Thoughts on 9x06: Heaven Can’t Wait
This episode was better than I expected in many ways and yet in so many other ways surprising. Going in I anticipated something more explosive, pardon the pun. Rather we got a quick look at the subplots that have been quietly in motion for six speedy weeks with very little screen time. Truth be told, all of the seasonal arcs for the seasons seems to be rather slowly unfolding this season. At the same time as they seem somehow blatantly apparent, the writers are taking the time to slowly, carefully and meticulously lay the groundwork – each and every brick on the yellow plot road slotted in with a painstaking and delicate hand. This was never quite so clear as it was in Heaven Can’t Wait. This was an episode with extensive conversation about finding a place in the world, learning to understand the world and lots of telephone calls, of all kinds. Yes, it was all about language, understanding meanings and interpretation.
We open with a severely depressed man and a pleading suicide line operator begging him to reconsider taking his own life. Unfortunately, her pleas have failed and the man hangs up the phone only to withdraw a gun and place it to his head. Pausing in tears as he considers a picture of a woman and child and then sets the gun down – apparently reconsidering?
Oh well. Angel of Pepto-Bismol is on the scene and he makes on hell of a flash and a splash. Ephraim was an interesting villain of the week. One imagines he isn’t unique in his practice: undoubtedly many angels have continued the life they knew in Heaven without understanding the nuances of Earth and humanity that are so much more subtle and complicated and far less black and white that they comprehend. At the same time, he presented very simply: there was pain that called to him and he was there to end it quickly and, as far as he understood, magnanimously. Of course, this is what being human is all about – yes, there is suffering but it goes hand in hand with the pleasures of life and as the death of the teenage girl enduring a breakup illustrated – some suffering only seems bad in the moment and on reflection is minute. This angel illustrated something fundamental for Castiel as well. He is not an angel anymore, true enough but he is not insignificant either.
Not Special At All
Let’s chat about Castiel for a moment. Or, should we call him Steve? He was sweet in this episode – made me want to hug him for those sad eyes and forlorn expressions – but sweet all the same. Castiel is adapting even better these days and has managed to get himself a job working in a Gas-n-Sip; apparently he’s a star employee too. Now, although I was pretty clear that Nora wasn’t asking Cas on a date – I don’t think that misunderstanding goes to his faulty social-queue reader so much as her lousy clarity in the babysitting request.
This time around, Castiel was quiet, less awkward, eager to please, determine to avoid the hunt and trying very hard to just exist as a normal human. Of course, Cas will never just be a human no matter what. He can’t ignore the signs of a hunt, even if he notices them while fixing the slushy machine. And he makes one of the first calls of this episode – a chat to Dean, who after the eviction of his friend is somewhat squirrely during this interaction. Throughout the episode, Castiel tried his damndest to maintain a distance from his old existence and even explained to Dean that he was just a normal man now – not an angel, not a hunter, just a man with a job, going on a date. This was his place now and he was accepting that.
Ephraim and Castiel have a conversation as Cas explains that humans do the best they can – but the angel, for all his crazy, rightly states that Castiel is hardly doing the “best he can” in this present life. He is hiding rather than fighting. Cas says he wants to live – the question is as what? These scenes were interestingly interchanged with Crowley’s call with Abbadon for some reason. Maybe that’s the point – Cas and Crowley each need to engage the battle going on around them instead of sitting on the side of the battle field in complacency where they each are now.
Ephraim mistakenly things humanity is weakness. This is something many of the angels assume – but Castiel proves him wrong, whatever he is, Castiel is a survivor and fighter. We leave Cas on a melancholy note: opening the store and trying to just do his job without worrying about the angel problem because he’s human now, after all. But – as Nora said – what makes Cas special is that he cares too much. It’s only a matter of time before Castiel is right back in the heart of this fight.
Your Call Is Important to Us – Please Hold While We Connect You to Hell
The calls made throughout this episode came in many shapes and sizes. For Crowley, it was a bowl of blood and an incantation and a long wait on hold. Ah, the implications. Finally we have the reveal to Crowley that he is not exactly reigning over Hell even from his shackled thrown in the MoL bunker but also what this means, in some capacity, revealed to the audience. With the new red-headed mistress Abaddon leading the charge, Hell has hit new levels of productivity in soul-collection. But at what cost? It’s interesting to think about Hell as having any level of integrity, but of course we’ve always known Crowley’s policy has been when one makes a deal, one abides the terms. You might make sneaky clauses, you might make lousy deals – but gosh darnnit if those deals won’t be honoured by all parties involved. And his highness has good reason for this: without trusting the terms of the deal will be met, what reason would people have to make a deal?
So yes, Crowley discovered that not only was someone new directing his troops, but she was doing it with a less than pleasing approach that will leave his playground in ruins sooner rather than later. Alas, this meant he was willing to cooperate with Sam and help with some translations of the tablet – one of the many other symbols playing in the communication theme of the week. Is this Crowley joining the battle? Maybe.
There were also two very specific things we saw Crowley do and/or request here. One – he insisted the blood for the spell only be Kevin, not Sam. Crowley played this as though he wanted “variety” and it could have been another way of messing with Kevin – true enough. Alternatively, one has to wonder if this is because the spell requires human blood and Crowley suspects if not knows outright that Sam isn’t simply Sam. Hmmm.
Two – Crowley stole a plunger of blood and injected himself. Why? Jonesing for more humanity? Perhaps Crowley isn’t as indifferent as he’d like to believe – maybe that Trial had a far greater effect than anyone though. Either way – that scene went way beyond intriguing and I’m dying to see where it goes – and so is Sam.
So, the fallen angels are wholly irreversible by Metatron’s spell according to the tablet eh? Well, that sounds like something right up the Winchesters ally. So many things they achieve start off with that –ible/-able suffix and yet, here we are many, many successes (give or take) later. Further, one must wonder if Crowley is telling the entire truth about the translation and whether it was an accurate translation. Surely there is an addendum somewhere or perhaps a deal can be made involving the fall of Abaddon, the reinstatement of Crowley and the return of the angels to their rightful home? However this all plays out in the end it surely promises to be a brilliant outcome one way or another. There are too many exciting variables on the table for it to be otherwise.
Angels and Demons and Brothers, Oh My.
So, not only is Dean lying to Sam now but he is also lying to Castiel too. Lots of balls in the air here, my friend. Dean is quick to shut Sam down when he suggests joining him, bringing in Cas instead – because he knows that he must keep these two elements in his life far apart though it hurts him to so, clearly.
Dean seemed glad to see Castiel: the moment he took watching Castiel before going into the convenience store, helping him prepare for the so-called date and watching him pick the rose and then having to say goodbye at the end. It was good to see Dean and Cas have a conversation about leaving the bunker – it feels a bit more resolved now than it did at the time, particularly with Dean acknowledging that it was wrong to force Cas out. Having said that, he did leave Cas in the cold again, however well intentioned it may be, by saying he and Sam would handle it and for Cas to go be human now.
For his part, Sam must just be collecting questions. Dean’s odd behavior. Crowley’s blood injections. Tablet confusion. Where to go from here? We didn’t have a Zeke appearance for the first time in a while this week, which was actually somewhat refreshing. Sam as just Sam: piecing information, researching, negotiating. Sam witnessed quite a bit this week but in particular the information about the new order of Hell and the seeming hopelessness of the angel situation that now demands an entirely new approach to such a global chaos. Both of these are primed to come together in an even bigger, messier way. That’s a lot of large scale drama of either ends of the evil spectrum in one week. Where to even begin?
So much information packed into those forty minutes when you reflect and dissect. I could ramble on for a long time about this one and the nuances of it but let’s leave it shorter and sweeter. It was a really good episode about communications and interpretations that left so many doors open and so much room to play. This season just gets better and better. Love.