“Since when do we give up on people? Since when do we just cut people loose?”
After weeks on the road searching for answers to why his family was cut down, Nick (the former vessel of Lucifer) finally gets to the truth while Dean, after a sobering visit from Billie (or the New Death), makes the decision to end Michael’s reign no matter the suffering he himself must endure.
There’s a well-known phrase that espouses on how it’s not the destination that is important, rather the journey itself. It’s a profound aphorism that is often true but, when examining “Damaged Goods” through that prism, one can’t help but to see disappointment in the road leading to the journey’s—or episode’s—end.
Fractured and broken from his time under Lucifer’s control, Nick has taken a brutal path towards discovering why his family was selected for such a violent end. Though he does the world a favor, ridding it of several demons on his way to the truth, he also killed innocent people. But he finally gets a name for the demon who murdered his family—Abraxas—and that, funny enough, leads him to Hibbings, Minnesota and Mary Winchester; the hunter that captured Abraxas.
It turns out that Dean is also in Hibbings, not only to spend some time with his mother but also to build in secret the key to containing Michael; a Ma’lak box, with Billie providing all the know-how to get it done. Both story lines meet when Nick takes Mary hostage and forces her to lead him to the Enochian puzzle box she used to trap Abraxas. The climax has Nick ready to sacrifice Mary for answers, though Sam, Dean, and Donna arrive in time to prevent that. It’s here where Nick shows his desperation. He risks everyone’s life, including his own, by releasing Abraxas. The truth he’s given—that there was no rhyme or reason to their deaths—just the orders of Lucifer himself—offers no real closure to Nick. More to the point, he learns nothing and feels the revenge he sought justified his actions, even those that cost innocents their lives. It’s Nick’s defiance, coupled with a previous conversation with Dean that has Sam realize—and more importantly, accept—that everyone can’t be saved. Especially when they don’t want to be.
This lesson is in perfect symmetry to Dean’s own decision. Keeping the truth of his plans from Sam falls in line with how the brothers have often done; keeping the other in the dark in order to protect him. For so long, Sam has been that positive half to Dean’s cynicism. Though the latter has never given up on Sam, he has rarely seen hope as much of a tool to keep himself going. Though their discussion in the car about giving up on people focused on Nick, it culminates in Sam having to decide whether to accept Dean’s decision to trap himself at the bottom of the ocean with Michael forever or do everything in his power to convince his brother otherwise. Though the truth guts him, Sam capitulates, realizing that it’s Dean’s life and, despite the terrible consequences of said decision (and no viable alternatives) offers his aid in constructing the box.
- The primary theme of “Damaged Goods” lay around the fact that, no matter what you wish for someone, no matter how much you insert yourself in someone else’s chaos, the sobering reality is that it’s their life to live and, if they have no designs on changing course, it’s not your job to convince them otherwise. It’s a hard pill to swallow, especially when it’s someone we care for and Sam eventually accepts this truth, both with Nick and Dean. He realizes that his outreach to the broken Nick was useless and, as it concerns his brother, while raging at Dean’s final decision, he respects it. Whether this acceptance lasts is another story and will play out over the second half of the season.
- Is this the end of Nick’s story? What had early on seemed a very strong direction devolved into an almost a throwaway plotline. Moreover, it was a disappointing ending. And yet…maybe that was the point. In searching for answers, you’re not always going to find a Holy Grail in which everything makes sense. More often what you discover is that sometimes that truth is devoid of the meaning you so desperately wanted.
- After two straight episodes channeled pieces from Infinity War, “Damaged Goods” takes a page out of both Angel and The Vampire Diaries when Dean explains his plan to Sam. Not only will he be locked away in the Ma’lak box but he wishes to be dropped off in the middle of the Pacific, where it will be nearly impossible for someone to find him and, in that, release Michael. It’s not a bad thing, per se (and I’m NOT saying this was purposefully done) but is nonetheless an interesting nugget.
- From the Enochian puzzle box to the Ma’lak box Dean’s constructing, Supernatural is always giving us unique (and often one-off) tools to combat the forces of evil.
- It was good to see Donna back on screen and doing her part in the good fight. In Supernatural’s history, she very well may be one of the most improved characters as it pertains to her effectiveness and evolving confidence. It’s a shame we’re not getting that Wayward Sisters spinoff because it would have been great to see more of her. And Jody. And Alex. And Claire. C’est la vie…
Supernatural – “Damaged Goods”