The Devil’s in the Details

He certainly is. The nuances that nobody noticed about Castiel as they left the basement known as Hell and likely won’t notice until the most inopportune of times. This twist presents so many opportunities to the story it’s hard to even name them all: we can have quite a match between Amara and Lucifer; the manipulations of Dean and Sam; the renewed storyline, in a sense, that we had a taste of back when Cas had the Leviathan power but with a whole new flavor; and of course, the return of a favoured villain in a brand new package. But let’s back up and take it one step at a time.

Vessels & Values

DID5 The weakest plot line with the most satisfying payoff was getting Castiel to Hell – and why -  with everyone else this week. Ultimately, the tearing down of his esteem was so blatant and not very well done that by the time the offer came from Lucifer it seemed obvious where it was going - Castiel wanted to be useful, significant and valuable to the team/world. What didn't work was how abruptly his ego deflated after a brief conversation with Ambriel and short encounter with Amara. Actually, Cas seemed quite energized in recent days so it was a bit out of nowhere.

That aside, the other nonsensical element was Amara leaving him because he "wasn't worth it" - again this was forced and contrived for the sake of taking another blow at Castiel's ego. I kept expecting her to make a reference to him being Dean's friend and that it would hurt Dean to destroy Castiel. We've seen Amara consume many, many beings at any one time and in this instance she especially needed to recover from a large battle with the angels. Leaving Castiel didn't make sense at any level - certainly not even to deliver that ridiculous message. Again, this was one of the weakest points of the episode and, by and large, disappointing. As threats go this was incredibly lackluster and seemingly unnecessary since the individuals receiving the message knew Amara to be a threat already. The whole endeavor felt contrived, unusually so by Supernatural standards, and a vehicle to get Castiel from A to B with the necessary level of depression to say yes the way he did.

Appreciating the outcome though I do - the trip was a bit fumbling and obvious.

Sam’s Cage Time

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Lots of material to look at in the time between Lucifer and Sam – Luce is definitely a master manipulator. The time spent between these two, solo, was a prime opportunity to answer some questions and even address some concerns that have floated around in the ether about characterizations of past vs present and the how the changes developed over the years. What was delightful about this was the trip through memory lane – some things we’d seen and a few new childhood memories thrown in for good measure.

Basically what Lucifer tried to sell was that Sam wasn’t the same man who jumped selflessly into the Pit six years ago after being strong enough to wrangle Lucifer; this Sam simply didn’t have the same convictions, the same follow through, the same strength – because he was caught in the bad, destructive cycle of saving Dean, starting apocolypses (apocoli?). And true enough, the boys have a nasty habit of this sometimes (okay, most times) but they started the year acknowledging the faults in their co-dependency, among other things, and so Lucifer had trouble leveraging this against Sam.

The highlight of the interaction between Sam and Lucifer, besides the top notch acting from both parties (Mark Pelligrino is so fun when he's evil!) was Sam saying no with absolute, firm convictions and faith in his brother:
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“You talk a good game. You do. Hell, you almost had me sold a few times, but then I thought, what if you're right? What if you're telling the truth? What -- what if you can beat her?... Even though, last time, it took you plus three other archangels. Oh, yeah, and capital "G," God… But let's say you gank her. Then what? ... Then you go about starting the Apocalypse again because you're an old dog, and that's your old trick. … I think that whoever wins, you or the Darkness, everyone else loses. So, no. My answer is no.… This is about me having faith in my friends, having faith in my family. We will find a way…I'm ready to die. And I'm ready to watch people I love die. But I'm not ready to be your bitch.”

For a while, I did believe Sam might be swayed and give in - because Lucifer is a damn good salesman (sell ice to Eskimos, as they say) - so his refusal surprised me, in particular how firm in it he was. And it was great to watch Lucifer go from suave, easy pitches to rage of refusal. Can’t con a con artist, Lucifer - the Wincesters are the best in the business.

Sideline Drama: Dean, Crowley, Rowena

DID4Since the episode was as much sass as drama, Dean brought top notch snark throughout this in almost every scene - even when he was alone and calling voicemails. (Wasn't that a treat to hear?). Dean’s roll this week was relegated largely to interactive observer – a role much of the audience would love to play at times – setting a number of balls in motion. Naturally Dean’s primary, overriding focus was to get Sam out of Hell and away from Lucifer, an endeavor he of course succeeds in after another partnership with Crowley and forcing Rowena’s cooperation again Lucifer.

The interesting encounter for Dean was Billie, the Reaper with a strong distaste for our boys. Billie is dispassionate in her engagements throughout the episode but that doesn’t mean her distain and conviction are read loud and clear. Two things were left floating around with regard to our Reaper: what favour will she ask of Crowley in repayment and will she play a role in enabling Rowena to return to execute the spell to trap Lucifer again?

There is not a lot to comment on around Dean – other than he didn’t turn to salt with smiting sickness – because as I said, his role was more facilitation throughout the episode: he sent (inadvertently due to his own inability, albeit) Castiel to ground zero of the Amara Smiting where is esteem issues where kicked into high gear and initializing the “yes” potential and he taxied the witch catcher to get the spell reversal done.
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So although Dean didn’t function as a primary kickstarter this week, he was pivotal. Afterall, Rowena was busy eavesdropping on his conversation with Crowley while drinking her tea wasn’t she?

Speaking of Rowena and Crowley: this relationship never lacks ripe material and both these actors deliver the relationship as conflicted, angry, hateful and sparking with brilliance. Rowena, ever the loyal Lucifer disciple received a message from her Lord in a dream – a dazzling, twisted dream that involved Crowley in footie pajamas – where the plan was formed to trick Sam into the Cage. Through a clever game of deceit, on both parts with victory to Crowley (hands up if you were suspicious of the tea – especially when the King didn’t drink it himself) Rowena is forced to, among a series of humiliating other tasks, reverse her magic.

This aside, the relationship developments between Mother and Son were intense and Ruth Connell must be acknowledged for the performance on answering why she hates her son so much:

DID10“I hate you, because when I look into your eyes I see the woman I used to be, before magic, before the coven. When I was nothing but Rowena, the tanner's daughter. A pale, scared little girl, who smelled of filth and death. I hate you, because when you were born, your father said he loved me, then he went back to his grand wife and his grand house, whilst I lay pathetic and half dead on a straw mat -- my thighs slick with blood. I hate you, because if I didn't, I'd love you. But love, love is weakness. And I'll never be weak again.”

A passionate, painful delivery makes you actually feel sorry for such a vicious, diabolical character. And this is the genius of the Supernatural world once again – nothing is every black and white. Even our villains, as cold-hearted, evil and truly despicable as they often seem surprise you sometimes. If I had to choose favourite moments of the episode – this would be among the top.

Sadly for Rowena, this was her goodbye speech.





The King is Home

For as clear as the signs were on the road to Castiel as the new vessel, it doesn’t diminish the results in anyway. The shift in physical stance, head tilt, eye contact, smirking: Lucifer is amused before even speaking that he’s done this in front of Sam and Dean and it shows. The real show starts, of course, back in Hell when Lucetiel, if you will, re-introduces himself to Crowley and Rowena with all the dynamism and flare you’d expect. Misha Collins does not disappoint as Lucifer: he is having fun and it’s clear this is a whole different character than Castiel.
DID11Where Cas was awkward, unsure at times and inept with social norms with a stilted speech pattern – Lucifer, on the other hand, is (at least to his mind) the smartest, coolest guy in the room and he knows it and pleases himself with everyone else’s floundering, sycophant ways.

Without a doubt, this will be one great performance to watch. It will be especially interesting to witness Lucifer playing Castiel for the boys. And I can’t even begin to speculate on how it will ultimately play out for everyone – including the Darkness storyline. Thoughts?

Final Thoughts

In many ways this episode felt like a letter to the viewers – the long time viewers – acknowledging the concerns, the complaints, the questions that have arisen over recent seasons. Things like what did happen to Adam/Michael; when exactly did Castiel lose the verve we saw in the first appearance and does he know how far he’s fallen (no pun intended) from that original manifestation; do the brothers realize, fully, the impact of their choices and how they come to be caught in them; and even the look/not look for each other promise is addressed. In that sense, it was satisfying to watch; not because there were outright answers for anything per se, rather that something was acknowledged, often addressed and sometimes, yes, answered.

In addition, or perhaps in conjunction with this, the episode was an excellent example of how to do exposition and set up: because that is ultimately what 11x10 was all about – laying the ground work for the second half of the season. Following the pattern established early this year, we have the promise of a unique and damn intriguing game about to unfold as the weeks move forward.

The questions I’m left with are thus: how long will it take for the brothers to realize Cas isn’t exactly himself? What is Lucifer’s ultimate end game? What was happening to Amara when we saw her last Angel not agreeing with her? And finally, given what we saw of Amara swallowing in Ambriel and her statement about taking in the angel’s entirety – if she swallows Lucifer likewise, would she be vulnerable to the Cage banishment spell?

This was a good episode of entertainment and bridging between the first and second halves of the season. As twists go, Castiel saying yes to Lucifer wasn’t as big a shock as it could have been by the end of the episode but overall it was a great way to get Lucifer into the game without the overdone gimmick of Sam or Dean doing something regrettable for the fate of the world that only makes the problem worse. Sam himself acknowledged Lucifer might be able to stop Amara, but then they have to deal with Lucifer. Too bad Cas didn’t hear that logic.

So what did you think?

Comments  

YellowEyedSam
# YellowEyedSam 2016-01-25 12:06
The thing I'm most looking forward to is Misha playing Lucifer and how long it'll take for them to figure it out. Better watch your back Sam, I bet Luci's planning to get revenge :o
Barbara Maake
# Barbara Maake 2016-01-25 23:39
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The highlight of the interaction between Sam and Lucifer, besides the top notch acting from both parties (Mark Pelligrino is so fun when he's evil!) was Sam saying no with absolute, firm convictions and faith in his brother:
This was my favorite part as well, Elle. It presented such a wonderful contrast to the ending of Ep.9. There, a shocked, distraught Sam could only stand frozen in fear and horror after hearing that Luci had tricked him into revisiting the cage, and that God had not been helping him. The enormity of that revelation, and the knowledge that he was now once again at the mercy of Luci, essentially paralyzed Sam except for that one heartbreaking tear. But I loved how in this ep Sam had regrouped, and found the strength and courage and determination to not simply resist Luci, but to taunt him as he had taunted Sam. It was a Sam without fear or the self-doubt that has plagued him at other times and it was awesome. It also was reminiscent of Swan Song in that, once again, it was the strength that Sam draws from his relationship with and faith in Dean that enabled Sam to resist Luci. I never get tired of reminders that this brotherly bond is the foundation of the entire show.
spnlit
# spnlit 2016-01-26 20:42
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The weakest plot line ..... to get Castiel to Hell and say yes- The whole endeavor felt contrived, unusually so by Supernatural standards.
I agree that the plot line was contrived and just a means to achieve the goal. Castiel was suffering from PTSD, but this was too much. It completely ignored the fact Cas seemed to be in good shape when confronting Metatron. It also ignored everything Cas was and learned from his time with the Winchesters and what he knew about Michael and Lucifer. I do not think this is a good payoff. It has all been done before. Castiel/ Gadreel redemption arc; Lucifer topside; Winchester's need to rid the world of Satan. It also diminishes Sam' s elaborate story and canon. The seals had to be broken to release Lucifer from cage, Sam being the true vessel for Lucifer, Sam's strength and sacrifice to put Lucifer back in the cage. I know we have new tools- the BOD had the spell, the Darkness made cracks in the universe so Lucifer(but not Michael) could now project himself out of the cage and effect dreams, and reality, and cause visions. But heck he can now just share housing with Castiel and move on up? I just found this all disappointing. I thought we where headed for something completely new.
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A passionate, painful delivery makes you actually feel sorry for such a vicious, diabolical character- Rowena. And this is the genius of the Supernatural world once again – nothing is every black and white.
You are so right! I truly felt sadness and compassion for Rowena. Great writing and performance. It was ironic that she did not apply her "lesson" that love was weakness to her current situation- she may have saved herself. Love/lust for Lucifer caused her weakness and ultimate death. It was also interesting that her lack of human love for her son led to her becoming evil and her love of Lucifer- something evil caused her destruction. And no, please do not resurrect her as a demon.
I join my questions to yours: Is their a connection between Amara and Lucifer? Is Billie working with Lucifer too? Why did Amara send Castiel straight to the door to hell and why did Billie let him in?
BoGirle
# BoGirle 2016-01-26 21:10
About the Cas storyline I agree Elle and spnlit... Cas's decision seemed beyond rash, poorly set up and unconvincing. Sam holds out like the trooper he is and Cas folds just when Luci is going to be sent back? Cas in convinced that trying to deal with Amara AND Lucifer is somehow better than dealing with just Amara? Dumb. I am holding out some hope that Amara's line to Cas; “Blue eyes... You aren't even worth the effort. And, no offense, but you look a bit used up. Plus... I have a job for you” was actually a subtle indicator that Amara put some kind of whammy on Cas making him somewhat under her spell the way that Dean is; that she planted the seeds for Cas to say 'yes' and he followed through as was her plan. Maybe that's why she was weakened afterwards, because manipulating Cas's thinking was far more difficult for her than she anticipated. I like that whole idea a whole lot better than thinking Cas was just stupid, short sighted and easily manipulated into doing the absolute worst thing again. If the writers intention was to have Amara manipulate Cas it wasn't very clear though. Hopefully if that's the case a scene between Casifer and Amara will clear things up a bit.
spnlit
# spnlit 2016-01-26 21:39
I like your idea a whole lot better too. Hope you are right. It could all be tied into where Cas was when he was MIA in 11.09 O Brother Where Art Thou? Oh Castiel, brother Where was thou?
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If the writers intention was to have Amara manipulate Cas it wasn't very clear though.
Nothing about Amara is very clear except her motive is to settle a score with her brother.
BoGirle
# BoGirle 2016-01-26 22:40
True.... the whole Amara thing needs a bit of attention. It's murky and it's currently boring. The story has potential, its time they get on with it.....Dean needs something concrete and constructive to do.
cheryl42
# cheryl42 2016-01-26 23:26
Apocoli...:D

I'm thinking that something else might have happened in between Amara giving Cas a job to do and him showing with his new tattooed chest. Of all the beings in Gods universe Castiel would know better than anyone that Lucifer cannot be controlled or overpowered easily. Specially not by a being with low self esteem. When Sam said yes to Lucifer in SS he went into the deal knowing that if he couldn't do it than no one could and he had the love and support from everyone. His mission was to put the threat to humanity back in the box. Castiel's plan is to let the threat out? Something else must have happened. It wasn't like TFW didn't have a plan already in place that was guaranteed to eliminate Lucifer as a threat. Of everyone involved Cas would know better than anyone it took four arch angels and God to defeat the Darkness before. How could he think that just he and Lucifer could do it? Why didn't he have faith in Dean and Sam? Does he need his ego stroked so badly that he wanted to be a hero too? Haven't we been down this road with Cas already? Although I just had another thought. Sam and Dean have been making some pretty bad choices of late too. Maybe he felt he couldn't really trust that they wouldn't choose each other like they always do. Maybe Cas thought he needed to make a bold move to save humanity and heaven. So now what a mess. I can't wait to see how the brothers figure out that they aren't dealing with Castiel anymore.

Amara is becoming less and less interesting. I loved the younger versions of her (SPN does creepy children really well) but the grown up Amara is just a petulant brat throwing a tantrum. Her connection to Dean never made any sense. Being in league with Lucifer does. I hope we find out more about her soon.

Sam was awesome, Jared was just spot on. As was Mark P's Lucifer. The scenes between them were definitely the high lite of the episode. The pictures released from the next ep seem to indicate that Sam isn't done with his connection to Lucifer.

Rowena and Crowley were just the best in this episode. If this is Rowena's swan song it was a powerful way to go out. Too bad she couldn't have been written this way throughout her tenure on the show.

Dean was good too (Jensen is always great) but again I wish that his connection/stor y with Amara was actually going somewhere. Maybe the next episode will get the ball rolling.

Thank you for your review. It was entertaining and had some thinky thoughts to ponder.