Castiel and Jack joined the Winchesters on a good old-fashioned, cowboy-themed ghoul hunt in Supernatural 13×06
After Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) reunited with Castiel (Misha Collins) last week, we were left wondering where Supernatural would go next. Was it really Castiel? How’d he escape the Empty? Did he make a deal? “Tombstone” took a few steps towards answering those questions but, in the end, it decided to leave definitive answers to those questions until a later date. Instead, we were given a good old-fashioned, classic episode of Supernatural that also served to get the team back together. Or as Dean called it, “Team Free Will 2.0.” After Castiel was killed last season and Mary (Samantha Smith) ended up trapped with Lucifer (Mark Pellegrino) on an Apocalypse-stricken parallel Earth, the shift from the darker tone to a more lighthearted one in this episode was noticeable.
On the surface, the plot of “Tombstone” was relatively straightforward. Jack (Alexander Calvert) and Castiel joined Sam and Dean on a hunt in Dodge City, Kansas. With the gang back together again and some hope back in the picture, Dean really got into the cowboy spirit appropriate to Dodge City. After Team Free Will 2.0 did some digging, they soon discovered that they were hunting a ghoul. That ghoul had taken on the guise of a cowboy he had killed back in the late 1800s. In the process of trying to stop him, Jack attempted to use his powers. This caused him to accidentally kill an innocent security guard. Distraught by what he had done, Jack decided to go off on his own to prevent him from harming any of his friends.
“Tombstone” continued the themes of the season (loss and family) while providing a more hopeful counterpoint to the darker tone found in the first five episodes. Castiel’s reunion with the Winchesters and the group’s attempt to adapt to the new dynamic were at the heart of the episode. Jack also finally got to meet Castiel, who his mother had decided would be his foster father, in person for the first time. That meeting ultimately ended up being short-lived as the episode ended with Jack leaving the Bunker devastated that he had killed someone and deeply concerned he would do the same to his family. Despite the darkness of the second half of the episode, “Tombstone” was full of humor, a happier Dean, and highly entertaining cowboy-related scenes.
Castiel’s return, Jack’s enthusiasm to help the brothers hunt, and the lighthearted nature of the majority of the episode really gave a lot to digest. So let’s get into it and see what our roundtable thought of “Tombstone!”
Destiny (@cuddlydean24) – A business student that loves watching TV and listening to music
Lena (@lenastiel) – Hopeful optimist and lover of peanut butter who is passionate about Supernatural and its amazing cast members.
Lindsay (@lindieface) – Beleaguered grad student, unrepentant fangirl, whiskey aficionado
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.
1. After last week’s fairly simple reunion between Dean, Sam, and Castiel, we were given a full reunion this week. What did you think of having the group back together?
Destiny (@cuddlydean24): I am so happy to have them all back together. Dean was so upset in the previous episodes so it was nice to see him happy that Cas was back.
Lena (@lenastiel): I’ve been eagerly anticipating Team Free Will reunion since their painful separation back in May. The reunion truly blew my expectations out of the water. Team Free Will 2.0, as Dean would say – better together, and better than ever. The first half of the episode is such a contrast to the somber and depressed mood since the beginning of the season. The show made it painfully clear that Dean and Sam are not complete without Castiel – and now Jack has been adopted as a part of the family. It perfectly highlights the overarching themes of the series: found family and family don’t end with blood.
Lindsay (@lindieface): The reunion between Dean, Sam, and Cas was the best emotional payoff after a very long summer hiatus of fandom mourning – and an emotionally rough beginning of the season for the boys. The difference especially in Dean between last week and this week was like night and day. It’s amazing how much having his big win – Cas’s return – improved his mood, especially after giving up hope in last week’s episode. The moments between Dean and Cas, and Sam and Cas, were incredibly touching and played to perfection by the guys.
Mery (@Sasstiel_): Finally! Team Free Will is now a part of Supernatural for years, you can’t have Supernatural without Sam, Dean and Cas together.
Cam (@JacknCas): Having the group back again is awesome! I love Team Free Will and it was weird without Cas, without the old Team Free Will… It’s really good to have them back again and go hunt monsters with Jack! I really couldn’t wait for them to be back together again, I missed them and now that they are back together it’s amazing! And it’s changing the mood of everyone for a better one, we have the proof just with Dean being happy!
2. Jack and Castiel finally got to meet in person. Castiel even started to mentor him. What did you think of their scenes together? Will Castiel be a good foster father?
Destiny: Their scenes were really emotional. I loved seeing Cas talk to Jack about angels, heaven, and Kelly. I think Cas will be a good foster father. Cas is really protective. He also tried to make Jack feel better when he killed the security guard.
Lena: Their scenes are delightful! It’s fun watching Cas being protective of Jack, since he made a pledge to Jack’s mother, Kelly, to protect and nurture him to be good. One of Castiel’s most prominent traits is his loyalty, so obviously he’ll honor that promise. On the plus side, Cas and Jack are two kindred spirits who understand how it feels to be aliens among humans. Also, Cas knows perfectly how it feels to be fighting against his nature (Cas being an angel and Jack being the son of Lucifer). He’ll do well as Dadstiel, although…considering the end of the episode, let’s just say it won’t be a smooth road.
Lindsay: I really enjoyed the interplay between Cas and Jack. They have a lot in common, those two, and Cas stepped into a father/mentor role seamlessly. I’d love to see the dynamic between them further explored as the season unfolds. I think Cas understands Jack in a way that the Winchesters can’t, since they’re wholly human, and it would be nice for Jack to have someone to help him balance between his human and angelic side.
Mery: The Jack/Cas reunion was so beautiful, I might have teared up a little when Jack hugged Cas. I know Cas will be a good mentor and father figure for Jack, just like Bobby was for Sam and Dean.
Cam: I loved it so much! It was so cute and funny to see how excited Jack was to show Cas what he was able to do, what he had learned from the boys or from the shows or movies he’s watching on the computer. I really think Cas is going to be a good father, just by the way he look at Jack. He proved that he was really caring about Jack with the scene at the bank robbery, the scene when they go back to the bunker and the end scene too!
3. Castiel seemed to believe that annoying the cosmic entity is what ultimately allowed him to escape from the Empty. Are you buying that explanation or does that seem too easy? What would a deal with the cosmic entity of the Empty look like?
Destiny: I am buying that explanation. The cosmic entity was annoyed at Cas and wanted to sleep so I believe that the cosmic entity let him go.
Lena: I accepted that explanation, but I’m quite sure there is something that is not yet told. In my opinion, Cas’s escape from the Empty symbolizes a progression in his struggle against his low self-worth, depression and self-blame. In the past seasons, we see Cas willingly and easily threw his life away (to be possessed by Lucifer to end the Darkness, breaking Billy’s deal to save Sam and Dean regardless of cosmic consequences, etc). But in the Empty, he found his will to live again and out-stubborn the entity. However, we know very little of the details of that confrontation.
Lindsay: Honestly, I buy it. After all, the Empty just wanted to go back to sleep, and Cas certainly wasn’t going to let him. It was too important for him to get back to his family. Maybe it’s too easy, but I really hope that’s all there is to it. We need a win as much as Dean did, and getting Cas back has been a relief to so many fans.
Mery: I think that’s actually what it happened, I don’t know, Cas seems the guy to do such thing. A deal with the Empty? I don’t how it could be like, not a soul-selling deal for sure because we know Angel and Demons don’t have a soul.
Cam: I kind of think that it’s really Cas, but yes it seems too easy to me. A deal with the entity could include either Cas being half possessed by the entity or Cas losing his powers and the entity having Cas’s powers, because we saw it in the episode (I don’t know if it’s just because the guard is dead or because Cas had lost his powers) he can’t heal the guard, he don’t use his powers not even once in the episode and he hides with Jack during the bank robbery.
4. This episode really went all out with the cowboy references, and Dean really likes cowboys. What were your favorite cowboy-related moments?
Destiny: I really liked the moment where Dean was excited to see the motel room and pointed out the cowboys on the wall. I also liked the slo-mo montage.
Lena: I love how excited Dean was about his Western childhood fantasies. My favorite moment is how Dean basically just roped Castiel into his excitement….and eventually Cas got so into it! Dean is to blame for the cowboy hat on Cas’s head, while Cas…I was laughing so hard seeing him doing that Midwest accent and trying to pass as a real gunslinger. Dean and Cas made such a great team! They’re bouncing off each other in such a hilarious and adorable way.
Lindsay: Seeing Dean in full-on fan mode was priceless. There were so many wonderful moments to choose from, but I loved the reveal that Dean made Castiel watch Tombstone. I love those little glimpses into the guys’ domestic lives. I also loved Dean’s “I’ll go get my boots” line.
Mery: The bank robbery, very classic.
Cam: My favorite cowboy-related moment was when they got in the room and Dean got all excited about the pictures of the cowboys! Especially at the last cowboy when Dean says “Doc Holliday! Hey-oh! This is awesome.” That was hilarious seeing him looking at the pictures and saying the names of every cowboys in every pictures! Also when Cas and himself were wearing those cowboy hats!
5. “Tombstone” gave us another relatively simple monster of the week case. This time it was a ghoul. Are you finding the approach of pairing a straightforward monster of the week case with less straightforward character development effective?
Destiny: I think it ended up being effective because it still moved the story along.
Lena: When it comes to monster of the week episodes, I think Supernatural can be rather uneven in delivering a good execution. “Tombstone”, however, has a good balance between the case and the character development. It doesn’t feel like just a filler episode, perhaps due to the unique Western-themed plot and the involvement of the full team. The approach is reminiscent to another fan-favorite episode back in Season 8, Andrew Dabb’s “Hunter Heroici”. Kudos to the talented Davy Perez for the writing in “Tombstone”.
Lindsay: I really like the balance they’ve found between known monsters and further developing the characters. I mean, after all – we all watch for Team Free Will, right? So it makes sense to have a greater weight on our human/angel/human-angel hybrid characters and keep to the lore we already know. It allows more time to let our characters shine.
Mery: Well, depends. The episode only showed us the boys in an arc of 48 hours. I loved seeing Dean happy and giddy again after his mourning self in those last episodes tho.
Cam: Yes, especially Jack is the character showing more development in his skills. In other words, with how he now knows many things and he was kind of reminding me of the way Sam talk or act when he find a case and explain it to Dean.
6. Jack has had difficulty controlling his powers up to this point but he hadn’t killed anyone before. This time, he killed an innocent security guard while trying to stop the ghoul. Do you think he was being too hard on himself or did he have a point?
Destiny: I think he was being too hard on himself. Even though he did kill an innocent, it was a mistake. He thought he was helping and tried to kill the bad guy.
Lena: Objectively as viewers, we can see that he was a little too hard on himself. It happened under circumstances outside of his control. Dean, Cas and Sam understood this (even though they all have a tendency to be hard on themselves too). They’ve been on this road before. However, in Jack’s perspective, I understand how the guilt was crushing him. He has tried so hard to be good in his couple-of-weeks existence. He had a point. Power is dangerous IF it falls in the wrong hands. Jack can choose not to be the wrong hands.
Lindsay: I definitely think Jack was too hard on himself, but it also served a point in showing us that our heroes may be a little desensitized to the violence they deal with so frequently. However, I also liked what Sam said – that they’ve all messed up (because they have – what can I say, I like my heroes flawed). However, this doesn’t define them. Dean, Sam, and Cas are wonderful guys who are just trying to do the right thing, even when there are bumps along the way.
Mery: He’s just a kid, and it was his first killing, I think everyone with a bit of conscience would do the same and maybe with time it will hurt less, like Cas said. So yeah, he has a point.
Cam: I think he was too hard on himself. He said it himself, he didn’t mean to do that! All he wanted to do is to stop the ghoul from escaping! Also, when he first decided to help the boys, the guard he killed was inside the bank and he got out of the bank while Jack was being shot by the ghoul, Jack didn’t even expected anyone to get out of the bank or to be besides the ghoul. Like Cas said, it was a mistake! It was not his fault.
7. Sam, Dean, and Castiel all tried to get through to Jack and convince that everyone makes mistakes. Despite that, he still went off on his own. How do you see that working out? Will Jack going off on his own help him or will it lead to far worse things?
Destiny: I don’t think it will work out well. I think he will bump into someone that will want to take advantage of his powers along the way.
Lena: Running away to deal with one’s issues alone is almost never a good thing in Supernatural. It will definitely lead to far worse things. I dread where this is going as it most likely leads to more separation. I noticed the biggest wins for Dean, Sam and Cas usually happen when they work together. Jack is now part of the team, and with him running off, he would be much more vulnerable and susceptible to all threats. He has angels, demons, and Lucifer himself gunning down on him so far. Not good. Ominous dark clouds ahead.
Lindsay: I think it makes sense, really – there do still need to be some episodes with just Dean and Sam, or just Dean, Sam, and Cas.. but I don’t think Jack will be away for long. Or he’ll run into trouble with Asmodeus or the angels. In any case, he’ll find his way back eventually and maybe help him realize that the hunter life isn’t just black and white.
Mery: It will lead to worse things, at least for him. Everyone is searching for him, Angels and Demons alike. I’m honestly worried for him, and I know he’s this powerful being who’s been able to call Cas from the Empty, but there are beings like Asmodeus around, and let’s not forget he posed as Donatello to get to him.
Cam: I don’t think it will help him… I think that’s the way he will tend to be bad instead of being good. If he stayed with Castiel and the boys they could’ve kept him on the right track and Castiel could’ve helped him to control his powers better. Going off on his own is not good and it’s not going to help him. Going off on his own will maybe lead him to Lucifer, which is the thing that I hope won’t happen and I don’t want that to happen!
Final Verdict: Team Free Will 2.0’s first hunt together was every bit as fun as we expected it to be yet “Tombstone” never lost sight of the darker story being slowly advanced every week
Supernatural has often had a tricky balance between advancing the main story of the season, telling compelling standalone monster of the week stories, injecting a lot of its twisted brand of humor, and developing its characters while doing all of that. At its best, the show is able to effortlessly shuffle all of those elements. At its worst, we often end up with some great scenes with the characters but a lackluster main story. Luckily, “Tombstone” is the former.
“Tombstone” acted as a reunion episode for Sam, Dean, and Castiel. Or the “classic Team Free Will.” At the same time, it also had Castiel and Jack start to form their father/son relationship. This was new territory for both characters and the actors managed to sell those quieter scenes exceptionally well. Throwing Jack into the old dynamic to form “Team Free Will 2.0” while also shaking up the previous dynamic he had with the brothers was a smart direction to head in. It resulted in fresh yet familiar territory. The cowboy theme and all the hilarity that resulted from it elevated the episode even more in the eyes of our roundtablers, and it’s difficult to disagree.
While “Tombstone” did many things to help elevate the story and make it stand out, at its core, it was still a straightforward monster of the week case. On its own, that wouldn’t be a major issue. However, several episodes this season have used the familiar, easy to solve case mixed with darker and more complex character development approach. This has resulted in great character development but not the most engaging of threats for the brothers to face.The pure fun factor of having the gang back together along with cowboy hilarity mostly counteracted the simplistic case. Still, it’s a noticeable trend.
With Jack off on his own and Castiel reunited with the Winchesters, we were left with a lot more questions than answers. What will become of Jack? Will he be better off on his own or will that make him vulnerable to be exploited by the remaining Prince of Hell or the forces of Heaven? Is there some nefarious purpose to the cosmic entity of the Empty sending Castiel back? That leaves us both looking forward to and dreading where Supernatural is going next.