Supernatural: “The Gamblers” Review

Dean raises the stakes for Lady Luck

So, what do two good boys do when their luck’s run out? Head up to Alaska of course!

Legend tells of a magic pool hall, you win there and you’re lucky for life. Sound too good to be true? Well, judging from the opening scene, definitely too good to be true. On the other side of things, I was right! Jack’s finally back in play…and boy does he play rough.

This episode, like most (if not all in this season so far) splits into two main stories. One is Cass and Jack in Oklahoma, the other is Sam and Dean in Alaska. Let’s break down what happens, cause there’s a lot.

Cass returns to the bunker only to learn the Winchesters have gone to Alaska, but before he can wing his way in their direction one of the infamous hotline phones gets a call – there’s an officer in Oklahoma looking for Agent Watts. Why? Because an old case just reopened. After continuing the great tradition of Cass always choosing the wrong pop culture name as his alias (hello, Agent Lizzo), he is intrigued when the officer reveals the suspect’s name is Jack Kline.

There’s video of Jack killing a doctor and then eating his heart. Why? Cass goes to the scene and discovers the doctor had a hidden Grigori sword. Remember the Grigori? Neither do I, but thanks to the recap, I have at least some idea of what’s going on (they are angels that feed on human souls to survive). We then cut to Jack stalking a mystery man who is also carrying a Grigori sword case. It doesn’t end well, and Jack winds up at the Grigori’s mercy.

Cass and the officer arrive to late on the scene, though Cass sees some silver blood and has an idea of what’s happening. As the Grigori is tormenting and monologuing to Jack, Jack explains why he murdered the other angel (a doctor sucking the souls of his own patients!), he also isn’t too pleased about his captor’s habit of sucking the souls of children. Cass comes along and rescues his surrogate son before any more harm can come to him.

Sam and Dean’s story takes them to Alaska in search of better luck – they find it in an odd pool hall where players, literally, bet their luck. Once the rules are established: a player puts their hand on a magic coin that is weighted with his/her base luck, they can then bet that coin against other players in hopes of getting better luck. If you win, the loser’s luck is transferred to the your coin. Once the coin is blank, the player is out of luck and gets kicked out.

This isn’t the first time the show has handled luck as a commodity of sorts. Or any intangible element for that matter – remember the time Dean put his years on the line to try and fix Bobby in a poker game? He lost and wound up growing old as payment (the card shark in that case was a witch), and Sammy had to bail him out with a winning hand.

Dean winds up beating the resident pool hustler, but all’s not well in the dirty world of seedy deals. What a surprise…As with most Supernatural situations the root cause is a god. In this case: The Roman Goddess of Luck. Lady Fortuna, we discover, is a woman Dean’s already bested. She isn’t interested in playing him again (Lady Luck’s assessment of Dean is amazing! A beach read! I can’t deny it), but she will take Sammy for a ride. During the play we learn a little more about the mythology of this world; getting an explanation for why it is that the Judeo-Christian God (a monotheistic deity by all rights) exists alongside so many other kinds of gods. It’s actually a pretty good set-up – God created the universe, but humans created all the other gods. I’ve heard this theory before (without the intial God part, generally this kind of belief system operates on the concet that all gods were created from our belief), and in fact, in the season 5 episode “Hammer of the Gods”, the way the other gods talk about Chuck and his angels it makes it sound like they exist on the same level of requiring belief to exist. Either way, it’s their last season, if they want to do some mythology tightening up, I can’t blame ‘em. Lady Luck goes on to say that Chuck abided the other gods because it took the heat off his shoulders, but when they got more love then him…well…Chuck is Chuck.

Sammy beats Lady Luck, but of course she ups the ante for double or nothing. Sam insists that if he wins she has to shut down her pool hall and give back all the luck she’s been stealing. She doesn’t get why he gives a shit about the sad regulars in her bar (and I totally agree with her), but seems to agree. They play and she wins because…duh: She’s the GODDESS OF LUCK. You really think a pair of humans are gonna beat her? I appreciate this season’s honest treatment of the powerful beings that exist around Sam and Dean. No one’s pulling any punches, and I wish they hadn’t been all along. Oh well. Sam and Dean manage to leave the pool hall, not dead, and Sam gets his wish. All the unlucky, desperate gamblers are freed, and Lady Fortuna closes up shop. She leaves a message, and a coin, for the boys.

I can’t lie and say that the reverence with which the bartender refers to the boys as “heroes” is anything but a bit much. It’s probably my least favorite part of this episode – well, that, and the old guilt-trip trope that seems to come with someone beating something else despite that person being pretty much a dick to anyone they beat before. Oh, the old hustler has cancer! We should save him! Oh, this idiot is willing to give up his life so that the Vikings can win! We should save him! Le sigh. I’m tired of shows doing this. Maybe the lesson is that “real” heroes don’t care about your flaws, or the fact that you dug your own grave, they’ll save you anyway. If that’s true, I wouldn’t pass the test.

Now, lastly, but not leastly: Jack is brought back to the bunker and expresses that he hasn’t been able to use his powers because then God would know he’s alive and try and kill him again. He says God is afraid of him. Eating angel hearts is helping him get powered up, but Billie’s the real fuel to his fire. She’s got an endgame: Jack can kill God. My guess would be to take his place…which I want to say was one of my guesses about how this series might end.

Oooo…curiouser, and curiouser!

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