Happy New Year! What Will 2019 Bring for Supernatural’s Team Free Will?

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Supernatural has never been one of those shows that wraps things up neatly before a break with a pretty red bow so you can just put your feelings about it aside while you enjoy the holidays or the summer vacation or whatever happens in between airings of your favorite show. When Eric Kripke was both creator and showrunner and writer, every time there was a cliff hanger ending before a break, fans would flood the old school message boards and Live Journal pages with graphics and icons shaking our metaphorical fists at him for the sweet torture he was putting us through. (This was before the time of memes, which would certainly have been utilized if they’d existed).

A lot of things have changed in fourteen seasons, but the sweet torture – I mean, anticipation – of having to wait for the next episode weeks or months later to finally find out what happens has stayed the same. Supernatural signed off on 2018 with a sort of Christmas themed episode in mid December, with a title that was anything but sweetly holiday themed, ‘The Spear’. Ouch.

This year’s holiday episode wasn’t the true Christmas classic that ‘A Very Supernatural Christmas’ was when it aired in Season 3. That episode really did revolve around Christmas, as only Sam and Dean Winchester would celebrate it (meaning there was plenty of gore and sweet-on-the-surface-super-creepy-underneath demigods and oh yes, actual torture). There were also, however, some very emotional moments in that episode. There was the iconic flashback to one of the most significant moments on the show, that Christmas when Sam gave Dean the amulet that was originally meant for absent father John. I remember gasping aloud when that happened, stunned that we were finally finding out the origin story of the “Samulet”.

The episode was bittersweet throughout, Dean wanting to celebrate because he knows it’s his last year alive, and Sam struggling to deal with that impending loss, but the ending was one of the warmest moments the show has delivered, Sam and Dean and their gas station-procured gifts relaxing and watching the game, framed by the Christmas lights reflected in the Impala outside the motel window.

Of course, all that warmth didn’t preclude a lot of hiatus anxiety, because no matter how nice that moment was, Dean Winchester was still about to go to hell! As 2018 comes to a close, ‘The Spear’ didn’t have such an overt holiday theme, but there were plenty of background shots of Christmas trees and decorations, standing out as incongruous amidst the violence typical of a Supernatural episode. This time, we weren’t treated to any warm and fuzzy moments either as we wait for an inevitable horrible thing to happen – the inevitable horrible thing happened right in the episode itself! Team Free Will (Sam, Dean, Castiel and Jack) fight valiantly in their quest to destroy the Archangel Michael, managing to gather a few weapons that have at least a chance of stopping him, but in the end they are defeated in the worst way possible. Dean Winchester is once again possessed by Michael, as the shocked trio of Sam, Cas and Jack stare in horror.

What will happen now? As usual, we’re left with a million questions as we wait for the holiday hiatus to end and the show to move toward its much anticipated 300th episode. So let’s take stock. Where will 2019 take our heroes?

First there’s Jack, who only recently came back from the dead (as one does on Supernatural) thanks to a spell that used part of his soul to work. Will Jack’s powers regenerate enough for him to use them to try to save Dean and defeat Michael? And if he does, what will be the consequences of doing so? Lily Sunder’s spell specified that Jack wouldn’t miss the part of his soul that was used to bring him back as long as he’s using that energy to stay alive. But what if he’s also tapping into his powers? It’s an ominous question, to say the least.  We’ve seen how eager Jack is to prove himself useful repeatedly; if he knows he has some powers back, how could he not use them to try to save one of his beloved father figures?

And speaking of powers, will we see Castiel able to tap into his own power more in the second half of the season? The first nine episodes saw poor Cas beaten to a pulp not once but multiple times, including ending up tied to a chair and absolutely helpless while Sam came to save the day. In ‘The Spear’ he gets tossed around once again, dragged by the collar of his ubiquitous trenchcoat by a ruthless Michael. I sometimes miss the badass version of Castiel who made that grand entrance in Season 4, although I understand the practical difficulties of the Winchesters having an angel ally who can deus ex machina  them out of danger. There must be a happy medium though, right? Will Castiel’s determination to save Dean bring some of that badassery to the surface?

And how will Cas deal with the sword hanging over his head? The Entity from The Empty has promised to snatch him away right when he finally allows himself to be happy. I don’t know about you, but that has me feeling not a little hypervigilant. Though Castiel  himself isn’t that concerned, considering the sort of life he and the Winchesters live.

The last shot of Sam in ‘The Spear’ hit me hard emotionally. We’ve seen Sam lose his brother several times during the course of the show, and it has always been devastating.

(I’m not going to talk about Sam’s response to Dean disappearing to Purgatory because I remain convinced that the whole Amelia thing was some kind of psychotic PTSD-induced fever dream).  Suffice it to say, Sam Winchester does not take kindly to having his brother taken from him. What will he do this time? Rumor has it that he and Castiel will go inside Dean’s head to try to bring him back, and I am SO here for that! Honestly it sounds like fanfic, and that’s my highest compliment, so I can’t wait to find out!

And then there are the unanswered questions about Dean himself. How was Michael able to get back into Dean without his permission? Is Dean sufficiently traumatized now from getting his hopes up and then having them completely dashed that he’s “quiet” as Michael claims?

Will he stay that way? (Not the Dean Winchester I know and love!) I was hoping for a lot more exploration of Dean’s psychological state post possession in the first half of this season, after both the cast and the writers assured us that we’d have some of that in the Comic Con interviews this summer. Will we finally see that now? If so, I also can’t wait for that – and I have no doubt that Jensen Ackles will bring it to life in a way that will absolutely devastate me.

We used to joke in the early days of the show that in order to be a Supernatural fan, you had to be a bit of a masochist. I guess nothing’s really changed that much. Bring it, Show!

Supernatural returns on The CW January 17 at 8 pm EST.

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