Spoilers ahead for the November 29 episode of Supernatural, called “Unhuman Nature.”
Supernatural has gone in some fresh directions in Season 14 thanks to the continued existence of Nick. Lucifer’s former vessel unexpectedly survived the events of the Season 13 finale — as well as everything else that happened to him as Lucifer’s suit in the previous years of the series — and has had to find a new direction in life. This has given him the chance to finally dig into the mystery of how and why his family was murdererd.
Well, “Unhuman Nature” finally gave Nick some answers about the deaths of his wife and child, although it wasn’t before he crossed some lines. He finally discovered that a cop from his former neighborhood was the person who physically killed them, but there was a twist: the man himself wasn’t in control of his actions. He’d been possessed by a demon.
The cop dropped the bombshell after a great deal of torture at Nick’s hands, and Nick realized that it wasn’t technically the cop’s fault that his family had been marked for death by forces of evil. At first, it looked like Nick was going to let him go. Seriously injured and undoubtedly traumatized by the torture, but alive. Unfortunately, Nick is too far gone for that, and he murdered the cop in a terrifyingly bloody display of violence.
This was certainly not the first time we’ve seen actor Mark Pellegrino play a Supernatural character doing despicable things, but he’d always been playing Lucifer when truly letting loose and hurting people. Nick going nuts is very different. I chatted with Mark Pellegrino on the red carpet celebrating Supernatural‘s upcoming 300th episode, and he had this to say about how Nick’s violence is even scarier than Lucifer’s:
It was a different kind of violence, unfortunately. So there’s a different feel to violence that you can get away with, that you have no real emotional connection with, to violence that you’re viscerally connected to. And that there are consequences for that you’re sort of compartmentalizing away so that you can do it. So it’s definitely different. It’s scarier. That’s a real monster, and so being a real monster is scarier than being a made-up one.
Supernatural has spent so many years showcasing murderous monsters with all kinds of impossible abilities that human-on-human brutality is surprisingly rare and always chilling. For Mark Pellegrino, playing Nick on a rampage was very different from Lucifer throwing his archangel weight around. Nick clearly still has some sense of right and wrong, as he acknowledged that the cop only killed his family because he was possessed by the demon Abraxas, so it wasn’t truly his fault.
That said, Nick is too far gone at this point to just let the man whose hands murdered his wife and child live. Maybe once upon a time he might have handled things differently. Now, after he spent years as Lucifer’s vessel, Nick has no patience to suffer those who wronged him, even unintentionally. So he beat the cop to death with a hammer, and Supernatural actually showed a surprising amount of it. It was practically a scene out of American Psycho, and not quite something I expected to see in the 8 p.m. hour on The CW.
“Unhuman Nature” managed to solve a big part of the mystery of what happened to Nick’s family as well as take Nick past what may be a point of no return. As much as years of inhabitance by Lucifer must have warped him into the man he is now, there’s no denying that he committed the awful crime with the hammer. How will the Winchesters react if and when they find out? They tend to overlook crimes of those they consider part of their family; does Nick qualify? And how would they punish him, even if they wanted to?
When I asked how he went crafted his performance as Nick as opposed to Lucifer, Mark Pellegrino told me this:
There’s a lot of indications in the script of a past, of a life. And so I like to do homework on that. And every actor approaches that kind of homework differently. For me, I journal endlessly. Because it’s like fantasy work but it gets in your bones when you journal it. So even if you don’t remember everything that you’ve written, it’s there, as an experience. If you’ve experienced it while you were writing it. So I’ve got now thick journals on Nick’s life. There’s an episode where I tell a character, ‘I waited nine days for you.’ I actually have written, I know exactly what I’ve done every one of those nine days, like you would in life. And so I’ve been actually thinking about publishing those to the fandom. They thought it was an interesting idea, so I might do it.
In order to get into the mindset of Nick, Mark Pellegrino journals. Given that Nick (and Lucifer before him) is a character who has gone through an extraordinary set of circumstances that really can’t be compared to much in real-life, journaling is a way to make it feel real and “in your bones.” All actors have their own process of getting into character, and Pellegrino has apparently refined his to an art.
In fact, his process sounds like something that should be of great interest to Supernatural fans. Mark Pellegrino’s journals could give an insight into the portrayals of Lucifer and Nick over the years, and such a thing is not currently available to fans. If he does publish those to the fandom, it would certainly be interesting to see the reaction. All things considered, I think we can all be happy that Nick’s seeming death at the end of Season 13 didn’t stick! Lucifer may be gone, but Mark Pellegrino doesn’t have to be. Oh, Supernatural.
New episodes of Supernatural Season 14 air Thursday nights on The CW. For some additional viewing options once the fall shows go into their winter hiatuses, take a look at our 2019 midseason premiere schedule! The rest of “Unhuman Nature” saw the reveal that Jack’s time left on Earth could be limited, and the Winchesters along with Castiel will have to figure out a way to keep him safe. Throw in the fact that Michael is sure to return, and they have some big fights ahead of them.