Vince/Lucifer (Rick Springfield) talks about his abandonment issues.

“Rock Never Dies” Takes Shots at Celebrity Culture In a Surprisingly Effective Episode

Season 12's best episode yet isn't perfect, but well-done, with an excellent swan song performance by Rick Springfield.

“Lucifer was bad enough when he had a plan, a motive. Now he’s just having fun.”

Sam Winchester

When we last saw Lucifer (Rick Springfield), his body was rapidly decaying as Rowena (Ruth Connell) banished him to “the bottom of the bloody ocean”. So you might be wondering just how he could be the center of this week’s episode? As it turns out, all it takes is a devil-worshiping teen (Jeff Evans Todd) and a “Lucifer feather” purchased off of the Internet. Lucifer instantly appears in the teen’s basement, and snaps the necks of his devotees before revealing that these feathers have the power to heal him, but only for a little while

Back at the bunker, Dean Winchester (Jensen Ackles) plays Words With Friends with his mother. Eagle-eyed viewers might have noticed that Dean’s letters at the bottom of screen could’ve been used to spell the word “Lucifer”, minus the “i”. As to be expected, however, this comes to an end as Castiel (Mischa Collins) calls and tells the Winchesters that Vince Vincente is currently on TV, talking about his new, major record label deal with his reformed band, Ladyheart.

Crowley (Mark Sheppard), who in Dean’s words, has been part of an “’80s buddy comedy” with Castiel in their search for Lucifer, knows the head of this particular record label well, as he’s also in the business of referring desperate musicians who wish to sell their soul. Russell (Kadeem Hardison) treats Crowley like an essential part of the record business, and there are many jokes about Los Angeles and Hollywood being Crowley’s kind of place, but he insists that Vincente hasn’t threatened him or put him under some kind of spell.

In fact, much of the episode dealt with the bizarro world of Hollywood and celebrity culture. Ironically for a TV show that has such a fervent fan following, the general view expressed here is that people put far too much importance on celebrities, who frequently abuse their power in shallow, self-esteem-boosting ways. Supernatural‘s cynical vision of Hollywood hasn’t changed much since season two’s “Hollywood Babylon” episode: it’s a vapid industry populated by vain, silly talent, and the leeches who benefit from them. This message, however, is mostly squeezed in between signs of Hollywood excess, like the wacky tour rider that Castiel mistaken believes is the ingredients to a spell, or the cucumber-water dispenser that our heroes drink from while waiting in Vincente’s hotel lobby.

The Winchesters’ plan is to convince the various members of Vincente’s entourage to help them, but even though they’ve noticed a sinister change in his personality, they refuse to mess with their chances at success. Lucifer, meanwhile, enjoys the adulation he gets from fans, especially the fact that he can convince a devoted groupie (Crystal Allen) to carve his name into her chest as a symbol of her love. He schedules an exclusive comeback concert with a group of new-found fans, while taking the time to kill Russell, and his bandmates, just for the fun of it.

Sam and Dean save the audience by pulling a well-timed fire alarm, while Castiel and Crowley team up to fight Lucifer backstage. A pretty good fight ensues, with Crowley unexpectedly coming to Cass’ rescue and fighting a lot more strongly against the devil than you may have thought, but Lucifer makes it clear that he could easily kill the two if he wanted to. In a particularly strong show of acting from Springfield, he goes onstage and announces what his major malfunction actually is: he’s bitter because God left Earth again, leaving him with a meaningless life that he resents. His speech actually isn’t that different than what you would hear from any other hedonistic villain, but is delivered in an impressively sinister way, especially because his body is rapidly decaying as he says it. It’s another good showing from the special effects department, but as Lucifer soars on in search for a new vessel, we can’t help but feel bad for Vincente, whose body shrivels up on the stage floor. Sam and Castiel blame themselves for the entire situation, but Dean vows to them and Crowley that they will defeat Lucifer somehow.

Despite the worn-out Hollywood cliches and the occasional easy, plot-serving coincidence, this week’s episode of Supernatural was a return to form. The jokes landed, the fan service was on point, the special effects were well-done, and the ending was truly surprising. This declaration of what season 12 is actually going to be about was a lot more entertaining and interesting than the rather weak monster-of-the-week episodes that we’ve seen recently, and it should really make viewers interested in what is going to happen next.

Next week, Lucifer sets his sights on the White House. Regardless of your political affiliation, feel free to insert your own political joke here.

RATING 9 / 10