The Winchesters learn what it’s like to face off against the real Loki in this week’s Supernatural
Supernatural starts off this week with the archangel Gabriel (Richard Speight, Jr.) fighting the Norse demigod Fenrir. After getting wounded while fighting Fenrir due to not being at full strength yet, Gabriel tracks down Sam (Jared Padalecki) and Dean (Jensen Ackles) and asks them for help. The brothers are still angry with the way Gabriel abandoned them a few weeks ago and threaten to take the rest of his grace. Eventually, the Winchesters agree to help Gabriel track down and kill the real Loki/Trickster (also played by Speight) in exchange for helping to fight Michael.
On the apocalypse world, Jack (Alexander Calvert) and Mary (Samantha Smith) continue to help lead the human resistance against Michael’s army. Much to their surprise, Michael’s angels completely abandon their previous stronghold. Once they arrive at Michael’s previous base of operations, they discover a map that shows Michael’s entire army converging on a single location. Kevin (Osric Chau) is captured by the resistance and he reveals that Michael is planning to open a portal to the other Earth at the point where it’s thinnest between worlds. He then blows himself after Michael promised that he’d be able to see his mother again in heaven. Jack successfully protects Mary but fails to protect the rest of the humans present,
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Despite Gabriel reappearing several episodes ago, “Unfinished Business” is the first episode featuring the character this season where he’s truly allowed to be himself. The episode is full of references to earlier episodes featuring him, right down to Casa Erotica. There’s a seriousness throughout the episode that’s balanced out by the darker, more twisted sense of humor that often accompanies episodes involving Gabriel/the Trickster. At the same time, the integrity of the character remains intact and he’s further developed as a result of his time with the Winchesters.
The (fake) Trickster is back! From the inclusion of classic references to earlier episodes to Jack’s difficult lessons on the apocalypse world, “Unfinished Business” threw a lot at us. Let’s get right to discussing the episode!
Ashley (@Proud_Mother85) – My kids are my priority, Supernatural and cast fanatic, music and animal lover
Hikari (@Kaeos_Tennyo) – Supernatural has had my soul for 13 years. Jack of many trades, master of few.
Mery (@Sasstiel_) – Italian fangirl maybe a little too obsessed with Supernatural.
Snowlantern (@sisselauisk) – Swedish translator, TV enthusiast and lifelong nerd.
Lindsay (@lindieface) – Beleaguered grad student, unrepentant fangirl, whiskey aficionado
1. Richard Speight, Jr. returned as Gabriel and the real Loki in this episode. But that’s not all. He also directed it. What did you think of the larger focus on Gabriel in this episode? Did things turn out the way you would have liked with him? If not, what would you have changed? How’d he do when it comes to directing the episode?
Ashley (@Proud_Mother85): I love the bigger focus on Gabriel. It gives us a chance to learn more about him and gives the character more screen time and focus.
Hikari (@Kaeos_Tennyo): First of all, I’ve seen so many Dick jokes on my timeline because of this episode. He talked about rising to this challenge, and killed it. I’m not sure how I feel about him imitating Loki instead of being him, but I know a certain comic artist who is very happy. They did a good job of making sure they didn’t water his character down after all these years.
Mery (@Sasstiel_): Rich is a great director. I enjoyed a great deal every episode he directed and I want him to do more episodes because he’s simply a genius. As for Gabriel, I honestly didn’t think things would turn out with him killing gods and demigods, and I thought that he was the original Loki all along since the beginning of time.
Snowlantern (@sisselauisk): Astonishing feat by Speight. Directing while playing two characters who get into a fight, no less! He has a clear directing style and I especially liked the AU scenes, otherworldly and melancholy. The Gabriel story turned me into a Gabriel fan where I’d been more indifferent before. Speight is a consummate actor and his scenes with the brothers were intriguingly charged, all three trying to navigate between mistrust and caring, needing help and offering it. They can’t help but like each other even when they try to be guarded, it feels like.
Lindsay (@lindieface): First off, the directing – Rich is one of my favorite directors in recent years [season 12’s “Stuck in the Middle (With You)” is easily in my top 10 episodes], and he did another fantastic job tonight. The standout scene for me was the shoot-out with Sleipnir, with the flashes between scenes and black screen. Amazing. I liked the focus on Gabriel – it softened him a bit, made him feel a little more human, and I was pleased that he eventually made the right decision.
2. This entire episode had a classic, pre-Gabriel reveal, Trickster feel to it, complete with dark and often twisted humor. Did you like those throwbacks to earlier episodes? What was your favorite moment? Favorite scene?
Ashley: I loved the throwbacks! I enjoyed every moment. Hard to choose a favorite.
Hikari: It was great. And yes, I love it when they lean back and pay homage to earlier canon. I have to pick a favorite? Well, first of all the kazoo had me cackling as a nice little easter egg. The slo-mo walk to the elevator was fun, too. Honestly, I’ve just missed Gabe’s snarky wit. He’s such a lovable asshole. But I think one of my favorite parts of the episode was when Jack protected Mary with his wings, and we saw the shadows. So many fans have imagined Castiel doing that so many times with the brothers, and hopefully we will see more in the future.
Mery: I absolutely loved all those throwbacks to the old episodes and the old Gabriel. I couldn’t have asked for anything better! My favorite moment I think it was the flashbacks to Gabriel’s life in Monte Carlo, it was so Gabriel!
Snowlantern: I expected some Casa Erotica type Trickster humor and we got that, but to my delight it was subverted, enhanced and used to highlight character insight! It was hilarious how Gabe just rewound and changed his whole story when Dean demanded porn stars in it, so much funnier than if he’d told it that way from the start. And it plainly showed how performative and removed from reality Dean’s porn star fantasy world is. All the references to earlier Gabriel episodes struck the right notes for me, while the episode also added depth and a new, more angel-style layer to the character.
Lindsay: I’m always a sucker for not-really-Gabe projection, much like when Dean and Loki were talking. The bit about “so you can hit me but I can’t hit you” made me chuckle. I was also partial to the flashback with the card games and escorts – definitely felt like the old Trickster.
3. We learned that Jack has had numerous victories against Michael’s army and believes more strongly than ever that he’s strong enough to defeat Michael. He also learned a hard lesson when he was unable to keep other members of the resistance alive. Do you think these events will help shape Jack into a better person or will they work against him in the long-run? Will Mary be enough to help guide him?
Ashley: I think every event shapes Jack. We have seen he grows more confident with each success he has, and each bad thing that happens weighs down on him. Hopefully, he will learn what mistakes not to make in the future and how to outsmart his enemies.
Hikari: I think that Mary sees in Jack her chance to help someone grow in a way she missed out on with Dean and Sam. And yes, I think Jack is inherently good, so any later paternal influence will be seasoned with his love for humanity. These lessons are painful, but I think Jack’s growing pains are more intense due to his circumstances.
Mery: Jack is still growing and I think this episode taught him to think ahead before going face first into a battle with Michael. So yeah, this will, hopefully, shape him into a better person and I think that Mary will help. She sees him as one of her boys, and maybe, just maybe, Jack sees her like some sort of a mother too.
Snowlantern: Poor Jack. He’s young and inexperienced and fell victim to hubris. Michael attacked not him, but the people under his protection, to strike Jack down with guilt. And Jack will have to live with his sense of guilt, like all the rest of Team Free Will 2.0. Hopefully it will make him more humble and less overconfident. Although if he’s set to follow in Cas’ footsteps, he will be vulnerable to manipulation next… Mary was lovely in this episode and had a real family vibe with Jack. I loved how Jack’s shadowy wings wrapped around Mary, shielding her from the blast.
Lindsay: It may be an unpopular opinion, but I actually hope Jack goes dark – even if only for a short while. I think it would be really interesting to see him battle that side of himself (nature versus nurture, if you will), and if there’s ever a time to go slightly off-track, it’s probably in the AU world. I think we may find out he’s got a bit more of his biological father in him than anticipated.
4. Sam and Dean successfully helped Gabriel kill Loki. In exchange, Gabriel agreed to help the Winchesters fight against Michael. Do you think he’ll honor that agreement? If he does, do you think he’ll attempt to come up with a clever way to claim he helped without doing anything significant? Or is he truly in the fight now?
Ashley: I think Gabriel will honor his agreement with Sam and Dean. I think he’s truly in the fight.
Hikari: It’s so difficult to tell with Gabriel which way he’ll go. I want to believe he’ll be in it to win it, once he sees what’s really at stake in Apocalypse World. After all, he’s a hedonist, and Michael will erase those creature comforts. Do I believe he still has some tricks up his sleeve? Absolutely. How many thousands of years did he play a Trickster? I’m eagerly awaiting the last few episodes!
Mery: Killing Loki meant something to Gabriel, so I think he’ll honor the deal with actually doing something. He said it himself too. A deal is a deal…
Snowlantern: Gabriel grew up a bit in this episode. He learned that revenge is hollow and doesn’t make you feel better. At the end, he shed his adolescent Trickster persona: “Tricks are for kids.” I think Gabriel will always want to avoid conflict, that’s just his personality, but I do believe he is committed to this particular fight. Plus he likes the Winchesters. Gabriel is a lonely guy, very few people get him beneath the surface level. The Winchesters get him. Especially Sam. As with Rowena in the last episode, Sam’s caring and hopeful heart reached out and connected.
Lindsay: I think the fact that this involves Michael and Lucifer makes this a personal fight for Gabe. I do think he’s going to honor the agreement, but Gabriel is ultimately a self-serving character, so there may be an unexpected twist coming up in the next episode. I’m definitely looking forward to seeing Dean, Sam, Cas, and Gabe as a united front next episode, though – two strong pairs of brothers is hard to beat, both in terms of character and the chemistry between the four actors. Can’t wait!
5. After all of the time spent this season on trying to find ways to open a portal between the two universes, what are your thoughts on Michael’s plan to open a portal at a point where the wall between universes is thinner? Is that too easy? Or does it fit with what’s been already established? Will he be successful?
Ashley: I think trying to open a portal fits with what’s been established, but I hope we won’t see him be successful.
Hikari: We’ve seen evidence in “thin” places in the past, regarding the veil, Hell, Purgatory, even this season in “The Bad Place.” Although I wonder how Michael located this thin spot between universes. I think it’s all going to come down to the wire, and that place, which I suspect is in Texas, will be where the finale showdown will occur.
Mery: It’s so easy I wonder why they didn’t think of this sooner to be honest. I have a feeling he’s gonna success on that and go through a rift.
Snowlantern: Michael is an archangel, so he can open a portal with his own blood, and he presumably has access to things from our universe so he can direct the portal here. Finding an especially good place to do it probably increases his chances of success and maybe sustaining the portal for a longer time. I believe he will be successful. After all this buildup, Michael kind of has to come into our universe and pose a real threat to it.
Lindsay: Sometimes the easiest solution is the most likely, and in terms of Michael’s plan, I think it fits. And I definitely think he’ll be successful in breaking through, which falls in line with my predictions for the rest of the season (I’ll hold off on that for now – no spoilers!). But yes, we’re in for some long overdue interactions, in my opinion – Michael and Lucifer, of course, but also hopefully Michael and Dean.
6. The apocalypse world’s Kevin Tran also returned in this episode. Unfortunately, he ended up sacrificing himself for Michael’s cause and blew himself up. What are your thoughts on this development? Would you have liked to see this Kevin redeemed? Or did his tragic end make sense despite the pain of losing yet another version of him?
Ashley: Like the Kevin we knew, all he wanted was to see his mom again. I would have preferred to see him redeemed rather than die.
Hikari: I wanted Kevin to join the not-so-merry band of rebels. He deserved to live and I’m upset. But Kevin never wanted to be a prophet in our world, so I can see him taking it extra hard in the AU, where everyone he loves is dead. But I’m still angry darn it!
Mery: I was waiting for him to redeem himself but I also saw how scared he was of Michael, so his sacrifice actually makes sense, even if painful.
Snowlantern: Back in season 5 our Michael bribed Adam the same way: by promising he’d be with his mom in Heaven. It’s a good throwback, perfectly in keeping with the family theme which is the backbone of the show. Kevin Tran in any universe is such a tragic figure. Too young, chosen by God which in the SPN universe amounts to a curse, hunted by all factions, tortured, put under impossible pressure, deprived of everyone he cares about. And eventually he dies, for reasons that are so wrong they just make you want to cry.
Lindsay: Kevin’s sacrifice made sense. He didn’t really feel like our Kevin, so that made his end a little less painful for me. While I don’t think he should have sacrificed himself for Michael, I also can’t see that version of Kevin being happy if he was saved – redemption may have been too much to hope for.
7. The episode ended with Sam confronting Dean about his recent decisions to go off after a target without Sam. Dean claimed it’s because he’s trying to protect Sam but Sam didn’t buy it. Sam said that the two of them will deal with whatever comes up together, even if it means they die together. What did you think of this exchange? Does it fit with the rest of the development of the Winchesters this season?
Ashley: Their exchange fits in with what the whole show is about. The brothers are stronger together than apart, just as they told John when he tried to handle things alone.
Hikari: Dean’s always had problems with self esteem issues and codependency. The past couple seasons, we’ve seen him continue to struggle with self-worth, while appearing to peel back those codependent layers. Sam on the other hand, has been in a holding pattern emotionally, and has only recently gotten to face his own demons, and help exorcise them through others. I see the exchange as Sam relying on old mechanisms to drag Dean out of his nihilistic spiral, but I don’t believe his speech is going to get the action he expects. Actually, I think it will eventually help solidify Dean’s decision in the opposite direction.
Mery: I’m just gonna say, at least they talked about it… I wasn’t expecting it knowing how they went to the other’s back all these years to save the other, so I’m happy they finally used actual words instead of just acting alone.
Snowlantern: There was something jarring about that scene, maybe foreshadowing that Dean will go off on his own and make a self-sacrificial decision in one of the final episodes of the season. Cas did that with Donatello, a mirroring act which may have been part of the foreshadowing for Dean. Sam practically tried to put a spell on Dean with his thrice repeated “together.” Team Free Will are better together, as Dean himself told Cas last season. But my fear is that Dean does not remember that right now, and it will lead to trouble. It always does.
Lindsay: I’m torn on this one. I love when the brothers are a united, supportive front – that’s how siblings ought to be, especially in the circumstances they often find themselves in. However, given Dean’s expression after Sam left, we all know he’s not going to let Sam get hurt. Dean is often self-sacrificing to the point of recklessness, and they both tend to go tunnel-vision instead of thinking about the greater good. Both dying doesn’t help the world or the story, and the guys have been refreshingly less codependent this season. I hope that continues! It’s been a nice development and doesn’t make their bond any less strong.
Final Verdict: Richard Speight, Jr.’s return as Gabriel and Loki is highly memorable
When Gabriel departed a few episodes ago, we weren’t sure when we might see the archangel again. The answer to that question turned out to be only a few weeks. Not only did Richard Speight, Jr. return as Gabriel in this episode, but he also returned as the real Loki. If that isn’t enough, he also directed the episode. “Unfinished Business” is full of memorable and often humorous scenes featuring Gabriel filling in his backstory since we last saw him before being “killed” by Lucifer. Despite the heavy dose of humor that is usually included in episodes focused on Gabriel, there’s a seriousness that’s found throughout the episode. Gabriel was, after all, captured and then tortured on a daily basis for years by Asmodeus and it’s nice to see that the show isn’t glossing over that detail. Speight did an amazing job playing both Gabriel and Loki while also directing the episode and featuring a fight between, well, himself and himself.
There was a heavy focus on Gabriel and Loki in this episode but that doesn’t mean the other storyline was uneventful. Jack’s continued development is highly welcomed. Interestingly, his relationship with Mary appears to have grown into a mother/son type relationship. Jack is learning difficult lessons but hopefully Mary will be able to help keep him grounded. Speaking of being grounded, Jack spread his angel wings for the first time on screen this week to protect Mary. It’s a simple yet highly powerful image that’s handled beautifully.
It’s always great to see a return to Jack and Mary, and while that’s once again true for “Unfinished Business,” we can’t help but feel that the story on the apocalypse world isn’t advanced as we would like to see. The death of the apocalypse world’s Kevin is understandable and fits the character. Still, it’s disappointing (and painful) to say goodbye to the character once again.
We’re also rather mixed on Sam and Dean’s conversation at the end of the episode. Fans have many different views on the brothers’ codependence and the way that was handled in this episode may or may not sit well with everyone. Also, why aren’t Sam and Dean able to fully understand pain, loss, and being tortured in the case of Gabriel? Their entire lives are built on experiences like those. It’s an odd choice in an otherwise mostly on point episode about pain and loss.
We’re down to just a handful of episodes left in the season and the various subplots are all on a collision course. Will Jack, Mary, and the rest of the human resistance be able to stop Michael’s army from invading? Will Gabriel fulfill his promise to help the Winchesters? Unfortunately, we can’t predict the future but we can’t wait to find out what happens next!