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4. If God will send His Angels
Dean: There's no higher power, there's no God. There's just chaos and violence, random unpredictable evil, that comes outta nowhere, rips you to shreds. (â€œHouses of the Holyâ€)
Even though Dean denies the angelic presence and any higher power in the world, and argues about it with his brother in â€œFaithâ€ and â€œHouses of the Holyâ€, the beginning of season four and his own predestined role prove him wrong. Angels do exist in the universe of Supernatural and soon both Winchesters find themselves caught in the middle of the conflict between Heaven and Hell (which actually is more of a conflict between members of the angelic family). But are the angels in Supernaturalâ€™s mythology a real contrast to demons?
As representatives of God and Heaven, the angels in Kripkeâ€™s show do not prove to be morally unambiguous. As they are introduced in the first episode of season four, impersonated by Castiel, they seem to be the real righteous force of Heaven â€“ feared by demons, not showing emotions and bound to the higher plan. However the more angels appear aside from Castiel, the more questionable their moral state seems to be and their motives unclear and confusing. Uriel, Raphael, even Michael, and especially Zachariah, show that angels are far from perfection, they are also not what classical imagination would describe as humanityâ€™s merciful protectors. According to Raphael angels wish to bring on the Apocalypse as much as demons, even if for different purpose â€“ they are just tired of the duty God left them, and want to bring Paradise on Earth. At the same time they do not care how many human lives it will cost. However, there are differences between particular members of Godâ€™s army. Some just want to put an end to the Earthâ€™s existence because they are lost and tired, like Raphael (â€œHe [God] ran off and disappeared. And left no instructions, only a world to run. Weâ€™re tired. We just want it to be over. We just wantâ€¦ Paradise.â€, â€œFree to Be You and Meâ€). Another group rebels against Heaven and turns against their own kind, like Uriel, who already shows very little sympathy for mankind in â€œItâ€™s the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchesterâ€ (â€œWeâ€™re wasting time with those mud monkeys.â€), reveals himself later on as a follower of Lucifer:
My work is conversion. How long have we waited here? How long have we played this game? By rules that make no sense? Our father! He stopped being that, if he ever was, the moment he created them â€“ humanity! His favorites, His whining, puking larvae. And he [Lucifer] didnâ€™t bow to humanity. He was banished for defending us. God isnâ€™t God anymore. He doesnâ€™t care what we do. (â€œOn the Head of a Pinâ€)
Another rebel, but an individual and not belonging to the group of Light Bringerâ€™s followers, is Anna â€“ formerly an angel, who started to have doubts and asking questions and fell from Heaven losing her Grace, now reborn as a human being, who however, can hear angelsâ€™ voices. Hunted by Heaven and Hell, Anna eventually returns to her previous form. But ironically, the once human angel, who does not support the apocalyptic plans of her kind, in the end becomes one more villain, after she changes into an â€˜angelic Terminatorâ€™ and insists on turning Sam Winchesterâ€™s body and soul into dust, as she sees in him the major treat to humanity and the cause of future world destruction.
And finally, there are Michael and Zachariah on the other side of the angelic forces. Archangel Michael â€“ the oldest brother among the archangels and the highest power in Heaven after God â€“ is being described as the obedient son, who blindly tries to redo his mistake from the past and defeat and kill his younger brother Lucifer at any cost (destroying half of the Earth alongside). His motives are not more pure that those of his companions â€“ to him Lucifer deserved to die, mostly because he disobeyed, not in the last because Michael sees himself as protector of humanity â€“ on the contrary, he does not really care if the confrontation with his brother will have world destruction as a result. Zachariah, Michaelâ€™s subordinate makes probably the worst impression from all the angels â€“ arrogant, cunning and manipulative â€“ he does not restrain himself from using blackmail, threat or deception and lies to force the Winchesters to cooperation. He is the one who lies to Dean about the Apocalypse, knowing the real plan from the beginning, and the one, who manipulates Sam into making the last step on the way to kill Lilith and break the last seal:
The Apocalypse. Poor name, bad marketing â€“ puts people off. And we like our chances. When our side wins â€“ and we will â€“ itâ€™s Paradise on Earth. Whatâ€™s not to like about that? You canâ€™t make an omelet without cracking a few eggs. In this case truckloads of eggs, but you get the picture. Samâ€¦ has a part to play, very important part. He may need a little nudging in the right direction, but I will make sure he plays it. (â€œLucifer Risingâ€)
Unlike Raphael, Zachariah does not have any philosophy behind his actions. He is rather enjoying his power and the thought of future victory than just wishing to put an end to God given duty (since God is no longer taking care of Earth), and the only thing concerning him is to get his job for Michael done (turning almost into an obsession). Ironically, even if Zachariah belongs to the seemingly good opposition, his words about human beings do not differ very much from Urielâ€™s opinion.
Castiel, who dragged Deanâ€™s soul from Hell, is â€“ at last at the beginning â€“ also not absolutely honest and reveals to Dean only pieces of the knowledge, he has. As the story progresses during seasons four and five, however, he appears as the only angel (next to Anna), who tries to find out the whole truth behind the plan and to make choices on his own. First in â€œItâ€™s the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchesterâ€, Castiel starts to express doubts: â€œIâ€™m not a hammer as you say. I have questions, I have doubts. I donâ€™t know what is right and what is wrong anymore.â€ Slowly, the righteous and emotionless angel, who feels all the time lost in human reality and confused by human emotions, begins to think on his own and see that the host of Heaven is not what it should be anymore. After Annaâ€™s disobedience and Urielâ€™s betrayal, Castiel realizes his confusion and even though he is still working for Zachariah, the cracks on the surface of his attitude start to show. Still, he helps to capture Anna and releases the blood addicted Sam from his prison. He is fully aware of the real consequences, keeping both, Dean and Sam in the darkness about those, until the moment when finally he has to make a choice between humanity and angelâ€™s plan, he so long believed in, as Dean banters him for it:
Donâ€™t give me that holy crap. Destiny, Godâ€™s planâ€¦? Itâ€™s all a bunch of lies, you poor, stupid son of a bitch! Itâ€™s the way of your bosses to keep you and keep me in line! You know whatâ€™s real? People, families, thatâ€™s real! And youâ€™re gonna watch them all burn?! There is a right and there is a wrong here. And you know it! (â€œLucifer Risingâ€).
But Castiel, unlike Anna and Gabriel, both of whom learnt to enjoy human life, does not believe in mankind as worth being spared (which ironically makes him and the other angels, who plan to destroy life on Earth, close to Lucifer, just for different reason), and he asks Dean in return â€œWhat is so worth saving? I see nothing but pain here. I see inside you, I see your guilt, your anger, confusion. In Paradise all is forgiven.â€(â€œLucifer Risingâ€) Finally, however, he decides to take Deanâ€™s side and becomes another rebel.
Banished from Heaven, Castiel spends now more time among people, especially with Dean, and his attitude towards them changes over time. The beginning of this change is as hilarious as it is troubled. He does not understand why people lie or accuse Sam of making wrong choices in the past, even if he himself made bad ones and takes a part of the same blame. It seems at the beginning that Castiel is there more to help Dean than to help both Winchesters, since he barely tolerates Sam â€“ the â€œboy with demon bloodâ€ (â€œItâ€™s the Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchesterâ€). How much it changes over the time show Castielâ€™s words to Anna, as she tries to convince him that â€œSam Winchester has to dieâ€œ (â€œThe Song Remains the Sameâ€) â€“ â€œI will find another way. The answer is still no. Because Sam is my friend.â€ (â€œThe Song Remains the Sameâ€). His metamorphosis goes further as he gradually loses his â€žangelic mojoâ€ and the messenger of God becomes more and more human and finally ends up as a drunk and depressed angel, or as he calls himself â€“ â€œA poor example of oneâ€ (â€œ99 Problemsâ€) â€“ with little powers, disappointed with the Father of Creation and not proud anymore to be â€œan angel of The Lordâ€ (Castiel, â€œLazarus Risingâ€ and â€œ99 Problemsâ€).
5. Gospel with no Lord
It finally leads to the question, where is God in all this? â€“ the same question, Dean asks Zachariah in the last episode of season four, receiving as answer â€œGod left the buildingâ€ (â€œLucifer Risingâ€). Depending on the interpretation of the final episode of season five (â€œSwan Songâ€), Supernaturalâ€™s world is either godless or with God, who does not influence the events, but still shows interest for His creation. The angels are even less religious and believing than humans and even demons. Only Castiel â€“ one of the angels, who never saw God face to face, goes on the hopeless mission to find Him.
The first interpretation, which rules out the possibility of Prophet Chuck being in fact God, leaves the world of Supernatural in chaos and hopelessness. The bored Creator leaves Heaven and disappears, Castielâ€™s mission fails completely, and what the Paradise gardener Joshua has to communicate is not very optimistic either:
He knows what the angels are doing. He knows that the Apocalypse has begun. He just does not think itâ€™s His problem. God saved you already. He granted you salvation on Heaven, and after everything youâ€™ve done too. Itâ€™s more He has intervened in a long time. Heâ€™s finished. Magic amulet or not, you wonâ€™t be able to find Him. (â€œDark Side of the Moonâ€)
It makes the protagonists face a deistic world, where the Evil has no real opposition and counter force. This disappointment is especially hard to Castiel, who eventually loses his faith in an act of iconoclastic desperation, when he calls God â€œson of a bitch, I believed in!â€ (â€œDark Side of the Moonâ€) Knowing what he thinks is the truth, causes his breakdown and despair, ending in very human attempt to drown his depression and â€œdaddy issuesâ€ in alcohol (â€œ99 Problemsâ€).
Nevertheless, in the alternative interpretation, God, who has withdrawn Himself and gave up being the highest power in Heaven, takes the form of Chuck Shurley â€“ the inconspicuous, sloppy author of unsuccessful book series known as Supernatural and called by Castiel â€œThe Winchester Gospelâ€ (â€œThe Monster at the End of this Bookâ€). This meta-textual insert (the fictional story becomes real in the reality of the same fictional story) allows the creators of the series to play with the idea of writer as a god figure and drawing an auto-ironic portrait of themselves and their show. After being introduced to the Winchester brothers and the fact, that they are real people and not only characters in his books, Chuck says:
Well, there's only one explanation. Obviously I'm a god... I'm definitely a god. A cruel, cruel, capricious god. Things, I put you throughâ€¦ the physical beatings alone. I toyed with your lives, your emotions for entertainment. I mean, horror is one thing, but to be forced to live bad writing? (â€œThe Monster at the End of this Bookâ€).
Turned into a joke, however, Chuckâ€™s statement may be not so far from the truth. In this case he becomes the wise man-jester figure, muddler in a dressing-gown, loving alcohol and women, but at the same time having an extraordinary knowledge of the future events at his command, giving advice to the Winchesters and putting them to the test. He is a king disguised as a beggar, once again God in human flesh. In Swan Song Chuck â€“ now the narrator of the story, this time reaching in the past and telling the history of the Impala â€“ suddenly changes his appearance â€“ from the sloppy dress to white shirt and neat look. He is now the writer as the god to his creation â€“ the story, and possibly the personification of God inside the story as well, who at the end disappears in the air, leaving no clear answer about his true identity.
However, this is the interpretation from the audiencesâ€™ point of view, while the characters of the show never learn about Chuckâ€™s supposed identity or the fact that God did not disappear from the world and that He still cares. For Sam and Dean it is still a godless reality, where people are left to themselves and have to make choices, take actions and struggle with their everyday life, whether touched by the supernatural or not. Especially to Dean, who feels betrayed and bitter after losing his brother, when he says to Castiel â€œThatâ€™s easy for you to say â€“ he brought you back. What about Sam? What about me? Where is my grand price? All Iâ€™ve got is my brother in a hole.â€ (â€œSwan Songâ€) His only reward is the world back to normality, as his angel friend replies, â€œno Paradise, no Hell, just more of the same.â€ (â€œSwan Songâ€)
Castiel, however, gains his reward â€“ not only he gets his life back, but also his powers and the most important thing â€“ his faith. But the price he has to pay is loss of his freedom, as he chooses peace over free will.
Kripkeâ€™s God can be placed somewhere between the deistic idea of Descartes and sympathetic Christianity â€“ he does not interfere in life on Earth, but he also has not lost his interest. God hides among humans and enjoys life, just as Castiel becomes more and more human, learning to express feelings, anger, friendship, despair â€“ it seems to underline Godâ€™s choice of humans as the crown of creation (proven by Sam in â€œSwan Songâ€). It is an optimistic and sympathetic interpretation of God â€“ He still watches over the Earth, but His absence is an act of trust consequently resulting from the idea of free will.
II. Are you human?
Apart from the mostly supernatural entities, the Winchesters come across a few strange cases (at least for their standards) where the suspicious events surprisingly have been caused by regular humans. What seemed to be a cause for monster hunters turns out to be purely human evil with no otherworldly support â€“ in both cases it is just a kind of primeval, animalistic instinct. The Bender family consisting of father, his two sons and a teenage daughter kidnap young men and hunt them like animals, pretending first that they want to free them. Portrayed as unkempt and ugly people, the Benders live in an old house in the middle of the forest, far from civilization. They seem like animals themselves, just like the siblings from the episode â€œFamily Remainsâ€ â€“ born from an incestuous, abusive relationship between father and daughter â€“ who literally live in the walls of their house and because of their looks and inability to talk are mistaken for ghosts by Sam and Dean. â€œTheyâ€™re just people!â€ (â€œThe Bendersâ€) as Sam says, puzzled by the fact that his kidnapers turn out to be flesh and blood and nothing more. But this primitive evil caused by humans is more monstrous and terrifying than its supernatural counterpart.
(Coming soon, part two)
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4. Douglas, Alfred. â€žTarot.â€ MilanÃ³wek: Wydawnictwo Warsztat Specjalny, 1992.
5. DrwiÄ™ga, Marek. â€žCzÅ‚owiek miÄ™dzy dobrem a zÅ‚em: studia z etyki wspÃ³Å‚czesnej.â€ KsiÄ™garnia Akademicka, 2009.
6. Irvine, Alex. â€žSupernatural. Book of Monsters, Spirits, Demons and Ghouls.â€ HarperCollins, 2007.
7. Knight, Nicholas. â€œSupernatural. The Official Companion. Season 1.â€ London: Titan Books, 2007.
8. Knight, Nicholas. â€œSupernatural. The Official Companion. Season 2.â€ London: Titan Books, 2008.
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10. Muchembled, Robert. â€žDzieje diabÅ‚a.â€ Warszawa: Oficyna Naukowa, 2009.
11. Paczkowska, Agnieszka. â€œUwolnij moc. Jak pokonaÄ‡ bezsilnoÅ›Ä‡.â€ Ja, my, oni 4(2010): 33 â€“ 36.
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13. Rudwin, Maximilian. â€œDevil in Legend and Literature.â€ Open Court Publishing Co, 1977.
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 Muchembled, Robert. â€žDzieje diabÅ‚a.â€ Warszawa: Oficyna Naukowa, 2009. 335
 European shows revolving around similar themes are also not an exception, like the English Carnivale, Demons, Strange, a few French series and even Polish series Naznaczony.
 Publisherâ€™s note on the back cover of â€œIn the Hunt.â€ Dallas: Benbella, 2009
 The god who in the end takes the shape of Paris Hilton (actually played by her) holds an auto-ironic speech on the life of present-day celebrities who took place of the old gods.
 Hannah-Jones, Avril. â€œGood and Evil in the World of Supernaturalâ€, In The Hunt. Unauthorized essays on Supernatural, ed. Supernatural.tv (Dallas: Benbella, 2009) 54.
 This, however, is a controversial case since the ghost of Father Gregory pushes people to kill other people (even if the killed ones are indeed villains).
 Hannah-Jones, Avril. â€œGood and Evil in the World of Supernaturalâ€, In The Hunt. Unauthorized essays on Supernatural, ed. Supernatural.tv (Dallas: Benbella, 2009) 55.
 The story from â€œAfter School Special" appears almost like a foreshadowing of the final events in season four â€“ Sam Winchester unwillingly causes evil believing that he is doing something good.
 â€˜Seasonâ€™ is an international term used to describe separate chapters of a TV show, most often being nine months of a year and consisting of an equal amount of episodes each. Each season of Supernatural consists of 22 episodes (except for season 3, which has only 16 episodes due to the writerâ€™s strike in 2008).
 Knight, Nicholas. â€œSupernatural. The Official Companion. Season 2.â€ London: Titan Books, 2008. 33
 In the universe of Supernatural a â€˜vesselâ€™ is a human host both demons and angels need to interact with the outside world, because as supernatural entities they do not have their own bodies. The only difference is that angels (including Lucifer) need the permission of the â€˜originalâ€™ owner to take over his or her body.
 Hannah-Jones, Avril. â€œGood and Evil in the World of Supernaturalâ€, In The Hunt. Unauthorized essays on Supernatural, ed. Supernatural.tv (Dallas: Benbella, 2009) 55.
 Rudwin, Maximilian. â€œDevil in Legend and Literature.â€ Open Court Publishing Co, 1977.
 Nevertheless, Puritans even believed that the newcomers in hell were tortured by the older residents, within a specific hierarchy â€“ similar how Hell is pictured in Supernatural.
 Stevenson, Gregory. â€œHorror, Humanity, and the Demon in the Mirrorâ€, In The Hunt. Unauthorized essays on Supernatural, ed. Supernatural.tv (Dallas: Benbella, 2009) 45.
 Rudwin, Maximilian. â€œDevil in Legend and Literature.â€ Open Court Publishing Co, 1977. 17
 The show does not elaborate on Lilithâ€™s origins, but taken Rubyâ€™s description, the writers are following her story as Adamâ€™s first wife, who then became a demon.
 Thus the Croatoan virus fits in Luciferâ€™s apocalyptic plan of mass-destruction by turning humans into bloodthirsty zombies.
 Even though from the start of the series, hunters use any kind of holy objects, like holy water, exorcisms, rosary etc. to fight demonic or spiritual powers. Logically, if there would not be any higher power, those artifacts should not work.
 In â€œSympathy for the Devilâ€ Zachariah reveals Dean being the lost Michaelâ€™s Sword, which means that the older Winchester is the archangelâ€™s destined vessel.
 Sam as Luciferâ€™s destined vessel is indeed a threat to humanity and logically Anna is right when she tries to literally destroy him. Taken how serious and big the risk is, Castielâ€™s decision underlines how deep the change of his emotional state is, that he refuses to sacrifice Sam as his friend for the greater good.
 The final result of this change can be seen in the futuristic episode â€œThe Endâ€, where a stoned, nihilistic, hedonistic and totally stripped of his angelic aura Castiel, is shown as a member of one of the remaining resistance groups, while the Croatoan virus destroys humanity and Lucifer walks the Earth in Samâ€™s body.
 Assuming that the story has to prove humanityâ€™s worth as creation, it might be a part of Godâ€™s plan, to let people decide and act alone.
 Assuming that the interpretation of Prophet Chuck being in fact God is plausible.
I'm fascinated by your discussion on God as being the absent yet invisible presence. He certainly isn't "involved," but what if he doesn't intercede due to trusting us and the free will he gifted us with? That is a fascinating and almost frightening thought.
Thanks so much for sharing this and I look forward to part 2!
The God question will always be there,Yes, this article is well written.and covers the many themes of good.evil. Thanks for including it over our wait time for season 9 and yes looking forward to part ii.