By Sara Netzley
December 13, 2018 at 11:35 PM EST
Diyah Pera/The CW
S14 E9
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No bouncy Christmas tune has ever meant anything good on Supernatural, and this year’s holiday entry is no different. A brawl at Hitomi Plaza (Ha! We see you, writers!) returns Michael to his favorite vessel and leaves us with quite the midseason finale cliffhanger.

The action starts with Michael’s new corporate boss babe vessel hijacking an office Christmas party to clear the whole floor of a Kansas City, Missouri, high rise. He reminds his minions not to ruin their appetite for the feast to come the next day.

One of those minions? Garth the werewolf, whom Michael recognizes from Dean’s memories. Garth says he’s choosing the winning side for the sake of his family.

Speaking of family, Jack’s dealing with the stress of dying and coming back to life by snarfing Cookie Crunch cereal in the dark, even though Sam says it’ll rot his teeth. Cas finds him and assures him that this existential crisis is normal. “We’ve all been through it. It’s something of a rite of passage around here.”

Jack’s worried about his mother’s safety in heaven if the Empty can get in, and he wonders why Cas is keeping his “get happy, get doomed” deal a secret from the Winchesters. Cas says they don’t need that burden, and neither does Jack. Plus, there’s no chance of that happening anytime soon: “This life may be a lot of things, but it’s rarely happy.” That’s … a heck of a thing to tell your surrogate son.

But hey, it’s not all bad. Garth, naturally, is the Winchester’s wolf on the inside, and he calls Sam with the news that he’s about to get a power-up by drinking blood mixed with archangel grace. He plans to pretend-swallow and then spits it out like he did with his childhood cough syrup doses. Then he’s summoned to do just that and hangs up with a hearty “Balls!” that would make Bobby proud.

The Fortnite-quoting werewolf bro who’s getting turned with him is excited that the only way they can be dispatched now is through “the full Ichabod” — provided they’re not among the one in seven volunteers who drink the grace and explode.

Since Michael’s more intimidating than Garth’s mom, our favorite werewolf isn’t able to pull off the fake-swallow trick, and his eyes flash blue. Oh, Garth. The only good news is that he’s in the room to overhear Michael instruct a minion to head to a recycling plant near Omaha to kill “her” and take the spear off the board.

Garth omits the news about his unwelcome power-up when he passes on the intel about the spear. Also, he’s learned about Michael’s evil plan: His monsters are gathering in Kansas City, where they’ll attack and turn everyone in town while they’re “all nogged up, waiting for Santa,” as Dean puts it. That’s definitely one way to build an army.

Then Ketch Skypes in to brag that he’s acquired the egg that can put Michael back in his cage. He dropped it in the mail and paid extra for certified priority express to guarantee it’ll be there the day after tomorrow. Of course, this is absolutely no help since Michael’s plan is going down tomorrow. May you never stop disappointing us, Ketch.

Team Free Will hatches a plan: Sam and Jack will break into the Joplin, Missouri, shipping hub where the egg package is waiting to be delivered after the holiday shut-down, while Cas and Dean head to Omaha to get the spear and deal with Michael’s monsters.

At the recycling facility, Dean’s downright cheerful, despite Baby’s broken tape deck. Cas wonders why, and Dean says it’s because they had a no-strings win in bringing Jack back to life. If Dean had been less focused on how very happy he’ll be to kill Michael, he’d likely have seen the look of “Oh God, I have a secret and you’re going to hate it” that flashes across Castiel’s face, but the moment passes.

In the recycling center, Bad Place Kaia sneaks up on the duo and threatens Dean with her spear. He asks her to let him use it on Michael for the sake of his family and the thousands who will die if she doesn’t. She counters with an offer: Have “the special boy” send her back to the Bad Place. She’s hunted by monsters both here and there, but at least there, she understood her place in things.

Dean agrees to her terms, and Cas goes along with it, even though we all know powerless Jack’s not sending anybody anywhere right now. Cas also gets Kaia to admit that she has someone she feels bound to protect, which is why she’s willing to barter the spear. (More information about that soon, please, show!) She finally hands it over, and in what I’m assuming is NOT a seasonal homage to Serendipity, she tells Dean to track her down when it’s time to return it.

(Next page: Could everybody please stop snapping?)

This victory doesn’t last long when Sam calls with bad news: Jack picked the lock on the shipping hub (he learned online to keep himself useful, bless his precious heart) and they acquired the egg, but Michael’s henchmen showed up to kidnap Jack, and Michael himself intercepted and destroyed the egg. Oops. For some reason, Michael left Sam alive.

Yep, Michael knew Garth was Team Winchester all along, and when Jack is delivered to him, he explains that he wants Jack by his side through the centuries as Jack’s powers return and his allegiance to the Winchesters, Castiel, and all of humanity fades. Soon enough, Jack will stop caring about the difference between angel armies and monster ones. But Jack staunchly insists that his family will come for him.

He’s not wrong. Sam goes all Ichabod on the henchmen and sneaks Jack out with an assist from Garth. But in the Hitomi Plaza parking garage, Garth’s assailed by Michael’s voice in his head. “He won’t let me stop,” Garth gasps as he wolfs out and attacks. “I’m sorry!”

Sam chokes him out without much damage, and Garth is trussed up and deposited into Baby’s trunk. Oh, man, Sam’s going to go through such a spiral of blame and self-recrimination over recruiting Garth for this mission. And poor Garth! He’s been such a reliably enjoyable recurring character. Fingers crossed that someone can find a way to depower him.

By now, Cas and Dean have arrived. (Yep, Sam launched a solo assault to rescue Jack.) Cas heals Jack’s werewolf scrapes while Dean badly and hilariously twirls the spear. Hey, how else would you prepare to launch an assault on a full-powered archangel when you know it’s a trap and he’ll be able to sense you coming?

Thankfully, this quartet eats impossible odds for breakfast — well, impossible odds and Cookie Crunch — and we get the slow-mo big damn hero walk set to “Ode to Joy” as they stride toward the battle.

Upstairs, Michael waits impatiently, fidgeting and sipping from his highball glass, until they arrive. Then he smiles and launches into the fight. He hands Cas a beating with his vessel’s statement ring and tosses around Sam and Jack. Then Dean charges with the spear, and Michael’s pretty cool about being in the room with the weapon that could kill him. He un-arms Dean and does some psychological damage by reminding Dean that he’s to blame for all of this bloodshed because he let Michael in.

Sam tosses Dean the spear, and he moves to deliver the killing blow when his vision goes blurry, as we’ve seen in previous episodes, and he’s swamped with memories of his time as Michael. Michael’s current vessel collapses, and Dean stands motionless in front of the bank of floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the nighttime Kansas City skyline. Then he snaps the spear in half (ooooh, Kaia’s gonna be mad), and when he turns around, you can guess what color his eyes are glowing.

Michael chides Sam, Cas, and Jack for not questioning why he abandoned Dean as a vessel and says it’s because Dean wouldn’t stop squirming with his desire to get back to them. But when Michael left, he kept the door into Dean open a crack, and he’s back now because Dean’s been crushed, broken, destroyed, and now he’ll be quiet. “He’s gone,” Michael says.

Standing in front of the lights of the city, Michael gloats that he has a whole army out there to command. And with a snap of his fingers, we fade to black.

Bunker musings:

  • 2018: The year we were all triggered by the sound of a finger snap. Thanks a lot, Thanos. Thanks a lot, Michael. Here’s hoping Bobby’s hard at work on those angel cuffs.
  • So that was one hell of a swing for Dean, from “we got this” swagger to so crushed that Michael feels comfortable moving back in. Blame the guilt of saying yes to Michael combined with the onslaught of memories that he’s presumably been battling for some time. And hey, congrats to viewers who felt like two episodes of Michael-Dean wasn’t enough; looks like the big bad is back, and dang, is Jensen Ackles good at playing him. But … will Sam grow the beard again?
  • Was Jack’s red jacket with the fuzzy white collar supposed to be Santa-like, or am I just searching for a little spot of levity after that cliffhanger?
  • See you next year, friends. Until then, don’t forget that the secret password is “cookie-tactular.”

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