Devil's Bargain

Aaaand with its first episode of 2019, Supernatural has delivered my favorite episode of season 14 thus far. From Jensen Ackles‘ incredibly captivating performance as Michael to the old school season 5 vibes I was getting — and not just because Pamela was in it — I was all in on this episode from the very first scene. So let’s start there…

We start on Pamela Barnes — remember her? — walking into Rocky’s Bar. She’s delivering a bag of limes to the bartender, who just so happens to be our very own Dean Winchester. He lets her know that Sam and Cas are off working a ghoul case in Wichita just before a real estate agent walks in and tries to convince Dean to sell the place (which currently has one unconscious patron). But Dean refuses. He loves this place.

Cut to Dean and Pamela sharing some shots in Dean’s office. And then cut to Dean and Pamela getting a visit from a couple of angry vampires (one of whom was disguised as the aforementioned unconscious patron). Dean grabs his machete and quickly decapitates them both … and from there? Rinse and repeat. Much like “Mystery Spot,” in this world, Dean is living the same world every day. But it’s a world where he owns a bar, so who is he to complain?

Meanwhile, back in the real world, Michael has managed to get Dean’s vessel back in a suit before Sam throws holy oil on him and Castiel gets some angel cuffs on him. And while the cuffs might subdue Michael, he still has control of his monsters, and it’s not long before they’re threatening to bust down the door. Unsure of what to do, Sam calls on Jessica, the reaper assigned to watch the Winchester boys. Only, Jessica’s not on shift right now. Right now, it’s Violet. As she explains, “We have shifts now because you mess up so, so many things.” She then tells him what he already knows: She can’t help because reapers aren’t allowed to intervene. But then, something changes, and suddenly she’s not only allowed to help, but she does. She gets all of them — Sam, Jack, Cas, and Michael — back to the bunker. (Actually, she claims she didn’t do it so we can assume Billie did.)

Supernatural — “Nihilism” — Image Number: SN1410A_0098r.jpg — Pictured: Jensen Ackles as Dean/Michael — Photo: Shane Harvey/The CW — © 2018 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
| Credit: Shane Harvey/The CW

Regardless, they make it back safely, and after they chain Michael to a post, Sam remembers how Crowley was able to get into his mind when he was possessed by Gadreel. Now, they just need to find a way to get inside Dean’s head and convince him that he’s in a dream. And naturally, they don’t have a lot of time to do it. Maggie calls Sam to let him know that all of Michael’s monsters are headed to them. As Michael tells Sam, “Tonight, everybody dies.” And as for Sam, he says, “The last thing you’ll see is this pretty smile as I rip you apart.” And somehow, at that moment, Ackles oozes charisma while also terrifying me?

While Sam finds an old Men of Letters contraption to help him get inside his brother’s mind, Jack is left alone to watch Michael, a fact that the archangel finds a “little insulting.” And when Jack tries to talk to Michael, well, this happens…

Precious Jack: “You don’t know anything about Dean.”
Snarky Michael: “I’m in his head. Literally, I know everything.”

And then, of course, Michael tries to mess with Jack by telling him that Dean wasn’t sad when Jack died and that the guys see Jack as a “job,” but Castiel quickly pulls Jack out of the situation. That leaves Cas alone to talk to the world’s most evil and charming archangel, and this is where things get really interesting!! (Next: Dean fights back)

One of the things that impresses me most about this show is its ability to tie different mythologies together, and that’s precisely what it does in this scene. As Michael explains to Castiel when he fought his world’s Lucifer, they figured that God would return and give them some answers about why he’d left, but instead, nothing happened. And now Michael knows why. See, God is a writer, and what do writers do? They churn out draft after draft. (Don’t I know it.) So once God realizes one of his drafts — read: worlds — is flawed, he moves on and tries again. With that, the show has found a way to tie together the God of it all with the alternate worlds and I am LOVING it.

As for Michael’s plan, he will burn every one of God’s drafts to the ground until he catches up to dear old dad. And then? Well, as he says, “Even God can die.”

While Maggie and the other hunters try (and fail) to delay Michael’s monsters, Sam and Cas get ready to enter Dean’s mind. (Jack is left to stand guard.) But once they get inside, they’re not sure where to look for him. Castiel starts to wade through all of Dean’s trauma, of which there’s a ton, including Dean yelling “Somebody help me!” from when he was on the rack in Hell. But Sam realizes something: If Michael wanted to subdue Dean, to keep him from fighting back, he’d give him something he’s never had before: Contentment.

Just like that, Castiel starts sorting through the good memories — yes, there is mention of pie — and when Sam hears Dean talking about owning a bar, he recognizes it as a fake memory. And so, they go there, and they find Dean selling a great IPA from Austin called the Cosmic Cowboy, otherwise known as a real IPA sold at Ackles’ brewery in Austin. Sam and Castiel try to convince Dean that this is all fake, but they don’t have much luck at first. But when they remind him that Pamela is actually blind … and dead, she disappears and they have a breakthrough. But the real breakthrough comes when Sam remembers their code word: Poughkeepsie.

Suddenly, Dean remembers everything just in time for Michael to appear. And Michael then does what he does best: He talks. He claims that Dean only tolerates Castiel, the angel who “gripped you tight and raised you from Perdition … or whatever.” He then tells Sam that Dean was happiest when Sam quit hunting and left Dean along with dad. “They’re not family. They’re your responsibilities,” Michael tells Dean. “Deep down, you were desperate to get away from them. That is why you said ‘yes.'”

But Castiel sees through Michael’s big speech: He’s stalling so that his monsters can save him in the real world. Speaking of those monsters, they do arrive at the bunker, but Jack uses his magic — even though it will eat away at his soul — to blast them all to dust.

As for Michael, the guys realize they’re all mental projections which means they’re on an even playing field. And so, they fight. Things get off to a rough start, but Dean realizes that they need to trap him, so he and Sam get Michael inside the bar’s freezer and shut the door. Michael nearly busts the door down, but that’s when Dean realizes something: It’s his mind, which means he makes the rules, so the door will hold. “I’m the cage,” Dean says in what has just become one of my favorite lines ever.

With Michael locked away, the guys wake up, and Cas has a quick chat with Jack letting him know that he can’t use his magic ever again because nobody needs a soulless Jack. As for Dean, he’s trying to keep Michael subdued, but it isn’t easy. Just then, Billie appears to him. Apparently, all of the books on how Dean might die have just been rewritten, and they all end the same way now: With Michael escaping Dean’s mind and using Dean as his vessel to burn the world. Well, all of them except one. She then hands Dean a book, and the second he opens it, he gets emotional. “What am I supposed to do with this?” he asks. “That’s up to you,” Billie says as she leaves. And we end on a teary-eyed Dean shutting the book.

COLOR ME INTRIGUED. I truly loved everything about this episode, from the Michael snark to the stuff in Dean’s mind to the creativity, both big and small. And that ending? Yep, this show has still got it.

For more on Supernatural, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly on stands Friday, or buy one — or three — of our collector’s covers featuring Jensen Ackles, Misha Collins, and Jared Padalecki now. A very special cover featuring the Winchester family is also available for purchase exclusively at Barnes & Noble. Don’t forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.

Episode Recaps

Devil's Bargain

Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki star as the Winchester brothers, hellbent on battling the paranormal forces of evil.

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