Supernatural seems to have found a way around the problem of Jack's overpowered nephilim abilities - by turning him into a villain. The addition of Alexander Calvert to the Supernatural family as Jack, the half-human son of Lucifer, has been integral to the show's recent storylines. Well-received by Supernatural's passionate fan base, the introduction of Jack has allowed the leading trio of Sam, Dean, and Castiel to exhibit their parental qualities for the first time adding touches of humor, youth and innocence to the more jaded and scarred residents of the Bunker. Jack's gradual evolution from a potential bringer of the apocalypse to a genuine member of the Winchester clan over the past two seasons has been both compelling and emotional.
There's only one problem: Jack's immense power. As the nephilim offspring of an archangel, Jack's potential has been touted as near-limitless and, like any overpowered protagonist, Supernatural has been forced to find ways around Jack becoming the unbeatable solution to every episode's problem. Initially, Jack's inexperience and youth kept him from becoming a true powerhouse, while season 13's finale went so far as to have Lucifer temporarily strip his son of angelic grace, demoting him to the level of a mere human.
Such excuses will, however, only hold up for so long and last week's episode ("Ouroboros") saw Jack burn through his own soul in order to defeat the archangel Michael, before going on to absorb the villain's grace and restoring his own power as a result. This huge resurgence meant that Jack had to be relegated to the bench once again in this week's offering ("Peace of Mind"), tending to his pet snake instead of joining Sam and Castiel on a hunt. Clearly, this is only a temporary solution to navigate around Jack's extreme power, but Supernatural appears to have a more permanent fix for the problem already in progress. Late last year, Supernatural's showrunner confirmed that Michael would not be season 14's final villain and it appears that Jack could now be in line to take up that vacancy.
Jack's descent into evil arguably began as soon as his power was restored, as, immediately after Michael's defeat, Sam, Dean, and Castiel looked noticeably frightened at the youngster's ominous power. There was no cheering, no sighs of relief and no one even bothered to ask if Jack was okay. The two men and an angel simply looked on with concern as Jack stretched his imposing wings.
From a writing perspective, the scene was quite telling in that viewers were evidently supposed to feel a certain sense of unease regarding Jack's power-up, and that theme continued into this week's episode. With Sam and Castiel otherwise occupied tackling a maniacal psychic, it fell to Dean to check in on Jack's well-being and find out how the young nephilim was coping with the return of his abilities. Dean's main concern was that, in order to defeat Michael, Jack had sacrificed an unknown percentage of his soul. As Supernatural fans will remember from Sam's soulless stint in season 6, lacking this spiritual component can result in a lack of empathy, emotion and compassion and lead to some heartlessly cold decision-making.
To allay his fears, Dean takes Jack to visit Donatello, another soulless character, but one that has learned to live with the condition. Their conversation confirms that Jack's soul hasn't disappeared completely but there has certainly been a shift in his mentality.
In order to give Jack a renewed sense of ethics, Donatello teaches him a motto to cling on to in times of uncertainty: "what would the Winchesters do?" As anyone who has been watching Supernatural for any length of time can attest, this is a terrible piece of advice. The Winchester brothers are heroes, certainly. They have saved the world countless times, spared hundreds of lives and have been given the seal of approval by God himself. However, as the show has previously explored, Sam and Dean aren't exactly shining examples of morality. The brothers have risked the end of the world to save each other, have unleashed almost as many villains as they've defeated and most allies who work alongside the duo ultimately wind up dead. Following the Winchesters' example is an awful idea, but in the hands of a young boy with endless power and half a soul, it could prove cataclysmic.
This point was hammered home in no uncertain terms during the closing scene of this week's episode. Jack decides that his pet snake (acquired from a victim during a previous hunt) is "sad" after losing his original owner so, keeping Donatello's advice in mind, the nephilim effortlessly reduces the animal to dust, sending it to heaven with the intention of giving the creature a happier life. Since Jack first met his own mother during a trip to heaven, this line of thinking is perhaps understandable, but what if the nephilim applied that same logic to humans, believing that they would be happier in heaven with their deceased loved ones, and thus began sending them there personally? Jack certainly has the power to carry out that plan and lacks the soul that might have otherwise stopped him from committing such atrocities, however well-intentioned they may be.
Supernatural season 14 continues with "Don't Go Into The Woods" March 21st on The CW.