Meet the antichrist,
Maker of reality:
Believe, and it’s true.
In Alliance, Nebraska, babysitter Amber, brushing her hair while watching a horror movie, investigated a strange noise to find her prankster charge Jimmy in the closet, wearing an “arrow through the head” gag and pretending to be dead. She sent him off to bed and returned to her movie, but was unsettled to hear a real dog barking like an echo of the one on TV. She looked out the window, but saw nothing. Hours later, Jimmy’s parents returned home to find the TV still on, the house undisturbed, and Amber lying on the sofa apparently asleep. When the father touched her, he discovered her dead, one side of her skull scratched open.
Posing as FBI agents Plant and Page, the brothers visited the coroner to see Amber’s body. The coroner had updated the initial “wolf attack” police report, however, and showed the brothers the press-on nail he’d found in her temporal lobe, evidence she had scratched her brains out. He posited some form of insanity or drug use that drove her to attack a phantom itch. Investigating at the house, Dean quizzed Jimmy, quickly realizing the boy was holding something back. Under pressure, the boy admitted having put itching powder on Amber’s hairbrush. Sam objected that ground walnut shells couldn’t have caused Amber to kill herself.
The coroner called with another odd death: a man electrocuted in the hospital in the room of an elderly man with senile dementia, who maintained that all he’d done was shake the man’s hand while wearing a joy buzzer. The brothers confiscated the wind-up toy and tested it out on a ham roast, winding up with well-cooked ham. Investigating the itching powder and the buzzer, Sam learned they’d both been purchased at the Conjurarium, a magic shop in town. Guessing the owner to be a powerful witch selling cursed items, they confronted him and found a man resentful of kids who were more interested in breaking things than buying them. When Dean used the joy buzzer to melt a rubber chicken on the store counter, however, the man was terrified and surprised; obviously not the instigator.
That night, a father putting his daughter to bed promised the tooth fairy would come for the tooth she lost and leave her a quarter under her pillow, but the girl found the idea of someone getting into her room while she slept too creepy. After her father had gone to bed, she got up and snuck her lost tooth under his pillow. The tooth fairy came to his room instead – a beefy, bearded guy in a pink tutu with wings – and removed all his teeth with pliers, leaving 32 quarters under his pillow. Sam took that description from the man at the hospital the next day. Dean, interviewing other patients, found more examples of craziness, including two kids with stomach ulcers who had mixed Pop Rocks and Coke and a guy who had made a funny face only to have his face freeze that way, requiring plastic surgery. Sam couldn’t make all of that add up to anything, but Dean observed that when he was six, he had believed sea monkeys were real – and all of the things they were seeing were the common stories kids believed. Sam realized something had to be reshaping reality to make the stories true, and the only things he could think of with that kind of power were gods or tricksters.
Returning to their motel to find Dean continuing to eat his way through the ham before it would spoil, Sam laid down a map showing where all the odd things had occurred: within a two-mile radius centered on a farmhouse. Asking if their motel was within that radius, Dean offered one more thing to add to the list: he was sporting a hairy palm after having … entertained himself while Sam was gone. He went to shave, and they got back into FBI guise to visit the house. Ready to pick the lock, Sam was startled when Jesse, the little boy living there, simply opened the door and asked what they wanted. After carefully examining their badges, he let them in, noting that his parents were at work. Inside, Sam was struck by memories, seeing Jesse heating up his own lunch, while Dean was struck by a sample of Jesse’s art on the refrigerator: a drawing of the tooth fairy matching the description given by the man who lost his teeth. Dean asked Jesse about the drawing, and Jesse emphatically maintained that the tooth fairy was real, not just a story. He similarly held out the absolute truth that mixing Pop Rocks and Coke would mean you’d wind up in the hospital, itching powder would cause you to scratch your brains out, and joy buzzers could electrocute people. Dean, holding out the joy buzzer they’d confiscated, explained that wasn’t true, saying the toy didn’t even have any batteries and couldn’t hurt anyone, and Jesse, after a moment’s thought, accepted his explanation. Demonstrating its truth, Dean slapped Sam with the buzzer, and all it did was whine.
Leaving the house, Sam berated Dean for risking his life on a hunch, but they both acknowledged Jesse was the cause of the strangeness, that whatever he believed became real. It was also obvious that he was totally innocent and wasn’t even aware of what he was doing. Sam dug into Jesse’s past, learning he was adopted. Having gotten into the sealed records, he found no name for Jesse’s father, but learned his mother, Julia Wright, lived in Elk Creek, on the other side of the state. They paid her a visit, finding a paranoid woman who ran from them when they asked if there had been anything strange about her pregnancy. She flung salt at them when they caught her, fearing they were demons, and then told them she had been possessed for nine months by a demon who used her body to give birth to a child, though she had been a virgin before it happened. The pain of childbirth somehow let her regain control, and having learned bits and pieces from the demon, she swallowed rock salt to drive the demon out of her. Unable to kill the baby, she put him up for adoption and ran away. She asked tentatively if he was human, and Dean told her he was a good kid named Jesse living in Alliance.
Leaving Julia’s, Dean observed they needed help, and they found Castiel in their motel room when they returned that night. Castiel said they had to kill the boy, and when the brothers stopped in shock, he said the child was half human and half demon, but far more powerful than either: he was the antichrist, one of the devil’s most powerful weapons. Cas said the demons had lost Jesse and hadn’t been able to find him because his power hid him from both angels and demons. Cas explained that with Lucifer risen, Jesse would grow strong and continue to affect the world around him in more and more obvious fashion, drawing attention to his deeds that would lead to his discovery. Cas maintained that Lucifer would twist the boy to his purpose and that with a word, he would destroy the host of Heaven.
Sam protested that they were the good guys and couldn’t just kill children. Dean said they should take Jesse to Bobby’s to keep him safe, but Cas pointed out that if they kidnapped Jesse and made him angry, they couldn’t predict what he would do, and they had no way to keep him anywhere when he could flee halfway across the planet with a thought. Sam argued passionately that Jesse was human and they should tell him the truth and warn him about the dangers so he could make the right choice. Cas countered that Sam hadn’t done so, and he couldn’t take a chance on Jesse. Cas disappeared. Meanwhile, Julia was surprised by the mailman, who revealed he was the demon who had possessed her. Telling her they’d lost track of Jesse when she gave him up, he said they’d watched her ever since, waiting, and had seen the Winchesters. Figuring they had told her where Jesse was, the demon possessed her again, and went to Alliance.
Jesse, getting a drink while his parents slept, found Castiel in the house. Facing the real boy, not just an abstract antichrist, Cas regretted what he was going to do, but still tried to kill Jesse with the demon-killing knife. Dean and Sam burst in hard on Castiel’s heels to find Jesse staring in shock at the toy figure into which he’d transformed the angel. When Jesse realized what he had done and wondered how he had done it, Dean told Jesse he was a superhero, and said he and Sam worked for a secret government agency looking for children with special powers. He told Jesse they would take him to a secret base in South Dakota where he would be trained to fight evil, and when Jesse asked if that meant like the X-Men, Dean gratefully agreed it was exactly like the X-Men. Dean said he would be a hero, saving lives.
The demon in Julia’s body walked in the door, flinging Dean and Sam up against a wall and pinning them there, and told Jesse they were lying to him. She flung Dean around, saying hurting him was encouraged although she was under orders not to do anything to Sam, but Jesse told her to leave Dean alone. She told him she was his mother, and he was half human and half one of them. Dean interjected that she meant demons, and the demon silenced him with a gesture, half throttling him. She maintained that everyone had lied to Jesse, and he should be angry; that his parents weren’t really his parents and couldn’t really love him or they wouldn’t leave him alone all day or tell him lies about the tooth fairy. As he started getting angry, the house shook, walls cracked, lights flickered, and a fire leaped in the fireplace. She offered him a life without lies, a chance to start over. Sam desperately agreed that he and Dean had lied, but said he would tell Jesse the truth, and the demon silenced him, choking him. Jesse, however, freed him with a thought, surprising the demon with his strength, and told the demon he wanted to hear what Sam would say.
Sam apologized for lying, introduced himself and Dean as hunters of monsters, and said that Julia was Jesse’s mother, but the thing inside her was a demon. The demon told Jesse not to listen to him, and Jesse ordered her to sit down and shut up, suiting action to the words. Free to speak, Sam explained the war between angels and demons, and said if Jesse went with the demon, millions of people would die. He spoke the truth about Jesse being half-demon, but said he was half-human too, and could choose to do the right thing. When Jesse, overwhelmed, asked why he was telling him this, Sam said he had to believe someone could make the right choice, even if he couldn’t. Jesse ordered the demon to get out of his mother, and the demon was forced to smoke away.
Alone with Dean, Sam, and the unconscious Julia, Jesse asked if she would be all right, and Dean said she would be, eventually. Picking up the Cas figurine, Dean confessed that Cas was a friend and asked if Jesse could restore him, admitting he’d tried to kill Jesse but saying he was just confused, but when Jesse just looked at him, Dean carefully set the figure aside for later. Dean said they would take Jesse someplace safe and get him trained, noting he’d be useful in a fight, but Jesse asked what would happen if he didn’t want to fight. Sam said Jesse was more powerful than anything they’d ever seen. Jesse, resigned, said he was a freak, but Sam said he wasn’t a freak to them, because they were kind of freaks themselves. Adding things up, Jesse realized he couldn’t stay where he was, but insisted he wouldn’t leave without his parents. Sam said there was nothing more important than family and they couldn’t stop Jesse from doing whatever he wished, but warned him that his parents would be in danger and could die as their father had. Dean advised that once he was in this fight, he was in it to the end, win or lose. Jesse asked what he should do, and Sam said they couldn’t tell him; that it was his choice. Jesse asked for the chance to go see his parents and say goodbye, and they let him go. He looked in on his sleeping parents and then went to his room, looking at the travel posters on his wall.
Realizing he’d been upstairs a long time, the brothers went up after him and found his room empty. Castiel was abruptly there, saying Jesse was gone but had put everyone in town who was still alive back to normal. Sam discovered a note on Jesse’s bed in which he apologized to his parents and said he lad to leave to keep them safe, and loved them. Driving away, Dean observed they’d destroyed Jesse’s life by telling him the truth, and said he understood now why parents told their children lies in the hope of protecting them from the real evils, letting them go to bed feeling safe. He said he wished their Dad had lied to them, and Sam agreed.
Commentary and Meta Analysis
This episode raised many more questions than it answered, but since I’m absolutely convinced we’re going to see Jesse again – how could we not? – that’s as it should be. My meta explorations this time out focus on truth, lies, family, and the antichrist.
You Know Him As The Anti-Christ
Castiel’s revelation that Jesse was the antichrist was fascinating, but I definitely hope he follows it up with a bit more explanation. If all it takes to make one almost-all-powerful demon/human hybrid is for a demon to possess a human woman long enough for her to carry to term a child conceived through demonic parthenogenesis, you have to wonder why we’re not up to our collective asses in antichrists. I’m curious to know why and how there can be only one, to borrow a line from Highlander. The suggestion that his power was awoken and magnified by Lucifer’s release from Hell explains why the strangeness around him hadn’t started any sooner than it did, despite Jesse having been alive for eleven years, but not necessarily why Jesse would be unique. My first thought in that regard is the demons might be just as scared of having that kind of power casually lying around as Castiel is, and may never have made the effort to create an antichrist until the plan to free Lucifer was well along. And even if we assume that the antichrist wouldn’t attain his power until he could access Lucifer’s unimprisoned strength, multiple such powers would just increase the chance that Lucifer wouldn’t be able to maintain control over them all. What happens when two entities able to warp reality go head to head through making diametrically opposed choices? I don’t think we want to know.
Jesse being a demon/human hybrid was interesting. We learned back in Malleus Maleficarum that all demons were once human but forgot their humanity in Hell. We learned first from Casey in Sin City and again from Ruby in When The Levee Breaks that Lucifer created demons; Casey knew it just as a story, an article of faith, while Ruby told of Lucifer deliberately spiting God by perverting his creation and transforming Lilith into the first demon by twisting her to believe in and follow him.
To me, the curious thing in that story is that demons became objectively more powerful than humans through their surrender of humanity. From numerous instances in the show, we’ve seen that demons are physically stronger than humans, can move things (including humans) with nothing more than a thought and the idle wave of a hand, can transport themselves across distances in an eyeblink, and can read the thoughts and feelings of humans. From Casey, we learned demons could have faith and believe in abstractions, and – judging from her relationship with the demon inhabiting the priest – could even form lasting bonds of caring with others. The crossroads demons had access to additional power to fulfill human wishes, even to bringing the dead back to life. The only ways in which demons appear weaker than humans is in their forced adherence to rules they can’t break – such as crossroads demons being bound to the letter of their contracts – and in being subject to spells and restrictions that don’t apply to humans, including being banished by exorcisms and being unable to cross certain symbols or salt and iron lines.
Jesse’s origin suggests that a human combined with a demon may have the full range of demon abilities without the constraints on demons, but the nature of his power – being able to warp reality to his own belief – suggests something much more. Crossroads demons evidently have some reality-warping power, but can’t use it wholesale to fulfill their own desires; they can only fulfill the terms of deals established by humans. Other demons may be even more constrained. For all his power, including being immune to holy water, Azazel admitted to John during In My Time Of Dying that he couldn’t save Dean himself, and we saw he had to possess a Reaper and use her ability to accomplish his goal. Azazel told Dean in All Hell Breaks Loose, Part 2 he couldn’t have restored Sam without Dean making his deal. Jesse, on the other hand, was directly able to affect reality unconsciously simply through what he believed to be real and true, and was able consciously to create his own reality and impose it on others at will, as he did through silencing, holding, and eventually banishing the demon in Julia and through transporting himself physically away.
Jesse’s self-directed power smacks of the divine, like the Trickster, or like Castiel’s God himself. There is a school of thought that we humans each have within us some small spark of God, that what sets us apart from the rest of creation is that we partake of the essence of God in our ability to imagine, to create, and to bring ideas to life. This posits that we were created not merely in the image and likeness of God in appearance, but also in the life-giving creative fire burning within our souls. Like God, we humans can conceive of and make new things out of our own thought and through the work of our hands and minds. Our mortal and human forms, however, can contain only a little divinity; not nearly enough for the great works of Creation with a capital “C”.
Jesse, however, is only half human. His other, demon half evidently isn’t bound by human constraints, and it would appear than his human half similarly isn’t limited by the strictures that normally bind demons. Like a human, Jesse can apparently create things of his own will as a demon cannot, bringing about what he desires rather than fulfilling the desires of another, and like a demon – as distinct from a demon-tainted human like Sam – can casually employ demon-style telekinetic and teleportation abilities without the need for concentration or effort. One suspects that despite his demon half, he might be able to walk through devil’s traps and cross lines of salt and iron because of the power and protection of his humanity. One wonders whether he might in some way be related to a Trickster.
One key to Jesse – as to a Trickster, I think – is what Sam realized and said: that Jesse has the free will to choose what he does. It’s not a foregone conclusion to my mind that Lucifer will convince him to support Lucifer and his demons. It may well be that the greatest chance is that Jesse would be persuaded by Lucifer – after all, the devil definitely doesn’t play fair when it comes to applying pressure and influence, and power always brings with it the temptation to use it and the assumption that you would use it the right way – but the house doesn’t always win. And even if the game is rigged, if you understand how it’s rigged, you can still beat the odds.
One further interesting thought along these lines is that, if slipping the bonds of humanity and its mortal limitations removes the usual constraints on human use of that internal spark of the divine, both Sam and Dean might have more access to the force of the divine within themselves than the standard run of humans. Both brothers have been warped from being purely human into something partially demonic: Sam by Azazel’s and Ruby’s blood and his use of power, and Dean by breaking under the tortures of Hell and becoming a torturer in his turn. They both have things in common with Jesse, whether or not they realize it.
I’m absolutely confident we will see Jesse again, and that his choices, as influenced by Sam and Dean, will be pivotal. And I’m haunted by one of the things Jesse said: What if I don’t want to fight? What if Jesse chooses no side and no battle at all? Could he block the powers of others and change the whole nature of the battlefield?
The More I Think About It, The More I Wish Dad Had Lied To Us
Truth, lies, and family were interlinked themes in this episode, as they have been throughout the series. Family has always been at the heart of the show, starting with Sam, Dean, John, and Mary, and expanding beyond blood to encompass others, including Bobby, Ellen, and even Castiel. The collision of truth and lies within the Winchester family has been a key to all of the action of the story. Mary hid her hunter past and lied to John. After her death, John was too shattered at first to hide things from Dean, but he lied to Sammy, hiding the truth about their lives. As John learned about Sam, he lied to both his boys, hiding what he knew until he was about to die, and then telling Dean only part of the truth. Obeying John’s orders, Dean lied to Sam until Sam stole John’s journal and read the truth for himself. After that, he told the truth until John burdened him with the mission of saving Sam or killing him, and finally came clean on that only after it nearly drove him mad. Sam lied to Dean about his powers and Ruby, hiding things until it became almost second nature. Once he recovered his memories of Hell, Dean lied for a while about not remembering them, but once he opened the spigot on truth, all the ugliness came out. Since Lucifer’s rising, both Sam and Dean have been on the truth bandwagon with each other, trying to rebuild what all the lies had broken, to reclaim family along with trust by paying in the coin of truth.
The show has always emphasized the importance of truth. Whenever the brothers have lied to each other, they’ve hurt both themselves and each other, giving rise to suspicion, resentment, and anger. Lies divide. Lies hurt. Whenever they’ve truly come clean with each other, clearing the air of lies, they’ve become stronger, albeit with sorrow and pain. Truth, we’ve been shown, has a premium. Truth has a value. The truth sets you free.
This episode, however, recognized the intent behind lies isn’t always to deceive. I said that poorly. What I mean is, deception itself isn’t always the primary goal, and in this episode the brothers finally recognized that sometimes a lie isn’t meant to protect the teller, but to preserve the hearer. They learned that a lie is always a mistake, but sometimes, it’s a mistake make in love, and the reason behind the lie is more important than the lie itself. Those lies, they’ve learned, should be forgiven
Both brothers have always been intolerant of lies told to them, considering every lie to be an insult and an offense. They’ve never before considered lies told to them as anything other than self-serving for the one telling the lie, even when they thought they had their own valid reasons for telling their own lies. Let’s look at both of them.
Sam bitterly resented his father and brother having lied to him and kept him in the dark about hunting and the reason for their abnormal lives. He nursed that resentment into rebellion against John, in clashes that added up eventually to him walking out and going to Stanford alone. Even after reuniting with Dean, he hated John keeping them in the dark, lying by omission and by not sharing what he knew or guessed. He savaged Dean when he learned that Dean had been hiding what John told him before he died. He laid into Dean again when he guessed Dean remembered Hell and was lying to him about his memories.
I don’t think Sam, before this episode, ever really thought about or truly understood why John lied and hid things from him. I don’t think it occurred to him that John may have meant the lies to protect him, to leave him feeling safe if only because he was ignorant of the dangers in the supernatural world around him. And when he learned that John had hidden things he knew about Sam, dark things about there being a need to save him or kill him, I believe Sam saw only the lie. He never thought that perhaps John lied to keep him from being scared, or to keep him from thinking that he was a freak, to try to prevent a self-fulfilling prophecy of Sam becoming evil simply because he believed it was expected of him and therefore inevitable. John had tried, with Dean’s assistance, to preserve Sam’s innocence, and now for the first time, I think Sam may finally understand that it wasn’t necessarily to keep him ignorant and therefore powerless, but perhaps to protect him from fear and even from himself, and most especially from the things he came to believe and expect about himself. I think Sam finally also realizes the same motive lay behind Dean keeping the secret of John’s final words.
Dean was similarly intolerant of lies, especially lies coming from Sam. Unlike Sam, he cut John a lot of slack, understanding at least in part why John lied to Sam and got him to lie to Sam, too. He understood protecting Sam and preserving Sam’s innocence, even though he had none left of his own. His heartbreaking line at the end of Something Wicked demonstrated that. Sam’s lies, however, he couldn’t understand, except as self-serving things intended to deceive him and prevent him from taking corrective action. I suspect that most of Sam’s lies were self-serving, but not in the way Dean believed. I think Sam lied in large part out of fear that Dean would reject him, that Dean wouldn’t love him if he knew what Sam was and what he had done. My guess is most of Sam’s lies grew out of his desperation not to see fear and loathing in his brother’s eyes. Keeping Dean ignorant of what Sam knew and feared was wrong about himself was protection against being alone and being judged, but also was intended to protect Dean from learning – as Sam thought – that his love might have been misplaced. And those were the same reasons I think Dean had for hiding his memories of Hell: shame in himself and fear of the loss of his brother’s respect and love.
I think Dean’s line about wishing their Dad had lied to them – by which he mostly meant he wished his Dad had lied to him – was wistful recognition that lies were not always evil; that lies were sometimes an expression of love, of the desperate desire to keep another safe simply by reinforcing their belief in safety even when truth said there was no safety at all. When Sam agreed with him despite a lifetime of having resented John’s lies, I don’t think it was a denial of what had gone before, but finally an acknowledgment that lies could be meant and told in love.
I think it also reflected on Dean’s line to Jesse about being in the fight to the end, once you knew about it. Dean’s been a soldier in the fight against evil since he was four, since the night he lost his Mom and learned there were no such things as safety or innocence or fairness. In wishing his dad had lied to him, I think Dean finally admitted wishing he could have been spared all that. He also acknowledged that knowing about evil brings with it the obligation to fight against it, but the weariness of realizing he could never lay that burden down and that Jesse, like Sam, would have to carry it from the moment they accepted it too, was a sobering thing.
I found it heartbreaking that Dean, in talking with Jesse, tried at first to do exactly the same thing he and John had both attempted to do for Sam: to let him be a kid for at least a while longer, to protect him from knowing scary truths about himself and the world around him. Casting Jesse’s role in comic book terms of being a superhero in training rather than the half-demon antichrist was intended both to lighten the load and prevent him from believing his choice was already made and inevitably dark. It was a lie intended to be a truth; an attempt to recast Jesse’s view of himself in positive terms before he could learn otherwise.
The Julia-demon’s intervention forced a change in plan, prompting Sam to tell Jesse the truth. That, however, may have been a blessing in disguise, given the show’s insistence on the value of truth. Sam had been lied to and protected as a child, and chose wrongly when his decision time came; Jesse’s course is already different, because he was given the unvarnished truth right in the beginning. I think the hope now is that, free from lies from the start, Jesse may be better equipped to choose the right course when the decisions come to him.
The point of the story, I think, is that lies are always a mistake even when they are well meant, but also that lies told with good intent merit forgiveness and understanding, not resentment and further mistrust.
This episode was a little hit-and-miss for me. The concept of innocent Jesse as the antichrist, the parallels drawn between Jesse and Sam – with the added fillip of Sam having been lied to and given incomplete information, to contrast with Jesse being told all the truth – and the exploration of truth, lies, and personal choice were wonderful. Seeing the Winchester brothers working together and supporting each other felt very good, starting to heal the rift.
My main issue with the episode concerns the way the script by Andrew Dabb and Daniel Loflin glossed over all the changes the brothers have experienced since season one. The brothers’ interactions felt like the first season come again, but that unfortunately isn’t entirely a good thing. I can appreciate the writers and producers wanting to recapture the first season’s sense of the brothers beginning to learn to work together again after a separation, but I think the script went too far in trying to reclaim that spirit, particularly with regard to Dean. I do hope that something of Dean’s childlike delight in life still exists despite all the horrors he’s been through, but he came off in this episode as being childish rather than child-like. Part of that undoubtedly reflects and appealed to creator Eric Kripke’s self-confessed sophomoric sense of humor, but it struck wrong chords in light of everything Dean has been through. Dean’s positive glee over the whoopee cushion and his sly dog reaction to his hairy palm just felt … overdone, and too transparently a return to the Dean we first met, totally absolved of the guilt and grief and loss he’s experienced since then. Dean playing the hunch on the joy buzzer by hitting Sam with it felt totally wrong; no matter the certainty of his guess, taking a chance on hurting or killing Sam just wasn’t Dean. That grated. I laughed at all the comic bits (well, after flinching at the joy buzzer one) – Jensen has the most incredible rubber face in the business, and unbeatable comic timing! – but it still grated.
On the other hand, I loved the roles written for the guest actors and the performances they delivered, particularly young Gattlin Griffith as Jesse and Ever Carradine as his mother, Julia. These were both difficult and meaty roles, and these two actors ate them up. Griffith’s self-possession as Jesse was remarkable. There aren’t a lot of kids who could stand up to playing a scene as an equal with Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki, but Griffith pulled it off. It was particularly a treat for me since I had gotten to see him just being a kid before the shooting day began, tossing a football with Jared, Jensen, and the crew and romping with Jared’s dogs. The contrast was amazing, and spoke to an astonishing degree of professionalism in one so young.
I also loved seeing Jared’s Sam recapturing the moral center that had grounded him in the first two seasons. When Castiel confronted him with the failure of his choices, he didn’t offer excuses even though he had some partially valid ones – chief among them being that, unlike his plan for Jesse, he hadn’t been given all the truth, and had been misled even by the angels. Instead, he swallowed the criticism as his due and manned up to his responsibility, and Jared pulled that off beautifully. I loved seeing Jensen’s Dean stand silent while truth was spoken, but then move to support his brother and put himself between Sam and Castiel the same way he’d always put himself between Sam and John when they were at odds. Dean had always been tactile in the past, before he and Sam became estranged last season and lost the ability to communicate; I think his supportive and calming hand on Sam’s shoulder was the first return of that kind of unthinking touch since they’ve come back together. The brothers are gradually recovering themselves and their partnership. Each of them backed the other’s play. They handed the lead back and forth between them without arguing it.
I found Misha Collins’ Castiel interesting to watch and speculate about. When he was telling the brothers about Jesse’s nature as the antichrist, Castiel was forceful, certain, and unbending. When he came face to face with Jesse and saw a boy rather than an abstraction, however, he hesitated, and the conflict and regret on his face spoke volumes about how much he has changed from the angel he used to be, unquestioning of orders and right. He still tried to kill Jesse, believing the boy’s death essential to the survival of all he knew, but he was agonizing over it.
Director Charles Beeson borrowed from Kim Manners’ book when it came to some of his direction, particularly in the ultra close-ups on his actors. I loved the moody, atmospheric arrival of the boys at Jesse’s house, and I can really appreciate what the post-production people contributed to the look of that scene, since I saw how bright and sunny the day was when they shot it. The fisheye of the boys and their badges through Julia’s security lens was a treat, and the way Beeson shot one house to be two entirely separate locations – he used the exact same farmhouse for Jesse’s home and for Julia’s, just shooting the front yard for Jesse’s place and the back and side yard for Julia’s – was an education. I loved seeing how he shot the backlot from inside the Conjurarium magic shop to give a totally different look and feel to the street and the buildings from what we saw of them during The End.
I also have to make a mention of Jay Gruska’s underscore for the episode, particularly the sad piano that tolled Jesse’s realization of his loss of innocence, home, and family. That hurt beautifully.
I really appreciated the production crew’s efforts, especially since I got the chance on this episode to glimpse a bit of the work behind the scenes. Seeing the attention paid to finding the locations, dressing them up perfectly – right down to details you would never notice, like the fence by the Impala, Jesse’s mailbox, and subtle fog effects – and shooting places you’ve seen before in different ways to make them new just makes me want to learn more about all these details on every other episode, and to share what I know with others. I’ve posted behind the scenes photos from the two locations where I got to watch shooting – Amber’s house and Jesse/Julia’s place – and wrote up my description of the experience. I hope you consider those an expanded version of my usual production notes. I just wish I could do that more often, but I’ll give thanks for having been able to do it this time!
This episode, I think, has let us and the brothers come to terms with and forgive past lies, and embrace present truths. And in introducing us to Jesse, who combines the powers of creation and destruction in one mostly human package, I think it also introduced us to the spark of God within each of us. We have the power to make our world whatever we believe it to be.
Make it good.
Don't miss my behind-the-scenes photos! I posted links in my previous blog entry, here.