In “Gods and Monsters,” Supernatural begins a slow reveal of the mayhem Michael (Jensen Ackles) intends to introduce with his experimental creations. While Michael attempts to bring his ghastly vision into being, Nick (Mark Pellegrino) and Jack (Alexander Calvert) explore unacknowledged aspects of who they are. Writers Brad Buckner and Eugenie Ross-Leming construct the form for the Season 14 story arc, while director Richard Speight, Jr. brings “Gods and Monsters” to life.
“To the new world of gods and monsters!”
– Dr. Pretorius toasting Dr. Frankenstein in Bride of Frankenstein
Speight plays the character Gabriel in the Supernatural series, and that familiarity results in a collaboration that showcases the skills of cast and crew. “Gods and Monsters” has a horror film feel, particularly in the scenes with Michael. In the cold open the archangel, who is still in Dean’s vessel, experiments on vampires in an abandoned church to a backdrop of thunder and lightning. The Supernatural crew adds depth to the scene with broken cherub statues littering the floor, a communion chalice filled with vampire blood, and stained glass windows. The pulsing strings of the score in “Gods and Monsters,” along with Michael’s tweed cap and butcher’s apron, suggest 1930s gothic horror.
Michael’s experimentation leads to the creation of supernatural super soldiers who can’t be killed in traditional ways. All the monster-fighting weaponry being prepared back at the bunker in “Stranger in a Strange Land” may not be so effective anymore. Michael has decided that humans are the real monsters and makes a proposition to werewolf pack leader Philip.
Philip: “Do you propose we wage a war on humans, keeping only as many as them we need alive for slave labor and a steady food supply? Because I love that world, but believe me, it’s an absurd dream.
Michael: “Is it? Why be the hunted when you can be the hunter?
The Devil’s in the Details
Like Castiel (Misha Collins), we can’t help but see “the supreme agent of evil” every time we look at Nick. But just as we think we’re getting used to hearing Lucifer’s former vessel say “thanks,” we learn that the Prince of Darkness may have caused some permanent damage to his former vessel (watch out for that snap). As Nick agonizes over why he would have said yes to Lucifer, Castiel reveals it was prompted by the loss of his family (ixnay on the urdermay, Cas!). When Cas tells him that a man murdered his wife and child, Nick cries out, “That’s no man. That’s a monster. That’s a monster. And then Lucifer found me and made me a monster too.” It becomes clear why the show decided to keep Mark Pellegrino on board. Not only is Pellegrino an outstanding actor, but Nick is starting to get a pretty interesting storyline.
When Nick later takes his anger and frustration out on Castiel, it leads to a discussion about Cas’s vessel, Jimmy Novak. While Buckner and Ross-Leming are sometimes accused of unnecessary exposition, it’s useful to remind the viewer that Jimmy is dead, lest we worry about Castiel’s character.
Nick: “Castiel. You’re just a stone-cold bodysnatcher. You’re no different than Lucifer.”
Castiel: “… You know, in all my thousands of years, what happened to Jimmy Novak and his family—it’s my greatest regret.”
Discussion of angel vessels or killing people possessed by demons often leads to ethical quandaries the show can’t resolve. Moral ambiguity is more of a Kripke-era throwback, so we’re left feeling pretty good about Castiel.
On the other hand, we become increasingly concerned about Nick’s nature. He questions his former neighbor, who had once claimed to witness a man leaving the scene of the murder. The neighbor becomes increasingly frightened as Nick’s fury rises. As Nick escalates, he increasingly resembles Lucifer. At the end, it becomes clear that Lucifer chose Nick for a reason. Nick may be human, but it doesn’t mean he’s not a monster.
Meet the Klines
Jack is having his own internal struggle after losing his grace. He decides to introduce himself to his grandparents, posing as a friend of Kelly’s. The Klines are salt-of-the-earth types and eagerly welcome him. The meeting is surprisingly emotional, creating a bright spot in an otherwise dark episode, literally and figuratively. The camera lingers on the sad and hopeful faces of Kelly’s parents as they talk. Jack tells them, “I hope someday to have a little of her courage and purpose.” Not only was this scene heartwarming, it was a relief to know we won’t have to watch Dean’s Sam’s Castiel’s Jack’s angst and self-doubt for several more episodes.
When Jack returns to the bunker he’s reprimanded by Castiel for going to his grandparents. Yet, when they begin to talk about finding Michael, it’s Jack who is doing the scolding. One visit to Grammie and Grandpa Kline’s and suddenly Jack is the moral compass of Supernatural.
Jack: “You’re all so focused on trying to save Dean and I get it, I understand. But if he can’t be saved … if it comes down to him or Michael … Michael has to be stopped—caged or killed.”
Castiel: “And if that means that Dean dies too?”
Jack: “Then Dean dies. I know this Michael. I’ve seen what he’s done to an entire world and so have you. If stopping that from happening here means that Dean has to die, then.… Do you think he’d want it any other way?”
It turns out that Michael is way smarter than Sam (Jared Padalecki), Mary (Samantha Smith), and Bobby (Jim Beaver) give him credit for. He has set a trap of silver-resistant werewolves. We know they’re werewolves because Bobby yells “Werewolves!” at the beginning of the fight scene. It’s evident that they can’t use silver to kill them, not only from the earlier part of the story involving Michael’s experimentation and backroom werewolf deals, but because Mary yells, “Silver bullets aren’t working!” as they fight the creatures off. Buckner and Ross-Leming want to make sure we understand the supermonster setup for Season 14, so after the fight Bobby and Mary comment on the werewolvesʻ immunity to silver.
Just when it seems no additional plot can fit into the episode, Dean appears. He claims that Michael just let him go and he doesn’t know why. We don’t need any obvious statements to realize that things may not be what they seem.
Gods and Monsters Review
“Gods and Monsters” brought some quick changes to Season 14. Jack’s mood is lifted, while Nick experiences a radical shift in attitude. Michael’s plan has been revealed, establishing a refreshing storytelling pace. And Dean is back. Or is he? With only 20 episodes instead of the usual 23, we expect Season 14 of Supernatural to keep us wanting more. “Gods and Monsters” offered some excellent performances by the cast, particularly Jensen Ackles, Mark Pellegrino, and Alexander Calvert, as well as being a terrific platform for the rich work for the Supernatural crew. “Gods and Monsters” gave us horror, heartbreak, and a hero—who could ask for more?
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