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Desperate situations can call for desperate actions. It can create strange alliances and bring together the most unlikely of people. Some of those situations can come with lofty goals. They can be to save someone. They can be to save the world. They can be to stop evil. And yet, in the end, it is the intent of those actions to achieve those goals that will make all the difference in success and failure. Just to state that one is trying to save the world or to stop some greater evil does not mean that is their true intention. The notion of true intention is explored through each character in “Hell's Angel” as an odd mix of characters form a loose confederacy to stand against the greatest foe of season 11: Amara. What are the true intentions of each? What does it say about the methods used? And in the end, how does humanity factor into the equation? What is the true intention needed to succeed against the likes of the Darkness?

First, let's look at how this strange band of characters comes together. Each of them---Crowley, Lucifer, Rowena, Castiel, and the Winchesters---have an investment in the venture. Each of them is after something and have a real intention of stopping either the Darkness, Lucifer---or both. But how is it that a group of characters so often opposed to one another can even agree on one goal at all? After all, Lucifer has held Crowley hostage and tried to kill the Winchesters outright and he did kill Rowena. The Winchesters themselves have opposed each of them for various reasons throughout the series, too. There is a wide chasm between this group---one they must breach if they have hopes of winning against the Darkness as a collective.

When we start to look at them as individuals, it becomes quite clear why this alliance will fail. It all starts with survival. No character represents that more than Rowena in this episode. The witch, last seen having her neck snapped by Lucifer, emerges from the ashes with her power and her life intact. She is able to rise and flee to the biggest player on the board: Amara. Rowena's motivation is to pick the winning horse. She simply wants to be alive and well and free when the dust settles and the juggernauts have settled their disputes. Her anger at Lucifer is another motivation. The Devil---one she had hero worshiped when she agreed to help spring him from the Cage---had killed her without a single thought. That action has left the witch ripe for revenge and she can see no better entity to back than the Darkness.

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That is until she starts to listen to what Amara has to say. The Darkness is still weakened by the smiting Heaven laid on her. She hasn't been able to recover from the amount of power they struck into her and so she has been lying low. In the meantime, Rowena has been her caretaker, feeding her magics to build up her power and restore her to health. That proves to be a mistake when Amara displays her power, sending a clear message to Heaven. It doesn't help matters when she remarks, “What they call destruction, I call renovation. My blueprints, not God's.” Rowena, ever aware of her own survival chances, realizes that Amara might not keep her around once she's accomplished this---no matter how “useful” she may be. If Amara is willing to wipe the entire slate clean and take God down with the whole Dante Construct, why not a little witch like her, too?

Amara is unaware of what the Winchesters and others are plotting. Rowena offers to use her spells to spy on them. She clearly overhears that Crowley and the Winchesters are planning on using a Hand of God with Lucifer to take down the Darkness. This information she gleans but does not yield to her new patron. Instead, Rowena lies smoothly that they are “paralyzed with fear. They don't know what to do.” Quickly, Rowena is trying to extract herself from this situation and find her way back to the other team so she can hopefully emerge alive and well as always. It's why she sends the clear message to Crowley, “Back from the Dead, Fergus” through her magic. Crowley has threatened her life in the past, too, but she feels she can manipulate a situation with him far more to her advantage than she can with Amara.

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Her intent, then, is only to survive. She has no concern for the world or for saving anyone else. Her motivation is totally selfish. The only good intention she has is secondary to everyone else surviving the end of the Darkness---if their ploy should work, that is. In that way, she is doomed to failure in the short term. To simply be focused on her own selfish needs, she won't have the conviction or the resolve to do it for the right reason.

In the same token, then, her son is no better. Crowley has one goal in mind: lock up Lucifer for good and throw away the key. He isn't in it to save the world from the Devil. He's in it for his own throne. His ego is smarting from the Devil's taunts and torments. He's been on the run from every demon since his escape---and he would much rather be put back in charge.

On top of it, Crowley also reveals his true nature in acquiring the weapon he hopes will help Sam and Dean stop Lucifer in his tracks. He visits a tent in the Middle East. It is armed with three guards. Once he passes through to the inner room, he encounters another man he has a contract with. The deal is nearly due and he is there to take something on top of the soul he already owns: the horn of Joshua. In order to get it, however, the man demands that Crowley keep up his end of the bargain. He'll hand over the Hand of God if Crowley tears up the contract. The former King of Hell does as asked---and yet once he acquires the weapon he deftly snaps the man's neck with his power. As he makes his way out into the outer room, those same guards lie in wait. They realize he is a foe and they train their assault weapons on him. Crowley is nonplussed by their aggressive display and makes them all turn their weapons on one another, killing all three in a rapid gunfire. Afterward, Crowley mutters, Amateurs.”

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This display is a clear reminder that Crowley is no do-gooder. His intention is to save himself first and foremost. His intention is to restore his throne. He's only offering the Horn to Sam and Dean in exchange for going back to the way things were: with him in control of Hell. Even so, Crowley knows they have to take this chance if they are to have any hope of winning. Besides, he's not nearly as invested in Amara's demise as he is in Lucifer's. It's one reason he demands they take the Devil down first and begrudgingly agrees to their plan to deal with Amara instead.

As they confront Lucifer in the angel trap they've set, Crowley quickly realizes that things are turning south. He can see that their attempts to reach Castiel are failing quickly. After all, if Castiel is in charge, they may be able to tap into the Devil's power without his interests front and center. It's Crowley's compromise in the plan. Help them get Castiel to emerge---and then take down Amara. In the event that it doesn't work, then they will force the Devil out. The confused and befuddled Castiel emerges, seeming to be in a fog as he recognizes Dean. It doesn't last, however, and he's shoved aside. Lucifer may have yielded for but a moment, but he quickly reasserts his control. It leaves the King of Hell with no choice but to go into the same vessel and see if he can shake up Castiel enough to expel Lucifer here and now. This is a great risk. The Devil could kill him at any time during this---or worse. He may take Crowley hostage anew and force him to be the “puppy” again.

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The Devil does get the upper hand until Sam and Dean start an exorcism, expelling Crowley back out. His intention was squarely focused on rattling Castiel enough to stop Lucifer---in his hopes to take his throne back first and foremost. Even so, it is clear that what he saw in the angel has shaken him. It's clear that he may have a bigger intention than self in the long run that may help him become an integral part of the team that will be needed to stand against the Darkness when the time comes. If it is only to regain his place in Hell, however, Crowley will find that he is not worthy to participate or to reap the rewards.

That becomes clearest when we see Lucifer's attempt to stop the Darkness. Up until he's been summoned by the Winchesters, Lucifer is mounting a campaign in Heaven to take control there. As the only free and living archangel, he outranks everyone else in pure strength. Their ability to stand against him is minimal as they do not have enough leaders on hand to stand opposed to him any longer and none of them have the might to meet his. Lucifer realizes that Heaven is ripe for the taking---and so he can now hold Hell in one hand and Heaven in the other. If he can hold both of these realms, he will also have more power than he ever imagined. It'll give him two power bases in his campaign against the Darkness, too.

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And yet, Lucifer is no better than Crowley when it comes to his intent. His intent to help stop Amara has nothing to do with saving the world, the Dante Construct, or anything else. It is about eliminating her from the chessboard so he can become the new overlord. He has been freed since his last imprisonment. There is no Apocalypse mounting, there will be no Michael to face him. If he can remove the Darkness, Lucifer can then take charge and do what he wants without impunity. This is his drive and reason for taking action in “Hell's Angel.” He wants to pick up where he left off. He wants to resume his destruction of humanity and then demonkind. This is Lucifer's chance to destroy the very creation that God replaced him with: man.

This is explicitly clear in his speech to the angels as he sells them on God's “marketing.” He tells them, “Oh, come on! It's not like He invented the Prius, which actually works. Do I have to tell you people what a mess mankind is? Salem witch trials, Third Reich, Twin Towers. And sure, every once in a while he'll send down a plague to straighten them out, it's nothing permanent. Humanity brought us Hiroshima and got a redo. I simply questioned his priorities and got the boot.” In many ways, Lucifer has not changed in the years since his defeat. He's still out for the same vengeance and has the same angry drive.

His intent, then, is to remove the one person that stands in his way of becoming the master of the universe. He knows that he is part of the Dante Construct. He knows that he is one of God's creations---no matter how angry he is at his father---and that means Amara is threatening him just as much as he threatens everything else. It is why, then, his attempt to stop the Darkness fails miserably. Standing with the Horn of Joshua in hand, Lucifer makes his move against Amara. He tells her, “You were safely sealed away. You're gonna wish you stayed there.”

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There is triumph on his face as he unleashes the full power of this weapon. He believes he has won. How can he not? He's an archangel with an added dose of God's power. Combined together, this will work and has to work. She will be destroyed and then he can turn to anyone who stands in his way and eliminate them one by one. If given the chance, Lucifer knows that he'd start with Sam and Dean. As the golden glow of God's power ebbs, however, the truth is revealed. The attempt to destroy Amara has failed. The strength was certainly there. The power was great enough. And yet she still stands---angrier now than ever.

Why? Dean points out that it is perhaps that Lucifer couldn't as a reject of Heaven. He states, “But if the thing has to be used by God's chosen, then maybe an archangel that got the boot doesn't qualify.” This may very well be why his attempt failed so horribly. Anything that God touched this way may very well refuse to be used by someone utterly rejected by God the way Lucifer has been. The other reason may very well lie with his intent. The Devil didn't take this action with the idea of saving people. He didn't do it to stop evil from wiping the world away. Lucifer did it for his own selfish reasons and his own selfish need. In doing so, it rejected his attempt and canceled the power the weapon contained.

So, if these three took action to save the world but failed in their ultimate intent, then who can succeed? Who can stop the Darkness and find a way to thwart her plans? Who can marry the two and make it work? When one examines the Dante Construct that Supernatural has built much of its story on, it makes sense that the actions of the supernatural beings within “Hell's Angel” failed and why it points towards the triumph of the Winchesters. If a Hand of God is created by God's own power and touch, as the architect of this universe it surmises that those who use this power without the explicit desire to protect humanity will fail. After all, God dictated long ago that doing so was the angels' original mission. God would want this power to be used in that goal---which is why it worked in “Vessel,” but failed here. Intent is the crucial piece of the puzzle.

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In this case, Sam and Dean's intent isn't really the issue, then. It is their methods. They had the absolute right intention and goal in mind to deploy the likes of Lucifer with the Horn of Joshua. In their view, it was their shot at taking down Amara and while it wasn't something they enjoyed doing, Sam and Dean were both willing to hold their noses while the Devil used the weapon fatal to humans. They agree to work with the likes of Crowley and Lucifer with the full intent of handling the biggest fish, Amara, first. If they can stop her, they can surely stop the other two when the time comes. They are trying to live by and adhere to the credo of “saving people” this season, and they can only truly do that when they stop the Darkness from destroying everything. Their intent is to save the world and everything in it.

Throughout the season, we have seen Sam and Dean truly commit to the notion of “saving people.” In the stand alone episodes each week, the brothers have placed themselves at great risk to save the victims in their hunts. It is beyond simply eliminating the supernatural threat in question, too. They've certainly mastered the “hunting things” portion of their motto. To truly be advocates, to truly be heroes, they must now learn to value life and to value saving those they encounter. They can't simply try to solve the case for the sake of expediency. In some ways, that is another reason why their intent fails here. They are attempting to use Lucifer to speed up the process of stopping Amara. In many ways, it makes sense. They haven't had any other options that seem feasible and they are beggars that can't be choosers in this situation. That being said, it is sticking to their convictions that will allow them to rule the day in the end.

Their other reason is to save Castiel. The angel has given his vessel over to the Devil with the intent to save the world. He believed that Lucifer could stop the Darkness. He agreed to allow this so they could do that. Sam is concerned by their drive to save Castiel---and with good reason. He remarks, “Dean, this is exactly how we screw ourselves, the way we make the heart choice instead of the smart choice.” The fight they have is about Castiel's vessel. Dean wants to extract Lucifer first---before Castiel is caught up in the battle. Sam knows that they can't use the Devil without Castiel's vessel. Their fight, though, isn't strictly about saving Castiel. It's about Castiel's choice in this. Sam understands that the angel chose this. He stands behind Castiel's decision because it is what he clearly wanted and he will not go against it because he feels it was the wrong move. Too often, that good intention to save has been warped. It becomes a crusade that leaves so many hurt in its wake.

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In confrontations with Lucifer, they tried to reach Castiel. The angel recognized Dean's voice and face---emerging from the imagined Bunker kitchen he's been lazing around in since saying yes. This was their chance to have him take the actions with Lucifer's power to back it up. If they could get him to take control, they could have perhaps had Castiel as an ally rather than Lucifer as their enemy. If it isn't possible to use Lucifer's power without Lucifer's control, maybe they can convince Castiel to expel the archangel. It may be the only chance they get to save their ally.

And yet, if they were to extract the archangel, there's no guarantee that Lucifer will be put back into the Cage or if the Cage can even hold him any longer. They will have no choice but to allow the Devil to make his move---and hope that they've backed the right horse with the right result.

While the brothers have been discussing a supernatural being throughout the episode, it is clear that they are also discussing the value of life itself. This season has tilted far more heavily towards saving human life and finding a way to value that once more---above all else. In this situation, however, there is no human to protect save themselves. They view Castiel as an ally---and a friend. To not try and save him here is to throw their own intention out the window. They'd be no better than the failures made by Rowena, Crowley, and Lucifer against Amara. They'd be making meaningless actions with no real intention behind them, then. Even if they should see it differently---Sam reminds Dean that this was Castiel's choice after all---they both agree that saving him now is their only option.

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Their actions mirror this debate. While it is Crowley that the brothers are extracting from the vessel, it is clear that they're hoping that by removing at least the former King of Hell will help stir Castiel to action once more. It's also clear that they may see Crowley as more than a loose ally at this stage, too. No, it doesn't mean that they'll ever be “friends,” but the concern Sam expresses once Crowley comes to is evident. It is also clear in his desperation as he recites the Latin with sure language and conviction. It is his attempt to save both and to help another get free of Lucifer. If anything, Sam understands Crowley's fear and pain at being confronted with the Devil. It is clearly written all over face in any and every exchange they have with the fallen angel.

The Winchesters, too, are the only ones that are left standing. They do not flee the moment it is obvious that this has gone south. Crowley bails quickly. Rowena makes a hasty exit. Sure, Lucifer may have pinned them down with his power before Amara arrived on scene and undid it, but they did not dash for the door when the chance came. They wanted to see if they had chosen the right horse and if their intention would pass through the action Lucifer took.

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When it did not and Lucifer is clearly defeated, they're horrified as she pulls him towards her with just a flick of her wrist. They're not sure what she'll do to the fallen angel, but they do know that their friend is still locked away in there. In the wake of their failed try at taking down Amara, Dean remarks, “Well, that's what he wanted though, right? Besides, didn't we say we're gonna swear off getting in the way when one person makes a choice the other didn't agree with?” He may not have liked that Castiel had taken such a gamble on the Devil, but he had to go along with it. Castiel had believed that the Devil could stop Amara. Once the attempt with Lucifer has failed, however, Sam and Dean will fight even harder to restore their angel friend. They will do whatever it takes to “find that idiot and bring him home.” This experience has not dampened their intent. If anything, it has only strengthened it. Sam and Dean know that they must stop the Darkness more than ever. They will have to find a new way to do so. They will have to keep the conviction of “saving people” as their guide. If they are to take action and find a way to deploy another Hand of God and save the world, they must never ever abandon their intent: to save humanity.

For Sam and Dean, their actions must have the intent of “saving people” before “hunting things, family business.” It is through this that they will win. It is the only way they can win.

And it is clear that things will only grow darker before they can emerge victorious on the other side.