Supernatural: Nihilism
January 17, 2019 8:06 PM - Season 14, Episode 10 - Subscribe

Michael retakes control of Dean as his army of monsters continue to expand; Sam devises a plan to reach Dean and stop Michael.


- Dean's dream bar in his subconscious, "Rocky's Bar", is a reference to Rocky of Rocky and Bullwinkle
- "Daphne Loves Fred" can be seen carved inside a heart on the bar in Rocky's. A reference to Daphne Blake and Fred Jones from Scooby-Doo
- "Poughkeepsie": Dean told Crowley that "Poughkeepsie" is Sam and Dean's distress signal meaning to drop everything and run while Crowley was trying to help free Sam from Gadreel
- IPA from Austin -- Cosmic Cowboy: Cosmic Cowboy is a beer from Jensen's Family Business Beer Co. located in Austin, Texas
posted by numaner (15 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I was proud of myself for instantly recognizing Pamela, who hasn't been mentioned since like season 5.

So I wonder what the one non-Michael death for Dean will be, and if they're really... killing him off. But that's a trip, knowing all the ways of how you're going to die is one thing, but knowing you have to die specifically this one way to save the world, and then actually going through with it... that's heavy. Chances are they'll get to the edge of that and Dean won't go through with it and piss off Death/Billie again and then... next season!

The other thing I see going into next season is a soulless Jack, burning it up to save Dean from his death-march in this season's finale.

I mean, I don't want these things to happen because oh my boys, but this show gets bleak, so it's par for the course.
posted by numaner at 8:10 PM on January 17, 2019

These poor precious boys must be so. very. tired.
posted by The otter lady at 8:55 PM on January 17, 2019 [6 favorites]

OK, so I absolutely loved the idea of parallel universes as 'drafts of a story discarded by God.' It... just fits so well with what I know about Supernatural's general cosmology that I cannot believe it never occurred to me.
posted by mordax at 11:18 AM on January 18, 2019 [6 favorites]

This was another good one, making Michael vastly more effective as a bad guy than he's ever been. He gets in your head, both figuratively and literally. Jensen Ackles had some fun as a very different character, a kind of foppish, scheming sadist. Ackles never fails to impress as Dean, but I didn't think he had this in him.

When Michael was doing all that mind-fuck-y talk, sowing doubts and proving how dangerous he can be without any super powers at all, I thought, "Wow, this guy is positively satanic..." And then I remembered this show HAS a Lucifer, except he's not actually so good at that stuff. This show's Lucifer has always seemed kind of petulant and bratty, almost more childish than truly evil. He's not a terrific schemer, he's even kind of feckless at times, and it feels like the show has to work to sell him as a threat. If they really wanted him to be the show's biggest of bid bads I kind of wish they'd gone for something more like this. This version of Michael is more credible as Satan than their actual Satan!

Yeah, I think poor Jack is fated to burn off his soul and he may well be next season's villain. Of course, then Castiel will be a long way off from the happiness that will send him to the Empty. It's like we can see where the show's headed, maybe, but we have no idea how it'll get there.

A lot of clever callbacks I missed here, like the "Rocky" thing. It's kind of a tribute to Crowley's Moose and Squirrel thing, which is weird but also kind of sweet. Dean had a lot of interesting twists in his perfect world, like endless monster attacks and Pamela being there but perpetually unavailable. Did they have a flirtation way back when?

I KNEW that beer shout-out had to be a real thing. It felt like an inside-joke or product placement, and I guess it was a bit of both!
posted by Ursula Hitler at 11:09 PM on January 18, 2019 [2 favorites]

Hmm, Jack as a soulless villain. I hadn't thought of that. I'm not sure he would make a very threatening villain. Of course he's bound to keep using his powers even though he says he won't. My thought was that maybe it will turn out that his grace is regenerating (remember, Cas said that should happen eventually) and he's not actually using up his soul after all, he's using his own natural powers.

I still think that scratch from Garth is going to have to have some consequences. Hey, maybe he'll become a werewolf around the same time he burns out the rest of his soul responding to some dire need to protect his friends and then he'll be a soulless super werewolf, which actually could make him pretty dangerous. Sam didn't become evil without his soul; he just didn't really care about anyone. But he faked it pretty well and he kept on fighting monsters like a good guy. You'd expect something similar to happen with Jack, but being a werewolf could be a game changer.

Maybe Garth and Jack will form a super werewolf villain partnership. And maybe it will seem horrible not because they're all scary and evil but because they're both so sweet that no one can stand the thought of having to fight and kill them.

I wonder what one death Dean has to pursue in order to save the world from Michael. My daughter says it must involve more than just personal sacrifice or he wouldn't seem so disturbed by it, and I think she's probably right. He must have to take someone with him who he really wants to keep alive. Or maybe it's that he's supposed to lock himself in the cage in Hell, so Michael will be truly locked up forever. You'd expect him to be pretty disturbed about that. Of course now that we know the books of deaths can be rewritten they've become sort of meaningless. Clearly Dean is not going to die in the near future; he's just going to do something that will rewrite the books again.
posted by Redstart at 7:42 AM on January 19, 2019 [1 favorite]

I really liked this episode. Jensen Ackles seemed to have a lot more to work with as Michael this time. And seeing Pam again was so good. (Shameless plug for the Family Business Cosmic Cowboy beer. I accept that.) Michael was such a bastard, trying to sow salt in all of Dean's relationships. DON'T LISTEN, YOU GUYS!

Does anyone know what's up between the CW and Amazon? I had assumed that there was no Season Pass option this season because it will be a few episodes shorter than previous seasons, but... this episode is still not listed, and now older episodes are 'Not Available' for sale. What gives?? Did some contract run out mid-season?
posted by tomboko at 10:19 AM on January 19, 2019


Funny how nobody's mentioning that Lucifer seems to be back next week. I guess we were all so sure it'd happen eventually, it hardly seems remarkable. (Unless that was Nick we were seeing in the preview. But judging by his smirky greeting to Mary, I'm thinking it's Lucifer.)

Having no soul could be a very bad thing for the son of Lucifer. Especially if Lucifer is back in play to whisper terrible ideas in his son's ear.

Tomboko, can you download the episodes from the CW site? I've missed plenty of episodes over the years due to DVR screw-ups or whatever and managed to catch up with them online. It's been my experience that if Amazon can screw with you somehow, they eventually will.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:02 PM on January 19, 2019

I rather liked this one. A therapist would have a field day analyzing that whole A-No-Nonsense-Businesswoman-And-Her-Briefcase-Is-Trying-To-Buy-You-Out-Of-Your-Beloved-Bar plotline going on there. Not to mention that Sam and Castiel are always on their way, but never actually get there. The product placement was awkward, but partly because owning a bar never struck me as a thing Dean would be all that interested in. It's not wildly out of character or anything, it's more like a charmingly cliched daydream for a dude approaching middle age to decide he'd like to own a roadside dive for all his favorite people (who aren't dead yet/still) to hang out in. But I dig that he wants to grow up to be Ellen Harvelle.

I was glad for Sam's sake that the audio of Dean in Hell cut off before Dean started screaming for him because, nobody needs to hear that. (Sam's face when he finds out how high stripper cases rate in Dean's personal hall of fame was very choice.) I laughed at how Sam figured out pretty quick what they needed to look for, but that apparently he and Castiel had not considered any sort of plan on how they were going to get Dean out once they found him, and seemed totally taken aback by the problem.

It was probably just a one-off, but I both love and find totally consistent that Chuck just bops around abandoning one draft universe after another. (Oh man, remember that episode where we found out that at the very very beginning of the universe, God made a hellhound named Ramsey? That makes so much more sense if he creates universes all the time and just, like, decided it would be funny to frontload this one with a giant invisible murderdog named Ramsey.) It also answers a question I'd had for a while about whether Chuck has doubles like everyone else, or exists across all worlds at once.

I feel like it also gives Michael (and really, everyone else) a pretty understandable ax to grind, more so than has really had a chance to percolate so far--because not only were you not your father's favorite, not only did he expect you to to share the universe with gross sticky humans, but you weren't even a good enough version of yourself not to abandon and start over. Even in gross sticky humans terms, Chuck going off for some bonding time with Amara is him getting off kind of easy.
posted by jameaterblues at 3:33 PM on January 20, 2019 [2 favorites]

But I dig that he wants to grow up to be Ellen Harvelle.

Oh man I didn't even think of that! Of course he would! I was surprised though that it was Pamela in his dream and not Jo. Perhaps Jo's and Ellen's deaths are much more painful for him and he has everything about them locked away, but Pamela's death wasn't a sacrifice for them so he still has good memories of her.

The business woman made sense but I was expecting more revelations from that other than Dean just being super small-business minded.
posted by numaner at 7:45 PM on January 20, 2019

The psychology of Dean's "perfect world" is pretty interesting. He owns his own quiet little bar but he still doesn't have a long-term lady in his life and he has to deal with regular monster attacks. Is this really the best life Dean could imagine for himself?

Maybe it's stuff Michael came up with, based on observing Dean's thoughts. That isn't quite the same as Dean choosing it for himself, even subliminally. Maybe it was just stuff that Michael thought would keep Dean occupied and content, happy but not TOO happy. Disappointments like Pamela being perpetually unavailable and the recurring monster attacks could reflect Dean's take on the world, that even when things are good they're never actually perfect.

Even in that context, I'm not sure what the business lady with the briefcase was about. Maybe she served to make Dean feel like his property (and life) were valuable, and to give him a chance to say no to "the man" as embodied by this kind of uptight-seeming businesswoman. (She didn't even seem like a caricature or a particularly nasty person. She was just some corporate rep doing her job.)

Or maybe, after everything Dean's been through, this truly is the best life he can imagine for himself. Not a great life, but a decent and relatively quiet one. This is his version of "settling down."
posted by Ursula Hitler at 8:38 PM on January 20, 2019 [3 favorites]

I second Ursula Hitler on it. If it was too good, Dean might red-flag that mentally because he knows dammed well he can't have the good life. I admit I'm surprised he'd mentally bring back Pamela of all the choices but..whatever.

By comparison, I am watching "The Librarians" on Hulu right now and I just watched "And The Happily Ever Afters" in which the main characters are given some kind of happily-ever-after on an island. The colonel is a small-town sheriff and seems happy with that, but then there's the guy who is a professor who teaches 11 different subjects while he also plays Indiana Jones, the astronaut who's been on 18 different missions, and the Australian thief guy is somehow an FBI agent. The character who walks in is basically all, "This didn't red flag ANYBODY?"

I admit Dean running a bar as his dream didn't seem likely, but as a compromise distraction world, it kinda worked. You'd just wonder if he'd get bored and notice the time loop after awhile.
posted by jenfullmoon at 11:46 AM on January 21, 2019 [1 favorite]

I definitely think the bar was Michael's best effort at piecing together a tiny slice of life to keep Dean out of his hair. In a way, he was basically trying to do to Dean a skeevier version of what angels do to humans in Heaven, i.e., put them in a series of happy moments and leave them there. But it makes sense from Michael's perspective, stuck sharing his "perfect vessel" with its combative and really pissed off resident consciousness, that the more believable the scene the longer it'll keep Dean distracted. Dean might still be content enough there, but I think of that as being a little different from what he'd choose for himself.

(I still think that if Michael had kept it simple and put Dean in, say, a nice but ordinary afternoon, driving home from a fun stabby hunt with Sam and Castiel, blasting some Zeppelin, he'd have been happily driving around for a long ass time before it even occurred to him to question it.)
posted by jameaterblues at 7:56 PM on January 21, 2019

A therapist would have a field day analyzing that whole A-No-Nonsense-Businesswoman-And-Her-Briefcase-Is-Trying-To-Buy-You-Out-Of-Your-Beloved-Bar plotline going on there.

Promise of money/freedom. Like if he ever wanted money or had to leave quickly, he could just sell to Corporate Lady. He wasn't trapped. Well, I mean, that "out" made him FEEL like he wasn't trapped.

And he even got a nice little bit of monster hunting thrown in, so he wasn't too restless and bored, either.

I think Cas and Sam were always only "on their way home" because Dean knows them like the back of his hand and would be able to spot fake versions of them quickly. Same reason why Dean and Pamela weren't a couple in this scenario -- intimacy, either emotional or physical, would be too hard for Michael to fake reliably. So Dean and Pamela were just coworkers who bantered and flirted and didn't get deeper than that. Cas and Sam were always safe and on their way but never actually there.

I worked in bars/restaurants on and off for like...thirteen years? From high school until 4th of July 2016. And I have always thought that Dean would make a fantastic server. Good spacial awareness, good people skills, very observant, bright, hard worker. I wrote some way-too-in-depth post about it on PreviouslyTV one time. So I was actually delighted to see him working in a bar! I also always love bars on this show. So cozy.

Bars like that feel like home, so it made sense to me that he'd be comfortable there. I wish the show had played Piano Man at some point. I know this isn't a Billy Joel kind of show, but I always love the portrait of a bar that that song paints. It always makes me think about serving on Thanksgiving, in a good way. I think it would have matched the vibe.

The funny thing about working in a bar, though, is that everyone always wants to act like it's temporary and they're on their way out the door. So in that sense, it's a weird place to use as a holding cell. But I guess that's true-to-life, too. Even in the real world, you can spend decades doing that "temporary" shit and barely even notice! ;)
posted by rue72 at 2:26 PM on February 7, 2019 [1 favorite]


Dean: What you got?
Pamela Barnes: Worst part of working here is having to clean up the blood after some pissed-off monster busts in to kill you.
Dean: Well, what can I say? I'm famous.

Dean: I am the cage.


The logo of Dean's "Rocky's Bar" is written in the same font and colors as The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle and Friends" logo. This is a nod to Crowley's old nickname of "Squirrel" (as in "Rocky the Flying Squirrel") for Dean. Sam's nickname was "Moose" (as in "Bullwinkle") and there is also a mounted moose head in the bar.

Baby's original Kansas license plate (KAZ 2Y5) from seasons 1 & 2 is hanging up behind the bar next to the "Rocky's Bar" sign.

In the opening sequence, "Daphne loves Fred" is carved into the bar. This is a direct reference to "ScoobyNatural (ep. 13.16), in which Sam, Dean, and Castiel get turned into cartoon characters and join the gang of Scooby Doo, Where Are You!.

All the beers on tap in Rocky's are available from the Family Business Beer Company, a real Austin, Texas-based brewery of which Jensen Ackles is a co-owner. When Sam and Castiel enter Dean's mind, Dean offers them beers, saying that he has a new IPA from Austin. This is another reference to the Family Business Beer Company.

The monkey statue sitting behind the bar by the "Rocky's" sign was from Ellen Harvelle's road house in Season 2.

Final appearance of Pamela Barnes, who hadn't appeared since episode "Dark Side of the Moon" (ep. 5.16).
posted by orange swan at 2:17 PM on March 23, 2022

I agree with others in this thread that Dean probably wouldn't choose bar ownership as a fantasy life, that it is rather something Michael created for him out of based on his understanding of what Dean would like, and it's just close enough to what Dean would like to keep him contented.
posted by orange swan at 2:21 PM on March 23, 2022

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