Supernatural Season 13 Episode 4 Review: The Big Empty

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Catharsis is defined as the releasing, or purging of strong or repressed emotions, often vicariously through art, the idea of which has been traced back to Aristotle's Poetics. This is an important term for Supernatural Season 13 Episode 4 "The Big Empty" for pretty much everyone. 

It's basically one giant emotional rollercoaster. 

A Series of Murders - Supernatural

First, Jack and Sam have a much needed discussion about Jack feeling used, and Sam's intentions. Jack opens up this conversation by quoting Dean about Jack being an "inter-dimensional can-opener," and Sam explains to Jack that he wants to save Mary.

It's a good time to clear the air between the two of them, and hopefully this talk prevents Jack from being resentful about his usefulness to Sam and Dean later. He understands that Sam and Dean both want to save people, but now he also knows that Sam cares about him too. 

Jack's still pretty torn up about the fact that Dean can't even look at him, but agrees to try being the good guy when Sam gives him the opportunity. Both because he wants Dean to like him and because he wants to be good.  

Look, if there's one thing Dean respects, it's effort. So come along, help us out. Let's go be the good guys.


The Winchester brothers teach Jack about EMF, and digging up graves, and while they wait for Jack to dig up a coffin, Sam tells Dean that he's starting to act like John. The correlations are pretty obvious, and it's probably good of Sam to point that out now before it gets any worse. 

It's got to be confusing for Jack to try and understand ghosts. He seems to understand that Sam and Dean want Mary and Castiel back, but when he asks about his mother becoming a ghost, Sam and Dean make it clear this isn't a good thing, and they avoided the possibility when they salted and burned his mother's body. 

What gets burned, stays dead.


Salt and burn - Supernatural Season 13 Episode 4

Dean should probably know better by now that this isn't exactly true. 

It works as some interesting kind of foreshadowing though, considering the next shot is of Castiel wandering around in "the empty." He sounds so lost and confused, and it's heartbreaking to hear how miserable he sounds. 

And he's not alone in "the empty," as some weird black goo form is slowly materializing to stalk him. 

So when bodies keep dropping after the salt and burn, the brothers decide to go undercover. While reading over the client journals, Sam and Dean realize that the "catharsis" program is their common link. 

Wouldn't you know it, the three of them have to pose as clients for grief therapist Mia Vallens. If she looks familiar to you, it's okay, you're not imagining things. That is in fact actress Rukiya Bernard, who also played Camille back in Supernatural Season 7 episode 7 "The Mentalists."

So the boys go to therapy, Dean acting like a controlling jerk, keeping his distance (literally) from everyone, and Sam actually trying to talk about feelings. 

Therapy hour - Supernatural Season 13 Episode 4

Sam's openness and honesty are both refreshing and depressing. It really isn't fair that he never got a chance to really know his mom, and I still blame Mary for just taking off instead of working through things. 

So Sam has an emotional explosion about his unprocessed grief, and the heartstrings are tugged all around. Mia the therapist points out that Jack is clearly terrified of Dean, which is true, but unfortunately Dean isn't really in a place to accept relationship critique. 

Especially from a shapeshifter, as it turns out, even if she's only trying to help people experience some kind of closure in regards to their lost loved ones. 

While the shapeshifter episodes are always good and always emotional, this one is a little extra on both counts. 

It's good that Jack gets to meet a friendly monster, and hearing from her as she poses as his mother that monsters can be good clearly has to be part of Jack's catharsis. 

It doesn't matter what you are, it matters what you do. And even monsters can do good in this world.


And he gets a hug from his mom! Kind of. It's a sweet moment. 

Even better, Dean tells Jack that because Sam believes in him, Jack has to prove he can use his powers for good. And once again, he does! He saves Sam, he protects his friends, and finally, Dean admits that Jack can do good. 

What a relief. 

So Jack gets a moment with his mom, then he gets a moment with Dean, and Sam and Dean get their moment with each other to pour out some feelings. 

While Jack and Sam get some catharsis here, I'm not altogether convinced that Dean does. He at least dips his toes into the waters of emotional honesty when he tells Sam that he doesn't believe in anything right now, and needs Sam to believe for them both. 

I need you to keep the faith. For both of us.


And maybe he got some catharsis by yelling at Sam for believing Mary isn't dead, but I doubt it. That felt like more misdirected anger. 

But the real catharsis moment that I'm celebrating is with Castiel. 

Some primordial ooze of nothingness comes at him, looking just like him, to yell at him for being awake. This "cosmic entity" proceeds to show Cas a flashback reel of his greatest mistakes. 

But instead of feeling shameful about it all, Cas just yells at the cosmic being who looks like him, essentially yelling at his own reflection that he's going to keep fighting until he gets back to Dean and Sam. 

I'm already saved... and I will keep you awake until we both go insane. I will fight you for eternity. Release me!


Finally Cas gets to tell the universe he doesn't need saving now and he isn't worthless. Every part of this is just sad, beautiful, and yes, cathartic. 

This guy literally annoys a cosmic entity into restoring him back to Earth. And it's beautiful. As Meg might say, "it was beautiful, then sad, then sadder. I laughed, I cried, I puked in my mouth a little." 

If you're ready for some spontaneous outpouring of emotion or want to go on that rollercoaster again, just watch Supernatural online

What did you think about Castiel's method of getting home? How did therapy hour go? Why are the shapeshifter episodes always full of feelings? Hit the comments section and tell me your thoughts!

The Big Empty Review

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Supernatural Season 13 Episode 4 Quotes

What gets burned, stays dead.


Look, if there's one thing Dean respects, it's effort. So come along, help us out. Let's go be the good guys.