Spoilers ahead for the Season 14 midseason premiere of , called “Nihilism.”
finally returned to the airwaves after Season 14’s midseason finale ended with a snap from Michael. Although this “snap” wasn’t quite as devastating as Thanos’ in , it did mean that Michael was back in Dean and probably wasn’t planning on vacating the vessel any time soon. In “Nihilism,” Team Free Will managed to capture Michael and embarked on a mission to get him out of Dean, all while Michael had a squad of monsters hot on their heels.
The end result was the reveal that the world end, and I kind of love how is handling a potential apocalypse this time around. Here’s why.
In “Nihilism,” Dean was unaware that anything was wrong, as Michael had him trapped in a happy fantasy of life in a bar. Sam and Castiel had to track down Dean in his own mind and convince him to try and evict Michael. It took no small amount of effort for Sam and Cas to get through to Dean, who thought that Michael was locked up in the cage.
When Dean cottoned on to his situation, he realized that evicting Michael wasn’t necessarily best for the greater good, as Michael would just unleash his evil in a brand new way. So, Dean came up with a solution: instead of loosing Michael on the world and freeing Dean, Dean locked Michael in the walk-in freezer in his bar fantasy. The boys can’t free Dean from Michael and stick Michael in a cage, but Dean can serve as the cage himself and keep Michael locked in. Score, right?
Not really, actually! Dean as Michael’s cage seems like a great solution, and Dean has a strong enough will that he seems like he could be trusted with keeping the cage locked (assuming he learned some lessons about the people he loves being used against him), but Billie showed up at the end of the episode to drop a bombshell on Dean.
As Death, Billie had a room full of books about Dean and the ways his life could go, and all of those books had previously been quite different. She was alarmed when she discovered that all of the many books in her reading room changed to end the same way: with Michael escaping the cage of Dean’s mind and burning the Earth. The end is nigh… again.
Well, all of the books ended with Michael destroying the Earth. One tome has Dean preventing Michael from escaping and therefore keeping the Earth from being burned, and Billie handed it over to Dean. Unfortunately, the episode didn’t reveal to anybody other than Dean what was inside the book, but there has to be a catch or two to the solution. After all, if it was simple and straightforward, surely Dean wouldn’t hesitate to do what it takes!
On the one hand, the potential end of the world with the burden on the shoulders of a Winchester while one of the good guys keeps a huge secret from the others is something that has done many times before. A show that has been running for more than a decade has had to raise its stakes time and time again, but once it threatened the beginning of the apocalypse, there was really nowhere bigger or more devastating for the show to potentially go.
And that was back in Season 4! So why am I into it more than I have been in years past? There are a few big reasons.
For one, this season is really taking advantage of Jensen Ackles’ acting chops. Some of the show’s biggest Dean-centric plots — such as his stint as a demon — didn’t actually last all that long or focus all that much on Dean himself, with more emphasis on other characters’ reactions. I wasn’t happy earlier in Season 14 when it seemed that had already kicked Michael out of Dean for good, as it could have meant the end of an emphasis on Dean.
Jensen Ackles is the strongest actor on the series in my book, and pulling double duty as Dean and Michael has allowed him to shine and exude more energy as an actor. This is something , even if it is involved in another potential end of the world.
Dean getting more solo focus has also allowed the other relationships to strengthen. Castiel was always closer with Dean than Sam, and their relationship has become a fan-favorite. Still, some Sam and Cas time is always enjoyable, as they’re the two people who could probably say that Dean is the most important person to them.
Except for Jack, of course. Jack is more of a son than another Winchester brother, so the good guys naturally are quite protective of him… now that they’re sure he’s not evil just because he’s Lucifer’s kid. Jack is a variable that wasn’t really key in some of the earlier looming apocalypses of , and all three of the main guys react differently to situations with Jack in the mix. He also has a limited use of his powers, as throwing his might around too much risks the loss of his soul. Oh, the complications of life as a nephilim!
Throw in the mass of hunters that Sam recruited during Dean’s first stint as Apocalypse World Michael’s host, and the status quo is just different in Season 14 than in years past. has threatened to destroy the world time and time again; if continues beyond Season 14, I expect the world would wind up on back the verge of destruction. There are just enough differences in how the characters handle themselves in Season 14 (as well as the unique nature of Michael’s threat and Billie’s hints) that I genuinely don’t know what to predict about what’s in store.
Do I think is actually going to destroy the world? Not unless Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki are finally ready to move on and end the show. But there’s enough originality in the mix this time that I’m intrigued to see what could happen next. Only time will tell. New episodes of air on Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on The CW. The milestone 300th episode is only weeks away, and it promises time travel as well as the return of John Winchester and another long-lost character.