A simple case about a ghost doctor led to a trip to the Veil and Death herself getting involved in Supernatural 13×05
Season thirteen of Supernatural continued this week, and like the few several episodes, it featured a simple monster of the week type of story that took a backseat to the larger story unfolding with the Winchesters. Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) decided to go on a solo hunt for a change of pace, left Jack (Alexander Calvert) alone the Bunker, and went to investigate a series of mysterious murders. Before long, the brothers discovered that the deaths were being caused by the spirit of a deranged doctor.
After running into trouble eliminating the spirit by burning what they believed to be his remains, Dean decided to kill himself to enter the Veil and find out from the other spirits where the doctor’s remains were buried. In the Veil, Dean encountered a reaper who tried to take him to the next step in his journey. Once the reaper realized who it was she was dealing with, she immediately went to her boss: Death.
Death was killed by Dean back in season ten, which meant a new Death that took his place. It turns out that the first reaper killed after Death is killed becomes the new Death, and unluckily for Dean, that reaper just happened to be Billie (Lisa Berry). Despite Billie’s earlier promise to send Dean to the Empty the next time he died, her newfound perspective as Death caused her to send Dean out of the Veil because both him and his brother “have work to do.” On the way back to the Bunker, Dean received a phone call from Castiel (Misha Collins), who mysteriously returned from the Empty in last week’s episode. The three of them briefly reunited in the final moments of “Advanced Thanatology.”
With Dean dying and being sent to the Veil, a new Death introduced, and Castiel finally back on Earth and reunited with the Winchesters, this episode gave us a lot to discuss. So let’s meet our roundtablers and talk about “Advanced Thanatology!”
Mery (@Sasstiel_) – Italian fangirl maybe a little too obsessed with Supernatural.
Cam (@JacknCas) – Supernatural show and cast fan. Fighting Turner syndrome, Crohn disease and hypertension and love the AKF message. Aspiring film or TV series editor.
Cat Bow (@Pathryn34) – Mother, wife, kind, and loving
Chhany (@waywardhunters) – A student who is maybe a bit too much obsessed with Supernatural
Sarah (@mishdestiel) – Writer, reader, student. Cornered by Supernatural eight years ago.
1. Ok, let’s just jump right into it and talk about that final scene. Castiel is actually back from the Empty! And he briefly reunited with Sam and Dean. What are your thoughts on how they had the three of them reunite? Is it really Cas?
Mery (@Sasstiel_): I’m so happy, finally Team Free Will is reunited, I was waiting for this moment since the season started! I imagined Dean’s reaction, when he answered the phone, exactly how they did it, and I’m not gonna lie, I was waiting for Cas to say “Hello, Dean”. I think it’s really our Cas, we’ve seen only few seconds of him since he came back from the Empty, but I’m positive.
Cam (@JacknCas): I’m kind of skeptical about it, because he could be the entity of the empty since we don’t hear his voice, he could have imitate the voice of our real Cas. But the way he looked at the Winchesters is making me think that it’s really Cas.
Cat Bow (@Pathryn34): I loved how they played that scene! The segue from needing a win to that call. The look on Dean’s face. You knew it was Cas. He didn’t quite believe it, but dares to hope, that in of itself is amazing. The reveal, of Cas turning around with tears in his eyes. The look of fading disbelief on Dean’s face. And Sam, so amazed. It was masterfully done. And, yes. I do believe this is Cas. The Empty entity enjoyed sleep too much to want to come to a place so foreign. I was sad that Cas apparently still doesn’t have his wings, though.
Chhany (@waywardhunters): To be honest I was waiting for the reunion for so long. It was amazing and how I expected it to be. The writers love to have cliffhangers on the show, we know that already. The last scene was mainly focusing on Dean and Cas. I liked it! Even tho I questioned if it’s Cas last time, I do now think it’s OUR Cas! PS: I really asked myself what Cas said when he called Dean! I bet it was ‘Hello Dean.’
Sarah (@mishdestiel): I loved the final scene. It was beautifully built, with a great choice of song, showing how surprised and even a little suspicious Dean and Sam were to see Cas there, alive. I was filled with expectancy as soon as Dean’s phone rang. And I think it is Cas but not completely him simultaneously because being in the Empty might have changed him a little, and that can reflect on his actions. But he was happy to see Dean and Sam there for him. It was amazing!
2. This episode was loaded with classic Supernatural references. What were your favorite callbacks to earlier seasons?
Mery: Well, when Billie said “You got work to do”, I missed that line; also, the monster of the week, every once in awhile it’s good having those episodes, remind me of when the show was just at its beginning.
Cam: The good hunting trips! I love that they are starting to hunt together again! Also Dean being funny again!
Cat Bow: The two of my favorites that jump out at me are Season 1’s “Asylum” and “Appointment in Samara” from Season 6. I love the atmosphere, the crazy, creepy doctor experimenting on his patients. It was a very scary episode and thrilling to watch. Also, the medicine Dean uses to kill himself, and then to have Sam bring him back was a gift from Dr. Robert. Who oversaw Dean’s first foray into death to speak to Reapers/Death, with an unsure plan to come back. This was also repeated in “Red Meat.” The continuity is amazing.
Chhany: Oh yes man! That was awesome. My favorite was the strip club reference, we’ve seen Dean a lot of times having fun in strip clubs! Sam and Dean’s conversation was just way too funny! I love a well written funny scene!
Sarah: I adored the horror touch this episode had because this is something I wish Supernatural would give more space to. The initial flashbacks to some of Dean’s deaths were very intense too and so was Billie’s speech about how Dean “has work to do”. I loved seeing Dean speaking compassionately with Shawn – the victim. That scene took me back to S01E03 (Dead in the Water), when Dean tried to speak with Lucas at the park, but Lucas wouldn’t talk due to his trauma. It was nice.
3. Dean has had a lot of bad plans over the years. How would you rank his plan to kill himself, end up in the Veil, and then talk to the spirits to solve the case?
Mery: It turned out useful. I knew Sam would have brought him back to life, but I still was a little afraid because of what Billie said to send the Winchesters in the Empty when they died.
Cam: I would say it’s probably in my top 5 of the bad plans Dean has had since the first time we saw him in season 1.
Cat Bow: I would say it’s on par with both times Sam was infected and Dean chose to stay with him. It is better than the time he sold his soul to bring Sam back. Much better than blindly taking on the Mark of Cain in order to kill Abaddon. And a whole lot less begging for destruction than driving up to the very heart of Armageddon to talk to his brother who was actually Satan at the time, or at least die with him.
Chhany: I don’t think Dean did really think about it. It felt like the whole scene was a bit rushed. Since Dean died various times already so he’d be able to talk to supernatural beings, I wouldn’t say it was one of his worst plans ever. I mean he once tried to be Death for a day…
Sarah: That was a very, very bad plan. His idea of killing himself had much more to it than he admitted to Sam, and even to himself. Dean is still hurt and his pain is obvious. I think that deep down when he thought about the plan, he kind of hoped something would go wrong and he wouldn’t come back, even if unconsciously. It was very intense and worrying for me that he actually did what he planned.
4. The Winchesters have died so many times that their deaths could potentially lose their impact. Sam, in particular, has watched Dean die over and over again. How effective was Dean’s death in this episode? Did Jared Padalecki sell it?
Mery: Sam was very afraid this time of losing Dean, thinking it was final. Jared was amazing at portraying this emotion.
Cam: Yes, Jared was awesome as usual! He really sell it and really helped to make Dean’s death effective even if we knew he would possibly come back to life two minutes after he died.
Cat Bow: Dean’s death was so effective that I had to remind myself that he comes back the next episode several times. When Billie appeared back as Death, I was worried. When Dean could have bargained for his life, and didn’t I understood, but was scared. And Jared completely sold the worry. The watching the clock anxiously, the nerves and impatience. The begging for Dean to wake up. I just got to wonder why he didn’t try CPR though. You know Sam has the know how.
Chhany: Dean’s death wasn’t just about Sam fearing to lose him or Dean freeing the ghosts. It was about Billie and her telling Dean that he is important. I feel like Dean needed to hear that. Sam was kind of panicking but he tried to stay calm, Jared really showed how torn Sam was. What can I say? Jared is just amazing and talented!
Sarah: Things happened very fast. My impression was that Sam was obviously worried while Dean was ‘dead’, and when the three minutes were over and Dean ‘actually died’, it looked like Sam kept waiting because something was wrong. If it had taken more time for Dean to come back, then Sam would’ve gotten way more desperate and sad. If that was the writer’s goal, Jared did good! And if not, then some emotions were missing.
5. We learned a critical piece of information about reapers in this episode. The first reaper killed after Death becomes the next Death. It turns out that Billie was that reaper. What are your thoughts on that development? And how about that scythe and her overall look?
Mery: When Billie appeared, the first thing I saw has been the scythe and I put two and two together. I’m glad they made her Death because I loved her character since she first appeared. I also loved the leather coat and that scythe was amazing, so beautiful, I like this new style.
Cam: I loved Billie as a reaper already, so Billie as Death is awesome! She seems to want to give the Winchesters chances and I think this job fits well with her!
Cat Bow: I’m absolutely thrilled that Billie was back as Death. I loved that they explained it with this simple rule that makes sense. I am going to miss Julian Richards’ Death though. I really liked him. I was certain that he wasn’t really gone. But if anyone can replace him, it’s Lisa Berry’s Billie. She is an amazingly strong, mesmerizing character. And, honestly, she felt kind of like Death’s replacement ever since she entered with her lovely rendition of O’ Death. I loved her reveal as Death, the gorgeous scythe, which she wisely keeps away from Dean, and the black leather trench coat.
Chhany: I really liked the whole Death storyline and I’m glad we got to know more about reapers and Death! Billie was just amazing, I‘m happy that one of the most important and powerful beings is now a woman! She also looked handsome as hell!
Sarah: I was genuinely surprised. I thought I’d never see Billie again and then ‘boom!’ she’s Death now! How incredible! The writers giving her that power (even if it’s the power of technically killing people) was a big deal because she deserved better than what happened to her on the last season. I like the idea of bringing her back this season, she’s reasonable and intelligent, I can’t wait for more of her. And her outfit with the scythe? Outstanding!
6. Sam and Dean have both given up hope at different points in the series. We found out that Dean had given up hope in this episode and wanted to die. Did you find this to be believable given everything that has happened? Or did it feel like a rehash of previous storylines? A bit of both?
Mery: I found it believable. Before Cas’s death and Mary being lost, Dean had a little faith left. But losing his mother (again) and his best friend (again and it seems definite now) switched something in him, he’s not ok, not even close. The only person (Cas) who gave him faith and reassurance is gone and probably not coming back. He gave up, he’s just a guy doing his job. Dying? Ok, it happens, why fight back when you keep losing people you love? Everyone dies at some point and Dean thought, speaking with Billie, “if that’s how I have to go, then be it”.
Cam: With Castiel’s death and with Mary being in this interdimensional world with Lucifer, I find this to be believable. I find this believable because of all of these events that had happened and because I think the fact that he couldn’t save Shaun just made things worst for him.
Cat Bow: I don’t think he wanted to die as much as he has given up on living. He truly feels his life doesn’t help anyone. The realistic way this is portrayed, how it expresses what so many people are going through is breathtaking. Him feeling this way is true to character, not a rehashing. Though he seemed to blame Jack, I knew he really blamed himself. Also, Sam attacking him and telling him that he is the reason Jack is messed up, hit him harder than Sam realized. I don’t think it was until last episode that Sam began to see the depth of Dean’s pain.
Chhany: After all we’ve seen of Dean in this season so far it was understandable that he lost faith. But he didn’t just lose faith in others or what Sam and he do. He lost faith in himself and his own live. He didn’t see light at the end of the tunnel. On the other hand, Sam is still fighting, trying to save people and to get his mom back. It feels like Sam only loses hope when Dean is gone.
Sarah: It was very believable for me, especially when he said “I don’t matter” to Billie. They have been through a lot but I don’t really remember seeing Dean giving up so fast and so strongly. He really feels powerless and like there is no reason to be fighting anymore, he’s adrift by now… just going. I think that having Cas back can restore his faith, and Sam’s.
7. Billie telling Dean that the Winchesters still have work to do was a major throwback to season four. In the context of season thirteen, what do you think she meant by that? The Apocalypse 2.0? Or something else?
Mery: I think she meant it in general, as to say “there still are monsters out there” but probably she meant it also as stopping Lucifer or maybe even Asmodeus.
Cam: I think it surely has something to do with Jack or Lucifer, that they will have to keep Jack on the right track. Also with Lucifer probably coming back to get his son, I feel like it’s going to create something bad, maybe like the apocalypse with creatures and demons and they always have been important, but now they are even more important because they will help Jack save the world from a possible bad events and they will try to prevent that bad event to happen.
Cat Bow: I believe it is more than one thing. More than one season. For this season, I feel it is guiding Jack. And I think it will be in saving our world from the forces in the AU world when the door is reopened. But what Billie said about the multiverse being a house of cards makes me also ponder that it might be about keeping that from tumbling down and reality imploding.
Chhany: Billie probably meant that they were the ones to raise Jack and help him control his powers since Jack could make a lot of mess if he’s out of control. In the end the Winchesters are just heroes and they’re out there saving others. That’s what they do and that’s their work.
Sarah: I have no idea if she even knows what’s coming. But whatever it is, she knows that Dean and his family (Sam, Castiel and Jack) will be the ones to stop it, just like Crowley always knew. I believe it will have something to do with Michael leaving the Alternate Universe, probably bringing Mary and Lucifer with him, and Lucifer teamed up with Asmodeus won’t be good in any hypothesis. I’ll keep hoping for the best.
Final Verdict: “Advanced Thanatology” gave us a major reunion, plenty of humor, and a deadly serious final act all while tied together with a classic Supernatural case
Supernatural took a break from Jack and his powers this week to focus on more of a classic monster of the week case. “Advanced Thanatology” didn’t just drop Jack from the story. It threw Sam and Dean into their first truly solo hunt this season while injecting numerous fun references to classic episodes of the show. Dean even loosened up a bit. With the loss of Mary and Castiel last season, Dean has been on edge and fairly serious for most of season thirteen so far. This episode changed that. Our roundtablers loved the throwbacks to classic Supernatural. In particular, they loved Sam and Dean discussing going to a strip club (with their stances reversed) and the creepy atmosphere when they were hunting the ghost doctor.
The introduction of Billie as the new Death was also especially well-received. Lisa Berry had always played a memorable reaper and bringing her back as the new Death was a great decision. It was also fun to see her take on her own unique style. A black leather jacket and a large, staff-like scythe helped her stand apart from her predecessor. Our roundtable also really enjoyed all of the material between Billie and Dean. The short yet memorable reunion of Sam and Dean with Castiel was one of the highlights of the season so far.
Some of us were a bit uncertain about Dean’s rash decision to kill himself to help stop the angry spirits in this episode. While it gave a good excuse to introduce Billie as Death, the scene felt a bit rushed and caused Dean to make an incredibly bad decision. Luckily for him, it worked out. But next time he might not be so lucky.
With Sam, Dean, and Castiel reunited, things are really looking up for the immediate future for the Winchesters. We’re certain it’s only a temporary development. After all, Supernatural loves to torture its main characters. But given how dark the characters have been in recent episodes, the shift in tone in this episode was a welcome one. As Billie told Dean, the Winchesters still have work to do and for the first time all season there are some real beacons of hope that they’ll be able to succeed.