The Garden of Eden has played a beautiful backdrop to the season storylines—and in “Holy Terror,” we realize that it has been the epicenter for which all the stories revolve around elegantly. The Garden and the Fall have been laced throughout the episodes leading up to this one in very particular ways. Supernatural wisely uses this trope further to link these storylines together to form a complete tapestry. While each story seemed to be its own separate piece, it has become apparent that they are all linked by this one common theme: The Garden of Eden and the Fall of Man.
In the season opener, we began this journey by watching a now mortal Castiel navigate the world as the new Adam. He was forced to take care of himself, shed his angelic vestiges, and adapt to his new situation—or die. He had to learn how to eat and to sleep. Castiel had to endure wounds such as the gash on his hand that he wouldn’t have in his angelic form. We watched him become homeless and destitute, running from all the other angels after him.
Castiel experienced much as a mortal—from losing his virginity to experiencing a menial job. He, like the baby he ends up babysitting, is simply trying to cope with being thrust into the harsh reality that is the world. As the new Adam after the Fall from Heaven, he was the one that had to change the most to fit into the scheme of his new surroundings and situations. For the most part, he did fairly well at acquiring a new job and fitting in as a simple man.
But in “Holy Terror,” we are seeing his story come full circle—and in many ways it is his story that stands as metaphor and foreshadow for others in the fabric of season nine.
Castiel arrives on scene to the same angelic battle site that the Winchesters have been drawn to. He may have been told to stand aside, that this Heaven business was no longer his concern, but he wants to play a role in fixing that situation in any way he can—and so he is here to assist however they’ll let him. He is already asking questions when they arrive, trying to figure out what is happening between his angelic brothers and sisters.
He tells Sam and Dean, “These angels were butchered—much more violence than is required.” It would seem that the Heavenly battles that happened upstairs are now occurring with more frequency and violence downstairs on earth.
As he is forced to investigate on his own, Castiel turns to prayer, reaching out to what he hopes will be a friendly angel that will help him in his current mortal state fix what Metatron has broken. He is visited by an angel named Muriel, and she is neutral between the two parties currently battling to be the one that will take on the Scribe.
But Castiel’s prayer also draws other angels, and he is soon captured, weak and human surrounded by angels.
As he’s left to be tortured, to be forced to admit his role in Metatron’s scheme, and to ultimately admit to being the Scribe’s accomplice and not victim, the torturer Theo asks the rendered human angel to put a good word in for him with Metatron. Castiel quickly plays into this scheme, gaining his freedom and the trust of this angel. He is a serpent brought into Malachi’s lair, and he will take Theo’s grace to walk out as a restored angel.
In this way, Castiel’s season story mirrors and foreshadows the other stories occurring in the season. He is the new Adam after the Fall of Heaven, he is the serpent unleashed in one of the warring angel lairs, and he is the foreshadow perhaps to the end of Metatron’s spell that has locked out all angels from Heaven.
Castiel’s story has served, on the surface, as signposts for what is to come in the other threads. But what are these other stories and how do they correlate with the Garden of Eden and Fall of Man trope? What are the Gardens and who are the Serpents that threaten them?
The first Garden is, of course, the original Garden of Eden. It is a familiar story that we have all heard at some point. In the Biblical Genesis story, God creates the world in six days—and creates man and woman in His holy image to inhabit the Garden. But he has a command for his human creations: they are to never eat the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge lest they be punished by death. And so, a serpent comes to Eve, the woman, and tempts her with the allure of eating the fruit, telling her, “God knows that when you eat the fruit of that tree, you will know things you have never known before. You will be able to tell the difference between good and evil. You will be like God.”
And so, Eve eats of the fruit and convinces Adam to do the same. When God finds out, He is angry and punishes them by casting them out of the Garden into the harsh world outside it—left to fend for themselves and cope with the knowledge that they do know now about good and evil.
We learn, however, that someone was responsible for the serpent entering the Garden—that someone was to protect it from this intrusion. Metatron confronts “Ezekiel,” after he leaves the bar that Sam, Dean, and Castiel were meeting in—and there he reveals the true identity of the angel currently possessing Sam. It is not Ezekiel. It is, instead, Gadreel, the angel that was, as Metatron states, “God’s most trusted.” He had been tasked with protecting the Garden of Eden, to keep all evil at bay, and yet he failed.
It is a stunning revelation, thrusting the Garden of Eden story not simply as metaphor for the angelic fall, but rather as literal. Gadreel, for his failure, was punished by being locked in Heaven’s prison until the spell that caused the Fall released him. Now that he is on earth, the angel claims he would like to reclaim his name—that “the stories about me-they are not true.”
The second Garden is the earth itself. While it may be polluted by the evil and dangers that came after the Fall of Man, it is still full of good and beauty. It is the human realm. In many ways, it is the very place that the Winchesters swear to protect—and have—from the supernatural that threatens. It may not be as idyllic as the original Garden of Eden, but it has love and family. It has art. Humans, imbued with the knowledge that the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge wrought, have brought as much good to the earth as bad—and it is that good that makes it a Garden worth protecting.
The third Garden is Heaven. It is an obvious correlation that Heaven would be to the angels what the Garden of Eden would be to humans. It was God’s realm, made for them to live in a form of paradise and for them to protect from evil. Heaven is supposed to be a beautiful realm filled with love and wonder and grace. We saw that in the various Heavens that human souls have created—such as the autistic man who endlessly flies a kite—the favorite “heaven” that Castiel liked to visit.
As we’ve seen in the past on Supernatural, however, Heaven is far from being the peaceful place it can be often imagined. It is full of war and factions and struggle. Since the Winchesters successfully stopped the Apocalypse, it has seen many leaders come and go and endured much bloodshed. Castiel purged many angels in his wrath. Naomi controlled much of the angels by using her techniques. In her own death, a swath of new warring leaders has emerged to do battle upon one another, grasping at the reins of power any way that they can.
In many ways, angels are warriors and soldiers. In the Bible, angels smite Sodom and Gomorrah, they are viewed as being terrifying to look upon, and they are fierce. It’s no wonder that Supernatural has taken that view and laced it through their interpretation of angels.
Heaven is not a place of peace by any means—but to an angel it was and is still considered very much their Garden of Eden and they would like nothing more than to reclaim it back.
The fourth Garden of Eden that this season has explored beautifully is the Men of Letters Bunker. It has become a safe haven, a base of power—and most importantly a home. It is a treasure of information, protected from people and creatures looking to find its location, and still revealing its secrets to its new residents. When we were first introduced to it, Abaddon, a Knight of Hell, wanted the key to it, to take its information and power for her and Hell’s own. Sam was warned to throw the key away into a safe place, to protect it from all evil. It is a special place, a true Garden.
It has a kitchen, a computer room, a garage, bedrooms to be claimed by each Winchester brother, an exhaustive library, a dungeon, and more yet to be seen. It is the place the Winchesters go to lick wounds, catch their breath, relax, and find some information on their latest hunts. It is the place they retreat to when the world comes crashing in around them. In a short time, this has become their long sought Garden after many years in the cold.
We saw this best in “Slumber Party,” as they are watching shows with Charlie and exploring more of their home all the while protecting it from a threat.
The fifth and final Garden is Sam Winchester and the brotherhood between Sam and Dean.
Sam Winchester is a man, yes. Unlike the other Gardens, he is not a place. But he is a Garden nonetheless—especially in the metaphor that has laced through this season in so many ways. He is not perfect, and we all know his mistakes from drinking demon blood to releasing Lucifer—and yet through it all he has been a good man trying to do what he thinks is the right thing not just for himself but for the world. It is why he has the strength to throw himself into the pit while being possessed by Lucifer.
At the end of season eight and the start of season nine, however, Sam was hanging in the balance, hovering between life and death.
As his life is so tied with his brother’s, that means the brotherhood that he shares with Dean is also a Garden. It is the relationship that they build everything on and around in their lives. It is why they fight the supernatural, protect one another, and do what they must. They are stronger when working together, and as Charlie puts it, “There is pretty much nothing the Winchesters can’t do if they work together.”
This Garden is what gives them their strength and comfort when it is darkest. It is their brotherhood that makes their story so powerful and moving. And, it is why we, as the viewer, keep watching.
So, what has season nine done to disrupt these various Gardens? Much like the original story in Genesis, a serpent is the culprit. For each Garden, there is a serpent that corresponds and thus corrupts.
In the first Garden, the original Garden, the serpent is often associated with Satan—in another words, Lucifer himself. But as Metatron posits, “Your one task was to keep evil from entering, from befouling his cherished creation mankind and you failed it,” we’re left to wonder if it was another angel that is to blame for Adam and Eve eating of the Tree of Knowledge. Gadreel is also associated with the serpent, the one that slithered in and corrupted the Garden by causing Man to Fall. In some of the mythology surrounding Gadreel, it is even said that this angel is the father of Cain and that he is the one that taught man weaponry and the ways of war.
It is a stunning revelation, considering which vessel he has chosen to possess. Sam, being Lucifer’s true vessel, is now being possessed by an angel that may have been the Satan at the Garden all those years ago.
The second serpent are the angels themselves. As they have crashed to earth in the surprising and mysterious “meteor shower” shown on the news at various points, they have been duping humanity into trusting them and giving permission for possessing them. Bartholomew’s group has gone as far as to recruit the Reverend Buddy Boyle to tell everyone to “let the angels on in,” no matter the consequences.
In “Holy Terror,” we see that this is much more subversive than earlier believed. There are more factions out there recruiting, preying upon the religious beliefs of their intended targets. A glee choir, consisting of all woman—all possessed—arrive at a bar and enter to find the place full of bikers. These bikers, too, are possessed, and a battle ensues with all the biker angels dead and the glee singers leaving victorious.
Humanity and the earth Garden is under great duress and threat from these warring angels, and as they’ve been cast out from Heaven, they are trying to cope in the harsh reality outside it. Rather than adapt, however, they’ve chosen to wage the same wars they were engaged in up in Heaven down here, catching everyone in its cross-hairs.
It is poignant that they are serpents—much as the original serpent in the Garden of Eden may have been—an angel. They tell them only good things will come, and as the leader of the glee singer angels tells a group of unknowing victims, “You are exactly what God and his angels have in mind for the Crusade.” She is luring them with what they want to hear, with the right incentive to give over their bodies to the angels floating above, looking for vessels to possess.
Her worst lie is that the angels only want to feel these unwitting victim’s love.
We know, however, that not all “willing” participants are capable of doing so, as we’ve seen the young girl in Boyle’s office suffer the consequences. Many of the people who listen to these serpents will find themselves severely punished for their efforts. Some will die quickly and painfully as she did. Others may be possessed for a long time—centuries perhaps. Jimmy Novak equated being possessed by Castiel once as being “chained to a comet,” and these people who have willingly surrendered their bodies to these angels will learn this the hard way.
The third serpent is Metatron himself. He caused the angels to fall. In this storyline, he’s the original serpent, the one that unleashed everything that’s happened after concerning the angels and their pollutions of Gardens. He used his silver tongue to convince Castiel that they were going to lock Heaven up, angels inside, and fix the issues that have plagued Heaven all along—and more particular since the failure of the Apocalypse and the death or imprisonment of all the archangels. He is a serpent that knows how to use his words effectively and dangerously to achieve dark ends.
We saw it again in “Holy Terror,” as he confronts Gadreel. He tells the sullied angel precisely what he would like to hear in such a way that Gadreel will have little choice but to fall under the sway of the Scribe. Metatron tells him about joining him, “This move will erase the mark that has hounded you through the centuries. Heaven will be restored as will your reputation as one of its greatest heroes.” It is exactly the language required to seal the deal—and Gadreel in his desperation is grateful for the opportunity.
It is the button the Scribe of God must press if he wants this angel on his side to be the sword to his pen. He must have the brute force and strength of a warrior type angel, and since he’s already burned through Castiel, he’ll prey on another that will suit his purposes. Gadreel is ripe for the picking, his desperation palpable once his true identity has been revealed. In fact, he knows that the angel has little choice but to accept Metatron’s offer—or face the consequences of a potential blackmail.
Metatron fulfills the serpent metaphor of the Garden of Eden well—but not as well as Gadreel does himself.
The original serpent—if rumors are to be believed despite Gadreel’s vehement denials—-has infected two Gardens with one move. By possessing Sam Winchester he invades the Garden of the Men of Letters Bunker and that of Sam Winchester and the brotherhood that Sam and Dean share. He, not unlike Metatron, talked quickly to achieve his aims and wormed his way into gaining the trust of Dean. He tells the elder Winchester that his name is Ezekiel, and Castiel vouches for this angel. As he tries to heal Sam, he tells Dean that the only way to do so is from the inside, and so he finds a way to possess Sam. His empathetic approach seems genuine in the beginning—but it is his serpentine nature at brilliant work.
Gadreel further tries to cement his good standing by later reviving Castiel and Charlie, protecting Sam when under extreme duress as we see in “Devil May Care” in the fight with the demons and again after the attack by Chef Leo in “Dog Dean Afternoon.” He puts on a good appearance of only wanting to heal Sam, to do his part to show that not all angels are against Dean and Castiel, and that he’s there to help human kind as their original mission intended. For the most part, it works. He has Dean’s trust as Ezekiel and even earns a nickname: “Zeke.”
And yet, as we see in “Holy Terror,” the platitudes about taking a bit longer, just a little more time to heal Sam have become more and more like a broken record. At the end of “Rock and a Hard Place,” it becomes glaringly apparent that “Ezekiel” is holding Sam hostage and that Dean must do something quickly if he wants his brother back from this angelic possession.
We—and Dean—are also left to wonder just how much “healing” the angel has done in his time possessing Sam. At the beginning of this process, Sam seems rejuvenated, well-rested, healthy and ready to hit the hunting circuit full steam again. But as time has progressed, the younger Winchester has returned to the tired and fatigued form we witnessed during the Trials. He is unable to “recharge his batteries,” and is finding himself wobbly and worn down. Some of the spark for the hunt is missing again—and we wonder now how much Gadreel is drawing perhaps from Sam’s soul or not healing him at all.
By possessing Sam Winchester, Gadreel possesses a strong vessel, one capable of not only containing an angel, but an archangel. Sam was designed to contain the contaminated and corrupt Lucifer, to withstand an eternity of possession perhaps. We watched Lucifer’s other vessel, Nick, break down slowly over time, burning away from the immense power. Sam is a vessel that will stand up to and against almost anything an angelic possession can throw at it, and Gadreel knows it. He also sees possessing a vessel like Sam as his ticket to accomplishing his goal of restoring his sullied name.
While Gadreel has been the serpent to invade the Garden that is Sam Winchester, he’s also been the serpent slithering around and between the Winchester brotherhood. Right or wrong, Dean made a decision to save his brother’s life—and he took the chance he had offered to do it. While Sam may have expressed a wish to die in the cabin with Death, we also know that Sam had spent months during the Trials telling Dean that he wanted to live at the end. He told his brother, “I want to kill a hellhound and not die, how about you?” He told Dean that there was a light at the end of the tunnel, meaning a better life—not death. For Dean, he listened to what had been said while Sam was awake, in the midst of the Trials, not what was said between Sam and Death while the younger Winchester was in a coma.
Dean let Gadreel in by convincing Sam to say yes—all the while not knowing the full extent of the serpent he’d let in. Gadreel began worming between the brothers from the moment he took possession, telling Dean not to say a word to Sam—using careful language. He tells the elder Winchester, “Without his acceptance, Sam can eject me at any time, especially with me so weak. And if Sam does eject me, he will die. ” It is language that would make Dean heel and do as told in order to protect his brother.
As time went on, Gadreel kept manipulating Sam’s memories and telling Dean not to say a word—but also went as far as to isolate Dean from Castiel. While his warning that the angels are hunting the now mortal angel is very valid, it is only masking the truth that Gadreel kept hidden so well. He was afraid that he, a prisoner in Heaven’s deepest dungeon, would be found out and severely punished before he was ready to fight back. He hid this fact under Castiel’s danger—and as he tells Dean in “Holy Terror,” “When I chose to answer your prayers and heal Sam, I chose sides. That means I’m not in good standing with certain angels.”
Dean, however, has become impatient and Gadreel knows it. He can only fend off Castiel’s presence for so long—and keep feeding Dean the same line about needing more time to heal Sam. And so, when Metatron, another serpent, begins to weave a beautiful tale to him, he sees not only his chance to break free of the threat Castiel poses or the burden of being with Sam and Dean, he sees his chance to take what he’s always wanted: redemption.
As a serpent himself, Gadreel overhears Dean and Kevin talking, and he knows what they plan to do. He knows that Dean has decided to expel him and he must act quickly in order to keep his vessel. So he alters the sigil and waits for Dean to enter the trap. He plays Sam “convincingly,” as Lucifer had once before, and drives a bigger wedge—or so he thinks—between Sam and Dean by having Sam storm off after punching the elder Winchester.
His final act revealing his true serpent self is that of attacking and killing the prophet, Kevin Tran. It is brutal, cold, and a clear statement that Gadreel has chosen his side. Metatron told him that he needed to prove his fidelity, that he must kill the person named on the card given to him, and that once that is done he will be the Scribe’s second in command in their plan to rebuild Heaven to the Garden it was always meant to be—or at least the Garden Metatron’s always envisioned it to be.
His killing of Kevin—while in the safety of the Men of Letters Bunker—puts that place in serious question. This angel knows where it is and is possessing someone who knows how to gain access. It is now a Garden that has been infected with a serpent, and it is now only a matter of time before we see how compromised this place, this haven, this home, this Garden has become.
What’s fascinating about Gadreel’s overall storyline, however, is that he reflects both Sam and Dean so wonderfully. The obvious feature of that is that he possesses Sam Winchester, but that is only the physical similarities. Dig deeper, and we see that Gadreel and Sam are much alike in story and scope. They are both trying to gain the same thing: redemption. They are, in many ways, mirrors to one another.
Gadreel let evil into the Garden of Eden—either by his own action or by letting someone he trusted in, perhaps Lucifer, perhaps someone else—and for that he has been punished ever since. He has carried the weight of that mistake and that act with him ever since. Sam Winchester, too, let evil out when he released Lucifer from his Cage by killing Lilith. He has spent his time since in many ways trying to redeem that mistake.
Gadreel poses as mirror to Sam Winchester in this way—he is earnest when he tells Metatron, “The stories about me—they are not true!” He seems genuine in wanting to fix that long ago mistake, to set right what he had done wrong—but we can’t trust him. He’s revealed himself too much to be a serpent that taints the Garden in which he inhabits. That is where is similarity with Sam Winchester ends.
Perhaps it is because he is an angel. Much the same way Castiel couldn’t quite grasp humanity and forgiveness until he too became human, Gadreel can’t quite grasp what redemption really means—and unlike Sam, he won’t ever truly attain it, especially as long as he listens to the ultimate serpent of season nine: Metatron.
Gadreel also mirrors Dean in a beautiful way, too. Gadreel was charged with protecting the Garden of Eden from all evil. This was his assigned task, given to him by his Father, God. He was to stand as sentinel and guardian. It was his one purpose. But he failed and evil entered it and corrupted it anyways.
Dean has spent his entire life protecting Sam, trying to keep evil away from his brother, and to fix what the supernatural world has inflicted upon Sam since he was a mere six months old. His task, too, was assigned to him by his father, John Winchester, from the moment Sam was thrust into his arms and Dean was told to run outside.
In many ways, Dean has succeeded by giving Sam the opportunity and ability to hope for a better tomorrow, a better world, and that light at the end of the tunnel. He’s encouraged Sam in many ways. Dean has stood by his brother steadfastly when he needed him most—as he did in Stull. It is his love that has given Sam strength—and allowed the younger brother to reciprocate that.
In others, he’s failed. Dean couldn’t stop Sam from drinking demon blood or from killing Lilith. He couldn’t protect Sam from the fall out of being rendered soulless, and he couldn’t stop the hallucinations that came after Castiel shattered the Wall. Dean couldn’t stop the Trials from affecting his brother’s body, either.
So, when we see him take Gadreel’s offer, it is Dean trying to heal his brother in an act of desperation—and it may be one of his greatest failures to protect his brother. As Gadreel had let the serpent into the Garden, Dean let Gadreel into the Garden that is Sam. In the beginning, it looked promising, the only choice on the table, one that might actually work out in the end. Gadreel worked hard on making it seem he was trustworthy, empathetic, and kind—especially as he tells another angel that they are creatures of “compassion.”
But that’s often how serpents look to those that fall under their spell. It’s often too late when we realize that they are the evil that we let in—and the consequences are far reaching.
We’re left with the final image in this episode, a physical testament to Dean’s failure to not only protect his brother, but to protect Kevin Tran. After Gadreel has smote the prophet, Dean is left alone with the burned body, his pose one of defeat and sorrow.
Each of the Gardens have been each infected with a serpent—as we enter the back half of the season, we will have to wait and see how each serpent is dealt with—Gadreel and Metatron being foremost the two most dangerous out of the angelic serpents.
Curtis Armstrong returns as the vindictive and fast-talking Metatron. Just as when we first met him in “The Great Escapist,” Metatron puts on an air of self-effacing, such as when he tells Gadreel that he wouldn’t take the name of God, and yet this time we know for certain what lurks underneath that veneer. Armstrong takes that false modesty to another level and shows his character’s prideful nature best when he talks Gadreel into being his second command. Not unlike the way the Scribe once convinced Castiel to do the spell that cast the angels out, here we see Metatron play to this angel’s weaknesses—promising him that he’ll have his name cleared by the end of this. At this point in the performance, Armstrong gives Metatron a slickness that makes him both charismatic and off-putting all at once. We can tell that he’s not strong enough to pull off whatever he’s planning alone—but we know that he’s not as weak as he’d like us to believe, either. Armstrong also makes use of subtle body language to show that Metatron is gaining the upper-hand with Gadreel—a much larger angel while using Sam as a vessel certainly—and in a way almost makes himself the bigger presence on screen for it. As we delve into the second half of the season, it’ll be interesting to see just what Metatron plans—and how Armstrong plans on presenting the manipulative angel.
Osric Chau makes his final (perhaps!) appearance on Supernatural as Kevin Tran, and he shows in this performance that the prophet has come quite a long way since we were first were introduced to the frightened Advanced Placement student. Both his character and Chau’s acting have grown. He’s taken the role and truly made it his own in so many ways. Kevin began unsure and terrified of the supernatural world crashing his normal life—and yet as we watched him navigate it we saw him become a courageous young man. Chau took Kevin’s transition into his hands, showing us at each turning point how Kevin became the confident prophet we grew to know. At the start, Kevin was portrayed as skittish and in need of a guiding hand—-but by the end we knew Kevin to be capable and a valuable asset to the Winchesters and the cause. Chau put a lot of steel into Kevin’s character as we see him on the run from Crowley, facing down the King of Hell alone to translate the tablet, and his confidence when telling the Winchesters what he’s learned about the Trials to name a few. We also saw Chau make Kevin a real human trying to navigate his place in a difficult situation, granting us empathy for his character in instances where he’s faced with the loss of his mother or the anger at the one responsible. The young man we first met wouldn’t have tried to do these things. We’ve watched Chau mine the inner strength Kevin Tran never knew he had beautifully on screen. It was also nice to see the chemistry between Chau and several of the other actors build into something special—especially Ackles and Sheppard. As this is Supernatural and being dead isn’t always the end, if there’s any chance to do it, they should find a way to bring this brave prophet back to the show!
Misha Collins begins the episode as a human and eager Castiel, ready to help out on the case about the violent angel battles. The former angel seems rejuvenated when the Winchesters arrive, already in an FBI suit and ready to investigate. There’s a childlike innocence in how Collins presents these scenes—from the way he delivers the line, “Cas is back in town,” to how he goes about securing another round of beers. He wants to help any way he can, and while he may be limited as a human that hasn’t stopped him from being eager and willing. As we see him take to his hotel room, we see Castiel do something very human—he prays. Collins makes this scene equally moving and funny all at once. We can sense in his performance here that the former angel has a vulnerability—and yet we laugh at the endless poses he uses while praying fervently. The dry way Collins delivers the lines, “I don’t know how humans do it” is spot on. After we see him captured, the eager childlike nature we saw earlier falls away to reveal the solider we’ve known since Castiel’s introduction. He is calculating and steely. Once Castiel manages to take in the other angel’s grace, we see him fully restored as the angel—complete with focus and stoicism that’s come to mark the character. In many ways, we saw Collins explore different avenues with Castiel in this first half, and now that he has returned to his angelic self it will be interesting to see how he uses what he learned while human in the remainder of the season.
Jensen Ackles gave an emotional and powerful performance in “Holy Terror.” His body language conveys the mounting tension building on the elder Winchester. We can sense that he’s beyond his breaking point and that he wants nothing more than to level with Sam—but can’t. There’s fear in his performance at these moments—as if he’s scrambling to find a way out and fast. His body conveys how uncomfortable he is with keeping this secret, and Ackles shows this best when Dean has to convince Castiel to not talk about his leaving the Bunker in front of Sam. When the levee breaks finally, and Dean unloads the truth onto who he thinks is his brother, we see Ackles truly shine. He is emotional, powerful on screen, and moving here as he admits to his miscalculation and mistake. He begs Sam to understand for now—and we can sense when he delivers the line, “You can beat my ass later,” that Dean wants nothing more to be punished. When he emerges to see Gadreel kill Kevin, we see Ackles show how broken Dean is, as he is held against the wall helpless. That last moment as he stares at Kevin’s burned and battered body, we see the dam break and Ackles gives us the fitting and emotional end to close out the episode.
Jared Padalecki continues to show his skill beautifully in multiple roles. His transition from Sam to Gadreel and back again is masterful and seamless each time. We see this in the way he switches without missing a beat when the brothers are driving down the road and Gadreel falls away to be replaced mid-sentence by Sam. Padalecki also delivers on Sam’s mounting frustration and confusion, showing it best in vocal tone and body language that conveys how difficult this time loss is becoming. He shows great amusement at Castiel’s presence at the bar, especially in how he delivers the greeting, “Agent.” As Gadreel takes more precedence, we see Padalecki form the character carefully. He shows the angel’s frustration with Castiel’s presence simply in angry facial expressions and the tightness in his voice. We can feel the angel’s regret in how he expresses his innocence about the evil let into the garden and his hope that he can now redeem his name when he tells Metatron, “I am grateful for this opportunity.” Padalecki, however, wows best when he plays Gadreel playing Sam in the confrontation scene between Sam and Dean. He has all of Sam’s mannerisms down perfectly in this scene—and yet there is the slightest variation that is missed by an emotionally distraught Dean. Padalecki gives Gadreel’s farce away, however, when Dean states that the real Ezekiel is dead. We see the devastation and grief in his features—something that wouldn’t have impacted as greatly on the real Sam. It is subtle and brief. It will be interesting to see how Padalecki handles playing both roles in the back half—and for how much longer he’ll do that.
Best Lines of the Week:
Malachi: I don’t deal with handmaidens.
Malachi: Virtue is its own punishment.
Castiel: Cas is back in town.
Dean: Haven’t I always said that angels are dicks?
Kevin: I always trust you, and I always end up screwed.
Is it January 14 yet?