The Fall of the King
Ever the salesman, our favourite King was in full sales mode from the top. And smooth though he may be, Crowley just can’t keep Amara for himself. Really though, Crowley can hardly claim to be at the top of his game these days – looking at his recent playbacks (the high demon losses – sacrifices if you will – and listening to those Hell projections) if he isn’t careful, Crowley may have a coup to deal with (again).
Crowley presumed Amara couldn’t reach his level of power until, perhaps, she was “full grown” and offered his protection and experience/wisdom until such time. Though Amara called him out as wanting to use her power for his own gain – and truly he may have started with this endgame in mind – I would argue that by this time it is more than clear to Crowley nobody is going to “use” Amara – particularly by the time she reaches full power.
The parent-teen dynamic between these two offered a lighter flavor to the power dichotomy even as it made Amara all the more sinister in her machinations, especially when Crowley was reading the “Parenting Your Teenager” guide rather than paying attention at his meeting. It further highlighted the power imbalance between Crowley and Amara (definitely in Amara’s favour) both later on, but also early on because although Crowley appeared to have the physical authority over Amara, the would-be petulant teenager, Amara clearly knew she had the power and it played well against the teenage snark intermixed with adult observation.
Crowley sought to reclaim some lost manhood from his “breakup” with Dean last year by killing him, finally feeling he could kill his former BFF. Sadly for his highness, this backfired dramatically. Mark Sheppard gave a brilliant performance as both versions of Crowley this week: fatherly, coercive Crowley exasperated with Amara but also not wanting to lose the asset; and angry, triumphant Crowley prepared to kill Dean (finally!). And, let’s not forget – defeated, wallowing Crowley in the final shot too.
The final teardown of Crowley – poor guy, it was just sad. Even on the throne he was just depressing. Granted, Crowley did try to kill Dean so sympathies are limited. Nevertheless Crowley remains one of a few bad guys I almost want to have a small win or something.
So, is it time to join Team Winchester again? Well, if that cage needs accessing, just maybe.
A Mortal Life
Hands up if you haven’t binge-watched while trying to hide from your life? The advantages technology has brought us! Happily, depressed Castiel wasn’t a long staple of the season, nor did it impact his ability to serve the plot; in fact, it was the way he found Metatron. Well that and Metatron (Marv’s) reliable nature as a selfish user of human misery.
Curtis Armstrong always plays Metatron well – he’s slimy and awful and there is simply nothing redeeming about the character; and yet it isn’t so overdone it becomes cartoonish. Metatron’s suffering sighs when the not-so dead man came alive as he was being pick-pocketed were so exasperated and authentic. Truly, he was irritated the man survived. Metatron cultivated a life as a vulture of sorts – pawning and pilfering footage and scraps from dying people. Castiel was less than impressed and it was a confrontation between the two long overdue.
Castiel’s flashbacks in the bunker seemed like it would be an impediment in his encounter with Metatron, even Metatron sensed something and called Cas out on it. He accused Castiel of being too afraid to hit him, to fight him. Castiel’s response, as we saw, was to say it wasn’t "fear” – so I’m not sure when he got over the fear between leaving the bunker and finding the Tablet. Or if it wasn’t fear at all, what exactly the purpose of the flashback was in the first place.
Regardless, Castiel was in full control of himself and didn’t allow Metatron to manipulate him at all, nor was he limited by his experiences with the attack-dog spell. It’s good to have a fully functioning team on our hands (or at least, so far, so good).
Aside from the battle, learning about Metatron’s personal miseries was entertaining to say the least – I half expected Castiel to wipe his mind so he wouldn’t be a threat; but I realize his memory holds much to valuable information – including Amara as God’s sister. It was a fun scene to watch leading up to the reveal of this bomb, including Metatron teasing about the Tablet only for Castiel to pull it out and talk about the bedbugs. It only emphasized how far Metatron has truly fallen from the genius mastermind we once knew.
So now we have the Demon tablet, the Book and our scribe is accessible. Elements are slowly but surely assembling for something in favour of the boys being able to make a move.
Saving People, Hunting Things
This episode was by and large, excellent. With one small, annoying exception. Now, let’s be clear: I’m all for the Winchester family motto and in no way advocate unnecessary killing when the boys can save people. That said, some of the dialogue around this was a mite on the nose. When Sam said they couldn’t kill the demon they had to exorcise it – Dean commented somewhat sarcastically that Sam had implemented a new, no-kill policy. This struck me as overly aggressive on Dean’s part and out of character. While it’s true both of them may have gone astray in recent years from the “saving people” mantra, it was circumstance rather than conscious decision and pleasure of the human kill: neither shrugged and went “oh well, still killing a beastie too – humans be damned.”
This was a small issue, but it was a feature in the episode and became worth mentioning as a result – after all, it was a focal point, to a degree in Sam’s plot. The rest of the no-kill was handled well. Sam fought three, was only able to successfully subdue two of them without killing and one demon even called him out on the pacifist attitude, suggesting that it wouldn’t work as a whole method. Despite the one kill, Sam didn’t overreact, he accepted and knew it was a given of the nature of the hunter job and circumstances. This is much more in keeping with the Winchesters approach to “hunting, saving” than Dean’s almost…disappointment and/or mockery of the ‘no kill’ rule earlier in the episode.
Teenagers, Tantrums, Ties
Teen Amara was played very well by Yasmeene Ball. She offered equal petulance and aged wisdom with every glanced and cocked grin or crossed arms and pout to Crowley. It’s no secret there are some superior actors on Supernatural and this young girl matched them well in some intense scenes. Besting Crowley and conveying the power, the authority in the final altercation was supremely well done on both sides.
The best scenes were, unquestionably, between Amara and Dean. Deeply disquieting, watching Amara and Dean interact is like peeping on an intimate moment between two people that nobody should be watching. The connection is unquestionable and more powerful every single time these two meet and more worrying. It was beyond creepy watching Amara pet Dean’s face as they held each other’s eyes while she spoke. Chills.
Amara explained that her fondness for Dean, she believes, is because he represents the first of “His” creations that she saw when Amara awoke, that because of this they share a connection and Dean can’t hurt her – or her him. Yet, when Amara made a move toward Sam and this prompted to move toward her, she appeared surprised. As always, the brothers ground one another after all.
God has a sister. Definitely an unexpected and fresh twist in the mythology. This certainly opens so many doors for where to take the Amara character and continues to reinforce the neutrality or rather, her pre-dating the concepts of good and evil. It also continues to play with the idea that God isn’t the all-loving, all-good entity that has been introduced before. Certainly other creatures have shattered their cookie cutters – angels are no fluffy-winged, haloed friends of humanity as a rule; that’s for certain. The most intriguing idea introduced is the suggestion Metatron seemed to make that God didn’t want to give up his sister, per se, but he was induced to – and of course it all begs the questions – if they are siblings, who are their parents?
On this show, it always comes down to family. Michael and Lucifer. Cain and Abel. The Campbells and the Winchesters. Sam and Dean. And now, God and Amara (older, younger? The name ‘Amara’ means ‘eternal’ – something to think about?). Typically, this has meant a bloodline derivation to the Winchester boys of some sort or another and that they save each other, in spite of the odds and expectations. Amara bears the Mark of Cain which was a lock/key of sorts and removing it is what released her. How does it all connect, ultimately?
Supernatural is never afraid to tackle the big, philosophical questions – or even create them – and I’m dying to see how the answers play out over the remainder of the season. Any theories?
Odds and EndsSam brought a voice of reason to the episode – he wasn’t affected by past traumas, he wasn’t influenced by Amara’s presence and he was focused but not blood hungry. Where Dean sought to find, and end, Amara and was unsure about encouraging Castiel to get back in the hunting game, Sam offered reasonable counterarguments on both points and maintained a level approach even when Dean lost his functioning abilities in the face of Amara (unbeknownst to his brother, granted).
Perhaps feeling more anxious the more time passes between encountering her and, now fully knowing the damage she can inflict (and losing Len), Dean was gung-ho to lockdown on Amara’s location and take her out before she reaches the full grown woman who visited him in his visions. For the time being however, he can’t kill her and she won’t (can’t?) hurt him – physically at least. Jensen was incredible in this exchange; he looked mystified by teen Amara and it was so beautifully disturbing I couldn’t tear my eyes away. Dean is not sharing what went on though – so what did the encounter evoke, emotionally, mentally? How this relationship will evolve over time is an eerie thought.
The boys are misleading each other (lying is too strong at this point, too deliberate, right now it’s simply seems to be omissions), Cas knows something is unspoken about what happened, nobody likes that Metatron wasn’t detained for interrogation and Sam’s visions get more disturbingly vivid with each flash. All in the last minute.
So, the dangling cage suspended by chains reminded me of a poem from my childhood called “In a Dark, Dark Wood” – which I’m sure many have heard of – and in the poem, it talks about a “dark, dark box” which is definitely the case here – only much, much more sinister than in the poem. Who is reaching out to Sam? Is this the Cage? Is this the box from which Amara was sprung? Was someone else switched with her when she was released? So many questions to be answered.
It was an intense, jaw-dropping, edge-of-the seat fantastic episode. We finally know who Amara is and where she comes from and even, to a degree, why she likes Dean so much. The episode was all about relationships: Amara and Crowley, Castiel and Metatron, Crowley and Dean, Amara and Dean, Sam and the mystery being, God and Amara. In nearly each case, there was a power shift of dynamic proportions that promises an exciting future in approaching weeks.