When last we met, the Winchesters had a harrowing encounter with Chuck—also known as God. The confrontation provokes Dean (Jensen Ackles) to declare that Chuck will never get the ending to their story that he wants. Chuck’s response? “We’ll see.” And so begins Act 3 of the extended play that is Supernatural, season 15, and we get a glimpse of the Winchesters’ life without Chuck.
Or more precisely, we see the Winchesters’ life without Chuck’s favor. Sam (Jared Padelecki) and Dean have pushed back at Chuck at every turn. So it blows my mind that Chuck finally decides to withdraw his protection; it’s taken an awfully long time. They’ve resisted him and his plans before, but it took Dean looming over him and telling him “No” for Chuck to show the boys what his direct influence over their lives has meant.
Beware: This post is super-charged with spoilers for season 15, so if you don’t want to be spoiled, stop reading right now.
Just regular guys
As the episode “The Heroes’ Journey” begins, a wraith and a werewolf are battling it out in a cage match, cheered on by a raucous crowd. What this portends doesn’t become clear until later.
Next we see Dean at the local convenience store, where a cashier tells him that the magic credit card he uses for gas and groceries no longer works. When he returns to his car, there’s a ticket on the windshield. Back at the bunker, Sam is making a hash of dinner, forgetting to use pot holders, burning his hands on a hot pan, and spilling a pot of pasta all over the kitchen floor. Dean’s teeth hurt and Sam’s getting a massive cold. Something is clearly amiss.
And that’s when Dean gets a call from their friend, the hunter/werewolf Garth, asking for help.
Werewolves in the suburbs
We’ve met Garth Fitzgerald IV (the winning DJ Qualls) before, but when Sam and Dean arrive at his house—after Baby stalls and won’t start again—we meet a whole new Garth: married, three kids, beautiful home and, as it turns out, a thriving dental business tending to the local werewolf pack. Dean’s mouth pain leads Garth to insist that he take a look at Dean’s teeth. Garth finds 17 (!) cavities. And that’s when we get one of the epic moments of Supernatural’s entire run.
When Garth puts Dean under with a hefty dose of nitrous oxide to fill those cavities, Dean dreams of performing a full-on tap dance number with Garth in the bunker. (Word has it that Jensen Ackles took three hours of tap dancing lessons to do this number. I’ve taken tap lessons and I’m here to tell you that if he did do this scene with only three hours of study, he surely does have some god looking out for him.)
Down to business
After Dean recovers—and after Sam recovers from Garth’s wife Bess’s fiery solution to his stuffed sinuses—Garth observes that they’re off their game; they’re not heroes anymore, just regular guys. It’s the first time they realize that Chuck has “downgraded” them. They’re normal, and they’re completely puzzled.
Garth and his wife Bess (Sarah Smyth) introduce the Winchesters to her cousin Brad (Jesse Hutch). Brad was the werewolf in the cage match, trying to make some money. When he lost, they dumped him in a swamp and left him for dead. Sam and Dean don’t like the sound of this and decide to go and investigate. Garth warns them off but they go anyway. To make a long story short—fight, fight, fight, lose, lose, lose. As Sam and Dean face a cage match of their own with a bruiser called Maul, Garth shows up, rescues them, and blows up the fight venue. It seems he’s the hero of this particular story. Sam and Dean can’t help but be grateful.
In the end, Garth tells them about a joint in Alaska where they might be able to regain their lost luck. Our last sight of Garth is through a living room window: he and Bess dance to “Werewolves of London.” It’s a lovely send-off for a character I always thought was just completely charming.
The Winchesters head north
And so Sam and Dean hit the road again. The episode “The Gamblers” finds them at a place called Lurlene’s, where people bet their luck in games of pool against each other. Some folks have spent much of their lives there. Dean, veteran pool hustler that he is, figures he can clean up and get the Winchester mojo back. And he does, but he realizes that in many ways it’s a no-win scenario. For every game he wins, someone else loses and usually loses their life. When he and Sam learn the truth the hard way, they demand to meet the owner.
They learn that the the Roman goddess Fortuna (a world-weary Lynda Boyd, a native of Vancouver where Supernatural is shot) runs the place. She tells them that Chuck created all the other gods and that there’s no love lost between them. In the end, Sam and Dean need their mojo, but they need to save the people in the bar, too; they can’t help it. Sam wins his first game, but then Fortuna raises the stakes. Sam plays for lives of the people in the bar and he loses. The Winchesters walk out the door, feeling beaten . . . and then the people for whom Sam played leave, too, their luck restored. The bartender gives them the coin Fortuna uses to store luck. She tells them that Fortuna, impressed by the Winchesters’ old-fashioned heroism, their epic heroism, has given them back their luck—heroes’ luck—after all.
The (dead) prodigal returns
In the meanwhile, when a cop calls him about a security video showing a disturbing murder, Castiel investigates the situation. Cas is shocked to learn that the murderer is none other than Jack (Alexander Calvert), whom we last saw dead at the hands of Chuck. Jack tears out and eats the heart of his victim. While searching the scene of the crime, Cas finds what looks like an electric guitar case and, inside, the sword of a grigori, a special kind of angel. Once he’s done his research, Cas realizes that this isn’t the only grigori Jack has killed.
When Castiel finally finds Jack, it doesn’t matter. He’s so glad to see him alive that he puts everything else aside.
Back at the bunker, Sam and Dean return, and Castiel greets them by revealing Jack. Jack tells them that Billie, a.k.a. Death (Lisa Berry) has been hiding him from Chuck to keep him safe. But now it’s time for him to join the fight. She’s the one who instructed Jack to eat grigori hearts; he needs to strengthen himself and his powers for the battle to come. It’s a grisly training regimen and her plan includes more such tasks; we don’t get to hear what they are, though. I suspect we’ll learn in the last episodes of the season, but this first task doesn’t bode well. Jack explains that it all has one goal: to prepare him to kill Chuck.
Two more episodes until the premier!
I’ll cover the last two aired episodes in my next post which, to my mind, constitutes the second half of season 15, act 3. From there, we’ll be in terra incognita. I can’t wait to cover each episode one by one. Can I just hop into a time machine to get to October 8?
Plus: Supernatural in the news & the media
Video: Au Revoir (This is amazing–preview scenes, backstage glimpses and Jared’s truly terrible French accent)
Season 3 sneak peek from The CW
Variety: Inside ‘Supernatural’s’ Evolution From Monster-of-the-Week to Psychological Horror
Janna Silverstein is a writer and editor, an all-round professional nerd living in Seattle with two cats, a really big TV, and lots of books. “The Gamblers” got her thinking about taking pool lessons—because she doesn’t have enough to do in her spare time.