Supernatural: Byzantium

Filed under: Recaps & Reviews

Better off dead.

After last week's failure with the Gabriel's grace, Jack has passed away. With the loss of their latest friend, Castiel and the boys are at a loss. After the three of them spend a night drinking, Dean wakes up to find a much older Lily Sunder there. At first he's taken back but Sam has an idea to save Jack and she might be the one person that can help. At first, she attempts to read Kevin's notes on the angel tablet but she can't make heads or tails. After that setback, Lily suggests that they use the same magic she used to hunt the angels that killed her family. The one catch is that her magic sacrifices part of her soul for power each time she used it; Jack would need to do the same. Of course, this knowledge doesn't come without a cost. Lilly has killed a lot of angels in her time and she wants into heaven when she dies. Her daughter is there and she doesn't want to spend the rest of eternity in hell and she wants the Winchesters to make that happen. They agree and send Castiel into heaven to find Jack and get things started. After finding his way there, Castiel finds remnants of a black substance and Duma. She's still alive and wants to follow Castiel. Whatever it is that just broke its way into heaven, Castiel knows that it's after Jack and he has to hurry.

Byzantium was fraught with rushed pacing and an overpacked episode that ruined any emotional impact that Jack's death was supposed to have. To start, it took several episodes for Jack to adapt to being a powerless human that was starting to find his way in the world and after that, it took a few more for him to get sick. Byzantium was one episode where Jack died and came back in less than twenty-four hours in the story. The concept of Jack dying came suddenly and without warning. A Nephilim was depowered and staring down his own mortality and started to question how he wanted to spend his final days. The problem here is that this story should have been several episodes and Jack's eventual return should have been something significant. Doing this could have given Supernatural the opportunity to have Jack with Kelly Klein even more; allowing him to question whether he wants to return from heaven or spend eternity with his family.

Of course, that course of leads directly into conflict with the Void, a jailer character that can't sleep due to the one that got away – Castiel. The Void is both an interesting concept and a complete contradiction to any sense of finality that Supernatural may have left. A place where angels go to rest but Castiel has thrown all of that into upheaval in a way that will likely never pay off in a memorable fashion to help the show along. On top of that, season fourteen has somehow become all about making deals that have eventually worked themselves out or resulted in nothing. Last week's deal with the Shaman made Jack even worse, this week Lily Sunder tried to make a deal and then fixed it herself and now Castiel has made a deal with the Void. I'm just not confident that Supernatural will make good on this as Castiel has already died and returned numerous times for this to remotely feel final.

The one highlight of Byzantium was the guest stars in Veronica Cartwright and Courtney Ford. Cartwright is new to Supernatural but she stepped into the character of Lily Sunder remarkably well. Her tenuous trust with the Winchesters was well done while Ford stepped back into the role of Kelly Kline without missing a step. For as overdramatic as her season was, the moments between her and Jack felt genuine.

Byzantium wasn't a good episode. It should have been a meaningful arc during the season that allowed Jack to mature and the audience to feel loss for a character that passed too soon. This overpacked episode does not make me confident for next week's mid-season finale when Michael returns inThe Spear.

Tags: Supernatural, Dean Winchester, Sam Winchester, Castiel, Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki

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