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Family Don't End With Blood

Featuring a chapter from Nightsky!

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The Morning After

Another shocking Supernatural season 12 episode! I honestly thought “The Future” was one of the most exciting and interesting episodes of the season, an opinion which by itself is probably a shock to many members of the Supernatural family! After being whiplashed with surprises that were sometimes so close together I couldn’t process one before being stunned by the next, I was in for one more surprise – seeing diametrically opposed reactions to “The Future” on social media. The most frequent disappointment expressed was that the episode was boring and predictable. How does one show elicit such polar reactions from fans? How can some fans be elated by the ingenuity and heart of the story while others judge it to be the worst of the year? This was a textbook example of viewers looking for different qualities in their entertainment. What did I see in this show, though, and what did the writers (Robert Berens and Meredith Glynn) weave into the script?

To my eyes, “The Future” threw so many curve balls on both the season’s story and the on-going myth arcs of the series, I thought it would be helpful to use a scorecard to keep track:

Lost


12.19 539 Colt

The Colt - Introduced to Supernatural’s canon in season 1, the Colt has been used in 17 episodes over 12 years. It was a bedrock of the show, almost sacrosanct in the reverence it received from both the Winchesters and the fans.

Dagon: “Time to take this off the board.”
Dean yelled for all of us when he said, “NOOOOOO!”

Joshua – The sweet, pacifist angel who was arguably God’s best friend was rarely seen even in Heaven. He was revered by the angels as the spokesperson for God in God’s absence. Untouchable and safe on the sacred ground of Heaven’s gardens, he was also a pillar of the series. I was deeply disappointed that Joshua did not appear in “The Future” as we had previously seen him, played by actor Roger Aaron Brown.

Joshua  

To me, that will always be the wise grandfather angel I remember.

12.19 512 Joshua

Instead, we had a momentarily glimpse of a newly embodied (younger, unconvincing) Joshua who was shockingly obliterated by Dagon only seconds after leaving Heaven for probably the first time in his millennia-old life.

Dagon – the third Prince of Hell to be killed. After escaping the Colt, angel blades, and angel and hunter hit squads, she was burned alive by the Nephilim she thought would be the second coming of the anti-Christ.

12.19 556 dagon death

Only one Prince of Hell left, a demon who has, like Joshua, called the shots from the shadows.

I hate to even bring this up, but all of these events close out (or move closer to ending) series-long plotlines. Tying up loose ends and giving important story lines closure is a methodical, planned path to ending the series. Since the brothers’ “legacy” talk in “The Memory Remains”, my sensitivity to series-ending clues has been awakened. Maybe the writing team simply wants to clear “the board” to not be bogged down with so many dangling canon details, i.e. start fresh with new stories? Possibly, but I’m worried. 

... And Found 


07

Faith and Hope – The belief that the Nephilim may be good and be a power of light in the darkness is something I’ve been writing about since I got over the shock of Lucifer fathering a child at all. I have been holding out hope that Kelly has been right about her baby - that no creature is born evil and that its power is that of a pure archangel who is not yet corrupted or cynical.

As an aside, many of you know I am also fan and write about Twilight (see book ad on Article main page as proof!). The parallel between Kelly and Bella, who singularly believed in and defended her unborn child against family, friend and foe who all feared its power and wished to kill it before it was born, is unmistakable. I recognize that a huge component of my optimism for Kelly and the Nephilim is my personal agreement with their hopeful, motherly, protective love for their unborn babies. The Twilight child (and the Charmed child and many others children in sci fi stories) ended up being a creature of beauty and innocence and everyone lived happily ever after. Kelly had a similar dream once too, but she lost hope. In an objectionable, cruel scene (the only scene that I felt marred the episode and was completely inappropriate to have been shown at all), Kelly voiced her defeat and killed herself.

Kelly: I love you but we won’t ever be together. There’s no happy ending for either of us.
This desperate act was the catalyst for the rebound of faith and hope that was granted to Kelly, and later Castiel. While I am hoping for a star child that is as pure, powerful, young, enthusiastic, optimistic and hopeful as the depleted archangels were at their birth, I recognize things hardly ever go that well for the Winchesters. Still, all my theories for the Winchesters’ distant future (i.e. the ending of the series) are positive and victorious, and this would definitely be a step in that direction. Yeah, I’m a sentimental softie (but I think you already knew that).

There’s also a meta interpretation of Kelly’s supposed last words that imply a dire ending of the series, but since this episode ended on a note of faith and hope, the parallel foreshadowing would mean a happier, brilliant future seems to be awaiting us after shocking twists and turns in the story!

Castiel – Cas returned from Heaven unharmed!

09

Even though he was called on the carpet by Dean for leaving them frantically worried, we learned that Kelvin told the truth when he said that Cas would be welcomed back into Heaven and that Joshua just wanted to talk with him. Along with the Winchesters, I too was worried that Castiel was being lured to imprisonment, brainwashing, torture or death. His reappearance was a huge relief (if not a bit anti-climactic) and another occurrence of season 12’s “reunion” thread.

Powerful Castiel – I get all tingly watching this scene!

12.19 554 Cas power

Dean: Cas? 
Sam: What was that? 
Cas: It was me, but it was also…
Welcome Back Cas!

Castiel with a Mission - Upon being shown the future by the Nephilim, Castiel believes in something again.

12.19 570 Cas end

My heart overflowed with joy for both Castiel’s renewed optimism and his newfound, sacred mission. He hit a low point when he failed to take advantage of a clean kill shot at the Nephilim:

Kelly: Back there in the basement, you came to kill me, but you didn’t. Thank you. [echoing the sudden resurgence in gratitude that we’ve heard lately] 
Cas: Please don’t thank me. I had a mission and I failed. … [later] I used to believe in a plan. I used to believe that I had some mission but I’ve been through enough now to know that everyone is just winging it, some of us quite badly.
Much like the Nephilim saved Kelly…

Kelly: He saved me. He brought me back to life.
…the Nephilim both literally and spiritually saved Castiel. It gave him the means to survive Dagon’s attack, but it also gave him back his life purpose.

Cas: I’ve been so lost. I’m not lost anymore and I know now that this child must be born with all of his power.
 Sam: You can’t actually mean that.
 Cas: Yes, I do. I have faith.
 Kelly: What did he tell you?
 Cas: He didn’t tell me, he showed me…. the future.
With that recap of series-altering events in mind, let’s look at the specific threads woven into “The Future”!

The Passage of Time


12.19 88 calendar

The title of this episode brought to the fore the “time” thread we have been tracking (love it when we’re right!). Everyone’s conflicting vision of the future was precisely the point of this episode. Castiel described the angels’ dire vision of a future with the child but Kelly countered with a more hopeful version of events:
Cas: I am sorry Kelly. That is the son of Lucifer. A human/archangel hybrid. That power – it’s beyond comprehension. That child could bring the universe to its knees 
Kelly: or lift it to its feet. This baby – nothing is born evil.
Cas: I can’t take that chance. None of us can.  
Kelly later explained what restored her faith in the baby.

Kelly: His power, his soul, surged through me and it was good, pure. I feel, I know, he is good. I know my baby can be good for this world.
The Winchesters see only a need to save the people that are trapped by a supernatural possession.

Sam: I think she will be giving birth around May 18th [the date of the season finale! How meta!] which means…
Dean: we have less than a month to find her
Sam: yeah, and exactly no idea where to start.
Dean: Okay, but even if we do find her, what then?
Sam: I don’t know… 
then later,

Cas to Dean: If you find her again?
Dean: Sam’s working on it. ‘course he’s hell bent on finding something that doesn’t mean killing her or her kid
Cas: Right. And if he doesn’t find something? If you run out of time, could either of you kill an innocent?
Dean: We will find a better way.
The pregnancy is setting the timeline for this story. To the “good guys”, it’s a ticking doomsday clock that is counting down too fast. To Lucifer and Dagon, it’s a salvation that can’t come soon enough. Each person’s perspective is being defined by their vision of the baby’s future, i.e. their definition of what’s good and what’s right.

Good vs. Bad, Right vs. Wrong


12.19 540 dagon

Lucifer and Dagon are fighting for a future molded in their image.

Dagon:  He’s not going to stop there. Every sad, weak human, every tight ass angel, every sniveling demon – they’ll all be consumed. So go ahead, play your games but whether you’re healthy or sick, filthy or clean, he will be born. Good times.
Lucifer stated Dagon’s vision for the future a little more succinctly, as well as threatening an alternate vision of her future:

Lucifer: That little fantasy of yours ruling heaven and earth – you, me, and baby makes three –
Dagon: That’s not a fantasy! That was your promise to me! 
Lucifer: Here’s another promise for you. Find my boy or the torments I will visit upon you will be infinite. Promise. You make this right Dagon. Make it right .
Dagon almost succeeded in “not failing Lucifer again”:

Dagon: Wow, you two got so close! If I hadn’t made it here at the last possible second… JK [Just kidding]. Flipped your pal Kelvin ages ago, then smoked him. I’ve been here for hours
Dagon obviously did fail Lucifer but we don’t yet know what Lucifer meant by “again”.  I suspect we will find out sometime in the next 4 episodes.

It was funny that even Dagon’s favorite game show host reiterated the themes of this episode! When the contestant incorrectly answered the question, the announcer proclaimed, “Not Right!” Usually they just say “No” or “Nice try” but those aren’t threads of season 12! There’s also some underlying significance to free will (individual choices) and going it alone in the host’s remaining challenge:

“Your opponent knows but she can’t guess. Only you are entitled.”
Maybe with a little time you can articulate the messages delivered to us from TVland! In the meantime, listen to Sam’s dialog. He repeatedly used the word “right” when explaining to Dean his plan to free the humans from their supernatural entrapment, and when talking to Castiel about working with the brothers versus going it alone. Even though the three of them are supposed to be Team Free Will and are better together than apart, the brothers just couldn’t catch up fast enough with Castiel’s ever-changing definition of what was good for them, Kelly or the baby.

Free Will


12.19 155 Dean

Another score!! “The British Invasion” review revisited the “free will” thread that we saw in early S12. In “The Future”, Dean openly acknowledged this core value of the show in his pep talk with Cas:

Cas: Us? As in you and me? 
Dean:  Yes, dumbass. We. You, me and Sam – we’re just better together. So now that you’re back, let’s go Team Free Will! Let’s get it done.
Cas: I’d like that.
I believe Castiel was sincere in saying that he would like to work with the brothers, but in a testament to how much his concept of free will has developed since the three of them first called themselves “Team Free Will”, he exercised his free will and acted on his own again, without the brothers. He’s done that before, always influenced by someone (Crowley, Metatron, etc). This time he was following Joshua.

Kelvin: You’re doing the right thing you know. Committing to Joshua’s plan, putting angel kind above the Winchesters.

12.19 218 Cas Explaining

Castiel’s subsequent teary justification to Kelvin of why he had betrayed his “family” gave us insight into Castiel’s thinking. It was a heartfelt speech, as was Castiel’s explanation of his desperation and level of defeat when talking to Dean. These poignant moments from one of our heroes is part of the reason I loved this episode so much. This may not be a popular point of view, but I believe putting this intense emotional focus on Castiel strengthened his role as a third central character in Supernatural. I have been noting (read: complaining) a lot lately about the reduction of Sam and Dean’s roles in the story, and Jared and Jensen’s noticeably decreased screen time. At least for this episode, I wasn’t as distracted by their absence because Castiel was used as a fully developed, conflicted, interesting main character. I honestly felt the weight of the show shift ever so slightly to be on the shoulders of three actors instead of just two (for this episode). Misha took on the role of leading man in this story, and Sam and Dean were supporting characters. Normally I would (and have) raised Cain about this (so to speak) but it worked for me. I was just as emotionally engaged with Cas as I would have been had Sam or Dean been sharing such vulnerable expressions of their feelings. Thus the episode had what I look for in my viewing of the show: emotional connection.

12.19 569 4

In Kelvin’s supportive statement to Castiel, Kelvin said Cas was choosing angelkind over the Winchesters. The Winchesters are and always have been the champions, or even symbols, of the human race, so Kelvin was unknowingly admitting that the angels were asking Cas to put angels’ needs before those of humans. That specifically contradicts the function God intended for the angels. When Castiel couldn’t kill Kelly in the basement and was the most confused about a future course of action, he asked Joshua for “orders”. Cas intended to fulfill those orders, believing that it saved the universe from peril and spared his friends the pain of having to murder an innocent. The Nephilim gave him another way, though. It gave him the power to kill Dagon and escape with Kelly.

In one regard, the Nephilim gave free will back to Castiel. It showed him a hopeful future, one that is not in conflict with his own values of protecting all human life, especially that of innocents. Its power allowed him to choose to defy Sam and Dean again, and go his own path. Much like their mother Mary, Castiel is choosing to do what he thinks will result in a better future for the boys. He is fed up with fighting the little battles. He and Mary are both pursuing game-changing solutions, more strategic approaches, which bypass the small skirmishes and go for the grand slam move that will bring about an ultimate win. Also like Mary’s choice, the brothers don’t agree with Castiel going it alone. He exercised his free will, though, and just as with Mary, his kindred spirit who also never felt at home on earth, Castiel is making a choice that the brothers have to accept, even if they don’t like it.

Kelly is doing the same thing. The Nephilim saved her and showed her a brighter future than the one described by Dagon. Kelly stood her ground until her baby was able to convince someone else (Cas) to believe in him.

12.19 510 Heavenly light

The obvious devil’s advocate position (which is a phrase that surprisingly is literally accurate in this situation) is that the Nephilim is evil and is telling Kelly and Cas anything they want to hear just for self-preservation. Fans are worried that this is a repeat of Castiel’s former judgment lapses; that he is now being influenced by the Nephilim to do its bidding. Just like his father had once duped Sam, the Nephilim is giving false visions to both Kelly and Castiel.   I would argue though that Sam was always confused by his visions. They were cruel and violent and painful. They were of his time in the Cage and worse. He decided for himself that they were from God because he didn’t have any other explanation. Their violence was their signature. On the other hand, Kelly specifically said she felt the goodness in the baby. Castiel said he saw the future that filled him with faith. Can something bad make people (and angels) genuinely feel good? I don’t think so. I’m judging the genuineness of the vision by how it’s making people feel.

So they’ve decided to have a baby. Castiel asks the next, obvious question.  

Mothers, Abandoned Children and Absentee Parents


08

Cas: Kelly, if he’s born, that is not something you can survive. So even if you are right and the worst isn’t inevitable, then who will care for him when you’re gone? Who? Who is strong enough to protect him and to keep him from evil influences, to keep him on the righteous path?
Oh, Oh, Mr. Kotter! I have the answer!!

Way back in the Lily Sunder (12.10) Threads review, we theorized that Castiel and Lily, with her angelic powers and knowledge of spells, would step into new parenting roles and help raise the Nephilim. In addition, remember when Claire said she had to go it alone but she was ready because Jody had been her mother? What if we didn’t focus on the right aspect of Claire’s little speech to Jody about being ready to hunt? What if the important part of that foreshadowing was that Jody would also replace her mothering role by teaming with Lily &/or Cas to raise the Nephilim?

Kelly believes Castiel should be the foster parent. She said the Nephilim had already chosen him.

Kelly: He chose you Castiel. When you put your hand on my stomach, I heard him. He spoke to me. He told me that even if it seems scary if I just went to the gate, if I just followed your plan, that you’d make sure he was born. Sam and Dean want to take away his powers because they’re scared, but I’m not. You asked who would protect him, guide him when I’m gone. I know now. It’s you.
Cas: I am not someone you should put your faith in Kelly. I couldn’t kill Dagon back there, I lost two of my men, I betrayed my friends, my family.
Kelly: I don’t know why it’s me, and I don’t know why it’s you but I know we are destined for something here, something great.
Cas: I wish I had your faith.
Kelly: You will.
A few week back, the brothers pondered their legacy. Could protecting a Nephilim be Castiel’s legacy? Certainly not if you ask Lucifer or his demon!

Animals


According to Lucifer, Castiel is now the Winchester’s purse dog?? Dagon called him a “sad, fluttering, aimless little moth?” Not at all complimentary, but at least it kept the thread alive!

 
12.19 191 idea

I could go on analyzing this ep for hours. I think it had depth and heart, plus a wealth of mysteries to unravel. Did anyone else think that maybe the Nephilim caused Castiel’s truck to break down? And yay for Cas not falling for the bathroom trick again.Were Castiel's eyes yellow, ala a Yellow Eyed Demon, or gold, ala a level of archangel power we've never seen before? We also got Smart Sam coming up with the answer, and worried Dean. The background music was noticeably a part of the story, which, frankly I have sorely missed for a long time. There were also a few tense Dean/Cas scenes that haven't yet been screencapped so I'll leave that discussion for another reviewer.

So where are you on the hope and faith versus fooled and duped question, or to use a thread that was present but I haven’t yet mentioned, do you think Cas is being smart or stupid? What future do you see?


Past episode facts courtesy of supernaturalwiki.com
Screencaps courtesy of http://www.springfieldspringfield.co.uk