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Supernatural - The Gamblers - Review

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With Supernatural about to return, I thought this was the perfect time for a recap and review to refresh out memories on where we left off – and it seems like SO long ago! Before we get to the episode, in case you haven’t heard, filming the show went dark due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) with the final two episodes of the season yet to film. How this will be resolved has yet to be announced. Is it ironic that the final episode filmed is titled “Despair?”

“The Gamblers” was written by the team of Meredith Glynn and Davy Perez and was directed by Charles Beeson. So many throwbacks to previous episodes here! Is it fan service or lazy writing? There are opportunities here for the big fight ahead, but it seems like the writers are going to sidestep them. Walking around a pantheon of gods against God and opting for one deus ex machina against another….

Dean (Jensen Ackles) and Sam (Jared Padalecki) head north to Alaska to find the mysterious place Garth (JD Qualls) told them about that might restore their luck now that Chuck (Rob Benedict) has taken away their hero status. The teaser makes it seem like Joe Six (Lalo Espejo) is the one controlling the pool game that changes your luck. And when Leonard (Rob Bruner) stumbles out of the pool hall without any luck, he’s hit by a transport…

Cas (Misha Collins) arrives home at the Bunker to find a note from the boys that they’ve gone to Alaska. We join them in the car. Dean asks Sam how Eileen is. Sam says that she thinks it sounds too good to be true. Clearly! Dean is done with being “normal” – car trouble, heartburn! We get a bit of the humor from the previous episode as Sam suggests that Dean could cure the heartburn by changing his diet – to which Dean makes exactly the face you would expect… Meanwhile, Sam hasn’t been able to find any lore on the place. But Dean is positive that Chuck did it to weaken them and throw them off their game. If they don’t fix it, they’ll be DOA when Chuck comes for them.

Cas meanwhile gets a call at the Bunker from Sheriff Evans (Kahil Ashanti), looking for help from the FBI. He tells Cas that they have a suspect for a murder that they were looking for – Jack Kline (Alexander Calvert)! The FBI agent sends him office video that clearly shows Jack attacking a doctor and then eating his heart!

Dean and Sam stop at a diner after Dean eats the last of the food they brought. I did love Ackles’ face when Sam tells Dean that they’re on a budget! They only have enough money for one piece of pie and coffee. Dean was hoping for a cheeseburger, and Sam reminds him that he can’t digest cheese anymore! Dean fires back, “lactaid!” Yes! Been there. Done that. Sam and Dean are looking at a map – yes. A paper map. And discussing that there doesn’t seem to be anything up the road they were told to take.

They ask the waitress (Ashley Roxburgh), who’s lived there her whole life. At first, she thinks someone put them up to asking. Dean turns on the charm, and she tells them that there’s an urban legend that there’s a lucky pool hall up there. You go up and come back lucky, except no one ever does, and she tells them about Leonard. Sam immediately thinks that there is a demon or a witch behind it. Dean insists it could be awesome – pool is his game! And Sam’s game! Sam insists that they had to play to eat – it’s a nice throwback to the days before Charlie’s magic credit card. The waitress interrupts them to tell them they have a flat…

Dean and Sam arrive at Lurlene’s, and Dean tells Sam to relax – they might even have some fun! Sam points out that they don’t even have beer money, let alone money to buy in with. They sit down at the bar, order water, and ask Evie (Hanneke Talbot) how they can buy into a game. She calls over Pax (Stephen Huszar), telling him there’s two more for him.

Pax asks them how they heard about them. They tell him a friend, and he asks if the friend told them how they wager. He then pulls out a coin and tells them that they use that. So now it looks like Pax is running the show. Sam asks what they’re looking at, and Pax tells them to go ahead and touch it. Naturally, Dean can’t resist and does. The coin glows and a faint impression appears. Pax looks at and says not great, but not the worst either. Dean asks what he means. Pax tells him that it means he’s got about average luck. He puts the coin up and gets a game, and if he wins he might see his fortune improve. Naturally, it’s Sam who asks about what happens if he loses. Pax shrugs it off – you keep playing, have a good time – nicely echoing what Dean said on the way in. But Pax does admit that if the coin goes blank, you’re out of luck and you have to leave. Sam wants to know who owns the place – and Pax says he just works there. Dean asks if he can split the luck if he wins. Pax tells him it’s his. He can do what he likes.

Dean is ready to go for it – and he’s excited. He tells Sam he’s been slinging a pool cue since before Sam was born! Sam, as always, remains the cautious one, and I loved him calling Dean on the “before you were born” remark: “When you were four? Really? Between naptime and snack?!” Dean insists that they need it – they almost got killed in the last episode. And then they lost me. Dean says that Sam is better than him at everything – he’s not angry, he’s proud. But he is better at pool. And of course, the episode is going to prove that even that isn’t true.

Cas investigates the crime scene and discovers a Grigori blade hidden in a cupboard. Jack, meanwhile, stalks another Grigori into a warehouse. The Grigori gets the drop on him.

Dean is having trouble attracting someone to play, and pulls the classic move of pretending to be rusty. That convinces Moira (Lynda Boyd) to play. Sam asks Evie about Moira. She’s been there a while and is playing to get her sister out of a coma. Sam asks about smells (Sulphur – demons) and bundles (hex bags – witches). Evie knows he’s trying to figure out what’s going on, but she tells him that people are just gamblers. They win, but they can’t just walk away – they always want more. Dean wins and watches his coin glow.

Sam wants Dean to stop, telling him the place sucks you in. Dean won’t walk away, but he does say that they need to minimize their risk and maximize their profit. This was a nice scene between the brothers. Dean says it’s like back in Tallahassee when they pulled the “Fast Eddy,” which was John’s favorite sting from The Hustler. I loved Dean’s face when he says “Fast Eddy” – afraid that anyone heard! Sam, of course, has no memory of it. Sam allows Dean that he can have one more game. Dean picks Joey Six as his “Jackie Gleason.” We get a classic Dean when Joey asks his name: “I’m Dean Winchester, and I’m going to kick your ass.”

Sam asks about Joey’s name, and he reveals that he is a legit cowboy and used to be on the Professional Rodeo Circuit. Joey manages to get the table away from Dean, but loses it again. When Dean seems to have an impossible shot, Joey bets him double or nothing. Dean makes the shot – which is really incredible! When the coins glow, Joey’s goes blank and he stumbles out of the pool hall, suddenly, bent and sick. Dean and Sam follow him outside. He tells them, good game. He starts coughing blood and tells them he has lung cancer. He’d kept it at bay for a year, and now he’s going to smoke his last cigarette…

Dean feels badly about Joey Six, but he’s ready to leave. Sam asks about all the others stuck there. He wants time to figure it out. Dean points out that they’re in a fight with God. Sam isn’t sure there’s enough in the coin to make up what they lost. Dean says he’ll go for a drive and if Baby treats him right, they’ll know it worked.

Meanwhile, Cas meets Sheriff Evans in the warehouse where we last saw Jack. A woman reported an altercation but ran away when she saw that one of them had a sword. Evens tells Cas about an abandoned church, and Cas knows that’s where the Grigori – Kabriel (Ryan Hesp) would have gone. Evans points out that he called Cas for answers, and Cas tells him that he intends to find them… but not that he’s going to tell Evans – lol!

Sam tries to convince the patrons to leave, but none of them will listen. Evie commends him for trying, and he asks her if they’re trapped – which seems like a no – and if she’s trapped – which seems like a yes. Dean comes back in. Baby is dead again, and he didn’t even make it out of the parking lot! Sam finally notices something about the coin. At first he thought they were hexed – and Dean reminds us of the rabbit’s foot in “Bad Day at Black Rock.” Personally, I’d been thinking of the poker game in “The Curious Case of Dean Winchester” – it’s another re-tread story really. Sam suggests that the coin should have worked. Joey Six had a lot of accumulated luck. What if the house is skimming the winnings? Sam also points out that the head on the coin is Fortuna, the Roman goddess of luck. And then I was thinking “Hammer of the Gods.”

Evie finally admits that she’s only there because she lost. Fortuna lets her stay – and live – by working the bar. She also tells them that she never talks to her. She only talks to Pax, her son!

Kabriel does have Jack in the church. He’s tied up and kneeling at the alter. He refuses to talk. Kabriel tells Jack that the Grigori have their own special angel radar and his brother called to him before Jack killed him to warn him that Jack was coming for him.

In a nice parallel, Dean holds a knife to Pax’s throat as Sam demands that he talk – and tell them where his mother is. And Moira reveals herself as Fortuna. Sam tells her they know what she’s doing. Dean threatens to kill Pax, and she says they probably could as his father was human. She also tells them to go ahead, she can always make more! Dean lets Pax go, but insists she play him again. She tells him that when she plays someone, she gets a read on them. She tells him that he’s a “beach read” – but Dean insists that he’s Tolstoy! Go Dean. Naturally, Fortuna wants to play Sam. He tells her that he’ll play for all the lives of those there – but Fortuna tells him no. Just his luck. And if he loses, both Dean and Sam will owe her their lives.

As Kabriel tortures him, Jack points out that he can’t kill him. He killed the doctor because he was feeding on the souls of his patients. Kabriel does it too, but he likes children! He knows because Death told him. The two are interrupted by Cas who kills Kabriel in a brief fight. Cas unties Jack and hugs him.

As Sam plays, Fortuna asks why they need the luck so bad – girlfriend problems? And she looks at Sam. Liver failure? And she looks at Dean. It’s hilarious – and accurate! Or could be… And as Sam tells her the truth, cursed by God – and misses the shot. She thinks he’s just talking, but Dean confirms it’s the truth. She tells him to join the club. She tells them that God created the earth, but humans created the gods, which 15 seasons has taught us several times! Humans prayed to the gods at first and God was furious not to be recognized.

Dean throws off Fortuna’s concentration by pressing why the gods lost human attention. She tells them that they became the scapegoats to blame for anything bad that happened. She misses her shot, but continues that God enjoyed their stories for a while, but then grew bored with that too. She tells them that God chose whatever religion was most popular, while the gods lived on scraps. Dean tells her that they’re going to fight him – and Sam confirms that even if they lose, they’ll lose swinging. Sam easily beats Fortuna. Sam tells her that he learned from his brother – and clearly exceeded his teacher. I really don’t know why Sam had to have this win, but there it is. More importantly, at this point, I was really thinking “Hammer of the Gods” and that perhaps the brothers had finally found some strong-ish allies in the gods who are left.

Dean tells her to pay up. She asks if they want to make it interesting – they need the luck of heroes after all. Sam agrees to another game – but not for luck, for the lives and luck of the others. Fortuna doesn’t understand why they care about those losers. But Sam and Dean insist that they matter to them. And maybe, if she wasn’t so dismissive of humans, they might still worship her. Of course, now she has a read on Sam and isn’t going to be lured into talking again. She clears the entire table and wins.

Sam and Dean leave. Dean remarks that she thought that she was going to kill them. He also tells Sam that they need to go somewhere and find wifi to figure out what kills Lady Luck. Before they can go anywhere, however, everyone starts pouring out of Lurlene’s. Evie tells them that Fortuna shut it down! She tells them that Fortuna thought that their kind had gone extinct. Sam asks “our kind?” Evie clarifies – heroes like the old days. She also has a message for them: “Don’t play His game. Make Him play yours.” Then she gives them a coin. Sam takes it and it glows, and Dean takes it and it does likewise. The two climb into Baby and she roars to life.

Dean and Sam return to the Bunker – luck restored, even if Dean doesn’t win the scratch off lottery. They are met by Cas and Jack, and Cas confirms that it’s really him. Sam is first to hug Jack, and then Dean just stares into his eyes.

Over beers, Jack fills them – and us – in. Sam is aghast that Jack ate their hearts. Jack tells them that he had to. Dean is surprised that Cas let him. They ask why he didn’t call. Jack tells them that he had to stay hidden, and if he used his powers, Chuck – his grandfather – will try and kill him. Because he’s afraid of him. And that’s why they have to wait. Billie let him out when it was safe – after Chuck went off world. The hearts make Jack strong, but he’s not strong enough. If he does exactly what Billie says, he’ll be strong enough to kill God.

It’s nice to finally see Jack back. Will he ultimately replace Chuck as head of the universe? And if he does, will he simply get rid of all the monsters and make the Winchesters’ lives normal? Would that be an ending that would satisfy anyone? Do they, in fact, go out swinging? With production suspended for the time being, the only thing that is really clear right now is that we are going to have to wait a little longer for the end of the story. And maybe that’s not a bad thing… What did you think of the episode? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

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