“Amara is looking for me. But I'm warded against her, for now. The second I drop the warding, she'll show. She'll be expecting a fight and we'll give it to her. Shock and awe. Shock and awe.” Chuck makes this statement after all of the troops have been assembled by the Winchesters. So, why does “shock and awe” ultimately fail in the end? What went wrong and how can they possibly hope to stop the Darkness now? Is it really leading to the “end” that Amara has welcomed everyone to? Will creation and everything in it truly be tossed aside and irrefutably destroyed? Or, will God's other words about “humanity stepping up” be the saving grace of everything? These are the questions raised within “We Happy Few.”
The showdown has been set, the players have been put on the board, and now it's a matter of taking a chance on their gamble. When it fails, it leaves us wondering how things will resolve and if the Winchesters can once again rise above a supernatural threat. After all, all the supernatural beings that fought against Amara have been one by one defeated or killed. Within that fight, however, is also the questions of intent and family---and where they intersect can leave us wondering which influenced which. Could intent be the key? Could family's influence on it change outcomes?
In the beginning of the episode, the Winchesters are working on getting God and Lucifer to talk with one another. They're all in the Bunker trying to plan the next move against Amara before it is too late. Neither side seems willing to budge. Obstinate as always, Lucifer taunts God by saying, “Enemy of my enemy is my friend. Team Amara. Go Amara.” The anger and the resentment and the divide runs deep between these two as it should. However, neither really have the time to truly waste on old grudges or on long standing feuds no matter how they started or why. If there's any hope of defeating Amara before the end is nigh, they must find a way to move past them. Of course, that is easier said then done. God won't apologize and Lucifer won't help them unless he gets it. It takes the Winchesters cajoling the two to talk. Once they're successful, they can start work on the other members in their fighting band.
Dean questions why they have to convince any one to join them---mostly Crowley, Rowena, and the rest of Heaven's angels. He asks, “Couldn't you just compel them?” God immediately rejects this idea. It is the clear first statement on intent within the episode---and a key to how the finale may shape up---with either win or loss as the result. He tells Dean, “I invented Free Will for a reason. You can't make an effective soldier by force. They have to choose this fight.”
Free Will will mean so much in this fight. It has all along, after all. The Winchesters at any time could have chosen to turn their backs on hunting or saving the world at any point. Their lives could have been drastically different if John hadn't chosen hunting after Mary's demise. They could have quit the life after stopping Azazel. They could have walked after they put Lucifer back in the Cage the first time. They could have stopped after they abandoned their attempt to close down Hell for good. At any stage, the Winchesters could have decided that someone else would take on these tasks or stand up to fight against these forces. Instead, they've chosen to fight---and the choices they've made have either made things better or worse depending. They have also chosen to take responsibility for their mistakes and clean up their messes. The fact remains that they chose to be in this fight. In many ways, Sam and Dean's intent has always been to save people---a commitment they've renewed in earnest this season. Their intent is quite clear. It is their allies, however, that will face the test in this episode---and seemingly fail one by one.
That first ally is Rowena. As a powerful witch, she can draw upon other witches and the Book of the Damned to aid them in their war against Amara. She's not a good person and she doesn't do things to help others out of the goodness of her heart. After all, Clea, the witch she's meeting recognizes her for what she is. She says, “You a rat. Find your way off any sinking ship.” She knows that Rowena will not allow herself to die and she will not simply be wiped away by Amara's temper tantrum to come. That doesn't mean, however, that she's willing to help the Winchesters, either. Sam shows up as their working on a spell to send them back in time and buy a lot more time before Amara's arrived on scene. She eyes him, displeased that she's been found. Rowena remarks, “I will turn you into a moose. An actual moose.”
Once Clea gets her to hear Sam out, though, Rowena can see that there might be some merit. After all, Sam's being protected by something very powerful---God-like even---and if that's the case then maybe they need not gamble on this time travel spell. But what is Rowena's true intent on joining? How does her Free Will come into play and how will it end up back firing when she's face to face with the Darkness herself? Rowena has always looked out for Rowena first and foremost. She will not hesitate to eliminate others---even innocents---when her life is on the line. Rowena is a survivor and any time she joins forces with others it is for her own self-interests and her own survival alone. For this reason, it can be wagered that her intent in their enterprise against Amara put the first dent in God's “shock and awe” plan of attack. She has no intention of doing this for the right reason whatsoever. This isn't about the loftier goals of “saving people” or saving the world or humanity. It's about saving Rowena.
Once face to face with the Darkness, Amara tells her point blank, “You didn't betray God. You betrayed me. I knew this was a trap the moment you called. I didn't care. All I've ever wanted is a one on one with my brother and you've just given it to me. The question is how am I going to repay you?”
The second attack comes from the hosts of Heaven. Cajoled by Lucifer's new plea in Heaven---and the brief appearance of Castiel to convince them even further---they agree to try once more to smite Amara. Castiel informs them, “You know every second I spend subordinating myself to Lucifer, it's been a torment. It's destroying me, it's burning through my vessel. But I would do it all over again. Because through me, he and God, they will defeat the Darkness. That's my role in this fight. It's God's fight. You can play a part in that fight too, if you join me.” Unlike Rowena, angels do not have Free Will. They are born to be soldiers, so “wanting” it won't be the question. Without Free Will, though, can they have intent? Can their smiting really do enough damage to weaken Amara for the other attacks? Castiel and Lucifer both recognize that angels do not have the ability to choose this as humans and demons will. They have to have this as an order---and by invoking that God has commanded it, they can and will win them to God's fight. It is that pesky intent that makes their powerful strike hit hard but miss the mark just a little bit. They certainly do severe damage to her, but they cannot really join in at the level required.
They are doing it for their own survival and a sense of duty. For years after the failed Apocalypse, the angels have divided into many factions and waged wars upon one another. Many have risen to the top to be toppled. Now, however, God has returned and is demanding they follow his order---through the mouthpiece of the two most hated angels of their ranks: Lucifer and Castiel. Even with the knowledge that this is commanded by their long absent father and their drive to follow orders, their intent is then corrupted and tainted. They do it because they're told to do so---not because they truly want it. While it's clearly not addressed, either, one has to wonder how many of the angels in this effort feel that it's worth doing, too. Certainly they will follow orders, but how many think that if this should succeed that God will merely disappear once more and leave them to their faction fighting? This fear that their father will once more abandon them has to play into family twisting their intent and on some level tainting it.
The demons---once humans---have an upper hand on the angels in that regard. They do have Free Will in some respect. They can choose to join this fight. When faced with Crowley's attempt to retake his throne, they are nonplussed by his speech. They have no need for him to “Make Hell Great Again” as everything's ending---“Hell with it.” The demons by and large at that point have given up, then. They know that the Darkness will wipe everything out and there's little hope. Crowley wanted that power just once more. He tells Dean, “Game of Thrones. It's musical chairs. Still, I wanted it. To go out with the crown on my head.” The elder Winchester scoffs at that. The demons didn't want to stroke his ego. They didn't want to go through the dance. He tells Crowley, “You know to be King again, you need to remember how to be a soldier.”
Their attack on Amara, then, seems much fiercer. Amara had welcomed the angel smiting with open arms. The demons, though weaker by nature, attack in vast clouds, whipping the Darkness around. She's forced to fight harder and has more trouble against their assault. Yet, even this seems to fail---even after Crowley himself joins the fight by exiting his vessel and launching a forceful body blow. Much like Rowena, the demons are in this for their own survival. They don't want Hell to end with everything else. Crowley wants to survive this as he has everything else. And so, they severely weaken Amara but do not do enough damage to truly slow her down. It isn't their Free Will as much as their intent that has done that to them.
Amara stumbles into the hideout God has chosen and comes face to face with him, Lucifer, and the Winchesters. They are the last of the band ready to face her. It is God's turn to face her---with the help of his “favorite” son. God cannot have Free Will as he invented it---and Lucifer is an archangel, no matter how fallen. They are trying to replicate what they had done so many millennia ago. God has stated, “She had to be there. Ying and Yang. Dark and Light. There's a harmony, a balance. Light needs Dark, Dark needs Light. If you blow one of them up it would not be a good thing. End of reality not good.” So, they must lock her away once more. God is facing the choice of punishing one of his creation with the prison that will entrap his sister all over again. He can't give it back to Lucifer---that already had corrupted the archangel once before. He can't give it to Dean as he's “tainted” by the Mark once already. And so, it leaves Sam as the only choice.
And yet, as God is standing before his weakened sister, enacting the transfer of the Mark from her shoulder to Sam's arm, the intent of his action is in question. Free Will hasn't bound him the way it has the rest. Instead, here it is family. This is his sister. He has endured having to do this terrible thing to her once already. In order for creation to become, she had to be locked up. It is the pain of family that makes his intention waver. On some level, Chuck must feel something for her---sympathy, fear, love---and perhaps even compassion. He knows that this is a horrific thing he's doing to her. Chuck has to realize that this is a cruel punishment that has twisted and tormented Amara for as long as she's been locked away. To force her back into that same prison is to inflict that on her once more---and that is a difficult matter for God. This is his sister and he does not want to do this to her save that it will keep his creation intact.
It is this hesitation, this wavering in his intent that will be his undoing---and Lucifer's. While she is preparing to strike down God for trying to lock her away, Lucifer makes a brave charge to stab her once more. She sees his move and quickly disarms him, throwing him aside, and pulling his grace from Castiel's vessel. She burns through him quickly, taking him down so she can return her focus on her brother. In a brilliant flash, Chuck glows brilliantly and collapses into a heap, dying. Amara told him, “I'd die a million times. Murder you a million more before going back there. Tell me, if you won't change, why should I?”
In the end, it has left all the supernatural powers on the board decimated or weakened in some form. Lucifer is dead. The witches Rowena combined her powers with have been slaughtered. The demons have taken hits by striking her. The angels do not have enough strength to really launch another attack that will have much significance. God is slowly fading away and dying. All the powers that the Winchesters had assembled to stop Amara have largely come to failure through their various intentions and questions of Free Will or family. It leaves the universe in utter peril. After all, if all of these powerful beings and forces couldn't stop the Darkness, who can?
The only ones left are humanity. God has declared them to be his “firewall.” But human beings do not possess the same powers that all of these other beings do. They do not have the strength to stand against her in the same manner. It looks as if Amara is right and that this is the end. She will destroy everything and make God watch. She will defeat everything.
And yet, Clea had shown that there was hope in the tarot card “The Sun.” While this venture had blown up in their faces, that doesn't mean hope is totally dead and buried, either. Instead, it means that there will be one card left to play in the deck. It means pulling on the true Free Will and intention of the Winchesters directly. As the “firewall,” as the representation of humanity, as the embodiment of the “never quit” attitude in human nature, the Winchesters will not stop or give up until they've won. They may not possess the power of an archangel or demon. They may not have God's power. They may not have the magic of a witch.
Even so, intent plays a major role for the Winchesters, too. They both want Amara's threat removed for their own reasons---shared and individual. Dean has actively come face to face with the Darkness as well---and in those moments, he has been faced with chances to kill her before her strength became far too great. Instead, he hasn't managed to succeed. Lucifer points this out, stating, “Think about it. Dean Winchester meets the biggest evil in the universe and takes a pass? Come on. He wants Daddy to do what he couldn't.” In that way, the Devil is right. Dean hasn't killed Amara in these encounters. Defending himself, Dean retorts that he tried. The one instance he made his move with an angel blade, the weapon shattered upon impact, rendering that one opportunity a missed chance. Chuck states quietly, “Maybe it didn't work because you didn't want it to work. Maybe you didn't want to kill her.” Could his intent be flouted in that moment? Had he not wanted to eliminate Amara's threat to everything? Did this feeling cause the failure?
On some level, one could argue absolutely. He may have wanted to kill her on some level---and meant it---but Dean also simply couldn't because a part of him really didn't. Intent, then, is the biggest key. Just like when the Hand of God was used on the WWII ship to save it from falling into Nazi hands as opposed to Lucifer's use on Amara, intent will settle everything. Truly intend on killing or caging Amara and it will work. If at any single point that intent should waver and the enterprise fails.
And so, it will be the Winchesters and their intent that will determine everything now.
They do have the right intentions built up over a life time of doing this job and of recommitting themselves to it this season. Sam and Dean Winchester will have to strength necessary to face down the likes of Amara. They will do it for all the right reasons---their survival is only secondary in their minds at this stage. If need be, they will sacrifice themselves in order for the world to go on. Sam proved this by being willing to bear the Mark. The Winchesters will not stop no matter their own personal risks to stop the Darkness from bringing the end. They will do it for the sake of “saving people” and in the end that is exactly why God has chosen to count on them in every major fight they've ever faced to this point.
He'll need their good intentions and their stout hearts to see it through once more---after all, humanity is his greatest creation. That means that Sam and Dean Winchester are the best ones for this particular job.
After all, who else could win if not Sam and Dean?