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Supernatural - Ouroboros - Review

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Supernatural “Ouroboros” was written by Steve Yockey and was directed by Amyn Kaderali. The title seems to be a nice allusion to the Gorgon/Noah (Philippe Bowgen), but it is also the symbol of a snake eating its own tail. In ancient Egypt it was linked to Ra and Osiris and Ra’s journey through the underworld. It is a symbol of the beginning and end of time. In Greek alchemy, ouroboros is linked to eternity and the soul of the world. Jungian psychology sees it as a symbol of the integration of the opposite. All of these references would seem to resonate with Jack’s (Alexander Calvert) using his own soul to save others. He is, in essence, eating his own tail – by draining his soul, is he draining his goodness and his humanity – the very thing that is causing him to try to save his family?

The episode opens in Raton, New Mexico with a classic monster of the week scene as we watch Noah preparing his latest victim for dinner. It looks like Dean (Jensen Ackles) and Sam (Jared Padalecki) have arrived, but we quickly learn that by eating eyes, Noah can see the future, and in fact, they arrive before the food even has a chance to burn too much. They also have Cas (Misha Collins) and Jack with them – but as we learn later in the episode – we didn’t see them in the vision of the future because Noah can’t see them.

As the team examines the crime site, it’s clear that they’ve been hunting Noah for weeks with no success. Dean is all set to blame witches – and then Rowena (Ruth Connell) is there with them – and defending witches! She’s there to help them with a tracking spell, and it has gotten them to the crime scene a lot faster than previous attempts. There’s a really interesting little flirty moment between Rowena and Cas – what did that mean? Cas certainly seems confused by it!

The only clue they find is a discarded snake skin and the quickly rule out it being a pet of the victim. When Jack coughs, everyone is immediately concerned, but he brushes them off, saying it’s just a cough – there was some pepper! He’s not dying! It’s Rowena that notices the victim’s black lips – and really? Hunter-elites – and especially Sam – wouldn’t have noticed that? When Jack asks if it means something, Rowena tells him “Everything means something” – and usually Sam and Dean are all over that. She’s not wrong – and it’s also a rather heavy handed way of telling the viewer that Jack’s cough is also going to mean something.

Back at the motel, Rowena and Sam hit the books, and of course, Rowena wants details on the magic that has made Jack healthy again. Sam brushes her off. She also wants to know how Dean is keeping Michael locked up. Sam explains it as simply Dean being Dean. They are working to find a way to kill Michael – and keeping busy is the best thing right now.

Meanwhile, Cas, Dean, and Jack grab a cup of coffee, and Cas check in with Dean – who we quickly see is using all his strength to keep Michael locked away. Cas realizes the super-human effort it’s taking for Dean to keep Michael locked up. In the bathroom, we see that Jack was lying about it just being a cough as he coughs up blood and then heals himself.

Dean actually admits to Cas that he’s not really fine. Ackles is terrific in this scene as he describes the pounding in his head that never stops. He tells Cas that he can’t let his guard down, even for a second. He’s barely sleeping. Cas points out that it’s not sustainable. Dean wants to take the burden as only his own, but Cas insists that they are all there to help him. Dean once again makes the case for Plan B – the coffin in the ocean – if things get worse.

When Jack comes back to the table, they return to the case. It’s hilarious when Cas points out that the killings seem ritualistic, almost liturgical – and both Dean and Jack are clearly not sure what he means. Cas explains – religious. And of course, he’s on the right track as Noah is a demi-God. Cas wonders if it’s not a monster but just a deranged human. Jack insists that anyone who could do the killings is a monster, whether human or not – and Dean agrees.

When Sam calls, the three return to find out what Sam and Rowena have discovered. This scene is hilarious – and a really nice way to get the boring exposition out of the way. Dean, Jack, and Cas sit on the couch, and Dean remarks it’s like an AV-club presentation. It’s his way of getting a gentle dig in at his brother for being a nerd. Jack, of course, has no idea what an AV-club is so Cas explains “it’s a special group for people who do not play sports.” And of course, Dean also gets a dig in at Cas – and I loved the look Cas shoots him back when Dean says Cas is AV-club!

Rowena explains that they’ve figured out the monster is a Gorgon. Dean focuses on the snakes for hair and compares him to Medusa. Rowena is impressed that Dean knows about Medusa – but of course, it’s only through the movies – and it’s hilarious how Dean keeps coming back to Clash of the Titans. Rowena explains that’s the exaggerated version, but the Gorgon does use venom to paralyze its victims. They compare him to a snake as he comes out and gorges – and they’ve linked him to another 17 deaths.

We see Noah, dressed in a snake skin coat – of course – get a ride from a trucker (Byron Bertram) in exchange for services. After one kiss, the trucker is paralyzed, and Noah uses his eye to see what’s coming, so when the team arrives, he’s left a note for Dean.

But the note says that he sees Dean standing alone by the truck – and Cas points out that the note doesn’t mention him. Sam realizes that for some reason, Noah can’t see angels. Cas concludes that if Cas and Jack approach him, Noah won’t see them coming. Rowena wants to mix up some anti-venom, but Sam points out that it’s a controlled substance. Not to worry! Rowena has a plan – and it’s hilarious! Jack looks happy and excited about it…

I adored the entire scene at the vet’s – this was hilarious. Rowena and Sam burst in with a tiny dog. There tiny dog is sick – and the two blame each other – and are hilarious as a bickering couple. The dog definitely has Jack’s hair! They definitely went out of their way to find the quirkiest looking dog that they could find! After the Vet (Benita Ha) takes Jack into the back room to examine him, it’s hilarious when Rowena preens and says she thought that her performance was “quite magnificent!”

It’s also hilarious when we see that the dog has had his temperature checked – and then in the mirror see that it is actually Jack! Jack grabs the anti-venom they need, leaving the vet to find an empty waiting room and then an empty exam room. Jack tells the others that he wishes he’d gotten it before she took his temperature – I loved Padalecki’s face as Sam is also horrified!

Rowena presses again to know how they cured Jack. She felt the other magic when she cast the spell to transform Jack into a dog. Sam still won’t tell her. I loved how this scene was shot with Connell standing on the sidewalk and Padalecki standing on the parking lot in an attempt not to have her come up to his navel! Rowena chastises him for using dark and mysterious magic – a very on-brand thing for her to do – and Sam says thank you – doing his own preening. She then gets in the last word by pointing out that until recently, she was the villain! Nice shade, Rowena, well done!

Noah has a new victim and I loved the discussion they had over his choice of victims – helpless men. Was there ever a more oxymoronic expression? Noah tells him that it’s become harder to catch women lately as they’ve finally woken up from centuries of misogynistic oppression! It’s a nice nod to the #metoo movement – but it’s also deeply ironic given how often people want to criticize the show for always having female victims.

Sam calls Maggie (Katherine Evans) for help on the Gorgon. Sam thanks Maggie for stepping up and taking care of things at the Bunker – which is suddenly full of the other hunters again. Maggie tells Sam that the Gorgon can be killed by decapitation with a silver blade.

Cas and Jack get ready to go after Noah. Dean warns them about other things coming out of him after they decapitate him, which worries Jack until Sam clarifies that he’s talking about Clash of the Titans again. Rowena has cast a location spell and prepared the anti-venom. I loved that Rowena got to tell them “off with his head” – Red Queen, indeed!

Cas and Jack succeed in surprising Noah. Noah tells Jack the story of the black snake who would steal a chicken’s eggs. The snake would swallow the eggs and then crush them in his throat. When the snake came in for the last egg, he couldn’t crush it and choked to death because the chicken had hard boiled the egg just to choke the snake. Killing its own child in order to kill the snake before the snake could kill it – a very Ouroboros story… Noah isn’t sure if Jack is the chicken or the snake…

Cas is paralyzed early into the fight. Jack is also knocked out, but then Sam and Dean are there. It’s a pretty decent fight scene. Dean has his head pounded into the wall several times, however, rendering him unconscious – and we have to immediately worry about how he is going to control Michael. Noah almost gets away, but Jack decapitates him. Jack goes to Cas and gives him the anti-venom. When it doesn’t seem to work on him, Jack uses his power to heal him. Cas is immediately concerned. Sam can’t wake Dean and they rush him back to the Bunker.

Back at the Bunker, Cas says that he still can’t heal a still unconscious Dean – he can’t even see what’s going on in his head. Jack offers to help, but Cas is adamant that Jack can’t afford to burn off any more of his soul. Rowena overhears and is immediately concerned. Sam asks Rowena what to do about Dean. Her only immediate suggestion is to clean his wound and make him comfortable. Dean almost seems to wake up as we see Michael railing against his door again. Rowena hits the books.

Cas checks on Jack – who’s adopted Noah’s snake. Jack is clearly worried about Dean. He says it was just a fight. Cas points out that it’s a risk every time they go out – and by the end of the episode, it’s clear that they are also at risk in the Bunker! Jack clearly has a lot of his soul still as he is agonizing over the thought of losing Dean – or Cas or Sam.

Cas has “the talk” with Jack about humans’ mortality. They burn very bright – but for a very short time. Part of growing up is learning to live with losing them. Jack wonders what the point is of being a cosmic being. Cas says that the point is that you get to know them. He acknowledges that it will hurt, but that will remind Jack of how much he loved them. Cas tells Jack that they just have to remember to appreciate the time that they do have together – now. But Jack still wonders about Dean not waking up and Michael – he can help and it’s selfish of him not to use his power to help.

Jack worries about what Noah said to him because Rowena told him that Noah could see people’s fate. Cas tells him that the story was just a story. Cas tells him that the story was mainly about greed and also about being willing to give up the thing that you love to kill the thing you hate. Jack points out that Noah didn’t know if he was the chicken or the snake – which is a good indication that Jack hasn’t sealed his fate… yet. Is giving up his soul the price Jack will pay for killing Michael?

The two are interrupted by Dean awake and freaking out. He knows where he is – but Michael is gone. Dean blames himself and is furious with the others for not letting him put himself in the coffin. It seemed like an utter waste to kill Maggie again. And they’ve taken care of their extra problem by killing all the apocalypse world hunters. Michael has manifested in Rowena.

Michael comments that Rowena is sturdier than she looks – must be those hundreds of years of magic. Sam is sure that Rowena would never have said yes to letting him in, and Michael says that she didn’t want to. I am very happy not to have Ackles playing Michael anymore – I may be in the minority but his performance as Michael is the least impressive thing that I’ve seen him do. I suppose it’s not a failing to have a hard time playing cold and without feeling, right? We do see that Michael has been defeated by Dean – he won’t use him as a vessel again.

Michael’s first offer to Rowena is to keep her alive, and I loved that she actually barters with him, telling him he can do better! She tells him that she’ll live either way, and reminds us that she will die at Sam’s hands. Rowena says yes thinking that she’ll save everyone else.

Michael taunts Dean with not using the coffin, and moves on to torturing Dean, Sam, and Cas, taking away their air and sight and then causing them pain. For some reason he doesn’t include Jack. Jack grabs an angel blade and calls Michael’s attention to him. Michael tells Jack that his power is nothing, but it’s enough to knock Michael on his ass. Jack tells him it’s worth it to burn off his soul in order to kill Michael.

It’s a pretty thrilling moment when in response to Michael’s claim to being the cleanser of worlds and his calling Jack a child that Jack responds, “I am not a child. I am the son of Lucifer, I’m a hunter, I am a Winchester!” And then he drives Michael out of Rowena! Cas tries to stop him. But Jack continues until he’s killed Michael – and consumed his grace!! But it’s really just Jack’s own grace, right?

Jack tells them that he’s “me” again, and we see his eyes glow yellow and we see his wings as he gets a hero shot! But the others look worried. Is he really Jack again or is he now Jack without a soul – and fully angel?

I thought this was a disappointingly abrupt way to get rid of the threat of Michael. Is Jack then the big bad of the season? Or will Nick find Lucifer, setting up a fight between Jack and his father as the climax? There were definitely some classic moments in this episode, but it was deeply ironic to have Noah make the speech about misogyny and then kill Maggie off… again. What did you think of the episode? Did you want more Michael drama? How worried are you about Jack’s soul? Will getting his own grace back heal his soul? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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