Things I loved in 14x07 “Unhuman Nature”:
Them BURSTING INTO THE ER!!!! as the superstars of their own dramatic world, only to immediately realize the world outside is not similarly tuned, and is doing its own thing without them. It’s sort of like a slap to the POV, a reminder that oh, you forgot? The world does not revolve around you and not everyone is paying attention to it in the exact same way. XDD Which honestly sets the tone for the rollicking way POV ends up shaping the episode.
Because on the contrary, I also loved Sam knowing that Rowena won’t come just because some random named Jack is in danger, and using Dean as lure instead. Dean, Rowena knows, and Sam and Dean’s relationship she recognizes as legitimate (I don’t want to say “understands,” but recognizes as legitimate, certainly, XD). Even before getting to the bit about Jack being Lucifer’s son and the wrinkle that would cause, Sam was already trying to find words to describe why this mattered so much to him from an emotional standpoint, even as he also knew that that explanation was not necessarily going to make sense to Rowena. So he was actively trying to come at it from his POV as well as Rowena’s at the same time. Was he doing it badly? I means sort of. But at least he knew that’s something he would have to do.
I also love that in the ruckus of S13 Rowena somehow missed who Jack was. Or forgot, more likely, because she didn’t give a single shit, ahahaha. By the time she came back in S13, Jack was already in Cone World, so the first she would have seen of him was with all 500000000000 if the other Cone World denizens, before jetting off with Charlie on their road trip before the finale. As far as going to AU world went, she only remembered the bit about Mary and the bit about Lucifer, because mothers and Satan are categories relevant to Rowena’s life. Jack? Whomst?? XD She probably completely tuned Sam and Dean out if they ever mentioned him lolllll.
Castiel’s EXTREME USELESSNESS HERE in spite of his being the only angel on the premises and the only one who’s had experience having his Grace slashed from his body. And yet Rowena can perform more informative diagnostics? And please understand that this is not at all a knock on Castiel. I actually loved it, and I feel like it gives me so much opportunity to think about where Castiel is at, as a being, right now.
I think his uselessness actually makes a lot of sense, and like a lot of the rest of this episode, it all comes back to how each character frames and understands the world—their POV. When it comes to humanity (and to some extent, demons), I think Castiel has learned over the last decade to be more flexible in his interpretations of what they are and what they might do. But angels? Aside from their capacity to betray, and to be corrupted (a hard lesson Castiel has needed to re-learn many times over the course of the last decade), they are rule-bound. Down to their cellular existence. I think it might be becauseCas is an angel with experience with this issue that he’s so ineffective, because he can’t get outside of the one specific way he knows these things to work.
Meanwhile, Rowena takes an entirely different approach. She’s a witch, who’s actively studied the macrocosmic flows of the universe, the body. Her pagan sensibility comes to that much more naturally, and she probably approaches Jack not as a Nephilim, concretely, but as a being within these larger frameworks. She doesn’t know anything about Nephilim, but rather than slamming up against that identitarian wall, she looks for other things.
This is something that I think Castiel actually struggles a lot with, because he proceeds from that identitarian standpoint so frequently, and the idea that each being has rules that make it distinct from others and a name as a particular object of God’s creation. That’s probably why he was so ruffled by the fact that Sergei’s Archangel Grace Spell didn’t work—when Angels have rules, they have Rules. This sigil does X, this spell Y. Angels always heed Z. But Nephilim aren’t angels. They don’t have those rules.
It’s sort of like when that team of hunters killed the witch, but the girl was still under the thrall of the spell until Jack figured out it had to do with evil jewelry. Sam and Dean would’ve ended up there pretty quick, because Evil Jewelry, but in Castiel’s experience killing the witch kills the magic—and beyond that point, he was at a loss. I think this is becoming more apparent especially because it’s exactly those rules that are being actively rewritten by Michael, as he creates his army of monsters that exceed their lore.
Sam and Dean and Cas and Jack
OMG JESUS TAKE THE WHEEL. PREFERABLY AWAY FROM CASTIEL. XP There’s this perception in the air that Jack’s impending doom means more to Dean than it does to anyone else—which is weird, because that’s patently false, and everything Sam does in this episode shows it. So I was like, okay, well. Where is this coming from? (in b4 someone says "Buck-Lemming." Words cannot begin to describe how uninterested I am in meta around authorship, or anything that doesn't have to do with these characters living their lives).
I think the answer, again, is Castiel.
Castiel, who is struggling hardcore rn with the nature of the universe, and who also felt bad he didn’t accompany Sam, Bobby, and Mary on their random werewolf hunt (or whatever they thought they were doing) wherein they found Dean, and then apologized to Dean for not being there even though Dean had no expectations that Castiel should be there and probably did not think about Castiel’s absence at all until Castiel himself brought it up. And then Dean was just like “That’s fine…?” (Which, in fairness to Castiel, Dean has in the past gotten very accusatory about Castiel not being there when he was needed, so on top of his feelings of impotence (which carry over from his struggles the last few seasons) he’s probably also just confused by when Dean’s deep-seated impulse to feeling betrayal will or will not make an appearance.)
Anyway, Castiel is the one who makes the comment about Dean taking Jack’s impending doom particularly hard, and SAM’S POOR FACE. SAM, WHO IS ALSO, THAT VERY MOMENT, TAKING JACK’S IMPENDING DOOM HARD, AND IS ALSO WORRIED DEAN IS GOING TO COSMICALLY DISAPPEAR INTO THE FOLDS OF AN ARCHANGEL AT ANY MOMENT. But Sam, habitualized to self-negation by probably every single thing that has happened in the last year+, just takes the hit and talks to Castiel from within the frame of Castiel’s POV.
And I think the reason Castiel perceived Dean to be taking this “particularly hard” was because Dean wasn’t helping them research a solution. XP Castiel felt the need to explain to Dean that the Bunker had Enochian texts and that they were useless, which suggests Dean had not been at all a part of this multi-pronged attempt to sort Jack out—not just during the time it took Dean to have one conversation with Jack about Tahiti, but the entire span of time Castiel spent reading all those books, and Rowena spent haggling her way into conversation with every witch she knows. I feel like Castiel puts a lot of emphasis on utility (or lack thereof) and its correlation with emotional turmoil, because that’s how it is for him and that is largely how it works for Sam and Dean as well. As long as they’re working, they’re okay. So in Castiel’s assessment, Sam is working, so he is okay. Dean is being useless, so clearly he is not.
Again, not judging. Just understanding.
Castiel is probably right in that Dean probably isn’t Okay, given that Dean then goes onto make his weird comment about how he shouldn’t have taken Jack out, as though that had anything to do with anything. Dean’s just super wrapped up in his own headspace, just like in the ER scene, which completely reshapes the world around him. And Castiel feeds that when he feels compelled to say, “You did more for him than any of us,” which is 1) not true, and 2) more a reaction to Castiel’s own feeling of uselessness and his desire to make Dean feel better than any reality. Which, in that equation, RIP SAM.
Also, Castiel’s read of the situation being “different” from other losses they’ve confronted. Is it that different? Re: Jo, Charlie, Kevin. I’m not sure that Sam thinks so, and we know he’s been thinking a lot about Charlie recently. When I think about their last non-Sam, non-Dean death-related trial that involved a hospital, I think we roll it all the way back to Bobby in S7. In that moment, we got a view of how very differently Sam and Dean react in this kind of situation—and Sam’s pain was a lot quieter, but no less deep. I think Castiel just doesn’t know how to read it. But the main person who does have that ability, and traditionally keeps tabs on Sam’s feelings and needs and desires (e.g. not Castiel, apparently; not Mary or Cone Bobby) can’t do it right now. Dean can’t do it right now. So no one is. :(
How I feel about Sam right now is how I felt about Dean in S7, because in S7 Dean was just falling apart while also falling through the cracks, because Castiel was unavailable and Sam could only do so much because he was dealing with Lucifer/dying/trying to save the world. Sam is also falling through the cracks here, because Dean is unavailable (either literally not there because of Michael, or working through his own shit), and Castiel's world is so topsy-turvy right now he, too, can only do so much. Except in S7 Dean's response was to retreat, and presently, Sam's is to throw himself even further in, re: running the MoL 2.0 and, well, trying to save the world.
What is actually "different"—and the roots of this, I haven’t taken the time to parse out—is that Dean and Jack do share a weird fatalism toward each other? I think the way Dean relates to Jack has a lot more in common with how he relates to himself than how he relates to Sam—how Dean relates to Jack is probably, if we lined it up, the exact opposite of how Dean relates to Sam. Except unlike in the case of most comparisons vis a vis Sam, that difference is not “I care about Sam and don’t care about anyone else.” XD
So Dean and Jack end up being are each other’s moment where they put their hands up and it’s just like, “Fuck it, we’re all going to hell and this is how,” with respect to Dean’s certainty that if anyone had to kill Jack, it would be him (and I don’t think that Dean getting to know Jack better actually changes this; Dean said it immediately after rushing in to stop Jack’s ineffective wrist-slitting, after all), and Jack’s certainty that if they had to kill Dean to kill Michael, that’s what would happen. Whatever level of understanding that is, that’s unique to them. Which, in addition to fishing peacefully, is also a large part of how they ended up on a Fatalism Roadtrip together, I feel.
Also, I am a giant ho for Dean H/C as surely you all know, so I am all about Dean’s dissociative slippages in this episode, even if Dean isn’t. I’m sure some part of him filed them away at the back of his mind like, “Oh, this might be a plot point,” but I’m also pretty sure that weird moments like that aren’t entirely uncommon for Sam and Dean. We’re just privy to it now because it might be a plot point. But for Sam and Dean, it might be kind of normal? In terms of the somatic effects of extreme and enduring sleep deprivation, post-traumatic stress, and clinical-and-then-some levels of untreated depression/anxiety. And their inclination as hunters is definitely to play through things like that even as they’re probably, as I said, filing it away somewhere. A few seconds of distortion with no lasting effects and without an increasing rate of occurrence? Not worth exploring yet.
I also loved the “Let it Ride” music cue. <3333333333 I REALIZE S7 KEEPS COMING UP IN THIS S14 REVIEW< but: During S7 I made what amounted to a Dean suicide mixtape, lol, that I’m pretty sure included not one but TWO versions of “Let it Ride,” so it was nice to see that finally make it into Show’s musical canon. And as part of a Fatalistic Roadtrip Adventure, no less!
Sergei has a cloaking spell for Gabriel, meaning he’d have the knowledge to cloak other Archangels. He seems like the kind of dude Michael would have sought out in his International Poll of Desire…
The effects of having been Lucifer’s vessel for a decade are remarkably similar to the Mark of Cain—especially given that Nick isn’t even supposed to exist right now and no one has had the time or attention to pursue why he does. Lilith was the first human to be tempted into Hell--Cain was the first demon to be born. Maybe what Nick is, is the story of how.
No negativity on this post, and no spoilers, please!