Dean Loves His Westerns – Supernatural: “Tombstone” Review

Cas is back and the boys have a new case in Dodge City – famous for its Old West heritage. It’s Team Free Will 2.0!


Supernatural – “Tombstone”, Season 13, Episode 6
Airdate: November 16, 2017
Director: Nina Lopez-Corrado
Writer: Davy Perez


What You Should Know:

Castiel was killed in the finale of season 12, stabbed through the chest with an angel blade. He was sent to the place where all angels (and apparently demons) go when they die: The Empty. But after overhearing an argument between Dean and Sam about what Jack may or may not be capable of, and may or may not be responsible for, Jack’s guilt over Castiel’s death spiked. His eyes glowed with his power and Castiel awoke within The Empty, eventually convincing the being in charge to send him back to Earth.

In the interest of training Jack to control his powers, Sam had suggested they start small and asked Jack simply to move a single pencil with his mind. A task Jack could not manage.

Dean has an enduring love of anything to do with the Old West.

What You’ll Find Out:

Dean and an unfamiliar man in a cowboy hat and what appears to be a sheriff’s uniform are carefully making their way through a graveyard at night, shotguns and flashlights drawn. They sweep their lights around, looking for something. Distant rustling can be heard, but no signs of movement are seen by the time the beams of light land in the area the sound came from. Whatever they’re hunting is fast. They approach a crypt and split up to circle around, meeting on the other side. Dean takes the lead and the unnamed man pauses as if hearing something. He looks down and a moment later is sucked beneath the earth with barely a shout. Dean rushes over, finding only a hole in the ground where his companion previously stood.

*48 Hours Earlier*

Dean and Sam find a living, breathing, Castiel standing beside a phone booth. They don’t question that it’s really him but instead greet him with surprised happiness. Castiel explains what he knows of how and where he awoke, and what The Empty is like. Saying it is dark and … nothing. That it is like nothing. Dean and Sam ponder what could have resurrected him, asking if perhaps Chuck (God) could have stepped in, but Castiel says no, that even God has no power in The Empty. And after a moment Sam realizes there is another possibility: Jack. Castiel is surprised to hear that Jack is alive, and so they all return to the bunker so that Cas can meet the boy he died to protect.

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Jack recognizes Castiel instantly when he enters the room and is filled with joy. Sam and Dean ask him if he brought Cas back, to which Jack hesitantly explains that he very much wanted Castiel’s return, but hadn’t done anything to make it happen. That he was aware of. He then proudly shows Cas, and therefore the brothers, that he can now move a pencil with his mind. And he’s also found them all a case, a mysterious grave robbery in Dodge City.

As soon as Dean hears the words Dodge City he can barely contain his grin and voices his complete support of the hunt, arguing that they’ve ‘done more for less.’ It quickly comes out that Dodge City is also rather famous for its gun-slinging western stories, which are some of Dean’s favorite things. With this knowledge on the table, Sam and Cas have no choice but to agree.

Dean books them the Wild Bill suite when they check into their heavily-themed motel, grinning ear to ear as he looks around the space. There are portraits on the wall with famous names that he proceeds to read aloud, rambling off their stories and becoming increasingly excited. Sam, Cas, and Jack hang back and watch, with Jack learning an important new detail about Dean. He loves the Old West.

Sam catches up with Dean as they’re hanging their FBI suits in the closet, quietly pointing out the obvious shift in Dean’s attitude in the last few hours. To which Dean responds that they’d needed a win, and now they have Cas back. And that’s a pretty damn big win.

While the Winchesters are sleeping off what remains of the night, Jack, who needs very little sleep, and Cas, who never sleeps, stay up talking. Cas tells Jack about his mother, and about the future, she believed Jack could bring to the world. Jack reveals that he remembers feeling safe when Castiel started traveling with his mother while she was pregnant, protecting her. The open computer in front of Jack makes some kind of sound, a specific signal, and glances to the display before getting excited again. He exclaims that they’ve got a development and rushes to wake Sam and Dean. Castiel tries to stop him, but in his eagerness, Jack has already breached the bedroom and tapped Dean’s shoulder. Dean whips out his gun from beneath his pillow but fortunately opens his eyes before he pulls the trigger. Cas later quietly explains to Jack, as Dean gulps a steaming cup of coffee, that Dean is an ‘angry sleeper.’

The group decides to split up, with Sam taking Jack to investigate the part of the case that originally brought them into town, the grave robbery. In the meantime, Dean and Cas will be headed out to the new crime scene to see what they can find.

Dean alters his traditional FBI suit for some Western flare, including a cowboy hat, makes Castiel wear a cowboy hat as well, and tells Cas to remember the movie “Tombstone” and just follow his lead. They approach the police already gathered, learning the officer in charge of the scene of is Sergeant Joe Philips, standing in for the sheriff. And the officer killed during the night was his nephew. He makes it plain that he’s willing to cooperate, but if he finds the killer first he intends to kill him.

Meanwhile, Sam and Jack (posing as a trainee), head to the mortuary at the cemetery to talk to the woman who owns it. Athena swears she wasn’t home when the grave robbery happened and Jack interrupts to ask classic – but out of place – hunter questions about cold spots or the smell of sulfur. She reiterates her story but gives them permission to examine the site, which the local authorities have already roped off. Sam and Jack head to the cemetery and Sam teaches Jack not to bother with the EMF in a cemetery, as they’re always full of the stuff. They quickly find the grave in question while Jack tells Sam that the authorities had a note that the coffin had been damaged by rats. Sam lifts the top lid, revealing that nearly the entire headboard had seemingly been broken or chewed away, commenting that they’d have to be some terrifying rats. With no other choice, Sam jumps into the grave itself while Jack watches. He digs the dirt away from the area where the hole in the coffin would match, finding a tunnel leading away from the grave and a piece of chewed up bone left behind.

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Everyone reconvenes at the motel, piece of bone in hand. Up to this point, with a body risen from a grave and a newly deceased lawman, they’d been working a zombie theory. But the evidence Sam and Jack found at the cemetery debunks the zombie theory and replaces it with another one; they’re looking for a ghoul. Ghouls eat the flesh of the dead and take their form.

They consider if Athena could be the ghoul, given her job and the fact that she lives alone, but Dean argues there’d be no point in her eating from the bodies after they’re buried when she has access to them beforehand. Jack manages to pull traffic cam footage featuring the stolen truck the now-deceased deputy had pulled over. Upon zooming in, Dean recognizes the driver as Dave Mather. Dean removes a photo from the motel room wall, handing it to Cas as he explains. Dave was one of Dodge City’s most infamous outlaws, who also happens to have died in 1886. Dean’s excitement over the case returns as he leaves the room to put his boots on, exclaiming, “One of the best gun-slingers ever! Whoo!” Looking at the image, Jack says he’s seen that man before. It was in a picture in Athena’s house when he and Sam were there. From the picture, he guessed the man was Athena’s boyfriend.

In the meantime, a shady figure walks up behind an oblivious Athena and smacks her ass. She turns around, finding ‘Dave’ and scolds him, but they are obviously together. After they kiss he tells her she got a letter in the mail and hands her an envelope. It’s a reply from a makeup school out in California, which she hadn’t told him she’d sent away for. And she’s been accepted. She’s thrilled, but he clearly isn’t. When she calls him out on it he says he thought she’d decided not to apply, that it’s far away, and city life is expensive. His reluctance to leave is glaring. As is her disappointment in his lack of support. She changes the subject by mentioning that the FBI had come by to ask about the grave robbery and that they’d asked some odd questions about cold spots and ‘strange smells.’

Sam, with Dean this time, returns to Athena’s home and again they let themselves in. Athena confronts them angrily but backs down when Sam says they’re there to talk to her boyfriend about the robbery – and about a murder. But unfortunately, he’s not home.

Dave makes his way down to the local bank right before closing time, waltzing in after the last customer leaves and pointing a gun at the lone security guard. He has the guard and the teller fill the bag with all the cash they can, reminding them if they press the button for help or put any dye bomb in the bag they’ll die. Both are reasonably terrified and do as they’re told, hand him the bag, and he strolls out. Dean is outside waiting with his shotgun and calls to him, catching Dave’s attention. Dave identifies him as the hunter. Sam, Cas, and Jack walk into view on the opposite side of the parking lot in an effort to block Dave in. Dave remarks that it’s his lucky day and opens fire.

Dean and Sam are shooting back when they can, while Cas is attempting to focus on protecting Jack. It’s a standoff in the bank parking lot. But Jack is eager to impress Castiel, the man he’s identified as his father figure, so he jumps up, confident he can handle the situation. He makes a target of himself, knowing the bullets will do him no harm, and immediately takes two to the chest. Castiel watches in amazement as Jack doesn’t even stumble from the impact. Jack’s power flares and he holds out his arm to blast Dave at the exact moment that the security guard from the bank runs outside in an attempt to tackle the distracted gunman to the ground. Both Dave and the guard take the full blast. Dave stumbles back to his feet, clearly frightened by the turn of events, and runs away. Dean tells the others to check on the guard and gives chase. Dean chases Dave several blocks and around a corner before losing him. The guard is also dead, and for some reason, Castiel is unable to heal him.

Back at the motel, Dean orders Sam and Cas to take Jack back to the bunker. Jack is in shock over what happened and Dean feels it is best to get him out of town before someone starts looking for him. Castiel offers to stay behind and help Dean but Dean refuses, saying Jack may need him. So Sam, Cas, and Jack take the Impala and drive home. During the drive, Sam and Cas attempt to offer comfort and words of experience to the boy, but each time Jack shuts them down.

That night Dean heads back to the mortuary and meets up with Sarge, the man whom he’d met earlier after the death of his deputy and nephew. Both are armed with shotguns and flashlights. Once it’s clear to each other they want the same thing – the death of the man they’re after – they move in together. Dean offers Sarge a piece of advice: shoot for the head. They wind their way around the crypt, Sarge gets sucked underground, and Dean realizes he has no choice but to crawl into the underground tunnels to track his target.

Eventually, Dean makes it through the dirt tunnels and into the mortuary, finding Athena tied up and Sarge looking worse for wear on the ground a few feet away. Both are still alive, and even still conscious. Before Dean can help Sarge or free Athena Dave steps into the room with his gun drawn, forcing Dean to his feet, hands in the air. Dave is confident in his victory, he even tells Athena he’s doing all of this for them. He remarks to Dean that Dean isn’t fast enough to shoot him. Dean agrees and quickly steps aside, revealing that he’d managed to slip Sarge his shotgun. Sarge blasts Dave’s head off in a single shot.

Before Dean leaves town Sarge asks what all happened back there, and Dean says everything was Dave’s fault. The grave robbery, the deputy’s death. Even the security guards. And that he was never there. Sarge nods with understanding.

Dean gets home to the bunker, finding a solemn mood. Sam asks how it went, Dean says it went as well as it could. Jack jumps up, as animated as he’s been, since accidentally killing the guard. He’s angry at this seeming dismissal of the man’s life, though more likely still angry at himself. He asks a list of questions about the guard: what was his name, did he have a family, etc. Cas interrupts him, telling him he shouldn’t do that to himself, but Jack ignores him. Dean looks Jack in the eye and says yes, he did (have a family). But he answers none of the others. Jack mistakes Sam’s hesitation for fear, thinking they’re all afraid of him; thinking they should be. He says perhaps he really is a monster. Dean steps up and says he isn’t. He admits he thought Jack was but can see now that he isn’t. He tries to tell Jack they’ve all messed up, but again Jack interrupts.

Jack states he doesn’t think staying is a good thing for anyone anymore. He’s convinced he’ll hurt them. He apologizes, saying that the three of them are all he has in the world and knocks them back just long enough to disappear.

What Does This Mean for the Future?

Two things are immediately obvious: It’s about to be an all-out hunt for the vulnerable, confused Jack. And Dean will retain his unshakable love of the Old West.

With Jack attempting to face the world on his own now, it’ll be interesting to see if he tries to explore the world or if he tries to lock himself away. Asmodeus, the fourth and final Prince of Hell, will undoubtedly renew his efforts to use Jack for his own nefarious purposes while the Winchesters aren’t around to protect him. But until we have an idea of how Jack handles himself on his own, it’s hard to say what more will happen.

Rating: 8/10

Final Thought: I really enjoy episodes with a sense of humor, especially in Supernatural. At first glance, this appears to be a standalone episode, unattached to the larger season’s plot, but that’s not true at all. While it’s masked by Dean’s overwhelming enjoyment of the gun-slinging, outlaw themed case, and Castiel’s overdue return, what happens with Jack is very significant indeed. First, of course, being that he had the power to subconsciously awaken a deceased angel in The Empty. But then watching him demonstrate the bit of his power he’s learned to control, and the modern world he has – and hasn’t – learned to navigate in the short time he’s been alive. Most notably, though, isn’t his ability to blow back the ghoul. I would argue it was the fact that the wound he inflicted on a mortal man couldn’t then be undone by an angel. We’ve had no reason this episode to think Castiel’s powers are malfunctioning, and while it wasn’t explicitly said that Jack’s power was what prevented the healing, the look on Castiel’s face said it all. It’s amazing the little things you can learn about a new character in a five-second scene.


Created by: Eric Kripke

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