Last season was fairly straightforward when it came to stakes. Once we learned about the trials, it was clear how the rest of the season was meant to unfold. Would Sam, Dean, Cass and Kevin be able to figure out what the trials were and could they successfully complete them? Then, throw in the surprise twist that completing the trials would kill Sam and you’ve got yourself some pretty high stakes. Now we have season nine. Metatron has a god complex and plans to take over Heaven. While that is interesting, it’s unclear what that would mean for the angels, or anyone else for that matter. It’s hard to know if he’d really be any worse than the other angels who have tried and failed at playing god. Then we have the Mark of Cain which I personally find much more gripping. But even though Dean spinning into a frenzy of rage is totally thrilling, it’s still hard to know what’s at risk; even now that we’re so close to the end of the season. It clear that killing is becoming an addiction for Dean. So the easy answer seems to be that Sam and Cass should just take a page from Supernatural’s history and lock Dean up far away from the blade. In all fairness, that may not be how the mark works, but we don’t really know all that much about it, do we? In my mind, it might have been helpful to gain a bit more insight into what it means to carry the Mark of Cain. Is it a life sentence? What would have to happen in order for Dean to remove it? So, it’s not that this season hasn’t been interesting, it’s just that it hasn’t been quite as clear in its intent.
Despite the uncertainty, “Stairway to Heaven” still packed a punch. Dean is really losing his marbles. We’ve seen him getting more and more angry over the course of the season, but something about killing Abaddon really seems to have set him off. It wasn’t only his outbursts of violence against Tessa or his even more animalistic burst of rage toward Gadreel. It’s the little things too. It’s how mean he was to Cass about his past failures. It was pretty low of him to question Cass’ loyalties and bring up his past indiscretions. The Dean we know wouldn’t have been so quick to jump to conclusions, and express them out loud in front of an audience. The Dean we know would be fighting his instincts and pretending there wasn’t an issue. Not to mention how rude Dean has been to Sam these past weeks. Dean lied about leaving the First Blade behind which wasn’t much of a shocker. He did the exact same thing with the Colt back in the day. But it was his conversation with Sam afterward that really hit home. According to Dean, until he kills Metatron he and Sam are not in partnership, it is a dictatorship. And he is in charge. Dean doesn’t often put his foot down quite so hard unless he is directly trying to protect Sam. If it wasn’t clear before that the mark is having an effect on Dean, it certainly was after this episode.
After last week’s episode, I think we were all counting on Gadreel coming around and agreeing to act as a spy for Castiel. I actually had a sneaking suspicion that he was already at work collecting information for Castiel during the episode. But it wasn’t until he saw just how crazy Metatron can be that he finally made a decision about where his loyalties lie. The level of manipulation Metatron achieved was actually kind of impressive. As it turns out, Metatron’s group of elite recruits were posing as Cass loyalists and crazy people. That’s really not a bad strategy. The more of them that nuked themselves in the name of Cass, the more it chipped away at his credibility. And on top of that, Metatron was able to use a “Cass fanatic” to take control of the only remaining group of angels that hadn’t already sided either of them. Oh, and then he tore Castiel’s own army apart with the revelation that he’s running on stolen grace. He’s an evil genius I tell you! Too bad he’s not on our side.
Speaking of Castiel’s stolen grace, it’s supposedly wearing thin. And soon it will burn right out and take our beloved angel with it. But where are the signs? It seems like Cass is running at full strength at this point. It’s not that I think Metatron is lying about Cass’ stolen grace, it’s just that with no signs of deterioration, it’s hard to know how much longer he has. If the writers want us to feel the fear, they have to show us something to get anxious about. Telling a viewer that something terrible could potentially happen is not quite as gripping as showing them that it is indeed starting to happen.
So that’s where we are. I’m so looking forward to this season finale. I’m hoping it will provide the answers we need while setting us up for a mind-blowing cliffhanger. There is a lot of potential in these storylines and I’m ready to explore how some of them might carry over into next season. So what did you guys think? Did you enjoy “Stairway to Heaven”? Any non-spoilery predictions for the finale?
As usual, there were some good quotes and stray observations worth mentioning.
So, Gadreel is still alive, right? Dean sliced him, but he didn’t stab. There’s a definitely possibility that Gadreel could have survived. At least long enough to give us some of Metatron’s secrets.
Dean testing Sam’s reflexes was one part hilarious and one part troubling.
Dean: “He is a weird guy, okay? He’s a weird, dorky, little guy.”
Agents Spears and Aguilera. Hilarious. I take back what I said about being sad that Cass knows pop culture references. Cass knowing them and using them inappropriately is actually pretty good too.
Cass: “I noticed your aliases are usually the names of popular musicians.” Oh Cass...
Metatron: “Castiel has this simple charm, he’s like a mentally deficient puppy. But I’m loveable, and funny. I made God laugh. Twice.”
Cass: “They like to hear me say their names.”
Dean: “I know a few women like that.”
Cass: “Abaddon is dead.”
Sam: “And then some.”
Tyrus: “I hear you’re losing and I hate your face.”
“You believe every problem can be solved with a gun. You’re a killer with oceans of blood on his hands.”
Cass: “Step aside, I got this…..I don’t got this.”
Cass: “Prime numbers can be intimidating.”
I thoroughly enjoyed the nod to The Last Crusade. Not to mention the Home Alone reference.
Josiah: “No, I would rather die than owe my life to you. Play at being noble. Play at being one of us. But I look into your eyes and I don’t see an angel staring back at me.”
What does he see that we’re not seeing?
Tessa: “Dean, what have you done?”
Dean: “What I had to.”
Tessa: “Welcome to the club.”
Metatron: “Dean, always with the b-grade action movie wit.”
Metatron: “The only thing he cares about is himself and the Hardy Boys there.”
Cass: “Dean, those bombers. You don’t really think that I…”
Dean: “Cass, you just gave up your entire army for one guy. No, there’s no way you blew those people away.”
Cass: “You really believe we three will be enough?”
Dean: “We always have been.”