Saturday, December 9, 2017

Supernatural, Season 13, Episode 9: The Bad Place

We’re getting more intriguing hints for the upcoming Wayward Sisters spin off.

Jack is back in the picture, using an artist with some woo-woo (later explained because of his Native American-ness because even the son of Satan is using Native people for woo-woo) to dream walk between realms to show him where Mary is still being held captive and tortured for no apparent reason. This process doesn’t seem to be especially pleasant for the Native American artists.

So it’s no surprise when later his girlfriend finds him dead with his eyes burned out. Alas oh Native American woo-woo tool, your purpose is over

I also want to know where Jack got the money from without being all morally dubious

Jody hears about this from her police contacts and quickly contacts Sam and Dean with an apparent angel death and an eye witness who clearly identifies Jack (unlike every real life eye witness ever who I wouldn’t trust to clearly identify their own mothers)

Sam and Dean hurry to the scene and find the artist, a Dream Walker, has painted pictures of apocalypse land where Lucifer and Mary are trapped

Dean assumes the worst, believes Jack is trying to get his dad back and has gone full dark side (since they don’t know Lucifer has already escaped). Which I guess I can kind of see as plausible and Dean isn’t all smug and I told you so about it - but at the same time I have to question why neither of them even considered he is trying to rescue Mary

They plan to go to the Native American reservation to have more woo-woo and likely cringeworthy scenes; but instead Sam looks through the dead man’s contacts and finds he has been talking a lot to a woman called Kaia - who he describes as the most powerful Dream Walker, ever.

So Kaia - she’s an orphan, haunted by terrible dreams from her dream walking who has resorted to desperately taking drugs to try and suppress them and let her sleep without this agony. She’s ended up forced to attend a rehab where absolutely no-one understands her, obviously, as they believe she’s an addict

I have to say now that she might be an addict- if she’s in the habit of taking drugs to suppress the dreams doesn’t mean she’s not an addict. This is one of the problems that a lot of depictions of addiction seem to miss: the fact that Kaia is using drugs to suppress pain doesn’t mean she’s immune to addiction. Using addictive substances for “good reasons” doesn’t mean addiction disappears - addiction isn’t some kind punishment for using a drug with impure motives. It doesn’t work that way.

Jack meets her in the rehab to continue to have bad people skills but also offer her a chance to escape the rehab using his woo-woo: showing her that she’s not the only ones with powers. Except she doesn’t really see her power as a good thing and is duly suspicious of Jack. When he gets her out by putting several people to sleep and breaking down the secure door, Kaia decides it’s time to leave. She’s made no deal, she owes Jack nothing, she’s out. Jack would probably try to stop her - but this is when Dean and Sam arrive

Jack claims that he didn’t know the artist was did, he never did any such thing. And he wanted to go to Apocalypse world to find Mary, to do something good for the Winchesters and prove to them he can be good. He’s shocked they thought he would want to free Lucifer and would kill people - and quite hurt by it. Sam tries to sugarcoat it- but Dean doesn’t do that - he owns it. Yes, they thought that he was capable of that. Dean is cynical and brutal but honest. And that doesn’t mean he doesn’t care - in fact when Jack makes it clear Lucifer is nothing to him but Sam and Dean and Castiel are his family, Dean agrees. He is family.

Dean can believe terrible things of people but that doesn’t mean they’re not family. This is classic Dean, he cares but has few illusions

But Dean is also savaging himself - because he gave up on Mary. He gave up, he told Sam to give up. They didn’t look for Mary. Dean is horrified and hates himself for this: remember this is the same character who was blazingly furious with Sam for not trying to free him from Purgatory. You. Do. Not. Give. Up. On. Family. Ever. Not in Dean world. Given how much unhealthy codependence defines Dean this is like violating his most sacred commandment.

Kaia, on her own, is kidnapped by the angels who want to use her as bait to lure in Jack. Kaia doesn’t believe this because she knows how mortal society works: women like her, orphaned, poor, women of colour are not valued enough in society to be worth looking for. She’s painfully aware - and the angels are clear they really don’t care about her either - but Jack they need. They also conveniently tell Kaia how they were the one who killed the artist because they want to cover their tracks, in case we were even slightly thinking Jack could be guilty, because Supernatural won’t allow any doubt

Jack & co arrive and the angels begin to show us that they ARE supposed to be the most powerful beings around (Supernatural does change the powers of their creatures, especially angels, so often: which is a sadly common element when any show introduces a character or being which is too powerful for them to handle). But Jack reminds us he’s that + 10 and easily knocks them down even as they desperately try to recruit him.

Kaia is freed - but again, wants to go her own way. Despite all the talk of nephilim et al she doesn’t want to get involved which isn’t exactly unsurprising. Sam appeals for help - but again Kaia doesn’t owe them anything. Yes they rescued her, but the only reason she’s actually in danger at all is because of them. I like that Kaia is always clear about this, she doesn’t let anyone else define the narrative or claim debts from her. She knows who is responsible and she knows who she does or doesn’t owe.

So Dean draws a gun on her, demanding the rescue Mary no matter what.

They drive off and Jack tries to play nice to the kidnapped Kaia - but Kaia isn’t letting him off the hook either: the whole reason the artist Derek is dead is because of him. Again something I really like about Kaia and hope continues into Wayward Sisters, she has a harsh but clear view of who is responsible, of the consequences of their actions.

She does tell Jack she feels cursed, because she doesn’t see wonderful things, she only goes to one bad realm, a realm of horror from which she wakes with injuries and wounds. Jack asks to show her the good places she can access as well - and she agrees and is clearly gleeful and happy with what she sees. I think this matters because at least a little we’re seeing that Kaia is being offered SOMETHING from all this, her co-operation doesn’t just stem from fear and she doesn’t turn from coerced prisoner to willing participant with the wave of a hand.

They get to the woo-woo location - but the angels are back. With an army. A huge army of angels. Dean and Sam hastily ward the warehouse they’re in but that may work on the odd angel, but this swarm of angels all begin battering at the wards which clearly begins eroding the ward. It’s only a matter of time before they break in

Dean apologises belatedly to Kaia for dragging her into certain death but she’s all ready to go realm hopping. With Jack’s guidance she manages to focus away from the bad place she keeps visiting and getting injured and focus on the many other realms - and apocalypse realm. And Mary

There’s a huge wash of power - and Jack ends up in apocalypse world with Mary. Which is probably worrisome because he also ends up with Evil Archangel Michael so that’s going to be a thing

Kaia ends up… somewhere?

And Dean and Sam end up somewhere else, possibly Kaia’s evil place… and by the footprints and the roars I’d say possibly dinosaurs except that footprint looks waaaay too big even for dinosaurs

And the angels? Die in the backwash of power. I wonder if we’re going to follow up on that because we’re looking at perhaps a dozen dead angels where the whole angel storyline this season has been “we’re going extinct”. I assume angels are actually involved in doing stuff other than chase the Winchesters around - what happens when that stuff isn’t done?

We have a brief scene from another Wayward Sister - Patience. Despite her dad’s objections, the visions haven’t stopped, she can’t ignore them and her attempt at a normal life is failing; her grades are slipping and she can’t keep denying them. The last straw is when she sees a powerful vision of the Winchesters and Jody all dead - she can’t sit on this and she realises if she does nothing people will die. She has to go

Her dad is vehemently opposed, knowing just how dangerous the hunter life is. He tells her if she goes she won’t be coming back… she goes, having to do the right thing

Ok a preliminary statement on Wayward Sisters - so far we seem to have Jody, Donna, Patience, Kaia, Claire and Alex and there’s diversity there: but I feel my eyebrow quirking that it’s the two women of colour who have woo-woo. Which is a trope

We need to address Dean kidnapping Kaia at gunpoint. Or, rather, Supernatural does. Because “I’m sorry I got you into this” doesn’t cover it. Nor does knowing why Dean does this address this - we know Dean’s damage, we know his obsession, his self-hate and why he needs to save his mother. But none of that addresses what he did here, nor does Kaia’s ultimate co-operation. This needs addressing and challenging with both Dean AND Sam who didn’t draw his gun but confined his objection to a basic “dude”. Because refusing to do terrible things is one thing; refusing to do terrible things because you know someone else will do it for you for is something entirely different. I think this is even more necessary since the last episode already established the idea that there are lines the Winchesters knew they couldn’t cross.