In the first part of this two-part series ,“Keep Your Friends Close…”, I looked briefly at friends of Sam and Dean. In this part, I’ll look at their enemies, and not-so-enemies.
Azazel, Gordon Walker, Victor Henriksen, Lilith, Zachariah, Crowley, Dick Roman, Abaddon, Metatron…it’s quite the gallery of enemies the boys have had. Some enemies have worked better than others, and to me that is because of a distinct shift in focus. During the Kripke reign the enemies, Azazel, Gordon Walker, Victor Henriksen, Lilith and Zachariah, worked so well precisely because they remained in the background much of the time. Their influence loomed darkly, but they were only seen a few times.
We were never even introduced to the Yellow-Eyed Demon (Azazel) until “Devil’s Trap”, yet he was the reason the whole show kicked off and his effect was felt throughout the first two seasons. He was behind so much of what happened to Sam and Dean. In season 2 he only appeared in three episodes and then met his demise.
In season 3, Lilith wasn’t even hinted at until “Malleus Maleficarum”, and didn’t appear until the very end of “Jus In Bello”. After that, she made one more appearance in season 3 and then was absent, save word of her breaking seals up until “The Monster at the End of This Book” – very, very late in season 4. Once again, her demise was complete just a few short episodes later, and she only made that final appearance.
Gordon Walker and Victor Henriksen, the two human enemies in this article, made four appearances each. Gordon’s first appearance started with him appearing a friend, a fellow hunter. However, it ended with him becoming the very thing he hated most, a vampire, and dead at the hands of Sam Winchester.
Henriksen appeared very much the enemy upon his introduction, but in his penultimate appearance he turned friend and ally, and then in his final appearance, from beyond the grave, he was an angry spirit. Still, their appearances were few and far between, spanning two seasons for Gordon and three for Henriksen. They brought an element of grounding to the show as the brothers were hunted by first another hunter, who suspected Sam of being supernatural himself, and then a dedicated FBI agent who had no idea the bigger battle being fought all around him. The element of cat and mouse from the FBI layered the brothers’ already troubled life as they changed plates on the Impala and hid deeper from prying eyes.
Zachariah, part of the angelic hit squad, that over the years included Raphael, Naomi, and now Metatron, as well as part-friend, part-enemy Trickster/Gabriel similarly spanned two seasons and only had a handful of episodes in each. He did not appear in season 4 until “It’s a Terrible Life”, episode 17, in which he was a master puppeteer. In the very next episode he had but one scene and then was not part of any episodes until the finale of Season 4, where he was very much present as he held Dean captive in the Green Room. Season 5 gave Zachariah a bit more to do, but he still only had four episodes. Also, while his power was immense, able to move Dean and Sam to alternate realities (“It’s a Terrible Life”) and Dean (Green Room in “Lazarus Rising”) or ahead five years (“The End”) or manipulate heaven (“Dark Side of the Moon”) raise someone from the dead (“Point of No Return”) he was also limited as seen by the fact that Castiel’s branding of the brothers in “Sympathy For the Devil” effectively hid them from Zachariah as well. Also, Joshua, a ‘lowly’ gardener in heaven clearly sent Zachariah packing when he informed Zachariah that he, Joshua, was speaking for God. In the end, Zachariah’s hubris led to his demise, that and a well-placed angel blade. Still, Zachariah worked so well as an enemy because he ebbed and flowed throughout his two seasons and never once held center stage.
After Kripke handed over the reins, there was a decided shift in how enemies were handled. Season six was a muddle as first. Crowley appeared to be bad and then Mother – who never held any gravitas of danger, but that was more casting than anything else, and then finally Castiel was shown to be the bad guy behind the scenes.
Come Season 7, however, the show found its footing with Dick Roman and the Leviathans as the bad guys. The problem that happened here is that the Leviathans were supposed to be incredibly powerful, so powerful that for the longest time nothing was found that could kill them. And yet for some unfathomable reason, they were intent upon killing Sam and Dean and Bobby, even as they were completely inept at achieving that goal. In the end, they were uninteresting creatures intent on not getting bibbed by their leader, Dick Roman, who himself was nothing more than a narcissistic, overbearing, blowhard who wanted to enslave the human race. His enslavement plan, however, never truly appeared to be global and his minions were, for the most part, caricatures of ineptitude. Not very fear inducing.
Abaddon fell victim to this problem as she was so powerful that she killed the Men of Letters and followed Henry Winchester into the future, but somehow was completely unable to locate and kill two measly humans. Not sure how she could not kill Dean Winchester when she had the chance but rather tried to choke him a bit and then fled the scene simply because he brought an angel with him. Even when Dean was empowered by the Mark of Cain and holding the First Blade, the best Abaddon could do was stand there with her first clenched trying to finish him off. She had already shown her ability, as Crowley and his demons similarly could do, to simply twist someone’s head or otherwise neatly dispatch a human, yet she never snuck up on the brothers and did that.
Metatron similarly spoke too often, too long and flip flopped from being truly scary to over-the-top silly. Yes, he killed Dean Winchester, but had several opportunities to take out both brothers yet struck a deal with them to get back one of his minions and let the brothers go. If he was really a bad guy, who already knew the ending to the story as he stated, he would have simply killed them.
Azazel led the Winchesters on a merry chase because he was testing Sam and enacting his long-term plan. He only upped his menace when they gained possession of the Colt, which Azazel knew could kill him. Even then, he traded for the Colt by removing John from the chess board and returning Dean to the land of the living. Clearly, once he had the Colt in his possession, Azazel was fine with the brothers roaming free because (A) he had the only weapon that could possibly kill him, and (B) he was still grooming Sam for the endgame, something Lilith was ultimately able to complete. Azazel struck fear, precisely because he kept his monologues and grandstanding moments to a minimum. Of late these monologues become too frequent and too long and showcase more of the writers’ personal agenda than perhaps any furtherance of the storyline.
Crowley has at times suffered from an overabundance of appearances, however the character is so well-written, and so incredibly well-acted, that these situations are saved. It also helps immensely that Crowley remains very much an unknown, while at the same time being clearly a known entity. Crowley is only ever about Crowley. In season 5 he was an exile trying to survive. His gift of the Colt was merely an act of a desperate demon. When he aided the Winchesters a second time, it was still for his own survival. Come season 6 we see Crowley acting once again in his own self-interest: gain access to Purgatory. Fairly certain that had Crowley known he was inviting the Leviathans loose on earth he would have rethought his plan, maybe. Even once the Leviathans were loose on earth, Crowley attempted to strike a deal with them. Failing in that effort he reverted to assisting the Winchesters and Castiel because had the Leviathans prevailed, it would have meant Crowley was also on the dinner menu. Crowley has always asserted himself as an enemy of the Winchesters, but an enemy that will become an ally when it suits his interest. For their part, the Winchesters similarly use Crowley when it suits their purpose, finding Lucifer, stopping Dick Roman, killing Abaddon.
Crowley best fits the age-old proverb of keeping your friends close and your enemies closer as for going on five seasons now he has been both friend, of sorts, and foe to the Winchesters, and they are smart to not only keep him around, for he has been useful, but to keep their sights on the proper endgame for him: death. While I’m sure there will be another big bad served up in season 10, I’m also convinced that Crowley will maintain the course that he has charted from the first time we met him: he is in it for Crowley, and no one else but Crowley.
As always, thanks for reading, Elle2