In my rewatch of “I’m No Angel,” I was pleasantly surprised…for the first two thirds of it. This wasn’t a half bad story and was strangely fluid. Then the wheels completely fell off the wagon and it ended a complete travesty. All the right ideas were in place, but this time they got a good story going and couldn’t finish it out properly. Couldn’t finish it out properly? I’m being generous. The episode tanked as bad as the Hindenburg. A horrible mess.
Let’s start with the basic statistics, just to level set. This is a Brad Buckner/Eugenie Ross-Leming penned episode, so expect a certain level of camp and disregard for canon. The director was Kevin Hooks, and this was the only time he directed for Supernatural. I’m not calling anything good or bad with the directing, a solid job overall.
The main focus of this episode was Castiel and I think they nailed the depiction of his struggle. Castiel on the streets was often cold, hungry, and very isolated, not to mention being hunted. He’s had to learn how to do basic things like pee and sleep. He is trying to be a humble servant while keeping away from the angels, but trouble managed to follow him. Misha, probably pulling from the fact that he was homeless himself as a child, really sold this predicament and I think it was one of his best acting performances. I really felt for Castiel and how jarring this new life was for him.
I loved the scene between Castiel and the woman in the church. I thought it sent a powerful message. She just finished a prayer for her sick husband and Castiel raised the question, “What if no one was listening and God left?” Castiel is representing so many out there that are scared, on their own, and not getting any sort of help, so to me that was a very powerful question, even if he was angel that knows things. The woman is undeterred. It’s not possible. It isn’t possible because she has faith. “You need something stronger than yourself.” God being gone may be Castiel’s truth, but it’s not hers. Someone is listening. This scene is so hopeful because despite everything, the message is you are not on your own. There is someone out there who cares. In Castiel’s case, it’s Sam and Dean, by way of Ezekiel listening to angel radio.
Castiel even had a great badass moment when he killed the angel that attacked him on the bus, proving he still knows how to wield an angel blade even in human form. Choosing to get a tattoo warding himself from angels with what little money he had left rather than eating was a nice touch too, proving that Castiel is still one wickedly smart angel. Well, until later, but I’m getting to that.
As for Sam and Dean, it was contrived that it took a warning from Ezekiel, but I really liked that they changed their focus and went looking for Castiel. It gave them something meaningful to do I guess, even though they should have been doing this before Zeke’s warning. What I was really impressed with was the fact that they caught on that a rogue reaper was tailing them. Usually in a Brad and Eugenie script, we get too much of dumb Winchester syndrome. Not this moment, although it didn’t last.
Bartholomew was a great choice of the new foe. Organizing angels, using an influential tele-evangelist to find vessels for angels, it was a pretty good plan. The exploding disciple even worked for comic effect. It was a wicked reminder that not everyone can be an angel vessel. I had wondered what the angels wanted with Castiel other than seeking revenge on him, but that was all explained during April’s interrogation and that even made sense. They think he was a co-conspirator and knows how they can get back to Heaven. I’m still trying to remember how the truth gets out since April couldn’t share the news, but I’ll get that on the upcoming rewatches I’m sure (or maybe not!).
What Didn’t Work
April. That’s where everything came tumbling down. I really, really liked how she first appeared, a benevolent waitress giving a down on his luck homeless guy her sandwich. I was really hoping that was the real April at that point, because she was so likable and had a great heart. But then she took Castiel home after he was caught in the rain. Red flag, what single woman would let a strange man into her apartment, especially a homeless guy? She never took time to talk to him a little and get to know him. Then she kisses them and they have sex?? Oh man, that was wrong on so many levels.
This was a controversial episode for many fans because it turned out April was possessed by a rogue reaper, so this reaper essentially forced that poor sweet woman inside to have sex with an unknown guy? We know that possession comes with some horrors, but this scenario crossed a line for many. Castiel was even accused by several in the fandom of rape, even though he was an unwitting pawn. Given his moral standards, rebuffing her advances would have been more in character. I get he was vulnerable, but really? I think it crossed a line too, and the producers were gobsmacked by the backlash. Bottom line, sex didn’t need to be in the equation. April could have revealed herself as a rogue reaper after Castiel rejects her and that might have been an effective twist. Instead, it was tainted with false intimacy all in a terrible stunt to finally get Castiel laid. That’s where the first big travesty happened.
Then, in the plot twist that I really am hating by now, Dean’s lies are catching up to him and his covering up for his actions are becoming borderline stupid. April kills Castiel, Sam is knocked unconscious (how convenient!) so Zeke can do his healing thing. How contrived. Of course, Castiel wants to know how he was healed, so Dean comes up with a bullshit story of how he had April heal him before he killed her. Sam was unconscious so he couldn’t refute the story. That is so not Dean. He could have at least say he had to kill her after she healed him because she attacked him. Remember how I said no dumb Winchesters? I take that back.
Of course this revives the debate that started back in season eight’s “Taxi Driver” that still makes me mad, how in the world are reapers angels? How can they heal people?? How can you kill one with an angel blade???? A special scythe was needed to do that in season four. Making up shit as you go along to service the story is an insult. There are rules and parameters that canon minded fans like to see followed. But that’s a bitterness that has been mentioned here many times before, so I’ll just leave it at that.
But then, the final scene, the last straw, is just utterly despicable. Castiel, their dear friend, practically a brother, down on his luck and finally embracing a roof over his head and being saved by friends, can’t stay at the bunker? Dean allowed that? I know he backed himself into a corner with this desperate arrangement but what? Why bother finding Castiel at all then? It throws that touching scene with that woman in the church out the window. He’s all alone again and no one is listening. Another contrived plot twist that made no freaking sense.
By that time any goodwill I had for this episode was gone. Remember how the bunker was supposed to be an impenetrable fortress? That would be the safest place for both Castiel and Ezekiel! Yet Zeke said that Castiel being there puts him in danger? What? Talk about throwing canon away. At this point, I was seriously ready to give up on this show. I had so many problems with the decisions made in season nine and these rewatches are giving me plenty of reminders why I had issues.
Overall grade for the first two thirds of the episode, an A-. For the rest of the episode, an F-. That puts “I’m No Angel” somewhere overall with a C. The worst part is that so far, this is the best episode of the season! At this point people should have been losing their jobs. The show was never this bad before this, and that’s saying a lot given season seven.
Coming up next, a split from the confounding mess with a weird fantasy diversion from Robbie Thompson. I wouldn’t call “Slumber Party” a masterpiece, but it at least took our minds off this train wreck of a season so far.