TV Review: SUPERNATURAL 6.17 - My Heart Will Go On

SUPERNATURAL returns from hiatus to present a What If..? episode that really works, and seems to begin pulling the disparate metastories together.

It looks like I missed a couple of these. Supernatural airing on Friday nights makes it hard for a man about town like myself to catch episodes live, and sometimes they tend to just pile up on the DVR. But this week, after enduring the excruciating Scream 4 I returned home to catch up with those Winchester boys and was soothed and calmed by an excellent episode.

At first it seemed like the episode would be a Final Destination riff (fitting, since the FX house who does Supernatural also did the upcoming Final Destination 5), but it quickly turned out that it was actually an alternate universe tale - Balthazar had gone back in time and stopped the Titanic from ever sinking. His given rationale: he hated the movie and the Celine Dion song from it. “I’ve saved humanity from one more Billy Zane film,” he reasoned.

But the butterfly was in full effect - the Final Destination style kills turned out to be Fate, killing all the 50,000 extra people who had been born as a result of folks on the Titanic never dying. And there were other changes, including Detroit as a boom town, the boys driving a striped Mustang… and long-dead hunters Ellen and Jo still being alive. On top of that, Ellen is married to Bobby, who is still recovering from killing Rufus in the episode that riffed on The Thing.

My Heart Will Go On is the kind of Supernatural I like a lot. It’s funny, it’s got a little bit of gore, and it presents the characters with real dilemmas. Sam and Dean discover that if they fix Balthazar’s messing about in time Ellen and Jo will die. Unfortunately the show really dances around all that, never making Sam and Dean truly have to make a hard choice. While they’re getting into action to kill Fate, everything ends up coming down to Castiel. It seems that the unsinking of the Titanic was his idea, as a way of stocking up on souls for the war in Heaven, and he opts to undo the damage rather than let Fate take her revenge on Sam and Dean. On the one hand it’s a nice illustration of Castiel’s relationship with the boys, but on the other it’s a bummer that Sam and Dean didn’t have to do much soul searching about how to best deal with the situation.

The Lore

This week’s episode felt like it deftly handled the mythology, as well as the two larger season plots. Bobby throws himself into researching Eve, which makes it feel less like everybody just forgot the Big Monster Mommy while they’re off having a one-off episode. Meanwhile, the unsinking of the Titanic comes as a desperate attempt to generate more souls for Castiel’s war. I like that this is both an insight into the war and a creative bit of thinking.

I also really liked that this episode truly addressed the aftermath of averting the Apocalypse. Fate is pissed off because post-season five she has just nothing to do. Nothing is written anymore, and there’s nobody in Heaven who can give her further marching orders.

That post-Apocalypse chaos also impacts things as big as the space-time continuum; while it was previously asserted that you couldn’t change history now Balthazar can do just that. I wonder if there will be any further exploration of this idea - are other ‘laws’ now up for grabs? Could someone come along and rewrite gravity? Could effect come before cause? I doubt the show will get that metaphysical, but it’s interesting to consider.

We’re hitting the home stretch of season six now. It’s been a bumpy ride, with some problem episodes and some great episodes, but without a strong, coherent vision. This episode felt like one that should have run in the first half, helping redefine the post-Apocalypse universe and giving a better understanding of Sam and Dean’s place in it (and actually, soulless Sam arguing with Dean about unsinking the Titanic could have been interesting). Still, better late than never, and hopefully this episode represents a tightening of the metaplot across the board.

One thing for sure: it represented the return of classic rock, for which I am immeasurably grateful. And it was used in a clever, fun way as well!