The Morning After
Depressed. That’s how Supernatural’s "Funeralia” made me feel. Really. I can’t shake it.
There were two concurrent plotlines in “Funeralia”. The first was Castiel’s story – Heaven, Naomi, 9 angels left in all of the universe and the brown outs of Heaven. This story was about hopelessness, giving up and death. It was also highly problematic in its canon content but let’s save that for later.
The other story line was Rowena’s – pain, power, family, friendship. While the basis of this story was a parent’s grief, it was the more beautiful of the two stories. It was based in raw emotion, seeking redemption for mistakes and finding compassionate support from friends who understand remorse from their own transgressions.
Jared tearing up as Sam battled with himself, torn between Dean’s “you better” edict about dealing with Rowena, and his own empathy for a kindred soul who was seeking refuge from the torment of both memories and fear of Lucifer’s torture the best way she knew how. Ruth Connell’s tears welled up as Rowena buckled under the weight of so many years of her selfish, loveless life. Lisa Berry was the steady, compassionate voice of the inevitability of our decisions’ consequences. The finale scene with Sam, Dean and Rowena sitting on the floor showed the humanity of them all.
I’ve been in that place – when body and spirit are so worn down that the floor is the only place that can provide the security of not being able to fall any lower; of being grounded to the basics of existence – earth, life, breath. It’s a place that supports you until you have enough strength to stand up again against the ever-present, unrelenting forces of both gravity and life. That scene was an emotionally honest scene. It doesn’t compare with Dean or Sam’s confessions over the years of guilt, love or fear but still powerful nonetheless. Rowena also signed up to help the boys, so that’s a win.
Rowena: Just checking a few items off my little to do list.
Dean: Sure, that didn't sound ominous.
While sad, this storyline was not depressing. As Dean said, it was ominous.
Death: Hey Dean. See you again soon.
No, no, no, no. Just no. What do you mean, you’ll see Dean soon?? That does not bode well for the season’s finale! I choose to interpret that Death’s warning referred to her perception of time, where “soon” is measured in terms of the millennia seen by an eternal entity. As such, Dean could be old and grey, in his rocking chair watching old westerns before she comes from him. Anyway, since when can Death predict someone’s future? Dean has a whole shelf of possible ways he could die, so the time and place can’t be certain!
In the end, Rowena’s story was about flawed humans figuring out how to work together and use their powers to save the world. That’s a story that Supernatural tells very well. On the other hand, Castiel’s story was about the desperation of supernatural beings whose decisions have mostly been motivated by selfishness, ego and greed. Why couldn’t Naomi just have stayed dead?
Naomi: This may be one of those things that can't be fixed, Castiel.Castiel: This is Heaven we're talking about.Naomi: Everything ends, Castiel. Everything ends.
Why do these episodes keep talking about “things ending??
New Rules and The End Game
Heaven’s dying? Really? I’ve never heard such nonsense! Surely Heaven is powered by the millions upon millions of souls that inhabit it. Was it season 5 when Castiel’s powers rapidly diminished because he was cut off from heaven? He specifically said he needed to go to Heaven to recharge. At no time was there any implication that it was the other way around. The whole premise of the “soul war” in season 6 was that Crowley wanted more souls to strengthen himself/Hell and Castiel wanted more souls to be able to defeat Raphael. The idea that angels are the source of Heaven’s eternal existence hasn’t even been hinted at in 13 years, but those same 13 years have stated many, many things that would contradict it.
Still, one fan meticulously laid out for me in Twitter how this scenario could make sense. Maybe many of you have done the same thing. The theory was logical, but took a doctorate level of head canon reasoning. Maybe Supernatural’s writers will lay it all out for us in future episodes but until the old and new doctrines are reconciled, the logic leap remains shocking… and depressing.
First, I’m depressed that the rules of Heaven, Hell and souls were “explained” differently than ever before. You can’t just rewrite the show in one sentence like that! Then the idea that there are only 9 angels left (plus maybe a few stragglers here and there) is unthinkable.
Naomi: Do you know what powers Heaven, Castiel?Castiel: Yeah, us. Angels.Naomi: That's right. Every angel is like a walking, talking battery. And that is what happens when we run out of power.Castiel: I don't understand.Naomi: Well, then, let me make it divinely simple for you. There are a grand total of nine angels in Heaven, present company included. And one or two on Earth, and that's all. We are the last men and women and divine waves of light still standing, as it were.
Supernatural has always made sense because it is grounded in a reality I could believe exists. There is a Heaven, Hell, demons, angels, ghosts, vampires, and heroes. It has been close enough to the real world in which I live for me to care about what happens to Sam, Dean, Cas and everyone else. Now they are trying to say that angels are finite in number? That the fall and civil war battles were worse than the millennia of conflict that preceded Castiel’s alliance with the Winchesters? The billions of angels (cupids, guardian angels, etc.), thrones and dominions, cherubim and seraphim have been wiped out? Mathematically it makes no sense. It’s not a world I can believe exists. Simply, no.
It also makes no sense even within the show’s canon itself. Hell has a perpetual way to increase its numbers – just torture the souls sent to hell to make more demons – but Heaven has NO way to increase the number of angels? Death keeps talking about the balance of the cosmos yet the forces of evil can continually increase while the forces of good cannot procreate? Also, when all the angels fell and Metatron was supposedly the only angel in Heaven there was no mention of the electric company turning off the power and all the lights going out! Naomi's dialog “explaining” Heaven to Castiel broke the basis of all prior Supernatural celestial canon. So not only is the outcome depressing to consider; but the destruction of my show’s reality is dire.
Oddly, closing the gates of Heaven (and Hell) so that the supernatural can never again interfere in the affairs of humanity is part of the HAPPY ending scenario I foresee for the end of the show. Team Free Will succeeds. The cosmic entities that constantly threaten the universe as they know it are sent to their own corners and locked away, never to threaten humanity’s existence again. In my scenario, supernatural entities are simply separated from humanity but both continue to exist in peace.
A more extreme version of “an end” scenario was voiced by John Lennon years ago, when he asked the world to “imagine” humanity being entirely on its own:
Imagine there’s no Heaven. It’s easy if you try. No Hell below us. Above us only sky.
In Naomi’s prediction, a third, apocalyptic scenario is at the end of the Winchesters’ “road”. Heaven ceases to exist because it is destroyed, making the world immeasurably worse, not better. An epic story like the Winchesters simply can’t lead to this hopeless world of zombies and vengeful spirits never at rest.
I’m also oddly depressed by the notion that Heaven, the eternal reward and the beacon of light for all that is good in the universe, can die. That leaves me feeling very empty. Castiel’s face when he let grains of sand slip through his fingers said it all. The fires of Hell can burn hotter and brighter fueled by evil but good can die out? That breaks the laws of universal balance.
So Naomi was lying, or it wasn’t Naomi at all. Where was Lucifer anyway?? Off sulking somewhere after his less than triumphant welcome into Heaven?
Gate Guard: Yeah, well, we're all learning how to deal with disappointment lately.
Wouldn't Castiel have been able to see Lucifer if he had smoked himself into Naomi’s corpse? But wouldn’t Naomi have been present when Dumah, who was acting like the senior angel in charge, and the other angels voted Lucifer onto Heaven’s throne? Now all of a sudden Naomi’s back, and the other angels defer to her?
All season, the angels have said they needed an archangel (or a nephilim) to make more angels. I don’t remember them saying exactly why (did they?) so Heaven’s power outage could have been on their minds but the clincher of their devil’s bargain was getting their wings back. Just a few weeks ago, that was more important to them than safely housing Heaven’s souls? Nothing about Heaven’s story makes any sense at all. So either Supernatural’s writers have completely lost it, the whole story has not yet unfolded, or someone is not who they say they are.
More powerful entities hiding inside weaker beings has been a thread all season. Wearing masks and misleading others has been used in virutally every story so far. What if there is an imposter in Heaven? That would salvage this shocking, unexplainable turn of events! If that’s not it, I have no clue what’s going on.
I’ve loved season 13. It’s been full of emotion and several good storylines, but “Funeralia” is an enigma. What in all of Heaven and Hell is going on? I’m looking forward to next week’s episode because we return to Mary, Jack and Bobby. Maybe the alternate universe will make more sense than reality!
This is not a usual “Threads” edition. I was travelling this weekend so Alice filled in for me, but this episode was too pivotal to not at least provide a few observations. If you’ve all discussed this on her review and have it all figured out, I apologize for being late to the party. Please enlighten us all!
Also, if you’ve re-watched the episode and heard threads within these confounding plots, please add to the comments below! Perhaps you heard other threads as well, such as in this thread-packed exposition:
Dean: Okay, all right, talk.Jessica: Rowena's changing people's fates. She's killing them before their time, and when a reaper shows, she torches them, too… if she keeps this up, she's going to throw off fate. The whole greater machinery of Death. Have you ever heard of the Butterfly Effect? …one small mistake can -- can cause all kinds of bad. If just one person dies before their time, a lot of things that were supposed to happen, don't. The ripple effect from just one early death can affect hundreds of lives. And changing their fates changes even more fates until things become sincerely unfortunate, and we have to hit the reset button.
I’m sincerely hoping the writers didn’t feel the need to “hit the reset button” for this season. If we substitute just a few words, Rowena said it best:
Writers: Meet me here [next week]Fans: And then what?Writer: You believe me or you don't. Either way, the drinks are on me.Fans: I don't like it. I mean, what's the over/under this is a trap?Writer: Well, it's [Supernatural]. Of course it's a trap.
I believe that this is all going to be explained in a way that will both entrap and surprise us. I believe this whole heartedly because the alternative is just too depressing. We’ll know more next week when I hope to return to hunting for threads within dialog.
Transcript quotes courtesy of: https://www.springfieldspringfield.co.uk/view_episode_scripts.php?tv-show=supernatural&episode=s13e19