We’re going to ignore the silly prequel at the beginning of the episode because I do not approve, no no I do not. Chronological order. It isn’t hard.
And instead go to the moment when Dean and Castiel meet after Castiel’s return from the grave. And the emotion - so much emotion! The teary eyes, the carefully excellent acting of I’m-too-manly-to-show-emotion-but-I’m-breaking-up-here-emotion. There are levels and layers here.
I’m actually a little disappointed by Dean and Castiel not being nearly as big a thing as getting Castiel to Jack, especially with everyone getting together and realising it was Jack’s big epic powers that brought Castiel back which leads to Jack and Castiel discussing Kelly and trust and Jack’s legacy to make the world a better place and how much he trusts Jack and everything’s going to be good under Castiel’s guidance.
More interesting is how adorkable Jack is trying to be one of the gang. He shows off his telekinesis, getting a handle of his powers and has even found them a case using the internet (which he’s mastered by watching Sam and Dean. Even to the point of hacking traffic cameras… which I would say was improbable but hey bringing people back from the dead Nephilim of uber powers. Mastering computers super quickly is not exactly that much of stretch). Of course this mastery is matched by both his complete ignorance of the supernatural and, well, how the world works. He thinks he’s found zombies and it’s very unlikely
But Dean is just buzzing enough he pushes to go - and I think it’s partly because he is now super happy with Jack right now and mainly because it’s in Dodge City and Dean is apparently a super super super cowboy nerd.
Welp, whatever floats your boat. And it’s actually really good to see Dean being all fanboish and gleeful. When do we ever see Dean being gleeful? Dean and glee do not usually go together.
Even if this does result in some rather embarrassing cosplay from Dean trying to fit in with the local law enforcement and instead having them wonder why random Texas Rangers have made their way into town.
Jack is also trying his hand at playing FBI agent and not pulling it off because he’s far too young and just doesn’t know enough.
People trying and failing aside, we have someone stealing bodies, a dead policeman, a living, vengeful policeman and some gnawed bones - so ghoul. A creature that eats the dead and wears their faces
This particular ghoul has eaten a cowboy and fallen in love with the local Rockabilly Undertaker (because slightly quirky mortuary people is a Thing in TVlandia now) who wants to go to make up and prosthetic school costing lots of money. He seems to genuinely think she’ll appreciate him killing people, robbing a bank (how wild west) and then using that cash to run away with him. She doesn’t
And like many controlling, abusive men when confronted by “their” woman not reacting or doing what he wants (especially when he has deemed his actions to be “for her”) he gets angry and kidnaps her. He also kidnaps the vengeful living cop whose nephew he killed who was out hunting with Dean.
Dean and this cop have a gentle understanding about this perpetrator getting dead and this not being a law enforcement thing because of personal family vengeance with a layer of cowboy vigilantism. I think it’s more the former and I’ll run with it because there’s no real glory or glamorisation of it. Sergeant Joe knows he’s not doing the right thing and seems to be actively challenging Dean to make an issue of it.
So the ghoul ends up dead at the hands of the cop and everything is satisfying and Supernatural has now gone three episodes allowing a prominent POC in peril to live - they must be ill!
But the main story here is that during the firefight at the bank (which started gunslinger and quickly failed due to the immortal Jack - and an angel) ended up in Jack using his powers and accidentally killing an innocent bystander.
Jack now has all the guilts because every time he tries to use his powers he hurts someone and now he has killed someone. As he returns to the Winchester Bunker he is full of guilt and self-loathing deciding he’s a monster. While Sam tells him that, sadly, accidents happen and Castiel tells him of the many many many many many innocent people he has killed by mistake (oh so many people). That it’s a mistake - he can do better, he can be better that’s the way forward
That’s fine but back in the bunker learning Dean has covered up the death doesn’t reassure Jack. Dean doesn’t sugar coat either - yes the man had a family - but also tells Jack that if he’s a monster they all are (yes Dean has changed his tune). That this is the nature of the job - this is what it means to be a Hunter. You will make mistakes. People will die. They’ve all got blood on their hands.
Personally I think if we wanted to make this more poignant we could have focused more on that guard, his name, the family he left behind to make him more than a number.
This may have been convincing but Sam starts to speak, Jack says “don’t” and Sam flinches… Jack sees that Sam is afraid of him.
He decides that if he’s dangerous he cannot possibly stay with the Winchesters - because he could hurt them and they are all he has. He uses his power to knock them down - and then teleport out
Logically it’s terrible to leave your only checks and balances who are also trying to make you do better - but emotionally the decision makes a lot of sense, especially for someone lacking maturity and in the face of Sam’s flinch. And maybe learning his powers while hunting is not a good idea either….
One thing I really love about Supernatural is the subtlety of the emotions portrayed, the actual acting that backs it up and the several seasons of development that gives Sam and Dean so much weight behind them. There’s some nice byplay between Sam and Dean here. I mean, obviously Sam is never going to be as moved by Castiel as Dean is with that more profound bond and all that - but Dean quickly enters full blown buzzing happiness. Which is cute and joyous to see. Dean who has spent so many episodes in the very depth of despair is now almost high on his glee. I love Sam’s reaction to this - he’s obviously positive about this because his brother’s out of his funk - Dean said he needed a win and this is definitely a win. But there’s also a little undertone of discomfort with Sam here - he’s not as gleeful as Dean and maybe even a little upset by how gleeful Dean is. But then you realise that in episode four we saw how very broken Sam was about Mary; despite him even acknowledging Mary had a bigger bond with Dean. Mary is still gone presumed dead, Sam is still grieving for her and very clearly Dean is… maybe not so much? Or maybe Castiel just eclipses Mary so very much and Sam’s not entirely ok with that