better show. So much better at telling a coherent story. My kids watched all of Buffy for the first time last year and as I re-watched bits and pieces of it along with them I was always struck by how much better it was than the Supernatural episodes we were watching around the same time. I had pretty much the opposite feeling about the logical issues in Buffy vs. Supernatural. Buffy was supposed to be silly and funny. It got darker and more serious as time went on, but it never felt like you were supposed to take the underlying premise very seriously. The serious parts all had to do with the characters and relationships. So I was never too bothered by anything unrealistic or illogical.

Supernatural has its silly moments, but it seems to want us to believe in its world and take it seriously in a way Buffy never did. So I'm constantly questioning everything and being annoyed by the things that don't make sense. It feels like there should be answers to all our questions, so it's irritating when they aren't apparent.

To completely change the subject, those scratches Jack got from Garth are probably going to have some consequence, right? Maybe bad - maybe Jack will temporarily become a werewolf. Or maybe good. Maybe a bit of archangel grace got transferred to him via Garth and it will give him some power. (I know the archangel grace they tried before didn't help, but maybe that was just another one of Gabriel's tricks, not real grace.)
posted by Redstart at 9:28 PM on December 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Well, I'm the one who compared Supernatural and Buffy in the first place, and now I kind of regret it because it's obviously a fight Supernatural can't win. Buffy was a TV game changer, and it only had seven seasons so of course it was more intense and focused. (I want to know what happens next on Supernatural, but I had to know what happened next on Buffy.) It's kind of like comparing a world-class sprinter with a capable marathon runner.

But I stand by my idea that while Supernatural rarely hits Once More With Feeling highs, it also rarely hits season seven Buffy lows. Offhand I can't remember a single episode of Supernatural I'd actually call bad. (Admittedly it's been a long time since I've seen the first season, but even then I suspect we'd be looking at some blah more than true awfulness.)

I think Whedon wanted us to take the world of Buffy very seriously, he was trying to make a feminist statement and he was using the supernatural horror stuff as an allegory about growing up. The show worked as well as it did because we became so invested in the characters and Whedon and his writers really knew how to up the stakes, but to enjoy the show I often felt like I had to not ask a lot of pretty basic questions. With Supernatural, I rarely get that feeling.

Maybe I'm too forgiving, but Supernatural's world just feels a little more lived-in and real than Buffy's. We've got monsters sneaking around and hunters hunting them, and we've got a pretty good idea of how those cultures work. We've seen a lot of heaven, purgatory and hell, we know how death works. Yes, some things are still fuzzy and we still get surprises, like Anubis, but it isn't hand-wavey the way Buffy could often be. I already gave an example about how the Winchesters are living rent-free in the bunker, and they've already established they're not above credit scams for expenses. If the question was raised about how they're getting by, I feel like the show would have answers. With Buffy, I wondered every week how any of these people were paying the rent! It was a real mystery. Comparing the Watcher's Council and the MOL, I already feel like we've gotten a better idea of how the MOL work than we ever got about the Watchers in nearly a decade of the Buffyverse. Even if the MOL disappear for a season, you've got some idea how they work and what they're up to. What did the Watcher's Council do all day?

And finally, Sunnydale (and Angel's LA) didn't feel like real places to me. They were fun places to visit, but they were kind of pretty, made-up everytowns where our beloved characters hung out. It never felt like you could plot them out on a map, even. Supernatural is set in a blue collar USA that is also somehow Vancouver, filled with fading small towns, little diners, skuzzy hotels. It's not exactly our America but it sure feels like some kind of America.

This feels a bit like comparing and contrasting my glamorous but rather unreliable aunt and my good-hearted uncle who worked at the mill for 30 years and always smells of beer. I can love them both!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 7:00 PM on December 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

Supernatural's world just feels a little more lived-in and real than Buffy's.

I don't disagree. It's because of that, because it's aiming for a realer feel, and achieving it to some degree, that all the logical flaws bug me more than they did on Buffy. Well, that and the fact that Buffy distracted me from its flaws by telling a more compelling story and telling it more skillfully. Sometimes I wonder if the huge amount of Supernatural fanfiction exists not just because the show has been on for so long, but because everyone who watches it thinks they could tell a better story with those characters.
posted by Redstart at 8:49 PM on December 19, 2018

I think a lot of the fanfiction is written because the show gives you so much world, people want to explore it. (Well, and of course there's all the Tumblr slashfic sexytimes. While the show's never been a mega-hit, it's somehow inspired like 45% of the slashfic that's ever been written. I don't get it, but have fun, kids.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 2:15 PM on December 20, 2018

How did no one mention that this was a riff on Die Hard?! That was the best thing about the episode.
posted by Ruki at 2:01 AM on June 7, 2019 [1 favorite]


Castiel: You know, the Empty said that it wouldn't come for me until I had finally given myself permission to be happy, but with everything we have going on, with -- with Michael still out there, I don't see that happening anytime soon. This life may be a lot of things, but it's rarely happy.
Jack: I'm sorry.
Castiel: Hey. At least we have Krunch Cookie Crunch.
Jack: Yeah. We do. Did you take the decoder ring out of the box?
Castiel: Maybe. The secret password is "cookietacular".

Dean: You put the only weapon we have against Michael in the mail?
Ketch: Ah, not just any mail. I paid extra. Certified Priority Express.
Dean: He paid extra.

Alt-Michael: This one's a bit scrawny and a bit familiar. I recognize you, Garth.
Garth: We've met? 'Cause I think I'd remember that.
Alt-Michael: Oh, I've spent some time in Dean Winchester's head -- his, um, memories. You were his friend.
Garth: Still am.
Alt-Michael: Makes one of us.

Melanie: You have nothing to fear. Only one in seven volunteers explode when they drink it.
Garth: Russian roulette odds. I like it. [drinks] Sláinte.


Jensen Ackles suffered from the flu during filming of this episode. In the last scene he had a temperature of 102.

The parking garage scene, the playing of "Ode to Joy" and being set at Christmastime are fun nods to the 1988 Bruce Willis movie Die Hard. The name of the office building, Hitomi Plaza, is also reminiscent of Nakatomi Plaza, where the majority of Die Hard takes place.

The other werewolf volunteer tells Garth that a friend of his took archangel grace and became immune to silver, meaning that he can only be killed by "the full Ichabod", i.e., decapitation. This is a reference to the character of Ichabod Crane from Washington Irving's short story "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow", which famously features a headless horseman.

When Sam pulls the map of Missouri up on his laptop, Joplin is shown as being close to Rolla. Joplin is actually located in the southwestern part of the state.
posted by orange swan at 2:01 PM on March 23, 2022

The melting egg effect wasn't entirely convincing, and that was a cheap-looking spear.

Angels can't possess someone without consent, so it doesn't make much sense that Michael could repossess Dean against his will.

Jack eats and sleeps like a human. Castiel doesn't sleep, though he can eat.

It surely would have been better to wait until Jack had his powers back before taking on Michael.
posted by orange swan at 2:02 PM on March 23, 2022

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