Dean: So where does that leave us?
Mary: Same as always. Family.
— “Family Feud”
Many Supernatural devotees will tell you that the show isn’t just about “saving people, hunting things”, but rather the power of family. From the first episode onward, the show has introduced and explored many different kinds of familial bonds, from the unconditional love between the two Winchester brothers to the deeply dysfunctional relationship between God (Rob Benedict) and the ultimate prodigal son, Lucifer.
So it isn’t surprising that this week’s episode would be the one where Mary (Samantha Smith) finally tells her sons that she’s been collaborating with the British Men of Letters. Dean (Jensen Ackles) and Sam (Jared Padalecki) act strangely calm, then remind her of the fact that its members had previously tortured and threatened Sam as if she’s too stupid to remember it. She still insists that the group’s exclusive weapons and knowledge make them worthy of consideration. Of course, this was saved for around the end of the episode, so we’ll have to wait until next week to see what happens following that revelation.
Dealing with last week’s big reveal, Crowley (Mark Sheppard) continued to torture Lucifer (Mark Pellegrino) in Hell. The Winchesters intended for him to be trapped in his own cage, but Crowley used a spell contained in a bottle of some sort of red powder in order to trap him for his own purposes. Crowley even continues to explain (for the audience’s benefit) that he and his demons held onto one of the devil’s old vessels and “repaired it” for this expressed purpose. (This gives the show an excuse to bring back any character killed in a previous episode, doesn’t it?) This, however, doesn’t stop Lucifer from knowing what’s happening on earth, as he taunts Crowley with the fact that Lucifer’s unborn child is still alive.
Remember last week when Ramiel (Jerry Trimble Jr.) told Crowley there were two other yellow-eyed “princes of hell” still living on earth? “Family Feud” introduces the princess of this bunch, Dagon (Ali Ahn), who’s set her sights on protecting Kelly (Courtney Ford), the woman pregnant with Lucifer’s child. Kelly, who’s apparently been hanging out in various diners since she went on the run from the various powers who want to stop her from delivering the anti-Christ, was about to be killed by two angels before Dagon stopped them and gave a demon-befitting speech about how good and evil are all “gray areas”. It’s interesting to note that in an episode that reminded us of Abaddon (Alaina Huffman) in flashbacks, we’re introduced to a new character that seems so much like her; they even seem to wear the same type of leather jacket.
The vast majority of tonight’s episode, however, was devoted to a somewhat sympathetic monster-of-the-week, the heartbroken ghost of Gavin Crowley’s jilted girlfriend (Christine Gavin-Bartlett). After linking the deaths of two teachers and a Boy Scout leader to a museum exhibit on recovered objects from the 1723 shipwreck of The Star, Sam and Dean get Rowena (Ruth Connell) to track down her grandson. Gavin (Theo Devaney), introduced in season six (in which he was played by actor Adam Groves instead), hasn’t been seen since season nine, when Crowley, in a then-rare show of humanity, prevented his death at sea by zapping him into the present day. Naturally, Gavin feels out of place in 2017, and is the first to suggest that lives would be saved if he was just transported back to the past. The lovers are reunited, a happy ending that’s rarely seen on this show.
In its closing moments, however, we’re left wondering about Rowena’s true motives. Did she, as she told Crowley, prevent her son from forcing Gavin to stay alive only because she vindictively wanted him to feel the pain of losing a child? Or, as she suggested in front of the Winchesters, feel that was what Gavin really wanted, and what was best for everyone involved? Tying into Dagon’s earlier arguments, and the series own past, Supernatural again touches on the “gray areas” in both its villains and heroes.
Despite the fact that we got a few tastes of what is to come later on in this season, and the show finally resolved one of its old storylines, there wasn’t really that much to set this week’s episode apart from other, better-told family-based episodes. Unfortunately, the dominant impression of “Family Feud” is that the powers-that-be originally had something bigger and better set up for the character of Gavin, but couldn’t make it happen. Then again, this is Supernatural, where no character is ever truly gone for good.