Revenge is a dish best served bloody. At least according to Gabriel, who’s hell-bent getting his. An unnecessary distraction from the larger threat that looms ahead.
Supernatural – “Unfinished Business”, Season 13, Episode 20
Airdate: April 26, 2018
Director: Richard Speight Jr.
Writer: Meredith Glynn
Created by: Eric Kripke
What You Should Know:
Last week, Castiel went to Heaven to seek help not only in their upcoming fight against Michael but also in finding Gabriel. Though Lucifer was conveniently MIA, Castiel did arrive to find a Heaven dangerously low on power and unable to spare any angels. The reality of Heaven’s imminent failure was explained to him by an old, and not so dead, foe – Naomi.
While Cas was in Heaven Dean and Sam were hunting down Rowena, who was using her newly unrestrained power to change people’s very fate. Specifically their fated deaths. While she targeted morally bankrupt individuals, she killed them before their time, and when the Reaper who came to collect refused to arrange a meeting with Death for her, she killed them, too. Sam and Dean learned they’d been being followed all along by a Reaper at Billie’s request, a Reaper who’d now been asked to provide insight in an effort to stop Rowena. This Reaper explained to Sam that in every version of Rowena’s death, he is the one who kills her. Rowena eventually kidnapped Sam in an effort to force Death’s hand, and while she did show, she did not attempt to negotiate for Sam’s life. Denying Rowena’s goal of resurrecting her son, Fergus – aka Crowley. But in the end, Rowena admitted she never intended to kill Sam, and the brothers offered Rowena the chance to redeem herself. To help them save the world from both Michael and Lucifer.
When the Winchesters first encountered Gabriel they had no idea he was an archangel. They believed themselves to be hunting a being known as a trickster – a creature of mischief, of misdirection. And a master escape artist. It wasn’t until Castiel finally encountered Gabriel, who the boys still only knew as “the trickster,” that his true identity as Gabriel the archangel came to light.
Sometime after learning Gabriel’s true identity, the Winchesters paired up with him against a building full of Gods from all sorts of pantheons and, in the end, Lucifer himself. Among the Gods who wound up slaughtered was the Allfather, Odin of Asgard. And by the end of the battle, Gabriel had faked his own death at Lucifer’s hands.
Somehow, during his so-called freedom, Gabriel was abducted by Asmodeus and become his prisoner. He endured years of torture and starvation before Ketch rescued him and brought him to the Winchesters’ bunker, where Sam and Cas gave him back what they could of his grace and did their best to nurture him back to health. When Asmodeus attacked in an attempt to reclaim Gabriel – and kill Sam and Castiel – Gabriel found the strength to instead kill Asmodeus and his demons. Sam and Cas brought a more coherent and newly-healed Gabriel up to speed on everything going on, but instead of joining their fight he chose to leave. Leaving them, and a freshly returned Dean, without a means of getting back to Apocalypse World to save anyone.
What You’ll Find Out:
In Central City, Colorado, Fenrir Odinsbane steps into an alleyway only to be confronted by Gabriel. They greet each other with guarded familiarity and Gabriel reveals that he’s carrying a wooden katana. Recognizing the challenge, Fenrir’s human façade falls away until he bears long, sharp claws and elongated fangs like a type of werewolf. The pair fight, parrying each other’s attacks until Fenrir draws first blood, surprised at the sight of the archangel’s blood. He manages to land another, nastier wound on Gabriel’s side, but too late, as Gabriel simultaneously stabs Fenrir through the chest. Killing him. As Fenrir falls, Gabriel pulls out a list with several names on it – including Fenrir’s – and crosses Fenrir’s name off with the blood on his fingertip.
Meanwhile, Sam and Dean have checked into a typical run-down motel and are on the phone, confirming their current plan of attack. Thanks to their new alliance with Rowena they finally have a lead on Gabriel. She’s tracked his “essence” to either Central City or Armadillo, Texas. So while Castiel is investigating the Texas option, Sam and Dean are looking into the other. The brothers are frustrated at the time it’s taken to even make this much progress, as they are both keenly aware of how much time they don’t have. Just as Dean accidentally discovers one of the beds is an old vibrating bed – a “bonus” – there’s a knock at the door. It’s Gabriel, the very subject of their search. And the right side of his shirt is soaked with blood.
Setting Gabriel down on the couch, Sam addresses the wound in Gabriel’s side while Gabriel explains that he knew they were there from the start. He says he noticed Rowena’s spell the moment she put it on him. He asks if they have more of his grace, as “the tank’s a little low,” but of course they don’t. Believing them on this, Gabriel attempts to leave but is too weak to stand. So he decides to stay for a short nap and lays back on the couch.
Out in the alley where Fenrir fell, two men stand over Fenrir’s corpse. The smaller of the two makes a snide remark about Fenrir’s drinking while the other investigates the blood left by Fenrir’s opponent. Upon discovery that the blood is that of an archangel, the smaller immediately gets out his phone, declaring that it’s time to call their father.
While Gabriel naps, Dean informs Sam that he doesn’t care what brought Gabriel to them, he’s not going to allow Gabriel to leave again.
Gabriel awakens with a panicked start, a reminder of his years of torture, before recognizing Dean and Sam and settling down. He finds his feet, still clearly in pain, and again rejects the insistence that he should help. He says he only sought them out in hopes that they had more “silver stuff,” and since they don’t, it’s time for him to head out. Before he can reach the door, however, it’s kicked in by the previous pair of unnamed Norse siblings.
The pair step into the room, demanding Gabriel, and Gabriel identifies them as “a couple of Norse demi-gods.” The words are barely past his lips when the demi-gods launch into their attack. Gabriel quickly ducks into another room as Sam and Dean engage the enemy. Sam is easily rolled into a choke-hold by his opponent while Dean struggles against his own. But Gabriel sees an opening and takes it, jabbing another wooden sword through the chest of the Norse demi-god holding Sam. As Gabriel shifts his attention to the only remaining, shocked demi-god, the demi-god flees.
Dean finds his feet, asking “are you okay?” – of course to Sam – but Gabriel takes over the question, assuring that he’s fine, and he’ll go after the guy as soon as he catches his breath. Dean responds by presenting handcuffs
Once the boys return from disposing of the one body they demand Gabriel, who’s still cuffed where they left him, tell them what’s going on. So Gabriel explains he’d left out a few details from his accounting of his time post-death at Lucifer’s hands. He had contacts from before that he’d called upon. The Norse. He adds that the whole “Asgardian pantheon” is a one-of-a-kind thing. But that he’d gone to them after faking his death with Lucifer for sanctuary. Everything had been fine until one night the three brothers – Fenrir and the two others – grabbed him from his bed in his sleep and sold him off to Asmodeus. A way to wash their hands of him before Lucifer won the apocalypse that was brewing at the time.
Gabriel explains that while killing Asmodeus was satisfying in the moment, it’d be infinitely more satisfying to kill those who betrayed him by selling him off to the demon in the first place. So he’s going through one by one. Sam notes that Gabriel mentioned three brothers – the two who’d attacked and the one Gabriel said he’d already killed – but there’s a fourth sword in the suitcase. Gabriel declares that that sword is for the big man himself, their “papa,” Loki.
A bit confused, Dean interrupts, as he always thought “Loki” was Gabriel. So Gabriel explains that a long time ago he found the real Loki tied up – set in an obviously deliberate torture trap – and opted to help him free. Around that time the other archangels started fighting and Gabriel wanted no part in it, and since Loki ‘owed him one,’ they made an arrangement. Loki showed Gabriel how to be him – how to become the trickster – while Loki himself, dealing with his own family drama, went into hiding. Naturally, when Gabriel found himself in need of disappearing again – after faking his death at the hands of Lucifer – he turned back to Loki. This time it hadn’t gone so well.
Dean and Sam try to tell Gabriel that revenge doesn’t always help, that there are bigger problems than Loki, but Gabriel won’t hear it. He doesn’t care about the bigger problems. All he cares about is making everyone who played a part in his daily torture at Asmodeus’s hands suffer. When Sam shows signs of sympathy Dean pulls him aside, reminding him that the road of revenge only ever leads to bad destinations. But Sam swears that’s not what he’s thinking. While he does feel bad for Gabriel, what he sees is someone who needs their help. Someone who, coincidentally, they also need help from. So the brothers return to Gabriel and make him a proposition. They’ll help him get his revenge if he’ll help them fight Michael.
They release Gabriel from his handcuffs and give him a change of clothes before gathering their weapons and discussing their plan of attack. Which, as Gabriel lays it out, is fairly simple. Sleipnir is the only of the three sons left now, and Gabriel is sure he’s run straight to Loki, calling him a coward. Loki himself is held up at the penthouse suite of a run-down hotel just a handful of blocks down the road – a fact the Winchesters are surprised Gabriel knows. Gabriel explains he’s been following Loki since Amarillo, and when Dean asks why he hasn’t just gone after him already, Gabriel lectures him on the finer points of a perfect revenge. He presents Dean with his Kill List, where the first two names – Fenrir and Narfi – are crossed off and only Sleipnir and Loki remain. In his opinion, to truly appreciate the revenge, one must “work up to” the big kill. Meaning Sleipnir still needs to be slain first.
The trio makes it to the hotel, following Sleipnir and his new bodyguards inside, from enough of a distance to see which floor their elevator stops on. Then they take the elevator to the same floor, but before they reach it, Gabriel adds one more rule to the mission. When it comes to the killing strike against both Sleipnir and Loki, those belong to him. He wants his “beautiful face to be the last thing they see.” The doors open, revealing an unsuspecting Sleipnir and guards, as Dean rebuffs Gabriel’s latest rule. Gabriel snaps his fingers, shutting off the lights to the floor, and the shoot-out begins. Gabriel grabs the sword he needs for Sleipnir as Sam and Dean shoot down the guards. In the mostly-darkness Dean snatches the final sword, the one meant for Loki, and sneaks into the stairwell. Moments later Gabriel turns the lights back on, revealing Sleipnir on the floor beneath the tip of his wooden sword. Sam notices Dean’s absence as Gabriel kills Sleipnir, and Gabriel makes a dismissive comment about disappointing older brothers until Sam voices aloud his realization: Dean has gone to kill Loki.
Dean finds the only pair of pristine doors in the hotel and carefully eases them open, finding Loki – who looks exactly like Gabriel, only in a suit and wearing a matching hat – sitting on the couch. Loki knows who Dean is and why he’s there and Dean doesn’t bother denying any of it. But Loki can’t help but to talk, to tell his side of the story, as he puts his sucker carefully away in a specially-designed case full of other partially-finished suckers. He walks around the room, hanging up his hat, then his coat, then rolling up his shirt sleeves, all while he tells the story of how he gave Gabriel his face. Taught him his tricks. And only asked one thing in return: that Gabriel stay out of the typically barbaric affairs of his family forever. He goes on to add that everything that’s happened since, what they did to Gabriel, was in retaliation for Gabriel’s violation of that promise. When Gabriel contributed to the death of Loki’s father, Odin. Dean points out it was Lucifer who killed Odin, but as far as Loki’s concerned, the very fact that Gabriel was present for the occasion makes him guilty. And despite that he never cared for his father, or that his father hated him, Gabriel still needs to be punished.
Dean takes this as a good opportunity to strike and plunges the wooden sword through Loki’s stomach. Or tries. But Loki’s abdomen becomes intangible, as if an illusion, startling Dean. Loki smirks and throws Dean into a wall. Dean comes back swinging, thinking now the fight’s on, but again his sword passes through Loki without harm. Frustrated, he calls Loki out on this lopsided battle. To which Loki replies, “mess with the real trickster. Get the real tricks!” He punches Dean again, and before Dean can pull himself to his feet this time Sam enters the room and takes aim at Loki with his pistol. He fires off a round at Loki’s head before Dean can tell him to save his bullets. But this all begs the question, where, then, is the real Loki?
Gabriel’s still making his way down the hall when he rounds a corner and finds Loki waiting for him. They don’t exchange many words before the fight begins, Loki’s anger obvious as he beats Gabriel down, mocking Gabriel for feeling so betrayed and abandoned by his family. Mocking him for having the audacity to come to him a second time for help. Without the proper sword for the fight, Gabriel can only do so much damage to Loki, and Loki quickly gains ground. Pounding on Gabriel as he continues to taunt him and unleash his own anger of the fact that Gabriel’s killed his sons.
Dean and Sam find the pair, but instead of joining the battle, they toss the sword to Gabriel. Gabriel catches it and the turns on Loki, until Gabriel gets him pinned to a wall. Still, Loki taunts him, this time for once again needing to be bailed out of a jam. He informs Gabriel that all he is is a joke. That Gabriel has lived, and will die, as a joke. Gabriel says, “you first,” before stabbing him through the heart. Killing him.
It’s morning by the time the three men get outside, and they pause by the car as Gabriel stops to thank the Winchesters for helping him. He takes a breath, then, and asks how they intend to tackle this ‘other world Michael problem,’ surprising the brothers. They hadn’t actually expected him to voluntarily honor the arrangement. Gabriel brushes it off with “a deal’s a deal,” and Dean inclines his head before climbing into the car. Sam hesitates, taking a moment to ask Gabriel how he feels in the aftermath of what just happened. Gabriel tells him “swell,” that he’s “a whole new guy,” and follows Sam’s lead to the car, with a lingering look to the distance.
Back at the bunker, while Cas helps Gabriel settle in, Sam confronts Dean about going off on his own to deal with Loki. Dean brushes it off as “multitasking,” since Sam and Gabriel had had the others taken care of. But Sam’s talking about more than that, about how Dean sidelined him when he and Ketch went to Apocalypse World, and how he’s feeling like he’s been sidelined ever since. So Dean tells him honestly that the last time they “had front row tickets to the Lucifer and Michael show” Sam died. “And went to Hell.” When Sam doesn’t have a comment ready for that, Dean continues, adding that he’s not going to let that happen again. That before the apocalypse had come looking for them. By some weird twist of fate, this time, they’re looking for it. Dean tells Sam in no uncertain terms he doesn’t care what happens to him, but he damn well cares what happens to his brother.
Acknowledging what Dean’s saying, but disagreeing with Dean’s choice, Sam says that next time they open the rift they’re going through together. They’ll rescue Mary and Jack, they’ll fight, and if it comes to it, they’ll die – together.
As Jack and Mary make their way back to the refugee camp, Jack recounts his latest victory, including informing Mary that Bobby is expected back in a few days with another thirty or more survivors. When Mary seems less than pleased Jack expresses confusion, so Mary explains that while winning the past several battles is great – as is saving so many lives – their camp is running low on space as well as supplies. Bringing in so many more will only make both those problems worse.
The conversation is cut short when another refugee, Jacob, runs up to them, telling them that he’s received reports that Michael’s fortress has been abandoned. The angels are leaving.
By nightfall Jack, Mary, and Jacob manage to gather the rest of the refugee leaders in the area to discuss their options. Jack extends his consciousness to scan the fortress, confirming Jacob’s report. Not a single angel remains inside. In fact, the entire building seems empty. It makes no sense, but it’s too good an opportunity to pass up, so Jack declares they should investigate it. Mary tries to talk him out of it, rationalizing the danger, Jack is confident that he can protect everyone if anything goes wrong.
Moving with Jack’s plan, the resistance rushes Michael’s fortress. Finding it still deserted. Jack sends a couple of troops in different directions to expedite the mission. They need to find any human survivors and anything else of note. In the main room, someone finds a large, spread out map of the United States. With figurines – representing Michael’s forces – gathered in Texas. While trying to figure out what this means, Jacob and the men return with the Prophet, Kevin Tran, in tow. Kevin nervously rushes to explain how it wasn’t his fault. That Michael locked him up when he failed. That he didn’t betray humanity, but he’s a prophet of the Lord, he had no choice but to help Michael, he couldn’t have known what Michael would do. Now he says he’s finally perfected the spell, and Michael has taken his army to the place where the veil between worlds is thinner in order to transport them. In order to invade the other Earth.
Everyone gathers around the table with the map, debating their best play. Jack wants to jump straight there, to where Michael’s supposed to be. He believes he can kill Michael if he can surprise him. Mary doesn’t think it’s a good idea. She doesn’t even think they can be sure he’s where the map indicates he is, suggesting it could be a trap, but also pointing out that Michael has never lost a fight. Kevin pipes up, offering the point that Michael has never been known to do something without a purpose. Jacob suggests doing nothing and letting Michael get away, letting him “be some other world’s problem.” Mary puts him in his place sharply, reminding him of the 7 billion innocent lives that idea condemns. She thinks it best to wait for Bobby, who’s only a day out, and asks Jack – and the others – to do the same.
After studying the map, and the layout of the pieces, once more – this time by himself – Jack decides he can’t wait. He finds Mary to tell her as much and she tries to talk him out of it. He still insists he’ll win, but he recognizes her fear that he won’t. She tells him about her own youthful self-confidence, and how once upon a time she thought herself stronger and smarter than any enemy. That she had to learn the hard way that sometimes you just can’t win without a plan. She wants Jack to understand that running in blind is the wrong choice, that refugees need them. But he still sees his choice as helping them. Mary argues that she “can’t lose another boy,” and it’s clear he recognizes her meaning. He quietly assures her that she won’t. That he’ll come back to her.
Before he can leave, however, their conversation is interrupted by Kevin as Kevin takes up position across from Mary, Jack, and the refugees who are sitting along a nearby wall, resting. Everyone stands, on edge with Kevin’s shift in tone. Mary calls out to him but Kevin continues speaking. He tears open the collar of his dirty old sweater, revealing a symbol he’d carved into his own chest, as he says that no one can leave. He says Michael had told him to wait until Bobby was there, too, but he couldn’t. That Michael has promised he’ll see his mother again when Kevin is let into Heaven. Jack informs Kevin that his spell won’t kill him, but Kevin already knows. Crying out of guilt and desperation, Kevin relays Michael’s message to Jack: Michael doesn’t want to kill him. He wants to break him. Then he puts his hands to his chest and a bright white light bursts from him as the spell activates. Jack rushes forward, grabbing Mary close and enveloping her with his wings to protect her as the energy from the spell engulfs everyone else in the room, including Kevin.
In the aftermath of the blast, Jack looks around the devastated room, a matching expression on his face. A burned out corpse that might once have been Kevin Tran lies on the ground several feet in front of him. Jack retracts his wings, Mary in his arms, unconscious but unharmed, as he takes it all in horror. After Mary wakes up Jack moves to a window, blaming himself. He’d vowed to protect everyone and he’d failed. Mary joins him, telling him that sometimes, no matter how hard you prepare, how hard you fight, you still lose. There are just things you can’t see coming, things you can’t predict. But that’s no reason to give up.
What Does This Mean for the Future?
Jack’s confidence may be shaken in light of Kevin’s suicide bomb. He may also slip into an angry, vengeful rage that will make him increasingly reckless. He could well turn that anger into an emotional attack on Michael – which is likely to turn into a big disaster.
On the other side, with Gabriel finally, on board and an incredibly powerful Rowena backing them up, the Winchesters are about as ready as they can be for their next rescue attempt. Which isn’t going to go at all the way they’re expecting it to.
With Michael preparing to crossover and Dean and Sam readying to do the same there’s a chance one side will beat the other. And a chance they’ll miss in crossing, landing Michael in a world protected only by Lucifer….
Final Thought: I really appreciated touching base with Jack and Mary here, getting to see the growth in their bond and the individual growth in Jack. Mary’s still the more grounded, hardened voice of reason, and Jack still has eager enthusiasm about helping to save humanity. But Jack has grown more confident, and more comfortable with his powers. He’s come into himself, recognizing his strength and his potential in the ability to battle Michael one-on-one. The increase in his confidence, however, has become a bit too much – a problem which becomes more evident as the episode progresses. The overall feeling of a teenager wanting to become independent and prove themselves is highly evident, especially in the quieter moments between Jack and Mary. The best moments for them, for sure, were when Mary verbally confirmed her affection for him as though he were her own son, and when Jack shielded Mary with his wings – wings which we’d never seen before.
Gabriel’s search for vengeance makes a certain amount of sense, given the torture and torment he was put through at the hands of Asmodeus. It was a little surprising to learn that his former allies from the Norse mythology were the ones to betray him, but fun to see a different mythology brought to the forefront for a brief time again. Even if they did get their butts kicked. Although in truth Loki’s defeat seemed far too easy, leading me to wonder if it was real or if he did what Gabriel had done with Lucifer before and faked his death in order to escape. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised. What I did find interesting was the concept that Loki literally gave Gabriel his identity – as in somehow remade Gabriel to look like him. Which makes me wonder what he would look like normally, despite that the question is irrelevant, as every angel we’ve met is wearing a human vessel. So the entire idea confused my brain for a few long minutes.
Overall, while the episode was solid and did a good job of moving the plot forward – we learned Rowena really is working with them and by the end Gabriel joins as well, not to mention the progression in Apocalypse World with Jack and Mary – it felt a little lackluster to me. Perhaps I just wasn’t a huge fan of the Norse-themed storyline, or that it was all wrapped up in a nice little bow at the end. (That might really be it.) But something left me … less than wowed. I can’t call it disappointing or bad by any means. I appreciated the bit between Sam and Dean at the end, where they acknowledged their previous experience with a global apocalypse, and Sam showed a growth by vowing to fight or die alongside Dean instead of storming off angrily. That part was good. The episode as a whole, however, felt mostly like filler with a tiny bit of progress.
Then again, perhaps that was on purpose. With only two episodes left this season, we’re bound to be tossed for an emotional roller coaster sooner than later!
Supernatural airs on The CW on Thursdays. Check your local listings for times.
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