Thoughts on Supernatural 11.22 – We Happy Few
Season 11 has been all about the slow build to something grand. It's been a different approach to previous years, with a patient telling of the story and a gentle rolling out of our characters, their motivations and relationships. The problem? Patience is thinning, motives are murky at best and it's time to move it along now. 11.22 is a great example of this formula: a whole lot of build up, some confused relationship drama and not nearly enough payoff to satisfy the wait time. Let's discuss.
I'm just going to say it: I'm tired of Amara. At first she was interesting. Now - PLEASE GO AWAY. I understand why you were locked in a box for a bajillion years. You're kind of whiny. Did you really throw a world-destroying tantrum, slaughter a bunch of people and then have the gall to act surprised when, on meeting up with brother-G again, he felt you were too dangerous to leave out in society? Maybe I'm just misunderstanding something, but I find this character immensely confusing. On one hand, she wants to destroy the world, but then when Amara and God are together she asserts that it "didn't have to be this way" after she's weakened by the angel/demon/witch attacks. I don't really understand what she wanted then. A light conversation and an apology and then Amara and God would be cool, everyone goes their separate ways, the world left alone? Pick a character vein and stick to it - please!
Lust, Love and BondsOne more point of contention in the mythology. I know, there are a number of them in this episode. Why did everyone act like it was the news of the century to hear about Dean's connection to Amara? This hasn't been hidden, Sam knew Dean couldn't kill her. The weird bond isn't something he sought - it's the result of the Mark of Cain, what's with the shaming as though it's been his dirty secret all along? This seemed unnecessary and only added to reinforce the uncomfortable Dean/Amara connection for the later pitch from God to his sister about what's she's felt since being on earth that makes life/humans/earth special.
Fathers and SonsSo, how about that mediation session? Actually, I'm torn about this and in many ways it felt as though the show wasn't quite sure where it wanted to land either: emotional conflict or play for laughs. The conflict between Lucifer and God, the idea of humanizing this relationship despite the players involved and the level of power, the intensity and severity of everything at stake - not just presently but back when these wounds originated - certainly had potential.
There were moments in the conversation that these two almost pulled me into the emotions. However, the comic-relief-interruptus of Sam and Dean's "helping" hand was a serious detraction and once they were finally removed from the conversation, actual resolution was not reached on screen. At least, not in a way that satisfied me. What was the start of the barest hit of a passionate conversation between an arguably legitimately hurt son and an ego-inflated, remorseful father was cut short and in the next moment - Lucifer is on board. So we can call this one of those relationships that wasn't quite given due justice in the resolution department. Not bad, but not ideal either.
Let's talk Crowley. Once upon a time, there was a crossroads demon cunning, clever and ironic in his ability to manipulate both people and situations. He was a demon who closed deals with a kiss, playing on the worst nightmares of homophobic businessmen underneath overpass bridges and delighted in their misery. This was a demon who climbed to be king and held onto that crown with might, ruled with fear and even earned the respect of his underlings for his legendary power-plays and manipulations.
Ultimately, Crowley didn't play a massive role in the episode, or in the Take-Down-Amara plan, at least on screen. The only question really nagging from the entire situation is this: if the demons hold Crowley in so little regard then why did they obey? listen? follow? Crowley regarding the God v. Amara battle? That would have been an interesting pitch meeting, no? Especially after what we'd just seen of the previous demon board meeting.
Crowley needs to get his power seat back, be it the actual throne or his person sense of power because this character has been sorely underused and it's time for a kick-ass comeback. Who's with me?
RecruitmentThe scenes of the recruitments were kind of fun to watch. It was a bit of swagger injected into the episode as the boys unveiled the ace in their pocket to the various forces, even the reveal moment when God showed himself to Rowena and Crowley, and Rowena was fangirly in her own oddball way. In fact, Rowena was a refreshing light to the episode after some time away, perhaps due to the sarcastic, self-serving, conniving schemer aspect of her to the constant of Amara's dark anguish. Additionally, after many months, it was interesting to hear Castiel's endorsement of Lucifer, depressing though he was to hear, and sad as it was to witness the other angels continuing distaste for their brother. Poor Cas, he will never win a popularity contest in Heaven.
The PlanThe group is assembled of witches, demons, angels (including Lucifer) and God with the plan being the later three weaken Amara and then God removes the seal of Cain, puts in on Sam and casts Amara back into her cage. Sounds okay in theory, but in practice is incredibly flawed. First there is this damned Mark of Cain business again - obviously we can't go down that road again. Dean takes the news as well as can be expected; terribly. And really, it's a terrible idea since this is what got them into the mess in the first place after all. No matter, because Amara knows it's a trap, the witches coven (excepting Rowena) are left as charred, ash silhouettes and it's a bit unclear what becomes of those angel/demon forces.
All in vain without taking Amara down, sadly. Or is it?
God is a master manipulator - he assembles his cast of players, shouts action and watches it all play out according to the script. Big on free will, yes, but he is also a fan of predestined as we know. So the question his - was this his goal all along? God had intended to turn himself over to Amara and was talked out of that, or rather, allowed himself to be convinced of another path. So what's to say he hasn't orchestrated this whole thing, down to that half-smile he offered Rowena with the intention of Amara seeing it? If it wasn't planned, it was pretty damn sloppy on his part to offer that smirk. Time will tell, I suppose.
Final ThoughtsI know it sounds from the review that I didn't like this episode - that actually isn't the case. It wasn't a bad episode, it just had a lot of build up (as the entire season has been so far) and nonsensical bits of payoff in relationship areas, not to mention that Amara just seems to have erratic motives for her actions now. Maybe if we had a clearer conversation between her and Chuck about the actually showdown, the build up to her being in the box all those years ago. Alas, we don't. So we are where we are.
We're left with a dying God - marvel at the concept, and can this even happen without Death to reap him?! - a power crazed Amara, Lucifer/Castiel is alive? Who knows about the demons and the angels and Dean and Sam are freaking out. Time to do what Winchesters do and pull off a miracle without God in the back pocket - they've always done it before and it's time to do it again. The only question is, what is the cost?