Thoughts on 9x09 – Holy Terror
After the shell-shocking midseason finale, I’m still sifting through remnants of heart break and stunning revelations to pick of the pieces that have been left moving forward in the New Year. And what an ending this was – death, deception and divine alliances united for mass destruction that promise only more chaos and heartbreak to come. God, I love this show.
And the Oscar Goes To…. “I played him well, I thought.”
To begin with, I guess it’s fair to say that Ezekiel was never really a bad guy after all. Ezekiel was never a part of this equation after all, in actual fact. Gadriel, an ancient angel with a bad reputation took the opportunity of the chaos to take a new role with grand standing and play it well at every occasion. Suddenly, every piece clicks into place and all of Gadriel’s actions make sense: especially the insistence that Castiel be sent away – Cas knew Ezekiel and would have known that this angel was not who he said he was. Further, it was only a matter of time before someone learned that Zeke died in the fall and that name was mentioned to Dean.
Gadriel comes across not dissimilar to Lucifer in some ways, though far less malicious. Certainly, he is more easily manipulated than Lucifer could ever be said to be. However, in his soft spoken approach and gentle operations of emotions to get the pieces in place where he needs them, it’s easily understood that he and Lucifer could have had a relationship and/or interaction at some point that was responsible for Gadriel’s downfall. It’s difficult to cast Gadriel as out and out evil however, despite everything he has done. His manipulation of Dean prior to this episode seems to be based on simple survival rather than anything else. Despite earlier speculation, I think he did intend to help Sam and then eventually give up the vessel and go his own way maybe. That said once he is approached and seduced by Metatron his motives are less base than survival and more on temptation and prospect. Gadriel does not appear to be evil, at least not the same as Metatron, who serves his own ends despite anything and everything. When Metatron proposes killing Kevin initially Gadriel struggles with it – “it is not me” – but ultimately he does it. Why? Gadriel is being manipulated by Metatron undoubtedly and also because it becomes a question of survival when Gadriel overhears Kevin and Dean discussing the sigils to expel Gadriel from Sam.
Interestingly, Gadriel accepts Metatron’s deal at a crossroads of sorts – they are under an overpass, a similar environment to where Crowley himself has struck crossroads deals in the past. Of course we know that Metatron isn’t a demon, but the symbolism of a deal with the devil in this analogous meeting place can’t really be overlooked on Supernatural can it? In the end, Gadriel seems sorry to have everything come to this conclusion but in a casual way. Nevertheless, Gadriel is a fascinating character and he presents another brilliant opportunity for duality in Jared’s acting in a brand new way that I cannot wait to enjoy.
Always the Vessel…
Poor Sam. Once again, he’s hi-jacked by a celestial being with absolutely no say in it and this time he doesn’t really have a clue. Though it wasn’t Sam’s reaction to Dean’s actions in the storage room exactly, it was pretty dead on I think. Except I have to believe he’d understand where Dean is coming from in what he did, number one, and number two have some relief in the explanation of the time gaps etc. because that was a major point of concern for him. Of course, how much of the Sam we’ve been seeing was Sam? When Gadriel says Sam is gone and he’s been playing the part – exactly how long does he mean? I’d like to think it was Sam sadly confiding about not feeling normal and worrying about what he was – but was it really? Or was it when they hooked back up with Castiel that Gadriel took over for good? Hmm. Supernatural writers you are a devious, clever bunch.
Whether truly our Sam from the get-go or not, all the right questions were asked and frustrations expressed up until the last (apparently) genuine appearance of Sam Winchester. Though Sam has been in a weakened state since Gadriel has been occupying the vessel, once Sam is aware of events, if he isn’t already he will fight like hell to take back control. And if he can overcome Lucifer, he can surely overcome this pesky angel. Or better yet, he can use the opportunity to get into Metatron’s Heaven and reverse the spells to recall the angels. However this plays out, the second half of the season promises to be as deliciously nail-biting as the first!
Good Intentions, Ah They Do Pave The Road
Dean took two majorly devastating blows this time around, even bigger than I really anticipated coming. He's sensed with growing dread for some time now that the situation with Zeke is getting out of hand, I think. More and more the angel was popping into his conversations with Sam to issue an ominous warning about why now wasn't the time to tell Sam and more and more Zeke was trying to isolate them - this came to a bit of a head at the opening of this episode when Dean addressed the eavesdropping matter to some degree (and Gadriel outright lied?) and Gadriel didn't said he didn't like that they were going on an angel related hunt, to which Dean replied he was SOL because it's the family business.
Dean really seemed to be the guy trying to hold everything together even as it slipped more and more through his fingers – it was a very a sad thing to watch in particular after his conversation with Kevin where he dismissed the Prophet’s concerns about being the one who always “get’s screwed” because he doesn’t get the details only to have Kevin obliterated in front of him as a direct result of Dean’s choices. Let me be clear, I’m not saying it’s Dean’s fault that Kevin is dead – not at all – just that actions have consequences and of course we know how Winchester guilt works.
The confession to Sam delivered in the storeroom revealed a fair bit about Dean’s state of mind now as compared to when he made the judgment call to let Zeke into Sam though – and that Dean is fully aware now he made the wrong choice but he was desperate. He talks about how he “tricked” Sam and he says Sam can hate him, but even as he’s explaining how bad off Sam was, the desperation leaks back into his voice describing the coma/near-death state of his little brother. He also says Cas gave the okay to Zeke at the time (but that’s not who this angel really is of course so that’s sort of moot now). Dean’s entire demeanor during the exchange suggests he is desperate, upset, angry with himself but he is still defense to a degree of what he did – because what else could he do but save Sammy? He was alone and had to make the decision by himself. He’s sorry but he was afraid and alone and that’s all it came down to even if now that he has the facts and perspective it may have been the wrong call. Sam and Dean need to have this conversation again, when it is really Sam – for a true reaction, a true exchange. If anyone understands desperation to save a dead or dying brother, it’s a Winchester after all.
Prayer, Grace and Information
Climbing that management latter at the Gas n’ Sip just wasn’t enough for our little tree-topper. No sirree. Cas is back and he’s a fed! Boy, Dean couldn’t be more thrilled to see him (not) but Sam seemed genuinely pleased to see their friend and Cas was happy too. And it’s always fun to see Cas play cop. Of course, Zeke was not thrilled, popping in and out of the conversation so fast I was getting whiplash. Regardless, Castiel was clever enough to use one of his idiot captors under Malachi, who was hoping to get in with Metatron (supposedly Castiel’s still-good-friend and co-conspirator) to get his grace back. Or, not his grace per se, but someone’s at least. He also learns that Ezekiel died during the fall and realizes this couldn’t have been who helped heal Sam at the hospital.
Castiel getting his Grace back was a very good thing. As amusing as Castiel the Human and his antics therein are, it’s a gag that can only run so long. Furthermore, Castiel is an angel. He operates best in that capacity, particularly in this battle. Cas has been powerless for a while and learned many things in that time – we even witnessed him praying for help and learned not all angels are allied with the crazy brigade. Perhaps Castiel will form his own faction, those angels that wish to continue their work without being killed by Bart or Malachi.
However Castiel’s story continues in the New Year, his progression so far has been an interesting one and he has learned a great deal during his mortal period, more than most of the angels currently existing on earth understand – this can only be a good thing moving onward in the battle for Heaven. More than anything, despite any of the uses for humor or the running jokes about his lack of earthly knowledge, Castiel is a warrior and this has been seen time and time again. This angel, with or without his powers, is best suited to being in battle and thinks swiftly on his feet to defeat his enemies, as he did even here while in chains being subject to torture. Putting Cas decidedly back in the battle is certainly the right decision.
I can’t believe they killed Kevin! Of all the names on Metatron’s piece of paper – that wasn’t the one I expected. Huge, tragic twist. Kevin! Okay, so - the first half of season nine has come to a head in a clear and epic way in this episode. The questions that have been teased at have been addressed, more or less, and bigger, bolder problems have emerged in their wake to leave us wondering. The characters have been strong in their depiction all season and we’re still left with some shocking revelations and twists. Coming back in the New Year, we’re left with a hijacked Sam/assassin Gadriel, smooth-talking Metatron, warring Angel factions, no prophet/dead-Kevin, a self-deprecating Dean and, at least, a newly Graceful Castiel.
Quite the jumping off place for 2014 – can’t wait to see where the finish line brings us!