Largest Review/Discussion Fansite for Supernatural and SPNFamily Shows! Plot/Character Analysis, Spoilers, Games, News, Gallery, Interviews, Fun!

“Freedom is a length of rope.  God wants you to hang yourself from it.”

Ah yes, Edlund.  
I’m loving this first time opportunity to break down an episode by examining Ben Edlund the writer vs. Ben Edlund the director.  So much so that this review comes later than normal.  I really wanted to take my time on this one.  There is so much to explore from a a technical point of view, a character point of view, not to mention the weaving parallels between this sad tale of an angel who’s lost his way and how this theme has been used throughout the series.  I find it a bit more fascinating this time since the twist shows an almighty angel caught making some very human errors.    
“The Man Who Would Be King” no doubt is a Ben Edlund masterpiece.  One advantage of being the writer/director is that you’re intimately familiar with the material and the writer’s intent.  The disadvantage comes from striving to tell the story exactly the way the writer envisioned on restricted time and budget.  Edlund knew he was dealing with a complex narrative script that had to balance a crap load of backstory with an emotionally charged present situation.  The back and forth sequences are seamless and don’t require any heavy handed captions indicating now or then, a big credit to the talent of the writer/director.  

The Writer
Ben Edlund the writer has always been the one willing to tackle the big Castiel episodes.  No one gets this misguided angel better.  He’s also the one that’s contributed most of the development for Crowley as well, so he‘s clearly in his prime element here by pairing the two together in this bizarre arrangement.  Castiel has been an important supporting character the previous two seasons but this season he’s been relegated to behind the scenes, appearing every now and then at convenient times to help our heroes out of a jam.  Now we finally see all that’s been keeping Castiel busy since the events of “Swan Song” and the poor angel has really had it rough.  
Ben Edlund the writer is not someone that holds back.  When he strives to make you laugh, you end up in a fit on the floor with sides hurting (see “Bad Day At Black Rock,” “Wishful Thinking,” and “Clap Your Hands If You Believe”).  When he strives to surprise you, he’ll setup reveals and plot twists to come at you with the velocity of a freight train at high speed (“On The Head of A Pin,” “My Bloody Valentine”).  When he goes for the drama, he doesn’t spare the tortured character.  The predicament is perilous and gut wrenching. (“The Rapture,” “The Devil You Know,” this one).  One part that stood out for me in this particular episode is after Bobby lights the ring of fire trapping Castiel.  Dean, Sam and Bobby ambush their supposed angel friend with one accusation after another, none giving the chance to explain or showing a benefit of the doubt.  It’s almost like Cass was convicted without a trial and nothing he could have said would get them to understand at that heated moment.  There’s nothing more heartbreaking than to see a sympathetic and favorite character caught in that no-win situation with no chance of escape, watching the only friends he ever had turn on him, especially since he’s done so much for these three to survive.  Especially when he did what he thought was right.  Does the punishment fit the crime?  That’s for the audience to decide.  

It isn’t just the tear jerking drama though.  There’s no absence of that trademark biting humor in this script.  There are the numerous gems of lines (my favorites being Castiel’s sardonic quips about other angels), references to Superman (especially as companion “Smallville” closes out its run this week), Ken Lay’s afterlife (political jokes always being a favorite), and the fact that there is a dead on demonic counterpart to Bobby Singer (see how highly regarded he is!), FBI cover and all.  The dialogue easily the strongest of the season and almost all of it came from either Castiel or Crowley.  Tell me though, why is the Blue Danube Waltz being played while everyone waits in line in Hell?  Couldn’t have Britney Spears or Lady Gaga be more effective?  Better yet, Jefferson Starship?  I sense there was a 2001 theme going there.   

The Director
Ben Edlund the director, his first appearance for “Supernatural,” wisely stuck with an element that works best in this show.  Let the actors sell the emotional story.  When I pour through an episode getting screen shots for our photo gallery, I always find a big difference from episode to episode in the quality of shots.  Those episodes that rely on emotion to sell the story tend to have a lot more quality screencaps.  In this case, I captured far more than average.  Betrayal sells big time, especially if your name is Winchester.  Loyalty means more to these guys than anything else, including the greater good.  Crush that loyalty and there are no words needed.  Just forlorn looks and despair.  One face tells a story that extends as long as the beginning of times that Castiel so poignantly described in the beginning. 

Just watch Dean’s crushed reaction over Castiel’s silent drop of the head when he asks if he was working with Crowley.  Watch Sam’s on the brink of tears expression when he finds out that Castiel was the one who sprung him from Hell.  Even Bobby, a trust no one kind of guy, looked like he was losing his best friend when he lit that match.  But none of those faces compare to the angel alone in the garden, forced to face his actions and loneliness, desperately hoping someone out there is listening.  When you have those kind of weapons at your disposal, the director doesn’t have to rely on much else.  

I really like the subtle technical choices that enhance this story, which likely fall on the skilled crew as well as Edlund’s turn behind the camera.  I noticed how the scenes in Heaven have an overexposed glow and the scenes in Hell (I love the waiting in line punishment!) a sepia tint.  Those choices really help with the seamlessness between numerous scenery shifts.  The framing of Castiel’s scenes on the bench, bright flowers emerging through a melting layer of snow, his heart felt and desperate confession to God, is nothing short of gorgeous.  Throw in the awesome visual effects in the scenes in the cabin and the droplets of exploded Castiel, plus the special effects in Crowley’s butcher shop and it’s obvious a lot of care went into the construction.  This episode even marks the return of the deer head (I’m still trying to figure out the last time we saw that thing).  
Lets not forget though what truly sells an episode, the character arc.  In this case, Misha Collins is given a chance to soar and boy does he.  Not that we’re shocked, we’ve always gotten solid performances from him, but there’s just something different about Cass’ vulnerability this time.  Castiel is without those that have made him stronger.  It’s the same when Sam took on Lilith alone or Dean took off to say yes to Michael without Sam.  You just know that without that backup, failure is imminent.  It’s really sad.  

Humanity may have been spared when Sam took that plunge into the depths of Hell with Michael and Lucifer, but Heaven got the full brunt of the consequences.  I often hear the complaints, “This show is about the two brothers, why waste time with characters like Castiel?”  Because, it makes for good drama, that’s why.  Just look at the story Castiel shares at the beginning of the episode.  His tale goes back to the days of creation.  He’s got a bit more mileage than others.  I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone recall the fall of Tower of Babel as, “When it fell they howled ‘Divine Wrath!’ but come on, dried dung can only be stacked so high.”  
Put yourself in Castiel’s leather loafers.  You’re an angel returning to Heaven after falling, after you, two ordinary humans (okay, one with a bit of a supernatural twist inside him) and “an old drunk” through grit and determination avert the apocalypse.  The event that has been foretold an accepted as cannon for centuries and you did the impossible and stopped it.  It’s all lollipops and candy canes, right?  Parades, a heroes welcome, the rebirth of the salad days.  Yeah right, Edlund, remember?  Any reason why that story shouldn’t be told, especially when it does profoundly affect Sam and Dean?  

Believe it or not, Castiel is a very complex character.  He’s a unique angel just because he’s gotten personally involved with humans.  Angels in “Supernatural” are one dimensional and mindless while humans are very layered.  Castiel has had to struggle with accepting human qualities while living under Heaven’s rules.  Very few angels have chosen to do that (I count two I think).  Angels cannot grasp even the slightest concepts of human behavior, nor do they want to.  When one does, his predicaments are complicated and the answers aren’t easy, no matter what Dean thinks.     
No human has had a greater impact on Castiel than Dean Winchester.  He’s taught him loyalty, that freedom is worth fighting for, and even if the consequences result in death, it’s all worth fighting for.  Castiel’s even learned to be as overprotective of Sam as Dean has been.  So Castiel, by making a deal with Crowley, is just taking what he learned from Sam and Dean, right?  Desperate times call for desperate measures.  Dean dealt with Crowley in finding Pestilence and Death, surely Cass could handle things here and let Dean enjoy his life of retirement.  After all Dean’s earned it.  I completely understand Castiel’s rationale for making the deal initially.  I don’t think he’s misguided.  

But wait, by making a deal with a high level demon like Crowley, hasn’t he gone rogue?  Sure, but is that bad?  Just like with Sam in season four, Castiel is learning the hard way about the road to good intentions.  Also like Sam, Castiel still doesn’t believe he’s in over his head.  When he confronts Crowley for threatening the Winchesters, he reminds the supposed King of Hell that he’s still an angel.  He still believes angels are more powerful than demons.  He still believes he has God on his side.  He doesn’t think things are broken, yet both Fate and his assistant Rachel have fought back against his actions.  Now it’s Dean.  Will Castiel not back away from Crowley because of pride?  Is it too late?    
It’s interesting, in reading the The Official Season Four companion, a section describing Sam’s actions in that season couldn’t be more true for Castiel right now.  It’s a John Barth quote.  ‘Everyone is necessarily the hero of their own life story.”  Sam did the work of a demon, but believed he was doing the right thing.  Sound familiar?  Sam ended up starting the apocalypse.  Could it be that Castiel is doomed to make a similar (or the same) disastrous mistake?
Castiel’s biggest crime however doesn’t lie in the deal he made, but in the deception of his friends.  He spied on them and outright lied, doing everything he could to cover up his actions.  That never sits well with the elder Winchester, but I’m a bit surprised that all three of them turned on Castiel so quickly.  Why the quick condemnation of their friend?  

Is Dean wrong?  Yes and no.  Dean knows that there is a lot of grey area in what they do, but to him some things are black and white.  They know from experience.  You don’t make deals with devils.  However, telling Castiel he had to fix this and he could help him, I don’t think Castiel’s refusal is an issue of trust as much as it’s an issue of control.  Castiel has become the reluctant leader.  He’s been twisting on his own for a while now.  He knows he can’t reason with Dean and doesn’t see an out being so simple.  Let’s face it, there have been many times that Castiel and Dean have not seen eye to eye.  Castiel’s search for God comes to mind.  But Castiel reminding Dean that he was just a human and cannot stop an angel, that is the classic Dean Winchester defense mechanism.  Castiel has indeed learned from this man.  It’s breaking ties with harsh insults.  Anything else just hurts too much.  
Even if Castiel had accepted Dean’s offer to fix this and do things his way, it would have happened in an air of mistrust.  Dean doesn’t easily forget.  Dean’s pretty stubborn and getting him to meet on middle ground is hard.    He’s usually the one that takes the most convincing to come around, but at times he can be convinced.  I’m not sure there’s anything Castiel can do to sway Dean easily, so it might take a change of heart from Sam and Bobby first.  If there’s time for that.  There are only two episodes left this season to hash things out.  But timing is another issue.   
One more thing.  Has Castiel been like a brother to Dean?  Absolutely.  Sure it’s not the same relationship as he and Sam, but it’s still brotherly.  They’ve saved each other’s necks constantly and would do anything for each other.  Dean may not see it now, but Castiel did this for Dean.  So Dean could live a normal life, so the apocalypse could stay averted.  If that’s not an act out of brotherly love and respect, I’m not sure what is.  

I actually felt worse for Castiel with Sam’s reaction than Dean’s.  Why Castiel decided now to come clean and admit he was the one that freed Sam from the cage I’m not sure, but Castiel clearly means the truth to be a way to show how much he cares.  Instead it backfires and Sam actually accuses him of bringing him back soulless on purpose.  Castiel’s hurt reaction is all we need to know that he didn’t do that, but how after all they’ve been through could Sam think from this one lie that Castiel could do that?  
I know Sam has been hurt in many many horrible ways in his life and has learned to only trust his big brother, but surely he has to know Castiel better than that.  Yes, Cass did screw up and did a poor job in resurrecting Sam, missing the clue that something was wrong out of pride, but does Sam really think he’d be better off in that cage?  No, I doubt it.  I’m sure Sam will eventually come to reason once he’s had a chance to settle down.  Of course judging by the episode summaries coming up, Sam is going to have his hands full.  I think if anyone finds it in his heart to forgive first, it’ll be Sam.  If anything, because he’s been down that same broken path of good intentions.  
So, will all that, it’s time to put in the archives another sordid tale of betrayal and hopelessness.  I am curious as to where the story goes from here, but I can’t help but hope that this is a character hitting rock bottom before finding his redemption story.  After all, it’s happened many times before!   Anything else would just be too damned depressing.  In the meantime, we’re going into this unusual week long break in May sad and broken, much like the poor angel waiting for an answer that won’t come.  

Overall grade, an A+.  You know, I haven’t given one of these all season.  Something has always fallen short in each episode.  I can’t find anything to be critical of this one, except that it’s very, very sad.  When a writer/director achieves in spectacular ways the complex yet somber story he set out to do, that earns heaping praise.  I’m not entirely sure this is an episode I’ll watch over and over again, but you can’t deny the mastery.  Well done Mr. Edlund.  


# Ellie 2011-05-10 12:37
It wasnt about with Sam would think he would be better off in the cage? really Alice have you lost that much contact with Sam?. Castiel brought Sam out and knowing something was wrong still walked away and didnt attempt to help Sam. Sam will and has dealt with the consquences of Castiels attempt to free him. Sams soul ended up in that cage for what a year and a half with no attempt by Castiel to find away of getting it out. He didnt inform Dean his brother was out and left a souless Sam to reek havoc which now Souled Sam will have to deal with. I am a little surprised that you would be less than understanding of Sams reaction here. I dont doubt he will see things differently as that is Sam and will see Castiels side of the story.. . I have made no bones of the fact that although I liked this episode somethings didnt sit easy with me. .clearly Ben is a Dean/ Castiel writer .. I actually like Castiel who has grown on me and enjoyerd the way the episode was shot.

Anyway thank you for you thoughts on this episode I dont agree with everything you said by I enoy your view of this episode.
# Alice 2011-05-10 12:52
Ah, but that's the thing. Castiel DIDN'T know something was wrong with Sam. His comment in the episode about the warning sign was he should have noticed it then but didn't. When he discovered Sam didn't have a soul in "Family Matters" I think he was truly surprised. He was too busy with Heaven's matters to notice before then.

Sam's story is coming. The finale is going to be all about him. We'll find out I hope what happened to him in that year, but I still think Sam's reaction was a bit harsh. Thanks for the comments.
# rowena 2011-05-10 13:16
I took that line to mean that he should have took the fact that Sam came back wrong as a warning, not that Sam walking away from Dean was a warning that something was wrong with Sam. Does that make sense?
# cd28 2011-05-10 13:57
I also took the line about the warning as meaning that Sam coming back soulless, or at least wrong, was a warning to himself that was making decisions based on hubris.

I don't think we're in a place to understand Sam's reactions yet. I've felt that since Like a Virgin, there have been memories from Hell and of RoboSam that have been seeping through on subconscious level if not a conscious one. I believed Cas's good intentions in this scene, but I also remember Sam recoiling when Cas tried to hug him in Like a Virgin.

I thought RoboSam knew more about what Cas and Crowley were up to than we, the audience, did. When Sam looked like he was ready to say something in Mommy Dearest after Bobby suggested Cas might be working with Crowley, but then pulled back, I thought it was because he remembered something. Another example of a memory seeping through was Sam knowing where the trap door to Samuel's secret library was in Frontierland.
# CitizenKane2 2011-05-10 12:54
Another excellent and insightful review.

Just a small note - Deer Head - perhaps in the Motel room in "Nightmare" ?
# Jasminka 2011-05-10 13:29
Alice, this review must be one of your best ever.

I just love how you capture the work of Edlund the writer and Edlund the director. This episode left me longing for more episodes directed by him. Simply because he tells the story in unique manner, never overdoing it, and you described that wonderfully.

We have always known, somehow, through so many hints, that Castiel was very complex. And this episode gave him more depth and he earned even more compassion from me, if that was possible at all. For an angel, he learned to feel empathy for humans, in particular his human friends. But that also made him an outcast (sort of) in heaven.

The similarities between his story/path and Sam’s are very poignant, and it’s fascinating to see their different reactions and their comparable ones. And how Dean reacts to them. It’s bloody painful, as well.

I agree wholeheartedly with you, Alice – that Castiel’s actions stemmed from love and care, trying to save Dean and at the same time honour what he fought and lost for. This is indeed love, deep, unyielding, secure love.

You know, I also believe that Sam will see it clearer once he’s settled down. I didn’t read that scene as ‘Sam thinking he’d be better off in the cage’. To me it seemed that Sam was appalled by the thought that Cas could have brought him back damaged. On purpose. I trust with time, Sam will realize that Cas was too close a friend to do that.

I am hoping for the best, but dreading the worst. This show tends to go there..
Thank you so much for this great, great review!
Love, Jas
# rowena 2011-05-10 13:29
Truthfully I found Sam's reaction to be rather reasonable. It highlights the damage lies of this magnitude will do. Suddenly every action is suspect, especially actions Cas has directly lied about in the past. And I'm still not clear why he lied about it to begin with.

But other than that...poor Cas. I really did fear for him, and I dread where this is going to take him. While I certainly don't think he is doing the right thing, he wants desperately to believe he is. This is not going to end well for anyone, is it?
# Bevie 2011-05-10 13:59
I agree with Jasminka. One of your very best reviews Alice!

I have empathy for each and every one of them as well as poor Cas. Edlund makes you see all sides at once and it is very very sad. Edlund is some kind of a genius!

Poor Cas! I hope they can forgive him and I hope he survives to be forgiven.

Cas's scenes with Crowley were spectacular and riveting. Misha and Mark are amazing as well as our three J's. :eek:
# purplehairedwonder 2011-05-10 15:03
I wasn't bothered by Sam's reaction for a couple reasons. First, Cas lied to both Sam and Dean about how much he knew about Sam's resurrection (I keep going back to the scene in "The Third Man" when Cas outright says he doesn't know who brought Sam back and he never answered Sam's prayers because he had no answers). Why would he keep lying about something like that unless he was hiding something, like having done it on purpose?

I think Cas just knew something was off with Sam but didn't know what and couldn't bear to face him like that, but with the lies that had just come into the open, it's not surprising that Sam would be suspicious of what else Cas might be hiding. "Well I'm thinking a lot of things right now, Cas," Sam says. And with that overactive brain of his and the number of times he's been hurt and used as a pawn in larger games, it shouldn't come as a surprise he'd react like that.

And second, I think Sam is all too familiar with the path Cas is going down and knows just how far there is to fall; he knows well how bad the choices even someone with good intentions can make (Sam killing the nurse, for instance). I think he knows what poor decisions he made and that there's really no limit to the dark places someone on a similar path might go. I doubt that was a conscious thought but is something in the back of Sam's mind.

At the same time, I also think Sam's familiarity with the path Cas is on will be what brings him around first. Once he's worked through some of the hurt and betrayal, I think he's the most likely to show some understanding and want to help--and maybe sway Bobby and especially Dean. But there's not a lot of time left for that kind of reaction, this season anyway.

Just another thought that keeps eating at me about the whole thing is that while this episode did a great job of showing Cas' side of the story, his actions almost hurt worse than season 4 Sam's because Cas had a front row seat to Sam's fall. Hell, he played a part in it by letting Sam out of the Panic Room. He saw how far Sam fell because of Ruby's manipulations and how his actions shattered the trust between him and Dean. He saw how much they broke up Sam on the inside, too. And he saw how far Sam felt he had to go to make amends for what he did. So, Cas either ignoring or refusing to take that painful lesson to heart sticks out to me. Once again, it's a sign of just how human Cas really has become.

And considering how far Sam went to make up for his mistakes, I wonder what path Cas will end up on in turn. Eep.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2011-05-10 16:09
Fantastic review, Alice. You hit all the high (er low, I suppose) points of this episode spot on. So much of the scenery and shot work was just to die for. It added so much to the moving story taking place before us and I think the choice to put Cas in this cold winter garden was the perfect choice.

I've come to really respect and enjoy Ben Edlund's work. He most certainly knows how to tell both a comedic and dramatic tale, sometimes all together. I absolutely agree with you on how masterful he is on both the writing and directing counts. He most certainly knows how to dial up the emotions with just the right touches.

I don't agree, though, on Sam's reaction. I think Sam's reaction is very human and in that instant natural. He has been reeling since being reensouled, and now he has to find out in a shocking moment that Cas is the one that returned him. It's only natural for him to jump to the conclusion that Cas may have done it on purpose. We can debate until it's either confirmed or denied if Cas did so, but I totally understood why Sam reacted the way he did. I think it's heartbreaking either way---and we'll finally get to see the full consequences from what has happened to Sam in the last episode this season.
# Jasminka 2011-05-10 17:07
I do hope we won't get another debate in the category of Sam vs. Dean over this question.

Whatever Cas' reasons, we will learn more, I'm sure, in the upcoming episodes. And, from what we know of this angel, I think we can be sure that he didn't do what he did out of malice, but because he truly felt it necessary and the right thing.

Unfortunately, not even angels are perfect.
And that is, to my mind, a blessing, too.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2011-05-10 17:19
I've never been a Sam or Dean girl. I'm a Sam AND Dean Girl, so I tend to steer clear of any arguments that favors one over the other. They're both vital and it's their relationship to each other that makes this show really tick---which is why I think so many people struggled with the first half of season 6.

I don't think Cas had any malice in what he did or intended to do. He had good intentions for both brothers and unfortunately it backfired on him completely. His lying was out of shame and fear---and hubris---that he could fix it before it ever came to light.

I think it's a testament to this show that the angels aren't perfect beings, actually. Every single one we've ever met in the series has had some flaw--from Lucifer's obvious pride and ego, to Michael's blind obedience to a kill a brother his Father had deemed disobedient and unworthy---to Cas and his poor choices with his big heart in the right place. None of the angels have ever been perfect. And it's good that they aren't.
# Julie 2011-05-10 17:04
I have been longing to read your take on this one Alice and it did not disappoint.
What material you had to work with though, this superb episode! Maybe this will quiet some of those voices who complained so much about this Season.
It was so heartbreaking, an epic story but written and directed in an understated way. Ben Edlund is a genius. Nothing seemed forced, I did not feel it manipulated the emotional aspects of the story at all. The subtle reactions hit much harder than any heavy grandiose speeches and hair tearing could ever have done.
I am totally convinced that Cas had no idea when he brought Sam back he was souless, I just cannnot bring myself to believe this of the character at all.
I just hope that there is a way back from the damamge to the relaltionships between both Winchesters and Cas, I am sure that there is, but I have the horrible feeling that things will get much worse before this happens, maybe we will have to wait til Season 7?
Also I want to say I so agree with you, not only in your grade of an A+ but it would have been Lady Gaga `music` in hell for me too.
Thanks again Alice, Ju
# Melanie 2011-05-10 18:53
I don't think we've learned all there is about Sam's soul-lessness yet. I hope that Cas didn't bring him back soul-less on purpose and I hope he really didn't know about it until Dean made him really look at Sam. But truthfully, I can fully understand Sam doubting him. With what they know about the power of souls, its not a stretch to think that Cas could have been using Sam's soul to power up.
I do think that Robo!Sam knew more about all this than Sam does currently - Sam finding out is likely the crux of The Man Who Knew Too Much.
Maybe Castiel didn't answer Sam's prayers because without a soul, he couldn't hear him? Or maybe Robo!Sam wasn't really calling him?
Anyway - it was a strong episode and it has really set the stage for the finale next week.
# nancyL 2011-05-10 18:54
I'm wondering, in seasons 4 and 5, we had Dean and Sam reach the absolute bottom, in terms of how they felt about themselves and how they felt towards each other. Maybe this season, we have the same case with Cas.

He has now reached the bottom. He has lost the trust of Sam, Dean and Bobby. He is working with a demon, shades of Ruby. He thinks that he is doing good even though he has done some pretty nasty things, compare to Sam and his demon blood and 'power hand' :lol: . He is now looking for some guidance from Chuck, I mean God :lol: , Bobby was there for Dean at the end of '2 minutes to Midnight', and the brothers came together for 'Swan Song'.

In the preview for the finale, we see a house explode with white light, maybe Cas sacrifices himself or kills Crowley to prevent further damage. But then we also see Sam with a face full of blood, not good.

Cas telling Dean that he is only a human, is kind of the same thing as Dean telling Bobby, 'you're not my father' in 'Point of no Return'.

Personally, when Sam walked away from Lisa's house after Cas brings Sam there, that should have been a clue that Sam came back wrong. Remember after 'Swan Song', all the decision about the expression on Sam's face. Now we know. If Sam had his soul, he wouldn't have left his brother to think that he was still in the cage. When Dean came back in 'Lazarus Rising', he tried to get Sam, then he called Bobby. He then went to Bobby's, and then he located Sam.

Sorry Alice, but I got a little carried away. But as usual, you bring up good points, and with a week still to go until we get some answers and closure to another season, all we can do is discuss amongst ourselves.
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2011-05-10 18:58
I think Sam's expression was a huge warning sign, but I don't think it was necessarily a red flag that he walked away from Dean and Lisa. I think, in true Winchester sacrifice, he'd walk away from Dean if he saw that Dean had kept his promise and to give him the apple pie life. This is, of course, taking into account the "what if" Sam had his soul at that moment.

Either way, Cas should have noticed something!
# nancyL 2011-05-10 19:11
Sam died in Dean's arms. Dean couldn't handle it. Dean sold his soul for Sam (of course, starting all this mess, but we are not talking about that :lol: ) Sam tried to deal to get Dean out of Hell. Sam (with a soul), would not only remember the facts but would remember the FEELINGS, and would bang on Lisa's door. Period. End of story. :D
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2011-05-10 19:43
I suppose he might do just that. I think it's possible, even if it is brief, that he'd stay away. He had been extremely emphatic about Dean getting that chance at an apple pie life, after all.
# nancyL 2011-05-10 20:30
Okay, I will give you that. Sam may try to go on without Dean for a week or two. But not a whole freaking year.

Which brings us to the big question: Why did the Soulless One go to Dean in "Exile' in the first place?
Was it because of the djinn? Was it because of Crowley and the Alphas? Was it because he 'knew' he was not complete and thought that Dean would be able to help him? But then he wouldn't CARE about being complete.

Oh, the juiciness of this season.
Sera, we bow before your greatness. :D
Far Away Eyes
# Far Away Eyes 2011-05-10 20:36
See, I think Sam would walk away. Not for a year, no, but he wouldn't want to ruin Dean's new apple pie life.

I've been trying to figure out that very thing about Soulless Sam. WHY go to Dean? Are the brothers THAT connected that even without his soul he'd be pulled in by Dean's gravitational pull eventually? Or is there something more? That's really the one question I want answered.

The interesting thing to me is that despite our conversation on Soulful Sammy not wanting to leave Dean behind and/or choosing to give Dean his apple pie life, even if briefly, Soulless Sam's the main reason Dean's apple pie life imploded. He basically ruined it singlehandedly.

My guess, though? Crowley told Samuel to drag Dean in to the mess because he wasn't getting the results he wanted---damn his deal with Cas. He'd do it behind the angel's back and then could pin everything on Samuel.
# nancyL 2011-05-10 21:02
I agree, I can see Crowley wanting to bring Dean into his plans as an 'f' 'u' to Cas. Knowing that if Dean is in the mix, then he would have a stronger hold over Cas.
# Yvonne 2011-05-10 20:34
Not a whole lot to add since so much has already been said. But I will say this again, amazing review Alice. Nicely done.

Found it interesting reading the above comments about Sam's reaction. I'm in agreement with a lot of it, though my response to his reaction came from a different angle.

Sam doesn't have a lot of experiance with betrayal. He was the one walking away from family, walking away from Dean, walking the dark path and so on. But the experiance he has had is pretty harsh. Ruby cut his knees out from under him. Brady (even though a demon) is another biggie. No half-ways on the betrayal Sam has known. His experiance is an all or nothing sort of deal. His intellect might tell him different, but emotionally, it would be hard to believe.

Just my one thought.

Thanks Alice!
# MisterGlass 2011-05-10 20:49
An excellent and insightful review, Alice. It was so well written and acted, pushing every button. I was struck by Castiel's description of the events as a 'tragedy', and it is an apt term. The whole episode had that air of inevitability to it, just as Sam's descent had in Season 4 and the consequences of Dean's deal had in Season 3. And the fluid transitions between the past and present fit so well the idea of the angel recalling the events as he confessed his side.

I enjoyed seeing Castiel and Crowley sharing the screen. Up until now, there has never been a conversation of any importance depicted between the two of them. Crowley lived up to his reputation of "selling sin to saints for centuries", and Castiel's growing humanity shown through in all of his decisions, good and bad.

Their deal is interesting, especially the idea that Crowley gave Castiel 50,000 souls. That is the number created when the Titanic was unsunk. I wonder if Castiel needs to repay those first souls.

And of course I keep thinking that while he doesn't have a soul to sell, he has his grace, and Crowley would deal for anything of value.
Pragmatic Dreamer
# Pragmatic Dreamer 2011-05-10 21:56
Hi Alice,

Great review. And it was a great episode. From the writing to the directing to the acting, there was so much to admire.

It was so visually stunning, with all the different shots and locations, the analytical part of me wondered if they went over budget! It was just so rich to look at. Thanks for pointing that out.

I think TMWWBK has set up so many more stories yet to come -- the redemption of Castiel, the fall of Crowley?, the answer to Sam's soullessness, and the reason as to why RoboSam sought out Dean in the first place. Sadly though, I don't think we'll get those answers in the two remaining episodes. I guess that's what Season 7 is for. And here's to hoping Ben Edlund writes & directs another one!

After watching this, and reading a whole bunch of reviews, the conspiracy theorist in me also started to wonder, about Dean. Way back at the beginning of the season, the ad campaign was all about "Trust No One" and "no one is who they seem". Could Dean he have done something shady in that year he & Sam were apart? He did admit to trying to find a way to bust Sam out of the cage.
Pragmatic Dreamer
# Pragmatic Dreamer 2011-05-10 22:04
I forgot one other thing I was going to say...

Mark Crowley pointed out, cunningly, in an interview that Crowley's eyes had never changed colour. Is it possible that he could be some other fallen angel? I know Lucifer is supposed to be the only one, but it's an interesting observation.

I'm also mightily intrigued about Castiels' line that he & Crowley could be doomed "to die again and again until the end of time". What does that mean?

And as someone else pointed out, maybe an angel's grace would come in handy for the King of Hell.

So much to ponder. So few episodes.
Julia G
# Julia G 2011-05-10 23:03
I enjoyed reading the review, but this line: "would Sam be better off in the Cage?" Sam jumped in the hole to pay for his mistakes and atone for hurting his loved ones, only to be brought back to make more mistakes and hurt his loved ones all over again. Coming back soulless has been devastating to Sam and we know he feels enormous guilt and responsibility for roboSam's actions. And now he knows that it's all because of Cas. So if you asked Sam to choose eternal damnation (which he had already accepted) or coming back not quite whole and hurt a whole bunch of people, including Dean and Bobby, what would he choose? He'd jump right back into that hole.

I have no problems with Sam's initial reaction, and that's all we got. We really didn't get much of his POV that episode, and I doubt we will in the next 2, which is unfortunate. He just found out Cas raised him from Hell and lied to him about it. He's been used by supernatural beings all his life, some of them he trusted like Ruby. He's got this wall in his head and too much guilt to deal with, so I actually think he was remarkably restrained. Of all of them, IMO Sam had the most reason to be angry, as he was the one directly affected by Cas' actions.

Having said that, I loved the episode and think it was the best of the season. It wasn't perfect though. I thought most of it was gripping, except for the scenes between Sam, Dean, Cas and Bobby. I haven't seen anything this year to convince me that Sam would die for Cas or that Cas is like a brother to Dean. To me it was exaggerated, over the top dialogue, meant to raise the emotional stakes and it didn't work for me. And I thought that, because of the obvious parallels between Season 4 Sam and season 6 Cas, and because of of the revelation of Sam being pulled from Hell by Cas, the episode really needed a Cas/Sam scene, and I'm extremely disappointed we didn't. If we do next episode, all is forgiven. If we don't, what a waste.

Lastly, and I apologize for being so long winded, I'm pretty upset with Cas, even if I understand his motives and sympathize with his plight. He let Crowley dangle Sam's soul in front of Dean and Sam to force them into hunting monsters when he knew perfectly well where it was. He pulled Sam out without his soul and didn't want to help Dean get it back. I hope there's more to this story because as it is, Cas has got a lot of making up to do.

Still, and awesome episode.
# Alice 2011-05-10 23:14
You're not being long winded! We love long thought out posts here.

You are so correct, Sam would jump back in that hole if he believed for a minute his soulless self was harming people. However, he didn't and the question is was Castiel's intent more helpful or harmful? The accusation that Castiel did that on purpose was harsh. I understand Sam was caught in the heat of the moment, but still, it was very sad to see him do that to a friend.

Dean too really, he isn't totally innocent, but at least Dean had the opportunity to give Castiel one more chance. When Castiel refused, Dean had more of a right to be angry, especially over the whole "you're just a human" comment. Lord knows what would have been exchanged if Sam was on that couch.

Yes, a very awesome episode. Thanks for commenting!
Julia G
# Julia G 2011-05-11 13:59
"Was Castiel's intent more harmful or helpful?" That's just it Alice. From Sam's POV, it was more harmful. I think that you're only looking at this from Cas' POV. And it's not like Sam could jump back even if he wanted to, so I don't understand your "He didn't" comment. You don't think that Sam's initial comments were completely understandable, given how utterly crushed he looked at the revelation, how messed up he must be these days, given that Cas has been lying all along, and given that Sam has been used by supernatural beings all his life, especially the angels? And don't forget that Sam doesn't have the same connection to Cas as Dean does. And I guess I completely disagree that Dean has more reason to be angry than Sam. Sam is the injured party in all this and he's too harsh? I really wish we had seen more of his POV during the episode. An initial reaction is not enough to judge someone on.
# Alice 2011-05-11 15:51
Heavens, I don't think I was judging Sam. I was judging his reaction in this circumstance. Given the volumes I've written about Sam on this site in the last few years (and taken tons of accusations that I'm a Sam fan because of it), Lord knows I'm not condemning him in the slightest. His reaction just took me back, that's all. I think it was harsh.

I think you're overanalyzing one word a bit too much. Fine, forget he "didn't." How about he "couldn't." The point is, what happened happened. Is he better off from Castiel's actions? I say yes, but still, it was sad that Cas didn't catch the warning signs in time. I'm totally convinced if Cas had known, he would have gone back for that soul. I think by the time he realized how long it had been in the cage and had taken that kind of abuse, retrieving it could have been worse.

You may or may not have noticed in the review, but I did point out that Castiel has taken on a protective role of Sam, much like Dean. So no, they don't share the same connection. I never said they did. I think Sam, Dean and Bobby are all injured and victimized by this and so is Castiel. Look at it from multiple points of view. I think we'll be getting more from Sam about this soon but no, this episode didn't give us enough to draw conclusions.

Please everyone, lighten up. I love all these characters and always have. They're human, and they're prone to human reactions. I'm allowed to say how I felt about those reactions.
Julia G
# Julia G 2011-05-11 16:19
I AM looking at all POV's, which is why I think that everyone's reaction was understandable and no one was too harsh given the harm done. Sorry, I didn't mean to be too serious about all of this. I've been upset at how little Sam has figured in an episode that should have involved him way more, because how devastating Cas' revelation must have been for him. I enjoy reading your reviews and I guess I was taken aback by what you thought. I feel for what Sam has been through and think that he's entitled to his anger. Sorry again.
# Tash 2011-05-11 17:00
I just don't think that sam is being unreasonable, its not hard to see why he might be upset, Cas might have got him out of hell but because he lied and ignored sam for a year and then resisted getting his soul back sam now has this wall. I think cas has a lot to make up for, yeah he could have left sam there but he did something and didn't take due care about it, getting sam out he really owed him a basic standard of care to make sure he was ok. Ignoring his prayers was very wrong and showed to me that he didn't take responsibility for what he did and then considering he was the one to get Sam out once he found out that Sam was soulless he should have done everything he could to rectify the situation, not make Dean feel bad for trying to do it himself. "If you wanted to kill your brother you should have done it outright".

Sam could have been helped early enough to not need that wall, and don't forget what is at stake here on a personal level for the brothers, its Sam's sanity and his very life and it's because of Cas. No Sam didn't over react, Dean didn't react enough to this part of the proceedings in my opinion and I would not be surprised either if we find out that Cas isn't quite as innocent in all this as he is making out. While I believe that he had good intentions in getting Sam out of hell who is to say his intentions stayed good while Sam's soul was separated from his body, we may yet find out that Cas was using Sam for power.

I don't mean to condemn Cas for his actions, just pointing out that considering how hugely Cas has lied to and deceived the brothers and the situation that Sam finds himself in, a situation that might have been largely avoided if Cas had been upfront from the start, then yes Sam has a right to be hurt and suspicious and angry. I think if Cas had come to Dean and Sam from the start, even from when Dean started to question that something was wrong and been honest then resoulled Sam would have had a very different reaction.
# Laurie 2011-05-11 02:52
Your review was brilliant! I enjoyed it very much!

One thing that confuses me is, everyone seems so ambiguous about why the Winchesters want to stop Castiel. The key is in Bobby's dialogue explaning that the search for Purgatory's souls will "punch a hole into Monsterland" and unleash havoc, like Eve did.
This is much more than just working with Crowley or lying about it. Castiel is doing it for love, but "IT" is almost certainly loosing monster souls onto us. Unless I have totally misundstood the dialogue, for me that's pretty black & white.

Of course, I think Sam's soul will be the key of power for Castiel and Sam to both redeem themselves and end Heaven's war. Cas won't need to access the monster souls. My worry is, do they survive it, and what happens to Dean in the crossfire?
# Laurie 2011-05-11 03:05
P>S> What really scares me is what Crowley is really after. I'm sure, with noir, he will betray Castiel somehow. I think he's really after heaven itself. Make Raphael and Castiel off each other, then move into the classic power vacuum. Now that's a Big Bad.
# Ellie 2011-05-11 08:03
I would like the Sam needs to redeem himself to stop really it has been going on for so long now. He jumps into a pit to redeem himselfor his sins some ofwhich wasnt his fault . And comes back when his soul is returned to find despite this enormous sacrifice he still has to / feels he has to make up for actions when he didnt have a soul . I really hope next Season we can remove Sam from this perpetual sl. And maybe someone will tell him he didnt deserve the things done to him in his life . :-)
# Sylvia37 2011-05-11 11:09
I would like the Sam needs to redeem himself to stop really it has been going on for so long now. He jumps into a pit to redeem himselfor his sins some ofwhich wasnt his fault . And comes back when his soul is returned to find despite this enormous sacrifice he still has to / feels he has to make up for actions when he didnt have a soul . I really hope next Season we can remove Sam from this perpetual sl. And maybe someone will tell him he didnt deserve the things done to him in his life . :-)
Thank you. This is my hope as well. Sam has more than paid for his actions (and everyone elses). I doubt, however that Castiel will be vilified the way Sam was, though he is on a similar path and is not being manipulated to get there.
# Laurie 2011-05-12 18:04
I would like the Sam needs to redeem himself to stop
When I said that, I was thinking of the current promo for episode 22 where Sam says to his own bloody self, "This is your last chance..." Which I assume is him thinking of making some sacrifice to "redeem" everything he's ever done, including as Souless Sam. The character is written as still being tortured in conscience from his year as souless. [see Unforgiven]

But boy, do I AGREE with your main point! I really wish the writers would leave poor Sam and Dean alone and start our season 7 with a real reboot. End the endless angst over old stuff. They have both grown wiser. Write the characters that way! Unnecessary angst is tedious.
# Suze 2011-05-11 04:02
Terrific episode. I want to bang everyone's heads together ... Team W. for being all huffy and sanctimonious and not letting Cas explain ( after all, it's not like they've ever lied through their teeth and made stupid deals that ended in wholesale calamity or anything ... ) and Ol' Angel Eyes for being a stuck-up pillock and not making them understand how bad things really are upstairs.

I'm loving The Return Of Crowley ... That bloke's got so many hidden agendas his own feet are probably working on a plan for galactic domination independantly of the rest of him ...

I think Cas will be redeemed in the end, probably just before he dies horribly, mind you, this is Supernatural after all and no bugger gets even a sniff of a happy ending!
# Suze 2011-05-11 04:13
P.S. One tiny thing is bothering me ( adjusts Quibbling Hat )

If Cas and Crowley needed Eve to lead them to Purgetory ( isn't it somewhere in Utah , I'm pretty sure we got a puncture there once ... ) Why did Cas zap Da Brudders back to the past to get the powdered Phoenix to do her in? Unless it's a sort of double bluff and he's really not working with Crowley after all and ... Aaargh, now my head hurts and I remember why I always avoided Raymond Chandler novels ... Any plot you need more than one breath to explain is beyond me.
# Julie 2011-05-11 06:34
Just had to share this.
Since this episode aired You Tube has been flooded with some really good Cas-centric clips but this one really got to me
The choice of song, Athletes `Rubik`s Cube` is just perfect

Get the tissues out. :sad:
# anonymousN 2011-05-11 09:33
If the choice is between all of Sam in cage and some of Sam wreaking havoc and some suffering in cage then yeah the first one is better from Sam's POV (and my pov)....As for Sam not believing Castiel well he is not first supernatural he believed to be stabbed in back later by it .He has given supernatural many chances and I think he is willing to take no more chances(even I don't think Castiel did it on purpose)....I would like to know did he check up on Sam too like he checked up on Dean as he brought him back from hell like he brought Dean ... you know I think Sam was in the same foxhole as Dean and Castiel...Frank ly i don't think even then Sam and castiel are as close as Dean and castiel or will ever be ....
# anonymousN 2011-05-11 09:39
I am actually happy that Sam questioned Castiel's motives. I really wanted a Scene where Sam is not trusting Castiel after he let him out of panic room..
# anonymousN 2011-05-11 11:50
I don't like that Castiel got the chance that Sam did not get...
Rick D
# Rick D 2011-05-11 12:31
I can't believe that Dean isn't more pissed at Cas than he is. Sam is completely screwed, living with a wall in his head, because Cas screwed up and then walked away, totally ignoring Sam and what happened to him. Then Cas was in cahoots with Crowley to use Sam to hunt monsters for their deal. Sam seems to be the only one who understands what Cas did to him, intentional or not.
# Ellie 2011-05-11 15:44
I can't believe that Dean isn't more pissed at Cas than he is. Sam is completely screwed, living with a wall in his head, because Cas screwed up and then walked away, totally ignoring Sam and what happened to him. Then Cas was in cahoots with Crowley to use Sam to hunt monsters for their deal. Sam seems to be the only one who understands what Cas did to him, intentional or not.
Well Ben wasnt going to have Dean go at his ''new brother ''over what he did to the old one so my guess is it was avoided..
# Alice 2011-05-11 16:18
Okay, enough of the Sam vs. Dean nonsense. Sam is not being victimized any worse than Dean. You won't find many complaints here about Sam's character development and that comes with good reason.
# anonymousN 2011-05-12 00:39
Yes both are victims has a deadly disease and other is his brother....
# anonymousN 2011-05-12 00:46
Its just that by Castiel's betrayal Dean lost a good friend and Sam lost a friend and also has to face the sheriff's wife whose husband he killed when soulless.When Sam was soulless he hinted about things he has done ...none of the people who might have been hurt are ever going to blame Cas they are going to blame Sam and Sam has to deal with it..
# anonymousN 2011-05-13 00:50
Deadly disease=The wall
Tim the Enchanter
# Tim the Enchanter 2011-05-12 10:16
Yes both are victims has a deadly disease and other is his brother....
Whoa, what.... herpes is a deadly disease now!! Feck it anyway.

So that old ‘Sleep with Sam Winchester and Die’ adage is true. Damn. Who’d have thought communicable diseases would put such a dampener on my plans??

Now what am I going to do on Tuesday nights?
# anonymousN 2011-05-13 00:54
Should have replied here...deadly disease=Wall
# Jasminka 2011-05-12 01:06
Bless you, Alice! Thanks for stepping in here. I second that wholeheartedly.
Tim the Enchanter
# Tim the Enchanter 2011-05-11 18:44
I wonder how people on here would react if they had an angel standing in front of them in a circle of holy fire confessing to working with a demon.....

It really doesn’t bother me about how both brothers reacted to Castiel’s revelations. It doesn’t strike me as strange that Dean didn’t automatically get in Castiels face about it, threatening all manner of smiting. Obviously what they heard was a tremendous shock to both of them. The fact that they could barely string a sentence together after the reveal shows how off guard they were caught so they went on the defensive instinctively, without having time to give the information due consideration.

I know that Dean reacted differently to Sam’s reveal than he did to Castiel’s but again, I wouldn’t expect him to react the same way. Dean has learnt a hell of a lot since season 4; if he had just locked Castiel in an ‘angel proof panic room’ (that Bobby made over the bank holiday weekend!) it would, to me, prove that Dean hasn’t learnt a single thing from the Sam situation. People evolve, they learn from past experiences etc. Dean wanted to give Castiel a chance to explain because he knows the damage done from NOT letting Sam explain. I quite admire the way Dean dealt with Castiel in this episode. He didn’t fly off the handle or give Castiel a wallop; he was cool, calm and relatively collected.

Similar situation with Sam. He too has to process the new knowledge that apparently he was raised by Castiel (though I’m not sure I’m believing it yet...) So with one statement Sam went from believing he was raised by Crowley with the sole purpose of hunting down monsters to knowing he was raised by Castiel for an as yet undetermined reason (hopefully for something as simple as Sam was his friend). That’s a lot to take in.

In relation to Sam being a smite judgmental about Castiel.... I feel there are one or two possible reasons for this.

Sam, I would imagine, has tremendously low self confidence at this stage. He always seems to think that other people are better, more worthy and more honourable than he is. I imagine shacking up with a demon, drinking demon blood and being created for the sole purpose of being Lucifers vessel would do that to you!

However, despite this, he is still the one who prayed since he was a kid. He was the one who had faith in the general goodness of angels, even though they screwed him over left, right and centre. These preconceived and long established ideals about angels would be hard to shake. (We see this with Sams prayers to Castiel; eyes closed, face to the heavens. Very traditional. Dean prays to Castiel with the head down, sometimes with a beer bottle in hand. Maybe for Sam, Castiel is an angel first and a friend second and it's vice versa for Dean?) I imagine Sam got the shock of his life to think that Castiel, an angel of GOD would willingly consort with a demon. I mean those guys should just repel each other.

I don’t think he’s judging him but maybe he's ticked because he feels Castiel should have known better. Sam obviously still greatly feels betrayed by Ruby, that he was taken in so easily and used so readily, with devastating effects. Maybe he sees much of himself in Castiel which bothers him for a few reasons.

One, the knowledge that Castiel is leading with the head and not the heart and deep down he knows that what he’s doing is wrong. Perhaps Sam’s anger towards Castiel in this scene is almost towards himself because in Castiel now, he sees his own failings?

Alternatively, maybe he’s angry that he now sees Castiel bought down to the level that he feels he himself is at and that no way should an angel ever be that low.

Thirdly, maybe he’s extra angry at Castiel because Sam knows the effect that this will have on Dean. Protectiveness is a two way street. I’m sure Sam would want to hurt anyone who betrayed Dean. God knows he beat himself up for long enough about it.

In relation to asking Castiel is he had bought him back soulless on purpose... Sam has always been a quick thinker. He’s just learnt Crowley didn’t screw up in his retrieval, Castiel did. He’s also learnt about Castiel working with Crowley and his penchant for souls. Can’t blame the guy for adding 1 and 1 and 1. C’mon, some of us are thinking it, (I certainly am) and we know a lot more than Sam at this stage.

That being said, I’m sure that Sam, when the shock has abated and he is back using his logical brain again might, maybe not accept but, understand better why Castiel feels he has no choice but to take this path and he will be a lot less ‘Angel, what the hell do you think you’re doin’, boy?’

I’m also not too bothered by Dean referring to Castiel as a ‘brother’. This has been on the cards for some time, ever since Ben hit Dean with the obvious truth that family doesn’t have to mean blood. Bobby is, for all intents and purposes, the boy’s father, Ellen almost a surrogate mother, and when Dean wasn’t hitting on her, Jo was like a sister to them. (Rufus was obviously the mad uncle!) Castiel and Dean have fought side by side, saved each other lives, gotten drunk together (kinda), unsuccessfully visited brothels together and probably would die for each other, if asked. I’ve two brothers and I’ve never experienced the above with either of them. In my humble opinion, Dean’s ‘brother’ comment was warranted. The same way that if Dean or Sam ever called Bobby their dad, it wouldn’t bother me.

Jeez, I’m very blasé today. NOTHING is bothering me! Nah, I just find their reactions to be quite in line with where they are personally at the moment. One other reason is that I am loathe to criticise Edlund about anything. This episode is his baby and he’s been there from the beginning, he knows these boys inside out. I don’t believe he’s going to write them out of character in such a huge episode as this.

I’m going with an A. I’m known as a very hard marker.... Nah, one or two things I found unsettling. Sam’s shirt at the start for one and also the whole torture scenes left me feeling quite queasy, especially the poor guy/monster/wha tever who was screaming when Crowley so casually stuck the skewer into Eve’s brain. I actually felt really, really bad for him.

Alice, thank you for this. Good strong article, plenty of lively debate. It's a good day!
Julia G
# Julia G 2011-05-11 20:59
Hey, that's a really good post. I agree with most of it.
# CitizenKane2 2011-05-11 23:16
Just adding my small voice to Tim the Enchanter's post above.

I completely agree with this part "I just find their reactions to be quite in line with where they are personally at the moment."

I personally also found Dean's and Sam's reactions to Castiel's confession quite natural and believable, considering what both brothers had gone through in previous Seasons.
# Tom 2011-05-12 08:55
I wonder how people on here would react if they had an angel standing in front of them in a circle of holy fire confessing to working with a demon.....
I would think: "Man, it's time to cut down on the drugs".
# Laurie 2011-05-12 18:20
Bravo! It seems obvious, but the writers should be writing for characters that have grown over 6 seasons.
Sean R
# Sean R 2011-05-12 07:07
Happened to rewatch 'You Can't Handle the Truth' last night. Cas's lines and delivery when he comes looking for the horn can be seen in a whole new light after seeing "The Man Who Would Be King". Even his not responding to Dean maybe more about guilt than the war. He even mentions having to do 'regrettable things'.
# Karen 2011-05-12 15:34
Hi Alice
I loved your review and agree this was an A+ for me too. First I’d like to say kudos to Ben for both writing and directing this episode. I liked the way they had Castiel narrating his life and events leading to the present. It gave a clearer and more in-depth perspective of who Castiel is/was. To me Castiel is still a Babe in the Woods when it comes to understanding the human psyche. Even though he was human himself, it was technically only for a moment compared to his time as a full fledge Angel. As much as I understood the brothers and Bobby’s feelings of betrayal, I have to say I really sympathised with Castiel in this episode.
For centuries Castiel was a soldier of God, always expected to follow orders and never to question them. And in the very short time that Castiel was guardian of one said Dean Winchester, he found himself questioning his superiors, rebelling against them, being captured and ‘reprogrammed ’{I think we should try to understand that it was just after his ‘reprogrammin g’ that Castiel followed the orders to free Sam from the panic room and to lure Anna into capture. Not that it made it any less upsetting and disappointing.} , only to be blown apart by an Archangel, when he rebelled again. When he was resurrected, he found himself barred from his home in heaven and he slowly started losing his Angelic powers to the point of being human. And in his last bit of defiance he was blasted to smithereens…a gain.
Upon his second resurrection by God, Castiel found that everything he fought and rebelled against was in peril by Raphael, who was taking actions into restarting the Apocalypse. With not having the strength to out power Raphael and with having a small following of Angels that were unable to grasp the concept of Freedom, he found himself accepting a partnership with Crowley. After all they were both fighting for the same goal, to prevent the second attempt of the Apocalypse. When Castiel went into partnership with Crowley it was shortly after the re-caging of Lucifer and at that time there had been an alliance between Crowley and the Winchesters. It’s not that he was ever fully trustworthy, but Crowley had supplied the Colt and arranged for Dean to meet with Death to get his ring. Even though he had Bobby make a deal to ‘borrow his soul’, Crowley did put in the added clause about getting the use of Bobby’s legs back. So why wouldn’t Castiel feel that the alliance was still something he himself could rely on? Sure Crowley’s true colours did surfaced when he tried to renege on his deal with Bobby, during “Weekend at Bobby’s”, but that had been almost a year after their partnership was formed.
And what if he had gone to Dean, what would Dean of been able to do? Look what it took to stop the apocalypse the first time. If Raphael had succeeded in releasing Lucifer and Michael, would Dean of been able to still say no to Michael, especially if they laid the suffering of Adam on his shoulders? Would Sam have had the strength to fight Lucifer for the second time? Especially if they put Sam’s soul back, how weak and damaged would Sam have been? And would soulless Sam even have said yes, risking his life? I doubt it. Either way, everything that Dean, Sam, Bobby and Castiel had originally sacrificed and fought for would of been all for nothing.

As for whether Castiel deliberately brought Sam back without his soul; I would have to say no. I believe Cass simply wanted to reward his friends for their sacrifice with the only gift he could give them…each other. So he tried to reunite the brothers and Sam coming back without his soul was just a horrible mistake.
"I was put back. We had won! We stopped Armageddon. But at a terrible cost--and so I knew what I had to do next."
"Once again, I went to harrow hell to free Sam from Lucifer's cage. It was nearly impossible, but I was so full of confidence, of mission, I see now, that was arrogance, hubris, because I hadn't truly raised Sam, not all of him".
"Sometimes we're lucky enough to be given a warning. This should have been mine."
I took the Warning he missed was when Sam turned and walked away, instead of knocking on Lisa’s door to reunite with Dean. This is where I believe that Castiel greatly lacked in the understanding of humans. Even though he was surprised by Sam’s action, he failed to see that there was something very wrong.

I do wish they had touch on why Castiel hadn’t answered Sam’s calls. Was it that he was afraid he would admit it was him the brought Sam back. Was it because he was just too busy with the Civil War that had just started? Did Crowley advise Castiel that it wasn’t a good idea? Was it because Castiel realized his mistake and was not able to rejoin Sam with his soul, so it was with guilt that he stayed away?
It will be interesting to see if this does come up at sometime.
# CitizenKane2 2011-05-12 22:27
Just (another) small thought.

If Castiel wanted so badly a sign from God that he was doing the right thing, why didn't he try to find Joshua (the angel who talks to God), as he did (through the Winchesters) in "Dark Side of the Moon" ?
# McMaggie 2011-05-17 09:06
I am nervous about entering this articulate and insightful group! But …

It seems accepted that Sam's memories have "leaked" and that is how they found Samuel’s library. But Samuel revealed that the Campbell’s have been hunters "since the Mayflower" and he also showed how much he knew about Eve. I wish they had shown a discussion about it on screen, but certainly Bobby and the boys would have realized there was a treasure trove of information somewhere. I'm not sure about this, but could the cellar library have been in the hideaway Young Mary took the boys to in "The Song Remains the Same" to have the showdown with Anna? She said it had been in the family for years. If so, they would search all possible locations and could have found the library without any of Sam’s memories.

Second, no one has brought up Crowley saying "I know of a certain big bald patriarch I can take off the bench." Didn't we think Samuel had been brought down from heaven to "balance" Sam coming from hell? So Samuel lied ... and surely he remembered being in hell ... I have wondered about Samuel's expression when he said "You don't remember" to Sam in ”And Then There Were None.” I am dying and dreading to know about that lost year.

Third and last. You all should go back to see all your speculations on “Family Matters” about Crowley not having the juice to get Sam out of the box and probably having an angel behind it. You were all spot on! I love spying on this discussion group.
# Alice 2011-05-18 00:48
I'm thrilled you decided to join in! You've made some great points. I'd love to know how Sam remembered about the library. I don't think it had been used by the family before. Probably something Samuel set up when they created the compound. But who knows, I could be wrong!

I'm not sure how much we'll find out about that lost year. So much about Grandpa is so ambiguous. I think Samuel was brought in because he knew a lot about monsters and Crowley found him useful. All the exchanges between Sam and Samuel in "And Then There Were None" I agree were strange. I'm not sure if TPTB were blowing smoke or if they were actual clues. That's a great point to bring up in our season six speculations that we'll be starting when the season is over! We're usually pretty busy all hiatus. This show gives us so much.

Thanks, when we get to speculating, we can be dead on about some things. I can't wait to see what we come up with this summer.

Thanks for commenting!