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Sweatpants & TV | Supernatural, Season 14, Episode 8: “Byzantium”

A child dying before his parents. May not be supernatural, but it definitely feels unnatural. Jack isn’t their biological son, but to Sam, Dean and Cas? He’s theirs in all the ways that matter. And losing him is more than they can take.

Someone to Watch Over Me

It’s difficult, witnessing someone’s last moments, especially if they are dying before their time. Sam sits by Jack’s bedside, comforting him, Cas stands guard at the foot of the bed. And the one who can’t handle it? Is Dean, who walks out, upset, while Jack takes what will be his last breaths. Jack is awaiting his next “adventure”, as Cas admonishes Dean for leaving Jack’s side. When they come back? It’s too late. Jack, poor sweet Jack, who never wanted anything but to be good, is gone.

I know Jack is a polarizing character, but as I have said before, I can’t help but love him, and the fatherly nurturing he brings out in the boys. I was surprised that he died so early in the episode, and suspected they would find a way to bring him back, but I also choked up a little, especially at Team Free Will’s reactions to his passing. They loved him. So I loved him too.

Last Rites

Dean knows that Jack would have wanted to be buried hunter style, and as he says so Sam storms off. Cas tries to help, to follow, but Dean says to give him his space. Dean calls Mary to tell her the news while Cas looks sadly at Kelly’s picture, wondering how he managed to lose the both of them. Sam, meanwhile, takes off with a duffle bag over his shoulder, without a word to anyone. Cas and Dean find Sam, trying to do one last thing for Jack. “Tell me you didn’t make a deal!” Dean barks, and that’s fair, because it sounds exactly like something Sam might do. But it turns out that Sam was trying to make a pyre before his axe broke as hard as his heart. “Everything we’ve got—the spells, the lore—what good is it if we couldn’t even save him?” So many emotions portrayed with finesse by Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, and Misha Collins. Anger. Sadness. Regret. Shock. Emptiness.

Dean decides they will bury and mourn Jack—tomorrow. Tonight? They drink. And like an especially good wake or memorial service, there are stories and laughter and toasts to the dearly departed while a good, melancholy song plays.

They eat Jack’s favorite candy and smile. It is sweet and touching, but the lump comes back to my throat when Dean mumbles, “We did everything we could, right?” in a lost tone to a departing Cas. Oh Dean. Always carrying what he should not have to bear.

“This is to you, Jack. Wherever you are,” he says, raising his glass and I am heartbroken for him. For all of them.

Burger Heaven

Of course Jack’s Heaven would be him and his three dads, eating grub, heading out for an adventure to Dodge City. Of course when Jack leaves his heavenly chamber because he senses something is wrong, he doesn’t expect black goo—very “The Empty” looking black goo—to follow him like the blood in the Shining, covering everything in its wake. Side note: WTF?

Torn Asunder

The good news is that Sam got less drunk than everyone else the night before because he has an idea: maybe their former foe, Lily Sunder (the angel magic wielding wonder) can bring Jack back. The older appearing Lily (played by the very cool Veronica Cartwright of Alien fame) cannot read the angel tablet translation, but she has a spell that uses a sliver of Jack’s soul to resuscitate and heal him. Dean initially wants to pass (thank you, sir, for recognizing that soul depleting magic is not necessarily a good thing) but Sam talks him into it. Since Jack is dead, Cas will go to Heaven to pull his soul back into his body for a few seconds and Lily will initiate the spell and tell Jack how to maintain it. Of course, all of this comes for a price. Lily, who is destined for hell, wants to go to Heaven to be with her daughter. And they have to figure out how to get her in.

I very much liked the fact that Death and the Reapers do not have any input as to where you end up, and, since Chuck is on a long ass vacation, having the god Anubis act as a contractor judge for Heaven, was a cool solution. I also liked that they mentioned that it was originally Osiris’ gig and that they had history there (any reference back to old episodes makes me happy.) As for summoning a god? No big for the Winchesters. We’ve seen that trick before.

Dean, ever the skeptic when it comes to anything other than doing what it takes to save Sam, isn’t sure if they are doing the right thing but Sam? Sam needs to try. “Taking risks, making crappy deals, that’s what we do.” (#truth) Of course, before they can argue much about it Cas lets them know that Angel Radio is playing a distress signal, and all of the gates are open (even the ones Metatron—moment of silence for Metatron and his excellent portrayer, please—closed.) Something is seriously wrong upstairs.

Mother and Child Reunion

Where would Jack go, when Heaven is threatened? To save his sweet mother, of course. Oh, the scenes between Kelly and Jack touched me so. As a mother to two boys myself, I felt almost viscerally Kelly’s joy and pain at seeing Jack in Heaven too. “No, no, no baby, no no,” she whimpered when she figured out how he got there, and man, Courtney Ford blew me away with her portrayal of Kelly. I had actual tears in my eyes watching her and the always sweet Alexander Calvert interact. His wonder at being with her, her adoration of her child. Whew. Someone pass the tissues.

Fallen Angels

It’s nice to see Dumah back (Erica Cerra plays her very well in this episode), but the true surprise of the episode for me? Naomi is back too (which means, happily, so is Amanda Tapping). Naomi explains that the Shadow that rules The Empty has come to Heaven to claim Jack, since he is half angel. And if they don’t meet his demands, Heaven will fall. Of course, Cas says no, and he and Dumah run while the goo claims Naomi. I really like that Naomi has proven herself to be the practical one of Heaven. Like her or not, there is a need for her.

Hey, Dog

I loved the writing in this episode, and the way Anubis is portrayed is definitely part of that. I loved that he told Lily and the boys that he was the paper pusher of Heaven and that, in fact, he doesn’t determine where you go—you do. Your actions and choices. And if they kept him hostage it would not change Lily’s damned fate, but it might change theirs. It made sense when Sam reluctantly let him go.

The Shadow Knows

Oh, how adorable was Cas’ reunion with Jack in Heaven, and how bittersweet was his hug with Kelly. I repeat: Courtney Ford as Kelly Kline was amazing. She was a Mama Bear, a protective Mama, a proud mother, and so much more in her small part on the show. And Misha Collins played Cas as well as I’ve ever seen him. I loved it when he told Jack he was going to bring him home, and that by bringing him back to life that the Shadow will leave Heaven. And then came an impeccable portrayal of the Shadow by Cerra, who was just unhinged enough, just vengeful enough, and just charismatic enough to play that part better than ever (sorry, Misha, but you were one upped this time.) The Shadow is still pissed at Cas for waking him up, and he’s gonna pay by losing Jack to The Empty.

And then Collins gets his turn to be wonderful as Cas offers himself up in exchange for Jack. “Take me in his stead. Take me.” So forceful, so determined. I loved it. He says he will go with the Shadow now and willingly, if he spares Jack. The Shadow says he will take Cas later, when Cas is truly happy, so that he will suffer more, and with that he leaves and we get Dumah back. Jack is pissed, until Cas reminds him that he loves him, that Sam and Dean love him. He asks Jack to not tell Sam and Dean and Jack agrees. Another secret hanging over the Winchesters but not one of their making. (Side note? The final moment between Jack and Kelly left me near tears. Watching her straighten his clothes and hug him close, telling him to have a great life and that she would be waiting? TEARS, I SAY.)

“He’s Our Kid”

Did anyone else love that line, as Sam said it to implore Lily to still do the spell despite the fact that they weren’t able to pay her? I sure did. Dean tells Lily she can’t be human anymore, because how could she let anyone else suffer that way. “The pain of losing a kid? Don’t do that to us,” Dean says, and yes, my heart ached for them.

Fortunately, the spell works as soon as Jack reads his part. His eyes glow and we know he has been restored. Unfortunately, the spell took the last fragment of Lily’s soul and life, and she dies. But there’s even good news in that—Lily gets another meeting with Anubis and her sacrifice has changed her fate. She is now headed for Heaven. “Say hello to your daughter for me,” Anubis says, and we’re left grateful she got her payment after all.

Heavenly Reward

Before Cas goes back to Earth, Naomi lets him know that he gets a bonus for saving Heaven from the Shadow. She will let him know Michael’s location.

Later, as Jack devours a burger, Sam, Dean and Cas stare at him, happily. They have Jack back, and they know where Michael is, and they are confident they will find Dark Kaia and her spear. They clink bottles in celebration, they boys unaware of the incredible sacrifice that Cas has made for all of them.

Only one episode left until our mini-hellatus. See you next week for the mid-season finale, episode nine, “The Spear”.

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About Barbara Doyle (199 Articles)
Barbara Sirois Doyle is a Contributing Editor for Sweatpants & Coffee. She is a writer, mixed-media artist, and, most important, a wife and mother to her boyos three. She is a voracious reader, unapologetic uber-geek, and lover of all types of music, from Public Enemy to Rachmaninoff. If she's not watching Supernatural or Doctor Who, she is likely trolling the internet for amusing cat photos. She takes her coffee light with no sugar.

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