I’ve got to say, I’ve really loved the start of season 13. I love the pace, and though this episode had several storylines going, we were still taking the time to understand where Sam and Dean are, with their grief, with each other, and with Jack. We didn’t just zip straight back to the bunker, we took a twelve hour road trip, complete with layover in dodgy motel because Dean refused not to drive and was starting to see things through sleep deprivation - remembering these guys haven’t taken a break since they set off from the bunker a couple of days ago to try and find Cas. Pile everything they’ve been through on top of that, and you’ve got a couple of strung out Winchesters. The Rising Son was great.
I’m absolutely loving Jack. Alex Calvert is nailing this role. He’s endearing and funny and troubled, and I feel horribly sad for him, for his own losses - being his mum and Cas - and also his being at a loss as to what he really is, and what he may become; knowing your dad is the ultimate evil thing in the Universe must suck balls! Jack is super adorable though, but like Dean, I’m constantly wondering if he’s going to go bad, because like Sam, I want to believe he will be good, but like Dean, I don’t know - because I don’t know where the writers will take the character. My everything is crossed that he will be good, because it would break my heart for him, and for Sam if he ended up being coerced by the dark-side. But I’ve watched this show for 12 years so….yup.
One of the absolutely lovely things about this new relationship with Jack that the Winchester brothers find themselves in, is how it’s playing out with Sam and Dean.
I made no secret that I loved the dynamic of Sam and Dean last season. A maturity has settled over their relationship which has manifested in a trust and openness we have not seen before. The brothers seem to have come of age, and with that their life together has smacked of a stability and, for want of a better word, contentment, that can only help them in the battles that they must face in the future, because they are well and truly facing everything together, and we know that’s how they’re stronger.
Here we see them disagreeing on Jack, on what he might become, on the chance of him being good versus evil. They are not on the same page at all, but instead of angry storm offs, or yelling, they are having conversations about their opinions, and even though they disagree, they are both listening.
Sam wants desperately to believe that Jack can be good. Sam was tainted by evil when he was a baby and spent years not knowing whether that would shape his identity, or if he could rally against his own blood and be the good person he wanted to be. He was faced with not understanding what he really was, or what he might be capable of. You can see that Sam sees himself in Jack. But not only that, Sam is more willing and open to believing in the good in people than Dean is. His natural disposition is to be hopeful, even when he and his brother are facing terrible odds.
When Sam first discovered what he might be, his brother’s faith never wavered, Dean steadfastly believed that Sam would not go evil, that he wouldn’t have to kill him as John had warned he might. Dean protected Sam. Even when the situation in front of his eyes may have made him question if his dad was right, it didn’t matter, Dean protected his brother and stood beside him in his fight to overcome the yellow eyed demon. Sam is doing the same with Jack.
Here he has a young man (like, 3 days young), who he sees as lost and alone, marked by the evils of his father, and not understanding who or what he is. Empathetic Sam is in overdrive. This blossoming relationship is heartening, I’m glad Jack currently has Sam, because having Sam believe in him, having someone believe in him, is important.
I also think this is how Sam is dealing with the brothers’ loss, by focusing on trying to make something good out of the terrible thing that happened to them when Jack was born and they lost Cas and their mum. Of course, Sam is also considering that Jack could help them open the rift to the Apocalypse World and save Mary, who Sam feels could still be alive, so his desire to fully understand Jack’s powers may not totally altruistic.
Dean on the flip-side cannot allow himself to believe that the situation with Jack could turn out to be anything but bad. As he says, whenever they try to bend the rules, the people they care about get hurt, and this time he thinks they should just do the obvious, the black and white thing, the hunter thing, and get rid of the problem before it becomes something too big for them to fight.
To be fair, even though I seriously want Dean to be more flexible and to give Jack a chance, Sam and Dean’s opinions on the subject of Jack’s future trajectory have equal merit, because yes we shouldn’t judge Jack on his father’s makeup, but also, trying to do the right thing, the good thing, when it’s not the obvious hunter thing, has in the past hurt Sam and Dean and those around them, and caused catastrophic consequences for the world. So though it’s hard to come at Dean’s attitude towards Jack (and I’m seeing him copping a lot of flack for it), because yes he could handle it better, and yes we all want Jack to be good and don’t want to judge him before he does anything awful, Dean’s point of view is just as important to the situation as Sam empathy, because regardless of which direction the brothers end up going with Jack, both sides of the coin need to be, at the very least, considered - hope that Jack will be good, hope they can guide him and train him to use his powers for good, but in the event he goes a different direction, they need to be ready to stop him. They need a plan B.
And that’s what’s so interesting about Sam and Dean’s conundrum and how they’re handling it. I think as they both listen to each other, they can both see the other side’s argument, but they’re both going with their own gut…and their guts have always been pretty different. I also think that Dean’s totally inability to even entertain the notion that Jack could be good hurts Sam in his core, not because he feels his brother doesn’t trust in his opinion, but because Sam couldn’t help but equate Dean’s distrust of Jack’s supernatural blood, to that of Sam’s.
Dean is in a place where he can’t even contemplate seeing optimism and hope. This has been like one punch too many, every time they seem to be going down a brighter road, they get kicked in the nads, and this one seems to have crushed Dean’s spirit completely. There is no doubt he’s focusing that anger and frustration and pain on Jack. There is no doubt that he’s, at least internally, blaming Jack for the outcome of his birth. Or maybe he’s blaming himself, because maybe if they’d have acted, maybe if they hadn’t bent the rules, the people they loved, their family, wouldn’t have had to pay the price….again. It’s such a stark contrast to where Dean was last season, this hopelessness, or resignedness, this darkness.
Sam’s breakdown of Dean’s feelings, both to Jack and to Dean was wonderful. No one knows the elder Winchester as well as his little brother does, and it was great to see the show acknowledging this and exploring why Dean is behaving how he is. He’s a complex guy, and it was nice to see that being allowed. Sam explaining to Jack that Dean’s emotions sometimes come out as jumbled anger and frustration when he’s scared or hurt, and how he feels like it’s his job to protect everyone, protect the world…I loved this, because it was Dean’s emotional mess in a nutshell. He’s a mass of so many writhing feelings, and to function he pretty much squishes them all down into this flat, simmering anger. We’ve seen it again and again, and Sam nailed it - and without blame.
But the really moving aspect of Sam knowing his brother so completely was when he gently confronted Dean about Dean’s feelings. Even with Dean being in such a bad place, Dean listened to Sam, and he didn’t groan, eye-roll, try to storm off or try to stop Sam. He LISTENED and towards the end, he seemed to be getting upset, as if Sam was reaching him - I swear Ackles’ eye were watering up a bit. It was a powerful scene and a powerful representation of where these brothers are, how open they are to each other, that they can come at something from two totally different places and not yell or hit or walk, that they can listen to each other’s arguments even when they don’t agree, that they can hear their brother when he’s reaching out, that they can try to understand each other…. Our boys ladies and gentlemen…they’ve come along way.
Like I said, I love Jack and I love the dynamic his presence is creating. He is so very childlike - the way he was looking at Dean when Dean was watching Scooby Doo for that split second, beaming like he was about to get validation from the person he can’t reach, you can see how much he’s craving it. The copying Dean thing, too cute, the door thing, too hilarious, the tattoo thing…whoa…and then we have him flash remembering Lucifer (ruh-roh), and balled up in the laneway thinking of his mum and how she believed in him, and then stabbing himself over and over, as he watched himself heal...wondering what he is, what he might do, what he might become. Good Lord! The kid is going to break all our hearts.
That final scene of Jack and Dean… Dean, even with his concerns over Jack, could not let him hurt himself like that, “Don’t be an idiot”, he was just as disturbed and upset as we all were. And then Dean’s confronted with Jack’s own self doubt, his own fears and sadness, he can see Jack is afraid of what he could do, and you feel like Dean want’s to believe, he sees the vulnerability in Jack, and it's not like he isn't not moved, he is, and he knows Sam believes…but Dean just can’t risk it. He can’t risk them being wrong on this one, he can’t risk them losing control of a creature who is more powerful than the most powerful creature they’ve ever dealt with. If Sam’s plan A to guide Jack to goodness goes south, Dean is plan B. Dean won't let Jack go bad, for any of them. I didn't take it as a threat, but as a promise - Dean's promised to not let Jack hurt anyone. If it came to it, Dean would do it. Dean will stop him - before Jack does something he doesn't want to do but can't control. To protect Jack from himself, to protect Sam and to protect everyone else. Dean's been in those shoes, he's asked to be stopped if push shoved. I know many saw it as Dean's cruel threat, but I don't think it was that. Jack doesn't want to go bad, Dean won't let it happen. It was an emotionally brutal and honest scene, and so grown up. What a grown up, complex show this is
Okay…other things did happen in this ep!
We got to spend a little bit of time in that whacky buddy comedy Mary and Lucifer Do The Apocalypse! That Winchester sass obviously comes directly from Mary! It was interesting that the human who Mary confronted seemed to be worse than the angels and pointed headed demons - strewn around the place - once again, the show posing the question of what constitutes being a monster. I’m not sure what’s going on with the Arc Angel Michael - everyone seems to need everyone for something - Mary is the prisoner exchange and Michael needs Lucifer for what we have no clue yet….but it sounds deeply troubling.
We finally got to meet the last Kardashian, the fourth prince of hell - Asmodeus. I adored that he was all in white, an opposite to Crowley’s all black, and a throw back to Lucifer’s all white suit from The End. He’s flashy, like a showman, and though he says he’s holding down the fort for Lucifer, obviously he has his own agenda - which seems to involve Jack opening a new gate to hell, and freeing the Shedim - which is the Hebrew word for demons or spirits and also designates a supernatural creature in Jewish folklore. I hope if they get out, they’re more interesting than the Leviathan! I know that the Wayward Sisters backdoor pilot has a hellmouth aspect - so I wonder if there is something here. At least we know one of Jack’s other powers is opening the gates to hell…that could be handy for sending Lucifer’s ass back there. And Asmodeus can shift! Ain’t that gunna be interesting!
The prophet Donatello is back and is still soulless! I quite like this character and the actor, so I wouldn’t mind if we got to see him now and then. Him living without a soul, made me wonder how many others are out there navigating a world without any compass courtesy of Amara! I loved it when Donatello touched the boys on the shoulder and they were both “Hey”, “Dude” hahaha! There’s been a hell of a lot of talk of God in the first couple of episodes, and now the prophet is back…makes you wonder if we’re going to get a Chuck sighting down the line. This show has really become quite biblical!
And in other news…Dean Winchester fighting with his thighs wrapped around the demon… um…and then that angel blade toss…even Sam looked impressed. The whole thing was smokin’!
I liked The Rising Son a lot. I liked the pace, the conversations, the pieces of the puzzle being added to the table. I loved all the moments between the brothers, and the little moments peppered throughout that gave us some humour in amongst the very serious content. All the characters popped off the screen with a really great script that nailed everyone, and the direction on this ep was lovely - there were some great shot choices.
This is such a strong start to season 13, Lost and Found and The Rising Son have kicked off the season fabulously.
Until next week! Thanks for reading!